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[op-ed snap] Why government must spend more

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Economic Development| Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the Indian economy in contemporary context.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the measures to boost the Indian economy in present context, in a brief manner.


Context

  • As the Union budget is set to be announced tomorrow, several economists believe that private consumption, investment demands must rise to boost the Indian economy.

Precarious situation of the Indian economy

  • When the current government took over in 2014, the declared fiscal deficit was at 4.5 per cent while the actual was estimated to be in the range of 5.5 per cent.
  • The gap between these two figures was because the previous government incurred off balance-sheet expenses like oil bonds (issued to the tune of Rs 1,42,202 crore and not reflected in government accounts),
  • It withheld income tax refunds and rolled over to the next year payments which would have ideally come in towards the end of financial year 2013-14.

India was part of the “fragile five”

  • Coupled with weakness on the external account, India was part of a group that was informally referred to as the “fragile five” — countries being the weakest links in the global economy.

Govt managed its financial affairs in a very prudent manner

  • Falling global oil prices were leveraged to generate better revenue for the government.
  • Measures like demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) were launched,
  • Establishing audit trail and ownership of money and simplification in indirect tax structure.
  • Macroeconomic parameters like inflation and fiscal deficit have been contained,
  • the current account deficit is manageable and foreign exchange reserves and GDP growth rates are inching higher.
  • In doing so, the government has not sacrificed any essential expenditure.

Indian economy during 2014-15 to 2018-19

  • As per the publicly available data, the 2014-15 to 2018-19 period has seen the best combination of GDP growth rate (high) and inflation (low).
  • Success on the macro-economic management front has been one of the biggest achievements of the government.
  • India is not only one of the fastest-growing economy, but also the sixth-largest economy in the world.
  • PwC’s annual Global Economy Watch report projects India’s real GDP growth in 2019-20 at 7.6 per cent.
  • Accordingly, India is likely to surpass UK in 2019 rankings of world’s largest economies and occupy the fifth position.

Achieving a higher and participative level of GDP growth

  • At the centre of all initiatives is the ordinary citizen of India and the goal is to ameliorate her condition of living.
  • The target is to achieve a higher level of GDP growth and to make it as wide and participative as possible.
  • In the roadmap for doing so, macroeconomic parameters are self-imposed road signs.
  • The government should consider ground realities while making its economic policies.

Challenges

  • Currently, agriculture and allied sectors are facing some challenges due to lack of sufficient demand for their output.
  • The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector is another segment that is facing headwinds due to lack of liquidity in the financial system and lack of demand.
  • Increased demand brings in private investment and if there is resource constraint with the government, fiscal expansion is the way out.

Need to create demand

  • The economy will grow only when there is sufficient demand.
  • Government expenditure has increased tremendously in the last five years and sectors like steel and cement have benefited immensely.
  • However, private consumption and investment demands need to increase further.
  • For this there is scope for expansionary fiscal policies, particularly when inflation is low.

Way Forward

  • Fiscal discipline during the last five years has been one of the best and has given the government the elbow room to boost expenditure.
  • The government might consider measures like interest subvention on agricultural loans,
  • direct cash transfer to farmers based on their landholdings,
  • relaxation in income tax slabs for the lower-middle and the middle class and
  • injection of liquidity in the financial sector to boost credit availability.
  • These measures might put some upward pressure on inflation which might not be such a bad thing.
  • Cash transfers to farmers are constrained by the lack of updated land records with the state governments and a way around it must be found.
  • Such a transfer will boost demand for agricultural and non-agricultural products in the rural areas and help the agriculture and MSME sectors.
Issues related to Economic growth

[op-ed snap] Stormy weather awaits India in 2019

Note4students

Mains Paper 2,3: International relations| Security| Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora. Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of India’s security challenge both at external and internal fronts.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the difficult external and internal situation that India might face in the year 2019, in a brief manner.


Context

  • As India prepares for the general election this year, the country faces a difficult external and internal situation and it needs to remain alert to unexpected developments.

