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Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-3 Science and Technology- developments and Achievements of Indians in science & technology
Synopsis: India is celebrating National Science Day. This day should be marked by commitments of promoting science, technology, and innovation in India.
National Science Day was celebrated on February 28 for the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Sir C. V. Raman on 28 February 1928. But the celebration has to move forward and Indians have the responsibility of taking forward our legacy of Science.
What is the Indians legacy in the field of Science?
- Indians have a long tradition of illuminating the world of science. This is evident right from Aryabhata, Bhaskaracarya and Varahamihira to the great scientists of modern India.
- The role of women in the field of science is also unforgettable. Women like Janaki Ammal (botanist), Bibha Chowdhuri (physicist), Asima Chatterjee (chemist), and Gagandeep Kang (medical scientist) have made India proud.
- The contribution of C.V Raman in the field of Physics made him the most visible face of Indian science. He became the first Asian to won a noble price in Physics.
- Dr Rajinder Singh, a noted historian of science authored six books and 28 essays on Raman.
- Apart from that, other major contributors like Jagadish Chandra Bose (C.V. Raman’s senior), Satyendra Nath Bose and Meghnad Saha, (both were Raman’s juniors) also made major contributions in science and being acclaimed globally.
How India is advancing in Science now?
After Independence, the application of science in fields such as space research, atomic energy, biotechnology, and agriculture has been impressive. Many scientists believe India has the potential to become a hub for world-class scientific and technological innovation.
The draft National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) and National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) are the two recent developments to promote science and research in India.
Few important provisions of National Education Policy 2020:
- The NEP underlines the importance of mother languages for science teaching and popularisation. S.N. Bose and others had also been advocating this from the 1940s.
- Likewise, the setting up of the National Research Foundation to encourage and fund R&D (Research and Development) activities is also a step in the right direction.
- Greater and intensive involvement of Indian universities in the R&D ecosystem will also improve science and technology among Indians.
Few important provisions of draft STIP 2020
- Draft STIP focus on developing a robust system for evidence and stakeholder-driven Science Technology and Innovation planning and policy research.
- The STIP draft also aims to promote science and technology-enabled entrepreneurship and mainstream innovation at the grassroots level.
- Further, the draft STIP also focuses on traditional knowledge systems (later it will be validated by modern scientific methods).
The government has a key role to play in the development of science and technology. The government has to follow a liberal approach to promote science. The government’s recent restriction on online conferences is not an encouraging one for science.
So, for creating a science-enabled and science-respecting nation the government and people have to be forward-looking. Then only the purpose of National Science Day will be fulfilled.
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Synopsis- Grid failure in Texas and flash flood in Uttarakhand highlighted issues in the process of decarbonization.
Almost every major country has agreed to a time-bound, “net-zero” carbon emissions target. They are also in agreement over the steps required for decarbonization. However, it is not sufficient to just set the targets. There are certain legacy hurdles in the way of decarbonisation, such as:
- Poorly designed planning systems.
- Poor regulatory mechanism for the energy ecosystem and lack of decision-making.
- Lack of investment in energy infrastructure.
2 recent incidents, such as the Nanda Devi flash flood and electricity grid system failure in Texas highlights these issues.
What is decarbonization?
Decorbonisation – It is the process of eliminating or reducing the carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere. Reducing the amount of CO2 output is essential to meet global temperature standards set by the Paris Agreement [Net zero carbon emissions target by 2050]. The following are some steps required for decarbonization;
- Reduce– Reduce greenhouse gases and use renewable energy sources like solar power and wind power.
- Use of Electric vehicles instead of combustion engines.
- Energy conservation- Energy demand should be conserved by reducing wastage and losses and using it more efficiently.
How incidents of grid failure in Texas and flash floods in Uttarakhand highlight the issues in the decarbonization process?
- First, lack of preparedness- The planners had incorporated emergency response procedures for cold waves and floods. However, they didn’t prepare for such extremes of weather conditions.
- For example– In Texas- The authorities planned a worst-case scenario based on a 15GW drop in generating power. However, they lost 30GW, which resulted in a total blackout.
