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G.S II - Govt Policies & Interventions

NITI Aayog’s Climate Index


What is the issue?

The weights attached to the six parameters of the index have skewed the rankings of States and need to be reworked.

What is SECI?

  • Objective- State Energy and Climate Index (SECI) is released by Niti Aayog to encourage healthy competition among states on different dimensions of the energy and climate sector.
  • Parameters- The State performance is evaluated on the basis of 27 key performing indicators covered under 6 broad parameters.
    • Discom performance
    • Access, affordability and reliability
    • Clean energy initiatives
    • Energy efficiency
    • Environmental sustainability
    • New initiatives
  • Ranking- SECI (Round I) ranks the States’ performance on these parameters and based on the composite SECI Round I score, the States and UTs are categorised into Front Runners, Achievers, and Aspirants.
  • The country-level scores of each parameter are calculated as an average of the State-wise score for their respective parameters.
  • The overall score for India works out to be 40.6.
  • Larger states- Gujarat, Kerala and Punjab are the top three performers, while the bottom three performers are Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • Smaller states- Goa, Tripura, and Manipur are the top performers, while Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are the bottom three states.
  • Union Territories- Chandigarh, Delhi, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu are the top performers, whereas Andaman and Nicobar, Jammu and Kashmir, and Lakshadweep are the bottom three performers.

seci

What are the lacunae in the index?

  • Conflict between SECI’s current design and core philosophy- Among the different parameters, Discoms performance is assigned a disproportionate weight (40%) compared to the other efforts made by States and UTs.
  • As a result, Gujarat tops the overall score among large States in SECI Round I list but it is not even among the top six for four out of six parameters.
  • It is imperative that the construction of the index is based on an objective rationale rather than motivated by subjective and extraneous considerations.
  • Revising the weights- There is an urgent need to rethink and revise the weights assigned to other parameters critical to reforming the current energy value chain.
  • The adoption of smart meters is the solution for reducing AT&C losses and for better targeting DBT schemes for reducing deadweight losses of Discoms.
  • Status quoist approach in energy management- States have exhibited low inertia in transitioning towards such futuristic Clean Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
  • Including indicators such as the State’s progress in implementing clean PPAs’ and their efforts to develop a battery ecosystem can nudge States to adopt them and help drive policy certainty.
  • Non-progressive nature- SECI is not progressive and fair to States’ making real contributions to the net-zero emissions goal.
  • The building sector consumes approximately 38% of India’s total annual primary energy demand but states that are forefront in implementing the Energy Conservation and Building Code 2017, do not even figure in the top 10 of the SECI list.
  • No consideration of “Just Transition”- SECI rankings indicate, that coal-rich States are the worst performers but international experience suggests that implementing Just Transition policies require long-term planning, implementation and engagement.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/is-niti-aayogs-climate-index-status-quoist/article65603286.ece
  2. https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2022-04/StateEnergy-and-ClimateIndexRoundI-10-04-202pdf
  3. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/energy-and-climate-index-gujarat-kerala-punjab-top-performing-states/article65311239.ece

G.S II - Polity

Handcuffing the Accused


What is the issue?

Recently, the Karnataka High Court passed a verdict on handcuffing, which is significant.

What is the High Court verdict about?

  • Circumstances- The Karnataka High Court has held that an accused who is arrested can normally not be handcuffed.
  • It is only under "extreme circumstances" (when there is possibility of the accused/ under trial prisoner escaping custody or causing harm to himself or causing harm to others) that handcuffing of an accused can be resorted to.
  • Reason- When there is such handcuffing, the arresting officer must record the reasons in the case diary and/or the relevant record.
  • Role of courts- It is the duty of the court to make inquiries with the person arrested as to whether he had been handcuffed or not and then approve or reject the reasons.
  • If a person is under the judicial custody of the court, the court’s permission is required for handcuffing except under emergent circumstances.
  • Use of body cameras- The Director General of Police shall also endeavour to make available body cameras to all the police officers entitled to arrest a person, so manner of arrest is recorded.
  • Training- A Standard Operating Procedure shall be prepared by the Director General of Police in this regard and suitable training to be provided to such officers.
  • Compensation- If there is a violation by the arresting officer in putting handcuffs on the petitioner, the petitioner would be eligible for compensation.

In what occasions can a person be legally handcuffed?

