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03 April, 2020

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-III Core Sector data and IIP (Index of Industrial Production) Economic Issues
Lifeline Udan flights launched and COVID-19 Economic Issues
UNFCCC and Climate change analysis
Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-3 Economic Issues
Impact of Lockdown on Banks Economic Issues
PT Pointer Agasthyavanam Biological Park
Operation Sanjeevani International Relations
GS-III : Economic Issues
Core Sector data and IIP (Index of Industrial Production)

Core Sector Growth at 5.5%

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III-Economic data

According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the eight core sector industries recorded a growth of 5.5% in February, 2020 which is highest in 11-months.

Key Points

  • This spike is because of growth in refinery products, electricity, fertiliser, cement and coal production.
  • However, crude oil, natural gas, and steel recorded negative growth rate in February.
  • This was the fourth consecutive month when the index of eight core industries reported growth.
  • The outlook may not be very bright for March 2020, as the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has disrupted the production process in the country and globally.

Core Sector Industries

  • The eight core sector industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity
  • The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
  • The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.

CORE INDUSTRIES AND WEIGHTAGE 

Industry                                                          Weight (In percentage)

Petroleum & Refinery production                  28.04

Electricity generation                                     19.85

Steel production                                              17.92

Coal production                                              10.33

Crude Oil production                                      8.98

Natural Gas production                                  6.88

Cement production                                         5.37

Fertilizers production                                      2.63

Index of Industrial Production

  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index that indicates the performance of various industrial sectors of the Indian economy.
  • It is calculated and published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) every month. (PT SHOT)
  • It is a composite indicator of the general level of industrial activity in the economy.

Official Definition – As given by CSO

“It is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.”

IIP – Explanation

  • This index gives the growth rates of different industry groups of the economy over a specified time period.
  • The industry groups that it measures are classified under the following:
    • Broad sectors like manufacturing, mining and electricity.
    • Use-based sectors like capital goods, basic goods, intermediate goods, infrastructure goods, consumer durables and consumer non-durables.
  • The eight core industries of India represent about 40% of the weight of items that are included in the IIP. The Eight Core Sectors/Industries are:
    • Electricity
    • Steel
    • Refinery products
    • Crude oil
    • Coal
    • Cement
    • Natural gas
    • Fertilisers
  • The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) recommends including quarrying, gas steam and air-conditioning supply, sewerage, water supply, waste management and remediation in the broad sectors. But this is not done due to the problems in data availability on a monthly basis for all these sectors. So, the data has been restricted to mining, electricity and manufacturing.

Index of Industrial Production Importance

  • The Index is used by government agencies and departments such as the Finance Ministry and the RBI for policy making.
  • It is also used for estimating the Gross Value Added of the manufacturing sector on a quarterly basis.
  • In addition, the Index is also used by business analysts, financial experts and the private industry for multiple purposes.
  • It is the only measure on the physical volume of production.
  • It is also extremely useful for the projection of advance GDP estimates.

IIP Latest Change

  • The latest change in the IIP was made in 2017.
  • Any index is to be subject to changes and modifications like changing the base year, including more items in the basket, etc.
  • The new and current base year for IIP is 2011 – 12. The previous base year was 2004 – 05.
  • Another change was the inclusion and deletion of certain items in the data series.
  • Some items introduced:
    • Refined palm oil
    • Surgical accessories
    • Cement clinkers
  • Some items removed:
    • Chewing tobacco
    • Tooth brush
    • Calculators
    • Fans
    • Watches
    • Pens
  • This is the 9th base year revision ever since IIP was first published in 1950. The first base year was 1937.

IIP 2004-05 covers 682 items!

We have already seen that IIP measures industrial growth. It measures the short term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products. The current IIP basket covers 682 representative items.

  • Mining (61 items) – 14.16% weight
  • Manufacturing (620 items) – 75.53% weight
  • Electricity (1 item) – 10.32% weight.

Note: Even though United Nations Statistics Division suggests to also include Gas steam, Air conditioning supply, Water supply, Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation activities in the IIP, due to data constraints Indian IIP only covers three sectors – mining, manufacturing and electricity. These three are called broad sectors.

Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) Vs Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

The Industrial Output data is captured and monitored, primarily, through two statistical activities – Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) and Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

ASI

  • ASI is calculated on an annual basis
  • The ASI is conducted under the Collection of Statistics Act, since 1959.
  • The objective is to obtain comprehensive and detailed statistics of industrial sector with the objective of estimating the contribution of registered manufacturing industries as a whole to the national income.
  • ASI data is based on the actual book of accounts and other documents maintained by registered factories.

IIP

  • IIP is calculated on a monthly basis.
  • Data for IIP are collected by various source agencies under different Acts/statutes.
  • The IIP is compiled on the basis of data sourced from 16 ministries/ administrative departments.

Industry vs Manufacturing

Though often interchangeably used, the terms industry and manufacturing are different. The term industry is comprehensive and may be considered as a superset of manufacturing. Industry, in general, refers to an economic activity that is concerned with the production of goods, extraction of minerals and sometimes even for the provision of services. Thus we have iron and steel industry (production of goods), coal mining industry (extraction of coal) and tourism industry (service provider).

