Daily Prelims Notes 12 October 2023
- October 12, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
12 October 2023
Table Of Contents
- India likely to skip China’s BRI summit
- India and Sweden to collaborate on green steel projects; other nations to team up
- A brief introduction to the political players in Palestine
- How new royalty rates for strategic minerals can help cut their imports
- India launches Operation Ajay today to bring home citizens from Israel-Hamas war zone
- Migratory birds arrive in Odisha’s Chilika before winter; is climate change to blame?
- Even temporary global warming above 2°C will affect life in the oceans for centuries
- As caracals inch towards extinction, path to conserving the wild cat remains unclear
- India needs to go nuclear
- Deadly humid heat could hit billions, spread as far as US Midwest, study says
- Want to keep the surgery bill low? Avoid surgical-site infections, study says
- Restrictions imposed on imported Electronic Devices in India
- Devolution of funds to South Indian States
- Importance of bond markets for financing green energy projects
- The Events Before and After Operation Polo In Hyderabad
- Concerns About Government’s fact checking unit
- Why are cases against Yunus drawing attention?
- Baiga tribal group gets habitat rights in Chhattisgarh
- Something changed about cyclone formation in the 1990s
Context: India has decided to skip BRI meet. India did not attend the summits in 2017 and 2019, having raised concerns about the BRI.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, with the Russian leader also present at the previous two summits in 2017 and 2019.
Why India didn’t attend?
- India has concerns over the flagship China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative?
- The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative, is a massive infrastructure and economic development project launched by the People’s Republic of China in 2013.
- The initiative aims to promote economic cooperation and connectivity among countries primarily in Asia, Europe, and Africa, through the construction of infrastructure networks, including roads, railways, ports, and pipelines, as well as the development of trade and investment corridors.
- The Belt and Road Initiative consists of two main components:
- The Silk Road Economic Belt: This land-based component seeks to connect China to Europe through a network of roads and railways that traverse Central Asia and the Middle East.
- The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: This sea-based component aims to link China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Europe through a network of ports and shipping routes.
- The BRI is intended to enhance trade, investment, and economic development in the participating countries, as well as to strengthen China’s economic ties with other nations. It is often referred to as a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade routes that connected China to the rest of the world.
BRI projects in South Asia
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): It involved multiple projects, including the development of a port in the city of Gwadar in the Balochistan province, providing a port to China’s Xinjiang province that would be closer than other eastern ports in China. China envisioned that Gwadar would provide it with a position on the Arabian Sea without having to go through the busy shipping lane of the Malacca Strait. Some other projects included power — the bulk of the investment — transport, and telecommunication
Main Line 1 (ML-1) rail: The project involved the total overhaul of the 1,872-km ML-1 railway line from Peshawar to Karachi
Gwadar development– At the centre of the CPEC was the $700-million development of the arid city of Gwadar, with an estimated population of over two lakh, into a smart port city that would become the “Singapore of Pakistan”. Gwadar is strategically important as it is an hour’s drive from Iran and less than 320 km from Oman. According to the master plan for Gwadar’s development under BRI, approved in 2020, it would increase the city’s GDP to $30 billion by 2050 and create over a million jobs
Orange Line Metro: The $1.6-billion Orange Line Metro covering 27 km in Lahore, described as “China’s gift” to Pakistan, became operational in late 2020.
Colombo International Container Terminxal (CICT) at the Colombo port, where a Chinese state-owned firm holds an 85 per cent stake under a 35-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement.
Central Expressway project connecting with two other highways- the Outer Circle Highway and the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway
Hambantota port: Some BRI projects in Sri Lanka have been described as white elephants- such as the Hambantota port, a deep seaport on the world’s busiest east-west shipping lane, which was meant to spur industrial activity. The port had always been secondary to the busy Colombo port until the latter ran out of capacity.
Airport: The Hambantota International Airport or the Rajapaksa Airport, built with a $200 million loan from China became operational in 2013. Described as the “world’s emptiest airport” it is used sparingly, and was unable to cover its electricity bill at one point.
Himalayan railway project Kerung-Kathmandu Rail link will connectKerung city (also known as Gyirong) in south Tibet to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. The rail link is the extension of the railroad being built to connect China’s Qinghai province to Tibet.
A 2 km long Sinamale bridge or the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge- a $200 million four lane bridge.
BRI projects include China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridges, special economic zones (SEZs), the $689.35 million-Karnaphuli River tunnel project, upgradation of the Chittagong port, and a rail line between the port and China’s Yunnan province. Multiple projects have been delayed, however, owing to the slow release of funds by China. Besides, the Marine Drive Expressway was hampered after Sri Lanka blacklisted the Chinese company building it, over bribery reports. Work on the project is now expected to start in 2022.
India ‘s Concerns:
- Debt trap
- Sovereignty Issue
- Encircle India
Subject: Science and Technology
What is green steel?
- It is the manufacturing of steel without the use of fossil fuels.
- “Green hydrogen” is one solution that could help reduce the steel industry’s carbon footprint.
Why do we need green steel?
Traditional steel production is energy-intensive and relies on the use of coal and other fossil fuels, resulting in significant carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. Green steel, on the other hand, seeks to reduce or eliminate these negative effects through various innovative methods and technologies.
Key elements and strategies involved in green steel production include:
Use of Renewable Energy: One of the most significant aspects of green steel production is the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydropower, to power steelmaking processes. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with energy consumption in the steel industry.
Hydrogen-Based Production: Green steel can be produced using hydrogen as a reducing agent instead of carbon, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions. This method is known as hydrogen-based direct reduction.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Green steel production may incorporate CCS technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions produced during the steelmaking process. This helps mitigate the impact on the environment.
Use of Sustainable Raw Materials: Utilizing recycled steel (scrap) and other sustainable raw materials, as well as reducing the use of iron ore, can make steel production more sustainable.
Improved Efficiency: Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices in the steelmaking process can reduce energy consumption and emissions.
Circular Economy Principles: Emphasizing recycling and reusing steel products and reducing waste can contribute to green steel production.
Environmental Standards and Regulations: Compliance with environmental regulations and standards, as well as certification processes that verify the sustainability of steel products, is also a part of green steel initiatives.
The transition to green steel is driven by the desire to reduce the carbon footprint of the steel industry, which is a major contributor to global carbon emissions. This shift is in line with global efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainability. Many steel producers are investing in research and development to adopt more environmentally friendly methods of
Context: Last week’s attack on Israel has brought not just Hamas under the spotlight, but also other significant players in Palestine such as Fatah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and Palestinian Authority (PA).
Some more details in brief:
- Fatah, a Palestinian nationalist organization, was founded in the late 1950s, aiming to conduct an armed struggle to liberate Palestine.
- After military activities from Jordan and Lebanon, it joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
- In the 1970s, Fatah transitioned to negotiations with Israel and signed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, leading to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
- It now leads the Palestinian Authority, governing part of the West Bank but lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2006 elections.
- Hamas is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist group and one of the two major political parties in the region.
- Currently, it governs more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
- It was founded in the late 1980s, after the beginning of the first Palestinian intifada
- The organization, however, is also known for its armed resistance against Israel
- Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other countries.
- Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ):
- The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest militant group in Palestine, aims to replace Israel with an Islamic Palestinian state using force.
- Established in 1981, it has ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and receives financial support from Iran.
- While aligned with Hamas, PIJ differs as a smaller, secretive militia focused on armed struggle, unlike Hamas, which is larger and has governance roles in Gaza.
