- India’s remittance inflows growth could slow to just 0.2% in 2023
- Nehru Memorial Museum & Library
- E20 Fuel and Green Hydrogen
- Compromise settlement for wilful defaulters
- Geminid meteor shower
India’s Remittance Inflows Growth Could Slow to Just 0.2% in 2023
According to the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief, India is expected to post a growth of just 0.2% in remittance inflows in 2023.
GS III: Indian economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Factors contributing to the slower growth of remittances in 2023
- Top sources of remittances for India
- Trend for remittances in 2022
- According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), remittances refer to the transfer of money from a resident of one country to an individual or entity in another country.
- Typically, remittances involve migrant workers who send money back to their home countries to support their families or for other purposes.
- The RBI regulates remittance transactions and has established guidelines and regulations to govern the process.
- Authorized dealers, such as banks and financial institutions, facilitate these remittance transactions in adherence to the RBI’s regulations.
- Post the Covid-19 pandemic, remittances have gained recognition as a crucial financial inflow.
- They serve as an important source of foreign exchange for several countries, particularly in South Asia.
- Remittances complement government cash transfers and play a vital role in supporting households during times of need.
- In the case of India, remittances accounted for only 3.3% of the country’s GDP in 2022.
Factors contributing to the slower growth of remittances in 2023:
- Slower growth in OECD economies: The slowdown in high-tech sectors in the United States, an OECD member country, has affected the demand for IT workers. This could lead to a decline in the demand for migrants and a potential diversion of formal remittances to informal money transfer channels.
- Lower demand for migrants in GCC countries: The declining oil prices have impacted the economic growth of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, leading to a reduced demand for migrant workers. This can result in a decrease in remittances from these countries.
- High base effect: India witnessed a significant growth of over 24% in remittances in 2022, reaching a record-high of $111 billion. As a result, the high base in 2022 will have a considerable impact on the growth rate of remittances in 2023.
Top sources of remittances for India:
- High-skilled migrants in high-income destinations: Approximately 36% of India’s remittances come from highly skilled Indian migrants in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore. The post-pandemic recovery, tight labor markets, and wage hikes in these regions have contributed to increased remittance flows.
- GCC countries: Remittance inflows from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, account for around 28% of India’s total remittance inflows. The employment and incomes of less-skilled Indian migrants in these countries have been supported by high energy prices and special measures by GCC governments to curb food price inflation.
Trend for remittances in 2022:
- India experienced a significant growth rate of over 24% in inward remittances, reaching $111 billion, surpassing the World Bank’s earlier estimate of $100 billion.
- India accounted for 63% of South Asia’s remittance flows.
- The top five recipient countries for remittances in 2022 were India ($111 billion), followed by Mexico ($61 billion), China ($51 billion), Philippines ($38 billion), and Pakistan ($30 billion).
- Remittances were supported by factors such as the surge in oil prices in GCC member countries, resulting in increased incomes for migrants, large money transfers from the Russian Federation to Central Asian countries, and a strong labor market in the United States and OECD countries.
-Source: Indian Express
Nehru Memorial Museum & Library
The Union Culture Ministry announced that the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) would now be called the Prime Ministers’ Museum and Library Society.
- The name change came nearly a year after a Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya (Prime Ministers’ Museum) was inaugurated on the premises of the Teen Murti Bhavan, which also hosted the NMML.
GS I: Culture
Dimensions of the Aricle:
- Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)
- Teen Murti House
- Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya
Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML):
- The NMML was established as a memorial to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
- It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
- The NMML is located in Teen Murti House, Nehru’s former official residence.
- It consists of four main components: a Memorial Museum, a library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies, and the Nehru Planetarium.
Features of NMML:
- The museum showcases exhibits related to Nehru’s life, including personal artifacts, photographs, letters, and documents.
- It highlights his role in India’s freedom struggle and his contributions as a statesman.
- The library at NMML houses a vast collection of books, journals, documents, and manuscripts on modern Indian history and politics.
- It is open to researchers, scholars, and the general public.
- NMML has archival facilities that preserve historical records, including official documents, private papers, and photographs.
- It holds significant materials related to the Indian independence movement and Nehru’s political career.
- The NMML serves as a research center, promoting scholarly studies on Indian history and Nehruvian thought.
- It provides fellowships, research grants, and organizes seminars, conferences, and lectures.
- Adjacent to the NMML, the Nehru Planetarium offers shows and exhibitions on astronomy and space science.
