Rajasthan lessons: On Congress truce

The crisis in the Congress in Rajasthan that nearly brought down the government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has blown over. The group led by Sachin Pilot has reiterated its loyalty to the party, though the stand-off cost him the posts of Deputy Chief Minister and State party chief. The truce is an outcome of the realisation on both sides that their positions had become self-destructive and unsustainable. Mr. Gehlot faced the risk of losing the government, while Mr. Pilot stared at the unnerving prospect of a life outside the Congress. The turmoil in Rajasthan has also been yet another occasion to note with deep concern the tendency of the judiciary to overstep its remit set by law, brazen partisanship of the Governor, and misuse of central agencies to tilt the political balance. The crisis was primarily internal to the Congress, but the Bharatiya Janata Party’s maximalist approach to capture power at all costs was evident. The unseemly power struggle had derailed governance in

Just closure: On Italian marines case

It may seem pragmatic to keep any pending litigation alive until all dues relating to it are paid and all legal issues are settled. However, it is somewhat puzzling that the Supreme Court of India has said it would keep the Italian marines’ case alive until “hefty” and “adequate” compensation is paid by Italy for the killing of two fishermen by its marines on February 15, 2012. The Court has indicated that it would not allow the closure of the trial until such compensation is paid. And it has ordered that the families of the victims be heard on this matter. Once the Union government has declared that it would abide by the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, which granted immunity to the marines and favoured Italy as the appropriate jurisdiction where they could be tried for the crime, it does not seem proper to delay the process of bringing closure to the matter. For one thing, the PCA, an arbitral tribunal that adjudicates disputes under the United Nations
Editorial

Hospitals afire: on lack of safety in health-care centres

The shocking deaths of at least 19 people in special facilities for COVID-19 management in Vijayawada and Ahmedabad have exposed the deep rot in regulatory processes for institutional and commercial building safety. While 11 died in the Andhra Pradesh incident, where a hotel had been taken over by a private hospital to run a COVID-19 care centre, nine patients perished in the blaze in a Gujarat hospital intensive care unit (ICU). These ghastly incidents which claimed the lives of those who were getting treatment or recovering from an infection in supposedly secure conditions lay bare the lack of preparedness among States to manage the expanding pandemic, and hasty contracting procedures. In a familiar pattern, civic and fire authorities who were expected to monitor the safety of such buildings have sought to pin responsibility for the carnage on the owners of the properties. They are being held responsible for failure to obtain a no objection certificate or, in the case of the

Editorial

Misplaced priorities: On controlling of coronavirus

The extended lockdown might have slowed down the spread of the novel coronavirus in India in the beginning, but in the absence of large-scale testing, tracing and isolation of the infected and their contacts, the virus has been spreading with renewed vitality. If it took 168 days to reach one million cases on July 16, it took just 21 days to double to two million on August 6; deaths too increased from 25,599 on July 16 to 41,641 on August 6. In recent weeks, the number of daily new cases reported across India has been increasing. Similarly, the number of deaths per day has also been rising; it crossed the 1,000 mark on August 9. Till mid-July, the daily fresh cases reported were well under 35,000 but increased to over 50,000 since July 29 and have been staying above 60,000 since August 6. Since August 3, India has been reporting the most cases in the world, surpassing the U.S. That the seven-day average test positivity rate is 9.4% underscores the large number of infected people

Editorial

Safety deficit: On Kozhikode aircrash

The tragic crash of an Air India Express ‘Vande Bharat’ relief flight in Kozhikode, in which 18 people, including two crew members, lost their lives and many were left severely injured, is a forceful reminder that there are no acceptable risks in aviation. Although an even bigger disaster was averted by the absence of fire in the aircraft, the crash snuffed out the lives of many returning home from Dubai after a long, traumatic separation from loved ones in the pandemic. Many Indians could not quickly return home from countries where they were employed, studying or travelling, although they desperately sought flights back home since March. For those who took that long-awaited trip on August 7, it ended in disaster. There are clear pointers to the dangerous nature of flight operations at Kozhikode airport in the midst of a strong monsoon, even with the availability of an instrument landing system for the “tabletop” runway carved into undulating terrain. There are problems with

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