9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 19th, 2021

Dear Friends
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
  • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The world refugees must also be shielded from Covid

Source: This post is based on the article “The world refugees must also be shielded from Covid” published in Livemint on 19th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues related to refugees.

Relevance: Understanding the problems faced by refugees.

Synopsis: There is a need to include refugees and provide them basic health care facilities, including vaccines, to the countries welfare programmes.

Introduction

There are approximately 82.4mn forcibly displaced people in the world. With the recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and other countries, their count has been increased to 11.2 mn more during the pandemic.

Approx 70% of these people are living in extreme conditions with no economic, social, legal security. Covid pandemic further shows us the vulnerability of these refugees.

What are the problems faced by the refugees during the pandemic?

Lack of resources: Refugee children are often unimmunized and have poor access to basic healthcare facilities. Refugee camps are often over-occupied. With the lack of documentation procedure and other necessary requirements, their risk of having Covid is twice compared to other people.

Vaccine inequities: There is huge vaccine inequity between high and low-income countries. There is a vaccine hoarding of 79% in HIC, while only 2.3% in LIC. Countries with the highest refugees and asylum populations are even struggling to provide the 1st dose of vaccine to their own people.

Identity proof: Refugees, mostly does not have any identification, proof as they fled from their countries. During the pandemic, many countries vaccinated programmes mostly used digital systems which are linked to some proof of identity. For example, the UK allows refugees to access vaccines through its National Health Service but excludes those who fail to provide identification.

Demand Issues: In many countries, refugees fear to register for jabs because of their illegal migrant status and fear of being deported back.

Misinformation: According to World Vision Survey, 47% of global refugees thought they were ineligible or unaware of the vaccine programmes. UN High Commissioner for refugees also highlighted that vaccine hesitancy persists on account of misinformation, cultural and linguistic barriers.

What countries did to exclude or include refugees in welfare programmes?

Among the 70% of 104 vaccination plans reviewed by WHO,  excluded migrants including refugees and asylum seekers. Other plans also left 11.8 mn internally displaced people. Most of the countries also closed their borders and adopt harsh policies to keep out the refugees.

But few Countries supported the refugees during the pandemic. For instance, some Latin American countries supported refugees under their immunization programmes. For Ex, Columbia has offered 10-year temporary protection status to Venezuelan refugees. Portugal also granted temporary full citizen rights to asylum seekers for providing them basic health care facilities including vaccines.

What is the way forward?

Ensuring universal vaccine access is not a problem of the health sector alone, as many structural issues create inequality. The world needs to prioritize human rights and the right to health as a matter of policy so that everyone including refugees and migrants feels safe.


A shadow foreign policy for the first time

Source: This post is based on the article “A shadow foreign policy for the first time” published in The Hindu on 19th October 2021.Syllabus: GS 2 Foreign Policy of India.

Relevance: Understand India’s present and future foreign policy.

Synopsis: A new research paper has emerged which offers some directions for alternatives to India’s foreign policy.

Introduction

For the first time, a document has emerged from the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) named ‘India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a world adrift’. It is authored by eight well-known strategists and thinkers and provides foreign policy alternatives.

India does not have a shadow cabinet. Under such circumstances, strategic papers by experts, which provide alternate foreign policy options, become very important.

What have been the changes in foreign policy by the current government?

The government has taken a bold, and assertive foreign policy, overcoming the hesitations of history. For instance, after peace initiatives with Pakistan failed, the Government of India took a firm stand against terrorism. This has resulted in the following benefits,

Even though close relations with the other neighbours did not materialize, the government’s helpful attitude managed all situations and has averted any crisis.

There is a new synergy in India-U.S. relations.

The government is also engaging with China continuously to build strong bilateral relations.

India’s relations with Israel and the Arab countries have now become productive.

What were the challenges faced by the government?

Article 370 was a domestic matter. But, questions have been raised in the West about human rights and the state of democracy in India.

The pandemic, the economic meltdown and China’s incursion into Ladakh added to the troubles of the government.

Moreover, political polarization and majoritarianism might diminish India. For example, the opposition in India questioned the foreign policy of the government.

What should be the way forward?

India should keep its focus on economic growth and should promote further globalization. There is a fundamental need to change the outlook towards China. India should also look at resuming political dialogue with Pakistan.

All this can be best done when ruling parties and opposition parties have coherence in the terms of foreign policy.

The source of India’s influence in the world rests on four pillars, domestic economic growth, social inclusion, political democracy and liberal constitutional order. If the government strengthened these integral pillars, then there is no stopping for India.


