(Premium) Gist of The Hindu: August 2013

Premium - Gist of The Hindu: August 2013



The Indian Supreme Court is an extraordinarily powerful institution in the world. It can make and unmake laws; it can keep the executive accountable, and seek to ensure the autonomy of institutions. It can rewrite the Constitution the way it wants, through its creative interpretation yet remain largely unaccountable for its omissions and commissions. Its collegium has the responsibility to choose judges to fill its own vacancies, but it sees little merit in adopting an open and transparent process while exercising it.

As a result, very little is known about the merits of a judge, before he or she is appointed to the Supreme Court, unless there are serious allegations damaging to the judge’s integrity. There is a vast pool of post-retirement jobs that awaits a retiring judge from the Supreme Court, in the form of membership of statutory tribunals and commissions, yet there is no mechanism to evaluate the suitability of former judges to these bodies.

  • The Government’s proposal to nominate the former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Cyriac Joseph, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has brought into focus the issue of performance- valuation of a judge.

  • While the members representing the Government on the NHRC selection committee appear to have favoured his nomination, the two members belonging to the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr. Arun Jaitley, have submitted dissenting notes pointing to an adverse report of an intelligence agency about the unsuitability of the proposed nominee on the basis of his tenure at the Supreme Court.


  • Bedaquiline was the first TB drug to be discovered in more than 40 years, and the first one specifically for multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB arises when the M. tuberculosi s bacteria become resistant to two commonly used first-line TB drugs — isonazid and rifampicin.

  • But less than six months after FDA approved the drug under its accelerated approval programme, is the drug a potential candidate for misuse by doctors in India? Will it in any way result in patients developing drug resistance?

  • It is too early to say this with any certainty, but the system in India appears to have the perfect conditions to make this possible. The drug is yet to be approved for use in India, and WHO and India have not yet drawn up guidelines to help doctors treat MDR-TB patients with this drug.

  • But some private doctors here have already started prescribing this drug to their patients by importing it.
  • Though the Drug Controller General of India is responsible for issuing permits for import, it cannot deny permits to doctors if it is to treat patients.
  • Already, the prevalence of MDR-TB among new patients is 2-3 per cent. In the case of previously treated patients, the prevalence is 11-17 per cent. Incidence (number of cases detected in a year) of MDR- B is about 99,000. But these are not a true reflection of MDR-TB incidence/prevalence — MDR-TB patients approaching private doctors are not counted.

“Of this, only a fraction of patients was diagnosed till 2011. From 2012 onwards it started improving,” she says. Between 2,000 and 3,000 MDRTB patients were put on treatment in 2011. In 2012, around 20,000 MDR-TB patients were put on treatment.


The World Trade Organization (WTO) received a new leader, Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil. The election of Azevêdo is significant not because he is the first person from the Global South to lead the WTO — that honour goes to Thailand’s Supachai Panitchpakdi, who ran it from 2002 to 2005. But unlike Supachai, Azevêdo comes with the backing of significant new blocs of the Global South, notably the BRICS grouping which put its heft behind his candidacy. This is the first time that a candidate of the Global South won against someone backed by the European Union, which in this instance had put its support behind Mexico’s former Trade Minister Herminio Blanco. The BRICS bloc was able to secure sufficient investment in Azevêdo, Brazil’s representative to the WTO since 1997.

Azevêdo is a veteran of Brazil’s Itamaraty, its foreign ministry. A career diplomat, he spent the most mature part of his working life at the WTO where he earned a reputation as being a defender of the Global South against the North’s very focused attempt to use the WTO as an instrument of its interests. France’s Pascal Lamy led the WTO into the doldrums, as the Doha Development Agenda stalled because of Northern obduracy on its agricultural subsidy regime and Southern reticence to adopt the strict intellectual property framework favoured by the North. No wonder that Azevêdo said last week that the WTO is a “sick patient.”

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said that Azevêdo would work to create a “more dynamic and fair” world economic order. Azevêdo has pledged to work for all countries, but he also said that “members in general are more trusting of a system where they think they can be represented at the top, in terms of geography and level of development.” In the halls of the WTO, Azevêdo is known as a fair-minded person who has indeed played a very positive role to defend the rights of the South against the heavy-handed positions taken by the North. Multilateralism, he says, is in his DNA. If the backing of the BRICS continues, and if Azevêdo is able to move in a multilateral way, a positive agenda might finally emerge from the WTO.