Are we really prepared for 'Make in India', invite foreigners to come and set up shop here and 'make' all the things that they wish to, and export, where they please?
A lot of importance was attached to the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the revival of trade relations with new political aspirations of both. There was great hope of China investing $100 billion to beat the Japanese planned investment of $35 billion, but in the end, 13 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed, investment proposals amounted to $20 billion and the silver lining was the prospect of Indian export of several items. One of the most important items of import from India was iron ore, which was conspicuous by its absence.
Today, China is not only the largest producer of steel, but also the largest consumer. The world production of steel is around 1.6 billion tonnes, of which 47% output comes from China. Japan, US and India, in that order, are the next three large producers, but India's production of 81 million tonnes is actually a drop in the ocean of steel. In the recent past, China was the biggest consumer of low grade iron ore from Goa, which it had found a way to mix with high grade ore from Brazil and Australia to produce the type of steel needed in their country.
It may remembered that iron ore mining had to be stopped due to illegalities associated with the industry and only last year, the Supreme Court gave conditional permission to restart the mining operations, classifying the mines as category A, B and C. While category "C" was prevented from any mining operations, some units under "A" have began their work.
In the meantime, the steel industry in India has had no alternative but to import its needs of iron ore, and leading players like Jindal Steel are reported to have received shipments of over 6 million tonnes to keep their furnace burning.
Prior to the mining ban, it may be remembered that Indian exporters recklessly adopted the policy of exporting high grade iron ore, leaving the poorer cousins for consumption in domestic market. A number of them could not use the iron ore pellets made from these ores, and some quantity was exported to Iran.
Before the arrival of President Xi Jinping, there was lot of speculation that iron ore would be one of the important items on the agenda. In fact, according to the press, Kai Xue, a corporate lawyer in Beijing and adviser on international mining projects had stated, "it would have been ideal if India had offered to the Chinese President that the country would gladly release 100 million tonnes of iron ore" for export. This would have not only pleased the Chinese President, but would have reduced India's deficit with China, and more than helped their steel industry. This did not figure at all in the discussions!
Now, what has all this to do with the proposed "make in India" launch that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expects to detail this week?
To make this happen, a lot of ground work is necessary. Are we really prepared for such a huge launch, invite the foreigners to come and set up shop here and "make" all things that they wish to, and export, where they please? No, far from it! We must consider the fact that our own steel industry is on a hand to mouth existence and depends upon imported iron ore. Steel production, it must be borne in mind, is the fundamental requirement for any industry to commence its operations. How other countries tackle such a situation?
Indonesia, for instance, introduced the concept of domestic obligation - making it mandatory to meet its "national" needs first - before anything can be exported, particularly natural resources like minerals.
Similarly, in the case of China, it implemented a law to restrict export of coal by abolishing 13% VAT (introduced in 2006,). This made it possible for coal availability for the domestic industry on a priority basis.
These examples would take us back to our own basic need for simplification of procedures, clearances, licensing, lease renewals and other related environmental issues. These need to be tackled first, corrected and an "on line" clearance, as assured by Prakash Javedkar, the Environmental Minister is actually in place.
Also, hypothetically, even if an "all clear signal" is given overnight, production in the form of mining activity cannot commence straightaway. NMDC, a government owned mining corporation, for instance, doing a job well, without blemish, cannot increase its production at the drop of a hat.
In support of the Prime Minister Modi's 'Made in India' launch this week, what the Environmental Ministry and the State Machinery concerned should consider is "ad hoc" clearance of both category A and B mines, who may be allowed, with the Supreme Court's permission, to start the operations, as soon as possible, provided they "undertake" to "comply" with all the required formalities within six months. Such a Court order may also direct the concerned departments to ensure that they "clear" and complete all the "licensing, lease renewals and other related work" within 30/60 days of application of the miner.
If we do not take care about all these fundamental issues that prevent the work, we would be putting the cart before the horse!
(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.)
Is the relationship between scientific method and medicine fragile?