- PIJ has engaged in student politics and participated in Palestinian university elections since the 1980s, as well as the 1996 legislative elections.
- Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO):
- The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964, initially aiming to liberate Palestine through armed struggle, with Fatah as the dominant faction.
- Yasser Arafat led the PLO until 2004, followed by Mahmoud Abbas.
- While it engaged in armed struggle into the 1990s, the PLO gained international recognition as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
- It endorsed a two-state solution in 1988, and a significant shift occurred in the early 1990s when it renounced armed struggle and recognized Israel’s statehood, leading to the emergence of Hamas.
- Palestinian Authority (PA)
- The Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1994 by the Oslo Accords as an interim governing body for Gaza and the West Bank, except East Jerusalem.
- It operates as an agency of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and is led by an elected president who appoints a prime minister.
- However, it lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2006, and currently, it administers parts of the West Bank, with Mahmoud Abbas leading both the PA and PLO.
Section: External sector
Context: Recently, the government sanctioned royalty rates for three pivotal and strategic minerals i.e lithium, niobium, and rare earth elements (REEs)
More about the news:
- The Indian government has amended a key law to set competitive royalty rates for mining lithium, niobium, and rare earth elements (REEs).
- Private sector participation in mining concessions for these minerals is now possible, following the removal of these minerals from the ‘specified’ atomic minerals list.
- These changes aim to facilitate mining leases for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries and other technologies.
- Notably, a significant lithium deposit was found in Jammu & Kashmir, enhancing India’s resource base for rechargeable batteries.
- The royalty rates on these minerals are —
- Lithium at 3% of the London Metal Exchange price,
- Niobium at 3% of the average sale price, both for primary and secondary sources, and
- For REE the rate will be 1% of the average sale price of rare earth oxide.
What are Critical Minerals:
- Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
- These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
- Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
- However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips, solar panels and batteries.
What is Rare earth Elements:
- Rare Earth Elements (REEs) consist of 17 chemical elements, including the 15 lanthanides and two additional elements, scandium (Atomic Number 21) and yttrium (Atomic Number 39).
- The Lanthanide series encompasses the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers ranging from 57 to 71, starting from lanthanum and ending with lutetium.
- Scandium and yttrium are categorized as rare-earth elements because they are commonly found in the same ore deposits as lanthanides, sharing similar chemical properties while having distinct electronic and magnetic characteristics.
- Cerium (Atomic Number 58) is the most prevalent rare earth metal among the lanthanides.
- Rare earth elements typically display a range of colors, from shiny silver to iron gray. They are soft, malleable, ductile, and tend to be reactive, particularly at elevated temperatures or when in a finely divided form.
- REEs have a wide array of applications, from civilian uses such as smartphones, laptops, and petroleum refining catalysts, to military applications, including nuclear technologies. They are also crucial in the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines, and drones.
- China possesses the largest reserves of REEs, accounting for 37 percent of the world’s total. Brazil and Vietnam follow with 18 percent each, while Russia holds 15 percent. Other nations collectively account for the remaining 12 percent.
- There is no shortage of rare earths. But their extraction is difficult.
How identification of 30 Critical Minerals is done by the Indian Govt:
- The identification of these minerals was done on the basis of a report on critical minerals prepared by an expert team constituted by the Ministry of Mines.
- The ministry will revisit the list periodically.
- The panel decided to have a 3-stage assessment to arrive at a list of critical minerals.
- In the first stage, the panel looked at the strategies of various countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, UK, Japan and South Korea, and identified a total of 69 elements/ minerals.
- In the second stage, an inter-ministerial consultation was carried out with different ministries to identify minerals critical to their sectors.
- The third stage assessment was to derive an empirical formula for evaluating minerals criticality, taking cognizance of the EU methodology that considers two major factors – economic importance and supply risk.
- Based on this process, a total of 30 minerals were found to be most critical for India, out of which two are critical as fertilizer minerals:
What are the 30 critical minerals:
- Based on this process, a total of 30 minerals were found are Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE, Phosphorous, Potash, REE, Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.
Subject : IR
Section: Places in news
Context: India launches Operation Ajay to bring home citizens from Israel-Hamas war zone
More about the news:
- India has initiated “Operation Ajay” to repatriate its citizens from Israel and Palestine amid escalating conflict.
- Special chartered flights and Indian Navy ships will facilitate their return.
- India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, expressed commitment to citizens’ safety.
- A 24-hour control room and emergency helplines were established.
- Approximately 18,000 Indian citizens, including caregivers, students, IT professionals, and diamond traders, are in the region.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed their safety with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, paving the way for contingency evacuation plans.
- The Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv is coordinating efforts and reassuring citizens.
Some of famous past operations:
Operation Name Year Reason for Evacuation
- Operation Dost 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake
- Operation Kaveri 2023 Evacuation of nationals from Sudan.
- Operation Ganga 2022 Tensions between Russia and Ukraine
- Vande Bharat 2020 Covid-19 pandemic
- Operation Samudra Setu 2020 Covid-19 pandemic
- Evacuation from Brussels 2016 Terrorist strikes
- Operation Raahat 2015 Conflict in Yemen
- Operation Maitri 2015 Nepal earthquake
- Operation Safe Homecoming 2011 Conflict in Libya
- Operation Sukoon 2006 Conflict in Lebanon
- 1990 Kuwait Airlift 1990 Invasion of Kuwait by Iraq
Section: Protected Areas in news
- Migratory birds have started their annual journey to Chilika —India’s largest waterbird habitat in Odisha — ahead of winter this year.
- Ducks and wigeon species have been seen this year within the Nalabana bird sanctuary area inside the blue lagoon.
Bird migration to India:
- Migratory birds, mostly from beyond the Himalayas in Northern Eurasia, the Caspian region, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Lake Baikal and the remote areas of Russia and neighboring countries visit the Chilika every winter and start their homeward journey before the onset of summer.
- In the last winter, as many as 1,131,929 birds of 184 different species had visited Chilika. This included 1,093,049 migratory birds from 105 various species and 38,859 resident birds belonging to 79 species.
- Generally the migratory birds fly to Chilika when the temperature here reaches around 30o, but this year they arrived when the temperature is 33-35o.
- Cause of early arrival: Early onset of winter in their native habitats, recent natural disasters in the Himalayan regions might have pushed them to fly to Chilika, scarcity of food in their native habitats
Migratory routes to India:
- Migratory routes are not fixed and in some species part of the population follows one route and parts another. In India, the winter migrants from central Asia and Siberia are thought to use two main routes; one in the west along the Indus valley and the other in the north-east along the river Brahmaputra.
Central Asian flyway (CAF):
- CAF covers a large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans and the associated island chains. The Flyway comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in the Russian Federation (Siberia) to the southernmost non-breeding (wintering) grounds in West and South Asia, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory.
- The birds on their annual migration cross the borders of several countries. Geographically the flyway region covers 30 countries of North, Central and South Asia and Trans-Caucasus.
- The CAF covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory waterbird species, including 29 globally threatened and near-threatened species, which breed, migrate and winter within the region.
- CAF migration routes include the steppes and cold deserts of Central Eurasia, and much of the Himalayan chain, where unique, high-altitude migrations such as those of the Bar-headed Goose, Anser indicus, take place.
The important steps taken for protecting migratory birds are given below:
- Rare and endangered species of birds, including migratory birds, are included in Schedule-I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby according them highest degree of protection.
- Stringent punishments have been provided for in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for violation of the provisions of the Act.
- Important habitats of birds, including migratory birds, have been notified as Protected Areas under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for better conservation and protection of birds and their habitats.
- Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/UT Governments for protection and management of Protected Areas.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for control of illegal trade in wildlife and its parts and products.
Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals:
- CMS is also known as the Bonn Convention. It is the only convention that deals with taking or harvesting of species from the wild. It currently protects 173 migratory species from across the globe.
- Enforcement Year: November 1, 1983.
- The Secretariat was established in 1984.
- Parties: 130 Parties to the Convention– 129 countries plus the European Union. Maldives is the latest country to join it.
- Species Covered: Convention has two Appendices:
- Appendix I lists migratory species that are endangered or threatened with extinction.
- Appendix II lists migratory species which have an unfavorable conservation status and which require international agreements for their conservation and management.
- India has been a party to the Convention since 1983.
Chilika lake and Nalabana Bird Sanctuary:
- Chilika Lake is the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and second largest coastal lagoon in the world, spread over the Puri, Khordha and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 square kilometres.
- Nalbana Bird Sanctuary or Nalbana Island is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake. It was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972. In the heart of the park, one can see thousands of birds descending during the migratory season.
Section: Protected Areas in news
- There is growing consensus that our planet is likely to pass the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming threshold. Research even suggests global warming will temporarily exceed the 2℃ threshold, if atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO₂) peaks at levels beyond what was anticipated.
- The period of time in which warming is increasing past the 1.5°C mark and then cooling back down is called a climate overshoot. About 90 percent of climate models predict a period of climate overshoot, with years if not decades of higher global temperatures, before stabilizing at 1.5°C.
- These changes include sea-level rise, less functional ecosystems, higher risks of species extinction, and glacier and permafrost loss.
- Research found that humanity will continue to feel its impacts long after atmospheric CO₂ levels have peaked and declined.
What are the impacts of climate overshoot?
- Long periods of higher global temperatures could result in many different damaging outcomes for a wide variety of ecosystems, including increased coastal flooding and forced human migration, greater devastation and frequency of forest fires, and loss of biodiversity.
- The conversion of new land for agricultural use may put additional stress on animal habitats, and when temperatures level off and cool, we may see animals migrating in search of habitats that no longer exist. Focusing on limiting the end-of-century warming at 1.5°C—rather than what global temperatures may peak at before that point—puts people and nature at risk.
Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6):
- The project underpins the latest assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- Carbon Dioxide Model Intercomparison Project (CDRMIP): Designed to explore the reversibility of a climate overshoot and how this impacts the Earth system.
- In viable ecosystems the supply of oxygen needs to exceed their demand. The closer supply is to demand, the more precarious ecosystems become, until demand exceeds supply and these ecosystems are no longer viable.
- The changing ocean temperatures impact the long-term viability of different marine species and their habitats.
What did the study find?
- Across all climate overshoot experiments and all models, the findings show the water volumes that can provide viable habitats will decrease. This decrease persisted on the scale of centuries – well after global average temperature recovers from the overshoot.
- The study findings raise concerns about shrinking habitats.
What are the implications of shrinking marine habitats?
- The combination of temperature and deoxygenation shows warming may harm marine ecosystems for hundreds of years after global mean temperatures have peaked.
- There will be a need for resource management to avoid compromising species abundance and food security.
- Climate overshoots not only matter in terms of their peak value but also in terms of how long temperature remains above the target. It is better to return from an overshoot than staying at the higher level, but a lot worse than not overshooting in the first place.
Section: Species in news
- An estimated 50 caracals are left in the small clusters in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, making caracal the second cat species after the Asiatic cheetah to reach the brink of extinction in India.
- Factors leading to the decline in the population are yet to be identified. Though experts speculate it could be a species-specific disease more data is needed to back their speculations.
- Large-scale hunting and illegal trade were the two main causes for the decline but poaching and seizure of the cat have not been reported for many decades.
- In 2021, the National Biodiversity Wildlife Board announced a Species Recovery Plan for the conservation and population revival of 22 species in India, including the caracal.
Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi):
- A small wild cat noted for its long-tufted ears and a reddish-tan or sandy-brown coat.
- The feline, with distinctive black markings on its face and white circles around the eyes and mouth, is native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and arid areas of Pakistan and northwestern India.
- Typically nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial, and lives mainly alone or in pairs.
- The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon birds, rodents, and other small mammals.
- After the Asiatic cheetah, which was declared extinct in 1952, the caracal will be the second cat species to be wiped out from the country.
- Protection status:
- The species is listed under ‘least concern’ under the IUCN Red List globally, it has been listed as ‘near threatened’ by the Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) and IUCN Red List assessment in India.
- The species is included in the Schedule-I category of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, offering it the highest possible protection.
- Habitat range:
- It is a species of wasteland, open forests and shrublands.
- Historically, the caracal was found all across Central India and the Indo-Gangetic plains. But there has been no sighting of the animal in these regions for the last 40 years.
- Some 28 caracal individuals are found in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan and around 20 in Kutch in Gujarat.
Assessment for conservation of the species:
- In 2022, WII along with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and Leo Foundation of The Netherlands conducted a study in nine states – Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – on the presence of caracals.
- The study indicated that areas in Kutch (Gujarat), Aravalli mountains (Rajasthan), Malwa plateau (Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) and Bundelkhand region (Madhya Pradesh) were potentially suitable habitats for caracals. It further identified the Ranthambore-Kuno Landscape (RKL), which falls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, as a highly potential caracal habitat area and a suitable site for the conservation of the feline. The Madhya Pradesh Biodiversity Board is also undertaking a study on caracals in this landscape.
- Rajasthan Forest Department is planning to start a breeding programme for caracals.
Subject: Science and Tech
Section: Nuclear technology
Energy requirement for India:
- India’s economy is growing rapidly and is expected to surpass Germany and Japan and move up from number five to number three position before the end of this decade.
- India’s primary energy consumption is the third-highest globally. Most of this is based on fossil energy.
- To reach a Human Development Index (HDI) comparable to advanced countries we need a minimum of 2,400 kilogram oil equivalent (kgoe) energy consumption per capita per year.
- The total clean energy requirement to support a developed India would work out to around 25,000 – 30,000 TWhr/yr. This is more than four times our present energy consumption and corresponds to a CAGR of around 4.8 per cent.
Six-pronged national strategy for a rapid scale up of nuclear energy:
- Indigenous 700 MWe
- Recently, the third unit of the indigenously developed 700-megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear power reactor at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP3) in Gujarat has commenced operations at full capacity.
- PHWR Fifteen more such units are already under construction in fleet mode.
- Secondly, build indigenous Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
- Thirdly, well-proven 220 MWe PHWR units
- AHWR300-LEU developed by BARC can also be offered for this role after demonstrating a prototype.
- Fourthly, develop a high temperature reactor for direct hydrogen production without resorting to electrolysis to enable cheaper green hydrogen production.
- Speed up second and third stage nuclear-power programme development to unleash thorium energy potential in accordance with the pre-existing plans for long-term sustainable energy supply.
- Finally, emerging-economy countries, where one expects maximum net growth in energy consumption, should see rapid deployment of new nuclear-energy capacity to credibly address the climate-change challenge at the global level.
Small modular reactors (SMRs):
- These are advanced nuclear reactors that have a power capacity of up to 300 MW(e) per unit, which is about one-third of the generating capacity of traditional nuclear power reactors. SMRs, which can produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity, are:
- Small – physically a fraction of the size of a conventional nuclear power reactor.
- Modular – making it possible for systems and components to be factory-assembled and transported as a unit to a location for installation.
