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Here are the topics covered for 05 September 2023: Distraction Balloon in the Winds of Federalism, Tiers Apart, 25% of PMUY customers took no cylinder refill or just one last year, Ready to Assess Capacity of Hill States, Government Tells SC, Emerging Countries Need Women-led Climate Action, Aditya L1: Functioning and Purpose, Navy’s Maritime Infrastructure Plan, CBDCs can make payments across borders efficiently: Das.
Table of Contents:
- Distraction Balloon in the Winds of Federalism
- Tiers Apart
- 25% of PMUY customers took no cylinder refill or just one last year
- Ready to Assess Capacity of Hill States, Government Tells SC
- Emerging Countries Need Women-led Climate Action
- Aditya L1: Functioning and Purpose
Facts for Prelims:
- Navy’s Maritime Infrastructure Plan
- CBDCs can make payments across borders efficiently: Das
Distraction Balloon in the Winds of Federalism
Context: The recent discussion and debate over the One Nation One Election (ONOE) sparked controversies in favor and against the ONOE.
- The government argues that India is in a ‘permanent campaign and India has had either a State or a national election every year for the last 36 years.
- This devours enormous financial resources and efforts, and the time of the government and political parties is the seeming concern.
- An election held constantly in some part of the country with a ‘model code of conduct’ distracts from governance and leads to policy paralysis.
- Except ‘India’ does not have an election every year, one of India’s States does. There is a fundamental difference between the two.
- For example, If the election is in Bengal it will not affect any other state in India which means the election in Bengal will not stop road projects in Gujarat or any development project in any other part of the country except the state going through the election.
- All of India’s major political parties are not in an election mode, only some are.
- Each of India’s States has different political cultures and parties. Why should the basic constitutional structure of the country be changed?
- This is an attack on and an affront to India’s federalism. Today, an elected Chief Minister of a State has the power to recommend the dissolution of their State legislatures and call for early elections, as Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) did in 2018.
- Under a ‘one election’ framework, the elected leader of any state will not have the right to do this.
- Why should the dissolution of state assemblies and deciding election schedules remain only with the Union government? This again violates the federal principle.
- Simultaneous elections between 195152 and 1967 did not happen due to systematic design but by the starting point for all the existing states at that time and imperative to take simultaneous elections after independence.
- In the last 5 to 6 decades various regional political parties mushroomed and plurality of Indian society reflected in elections of various states.
Cost of Current election system:
- Various estimates by the Election Commission NITI Aayog and the government show that the costs of conducting all State and parliamentary elections in a five year cycle work out to the equivalent of ₹10 per voter per year.
- Simultaneous elections will increase the costs of deploying far larger numbers of electronic voting machines and control units.
- The government’s logic is incompatible with the vagaries of a parliamentary system in a large and diverse democracy.
Unitarianism in the form of Efficiency:
- One nation one election is a politically unfeasible, administratively unworkable, and constitutionally viable proposition.
- ONOE is against federalism and a tiered government.
- Multi-tiered governance system like India, electoral democracy works by allowing people to choose their representatives for each tier based on their perception of who is best suited to represent them for each specific tier.
- The demarcation allows for specific roles for each representative across these tiers and suggests varied voter choices that could be based on party affiliation, candidate strength, ideological positions, or simple socio economic reasons specific to each constituency.
- This system violates multi-tiered systems like Parliamentary, Assembly, and Panchayati Raj and ULBs elections.
- The proposal speaks of the need for simultaneous elections as a cost cutting exercise allowing voting in parliamentary, Assembly, municipal, and panchayat elections in one go.
- First, there is no study to prove that there will be significant costs with simultaneous elections, and in any case, the costs incurred in the conduct of elections are not essentially wasteful as there is a multiplier effect on campaign spending and economic activity around polls.
- Elections for different levels also allow voters to hold their representatives to account and for their specific grievances to be noted.
- Second, the conduct of various elections at different points in time is to only elect representatives for these tiers and is not a referendum on just one tier or even an individual leader at every point in time, as the BJP has sought to make it.