The World outlook looks gloomy in 2019

  • A global leadership vacuum is leading to chaos concerning rules governing the international order.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s utterances and actions are provoking strong counter-reactions, especially from China and Russia.
  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s attack on China, in October 2018, has signalled the beginning of a new Cold War.
  • Mr. Trump has threatened to pull out of a major arms control treaty with Russia.
  • Russia has also been talking of building stronger deterrence and Cold War 2 seems for real now.

Nations are today working at cross-purposes across the globe

Russia

  • Russia is vigorously pursuing its pivot to Asia and for greater influence in Eurasia.
  • It has deepened its partnership with China, and enhanced relations with Japan and South Korea.
  • Growing tensions in the Sea of Azov (following Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s ships) could well lead to a major conflagration between Russia and the West.

China

  • China is consolidating its position in Asia.
  • In addition to its strategic partnership with Russia, China has mended fences with Japan.
  • Its Belt and Road Initiative has become the most potent weapon in China’s armoury, with Vietnam and Japan endorsing this concept.
  • India finds itself increasingly isolated in Asia as a result.

Economic Challenge

  • Economic portents during 2018 for most of the world proved highly daunting.
  • The most challenging was the spectre of an all embracing U.S.-China trade war.
  • This had triggered highly unsettled conditions, and the situation was further aggravated by signs of a weakening Chinese economy.
  • At the beginning of 2019, it is amply evident that politics is conflicting with business across the world.
  • A decline in Britain’s financial assets and of the pound sterling following Brexit, as well as signs of increasing fragility of China’s economy, are newer concerns.
  • The likelihood of the U.S. moving into a period of slower long-term growth, one that is likely to continue for a fairly long time, is aggravating this situation.
  • India cannot hope to remain insulated from these trends.

India’s ties with Russia, Japan

  • Coming to India’s foreign policy concerns, relations with Russia and Japan could see a reset.
  • The strengthening of the Russia-China strategic relationship and the recent warmth in China-Japan relations could impact India’s relations with both countries.
  • Notwithstanding the warmth displayed in public by the leaders of India and Russia, and India and Japan, the character of our relations with these two countries could undergo a change.
  • What is evident is that India will need to expend a great deal of its diplomatic capital to ensure that relations do not decline to any considerable extent.

India’s relationship with China

  • Managing relations with China will be India’s top priority.
  • India-China relations are marked by a surface calm, but this masks an intrinsic struggle for influence in Asia and even beyond.
  • The Wuhan Spirit, notwithstanding, little has changed as far as India-China relations are concerned, except that there has not been any major Chinese incursion across the disputed India-China border.

China making in-roads in Indian Ocean region

  • In 2018, China had initiated certain moves to create a China-Myanmar Economic Corridor on the lines of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • The Chinese Navy is also poised to challenge India’s position in the Indian Ocean.
  • Chinese submarines already outnumber India’s here.
  •  China is preparing to outflank India by seeking control of the Kyaukpyu Port on the Arakan Coast in Myanmar, and planning a canal (the Kra canal), connecting the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Together with China’s existing control over the Gwadar (Pakistan) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka) Ports, if China were to succeed in its attempts, it could give it a stranglehold across the Indian Ocean Region.
  • India’s capacity to counter such moves in 2019 appears extremely limited.

Consolidation of the ‘all weather friendship’

  • This year could also see a further consolidation of the ‘all weather friendship’ of China-Pakistan.
  • During 2018, Pakistan facilitated China’s involvement in Afghanistan (and also succeeded in co-opting Russia to be a party to talks with the Afghan Taliban).
  • The CPEC having weathered quite a few storms in 2018, seems well set to progress this further in 2019.

Indo-Pakistan relations and the Afghan Challenge

  • The prospects of India-Pakistan relations improving on the other hand, are extremely limited.
  • Cross-border terror attacks are likely to continue, as also sponsorship of terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Where India will face even rougher weather is in Afghanistan where the Afghan state is perilously close to imploding.
  • India has been kept out of talks with the Afghan Taliban by all countries concerned, including the U.S., China, and Russia, apart from Pakistan.
  • This is making India’s position here highly invidious.

