INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. GOAL PROGRAM
THE CONTEXT: Dr Teejan Bai, Padma Vibhushan awardee, addressed the Mentees and Mentors of the GOAL program on 9th October 2021 as part of the Inspiration Masterclass on GOAL Program. The GOAL Program organizes Fortnightly Inspiration Masterclasses through which inspiring personalities who can share their experiences on this platform and enable learnings for the program’s mentees are invited.
ABOUT GOAL PROGRAM
- Going Online as Leaders (GOAL) Program by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Facebook India aims to provide skilling for tribal youth with a focus on enabling digital presence in addition to strengthening core skills to drive their professional-economical upliftment.
- The program intends to upskill and empower 5,000 tribal youths over the course of the next five years to harness the full potential of digital platforms and tools to learn new ways of doing business, explore and connect with domestic and international markets.
- It is designed to provide mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode and envisages to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth, which will help in their personal development as well as contribute to the all-around upliftment of their society.
- As part of the program, in addition to the core classes, fortnightly expert sessions are organized wherein distinguished leaders and experts from various fields are invited to interact with the mentees of the GOAL Program and guide their development through personal and professional experiences.
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
2. MEGHALAYA RIVER BACK FROM DEAD
THE CONTEXT: Acid mine drainage, run-off from coal mines led to contamination of Lukha river
A detoxing pilot project has brought a river back from the dead, the Meghalaya government has claimed.
- The Lukha — “reservoir of fish” in the local Pnar language — was considered toxic beyond redemption a decade ago.
- The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board had in its 2012 investigative report blamed the contamination on acid mine drainage and run-off from the coal mines.
- The Lukha river is in the East Jaintia Hills district, where most of Meghalaya’s rat-hole coal mines are located.
- The pilot project to rejuvenate the Lukha by using algae to remove toxic contents from the water has become a success. The detoxification process is called phytoremediation.
ABUT ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION
- Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water.
- Bioremediation uses microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants in soil, groundwater, sludge and solids. The microorganisms break down contaminants by using them as an energy source or cometabolizing them with an energy source.
- Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.
- Phytoremediation is defined as the “use of algae to treat wastes or wastewaters”. The algae comprise both the microalgae as well as the marine macroalgae, more commonly known as the seaweeds.
3. COAL AVAILABILITY IS SUFFICIENT TO MEET POWER PLANT DEMANDS
THE CONTEXT: The Ministry of Coal reassures that ample coal is available in the country to meet the demand of power plants. Any fear of disruption in the power supply is entirely misplaced.
- The coal stock at the power plant end is about 72 Lakh tonnes, sufficient for 4 days requirement, and that the Coal India Limited (CIL) end is more than 400 Lakh tonnes, which is being supplied to the power plants.
- The domestic coal-based power generation has grown by nearly 24% in this year (till September 2021) based on a robust supply from the coal companies. The daily average coal requirement at the power plants is about 18.5 Lakh tonnes of coal per day whereas the daily coal supply has been around 17.5 lakh tonnes per day. Due to extended monsoons, the despatches were constrained.
- The coal available at the power plants is a rolling stock that gets replenished by the supplies from the coal companies daily. Therefore, any fear of coal stocks depleting at the power plant end is erroneous.
- Despite heavy rains in the coalfield areas, CIL had supplied more than 255 MT coal to the power sector this year, which is the highest ever H-1 supply from CIL to the power sector.
- Domestic coal supplies have supported power generation in a significant way despite heavy monsoons, low coal imports and a steep hike in power demand due to economic recovery. It is expected that coal supplies are set to be at a record high in the current financial year.
- It may be noted that the comfortable coal position in the country is reflected by the fact that the CIL has been supplying more than 2.5 lakh tonnes (approx.) daily to meet the demand of non-power industries like Aluminum, Cement, Steel etc. along with a supply of coal to thermal plants of the country.
4. LONG HAUL FREIGHT TRAINS
THE CONTEXT: Indian Railways has successfully operated two long haul freight trains, “Trishul” and “Garuda” for the first time over South Central Railway (SCR).
