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UPSC Online Editorial Analysis


Title of the editorial: A clear reading of the Ayurveda surgery move

Written by: Dr. Sanjay Nagral (a surgeon and writerfrom Mumbai)

Topic in the syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health (GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how can we utilise the Ayurvedic graduates to improve the common man’s access to decent health care.


  • On November 20, a Gazette of India notification by the Central Council of Indian Medicine — a
    statutory body under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, and “which regulates the Indian Medical systems of Ayurveda, Siddha, Sowa­Rigpa and Unani Medicine” — identifying surgical procedures that can be performed by postgraduate Ayurvedic doctors in Shalya (surgery) has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

What is the history of surgery in Ayurveda?

  • We know about Sushruta and his surgical dexterity at a time when the world had not yet woken up to the art and the science of surgery.
  • There are detailed descriptions in the Sushruta Samhita, the ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery, of procedures such as rhinoplasty where the nose is reconstructed with tissue from the
  • It was thousands of years later that modern plastic surgeons described this procedure.
  • A procedure called ‘Kshar Sutra’ used for anal fistula was described in Ayurveda texts and has been incorporated in modern medicine.

What is the concern?

  • It is difficult to trust a modern surgical postgraduate to perform a removal of the gallbladder called cholecystectomy independently unless they have assisted or been taken through at least 100 odd procedures. For Ayurvedic surgeons to do it is an obvious overkill.
  • The point is, Ayurvdic surgeons without proper training & expertise to perform such complex surgeries, will create problems.

What is the necessity?

  • Ayurveda graduates including surgeons are a large workforce in search of an identity. India needs them.
  • If they are creatively and properly trained, they can play important roles in our health­care system.
  • On site or ambulance care of trauma victims is in a shambles in India. It is effectively delivered by trained paramedics in many countries.


  • It is an urgent need to utilise India’s large workforce of non-MBBS doctors to improve access to
    decent health care for our ordinary citizens, it will be a great help to Indian health care system.


Title of the editorial: Storm warnings: On weather forecast

Topic in the syllabus: Disaster and disaster management. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial suggest how Governments can handle cyclones better by investing in town planning and infrastructure.


  • Cyclone Nivar raised fears of another epic disaster for millions of coastal residents in the south, but its passage overland near Puducherry early on November 26 was less destructive than anticipated.
  • Property and agriculture have suffered considerable damage from the fierce winds and massive volume of rain it dumped in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

How was the preparedness?

  • The IMD has been getting better at forecasting slow-moving, linear tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, and multiple satellites now provide cyclone data.
  • The deployment of over two dozen NDRF teams and disaster management equipment along the coast reassured civic agencies.

What is more concerning?

  • Not everyone escaped Nivar with a minor penalty, however, and for suburban Chennai, the peak one-day rainfall of 31 cm in Tambaram wrought destruction mirroring what happened five years ago; smaller inland towns have also suffered inundation and severe losses. (monsoon flooding poses much big threat)
  • There is extensive documentation on the loss of its floodplains, lakes and peri-urban wetlands to encroachment, a key factor that is exacerbating monsoon flooding.
  • This land grab is made possible by the benign indulgence of successive governments.
  • Governments have not shown the rigour to collect and publish data on annual flooding patterns, and measure the peak flows in the neglected rivers and canals to plan remedies.
  • Appalling indifference to land use norms has spawned an amorphous housing sector characterised by inflated, speculative prices but no foundation of civic infrastructure.

What government must do?

  • Governments and local bodies should hardwire urban planning and invest heavily in infrastructure for a future of frequent disruptive weather.


Title of the editorial: Rein in the vaccine nationalism, the profiteering

Topic in the syllabus: Issues related to health system (GS-2) | Ethics (GS-4)

Analysis about: This editorial suggests that there should be the equitable access to vaccines and life­saving medicines.


  • About compulsory licensing:
    • Through the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Doha Ministerial Conference declaration 2001, the WTO made provisions for compulsory licensing.
    • This is a provision where the government intervenes when patent clauses regarding availability, reasonable pricing, local production and technology transfer are not met by the patent holder.
    • Compulsory licensing is an “involuntary contract” issued by the national government between a “willing buyer” or local manufacturer and an “unwilling seller” or patent holder foreign company.

How business booms in difficulties? & recent examples:

  • When economies crumbled in many countries, e­commerce and gadget based gaming business boomed.
  • And in the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are numerous examples of companies having made enormous profits in the supply of personal protective equipment and kits and ventilators.
  • In a liberalised economy, there is a shocking silence in the global market trying to do business out of human suffering.
  • Business lies in selling technologies around COVID­19, the diagnostics, drugs and vaccine candidates.

Ethical aspect in profiteering during pandemic:

  • Ii is illegal to hoard, for black marketing essential goods in drought ­affected areas.
  • Over­ charging of commodities and services during any natural disaster is always a scandal.
  • It is a crime against humanity to make a profit during any human tragedy.
  • It is definitely not a time to be doing business and making a fast buck.
  • Making enormous profit out of a human tragedy is shameful.
  • Unfortunately, such a sense of shame is missing in the international trade market.

What are concerns regarding equitable access to vaccine?

  • The advance purchase agreements that some countries have negotiated with pharmaceutical companies exemplify adverse trends.
  • Such vaccine nationalism undermines equitable access to vaccines.

