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[op-ed of the day] A demographic window of opportunity

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Population control Policies


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

Last month, the United Nations released the 26th revision of World Population Prospects and forecast that India will overtake China as the most populous country by 2027. The only surprise associated with this forecast is the way it was covered by the media. Is this good news or bad news? Is it news at all?

Most populous country

  • We have known for a long time that India is destined to be the most populous country in the world.
  • Population projections are developed using existing population and by adjusting for expected births, deaths and migration.
  • For short-term projections, the biggest impact comes from an existing population, particularly women in childbearing ages.
  • Having instituted a one-child policy in 1979, China’s female population in peak reproductive ages (between 15 and 39 years) is estimated at 235 million (2019) compared to 253 million for India.

History

  1. Failures of punitive actions
  • History tells us that unless the Indian state can and chooses to act with the ruthlessness of China, the government has few weapons in its arsenal.
  • Almost all weapons that can be used in a democratic nation, have already been deployed.
  • These include restriction of maternity leave and other maternity benefits for first two births only and disqualification from panchayat elections for people with more than two children in some States along with minor incentives for sterilisation.
  • Ground-level research by former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch found that individuals who wanted larger families either circumvented the restrictions or went ahead regardless of the consequences.

2.Incentives for population control

  • Second, if punitive actions won’t work, we must encourage people to have smaller families voluntarily.
  • There are sharp differences in fertility among different socio-economic groups.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for the poorest women was 3.2 compared to only 1.5 for the richest quintile in 2015-16.
  • Desire to invest in their children’s future – Research with demographer Alaka Basu from Cornell University shows that it is a desire to invest in their children’s education and future prospects that seems to drive people to stop at one child.
  • Richer individuals see greater potential for ensuring admission to good colleges and better jobs for their children, inspiring them to limit their family size.
  • Thus, improving education and ensuring that access to good jobs is open to all may also spur even poorer households into having fewer children and investing their hopes in the success of their only daughter or son.
  • Accessible contraceptive  – Provision of safe and easily accessible contraceptive services will complete this virtuous cycle.

3.Population and policy

  • Third, we must change our mindset about how population is incorporated in broader development policies.
  • Population growth in the north and central parts of India is far greater than that in south India.
  • These policies include using the 1971 population to allocate seats for the Lok Sabha and for Centre-State allocation under various Finance Commissions.
  • In a departure from this practice, the 15th Finance Commission is expected to use the 2011 Census for making its recommendations.
  • This has led to vociferous protests from the southern States as the feeling is that they are being penalised for better performance in reducing fertility.
  •  Between the 1971 and 2011 Censuses, the population of Kerala grew by 56% compared to about 140% growth for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • A move to use the 2011 Census for funds allocation will favour the north-central States compared to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • However, continuing to stay with a 1971 Census-based allocation would be a mistake.

Way Forward

  •  Investment in the education and health – In order to maximise the demographic dividend, we must invest in the education and health of the workforce, particularly in States whose demographic window of opportunity is still more than a decade away.
  • Staying fixated on the notion that revising State allocation of Central resources based on current population rather than population from 1971 punishes States with successful population policies is shortsighted.
  • This is because current laggards will be the greatest contributors of the future for everyone, particularly for ageing populations of early achievers.
  • Enhancing their productivity will benefit everyone.
  • It is time for India to accept the fact that being the most populous nation is its destiny.
  • It must work towards enhancing the lives of its current and future citizens.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

[op-ed of the day] The Malaise of malnutrition

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Malnutrition is the biggest challenge before India which needs attention


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

A new report, ‘Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019’, authored by the Government of India and the United Nations World Food Programme, paints a picture of hunger and malnutrition amongst children in large pockets of India.

Poor Conditions

  • This punctures the image of a nation marching towards prosperity. It raises moral and ethical questions about the nature of a state and society that, after 70 years of independence, still condemns hundreds of millions of its poorest and vulnerable citizens to lives of hunger and desperation.
  • And it once again forces us to ask why despite rapid economic growth, declining levels of poverty, enough food to export, and a multiplicity of government programmes, malnutrition amongst the poorest remains high.