So what is manufacturing then?

Manufacturing: Production of goods in large quantities after processing from raw materials to more valuable products is called manufacturing.

Industry = Manufacturing + Mining + Electricity + much more.

Note: The share of Manufacturing in the GDP of India – 17%.

The share of Mining, quarrying, electricity and gas in the GDP of India – 10%.

Total share of Industrial Sector = 27%

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Lifeline Udan flights launched and COVID-19

3rd April

Lifeline Udan flights launched and COVID-19

As a part of curbing the adverse impact of COVID 19, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) launched Lifeline Udan flights on March 26, 2020 for movement of medical and essential supplies across India. Over a 6 days period i.e. till March 31, 2020, 74 flights have been operated which had covered an aerial distance of over 70,000 km to transport 37.63 tonnes of medical cargo, out of which more than 22 tonnes was transported on March 31, 2020.

  • The flight operators include Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers. It should be noted that out of 74 flights, 56 have been operated by the Air India Group.Air India also collaborated with Indian Air Force (IAF) to carry consignments forLadakh, Dimapur, Imphal, Guwahati and Port Blair.
  • The objective of these flights is to transport medical essentials to India’s remote corners in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

International Measures:

MoCA and Air India are formulating plans with Chinese authorities to initiate a cargo air-bridge between India and China for critical medical supplies from 3rd April 2020 onwards.
About MoCA:

Union Minister– Hardeep Singh Puri

Secretary– Pradeep Singh Kharola

 

UDAN

UDAN is a regional connectivity scheme spearheaded by the Government of India (GoI). The full form of UDAN is ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik’ and aims to develop smaller regional airports to allow common citizens easier access to aviation services. It is one of the new policies implemented since June 2016. 

Objectives of the Regional Connectivity Scheme

  • Operationalization and development of 425 underserved or unserved airports in the country
  • Boost inclusive economic development by providing faster connectivity
  • Development of air transport infrastructure in remote areas aiding job growth

UDAN Scheme

This scheme is a part of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) and is funded jointly by the GoI and the state governments. The following are its salient features:

  • The scheme duration is for 10 years
  • Airlines participating in UDAN are selected through a competitive bidding process
  • The Central government will provide the following:
    • Subsidy to cover Value Gap funding (VGF) for participating airlines
    • Concessional GST on tickets booked using the scheme
    • Codesharing for flights under the policy
  • State Governments will extend the following measures:
    • GST reduction to 1% for 10 years
    • Coordination with oil companies to facilitate refuelling facilities
    • Provide land for airport and ancillary development
    • Trained security personnel
    • Utilities at subsidised rates
    • 20% of VGF
  • Airport operators such as AAI will provide the following concessions:
    • No parking, landing and storage charges at participating airports
    • Nil TNLC (Terminal Navigation Landing Charges)
    • Allow ground handling by the airline selected through the bidding process
    • RNCF (Route Navigation and Facilitation Charges) will be discounted to 42.4% of normal rates by the Airports Authority of India

Value Gap Funding is not provided to cargo airlines. All other terms and conditions remain the same as passenger airlines. The fares are graded based on distance and flight hours for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing services. The RCS subsidy is funded by a levy of Rs 5000 per flight on major routes. Flights regulated under this policy framework can be booked from the UDAN website and major travel portals by passengers.

What is International UDAN Scheme?

  • International UDAN is an extension of the domestic UDAN scheme.
  • The plan is to connect India’s smaller cities directly to some key foreign destinations in the neighbourhood.
  • The government’s intention for such direct air connectivity was that it would promote the development of the city and the State by attracting tourists and business people to travel via smaller towns, instead of their flying through the metros.
  • The Open Skies policy can be exercised here, wherein India and other Asian countries which allow direct and unlimited flights to and from these nations to 18 Indian destinations
  • Since these routes were untested, the airlines could be understandably reluctant to ply them.
  • To encourage them to participate, the government offers a subsidy in the form of pre-decided payout per seat.
  • Airlines are required to bid on the number of passenger seats per flight for which such support is required.

Comment on the challenges faced in the implementation of the UDAN scheme.

  • Some states are reluctant on giving up the Tax Concessions on Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) and other financial incentives that might attract different airlines to operate in those regions of the state that are underdeveloped.
  • Since airports occupy vast areas, acquiring land is not easy. Land scarcity followed by huge capital are some issues that are faced.
  • Policy reluctance due to financial non-viability of the models to connect remote areas.
  • The airline industry is known for its cut-throat competitiveness and capital intensive nature. This discourages them to start operations in areas where the passenger traffic is low due to low profitability.
  • Another major challenge us gathering funds for Viability Gap Funding (VGF)

 

UDAN 4.0

UDAN 1.0

  • Under this phase, 5 airlines companies were awarded 128 flight routes to 70 airports (including 36 newly made operational airports)

UDAN 2.0

  • In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced 73 underserved and unserved airports.
  • For the first time, helipads were also connected under phase 2 of UDAN scheme.

