Medical staff outside the special isolation ward set up for coronavirus treatment at Kochi Medical College | PTI
Medical staff outside the special isolation ward set up for coronavirus treatment at Kochi Medical College | PTI
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A COVID-19 response that is quick off the blocks

Anant Bhan | Researcher in global health, bioethics and health policy
Manjunath Shankar | Public health specialist
The Hindu

Bhan and Shankar explain that because India has a fragile health system, it is critical to devise a coordinated and coherent action plan against coronavirus.

They recommend, “Resources from other departments and general public, financial, in kind and personnel, need to be pooled and mobilised. They need to be trained on a fast track without making compromises on quality. Preparedness is neither the sole domain nor the prerogative of the government.”

Platform technologies could deliver a vaccine quickly

Rahul Matthan | Partner at Trilegal and author of ‘Privacy 3.0: Unlocking Our Data Driven Future’
Mint

Matthan comments on how epidemics like the coronavirus can be tackled by addressing the challenges faced by the vaccine industry. Developing a vaccine is expensive and there is a chance that the investment isn’t recovered if the vaccine isn’t developed on time. However, Matthan sees this changing, with the emergence of “platform vaccines”. He explains, “Platform vaccine is a system that uses certain basic components as the backbone but which can be adapted relatively quickly —by inserting new genetic or protein sequences—so that it can be used against different pathogens.”

Why flu is nothing to sneeze at

Vijay Verghese | Hongkong-based journalist and Editor of SmartTravelAsia.com & AsianConversations.com
Business Standard

Verghese provides a background to the coronavirus and explains how the travel industry is dealing with the outbreak. He argues that only a handful of companies are taking measures to deal with the scenario and by early March, only “some far-sighted hotels had installed airport-style thermal scanners to reduce inconvenience”. He notes, “Airlines are replacing HEPA micro filters with greater frequency” and some have “eliminated in-flight service on certain flights”. He calls for “governments, national health centres and the hospitality industry to come together to fashion universal protocols to put travellers at ease and dispel rumours”.

The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on reservations has gaps

Gautam Bhatia | Lawyer
Hindustan Times

In light of the Supreme Court judgment last month that there was no fundamental right to reservation under the Indian Constitution, Bhatia argues that if the right to equality under the Constitution has a firm basis, then target groups and those oppressed have the right to affirmative action. “Even though there might not be a stand-alone right to a quota as such, there would certainly be an obligation upon governments to collect data on the question of representation and structural inequality, and then act upon that data,” he argues.

The demolition of reason

Rajeev Bhargava | Professor, CSDS, Delhi
The Hindu

Bhargava explains the collapse of reason in the world of electronic media and how due to this “conversations are stalled, discussions disrupted, facts manipulated and distorted.” “One of the most troubling features of current debates on television is that every substantive discussion of an important public issue is instantly replaced by an avoidable, unreasonable slanging match between the BJP and the Congress, as if all Indians are supporters of either the BJP or the Congress,” he notes.

The Taliban has trumped the US in Afghanistan

Kabir Taneja | Fellow, Strategic Studies Programme, Observer Research Foundation
Hindustan Times

Taneja explains that in a first-ever deal, the Taliban went into negotiations with a clear upperhand and now the deal will be packaged as a historic triumph of Islamist groups and jihadist outfits for decades to come.

“Taliban has provided next to no proof of any significant operations or manoeuvres over the past few months of specifically targeting al-Qaeda leaders or infrastructures to showcase its sincerity. The Taliban’s word, without any quantifiable proof, leads the charge in this deal.”

Doctors, lawyers and academics on strike

Ajit Balakrishnan | Internet entrepreneur and chaired a committee set up by the Ministry on Human Resource Development to provide inputs for the National Education Policy.
Business Standard

Balakrishnan analyses the strikes by doctors, lawyers and academics, especially in the past year. He argues that while advances in technology will make medical care, legal and educational services more affordable, it may also “affect the earning power of these professions”. According to him, there is an “urgent necessity that machine learning algorithm skills be made part of the curricula in medical colleges, law schools, engineering disciplines…This will enable young Indians to step forward into the emerging world with confidence”.

Today’s Editorials

Hindustan Times: HT lists the ways India can fight coronavirus after two new confirmed cases emerged. The government should become transparent and share information to empower people and protect themselves, it writes. We must increase operational labs for rapid diagnosis, equip hospitals and train medical staff, recommends HT.

The Times of India: The daily comments on the ruckus being created in the Parliament for the past two days. It states that no purpose will be served if the political class remains split over Delhi riots, which is unmistakably a tragedy. There is much work to be done in terms of relief, rehabilitation and justice delivery and the Parliament has an important role to play in this. Conversely, the absence of dialogue and debate in Parliament sends a wrong message to citizens, writes TOI.

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