Booker Prize 2022
Why in News?
Geetanjali Shree’s novel Tomb of Sand has become the first book in an Indian language to win the International Booker Prize.
About the Book
– Originally published as Ret Samadhi in Hindi, the book has been translated into English by Daisy Rockwell. – Tomb of Sand is set in northern India and narrates the journey of an 80-year-old woman, Ma, who suffers from depression following her husband’s death.
– She finally overcomes her depression and, much to her family’s consternation, wants to travel to Pakistan to confront the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition.
About Booker Prize
– The Booker Prize is a literary prize awarded every year to the best novel written in the English language which is published in the UK or Ireland.
– It is a high-profile literary prize and thus, is much anticipated among book lovers.
– It is a mark of distinction for authors to be selected in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the “longlist”.
In News: The union government plans to launch a comprehensive green hydrogen mission in two months to take forward the green hydrogen policy announced in February.
About Green Hydrogen
– A colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and highly combustible gaseous substance, hydrogen is the lightest, simplest and most abundant member of the family of chemical elements in the universe.
– But a colour green prefixed to it makes hydrogen the “fuel of the future”. – The ‘green’ depends on how the electricity is generated to obtain the hydrogen, which does not emit greenhouse gas when burned.
– Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind or hydel power. -India has just begun to generate green hydrogen with the objective of raising non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030.
– On April 20, India’s first 99.99% pure green hydrogen pilot plant was set up in eastern Assam’s Duliajan. – Green hydrogen can be stored for long periods of time. The stored hydrogen can be used to produce electricity using fuel cells.
– India has just begun to generate green hydrogen with the objective of raising non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030.
– Under the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change with the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels) of 2015, India is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 33-35% from the 2005 levels.
– At the 2021 Conference of Parties in Glasgow, India reiterated its commitment to move from a fossil and import-dependent economy to a net-zero economy by 2070.
National Hydrogen Mission
– The National Hydrogen Mission was launched on August 15, 2021, with a view to cutting down carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable sources of energy.
In News: Cases of monkeypox – a rare, little-known disease – are being investigated in European countries including the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.
How common is monkeypox?
– Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe and experts say chances of infection are low.
– Monkeypox can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person.
– The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or through the eyes, nose or mouth.
– It can also be spread by contact with infected animals such as monkeys, rats and squirrels, or by virus-contaminated objects, such as bedding and clothing.
History of Monkey Pox Spread
– The virus was first identified in a captive monkey and since 1970 there have been sporadic outbreaks reported across 10 African countries.
– In 2003 there was an outbreak in the US, the first time it had been seen outside Africa.
– In 2017, Nigeria experienced the largest known outbreak. There were 172 suspected cases and 75% of victims were men between 21 and 40 years old.
- GS 3: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country
Aroma mission UPSC: Context
- Recently, Ministry of Science & Technology has inaugurated the country’s first ‘Lavender Festival’ in Bhaderwah, Jammu division of UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
First Lavender Festival 2022: Key points
- Bhaderwah is the birthplace of India’s Purple Revolution as it is the best place for lavender cultivation in terms of land and climate.
- The region also could be the potential destination of Agri-tech StartUps of the country.
- In 2018, country’s first National Institute of High-Altitude Medicine was built in Bhaderwah which was aimed at attracting scholars and researchers not only from India but across the globe generating employment opportunities for the region.
About lavender cultivation
- Lavender is an avenue of employment generation and research opening many paradigms of development for the region.
- CSIR-IIIM has not only introduced lavender to farmers in various districts of J&K, but also provided free quality planting material and end-to-end technology package on cultivation, processing, value addition and marketing of the Lavender crop to the farmers.
- CSIR-IIIM also installed 50 distillation units — 45 fixed and five mobile — at different locations across J&K under CSIR-Aroma Mission.
- Lavender cultivation has employed about 5,000 farmers and young entrepreneurs in geographically remote areas of J&K. More than 1,000 farming families are cultivating it on more than 200 acres.
- Under Lavender Cultivation, potential farmers’ income has not only been doubled but quadrupled.
- Agriculturist Sh. Bharat Bhushan, the Brand Ambassador of Purple Revolution in India, is an inspiration for youth in J&K towards Start-up culture.