UDAN 3.0

  • Key Features of UDAN 3 included:
    • Inclusion of Tourism Routes under UDAN 3 in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism.
    • Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes.
    • Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN.

UDAN 4.0 seeks to offer priority routes connecting Bilaspur and Ambikapur airports in Chhattisgarh.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III :
UNFCCC and Climate change analysis

United Nation’s COP 26 climate change summit postponed till 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

NOTE: Please refer PT KUNJI SECTION for REVISE ENVIRONMENT IN 45 MINUTES BOOKLET.

The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was planned to take place from 9-19 November 2020, in Glasgow, Scotland in the United Kingdom (UK) has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.The date and location for the same is unspecified. Pre-COP and ‘Youth for the Climate‘ event were also postponed supposed to be held in Italy.

  • This decision has been taken by the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC after discussion with the UK and Italian partners.
  • It should be noted that around 30,000 people, including 200 world leaders, had been due to attend the 10-day conference for crucial talks regarding rising global temperatures. Currently, the focus of countries is on saving lives and fighting COVID-19.

About UNFCC:

Establishment– 1992

Headquarter– Bonn, Germany

Executive Secretary– Patricia Espinosa

 

About UNFCCC

  • The UNFCCC, signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference
  • The UNFCCC entered into force on March 21, 1994, and has been ratified by 197 countries.

The WMO and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, to assess the magnitude and timing of changes, estimate their impacts, present strategies for how to respond and to provide an authoritative source of up-to-date interdisciplinary knowledge on climate change.

Objective

  • According to Article 2, the Convention’s ultimate objective is “to achieve, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
  • This objective is qualified in that it “should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”.

Institutional Arrangements

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP)
    • Article 7.2 defines the COP as the “supreme body” of the Convention, as it is its highest decision-making authority. The climate change process revolves around the annual sessions of the COP.
  • COP President and Bureau
    • The office of the COP President normally rotates among the five United Nations regional groups. The President is usually the environment minister of his or her home country. S/he is elected by acclamation immediately after the opening of a COP session. Their role is to facilitate the work of the COP and promote agreements among Parties.
    • The work of the COP and each subsidiary body is guided by an elected Bureau. To ensure continuity, it serves not only during sessions, but between sessions as well.
  • Subsidiary Bodies (SBs)
    • The Convention establishes two permanent subsidiary bodies (SBs), namely the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), by Article 9, and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), by Article 10. These bodies advise the COP.
    • The SBSTA’s task is to provide the COP “with timely advice on scientific and technological matters relating to the Convention”.
    • The SBI’s task is to assist the COP “in the assessment and review of the effective implementation of the Convention”
  • The Secretariat
    • The secretariat, also known as the Climate Change Secretariat, services the COP, the SBs, the Bureau and other bodies established by the COP.
  • Other Bodies
    • Other bodies have been set up by the COP to undertake specific tasks. These bodies report back to the COP when they complete their work
    • COP 1 established two ad hoc groups to conduct negotiations on specific issues.
    • COP 11 established the “Dialogue” to exchange experiences and analyse strategic approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change.

 

Timeline of Important Events

1979    First World Climate Conference (WCC)

1988    IPCC established

1990    In November IPCC and second WCC call for global treaty on climate change and in December UN General Assembly Negotiations on a Framework Convention Begin.

1992    The text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is adopted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

1994    UNFCCC enters into force

1995    COP 1 (Berlin, Germany)

1996    August: The UNFCCC secretariat relocates from Geneva to its current home in Bonn(Germany), paving the way for the city to become an international sustainability hub and home to 18 UN organizations.

1997    COP 3 (Kyoto, Japan): Kyoto Protocol adopted- The Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets.

1998    Buenos Aires Plan of Action

2001    COP 6-2(second part of 6th COP): The COP 6-2 took place from 16 to 27 July 2001 in Bonn, Germany. A major breakthrough is achieved at the second part of the sixth Conference of the Parties meeting in Bonn, with governments reaching a broad political agreement on the operational rulebook for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

2001    COP 7 (Marrakesh, Morocco): Resulted in the Marrakesh Accords, setting the stage for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. This formalized the agreement on operational rules for International Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation along with a compliance regime and accounting procedures.

2002    COP 8 (New Delhi, India) Delhi Declaration: The Delhi Declaration focuses on the development needs of the poorest countries and the need for technology transfer for mitigating climate change.

2005    (February 16): Entry of Kyoto Protocol into force with the Russian Federation ratification to the Kyoto Protocol, sealing its entry into force.

2005    COP11/CMP1 (December): The first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP 1) takes place in Montreal.

2006    In January the Clean Development Mechanism, a key mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, opens for business. The CDM is one of the Flexible Mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol that provides for emissions reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs) which may be traded in emissions trading schemes.

2007    COP13: Parties agreed on the Bali Road Map and Bali action plan, which charted the way towards a post-2012 outcome. The Plan has five main categories: shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.

2008    COP 14, Poznan (Poland): The launch of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol and The Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer.