A trap of poverty, malnutrition

Intergenerational poverty

The report shows the poorest sections of society caught in a trap of poverty and malnutrition, which is being passed on from generation to generation.

Mothers who are hungry and malnourished produce children who are stunted, underweight and unlikely to develop to achieve their full human potential.

Effects of malnourishment

Poor Cognitive Development

  • The effects of malnourishment in a small child are not merely physical. A developing brain that is deprived of nutrients does not reach its full mental potential.
  • A study in the Lancet notes, “Undernutrition can affect cognitive development by causing direct structural damage to the brain and by impairing infant motor development.”
  • This, in turn, affects the child’s ability to learn at school, leading to a lifetime of poverty and lack of opportunity.
  • Another study in the Lancet observes, “These disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.”
  • In other words, today’s poor hungry children are likely to be tomorrow’s hungry, unemployed and undereducated adults.

Extent of malnutrition

  • India has long been home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world.
  • The proportion of children with chronic malnutrition decreased from 48% percent in 2005-06 to 38.4% in 2015-16.
  • The percentage of underweight children decreased from 42.5% to 35.7% over the same period.
  • Anaemia in young children decreased from 69.5% to 58.5% during this period. But this progress is small.

An ambitious target

National Nutrition Mission –

  • (The government’s National Nutrition Mission (renamed as Poshan Abhiyaan) aims to reduce stunting (a measure of malnutrition that is defined as height that is significantly below the norm for age) by 2% a year, bringing down the proportion of stunted children in the population to 25% by 2022.
  • But even this modest target will require doubling the current annual rate of reduction in stunting.

Ineffective implementation

  • A year after it was launched, State and Union Territory governments have only used 16% of the funds allocated to them.
  • Fortified rice and milk were to be introduced in one district per State by March this year.
  • But the minutes of a March 29 meeting showed that this had not been done, and officials in charge of public distribution had not yet got their act together.
  • Anganwadis are key to the distribution of services to mothers and children.
  • But many States, including Bihar and Odisha, which have large vulnerable populations, are struggling to set up functioning anganwadis, and recruit staff.

The problem is access to food

  • As Amartya Sen noted, famines are caused not by shortages of food, but by inadequate access to food.
  • And for the poor and marginalised, access to food is impeded by social, administrative and economic barriers.
  • In the case of children and their mothers, this could be anything from non-functioning or neglectful governments at the State, district and local levels to entrenched social attitudes that see the poor and marginalised as less than equal citizens who are meant to be an underclass and are undeserving of government efforts to provide them food and lift them out of poverty.

Conclusion

A lot of attention has focussed on the government’s aim of turning India into a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. Whether this will achieved is a matter for debate. But these declarations only serve to obscure a larger reality. There is a large section of society, the poorest two-fifths of the country’s population, that is still largely untouched by the modern economy which the rest of the country inhabits. As one part of the country lives in a 21st century economy, ordering exotic cuisines over apps, another part struggles with the most ancient of realities: finding enough to eat to tide them over till the next day.

Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Bengal port records country’s highest sea level rise in 50 years

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Sea level rise and global warming


News

  • Of the major ports in India, Diamond Harbour in West Bengal located at the mouth of river Hooghly has recorded the maximum sea level increase.

Freaky rise in Sea Levels

  • Going by the data from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, four ports — Diamond Harbour, Kandla, Haldia and Port Blair — recorded a higher sea level rise than the global average.
  • Chennai and Mumbai, recorded a sea level rise far below the global and the national averages at 0.33 mm per year (1916-2005) and 0.74 mm (1878-2005) respectively.
  • Sea level rise in the country has been estimated to be 1.3 mm/year along India’s coasts during the last 40-50 years, at Diamond Harbour the rise was almost five times higher at 5.16 mm per year.
  • The mean sea level rise for Diamond Harbour was based on recordings over the period from 1948 to 2005.
  • This is followed by Kandla port in Gujarat where the sea level rise was 3.18 (1950 to 2005) , followed by Haldia in West Bengal, which recorded a sea level rise of 2.89 mm a year (1972 to 2005).
  • Port Blair also recorded a sea level rise of 2.20 mm per year (1916-1964).

