Skip to main content

Modi govt 'wholly untrustworthy' on Covid data, censored criticism on pandemic: Lancet

By Rajiv Shah  

One of the world’s most prestigious health journals, brought out from England, has sharply criticised the Narendra Modi government for being “wholly untrustworthy on Covid-19 health data”, stating, the “official government figures place deaths at more than 530 000, while WHO excess death estimates for 2020 and 2021 are near 4·7 million.”
The Lancet in its latest unsigned editorial commentary insisted, “The fact that the Indian government attempted to delay the publication of such figures while also censoring criticism during the pandemic seriously undermines its integrity.”
The journal said, this was happening at a time when press freedom in India “has diminished since Modi's ascent to power in 2014” (the ranking is down to 161, down 11 in a year), adding, this also happened at a time when “Civil society is increasingly constrained and violent Hindu nationalism is suppressing non-Hindu voices. Without a space for debate, activism and accountability are impossible, and India's place as the world's largest democracy is threatened.”
Given this framework, it stated, “Ultimately, the leadership of any country on the global stage depends upon its legitimacy. The Modi government has failed to show a commitment to transparency, integrity, and equity. As a result, India risks squandering its formidable opportunities.”
The Lancet said, the situation has worsened despite India’s new digital health programme, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, “could serve as a model for other countries to follow, and India’s “vaccine distribution platform, Co-Win, an open-source digital health programme, could be put to “public good for international use.”
While such actions suggest “India could enhance South–South cooperation”, The Lancet, which is considered the world’s “highest-impact academic journal”, however, regretted, “There is danger that India's domestic potential and its international aspirations will amount to little more than platitudes, given the direction that Modi is taking the country.”
Thus, said Lancet, while India has shown “global leadership in access to medicines”, and it alongside South Africa was “one of the first nations to propose intellectual property waivers during the Covid-19 pandemic”, questions have been raised how its “immense generics manufacturing industry” offered contaminated medicines, raising “questions over regulatory oversight.”
Citing the example of providing “affordable medicines to many parts of the world, including about two-thirds of antiretroviral drugs for HIV”, the contaminated medicines, it complained, “resulted a series of fatalities.”
Without a space for debate, activism and accountability are impossible, and India's place as the world's largest democracy is threatened
Conceding that “India has undoubted strengths”, The Lancet said, it would wrong to call demography a destiny. It noted, “While China's population is declining, India's is projected to continue increasing. The number of young people entering the workforce is increasing, presenting a potential demographic dividend.”
The Lancet agreed that “India has shown some enthusiasm for building greenhouse gas infrastructure”, though added, “But softening of the language on coal at COP26 invites scepticism. Despite low health sector and per capita emissions, India remains the world's third largest CO2 emitter.”
It said, “India's climate policies are a contradiction. It is seeking more than US$100 billion annually to support renewable energy transition in LMICs. Huge investments in green hydrogen and solar energy could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which account for more than 80% of India's energy needs.”
It added, “India is already feeling the consequences of failing to act. Last year, devastating heatwaves wreaked havoc, and India recorded its hottest March on record. Articulating a clear pathway towards net zero, and having the data to support it, are imperative.”
In fact, it said, “India's climate policies are a contradiction. It is seeking more than US$100 billion annually to support renewable energy transition in LMICs. Huge investments in green hydrogen and solar energy could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which account for more than 80% of India's energy needs.”
Commenting on India holding the G20 presidency, taking over from Indonesia, with its New Delhi Leader's Summit in September will be the first to be hosted in south Asia, The Lancet wondered, “What will these developments mean for its role in the international system? India says that it wants to amplify the voice of the Global South, and its G20 goals reflect this ambition.”
However, it pointed out, “The nationalist agenda of Narendra Modi's government, its resistance to multilateralism, and a raft of pressing domestic concerns threaten the chances of making these aims a reality.”


In today's day and age of high-speed communications, it is difficult to hide facts and figures; but once they are made public it is difficult to disprove them.


'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.