  • There can be three occasions when a person can be (legally) handcuffed
    • An accused on his arrest and before he is produced before the magistrate
    • An under-trial prisoner during transit from jail to the court and back
    • A convict being transported from jail to the court and back
  • The Supreme Court of India, in Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration, held that the only circumstance which validates handcuffing is when there is no other way of preventing the escape of a convict/an arrestee.

What is the issue with the compensation part?

  • It is an established principle that the relief of monetary compensation for infringement of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution is a remedy available in public law.
  • But, the issue is about who should pay the compensation.
  • Bombay High Court judgement- In State of Maharashtra vs Ravikant S. Patil (1991), the Bombay High Court held the Inspector of Police responsible for violation of Article 21, ordering him to pay ₹10,000 as compensation.
  • Supreme Court order- The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Bombay High Court and held that the police officer was not personally liable as he had acted in his official capacity.
  • Karnataka High Court judgement- The current judgment of the Karnataka High Court as far as payment of compensation by the police officer is concerned, does not appear to be in sync with the Supreme Court judgment.

What are the possible solutions in this regard?

  • A National Crime Records Bureau publication on ‘Crime in India- 2020’ shows that 810 cases of prisoner escape from police custody (against 931) in 2020.
  • These numbers are sufficient to substantiate the fact that the use of handcuffs is generally done to prevent escape and not to dehumanise criminals.
  • The Supreme Court, in the Ravikant S. Patil (supra) case, had said that the authorities concerned may, if they think it necessary, hold an inquiry and then decide on action against the police inspector.
  • Therefore, the right approach would be to initiate disciplinary action against the errant officer under service conduct rules, rather than to order the payment of compensation.
  • It would be appropriate for State governments to review the mobility of the police, the requirement of additional manpower and technical gadgets (such as body cameras) periodically.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/handcuffing-a-judicial-tap-and-the-long-arm-of-the-law/article6560347ece
  2. https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/karnataka-high-court-handcuffing-accused-extreme-circumstance-guidelines-compensation-202583

G.S III - Infrastructure

Boosting Indian Aviation Sector


What is the issue?

Policymakers ought to recognise the country’s untapped potential and work towards dismantling the many hurdles.

What is the significance of aviation sector?

India is the world's third-largest market in aviation sector.

  • Aviation is integral to equitable economic growth, for a country to be globally competitive and to change the situation of poverty and unemployment.
  • Passenger airlines and air cargo overcome geography and connect remote areas that are alienated from the mainstream.
  • They can drive investment deep into the country, giving people access to markets.
  • They also boost tourism, which is the largest employment generator in the unorganised sector.

What is the status of aviation sector in India?

  • Pre-economic reform period- India had only two airlines - Air India and Indian Airlines.
  • Post 1991 reforms- The reforms that opened up the aviation sector in 1991 and ended the licence raj and the monopoly of Indian Airlines and Air India changed the sector.
  • Numerous private sector airlines were given the licence to fly, but Jet Airways and Sahara, survived, resulting in cartelisation.
  • The concept of low cost airlines in India took shape in 2003 which overcame the cost barrier.
  • Sadly, Indian aviation has become ‘the sick man of India’.

What are the barriers in Indian aviation sector?

  • Per capita consumption of air tickets - The number of Indians who buy air tickets in 2019 is 140 million of which 35 million to 40 million frequent flyers form the bulk of ticket buyers.
  • It translates to less than 4% of the population who can afford air travel, placing India just alongside some poorer African countries, in terms of the per capita consumption of air tickets.
  • Factors affecting the growth of aviation sector- The growth of aviation has been affected by
    • Choking regulations
    • Tough entry barriers for new entrants
    • High fuel prices on account of sky high taxes
    • Inefficient public sector airports that pave the way for monopoly airports
  • Frequent and knee-jerk changes point to the absence of a long-term visionary strategic policy for the entire gamut of sectors in aviation.

How efficient are government schemes in the development of the airline sector?

  • Boosting entrepreneurship- Start-up India initiative was started with the objective of supporting entrepreneurs, building a robust startup ecosystem and transforming India into a country of job creators.
  • Regional connectivity- Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme aims to connect small and medium cities with big cities through air service.
  • Low cost airlines- UDAN plans to connect the underserved airports to key airports through flights that will cost Rs 2,500 for per hour flight.
  • Comprehensive development- The National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 aims to take flying to the masses and covers 22 areas of the Civil Aviation sector.

What reforms are needed?