- Reactors – harnessing nuclear fission to generate heat to produce energy.
- The CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) is a Canadian pressurized heavy-water reactor design used to generate electric power.
- The acronym refers to its deuterium oxide (heavy water) moderator and its use of (originally, natural) uranium fuel. CANDU reactors were first developed in the late 1950s and 1960s by a partnership between Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, Canadian General Electric, and other companies.
- By 2010, CANDU-based reactors were operational at the following sites of India: Kaiga (3), Kakrapar (2), Madras (2), Narora (2), Rajasthan (6), and Tarapur (2).
Pressurized heavy Water Reactor (PHWR):
- A pressurized heavy-water reactor (PHWR) is a nuclear reactor that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and neutron moderator.
- PHWRs frequently use natural uranium as fuel, but sometimes also use very low enriched uranium.
- The high cost of the heavy water is offset by the lowered cost of using natural uranium and/or alternative fuel cycles.
- As of the beginning of 2001, 31 PHWRs were in operation, having a total capacity of 16.5 GW(e), representing roughly 7.76% by number and 4.7% by generating capacity of all current operating reactors.
Thorium- HALEU fuel:
- The National laboratory is testing thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) developed by Clean Core Thorium Energy for use in pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs).
Clean Core Thorium Energy:
- A Chicago-based company, Clean Core was founded in 2017.
- Investing nearly a decade exploring thorium driven power, our founders envisioned a revolutionary solution to nuclear’s safety, waste, and proliferation concerns.
- Developed by Clean Core:
- Thorium- HALEU fuel
- ANEEL Fuel: Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life- developed for use in pressurized heavy water and Candu reactors.
- Benefits of ANEEL fuel:
- Cost: By achieving greater output within existing safety margins, ANEEL Fuel substantially reduces operating costs of existing reactors
- Size: Through optimization for use in existing small modular reactors, ANEEL Fuel offers an ideal fit for emerging nations equipped with small grid sizes
- Waste: Through high burnup fuel performance, ANEEL Fuel reduces nuclear waste generation by 87.5% and reduces waste storage volume
- Proliferation: By ensuring proliferation resistance using thorium in ANEEL Fuel, nuclear capacity can be deployed to nations that were previously unaddressable
Source: Indian Express
Section: Physical geography
- Billions of people could struggle to survive in periods of deadly, humid heat within this century as temperatures rise, particularly in some of the world’s largest cities, from Delhi to Shanghai, according to research.
- The world is on track for 2.8C (5F) of warming by the year 2100 under current policies, according to the 2022 United Nations Emissions Gap report.
- It found that around 750 million people could experience one week per year of potentially deadly humid heat if temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.
- At 3C (5.4F) of warming, more than 1.5 billion people would face such a threat.
- Regions impacted are:
- While India, Pakistan and the Gulf already have briefly touched dangerous humid heat in recent years, the study found it will afflict major cities from Lagos, Nigeria, to Chicago, Illinois if the world keeps heating up.
- At 4C of warming, Hodeidah, Yemen, would see around 300 days per year of potentially unsurvivable humid heat.
- To track such moist heat, scientists use a measurement known as “wet-bulb” temperature. This is taken by covering a thermometer with a water-soaked cloth.
- The process of water evaporating from the cloth mirrors how the human body cools down with sweat.
- In a 2010 study, Huber proposed that a wet-bulb temperature of 35C (95F) persisting for six or more hours could be the conservative limit for the human body. Beyond this, people were likely to succumb to heat stress if they could not find a way to cool down.
- Later the researchers found the limit was lower at between 30C (86F) and 31C (88F).
- The research also concludes that the geographic range and frequency of dangerous humid heat will increase rapidly under even moderate global warming.
Section: Physical geography
- Investing in safe surgeries could significantly reduce the costs associated with surgeries in low-to-middle-income countries like India, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.
What is a surgical site infection?
- A surgical site infection is a common complication in surgeries worldwide.
- It is an infection that occurs at the site of a surgery in the body. It could be a superficial skin infection or a deeper one, involving tissues.
- About 11% of patients who undergo surgery contract such infections.
- Surgical site infections increase healthcare costs by prolonging hospital stay and by demanding more human and medical resources to treat these infections.
What did the new study do?
- The researchers investigated resource costs for patients who underwent abdominal surgeries across 13 hospitals in four countries – India, Mexico, Nigeria, and Ghana – between April and October 2020.
- The procedures were classified into two types:
- Clean-contaminated surgeries – where surgeons cut into the gut, respiratory tract, or urinary tract in controlled sterile conditions
- Contaminated-dirty surgeries – which includes accidental wounds, spillage from the gut, or a breach in the sterile conditions
- The study was a part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) called FALCON, which involved 57 hospitals in seven countries to investigate the effects of interventions on surgical site infections. The trial was led by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, U.K.
- This is the first multi-continental surgical cost study of its kind.
- The surgical site infections extend hospital stays up to a month or more and worsen the financial burden on patients and their families.
- Surgical site infections occurred in 27% of contaminated-dirty surgeries and 7% of clean-contaminated surgeries.
- The healthcare costs associated with a surgical site infection following a clean-contaminated surgery (higher by 75%) were higher than in the case of a contaminated-dirty surgery (67%).
- India had the highest increase in healthcare costs associated with surgical site infections following clean-contaminated surgeries, at Rs 46,000. It also featured the lowest increase in healthcare costs for surgical site infections after contaminated-dirty surgeries, at Rs 20,000.
Did the study have any limitations?
- COVID-19 pandemic.
- The number of samples and surgical site infections in Mexico and Nigeria were too low to draw any general conclusions about costs.
- The cost differences between different countries may have been influenced by different factors.
How can we avoid these costs?
- The number of surgical site infections in India has been consistently higher than the international average.
- A simple checklist of procedures like skin decontamination, adequate site marking before the surgical procedure etc., can reduce errors and morbidity.
- In 2016, the WHO outlined such a checklist for surgical procedures, adhering to them with discipline could considerably lower infection incidence.
- Increasing the insurance coverage and reducing the out-of-pocket expenses.
Section: External Sector
Why in News?
- India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has announced that starting from November 1, 2023, it will impose import restrictions on laptops, computers, and their components classified under Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN) Code 8471.
- However, these restrictions will not apply to items imported under baggage rules.
- This move is aimed at promoting domestic manufacturing, reducing reliance on foreign imports, particularly from China, and enhancing self-reliance in India’s technology sector.
- On August 3, DGFT issued a notification, imposing licensing conditions on the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, ultra small form-factor computers, and servers.
- This move aims to address India’s security concerns regarding IT hardware, which could potentially be compromised.
- After extensive discussions between MeitY and the IT hardware industry, the decision was made to initiate a simple registration process instead of a more restrictive licensing process.
New Rules for Import:
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a notification specifying that imports of laptops, tablets, etc., under Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN) 8471 are “restricted” and require a valid license from DGFT trusted sources. Exemptions apply to imports for purposes like Baggage Rules, research and development (R&D), testing, benchmarking, and repair.
Aim of Restrictions: The primary goal is to boost local production and reduce reliance on imports from China, which constituted over 75% of India’s laptop and personal computer imports in the previous fiscal year.
Significance: These restrictions align with the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for IT hardware, encouraging domestic manufacturing. They also address security concerns, protect critical information infrastructure, and support the “Make in India” initiative.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in India is set to launch a new import management system for laptops, computers, and tablets, starting from November 1. The move follows the government’s decision to transition to an authorization system, with no further postponement beyond October 31. Here are the key details about this registration regime for computer imports:
- Importers will need to register on DGFT’s system.