Mixed challenges for India in rest of South Asia

  • The outlook for India in the rest of South Asia is also mixed.
  • Towards the end of 2018, India could retrieve its position in the Maldives.
  • It also succeeded in re-establishing its influence in Bhutan.
  • The return of Sheikh Hasina as Prime Minister after the general elections in Bangladesh has been a welcome relief.
  • Yet, India will need to work harder in 2019 to check China from weaning away its neighbours, including Nepal as also Bangladesh, with offers of economic and military aid.
  • India will also need to use all its resources to assist Bangladesh to limit the influence of radical Islamist groups there.

Internal Security Challenge

  • Internal security, for the better part of 2018, remained on a relatively even keel.
  • There were fewer Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks, but this is hardly an index of what lies ahead in 2019.

Left extremist violence

  • Left extremist violence went up marginally in 2018, but the movement remained circumscribed within a core area in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Jharkhand.
  • Ideologically, the movement has remained vibrant, and in 2019, both ideological and militant aspects will need deft handling.

Situation in Kashmir

  • In 2018, the situation in Kashmir sharply deteriorated, and the year witnessed some of the highest levels of violence since 1989.
  • There was again a sharp spurt in the number of security forces personnel being killed, alongside targeting of their families.
  • The deadlock between the Jammu and Kashmir administration and militants is unlikely to be resolved.
  • President’s rule has made little headway in sorting out the conflict-prone situation.
  • Militant outfits, the JeM and the Hizbul Mujahideen, appear energised by the turn of events and can be expected to become still more active.
  • More educated locals are joining militant ranks.
  • Disclaimers notwithstanding, the presence of the Islamic State is also in evidence.
  • The consequences of this as far as 2019 is concerned could be considerable.

Resurgence of ethnic sub-nationalism in the Northeast

  • This has been simmering for some time, but now threatens to boil over, following the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
  • The Bill has given rise to fears that it would drastically alter the status quo in the region.
  • The Amendment has helped unite vast segments of people across the entire Northeast.
  • The divisive potential of the recently enacted Act, will have special resonance in an election year.
  • It will demand sensitive and careful handling in 2019.

Farmers’ and Dalit unrest

  • Two other issues that kept the nation on the edge in 2018, i.e. farmers’ and Dalit unrest, still remain unattended as 2019 begins.
  • Both can ignite fires, especially in an election year.
  • There is little evidence, however, that the causes for the unrest are receiving careful consideration.

Conclusion

  • Considering the difficult external and internal situation, peace in 2019 may prove elusive.
  • On the diplomatic front, India will need to be more dexterous.
  • The internal situation will require to be dealt with far greater understanding.
Internal Security Trends and Incidents

[op-ed snap] The case for minimum basic income

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economic Development| Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of minimum basic income.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the case for minimum income support scheme to mitigate rural distress, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The government will present its last Budget tomorrow.
  • Conventionally, the Budget presented in an election year is a vote on account, aimed at providing funds for the government to function until the formation of new government.

Vote on account convention loosely followed

  • In recent times, the vote on account convention has been followed loosely.
  • For instance, in 2014 the Manmohan Singh-led government’s interim Budget announced the One Rank, One Pension scheme and allocated ₹500 crore for its rollout.
  • This wasn’t an emergency measure that could not have waited until the completion of the election.
  • The Budget also announced cuts in excise duties on some items, including small cars and capital goods, in the hope of reviving consumption and investments.
  • Therefore, it won’t be surprising if the present government announces an income support scheme to mitigate rural distress in its interim Budget.

