Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – October 18

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Q.1) In reference to the upcoming 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlight India ‘s commitment towards climate change and the major climate laws in India. Also discuss India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) targets. (GS-3)

Introduction:

  • Bonn, Germany will be witnessing world leaders and delegates for the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP – 23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA), which was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding.

India’s commitment to climate change

  • Post US withdrawal from Paris Agreement, India announced that it would continue its support for climate action.
  • Given the current scenario, India could play a leadership role in mobilizing the climate-vulnerable countries, to recommit to and strengthen the Paris Agreement.
  • India could also formally make clause with China and the European Union (EU). China and EU have reportedly planned alliance to lead the implementation of the Paris Accord.
  • Recently, the price of solar energy has fallen and the need for coal has also decreased substantially, indicating that India is well placed to make a transition to clean energy use.
  • As a strategy to reduce its emission, India has embarked on a massive renewable energy programme.
  • Upscaling the National Solar Mission, India has set a target of 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022. This is five times higher than the original 20 GW target. May 2017 has seen record drop in solar power prices to Rs 2.44/kWh.
  • India also recently became the fourth largest producer of wind energy in the world and announced plans to cancel 14 GW of coal plants. Indeed, India is currently in a strong position not only to meet, but exceed its Paris climate targets.
  • Even under India’s new tax regime, 18% of tax is proposed to be levied on electric cars, vis-a-vis 28% tax on conventional cars.
  • The green power revolution is envisaged to attract millions in investment and create job opportunities, while providing a substantial boost to export of new commodities.
  • In the aftermath of creating the largest market of solar power for itself, India has now proposed a pioneering commitment to sell only electric cars by 2030.

Major Climate Laws in India

National Action Plan on Climate Change, 2008 –

  • The Plan outlines eight “national missions” running until 2017. These include solar, energy efficiency, sustainable habitat, Green India (REDD & LULUCF), water, Himalaya ecosystems, agriculture and strategic knowledge of climate change.

National Electricity Plan, 2012 

  • The Plan’s 4th chapter deals with initiatives and measures for GHG mitigation, and aims to keep CO2 intensity declining while massively expanding rural access and increasing power generation to meet the demands of a rapidly growing economy.

Post – Copenhagen domestic actions, 2010 

  • On 10 May 2010, India released its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory for 2007, with the aim of enabling informed decisionmaking and to ensure transparency. India has become the first “nonAnnex I” (i.e. developing) country to publish such updated numbers.

National Clean Energy Fund

  • India has announced a levy, a clean energy cess, on coal, at the rate of Rs. 50 (US$1) per tonne, which will apply to both domestically produced and imported coal. This money will go into a National Clean Energy Fund that will be used for funding research, innovative projects in clean energy technologies and environmental remedial programmes. Expected earnings are US$500 million for the financial year 2010–2011.

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) targets:

Reduce emission intensity by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels

  • India will introduce new, more efficient and cleaner technologies in thermal power generation.
  • Reducing emissions from transportation sector.
  • Promote energy efficiency, mainly in industry, transportation, buildings and appliances.
  • Develop climate resilient infrastructure.
  • Pursue Zero Effect, Zero Defect policy under Make in India programme.

Produce 40 per cent of electricity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, if international community helps with technology transfer and low cost finance.

  • India will install 175 GW of solar, wind and biomass electricity by 2022, and scale up further in following years
  • India will aggressively pursue development of hydropower.
  • Will try to achieve the target of 63 GW of installed nuclear power capacity by 2032

Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through additional forest and tree cover.

    • India is looking towards full implementation of Green India Mission and other programmes of afforestation.
    • Develop 140,000 km long tree line on both sides of national highways.

Develop robust adaptation strategies for agriculture, water and health sectors

  • Redesign National Water Mission and National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture
  • Active implementation of ongoing programmes like National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture, setting up of 100 mobile soil-testing laboratories, distribution of soil health cards to farmers.
  • Additional impetus on watershed development through Neeranchal scheme
  • Effective implementation of National Mission on Clean Ganga
  • Early formulation and implementation of National Health Mission
  • Complete Integrated Coastal Zone Management plan. Mapping and demarcation of coastal hazard lines.

