Citizens' Issues
'Counterfeiting of goods could mar 'Make in India' campaign'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India campaign will succeed only if products manufactured in the country are reliable and authentic, a top official of a pan-India association of manufacturers of anti-counterfeiting solutions has said, adding that FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), especially packaged drinking water, were the most counterfeited in India.
 
Speaking to IANS after the annual general body meeting of the India-edition of Authentication Solution Providers Association (ASPA) in Goa, its president, U.K. Gupta, also said that authentication of goods using simple and cost-effective techniques such as holograms and tamper-proof seals would save the Indian economy several billion rupees annually.
 
"The Make in India campaign needs authentication of products to make it complete. A scenario where goods manufactured in India are counterfeited will only harm the campaign. There is a constant need to ensure that the Made in India label products are of highest quality, genuine and secured till delivered to the end consumer," Gupta said.
 
Quoting statistics from a report of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Gupta said that in the financial year 2013-14, counterfeiting caused a loss of Rs.21,957 crore ($3.3 billion) to the FMCG packaged goods industry, while in the same year, counterfeiting and duplication of products caused a loss of Rs.39,239 to the state exchequer in forms of tax and duty evasion.
 
According to Gupta, counterfeiting in industries like FMCG (packaged and personal goods), mobile phones, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, auto components and computer hardware caused a cumulative loss of Rs.105,381 crore in 2013-14 to the companies involved in their manufacture.
 
"The matter is so serious that if no immediate measures are taken, then the counterfeit market will, in the next five years, grow beyond imagination and will cause a very substantial loss to the Indian Government, industry and may impact the health of consumers, as well as in their belief in Made in India products," he said.
 
Nearly 70 manufacturers of authentication solution providers in India are members of the ASPA which is also affiliated with global associations such as the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), Counterfeit Intelligence Bureau (CIB) and Interpol. ASPA members protect over 10,000 brands worldwide through the identification of genuine products and documents.
 
Gupta said that the most successful case study vis-a-vis countering counterfeiting is of usage of authentication solutions by various state excise departments.
 
"In India, more than 22 states are already using approximately 20,000 million security hologram (tax stamps) on liquor bottles per annum. The usage of authentication solutions in states like Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh has not only minimized the tragedies due to spurious liquor but also increased excise revenue collections by more than 15-20 percent on a year-on-year basis," he said.
 
"States like Bihar, Goa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were not using any authentication solutions till date. It will help these states in curbing the inter-state smuggling of liquor which happens due to difference in excise duty rates," he said.

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Prime Minister as the real Health Minister
What surprises me more is the capacity of our PM to understand the complexities of health care
 
I was thrilled to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking doctors last week to try to be human and humane. It sounded like the lectures I used to take in the medical schools while I was in active teaching. The latest research shows what I used to teach for decades that healing is not due to our interventions with drugs and surgery but through the placebo effect, that underlies all interventions. (Science Translational Medicine 2013; 3: 70) If so, the doctor should earn (command) the respect and faith of his/her patients. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Harvard trained medical doctor who left medical practice to be a writer and poet, writes the following lines, which now have been proven scientifically right. “The two most powerful medicines doctors ever invented were the two kind words of a good doctor.” How true.
 