- They must specify the quantity they intend to import.
- Upon registration, importers will receive an import authorization.
- The industry agreed with the government’s decision and initiated the registration process.
- DGFT is gearing up to commence the import management system for laptops and computers by November 1.
- The registration window will open about ten days before the mandated transition to the new system.
- The registration process is expected to take no more than two to three days.
- Initially, import authorizations will be issued for the quantity the industry intends to import.
- These authorizations typically remain valid for one year.
- DGFT and MeitY will have the authority to determine the final validity period.
Reasons for Imposing Import Restrictions on Electronic Devices:
- Boost Domestic Manufacturing: The restrictions are intended to boost domestic manufacturing capabilities, aligning with the government’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for IT hardware.
- Security Concerns: The restrictions aim to prevent the entry of electronic hardware that may have potential security vulnerabilities, which could compromise sensitive personal and enterprise data.
- Self-Reliance: By restricting imports, the government seeks to create a conducive environment for indigenous manufacturers to expand their global presence.
- India’s commitment to zero-duty imports under the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA 1) made it challenging to control electronic goods imports, affecting domestic manufacturing. Therefore, import restrictions were imposed.
Impact of the Restrictions:
- Supply Chain Disruptions: The restrictions may lead to disruptions in the supply chain, potentially affecting the availability of certain laptop models in the market. Importers will need to apply for licenses, leading to a supply crunch in the short term.
- Opportunities for Domestic Manufacturers: Domestic manufacturers may benefit from the restrictions, as consumers may turn to locally produced laptops if imports become limited. This could incentivize the development of domestic manufacturing capabilities.
- Challenges for Existing Players: Established laptop manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and Apple, who import a significant portion of their products from countries like China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, will need to adjust their production strategies.
- Opportunities for New Entrants: The policy may create opportunities for new entrants and local manufacturers to leverage the PLI scheme and offer competitive products at affordable prices.
Background – ITA 1 and HSN:
- The Information Technology Agreement (ITA 1) was established in 1996 with India as one of its 29-member countries.
- It mandates the removal of customs duties on specific IT products.
- These products are identified using HSN codes, part of the global Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN) managed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN):
- HSN is a globally used system that assigns a unique code to every product traded internationally.
- It helps customs authorities assess tariffs on imported goods and assists traders and exporters in declaring their goods.
- The HSN code was developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in 1988 and is updated every five years.
Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT):
- DGFT, a government body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, implements India’s foreign trade policy.
- Established in 1991 as a successor to the Chief Controller of Imports & Exports (CCI&E), DGFT regulates and promotes foreign trade through various schemes and measures.
- It provides guidance and assistance to exporters and importers, issues licenses and authorizations, and coordinates with other stakeholders on trade-related matters.
About Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI)
The Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) is a government initiative in India aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing, increasing import substitution, and generating employment.
Here are the key points about the PLI scheme:
- The PLI scheme was launched in March 2020 with the objective of enhancing India’s manufacturing capacity.
- It initially focused on three industries: mobile and allied component manufacturing, electrical component manufacturing, and medical devices.
- The scheme has been extended to cover 14 sectors.
- The 14 sectors under the PLI scheme include mobile manufacturing, medical devices, automobiles and auto components, pharmaceuticals, specialty steel, telecom and networking products, electronic products, white goods (such as air conditioners and LED lights), food products, textile products, solar PV modules, advanced chemistry cell (ACC) batteries, and drones and drone components.
Incentives Under the Scheme:
- Companies, both domestic and foreign, receive financial incentives for manufacturing within India.
- The incentives are calculated based on a percentage of the company’s incremental sales over a period of up to five years.
Emphasis on R&D:
- The PLI scheme places an emphasis on research and development (R&D) investment.
- This focus on R&D is intended to help the industry stay in step with global trends and remain competitive in the international market.
Success in Smartphone Manufacturing:
- The PLI scheme has achieved notable success in the smartphone manufacturing sector.
- In fiscal year 2017-18, mobile phone imports amounted to USD 3.6 billion, with exports at just USD 334 million, resulting in a trade deficit of -USD 3.3 billion.
- By fiscal year 2022-23, imports had reduced to USD 1.6 billion, while exports surged to nearly USD 11 billion, resulting in a positive net exports figure of USD 9.8 billion.
Section: Fiscal Policy
Why in News?
Tamil Nadu has criticized the central government for its unfair treatment of the state regarding the devolution of funds and highlighted the following points: –
- Comparative Contributions shows Step motherly Attitude: Tamil Nadu contributes more to the central government in terms of direct tax compared to some other states, like Uttar Pradesh. However, despite its contributions, Tamil Nadu receives significantly less in the devolution of funds.
- Discrepancy in Devolution: Tamil Nadu received only 29 paise for every rupee it contributed as tax, whereas Uttar Pradesh received ₹2.79 for every rupee contributed.
- Direct Tax Contributions: Between 2014-15 and 2021-22, Tamil Nadu contributed ₹5.16 lakh crore in direct taxes but received only ₹2.08 lakh crore through devolution. In contrast, Uttar Pradesh contributed ₹2.24 lakh crore and received ₹9.04 lakh crore through devolution.
- Finance Commission Recommendations: Tamil Nadu has been adversely affected by the recommendations of the Finance Commission over the past 15 years. The 15th Finance Commission recommended a lower share (4.079%) of the total divisible pool of Central taxes for Tamil Nadu, compared to the 12th Finance Commission (5.305%).
- Census and Family Planning: South Indian States have been penalized for effectively implementing family planning measures initiated in 1972.
- Disaster Relief Funds: Tamil Nadu receives fewer disaster relief funds compared to states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The role of the Finance Commission in India’s fiscal federalism is critical, and it is responsible for determining the vertical sharing (between the Centre and States) and horizontal sharing (among the States) of the Centre’s tax revenue among states.
Why there are so many issues raised by the South Indian States?
- The upcoming Finance Commission (16th FC) in India will face significant challenges as it grapples with reshaping fiscal federalism in the context of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
- The shift from a production-based to a consumption-based taxation system necessitates a comprehensive reevaluation to address tax-sharing principles, regional disparities, and the complexities introduced by the GST structure.
However, several issues and challenges have emerged in the process of Horizontal and Vertical Distribution:
- States’ Demand for a Higher Share: States often demand a higher proportion of the Centre’s tax pool, which is currently set at 41%. However, there is limited room to increase this further due to the Centre’s own expenditure needs and borrowing constraints.
- Change in Population Base Year: The previous Finance Commission (2017) introduced a change in the base year for determining expenditure needs, shifting from 1971 to 2011 population figures. This change favored the States who neglected family planning but faced protests from states with well-controlled population growth.
- Conflict Over Revenue Deficit Grants: The allocation of revenue deficit grants to states in deficit on the current account remains a contentious issue. Determining the reasons behind a state’s fiscal deficit is challenging, and Finance Commissions have struggled to find a balance between supporting deficit states and not penalizing responsible ones.
- Inefficiencies and Criticisms: The horizontal distribution formulas used have faced criticism for being inefficient or unfair, and the fault lines among states have deepened along political, economic, and fiscal dimensions.
- Shift to the GST Regime: The introduction of the GST regime marks a significant shift in India’s taxation system. This transition from a production-based to a consumption-based tax system necessitates a comprehensive reevaluation of fiscal federalism to align with the new tax paradigm.
