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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS FROM THE HINDU AND INDIAN EXPRESS 1-2 JUNE 2024

Journey to 2047

Topic: Economic Development Strategies for IndiaGeneral Studies Paper: GS Paper III - Economic DevelopmentOptional Subject: EconomicsEssay Topic: India's Development Journey

 

  • Current Context:

  • Recent global and domestic developments necessitate a clear roadmap for India’s growth.

  • The target is to become a developed country by 2047, 100 years after Independence.

  • As of now, India's per capita income is $2,500 (IMF, April 2024). To be developed, it should reach $13,845.

  • Growth Requirements:

  • To achieve the developed status, an annual growth rate of 6% is needed.

  • Fixed capital formation (GCF) needs to rise from 35% to 37% of GDP.

  • Essential to increase both private investment and public capital expenditures.

  • Key Strategies:

  • Investment:

  • Emphasis on raising both private and corporate investments.

  • Encourage higher private sector participation.

  • Technology and Employment:

  • Technological changes are reducing labor absorption per unit of output.

  • Increasing productivity but decreasing employment elasticity.

  • Important sectors for future growth include AI, machine learning, and robotics.

  • Trade Policy:

  • India must export more than just traditional goods, focusing on value-added services.

  • Addressing protectionism and ensuring competitiveness.

  • Inclusive Growth:

  • Distribute growth benefits equally.

  • Address poverty and income inequality.

  • Develop sectors to increase employment and income.

  • Global Comparisons:

  • Reference to China’s growth from 0.6% in 1970 to 19.1% in 2022.

  • Need for a similar strategic approach to industrialization and technological adoption.

  • Policy Recommendations:

  • Job Creation:

  • Technology adoption will need to be balanced with job creation.

  • Address potential increase in joblessness due to automation.

  • Social Welfare:

  • Focus on health, education, and poverty alleviation.

  • Ensure equitable growth distribution.

  • Strengthen social safety nets.

  • Challenges and Solutions:

  • Growth vs. Inequality:

  • High growth periods often coincide with rising inequality.

  • Policies must aim to mitigate adverse effects on income distribution.

  • Sectoral Focus:

  • Develop multi-dimensional export strategy.

  • Promote sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and services.

Background:

India’s aspiration to become a developed nation by 2047 builds on its historical economic reforms and strategic initiatives post-independence. The economic liberalization of the 1990s set the stage for significant growth, which now needs to be accelerated and made more inclusive. The emphasis is on balancing technological advancements with job creation, increasing investment rates, and ensuring equitable distribution of growth benefits. Lessons from global economies like China underline the importance of strategic industrial policies and the integration of new technologies to drive sustained economic development.

 

UPSC MAINS QUESTION-

 

1.     Question: Explain intra-generational and inter-generational issues of equity from the perspective of inclusive growth and sustainable development. (GS Paper III)

 

2.     Question: Discuss the role of technology in shaping India's economy. How can technological advancements contribute to inclusive growth and development? (GS Paper III)

 


Heat-baked Chennai can set an example for India


Topic: Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect and Climate Action in ChennaiGeneral Studies Paper: GS III (Environment and Ecology) UPSC Optional Subject: GeographyEssay Topics: Environmental Degradation and Urbanization

Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) in Chennai:

  • The year 2023 was the hottest year according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report.

  • Global average temperatures reached 1.45°C higher than pre-industrial levels, close to the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement.

  • Heatwaves are increasing in intensity and frequency, affecting urban areas like Chennai.

 

Impact of UHI:

  • Cities experience temperatures several degrees higher than surrounding rural areas, especially at night.

  • Concrete structures and asphalt trap heat, causing the "urban heat island" phenomenon.

  • UHI increases the temperature by 2°C to 4°C in Chennai, with parts of the city recording even higher temperatures.

  • Heat leads to discomfort, health issues, and increased energy consumption.

Mitigation and Adaptation Measures:

  • Green Areas and Urban Forests: Increasing green cover, parks, and urban forests can reduce temperatures and improve air quality.

  • Water Bodies: Lakes and water bodies help cool the environment.

  • Cool Roofs and Walls: Use of reflective materials and green roofs can decrease heat absorption.

  • Energy-efficient Buildings: Better insulated and ventilated buildings using green materials and air conditioning.

  • Public Transport and Non-motorized Transport: Reducing vehicle emissions by promoting public transport and non-motorized options.

Chennai Climate Action:

  • Chennai has adopted a Climate Action Plan, led by Dr. Raghunandan B., and supported by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and ICLEI.

  • The plan includes measures like increasing green cover, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable urban development.

Study and Findings by ICLEI:

  • Research by ICLEI looks at various UHI mitigation measures, including green roofs, urban forests, and cool materials.

  • Effective policies can reduce UHI impacts and support urban sustainability.