Why rise in sea level?

  • Sea level rise is said be linked with global warming and as per the fifth assessment report of the International Panel on Climate Change.
  • The global sea level was rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over the last century.
  • Global warming not only causes melting of ice and glaciers, but also leads to internal expansion of water in oceans and thus a rise in the sea level.
  • Heavy rainfall and temperature extremes like heat waves and shifts in semi-arid regions were some of the recent findings which may have linkages with climate change and global warming.
  • Studies over Indian region have shown a warming trend of 0.6°C on all India average basis, mainly contributed by maximum temperatures.
  • The sea level rise is higher in West Bengal, particularly in the Sunderbans delta is because of the deltaic sediment deposition as a result of the mixing of fresh water and saline water, according to experts.

Threats

  • Rising sea levels can exacerbate the impacts of coastal hazards such as storm surge, tsunami, coastal floods, high waves and coastal erosion in the low lying coastal areas.
  • In addition it causes gradual loss of coastal land to sea.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Desert Locusts incursion in India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts Swarm

Mains level : Pests Management



News

  • Recently Agriculture Minister has informed in Parliament that since May 21, there has been an incursion of desert locusts in Rajasthan and Gujarat from areas bordering Pakistan.
  • Neither the desert locust control teams nor any state agriculture functionaries have reported any damage to the crops.

Locusts

  • Locusts are certain species of short-horned grasshoppers that have a swarming phase.
  • Swarming refers to a collective behaviour in which locusts aggregate together just like flocks of birds.
  • These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming grouped.
  • They form bands of wingless nymphs which later become swarms of winged adults.
  • Both the bands and the swarms move around and rapidly strip fields and cause damage to crops.
  • The adults are powerful fliers; they can travel great distances, consuming most of the green vegetation wherever the swarm settles.

Havoc created by locusts

  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation.
  • They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.
  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface.
  • Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.

Control measures in India

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.
  • The latest bulletin on the PPQS website, for the second fortnight of June, said control operations had covered 5,551 hectares by June 30.

With inputs from: National Geographic

Explained: How PIB accreditation helps journalists

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PIB accredition

Mains level : Freedom of Press


News

Context

  • The Union Ministry of Finance has justified recent restrictions on the entry of journalists, even those holding a Press Information Bureau (PIB) card, in the Finance Ministry.
  • This has been done for streamlining the interactions between the media and the government.
  • Many journalists holding a PIB cards are feeling aggrieved over the decision.

What is PIB Card?

  • A PIB accreditation is only given to journalists who live in Delhi or its periphery, and works with a media organisation that has been functioning continuously for at least a year and if 50 per cent of its content is news or commentary of general public interest.
  • The content should also include news and information emanating from the headquarters of the Government of India.
  • According to the Central News Media Accreditation Guidelines, 1999, PIB accreditation “shall not confer any official or special status on news media representatives, but shall only recognize their identity as a professional working journalist”.
  • The guidelines define accreditation as recognition of news media representatives by the Government of India for purpose of access to sources of information in the Government and also to news materials, written or pictorial, released by the PIB and/or other agencies of the govt.

A sort of security pass

  • The PIB card given to all accredited journalists mentions on its back that it is “valid for entry into buildings under MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) security zone”.
  • Since a PIB card comes after security clearance from the Home Ministry, accredited journalists are allowed to enter the premises of most Union government ministries without prior appointment.
  • They are not required to register or record their presence at the reception, or with any other official in any ministry.
  • This firewalls the journalists from attempts at finding out when and on how many occasions they have visited the premises of an office, and which officers they have met.

Who is eligible for PIB accreditation?