- Long haul trains, which are twice or multiple times longer than the normal composition of freight trains, provide a very effective solution to the problem of capacity constraints in critical sections.
- Trishul is SCR’s first long haul comprising of three freight trains, i.e., 177 wagons. This train was started on 07.10.2021 from Kondapalli station of Vijayawada division to Khurda division of East Coast Railway.
- SCR followed it up with the running of yet another similar one named Garudaon 08.10.2021 from Raichur of Guntakal division to Manuguru of Secunderabad division.
- In both cases, the long haul trains comprised empty open wagons for coal loading meant for predominantly thermal power stations.
- SCR is one of the five major freight loading railways on IR. The bulk of SCR’s freight traffic moves in certain arterial routes such as Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta, Ballarshah-Kazipet-Vijayawada, Kazipet-Secunderabad-Wadi, Vijayawada-Guntur-Guntakal sections.
- As a bulk of its freight traffic has to pass through these major routes, SCR needs to maximize the throughput available across these critical sections.
- Saving of path across congested routes, quicker transit time, maximizing the throughput of critical sections, saving in crews are the major operational benefits of running long haul trains, which help IR serve its freight customers better.
5. THE INVESCO-ZEE DISPUTE
THE CONTEXT: India’s Zee Entertainment is locked in a legal battle with one of its biggest foreign investors, Invesco after it called for the ouster of the TV network’s CEO citing concerns around corporate governance. Zee has said it has tightened its governance processes. But the dispute comes at a fraught time for one of India’s biggest news and entertainment TV groups as it recently started merger talks with the local unit of Japan’s Sony Group Corp.
WHAT ARE INVESCO’S DEMANDS?
- Invesco’s legal filings show it wants changes at Zee in light of corporate governance and financial irregularities that have plagued the company and have even been flagged by India’s market regulator.
- Invesco’s Developing Markets Fund and it’s OFI Global China Fund LLC own a near 18% stake in Zee. They have suggested six new independent board members be appointed and remove Zee’s current CEO, Punit Goenka.
HOW DOES ZEE VIEW INVESCO’S DEMANDS?
- Zee on October 1 rejected Invesco’s request to revamp the board, saying that the move had legal infirmities.
- Invesco then took the battle to India’s companies tribunal, where it is trying to force Zee to call the meeting, saying Zee’s behaviour is “oppressive”. Zee has two weeks to respond, as per a tribunal order on October 8.
- Zee says that it has implemented corrective plans to address concerns raised by the market regulator and that it follows the “highest standards of governance”.
- It remains unclear which way the shareholders will vote if a meeting is called, but Zee’s founder Subhash Chandra, father of CEO Mr Goenka, has accused Invesco of plotting a hostile takeover.
IS THE ZEE-SONY DEAL AT RISK?
- While Invesco was pushing for a Zee shareholder meeting, the Indian giant announced its merger talks with Sony. The deal terms say Mr Goenka plans to continue to be the CEO of the merged entity, which will be majority-owned by Sony.
- Invesco has in Indian tribunal hearings said it’s not against the Zee-Sony plan, but its filing does criticize how the two entered into talks.
- The Sony deal would allow Mr Chandra’s family to raise their shareholding to up to 20%, from 4% now. Invesco added that it was “plainly an attempt to distract the general public” and stall the convening of a shareholder meeting.
6. STATE VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK TO INDIA
THE CONTEXT: Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, hosted Her Excellency Ms Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, during a State visit to India from 9-11 October 2021.
- They agreed that India and Denmark are natural and close partners and agreed to enhance efforts for reforming and strengthening multilateralism and a rules-based international order, including freedom of navigation.
- The two Prime Ministers reconfirmed their commitment to an aspiring and results-oriented Green Strategic Partnership.
- The two Prime Ministers noted the immense potential of developing renewable energy in India and, in this context, welcomed the new manufacturing and technology investments from Danish companies in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
- The two Prime Ministers noted the active global collaboration on new green energy technologies, including under EU Horizon Programs and Mission Innovation, and emphasized the Indian-Danish collaboration for low emissions as well as in the planned joint call for research and development projects in the area of green fuels, including green hydrogen.
