The Hindu: The United States of Trumperica
The march of Donald Trump towards securing the Republican presidential nomination has assumed an air of inevitability. The billionaire property mogul and Grand Old Party frontrunner scored a major victory in Tuesday’s primary elections in five northeastern States. His delegate count now soars at 949, compared to 544 for Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, and 153 for Ohio Governor John Kasich. The response of the panicked GOP mainstream has been feeble. The idea of holding a “contested convention” to thwart Mr. Trump and the plan for Mr. Cruz and Mr. Kasich to collude in the remaining primary races do not appear to be retarding Mr. Trump’s momentum. He is inching ever closer to securing the minimum number of 1,237 delegates required for the nomination. There is a good chance that if Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wins her party’s nomination, she may emerge as an insurmountable obstacle in Mr. Trump’s path to the White House. Yet her own campaign is not without risks — for example, the troubling questions surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attack and her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary. Thus it has come to a point where Democrats, the American people, and the rest of the world watching the spectacle of the election may have to ponder a question that most wouldn’t have dreamt of asking a year ago: What would the United States and the world look like under the reign of President Donald Trump?
Consider his policies that would have the strongest ripple effect globally. On trade, Mr. Trump promises to negotiate better agreements by punishing companies that seek to offshore their operations with a 35 per cent tariff on goods they want to sell to the U.S. This flies in the face of the laissez-faire, free-trade model that Republicans generally support. It also risks price wars and spiralling trade disputes that would make their way to the WTO. Relatively low-cost economies such as India may be hit badly. Second, Mr. Trump’s policies may produce instability vis-à-vis countries that are important to the Indian economy. His sabre-rattling towards China, including his promise to label it a “currency manipulator” and to force it to end “illegal export subsidies” could lead to volatility in the global markets that would exceed the turmoil witnessed at the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2015. Similarly, his intention to tear up the nuclear treaty with Iran, bomb Syria and shake up ties with Saudi Arabia could send oil prices soaring. On domestic politics, Mr. Trump has sounded hateful about Muslims, Mexicans, women, the differently-abled and the media. Combine this with a vow to roll back health-care reforms, loosen gun control and reinstate torture, a Trump presidency poses the risk of heightening socioeconomic inequality and fuelling bigotry. Internationally, no nation would be more isolated than the United States of Trumperica.
> certain to happen and unable to be avoided or prevented:
The accident was the inevitable consequence/result/outcome of carelessness.
› the person, animal, or organization that is most likely to win something:
She is one of the front-runners in the contest.
> a sudden strong feeling of fear that prevents reasonable thought and action:
a state of panic
Panic spread through the crowd as the bullets started to fly.
Carmel was in a panic about her exam.
>weak and without energy, strength, or power:
He was a feeble, helpless old man.
The little lamp gave only a feeble light.
› to stop something from happening or someone from doing something:
Our holiday plans were thwarted by the airline pilots’ strike
› to act together secretly or illegally in order to deceive or cheat someone:
It was suspected that the police had colluded with the witnesses.
› (especially of a problem or a difficulty) so great that it cannot be dealt with successfully:
This small country is faced with an insurmountable debt.
> to think carefully about something, especially for a noticeable length of time:
She sat back for a minute to ponder her next move in the game.
› a situation in which one event produces effects which spread and produce further effects:
The bank crash has had a ripple effect on the whole community.
› unwillingness to get involved in or influence other people’s activities:
The problems began long before he became CEO, but they worsened with his laissez-faire approach/attitude.
› If a government is laissez-faire, it does not have many laws and rules that control the buying and selling of goods and services.
› talking and behaving in a way that threatens military action
› the fact of having and expressing strong, unreasonable beliefs and disliking other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life:
The Hindu: More medicine for less
The Centre is reported to be in favour of moving a bill requiring doctors to prescribe generic medicines in place of costly, branded ones. This progressive step, which will reform the way essential medicines are distributed to patients, was recommended by the Planning Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage five years ago. Among its suggestions is a system of bulk procurement of important drugs from quality generics manufacturers through Central and State-level supply logistics corporations and their distribution through Jan Aushadhi outlets. Given the large size of India’s pharmaceuticals market, and the vested interests in favour of the status quo on price and distribution, it has taken inordinately long to move to low-cost generic medicines on a large scale. There is also a lack of awareness on the availability of affordable alternatives to expensive brands. A recent assessment of India’s expenditure on health published by The Lancet showed that out-of-pocket spending comprises 58 per cent of the total; two-thirds of this is on drugs. What makes the situation difficult even for relatively better-off patients who can afford commercial health insurance is that risk cover is generally confined to part payment of hospitalisation bills, but not prescription medicines. The poor are impoverished further by drug costs. It is vital, therefore, that governments act on multiple fronts — making listed essential medicines available free or nearly free to all in hospitals through higher public spending, widening access to generics through Jan Aushadhi outlets, and closely monitoring professional practice to eliminate prescription of irrational, non-essential drugs that have no curative effect.
