- Global Stocktake Report
- India’s Food Processing Sector
- Lab Grown Human Embryo Model
- Himachal Pradesh Appeals for National Disaster Declaration Following Monsoon Devastation
- Konark Sun Temple
- Dinkinesh Asteroid
- West Coast Refinery Project
Ahead of the just concluded G-20 summit, that saw several world leaders converge in New Delhi, the United Nations climate secretariat made public a ‘synthesis report’ on the results of three meetings held so far to discuss progress achieved by countries in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement of 2015.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- Why It’s Named the ‘Global Stocktake’ Report?
- Key Findings of the Report
- Impact of the Global Stocktake Report
Why It’s Named the ‘Global Stocktake’ Report?
- Periodic Assessment: The ‘global stocktake’ report is so named because it is part of a larger, five-yearly exercise known as the global stocktake. This exercise was established after countries committed to the Paris Agreement in 2015.
- Reviewing Climate Efforts: The Paris Agreement called for regular reviews or “stocktakes” of individual countries’ efforts to mitigate climate change. These reviews evaluate progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Impact on International Climate Discussions:
- Influence on COP Meetings: The first global stocktake report this year is expected to have a significant impact on discussions at the 28th UN Climate Conference of Parties (COP) scheduled in Dubai in November.
- Ambition Enhancement: While countries have already outlined their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to address climate change, the global stocktake encourages them, although not obligates, to increase their climate ambitions every five years.
- Higher Targets: By urging countries to set higher targets before the next NDCs are due in 2025, the stocktake aims to push nations toward more ambitious climate goals.
Key Findings of the Report:
- Galvanized Climate Goals: The Paris Agreement has motivated countries to set climate goals and recognize the urgency of addressing the climate crisis.
- Economic Transition: Governments should support efforts to transition economies away from fossil fuel industries, even if it involves disruptive changes.
- Equitable Transition: Efforts towards economic transition must prioritize equity and inclusivity to ensure that no one is left behind.
- Ambitious Emission Reductions: Much greater ambition is required to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, followed by a 60% reduction in 2035, ultimately reaching net-zero CO2 emissions globally by 2050.
- Scaling Renewable Energy: Renewable energy sources need to be significantly scaled up to replace unabated fossil fuels, such as coal plants without carbon capture and storage mechanisms.
- Halt Deforestation and Land-Degradation: Efforts to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation are critical, along with encouraging agricultural practices that reduce emissions and enhance carbon sinks.
- Fragmented Adaptation Efforts: Despite global commitments to adapt to climate change impacts, most adaptation efforts are fragmented, incremental, and sector-specific, with unequal distribution across regions.
- Transparent Reporting: Transparent reporting on adaptation can enhance understanding, implementation, and international cooperation in climate adaptation efforts.
- Loss and Damage Management: Urgent action is needed to address and minimize “loss and damage” caused by climate change impacts, requiring comprehensive risk management across climate and development policies.
- Scaling Support: Support for adaptation and funding arrangements to address loss and damage must be rapidly scaled up, utilizing expanded and innovative funding sources.
- Climate Finance Access: Access to climate finance in developing countries needs enhancement to support their climate resilience and mitigation efforts.
- Global Financial Shift: A rapid shift of financial flows on a global scale is essential to support low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development pathways.
Impact of the Global Stocktake Report:
- Influence on Upcoming Conference: The global stocktake report is expected to serve as a foundational document for the upcoming conference, shaping discussions and decisions regarding climate policy and ambition.
- Recognition in G20 Leaders Declaration: The report’s findings have resonated in the G20 Leaders Declaration, which is considered one of the significant outcomes of the summit.
- Acknowledgment of Financial Requirements: The G20 Leaders Declaration officially acknowledges the substantial financial requirements for transitioning to a renewable energy economy. It highlights the need for USD 5.8-5.9 trillion in the pre-2030 period for developing countries and USD 4 trillion per year for clean energy technologies by 2030 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
-Source: The Hindu
In Mumbai, during the 17th edition of ANUTEC – International FoodTec India, influential leaders from both industry and government revealed a hopeful outlook for India’s food processing sector. This sector is currently on an impressive growth path and is primed to play a pivotal role in propelling the nation’s economy forward.
