Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
Six out of 1 lakh soldiers victim of suicide, fratricide says DRDO

To make sure that the life of the soldier was comfortable in adverse conditions, DRDO is looking at the physiological needs, psychological aspects, bio-medical requirements, and even ergonomics


Dhamra (Odisha): Cases of suicides and fratricides among Indian soldiers has reduced to six per lakh this year from about 14 per lakh a few years ago, premier agency Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has said, reports PTI.

In the defence agency's psychological research lab in Delhi, scientists and psychologists are trying to understand the conditions under which soldiers take such extreme steps.

"We have been successful in bringing down the number of such cases from 13-14 per lakh few years ago to 6 per lakh now," Dr VK Saraswat, director general, DRDO told PTI.

"To moderate the tremendous stress under which combat troops live, we are accordingly developing courses to train them and spot those who can be a victim," Saraswat, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defence said.

Pointing out that soldiers stationed in adverse conditions, like those in Siachen, were prone to stress, he said, "They are worried about their family's welfare. Often some of them want to go home to be with their family to take care of household problems. When they don't get leave, they go into stress mode and often take the extreme step."

To make sure that the life of the soldier was comfortable in adverse conditions, DRDO is looking at the physiological needs, psychological aspects, bio-medical requirements, and even ergonomics.

A study by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) had recently estimated that 70% of suicides occur at peace stations instead of combat zones, mainly because of family or financial issues.

DRDO's head of research and development Dr W Selvamurthy said to equip soldiers to handle stress during posting at high altitudes, they were being trained in yoga from instructors of the National Institute of Yoga.

"We also have introduced counsellors for those who need it along with a number of stress management programs and courses," the scientist said.

Going beyond the psychological aspects of stress, the DRDO has now added cognitive aspects as well in their study.

"Even the criteria for selection of soldier is based on this. We study his attitude, mental soundness, intellectual capabilities to mitigate all kinds of dangers, etc," Dr Saraswat said.

Last month, Defence Minister AK Antony had informed the Rajya Sabha that 1,426 personnel died due to suicides and fratricides since 2000.

Among other steps the department has suggested is to start a rotation policy of deploying soldiers under adverse circumstances for a particular period.

"We are also sensitising the Rajya Sainik Boards on this and establishing a grievance redressal mechanism in states," Saraswat said, adding that the quality of food and clothing has improved while married accommodation has also been introduced.


Economy & Nation Exclusive
MoEF red signal to KSK's hydel project in Arunachal Pradesh

MOEF suggested the company may relocate the project, which was already relocated earlier, as it may fall under a wildlife sanctuary, national park


Hyderabad: In a setback to a KSK Group company-Kameng Dam Hydro Power Pvt Ltd, which is in the process of implementing a 420-MW hydel power project in Arunachal Pradesh, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has denied environmental clearance for the project, reports PTI.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the MOEF suggested the company may relocate the project, which was already relocated earlier, as it may fall under a wildlife sanctuary, national park and sample plots demarcated by the Forest Department.

The Rs2500-crore project was taken over by KSK Electricity Financing India Pvt Ltd in January 2007 from North Eastern Electric Power Corp.

Earlier, the project location was changed, as Seppa town, which is the Head Quarter of East Kameng district gets submerged with the proposed Full Reservoir Level of 440 meters.

The Government of Arunachal Pradesh directed the project developer that Seppa town and major population of nearby villages to be kept away from submergence.

To comply with this direction, KSK resurveyed the area to save Seppa town population from submergence and proposed to develop the project at another location, which was approved by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh as well.

KSK, therefore applied for TORs for the new site and reduced the capacity of the project from 600 MW to 420 MW.

The EAC, which examined the project proposal, said the site is suitable from various angles, but is just adjoining to Pakke Tiger Reserve, which is only 350 m away.

"After discussing all the alternatives at length, the Committee felt that even Alternative 2B (new site) is also not suitable as constructing a dam so close to the Pakke Tiger Reserve would not be advisable," the EAC observed in its comments.


Public Interest Exclusive
Curbing fake products effectively

 The issue of fake or counterfeit products is now reaching dangerous proportions—especially with pharma drugs, which have life saving or in case of fakes, life-threatening capabilities

The recent seminar organised on World Anti-Counterfeiting Day by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in Delhi on the 13th June was an excellent effort to bring up the issues surrounding one of the biggest problems facing all of us, not just in India, but also globally.