2009    COP15 (Copenhagen): Copenhagen Accord drafted. Developed countries pledge up to USD 30 billion in fast-start finance for the period 2010-2012.

2010    COP 16 (Cancun): Resulted in the Cancun Agreements, a comprehensive package by governments to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change. The Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Cancun Adaptation Framework are established.

2011    COP 17 (Durban): Governments commit to a new universal climate change agreement by 2015 for the period beyond 2020.(Resulted in the Paris Agreement of 2015)

2012    COP18/CMP8 (Doha): The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol is adopted. COP18 also launched a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

2013    COP19/CMP9 (Warsaw) Key decisions adopted include: Further advancing the Green Climate Fund and Long-Term Finance, the Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus and the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.

2015    COP 21 (Paris): Paris Agreement adopted. It aims: To keep global temperatures "well below" 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and "endeavor to limit" them even more, to 1.5C. Rich countries should help poorer nations by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy. The agreement requires rich nations to maintain a $100bn a year funding pledge beyond 2020.

2016    COP22 (Marrakech): A crucial outcome of the Marrakech climate conference was, to move forward on writing the rule book of the Paris Agreement. Launched the Marrakech Partnership for Climate Action.

2017    COP23, Bonn (Germany): Countries continued to negotiate the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards. First set of negotiations since the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump, announced its intention earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris deal. It was the first COP to be hosted by a small-island developing state with Fiji taking up the presidency, even though it was being held in Bonn.

2018    COP 24, Katowice (Poland): Poland held the Presidency of the Climate Convention for the third time. COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Important Outcome of Summit

  • Paris Rulebook: The COP-24 finalized a “rulebook” to operationalise 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • The rulebook set out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions describing their domestic climate actions, mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • The rulebook covers areas such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emissions, contributions to climate finance, what rules should apply to voluntary market mechanisms, such as carbon trading etc.
  • The rulebook has addressed some concerns about the opaqueness of climate financing, such as, developed nations will have to provide hard data on the sources of future financial flows.
    • Climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing—drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing.
    • It seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.
    • The UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement call for financial assistance from developed countries to developing and less developed countries in accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”.
    • Under Paris Agreement, developed countries have committed to provide $100 billion annually from 2020 for dealing with climate change.
  • The rulebook describes which loans, concessions and grants can be classified as Climate finance, how they should be accounted for, and the kind of information about them needed to be submitted.
  • The modalities and procedures for Monitoring and Progress Report System proposal (MPR) to (INDC) were also discussed.

Issues in Conference

  • Disagreement on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report: The 1.5°C Report, produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, was not acknowledged as an evidence-based cause for alarm by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
  • No ambitious action promised: The absence of any indication towards increasing “ambition” of climate actions, so as to rein in temperature rise at 1.5°c at a faster pace, was one major disappointment of the Katowice conference.
  • Issue of Equity: Provisions did not reflect the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities. Poorer nations vulnerable to climate change also wanted more clarity on how an already agreed $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 will be provided.
    • The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities holds that although all countries are responsible for the development of global society, each has a different set of capabilities that they can contribute to this project.
    • It recognizes the historical correlation between higher levels of development and a greater contribution to the degradation of global environmental resources by developed countries and enables the sharing of responsibility accordingly.
  • Climate Finance: No roadmap adopted for the mobilisation of funds till 2020, no specific process has been initiated for fixing the long-term goals of finance by 2025, which is a legal mandate of the Paris Agreement.
    • No clear guarantees could be obtained from the developed countries to even report their financial commitments through an international process.
    • The language under the provision related to climate financing is ambiguous allowing countries to report the value of loans (which are to be repaid to lenders) as climate finance, rather than only the grant portion of the total.
  • Market Mechanism: The conference could not reach a consensus on voluntary market mechanisms. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement talks about setting up a market mechanism for trading of carbon emissions. An emissions trading system already exists under the Kyoto Protocol, though it has become ineffective over the last few years and is meant to end with the end of Kyoto Protocol in 2020.
    • Market-based mechanisms provide flexible instruments reducing the costs of meeting emissions targets. Emissions trading systems, Joint Implementation (JI) mechanism and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established under the Kyoto Protocol are market-based mechanisms.
    • CDM allows a developed country with an emission-reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in any of those developing countries Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
    • The countries which are unable to reduce their emissions in their business in a cost-effective manner in their country, they can invest in clean projects in developing countries. (Joint Implementation).
  • Carbon Credits: Developing countries like China, India, and Brazil argued that their accumulated unused carbon credits should be considered valid in the new market mechanism.
    • In the recent years, as several countries quit Kyoto Protocol, and no country was feeling compelled to meet its 2020 emission reduction targets, there has been virtually no demand for carbon credits. As a result, developing countries like China, India and Brazil have accumulated huge amounts of unused carbon credits.
    • The developed countries questioned the authenticity of the unused carbon credits, pointing to weak verification mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. The discussion over carbon markets is deferred to the next year.