- One reason for this is experts presume every scenario based on historical data. Thus
- Second, poor regulatory and institutional mechanism. It is evident in both Grid Failure in Texas and Uttarakhand flash flood.
- No umbrella authority was present to manage the disaster with responsibility for the entire system.
- The recommendations made after the Kedarnath floods about land use and watershed management were not implemented.
- Third, lack of investment in energy infrastructure-
- In Texas, the grid was not resilient enough to absorb the surge in the flow of intermittent renewable electrons.
- India’s transmission system is also not capable of managing the energy transition. The Transmission issue slows down the adoption rate of solar power by failing to introduce green energy to the grid.
All of these factors have negative effects on the decarbonization process. They must be resolved in order to reach the Paris Agreement’s global temperature goals.
To ensure the sustainability of the decarbonisation process the following steps are required-
- Policymakers need to create robust mechanisms. It will facilitate inter-ministerial and inter-state collaboration within the country and multilateral cooperation internationally.
- Poorly designed planning systems, inadequate regulatory frameworks, and a lack of investment are all challenges that policymakers must tackle.
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS 3
Synopsis: A closer inspection of the Operation Green scheme shows that the scheme is nowhere near achieving its objectives.
The Finance Minister during budget presentations announced the expansion of Operation Green (OG). It will be expanded beyond tomatoes, onions, and potatoes to 22 perishable commodities.
- Operation Green was launched in 2018 with three basic objectives:
- First, it should control the wide price instability in the three largest vegetables of India (Tomatoes, Onions, and Potatoes).
- Second, it should build efficient value chains so that a larger share of the consumers’ money is received by the farmers.
- Third, it should reduce the post-harvest losses by building modern warehouses and cold storage.
How is the operation green performing currently?
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has invited some program management agencies to see the implementation of OG.
- Rs 500 crore budget was outlined initially. However, only Rs. 8.45 crore has been actually released.
- A closer examination of the scheme reveals that OG is progressing in slow motion and is nowhere near achieving its objectives.
- Research at ICRIER tells that price instability remains high. Farmers’ share in consumers’ money is very low with 26.6 percent for potatoes, 29.1 percent for onions, and 32.4 percent for tomatoes.
- In cooperatives like AMUL, farmers get almost 75-80 percent of consumers’ money.
What can Operation Green learn from the Operation Flood?
Operation Flood (OF) changed India’s milk sector and made India the world’s largest milk producer. There are some important lessons OG can learn from OF:
- First, OG will not get any immediate results and one has to be patient. There should be a separate board to strategize and implement the OG scheme, like the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for milk.
- Second, a respectable leader with commitment and competence is required to head this new board of OG. The person should be given at least a five-year term, sufficient resources, and should be made accountable for delivering results.
- The MoFPI can have its evaluation every six months.
- Third, at present, the criterion for the selection of TOP commodity clusters is not transparent. This process should be transparent to keep the politics away.
- Fourth, the subsidy scheme will have to be made innovative with new generation entrepreneurs, startups, and FPOs.
- For instance, the announcement to create an additional 10,000 FPOs along with the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and the new farm laws are all promising but need to be implemented fast.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
Synopsis: Government has released new IT rules 2021 for Social media. This article talks about the need for these rules.
Recently, the Indian government has announced a number of rules to curb the misuse of social media.
Read More about New Rules: New IT Rules for Social Media and OTT platforms – Explained Pointwise – ForumIAS Blog
Why the Big Tech needs to be regulated?
- First, Big techs have grown out of proportion. They have access to billions of dollars as well as the power to control three important resources in modern times. Data, Attention and the popular narrative.
- The following incidents will better explain the power these big companies wield in modern times.
- Twitter’s noncompliance to obey orders from a sovereign country like India.
- Donald Trump, de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook
- Second, Self-regulation measures taken by the Big Techs to control misinformation in the infodemic era have been ad hoc, inconsistent and reactive.
- Third, Offensive speech in social media has commercial gains for Big techs. Because this content goes viral è attracts more users more data è More advertising revenue.
- Fourth, in democratic societies states are the guardians of the public interest. So, curtailing speech or permitting it, is the role of states, not the Big techs.
- Also, the tech industry is itself deeply flawed. There is a lack of sufficient choice of platforms and there are asymmetries in power between the companies and users. Big Tech is amassing data on the citizens and using this information for its own purposes.
