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Current Affairs 11 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao: 80% funds for media campaigns
  2. Central Government looking to use stubble as biofuel
  3. Observer Status granted to International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  4. India’s chairmanship of the RATS SCO

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao: 80% funds for media campaigns

Context:

The government spent a whopping 80% of funds under its flagship Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme on media campaigns as noted by the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women in its report tabled in Lok Sabha.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
  2. Criticism of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao

About Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme

  • The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme, launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister in 2015 in Haryana with the objective of bringing behavioral change in the society towards birth and rights of a girl child, has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it.
  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is a campaign of the Government of India that aims to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls in India. The scheme was launched with an initial funding of ₹100 crore. 
  • A joint initiative of MoWCD, MoHFW and MoHRD (now Ministry of Education).
  • According to census data in India, the child sex ratio (0–6 years) in India was 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001, which dropped to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011.
  • In the Population Census of 2011 it was revealed that the population ratio of India 2011 is 919 females per 1000 of males.
  • The Sex Ratio 2011 shows a downward trend from the census 2001 data.
  • During the last 6 years the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) has improved by 16 points from 918 in 2014-15 to 934 in 2019-20.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio of girls in the schools at secondary level has improved from 77.45 to 81.32.
  • During the last 6 years since its inception, the BBBP scheme has been aiming at changing the mindset of the public to acknowledge the rights of the girl child.
  • The scheme has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it.
  • It has raised concerns around the issue of declining CSR in India.
  • As a result of collective consciousness of the people supporting the campaign, BBBP has found its place in public discourse.

Criticism of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao

  • Excessive expenditure on communication-related activities: The committee noted that the massive spending on advertisements was despite the clearly laid-down formula for utilization of funds.
  • Inefficient allocation and release of funds: The C&AG issued a study criticizing the scheme’s execution, saying that fewer than 20% of the total funds provided by the Centre were actually spent at the state level in 2016-17.
  • Implementation challenges: The scheme faces several challenges ranging from underutilisation of available funds, to lackadaisical implementation and failure of monitoring mechanisms, particularly at the state and district levels.
  • Unbalanced expenditure patterns: The expenditure planned for the BBBP is highly skewed towards just one pillar of the BBBP scheme. This provides no provision for improving the scheme’s long-term, quantifiable effects on education and health.

-Source: The Hindu


Central Government looking to use stubble as biofuel

Context:

The Union government was working on a plan to use stubble as a biofuel and manure as a part of an effort to deal with stubble burning that was often cited as a source of pollution in northern India, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav told the Lok Sabha.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Importance of biofuels in India
  2. National Policy on Biofuels
  3. Potential of Stubble as Biofuel

Importance of biofuels in India

  • Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels.
  • The scope of producing Biofuels is immense in India as India being a large agricultural economy, has a large amount of agricultural residues available.
  • If we look at the Biofuels, there are three major areas- Ethanol, Bio-diesel and Biogas. If we are able to exploit these three, then we can reduce our dependence on import of crude to a very large extent and import of gas also.
  • The support of the State Governments to the sector in necessary a very big way because the agricultural residues and all the other wastes, which may come from the municipal solid wastes or other form of wastes all has to be collected segregated, managed and then supplied to various plants which may come up.
  • There is a very crucial need for sensitizing other stakeholders, primarily, the farmers and also the common public who may be producing wastes and not managing the wastes the way it should be managed so that it can further be used and converted into useful forms.
  • Biofuels have multiple benefits such as reduction on import dependence, ensuring a cleaner environment, generating additional income for farmers and employment generation.
  • By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
  • Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

National Policy on Biofuels

  • In order to promote biofuels in the country, first National Policy on Biofuels was made by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy during the year 2009.
  • National Policy on Biofuels -2018 builds on the achievements of the earlier National Policy on Biofuels setting new agenda consistent with the redefined role of emerging developments in the renewable sector aiming to bring in renewed focus taking into context the international perspectives and National scenario.
  • The policy envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.
  • The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • The Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee – so that farmers get appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase.
  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