GS III: Food Processing
Dimensions of the Article:
- Status of the Food Processing Sector in India
- Government Initiatives in the Food Processing Sector
- Challenges in the Food Processing Sector
- The Way Forward
Status of the Food Processing Sector in India:
Crucial Component of the Food Supply Chain:
- The food processing sector plays a vital role in the food supply chain.
- It involves converting raw agricultural and livestock products into processed, value-added food products suitable for consumption.
- This sector encompasses various activities, technologies, and processes to improve food safety, convenience, shelf life, flavor, and nutritional value.
- Contributes significantly to India’s economy, accounting for 13% of exports and 6% of industrial investment.
- Attracted substantial foreign direct investments (FDI), with USD 4.18 billion invested from 2014 to 2020, reflecting confidence in its future.
- Expected to create 9 million jobs by 2024.
- By 2030, India is projected to become the world’s fifth-largest consumer of food and food technology due to a fourfold increase in household consumption, highlighting its substantial growth potential.
Government Initiatives in the Food Processing Sector:
Inclusion in Priority Sector Lending (PSL) Norms:
- In April 2015, food and agro-based processing units and cold chains were included in the PSL norms, enhancing access to financial support for the sector.
Streamlined Approval Process by FSSAI:
- In 2016, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) transitioned from product-specific approval to an ingredient and additive-based approval process, promoting ease of doing business in the sector.
- 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permitted under the automatic route for the food processing sector, encouraging foreign investment.
Special Food Processing Fund:
- Establishment of a Special Food Processing Fund of Rs. 2000 crore in collaboration with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to facilitate sector growth and development.
Challenges in the Food Processing Sector:
Inadequate Cold Storage and Transportation:
- Lack of proper cold storage and transportation facilities leads to significant post-harvest losses of perishable goods, impacting both food quality and farmers’ income.
Fragmented Supply Chain:
- India’s fragmented supply chain results in inefficiencies and increased costs.
- Poor road and rail infrastructure can cause delays and losses during transportation.
- The food processing industry faces a complex web of regulations, licenses, and permits, posing challenges for businesses.
Inconsistent Regulation Enforcement:
- Inconsistent enforcement of regulations can lead to unfair competition and quality issues within the sector.
Food Safety and Quality:
- Ensuring food safety and quality standards across the supply chain remains a significant challenge.
- Contaminated or adulterated food products can harm public health and the industry’s reputation.
Limited R&D Investment:
- Limited investment in research and development inhibits innovation and the development of new, value-added products.
- India’s low R&D expenditure-GDP ratio is a concern compared to major economies and the world average.
The Way Forward:
Smart Food Processing Hubs:
- Establish smart food processing hubs with advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, and blockchain to monitor the entire food supply chain for quality, traceability, and efficiency.
Functional and Nutraceutical Foods:
- Develop a variety of functional and nutraceutical foods tailored to specific health needs, including fortified foods with essential nutrients, probiotics, and bioactive compounds.
- Implement zero-waste processing techniques to utilize every part of raw materials. For example, convert food waste into biofuels or use byproducts to create new products like bio-plastics or animal feed.
Community-Based Processing Centers:
- Establish community-based food processing centers in rural areas to assist local farmers in processing their produce.
- This approach reduces post-harvest losses and creates employment opportunities in rural regions.
-Source: The Hindu
Recently, Scientists have achieved a remarkable feat by creating a lab-grown “human embryo” model using stem cells and chemicals, without using an egg or sperm shedding light on early embryo development.
GS III: Biotechnology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Human Embryo
- Creation of the Embryo Model
- Insights from These Models on Early Development
- Use of Lab-Grown Embryos for Pregnancy
- Stem Cell
- A human embryo refers to the developing human organism from the moment of fertilization until the end of the eighth week of gestation.
- It undergoes three primary stages of development: the pre-implantation stage, the implantation stage, and the organogenesis stage.
- Comprising various cell types, a human embryo differentiates into the diverse tissues and organs that make up the human body.