  • Reforms in all sectors- It is critical to understand that for passenger airlines to grow, there have to be reforms in all areas of aviation - air cargo, airports, aviation fuel taxes and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO).
  • Updated laws- India’s Aircraft Act, 1934 and Aircraft Rules, 1937 need to be updated to keep pace with modern technology in aerospace, increasing costs to the industry and ultimately affecting passenger growth.
  • Overhaul DGCA - India’s statutory regulatory authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), needs to be modernised, well-staffed, motivated and incentivized.
  • Need for aviation professionals- There need to be aviation professionals in charge rather than the ubiquitous bureaucrat from the Indian Administrative Service.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation responsible for regulation of air transport services to/from/within India and for enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety and airworthiness standards.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/indian-aviation-needs-a-strong-and-steady-tailwind/article65603834.ece
  2. https://www.civilaviation.gov.in/sites/default/files/Udaan_Eng.pdf
  3. https://pib.gov.in/newsite/Printrelease.aspx?relid=146238
  4. https://www.dgca.gov.in/digigov-portal/?page=jsp/dgca/topHeader/aboutDGCA/aboutUsDetail.html

Prelim Bits

Prelim Bits 06-07-2022 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs


Faster Degradation of Poly Lactic Acid

Researchers have developed a novel method to degrade plastics. They found that adding sugar units to polymers increases their degradability when exposed to just ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

The Ultra Violet (UV) radiation has a wavelength of 10 nanometres (nm) to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays.

  • PLA - Created using lactic acid from the fermentation of sugars, Poly Lactic Acid (PLA), is a renewable, sustainable alternative to polymers made from crude oil.
  • PLA is used in everything from throwaway cups and teabags to three dimensional (3D) printing and packaging.
  • Although PLA is sometimes advertised as biodegradable, it only dissolves under industrial composting conditions of high temperatures and humidity, which are not possible in residential compost heaps.
  • It is also not easily degradable in natural environments, such as soil or the ocean.
  • New research - The research demonstrated that incorporating as little as 3% of sugar polymer units into PLA can cause it to degrade by 40% in only 6 hours when exposed to UV light.
  • Most PLA plastics are made up of long polymer chains which can be difficult for water and enzymes to break down.
  • This new method weakens the plastic, breaking it down into smaller polymer chains that are then more sensitive to hydrolysis.
  • This could make the plastic much more biodegradable in the natural environment, for example in the ocean or in a garden compost heap.
  • The technology is compatible with existing plastic manufacturing processes, so it may be adopted quickly by the plastics industry.

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/researchers-develop-method-that-make-plastics-more-degradable-under-uv-light/article6560221ece
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220524110646.htm

Critical Minerals

India and Australia are expanding their strategic ties to critical minerals in a bid to create a bulwark against China’s dominance over raw materials ubiquitous in military and commercial applications.

India-Australia critical minerals investment partnership envisages joint investment for viable lithium and cobalt projects in Australia, which is critical for India’s transition towards clean energy ambitions.

  • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies.
  • Generally, these minerals have important uses and no viable substitutes, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.
  • Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.

Most Common Critical Minerals

Purpose

Graphite, lithium and cobalt

To make EV batteries

Rare earths

To make magnets

Silicon

To make computer chips and solar panels

  • Reason for criticality - As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change.
  • They are critical as the world is fast shifting from a fossil fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system.
  • Risk - Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.
  • But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain.
  • Many times the complex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.

Reference

  1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/india-oz-bring-critical-minerals-into-strategic-ties/articleshow/92642824.cms
  2. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-are-critical-minerals-the-centerpiece-of-a-new-india-australia-collaboration-8010268/
  3. https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/faq/what-are-critical-minerals-and-why-are-they-important

Nairobi Flies

Around 100 students of a college in East Sikkim have reported skin infections after coming in contact with Nairobi flies.

  • Also known as Kenyan flies or dragon bugs, the Nairobi flies are native to East Africa.
  • These flies are small, beetle-like insects that belong to two species - Paederus eximius and Paederus sabaeus.
  • These flies are not native to India but can overwhelm new areas in search of breeding grounds and ample food supply.
  • They thrive in areas with high rainfall.
  • Like most insects, the beetles are attracted by bright light.
  • Pederin - These flies do not bite, but if disturbed while sitting on anyone’s skin, they release a potent acidic substance that causes burns.
  • This acidic substance is called pederin, and can cause irritation if it comes in contact with the skin, leading to lesions or unusual marks or coloring on the skin.
  • The skin begins to heal in a week or two, but some secondary infections can occur, especially if the victim scratches the irritated skin.
  • Outside Africa, outbreaks have happened in India, Japan, Israel, and Paraguay in the past.
  • Protection - Sleeping under mosquito nets can help.
  • If a fly lands on a person, it should be gently brushed off, and should not be disturbed or touched to reduce the chances of it releasing pederin.
  • The area where the fly sits should be washed with soap and water.
  • If they are squelched and end up leaving toxic fluids on the skin, care should be taken that unwashed hands do not touch any other part of the body, particularly the eyes.

