Contents

  1. A region of rising intolerance
  2. A clean energy transition plan for India

A region of rising intolerance

Context:

In October 2021, Durga Puja pavilions, Hindu temples and homes were attacked in Bangladesh. These attacks followed rumours that the Koran had been desecrated at a pandal. At least five people have been killed in these attacks.

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society (Demography, Social Issues, and Developments in Indian Society), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent incidents of religious intolerance
  2. Religious Diversity in India
  3. Pew Research Centre’s ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’ report
  4. Geographical Factor of Religious Tolerance: Pew Research Centre’s report
  5. Has India been historically tolerant?
  6. Conclusion

Recent incidents of religious intolerance

  • The 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya caused riots which led to the deaths of about 2,000 people. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya also instigated a violent response in Bangladesh and mobs started demolishing multiple Hindu temples.
  • The 1993 Bombay bombings, the 2019 Easter attacks in Colombo, and the frequent terror attacks in Pakistan over the past decade are other examples.
  • In the case of Bangladesh, where Hindus make up about 9% of the population and Muslims 90%, attacks against the Hindu minority are either retaliations to acts committed in the name of religion within the country or neighbouring India, or due to the extremist views of some Muslims.
  • The separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 was an example of how culture too plays a pivotal role in separating or uniting a country.

Religious Diversity in India

  • India is one of the most diverse nations in terms of religion, it being the birthplace of four major world religions: Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
  • Even though Hindus form close to 80 percent of the population, India also has region-specific religious practices: for instance, Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority, Punjab has a Sikh majority, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram have Christian majorities and the Indian Himalayan States such as Sikkim and Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and the state of Maharashtra and the Darjeeling District of West Bengal have large concentrations of Buddhist population.
  • The country has significant Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian populations.
  • Islam is the largest minority religion in India, and the Indian Muslims form the third largest Muslim population in the world, accounting for over 14 percent of the nation’s population.

Pew Research Centre’s ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’ report

  • The report found that 91% of Hindus felt they have religious freedom, while 85% of them believed that respecting all religions was very important ‘to being truly Indian’.
  • Also, for most Hindus, religious tolerance was not just a civic virtue but also a religious value, with 80% of them stating that respecting other religions was an integral aspect of ‘being Hindu’.
  • Other religions showed similar numbers for freedom of religion and religious tolerance. While 89% of Muslims and Christians said they felt free to practice their religion, the comparative figures for Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains were 82%, 93%, and 85% respectively.
  • On the question of religious tolerance, 78% of Muslims felt it was an essential aspect of being Indian, while 79% deemed it a part of their religious identity as Muslims. Other religious denominations scored similarly high on religious tolerance.
  • The survey also revealed a number of shared beliefs that cut across religious barriers. For example, while 77% of Hindus said they believed in karma, an identical percentage of Muslims said so as well.
  • Despite shared values and a high regard for religious tolerance, the majority in all the faiths scored poorly on the metrics for religious segregation: composition of friends’ circle, views on stopping inter-religious marriage, and willingness to accept people of other religions as neighbors.
  • On the question of inter-religious marriage, most Hindus (67%), Muslims (80%), Sikhs (59%), and Jains (66%) felt it was ‘very important’ to stop the women in their community from marrying outside their religion (similar rates of opposition to men marrying outside religion). But considerably fewer Christians (37%) and Buddhists (46%) felt this way.
  • The majorities in all the religious groups were, hypothetically, willing to accept members of other religious groups as neighbours, but a significant number had reservations. About 78% of Muslims said they would be willing to have a Hindu as a neighbour. Buddhists were most likely to voice acceptance of other religious groups as neighbours, with roughly 80% of them willing to accept a Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jain as a neighbour, and even more (89%) ready to accept a Hindu neighbour.

Geographical Factor of Religious Tolerance: Pew Research Centre’s report

  • Geography was a key factor in determining attitudes, with people in the south of India more religiously integrated and less opposed to inter-religious marriages.
  • People in the South “are less likely than those in other regions to say all their close friends share their religion (29%),” noted the report.
  • Also, Hindu nationalist sentiments were less prevalent in the South. Among Hindus, those in the South (42%) were far less likely than those in Central states (83%) or the North (69%) to say that being Hindu was very important to being truly Indian.
  • Also, people in the South were somewhat less religious than those in other regions: 69% said religion was very important to their lives, while 92% in Central India held the same view.
  • Religious identity and nationalism
  • The survey also found that Hindus tend to see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined, with 64% saying that it was ‘very important’ to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian.
  • Most Hindus (59%) also linked Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi. And among Hindus who believed it was very important to be Hindu in order to be truly Indian, a full 80% also believed it was very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.

Has India been historically tolerant?

  • The survey endorses that India has historically been a tolerant country and is now increasingly turning into an intolerant one. It states that, since Indians were tolerant in the past, they must remain so now and in future.
  • However, untouchability has been practised for ages in India and remains widespread in both urban and rural areas. And untouchability is an act of extreme intolerance.
  • But the ideas of caste and intolerance are empirically, conceptually and historically deeply entwined.
  • Society has been following intolerance against Dalits in an organised way as a custom.

