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Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Decoding L'Aquila

It seems Obama’s misreported bottomgate affair hogged the limelight more than the proceedings of the G8, which this time too failed to arrive at a much needed consensus on important issues such as climate change. As before, leaders of the group of eight, along with invitees, once again came together to put their thoughts on issues such as nuclear energy, dialogue with emerging countries, achievement of millennium development goals, negotiations on climate change, development of Africa in the areas of education, water, food and agriculture, health and peace support, intellectual property, outreach and expansion.

Not surprisingly the debate on climate change has brought forward no significant or tangible solution, with member nations not focusing on emission cuts and most importantly the Kyoto Protocol. While some question the relevance of the G8 in the face of a modernized global scenario, some others argue that it serves as an important platform for world leaders to wrangle on important issues that concern one another and the world at large. However, that ‘world at large’ is yet to see some tangible results as a measure of outcome from this gathering! Take for instance the posture on climate change which has hardly changed from before. While industrialized nations continue to play footsie with the issue, they have long been pressurizing some invitee nations to adopt a more stringent set of protocols that call for reduced emissions, something that seems more of hypocrisy! One may also ask about the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, which is refused to be addressed.

Although Africa has been on the agenda for a long time now, there is no reflection of any constructive activity in the ground level. Take for instance the scale of poverty, issues pertaining to health, clean water, basic sanitation requirements and education programs that exist only as plans on paper and remain a distant dream. Mere agreements to sort out these issues by addressing them at forums is not enough. Implementation at various levels is the requirement.

Nations such as Sudan continue to be plagued in civil war with little or no assistance from the outside world. People continue to die at alarming rates and turn into fast statistics that are forgotten in a matter of days. Mere echoes of UN Security council resolutions will not address the problem. Why are nations not looking at establishing a military task force such as the KFor or the ISAF within Sudan, Darfur in particular? Is it the cost factor that is a deterrent or the knowledge of the non-existence of any rich pickings from these poor nations that is putting off the G8 from arriving at a policy of cooperation within themselves to assist impoverished countries, such as mentioned in their agenda?

For once, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi spoke intellectual when he remarked that the framework of the G8 needs to be modified to include the larger G14! His statement that “we saw that G8 is no longer a suitable format to show a global economic way of doing. Instead, a consolidated G14 representing 80% of the world economy could help create a real dialogue. We want to see if the G14 is the best solution for debates which will bring to us unique results,” echoed the G8’s attitude in taking cognizance of emerging nations such as India and China in the global forum, something that cannot be ignored as was in the past! I would certainly accord a great deal of credit to the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for having paved the way to such a landmark consensus as is witnessed today, when two years ago in a predecessor G8 summit at Heiligendamm in Germany, he stated the need for India to participate in the get-togethers of the rich as a partner rather than a petitioner.

It does not take a lot of brain racking to understand and conclude rightly that evolved partnerships are the key to success especially on a regional front which seems expanding and holding significance more than ever! Bilateral trade, cultural ties, combating terrorism, educational and outreach programs, disease control and a lot more can be significantly and systematically addressed in a much efficient manner with an expanded framework as in the case of the G14, which has rightly been envisioned and supported.

Fresh perspectives from developing nations with regards to plaguing problems can bring to the table a great deal of change, inclusive at that. However, one needs to wait and watch how the proceedings of this meeting of the G8 are to be implemented to attain measurable outcomes rather than being fizzled out as existent only on paper!

And maybe the press too can be a lot more mature to highlight issues and call for increased cooperation rather than misreport the roving eyes of a head of state!

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China producing fake drugs under the label "Made in India"

The Chinese have long been a menace that has been left unattended! This time around, I’m not talking about their complicity with terrorist organizations operating in North-Eastern India, or their repeated attempts to violate the International border, which has been on the rise for some time now.

I’m talking about their new weapon in the Anti-India arsenal which involves manufacturing and marketing fake pharmaceutical drugs under the “Made in India” label. This is truly appalling and comes as a rude shock to the Indian nation in general and Indian pharmaceutical companies in particular who strive very hard to manufacture medication drugs after painstakingly slow and expensive research processes that eat into a major share of their profit margins.

Although Indian agencies have long known that this the Chinese were involved in such practice, valuable evidence to prove this was not easily forthcoming, until early last week, when the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria issued a press release stating that a large consignment of fake anti-malarial generic pharmaceuticals labeled ‘Made in India’ were, in fact, found to have been produced in China. It is extremely unlikely that Nigeria alone is a recipient of such fake pharmaceutical material or that this incident is isolated. This incident throws light upon a well planned scheme of operations orchestrated by China to undermine India in every possible angle, economic front included.

It is very interesting to note that this is not China’s first brush with counterfeit pharmaceutical material. Early this year, Guardian reported on growing health fears on account of fake Chinese drugs extensively being available in Britain. According to the report, an estimated 8 million pieces of such fake drugs found their way into the National Health Service (NHS). British border officials seized more than half a million counterfeit pills destined for the NHS and high-street chemists last year, an amount equal to the quantity of counterfeit drugs found in the whole of Europe in 2005.  Fake life-saving medicines for ailments such as heart disease and cancer, worth more than £3 million were intercepted by customs officials and the Home Office border agency in the first 10 months of 2008. Of these, three consignments alone were each larger than 100,000 pills.

The size of the problem facing the NHS is now so alarming that Interpol’s secretary-general, Ronald Noble, opened an anti-counterfeiting conference in Africa recently by admitting to being “shocked” at discovering that fake drugs were more deadly than terrorism. Forty years of terrorism, he said, had killed 65,000 people, compared with 200,000 in one year alone in China from counterfeit medicines.

It is apparent that China does not worry about its own reputation being tarnished beyond repair in such acts, as was seen in 2007 when it came to light that the former head of China’s Food and Drug Administration was found guilty of taking bribes to license fake drugs. The fact is that the counterfeit drug market in China is very strong and well organized apart from being safeguarded and aided by the state machinery itself, whose devious agenda was clearly seen in Nigeria last week following the haul of fake drugs.

India needs to reflect seriously on what lessons can be drawn from such cases and should urgently step up efforts in food and drug supervision and monitoring, aimed at uncovering more Chinese-sponsored malaise. Chinese officials will continue to live in denial and contest every claim made by the international media, while shamelessly aiding to such unscrupulous practices with the singular objective of maligning India’s reputation and standing in the international community.

Fake foreign-made generics carrying ‘Made in India’ label can do tremendous harm to our interests. It not only dents our image and takes our legitimate market share, it also erodes the distinction between generic and fake medicines that we have been campaigning for at WHO and WTO, as stated in a letter by India’s High Commissioner in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, Mahesh Sachdev, written to then commerce secretary GSK Pillai.

New Delhi’s protests to China on this issue will most certainly fall on deaf ears and will be dismissed as a cunningly crafted ploy to blemish the latter’s reputation. Therefore, India needs to build a very strong case against China while coordinating with intellgence sources of Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast and West Africa, they being large markets of Indian pharmaceutical products. Information so gathered needs to be presented to international bodies of commerce, crime and pharmacology to invite stringent sanctions on China so as to deter this hideously red nation from engaging in such sordid anti-India schemes.