Encouraging results of minimum income support

  • A pilot project conducted between 2010 and 2013, covering 6,000 beneficiaries in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have yielded encouraging results.
  • It confirmed that at high levels of impoverishment, even the smallest income supplement can improve nutrient intake, school enrolment and attendance of female students, and reduce incidence of indebtedness.
  • The study showed that consumption of pulses went up by 1,000%, fresh vegetables by 888%, and meat by 600% among the beneficiaries.
  • This evidence challenges the commonly held views that welfare payments are an affront to the dignity of the beneficiaries and that they are used for questionable purposes, such as for buying alcohol.

Why income support?

  • The reforms since 1991 have largely bypassed agriculture and other segments of the economy that engage poor and rural Indians.
  • While incomplete economic liberalisation and technological advances have led to growth in national income, all individuals have not gained equally.
  • The disproportionate share of gains from the reforms have gone to middle-class and rich Indians.
  • This unevenness in development calls for a superior economic growth model.
  • Until that happens, redistributive policy interventions such as income transfers can improve equity.

Not to be confused with unemployment benefits

  • Income transfers are not to be confused with doles or unemployment benefits.
  • They are unconditional income supplements to compensate for policy failures and ease the economic anxieties of the less advantaged.
  • Besides equity, there’s also an urgent need to address rural distress.
  •   This is largely a consequence of policy failures such as ineffective procurement and perverse trade and pricing policies that have in times of bumper harvests led to gluts, depressed market prices, and aggravated farmer losses.
  • So, it is only fair that the government pays reparations to farmers in some form.

Telangana and Odisha Income support schemes

Telangana and Odisha are already experimenting in a limited way with income support schemes, focused on the farm sector.

  1. Rythu Bandhu Scheme
  • In Telangana, the government is providing farmers income support payment under the Rythu Bandhu, at the rate of ₹10,000/ha (₹4,000/acre).
  • However, this model benefits the biggest landowners the most, including those who lease out their land.
  • Tenants, sharecroppers and landless labourers, the most vulnerable, are out of its coverage.
  • Its success depends on reliable land records.

2. KALIA Scheme

  • Odisha’s recently notified KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Assistance) irons out these creases.
  • It proposes to transfer ₹5,000 in cash per season (₹10,000 per year for double-cropped land) to the State’s 30 lakh marginal farmers, leaving out the two lakh large farmers.
  • It promises cash grants of ₹12,500 each to the State’s 10 lakh landless households.
  • The hope is that they will use this money to rear goats or poultry and farm mushrooms or honey.
  • Fisherfolk are covered too, and will receive the investment support for buying fishing nets and allied equipment.

MSP-based payments distort price signals to farmers

  • Last year, the Budget had promised compensatory payments to farmers equal to the gap between depressed market prices and the minimum support prices (MSPs) announced.
  • But MSP-based payments distort price signals to farmers on what to produce and how much in the subsequent season.
  • Rythu Bandhu and KALIA are superior policy interventions. Plus, they do not suffer from the moral hazard and limited reach of farm loan waivers.
  • Waivers penalise farmers who repay loans on time and benefit only borrowers from banks.

Minimum income guarantee vs job guarantee programmes

  • The advantage of a minimum income guarantee is that it will also cover the urban poor, who are not covered in these schemes.
  • While job guarantee programmes, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, lock up beneficiaries in low-productivity work, income supplements allow them to continue to look for better employment options.
  • Therefore, a minimum income guarantee scheme will improve equity, address rural distress and cover the urban poor.

Are these schemes feasible politically, operationally and fiscally?

  • Income supplements can be transferred into Jan Dhan or Post Office accounts.
  • Beneficiaries can be selected through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (the last round was conducted in 2011, the results of which were released in July 2015).
  • Increasing the fiscal deficit hurts the poor, for it sparks off inflation and cannot be the way to fund income transfers.