Famed as it is for leading in the production of generic medicines and catering to the needs of other developing countries, Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing has also faced censure over quality. The episode of Ranbaxy pleading guilty to felony charges in the U.S. three years ago for adulteration of its products and failure to meet standard manufacturing practices highlights the need for close regulatory oversight. Only with a guarantee of efficacy can the plan for mandatory prescription of generics succeed. To achieve this, the government should proactively help all manufacturers — public and private — to meet the internationally recognised Good Manufacturing Practice standards. Scaling up the number of Jan Aushadhi outlets quickly to a few thousand poses a challenge; moreover, the performance so far has been uninspiring. Barring a few States like Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Kerala that have a creditable record of public provision through hospitals, the target for opening generic drug pharmacies, first announced in 2008, has never been met. Co-opting private pharmacists is one way ahead. Again, one of the persistent problems with low-cost access systems is non-availability of specific drugs. A transparent supply chain managed by state-run procurement agencies can help overcome such bottlenecks.
› to get something, especially after an effort:
She’s managed somehow to procure his phone number.
[+ two objects] He’d procured us seats in the front row.
› vested shares, pension plans, etc. can be kept by an employee who has worked the necessary number of years for a particular company:
He chose to receive his vested benefits in a single lump-sum payment.
› the present situation or condition:
Are you in favor of statehood, independence, or the status quo for Puerto Rico?
› much more than usual or expected:
Margot has always spent an inordinate amount of time on her appearance.
be better off
› to have more money than you had in the past or more money than most other people:
Obviously we’re better off now that we’re both working.
When his parents died, he found himself $100,000 better off (= he had $100,000 more than before).
› to be in a better situation, if or after something happens:
He’d be better off working for a bigger company
› the ability, especially of a medicine or a method of achieving something, to produce the intended result:
They recently ran a series of tests to measure the efficacy of the drug.
› to make food or drink weaker or to lower its quality, by adding something else:
There were complaints that the beer had been adulterated with water.
overcome verb (DEAL WITH)
> to defeat or succeed in controlling or dealing with something:
Juventus overcame Ajax in a thrilling game.
› a problem that delays progress:
Is there any way of getting around this bureaucratic bottleneck?
Indian Express: The fall guys
Is it fair to expect Madhuri Dixit, who has appeared in Maggi noodles advertisements, to pierce through the thicket of claims and counter-claims on technical
aspects of food chemistry when even the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, with an army of technicians and labs at its disposal, stumbles on this issue? Well, that’s what a parliamentary panel on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, would expect her to do. It has recommended that “endorsers/ celebrities” be criminally penalised for “misleading” advertisements with a Rs 10 lakh fine and/ or imprisonment of up to two years for a first offence. If things go according to the panel’s plan, the scales would be unfairly and disproportionately loaded against endorsers and the onus shifted for ascertaining product safety away from regulators.
In China, attempts to prosecute Jackie Chan for his endorsement of a “chemical-free” shampoo with allegedly cancer-causing ingredients have failed. Internationally, in the US, for example, celebrity endorsers are subject to civil liability for making false claims. But, one, such liability is typically indemnified by the brand owner and, two, a test of “reasonable contemplation” by the endorser — for instance, has the product been signed off on by the safety regulator? — is applicable. In the case of criminal liability, however, these two alleviating conditions will likely not hold. In India, where the IPC already criminalises attempts to intentionally sell “noxious” food, and the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, has provisions for fines for false advertising, additional criminal penalties are overzealous and unnecessary.
The parliamentary panel’s recommendation is troubling, especially when applied to the realm of food safety and consumer products, where the shifting sands of science frequently throw up new heroes and villains. So is it kosher to say that eggs and butter make for a healthy breakfast? Or that Marmite is good for you thanks to its vitamin load? The UK says it is, although Denmark had banned it. You better be sure before you ad lib.
