Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Jul 03, 2002
Industry & Economy
Government - Politics
Victims of animal trials?
P.T. Jyothi Datta
NEW DELHI, July 2
DID the stalemate over research on animals finally end up being the nemesis for Dr C.P. Thakur, the erstwhile Union Minister for Health, and Ms Maneka Gandhi, the animal activist, former Minister with Independent Charge for Statistics and Programme Implementation?
While Dr Thakur himself is said to have blamed the ``gutka lobby'', industry-watchers and sources close to the respective Ministries observe: ``With the high-powered meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the two said Ministers still a recent memory, it certainly looks like the immediate reason behind the resignation of both Ministers.''
The research-on-animals issue came to a pass, with the two erstwhile Union Ministers, Dr Thakur and Ms Maneka Gandhi, indulging in a high decibel exchange under the media glare and with the pharma industry and animal activist groups as spectators, they point out.
``Though Dr Thakur is from the party, he was sacrificed because otherwise the Prime Minister would have been seen as favouring someone from outside the party,'' sources pointed out.
Pharma industry representatives say that while Dr Thakur was trying to salvage some credit for himself by speaking up for medical research in the interest of the nation, it may well have been too little, too late.
``The erstwhile Union Health Minister, being a medical doctor himself, did not do too much in a segment as critical as health. Worse still, his tenure saw controversies such as the John Hopkins clinical trials issue in Thiruvananthapuram'' they add.
``As for the animal activist, Ms Gandhi, although she has had the track record of taking animal welfare with her, portfolio changes notwithstanding, her vocal opposition to medical research had embarrassed the Centre,'' sources further observe.
And even as the fate of the laboratory animals that are in the eye of this storm continues to hang in balance pharma industry representatives hope that the new man in at the Health Ministry would take up cudgels for them.
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