The HINDU Notes – 04th May 2021 - VISION

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Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The HINDU Notes – 04th May 2021


📰 Manipur HC allows 7 Myanmar refugees to approach UNHCR

Manipur High Court says Article 21 encompasses the right of non-refoulement

•The High Court of Manipur on Monday allowed seven Myanmar nationals, who entered India secretly following the February military coup, to travel to New Delhi to seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

•Though India is not a party to the UN Refugee Conventions, the court observed that the country is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966. “The far-reaching and myriad protection afforded by Article 21 of our Constitution, as interpreted and adumbrated by our Supreme Court time and again, would indubitably encompass the right of non-refoulement,” the court said.

•Non-refoulement is the principle under international law that a person fleeing from persecution from his own country should not be forced to return.

•“We welcome the judgment upholding the human rights of the seven Myanmar nationals, three of whom are minors,” Babloo Loitongbam, convener of the Citizens’ Committee Manipur (CCM), said.

•The other four are Niang Go Man, Pau Khan Thawn, Cing San Lun and Si Thu Aung.

•The last three are journalists who were working with the Mizzima news service banned by the military junta.

Hiding in Moreh

•They had been hiding in the border town Moreh until they were brought to Imphal following an order of the High Court on April 20.

•“We continue to be deeply concerned about the plight of thousands of other Myanmar nationals taking shelter in the bordering villages of Manipur without any support and protection apart from the hospitality and warmth of the poor villagers,” Mr. Loitongbam said.

•The humanitarian sub-committee CCM has provided food, clothing, medicines and utensils donated by the people of Manipur in four villages in Kamjong district and three each in Tengnoupal and Churachandpur districts, housing more than 500 refugees from Myanmar, he said.

•“Other than ensuring protection for these hapless people in line with the High Court’s judgement, we urge the governments of India and Manipur to consider giving them unhindered access to the UNHCR to offer their mandated humanitarian services,” Mr. Loitongbam said.

📰 Cannot stop media reports on court observations, says Supreme Court

Public interest not limited to judgments, Bench tells ECI on plea against remarks by Madras HC

•Media cannot be stopped from reporting oral remarks made by judges during a court hearing. The honest and full reportage of these comments give the public an insight into whether judges are genuinely applying their minds to resolve their crisis, the Supreme Court told a “hurt” Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday.

•The ECI had complained to the Supreme Court about certain oral comments made by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court. The HC judges had accused the ECI of being solely responsible for the super-spread of COVID infection through uncontrolled election rallies, campaigning, etc. Instead of patting the EC officials on their backs, the HC judges had said the ECI should be charged with “murder”.

•Soon after, a troubled ECI had approached the HC to take back its words and restrain the media from reporting the comments as FIRs for murder were registered against the poll body officials. But the HC had, on April 30, refused to budge, saying there were more pressing issues at hand.

•“We cannot expect the media not to report dialogues. Oral observations are as important as orders... Unfolding of process of judicial thinking is equally of interest to the public,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud addressed the ECI, represented by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi.

•Justice Chandrachud flanked by Justice M.R. Shah on the Bench described the “media as a powerful watchdog”.

•“Public interest is not limited to judgments, but also the raising of questions in a court hearing, the dialogue between the Bar and the Bench... All of these show the public whether there was a genuine application of mind by judges... Had I been in the Bar, I would be very worried if judges don’t ask questions,” Justice Chandrachud said.

•The Bench said the ECI’s prayer to stop media from reporting the comments from the Bench was simply “far-fetched”.

•“We cannot say that the media cannot report the contents of the discussions in a court of law. Discussions in a court of law are of equal public interest, and I would put it in the same pedestal as the final order. Discussion in the court is a dialogue between the Bar and the Bench... We wish that media should report fully what is happening in court. It brings a sense of accountability. Media reporting would also show that we are dispensing our duties fully,” Justice Chandrachud said.

•When Mr. Dwivedi complained that the HC should not have accused another constitutional authority like the ECI of “murder”, Justice Chandrachud said judges were humans too. Some come reticent and other garrulous. Their comments may be borne out of frustration, but were certainly made for the cause of larger public interest.

