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सूरत से कोलकाता जा रही इंडिगो फ्लाइट की भोपाल में कराई गई इमरजेंसी लैंडिंगराकेश टिकैत का बड़ा एलानः सरकार जब तक कानून वापस नहीं लेती, घर नहीं जाएंगे किसानअभिनेता अक्षय कुमार ने राम मंदिर निर्माण के लिए दिया योगदान, लोगों से भी की अपीलग्राम सचिव की भर्ती रद्द किए जाने पर कांग्रेस नेता किरण चौधरी का सरकार पर हमलापीएम मोदी गुजरात के केवडिया में वीडियो कॉन्फ्रेंसिंग के जरिए आठ ट्रेनों को दिखाई हरी झंडीपीएम मोदी गुजरात के केवडिया में वीडियो कॉन्फ्रेंसिंग के जरिए आठ ट्रेनों को दिखाएंगे हरी झंडीकोरोना संकट और जलवायु परिवर्तन पर चर्चा के लिए ब्रिटेन ने जी 7 नेताओं को बुलायाकेरल: मालाबार एक्सप्रेस के लगेज कंपार्टमेंट में लगी आग

‘Dangerous dependence on China’

July 11, 2020 06:44 AM


‘Dangerous dependence on China’

A health worker collects swab sample from a woman in Gurugram on Friday. PTI
Saubhadra Chatterji

New Delhi : The parliamentary panel on science and technology, in its first meeting since the Covid-19 outbreak, on Friday discussed the “dangerous dependence” on key Chinese imports in domestic pharma industry and the urgent need to get rid of these imports, functionaries familiar with the matter said.

The Jairam Ramesh-led panel also discussed how making a vaccine for the pathogen by August 15 would “not be possible anywhere in the world” — a reference to a letter last week by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that suggested this possibility but later clarified it as a motivator of innovation, and not as a hard deadline.

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours and included inputs from top scientific minds, also discussed the need to produce low-cost health equipment including ventilators, which are in high demand in the wake of the pandemic.

Though only six out of 30 members could attend the meeting, the department of biotechnology, science and technology and the Prime Minister’s principal scientific adviser, K VijayRaghavan, gave presentations to the committee on India’s Covid-19 preparedness.

“The focus was vaccines, drugs, pharmaceuticals and health equipment,” said a member of the panel.

The focus on pharmaceutical imports from China assumes significance in the backdrop of the bloody clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley on June 15.

Over the past few weeks, New Delhi has taken a series of measures to curb Chinese investments and contracts.

In a written reply to Parliament last year, the government had said that from 20016 to 2019, more than 65% of India imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates came from China. Replying to Trinamool Congress’s Mala Roy, the chemicals and fertilizer ministry had also said that “imports from China are due to economic considerations”, indicating that they were available at cheaper rates.

According to a member of the panel who was present in the meeting, the “urgent need for research and development efforts to rid ourselves of Chinese dependence was also discussed threadbare”.

In the discussion on an India-made vaccine, the panel members felt that if a vaccine has to come before August 15, it would mean that trials, tests and safety protocols would’ve been short-circuited.

There was also a discussion on how India can make more affordable medical equipment, especially ventilators at a price range of ~ 25,000 to ~ 30,000. Functionaries also said that panel chairman, Jairam Ramesh, pointed out that “health security is as critical as defence security”.

Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, who often faced demands from MPs for online meetings in recent weeks, said he was glad that standing committees under the Rajya Sabha have resumed functioning.

“The corona pandemic did cast a shadow on the working of these committees, which function on behalf of Parliament. All concerned were keen about the resumption of work by these committees. But the delay was forced by circumstances beyond our control,” he said.

He added that committee on home affairs, also under the Rajya Sabha, will meet next week after an earlier meeting could not be held.


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