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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 May 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 May 2023


Contents

  1. India’s nuclear power phaseout: is it Desirable
  2. Web 3.0 is focused on public good

India’s Nuclear Power Phaseout: Is It Desirable


In News, why?

• While France, the world’s nuclear powerhouse, is battling to replace its stock of ageing reactors, Germany has shut down the last of its nuclear power plants.There are concerns about whether nuclear power, with its associated concerns about cost and safety, remains a relevant option for a future that is fossil-free, particularly in India, as solar and wind power gain popularity across the globe.

Relevance

GS Paper-3: Infrastructure: Energy

Mains Question

What are the possible advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy in the context of India, and is it wise for India to gradually stop using nuclear power? (250 Words)


The Future of Nuclear Power:

  • In the last two years, there has been something of a renaissance for nuclear power, with even Europe and the US taking a second look at it, particularly in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine.
  • China has been making rapid progress with nuclear energy, and the new president of South Korea has changed the country’s energy strategy to increase the share of nuclear energy in its energy mix to 30% by 2030.
  • Japan has restarted reactors and plans to start ten more despite having to deal with the Fukushima accident. This is due to the fact that otherwise Japan would have had to rely on costly imported coal or natural gas (LNG).
  • Even the UK has acknowledged the importance of increasing nuclear power for decarbonizing the electricity sector.

Solar and wind power versus nuclear power

  • While many people around the world continue to debate whether nuclear power is environmentally friendly, even when life-cycle costs are taken into account, it is low-carbon.
  • Given that wind and solar power are intermittent or variable, many nations believe that nuclear power would be a good addition to the mix because it provides stable, dispatchable power.Although batteries are thought to be the solution to the variable power problem, they are very expensive and have negative environmental effects.Therefore, before gradually phased out nuclear power, it’s imperative to think about whether there is a viable alternative.

Are nuclear power plants “green”?

  • Nuclear energy is a low-carbon energy source because it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or other air pollutants that cause global warming. In this regard, it is frequently viewed as a “green” energy source; however, there are environmental effects associated with uranium mining and processing, the construction and operation of nuclear power plants, and the disposal of nuclear waste.The potential for catastrophic environmental and human effects has also been shown by accidents like the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.
  • The problem of disposing of nuclear waste is also difficult because the radioactive material can be dangerous for a very long time.

Concerns Associated with Nuclear power

  • Nuclear power presents a number of difficulties, chief among them the safety of nuclear power plants, which is of great concern given the potentially catastrophic effects of nuclear accidents.
    • People’s memories of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are still recent.
  • The possibility of human error, natural disasters, or other events leading to nuclear accidents cannot be ignored, despite the fact that nuclear safety has improved since then.
  • Nuclear Proliferation: The potential for nuclear proliferation is a concern related to nuclear power.
    • Uranium enrichment, which is used to make nuclear fuel, can also be used to make nuclear weapons.
  • To stop the spread of nuclear weapons, nations with nuclear power plants must take great care to ensure the security and safety of their nuclear facilities.
  • Liability Concerns: Nuclear liability is a major source of contention for many nations. The issue of liability arises in the event of a nuclear accident.
    • This problem has prevented India and France from implementing their agreement to put European Pressurised Reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
    • Nuclear power is an expensive option for many nations due to the potential liability costs, which could be very high.
  • Cost Overruns: Building and running nuclear power plants are expensive, which poses another significant problem.
    • Cost overruns are possible due to the high initial investment costs of nuclear power plants and the drawn-out regulatory approval process.
    • Nuclear power plants are more expensive than alternative energy sources like solar and wind power.
  • Radioactive Waste: Nuclear power plants produce radioactive waste, which must be properly disposed of in order to protect the environment.
    • Nuclear power plant spent fuel is extremely radioactive and can be dangerous to one’s health.
    • The disposal of nuclear waste is a contentious issue for which there has yet to be a workable solution.