  • To be eligible for PIB accreditation, a journalist needs to have a minimum of five years’ professional experience as a full-time working journalist or a cameraperson in a news organisation, or a minimum of 15 years as a freelancer.
  • Journalists working full-time for a news organisation seeking accreditation must be earning a minimum salary of Rs 4,500 per month.
  • A newspaper or periodical needs to have a minimum daily circulation of 10,000, or 75,000 if it is part of a chain, and news agencies must have a gross annual revenue of a minimum Rs 20 lakh for their journalists to be eligible for accreditation.
  • Similar rules apply for foreign news organisations and foreign journalists.
  • Applications for accreditation are vetted by a Central Press Accreditation Committee headed by the DG, PIB.
  • After a journalist applies for a PIB accreditation, there is a mandatory security check conducted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which also includes on-site verification of the journalist’s residence by the police.

Benefits

  • As such, PIB accreditation has several advantages. First, in certain events involving senior public functionaries such as the President, the Prime Minister, and other ministers, only a PIB accredited journalist is allowed entry.
  • Second, journalists accredited with the PIB are eligible, along with members of their family, for subsidised health services under the Central Government Health Scheme, meant for employees of the Union government.
  • Third, and most importantly, a PIB accreditation helps a journalist carry out her professional responsibilities. It does so by helping a journalist protect her sources.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Human Rights Courts in India

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HR courts

Mains level : HR violations in India and measures to curb them


News

  • The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Central government, the States and the UTs on the prolonged delay for over a quarter of a century to establish exclusive human rights courts in each district and appointing special public prosecutors in them.

HR Courts

  • The Human Rights Act had called for the establishment of special courts in each district to conduct speedy trial of offences arising out of violation and abuse of human rights.
  • Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 envisages that a State government, with the concurrence of the CJ of High Court should specify for each district a court of session as a court of human rights for the speedy trial of violation of rights.
  • Section 31 of the Act provides the State government to specify and appoint a special public prosecutor in that court.
  • Sessions Court of the district concerned is considered as the Human Rights Court.
  • Under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 a Sessions Judge cannot take cognizance of the offence. He can only try the cases committed to him by the magistrate under Section 193 of the Cr.P.C.

Why need HR courts?

  • To uphold and protect the basic and fundamental rights of an individual it is an indispensable obligation upon the State to provide affordable, effective and speedy trial of offences related to violation of human rights which can only be achieved by setting up special courts in each district as provided under the Act.
  • The recent India Human Rights Report 2018, which was published by the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 by US provide a deep reality into the sad state of affairs in India.
  • The report threw light on various rights violations such as police brutality, torture and excess custodial and encounters deaths, horrible conditions in prisons and detention centres, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, denial of fair public trial, the petition said.

HR Violations in India

  • From 2001 to 2010, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded that 14,231 i.e. 4.33 persons died in police and judicial custody in the country.
  • This includes 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010.
  • A large majority of these deaths being a direct consequence of torture in custody.
Human Rights Issues

Single Tribunal for hear water disputes

Mains Paper 2 : Statutory, Regulatory & Various Quasi-Judicial Bodies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tribunals

Mains level : Interstate water disputes


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes.
  • A key feature of the bill is the constitution of a single tribunal with different Benches, and the setting of strict timelines for adjudication.
  • It will help adjudicate disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
  • A version of this bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2017 but subsequently lapsed.

Why need a single tribunal?

  • Any State Government may request under the 1956 Act is for any water dispute on the inter-State rivers.
  • When the Central government is of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled by negotiations it constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication.
  • There are about a dozen tribunals that now exist to resolve disputes among States on sharing water from rivers common to them.
  • The standalone tribunal so envisaged will have a permanent establishment and permanent office space and infrastructure so as to obviate with the need to set up a separate Tribunal for each water dispute, a time consuming process.