Purple Revolution and Aroma Mission: Key points
- Doda is the birthplace of India’s Purple Revolution (Aroma Mission) and lavender can be promoted under ‘One District, One Product’ initiative to attract Agri- StartUps, entrepreneurs and farmers.
- Rattle Project, which will along with Pakkal-Dul project and Kiru project make the entire region Power-surplus, has been revived to achieve its full potential.
- CSIR-IIIM’s Aroma Mission is providing means of livelihood to budding farmers and Agri-Technocrats and promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship giving a boost to Start-Up India campaign.
- Regarding the purple revolution, awareness programmes should be organised to showcase the lucrative aspects of lavender cultivation so that start-ups under Aroma Mission would be encouraged.
- This would also enhance the image of Doda District that is the birthplace of Purple Revolution.
Purple revolution in India
- “Purple Revolution” is Jammu & Kashmir’s contribution to “Start-ups India.
- It is also called as aroma mission, and was launched by Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
- CSIR had introduced high-value essential oil-bearing lavender crop through its Jammu based laboratory, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (IIIM) for cultivation in districts Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri, among others.
- In a brief span of time, aroma/lavender cultivation has become a popular option in farming for agricultural Start-up.
Economic Impact of COVID Related School Closures
- GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to- Health; Education.
ADB Report on Learning Loss due to COVID in News
- Recently, a new working paper was published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), identifying extent of learning losses faced by children due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
- ADB Paper is titled as ‘Potential Economic Impact of COVID-19 related School Closures.’
Key Findings of ADB Report on Economic Impact of COVID Related School Closures
- GDP Loss: The gross domestic product (GDP) of India would see the highest decline in South Asia due to learning losses for the young.
- India is among the countries with the longest school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In terms of absolute change, India experiences the highest GDP decline in South Asia, at about $98.84 billion in 2030.
- In percentage terms, its GDP decreases by 0.34% in 2023, 1.36% in 2026, and 3.19% in 2030.
- Potential Economic Impact: ADB report states that starting with a $10.5 billion dent in 2023, India’s economy could take a nearly $99 billion hit by 2030, translating into a 3.19% reduction in GDP from the baseline growth trends.
- Global share: India may account for over 10% of the global GDP decline of $943 billion estimated by the ADB on account of earning losses in 2030.
- By 2030, jobs for skilled labour expected to decline by 1%, and unskilled labour by 2% in India.
- Rural-Urban divide: ADB study notes that India has notable enrolment in secondary education and among students in rural areas. Pandemic-induced school closures have also been more extensive there.
- Due to poor internet access and connectivity in rural areas, the poorest and second wealth quintile have been worst-hit due to pandemic led school closures and subsequent potential economic losses.
- Migration to already burgeoning unskilled labour force: The ADB study said that the Learning and earning losses in India are significant because a notable portion of the impacted population will migrate to the unskilled labour force.
- A large part of India’s work force is constituted by unskilled labour — 408.4 million as per the ADB paper’s estimates, compared to 72.65 million skilled workers.
Reasons of Huge Economic Impact due to COVID-19 Led School Closures
- India has the highest number of children enrolled in primary and secondary education among the Asian economies covered in the paper, at 255.74 million.
- The number of students in tertiary education were second only to China at 36.39 million, as per January 2022 data used for the research.
- Due huge number of students enrolled in the school education in India, Economic losses due to COVID related school closures are significant, especially in the long term.
ADB Report- Suggestions for India
- Increased Investment: ADB paper suggests that government must increase investment in the education and skills with a focus on narrowing the digital divide.
- It is important to keep school-age children in education as much as possible by providing financial support and incentives, while giving additional support for skills training to youth already out of school
- Assessment for Impacted Students: Government should also help students recover “lost opportunities” by conducting assessments among impacted children.
- Identify and Bridge the learning Gaps: Effective learning programs should be devised to offer appropriate support such as tutoring or special classes and help them to bridge the learning gap.
- Focusing on the Most Disadvantaged Group of Students: Governments need to direct adequate funding and resources to young populations most affected by closures, such as those from the poor, rural and socially disadvantaged groups.
First Movers Coalition
- GS 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
First Movers Coalition India: Context
- Recently, India has joined the First Movers Coalition todecarbonise the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors that are responsible for 30 per cent of global emissions.