- As India and Denmark are Members of LeadIT, both Prime Ministers also agreed to pursue cooperation on hard-to-abate sectors in relation to the Leadership Group on Industry Transition.
- The two Prime Ministers confirmed the collaboration on initiatives to combat the global challenge of climate change, in accordance with goals set out by the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The Prime Ministers also agreed that global collaboration is essential for ensuring a sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery. The Prime Ministers discussed the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow and agreed on the need for concrete and ambitious results from COP26 and work closely together in this regard.
- The Prime Ministers expressed a shared ambition to expand the commercial cooperation within the energy to include e-mobility, offshore wind, and fuel technologies, including green hydrogen and green methanol.
- The two Prime Ministers noted that the UNLEASH initiative will be launched in Bengaluru, India, in 2022. This will support the role of the youth in fostering entrepreneurship necessary for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Prime Ministers noted that the two countries shall establish collaborations between science agencies on the Indian side and the Novo Nordisk Foundation on the Danish side through matched contributions for research and development in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
- The two Prime Ministers decided to explore mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to ease travel between the two countries.
- MoU between Council of Scientific & Industrial Research- National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, India, Aarhus University, Denmark and Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland on mapping of groundwater resources and aquifers.
- MoU between Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Danfoss Industries Private Limited to establish a Centre of Excellence towards natural refrigerants for tropical climates with potential applications.
- The Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of strengthened multilateral cooperation to effectively tackle COVID-19, including the need to reform and reinforce the WHO and international emergency preparedness and build back better and greener.
- The two Prime Ministers shared perspectives on developments in their respective regions, including the problematic situation in Afghanistan and agreed on the importance of 1) Avoiding further regional destabilization; 2) strengthening regional engagement including regional trade and connectivity, and taking firm steps to counter radicalization; and 3) maintaining progress on fundamental rights.
- They committed to continuing support to the Afghan people, while underlining the need for inclusivity in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism guarantees and respect for human rights, particularly women’s rights, according to UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021).
7. 3RDINDIA – UK ENERGY FOR GROWTH PARTNERSHIP – MINISTERIAL ENERGY DIALOGUE
THE CONTEXT: The 3rd India – UK Energy for Growth Partnership – Union Minister co-chaired ministerial Energy Dialogue for Power and New &Renewable Energy and Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) from the UK side.
- Energy Transition was a major area of discussion in the dialogue and the Energy Ministers spoke in detail on the ongoing Energy Transition activities in their respective countries with a focus on renewables, including solar, offshore wind, storage, EVs, alternative fuels, etc
- The UK side presented a detailed summary of the significant ongoing work and the past work done in the last two years under the umbrella of bilateral cooperation which was appreciated and endorsed by both sides.
- The dignitaries welcomed the Roadmap 2030 for India-UK future relations launched by both the Prime Ministers during India-UK Virtual Summit on 4thMay 2021 and identified various future areas of collaboration in line with the Roadmap 2030.
- The sides deliberated and agreed on a Forward Action Plan on Power and Clean Transport, Renewables, Green Finance and Clean Energy Research as part of the roadmap 2030, covering a range of topics including smart grids, energy storage, green hydrogen, charging infrastructure, battery storage and need of mobilizing investments in renewable energy along with other proposals under the multilateral collaboration.
- The dialogue concluded with both sides underlining the importance of international cooperation in securing affordable and sustainable energy for the world while setting concrete action plans for driving the clean energy transition in the Power Sector.
PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Which of the following pairs about environmental remediation techniques is/are correctly matched?
- Bioremediation – Use of bacteria
- Phytoremediation – Use of algae
- Phytoremediation – Use of living plants
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 09, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
- Bhashan Char, also known as Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh.
- It is located in the Bay of Bengal, about 6 kilometres from Sandwip Island and 60 km from the mainland.
- The island was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006. It spans 40 square kilometres.
- Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being relocated on the island.