Q.2)  What is China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative? If India sets to join OBOR, what are its potential benefits? What is India’s position on OBOR?(GS-2)

Context

  • Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque holds a view that countries must not become isolated in the name of sovereignty. He emphasized on the putting sovereignty issue behind and put economic benefits in front seat.
  • The statement is a counter to India’s tough position against China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative during a discussion on Asian connectivity projects.

What is China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative?

  • Considered as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project, OBOR focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.
  • The action plan was approved by the Chinese state council in 2015. The “Belt” seeks to create a land route from China to Europe. The “Road”, strangely enough, hopes to create a maritime route from China to the Mediterranean through the Indian Ocean.
  • The Belt, which plans to connect east and west overland across the Eurasian landmass, envisions three routes: from China to Europe via Central Asia; from China to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean via West Asia; and from China to South East Asia and South Asia.
  • The main crux is to grow land routes as well as maritime routes.

If India sets to join OBOR, what are its potential benefits?

  • India and China need to ensure that their differences on political questions do not prevent both sides from advancing economic cooperation, something both countries have struggled to lately.
  • The Modi government may need to consider the future of its Pakistan policy, because the possibility of India benefiting from regional connectivity by land would entail a measure of normalized ties with Islamabad.
  • It can be a great boost for employment and labor movement prospects for India, which is facing chronic unemployment crisis in Eastern part which can be truly unlocked by this initiative.
  • India can join the maritime trade route with China and help solve its crude oil needs.
  • The landlocked north can have two vent-out ports in forms of Indian side and even Pakistan side creating economic prosperity in the process.

What is India’s position on OBOR?

  • India is strictly not in favour of OBOR initiative.
  • The main reason behind India’s opposition towards the policy is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of OBOR.
  • Recent Chinese reports claim that following the launch of CPEC in Pakistan, the country has received investments worth more than $46 billion.
  • India has put sovereignty issues and raised objections over CPEC projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • It poses a major security threat to India as Beijing is trying to encircle New Delhi by undertaking construction projects in the neighbouring countries under the guise of connectivity purposes.
  • For its political differences and strategic concerns, it is imperative for India to not budge from its position as it would count as a submissive acceptance of the CPEC

Conclusion:

In order to  counter OBOR, India should  upgrade internal connectivity.India should modernize connectivity across its land and maritime frontiers with neighbouring countries

India should work with countries like they did with Japan and multilateral institutions to develop regional connectivity in the Indian Subcontinent and beyond.India’s vision document on ASIS- AFRICA GROWTH CORRIDOR can be a good front .India Japan have launched their own infrastructure development projects to balance OBOR- GREAT WALL.

Q.3) What is collegiums system? What does the Constitution say regarding the appointments of judges? What are the criticisms of collegiums system in India? (GS-2)

Ans.

COLLEGIUM SYSTEM:

  • It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other seniormost judges of the court.
  • A High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other seniormost judges of that court.
  • Names recommended for appointment by a High Court collegium reaches the government only after approval by the CJI and the Supreme Court collegium.
  • Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system — and the government has a role only after names have been decided by the collegium.
  • The government’s role is limited to getting an inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) if a lawyer is to be elevated as a judge in a High Court or the Supreme Court.
  • It can also raise objections and seek clarifications regarding the collegium’s choices, but if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound, under Constitution Bench judgments, to appoint them as judges.

Constitutional status on appointment of judges:

  • Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President under Articles 124(2) and 217 of the Constitution.
  • The President is required to hold consultations with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts as he may deem necessary.
  • Article 124(2) says: “Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years. Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted.”
  • Article 217: “Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court.”

Criticisms:

  • Critics argue that the system is non-transparent, since it does not involve any official mechanism or secretariat.
  • It is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure.
  • There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets, and how it takes its decisions.

Conclusion:

The mammoth task of filling these vacancies would be better served if a revised Memorandum of Procedure for appointments is agreed upon soon. A screening system, along with a permanent secretariat for the collegium, would be ideal for the task. The introduction of transparency should be backed by a continuous process of addressing perceived shortcomings. The present disclosure norm is a commendable beginning.

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