Note: Carbon Credit-A carbon credit is a permit or certificate allowing the holder to emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. Carbon trading involves trading of carbon one of the market-based mechanisms set up under Kyoto Protocol.

COP25: The prime objective of the conference is to complete the rule-book to the 2015 Paris Agreement that will become effective in 2020 to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (comes to an end in 2020).
The issues like the creation of new carbon markets, emission reduction targets, country’s individual targets, etc. remained unresolved during COP24 at Katowice (Poland) 2019. Thus the rulebook under the Paris Agreement could not be finalized.

  • The summit will also discuss the functioning of international emissions trading systems, compensation for poor countries to deal with rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.
  • It will consider the Annual Emissions Gap Report, produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and a series of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    • Both the reports summarise that the goal of keeping average temperatures within 1.5°C from pre-industrial times is “on the brink of becoming impossible.'' As the overall emissions are still increasing worldwide.
  • The processes and methods of reporting information about climate change would be fixed during the summit. Specifically, the developing countries will try to ensure that there are greater appreciation and recognition of the issue of loss and damage due to climate change.
    • There is a demand to institute a mechanism to compensate countries that suffer major losses due to climate change-induced events like cyclones or floods.
  • It puts into efforts for committing to a long-term action plan to fight climate change.
    • So far only 71 countries, most of them small emitters, have committed themselves to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

India’s Agenda

  • India is unlikely to announce any enhanced targets during the summit.
  • India’s current efforts are already much more compared to even rich and developed countries. Thus, India will reiterate its stand for ”Common but Differentiated Responsibilities”.
     
    • Developed countries are major contributors to climate change and they are doing proportionately less, especially when it comes to providing finance and technology to the less developed world.

Shortcomings

  • Non-inclusive: Most scientists agree the most dangerous environmental air pollutants today are microscopic particulates that come from car engines and combustion-based power plants, but these pollutants are largely ignored by the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Slow progress: It took a long time for COP to bring Russia to agree into participating in the Kyoto Protocol. (until 2005)
  • UNFCCC failed to persuade USA to ratify the Kyoto protocol thereby keeping one of the largest emitter of greenhouse gases away from commitments.
  • Unsustainable targets: The world reached at almost 1degree Celsius warming post industrialization and the Paris contributions are not enough to maintain 2 degree Celsius levels.
  • Unsatisfactory Response: Many countries argued for a tougher target of 1.5C - including leaders of low-lying countries that face unsustainable sea levels rises in a warming world.
  • Financial Constraints: The agreement requires rich nations to maintain a $100bn a year funding pledge beyond 2020, which is not enough as highlighted by several pacific island countries.
  • Non-binding agreement: The US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, citing, that the deal punished" the US and would cost millions of American jobs”, has created new barriers and more pressure on rest of the nations in achieving the targets of Paris agreement.
    • As part of the US withdrawal, USA has stopped the payment of the extra $2bn that had been promised in to the Green Climate Fund.
  • No enforcement mechanism: Under the Paris agreement, each country determines, plans, and reports its own efforts to mitigate global warming. The only penalty for non-compliance is a so-called “name and shame” — or “name and encourage” — system whereby countries that fall out of compliance are called out and encouraged to improve.

Achievements

  • Kyoto protocol only required wealthy nations to cut emissions, which was a bone of contention; however this anomaly was corrected with the signing of Paris agreement in 2015.
  • UNFCCC initiatives helped create Public awareness regarding climate change, which is much higher today than in the late 90s.
  • Although climate science in the late 90s was certainly strong enough—to negotiate an international treaty, it is hard to deny that the scientific understanding of the climate crisis has improved considerably over the past two decades in which UNFCCC played a significant role.
  • UNFCCC has enabled planning and implementation of concrete adaptation activities under the National Adaptations Programme of Action (NAPAs) and the Nairobi work programme.
  • UNFCCC helped create innovative ideas in mitigating climate change like the Clean Development mechanism (CDM) under which developing country’s projects that reduce emissions earn credits that can be sold to countries or companies with a commitment to reduce emissions.
  • Since the establishment of UNFCCC national governments have encouraged and increased cooperation on the development and transfer of technology.
  • UNFCCC efforts support the developing countries in combating climate change by providing a platform for finance, technology transfers, discussions, global partnerships, etc.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-3

Initiatives to Fight Coronavirus – Part-3

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy and Health

I. Geo-fencing app will be used to locate quarantine violators

Context:

The Centre is using powers under the Indian Telegraph Act to fetch information from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 cases across the country.

COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS):

  • The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has shared a standard operating procedure (SOP) with all telecom service providers regarding the application called COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS).
  • The government has tested this application which triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location.
  • The CQAS will prepare a list of mobile numbers, segregating them on the basis of telecom service providers, and the location data provided by the companies will be run on the application to create geo-fencing.
  • The “geo-fencing” is accurate by up to 300 m.

What is Geo-fencing? (PT SHOT) S&T

  • A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area.
  • Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.

How does the application work?

