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  1. COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality
  2. ‘Strategic comfort’ with the Maldives
  3. The good food fix

COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality


In the post-COVID-19 world, we should make efforts to ensure that the ‘G’ in GDP is not ‘Gross’ but ‘Green’


GS Paper 3: Environmental conservation; Environmental pollution and degradation; Environmental Impact Assessment

Mains questions

  1. Our environmental problems have profound public health consequences both in terms of morbidity and mortality and hence demand urgent actions. Discuss the statement in context of  a recent report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’. 15 marks
  2. Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region. 15 marks

Dimensions of the article

  • What is climate change and carbon neutrality?
  • Evidences related to climate change
  • Reports related to climate change
  • Global efforts made related to climate change
  • India’s efforts related climate change actions
  • Way forward

What is climate change and carbon neutrality?

Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer. Various factors are responsible for it including-

  • Natural Factors: such as continental drift, volcanoes, ocean currents, the earth’s tilt, and comets and meteorites. The natural factors affect the climate change in long term and persist for thousand to millions of years.
  • Anthropogenic (Human Caused) Factors: includes greenhouse gases, aerosols and pattern of land use changes etc.

Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration.

  • The American State of California — the world’s fifth largest economy in itself — was the first to commit itself to carbon neutrality by 2045.
  • In September 2020, China stunned the world by declaring its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.
  • At the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, India committed to having 40% of our electricity-generating capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030.
See the source image

Evidences related to climate change

  • Warmest years: The past four years—2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018— taken together are the four warmest years on record. In contrast to the other top warmest years, 2018 began with La Niña conditions, which are typically associated with lower global temperatures. Average global temperature reached approximately 1 °C above pre-industrial levels.
  • CO2 concentration and mean sea level continued to increase in 2018. A new record high of fossil CO2 emission – 36.9 (+/-1.8) billion tons of CO2 was reached in 2018.
  • Ocean acidification: In the past decade, the oceans absorbed around 25% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and the decrease in global ocean oxygen has continued. More than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases, goes into the oceans.
  • Glaciers and sea ice: Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average throughout 2018. The Greenland ice sheet has been losing ice mass nearly every year over the past two decades.
  • Ozone: 2018 Ozone hole was 24.8 million km² as against 28.2 million km² in 2015.
  • Natural Hazards: In 2018, weather and climate events accounted for most of nearly 62 million people affected by natural hazards. The report identified the floods in Kerala as one of the main indicators of extreme weather events due to climate change .
  • Population Displacement and Human Mobility: Out of the 17.7 million IDPs (Internally Displaced People), over 2 million people were displaced due to disasters linked to weather and climate events as on September 2018.
  • As per the Emission Gap Report the current efforts imply global warming of about 3°C by 2100, with warming continuing afterwards.
  • Sea Level Rise– As per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the Global Mean Sea Level from January to July 2018 was around 2 to 3 mm higher than the same period in 2017.
  • India has been ranked 11th in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) in 2019.
  • The carbon stock in India is roughly 7 billion tonnes, equivalent to 25.66 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Around 65% of carbon stock is stored in soil, and 35% in trees.
  • The World Bank estimates that, if climate change continues unhindered, then average temperatures in India could reach as high as 29.1° C by the end of the century.
  • According to the 2017-18 Economic Survey, extreme temperatures and droughts shrink farmer incomes to the tune of 4- 14% for key crops. The Survey had estimated the loss in agriculture production every year due to climate change is US$ 10 billion, or Rs 70,000 crore pushing the rural to urban migration.

Reports related to climate change

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report titled “Global Warming of 1.5°C”

  • Human-induced global warming has in 2017 already reached 1°C above preindustrial levels; the current climate efforts of countries will take the world to 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.
  • What happens at 2°C that does not happen at 1.5°C?
    • Prevention of around 3.3 million cases of dengue every year in Latin America and the Caribbean alone.
    • An additional 150 million people could be at risk from malaria.
    • 25 million fewer undernourished people by the end of the century, if the 1.5°C goal was achieved.
    • 1.5°C could prevent 153 million premature deaths due to air pollution by 2100, as compared to the 2°C scenario.
  • Thus, limiting global warming to 1.5°C should be targeted because
    • It would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.
    • Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5°C would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100.
    • The effectiveness of such techniques is unproven at large scale, and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development.

