Q.1) Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy is the sine qua non to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.Comment on the progress made in India in this regard.
Answer: The four dimensions of this SDG are affordability, reliability, sustainability and modernity.
Importance in achieving SDGs:
- Energy is critical and people with no sustainable access to energy are deprived of the opportunity to become part of national and global progress.
- Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity– security, climate change, food production, jobs or increasing incomes.
- Sustainable energy generates opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet.
- There are tangible health benefits to having access to electricity, and a demonstrable improvement in wellbeing.
- The production of useable energy can also be a source for climate change – accounting for around 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
Progress on energy access in India:
- The National Solar Mission is playing an important role in the work towards renewable energy.
- Interventions in rural electrification through Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and in urban electrification through Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS).
- New ultra-mega power projects
- Addressing the poor health of state discom utilities through UDAY scheme.
- PM Ujjawala Yojana for healthy and clean cooking fuel to women in the BPL category.
- National Solar Mission is progressing and country has already achieved 22GW of solar energy.
Q.2) How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect macroeconomic stability of India?
Answer: Currently, world is witnessing the trade war with US imposing unilateral tariffs on major trading partners life EU, China, Mexico and Canada. The Chinese currency, called the renminbi, is a policy currency. Unlike the U.S. dollar, which rises and falls in value in free market trading, the currency value against the dollar is set by the People’s Bank of China.
Impact on India:
- As a late convert to economic globalisation, India will have much to lose, if the current trading order breaks down.
- If crude oil prices fall due it, may benefit India. But if lower oil prices are caused due to trade war, its positive impact on the economy can get negated due to other negative developments such as weaker confidence and disruption in global trade.
- Impact on domestic steel industry likely because Duties imposed by the U.S. would trigger “trade diversion” from other steel makers, who would dump their products in India
- Investment across borders is likely to get impacted. A recent UNCTAD report says FDI has already slowed down. The rupee will weaken more on account of capital flows.
- Our exports + imports of goods and services constitute around 42% of GDP. Also, we have a CAD dependent on external capital inflows for financing. All this could be affected by a global trade war.
- This could offer an opportunity for India. India can become more competitive in segments such as textile, garments and gems and jewellery since India already has an edge but it is very difficult to replace China in the short run.
Q.3) Recently, the Indian government decision to deport seven Rohingya immigrants to Myanmar for the first time reverses India’s long-held stand on Non-Refoulement. In this context, what do you understand by the policy of Non-Refoulement and analyse India’s Refugee and asylum policy.
Answer: Non refoulement is the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.
India’s refugee and asylum policy:
India has one of the largest refugee populations in South Asia, but is yet to enact a uniform law that addresses the issue of asylum. Neither is the term ‘refugee’ mentioned in any domestic law. India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the Status of Refugees, or its 1967 Protocol that stipulates the rights and services host states must provide refugees.
Need for an asylum policy:
- India adopts an ad hoc approach in dealing with the refugees.
- The lack of an established procedure and legal framework for refugees leaves them very little access to essential services.
- Refugees continue to live in dangerous conditions with deprivation of basic human rights.
- Women refugees often face the issue of trafficking.
- It would align India with its commitment at the New York Declaration of Refugees.
Q.4) There have been arising concerns with regard to stubble burning around Delhi leading to air pollution. Examine the impact of this pollution and suggest measures to tackle the same.
Answer: Stubble burning is regarded by experts as one of the principal reasons behind the spike in air pollution levels in the National Capital Region every winter. The sources of this pollution are the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana and their activity of stubble burning.
Impact of air pollution:
- The smoke emitted from burning leads to air pollution. This was witnessed highly in Delhi.
- Straw carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are completely burnt and lost to the atmosphere in the process of burning.
- Burning of crop residue also contributes indirectly to the increased ozone pollution.
- The off field impacts are related to human health due to general air quality degradation resulting in aggravation of respiratory, eye and skin diseases.
- The black soot generated during burning also results in poor visibility which could lead to increased road side incidences of accident.
- Waste – to – energy: bio waste based energy generation at the local levels.
- M S Swaminathan committee has recommended production of fertilisers using the waste.
- Technology is available to cut rice straw and stubbles into small pieces and mix them in the soil to increase soil fertility.
- Collection of paddy straw in the form of bundles and use for various purposes including use of paddy straw for packaging fragile items like crockery and glass, and as raw material for electricity production in the specifically-designed thermal plants.
- Basmati paddy straw is a nutritious fodder for animals. There is a need to explore the possibility of using common paddy straw for animal feed by mixing with other fodder.