India and the new Quad in West Asia

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • India and the new Quad in West Asia” published in Indian Express on 19th October 2021.
  • “Second Quad? Exciting opportunities await India in Middle East, but not without risks” published in Indian Express on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding the impact of the new Quad on India.

Synopsis: With the new opportunities, India should also prepare for the risks the new Quad (West Asia) will offer.

Introduction

Trump administration and the Abrahamic accord eased the relations between Israel and UAE. With the proposed Quadrilateral Alliance of India-USA-UAE-Israel and Indian foreign ministries visiting Israel, India would now enter into the high stakes game of the Middle East.

What is the Indo-Abrahamic Accord and why it is important?

Abraham Accords are a joint statement made between Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates on August 13, 2020. It also refers to the agreement reached between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE to normalise relations between them.

Read more: The Abrahan Accord as India’s West Asia bridge

Indo-Abrahamic Accord: Amidst the reshaping of geo-political order in West Asia, India’s relations with the UAE and Israel have gained momentum. This growing convergence of interest between India, UAE and Israel can be formalized under an official coalition i.e. an Indo-Abrahamic accord. The idea was first suggested by Mohammed Soliman, an Egyptian scholar

Read more: Making a case for Indo-Abrahamic accord

What foreign policy India adopts in the Middle East?

One of the gains of India’s foreign policy has been non-ideological engagement with middle-east. India’s close engagement with the USA over the last few years has also allowed alignment with the USA in the Middle East.

The new minilateral consultation involving India-Israel-UAE-USA further cements India’s position in the Middle East. India knows that the USA is downsizing its forces in the Middle East. Therefore, this serves as a perfect opportunity for India.

While this grouping may not be as powerful as QUAD, but it has opened doors of middle-east to India.

How the change in regime in the Middle East can help India?

The new government in Israel is working towards resolving the conflict with Palestine. There is also an increase in economic and technological cooperation between Israel and the UAE. There is also a regime change in the USA. This all can help India to deepen its ties in the Middle East, as India can simultaneously build relations with the Middle Eastern countries.

What will be the benefits of the new Quad?

According to the International Federation of Indo-Israeli Chambers of Commerce, India’s scale with Israeli innovation and Emirati capital could produce immense benefits to all three countries. Beyond trade, there is potential for India, UAE and Israel to collaborate on many areas — from semiconductor design and fabrication to space technology.

First, India already built its soft power image in the Middle East. It has around 8 million diaspora present there. With the new alliance, India can use this platform to harness various opportunities like Big data, AI, Quantum computing, export its products in their market etc.

Second, the group will help to focus on non-military issues like trade, energy, and environment and on promoting public goods.

Third, the platform will help India to pursue wide-ranging minilateral partnerships in the region. With major powers like France, Russia, China is drawn to this region, the alliance will help India to shape its position in changing the geopolitics of this region.

What is the way forward?

India should also maintain its strong relations with Iran to keep a check on the Afghan Taliban. India needs a careful balancing act in the Middle East to secure its long-term strategic interests.


GS Paper 3

Improving livestock breeding

Source: This post is based on the article “Improving livestock breeding” published in “The Hindu” on 19th October 2021.

Syllabus– GS3: Economics of animal-rearing.

Relevance: To understand the livestock sector and issues associated with it.

Synopsis: The facts and schemes relating to different livestock sector and the expected benefit out of it.

Introduction

Livestock breeding in India has been largely unorganised because of which there have been gaps in forward and backward integration across the value chain.

Government has revised “Rashtriya Gokul Mission” and “National Livestock Mission” (NLM) to adress issues in this sector.

What are the facts regarding Livestock sector and its impact?

Facts-Approximately 200 million Indians are involved in livestock farming, including around 100 million dairy farmers. Roughly 80% bovines in the country are low on productivity and are reared by small and marginal farmers.

Impact-It impacts the quality of livestock that is produced and in turn negatively impacts the return on investment for livestock farmers.

What steps are taken by Government to improve ‘Livestock sector’ and its ‘farmers’?

To enhance the productivity of cattle, the “Rashtriya Gokul Mission” was initiated in 2014 with a focus on the genetic upgradation of the bovine population through widespread initiatives on artificial insemination, sex-sorted semen, and in-vitro fertilization.

Web applications like e-Gopala that provide real-time information to livestock farmers on the availability of disease-free germplasm in relevant centres, veterinary care, etc.

