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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 17th July’19 | PDF Download

 

  • The Global Carbon Project (GCP) is an organisation that seeks to quantify global greenhouse gas emissions and their causes. Established in 2001, its projects include global budgets for three dominant greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — and complementary efforts in urban, regional, cumulative, and negative emissions.
  • The main object of the group has been to fully understand the carbon cycle. The project has brought together emissions experts, earth scientists, and economists to tackle the problem of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.
  • The Global Carbon Project collaborates with many groups to gather, analyze, and publish data on greenhouse gas emissions in an open and transparent fashion, making datasets available on its website and through its publications. It was founded as a partnership among the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the World Climate Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme and Diversitas, under the umbrella of the Earth System Science Partnership. Many core projects in this partnership subsequently became part of Future Earth in 2014.
  • Congested streets and polluted air are common experiences in India’s metropolises, although the average Indian contributes only minuscule amounts of transport-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to global climate change. Patterns of road transport, however, diverge wildly between cities and districts. Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad.
  • Studies show that India’s road transport emissions are small in global comparison but increasing exponentially. In fact, the Global Carbon Project reports that India’s carbon emissions are rising more than two times as fast as the global rise in 2018. Globally, the transport sector accounts for a quarter of total emissions, out of which three quarters are from road transport. Reducing CO2 emissions of road transport leverages multiple co-benefits, for example, improving air quality and increasing physical activity, which are critical for well-being, particularly in urban areas.
  • Climate action also requires an understanding of how emissions vary with spatial context. In India, we find in our new study (published in Environmental Research Letters), that income and urbanization are the key determinants of travel distance and travel mode choice and, therefore, commuting emissions. The way cities are built and the design of public transit are critical for low-carbon mobility systems. The study is based on the most recent results of the Indian Census in 2011.
  • Average commuting emissions in high-emitting districts (Delhi) are 16 times higher than low-emitting districts (most districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh). Average per capita commuting emissions are highest for the most affluent districts, which are predominantly urban, and that heavily use fourwheelers for commuting. This is a surprising result, as in other parts of the world such as the United States, commuting emissions are low in urban areas but high in suburban or ex-urban settings. In contrast, average per capita commuting emissions are lowest for Indian districts that are poor, and commuting distances are short and rarely use three-wheelers
  • Focus on well-being
  • Two policy implications follow. First, mayors and town planners should organize cities around public transport and cycling, thereby improving mobility for many, while limiting car use. Uptake of non-motorized transport emerges as a sweet spot of sustainable development, resulting in both lower emissions and better public health in cities. According to the recent National Family Health Survey (2015-16), nearly 30% of all men are overweight or obese in southwest Delhi, but only 25% in Thiruvananthapuram and 13% in Allahabad. These data correlate with high reliance of car use in Delhi and low demand for walking.
  • Another of our studies that investigates data from the India Human Development Survey shows that a 10% increase in cycling could lower chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases for 0.3 million people, while also abating emissions. Car use, in contrast, correlates with higher rates of diabetes. Therefore, fuel price increases, congestion charges or parking management could be a strategy that improves the wellbeing of individuals living in urban areas. In contrast, fuel price increases would be detrimental in poorer rural areas, impairing mobility where there is a lack of alternatives.
  • Technology transition
  • Second, India should double down in its strategy to transition to electric two and three-wheelers. India is the third-largest market for automobiles; about 25 million internal combustion engines were sold in 2017, including about 20 million twowheelers. A recent study reports that India has 1.5 million battery-powered threewheeler rickshaw (over 300,000 e-rickshaws sold in 2018). In the coming years, experts judge that the electric three-wheeler market is expected to grow by at least 10% per year. In 2019, nearly 110,000 electric two-wheelers were also sold, and the annual growth rate may be above 40% per year.
  • The current statistics even suggest that electric three-wheelers and electric twowheelers, rather than electric cars, will drive the electric vehicle market in India. Electric car sales are minuscule and even falling (dropping from 2,000 in 2017 to 1,200 in 2018). Consumers realize the practical advantages of lighter in weight two- and three-wheelers that require much smaller and less powerful batteries and are easily plugged in at home.
  • India is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers in two- and three- wheelers and Indian companies can take a leading role in switching to electric vehicles. This will also help in transforming India’s vision of ‘Make in India’.
  • Compact cities improve accessibility and reduce emissions from transport and even the building sector. Most Indian cities are already very dense, with few benefits expected by further high-rise. City managers should ensure that existing urban areas provide short routes and fast access to schools, hospitals and jobs, otherwise, residents would be required to travel long distances. To achieve this aim, mayors and decision-makers need to rethink how to deliver basic services such as education and health. Building schools and hospitals matters especially for informal settlements and are critical in achieving low carbon development as well as improving the quality of life.
  • Providing access to public service, choosing rapid transit over car driving in cities and supporting the rise of electric two and three-wheelers will help drive India to a modern and low-carbon transport system fit for the 21st century.