Conclusion

  • Various articles surfacing after the Pew Research Center launched its report ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation’ suggest that: while the survey presents comparative data pertaining to four other major religions: Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism, its conclusion broadly confirms the growing influence of Hindutva politics on India’s social fabric.
  • According to the report, India’s concept of religious tolerance does not necessarily involve the mixing of religious communities. However, examining the conceptual foundations on which the report is premised could lead to a vastly different understanding of tolerance in India.
  • The issue of tolerance is not seen in connection with caste and is argued exclusively in the context of inter-religious communities. In discussions on prejudices or violence between Hindus and Muslims, the word ‘tolerance’ seems to have increasingly replaced the word ‘communal’.

-Source: The Hindu


A clean energy transition plan for India

Context:

Energy security warrants the uninterrupted supply of energy at affordable prices. In India’s case, on one hand, India has to ensure the availability and affordability of energy to 1.3 billion population, and

on the other hand, it has to make noticeable contributions towards climate change.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Growth & Development, Energy Security)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background of Clean Energy and the Energy sector in India
  2. Way forward suggested: A time-bound plan for Clean energy transition
  3. Benefits of the aforementioned plan

Background of Clean Energy and the Energy sector in India

  • The Electricity Act of 2003 has helped to transform the power sector of India and the thermal power plant (TPP) generation capacity in India has increased from 94GW in 2011 to 192 GW in 2017, which is more than double the number in 2011.
  • This, in turn, has made it possible for the government to increase per capita electricity consumption by 37% and the energy demand deficit has also declined from 9.8 percent in 2010-11 to 1.6 percent in 2016-17.
  • India still has to work on providing energy security to the whole population as it stands third at the international level in terms of per capita energy consumption.
  • TPPs contributed 71% of the electricity generated by utilities in India during FY 2020-21 though they accounted for only 55% of the total installed generation capacity of 382 GW (as of March 2021).
  • It implies that coal is the major source of electricity generation in India as piped gas is not easily accessible because of geopolitical reasons.
  • Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRE), mainly wind and solar, contribute 24 percent of the total installed capacity and in terms of electricity generation by utilities, their share was 10.7 percent in FY 2020-21.
  • The current level of VRE in the national power grid has increased the cost of procurement for DISCOMS which in turn is increasing the rates of tariffs for the consumers. Hence, India has to implement a plan for increasing energy efficiency and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants from TPPs without making electricity unaffordable to the industries that require low-cost power 24×7 to compete in the international market.

Way forward suggested: A time-bound plan for Clean energy transition

  • A time bound plan should involve the progressive retirement of TPPs(unit size 210 MW and below) based on key performance parameters such as efficiency, specific coal consumption, technological obsolescence, and age.
  • This retirement should be based on key performance indicators such as Efficiency, Specific Coal Consumption, Technological Obsolescence, and Age.
  • The shortfall in baseload electricity generation should be compensated by increasing the utilization of the High-Efficiency-Low-Emission (HELE) TPPs that are currently underutilized.
  • This should be done in order to promote VRE and accomplishment of 47 government-owned TPPs that are under construction in which the government has already invested. A power purchase agreement has already been signed between the DISCOMS and these TPPs and under the two-part tariff policy program. Its cost will be borne by the power consumers irrespective of their usage.
  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is developing 11 nuclear power plants. The total generation capacity of these plants will be 8,700 MW, 24×7 power supply, and no carbon dioxide emission.

Benefits of the aforementioned plan

  • The total installed capacity of TPPs by utilities will increase from the current 209 GW to 220GW by 2029-30.
  • The combined thermal (220 GW) and nuclear (15 GW) capacity of 235 GW is expected to match the baseload requirement (80 percent of the peak demand) during the evening peak in FY 2029-30.
  • The optimum utilization of the existing and under construction HELE TPPs with efficient capabilities and a low level of technical minimus will also help in the integration of VRE.
  • The electricity generation from TPPs is likely to be reduced from the 2020-21 level of 71 percent to 57 percent of the total electricity generation by 2029-30.
  • The contribution of HELE TPPs will shoot up from 25 percent (as in 2018-19) to 44 percent in 2029-30.
  • The contribution of inefficient TPPs will decline from 46 percent (as in 2018-19) to 4 percent in 2029-30. As a result, the emission of carbon dioxide will decline by 57Mt in 2029-30 and even the electricity generation from coal is expected to be increased by 21 percent to 1,234 Billion Units (BU) in 2029-30.
  • The promotion of HELE TPPs will reduce the emissions of particulate matter SO2 and NO2.
  • Avoidance of sustenance Capital Expenditure and desulphurization plants (FGDs) costs in the 211 inefficient TPPs that are proposed to be retired. Besides, there will be savings in terms of specific coal consumption and water consumption by these TPPs. This will, in turn, reduce the electricity tariffs and PM pollution.
  • The implementation of this plan will enable India to safeguard its energy security and ensure efficient grid operations with lower water consumption, PM pollution, and CO2 emissions.
  • Ultimately, this plan demonstrates India’s commitment to climate change mitigation by optimizing the use of our land, coal, water, and financial resources with indigenous technology.

-Source: The Hindu

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