The revised version of the “Rashtriya Gokul Mission”(RGM) and “National Livestock Mission” (NLM) incentivises entrepreneurship development and breed improvement in cattle, buffalo, poultry, sheep, goat, and piggery by providing incentives to individual entrepreneurs, farmer producer organisations, SHG’s, companies(section 8) among others.

State governments would be given incentive for breed improvement infrastructure.

Components under revised “RGM” and “NLM”:

Breed multiplication farm component of “RGM”-provide for capital subsidy up to ₹200 lakh for setting up breeding farm with at least 200 milch cows/ buffalo using latest breeding technology.

Breed multiplication farm is expected to result in the employment of 1 lakh farmers.

Poultry entrepreneurship programme of the NLM-capital subsidy up to ₹25 lakh for setting up of a parent farm with a capacity to rear 1,000 chicks.The rural entrepreneur running the hatchery will be supplying chicks to the farmers for further rearing.

Sheep and goat entrepreneurship, there is a provision of capital subsidy of 50% up to 50 lakh.

Each entrepreneur will get animals with high genetic merit from the Central/State government university farms.

For piggery, the NLM will provide 50% capital subsidy of up to ₹30 lakh.

The revised scheme of ‘NLM’ coupled with the Rashtriya Gokul Mission and the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund has the potential to dramatically enhance the productivity and traceability standards of our livestock besides it has huge potential for employment generation.


Has Kerala learnt anything from extreme weather? Apparently not, say experts

Source: This post is based on the following articles“Has Kerala learnt anything from extreme weather? Apparently not, say experts” published in “Down To Earth” on 18th October 2021.

“Kerala floods require a local set of responses”published in “Livemint” on 19th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Disaster and disaster management.

Relevance: To understand the often crisis of floods seen in different parts of the country.

Synopsis: The issue of flash floods seen in Kerala, reasons associated and the remedies needed.

Introduction

The recent Kerala floods took life of more than 25 people, triggered by heavy rains in the south-west tip of the Indian peninsula. However, this is not something new for Kerala. Some 483 people were killed in the August 2018 floods.

What are the reasons attributed to the recent floods?

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said the rains are the outcome of low-pressure weather systems which evolved over peninsular India.

But other climate experts have cited cloudbursts as the cause i.e, a pattern of torrential rains that occur over a limited area in a short period. Experts have also said a changing climate is behind the extreme weather events of the last four years.

What are the recent trends wrt Kerala floods?

Loss of life,property and livelihood seen again. Like last time, the most severely affected are those of limited means.

In the last four years, Kerala has witnessed only scanty rainfall in June and July but has faced extreme, unexpected rain for short durations in August, September and October.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) has established a 52% increase in the frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea between 2001 and 2019 owing to increased sea surface temperature of Arabian sea.

What are the reasons for Kerala floods?

Natural and Geographical reason-Given the coastal state’s terrain, with the windward slopes of its Western Ghats forcing monsoon clouds upwards to squeeze out rainwater.

Anthropological reasons:

– Globally, climate change is the prime suspect in almost all such occurrences. Experts
have long warned of a tipping point after which rain cycles that have prevailed for millennia can suddenly go erratic.
In general, extra warmth directly affects relative air-pressure and interferes with air-circulation patterns. A warmer atmosphere also holds more water, which in turn results in heavier rainfall.

– Local causes- Environmental degradation cannot escape blame. Loss of forest cover down the decades turned hillsides unstable.

The use of concrete for construction has disrupted the state’s natural rainwater absorption and drainage system.

Quarrying, mining and other such activities compounded the menace. Many check dams got silted up, leaving their reservoirs unable to restrain downhill gushes of water.

What needs to be done now?

Short term measures-Immediate relief, rehabilitation and rescue activities provisions should be the top most priority.

Long-term measures-Region-specific solutions that involve actions within the ambit of local administrative control. Kerala’s recurrent floods need a comprehensive plan of their own.
The need for climate-resilient construction and agricultural practices, as well as long-term strategies to protect people from floods and landslides in the Western Ghats.

Fair and transparent environmental impact assessments when it takes up larger development projects requiring massive infrastructure and changes in land-use patterns.

State should initiate large-scale climate change literacy.

Limitations in forecasting rain, especially extreme rainfall events. These needed to be improved.

Adequately implementing “Madhav Gadgil” committee recommendations. This panel on the eco-logical fragility of our Western  Ghats recommended measures to halt and reverse the damage.