Chinese Check

  • China’s famed model of growth is under pressure due to fall in exports and investment
  • The Chinese economy is seeing the first signs of trouble after long years of sustained growth that rode on cheap labour and high volumes of exports. Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday revealed that the economy grew by 6.2% in the second quarter, its slowest pace in 27 years. This is in contrast to the growth rates of 6.4% and 6.6% reported for the first quarter and the full year of 2018, respectively. The faltering growth rate was due to a slump in exports in June amidst China’s ongoing trade war with the United States and the downturn witnessed by sectors such as housing construction, where investor sentiments play a major role. Many economists believe that the worst may not yet be over for China and that economic growth could further worsen in the coming quarters. But just as growth seems to be faltering, the latest growth figures also showed that the retail sales and industrial output components of the growth numbers witnessed steady growth, suggesting that domestic demand may be compensating for the dropping appetite for Chinese exports weighed down by high tariffs. But with China still heavily reliant on exports and its trade war with the U.S. showing no signs of coming to an end, the pressure on growth is likely to remain for some more time. So the Chinese government, which has tried to boost the economy through measures such as tax cuts, increased public spending and a relaxation in bank reserve requirements to encourage banks to increase lending, will hope that domestic demand for its goods will hold up the economy.
  • China’s quarterly GDP numbers, while useful in many ways, don’t reveal very much about the underlying challenges facing the country. One is the need to improve the credibility of data released by the Chinese government. An even larger challenge is the urgent need to restructure the Chinese economy from one that is driven heavily by state-led investment and exports to one that is driven primarily by market forces. The high-growth years of the Chinese economy were made possible by the huge amount of liquidity provided by the Chinese state and the large and affordable workforce that helped build China into an export powerhouse. But now, with China’s tried and tested growth model facing the threat of getting derailed as the export and investment boom comes to an end, the Chinese will have to build a more sustainable model, or forfeit hopes of double-digit economic growth in the future. As of now, there are no signs to suggest that the Chinese authorities are looking at implementing deep-seated structural reforms reminiscent of its early decades of liberalization that can help fundamentally restructure the economy. There might not be a need for radical macroeconomic changes, but China’s economic troubles will not go away unless the government boosts domestic consumption and reduces the reliance on exports.
  • Apart from the floods in Assam, an annual event affecting thousands of families, another humanitarian crisis awaits the State this year. The date is already set for it. It is July 31.
  • On that day, the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be released, the culmination of a fraught process conducted since 2015 at the urging of the Supreme Court, and monitored by it.
  • While reports of the many anomalies that dog the process of determining citizenship, including the constantly changing list of documents that are (or are not) accepted, are known, the sheer enormity of the crisis facing the State is yet to register in the rest of India.
  • Numbers alone do not indicate this. What is known today is that of the 32.9 million who have applied to be listed as “genuine” Indian citizens in the NRC, roughly 29 million have been accepted. The future of the four million excluded so far, a number that might reduce when the final list is published on July 31, provides the foundation for the impending human crisis awaiting Assam. Even if half of this number is excluded, we are looking at the future of two million stateless people.
  • What will happen to me and my family after July 31? That is the question that haunts hundreds of men and women as they wait hours in inclement weather, clutching plastic bags full of documents, to meet anyone willing to answer this question. This was the scene that confronted us as we travelled to three districts in Assam at the end of June.
  • The majority left out of the NRC so far are abjectly poor; many are unlettered. They cannot understand the legal complications of the process, nor do they have the money to hire legal help. As a result, thousands stand in danger of being declared “foreigners” even though they could be “genuine” Indian citizens.
  • Three categories
  • The people affected by this process of verification of citizenship fall into three different categories. Those labelled as ‘D voters’, or doubtful voters, were categorized as such when the electoral rolls were revised in 1997 and thereafter. Their names are excluded from the NRC unless they can establish their credentials before a Foreigner’s Tribunal. There are currently just under 100 such tribunals in Assam. The opacity that surrounds the way decisions are made in these quasi-judicial courtrooms is a part of this larger crisis.
  • In the second category are people who have been picked up by the police on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. The border police, present in every police station, picks up people, often poor workers in cities, fingerprints them, and then informs them in writing that they must appear before a Foreigner’s Tribunal.
  • In the third category are those who have registered with the NRC, but have been excluded because there was a discrepancy in the documents they submitted. Two lists have been published so far: one with 4 million names last year and another with just over 0.1 million on June 26 this year. Their fate will be known on July 31.