- Impact on Vertical and Horizontal Imbalances: While the GST system can potentially address historical vertical imbalances in tax revenue distribution, it also introduces new horizontal imbalances among states due to varying consumption patterns and economic development levels.
- Equitable Resource Allocation: To ensure a fair distribution of resources among states, it is essential to revisit the criteria for resource allocation, considering the principles of fiscal federalism and the specific needs of each state within the GST framework.
- Reviewing the Compensation Scheme: The Commission should review the necessity, viability, and desirability of the GST compensation scheme, considering the performance of GST revenues over the past six years.
- Adaptation to Changing Economic Realities: India’s economic landscape is dynamic, with evolving challenges and opportunities. A comprehensive reevaluation allows fiscal policies to adapt to these changes, ensuring they remain relevant and effective.
- Fiscal Responsibility: A reevaluation should assess the long-term fiscal health of both the central government and state governments, recommending measures for managing fiscal deficits and public debt responsibly.
- Institutional Relationships: Establishing formalized institutional relationships between the GST Council and the Finance Commission presents a challenge in the evolving federal financial structure.
Key – Issues to Address by the Finance Commission:
- Cesses and Surcharges: The Centre’s increasing use of cesses and surcharges, which are not shared with states, needs to be addressed. A clear set of guidelines should be established for when and how these additional cesses and surcharges are levied. There should be a formula or mechanism to cap the amount raised through cesses and surcharges, preventing excessive or arbitrary impositions.
- Government Spending on Freebies: Political parties’ practices of providing freebies should be formalized and restrained. The Finance Commission can play a role in developing a mechanism to prevent excessive populist spending.
In the interest of long-term fiscal sustainability, the upcoming Finance Commission should take a proactive approach and provide guidelines on issues related to cesses, surcharges, and government spending. Balancing the needs of states and fiscal responsibility is crucial for the country’s economic health.
Understanding Fiscal Federalism:
- Fiscal federalism involves how financial responsibilities and resources are divided among different levels of government in a federal or decentralized system. This encompasses generating, collecting, sharing, and spending revenues at both the national (central) and subnational (state or regional) levels.
- India’s multi-tiered system of governance operates as a federal republic, making fiscal federalism a crucial component of its governance structure
Finance Commission: –
The Finance Commission is a constitutional body in India that plays a crucial role in fiscal federalism. It is established under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution, and its primary function is to recommend the distribution of financial resources between the central government and the state governments.
Here’s a brief overview of the Finance Commission’s key functions and responsibilities:
- Resource Distribution: The primary task of the Finance Commission is to recommend the division of tax revenues and other financial resources between the Union (central government) and the states. This division ensures a fair and equitable distribution of funds to meet the needs of both the central and state governments.
- Tax Devolution: The Commission recommends the share of central taxes to be allocated to the states. This allocation is vital for states to finance their various development programs and functions.
- Grants-in-Aid: In addition to tax devolution, the Finance Commission also suggests grants-in-aid to states that may have special financial needs or face fiscal challenges. These grants aim to support states in fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities.
- Fiscal Transfers: The Commission examines the fiscal situation of both the Union and the states and recommends measures to augment the revenue resources of the states. It also assesses the need for and provides recommendations on revenue-sharing agreements between states.
- Other Matters: Apart from resource distribution, the Finance Commission may also be tasked with examining any other financial or fiscal matters referred to it by the President of India.
- Five-Year Cycle: The Finance Commission is typically constituted every five years. Each new Commission’s recommendations are applicable for a specific five-year period, ensuring periodic reviews and adjustments in the fiscal relationship between the central and state governments.
- Independence: The Commission is expected to make recommendations independently, free from political interference. Its members are typically experts in finance, economics, and related fields.
- Parliament’s Approval: The Commission’s recommendations are presented to the President, who, in turn, lays them before Parliament. These recommendations need the approval of both houses of Parliament to become effective.
In summary, the Finance Commission is a crucial institution in India’s fiscal federal structure, playing a vital role in ensuring the equitable distribution of financial resources between the central government and the states, as well as addressing fiscal disparities and promoting cooperative federalism.
Section: Fiscal Policy
HDFC emphasized the importance of deepening bond markets to efficiently finance India’s energy transition goals and cautioned against relying solely on bank finance for long-gestation projects, citing potential disasters similar to those witnessed in the early 2000s.
- Importance of Deepening Bond Markets: Need to develop deeper corporate bond markets, enabling investors to effectively invest in and exit from these bonds and views that the inclusion of Indian government securities in global indices as a promising start but believes more work is required downstream, particularly for corporate bonds.
- Challenges of Short-Term Finances: Relying on very short-term finance options offered by banks may not be suitable for long-term projects, and it could lead to undesirable outcomes. Chakraborty alluded to past experiences, suggesting that such financing could result in disasters.
- Reducing Volatility: Increasing participation of investors in corporate bond markets can help reduce volatility in bond yields. A more active and deep market often leads to a more stable investment environment.
- Understanding Risks in the Green Transition: Importance of recognizing and addressing risks associated with new energy sources and noted that such risks are sometimes overlooked in the narrative of the green transition.
The deepening of bond markets underscores the significance of efficient financing for India’s energy transition. By fostering a deeper corporate bond market, the country can better support long-term projects, reduce volatility, and ensure a more resilient and sustainable energy transition.
What is Panchamrit action plan?
The “Panchamrit” commitments, also known as the “five-nectar-element commitments,” represent India’s ambitious goals and pledges in the field of energy and environmental sustainability. These commitments outline India’s targets and actions for addressing climate change and transitioning towards a greener and more sustainable future. Here are the five key elements of the Panchamrit commitments:
- Non-Fossil Energy Capacity: India aims to increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by the year 2030. This goal emphasizes a significant expansion of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
- Renewable Energy Share: India commits to meeting 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030. This involves a substantial shift towards clean and sustainable energy generation, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and their associated emissions.
- Carbon Emissions Reduction: India pledges to reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from the present until 2030. This ambitious target is in line with global efforts to mitigate climate change and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
- Carbon Intensity Reduction: By 2030, India aims to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45%. This goal signifies a commitment to making the country’s economic growth more environmentally friendly, ensuring that economic expansion is achieved with lower emissions.
- Net Zero Emissions: In a longer-term perspective, India is working towards achieving the target of net-zero emissions by the year 2070. This implies balancing the emissions produced with equivalent reductions or offsets, contributing to the global goal of limiting global warming and its associated impacts.
In brief, what are the targets set by India?
India is set to achieve its short-term and long-term targets under the Panchamrit action plan, like- reaching a
- non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030
- fulfilling at least half of its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030
- reducing CO2 emissions by 1 billion tons by 2030
- reducing carbon intensity below 45 percent by 2030
- pave the way for achieving a Net-Zero emission target by 2070.
About Green Bond: –
A green bond is a specialized type of fixed-income investment designed to raise capital for projects and initiatives with positive environmental impacts. Here are the key characteristics and workings of green bonds:
Characteristics of Green Bonds:
- Earmarked for Environmental Projects: Green bonds are specifically dedicated to financing projects and activities that have a positive impact on the environment. These projects may include renewable energy development, energy efficiency improvements, clean transportation initiatives, sustainable water management, and more.
- Asset-Linked: Green bonds are often asset-linked, meaning the proceeds from the bond issuance are tied to specific environmentally friendly projects. The use of the funds is closely monitored to ensure they are applied to the intended purposes.
- Issuer’s Balance Sheet: Green bonds are backed by the issuer’s balance sheet, which means they typically carry the same credit rating as the issuer’s other debt obligations. This makes them attractive to a wide range of investors.