India’s pulses problem: We need real reform

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s pulses problem: We need real reform” published in “Down To Earth” on 18th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

Relevance: To understand issues confronting smooth functioning of “MSP” system in the country.

Synopsis: Some inherent flaws in MSP system and what the government needs to do to address them.

Introduction

India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world. However, we consume more than what we produce. Therefore, pulses are imported, and the general public suffers due to the unusually high prices.

The main reason for this imbalance is the half-hearted and ad-hoc price policy of the government.

How is the ‘MSP’ price  determined?

Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), established under the Union Ministry of Agriculture, fixes the minimum support price (MSP) of all agricultural products, including pulses.

The MSP is set on the basis of cost of production; position of supply, demand; prices in markets, position of prices relative to other commodities, proper use of natural resources like land and water, economy of the country, and 50% profit on cost of production.

What are the issues in ‘MSP’ system?

For all MSP-notified crops:

The so-called 50% profit to the farmer is not per the government’s intended formula, and so it is relatively low. However MSP does not have any legal backing till now and farmers can’t demand it as a legal right.

The CACP is by status a department whose recommendations are only advisory.

Representation of farmers is minimal.

For Pulses specifically:

Consumers have to buy pulses at 150% to 200% of MSP. This increases inflation and puts an unbearable burden on the weaker section.

Pulses are imported at prices lower than the domestic ones.

Ineffective measures by government like reducing the storage limit of pulses under the Essential Commodities Act.

Must Read: Diversification of food basket through pulses
What are the reforms needed?

The MSP formula should be revised and the purchase of each crop in the entire country should be ensured at that declared price.

The commission should be given constitutional status, so that its recommendations are binding.

A maximum retail price for consumers should be fixed by adding a reasonable profit of 50-60% over MSP to the farmer.

All restrictions on transport, storage, trade, processing and export of all agricultural products should be abolished.

In case of low domestic production, imports and taxes should be decided after the harvest.


Slide in China’s GDP growth and implications for India

Source: This post is based on the article “Slide in China’s GDP growth and implications for India” published in Indian Express on 19th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Bilateral trade and Self sufficiency

Synopsis: Growth slow down in China can impact global economic recovery and India in particular.

Introduction

China’s third-quarter GDP growth slowed to 4.9% as industrial output rose way below expectations in September, according to data released by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

A slowing Chinese economy is worrying wrt trade and the overall loss of momentum to the global post-pandemic economic recovery. India too can be affected adversely.

What are the reasons behind economic slowdown in China?

Massive fuel crunch and worries of a systemic crisis in its real estate business precipitated by the Evergrande fiasco, and a souring of business sentiment amid the federal government’s crackdown on multiple Chinese sectors and marquee companies.

How China’s growth output is being affected?

Loss of Capital to sustain Growth: According to a Reuters report, businesses were less keen to invest in new projects amid the federal government’s crackdown on multiple Chinese sectors.

Power Crisis: The power shortage had a “certain impact” on normal production. Factories and units across the country had to curtail output due to surge in coal prices.

Real estate sector Crisis: The drop in fixed asset investment is being primarily attributed to a perceptible slowdown in real estate investments. In August, real estate major Evergrande warned of a default and subsequently missed payments to investors in its offshore US dollar-denominated debt.

Why the present situation may be of concern to India?

India could be impacted, given India’s deepening trade with China and its import dependence. For example,

Import dependence: India imports items such as smartphones and automobile components, telecom equipment, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other chemicals mostly from China. India’s trade deficit with China increased to $46.55 billion in the first nine months of 2021, up from $29.9 billion in the year-ago period.

Increasing Bilateral trade: India’s total trade with China touched $90.38 billion during the January-September period, and is likely to cross $100 billion by the end of the year. According to India’s Commerce Ministry data, China was India’s top trading partner in the April-July period.


Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment

Source: This post is based on the article “Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment” published in Livemint on 19th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Climate change

Relevance: Role of education in mitigating climate change.

Synopsis: At this critical juncture in the history of humanity, we must now re-imagine education as a tool that can play a transformative role in mitigating climate change. Education can become an active agent in catalysing climate mitigation and adaptation in line with the global agreements.

Introduction

In the lead up to CoP-26, more countries have been committing themselves to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes using regulation and policy to improve energy efficiency, develop alternative energy sources, reduce overall energy consumption and minimize wastage.

Education, as a tool to further climate change, has still been untapped though.

Must Read: Shaping India’s green future
How education can play a transformative role wrt climate change?

