Probing the sleuths: On the ISRO spy case

The Supreme Court’s order tasking the CBI to look into the Justice D.K. Jain committee report on the action to be taken against those who implicated space scientist Nambi Narayanan in the ‘ISRO espionage case’ of 1994 is a logical and much-needed step forward in ensuring accountability for the suspected frame-up. Representing a dark, but brief, chapter in the annals of police investigation in the country, the case was based on unfounded suspicion sparked by the arrest of two Maldivian women and the claims they made in their statements to the police. The Kerala Police arrested Mr. Narayanan based on suspicion that he was among those sharing official secrets relating to space technology and missions to foreign agents. After the investigation was transferred to the CBI in a matter of weeks, the central probe agency recommended that the case be closed, highlighting grave lapses in the probe and the complete lack of evidence. When the Supreme Court awarded a compensation of ₹50 lakh to the

Loser Streak: On cricket, gambling and match-fixing

Sport rests on two pivots. The first is the athlete’s desire to win by putting in the greatest endeavour. The second attribute is the fans’ belief that what unfolds on the turf is based on sincere effort. Sport is real and its immediacy also invests it with long-lasting meaning. It is this enduring template that gets torn asunder when cricketers throw matches or athletes consume anabolic steroids and break records. Corruption that taints performance is a poisoned dagger which cleaves sport’s throbbing heart and the latest scandal involving Heath Streak, is a crushing blow to cricket. The former Zimbabwe captain admitted to sharing information with bookies while he was the coach of various teams ranging from Zimbabwe to Kolkata Knight Riders, and has also accepted bitcoins for favours rendered. This breach of trust occurred largely from 2016 to 2018 and on Wednesday, the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned Streak for eight years. It was a fall from grace for one of Zimbabwe’s

Examination priorities: On annual exams amid the pandemic

The decision to put off the CBSE Class 12 public examination and cancel the Class 10 examination at the end of a disrupted academic year brings much-needed relief to anxious students caught on the crest of the second COVID-19 wave. Unlike last year’s first phase of the pandemic, the ongoing wild spread covers young people as well. The age cohort of those infected now includes even 15-year-olds, according to the Health Ministry. It is a wise move on the Centre’s part to keep this risk group out of harm’s way, reducing the possibility of school-based clusters and onward spread to older age groups who have shielded themselves so far. The onus is now on State governments, some of which have already initiated the examination schedule, to similarly recognise the growing crisis and display flexibility in reconsidering dates. Kerala had, for instance, postponed its SSLC and higher secondary level examinations due to the State election, but these got under way immediately thereafter. Tamil


Twin troubles: On prices and industrial production

The latest official data on retail prices and industrial production released on Monday provide cause for disquiet, given that inflation continues to accelerate and output at the country’s factories contracted for a second straight month. While inflation quickened to a four-month high of 5.52% in March, as per provisional data from the National Statistical Office, the NSO’s quick estimates of the Index of Industrial Production for February show output including at mines, the manufacturing sector and electricity generators shrank 3.6%, following on from January’s 0.9% contraction. Consumer Price Index numbers show that stubbornly high food and fuel costs remain the main drivers of price pressures. Pulses and edible oils, key kitchen staples and vital nutritional sources for proteins and fats, have been climbing almost dizzyingly for the last few months, a fact not lost on the RBI. While inflation in pulses accelerated to 13.3%, from 12.5% in February, oils and fats saw a more than 400


Another beginning: On vaccine vigilance

As India grapples with a vaccine shortage, the Drug Controller General of India has formally approved another vaccine candidate — Sputnik V — under emergency use authorisation. Since January, India’s vaccination strategy has hinged almost entirely on Covishield — the AstraZeneca vaccine — and to a very limited extent, Covaxin. Another significant move by the government is in allowing foreign-made vaccines approved by regulatory agencies in the U.S., the U.K., Europe, Japan or those that find mention in the World Health Organization’s list of approved emergency use vaccines which can avoid conducting a local clinical trial but opt for a parallel bridging trial post-approval. Last year, Pfizer had approached Indian regulators for permission but a sticking point was over this question of the conduct of local trials. It is important to note that bridging trials are critical. A vaccine that is approved in a different country may have untoward effects in another population. Past learnings

A small step: On abortion law amendments

Salvaging strategy: On scaling up COVID-19 vaccinations

Save the deal: On U.S. and Iran resolving nuclear crisis

A disturbing order: ASI survey in Gyanvapi mosque

Time tests ties: On India-Russia relations

Beyond zero sum: On rich countries and carbon emissions

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