Potential of Stubble as Biofuel

  • Cultivation of silage crops (hybrid sorghum, hybrid napier grass, maize): They have a high yield, enabling farmers to meet the feedstock needs of cattle. They can also be used to produce biofuel plants.
  • Biomass Depots: It is essential to undertake on-field baling of stubble, aggregate bales in a depot and enter into “bankable” agreements for supplies to Bio-Energy Plants. There should be fiscal incentives enabling green entrepreneurship.
  • Solid Biofuels: These comprise briquettes and pellets. Briquettes are fired in industrial boilers or combustors but the demand in Punjab and Haryana is not high. Pellets can be co-fired in utility range boilers.
  • Liquid Biofuels: They encompass bioethanol, drop-in fuels, bio-oil, bio-methanol. The current focus is on 2G Ethanol.
  • Gaseous Biofuels: They include producer gas, biogas and green hydrogen. The current focus is on biogas upgraded to Bio-CNG, with co-product being compost.

-Source: The Hindu


Observer Status granted to International Solar Alliance (ISA)

Context:

The UN General Assembly has conferred Observer Status to the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a historic decision which India said would help provide for a well-defined cooperation between the Alliance and the United Nations that would benefit global energy growth and development.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  2. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.
  • The Headquarters of ISA is in Gurugram, Haryana, India.
  • The Purpose of ISA is Bring together a group of nations to endorse clean energy, sustainable environment, public transport and climate
  • The membership of ISA is applicable to all UN Members.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization.
  • Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
  • After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states world-wide.
  • The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 200 countries have joined.

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative, policy-making, and representative organ of the UN.
  • Popularly known as the parliament of the world, where all the 193 UN member states are represented, the UNGA is the deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN.
  • Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General of the United Nations, receive reports from other parts of the UN, and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions.
  • It is headquartered in New York City, U.S.A.

Functions of UNGA

  • Takes a decision on important matters such as peace and security, discusses various global issues and budgetary matters.
  • Decides on matters such as the admission of new members.
  • Decisions are taken through a vote. Admission of new members and budgetary matters require a two-thirds majority, while the decisions on other issues are taken by a simple majority.
  • Each sovereign state gets one vote and the votes are not binding on the membership, except in budgetary matters.
  • The Assembly has no binding votes or veto powers like the UN Security Council.
  • The UNGA can express world opinion, promote international cooperation in various fields and make recommendations to the UNSC and elect the Security Council’s non-permanent members.

-Source: The Hindu


India’s chairmanship of the RATS SCO

Context:

India assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of SCO (RATS SCO) from October 2021 for a period of one year.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
  2. About RATS-SCO

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance which was formed in 2001 in Shanghai, China.
  • The SCO is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.
  • The leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan were involved in the formation. (Prior to the creation of SCO in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.)
  • India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members in 2017. (India was made an observer at the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.)
  • Iran has been accepted as the ninth full member of the organization in the 21st Summit in 2021.
  • Official Languages of the SCO are Russian and Chinese.
  • SCO Secretariat in Beijing and Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent are the Permanent Bodies of the SCO.
  • The Chairmanship of the SCO is by rotation for a year by Member States.
  • The Headquarters of the SCO is in Chaoyang District, Beijing, China.

Working of the SCO

  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the Organisation
  • The SCO is widely regarded as the “alliance of the East”, due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific. It is seen as a counterweight to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), It is a nine-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.
  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
  • The Council of Heads of Government is the second-highest council in the organisation.
  • Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.

About RATS-SCO

  • SCO-RATS is a permanent body of the SCO and is intended to facilitate coordination and interaction between the SCO member states in the fight against terrorism, extremism and separatism.
  • The main functions of SCO-RATS are coordination and information sharing.
  • As a member, India has actively participated in the activities of SCO-RATS.
  • India’s permanent membership would enable it to generate greater understanding among members for its perspective.

-Source: Economic Times

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