First Movers Coalition: Key points
- India, along with Japan and Sweden, has also joined the steering board of the coalition.
- Besides India, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom have also joined the US as government partners to create early markets for clean technologies through policy measures and private sector engagements.
About First Movers Coalition
- First Movers Coalition is a flagship public-private partnership launched by US and WEF to clean up the most carbon-intensive sectors.
- The coalition also saw 50 new corporate members with collective market cap of USD 8.5 trillion joining the force.
- Since it was launched at COP26, the First Movers Coalition has brought together global companies with supply chains across carbon-intensive sectors.
- The First Movers Coalition targets sectors, including aluminium, aviation, chemicals, concrete, shipping, steel and trucking, which are responsible for 30 per cent of global emissions – a proportion expected to rise to over 50 per cent by mid-century without urgent progress on clean technology innovation.
First Movers Coalition objectives
- The coalition’s members have committed to a percentage from suppliers using near-zero or zero-carbon solutions, despite the premium cost.
- If enough global companies commit a certain percentage of their future purchasing to clean technologies in this decade, this will create a market tipping point that will accelerate their affordability and drive long-term, net-zero transformation across industrial value chains.
- The coalition also announced two new target sectors: carbon dioxide removal and aluminium, which join the four existing sectoral pledges (aviation, shipping, steel and trucking) launched at COP26.
- Once the tipping point is reached in the market, the First Movers Coalition will demonstrate that a net- or near-zero transformation across the value chain is not only possible but that it will be no more expensive than the high-emitting alternative.
India’s attempt to decarbonise the economy
- The idea of LIFE – “Lifestyle For Environment” call for a global mass movement on sustainable lifestyles, is very critical for combating climate change.
- India has also taken global leadership with initiatives like the International Solar Alliance, One Sun One World One Grid, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
Biological Diversity Amendment Act, 2021
In December 2021, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav tabled the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill in Parliament.
What is Biodiversity?
– It refers to the variety of life forms that exist on the planet.
– Human activities on the planet have created challenges for biodiversity such as loss of habitat, deterioration of ecological systems, and extinction or threat of extinction for species.
– There have also been concerns around bio-piracy which involves unauthorised appropriation of biological resources and related knowledge belonging to indigenous communities.
– A key multilateral treaty to address these concerns is the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) from the year 1992.
– Under CBD, two protocols have been adopted: (i) Cartagena Protocol on biosafety (2003), and (ii) Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing (2014).
– India ratified the Cartagena Protocol in 2003 and the Nagoya Protocol in 2014.
Key provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002
– In light of India’s commitments under CBD, the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 was passed by Parliament.
-The Act regulates access to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.
– It specifies distinct frameworks for regulating access by foreign and domestic entities.
– It sets up a three-tier structure for regulation: (i) National Biodiversity Authority at the national level, (ii) State Biodiversity Boards at the state level, and (iii) Biodiversity Management Committees at the local body level.
– The Act provides for sharing of benefits with conservers of biodiversity and holders and creators of associated knowledge. – Benefits may be shared in various forms such as: (i) monetary compensation, (ii) sharing of intellectual property rights, or (iii) technology transfer.
Proposed Amendments to the Original Act
– To reduce burden on wild medicinal plants by encouraging their cultivation; – Facilitate environment for collaborative research and investments;
– Improve research patent appli- cation process;
-Reduce need of practitioners and companies making medicinal products for taking permission from the National Biodiversity Authority (nba); – To increase the composition of the authority and revising positions and responsibilities;
– Additionally, it proposes to de-criminalise violation of provisions of the legislation;
– It suggests creation of separate authorities at the Centre and the state levels, withdraws the power given to the authority to file an fir against a defaulting party for violation; and provides for the creation of an inquiry officer, who following an inquiry, can impose a penalty of up to 1 crore in cases of continuous violation.
Present Status Of the Bill
– The bill was referred to a joint committee to include concerns of stakeholders.
– The committee has had nine meetings so far, the last of which was on April 19, 2022.
– It has already deferred the deadlines a few times but is likely to submit its report to Parliament on June 3.
– The amendments do not address some of the major problems on ground.