Way Forward

  • In 2017-18, the Centre and the States collected more than ₹5 lakh crore through various taxes, royalty payments and dividends from producers and consumers of petroleum products.
  • Streamlining distortionary and demerit subsidies, such as on urea (₹70,000 crore annually), can open up significant fiscal space.
  • Healthcare, education, water conservation, environment and other merit subsidies need to be preserved and improved and should not be reduced to fund income transfers.
  • If the wealth tax that the government had abolished in 2015 is reintroduced as a fair and easy-to-collect levy on the super-rich, an income support scheme for the poor will be easier.
  • Taxpayers must realise that agri-prices, and therefore farm incomes, are not free market-driven.
  • They are kept artificially low, through pricing policy instruments, so that inflation does not erode the rest of the population’s purchasing power.
Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

ISRO launches Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan Mission, HSFC

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)

  1. The HSFC, the hub of ISRO’s future manned missions, was inaugurated at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
  2. Announced on August 15 2018, the country’s first crewed mission is set to happen by 2022, the 75th year of Independence.
  3. HSFC shall be responsible for the implementation of Gaganyaan project — which involves mission planning, development of engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection and training and also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions.
  4. HSFC will take the support of ISRO centres to implement the first developmental [crewed] flight.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

No Indo-Nepal pact on tigers yet

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Tiger reserves mentioned

Mains level: Bilateral cooperation on tiger conservation


News

  • Though India and Nepal had agreed to collaborate on conducting the tiger census in their countries in 2018, they’ve yet to sign an agreement on sharing detailed assessments of the numbers.
  • It was expected that both countries would arrive at an agreement to be signed during the ongoing conference Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

Adjoining transitions

  1. The Chitwan National Park in Chitwan and Parsa Wildlife Reserve of Nepal are adjacent to the Balmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar.
  2. Likewise, Nepal’s Bardiya National Park adjoins India’s Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, while the Shuklaphant National Park in Nepal adjoins India’s Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

Avoiding double count

  1. Nepal already publicized the results of its tiger census last September — 235, and this represents an 18% rise from the 198 tigers in 2013.
  2. However, India needs details on the locations of these tigers, which are captured via camera traps, to be sure that some tigers found on the border are not double-counted.

Adopting a common methodology

  1. India’s tiger census is huge and spans a vast area.
  2. However, both (countries) are sovereign and so data sharing must be on equal terms.
  3. Prior to beginning its census, India had also signed agreements with Bhutan and Bangladesh regarding sharing tiger numbers and conducting surveys using a common methodology.
  4. Both these countries had already shared data with India.

Indian Count

  1. Officially, India had 2,226 tigers as of 2014.
  2. An ongoing census is expected to reveal an update to these numbers.
  3. 25-35% of India’s tigers now lived outside protected reserves.
Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

UGC defers decision to grant tag to more Institutes of Eminence

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Institute of Eminence tag

Mains level: Impact of having the tag


News

  1. The University Grants Commission has deferred its decision on granting the Institute of Eminence tag to more educational institutions.
  2. The expert committee has recommended more than the mandated number that the scheme allowed.

Background

  1. In July, the HRD Ministry hass granted the Institution of Eminence status to three public and three private educational institutions in India after the empowered expert committee recommended 11 names.
  2. The six institutions included the Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up.
  3. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names, taking the total list to 30.
  4. Now the empowered expert committee has recommended 30 names – 15 in each category.

What hinders granting more institutions?

  1. It was not just a question of naming the institutions, but also granting public institutions Rs 1,000 crore in special funds.
  2. The committee had not put its list of names in any preferential order or ranking.

About Institute of Eminence Scheme

[Burning Issue] Institute of Excellence Debate

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Airpocalypse III Report

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Airpocalypse III Report

Mains level: Potential threats of Nitrogen Pollution from various sources


News

Greenpeace faults Centre’s scheme

  • There are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), says a report by Greenpeace.
  • The NCAP was launched by the government earlier this month and is a ₹300 crore initiative to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.

Highlights of Airpocalypse III

  1. Airpocalypse III, as the Greenpeace report is titled, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
  2. Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  3. While 102 of these cities were included in the NCAP, the remaining 139 cities were left out.
  4. That’s because the government’s list of 102 cities relied on average pollution data until 2015, whereas Airpocalypse III used data updated up to 2017.