- Fifth, the power of Big techs is more compared to states. It gives them better bargaining power to enforce their profit motives over national interests. For example, recently, Google and Facebook threatened to de-platform Australia.
What are the counterarguments from Big techs?
- First, the Big techs contend that they have developed better processes to regulate offensive speech content. So, they feel that the government’s involvement is not necessary.
- Second, even democratically elected governments are far from perfect. So, they do not have the legitimacy to regulate free speech.
- For instance, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’sDemocracy Index, both India (ranked 53rd) and the US (ranked 25th) are “flawed democracies”.
- Also, governments might enforce rules in their personal interest to cut-off dissents against the government.
- This leads to the opinion that well-functioning markets are superior to flawed democracies in optimizing social welfare.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Synopsis: India and US relations under the Biden administration may strengthen in certain areas. But there will be some challenges too.
Areas where India and the US are willing to cooperate?
India and the US are already engaging with each other on a majority of issues, including COVID-19, climate, health care, immigration and restoring America’s global standing. For example,
- Like previous leaderships, the Biden government also want to build closer ties with India. A major focus is on the push for the Quadrilateral and Indo-Pacific policy.
- Recently, the US praised India’s efforts towards renewable energy and controlling emissions.
- Also, the US has revealed its plans to enhance health cooperation through a memorandum of understanding (MoU). It is likely to deal with COVID-19 testing, vaccination and critical drug supplies.
- Biden’s decision to lift restrictions and caps on a number of visas and green cards has relieved India.
Areas where US interest will affect India’?
The change in the Presidency in the US will have the following implications over India.
- During the Trump presidency, China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in early 2020 brought India and the U.S. closer.
- America provided “moral and material support” to India through greater military cooperation, intelligence sharing etc.,
- Even, India gave up its hesitancy over holding the Quad. India participated in two Quad ministerial meetings in the past year.
- However, at present, this cooperation is likely to change. It is because the Biden administration wants to take on China strategically.
- The Biden administration sees China as a competitor in areas such as defence, trade and technology. However, it is also pushing for cooperation in certain areas such as climate change.
- Thus, unlike Trump years, India won’t have greater support from the US on the China issue.
Impact on India’s Pharmaceutical Industry:
- Biden wants to secure America’s supply chains. For Instance, he is insisting on localizing the production of pharmaceuticals. It will affect India, as it is a major exporter of pharma.
- This move will also hit the India-Japan-Australia trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to counter their dependence on Chinese goods. Now with the US localizing, the benefits of this initiative will be lesser.
Human rights issue between India and the US:
- The US has stated that the “shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship”.
- Thus, the US has been vocal against crackdowns on freedom of speech in India. For example, the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir, farmers’ protests and the government’s face-off with Twitter.
- Also, India’s actions to shut down international agencies Amnesty, Greenpeace, Compassion International will be dealt with strictly, by the U.S.
- Further, the U.S. will want India’s cooperation in ensuring human rights in South Asia. It is most likely given India’s current term in the UN Security Council. However, ensuring cooperation on Human Rights will affect India’s neighbourhood relation. For instance,
- If India takes a hard stance against the coup in Myanmar it will affect India’s interests in the region.
- Similarly, Sri Lanka faces a resolution at the Human Rights Council for alleged wartime excesses in 2009 operations against the LTTE.
- India’s support for its neighbour would place it closer to China than to the U.S.
Impact on India’s ties with Russia
- The Biden administration looks at CAATSA act as a powerful tool. It was made clear by him in countering Turkey’s S-400 purchase and the Nord Stream2 pipeline project from Russia.
- The purchase of the S-400 missile systems will attract sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
- Under Biden, India is hoping that the US will reverse its decision to cancel its GSP status for Indian exports.
- The mega Indian investment plan announced during the “Howdy Modi” visit has ended abruptly. (Petronet India’s $2.5 billion stake in U.S. company Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG project)
Dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan:
The US will not see India as part of the Afghan solution, and it will seek more support from Pakistan to facilitate its exit. This is because India firmly supports the Ashraf Ghani government and refusing to engage the Taliban.