Global Energy & CO2 status in 2018

  • Global trend: India’s energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018. China, US, and India together accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the rise in energy demand.
  • CO2 emissions: India saw emissions rise by 4.8%, or 105 Mt, with the growth split evenly between power and other sectors such as transport and industry. Despite this growth, per capita emissions in India remain low at only 40% of the global average.
    • It found that CO2 emitted from coal combustion was responsible for over 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in global average annual surface temperatures above preindustrial levels. This makes coal the single largest source of global temperature increase.
  • Oil: Global oil demand rose by 1.3% in 2018, led by strong growth in the United States. Indian oil demand grew 5% in 2018 compared to 2017.
  • Natural gas consumption grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2018, its largest increase since 2010.
  • China the world’s largest natural gas importer in 2018, ahead of Japan, and was the second-largest contributor in volume to global demand growth after the United States.

Global efforts related to climate change

At present there are 2 major agreements concerning the climate action plan. These are the Paris Climate Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol Phase II.

Kyoto Protocol Phase II:

In Doha, Qatar, on 8 December 2012, the “Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol” was adopted. The amendment includes:

  • New commitments for Annex I Parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2020;
  • A revised list of greenhouse gases (GHG) to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period;
  • Amendments to several articles of the Kyoto Protocol which specifically referenced issues pertaining to the first commitment period and which needed to be updated for the second commitment period.

Paris Climate Agreement:

The Paris Agreement was adopted under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015. The central aim of the agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise, in this century, well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Progress since Paris Agreement, 2015

COP22@Marrakech: The main thrust of COP 22 was to develop rules for operationalizing the Paris agreement and advance work on Pre-2020 actions.

  • The “Marrakech Action Proclamation for our climate and sustainable development” initiated work on Adaptation Fund to serve the Paris Agreement. The Pre-2020 action, including mobilization of $ 100 billion per year and other support to developing countries was a key element of the Proclamation.

COP23@Bonn (chaired by Fiji):

  • Talanoa Dialogue: Talanoa dialogue a facilitative dialogue in 2018, to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal referred to Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of nationally determine contributions (NDCs) was launched.
  • Pre-2020 implementation and ambition: Parties agreed that there will be two stock-takes to discuss pre-2020 commitments – in 2018 and 2019 – before the Paris Agreement becomes operative in 2020.
  • Gender Action Plan: The first ever Gender Action Plan to the UNFCCC was adopted at COP23

COP24@Katowice (chaired by Poland)

  • It started a new international climate regime under which all countries will have to report their emissions – and progress in cutting them – every two years from 2024.

COP25@Madrid (chaired by Spain)

  • COP25 had an important role to play in bringing the 2015 Paris Agreement into force and paving the way for more ambitious carbon reduction commitments from governments at the next conference.
  • Other focus areas were adaptation to climate impacts, loss and damage suffered by developing nations due to climate change, finance for decarbonization and more.

India’s efforts related climate change actions

India has continuously demonstrated its responsibility towards acknowledging the emerging threats from climate change and implementing the climate actions on the basis of the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities for improving efficiency of the economy and its engines of growth. The major policies and plans include:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), launched in 2008, formulated in the backdrop of India’s voluntary commitment to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25 per cent by 2020 over 2005 levels. It was also meant to focus on key adaptation requirements and creation of scientific knowledge and preparedness for dealing with climate change.
  • State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with the NAPCC taking into account State’s specific issues relating to climate change. So far, 33 States/ UTs have prepared their SAPCCs.
  • Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP) has been launched in 2014 with the objective to build and support capacity at central and state levels, strengthening scientific and analytical capacity for climate change assessment, establishing appropriate institutional framework and implementing climate related actions in the context of sustainable development.
  • Measures on Ozone reduction: Ozone has been classified and monitored as one of the eight pollutants under National Air Quality index. System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR): ozone is monitored as one of the pollutants.
  • Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for Delhi and the NCR region, which comprises the graded measures for each source framed according to the Air Quality Index categories.
  • National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) has launched a training programme- a certificate course for Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC). SLACC is funded by the Special Climate Change Fund, which was set up under the UNFCC for adaptation and capacity building projects.

