Daily News Analysis 15th Jan. 2024 (The Hindu)


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Here are the topics covered for  15 January 2024:

GS-2: India-Czech Republic

GS-3:Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project, Green Hydrogen, National Clean Air Programme

Facts for Prelims: Kalaram Temple


India-Czech Republic


  • India has signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with the Czech Republic at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.


India-Czech Republic Relations

  • From medieval spice trade to nanosatellite launches, India and the Czech Republic have nurtured a remarkable friendship rooted in centuries of shared history and values. 
  • In the age of Bohemia, these nations flourished through vibrant trade, with Indian spices crossing continents to ignite Czech kitchens. 
  • This cultural connection deepened during the Czech National Revival when prominent scholars found inspiration in the wisdom of ancient India.
  • Formal diplomatic ties, established with Czechoslovakia in 1947, continued with the Czech Republic after its formation in 1993. 
  • The 21st century witnessed a surge in economic collaboration, particularly after Czech entry into the European Union in 2004. 
  • Today, bilateral trade flourishes, exceeding $3 billion in 2022 compared to a mere $86 million in 1993, a testament to the thriving partnership.
  • Beyond trade, India and the Czech Republic forge bonds in strategic sectors like defense. 
  • A 2003 MoU laid the groundwork for joint initiatives, with Czech companies supplying vital equipment to the Indian armed forces. 
  • The scientific realm also blooms with collaboration, particularly in fields like nuclear energy, cyber security, and artificial intelligence, leveraging the Czech Republic\’s renowned technological prowess.
  • A remarkable symbol of this collaboration is VZLUSAT-1, the first Czech satellite launched by ISRO in 2017
  • This tiny technological ambassador, orbiting Earth at just 2 kg, embodies the spirit of innovation shared by both nations.
  • On the global stage, the Czech Republic has been a steadfast supporter of India\’s aspirations, advocating for its full membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. 
  • Cultural ties remain vibrant, with Indology holding a proud place at Prague\’s prestigious Charles University since the 1850s. 
  • Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil resonate in its classrooms, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.
  • Tourism and academic exchange further strengthen this bond. Czech landscapes enchant Indian visitors, while a growing number of Indian students and professionals enrich the Czech Republic\’s diverse workforce. 
  • With approximately 9,000 Indian nationals residing in the country, mostly as IT professionals and business leaders, the shared future of these two nations continues to blossom.


Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project


  • In a bid to unlock the scientific potential of the Thirty Meter Telescope, an Indian delegation ventured to Mauna Kea, engaging in crucial discussions to tackle roadblocks and pave the way for smooth progress.


About TMT Project

    • It has a primary-mirror optical with 30-metre diameter and infrared telescope that will enable observations into deep space. 
    • A joint collaboration of the US, Japan, China, Canada, and India.


  • India as a contributor
    • Hardware: actuators edge sensors, segment coating, etc.
    • Instrumentation: first light instruments
    • Software: observatory software and telescope control system
  • The India Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) is the leading consortium of Indian institutions that are involved with the TMT project.


Green Hydrogen


  • The World Economic Forum\’s \”Green Hydrogen Roadmap\” for India highlights five non-renewable energy sectors ripe for public-private partnership and green hydrogen integration.


Need for Green Hydrogen in India

  • As the world\’s third-largest energy guzzler, India faces a colossal challenge: its energy demand is projected to skyrocket by 35% by 2030. 
  • Yet, amid this surging appetite, the nation made a bold pledge at COP26: Net Zero by 2070. 
  • To navigate this delicate balancing act, Green Hydrogen emerges as a crucial ally, promising energy security while slashing emissions on the path to net zero. 
  • However, a harsh reality lurks – most of India\’s current hydrogen is \”grey,\” riddled with carbon baggage.


Green Hydrogen Roadmap

  • Supply-side:
    • Bridging the cost gap: Reaching cost-competitiveness with grey hydrogen requires driving down green hydrogen\’s price to $2/kg. This needs focused effort on improving technology and scaling up production.
    • Creating a level playing field: Policy interventions and financial incentives are key to attracting investments and making green hydrogen a viable alternative to grey hydrogen.


  • Demand-side:
    • Stimulating early adoption: Direct subsidies like the $3/kg tax credit under the US IRA can significantly incentivize industries to switch to green hydrogen, especially early adopters who pioneer the technology.
    • Building long-term confidence: Stable and predictable policies with clear incentives can create the necessary environment for companies to invest in the long-term cycles of green hydrogen technologies.
    • Nurturing domestic innovation: Promoting research and development of indigenous electrolyzer technology will not only reduce dependence on imports but also create a robust green hydrogen ecosystem in India.


National Clean Air Programme


  • After five years of the NCAP, it faces scrutiny on fund utilization and air quality improvements in the 131 funded cities.


About NCAP

  • In January 2019, India\’s growing air pollution crisis pushed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to take action. They launched the ambitious National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) with a bold mission: tackling air pollution nationwide and preparing clean air action plans for targeted cities.
  • Target: Improve air quality in 131 cities across 24 states.
  • Cities included: Non-attainment cities (NACs) exceeding national air quality standards for 5 years, as identified by the Central Pollution Control Board based on 2014-2018 air quality data.
  • Goals: Reduce Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentrations by up to 40% by 2025-26 (compared to the 2017 baseline).
  • Strategies: Develop city-specific action plans focusing on:
    • Strengthening air quality monitoring networks.
    • Reducing vehicular and industrial emissions.
    • Increasing public awareness.
  • Implementation and monitoring: Regular oversight by central and state-level committees (Steering, Monitoring, and Implementation).


Current Scenario

  • A two-year review of the National Clean Air Programme reveals disappointing results, with just 14 of 43 target cities achieving a 10% or more reduction in PM2.5 levels. Surprisingly, even non-NCAP cities outscored, with 21 showing improvement.
  • Mumbai\’s air quality plummets under NCAP, raising concerns about the program\’s effectiveness. Meanwhile, funding prioritization on PM10 and neglect of rural areas pose further challenges to India\’s clean air ambitions.
  • PM2.5 monitoring gap: Under-equipped stations hinder accurate assessment and effective pollution control in many cities.
  • Rural blind spot: NCAP\’s urban focus overlooks a significant contributor to air pollution, jeopardizing its overall impact.
  • No room for emissions: Lack of carrying capacity studies leaves cities vulnerable to air quality overload.


Facts for Prelims

Baleen Whales

  • Baleen whales, these majestic mammals of the sea, have a unique way of dining. 
  • No teeth in sight, just rows of flexible plates called baleen. 
  • Imagine a giant sieve in their mouths, scooping up plankton and krill like fishy soup. 
  • These gentle giants are not just masters of filter feeding, but crucial players in keeping the ocean balanced and alive.


Kalaram Temple

  • Shrouded in legend and steeped in time, the Kalaram Temple whispers tales of ancient devotion and divine dreams. 
  • Legend whispers of a black-hued Rama, slumbering beneath the Godavari\’s shimmering surface, dreamt into reality by Sardar Rangarao Odhekar. 
  • In 1792, guided by visions and faith, he raised this majestic haven, not for the Rama he knew, but for the enigmatic deity enshrined within centuries before.


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