Tag: DEVELOPMENT

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn Bangladesh anti-minority violence

Azmi hood

By counterview.net

Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

Signatories to the statement include actor Shabana Azmi and former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed; physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy and women’s rights leader Mehnaz Rehman from Pakistan; Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and secularism campaigner Shahriar Kabir from Bangladesh; women’s rights leader Nalini Ratnarajah from Sri Lanka; former minister of women’s affairs Sima Samar and academic Fidel Rehmati from Afghanistan; and peace activist Mohammed Latheef from the Maldives.

“Our heartfelt empathy and solidarity with all those killed, injured and affected in any way by this inhuman and mindless violence”, the statement said, adding, “Even as we were feeling some relief at the Government of Bangladesh reigning in fanatic groups and controlling communalism in the country, the current outbreak of mayhem and violence against the minorities comes as a big shock.”

Calling the violence a “setback to the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to curb communalism and promote communal amity and peaceful coexistence”, the statement said, “This also shows that fanatic elements bent on spreading hate and violence in any society are always on the prowl to damage social fabric and we have to be on constant vigil against them.”

The statement said, “In the time of social media, it is easy to identify, try and punish all those who are involved in the recent violence. We understand that the Government of Bangladesh has started action against those involved and we welcome it and urge that quick and exemplary punishment should be given to deter others and ensure such obnoxious incidences are not repeated again.”

Urging the Government of Bangladesh to “immediately reconstruct and repair all places of worship, houses, and any other assets that are damaged and provide generous compensation to those injured and to the families of all those killed and government jobs to the next of kin”, the statement regretted, “Divisive forces in different countries of South Asia are spreading hate and violence, especially against minorities”, which calls for “immediate attention and decisive actions by all the governments of the region to ensure amity, peace and pave way for development and prosperity of the people.”

Pointing out that “all countries of the region are already lagging behind on all development indicators and any further divisions in society and violence can push our people into more poverty and greater misery”, the statement said, “We urge all South Asians to speak out against any violence in any form and prevail upon their governments to secure peace and ensure the prosperity of the people.”

- October 22, 2021

Global Hunger Index : 15.3 % India undernourished; New Delhi says, calculating methodology unscientific

images By Harchand Ram*

 

Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”. The FOA is a specialized agency of the united nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Recently, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 released the GHI scores with the ranks for the 116 countries. The GHI scores are categorized as low, moderate, serious, alarming, and extremely alarming. The GHI scores on a 100-point scale, 0 is the best score which indicates no hunger, and 100 is the worst. The report stated that “the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on current GHI projections, the world as a whole and 47 countries, in particular, will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030”. The GHI 2021 also highlighted that food security is under attacks on multiple fronts e.g. worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges linked with the Covid-19 pandemic all lead to hunger. India ranks 101st out of 116 countries with 27.5 scores which is in the serious category. And, this score was 38.8 in the year 2000 and 28.8 in the year 2012. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores include three dimensions (and its four indicators) namely: Inadequate Food Supply (undernourishment), Child Mortality (Under-five mortality rate), and Child Undernutrition (wasting and stunting) with one-third weights each dimension. Inadequate food supply dimension: Undernourishment is associated with inadequate food supply, which is an important indicator of hunger and food insecurity. It measures among the entire population, both children and adults.

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Indian Govt. calls GHI India ranking as ‘shocking’

India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development in a statement on 15 Oct 2021 says: “It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report. The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population. The report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the covid period, verifiable data on which are available. The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the Government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries.

READ INDIA’s FULL STATEMENT HERE.

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This indicator is also used as a lead indicator for international hunger targets, including the SDGs. The index shows that 15.3% of the population in India is undernourished. And, globally the prevalence of undernourishment is increasing. Child mortality dimension: Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable. Child mortality is measured as the proportion of children dying before the age of five (in %). In India, 3.4 % of children die before their fifth birthday. The under-five mortality rate indicator has improved slightly from the year 2000 (9.5%) and year 2012 (5.2%). But the WHO study shows that reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services are critical for the beneficial, and breakdown of such services predicted to increase the child mortality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Child nutrition dimension: Child’s nutrition status measured from the wasting and stunting. The GHI 2021 also mentions that 17.3 % of children under five are wasted and 34.7 % of children under five are stunted. The stunting indicator refers to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from stunting which is low height-for-age. The wasting indicators refer to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from wasting which is low weight-for-height. The GHI 2021 stated that factors such as poverty, inequality, unsustainable food system, inadequate safety nets, lack of investment in agriculture and rural development, and poor governance leads to stalling and even being reversed the progress in the fight against hunger. Also, the hunger situation is playing out in the world as a whole, in global regions, and individual countries. — *Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi Source- counterview.net, October 16, 2021.

