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List of Contents
Issue of inaccurate Death reporting in India
Source: The Hindu
Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency, and Accountability,
Synopsis: Official death reporting in India is not realistic. Government and experts need to rely on these numbers only for every purpose. If realistic estimates of COVID-19 deaths by city, rural settings, districts, and States are known, India can plan a more targeted response towards the pandemic.
- Registration of Deaths in India is fragmented and inaccurate. For instance, even before the Pandemic, India registered only 85% deaths and only one-fourth of the registered deaths were medically certified for the causes of death.
- Apart from this, there is a wide variation among States and within rural and urban areas. For instance, the lack of access to COVID-19 testing services and treatment facilities in rural areas makes an accounting of Deaths more challenging.
- In the absence of robust data on the realistic number of deaths and the causes of death, India should make efforts to calculate the estimated deaths in India.
- In the short term, the death estimates could be very useful to plan for the next wave of the pandemic and in the long run, it will help to strengthen the Indian health care system
The issue of inaccurate Death reporting
- Public health experts estimated that COVID-19 deaths in India could be in the range of 3 to 14 times the officially reported number of deaths. Whereas, the Union and State governments have continuously denied the estimates.
- However, reconciliation of COVID-19 deaths in Bihar and Maharashtra reveals the state of under- reporting of Deaths in India.
- After reviews and audits, these States show a nearly 75% increase in COVID-19 deaths over the officially reported deaths for the specified periods.
- In some districts, there has been a two to three times increase in the number of reported deaths after revision.
- Apart from this, underreporting of deaths in rural India is also high owing to fewer rural health facilities providing COVID-19 care.
What needs to be done?
In the absence of realistic data on the number of deaths related to Covid-19, India needs to rely on estimates. India can refine estimates by following the four approaches
- First, every State should conduct death audits to classify all the deaths that occurred during the pandemic. The focus should be on health facilities, the public, and private sector, as well as deaths in homes.
- Second, Excess deaths during the Pandemic period need to be analyzed more systematically.
- Third, need to conduct death surveys followed by verbal autopsies in rural areas to collect additional data. Death registers at the village level, Panchayats, the sample registration system team, booth-level officers can be mobilised to collect additional information on reported deaths. This can help the government in getting more realistic death estimates in the next few months. The Jharkhand government completed one such survey, focused exclusively on rural areas, which found 43% excess deaths than the comparable period before the pandemic.
- Fourth, need to initiate the decadal Census in India. Inter-censal growth will provide an important insight into excess mortality. The U.S. and China have conducted their census in 2020 during the pandemic.
Developing realistic COVID-19 death estimates could be more helpful in policy formulation, planning, resource allocation, and health system strengthening. Therefore, the governments at all levels (Union, States, and districts) should work to come up with the estimated number of COVID-19 deaths.
Russia-China Nexus and India
Source: The Hindu
GS2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests
Synopsis: Russia-China nexus is growing. Thus, Russia expects India to give up all efforts to reverse China’s encroachment strategies. However, it is based on a flawed assessment of the current situation.
- Russian President has recently said that both the Indian Prime Minister and the Chinese President are “responsible” enough to solve issues.
- It also emphasized the need to avoid interference of any extra-regional power.
- On the other hand, China is continuing its efforts to undermine India’s global position.
- Also, India has said it can no longer be confined between the Malacca Strait and the Gulf of Aden.
Russia supporting China blindly is further distancing India and Russia.
How Russia is undermining India’s efforts against China’s encroachment strategy?
- Firstly, Russia’s views regarding the Quad reinforces China’s claim that the Quad is aimed at containing China.
- Recently, Russia even advised India to take a “larger look at Chinese foreign policies”.
- Also, Russia had recently termed the Quad as “Asian NATO”.
- Secondly, Russia has rejected the Indo-Pacific concept in favor of the Asia-Pacific.
- Russia believes that Indo-Pacific is designed to contain both China and Russia, and it is reviving the Cold War mentality.
- Thirdly, Russia’s policymakers are obsessive with Russia’s rivalry with the U.S.
- This attitude of Russia is making it more pro-China, which is resulting in more aggressive blocking of India’s policy agendas.
