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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 2 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. CoP26 summit: India’s Carbon Neutrality by 2070
  2. SC: Cannot impose blanket ban on crackers
  3. Ministry releases guide for safety of Ganges Dolphins
  4. NITI Aayog’s report on Health Insurance

CoP26 summit: India’s Carbon Neutrality by 2070

Context:

In the COP26 climate summit, India said that it will achieve net zero emissions by 2070 – putting a time-bound target to achieve net zero for the first time.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment, International Treaties and Agreements), GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Conference of Parties (CoP) and COP26
  2. India’s ‘net zero’ commitment at COP26
  3. Sign off on Paris Rulebook, says BASIC
    1. Background: What is the Paris Agreement?
  4. About the Paris Rulebook and what was said about it?

Click Here to read more about Conference of Parties (CoP) and COP26

India’s ‘net zero’ commitment at COP26

  • Until COP26 India was the only major emitter that hadn’t committed to a timeline to achieve net zero, or a year by which it would ensure its net carbon dioxide emissions would be zero.
  • For the first time, Indian Prime Minister said that India will achieve net zero emissions latest by 2070 at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
  • By 2030 India will ensure 50% of its energy will be sourced from renewable energy sources. India will reduce its carbon emissions until 2030 by a billion tonnes.
  • India will also reduce its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by less than 45%. India would also install 500 Gigawatt of renewable energy by 2030, a 50 gw increase from its existing targets.
  • The Indian Prime Minister also said that sustainable modes of living being practised in certain traditional communities ought to be made part of school curricula and the lessons from India’s efforts at adaptation in programmes such as Jal Jeevan mission, Swach Bharat mission and mission ujwala ought to be popularized globally.

Sign off on Paris Rulebook, says BASIC

  • Indian Environment Minister delivered a statement on behalf of the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) at COP26 – that the Paris Agreement Rulebook be concluded at COP26.
  • Brazil, South Africa, India and China are major developing economies which are significant polluters but bear diminished responsibility for the carbon dioxide that has been pumped into the atmosphere since 1850 and also have low per capita emissions because of their significant populations.
  • These countries have therefore for many years sought to rebuff pressure from developed countries to take on firmer emission reductions.
  • India also said that COP26 must aim for higher global ambition on climate finance and adaptation as well, along with recognition of the Parties’ differing historical responsibilities and the developmental challenges faced by developing countries, compounded by the pandemic.
  • India also recalled the “bottom-up nature” of the Paris Agreement and the freedom of Parties to determine their NDCs and progressively update them based on the outcomes of the Global Stocktake cycle — that specifies the actual progress made by countries so far in mitigating emissions — and as per national circumstances and call of science.

Background: What is the Paris Agreement?

  • The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed by almost all countries in the world at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
  • Its aims are to keep the rise in the global average temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, ideally 1.5 degrees; strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align all finance flows with ‘a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’.
  • The Paris Agreement has a ‘bottom-up’ approach where countries themselves decide by how much they will reduce their emissions by a certain year. They communicate these targets to the UNFCCC in the form of ‘nationally determined contributions’, or ‘NDCs’.

About the Paris Rulebook and what was said about it?

  • The Paris Rulebook is the Paris Agreement’s ‘implementation guide’.
  • Countries had agreed to develop and finalise the Paris Rulebook at COP24 in Poland in 2018.
  • While the Paris Agreement laid out the framework for international action, the Rulebook will set this Agreement in motion by laying out the tools and processes to enable it is implemented fairly and properly.
  • When it comes to framing the Rulebook, agreeing on what rules should govern international carbon markets – the ‘Article 6 negotiations’ – is expected to be particularly difficult.
  • The Indian Environment Minister said that the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) and, recognition of the very different national circumstances of countries must be respected while framing the Paris Rulebook.