Promoting universal values: Universal values such as global citizenry and sustainable development must be incorporated into mainstream, foundational and formative years of study. This will help students become self-directed, raise self-awareness, enable a cultural transformation, and change the mind-sets and lifestyles of future global citizens.

This is why young leaders like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai are inspiring millions of young people around the world to make societies smarter, greener and more inclusive and resilient.

More investment and better quality of expenditure in education to scale up learning, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized groups including girls and women is the best strategy to support sustainable development. The more well-educated people there are in a country, the better the capacity and agility of that country to prevent or mitigate future hazards.

Education can be more responsive in producing experts, innovators, and leaders with the skills to tackle climate change and other related development challenges. Such challenges include converting waste to energy, increasing food production and minimizing food waste to feed the growing population sustainably, transitioning to clean energy and transport and creating and preparing for green jobs.

How govts and global institutions are striving to impart Climate change education?

There are already good examples of climate change education led by some governments.

Italy: it requires all students to take more than 33 hours of climate change classes each year in higher secondary education.

Philippines; The Department of Education has committed to intensify climate literacy and support climate action in schools.

The Republic of Korea: it has started a project to transform schools into green campuses that will showcase education programs for environmental protection and use eco-friendly energy.

The Paris Agreement: it calls for its signatories to undertake educational and public awareness campaigns on climate change and ensure public participation in programmes to achieve its targets.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB): it launched the Climate Change Fund in 2008 and has since actively pursued ways to mainstream climate change issues in education. The bank is supporting clean energy in several education projects including preparing graduates with green skills.

What more needs to be done?

Developing the climate change education system will require comprehensive cooperation between central and local governments, schools, universities, communities, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

This collaboration is critical to develop education policies that will prepare and engage students in sustainable development through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects.

The international community, multinational corporations and international NGOs are equally critical in harmonizing and providing this support.


A new global economic consensus

Source: This post is based on the article “A new global economic consensus” published in Business Standard on 19th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Unsustainable development and need for sustainable economic model.

Synopsis: Cornwall Consensus should replace the Washington Consensus.

Introduction

The world is now facing a future of unprecedented risk, uncertainty, turmoil, and climate breakdown.

In this context, a report released recently by the G7 Economic Resilience Panel demands a radically different relationship between the public and private sectors to create a sustainable, equitable, and resilient economy.

As per the report, the World leaders have a simple choice now: either continue supporting a failed economic system, or scrap the Washington Consensus for a new international social contract.

Must Read: What is Washington consensus?
What is the Cornwall Consensus and how’s it different from the Washington consensus?

The alternative that has been proposed in the report is “the Cornwall Consensus.”

It seeks systematically to address chronic and acute issues to advance global economic resilience.

Key points of Cornwall Consensus:

The Cornwall Consensus would invert the Washington consensus.

i). It revitalizes the state’s economic role, and would allow to pursue societal goals, build international solidarity, and reform global governance in the interest of the common good.

ii). This means that grants and investments from state and multilateral organisations would require recipients to pursue rapid decarbonisation rather than rapid market liberalisation, as required by IMF lending for structural adjustment programmes.

iii). The Cornwall Consensus also entails moving from reactively fixing market failures to proactively shaping and making the kinds of markets we need to nurture in a green economy.

iv). It will replace redistribution with pre-distribution. The state would coordinate mission-oriented public-private partnerships aimed at creating a resilient, sustainable, and equitable economy.

Why is a new consensus needed?

Firstly, the old model (Washington Consensus) is no longer producing widely distributed benefits. It has proven to be disastrously incapable of responding effectively to massive economic, ecological, and epidemiological shocks.

Secondly, today’s crisis conditions make a new global consensus essential for humanity’s survival on this planet. For instance, achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015, is difficult under the prevailing global governance arrangements.

Thirdly, there is an urgent need to strengthen the global economy’s resilience against future risks and shocks. This cannot be done without overhauling the outdated economic system.

Finally, most economic institutions are still governed by outdated rules that render them unable to bring in the responses needed to end the pandemic or achieve the Paris climate agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels.

What needs to be done?

First, There is a need to move away from measuring growth in terms of GDP, GVA, or financial returns to assessing success on the basis of whether we achieve ambitious common goals.

Second, need to invest substantially in pandemic preparedness and mission-oriented health financing.

Third, innovations that benefit from large public investments and advance purchase commitments needs to be prioritised. This calls for a new approach to governing intellectual-property rights. In this regard, IP governance should be reformed to recognise that knowledge is the result of a collective value-creation process as recommended by WHO.