•“We don’t want to demoralise the HCs. They are vital pillars of the judicial process... HC judges are doing tremendous work, burning the midnight oil, they are overwhelmed. They know what’s happening on the ground. It is bound to affect your psyche,” Justice Chandrachud said.

•Justice Shah said the ECI should take oral observations of judges in the right spirit. Judges do not follow a prepared script during a hearing.

•“Sometimes they are frustrated, they are angered. You should accept it in the right spirit. They are also human beings... It is a free,” Justices Chandrachud and Shah both said.

•“But to say that ECI should be charged with murder...” Mr. Dwivedi rued.

•“It’s a free-flowing conversation. We respect the ECI, don’t take it otherwise. This is not to belittle because ultimately democracy survives on the faith in the institutions... EC is an important pillar, but sometimes in dialogue, sometimes things are expressed,” Justice Chandrachud explained.

•Mr. Dwivedi said what happened in the Madras HC could hardly be called a “dialogue”.

•Justice Chandrachud pacified the poll body, saying the apex court would write a “balanced order”.

•“However, we have to as well protect the sanctity of the HCs, that they have the freedom and liberty to ask questions We wish the media should report fully of what is happening in Court, it brings accountability,” Justice Chandrachud noted.

•In its petition in the apex court, the Commission said the oral comments from the Madras HC would impact or lower the faith of the masses in the poll body and democratic process. The Commission said the comments were disparaging and derogatory.

•The petition said the Bench of the HC should have given the ECI an opportunity to place the entire factual position on record before making the allegations orally. It amounted to the violation of the principles of natural justice.

📰 ICMR to get royalty from Covaxin sale

Intellectual property governing use of vaccine jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR is ‘shared’

•The intellectual property governing the use of Covaxin, jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research, was “shared” and the ICMR would receive royalty payments, the organisation confirmed to The Hindu.

•“The Public-Private Partnership was executed under a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ICMR and the BBIL which includes a royalty clause for the ICMR on net sales and other clauses like prioritisation of in-country supplies. The product IP is shared. It is also agreed that the name of ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV) will be printed on the vaccine boxes. The same is being done now,” ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said in an email.

•However he didn’t say how much money was spent.

12 activities

•The partnership between the two organisations involves 12 activities that include clinical and preclinical studies. Five of these were funded entirely by Bharat Biotech: Candidate vaccine development, preclinical safety and toxicity studies in small animals (rats, mice and rabbits), phase-1 clinical trials including funding of sites, hiring Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) for trial monitoring, insurance, laboratory testing; phase 2 clinical trials including funding of sites, hiring CRO for trial monitoring, insurance, laboratory testing and all other logistics and hiring a CRO for phase-3 trial monitoring, insurance and laboratory testing.

•The activities funded by the ICMR were: Isolating the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a “huge number” of clinical samples, passage testing and confirmation; BSL-3 facility validation of BBIL for Covaxin production; vaccine strain characterisation by ELISA tests, electron microscopy, next generation sequencing; testing serum samples from preclinical studies in small animals; preclinical safety and efficacy in golden Syrian hamsters and preclinical safety and efficacy studies in rhesus macaques (monkeys); testing sera of Covaxin vaccinated individuals for U.K. strain, Brazil strain, South African strain and double mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2; U.K. variant virus isolation and characterisation, titration, sequencing from clinical specimens and funding the site for the phase 3 clinical trial.

•Covishield constitutes over 90% of the country’s vaccine supply so far and has been developed as partnership between the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Serum Institute of India is one among the many manufacturers in the world with a production licence and has to pay royalty to a foreign company. Covaxin on the other hand is almost entirely indigenous and yet is priced higher than Covishield. Both are so far being bought by the Central government for ₹150 a dose. However, Covishield was first offered to States at ₹400 a dose and ₹600 to private hospitals and Covaxin was offered at ₹600 for State governments and at ₹1,200 for private hospitals.

•So far however, the Centre had procured 40 million doses of Covaxin till March. An order for 20 million doses, presumably for April, had been half fulfilled (8.8 million doses) and orders for 50 million were placed for supply in May, June and July.