That being said what about the state of health care in India? Are doctors the only factor in health care? That is another unscientific myth that makes the round especially in political circles. Mac Furlane Burnet said something like this. “Doctors and hospitals do not keep society healthy.” When you talk to any politician worth his salt s/he thinks that India lacks in numbers of doctors to plug the doctor-patient ratio. There seems to be an obsession with the numbers game in the medical field that most politicians think that India needs more doctors! In fact, India has surplus doctors and the so called doctor-patient ratio is the best here if we consider all castes of doctors in the healing field as one bunch. If we take the MBBS doctors alone it might not be as good as some of the advanced countries. What is important is not the number of doctors but the number of humane doctors in any country. Several scientific studies have shown that even in the advanced west those countries with too many doctors per capita and when more number of the former are specialists, the health of the population was the worst and disease numbers were the highest compared to those countries whose doctor patient ratio was poor and most of their doctors were only family doctors. Japan with the worst doctor patient ratio was one of the best countries in the world for health statistics while US and Germany with the best ratios were the worst among the fourteen industrialised countries! (JAMA 2000; 284: 483). A very recent study done over a period of 10 years prospectively in thirty hospitals in the Massachusetts area showed that when senior interventionalists were away attending conferences, the death and disability rates among seriously ill patients admitted to their ICUs did better and death rates fell down significantly. (JAMA Internal Medicine 2015; 185: 237) Similar was the experience when doctors went on strike for longer than three months. (BMJ 2000; 320: 1561)
 
India does not have to worry about their doctor numbers; we could do well to reduce the numbers if needed. If some rationalists have doubts about the ability of the non-MBBS doctors to be effective one only has to look at that large study done in Thailand by the WHO some years ago where five different systems of healing arts are in vogue including quackery. This study did show that all doctors were equally effective in society in general. So we have to count all health care providers even in villages in India for our statistics.  Even if all Indian doctors abroad come back to their homeland, they will not go to our far-flung villages where the service will have to be provided by traditional practitioners only.
 
The PM almost echoes the sentiments expressed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in 1998 that a country needs following basic needs for good health. Clean drinking water for the masses tops the list. Next comes three meals a day uncontaminated by human and/or animal excreta. Sanitary facilities like toilets, underground drainage systems, and environmental cleanliness come next. Cooking smoke, especially which emanates from burning dry leaves and twigs and some of our villages they even use cow dung cake, is the best stimulant of cancer and childhood pneumonia. Economic empowerment of village women will help remove her distress from seeing her children go to bed on an empty stomach, if the husband does not bring his earnings home, after spending most of it to drink alcohol and feed himself. Girl child education is a vital area for reducing the fertility rate, as girls above the age of 25 at marriage will have only half the usual rate. This is an indirect method of family planning. For some unexplained reasons our PM looks into all these areas and he is the true health minister. He could command the resources from all those concerned government departments that our conventional health ministers cannot muster. In short our conventional health ministers are just disease ministers. They are concerned about sicknesses and their management. Thank God, we have a thinking Prime Minister who works overtime to make is country healthy and prosperous. Health is the best wealth for any nation. Sick nation will be economically also sick. I have another thought for village health care. We could convert our village primary schools into health care centres! 
 

Primary schools double up as health centres:

 
In this new concept, the village school teacher is trained for 6-12 months with a teaching diploma in school health promotion (TDHP) to replace the village doctor. Every medical school could be made to train certain number of selected bright village teachers, free of charge, with a special curriculum to equip them with enough know how to look after the holistic health of the children and their parents in the village. They should be provided with communication facilities to inform the taluka hospital about any sick child or adult in the village to be shifted there for treatment. They should be trained to spot trouble and inform the doctor and the hospital to do the needful. They are never trained to handle drugs or treat any one. The money being spent for the PHCs could be diverted to develop this new concept along with the village school. 
 
The teacher/health promoter would look after sanitary needs in the village like toilets for every household, clean drinking water, smokeless houses, and clean meals for all, and assist the villagers to live like a large family in the village. In due course, people would look up to them for all kinds of guidance. The idea is to develop a cadre of village teachers who become the friend, philosopher, and guide of the villagers. In the school, these teachers have added responsibility to see that children get proper nutritious meals; they develop healthy habits, clean dress and are made to wash hands before eating. Children should be trained to use the toilet and teach their parents in turn at home. Children should be taught to respect all life on this planet as we are all inter-dependent. 
 