Way forward

  • Strict adherence to climate goals as committed in National Contributions (NDCs) and various global forums such as Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Require a UNFCCC-plus approach: Climate efforts cannot be restrictive to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. The world needs to think and devise more forums and venues to address climate change.
  • Equity is essential and must be re-visited: IPCC Report points out that “social justice and equity are core aspects of climate-resilient development pathways that aim to limit global warming to 1.5°C”.
  • Enhancing sinks in natural ecosystem: which require Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector in varying degree. Sequestering CO2 in AFOLU sector will require incentivising billions of farmers and forest-dwellers to pursue sustainable practices that enhance carbon sinks.
  • Investments in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency would need to approximately double in the next 20 years and investment in fossil-fuel extraction and conversion decrease by about a quarter

‘Strategic comfort’ with the Maldives


Despite the ‘India Out’ protests, New Delhi can take respite in the Solih government’s ‘India First’ policy


GS Paper 2:  India and its Neighbourhood (relations)

Mains questions

  1. Net provider of security is the nation which can address the security concerns of not only itself but also other countries in the vicinity or beyond. In this context, discuss the importance of Maldives’s strategic location In Indian ocean. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • Historical aspects of India-Maldives relations
  • Convergence of India-Maldives relations
  • Challenges related to India-Maldives relations
  • Way forward

Historical aspects of India-Maldives relations

As close and friendly neighbours, India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy cordial and multi-dimensional relations. India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Male in 1972.

India-Maldives Relations: A Tale Of Two Concerns – South Asia Journal

Convergence of India-Maldives relations

Strategic importance: India’s stakes in Maldives is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, and India being a major power in the Indian Ocean region has the highest stake in the stability of Maldives for various reasons like-

  • Securing sea lanes of communication, Fighting piracy and sea based terrorism,
  • Countering China’s string of pearls policy.
  • Making Indian ocean a conflict free zone and restoring its status as sea of tranquil.
  • Exploring blue economy and Enhancing trade.
  • Security of Indian expatriates working there.

India’s assistance to Maldives

  • Operation Cactus:  In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership.
  • Tsunami assistance: The 2004 tsunami and the drinking water crisis in Male a decade later were other occasions when India rushed assistance.
  • Pandemic assistance: At the peak of the continuing COVID-19 disruption, India rushed $250 million aid in quick time.

Bilateral treaties and strategic partnership:

  • 1976 Maritime Treaty: In December 1976, India and the Maldives signed a maritime boundary treaty to agree on maritime boundaries.[5] Treaty explicitly places Minicoy on the Indian side of the boundary.
  • 1981 Comprehensive trade agreement: In 1981, India and Maldives signed a comprehensive trade agreement. Both nations are founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement. Indian and Maldivian leaders have maintained high-level contacts and consultations on regional issues.
  • Commercial relations: Since the success of Operation Cactus, the relations between India and Maldives have expanded significantly. India has provided extensive economic aid and has participated in bilateral programmes for the development of infrastructure, health, telecommunications and labour resources. It established the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male, the capital of Maldives, expanded telecommunications and air links and increased scholarships for Maldivian students.
  • Military Relations: On April 2006 Indian Navy gifted a Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craft of 46 m length to Maldives National Defence Force’s Coast Guard. India started the process to bring the island country into India’s security grid.  India has also signed an agreement which includes following:
    • India will permanently base two helicopters in the country to enhance its surveillance capabilities and ability to respond swiftly to threats.
    • Maldives has coastal radars on only two of its 26 atolls. India will help set up radars on all 26 for seamless coverage of approaching vessels and aircraft.
    • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will carry out regular Dornier sorties over the island nation to look out for suspicious movements or vessels. The Southern Naval Command will overlook the inclusion of Maldives into the Indian security grid.