› the responsibility or duty to do something:
The onus is on the administration to come up with a balanced budget.
› to discover something:
The police have so far been unable to ascertain the cause of the explosion.
[+ question word] Have you ascertained whether she’s coming or not?
> to officially accuse someone of committing a crime in a law court, or (of a lawyer) to try to prove that a person accused of committing a crime is guilty of that crime:
Shoplifters will be prosecuted.
He was prosecuted for fraud.
› to protect someone or something against possible damage or loss by paying an indemnity to cover the costs:
The insurance also indemnifies the house against flooding.
› to make something bad such as pain or problems less severe:
The drugs did nothing to alleviate her pain/suffering.
› Something, especially a gas or other substance, that is noxious is poisonous or very harmful:
They died from inhaling noxious fumes.
› harmful and unpleasant:
a noxious smell/influence
>an area of interest or activity:
Her interests are in the realm of practical politics.
› said without any preparation or practice:
I’d forgotten the notes for my speech so I had to do it ad lib.
Business Standard: Spiritual business
That the yoga teacher and entrepreneur “Baba” Ramdev has the highest of ambitions was evident from the “India kagrowth icon” banner behind him at Tuesday’s press conference to announce Patanjali Ayurved’s 2015-16 financial results. There were no regulatory requirements for a public disclosure of the results, as Patanjali is an unlisted entity, but it is a reflection of Mr Ramdev’s confidence in the success of his business empire that he chose to do so anyway. His confidence certainly wasn’t misplaced: From Rs 446 crore in 2011-12, Patanjali’s revenue jumped to Rs 2,006 crore in 2014-15, and around Rs 5,000 crore for the year ended March, 2016. Mr Ramdev announced that Patanjali will cross Rs 10,000 crore by March 2017. That’s scorching growth by any standards and gives the established multinational giants in the fast-moving consumer goods space a real run for their money. Indeed, if Patanjali achieves its revenue target for 2016-17, it will be ahead of Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble. Brokerage IIFL Capital has estimated that Patanjali’s sales would increase to Rs 20,000 crore by 2019-20. Mr Ramdev has, in fact, made defeating multinational corporations a central part of his corporate communication. And in true corporate style, the Hardwar-headquartered behemoth has roped in two top advertising agencies to step up its growth.
If ayurveda got a booster shot when Patanjali burst into the FMCG market, “Sri Sri” Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living has also been quick to merge business with spirituality. Earlier this month, newspapers had full-page advertisements for Ojasvita, a malt drink from Sri Sri Ayurveda, prompting analysts to start talking of that company as the new disruptor in the FMCG market. To close the gap with Patanjali’s distribution, Sri Sri plans to more than quadruple its offline stores – called the Divine stores – from 600 now to 2,500 by 2017.
But questions will now begin to be asked about how well businesses like Mr Ramdev’s or Mr Shankar’s conform to the overall regulatory framework. There are still many grey areas. As argued in this newspaper earlier this month, most of these businesses run by spiritual gurus have crowd-sourced their funds from followers even though the law on “collective investment schemes” (defined as any collection of funds to the extent of Rs 100 crore) would deter crowd-funding for a business idea that openly says it is a business seeking money. That’s the reason perhaps why Mr Ramdev has been silent on his profit figures, stressing revenue growth instead.
Then there is the issue of related-party transactions. A majority of Art of Living’s FMCG products are made by the Sumeru group of companies which is run by Mr Shankar’s close relatives, including his nephew. Sumeru’s software company is responsible for Art of Living’s digital presence, its realty company is involved in Art of Living’s construction projects, and so on. The law is tough on related-party transactions and imposes tough compliance conditions. There are also many open questions about whether current food and drug regulations can deal with consumer products from companies like Patanjali. The spiritual gurus running these businesses would do well to note that the aura of spiritualism might not shield them from the regulatory structure for too long
› very hot:
a scorching summer day
It was scorching hot inside the greenhouse.
› something that is extremely large and often extremely powerful:
a grocery chain behemoth
› a person or thing that prevents something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected:
conform to/with sth
› to obey a rule or reach the necessary stated standard, or to do things in a traditional way:
Before buying the baby’s car seat , make sure that it conforms to the official safety standards.