-Source: The Hindu


SC: Cannot impose blanket ban on crackers

Context:

The Supreme Court said a blanket ban on firecrackers may not be possible, but measures ought to be in place to prevent the use of toxic chemicals in firecrackers.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution, Environmental Degradation, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. More about the Supreme Court’s verdict on Firecracker ban
  2. SC on Firecrackers in the past
  3. About the SC probe and the issues found with Firecrackers

More about the Supreme Court’s verdict on Firecracker ban

  • The Supreme Court accepted the improbability of imposing a total ban on firecrackers. Only those firecrackers are banned which are found to be injurious to health and affecting the health of citizens.
  • The SC said that Diwali celebrations cannot be at the cost of others’ health. Nobody can be permitted to play with the life of others, more particularly that of senior citizens and children
  • The firecracker industry had moved the apex court after the Calcutta HC “prohibited the sale, purchase, use, display or bursting of firecrackers of any type at all during the upcoming Kali Puja, Diwali celebration as well as the following Chatt Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday and/or Christmas/New Year’s Eve this year in the State of West Bengal”.

On the high Court Order

  • The Supreme Court was setting aside a Calcutta High Court order which had ordered a complete ban on the use of firecrackers on October 2021.
  • The Bench said the High Court order was “extreme” and it should have heard the industry, which employs thousands of workers, before passing any such order.
  • The apex court asked whether the HC had made any effort to verify if any alternative mechanism was in place to make green crackers available in the market.

SC on Firecrackers in the past

  • In 2017, the SC had banned the use and sale of toxic crackers on the basis of a petition filed by two infants who pleaded for their right to life.
  • The court had said the sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders. It dismissed arguments that bursting crackers was a fundamental right and an essential practice during religious festivals like Diwali.
  • The Court’s endeavour was to strive at balancing of two rights, namely, right of the petitioners under Article 21 and right of the manufacturers and traders under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution
  • The SC said it felt that Article 25 [right to religion] is subject to Article 21 [right to life].
  • If a particular religious practice is threatening the health and lives of people, such practice is not to entitled to protection under Article 25.

About the SC probe and the issues found with Firecrackers

  • In 2017, the Supreme court had banned the use and sale of toxic crackers during the celebration owing to diwali, Christmas, etc., on the basis of a petition filed by two infants.
  • In March 2020, the court ordered the CBI Joint Director in Chennai to conduct a detailed probe into allegations of violation of the court ban in 2018.
  • A chemical analysis of the samples of finished and semi-finished firecrackers and raw materials taken from the manufacturers showed barium content.
  • Firecracker covers did not show the manufacture or expiry dates.
  • Many firecracker manufacturers continued to use toxic ingredients fully knowing that the court had banned them.
  • Children are employed in these factories and are exposed to the poison.
  • The toxic ingredients end up poisoning the air and deteriorating the air quality.

-Source: The Hindu


Ministry releases guide for safety of Ganges Dolphins

Context:

The Jal Shakti Ministry released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges River Dolphins.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in news, Conservation of Ecology and Environment)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Ganges River Dolphins (GRDs) Entrapped in canals and rescue guide
  2. Ganges River Dolphins
  3. Threats to Gangetic River dolphin
  4. Steps Taken to conserve and protect dolphins

Ganges River Dolphins (GRDs) Entrapped in canals and rescue guide

  • Ganges River Dolphins (GRDs), whose global population is estimated at 4,000, are (nearly 80%) found in the Indian subcontinent.
  • They often accidentally enter canal channels in northern India and are often entrapped, and die as they are unable to swim up against the gradient, eventually getting stressed and harassed by the locals.
  • The manual, endorsed by the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group, has details of identification of the species and on-site and off-site operations.
  • The off-site operations include permit and equipment while on-site involves crowd control, capture and handling, transfer, transport and release.

Ganges River Dolphins

  • The Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) was officially discovered in the 1800s and these Ganges river dolphins once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. (But the species is extinct from most of its early distribution ranges.)
  • The Ganges river dolphin was recognised as the National Aquatic Animal in 2009, by the Government of India.
  • The Ganges river dolphin can only survive in freshwater and is essentially blind.
  • They are frequently found alone or in small groups, and generally a mother and calf travel together.
  • The Indus and Ganges River dolphins are both classified as ‘Endangered’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Ganges dolphin is a Schedule I animal under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and has been included in Annexure – I (most endangered) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • The Ganges dolphin is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) (migratory species that need conservation and management or would significantly benefit from international co-operation).