These teachers are responsible to see that children get proper immunization at the right time. They could help children to develop a healthy social outlook with universal compassion, sharing and caring. Healthy living should be one of the important subjects in the curriculum but without the conventional end year examination. However, those who excel should be given a special certificate as also some incentive by way of a prize or so. Children could be encouraged to think for themselves to develop curious healthy citizens for science training in later life. Catch them young should be the motto. My friend, Late Dr. Solomon Victor, a famous cardiac surgeon of Chennai, had a model for teaching school health. That could be supplemented to make a special curriculum for the subject of health promotion in school. I know that the vested interests will block these ideas as there is no business interest in this. Would some Godly person see that this message reaches our Hon. Prime Minister please? 
 
“The 1 to 2 billion poorest in the world, who don't have food for the day, suffer from the worst disease: globalization deficiency. The way globalization is occurring could be much better, but the worst thing is not being part of it. For those people, we need to support good civil societies and governments.” — Hans Rosling
 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)
 

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COMMENTS

Prakash Bhate

2 years ago

Someone (Moneylife?) should arrange a talk by Dr Hegde in a company on his idea of utilizing village schools. Use of the company's CSR funds for initiating such an activity will be a natural outcome.

A S Bhat

2 years ago

As always, Dr. Hegde is right. Very well said sir! Thank you.

A.S. Bhat

D S Ranga Rao

2 years ago

Very practicable idea. But as Dr. Hegde rightly concluded:"I know that the vested interests will block these ideas as there is no business interest in this", will the medical mafia comprising the doctors, all sorts of health care professionals, hospitals, diagnostic centres, chemists, pharmas(merchants of death), the ministers, etc., be willing to forego their kickbacks, commissions and what not, so easily?

Narendra Doshi

2 years ago

Extremely well said, worth total or more applicable. Hegde sir, your thoughts are reborn for action. Moneylife and your contacts should continue their efforts in this direction, THIS REFORM IS A MUST.

REPLY

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

In Reply to Narendra Doshi 2 years ago

I full agree with Narendra Doshi's views on this article on health care.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

In Reply to Narendra Doshi 2 years ago

I full agree with Narendra Doshi's views on this article on health care.

Media Freedom under Threat?
Defamation threats gagging media investigation
 
The embarrassing media coverage of the sensational Sheena Bora murder has seen a rash of critical and introspective editorials and columns in mainstream newspapers. These include newspapers from the very group whose television arm conducted a kangaroo court at prime time with a gaggle of alleged friends of the victim and those who socialised with her mother Indrani Mukherjea and her various spouses. 
 
Reckless speculation, sweeping denouncements and meaningless trivia apparently being fed to the media by a highly indiscreet police force, were passed off as ‘Breaking News’ without any attempt to cross-check, or question, the leaks. The same drama is enacted when it comes to news about cinema stars, cricket or anything to do with Pakistan, with seemingly no questions or consequences. Powerful chief ministers and Union ministers have also remained helplessly silent against the media onslaught which included strident demands for their resignations and allegations of financial chicanery. 
 
But there has been a paradigm change where powerful corporates are concerned. In 2013-14, most corporates were fair game for fledgling political parties. They were learning the hard way that you cannot stifle all voices of dissent or criticism through large advertising budgets, event sponsorships, bilateral media treaties or PR (public relations). The growth of social media had amplified the voices of tiny media entities, niche magazines and net-based publications whose investigations and reports were not easy to suppress. 
 
They have found a solution in legal threats. A spate of defamation notices, or lawsuits, against the media, in recent times, seems to suggest that corporate India has hit upon a strategy of crushing investigation and criticism. It seems Rs100 crore is the minimum reputational damage claimed in these notices; some of these notices have been issued by entities with dubious reputations and are the subject of multiple government investigations and action. 
 