› a situation that is not clear or where the rules are not known:
The difference between gross negligence and recklessness is a legal grey area.
› to prevent someone from doing something or to make someone less enthusiastic about doing something by making it difficult for that person to do it or by threatening bad results if they do it:
These measures are designed to deter an enemy attack.
High prices are deterring many young people from buying houses.
The DNA: Perpetually hamstrung
The Union government must pay heed to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Anil Sinha’s warning that the agency could “collapse and fail” if its demand for more personnel is not immediately met. The CBI chief, appearing before a parliamentary standing committee vetting the agency’s demand for grants for the 2016-17 financial year, testified that against its capacity to investigate 700 cases, a total of 1,200 cases were pending. The CBI also complained that a total of 1,531 posts, over one-fifth of the total sanctioned 7,274 posts, were lying vacant. The importance of the CBI cannot be emphasised enough in a federal system like India where law and order is a state subject but where crimes, especially financial offences, and investigations routinely overlap across state and even international borders. There was a time when the CBI offered hope to those who believed that a central agency would be insulated from local pressures that often subverts state police investigations. This is also evident in the conviction rates: while the CBI had a 69 per cent conviction rate in 2014, the general conviction rate was just 45 per cent in the same year.
Earlier this week, on a similar note, the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had broken down while pointing fingers at the central government for not appointing enough judges to tackle the huge pendency of cases. The investigator, prosecutor and the judge are the three integral point-persons in the criminal justice delivery system who ensure the primacy of the rule of law. It is important that these three wings are sufficiently staffed if the rule of law is to survive and flourish. The political class, however, has come to view independent-minded investigators, judges, and auditors as spokes in the governance wheel. This suspicion of those who are meant to be watchdogs has clearly contributed to the current state of affairs. The vacancies in the CBI have gone up from 831 in 2012, 878 in 2013, 1,000 in 2014, and 1,101 in 2015. Of this, there are over 700 vacancies for various levels of investigators, and nearly 100 vacancies are of law officers.
One of the factors that has increased the workload is the recent trend of high courts and the Supreme Court referring cases to the CBI, when demands for a CBI probe were overlooked or rejected by the central and state governments. Last year, the Supreme Court had slammed the CBI and the Centre for not taking effective steps to fill vacancies and “sleeping over” the issue. The CBI had pleaded staff shortage when the Supreme Court had referred the Saradha chit fund scam and the Vyapam scam cases to it. Together, nearly 2,000 regular cases have been lodged in just these two instances, putting a huge strain on the agency’s resources. The quick fix solution that the CBI has suggested is that more state police personnel be deputed to tide over the vacancies.
Back in 2013, the same parliamentary committee had criticised the Department of Training and Personnel and the CBI for relying on deputation rather than hiring more personnel directly to the CBI cadre. This reliance on deputation officers, who serve shorter tenures in the CBI, but are preferred over the CBI cadre in promotions, is at the root of the agency’s troubles. This stop-gap mode of operation is evident even in the CBI’s charter. Till date, the CBI is governed by the vague and poorly defined Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, and does not have a defined statutory character. All this reinforces the impression that the CBI is a “caged parrot”. It is unfortunate that despite the change of guard at the Centre in 2014, the same ills continue to plague the CBI.
› continuing for ever in the same way:
They lived in perpetual fear of being discovered.
› to limit the amount of something that can be done or the ability or power of someone to do something:
The company was hamstrung by traditional but inefficient ways of conducting business.
› to pay attention to something, especially advice or a warning:
The airline has been criticized for failing to heed advice/warnings about lack of safety routines.
› to examine something or someone carefully to make certain that they are acceptable or suitable:
During the war, the government vetted all news reports before they were published.
› to try to destroy or damage something, especially an established political system:
The rebel army is attempting to subvert the government.
› Something that is broken-down does not now work:
a broken-down washing machine
> to (cause to) move against a hard surface with force and usually a loud noise:
The wind made the door/window slam (s
> a force or influence that stretches, pulls, or puts pressure on something, sometimes causing damage:
The hurricane put such a strain on the bridge that it collapsed.
As you get older, excess weight puts a lot of strain on the heart.
› a group of people sent to speak or act for others:
They sent a deputation to Parliament.
> to make something stronger:
The pockets on my jeans are reinforced with double stitching.
>to cause worry, pain, or difficulty to someone or something over a period of time:
Financial problems have been plaguing their new business partners.