Fourth, need for increased state investment in the post-pandemic economic recovery, that this spending be increased to 2 per cent of GDP per year, thereby raising $1 trillion annually from now until 2030.

Fifth, Public investment must be channeled through new contractual and institutional mechanisms that measure and incentivise the creation of long-term public value rather than short-term private profit.

Sixth, a new multilateral and interdisciplinary institution focused on decarbonizing the economy should be institutionalized like ‘CERN for climate technology’ inspired by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. It would pool public and private investment into ambitious projects.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

International Energy Agency invites India to become full-time member: Hardeep Singh Puri

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • International Energy Agency invites India to become full-time member: Hardeep Singh Puri published in TOI on 11th October 2021.
  • ‘India invited to become full-time IEA member’ published in The Hindu on 11th October 2021.
What is the News?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has invited India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, to become its full-time member. Currently, India is an associate member of IEA.

What will happen if India accepts the proposal of IEA?

If India accepts the proposal of IEA, then India needs to raise its strategic oil reserves to 90 days requirement. India’s current strategic oil reserves equal 9.5 days of its requirement.

About International Energy Agency

IEA was founded in 1974 by industrialised countries – within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – in response to the oil embargo.

Click Here to Read more about IEA

Membership and Eligibility: IEA is made up of 30 member countries and eight associate nations. 

What are the criteria for IEA Membership?

A candidate country to the IEA must be a member country of the OECD. In addition, it must demonstrate several requirements. These are:

Firstly, Crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply,

Secondly, a demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%,

Thirdly, Legislation and organisation to operate the Coordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis,

Fourthly, Legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request,

Lastly, measures are in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action. 


Emissions climbing to pre-pandemic levels in G20 countries

Source: This post is based on the articleEmissions climbing to pre-pandemic levels in G20 countriespublished in TOI on 14th October 2021.

What is the News?

The Climate Transparency Report 2021 has been released.

What is the Climate Transparency Report?

The Climate Transparency Report is the world’s most comprehensive annual review of G20 countries’ climate action and their transition to a net-zero emissions economy.

The report has been developed by experts from 16 partner organisations from the majority of the G20 countries.

What are the key findings of the Climate Transparency report?
G20 Contribution in Global Emissions

The G20 group is responsible for around 75% of global emissions.

However, energy-related CO2 emissions have decreased by 6% across the G20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the report has projected that the CO2 will go up by 4% across the G20 group in 2021.

Growth of Renewable Sector

The report points to some positive developments, including the growth of solar and wind energy in richer countries, with record amounts of new capacity installed across the G20 in 2020.

Renewables now supply around 12% of power, compared to 10% in 2020.

Further, the report also notes that apart from the UK, G20 members have neither short-term nor long-term strategies for achieving 100% renewables in the power sector by 2050.

Coal in Demand

Consumption of Coal is projected to rise by nearly 5% in 2021 while consumption of gas has increased by 12% from 2015-2020. 

The increase in coal consumption will be driven primarily by China (accounting for 61% of the growth), the US (18%) and India (17%). China is currently the largest global producer and consumer of coal.

Net-zero targets

By August 2021, 14 G20 members had announced net-zero targets by mid-century, covering 61% of global GHG emissions. If fully implemented, these targets would go a long way to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. 

Electric Vehicles

Across the G20, the current average market share of electric vehicles (EVs) in new car sales remains low at 3.2% (excluding the EU), with Germany, France, and the UK having the highest shares of EVs.


Kushinagar connect to Sri Lanka

Source: This post is based on the article Kushinagar connect to Sri Lanka published in The Hindu on 19th October 2021.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister will be visiting Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate the Kushinagar international airport.

What is the importance of Kushinagar?

Kushinagar is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.

Kushinagar is also the centre of the Buddhist circuit which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.

Hence, the airport is expected to help in attracting more followers of Buddhism from home and abroad to Kushinagar.

What are the other significant events associated with the inauguration ceremony?

Sri Lanka Sports Minister will be attending the event along with a group of 100 Buddhist monks.

During the event,  Sri Lanka will present to India two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist Solias Mendis at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, a popular Buddhist temple near Colombo.

One of the murals depicts ‘Arahat Bhikkhu’ which depicts Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka. 

The other shows the arrival of ‘Theri BhikkhuniSanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have attained enlightenment.

What is the Buddhist Circuit?