Threats to Gangetic River dolphin

  1. Pollution: It faces a number of threats such as dumping of single-use plastics in water bodies, industrial pollution, and fishing.
  2. Restrictive Flow of Water: The increase in the number of barrages and dams is also affecting their growth as such structures impede the flow of water.
  3. Poaching: Dolphins are also poached for their flesh, fat, and oil, which is used as a prey to catch fish, as an ointment and as a supposed aphrodisiac.
  4. Shipping & Dredging: It is also called a blind dolphin because it doesn’t have an eye lens and uses echolocation to navigate and hunt.

Steps Taken to conserve and protect dolphins

  1. Project Dolphin: The Prime Minister announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin in his Independence Day Speech 2020. It will be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population.
  2. Dolphin Sanctuary: Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary has been established in Bihar.
  3. Conservation Plan: The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, which “identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations”.
  4. National Ganga River Dolphin Day: The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates 5th October as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.

-Source: The Hindu


NITI Aayog’s report on Health Insurance

Context:

NITI Aayog has released a comprehensive report titled Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle recently, which brings out the gaps in the health insurance coverage across the Indian population and offers solutions to address the situation.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Health related issues, Government Interventions and Policies, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Government Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle report
  2. Why is health insurance important in India?
  3. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY)
  4. Way forwards recommended in the report

 

Highlights of the Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle report

  • According to the report, at least 30% of the population, or 40 crore individuals (referred as the missing middle in this report) are devoid of any financial protection for health.
  • Around the top 20% of the population – 25 crore individuals – are covered through social health insurance, and private voluntary health insurance.
  • In the absence of a low-cost health insurance product, the missing middle remains uncovered despite the ability to pay nominal premiums.
  • Affordable contributory products such as Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), and Government subsidized insurance including AB-PMJAY are closed products. They are not available to the general population due to the risk of adverse selection.
  • The Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) and various State Government extension schemes, provide comprehensive hospitalization cover to the bottom 50% of the population.

Why is health insurance important in India?

  • Health insurance is a mechanism of pooling the high level of Out of Pocket expenditure (OOPE) in India to provide greater financial protection against health shocks.
  • Pre-payment through health insurance emerges as an important tool for risk-pooling and safeguarding against catastrophic (and often impoverishing) expenditure from health shocks. Moreover, pre-paid pooled funds can also improve the efficiency of healthcare provision.
  • Expansion of health insurance coverage is a vital step, and a pathway in India’s effort to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • India’s health sector is characterized by low Government expenditure on health, high out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE), and low financial protection for adverse health events. The private sector is characterized by high OOPE, leading to low financial protection.

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY)

  • The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) scheme offers a sum insured of Rs.5 lakh per family for secondary care (which doesn’t involve a super specialist) as well as tertiary care (which involves a super specialist).
  • It is an entitlement-based scheme that targets the beneficiaries as identified by latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data. Once identified by the database, the beneficiary is considered insured and can walk into any empanelled hospital.
  • The funding for the scheme is shared – 60:40 for all states and UTs with their own legislature, 90:10 in Northeast states and Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand and 100% Central funding for UTs without legislature.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA) has been constituted as an autonomous entity under the Society Registration Act, 1860 for effective implementation of PM-JAY in alliance with state governments. The State Health Agency (SHA) is the apex body of the State Government responsible for the implementation of AB PM-JAY in the State.
  • Under PMJAY, cashless and paperless access to services are provided to the beneficiaries at the point of service.
  • Health Benefit Packages covers surgery, medical and day care treatments, cost of medicines and diagnostics.
    • Packaged rates (Rates that include everything so that each product or service is not charged for separately).
    • They are flexible, but they can’t charge the beneficiary once fixed by the hospitals.
    • The scheme also has prescribed a daily limit for medical management.

Way forwards recommended in the report

  • The report has recommended three models for increasing the health insurance coverage in the country:
    1. The success of a private voluntary contributory health insurance product requires creation of a large and diversified risk pool. For this to happen the Government should build consumer awareness of health insurance through Information Education Communication campaigns.
    2. The cost of health insurance i.e., the premium needs to come down, in line with the affordability of the missing middle.
    3. Government Subsidized Health Insurance models can be utilized for segments of the missing middle which remain uncovered, due to limited ability to pay for the voluntary contributory models outlined above. Government can provide public data and infrastructure as a public good to reduce operational and distribution costs of insurers.

-Source: PIB

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