Here are a few notices that have actually translated into law suits:
  1. The Essar group has sought Rs250 crore as damages in a suit filed in Ahmedabad for an allegedly defamatory cover story filed by Caravan magazine. 
  2. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) sought Rs100 crore in damages for two of Moneylife’s articles (“Blowing the Whistle on Manipulation in NSE”, published on the website and “High-frequency Trading Needs a Detailed Probe” (issue dated 8 July 2015). On 9th September, the Bombay High Court dismissed NSE’s notice of motion and ordered the Exchange to pay Rs3 lakh in costs to us and donate Rs47 lakh to Tata Memorial Hospital and Masina Hospital, in two weeks. It remains to be seen what direction this litigation takes in the coming weeks. 
  3. The NSE has also filed a Rs100-crore suit against India Samvaad, an online portal, whose report had picked up and republished the whistleblower’s letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) that is the subject matter of the case against Moneylife as well. 
  4. Almost every corporate defamation notice today pitches a demand for Rs100 crore and above. The Anil Ambani group seems to have taken this to a ludicrous level by seeking Rs5,000 crore as defamation in a notice sent to the Bennett Coleman group, the publisher of The Times of India. This is for a series of allegedly defamatory reports, based on a draft report of the comptroller & auditor general (CAG), on its electricity distribution business. Another corporate house is understood to have sought Rs400 crore in damages. 
In most cases, the gigantic defamation claim is aimed at intimidating small media houses with the threat of expensive, long-drawn and debilitating litigation. Most defamation notices do not translate into litigation. In many cases, tiny publications, or bloggers, simply cave in and remove the articles because the cost and effort of filing legal replies itself is a killer. In some cases, corporate houses do not proceed with the lawsuit when the publication decides to fight it out. This is usually due to the realisation that they, too, are answerable in a legal battle and in an arena that is not fully within their control. 
 
At a time when a panel of the Press Council of India has asked SEBI to control paid news by monitoring private treaties between companies and media houses, this trend of harassing serious journalists with the threat of defamation suits is something that we must think hard about. What is at stake is fair journalism and investigation into the performance and shenanigans of companies and regulators. Curiously, the Press Council has been silent, so far, on these intimidating tactics. 

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COMMENTS

Manoj Dhyani

2 years ago

Media Gagging can't be an acceptance in a free democracy...must be condemned by all!

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

Media Freedom under Threat?
Yes long-back if u have noticed KILLINGS of RTI activists and if u observe from news channels broadcasting actual happening from Maharastra and from UP/MP/BIHAR even a stone peters r casted in NEWS

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

Media is governed by Politicians/Businessmen/Global Media Moghuls.

Its double whammy,sham media which has its credibility at stake coupled with big guns killing true honest press & every thing seems doctored.

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

I think it is time that the public questions what the Press Council of India is doing to earn its designation.

Is it there simply to rubber stamp anything that the media does?
Does it have a code of conduct that the media must follow in order to represent responsible journalism?

The explosion of TV channels and print media has allowed sensation seeking news to dominate and has devalued the information one gets from these channels.

If the news media were to follow the same meticulous methods followed by MoneyLife in its investigative reporting, then they would not worry about standing up in the court of law.

Unfortunately, TV with humongous money wants short cuts without investigative rigor. Then they must pay for it.

REPLY

Mukund Rajamannar

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 2 years ago

Fully agree.

Kinshuk Chandra

2 years ago

Sad to see this. Instead of penalizing presstitutes, the small comparatively honest media houses are targeted.

shanti Patel

2 years ago

I am also a victim of such a case running in to thousands of crores not hundred. People try to pressurize because the legal cost defend is very high and other people also get red signal.

I request Sucheta Dalal to form a free helpline for this type of cases also. I am sure there are lawyers who will com-forward and devote time and skill for good cause.

Shanti Patel
Joint Hon.Secretary-Bombay Shareholders Association

J Pinto

2 years ago

Who are the eminent members of the Press Council and how many have spine ?

REPLY

Ravindra Shetye

In Reply to J Pinto 2 years ago

Maybe they are rewarded for their inactivity.

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