- Typically, a human embryo is formed through the fertilization of a human egg (oocyte) by a human sperm, which can occur either in the female reproductive tract or in a laboratory setting.
Creation of the Embryo Model:
- Stem Cells and Chemicals Combination: Israeli researchers employed a combination of stem cells and specific chemicals to fabricate a model resembling a 14-day-old human embryo.
- Crucial Starting Point: This blend of stem cells and chemicals served as a critical initial step in the development of an embryo-like structure.
- Spontaneous Cell Assembly: The model created by the Israeli researchers had the remarkable ability to spontaneously arrange into various cell types necessary for fetal development. This included cells for fetal formation, nutrient provision, embryonic body development, as well as the creation of essential structures like the placenta and umbilical cord to support the developing fetus.
- Efficiency Challenge: A notable challenge faced during this process was that only approximately 1% of the stem cell-chemical mixture naturally organized itself, indicating a need for improved efficiency in the creation process.
Insights from These Models on Early Development:
- Detection of DNA Duplication and Chromosome Distribution Errors: These models have been instrumental in revealing errors in Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) duplication and the distribution of chromosomes during early development.
- Early DNA Duplication Abnormalities: Researchers discovered that abnormalities in DNA duplication occur early in the embryonic development process, impacting cell division.
- Study of Gene Functions: These embryo models provide a platform to study gene functions and their roles in the development of the fetus, offering valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in early human development.
Importance of Embryo Models and Research:
- Ethical Challenges in Studying Post-Implantation Embryos: Once implantation in the uterus occurs, studying early embryo development becomes ethically challenging. Therefore, research during the initial stages is crucial.
- Addressing Miscarriages and Birth Defects: Most miscarriages and birth defects occur during the early stages of embryonic development. Understanding these processes is vital for identifying potential causes and developing preventive measures.
- Improving In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Outcomes: Insights gained from studying embryo development can lead to improved outcomes in IVF procedures, increasing the chances of successful pregnancies.
- Understanding Genetic, Epigenetic, and Environmental Influences: Research on embryo models helps researchers comprehensively study the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors that influence embryonic development, providing valuable knowledge about how these processes work.
Use of Lab-Grown Embryos for Pregnancy:
- Exclusively for Research: Lab-grown embryos are intended solely for research purposes. They are typically destroyed after 14 days, and implantation into a uterus is not permitted.
- The 14-Day Limit: The 14-day limit was proposed in 1979 in the UK and is equivalent to the point when natural embryo implantation is completed. It signifies the stage when cells begin forming an “individual,” and the possibility of them splitting into twins no longer exists.
- Ethical Transition from Cells to Individuals: Ethical considerations surrounding embryo research change as embryos progress from clusters of cells to individuals. The emergence of the Primitive Streak, a linear structure in the embryo, marks the transition from radial symmetry (like an egg) to the bilateral symmetry of the human body, with left and right sides.
- The Role of the Primitive Streak: The Primitive Streak is significant because it signifies the moment when the embryo transforms from a mere clump of cells to an individual. Ethical considerations regarding research and experimentation on embryos often hinge on this developmental milestone.
- Stem cells are a unique type of cell with the remarkable ability to transform into specialized cell types within the body.
- They hold the potential to replace damaged or lost cells and tissues due to diseases or injuries in the future.
- Stem cells possess two distinctive properties:
- They can undergo multiple divisions, continuously generating new cells.
- As they divide, they have the capability to differentiate into various cell types found in the body, contributing to tissue repair and regeneration.
-Source: The Hindu
Himachal Pradesh has urgently appealed to the Indian Prime Minister for the declaration of the extensive damage caused by heavy rains in the state as a National Disaster. The region has incurred losses amounting to Rs 10,000 crore, and there have been unfortunate casualties with around 418 people losing their lives in rain-related incidents during the Monsoon of 2023. In such grave calamities, the state seeks additional Central assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund.