Buddhist Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan – Integrated Development of Theme-Based Tourism Circuits Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism

Source: MapsofIndia.com

All sites in the country related to Buddhism are covered under the Buddhist Circuit for development.


NITI Aayog Launches Geospatial Energy Map of India

Source: This post is based on the articleNITI Aayog Launches Geospatial Energy Map of India published in PIB on 14th October 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has launched the Geospatial Energy Map of India.

About Geospatial Energy Map of India

Developed by: NITI Aayog in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Objective

Firstly, to provide a holistic picture of all energy resources of the country. This will enable visualisation of energy installations such as conventional power plants, oil and gas wells, petroleum refineries, coal fields and coal blocks, etc. Further, it will visualise district-wise data on renewable energy power plants and renewable energy resource potential.

Secondly, to attempt to identify and locate all primary and secondary sources of energy and their transportation/ transmission networks to provide a comprehensive view of energy production and distribution in a country.

Significance

The Geospatial Energy Map of India will be useful in planning and making investment decisions. It will also aid in disaster management using available energy assets.


Delhi company bags ‘Eco Oscar’ for clean-air technology

Source: This post is based on the articleDelhi company bags ‘Eco Oscar’ for clean-air technologypublished in TOI on 19th October 2021.

What is the News?

Delhi-based company Takachar is one among five winners of the first-ever Earth shot Prize, also called “Eco Oscar”. They won the prize in the “Clean Our Air” category for their technology to create fuel, fertiliser and other speciality chemicals from agricultural waste.

What is the Earth shot Prize?

Earthshot Prize is also called the “Eco Oscars”. It is an award set up by Prince William and the Royal Foundation.

Objective: To honour five finalists between 2021 and 2030 for developing solutions to fight the climate crisis.

The prize is inspired by US President John F Kennedy’s “Moonshot” programme, which resulted in the US Apollo lunar launches and the first man setting foot on the Moon in 1969.

Categories: The year 2021 was the first year when awards were handed out to five finalists for their contributions towards the five UN Sustainable Development Goals — restoration and protection of nature, air cleanliness, ocean revival, waste-free living and climate action.

Prize Money: The winner will receive prize money of £1 million. Each winner will also receive a global platform and prestigious profile, with their stories being showcased over the decade with the ambition that their solutions lead to mass adoption, replication and scaling.


IIT-Madras researchers design white light emitters for LED applications

Source: This post is based on the articleIIT-Madras researchers design white light emitters for LED applications published in Down To Earth on 18th October 2021.

What is the News?

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have successfully developed a white light emitter for use in LEDs.

What is LED (Light-Emitting Diodes)?

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it. 

How do LEDs emit white light?

Conventional LED materials cannot emit white light and specialised techniques, such as coating blue LED with yellow phosphor and combining blue, green and red LEDs, have been used to produce white light.

Hence, there has been a worldwide search for materials that can directly emit white light rather than through these indirect techniques that can cause loss of efficiency.

What have the researchers at IIT Madras developed?

Researchers at the IIT Madras have successfully developed a white light emitter for use in LEDs. 

They have developed this by exploring crystalline materials called ‘Halide-Perovskites’. These materials have extraordinary optoelectronic properties and excellent light-to-current conversion efficiencies. 

What is the significance of this development?

These indigenously-developed bright white light emitters can potentially replace the conventional high-cost materials and phenomenally save the energy cost per lumens.


Development projects threaten Bengal florican habitat in Assam

Source: This post is based on the article Development projects threaten Bengal florican habitat in Assampublished in Down To Earth on 18th October 2021.

What is the News?

Bustard Specialist Group (BSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature has written to the Assam government on the urgent need to prevent land-use changes at Kokilabari Seed Farm in the state to protect Bengal floricans and other species.

About Kokilabari Seed Farm

Kokilabari Seed Farm is located in Assam. The farm is only nine square kilometres in area and about one-hundredth of the size of Manas. Yet as many as 25 Bengal floricans have been seen there at one time.

However, Land-use changes at the site and the plan to convert the farm into a university campus is posing a threat to the Bengal Florican.

About Bengal Floricans

Source: Wikipedia

Bengal floricans (Houbaropsis bengalensis) are also called Bengal bustards. They inhabit lowland dry, or seasonally inundated, natural and semi-natural grasslands often interspersed with scattered scrub or patchy open forest. 

Found in: The species is found in very small numbers in India and Cambodia. About a hundred of them are present in Nepal, and the species is extinct in Bangladesh.