- It provides educational experiences for astronomy enthusiasts.
- The NMML publishes books, journals, and research papers on Indian history, politics, and culture.
- These publications contribute to academic discourse and knowledge dissemination.
Teen Murti House
- Built in 1929-30 as Flagstaff House, it was part of Edwin Lutyens’ imperial capital.
- It served as the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British armed forces in India.
- In August 1948, it became the official residence of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya (Prime Ministers’ Museum)
- The Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya, inaugurated by PM Modi in April 2022, is a tribute to every Prime Minister of India since Independence.
- It showcases the contributions of each PM to the nation’s development over the past 75 years.
- The museum recognizes the contributions of all 14 PMs, regardless of ideology or tenure, and leaves space for future leaders.
What happened to the erstwhile Nehru Museum building?
- The Nehru Museum building has been seamlessly integrated with the new museum building.
- It is designated as Block I and features a completely updated and technologically advanced display on the life and contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister.
-Source: The Hindu
E20 Fuel and Green Hydrogen
The Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas recently emphasized that E20 fuel, which is a blend of 20% ethanol and petrol, will soon be accessible at 1,000 outlets of oil marketing companies (OMCs) across the country. Additionally, the minister highlighted the objective of the National Green Hydrogen Mission, which aims to achieve a production capacity of 5 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) per year by 2030.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Ethanol and Ethanol Blending in India
- National Green Hydrogen Mission
- What is green hydrogen?
Ethanol and Ethanol Blending in India:
- Ethanol is an agricultural by-product obtained mainly from the processing of sugar from sugarcane, but it can also be derived from other sources such as rice husk or maize.
- Ethanol blending is the practice of mixing ethanol with petrol in order to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in vehicles.
- E20 fuel refers to a blend consisting of 20% ethanol and 80% petrol.
- In February 2023, the Prime Minister of India launched the E20 fuel pilot project in Bengaluru, which involves blending 20% ethanol with petrol.
- Initially, this pilot project covers at least 15 cities and is expected to be gradually implemented nationwide.
- Over the years, India has been steadily increasing the proportion of ethanol blended with petrol. The blending rate has risen from 1.53% in 2013-14 to 10.17% in 2022.
- The government has advanced its target of achieving 20% ethanol blending in petrol from 2030 to 2025, aiming to further reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
- As part of its G20 presidency, the Indian government has proposed the establishment of a global biofuel alliance with countries like Brazil. This alliance would focus on promoting the use of biofuels internationally.
Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme (EBP)
- Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in 2003- and this initiative is pursued aggressively in the last 4 to 5 years to reduce import dependence of crude oil as well as mitigate environmental pollution.
- The Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) seeks to achieve blending of Ethanol with motor sprit with a view to reducing pollution, conserve foreign exchange and increase value addition in the sugar industry enabling them to clear cane price arrears of farmers.
- Although the Government of India decided to launch EBP programme in 2003 for supply of 5% ethanol blended Petrol, it later scaled up blending targets from 5% to 10% under the Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP).
- The Government of India has also advanced the target for 20% ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030.
- Currently, 8.5% of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.
Advantages of Ethanol Blending
- Use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
- The unregulated carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde emission were, however, higher with E10 and E20 compared to normal petrol. However, these emissions were relatively lower.
- Increased use of ethanol can help reduce the oil import bill. India’s net import cost stands at USD 551 billion in 2020-21. The E20 program can save the country USD 4 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) per annum.
- The oil companies procure ethanol from farmers that benefits the sugarcane farmers.
- Further, the government plans to encourage use of water-saving crops, such as maize, to produce ethanol, and production of ethanol from non-food feedstock.
National Green Hydrogen Mission
- The intent of the mission is to incentivise the commercial production of green hydrogen and make India a net exporter of the fuel.
- The mission has laid out a target to develop green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum.
- This is alongside adding renewable energy capacity of about 125 GW (gigawatt) in the country.
- This will entail the decarbonisation of the industrial, mobility and energy sectors; reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels and feedstock; developing indigenous manufacturing capabilities; creating employment opportunities; and developing new technologies such as efficient fuel cells.
- By 2030, the Centre hopes its investments will bring in investments worth ₹8 trillion and create over six lakh jobs. Moreover, about 50 MMT per annum of CO2 emissions are expected to be averted by 2030.
- As per its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, India has committed to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030, from 2005 levels.