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited

HMI-Blog-You-Can-Change-Your-DNA

By counterview.in

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled “The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order” criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited:

The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy.
Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result of the emergence of genetic determinism was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness, cohesion, and egalitarianism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species.
The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and the subsequent Abrahamic religions which pioneered the development of a reproductively active male as a supreme being (a Father). Since the 1850s, this myth-making role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.

Reaction by Paul Carline:

The subject of genetic determinism is certainly important.
However, I had imagined that the devastating results of the Human Genome Project had actually put an end to the dogma of genetic determinism – because it was shown that genes do not control anything of a higher order, but merely code for proteins. Director of the privately funded HGP research team, Craig Venter, remarked that the results told us nothing more about what it means to be human.
The research-grant-led ’scientific’ response was to say that the attention of the research must now be redirected to ‘proteomics’. But it is clear that the love affair with the idea of some kind of ‘master molecules’ controlling not only our physical makeup, but even our beliefs, hopes and fears – and especially our health – has not been abandoned, but rather intensified, with the toxic mRNA pseudo-vaccines being the latest progeny.

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The corrupted science which now dominates research continues to deny the reality that the (arche)typical forms of living organisms are not shaped from within i.e. in ‘encoded’ genes, but are the result of invisible – but detectable – formative forces from ‘outside’, potentially from the entire cosmos. In a wiser age Paracelsus wrote that the forms of things are in the”astral light” i.e. the light from the stars (including the planets and comets).

Dr. Latham will almost certainly not agree with me on that – but at least we are in agreement that genetic determinism is a fallacy!

I am, however, left wondering what Dr. Latham means precisely when he states that “organisms are self-organised systems”. For the overwhelming majority of living organisms, it can hardly be said that they possess a “self” that consciously organises their development and form. Of course it is a problem for biology which is forced by its own belief system ultimately to see living beings merely as complex machines.

I recently reviewed a new book by an American biologist and naturalist who came to the same conclusion: that living beings are just the sum of their internal and external “activity” – they are just living beings ‘doing their own thing’. I do not find that very profound.

A couple of small but important points: Christianity is not an ‘Abrahamic’ religion, despite the centuries of corruption of the truth and the disastrous adoption of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law which relate exclusively to Judaism. The idea that the Christian supreme being is based on the model of a “reproductively active male” is to my mind simply laughable. Christian theology is totally free of the older descriptions of sexually active gods and goddesses.

Christian teaching actually refers to a trinity of supreme beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), where – according to the evangelist John – it is the ’Son’ i.e. the Christ who initiated the creation of the world. Even Genesis refers to multiple spiritual beings – the plural Elohim – as the active agents in cosmogenesis.

Jonathan Latham’s reply:

Just a correction, I dont know what definition of ‘consciously’ you use (and I dont normally use the word at all and dont in the blurb) but indeed all organisms are self-organising, even down to the tiniest virus. That is the history of evolution, which began with self-organising among the relatively speaking very simple initial set of molecules (long before DNA existed); and the definition of consciousness that I would choose to use would apply to them, it is simply the perception of and response to the environment.

In humans with large brains, we focus on the mental aspects but these perceptions and responses but are merely narrow aspects of a larger bodily whole consciousness that is closer to the consciousness of bacteria. But in general, consciousness is not a useful word as commonly used because the people who use it generally refuse to define it and the reason they refuse is that any rigorous definition would have to roughly follow my logic and so deny genetic determine and this is highly problematic since they are ideologically and a priori committed to it.

You are conflating sexually active with reproductive. Older and non-Christian ideas of gods did sometimes emphasize their sexuality, but all the references to “Our father” eg in the central “lords prayer” make it clear, to me at least, that paternity is central to Christianity: Jesus appearing as God’s son is another example. He could just have appeared, but no, was a male offspring.