India: In India, the species habitat lies in the floodplains of the country’s two largest rivers, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

In the Ganga floodplains, Bengal floricans are found in the state of Uttar Pradesh at places like the Dudhwa and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve.

In the Brahmaputra delta, the species is found in Jaldapara National Park in West Bengal, Kaziranga and Manas National Parks in Assam and the D’Ering Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule-I

Convention on Migratory Species(CMS): Appendix 1

Threats: The populations are in decline and threatened by habitat loss through drainage, conversion to agricultural land and plantations, the invasion of alien species, and dam construction.


Arctic melt: will polar bears vanish by 2100?

Source: This post is based on the article Arctic melt: will polar bears vanish by 2100? published in Indian Express on 19th October 2021.

What is the News?

According to a study published in the journal Earth’s Future, if carbon emissions continue at current levels, then by 2100 Arctic sea ice may disappear during the summer, which could drive polar bears and other ice-dependent species to extinction.

What is the importance of Arctic Ice?

In winter, most of the Arctic Ocean surface freezes. During this time, Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight away from Earth’s surface, keeping temperatures cool. 

But when it melts in the summer, Arctic oceans absorb the sunlight instead, causing oceans to warm and temperatures to rise. This results in a rich marine ecosystem. 

Moreover, in some parts of the Arctic, such as the “Last Ice Area — a vast area north of Canada and Greenland — sea ice has historically thrived year-round instead of melting during the summer, providing a vital habitat for ice-dependent animals like seals and polar bears.

But with a warming climate, summer sea ice has been shrinking fast and now consistently spans less than half the area it did in the early 1980s.

What are the findings of the study? 

The study covered the Last Ice Area where sea ice has traditionally been the thickest round the year and is thus likely to be most resilient.

Based on this area, the study has looked at two scenarios:

Optimistic Scenario: During this, carbon emissions are immediately and drastically curbed to prevent the worst global warming. This could result in a limited portion of the ice surviving in the region. At least some seals, bears and other creatures may survive.

Pessimistic Scenario: During this scenario, emissions continue at their current rate of increase and the summer ice would disappear by the end of the century. This would result in polar bears and seals that live on it could become extinct by 2100.


J&K Accession files: Disclosure of Bucher papers in ‘national interest’, observes CIC

Source: This post is based on the articleJ&K Accession files: Disclosure of Bucher papers in ‘national interest’, observes CICpublished in India Today on 19th October 2021.

What is the News?

The Central Information Commission(CIC) has observed in an order that the disclosure of Bucher papers is in the National Interest.

However, the commission stopped short of ordering the disclosure of the documents, which are withheld under the directions of the External Affairs Ministry.

What are Bucher Papers?

Bucher Papers are related to the period of 1947-49 and may throw light on the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir(J&K).

The papers are named after General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, who served as the second chief of the Indian Army between January 1, 1948, to January 15, 1949.

These papers were compiled by General Bucher and given to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library(NMML).

However, NMML has kept these documents closed from public scrutiny even after 70 years on the instructions of the External Affairs Ministry.

About Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)

NMML is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It was established in 1964 in the memory of the First Prime Minister (PM) of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964).

The museum is dedicated to the objective of promoting advanced research on Modern and Contemporary India.

The museum has four major constituents, namely, a Memorial Museum, a library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies and the Nehru Planetarium.

The museum is located in the Teen Murti House, Delhi (the official residence of the first PM).


India’s trade with China set to exceed $100 billion in 2021

Source: This post is based on the article India’s trade with China set to exceed $100 billion in 2021 published in The Hindu on 17th October 2021.

What is the News?

According to the data from China’s General Administration of Customs(GAC), India’s trade with China is set to cross the $100 billion mark for the first time in 2021.

What is current India-China Bilateral Trade?

Currently, India and China bilateral trade has increased by 49% to $90.37 billion during the first nine months of 2021.

Among them, India’s imports from China have jumped by 51.7% to $68.4 billion while India’s exports have increased by 42.5% to $21.9 billion.

This bilateral trade is substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels, with bilateral trade up 29.7% compared to the same period in 2019.

Moreover, China’s growth in trade with India was also among the fastest compared to other China’s major trading partners such as ASEAN, EU and the US.

What does India export to China and import from China?

India’s biggest exports to China are iron ore, cotton, and other raw material-based commodities. 

India’s biggest imports from China include mechanical and electrical machinery and medicinal supplies. The imports of medical supplies have almost doubled in the past two years.


 

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