Challenges related to India-Maldives relations

  • Political Uncertainty: The Maldivian coalition government poses similar scenario like initial euphoria over Sri Lanka democratic government victory and the later unfolding of subsequent events.
  • China Factor: Though the Maldivian government has said it will rework the FTA but the huge debt owed to China may force Maldives to tread cautiously without antagonising China. Thus, India cannot stop its neighbour to engage actively with China due to its growing economic prowess in its backyard.
  • Terrorism Concern: In the past decade the number of Maldivians drawn towards terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) has grown in number due to political instability and socioeconomic underdevelopment. This has perpetual security concerns for India.
  • No independent Island policy: Though India is working towards a regional security architect under IORA and trilateral security arrangement it lacks an independent policy dealing collectively with archipelagos like Seychelles, Maldives, Madagascar and Mauritius amidst increasing Chinese presence along these islands.

Way forward

  • India needs to actively and diplomatically engage with its southern neighbours including Maldives.
  • Political support and people to people participation has to be readily increased.
  • An independent archipelago foreign policy needs to be developed to systematically partner with them. Also, the trilateral and bilateral security arrangements need to be reinforced in order to address the changing power structures in Indian Ocean.
  • More sustainable investment policies favouring socioeconomic development in an atmosphere of trust once developed can have long term benefits to both countries relationship.
  • India may further its approach of non-intervention in Maldives to manage a lighter diplomatic influence on a similar stance as it did during the previous regime. This may help India to build trust in the region and to get past its Big Brotherly image in the region.

The good food fix


On October 16, World Food Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a commemorative coin of Rs 75 and dedicated 17 bio-fortified varieties of eight crops to the nation to celebrate the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 75 years ago, in 1945.


GS paper 2: Poverty and hunger issues

GS Paper 3: PDS (objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping, issues of buffer stocks & food security)

Mains questions

  1. Food staples are not dense on minerals and vitamins, but they do provide a broad range of essential minerals and vitamins — a base which needs to be strengthened by non-staple foods. Discuss the statement as solution to India’s hidden hunger. 15 marks
  2. Food security bill is expected to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in India. Critically discuss various apprehensions in its effective implementation along with the concerns it has generated in WTO. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • What is hidden hunger?
  • Status of Malnutrition in India.
  • Causes of Malnutrition in India.
  • Measures to improve the status of Malnutrition in India.
  • Way forward

What is hidden hunger?

Hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals. Hidden hunger occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so the food is deficient in micronutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development. 2 billion people suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Hidden hunger occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so the food is deficient in micronutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development.

Hidden Hunger | Gro Intelligence

Status of Malnutrition in India

The World Health Organization released Global Nutrition Report, 2020.

  • According to the report, India is one among the 88 countries that are to miss global nutrition targets set for the year 2025.
  • India also has highest rates of domestic inequalities, especially in malnutrition.
  • Along with Nigeria and Indonesia, India was declared the least performing in case of disparities in stunting.
  • According to the report, between 2000 and 2016, underweight has decreased to 58.1% from 66% for boys. And for girls, it has decreased from 54.2% to 50.1%.
  • Around 9% of under-5 children in India are stunted and 20.8% are wasted. At least 21.6% of Indian women and 17.8% of Indian men were anaemic.