Dispute Resolution Committee

  • The Bill also proposes a Dispute Resolution Committee set up by the Central Government for amicably resolving inter-State water disputes within 18 months.
  • Any dispute that cannot be settled by negotiations would be referred to the tribunal for its adjudication.
  • The dispute so referred to the tribunal shall be assigned by the chairperson of the tribunal to a Bench of the tribunal for adjudication.
  • The Bill can also affect the composition of the members of various tribunals, and has a provision to have a technical expert as the head of the tribunal.
  • Currently all tribunals are staffed by members of the judiciary, nominated by the Chief Justice.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] Death Penalty provisions for Sexual offences against Children

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : POCSO Act, Definition of Child

Mains level : Preventing child abuse


News

Stringent punishments under POCSO Act

  • In a historic decision to protect the children from Sexual offences, the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has approved the Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual   Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
  • It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
  • The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.

Other amendments

  • An amendment has also been approved to Section 4 of the POCSO Act so as to increase the minimum punishment to ten years, from the existing seven years.
  • For ‘penetrative sexual assault’ of 16 to 17 year olds and if the child is below the age of 16 years the punishment extends to a minimum of 20 years.
  • The maximum term of life imprisonment in such cases has been retained.
  • Moreover, the definition of ‘sexual assault’ has now been expanded to include administration of hormones to children to make them appear more sexually mature for the sake of commercial sexual exploitation.

Why such move?

  • As per the last available data from the National Crime Records Bureau 2016 of child rape cases came up before the courts under the POCSO Act read with Indian Penal Code Section 376.
  • Less than three per cent cases ended in convictions, pointing to the need for better access to justice for all, and not just more stringent conviction in a small percentage of cases.

Impact

  • The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
  • It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity.
  • The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.

About POCSO Act

  • The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.
  • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as matter of paramount importance at every stage.
  • The act aims to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • The act is gender neutral.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[pib] Witness Protection Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Mandate of the scheme


News

  • Minister of State for Home Affairs informed about the scheme in a written reply to question in the Rajya Sabha.

Witness Protection Scheme

  • Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides for protection of witnesses based on the threat assessment and protection measures.
  • It includes protection/change of identity of witnesses, their relocation, installation of security devices at the residence of witnesses, usage of specially designed Court rooms, etc.
  • As per Article 141/142 of the Constitution, the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 endorsed in the said Judgment of the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts within the territory of India and enforceable in all States and Union Territories.

Other Provisions of the scheme

  1. Witness Protection Fund means the fund created for bearing the expenses incurred during the implementation of Witness Protection Order passed by the Competent Authority under this scheme;
  2. Witness Protection Order means an order passed by the Competent  Authority detailing the steps to be taken for ensuring the safety of witness from threats to his or his family member’s life, reputation or property.  *It also includes interim order, if any passed, during the pendency of Witness Protection Application;
  3. Witness Protection Cell means a dedicated Cell of State/UT Police or Central Police Agencies assigned the duty to implement the witness protection order. It shall be responsible for the security as per witness protection order.

Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness

  • Right to give evidence anonymously
  • Right to protection from intimidation and harm
  • Right to be treated with dignity and compassion and respect of privacy
  • Right to information of the status of the investigation and prosecution of the crime
  • Right to secure waiting place while at Court proceedings
  • Right to transportation and lodging arrangements

About Witness Protection Fund

  • The Scheme provides for a State Witness Protection Fund for meeting the expenses of the scheme.
  • This fund shall be operated by the Department/Ministry of Home under State/UT Government and shall comprise of the following:
  1. Budgetary  allocation  made  in  the  Annual  Budget  by  the State Government;
  2. Receipt of amount of costs imposed/ ordered to be deposited by the courts/tribunals in the Witness Protection Fund;
  3. Donations/ contributions from Philanthropist/ Charitable Institutions/ Organizations   and individuals permitted by the Government.
  4. Funds contributed under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[pib] Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nuclear Insurance Pool

Mains level : Protective measures against nuclear hazards


News

  • The Government has created an Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) in June 2015, a union minister informed in Lok Sabha.

Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool

  • M/s. General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC-Re), along with several other Indian Insurance Companies, have launched the Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) with a capacity of ₹1500 crore.
  • This aims to provide insurance to cover the liability against accidents as prescribed under Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act, 2010.
  • This has addressed issues related to Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act and had facilitated commencement of work in setting up new nuclear power projects.

Back2Basics

Nuclear Power in India

  • The present nuclear power capacity is 6780 MW comprising of 22 reactors.
  • There are 9 reactors with a capacity of 6700 MW (including 500 MW PFBR being implemented by BHAVINI) under construction.
  • The Government in 2017 has also accorded administrative approval and financial sanction of 12 nuclear power plants totaling to a capacity of 9000 MW.
  • On their progressive completion, the installed nuclear capacity is expected to reach 8180 MW by 2020 and 22480 MW by 2031.
Nuclear Energy

[op-ed snap] Turning down the heat

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Creating Carbon Sinks


CONTEXT

During the run-up to the Paris climate change meeting in 2015 (COP-21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, each country decided the level and kind of effort it would undertake to solve the global problem of climate change.

These actions were later referred to as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Enhancing green cover

  • India has yet to determine how its carbon sink objectives can be met.
  • In a recent study, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has estimated, along with the costs involved, the opportunities and potential actions for additional forest and tree cover to meet the NDC target.
  • Given that forest and green cover already show a gradual increase in recent years, one might use this increase as part of the contribution towards the NDC.
  • Or one might think of the additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent sink as having to be above the background or business-as-usual increase.

Ways to achieve sinks

  • The additional increase in carbon sinks, as recommended in this report, is to be achieved by the following ways: restoring impaired and open forests; afforesting wastelands; agro-forestry; through green corridors, plantations along railways, canals, other roads, on railway sidings and rivers; and via urban green spaces.
  • Close to three quarters of the increase (72.3 %) will be by restoring forests and afforestation on wastelands, with a modest rise in total green cover.
  • The FSI study has three scenarios, representing different levels of increase in forest and tree cover. For example, 50%, 60% or 70% of impaired forests could be restored.
  • The total increase in the carbon sink in these scenarios could be 1.63, 2.51 or 3.39 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030, at costs varying from about ₹1.14 to ₹2.46 lakh crore.
  • These figures show that the policy has to be at least at a medium level of increase to attain the stated NDC targets.

Natural forests

  •  Locking up the carbon from the atmosphere in trees, ground vegetation and soils is one of the safest ways with which to remove carbon.
  • If done correctly, the green cover increase will provide many other benefits: it will improve water quality, store water in wetlands, prevent soil erosion, protect biodiversity, and potentially provide new jobs.
  • It is  estimated that allowing land to be converted into forests naturally will sequester 42 times the carbon compared to land converted to plantation, or six times for land converted to agroforestry.

Restoration type is key

  • The most effective way is through natural forest regeneration with appropriate institutions to facilitate the process.
  • Vast monocultures of plantations are being proposed in some countries, including in India, but these hold very little carbon; when they are harvested, carbon is released as the wood is burned.
  • Besides, some of the trees selected for the plantations may rely on aquifers whose water becomes more and more precious with greater warming.
  • Such forms of green cover, therefore, do not mitigate climate change and also do not improve biodiversity or provide related benefits.
  • India, therefore, needs first to ensure that deforestation is curtailed to the maximum extent.
  • Second, the area allocated to the restoration of impaired and open forests and wastelands in the FSI report should be focussed entirely on natural forests and agroforestry.

Conclusion

  • While using a carbon lens to view forests has potential dangers, involving local people and planting indigenous tree varieties would also reduce likely difficulties.
  • Instead of plantations, growing food forests managed by local communities would have additional co-benefits. Once natural forests are established, they need to be protected.
  • Protecting and nurturing public lands while preventing their private enclosure is therefore paramount.
  • Active forest management by local people has a long history in India and needs to expand to meet climate, environment and social justice goals.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.