Due diligence, unsafe drugs Good intentions alone are not enough to secure the public interest. For governments, the manner in which it is protected is equally vital. The Delhi High Court verdict quashing all notifications banning the manufacture and sale of 344 Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) drugs is a lesson in how not to administer a regulatory law. The ban on combination drugs that have little therapeutic value was undoubtedly done for bona fide reasons. However, the government could not convince the court that the ban was valid despite statutory bodies such as the Drug Testing Advisory Board (DTAB) and the Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) not being involved in the process. There is little doubt that a number of combination drugs should be taken off the shelf. The government believes, as do many health activists, that some combinations are unsafe and/or promote antibiotic resistance, while others lack particular therapeutic value, justification or advantage. Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw has correctly refrained
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Indonesia’s blasphemy protests Some 200,000 white-clad Indonesians took to the streets of Jakarta to call for the arrest of the city’s governor, Basuki Purnama. Mr. Purnama, who is a “double minority” for being ethnically Chinese and a Christian, riled the sentiments of certain hardline sections in September when he said a Koranic verse had been used to trick voters into believing that Muslims ought not be led by a non-Muslim. Since then, Indonesia has been convulsed by protests, including one near the presidential palace in early November that turned violent. The embattled Mr. Purnama has been slapped with blasphemy charges, and an investigation is ongoing. His political proximity to President Joko Widodo does not appear to have slowed the momentum of the protests. Prior to winning the presidency in 2014, Mr. Widodo was the governor of Jakarta, and Mr. Purnama, a frontrunner in the February 2017 governorship election, is on track to forge a pathway to even higher political office. Mr. Widodo has been silent on the
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Editorial A dampening of economic activity?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abruptly withdraw legal tender status for Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 notes to save the country from “the grip of corruption and black money” has had one predictable side effect: a dampening of economic activity. With cash availability significantly impaired as a result of the sudden withdrawal of the high-value banknotes that constituted more than 86 per cent of the currency in circulation as of March 31, a palpable impact has been felt across the entire economy. A snapshot of manufacturing from the Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index released on December 1 revealed that demonetisation had slowed buying activity and production across the board, and led to the weakest expansion in orders in four months. The survey indicated that producers of consumer goods are among the worst hit, a signal that a key engine of India’s world-leading pace of economic growth — private consumption demand — appears to be sputtering on account of the cash

Editorial Right vs far right in France

French President François Hollande’s decision to not make a bid for a second term in office is unsurprising. In the last leg of a term marred by economic uncertainty, high unemployment rates, workers’ strikes, infighting within the ruling party and personal scandal, Mr. Hollande’s approval ratings are abysmally low — as low as 4 per cent in some polls. Moreover, several former cabinet colleagues have said they would run against him in the Socialist Party primaries. It would have been humiliating for a sitting President to go through the primaries to win party nomination. Now, with Mr. Hollande deciding to keep out, the Socialists have the opportunity to put up a united fight under another candidate, most likely Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in the April presidential elections. Still, the left is likely to find it difficult to win back popularity in a campaign in which the agenda is largely being set by the conservatives and the far right. Mr. Hollande’s administration must share some b

Editorial HIV: The self-test option

With the World Health Organisation releasing guidelines on HIV self-testing, a major obstacle in improving access to diagnosis has been cleared. Though much progress has been achieved in India in making HIV testing accessible and free of cost, many infected persons remain unaware of their status. Across the world, nearly 40 per cent of people with HIV are unaware of their infection and run the risk of unknowingly transmitting it. Besides going a long way in preventing new infections, early diagnosis will help in a prompt start to treatment and enable the infected to live longer and healthier. Though there has been a 66 per cent drop in incidence in 2015 in India compared with 2000, the number of new HIV infections last year was 86,000; children below 15 years of age alone account for 12 per cent of this number. In 2015, the total number of people with HIV in India was estimated to be 2.1 million. Of this, 1.5 million were detected and tested at integrated counselling and testing cent

Patriotism by diktat
Provocation at Nagrota
India’s missing girl children
Lessons from another jailbreak
Two-pronged war in Iraq
Demonetisation and its discontents

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