  • The system will collate phone data, including the device’s location, on a common secured platform and alert the local agencies in case of a violation by COVID-19 patients under watch or in isolation.
  • It is said that the location information is received periodically over a secure network for the authorised cases with due protection of the data received.

Details:

  • The States have been asked to seek the approval of their Home Secretaries under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for the specified mobile phone numbers to request the DoT to provide information by email or SMS in case of violation of “geo-fencing”.
  • The particular provision under the Act, amended multiple times since 1885, authorises the State or the Centre to access information of a user’s phone data in case of “occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety.”
  • Kerala was one of the first States to use geo-fencing to track COVID-19 cases.

Addressing the privacy concerns:

  • It said that the phone number should be deleted from the system after the period for which location monitoring is required is over.
  • The data would be deleted four weeks from thereon.
  • The data collected shall be used only for the purpose of Health Management in the context of COVID-19 and is strictly not for any other purposes. Any violation in this regard would attract penal provisions under the relevant laws.

Issues:

  • The geo-fencing will only work if the quarantined person has a mobile phone from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea or Reliance Jio.
  • “BSNL/MTNL” do not support location based services. BSNL and MTNL are government-owned.

 

S&T terms:

Centre for Development of Telematics

  • C-DOT was established in August 1984 as an autonomous Telecom R&D Centre of DoT.
  • It is a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It is a registered ‘public funded research institution’ with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology.

Global Positioning System

  • The Global Positioning System is a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), used to determine the ground position of an object. It is a US-owned utility that provides users with Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services.

Radio-Frequency Identification

  • Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within the direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked.

Wi-Fi

  • Wi-Fi is the name of a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. WiFi network enables connection between two or more devices wirelessly for data sharing purposes.

 

II. Suggestions for Covid-19

Recently, the Prime Minister of India has held a video conference with the Chief Ministers of the States on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasised on the importance of formulating a common exit strategy to ensure a steady re-emergence of the population after the lockdown is over.

Key Suggestions

  • Seamless supply lines for medical equipment and drugs and raw materials.
  • Coordinated and prioritised testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine among and in all states.
  • Appointment of district-level disease surveillance officers for optimum penetration of the combating strategy.
  • Ensuring that there are separate hospitals for Covid-19 patients and proper protection to the doctors attending the patients.
  • Speedy online training of doctors in the treatment of Covid-19.
  • Going beyond the route of Agricultural Produce Marketing Corporations (APMC) for the procurement of this season’s harvest. Starting a truck pooling scheme for ferrying produce to the market.
  • Using the amount from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to fight COVID-19. The Centre will release ?11,000 crore from the SDRF by the end of April.
  • Rapid disbursement of grants under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana.
  • Recruitment of volunteers from the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and the National Service Scheme (NSS) in the effort to combat the crisis.
  • Coordination between NGOs and crisis management groups and sharing of strategies.
  • Promotion and use of traditional immunity boosting methods mentioned in Ayurveda to minimise the number of people with weak immunity. The Ministry of AYUSH has also issued an advisory regarding this.

Scientists on Lockdown

  • Lockdown is only a temporary solution and this period should be used to prepare the healthcare system to avoid its social costs and to realise long-term epidemiological benefits.
  • The government needs to reveal a post-lockdown plan that will ensure that the rate of new infections is kept low in a sustainable manner after the lockdown ends.
    • Social distancing and better hygiene are helpful yet insufficient measures by themselves.
  • If the lockdown period will not be used responsibly, it might lead to a possible bounce-back effect.
    • The current restricted testing-policy creates the risk that a large number of mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic cases will remain undetected even at the end of the lockdown period.
    • These cases could easily serve as the nucleus for the epidemic to bounce back.
  • The problem of reverse migration (from cities to sub-urban/rural areas) has also been highlighted. The exodus triggered by the lockdown will rapidly spread the virus to all parts of the country.
    • This can lead to both an epidemiological and a humanitarian crisis.
  • Instead of stopping the reverse migration, the forces should be used to stock up food-grains, ensure fast cash transfers for the food-security and welfare of workers.
  • Scientists have offered their complete support to the people and possible expertise in combating this disease and in ensuring that the country emerges from this difficult period with as little loss of life as possible.

New Developments

  • Alternative Sealant
    • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a special sealant as an alternative to seam sealing tape which is critical in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
    • The alternative sealant is based on the sealant used in submarine applications.
    • DRDO can mass produce this glue through the industry to support the seam sealing activity by suit manufacturers.
  • Bio Suit
    • DRDO has also developed a bio suit to keep medical and other personnel safe from the virus.
    • Scientists developed it with the help of the industry at various DRDO laboratories by applying the technical know-how and expertise in textile, coating and nanotechnology.
    • It has been subjected to rigorous testing for textile parameters as well as protection against synthetic blood.
    • The production of bio-suits was hampered due to the non-availability of seam sealing tapes but the development of the alternative sealant will boost its production now.
  • Handheld InfraRed Temperature Sensor
    • Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, has designed and developed its own handheld InfraRed (IR) based temperature sensor for screening people at its entry gates.
    • The instrument has been manufactured through in-house resources at a cost of under ?1000, a fraction of the cost of the temperature guns in the market.