- Tax Incentives: To make green bonds more attractive to investors, they may come with tax incentives or other benefits. These incentives can include tax exemptions or deductions related to interest income earned from the bonds.
How Green Bonds Work:
- Issuance: Organizations, including governments, corporations, and other entities, issue green bonds to raise capital for environmental projects. The bonds are sold to investors in the primary market.
- Funding Environmental Projects: The funds raised from the issuance of green bonds are used to finance projects that align with environmental and sustainability goals. These projects are designed to have a positive impact, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or preserving natural resources.
- Investor Returns: Investors who purchase green bonds receive periodic interest payments (coupon payments) and the return of their principal when the bonds mature. These returns are similar to those of conventional bonds.
- Transparency and Reporting: Issuers are typically required to report on the allocation of funds and the environmental impact of the projects. This reporting provides investors with assurance that their funds are used as intended.
Green Bonds vs. Blue Bonds
- Blue bonds are a type of sustainability bond designed specifically to fund projects focused on protecting the ocean and related ecosystems. These projects can include supporting sustainable fisheries, coral reef conservation, pollution reduction, and initiatives to combat ocean acidification.
- While all blue bonds are green bonds (because they support environmental goals), not all green bonds are blue bonds.
About Sovereign Green Bond
Sovereign Green Bonds are a specific type of government-issued bond designed to raise funds for projects that have positive environmental impacts and contribute to sustainability objectives. These bonds are part of the broader category of green bonds, which are used to finance environmentally friendly projects.
Key characteristics of Sovereign Green Bonds:
- Government-Issued: Sovereign Green Bonds are issued by a country’s government, making them a form of government debt.
- Environmental Impact: The funds raised through these bonds are earmarked for projects that have clear environmental benefits. These projects could include initiatives related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution control, afforestation, and other activities that promote sustainability and reduce carbon emissions.
- Positive Contribution: The primary purpose of Sovereign Green Bonds is to make a positive contribution to environmental and sustainability goals. This distinguishes them from regular government bonds that are not specifically tied to environmental objectives.
- Investor Incentives: Investors in Sovereign Green Bonds are often attracted by the environmental and sustainability focus. These bonds can be an attractive investment option for those who want to align their investment portfolio with their environmental values.
- Minimized Project-Related Risks: Importantly, investors in Sovereign Green Bonds typically do not bear the project-related risks associated with the initiatives funded by these bonds. The government assumes responsibility for ensuring that the projects are carried out as intended.
- Market Development: The issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds can help develop and deepen the market for green bonds within a country, encouraging private sector and institutional investors to participate in environmentally friendly projects.
Section: Modern India
The newest book to join the corpus is Afsar Mohammed’s ‘Remaking History- 1948 Police Action and the Muslims of Hyderabad’, published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. Afsar’s book looks at the events of ‘Police Action’ through the prism of fiction and nonfiction mostly in Telugu and Urdu languages.
About Operation Polo:
- Operation Polo was launched in the context of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s desire to keep his state independent after India gained independence in 1947.
- He took advantage of India’s focus on the Kashmir conflict with Pakistan, which diverted resources and attention away from Hyderabad.
- In November 1947, the Nizam signed a standstill agreement with India, which meant that there would be no immediate integration of Hyderabad into India, and the existing conditions would continue for a year.
- However there were several reasons that led to the launch of operation Polo on September 13, 1948:
- Increasing Tensions: The Nizam’s administration in Hyderabad took advantage of the standstill agreement to increase the strength of its irregular force known as the These Razakars, led by Maj Gen SA El Edroos, were causing problems for the predominantly Hindu population in the state.
- Cross-Border Raids: The Razakars were conducting cross-border raids and creating tensions along the state’s borders.
- Overtures to Pakistan: The Nizam was making overtures to Pakistan, hinting at the intention to establish an independent country within India’s borders.
- Threat of Secession: The Nizam’s actions and the presence of the Razakars posed a threat to the unity of India, and there was a fear of Hyderabad attempting to secede from India.
- As a result of these developments, the Indian government decided to take action against Hyderabad to remove the threat of secession and to ensure the state’s integration into India.
- In terms of military strength, the Nizam’s forces numbered less than 25,000, and only a fraction of them were well-trained.
- The razakars, though numerous, were not a formidable military opposition. The Nizam had boasted of a much larger force, but this turned out to be an empty claim, and Hyderabad’s resistance crumbled within the first two days of the offensive.
- Operation Polo was conducted primarily by Maj Gen Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri’s 1 Armored Division, with subsidiary thrusts from the north, south, and east of the state.
- The operation was a success, and the Nizam announced a ceasefire on September 17, with the formal surrender taking place on September 18.
- Maj Gen Chaudhuri became the Military Governor of Hyderabad, and the state was integrated into India.
- Integration: The successful conclusion of Operation Polo marked the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, ensuring the end of princely rule in India. The state was reorganized into Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- Resettlement: Many Razakars and officials of the Nizam’s government were arrested and tried for their roles in the violence and atrocities during the conflict.
- Legacy: Operation Polo remains a subject of historical debate. Critics argue that the Indian government’s use of force was heavy-handed, while proponents contend that it was necessary to prevent further communal violence and to secure Hyderabad’s integration into India.
- Cultural Integration: Hyderabad’s integration into India brought together people from diverse linguistic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. It marked the beginning of a process of cultural assimilation and integration.
The Bombay High Court on September 29 reserved its verdict in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 (IT Rules). The Rules permit a Fact Check Unit (FCU) of the Union Government to identify “fake or false or misleading” online content “related to the business of the Central Government” and demand its removal.
PIB Fact-check plan as proposed by the government
- The government had released a modification to the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
- This modification proposed that any piece of news that has been identified as fake by the fact-checking unit of PIB will not be allowed on online intermediaries, including social media platforms.
- PIB is the Centre’s nodal agency to share news updates.
- Examples of online intermediaries include social media platforms, internet service providers, web hosting providers etc.
- The condition was added to the list of due diligence criteria that intermediaries must follow in order to enjoy legal immunity from third-party content that they host.
- The proposal also suggested that content marked as misleading by any other agency authorised by the government for fact-checking or in respect of any business of the Centre will not be allowed on online intermediaries.
- Hence, according to the latest proposal, there is now the possibility of content takedowns because something has been recognised as fake news by the PIB.
Concerns related to these proposals
- Empowers the government to take down any news which does not suit its agenda.
- Analysts have expressed concern that anything that contradicts the government’s stand might be used to justify content takedowns.
- The determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government as it will result in the censorship of the press.
- Government is legislating to become a judge in its own cause
- The government, through the proposed amendment, is taking a step to effectively muzzle criticism and even fair comment.
- PIB, or an agency of the central government, is ill-equipped.
- The identification of fake news requires the highest standards of fairness and due process to ensure factual accuracy of reports about government business.
- In this context, many analysts believe that PIB, or an agency of the central government, is ill-equipped to handle such issues.
- PIB’s fact-checking unit was set up in 2019 to verify news related to the government’s ministries, departments and schemes.
- It routinely flags content that it believes is false or misleading, yet it rarely explains why it has flagged a specific piece of information.
- The PIB’s fact-checking unit has itself tweeted (occasionally) inaccurate information.
Fake News and Laws to Punish Offenders
- Meaning of Fake News: Fake news is referred to as those news stories that are false, fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes.
- Types of Fake News: Satire or parody (no intention to cause harm), misleading content, imposter content, fabricated/false/manipulated content, etc.