- Those in civil and political society who are committed to India’s federal structure should argue for the separation of the Lok Sabha election from polls to Assemblies as the campaign issues and democratic choices vary.
- In any case, unless the term of each Lok Sabha and Assembly is fixed, and premature dissolution for whatever reason is barred, the idea is unworkable.
25% of PMUY customers took no cylinder refill or just one last year
- PMUY is a scheme that aims to make LPG gas cylinders available to rural and deprived households.
- One out of every four beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) either did not take any cylinders during 2022-2023 or took just one refill.
- The spike in LPG cylinder prices made them an expensive proposition even for subsidized households; rates have almost doubled since 2018, reaching ₹903 a cylinder in March 2023 even after a subsidy of ₹200 per cylinder was offered to PMUY beneficiaries in May 2022.
Important facts related to PMUY:
- According to data from three major gas companies — Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL),
- One in nine PMUY beneficiaries, or over 1.18 crore households, bought no refill cylinders at all last year (Chart 1). Another 1.51 crore beneficiaries bought only one refill cylinder.
How LPG prices are determined?
- Over 70% of the LPG retail price in Delhi is determined by the international Free On Board (FOB) price of LPG.
- FOB is a weighted average of the Saudi Aramco contract price for Butane (60%) and Propane (40%).
- Apart from base price, factors such as import charges, bottling charges, freight, delivery charges, GST, and distributor commission determine the price of LPG.
- The FOB price of LPG has been on a rising trend since May 2020. In March 2022, it was the highest in at least the last three years ($952 per metric tonne). Due to the absence of subsidy back then, the hike in FOB price was borne by the consumer.
- Notably, the FOB prices have been rapidly falling since April 2022, coinciding with the first subsidy announcement in May 2022. The FOB prices cooled down to a new low of $385 per metric tonne by July 2023.
Ready to Assess Capacity of Hill States, Government Tells SC
Context: The Centre has proposed forming a 13member technical committee, headed by the Director of the GB Pant NIHE, to evaluate the “carrying capacity” of 13 Himalayan State.
What is the Carrying Capacity:
- The carrying capacity is the maximum population size that an ecosystem can sustain without getting degraded.
- Minute and extensive information was essential to assess the “accurate carrying capacity” of each hill station as per guidelines prepared by the GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment.
Why was the committee formed?
- Frequent landslides leading to deaths and destruction had led the Supreme Court to moot a reevaluation of the loadcarrying capacity of hill towns and cities.
- The union government gave the reminder to the Himalayan states on May 19, 2023, to submit an action report ASAP.
- The government affidavit has now urged the court to intervene with the Himalayan States to submit their action taken reports and action plans in a time bound manner.
- The states could constitute committees headed by their respective Chief Secretaries to collect information on the load carrying capacity of their hill stations, cities, and eco sensitive zones.
- Experts could be drawn from multiple disciplines, including hydrology, remote sensing, Himalayan geology, forestry, wildlife, architecture disaster management, pollution, and groundwater protection.
Emerging Countries Need Women-led Climate Action
Role of Gender in Climate Change:
- Gender equality and environmental goals are mutually reinforcing and create a virtuous circle that will help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]” (Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development, 2021).
Impacts of Climate Change:
- The effects of climate change vary according to location, socioeconomic status, and gender.
- Organization study (2019) said that, in 2030, 2.2 percent of total working hours worldwide will be lost to high temperatures, a productivity loss equivalent to 80 million full time jobs.
- The United Nations (2009) highlighted that across genders, women are considered to be highly vulnerable and disproportionately affected by climate change than men to the impact of climate change.
Impacts in Low-Income Countries:
- Women in developing and less developed countries (especially in low income areas) are more vulnerable to climate change because of their dependence on natural resources and labor intensive work for their livelihood.
- Women are more likely to live in poverty than men, which is just one of several social, economic, and cultural variables that make them more susceptible to the effects of climate change.