GS III: Disaster Management
Dimensions of the Article:
- Assisting States During Natural Disasters
- National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)
- Severe Calamity
- Procedure for Disaster Relief in India
Assisting States During Natural Disasters:
No Defined “National Disasters” Category:
- There is no specific, officially defined category of “National Disasters.”
Definition under Disaster Management Act 2005:
- Natural disasters fall under the purview of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
- The Act defines a “disaster” as a significant event arising from natural or man-made causes, accidents, or negligence.
- It results in substantial loss of life, human suffering, property damage, or environmental degradation.
- Such events must exceed the coping capacity of the affected community.
Role of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA):
- The Act established the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), led by the Prime Minister.
- The NDMA plays a central role in coordinating disaster response at the national level.
State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs):
- The Act also mandates the creation of State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs), each headed by the respective Chief Minister.
- SDMAs oversee disaster preparedness and response within their states.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF):
- The Act led to the formation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
- NDRF comprises multiple battalions or teams responsible for on-ground relief and rescue operations in various states.
National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)
- National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) is established under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- Managed by the Central Government, it serves to provide financial resources for emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation in the wake of threatening disaster situations or disasters.
Funding and Management:
- The NDRF is placed in the “Public Account” of the Government of India (GOI), categorized as “reserve funds not bearing interest.”
- It is intended to supplement the funds available in State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) when a severe disaster occurs, and the state’s resources are inadequate.
- NDRF provides financial assistance for natural calamities such as cyclones, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack, cold wave, and frost.
- These calamities must be of severe nature as determined by the Government of India (GoI), requiring expenditures beyond what a state’s SDRF can cover.
- States submit a memorandum detailing sector-wise damage and funding requirements to the Centre.
- The Centre assesses the damage and decides whether to grant additional funds from NDRF.
- NDRF funds are for immediate relief, not compensation for property or crop loss. They cover emergency response, relief, and rehabilitation efforts.
- The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) takes decisions regarding the utilization of funds from the NDRF.
Sources of Financing:
- NDRF is financed through a cess (levy) on specific items subject to excise and customs duty.
- The cess amount is approved annually through the Finance Bill.
- If NDRF resources are insufficient, additional funds are allocated from the general budgetary resources.
- NDRF plays a critical role in enabling prompt and effective response to disasters, ensuring that states have access to financial resources beyond their SDRF capacities.
- It exemplifies the cooperative federalism approach where the Central Government supports states during times of severe crises.
- A severe calamity is a catastrophic event or disaster of significant magnitude and intensity.
- It results in widespread damage, loss of life, and disruption of normal life.
- When a calamity is declared to be of severe nature, it triggers a specific procedure for disaster relief and financial assistance.
Procedure for Disaster Relief in India:
- The state government submits a memorandum detailing the extent of damage caused by the disaster and its financial requirements for relief operations.
- An inter-ministerial central team conducts an on-the-spot assessment of the damage and financial requirements for relief efforts.
- Committees review the assessment reports, and a High-Level Committee must approve the amount of immediate relief to be released from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
Support and Monitoring:
- The Disaster Management Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs provides support and monitors the utilization of funds.
State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF):
- SDRF is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters.
National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF):
- If the resources in the SDRF are insufficient, additional assistance may be considered from the NDRF, which is fully funded by the Central Government.
- Funds for the NDRF and SDRFs are allocated by the government as part of budgetary allocations.
- Relief measures may include providing relief in the repayment of loans or offering fresh loans to affected individuals on concessional terms.
Finance Commission Recommendations:
- Funds for immediate relief are recommended by the Finance Commission, which adopts a methodology for state-wise allocations based on factors like past expenditure, risk exposure (area and population), and hazard and vulnerability of states.
- Central contributions for disaster relief are released in two equal installments, contingent upon the submission of utilization certificates and reports on activities undertaken by state governments.
-Source: The Hindu
The 18th G20 Summit was held in New Delhi, for the first time on 9th -10th September 2023, under the theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.
GS I: History
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Facts About Konark Sun Temple
The summit took place at the Bharat Mandapam Convention Centre in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. As a tribute to India’s rich cultural diversity and heritage, the summit venue featured a prominent mural depicting the historic Konark Wheel from Odisha’s Sun Temple, serving as the backdrop to welcome world leaders.