 

III. The Centre is planning to start the next academic year virtually.

  • Many schools have been shut since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even before the countrywide lockdown.

Key Points

  • This means that the new academic calendar will begin as usual in April for classes 9 to 12, though the last academic year may have been somewhat truncated, with examinations postponed in some cases including the CBSE exams for classes 10 and 12.
    • Recently, it has been decided that the cbse will conduct exams only for the main subjects: required for promotion or may be crucial for admission in higher educational institutions.
  • The Centre plans to restart classes in the distance mode, with teaching via dedicated TV and radio channels in English and Hindi.
    • There is an existing program, Swayam Prabha, which is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite.
  • National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has been asked to create a structured programme for schools class-wise. This is being done along with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) using their syllabus.
  • The material will be ready for use by schools following the NIOS or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus.
  • For the State Boards
    • Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) mobile app has been offered to States as a platform to provide content in local languages.
    • If States are willing to produce the content in local languages, the Centre can give them 2-3 hours on the channel.

Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing

  • Diksha Portal was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • in 2017 for providing a digital platform to teachers giving them an opportunity to learn and train themselves and connect with the teacher community.
  • It is built considering the whole teacher's life cycle - from the time student teachers enroll in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
  • States, government bodies and even private organisations, can integrate DIKSHA into their respective teacher initiatives based on their goals, needs and capabilities.
  • It also provides access to NCERT textbooks and lessons, following the regular school curriculum.

National Institute of Open Schooling

  • NIOS, formerly known as National Open School (NOS) was established in November,1989 as an autonomous organisation in pursuance of National Policy on Education 1986 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
  • NIOS provides a number of Vocational, Life Enrichment and community oriented courses besides General and Academic Courses at Secondary and Senior Secondary level.
  • It also offers Elementary level Courses through its Open Basic Education Programmes (OBE).
  • Government of India has vested NIOS with the authority to examine and certify learners registered with it upto pre degree level courses whether Academic, Technical or Vocational.

 

IV. The demand for work by households under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme surged to a nine-year high in 2019-20.

According to the MGNREGA official portal, 5.47 crore households sought MGNREGA works, the highest since 2010-11, when the number was 5.5 crore. More individuals too worked under MGNREGA in 2019-20, with 7.86 crore employed at various sites across the country. This is the highest since 2012-13, when 7.97 crore individuals worked under this programme.The disruption caused by the coronavirus lockdown, however, may impact the final figure of the person days generated in March 2020.

The gram panchayats not recording any MGNREGA expenditure has also declined. This shows that more and more panchayats are using MGNREGA to provide unskilled work to the unemployed. These new MGNREGA figures coincide with the sharp fall in GDP growth rate to 5% in 2019-20, the lowest in a decade. The demand for works under MGNREGA is surging despite the fact that wages have been flattening in recent years. In 2019-20, average MGNREGA wage per day per person was Rs 182.09, barely Rs 3 higher than Rs 179.13 in 2018-19.

The data also showed that 263.73 crore person days were generated during 2019-20, slightly lower than 267.96 crore in 2018-19 but significantly higher than the total person days generated during each financial year from 2012-13 to 2017-18.  During 2019-20, the Centre released Rs 72,162.13 crore for the MGNREGA, the highest ever amount, and substantially higher than the Rs 62,125.07 crore released in 2018-19.

 

V. Recently, the West Bengal government roped in Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee to spread awareness of COVID-19.

Abhijit Banerjee along with his wife economist Esther Duflo have agreed to help the West Bengal government.

  • Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo along with Michael Kremer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”
  • The experiment-based approach of the three laureates has transformed development economics and turned it into a “flourishing field of research”.
  • The three adopted an evidence-based approach to apply theory to real-life situations using randomised trials and assessing the outcomes.
    • The approach is derived from the concept of clinical trials in the pharmaceuticals industry.
    • The effort was to understand the impact of interventions to achieve desirable outcomes.
  • Example: The experiment that Mr. Banerjee and Ms. Duflo carried out in Rajasthan some years ago would explain the concept better.
    • Despite immunisation being free, women were not bringing in their children for the vaccination shot.
    • The two economists decided to give a bag of pulses free to women who brought their babies for vaccination. Word soon spread and the rate of immunisation shot up in the region.
  • One of their studies also resulted in benefiting 5 million children in India through programmes of remedial tutoring in schools.

yesJai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Impact of Lockdown on Banks

Impact of Lockdown on Banks

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy -Bank

Banks are concerned about the build up of Non-performing Assets (NPAs) as the disruption caused to business operations and supply chains during the 21-day lockdown period will take time to repair.

  • This is despite the fact that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has injected fresh liquidity into the banking system and given banks leeway to deal with potential stress in loan accounts.

What is NPA?

NPA refers to a classification for loans or advances that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest.

In most cases, debt is classified as non-performing, when the loan payments have not been made for a minimum period of 90 days.