- Women from low income households are more at risk because they are more responsible for food, water, and other homely unpaid work.
- Due to the climate crisis, more time and effort are needed to obtain necessities.
- Rural women often shoulder the burden of ensuring access to clean water, adequate cooking fuel, and nutritious food for their families.
- increased risk for health and safety because they must travel long distances every day to collect water and fuel.
- This is why climate change has a disproportionate effect on rural women.
Women in South Asian Countries:
- Women in low income countries (predominantly South Asia and subSaharan Africa) engage in climate vulnerable occupations such as farming and other labor intensive work.
- According to the ILO, over 60% of working women in southern Asia and subSaharan Africa are still in agriculture, where they are often underpaid and overworked.
- Despite being the backbone of the food production system, women own only about 10% of the land used for farming.
- According to a UN study, most (80%) of those displaced by climate related disasters are women and girls.
- Women from particular communities face difficulty during and after disasters and even face exploitation.
- Separation from social networks, a higher risk of gender based violence, and decreased access to employment, education, and essential health services, such as sexual and reproductive health care and psychosocial support, are just some gender specific issues women face.
- According to estimates, 130 million people could be pushed into poverty by 2050 due to climate change risks, natural disasters, and food inflation, impacting women’s inequality.
Agriculture and Women: In Developing Countries
- Climate change impacts agricultural productivity negatively and significantly, Heat stress affects workers a lot in this sector.
- Women engaged in agriculture do not have access to quality inputs and possess low education and technical knowledge. Hence they bear the brunt of unpredictable precipitation, flooding, water stress, etc.
Investing in Women’s Education and Training:
- Investments in women’s education, training, and access to resources are essential if we are to be resilient to the impact of climate change.
- Reduce the negative impacts of climate change on people’s living standards by teaching them how to practice sustainable agriculture, water management, and energy generation.
- For example, in India, the SelfEmployed Women’s Association (SEWA) teaches women farmers how to respond to shifting climate patterns to support themselves better financially.
- Therefore, it is essential to support groups that educate the public, train people to adapt to climate change and invest in women’s education and training in environmentally friendly farming methods.
- Women’s participation in climate policy decision making at all levels is crucial for effective climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies as well as getting decent employment.
- As women face greater risks in climate change, gender parity in decision making bodies is essential. For example, One such program in South Asia is the Gender and Climate Change Development Programme, which aims to increase women’s influence in policy making by providing them with a stronger voice.
Aditya L1: Functioning and Purpose
About the Sun:
- The Sun is made up of a soup of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and other ions mixed with the solar magnetic field, extending somewhere between 10 and 20 solar radii from the surface of the Sun, the solar corona, the atmosphere of the Sun is an enigma.
- The surface of the Sun is 5,600 degrees, and the corona, interestingly, is about two million degrees.
About the L1 Point:
- Discovered by mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange, L1 is one of the five points located approximately 1.5 million kilometers away, where the gravitational forces of the Sun and the Earth are in equilibrium.
- a spacecraft placed at L1 orbits the Sun at the same rate as Earth and affords an uninterrupted view of the Sun, making it an ideal observation post for space based solar observatories.
Other Countries at L1 and India’s AdityaL1:
- The L1 is currently home to the European Space Agency (ESA) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Aditya L1 will be in a halo orbit around L1.
Observing the Sun:
- Solar activity is measured in terms of the number of sunspots. Sunspots are cooler regions on the Sun’s surface that increase and decrease in a cycle of 11 years.
- When the Sun is active, the number of sunspots is in the hundreds, and at solar minimum, the numbers are nearly zero.
- According to the Pune based InterUniversity Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, “Despite the variation in solar activity, the emission in visible and long wavelengths is nearly steady.
- It will help to know how far variation in the UV rays emitted by the Sun contributes to climate variability on Earth.
- The Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) will observe the UV radiation from different zones of the solar atmosphere.
- The onboard intelligence system will detect any sudden appearance of bright spots, such as solar flares (a sudden burst of high energy visible light, UV rays, X rays, and Gamma rays) on the disc.