Case Studies:

  • Singapore: Uses urban forests and green areas effectively.

  • Shangha: Significant reduction in UHI through green initiatives.

  • Chennai: Specific UHI reduction strategies like green roofs, improved public transport, and water bodies.

Economic and Environmental Benefits:

  • Reducing UHI can lead to lower energy consumption and costs.

  • Improved urban environments enhance public health and quality of life.

Background

Urban Heat Island (UHI) is a phenomenon where urban areas experience higher temperatures than their rural surroundings due to human activities and infrastructure that retain heat. Chennai, like many cities, faces significant UHI effects, which are exacerbated by climate change. The city's climate action plan focuses on mitigating these effects through green infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable urban planning. Similar strategies have shown positive results in cities like Singapore and Shanghai, highlighting the potential benefits of comprehensive UHI mitigation efforts. Reducing UHI can contribute to achieving climate goals, improving urban living conditions, and fostering sustainable development.



What grade of coal does India produce?


General Studies Paper:

  • GS Paper 3 (Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

  • Subtopics: Energy, Environmental Pollution, Industrial Growth, Technology Interventions in the Aid of Farmers, Economics of Animal-Rearing.

UPSC Optional Subjects:

  • Geography

  • Subtopics: Mineral and Energy Resources, Environmental Geography, Indian Geography.

 

Why does it need imported coal? What is the status of the country's transition away from fossil fuel?

The story so far:

  • A report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, backed by George Soros, revealed that in 2014, Adani Group imported "high-quality coal" from Indonesia.

  • This coal, intended for Tamil Nadu's TANGEDCO, was alleged to be "dirty coal" sold at high prices.

High-grade and low-grade coal:

  • High and Low Quality: Coal quality is evaluated based on calorific value (energy content) and the amount of carbon and ash.

  • Gross Calorific Value (GCV): Higher GCV signifies higher energy efficiency and lower impurities.

  • Grades of Coal: Seven grades exist, with top quality around 7,000 kcal/kg and the lowest between 2,200-2,500 kcal/kg, as per the Coal Ministry.

Indian coal characteristics:

  • Historically, Indian coal has been rated high in ash content and lower in calorific value.

  • Thermal coal in India has a GCV of 3,500-4,000 kcal/kg compared to 6,000 kcal/kg of imported coal.

  • Indian coal's ash content exceeds 40%, affecting efficiency and pollution.

Ash content in Indian coal:

  • Ash content increases pollution and reduces energy efficiency.

  • Coal washing plants and other technologies are used to process and reduce ash content.

  • The government has recommended using imported coal with lower ash content.

  • The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) advised blending 10-15% imported coal with Indian coal for better efficiency.

Future of coal in India:

  • In 2020-21, India produced 716 million tonnes of coal and imported 215 million tonnes.

  • Despite a decrease in imports, coal-fired power capacity remains significant.

  • In 2023-24, India added 16.3 GW of coal-fired capacity, keeping coal's share above 50% since the 1960s.

What's next?

  • Reduction of ash content involves two approaches: washing plants to remove ash and moisture and gasification.

  • "Coking coal" is crucial for steel production and cannot be substituted easily.

  • High-ash coal is mixed with imported coal to improve efficiency.

  • Technologies like gasification and Coal India Ltd.'s plans to adopt better coal grades are part of the transition strategy.

 

 

Prelims Questions:

  1. Consider the following statements about Indian coal:

  2. Indian coal has high ash content.

  3. The Gross Calorific Value (GCV) of Indian coal is higher than imported coal.

  4. Indian coal is primarily used for steel production.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. (a) 1 only

  2. (b) 1 and 2 only

  3. (c) 2 and 3 only

  4. (d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution:

  1. Statement 1 is correct.

  2. Statement 2 is incorrect. The GCV of Indian coal is lower than that of imported coal.

  3. Statement 3 is incorrect. Indian coal is primarily used for power generation.

Answer: (a) 1 only

 

  1. With reference to the use of coal in India, consider the following statements:

  2. High-ash Indian coal is blended with low-ash imported coal for use in power plants.

  3. Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) is a technology used to remove ash content from coal.

  4. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has recommended blending up to 10-15% imported coal with Indian coal.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. (a) 1 only

  2. (b) 1 and 3 only

  3. (c) 2 and 3 only

  4. (d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution:

  1. Statement 1 is correct.

  2. Statement 2 is incorrect. FGD is used to remove sulfur oxides from flue gases, not ash content.

  3. Statement 3 is correct.

Answer: (b) 1 and 3 only

 


Is a Future Palestine State Possible?

General Studies Paper:

  • GS Paper II: International Relations

UPSC Optional Subject:

  • Political Science and International Relations

Essay Topics:

  • Globalization and International Relations

  • Historical struggles and future of nation-states

Summary:

The Story So Far:

  • Recent Developments:

  • October 7, 2023: Hamas attacks in Israel and Israel's counterattack on Gaza.

