US Places India Up On Defence Pedestal And Gives Privileges Of NATO Allies
The US lawmakers have elevated India in the pecking order of defence cooperation. An amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act puts India at par with other NATO allies in terms of sale of defence equipment and technology transfer.
This encourages the executive branch to designate an official to focus on US-India defence cooperation, facilitate the transfer of defence technology, maintain a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the U.S.—India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
It urges the US government to enhance India’s military capabilities in the context of combined military planning, and promote co-production/co-development opportunities.
“It seeks to promote greater defence trade and encourage additional military cooperation between the United States and India,” Congressman George Holding said on the floor of the House of Representatives in favour of the amendment in this regard in the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA)—2017.
The amendment (Enhancing Defence and Security Co-operation with India) was sponsored by Holding and Ami Bera (House India Caucus Chairs) and Chair and Ranking Member of House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce and Elliot Engel, respectively.
Now is the time to build on recent successes and propel the U.S.—India strategic partnership forward, the lawmaker said.
Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn, the Senate India Caucus Chairs, introduced a similar bill earlier this week in the Senate.
It is only when it is passed by the Senate and the House as part of the NDAA—2017, it will head to the White House for President Barack Obama’s approval.
The move has been welcomed by the US—India Business Council (USIBC).
“Now that we have bipartisan support from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House India Caucus, we believe this amendment has a good chance of making its way into the House’s version of the defence authorisation bill,” said USIBC president Mukesh Aghi.
Among other things, the House legislative approval requires the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State to jointly take such actions as may be necessary to recognise India’s status as a major defence partner of the US.
Meanwhile, ignoring objections of the White House, the House of Representatives has blocked $450 million aid to Pakistan for failing to take action against the dreaded Haqqani network.
The NDAA 2017 (HR 4909) was passed by the House of Representative on Wednesday night, which among others included approval of three major amendments reflecting the strong anti-Pak sentiment prevailing among the US lawmakers.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment adds an additional requirement that the Secretary of Defence certify to Congress that Pakistan is not using its military or any funds or equipment provided by the US to persecute minority groups seeking political or religious freedom.
Sebi tightens norms to curb black money inflow
For long, the government, regulator and investigative agencies had suspected entry of suspect funds into the Indian market through the P-Note route. This has led SEBI to tighten the rules governing P-Notes, including disclosures about ownership and adherence of anti-money laundering rules.
Tightening the rules governing issuance of participatory notes (P-Notes) by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), markets regulator Sebi has introduced Know Your Client (KYC) compliance for holders of these instruments to bring them on a par with domestic investors. Sebi has also sought information on the ultimate beneficiaries of these products. These moves seek to restrict entry of black money into the Indian market.
P-Notes are derivative products issued by FPIs in foreign markets which give their holders the right to have a share of the profit and loss from underlying Indian stocks but at the same time help maintain anonymity about the actual owners of those notes.
India lauded for Red Line Campaign on antibiotics
The global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance — commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 and chaired by economist Jim O’Neill- has, in its final report, cited India’s idea of putting a red line on antibiotic packages to curb their over-the-counter sale as a model that can be used globally to counter the rising threat of superbugs.
Highlights of the report:
The report notes that India’s ‘Red Line Campaign’ for antibiotics packaging should be considered as a starting point and recommends that the labelling and symbols used can be improved if needed and then expanded globally.
The report says laws prevent sale of antibiotics and other antimicrobials over-the-counter, but these may be weakly enforced in some countries and non-existent in many.
It says 20-30% of antibiotics are consumed without prescription in south and east Europe, and up to 100% in parts of Africa.
The report also predicts by 2050, unless action is taken, deaths due to antimicrobial resistance could balloon to 10 million each year and cost the global economy $100 trillion.
The Antibiotic red line of control:-
India faces a twin challenge of overconsumption of antibiotics breeding drug-resistant bacteria while ensuring that the poor and vulnerable have easy access.
A much-needed public awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of misuse and irrational use of antibiotics was recently launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Called ‘Medicines with the Red Line’, it comes at a time when the consumption of antibiotics in India has increased sharply while the effectiveness of these drugs to treat bacterial infections has been steadily declining.
High disease burden, rising income, cheap, unregulated sales of antibiotics and poor public health infrastructure are some of the reasons for the sharp increase in antibiotic use. A report (August 2014) in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, said that in 2010, India consumed 13 billion units of antibiotics, the highest in the world. Between 2005 and 2009, consumption shot up by 40 per cent.
A case of contradictions
And the impact of this unregulated usage is already showing. Between 2008 and 2013, E.coli bacteria resistant to third-generation cephalosporins increased from 70 to 83 per cent; it went up from 8 to 13 per cent in the case of carbapenems and 78 to 85 per cent in the case of fluoroquinolone, notes a paper published on March 3, 2016 in PLOS Medicine.
The consequences of increased prevalence of antimicrobial resistance are best illustrated in the case of neonatal sepsis. On average 57,000 neonates die each year in India, the highest in the world, due to sepsis infection that is resistant to first-line antibiotics; in 2012, India had the highest neonatal deaths (nearly 7,79,000).
The irony is that at the same time, the lack of access or delayed access to effective antibiotics is causing more deaths in India than from drug-resistant bacteria. This is best revealed in the case of pneumonia in children under five years of age. Most of the 1,70,000 pneumonia deaths that occurred in this age group in India in 2013 could have been averted had these children had access to effective antibiotics, notes a paper published on November 18, 2015 in the journal The Lancet. Only 12.5 per cent of affected children received antibiotic treatment for pneumonia.
One way to reduce the dependence on antibiotics, particularly in the case of pneumonia, is by increasing the coverage of immunisation, which is currently hovering around 72 per cent for DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis).
So like many other developing countries, India has to turn the spotlight on ensuring sustainable access even while maintaining sustainable effectiveness of all antibiotics. The only way to achieve this twin objective is by ensuring that all stakeholders — government, patients, veterinarians, doctors, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and health-care facilities — play their respective roles more responsibly.
First, people should be made aware that stopping antibiotics midway, missing doses, taking suboptimal dosages, or consuming antibiotics for cold and other viral infections, to name a few, makes them resistant to antibiotics; when ill the next time, their only recourse will be more expensive drugs or probably nothing at all. This is best exemplified in the case of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis that requires longer period of treatment using very toxic drugs that are more expensive.