•In the case of Covishield, the Centre had ordered 260 million doses. About 150 million had already been supplied and 110 million was in the process. Another 110 million was being supplied to States and private hospitals.

📰 Local issues crucial to voters across States: survey

CSDS-Lokniti study analyses verdicts of Assembly polls

•The “local” was of utmost importance in the decision-making of voters in the Assembly elections, according to a special post-poll survey conducted by the Lokniti-CSDS for The Hindu.

•Each of the surveyed States had specific local variables that swayed and determined the choices of the respondents. Clearly, the voters were determining their electoral choice for State and national elections distinctly.

•As to the question whether any particular national issue made an impact at all, the surveyors found that one issue was particularly resonant across States — the Citizenship Amendment Act.

•In all four States, the opposition to the CAA was higher than support for it.

•Beginning today and over this week, The Hindu will publish a series of articles explaining the verdicts in the four States — West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam — and the Union Territory of Puducherry that went to the polls in March-April 2021.

•The team which led this study included Sanjay Kumar, former Director, CSDS and Co-Director, Lokniti; Suhas Palshikar, Co-Director, Lokniti; and Sandeep Shastri, National Coordinator, Lokniti.

Key issues

•These data-based articles will detail the key issues that mattered to the electorate, the specificities in each of the States (and Union Territory) that had a bearing on the results, and what were the variables that determined the survey respondents’ choices.

•The articles will also be carried along with a methodological note on how the survey was conducted, the sample size for each State and the method used to weight responses based on the composition of the voters.

📰 ‘OPEC share slid as India’s oil imports shrank 11.8%’

Country bought more U.S. crude: trade

•OPEC’s share of India’s oil imports fell to the lowest in at least two decades in the year to the end of March as overall purchases by Asia’s third-largest economy fell to a six-year low, data obtained from industry and trade sources showed.

•Total crude imports by the world’s third-biggest oil importer fell to 3.97 million barrels per day (bpd) in FY21, down 11.8% from a year earlier, data showed.

•India bought more U.S. and Canadian oil at the expense of that from Africa and West Asia, reducing purchases from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to about 2.86 million bpd and squeezing the group’s share of imports to 72% from about 80% previously. That is the lowest share since at least FY02, before which crude import data is not available.

•U.S. and Canadian oil accounted for about 7% and 1.3% respectively of India’s imports compared to 4.5% and 0.60% a year earlier.

•The U.S. emerged as the fifth-biggest supplier, up two places from FY20.

📰 The nuclear challenge: On North Korea's economic worries

North Korea’s economic worries and the U.S.’s nuclearisation concerns need addressing

•President Joe Biden’s call for “stern deterrence” in response to North Korea’s nuclear programme and Pyongyang’s angry reaction, accusing the Biden administration of being “hostile”, suggest that both countries are headed towards a diplomatic showdown. In his first congressional address last week, Mr. Biden said the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea posed a “serious threat to America’s security and world security” and promised to respond through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”. His administration has also completed a review of the U.S.’s North Korea policy. Mr. Biden is likely to steer between Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” and Donald Trump’s top-level summitry in dealing with the North Korean nuclear challenge. North Korea has remained an unresolved foreign policy puzzle for all post-War American Presidents. In recent times, U.S. Presidents have shown a willingness to diplomatically engage with Pyongyang. The Clinton administration had signed a framework agreement with Pyongyang to halt its nuclear programme. Mr. Obama had initiated talks with North Korea in 2012, which collapsed after Pyongyang launched a satellite. He then adopted a wait-and-watch approach, which came to be called “strategic patience”. Mr. Trump altered his predecessor’s North Korea policy by reaching out to the regime and meeting its leader, Kim Jong-un, thrice, but without a breakthrough.