Laws to control effect of fake news:
- The Information Technology (IT) Act, 2008. The offence related to electronic communication shall be punished under section 66 D of IT Act.
- The Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005. Whoever makes/circulates a false alarm/warning as to disaster/its severity/magnitude, leading to panic shall be punished under the DM Act.
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860. Fake news creating false alarm in public, fake news creating riots and information causing defamation shall be punished under different sections of the IPC.
In May this year, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a case against several members of the board of directors of Grameen Telecom, that included Nobel laureate Dr. Mohammad Yunus, over allegations that the board was involved in misusing funds from the workers. This was one of the several complaints against Mr. Yunus, the 2006 winner of the Nobel peace prize, known for his unique venture of microfinancing in Bangladesh.
- MFI is an organization that offers financial services to low income populations.
- These services include microloans, microsavings and microinsurance.
- MFIs are financial companies that provide small loans to people who do not have any access to banking facilities.
- The definition of “small loans” varies between countries. In India, all loans that are below Rs.1 lakh can be considered as microloans.
- In most cases the so-called interest rates are lower than those charged by normal banks, certain rivals of this concept accuse microfinance entities of creating gain by manipulating the poor people’s money.
- Microfinance sector has grown rapidly over the past few decades and currently it is serving around 102 million accounts (including banks and small finance banks) of the poor population of India.
- Different types of financial services providers for poor people have emerged – non-government organizations (NGOs); cooperatives; community-based development institutions like self-help groups and credit unions; commercial and state banks; insurance and credit card companies; telecommunications and wire services; post offices; and other points of sale – offering new possibilities.
- Non Banking Finance Company (NBFC)-MFIs in India are regulated by The Non-Banking Financial Company -Micro Finance Institutions (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2011 of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Major Business Models:
- Joint Liability Group:
This is usually an informal group that consists of 4-10 individuals who seek loans against mutual guarantee.
The loans are usually taken for agricultural purposes or associated activities.
- Self Help Group:
It is a group of individuals with similar socio-economic backgrounds.
These small entrepreneurs come together for a short duration and create a common fund for their business needs. These groups are classified as non-profit organisations.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) SHG linkage programme is noteworthy in this regard, as several Self Help Groups are able to borrow money from banks if they are able to present a track record of diligent repayments.
- Grameen Model Bank:
It was the brainchild of Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in the 1970s.
It has inspired the creation of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) in India. The primary motive of this system is the end-to-end development of the rural economy.
- Rural Cooperatives:
They were established in India at the time of Indian independence.
However, this system had complex monitoring structures and was beneficial only to the creditworthy borrowers in rural India. Hence, this system did not find the success that it sought initially.
Section: Human geography
The Baiga Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) became the second pvtg to get habitat rights in Chhattisgarh, after the Kamar PVTG.
- The Baiga are an ethnic group in central India. They are one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- The Baiga live in the following states:Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal.
- They have sub-castes – Bijhwar, Narotia, Bharotiya, Nahar, Rai Bhaina, and Kadh Bhaina.
- Traditionally, the Baiga lived a semi-nomadic life and practised slash-and-burn cultivation.
- Now, they are mainly dependent on minor forest produce for their livelihood.
- They practice a form of shifting cultivation called, “Bewar.”
What is a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG)?
- PVTGs are most vulnerable among the tribal groups.Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
- In this context, in 1975, the Government of India declared 52 tribal groups as PVTGs on the recommendation of Dhebar commission.
- Currently, there are 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes.
- The PVTGs are spread over 18 states and one UT, in the country (2011 census).
- Odisha has the highest number (more than 2.5 lakh) of PVTGs.
Characteristics of PVTGs:
- Population – stagnant/declining
- Technology – pre-agricultural
- Literacy Level – extremely low
- Economy – Subsistence level
Government Scheme(s) for PVTGs:
- Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements a scheme in the name of ‘Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)’.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme having a provision of 100% Central assistance to 18 states and Union territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- The scheme of Development of PVTGs aims at socio-economic development of PVTGs in a comprehensive manner, while retaining their culture and heritage.
- As a part of the scheme, State Governments undertakes projects that are tailored to cater to sectors like education, health and livelihood schemes for the PVTGs.
About habitat rights?
- Recognizing habitat rights means giving a community the authority over where they live traditionally, their customs, how they make a living, their knowledge about nature, and how they use natural resources.
- It also involves safeguarding their environment and cultural heritage.
- Habitat rights safeguard and promote traditional livelihood and ecological knowledge passed down through generations.
Habitat rights include
- Rights over a community’s traditional territory
- Rights to socio-cultural practices
- Rights to economic and livelihood means
- Rights to intellectual knowledge of biodiversity and ecology
- Rights to traditional knowledge of use of natural resources
- Rights to protection and conservation
Legal backing of habitat rights
- Habitat rights are given to PVTGs under section 3(1) (e) of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
- States which have recognised habitat rights: Out of 75 PVTG in India, only three have habitat rights.
- The Bharia PVTG in Madhya Pradesh was the first, followed by the Kamar tribe and now the Baiga tribe in Chhattisgarh.
How does the government fix a habitat?
- The procedure is based on a detailed guideline given for this purpose in 2014 by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
- Based on the MoTA guidelines, the traditional tribal leaders of the tribe are consulted about the extent of their culture, traditions, occupation.
- It is corroborated by the government and then a habitat is declared.
Can habitat rights be used to stop activities like mining?
- The habitat rights will help the PVTG protect their habitat from developmental activities harmful to them.
- The title may not be an ownership title in the nature of a private property owner, but consent and consultation of the gram sabha will be needed for any developmental activity.
Section: Physical geography
A new study suggests a shift in the Arabian Sea’s cyclogenesis potential, which may be linked to a shift in the ‘Warm Arctic, Cold Eurasian’ pattern as well as regime shifts and global warming.
Cyclones Trend in Arabian Sea
- A recent study in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science identified a notable change in cyclone formation potential over the Arabian Sea in the late 1990s.
- Cyclone-genesis potential depends on factors like sea surface temperature, ocean heat content, wind changes from the surface to upper atmosphere, and wind rotation. These factors have favoured increased cyclone formation potential since the 1990s.
- However, the crucial question is why this rapid increase occurred during this period. The study suggests that it coincided with a shift in the ‘Warm Arctic, Cold Eurasian’ (WACE) pattern rather than being a trend.
About Warm Arctic, Cold Eurasian Pattern
- The WACE pattern involves warm surface temperatures over the Arctic and cold surface temperatures over Eurasia. It influences upper-level circulation changes that extend into the Indian Ocean sector.
- Global warming experienced a slowdown during this period, and scientists have proposed the occurrence of a ‘regime shift,’ similar to one observed in the mid-1970s.
Challenge for India
- Regardless of whether these climate changes are shifts or decadal cycles, it is essential to understand their potential long-term effects on the monsoon, cyclone frequency, heatwaves, and extreme rainfall.
- Accurate predictions are vital for planning and allocating resources to adapt to climate risks, such as sea-level rise, heavy rainfall, drought, heatwaves, and cyclones.
- Climate scientists must focus on understanding natural variability in the local context, especially since this variability is influenced by global warming.
- For example, the study indicates that the monsoon decadal cycle, previously lasting around 20 years, may now extend further, raising questions about the underlying causes.
- Distinguishing between climate trends, shifts, and decadal cycles is essential for India’s adaptation strategies.
- These distinctions affect how the country prepares for and responds to evolving climate patterns, and climate scientists must strive to unravel the complexities of natural variability to make informed predictions and policy recommendations.