– The fact is that the entire effort to share benefits with communities has been reduced to, at best, a meaningless bureaucratic exercise.
– The term codified traditional knowledge has not been defined.
– A broad interpretation might exempt all local traditional knowledge from benefit sharing requirements. – The Bill removes the direct role of local communities in determining benefit sharing provisions.
– The Bill decriminalises offences under the Act and instead provides for a wide range of penalties.
– Further, the Bill empowers government officials to hold inquiries and determine penalties.
– It may be questioned whether it is appropriate to confer such discretion to government officials.
QUAD Summit -Security in Friendship-
- GS Paper 2: International Relations- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Quad Summit in News
- The recent QUAD summit meeting of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, could not have come at a more critical juncture in world politics.
- Leaders of India, the United States, Australia and Japan have participated in the QUAD 2022 Summit, held in Tokyo, Japan.
QUAD Summit and Challenges Faced by World
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: It has destabilised accepted norms on respecting territorial sovereignty.
- It also has its knock-on effects on commodity and input prices, fuelling inflationary pressures and impacting global supply chains.
- The U.S.A and Japan were blunt in their condemnation of Russia’s belligerence.
- India and Australia avoided any direct reference to Moscow, as indeed did the QUAD summit’s joint statement.
- Covid-19 Pandemic: The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that spotlighted deficiencies in public health infrastructure.
- China factor: For the quad leaders the obvious, if not always explicitly stated theme linking several global issues is the China factor and the unique strategic challenges that that country poses to the rules-based international order.
QUAD Summit 2022- Way Forward
The Quad Leaders affirmed the following core messages-
- Countering Chinese Aggression: QUAD Members will continue to strongly oppose coercive, provocative, and unilateral actions by Beijing that seek to change the status quo and heighten tensions across the region including through manoeuvres such as-
- The militarisation of disputed territories,
- The dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and
- Clandestine attempts to disrupt other nations’ offshore resource exploitation activities.
- Military Cooperation: military coordination between the QUAD Dialogue members will continue to provide strategic depth to the mission, including notably the annual Malabar exercise.
- Cooperation in Critical Areas: QUAD Members seeks to leverage Dialogue member resources in various critical areas like-
- Vaccine delivery,
- Climate action,
- Supply chain resilience,
- Disaster response,
- Cyber security infrastructure, and
- Economic cooperation.
- Even though Beijing may consider the Quad to be an “Asian NATO”, the Dialogue can be about much more than a strategic pushback on China’s hegemonic intentions.
- At a time when the liberal consensus on globalisation has anyway run its course and across the Indo-Pacific, there is, post-pandemic, a strong appetite for deepening regional cooperation for trade and investment.
- In this context, the Quad is in pole position to shape economic alliances and regional security architecture towards a new world order based on national interest and realpolitik.
National Creche Scheme
- GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
National Creche Scheme: Context
- In the recently released reply to an RTI, Ministry of Women and Child Development has said that no funds were released by the Centre in FY 2021-22 for the functioning of creches under the National Creche Scheme.
National Creche Scheme: Key points
- The response said that creches have not been functional under this scheme since the outbreak of Covid-19.
- However, upon investigation it was found out that creches in several cities were functional during this period, utilising funds from their own corpus.
- The ministry’s response also says that the budget allocation for the scheme has come down by 59 per cent between FY19 and FY22.
- Moreover, more than 11,000 creches were functioning under this scheme have been shut down between FY18 and FY20.
- While there were 18,040 creches at the beginning of FY18, by FY20 the number had shrunk to 6,450.
Creches during Covid
- While ₹53 crore was budgeted for the scheme in FY22, the expense was revised to ₹4 crore.
- The actual expense as shown in the Union Budget of 2022 is zero.
- In FY21, when the lockdowns were stringent, ₹11.6 crore was spent under this scheme.
What is National creche scheme?
- Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing the National Creche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme from 2017 to provide day care facilities to children (age group of 6 months to 6 years) of working mothers.
- The Scheme provides an integrated package of the following services:
- Day care facilities including sleeping facilities.
- Early stimulation for children below 3 years and pre-school education for 3 to 6 years old children
- Supplementary nutrition (to be locally sourced)
- Growth monitoring
- Health check-up and immunization.