What is necessary? (suggestions)

  • There should be empathy and concern about human suffering.
  • Such solidarity is a recognition of the need to: prevent further damage and destruction, rescue and evacuate affected people to safer zones, and salvage belongings and meet their minimal survival needs.
  • The COVID­19 pandemic is also a human tragedy and needs global solidarity.
  • Organisations of the United Nations and global networks for people should come together in one
  • We cannot allow the rich and the strong to grab everything first.
  • There has to be prioritisation for high-risk groups in all countries, especially in the least developed, low­ and middle-income nations.
  • That framework has to be accepted by the global community without dispute. In this, the COVAX partnership is a mechanism for ensuring that.
  • Essential medicines and vaccines are public good. A public good is a common property of the nation and such goods are not excludable or there should not be any rivalries in dealing with
  • Governments must step in to regulate its development, innovation, manufacture, sale, and supply ultimately to the public.
  • If there is public financing for technology development, there is no scope for grant of patent protection.
  • Governments should be the custodian of public goods.

What is the way forward for India & the world?

  • Compulsory licensing is an extreme step available with India if rich countries go for advance purchase and hoarding of a COVID­19 vaccine produced in India by multinational pharma companies and deny India’s supply needs.
  • India and South Africa jointly sent out a communication, on October 2, 2020 to the IPR Council of the WTO for a waiver of the protection of copyright, design, trademarks and patent on COVID­19 related technologies including vaccines.
  • It is claimed that India’s submission has the support of 43 members of the African group and 36 members of Least Developed countries.
  • If this is decided favourably as a special case considering the unprecedented impact of the pandemic, it will set a precedent.
  • A UN organisation such as the WTO can wield influence on member nations to forgo trade profits for a humanitarian cause.


Title of the Editorial: Are tougher laws the answer to check online abuse?

Topic in the syllabus: Polity, Governance (GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about the issues related to online abuse and implementation of related laws.

Basics: Shreya Singhal case –

  • Shreya Singhal v. Union of India is a judgement by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in 2015, on the issue of online speech and intermediary liability in India.
  • The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, relating to restrictions on online speech, as unconstitutional on grounds of violating the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
  • The Court further held that the Section was not saved by virtue of being a ‘reasonable restriction’ on the freedom of speech under Article 19(2).
  • The Supreme Court also read down Section 79 and Rules under the Section. It held that online intermediaries would only be obligated to take down content on receiving an order from a court or government authority.
  • The case is considered a watershed moment for online free speech in India.
  • Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, (struck down by SC) made it a punishable offence for any person to
  • “send, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, —
    • (a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
    • (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,
    • (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages,”
  • The vague and arbitrary terms used in the Section led to much misuse of both personal and political nature, with several criminal cases being instituted against innocuous instances of online speech, including political commentary and humour.


  • Following widespread criticism, theKerala government has decided towithdraw an Ordinance that givesunbridled powers to the police to arrest anyone expressing or disseminating any matter that it deems defamatory.
  • However, the move tointroduce such a law in the firstplace shows that State governmentsbelieve that existing laws are notadequate to deal with social mediaabuse.

Are there effective lawsto deal with these issues?

  • We have the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalises speech that is obscene, defamatory, that insults the modesty of women and intrudes upon her privacy.
  • It punishes anonymous criminal intimidation, it punishes voyeurism, it punishes digitally enabled stalking, hate speech, and even non-consensual sharing of sexual images online.
  • We have the Information Technology Act of 2000 that punishes speech that is obscene.
  • The IT Act also places obligations on intermediaries, where intermediaries have a duty of due diligence; they have to take down content based on a request by the government or a court order.
  • In fact, in 2017, the Law Commission of India recommended that two new provisions be introduced to the IPC to specifically deal with online hate speech.

Issues related to laws:

  • Enforcement and implementation of existing laws is not very good.
  • It’s common knowledge that it’s generally not very easy for victims or individuals to file and proceed with complaints.
  • What you and I would normally recognise as hate speech, there is a really low number of cybercrimes as per the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) data.
  • In 2017, for example, there were only about 21,000 cases in India, which is a huge jump from the 12,000 odd cases in 2016.
  • But that still appears to be a fairly low number in the Indian context.
  • No new rules have as yet been announced by the government despite the fact that we keep hearing that this may be done any time.
  • In the absence of any changes in the legislative structure, courts and governments have largely resorted to blocking content or forcing intermediaries to take steps to limit the spread of illegal content.
  • For example-
    • Madras High Court threatened to ban TikTok because it was supposedly enabling the circulation of obscene content.
    • It’s also important to remember that the government from time to time issues directions, which has happened most recently in the context of WhatsApp, where they have been asked to take certain steps pertaining to illegal content on their platform.
    • You also have an independent regulator, like the Election Commission, which has taken some steps in the context of electorally sensitive content.

The way forward:

  • State governments must also be focused on improving the criminal justice system in order to make it easier for women to be able to access the system to make complaints, and for the police to be able to prosecute the complaints properly.
  • Rather than rush into making a new law that is likely to be struck down by the courts, it might have been better if the government had actually outlined the specific problem and conducted more transparent consultations with the stakeholders involved to try and figure out solutions.
  • One thing we want to be clear on is if a law is worded in a manner that is so broad that just does not allow any kind of reasonable interpretation and can be completely and patently subject to different interpretations, such a law will not stand.

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