  • Global attention returns to the Palestinian issue.

  • Recognition of Palestinian state by several countries: Spain, Ireland, Norway.

  • Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, emphasize the need for a lasting peace solution.

Two-State Solution:

  • Concept:

  • Historical Palestine divided into a Jewish state (Israel) and an Arab state.

  • The idea originates from 1948 but is not fully realized.

  • A legitimate sovereign Palestinian state under UN Charter is yet to be established.

Origins:

  • 1930s British Mandate:

  • 1936: British government appointed the Peel Commission to investigate Arab-Jewish conflicts.

  • 1937: Peel Commission proposed a partition, but Arab leaders rejected it.

Post World War II Developments:

  • UN Involvement:

  • 1947: UN General Assembly proposed a partition plan.

  • 1948: Declaration of the State of Israel, subsequent Arab-Israeli conflicts, and Israeli control over more territory than proposed by the UN.

Achieving International Legitimacy:

  • 1967 Six-Day War:

  • Israel captured key territories: West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula.

  • Resulted in UN Security Council Resolution 242: Withdrawal from occupied territories in exchange for peace.

  • 1993 Oslo Accords:

  • Initiated by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat to create a framework for a Palestinian state, but it has not been fully realized.

Hurdles to Two-State Solution:

  • Political Assassinations and Leadership Changes:

  • Post-Oslo, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and subsequent leadership changes in Israel hindered progress.

  • Land and Settlements:

  • Over 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, complicating border establishment.

  • Security and Governance:

  • Israel's security concerns and Palestinian governance issues pose significant challenges.

Prospects and Challenges:

  • Israel's Security Concerns:

  • Security measures and political reluctance to cede territory.

  • Palestinian Political Divisions:

  • Internal divisions between Fatah and Hamas impact the peace process.

Background:

The Palestinian statehood question has been a central issue in Middle Eastern politics since the early 20th century, particularly after the establishment of Israel in 1948 and subsequent Arab-Israeli wars. The conflict intensified after Israel occupied Palestinian territories following the 1967 Six-Day War. Despite various peace efforts, including the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, a comprehensive solution remains elusive. The region continues to witness cyclical violence, political instability, and international diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the long-standing conflict.

Previous Years' UPSC Questions:

Prelims:

  1. Question: Which of the following statements is correct regarding the Oslo Accords?

  • (a) It was signed between Israel and Egypt.

  • (b) It aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

  • (c) It was mediated by the United Nations.

  • (d) It resulted in the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Answer: (b) It aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine.




Fresh Row on Mullaperiyar Dam

General Studies Paper:

  • GS Paper II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice, and International relations)

Relevant Optional Subject:

  • Geography, Environment and Ecology

Relevant Essay Topics:

  • Federalism in India

  • Inter-State Water Disputes

Summary:

The Story So Far:

  • Cancelled Meeting: The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) canceled a scheduled meeting on May 28. This meeting was to discuss Kerala's request for new Terms of Reference (ToR) for an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for a new dam at Mullaperiyar in Idukki district. Kerala officials, who traveled to New Delhi, were informed of the deferral.

Why Was the Meeting Called?

  • Development Related to the Dam: Kerala's move to get new ToR for constructing a new dam at the 128-year-old Mullaperiyar structure, located in Idukki and operated by Tamil Nadu, sparked Tamil Nadu's objections.

  • Kerala's Position: The state argues for the necessity of a new dam citing safety concerns and requests an extensive EIA. The government has nearly finalized the design and cost estimation of INR 7000 crore.

  • Tamil Nadu's Position: Tamil Nadu, relying on the dam for irrigation in its arid districts, opposed the move, asserting the dam's safety based on multiple expert committee reports. They also challenged the new ToR agenda at the EAC.

Historical Context:

  • Dam Usage and Legal Battles: Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been engaged in disputes over the dam since 1996.

  • Supreme Court Rulings: Tamil Nadu's objections to the EAC agenda and Kerala's requests for new ToR are rooted in previous Supreme Court rulings and the directives of various expert committees.

Background

The Mullaperiyar Dam, constructed in 1895 on the Periyar River, is a contentious issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu manages the dam and uses its water for irrigation and power generation in its southern districts. Kerala, concerned about the dam's safety due to its age and seismic activity in the region, has long advocated for constructing a new dam. This issue has seen multiple legal battles and expert committee reviews over the years. Tamil Nadu has consistently argued for the dam's safety, while Kerala emphasizes the potential risk to lives and properties downstream. The current dispute involves Kerala's request for a new EIA, which Tamil Nadu opposes, leading to the cancellation of a crucial







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