Daily News Analysis 25 May 2023

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Table of Contents

GS-3                                             

  • Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?

Facts for Prelims

  • 76th World Health Assembly
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Key facts about Papua New Guinea

 

Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?

Context

There are questions on whether nuclear power, with its attendant concerns on cost and safety, remains a relevant option for a future that is fossil-free, particularly in India.

About Nuclear Energy:

What is Nuclear Energy?

  • Nuclear energy is a type of energy that is derived from the nucleus, or core, of an atom.
  • This energy can be extracted and used to generate electricity through two atomic reactions: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.

The Global Outlook for Nuclear Power:

  • There has been a renewed interest in nuclear power globally, with countries like China, South Korea, and Japan investing in its development.
  • China has been leading in nuclear power expansion, while South Korea aims to increase its share of nuclear power in its energy mix.
  • Despite the Fukushima accident, Japan has restarted reactors and plans to start more to reduce dependence on expensive imported coal or natural gas.
  • Even the UK recognizes the importance of scaling up nuclear power for decarbonizing the electricity sector.

India\’s Nuclear Power:

  • India currently operates 22 nuclear reactors, with additional projects in the pipeline.
  • Nuclear power contributes to 3% of India\’s total electricity generation, and there are plans to triple its installed capacity by 2032.
  • The country aims to increase its nuclear-installed capacity from 6,780 MW to 22,480 MW by 2031.

Law Governing Nuclear Liability:

Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC):

  • The CSC was established in 1997 to set a minimum national compensation amount for nuclear incidents.
  • It allows for additional public funds to compensate for damages if the national amount is insufficient.

India\’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA):

  • India ratified the CSC in 2016 and enacted the CLNDA in 2010 to provide a speedy compensation mechanism for nuclear accident victims.
  • The CLNDA holds the nuclear plant operator liable for damages, regardless of fault.

Advantages of Nuclear Power:

  • Efficient Power Supplier: Nuclear power has a higher energy density and requires less fuel compared to coal or natural gas plants.
  • Co-Existence with Other Power Sources: Nuclear power provides a reliable and consistent energy source alongside intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar.
  • Efficiency of Newer Machines: Advanced designs have improved safety and efficiency, ensuring better control over temperature and waste-heat management.

Challenges Associated with Nuclear Power:

  • Safety Concerns: Nuclear accidents have catastrophic consequences, leading to concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants.
  • Nuclear Proliferation: Enrichment of uranium for fuel production raises the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.
  • Liability Issues: Determining liability in the event of a nuclear accident can be a complex issue.
  • Cost Overruns: The construction and operation costs of nuclear power plants are higher compared to alternative energy sources.
  • Radioactive Waste: Proper disposal of radioactive waste remains a significant challenge with potential environmental consequences.

Way Forward:

  • Despite concerns, nuclear power provides low-carbon base-load power. It should be part of India\’s energy mix in the short to medium term.
  • India should also invest in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in the long term.

 

76th World Health Assembly

 

Context

Recently, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare delivered the keynote address at a side event session on “Heal in India & Heal by India” at the 76th World Health Assembly, in Geneva.

About the \’Heal by India\’ Initiative:

  • Purpose: The initiative aims to increase the movement of healthcare professionals from India to different parts of the world, following the Indian philosophy of \’Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam\’ (The World is One Family).
  • Objective: To offer integrated and comprehensive healthcare services to people worldwide in India and improve access to high-quality healthcare that is affordable.
  • Impact: Enhancing patient mobility and providing world-class medical treatment to individuals from around the globe.

About the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Role: WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that focuses on international public health.
  • Headquarters: It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Establishment: WHO was founded on April 7, 1948, which is celebrated as World Health Day.
  • Work: The agency leads global efforts to expand universal health coverage, coordinates responses to health emergencies, and guides worldwide health initiatives.
  • Decision-Making Body: The World Health Assembly (WHA), consisting of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the supreme decision-making authority.
  • Funding: WHO relies on voluntary donations provided by member states to support its activities

 

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

 

Context

As per the latest research, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

About Multiple Sclerosis:

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

  • It is a long-term illness that affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
  • In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers called myelin, leading to communication problems between the brain and the body.
  • Over time, this can result in permanent damage or deterioration of the nerve fibers.

Causes of Multiple Sclerosis:

There are several possible causes of MS, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders: When the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
  • Infectious agents, such as viruses: Certain viruses may trigger an abnormal immune response.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain substances or infections.
  • Genetic factors: Family history of MS can increase the risk.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Symptoms can vary widely among individuals and depend on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage in the central nervous system.
  • Mild symptoms may include blurred vision, numbness, and tingling in the limbs.
  • Severe cases can lead to paralysis, vision loss, and mobility problems.

Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis:

  • There is currently no cure for MS, but various treatments are available to help manage the condition:
  • Speeding up recovery from attacks.
  • Modifying the course of the disease.
  • Managing symptoms to improve quality of life.

About the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV):

What is the Epstein-Barr Virus?

  • It is one of the most common viruses found in humans worldwide.
  • EBV spreads through bodily fluids, particularly saliva.

Symptoms of EBV Infection:

  • Fatigue, fever, inflamed throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, enlarged spleen, and rash.
  • EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis, also known as mono, and other illnesses.

Prevention:

  • Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against EBV infection.

 

Papua New Guinea

Context

 

Prime Minister recently concluded his visit to Papua New Guinea where he co-hosted the first Forum for India-Pacific Islands cooperation (FIPIC) summit.

About Papua New Guinea:

Location:

  • Papua New Guinea is an island country located in the southwestern Pacific.
  • It encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea, which is the world\’s second-largest island, along with several smaller offshore islands.
  • It shares borders with Indonesia to the west, Australia to the south, and Solomon Islands to the southeast.

Capital and Terrain:

  • The capital city of Papua New Guinea is Port Moresby.
  • The country is mainly mountainous, but it also has low-lying plains in southern New Guinea.

History and Language:

  • The islands that make up Papua New Guinea were settled by various groups of people, known as Melanesians, over a span of 40,000 years.
  • English is the primary language used in government and business, while Tok Pisin is widely spoken in everyday contexts.
  • Linguistically, Papua New Guinea is the most diverse country globally, with over 800 languages spoken.

Religion and Government:

  • The majority of the population in Papua New Guinea identifies as Christian.
  • Papua New Guinea gained self-governance on December 1, 1973, and achieved independence on September 16, 1975.
  • It is a constitutional monarchy and a member of the Commonwealth, with the British monarch represented by a governor-general as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of government.

About the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC):

  • FIPIC is a collaborative platform for cooperation between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations.
  • The participating nations include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
  • The FIPIC initiative demonstrates India\’s commitment to expand its engagement and strengthen relations in the Pacific region.

 

 

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