•In theory, the Trump administration and North Korea had agreed to a complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but failed to agree on its formula. In the 2019 Trump-Kim summit at Hanoi, the U.S. proposed removal of sanctions for de-nuclearisation, but North Korea rejected it. Pyongyang had taken a phased approach and sought sanctions removal in return. Ever since, there has been no improvement in ties. After Mr. Biden assumed office, North Korea had conducted short-range missile tests, which the U.S. saw as a provocation. Mr. Biden does not have many good options in dealing with North Korea. The U.S.’s key goal in northeastern Asia is the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. And the only practical way to achieve this is through diplomacy as a military strike on North Korea, a nuclear power, is out of the question. Though the Trump-Kim summits did not lead to any breakthrough, they have still created a diplomatic momentum for engagement. Despite its threats to expand its nuclear programme, North Korea sticks to the self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests. The North, as acknowledged by Mr. Kim recently, is going through a tough economic crisis and is open to talks. Mr. Biden should seize this opportunity and try to reach common ground with Mr. Kim that addresses both North Korea’s economic worries and the U.S.’s nuclear concerns. That should be the focus of the Biden administration’s new North Korean strategy.

📰 A transient high: On GST inflows

Record GST inflows are heartening, but major risks lie ahead

•India’s GST regime could not have hoped for a better start to its fifth year. Revenues from the tax hit an all-time high of ₹1,41,384 crore in April, surpassing the previous month’s record of about ₹1.24 lakh crore. After a disastrous period for the economy following last year’s national lockdown, GST revenues hit ₹1.05 lakh crore in October and have shown a steady uptick since then, in tandem with hopes of a sustained recovery. April’s numbers, which are essentially driven by the transactions in March, were bolstered by heightened economic activity, no doubt. The spectre of rising COVID-19 cases and the fear of an impending lockdown could also have driven people to make advance purchases in anticipation. Moreover, firms in the process of closing annual accounts may have remitted higher GST based on audit advice, while a gradual tightening of the compliance regime, and pro-active co-ordinated probes against taxpayers using fake bills to evade liabilities, have played no small part. In April 2020, GST collections had dipped to a mere ₹32,172 crore after all activity ground to a halt at four hours’ notice in late March. Economic activity may not yet be as badly affected amidst the pandemic’s second wave.

•So far, going by the restrictions imposed in several States, supply chain disruptions are not expected to be as challenging. However, weakening demand will trigger a recalibration of production and investment plans, some of which has begun to kick in. Consider some indicators — major two-wheeler producers saw sales plummet by around a third in April, compared to March. Plant shutdowns have gradually begun to reduce inventory build-ups. In a report, ‘Wall of Worry’, Crisil has warned of several indicators sliding since mid-April, including GST e-way bills which fell by over 6%, two weeks in a row. Manufacturing orders’ growth hit an eight-month low in April, as per IHS Markit. And the pandemic surge and desperate shortage of health infrastructure have prompted industry leaders to pitch for a stringent lockdown. It would be foolhardy now to expect GST and other tax revenues to stay robust till the government gets a better grip on infections and vaccinations. With the Assembly polls over, the Centre must urgently convene the GST Council. To add to what is already pending — rationalisation of GST rate slabs, a rejig of rates on critical pandemic supplies and the prickly issue of bringing fuel under GST — the Council must begin gearing up early for shortfalls in GST compensation to States that may arise this year. India can ill-afford a repeat of the 2020 face-off between the Centre and States that almost upended the very spirit of co-operative federalism the GST emerged from.

📰 Under-reporting does hurt the COVID fight

Without good data, accurate projections are impossible, making it difficult to gauge the true state of the pandemic

•India, now home to the world’s worst ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is currently reporting nearly a million new cases and 10,000 deaths every three days, according to data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The true extent of the second wave now ravaging India is likely much worse than official numbers suggest.

The reasons

•Is it a problem noted only in India? Not capturing all COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths is not unique to India. Research on the behavioural dynamics of COVID-19 from a group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates the global under-reporting factor for cumulative cases around 7 and for deaths 1.4 as of December, 2020. Researchers further note that these factors vary substantially across nations. In India, this problem seems to be particularly acute during the second wave based on empirical evidence and epidemiological models.