- Combining the data from the Solar Low Energy X Ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) and the High Energy L1 Orbiting X Ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS), gain insights into the emergence, progression, and energetics of transient events on the surface of the Sun in the UV region”.
- The data from SUIT and other papers of Aditya L1 will help us resolve the contribution of natural and anthropogenic factors driving climate change.
- Called Coronal Mass ejection (CME), a chunk of the corona suddenly accelerates and leaps into interplanetary space, this cloud consisting of billion tonnes of energetic plasma mixed with a solar magnetic field is hurled at 250 kilometers per second to 3,000 km/s.
- Usually, the corona is not visible in the glare of the radiant Sun, except during the brief moment of a total solar eclipse.
- Artificial eclipses in the solar telescope, called coronagraph, to observe the corona.
- The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) was developed by the Bengalurubased Indian Institute of Astrophysics, and can peek as close as 1.05 solar radii, a region never imaged by any solar telescope it can get crucial information about the mechanism responsible for CME acceleration.
- Along with sunlight and electromagnetic radiation, such as ultraviolet rays, the Sun emits a constant stream of charged particles and a mixture of solar magnetic fields that travel throughout interplanetary space. Called a solar wind, the average speed of the flow near the Earth is about 300 kilometers per second.
- The solar wind constantly rams the Earth’s magnetosphere, which functions like a shield and deflects most of it.
Negative Impacts of Solar Activities:
- A geomagnetic storm occurs when the solar storm bashes the Earth’s magnetosphere.
- The beautiful auroras appear as more energetic particles flow through the north and south poles, GPS and shortwave communication are disrupted, and the electronics in the satellite are in danger.
- Intense geomagnetic storms can induce magnetic induced currents in the power grid and pipelines, resulting in power outages and fire.
- The energy from the charged particles heats the upper atmosphere, increasing the density and causing extra drag on satellites in low earth orbit.
- The changes in the solar wind’s density, speed, and direction are called space weather. Solar storms result in inclement space weather.
- Near Earth’s environment is filled with hundreds of satellites and the change in the space weather can affect them directly. The trajectory can be deflected by the impact of a solar storm on the upper atmosphere. ISRO alone has 50,000 crore worth of space assets.
- Aditya L1 will function as a space weather station. The Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX).
- The Plasma Analyser Package For Aditya (PAPA)
- d the advanced Triaxial HighResolution Digital Magnetometers
- Understanding space weather is an international issue, and the data from Aditya L1 will aid in making models and predicting storms in advance.
Facts for Prelims:
Navy’s Maritime Infrastructure Plan
- Maritime Infrastructure Perspective Plan (MIPP), 202337 at the second edition of the biennial Naval Commanders Conference.
- The MIPP aims to synchronize and enmesh the infrastructure requirements of the Navy, over the next 15 years.
- The Plan Document is aligned with the government’s vision of the creation of sustainable infrastructure and encompasses salients for compliance with broader policy directives on the PM Gati Shakti project, disaster resilience, and transition to net zero.
- Indian Register for Shipping (IRS) rules and regulations handbook, family logbook, and electronic service document project.
IAF begins Western Air Command’s annual exercise
- The annual training exercise, Trishul, of the Western Air Command (WAC) of the Indian Air Force started.
- This exercise aimed at the activation of all air assets and force multipliers spread across the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
- operational preparedness and will see the employment of all the frontline assets from fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, and other force multipliers at a high tempo.
CBDCs can make payments across borders efficiently: Das
- The RBI Governor said that high cost, low speed, limited access, and insufficient transparency remained key challenges to existing cross border payments, and that adoption of the Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) can make such payments efficient.
- “Faster, cheaper, more transparent, and more inclusive crossborder payment services would be widespread.
Significance of use of Local Currency:
- The use of local currencies in cross-border payments could help to shield emerging market currencies from global shocks, protect against exchange rate fluctuations, and encourage the development of local forex and capital markets.