- For example, increasing proximity between Russia and Pakistan.
Why India Started looking west during geo-political changes in the past?
- Firstly, due to the failure of the Strategic triangle proposed by Russia.
- Russia proposed the ‘Russia-China-India’ triangle to bring together the three major power.
- But due to China’s dismissive attitude and emerging China-Pakistan nexus, India started investing its diplomatic energies in rapprochement with the United States.
- Secondly, after the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), India realized Russia is incapable of balancing threats from China.
- For example. India’s cooperation with the U.S. has strengthened due to rising terrorism and China’s growing assertiveness.
- India has also deepened its ties with Japan and Australia for a soft balancing.
- Thus, India adopted external balancing strategies.
- Thirdly, India focussed on building an alternative international economic order.
- Economic liberalization also allowed India to buy defense weapons from a wider global market, such as Israel and France. It boosted India’s bargaining capacity with Russia.
- Fourthly, China’s assertiveness forced India to look for other strategic partnerships.
- The shared identities and beliefs in the principle of non-alignment, memories of colonial subjugation, and strong beliefs in sovereignty and strategic autonomy have not stopped China from asserting its hegemony over Asia.
- Also, multilateral forums such as the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have little practical value without China’s reciprocity.
- Lastly, India wanted the normalization of relations between the USA and Russia.
- It helps in improving ties among the great powers and also diminishes Russia’s tendency to closely interfere in South Asian policies along with Beijing.
It clearly shows Russia needs to realize that the real ‘strategic triangle’ in the maritime domain will be that between India-USA-China if it continues to play as junior partner of China.
Maritime Policy of India Need a Long Term Vision
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3 – Security
Synopsis: Maritime policy of India lacks a long-term vision to counter China’s expansionist designs in the Indo-Pacific. There have been a lot of issues with previous maritime policies, resulting in a huge gap between India & China’s current maritime capabilities.
- Today, China has not only overtaken the US Navy in numbers, but it is also the world’s top ship-producing nation. It has the largest merchant navy, coast-guard and fishing fleet/maritime militia in the world.
- An economically strong, expansionist, and militaristic China is a concern. Because it will use the Maritime Silk Route initiative to expand its sphere of influence and ensure dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
- The PLA Navy’s crucial role in this endeavor relies on its formidable maritime/industrial capabilities.
- On the other hand, the maritime sector in India is characterized by inefficiency & long -term vision.
Gap b/w India & China’s maritime capabilities
China laid down its first indigenous aircraft carrier in 2015 and commissioned it in 2018. Work on India’s first indigenous aircraft-carrier commenced in 2009 and, in 2021, the ship awaits completion.
Evolution of India’s maritime policy and issues involved
- Sagarmala: India launched its first “maritime modernization” plan -“Sagarmala”, in 2003, almost simultaneously with China. The plan was announced with the stated objective of ensuring that all major ports would be connected to the Golden Highway Quadrilateral through a network of expressways. It will facilitate country-wide goods traffic to-and-from ports. It was abandoned within months, following the declaration of the general election.
- National Maritime Development Plan (NMDP): Then in 2005, Sagarmala was replaced with the National Maritime Development Plan (NMDP). This plan remained confined to modernization of port infrastructure and enhancement of rail-road connectivity to these ports.
- Seven years after its commencement, the Lok Sabha was informed that only 82 of the 276 projects had been completed. While 30 had been dropped and 66 were still in the planning stage.
- Maritime Agenda 2020: In 2011, the government decided to abandon the NMDP-2005. It was replaced with a new 10-year plan titled Maritime Agenda 2010-2020 (MA-2020). While the Sagarmala-2003 and NMDP-2005 were focused mainly on port modernization and enhancing rail-road connectivity, MA-2020 had a much broader scope. It envisaged an outlay of Rs 5 lakh crore to achieve huge leaps in shipping tonnage, shipbuilding, and coastal trade, apart from ports, cargo handling, and other capacities. But, MA 2020 suffered from two problems:
- Firstly, it had set extremely unrealistic targets; aiming to increase in just 7-8 years shipbuilding capacity by five times. It will enhance cargo throughput in Indian ports by four times.