•Why is it hard to capture all COVID-19 infections and related deaths? There could be several reasons why we cannot capture all COVID-19 infections such as silent asymptomatic infections, barriers to testing due to cost and travel time, reluctance to get tested due to COVID-19 associated stigma, limited availability of tests, obtaining a false negative test (remember that diagnostic tests are not perfect) and alike. Deaths related to COVID-19 that are missed often consist of deaths that happened outside health-care facilities at home, and post-COVID-19 deaths where the cause of death is listed as a pre-existing comorbidity such as heart disease or kidney failure. India also has a poor and delayed infrastructure for reporting of deaths and certifying the cause of death in general, particularly in the rural areas. In a 2017 estimate, one out of five deaths was medically reported.

•How do we estimate this under-reporting from epidemiologic models? For modelling growth of an epidemic, what we observe are deaths, cases or hospitalisations. However, what really defines an epidemic is not exactly the growth of these observed quantities but the infections, which in turn become these outcomes (deaths, cases, hospitalisations) with some delay, and not all infections get converted to these observed quantities. What proportion of people die from an infection is a very important quantity as it allows us to know how dangerous a disease is. Another important quantity is how many infections a health system identifies, that is, how many of these will actually end up being reported as cases. A high number of infections being caught by the health system shows a successful surveillance strategy.

On epidemiological models

•In a recent study, epidemiological models attempt to capture covert infections by accounting for unreported, but infectious individuals. Expected deaths are then estimated from the estimated number of infections and assumed infection fatality rates based on historical data.  Such models indicate the under-reporting factor for cases between 10 and 20 and for deaths between two and five based on data from the first wave for India.

•Can we validate what the models are saying? How do we validate the extent of unreported cases: We can cross-check under-reporting of infections directly with serosurveys carried out in India. The third serosurvey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (from December 17, 2020 till January 8, 2021) reports that 21.5% of all Indians above the age of 18 have antibodies present that indicate SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past. Approximately 59% of India’s 1.36 billion citizens are above the age of 18. This implies nearly 173 million adults infected. Factoring in the nearly 11 million COVID-19 cases reported by January 8 (assuming most cases are adults), this points to an implied under-reporting factor of roughly 16 for infections. In other words, only 6% of India’s COVID-19 infections are reported. Hence, the question of “missing infections” in India is undeniable and not contingent on a belief in the legitimacy of mathematical models — it is evident based on figures released by the Indian government/bodies alone.

Mortality data

•How to validate the extent of unreported deaths: During wave 1, a group of volunteers collected every reported death from obituaries in newspapers and reported almost twice the number of deaths than officially reported. During this recent surge, a recent report in The New York Times  noted that authorities in Gujarat reported between 73 and 121 COVID-related deaths each day in mid-April. The report added that one of Gujarat’s leading newspapers, Sandesh, sent reporters to cremation and burial grounds across the State and reported that the number was several times higher, around 600 each day. The extent of this under-reporting is higher than our past model estimates. This current increased case-fatality is not only due to clinical lethality of the virus, but more patients are dying due to not receiving adequate medical care. A way to capture the holistic effect of COVID-19 (direct and indirect impact on mortality) will be to perform a proper excess death calculation where demographers can take the number of people who die from any cause in a given region and period and compare the same with a historical trend based on the past few years and come up with a difference of observed and expected number of deaths. This method of investigating excess deaths is something various nations have explored, such as the United States (22% excess deaths in 2020 and 72% of these attributed to COVID). India has not made historical mortality data and data from 2020 publicly available, making this calculation infeasible at this point.

•Is India testing enough during wave 2? Lack of adequate testing could be one of the causes of missing infections.

Testing in India

•To understand India’s scale of testing, let us look at the U.S. during its highest surge in January (November 1-February 15) and India during this recent surge (March 28-April 27) in terms of testing. The bar plots show that India has a maximum daily test positivity ratio (TPR) around 25% and the U.S. had a maximum daily TPR around 15%. More interesting is Figure 2 showing seven-day growth rate in cases versus testing. While testing and cases have grown at a comparable rate in the U.S., in India the growth in reported cases on an average has been nearly five times higher than the growth in testing. India is not testing enough.