- The National Green Hydrogen Mission will make India a leading producer and supplier of Green Hydrogen in the world.
- It would result in attractive investment and business opportunities for the industry.
- Will contribute significantly to India’s efforts for decarbonization and energy independence.
- Will create opportunities for employment and economic development.
- The Mission will drive the development of the Green Hydrogen ecosystem in the country.
- The targeted production capacity will bring over ₹8 lakh crore in total investments and will result in creation of over 6 lakh clean jobs.
- The Mission will support pilot projects in other hard-to-abate sectors.
- The Mission will also support R&D projects.
What is green hydrogen?
- A colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and highly combustible gaseous substance, hydrogen is the lightest, simplest and most abundant member of the family of chemical elements in the universe.
- But a colour — green — prefixed to it makes hydrogen the “fuel of the future”.
- The ‘green’ depends on how the electricity is generated to obtain the hydrogen, which does not emit greenhouse gas when burned.
- Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind or hydel power.
- Hydrogen can be ‘grey’ and ‘blue’ too.
- Grey hydrogen is generated through fossil fuels such as coal and gas and currently accounts for 95% of the total production in South Asia.
- Blue hydrogen, too, is produced using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels but with technologies to prevent the carbon released in the process from entering the atmosphere.
Green Hydrogen Importance
- Hydrogen is being used across the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany. Countries like Japan desire to become a hydrogen economy in future.
- Green hydrogen can in future be used for
- Electricity and drinking water generation, energy storage, transportation etc.
- Green hydrogen can be used to provide water to the crew members in space stations.
- Energy storage- Compressed hydrogen tanks can store the energy longer and are easier to handle than lithium-ion batteries as they are lighter.
- Transport and mobility- Hydrogen can be used in heavy transport, aviation and maritime transport.
-Source: Down To Earth
Compromise Settlement For Wilful Defaulters
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed wilful defaulters and loans accounts involved in frauds to go in for a compromise settlement with banks to settle their dues.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Compromise settlement
- Importance of Debt Recovery:
- Who are wilful defaulters?
- Definition: A compromise settlement occurs when a borrower and a bank negotiate an agreement where the borrower offers to pay an amount lower than the total due on the loan.
- Bank Acceptance: The bank agrees to accept this reduced amount as a full and final settlement.
- Write-off/Waiver: As part of the settlement, the bank often writes off or waives a portion of the borrower’s dues, which happens only once.
- Significant Approvals: In the past two decades, banks have approved numerous compromise settlements, amounting to hundreds of crores, with substantial reductions in loan amounts, resulting in significant losses for banks.
- Haircut: A haircut refers to the reduction of outstanding payments or loans that borrowers will not repay.
Implications and Concerns:
- Integrity of the Banking System: Compromise settlements may compromise the integrity of the banking system and hinder effective measures against deliberate defaulters.
- Rewarding Unscrupulous Borrowers: Such settlements not only reward unscrupulous borrowers but also send a discouraging message to honest borrowers who fulfill their financial obligations.
- Impact on Financial Stability: Wilful defaults have a significant impact on the financial stability of banks and the overall economy.
- Condoning Wrongful Actions: Allowing defaulters to settle loans through compromise settlements can be seen as condoning their wrongful actions and burdening ordinary citizens with their misdeeds.
Importance of Debt Recovery:
- Protecting Stakeholders: Debt recovery plays a crucial role in protecting the interests of depositors and other stakeholders.
- Consequences of Non-Recovery: Failure to recover non-performing assets (NPAs) will ultimately lead to suffering for depositors and stakeholders.
- Definition of NPA: An NPA refers to a loan or advance where the principal or interest payment has remained overdue for a period of 90 days.
- Objective of Settlements: Any compromise settlement should aim to recover dues to the maximum extent possible, with minimal expenses and within the shortest timeframe.
- Impact on Interest Rates: The high level of NPAs in the banking system is one of the reasons for elevated interest rates in India.
About Wilful Defaulter:
- Wilful defaulters are entities that have the ability to repay money but intentionally fail to do so.
- The concept of ‘Wilful Defaulter’ was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through its Master Circular, which defined the term and provided guidelines for banks and financial institutions to determine instances of wilful default.
Criteria for Wilful Default:
According to the RBI, a wilful default is deemed to have occurred in the following circumstances:
- When there is a default in repayment obligations by a unit (company/individual) despite having the capacity to repay, indicating a deliberate intention not to repay the loan.