8 pharma billionaires increase wealth by $32 billion, ‘enough’ to vaccinate all in India

pankaj
Cyrus Poonwalla, Pankaj Patel

At least nine people have become new billionaires since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, thanks to the excessive profits pharmaceutical corporations with monopolies on Covid vaccines are making, the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), a global alliance advocating its available free of charge to all people in all countries, has revealed ahead of the G20 leaders Global Health Summit.
A movement of health, humanitarian, and human rights organizations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders, and economists, which also advocates that Covid-19 vaccines should be manufactured rapidly and at scale free of intellectual property protections, PVA said, key members of the G20, who meet on Thursday, UK and Germany, “are blocking moves to boost supply” of the vaccines “to devastate lives in countries like India and Nepal, where only a tiny fraction of the population has been vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, PVA said in a statement, the nine new billionaires have amassed “net wealth of $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times”, adding, “These countries have received only 0.2 percent of the global supply of vaccines, because of the massive shortfall in available doses, despite being home to 10 percent of the world’s population.”
“In addition”, it said, “Eight existing billionaires – who have extensive portfolios in the Covid-19 vaccine pharma corporations – have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion, enough to fully vaccinate everyone in India.”
Two of the eight are from India: Cyrus Poonawalla, founder, Serum Institute of India, whose wealth increased from $ 8.20 billion to $ 12.70 billion in a year; and Pankaj Patel of Cadila Healthcare, whose wealth increased from $ 2.90 billion to $ 5.00 billion in a year. Patel’s controls listed company “manufactures drugs to treat Covid-19 such as Remdesivir from Gilead, and its Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, is undergoing clinical trials”, said PVA.
Campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance – whose members include Global Justice Now, Oxfam, and UNAIDS – reached this conclusion on the basis of an analysis of Forbes Rich List data to highlight the massive wealth being generated for a handful of people from vaccines that were largely public-funded.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, said: “What a testament to our collective failure to control this cruel disease that we quickly create new vaccine billionaires but totally fail to vaccinate the billions who desperately need to feel safe.”
She added, “These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines. These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity. We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world.”
According to PVA, “Vaccine billionaires are being created as stocks in pharmaceutical firms rise rapidly in expectation of huge profits from the Covid-19 vaccines over which these firms have monopoly control”, warning, “These monopolies allow pharmaceutical corporations total control over the supply and price of vaccines, pushing up their profits while making it harder for poor countries, in particular, to secure the stocks they need.”

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The PVA statement comes even as, earlier this month, US-backed proposals by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organisation to temporarily break up these monopolies and lift the patents on Covid-19 vaccines. This move has the support of over 100 developing countries, and in recent days countries like Spain have also declared their support, as has the Pope and over 100 world leaders and Nobel laureates.
“Despite this, other rich nations, including UK and Germany, are still blocking the proposal, putting the interest of pharmaceutical companies over what’s best for the world. Italy, who are hosting the G20 Global Health Summit tomorrow, are continuing to sit on the fence on the issue, as are Canada and France”, it said.
Heidi Chow, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager at Global Justice Now, said: “As thousands of people die each day in India, it is utterly repugnant that the UK, Germany and others want to put the interests of the billionaire owners of Big Pharma ahead of the desperate needs of millions.
Chow added, “The highly effective vaccines we have are thanks to massive amounts of taxpayers’ money so it can’t be fair that private individuals are cashing in while hundreds of millions face second and third waves completely unprotected. It is a sad indictment of the loyalties of some current governments that a handful of people working for pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to become billionaires off the back of publicly-funded efforts to end the pandemic.”
Topping the list of new billionaires who have cashed in on the success of Covid vaccines are the CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech, each with wealth over $4 billion or more. The list includes two of Moderna’s founding investors and the company’s chair as well as the CEO of a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine.
“This is despite the fact the vast majority of funding for the Moderna vaccine was paid for by taxpayers. The final three new vaccine billionaires are all co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics”, the statement said.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “While the companies making massive profits from COVID vaccines are refusing to share their science and technology with others in order to increase the global vaccine supply, the world continues to face the very real risk of mutations that could render the vaccines we have ineffective and put everyone at risk all over again.”
She added, “The pandemic has come at a terrible human cost, so it is obscene that profits continue to come before saving lives.”

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Figures for vaccinating all poorest countries are analyzed by PVA based on countries defined as ‘Low Income’, for which the population is 775,710,612 (according to UN Population 2020). The average vaccine cost, $19, is based on the average mid-range cost per course of vaccination of the 5 leading vaccine producers.
“However”, it said, “The prices should be far lower and the $19 is for illustration purposes and is in no way an endorsement of these unacceptably high prices. The wealth of the new billionaires could vaccine all low-Income countries 1.3 times.”
For instance, it said, “The population of India (according to UN Population 2020) is 1.38 billion and the increase in wealth of the 8 existing billionaires could vaccine everyone in India 1.2 times. All figures based on a two-dose regimen (click here for vaccine doses in low-income countries data).

Source- counterview.net,May 20, 2021