Many years ago, I wrote an article titled “Evidence based or evidence burdened science” that attracted much criticism from the ‘great medical scientists’. Luckily, today, I chanced upon an article in the International Journal of Evidence Based Health Care 2006 (Volume 4: pp 180-186) wherein the authors, Dave Holmes, Stuart J Murray, Amélie Perron RN and Genevieve Rail, claim that evidence-based movement is not just a fraud but a dangerous game that the powerful people play to keep their industry moving. The abstract of their paper is reproduced below:
“Drawing on the work of the late French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge. As such, we assert that the evidence-based movement in health sciences constitutes a good example of micro fascism at play in the contemporary scientific arena.
“The philosophical work of Deleuze and Guattari proves to be useful in showing how health sciences are colonised (territorialised) by an all-encompassing scientific research paradigm—that of post-positivism—but also and foremost in showing the process by which a dominant ideology comes to exclude alternative forms of knowledge, therefore, acting as a fascist structure.
“The Cochrane Group, among others, has created a hierarchy that has been endorsed by many academic institutions, and that serves to (re)produce the exclusion of certain forms of research. Because ‘regimes of truth’, such as the evidence-based movement currently enjoy a privileged status, scholars have not only a scientific duty, but also an ethical obligation to deconstruct these regimes of power.”
The above abstract leads to the conclusion that medicine is NOT a science. The much-touted randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that are sold as hard evidence in medicine are making a mockery of science. In fact, medicine is not a science; but is not unscientific either. It is better called non-science enquiry. The doctor’s job is to make a diagnosis which is exclusively done by trial & error and more by past experience of having seen hundreds of cases. That is where experience plays a vital role. The diagnosis can be supported by some investigations; but the final proof of the pudding is in the response to the treatment. The pain-in-the-neck is the side-effects of various drugs. If one uses very powerful drugs, one might feel that the disease comes under control sooner. This is, often, only an illusion.
That is why adverse drug reactions (ADRs) have become a common cause of hospital admissions and death. Even simple antibiotics, like clarithromycin, can give rise to heart attacks in the ensuing months and years! In fact, a senior functionary of a well-known drug company said: “It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective on most patients.” Now, we also have strong evidence that the faith of the patient in the doctor is a vital part of the patient's response to treatment, even surgery! Therefore, medicine is less scientific but more humanistic.
Case histories and individualised outcomes work better in medicine than large-scale trials which look at a large group. RCTs will not be admitted as evidence in a law court but case histories may be admitted as evidence. Medicine can learn more from law rather than from the so-called hard sciences like physics and chemistry.
“The practice of medicine is largely observational and functions without the level of certainty essential to science. As the reign of ‘evidence-based medicine’ with its crippling flaws is replaced by evidence-informed individualised care, healthcare providers, physicians and surgeons will once again better appreciate the importance of and application of non-scientifically obtained evidence. Case reports and case series are examples fundamental to medical practice and education,” wrote Clifford Miller and Donald W Miller Jr in their article in the European Journal of Person Centred Healthcare (Volume 2, Issue 2, 2014, pp144-153).
Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.
Consumers allegedly charged between $200 and $300 for high school diplomas that turned out to be bogus
A Florida court has temporarily halted an online high school diploma mill that allegedly swindled more than $11 million from consumers by charging them between $200 and $300 for high school diplomas that were advertised as “official” and accredited but were actually fake, the FTC announced last week.
The companies allegedly sold the phony diplomas using multiple names, including “Jefferson High School Online” and “Enterprise High School Online.” Consumers were given a multiple-choice test before paying for a diploma.
“A high school diploma is necessary for entry into college, the military, and many jobs,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “These defendants took students’ money but only provided a worthless credential that won’t help their future plans.”
Online high schools may appear to be authentic but there are some red flags to watch for before you pay for a diploma. For example, if you only have to pay a flat fee for a diploma instead of fees per semester, it’s probably a scam like this one.
And if you are seeking the equivalent of a high school diploma, consider your state’s GED, a less expensive and safer option.