  • In addition, there are people who have already been declared “foreigners” by the tribunals. In February 2019, the government informed the Supreme Court that of the 938 people in six detention centres, 823 had been declared foreigners. How long will they be held? Can they be deported? To which country? These questions remain unanswered. In this haze of numbers and judicial processes, the real and tragic stories of individuals often go unheard.
  • Left out
  • Take Anjali Das, 50, in Bijni, Chirang district. Dressed in a rust saree, Anjali cannot hide her anxiety. Her maternal home is in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, where her father and brother still live. Anjali came to Assam in 1982 when she married. She has no birth certificate, like many in India. She has a school certificate that confirms she was a student up to Class 5 and gives her date of birth as June 1, 1969. She also has a certificate from the Panchayat and her father’s Aadhaar card as proof that she is Indian. But this will not suffice. Anjali’s name has been excluded from the NRC, the only one in her marital home.
  • Anjali is only one of thousands of married women who have been left out of the NRC for similar reasons. Although disaggregated data is not yet available, it is estimated that more than half of those excluded from the NRC are women like her.
  • Then there are women who are struggling to understand why only some members of their families have been excluded. In Hanchara village in Morigaon district, Jamina Khatun pulls out a photocopy of the June 26 list of names excluded from the NRC. It has the names of her husband, her two sons, and her 11-year-old granddaughter. But not hers, or that of her daughter-in-law. Jamina’s son, Nur Jamal Ali, was referred to the Foreigner’s Tribunal based on a complaint by his landlord in Jorhat, where he worked as a construction labourer. As a result, Nur Jamal was fingerprinted by the border police, sent a notice to appear before a Foreigner’s Tribunal, and then declared a foreigner. His only daughter has also been excluded from the NRC.
  • After July 31, the focus will shift to the Foreigner’s Tribunals. The State government plans to set up 200 by the end of this month and eventually 1,000, as all those excluded from the NRC will have to present themselves before these tribunals.
  • Expensive and time-consuming
  • Only the litigants and their lawyers know what happens within the four walls of these tribunals as neither the public nor the media are permitted there. I tried to get a peek into one in Guwahati. Foreigner’s Tribunal Court Room 3, Kamrup Metro district, Guwahati, is located in a residential colony on the ground floor of a building. The small room is arranged like a courtroom. A white railing separates the podium on which the tribunal member sits from the litigants. The railing becomes a small witness stand at one end. The tribunal member has the help of an assistant who sits on the side. According to him, cases are heard simultaneously, stretching out to five days. But a lawyer tells a different story. The case he has come for began in March. It is still being heard in July.
  • This then is the other problem. Poor people travel long distances to appear before these tribunals. Their cases stretch out over months. They have to spend on travel and lawyers’ fees, unaffordable for most. If they give up, or cannot afford to make the journey, their cases will be judged “ex parte”. In a statement in the Lok Sabha on July 2, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy, said that from 1985 to February 2019, 63,959 people had been declared foreigners in ex parte rulings.
  • The citizenship issue in Assam is layered and complex. It is not easy for people outside the State to understand the multiple threads. What is clear though is that the brunt of the systemic problems of establishing citizenship in this manner, and in such haste, is being borne disproportionately by the poorest.
  • Earlier this year, the Cabinet approved the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM). With a Budget allocation of ₹34,000 crore, and a similar contribution expected from the States, KUSUM aims to provide energy sufficiency and sustainable irrigation access to farmers. At present, despite burgeoning farm power subsidies, nearly 30 million farmers, especially marginal landholders, use expensive diesel for their irrigation needs as they have no access to electricity.
  • More than half of India’s net sown-area remains unirrigated. KUSUM could radically transform the irrigation economy if the government chooses an approach of equity by design and prudence over populism.
  • Equity by design
  • First, KUSUM should aim to reduce the existing disparity among States with regard to solar pumps deployment and irrigation access.
  • Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan together account for about half of the two lakh solar pumps currently deployed in the country. This is surprising given the low irrigation demand in the former and poor groundwater situation in the latter. On the other hand, States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, where penetration of diesel pumps is among the highest, have not managed to deploy any significant number of solar pumps. This disparity highlights poor State budget allocation towards solar pumps and the lack of initiative by State nodal agencies. To encourage more equitable deployment of 17.5 lakh off-grid pumps by 2022, the Centre should incentivize States through target-linked financial assistance, and create avenues for peer learning.
  • Second, KUSUM must also address inequity within a State. For instance, 90% of Bihar’s farmers are small and marginal. Yet, they have received only 50% of government subsidies on solar pumps. On the other hand, in Chhattisgarh, about 95% of beneficiaries are from socially disadvantaged groups due to the mandate of the State. Learning from these contrasting examples, a share of central financial assistance under KUSUM should be appropriated for farmers with small landholdings and belonging to socially disadvantaged groups.