Reference

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-are-nairobi-flies-which-are-causing-disease-in-sikkim-8010813/
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/100-students-at-sikkim-college-infected-by-nairobi-flies/articleshow/92673938.cms
  3. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/100-students-in-sikkim-suffer-severe-skin-infections-due-to-nairobi-flies-3129147

Compact Total Irradiance Monitor

NASA will dispatch a shoebox-sized satellite called the Compact Total Irradiance Monitor (CTIM) to measure the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) or all the Earth-directed energy coming from the Sun.

  • TSI - Total solar irradiance is defined as the amount of radiant energy emitted by the Sun over all wavelengths that fall each second on 11 sq ft (1 sq m) outside the earth's atmosphere.
  • TSI is a major component of the Earth’s radiation budget that describes the overall balance between incoming and outgoing solar energy.
  • Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases trap increasing amounts of solar energy within the atmosphere.
  • That increase is what causes climate change and subsequently rising sea levels and severe weather.
  • Missions like the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment and instruments like CERES from NASA have helped climate scientists maintain an unbroken record of TSI going back the last 40 years.
  • The unbroken nature of this record helps detect small fluctuations in the amount of solar radiation Earth receives during the solar cycle while emphasising the impact GHG emissions have on Earth’s climate.
  • CTIM - The Compact Total Irradiance Monitor (CTIM) will help scientists understand how that energy influences our planet’s severe weather, climate change and other global forces.
  • The CTIM is the smallest satellite ever to do this task.
  • Reducing a satellite’s size will reduce the cost and complexity of deploying that satellite into low-Earth orbit.
  • CTIM has a novel bolometer (radiation detector), which is made of miniscule carbon nanotubes arranged vertically on a silicon wafer, the material absorbs 99.995% of incoming light.
  • This means that CTIM’s two bolometers together take up less space than the face of a rupee coin. This allowed engineers to develop a tiny instrument fit for gathering TSI data from a small CubeSat platform.
  • CSIM - The Compact Spectral Irradiance Monitor (CSIM) used the same bolometers to successfully explore variability within bands of light present in sunlight.
  • In the future, NASA envisions merging CTIM and CSIM into one compact tool that can both measure and dissect solar radiation.

Reference

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/nasa-ctim-satellite-total-solar-irradiance-climate-change-8010659/
  2. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/products/climate-data-records/total-solar-irradiance

State Ranking Index for NFSA 2022

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has released the 1st edition of the State Ranking Index for NFSA 2022.

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 aims to provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food at affordable prices to people.

  • The “State ranking Index for NFSA” attempts to document the status and progress of implementation of NFSA and various reform initiatives across the country, post consultation with states.
  • It highlights the reforms undertaken by the States and UTs and create a cross-learning environment and scale-up reform measures by all states and union territories.
  • The current version of the Index measures the effectiveness of NFSA implementation majorly through operations and initiatives under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • The Index denotes only the efficiency of TPDS operations, it does not reflect the level of hunger, if any or malnutrition, or both.
  • Pillars -The Index for ranking the states and UTs is built on 3 key pillars which covers the end-to-end implementation of NFSA through TPDS.
  • These pillars are:
    1. NFSA - Coverage, targeting and provisions of the Act,
    2. Delivery platform, and
    3. Nutrition initiatives.
  • Findings - Amongst the General Category States, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have topped the ranking of States for implementation of the NFSA for the year 2022.
  • Among the Special Category states/UTs (North-eastern States, Himalayan States, and Island States), Tripura stood first followed by Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim respectively.
  • Further, among the 3 UTs where Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) - Cash is operational, Dadra and Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu topped.
  • Related Links - National Food Security Act, 2013

Reference

  1. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1839388
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/odisha-tops-state-ranking-for-implementation-of-national-food-security-act/article65602447.ece
  3. https://indianexpress.com/article/delhi/odisha-tops-first-national-food-security-ranking-tripura-best-among-smaller-states-8010129/

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