- When funds obtained for a specific purpose are diverted for other uses.
- When funds have been siphoned off and not utilized for the intended purpose, without any justifiable assets to account for the usage.
- When assets purchased with lenders’ funds are sold off without the knowledge of the bank/lender.
- In cases where group companies of wilfully defaulting units fail to honor guarantees or letters of comfort provided to lenders when invoked, such group companies are also considered wilful defaulters.
-Source: Indian Express
Geminid Meteor Shower
Recently, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission has shed new light on the origin of the intense Geminid meteor shower.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Geminid meteor shower
- Key facts about the 3200 Phaethon
- About the Parker Solar Probe mission:
About the Geminid meteor shower:
- Annual Event: The Geminid meteor shower occurs each year and reaches its peak in mid-December. It is known as one of the most reliable and impressive meteor showers.
- Origin: Unlike most meteor showers that originate from comets, the Geminid stream is believed to come from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.
- Perplexing Findings: Recent discoveries have puzzled scientists because asteroids are not typically affected by the Sun’s heat and shouldn’t leave behind a trail. However, Phaethon, despite being an asteroid, exhibits temperature-driven activity during its close encounters with the Sun.
- Probable Cause: Data from the Parker spacecraft suggests that a powerful event like a high-speed collision or a gaseous explosion likely created the Geminid stream.
Key facts about the 3200 Phaethon:
- Asteroid Classification: 3200 Phaethon is classified as an asteroid and was the first to be discovered through satellite observation.
- Discovery: It was found on October 11, 1983, using the Infrared Astronomical Satellite. Its name is derived from the Greek myth of Phaethon, the son of the sun god Helios, due to its close proximity to the Sun.
- Unique Color: Unusually, the asteroid appears blue in color, which is rare among asteroids.
- Orbital Characteristics: It orbits the Sun every 524 days (1.43 years), with its closest distance being 0.14 astronomical units (AU) and farthest distance reaching 2.40 AU. Its orbit is highly elliptical. Additionally, it completes a rotation on its axis every 3.60 hours.
- Size: With a diameter of approximately 3 kilometers, 3200 Phaethon is larger than 99% of known asteroids.
About the Parker Solar Probe mission:
- The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 with the goal of providing humanity with unprecedented observations of the sun.
- It aims to study the sun’s atmosphere by venturing closer to its surface than any previous spacecraft, enduring extreme heat and radiation conditions.
- Venus Flybys: To approach the sun’s atmosphere, the Parker Solar Probe will utilize the gravitational pull of Venus during seven flybys over a span of nearly seven years. These flybys will gradually adjust its orbit and bring it closer to the sun.
- Close Proximity: The spacecraft will venture as close as 3.9 million miles to the sun’s surface, which is within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times nearer than any previous spacecraft has ever reached.
- Energy Flow: The Parker Solar Probe aims to trace the flow of energy responsible for heating and accelerating the solar corona and solar wind, shedding light on this vital process.
- Plasma and Magnetic Fields: By studying the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind, the mission seeks to understand the structure and dynamics of these crucial components.
- Energetic Particle Transport: Exploring the mechanisms behind the acceleration and transportation of energetic particles is another key objective of the Parker Solar Probe mission.
-Source: India Today
Recently, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers ‘phosphorous on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Enceladus
- About Cassini spacecraft
- Significance of phosphorus
- Enceladus is the second nearest major regular moon of Saturn and is known for being the brightest among all of Saturn’s moons.
- It was discovered in 1789 by the English astronomer William Herschel and was named after one of the Giants (Gigantes) in Greek mythology.
- This moon is unique as it is an active world, hosting a global ocean of liquid salty water beneath its icy crust.
- Enceladus has a remarkably smooth and bright white icy surface, making it the most reflective body in the solar system.
About the Cassini spacecraft:
- The Cassini mission was launched by NASA in 1997 and orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017, completing 294 orbits around the planet.
- The spacecraft’s objectives included studying the structure of Saturn’s atmosphere and rings, as well as investigating their interactions with Saturn’s moons.
- Cassini made significant discoveries during its mission, including the identification of six named moons and the revelation that Enceladus and Titan hold promise as potential locations for the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Significance of phosphorus:
- Phosphorus is a crucial element in the structure of DNA and RNA, serving as a fundamental unit for their composition.
- It also plays a vital role in cell membranes and is present in energy-carrying molecules found in all forms of life on Earth.
-Source: The Hindu