Action plan under NCAP

  1. The 102 cities, identified as hotspots of pollution, were asked to submit a plan for how they would address the problem.
  2. Broadly, the plans include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.
  3. As part of the NCAP, cities have been given a specified number of days to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorized brick kilns” (within 30 days).
  4. It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations kick in.

Fault-line in NCAP

  1. Even if the NCAP were to able to reduce pollution by 30% by 2024, 153 cities would still be left with pollution levels exceeding the NAAQS, the report said.
  2. Of the 139 cities that have not been included in the non-attainment list under the NCAP, there are several cities that have a population of more than 1 million, and PM levels (recorded in 2017) above NAAQS.
  3. Since the data for 2017 was available when NCAP was finalised, it would have made more sense to update the non-attainment list to include all such cities in the final NCAP.
Air Pollution

Nitrogen Pollution

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SANH

Mains level: Potential threats of Nitrogen Pollution from various sources


News

  • 18 research institutions in India are among a group of 50 institutions called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) — in the UK and South Asia to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.

Nitrogen Pollution

  1. While nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react.
  2. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage and biological waste, nitrogen is considered reactive.
  3. It may be polluting and even exert a potent greenhouse gas effect.
  4. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide but isn’t as prevalent in the atmosphere.
  5. Other than air pollution, nitrogen is also linked to the loss of biodiversity, the pollution of rivers and seas, ozone depletion, health, economy, and livelihoods.
  6. Nitrogen pollution is caused, for example, by emissions from chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and burning fossil fuels.
  7. Gases such as ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) contribute to poor air quality and can aggravate respiratory and heart conditions, leading to millions of premature deaths across the world.
  8. Nitrate from chemical fertilisers, manure and industry pollutes the rivers and seas, posing a health risk for humans, fish, coral and plant life.

Nitrogen emission in India

  1. NOx emissions grew at 52% from 1991 to 2001 and 69% from 2001 to 2011 in India.
  2. Agriculture is the largest contributor to nitrogen emissions.
  3. Non-agricultural emissions of nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide were growing rapidly, with sewage and fossil-fuel burning — for power, transport and industry — leading the trend.

About South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH)

  1. The South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) is a major international research programme to tackle the challenge that nitrogen pollution poses in South Asia.
  2. The SANH will be established with funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
  3. 18 Indian research institutions are part of a group of 50 which have received £20 million funding from the United Kingdom Government.
  4. The SANH will study the impact of the different forms of pollution to form a coherent picture of the nitrogen cycle.
  5. In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.
  6. Its recommendations will support cleaner and more profitable farming, as well as industrial recycling of nitrogen, fostering development of a cleaner circular economy for nitrogen.
Air Pollution

[pib] Railway Ministry launches the IEA’s Report “The Future of Rail”

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: “The Future of Rail” Report

Mains level: Importance of Railways Infrastructure


News

 “The Future of Rail” Report

  1. The first-of-a-kind report analyses the current and future importance of rail around the world through the perspective of its energy and environmental implications.
  2. Itexamines how the role of rail in global transport might be elevated as a means to reduce the energy use and environmental impacts associated with transport.
  3. The report reviews the impact of existing plans and regulations on the future of rail, and explores the key policies that could help to realize an enhanced future rail.
  4. This global report has a focus on India, elaborating on the unique social and economic role of rail in India, together with its great enduring potential, to show how India can extend and update its networks to harness rail at a scope and scale that is unparalleled.

India and the International Energy Agency (IEA)

  1. The IEA is an inter-governmental organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and 8 association countries.
  2. Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  3. India has been the focus of many recent IEA analyses and reports for instance through the special focus chapter on the Indian Power sector of the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) publication and the World Energy Outlook (WEO).
  4. IEA has also held workshops and training programmes in India on energy data training, energy efficiency, strategic petroleum reserves, and the integration of renewables into the grid.
Railway Reforms