World
Gun violence in America
ProPublica reporter Lois Beckett examines how gun violence research has become the "political third rail" - leaving us in the dark on some of the most basic facts about gun injuries in America
 
While we have clear data on murders from gun violence, no one seems to know how many Americans are shot – and survive – every year. In fact, the government’s own numbers seem to conflict on the matter.
 
How can this be? And why has no one tried to resolve the difference?
 
ProPublica’s Lois Beckett explains that doctors and researchers have been pushing for clear numbers on gun injuries since 1989. “But what’s happened over that time is the politics of gun research, the politics of guns in America, are so divided and so fierce that even the effort to count the number of people injured by guns is incredibly political,” she says.
 

 
The CDC learned this lesson the hard way back in the mid-90s when it began funding more studies of firearm injuries – including a small study that found it was more dangerous to have a gun in the home for self-protection than it was to not have a gun at all.
 
Gun rights advocates believed this study – and other public health research on guns – was “laying the groundwork for the government to take away Americans’ second amendment rights, take away their guns. And that one study, and the fear that that was what research was doing, ended up torpedoing a lot of other CDC efforts,” Beckett says, including its early attempts to measure firearm injuries.
 
In 1996, Congress restricted the CDC from funding any research advocating gun control – an interesting measure since CDC researchers can't use their funding to advocate or lobby in general, Beckett notes.
 
Congress even tried to take $2.6 million of the CDC’s budget away – sending a clear political message to the CDC that conducting gun research comes at a high price. Gun violence research had essentially become the “political third rail.”
 
Listen to this podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher. You can also read more of ProPublica’s reporting on guns on our series page.
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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Modi govt: Correct the unfinished business, modify and move on
The Narendra Modi government has to undo a lot of mess that is being left behind, correct those that can be mended and introduce those that they promised to perform in their manifestos
 
The unfinished story of a huge burden now shifts to the new Indian government.  The Narendra Modi government has to undo a lot of mess that is being left behind, correct those that can be mended and introduce those that they promised to perform in their manifestos.
 
The formation of a formidable cabinet and actual swearing in ceremony may take place by the end of this week or early next week.
 
To our mind, the biggest problem is that we really do not have a list of problems to surmount and prioritizing this list as to which needs the immediate attention, because everything on that list ought to have been done aeons ago!
 
The issue of one-window clearance has been discussed, debated and has failed. This itself needs to be set right.  But, for the time being, we shall list out the urgent issues that need to be handled simultaneously by competent persons, focusing on the object of getting the job done, leaving aside petty politics of apportioning blame to the former government.  Here they are:
 
a) Agriculture: to ensure farmers get power, water needs, fertilizers, quick transportation of farm produce, banking and credit facilities at the centres of production and elimination of middle men In addition to this, adequate facilities for farmer's children's education and medical needs for the village/town has to be addressed.
 
b) Banking reforms as recommended by the PJ Nayak Panel needs to be implemented by repealing the Bank Nationalization Acts and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to function in total freedom in the best interest of the country.  It will be their time-bound responsibility of setting up banking facilities where it does not exist now.  They could do this by mergers and take overs, besides issuing new licences
 
c) Black money, both abroad and in India, needs to be collected by any means such as diplomatic efforts abroad, and by amnesty all round to ensure its return back to the country. This untold wealth needs to be systematically directed towards the listed areas of development.  The government must identify the areas, such as infrastructure, road building, irrigational canals, warehousing facilities for food, cold storages, hospitals, schools, old people's homes, sport facilities.  If within the time frame, black money in country is not declared, under the amnesty scheme, it should be confiscated and stringent punishment given to the hoarder
 
d) Currency system is getting stronger and by a great export push, and controlled imports, the Rupee can become an international currency.  Meantime, the RBI needs to appoint an A-Team solely for the purpose of ensuring replacement of paper currency through Polymer notes by taking direct action of negotiating with Australian Government, who are the pioneers in this aspect. Since fake Indian currency has been minted and smuggled into the country by Pakistan, this is the first subject that needs to be tackled with that country. Everything else goes to the back burner. Once the polymer notes are finalized, India must demonetize the Rs500 and Rs1,000 immediately. Such a move will also ensure the black money will surface in the open.
 
e) Defence preparedness has been subject of talk for sometime.  In fact, it is said "to be always prepared for war is the best means to preserve peace". At the same time, this cross-border terrorism, which emnates from Pakistan needs to be stopped and this will only happen when the Army is able to retaliate with force.  It is imperative that this should be the agenda for discussion between the Indian Defense Establishment with the Pakistani counterpart and ISI, as the latter is accepted as the sponsorer of so-called Jehadis who terrorise the innocent civilians In J & K region
 
f) Environmental issues have been the main obstacles in our progress, when it comes to mining activities in any form. Both Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) and its State counterpart are both responsible for inordinate delays in work. Moneylife has raised these issues in great detail in the past and development work comes to a standstill at tremendous loss to the nation. The new government must consider a complete over hauling of this Ministry.
 
g) Foreign Direct Investment has made quite progress in the country and it has still many areas where tremendous scope exists for such investments. It is essential that the Ministry of Coal invites qualified international miners from Australia, UK, US and Poland, and others, to invest and develop Indian coal mines, bringing in their advanced technology, equipment and expertise.
 
h) Government needs to start disposing off its holdings in various industries and institutions like Banks, and in line with the Nayak Panel recommendations, why not reduce the government participation to not more than 26% and leave the rest in public hands?
 
The new government, it is hoped, will now have much closer relations with the federal states of the Union so that all issues are discussed for the benefit of every citizen. Matters such as the inter-connection of Indian rivers to ensure continuous supply of water all the year round is take care of and millions of cusecs of water which is now being discharged into the sea can be stopped to benefit the people.
 
We wish the new team success.  Jai Hind!     
 
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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