- Secondly, it showed clear signs of confusion regarding its objective. It cited as “a roadmap to guide this ministry” in one place, while at other places it cited itself as “more an agenda for consideration, rather than agenda for action”.
- Thus, MA-2020 also failed to achieve anything of substance before it was overtaken by the next plan.
- Revival of Sagarmala: The next government that came to power in 2014 followed the earlier practice, and having terminated MA-2020, revived the Sagarmala project.
- Like all its predecessors, Sagarmala-2015 also focusses on modernizing ports and enhancing connectivity.
- This version of Sagarmala was better as it had a structured, progress-monitoring framework.
- However, data from the Ministry of Shipping’s Sagarmala Project Tracker, updated until September 2019, shows a project completion rate no better than past trends.
- While the plan aimed to create 40 lakh direct jobs and 60 lakh indirect jobs, in 2019, the government admitted that only 10,000 jobs had been created.
Problems with India’s maritime sector
- Excessive focus on port connectivity: The exclusive focus of successive governments on port development has led to gross neglect of other critical components of India’s maritime capability.
- These include merchant shipping, shipbuilding, ship repair, seabed exploration, and fisheries, etc. All of these have implications for India’s maritime security as well as its “blue economy”.
- Initiating programs with inappropriate aims, choosing unrealistic targets
- Abandoning/renaming projects and not ensuring faithful implementation
- Major ports are overloaded and inefficient
- Dying shipbuilding industry: India’s contribution to commercial shipbuilding globally is less than 1% today, which is far lower than the 3.5% achieved in 2007-12. Only 20 of the country’s 25 shipyards — big and small, private or state-owned — are functional.
- Inadequate merchant fleet: India’s imports of crude oil, LPG, food, coal and fertilizer supplies, which constitute the country’s commercial security, are all carried on foreign-owned shipping vessels for an estimated freight bill of $52 billion in value annually.
- Seabed exploitation yet to take off
- Backward fishing industry
What needs to be done?
India should evolve a National Strategy for the maritime sector for the next 50 years. This maritime policy should receive Parliament’s approval to ensure its survival through changes of government.
The naval power is going to play a decisive role in the India-China rivalry. But this can only happen with the backing of a strong maritime sector.
|Also read: Maritime security and connectivity in Indo-Pacific|
Energy efficiency needs behavioral change: Study
Source: Down To Earth
A study in Bangalore found that to improve Energy efficiency we need to improve behavioural change and start shifting towards energy-efficient appliances.
Recently, a study in Bengaluru examined the usage of thermal comfort services like space cooling and water heating and their impact on energy efficiency. The study highlighted the need for efficient appliances and behavioural change to improve energy efficiency.
About the Study:
A survey was conducted among 403 households in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The survey collected data related to various aspects of users such as their income, the appliances owned by them, household demographics and time and duration of use of appliances.
The report of the survey was published as “A Policy-driven approach to demand management from space cooling and water heating appliances: insights from a primary survey of urban Bengaluru” recently.
Key findings of the study:
- The study found that efficient electrical appliances in households form a major role in lowering the electricity demand.
- The study also found voluntary behaviour changes also play a key role in electricity demand.
- The study examined the use of fans and found out these are used approximately 12 hours a day. On average, a low-efficiency fan consumes approximately 75 watts (W), while five-star fans consume 50 W. So, an energy-efficient fan can save approximately 110 units per year per fan
Various initiatives towards energy efficiency:
- Domestic Efficiency Lighting Programme (DELP): It is a Programme under the UJALA programme. The plan offers LED bulbs at 20-40 per cent of the market price and provides a monthly payment plan for low-income households
- The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): India is the first country in the world to develop such a document (ICAP). It is launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- The plan aims to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for society.
- The plan provides a 20-year roadmap (2017-18 to 2037-38) and recommendations, to address the cooling requirements across sectors
- Objectives of the ICAP:
- Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by the year 2037-38.
- Reducing the refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by the year 2037-38.
- Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by the year 2037-38.
- Private power distribution companies like Tata Power Co Ltd and Reliance Energy in Mumbai provide schemes to exchange old fans for efficient ones.