  • Third, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, KUSUM should provide greater financial assistance to smaller farmers. KUSUM proposes a 60% subsidy for the pumps, borne equally by the Centre and the States, and the remaining 40% will be the farmer’s contribution — 10% as down payment and 30% through loans. This unilateral financing approach will exacerbate the inter-farmer disparity given the inequity in access to credit and repayment capacity between small and large farmers. A higher capital subsidy support to small and marginal farmers and long-term loans with interest subsidies for large and medium farmers would be a more economical and equitable alternative.
  • Prudence over populism
  • Fourth, solarizing existing grid-connected pumps, as proposed under the scheme, needs a complete rethink. Existing grid-connected farmers, who have enjoyed power subsidies for decades, would receive the same financial support as that received by an off-grid farmer. In addition, they would earn regular income from the DISCOM on feeding surplus electricity, furthering the inequitable distribution of taxpayers’ resources. Instead, the scheme should only provide Central government subsidy of up to 30% for solarisation, and use the proposed State support to incentivize DISCOMs to procure energy from the farmers.
  • Also, solarizing grid-connected pumps must include replacement of the pump. Poor efficiency levels of the existing pumps would mean unnecessary oversizing of the solar panels and lesser available energy to feed into the grid.
  • Moreover, instead of feeding surplus energy to the grid, solar pump capacity could be used to power post-harvesting processes, which complement the seasonal irrigation load and can enhance farm incomes through local value addition.
  • Further, the injection of solar power by farmers would require the entire agriculture electricity line (feeder) to be energised throughout the daytime, including for those not having solarised pumps. This would aggravate DISCOMs’ losses on such feeders. Instead, an effective alternative is to solarise the entire feeder through a reverse-bidding approach, and provide water-conservation-linked incentives to farmers as direct benefit transfer.
  • KUSUM should not woo a certain section of farmers with shortsighted objectives. If designed better and implemented effectively, it holds the potential to catapult the Indian irrigation economy from an era mired in perpetual subsidy, unreliable supply, and inequitable distribution of resources to a regime of affordable, reliable, and equitable access to energy and water.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has formulated a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’. The Scheme is currently under the process of seeking approval.
  •  The proposal on KUSUM Scheme provides for :-
  • (i) installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of Capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;
  • (ii) installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid; and
  • (iii) solarisation of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income.
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) sometimes called the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). The ICJ’s primary functions are to settle international legal disputes submitted by states(contentious cases) and to give advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it by the UN (advisory proceedings). Through its opinions and rulings, it serves as a source of international law.
  • The ICJ is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920 and began its first session in 1922. After the Second World War, both the League and the PCIJ were succeeded by the United Nations and ICJ, respectively. The Statute of the ICJ draws heavily from that of its predecessor, and the latter’s decisions remain valid. All members of the UN are party to the ICJ Statute.
  • The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. The court is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, making it the only principal U.N. organ not located in New York City. Its official working languages are English and French
  • The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of people nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The election process is set out in Articles 4–19 of the ICJ Statute. Elections are staggered, with five judges elected every three years to ensure continuity within the court. Should a judge die in office, the practice has generally been to elect a judge in a special election to complete the term.
  • As stated in Article 93 of the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties to the court’s statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the court’s statute under the Article 93(2) procedure. For example, before becoming a UN member state, Switzerland used this procedure in 1948 to become a party, and Nauru became a party in 1988. Once a state is a party to the court’s statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the court
  • The Arjuna Awards are given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in sports. Started in 1961, the award carries a cash prize of ₹500,000, a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll.
  • Over the years, the scope of the award has been expanded and a large number of sports persons who belonged to the pre-Arjuna Award era were also included in the list. Further, the number of disciplines for which the award is given was increased to include indigenous games and the physically handicapped category.
  • The government revises the criteria for the Arjuna Award over the years. As per the revised guidelines, to be eligible for the award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous four years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline
  •  Awaiting the tag A view of the Kappad Beach in Kozhikode, Kerala, which the Union Environment Ministry has selected, along with 11 others, to be recommended for the Blue Flag tag. It is a quality recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness by the Foundation for Environmental Education, an international NGO.

 

 

 

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