•How does under-reporting matter? Right now, the country is reeling from skyrocketing infection and death counts. This surge has thrown our health-care systems off balance. Crucial medical supplies run dangerously low and hospitals are forced to turn away patients. These forecasting models are used to predict the need for oxygen, hospital beds, intensive care unit care needs, the peak and duration of the pandemic. Without having more informative data, accurate projections are impossible. Knowing the truth is better for both public and policymakers to gauge the true state of the pandemic.

•Finally, the exact extent of under-reporting is debatable, but we should never forget that these numbers represent people. The official system can fail to capture the diseased and the deceased, but families cannot. The tragedies that have unfolded in thousands of families in India, with an astounding number of people that are currently sick and grieving for the dead, can never be captured through the reported staggering numbers and the ones that were missed.

📰 A ‘One Health’ approach that targets people, animals

The battle against COVID-19 should also be used as an opportunity to meet India’s ‘One Health’ targets

•The father of modern pathology, Rudolf Virchow, emphasised in 1856 that there are essentially no dividing lines between animal and human medicine. This concept is ever more salient as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions that took place around World Veterinary Day, on April 24, 2021, focused on acknowledging the interconnectedness of animals, humans, and the environment, an approach referred to as “One Health”.

Across the species barrier

•Studies indicate that more than two-thirds of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, or can be transferred between animals and humans, and vice versa, when the pathogen in question originates in any life form but circumvents the species barrier. Another category of diseases, “anthropozoonotic” infections, gets transferred from humans to animals. The transboundary impact of viral outbreaks in recent years such as the Nipah virus, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Avian Influenza has further reinforced the need for us to consistently document the linkages between the environment, animals, and human health.

India’s framework, plans

•India’s ‘One Health’ vision derives its blueprint from the agreement between the tripartite-plus alliance comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) — a global initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank under the overarching goal of contributing to ‘One World, One Health’.

•In keeping with the long-term objectives, India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses as far back as the 1980s. And this year, funds were sanctioned for setting up a ‘Centre for One Health’ at Nagpur. Further, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has launched several schemes to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases since 2015, with a funding pattern along the lines of 60:40 (Centre: State); 90:10 for the Northeastern States, and 100% funding for Union Territories. Hence, under the National Animal Disease Control Programme, ₹13,343 crore have been sanctioned for Foot and Mouth disease and Brucellosis control. In addition, DAHD will soon establish a ‘One Health’ unit within the Ministry.

•Additionally, the government is working to revamp programmes that focus on capacity building for veterinarians and upgrading the animal health diagnostic system such as Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases (ASCAD). In the revised component of assistance to States/Union Territories, there is increased focus on vaccination against livestock diseases and backyard poultry. To this end, assistance will be extended to State biological production units and disease diagnostic laboratories.

•WHO estimates that rabies (also a zoonotic disease) costs the global economy approximately $6 billion annually. Considering that 97% of human rabies cases in India are attributed to dogs, interventions for disease management in dogs are considered crucial. DAHD has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the National Action Plan for Eliminating Dog Mediated Rabies. This initiative is geared towards sustained mass dog vaccinations and public education to render the country free of rabies.

Need for coordination

•Scientists have observed that there are more than 1.7 million viruses circulating in wildlife, and many of them are likely to be zoonotic, which implies that unless there is timely detection, India risks facing many more pandemics in times to come. To achieve targets under the ‘One Health’ vision, efforts are ongoing to address challenges pertaining to veterinary manpower shortages, the lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions, and inadequate coordination on food safety at slaughter, distribution, and retail facilities. These issues can be remedied by consolidating existing animal health and disease surveillance systems — e.g., the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health, and the National Animal Disease Reporting System — developing best-practice guidelines for informal market and slaughterhouse operation (e.g., inspections, disease prevalence assessments), and creating mechanisms to operationalise ‘One Health’ at every stage down to the village level. Now, as we battle yet another wave of a deadly zoonotic disease (COVID-19), awareness generation, and increased investments toward meeting ‘One Health’ targets is the need of the hour.