Causes of Malnutrition in India

  • Paradox related to production and Accessibility: In India, food grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, however, consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
  • Increasing diversity in consumption: The energy and nutritional intake from cereals has decreased in both rural and urban India, and largely substituted by increased consumption of other food items such as milk and dairy products, oils and fat and relatively unhealthy food such as fast food, processed food, and sugary beverages, which has likely contributed to the emerging problem of obesity in India.
  • Inefficient Targeted Public Distribution System (PDS) and Nutritional Intake: PDS has provided a critical nutritional supplement to the people across all states in India. However due to poor targeting, poorest 30 percent of households had lower capacity to access food.
  • Poverty: It hinders the accessibility of adequate food.
  • Lack of Awareness: about nutritional needs of infants and young children.
  • Social strains on Women: Early marriages of girls leads to teenage pregnancies resulting in low birth weight of the new-borns, poor breastfeeding practices and poor complementary feeding practices.
  • Male domination: In most Indian families, women even take food after the male members where they get less nutritious food.
  • Lack of health infrastructure leads to poor access to health.
  • Lack of availability of safe drinking water hinders proper digestion and assimilation of food and also cause water and food borne diseases.
  • Poor sanitation and environmental conditions lead to spread of many diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth.
  • Other causes: illiteracy in women and large household size.

Measures to improve the nutrition status in India

  • Address policy and governance issues: Allow flexibility to states for context-specific implementation of Poshan Abhiyaan to attain high coverage, quality, equity and better outcomes. Independent annual audit of the programme for improving implementation.
  • Ensure convergent action at all levels:
    • Develop and implement Annual Integrated Health, Nutrition and Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) action plans for all districts under the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
    • Actively engage Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committees, Public Distribution Services network and public health engineering departments for delivery of action plans.
    • Establish a convergence mechanism at state, district & block levels. Develop an implementation guide for District Administrators.
  • Implement Mission Mode action in districts with a high burden of malnutrition under POSHAN Abhiyaan: Set up convergence mechanism at district & block level, better vertical coordination, time-bound action plan, sufficient budgetary allocation, strong monitoring & annual surveys to track progress.
  • Fortification:
    • Incorporate fortified food grains and double fortified salt within government programmes such as ICDS, mid-day meal scheme, and PDS.
    • Explore approaches to bio-fortification of grains for micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Make ‘POSHAN Abhiyaan’ a Jan Andolan through increased community participation, inducing behaviour change through Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and counselling.
  • The bio-fortified staples need to be closely linked to India’s food-based welfare programmes including the public distribution system (PDS) the mid-day meal and anganwadis and should become an integral part of the National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyan). This would also help fight the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the nutrition of the country’s vulnerable population.

Way forward

Investing in an efficient milk value chain in India was an incredibly “nutrition-smart” agricultural activity that benefitted millions throughout India. A similar push is needed today for fruits and vegetables, and pulses. The current reforms in farm laws offer an opportunity to develop similar value chains for these, as was done in milk.


POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) – Important features of the scheme:

  • Synergized approach: Different Ministries/Departments at the Centre and States/UTs used to deal with malnutrition in a stand-alone manner. POSHAN will provide the required convergence through National Council for Nutrition and the Executive Committee for POSHAN Abhiyaan at the central level, Convergence Action Plan at State, District & Block level and through Very High-Speed Network at village level.
  • Use of technology: The Abhiyaan empowers the frontline functionaries i.e. Anganwadi workers and Lady Supervisors by providing them with smartphones eliminating the registers currently used by them. The ICDS Common application Software especially developed for this purpose enables data capture, ensures assigned service delivery and prompts for interventions wherever required. This enables real time-monitoring at all levels.
  • Incentivization at various levels: It involves team-based incentives also for Anganwadi workers, ASHA and ANM for achieving targets together along with incentives for the front-line workers like Anganwadi workers for better service delivery, and for early achiever states and UTs.
  • Better People participation: It aims at making elimination of malnutrition a Jan Andolan by inducing behavioral change across masses, through promotion of understanding of the inter-generational and multidimensional nature of the problem of malnutrition. It also involves social audit mechanism to track the health progress of children.
  • Research and evidence-based interventions: Abhiyan ensures nutrition interventions are guided and informed by latest research and evidence through institutional support by the National Nutrition Resource Centre (NNRC) and the Food Fortification Resource Centre (FFRC).
  • Targeted approach: It has set itself a steep target of reducing stunting by 2 per cent, anaemia by 3 per cent and low birth weight by 2 per cent every year.
December 2023