The opening discussions were as usual conducted by senior government people, followed by corporate executives as well as 'activists', with conversation in this case meandering towards the dangers of third world people selling fake and counterfeit Gucci bags and single malts. The session was chaired by Rajeev Batra, Group Head - Corporate Affairs, Hindustan Unilever, who brought up the issue of counterfeits and damage to brands. Pankaj Agrawala, special secretary in Department of Consumer Affairs, made a fervent plea for the consumers-asking industry to also play its role here. Bejob Misra, a professional consumer activist, lauded everybody else and himself most of all, especially for the progress made in working against pharma counterfeits. And William Dobson of the ICC-BASCAP, walked the audience through proposed steps.

To listen to this part, one would think that it was all simple shut down the last point in the chain, the poor person selling the fake, and matters would be solved. Or as the consumer activist put it so blithely, remove all taxation and import duties, and counterfeiting would come down. There are no tangible or cogent estimates on the size of this global business, but it is a simple truth-counterfeits are all around us, and increasingly, easily available too.
Obviously, this does not always happen without the involvement of a full supply chain, often related to the original manufacturer. A speaker from HP, for example, told the audience that they were looking into the affairs of their sub-contractors to ensure that printer cartridges remained genuine. The case of Adidas/Reebok in India, and the more recent episode at Britannia, are fresh and still being investigated. Maruti-Suzuki revealed that one major worry of counterfeit spares was the reason more customers were ordering spare-parts online-prepared to wait for a few days to ensure genuine parts reached them.
While the Indian Customs and Central Excise presentation on fighting counterfeiting brought out technical issues of interest to the importing and legal community, it was the last session which really worked towards trying to understand the whole issue from an Indian perspective also, what is known as the demand-supply equation. After all, for every consumer of counterfeit goods or services, there is also a supplier. And this supplier is always technically and commercially capable of meeting the genuine manufacturer and supplier head on-at a lower cost. Quality of the product being often an issue, but increasingly, that is also debateable. Hats off to Manish Mani Tewari from the CBEC for his presentation on the steps taken by the Indian Customs and Central Excise on protecting IPR, details of which can be sought from any Customs House in the country. This, to a large extent, would block the entry of counterfeit goods through the import route into India-but here again, it was pointed out that the importers had a role to play in ensuring that their IPR was protected in the first place.
This is where the conflict between the definitions of counterfeit, copyright, spurious, copyright brand violation, impersonation and simple crime were also brought up. For example, if a soft drink or soap or drug of a famous international brand sells an inferior product in India, like is known to happen with almost all products, then what is it-counterfeit, spurious, copyright, brand violation, impersonation or simple crime?
This question was put by Moneylife to Sanjeev Batra of Hindustan Unilever, since Lux soap carries different qualities under a similar brand and packaging for different countries. There was no clear answer. The quality of a global product should be the same worldwide, otherwise how do you differentiate between genuine and counterfeit? An MNC corporation that claims to want to protect its brand from counterfeiters is obliged to provide the same product under the same brand globally-or make it clear that the product is different-for whatever reason.
The second major issue brought up was the increasing suspicion in people's minds that counterfeiting of products and services simply could not happen without the participation of the manufacturer or service provider corporate concerned. Here again, inputs from the enforcement agencies provided ample scope to suspect tax evasion and mis-declaration as a compelling reason for the large number of really good quality 'counterfeits' available, often also at authorised outlets. There was a point of view on this aspect from both Indian Customs and Police Departments which suggested that there was a much larger chain of connivance in this business.
What do you, dear reader, have to say about this subject? The issue of fake products, for whatever reason, is now reaching dangerous proportions-especially with pharma drugs, which have life saving or in case of fakes, life-threatening capabilities. It is no longer a question of only being ripped off-it is now your life and mine.
One suggestion was provided by the speaker from the Police Department-the Economic Offences Wing of every state police is geared up to handle such issues. Write to them. Whether you are a manufacturer or a consumer. Or, better still, write to us and we shall let FICCI know. They put up a wonderful show on a subject, which is of importance to all of us.

(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing.)



CarolineT Dalvi

5 years ago

Maximum of the products one buys from even Malls are also questionable these days!

We recently bought a big packet of Pampers diapers for my baby girl and it happens to be fake! Because, my baby developed so much rashes whenever we let her put those from that packet but not from other old pamper diapers which was still lying with us!

Just imagine, if we have to get cured by taking one particular medicine and it turns out to be fake making us get worse instead of being better!

The consequences of fake products is alarming!

So many fake products are available in the market. For example, Pantene shampoos, Olay cream, L'Oreal products, designer bags and shoes! I'm sure that the manufacturers cannot be 100% clean when it comes to not knowing their products has been cloned!

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