Key Facts About Konark Sun Temple:
Location and Attribution:
- The Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun temple located in Konark, along the coastline in the Puri district of Odisha, India.
- It is attributed to King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty and was built around 1250 CE.
- The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.
- The temple complex is renowned for its distinctive appearance, resembling a 100-foot-high chariot with massive stone wheels and horses.
- This architectural masterpiece is carved entirely from stone.
- It is considered the pinnacle of Kalinga temple architecture.
UNESCO World Heritage Site:
- The Konark Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its cultural and historical significance.
- It is also a major pilgrimage site for Hindus and is featured on the reverse side of the Indian currency note of 10 rupees.
- European sailors referred to the temple as the “Black Pagoda” as early as 1676 due to its resemblance to a tiered tower that appeared black. In contrast, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda.”
- The temple symbolizes the chariot of the Sun God, drawn by seven horses and with twelve pairs of wheels, representing the Sun’s movement across the heavens.
- Each wheel has 24 spokes, signifying the 24 hours in a day. These wheels also functioned as sundials, with shadows indicating the time of day.
- The temple complex consists of well-organized spatial units, including the vimana (principal sanctuary), jahamogana (audience hall), and natmandir (dance hall).
- The vimana once had a high tower with a shikhara (crowning cap), known as Rekha deul, which was destroyed in the 19th century.
- The Konark Sun Temple stands as a testament to the architectural and artistic brilliance of the Kalinga dynasty. It combines religious symbolism with astronomical and timekeeping elements, making it a remarkable historical and cultural treasure.
-Source: Indian Express
Recently, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has captured its first images of the main belt asteroid Dinkinesh, marking the beginning of a 12-year voyage.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Dinkinesh Asteroid
- About the Lucy Mission
About the Dinkinesh Asteroid:
- Discovered in 1999 by the LINEAR survey.
- Dinkinesh is characterized as a slow rotator with a moderately large light-curve amplitude.
- It belongs to the S-type asteroid category, primarily composed of silicates with some metal.
- Dinkinesh is the first fly-by target of NASA’s Lucy mission, scheduled for November 1, 2023, during the spacecraft’s journey to the Trojan Clouds.
- Observations of Dinkinesh were made using Lucy’s high-resolution camera, the Lucy Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI instrument).
About the Lucy Mission:
- NASA launched the Lucy mission from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida in 2021.
- It is a 12-year mission aimed at closely observing nine of Jupiter’s Trojans and two main belt asteroids.
- Lucy is the first spacecraft sent to study the Trojan asteroids, which share the same orbit around the Sun as Jupiter.
- The mission has recently captured images of asteroids Eurybates, Polymele, Leucus, and others as it continues its exploration of these celestial bodies.
-Source: India Today
India and Saudi Arabia recently agreed to speed up the implementation of the $50 billion West Coast refinery project.
GS II: International Relations
About the West Coast Refinery Project (Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. – RRPCL):
- Project Inception: The West Coast refinery project, also known as RRPCL, was initially conceptualized in 2014 as a significant endeavor in India’s oil and gas sector.
- Size and Capacity: This project was envisioned as India’s largest greenfield refinery with an impressive capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum. It is anticipated to become the world’s largest integrated refinery and petrochemical facility upon completion.
- Location: As the name suggests, the project is planned to be situated on India’s western coast, specifically in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
- Production: When fully operational, the refinery is expected to produce approximately 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. Additionally, it will generate various petroleum products through attached petrochemical plants.
- Joint Venture: Three leading government-owned public sector undertakings in India’s oil and gas sector joined forces in a joint venture partnership known as RRPCL. This partnership was formed in 2017.
- RRPCL Composition: RRPCL is a joint venture with a 50:25:25 ownership structure, with India’s three national oil companies participating – Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).
- Involvement of International Entities: In 2019, Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) became involved in the project. They collectively acquired a 50 percent stake, estimated to be worth around Rs 3 lakh crore, primarily in setup costs. This international partnership enhances the project’s global significance and investment scale.
-Source: Indian Express