  • Gross non-performing assets are the sum of all the loans that have been defaulted by the individuals who have acquired loans from the financial institution.
  • Net non-performing assets are the amount that is realized after provision amount has been deducted from the gross non-performing assets.

Concerns of Bankers

  • Fresh NPAs
    • The 21-day period lockdown would cause pain to lenders, especially in loan
    • accounts from sectors including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) airlines, real estate, auto dealers, gems and jewellery, metals among others.
    • Banks are concerned about MSME loans and those extended to manufacturing sectors, such as auto, steel, renewable energy, as those where fresh NPAs are looming.
    • According to the RBI’s financial stability report, the share of large borrowers in scheduled commercial banks’ total loan portfolios and their share in GNPAs was at 51.8%and 79.3% respectively, in September 2019.
  • Problems Within Different Sectors
    • Even if the lockdown is lifted on April 14, operations of a number of companies in specific sectors will not see business getting back to normal as the labour has moved out and the production may not be able to restart.
    • Apart from these, capital intensive sectors such as aviation, real estate, consumer durables, and jewellery may take a long time before there is a demand revival.
    • Renewable power is struggling because of complete disruption of supply chains from China, as a result of which they are way behind on project schedules and could face payment issues from their customers, the power discoms.
  • Fear of Extended Lockdown: Measures by the RBI will provide banks some relief during the next three months, but a buildup of bad loans looks inevitable.While moratorium provides temporary relief to borrowers and helps check the NPAs during that period, an extended lockdown is expected to have a significant adverse effect on the economy.
  • Analysis By Different Rating Agencies
    • Moody’s Investors Service: It expects deterioration in banks’ asset quality due to disruption in economic activity. It has changed the outlook for Indian banking system to negative from stable.
    • According to a report released by Crisil: The asset classes will see continuing pressures on asset quality due to weaker profiles of borrowers and expectation of only a gradual economic recovery. In study of 35 sectors, both from manufacturing and services,there is a sharp variation in resilience in a post-Covid-19 landscape.
       
      • High Resilience Category: Pharmaceuticals, telecom, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), fertiliser, oil refineries, power & gas distribution and transmission are among the sectors comprising nearly 44% of the debt.
      • Moderate Resilience Category: Another 52% debt is in sectors such as automobile manufacturers, power generators, roads and construction.
      • Least Resilient Category: Around 4% of debt in sectors such as airlines, gems and jewellery, auto dealers and real estate, given the discretionary nature of goods and services, and weak balance sheets.
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GS-III :
Agasthyavanam Biological Park

Agasthyavanam Biological Park

PT PICKSUP

  • Established in 1997, Agasthyavanam Biological Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.
    • The park is located near Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala.
    • It is contiguous to Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The park has been named after the Agasthyamalai Agasthyakoodam Peak, which can be seen at a distance from the park
    • The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is located in the southernmost end of the Western Ghats and incorporates peaks towering 1,868 m above sea level. It covers 3,500 km2 and encompasses tropical forest ecosystems that fall within the Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu and the Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts of Kerala.
  • Agasthyavanam Biological Park is spread over an area of 23 sq. km., of which 17.5 sq. km. of the park has been dedicated for natural regeneration to develop into a dense forest. The rest area of the park is left for systematic conservation programs.
  • The Park has endemic medicinal plants and rich biodiversity.
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GS-II : International Relations
Operation Sanjeevani

Operation Sanjeevani

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR

Recently, India supplied 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines to Maldives, under Operation Sanjeevani as assistance in the fight against COVID 19.

  • The medicines were delivered by an Hercules C-130J-30 aircraft of Indian Air Force.
  • The medicines include influenza vaccines, antiviral drugs such as lopinavir and ritonavir among others as well as consumables such as catheters, nebulisers, urine bags and infant feeding tubes.
    • Lopinavir and ritonavir have been used to treat patients with COVID-19 in some countries.
  • In March India also dispatched a 14-member Army medical team to Maldives to set up a viral testing lab there and gifted 5.5 tonne of essential medicines.

Previous India’s Assistance to Maldives (PT SHOTS)

  • 1988: Under Operation Cactus the Indian Armed Forces have helped the government of Maldives in the neutralization of the coup attempt.
  • 2004: India has helped Maldives after the tsunami.
  • 2014: Under 'Operation Neer' India supplied drinking water to Maldives to deal with the drinking water crisis.
  • The two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) given by India to the Maldivian armed forces have been used in saving Maldivian lives.
    • The Advanced Light Helicopter is a multi-role, new generation helicopter in the 5.5-ton weight class, indigenously designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Relations Between the Two Countries

  • History: India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links. India was among the first to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965 and later established its mission at Male in 1972.
  • Defence: India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
    • ‘Ekuverin’ is a joint military exercise between India and Maldives.
  • Disaster Management: The Government of India has provided large-scale assistance to Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and during the 2014 Male water crisis.
  • Trade and Tourism: India is Maldives’ 4th largest trade partner after UAE, China and Singapore. In 2018, India was the 5th largest source of tourist arrivals in Maldives.
    • The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on its tourism sector, which is the major source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.
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