Conclusion:

India’s energy mix is dominated by coal, which has negative effects on the environment and human health. Nuclear power is still a low-carbon source of base-load power, despite concerns about its safety, cost, and waste.Nuclear power should remain a part of India’s energy mix, at least in the short to medium term; however, India should continue to invest in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels in the long term. Phasing out nuclear power could result in an increased reliance on coal, which would have severe environmental and health consequences.


Web 3.0 Is Focused On Public Good


Context

The third-generation web is widely believed to be biassed towards gaming and cryptocurrencies, but it actually covers a wide range of topics.In order for India to take advantage of the $1.1 trillion digital asset opportunity by 2032, the third-gen web will be essential, according to the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum’s 2021 report.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life; Generations of Web

Mains Question

Describe Web 3.0. Mention any potential benefits related to the common good that India may receive as well. (250 Words).


Key Points:

The next-generation web is complex from a policy perspective, and one of the issues is the variety of descriptors used by experts.The enormous social significance of the web is also difficult to understand.

Web 3

  • Unlike today, when tech giants control the platforms, Web 3 will give users ownership stakes in platforms and applications.
  • Web3 is more secure because it lacks a single point of vulnerability that hackers could use.
  • Decentralised applications (dApps) and smart contracts can be developed and used with Web3.
    • These dApps can be used for a range of activities, including social media, money management, gaming, and more.
  • Web3 aims to fundamentally alter how data is produced, monetized, shared, and distributed.
    • In addition, it promotes decentralised data storage systems in an effort to break the oligopolistic hold that technology behemoths have over data.
  • Web3 offers more secure, cryptographically protected, and network and blockchain independent file-sharing platforms, such as the Interplanetary File System.
  • In this way, Web3 aims to get around blockchains’ limitations on data storage.
  • The most daring aspect of Web3 is the strategic role it gives non-custodial wallets, which serve as users’ digital passports to platforms for blockchain-enabled transactions.
    • These wallets help establish a “ownership economy,” in which content producers have complete control over their products.
  • They serve, in essence, as the digital proof of identity.
  • Web3 wants decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) to take the place of microeconomic organisations.
  • Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is the guiding principle of Web 3.
    • It implies that all the business and governing rules governing any transaction are openly visible to everyone and that software will be written in accordance with these rules.
  • On a larger scale, it aims to establish a distributed economic system in which particular classes of native digital tokens and cryptocurrencies would serve as the medium of exchange for money.
  • Web3 platforms would, in general, increase the effectiveness of peer-to-peer transactions.
  • Web3 systems also aim to produce fungible digital assets to compensate regional providers of data storage capacity for their services, in addition to utility tokens that allow users to access life support services.
  • Web3 projects may be able to raise capital using asset tokens that are native to the new-generation web.
    • DAO stakeholders can also use tokens to exercise their voting privileges. The Web3 NFTs are more dynamic because they try to incorporate advancements made possible by small innovations.

Web 3.0 isn’t Web 3.0;

  • Web 3.0 upholds the property of the “semantic web,” which is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), while Web 3.0 is decentralised, privacy-oriented, blockchain-driven, and crypto-asset friendly.
  • The real benefit of the semantic web is its capacity to combine data from various websites to create new, more original, and authentic content and knowledge resources.
  • Supporters of Web 3.0 assert that their version has strong capabilities in the area of data analytics.
  • It is claimed that Web 3.0 will result in significantly better search engines in this way.

Different Web Generations

  • Web 1.0 was created in 1989.
    • Mostly static web pages, where visitors would access a website, read the static content, and engage with it.
    • Users were unable to post ratings, comments, likes, etc.
  • Web 2.0 o Completely developed in 2004, and still in its infancy today.
  • Users can post comments, register likes, share and upload their photos and videos, and engage in other similar activities. They can also create content.
  • Web 5.0 o Web 5.0 aims to create a web that is even more decentralised.
    • Web 5.0 combines Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 to give users the ability to “own their identity” online and “control their data.”
    • Web 3.0 and Web 5.0 both envision an Internet free from the threat of government or big tech censorship as well as the worry of lengthy outages.

How might India gain?

  • Design-related innovations, many of which are not covered by intellectual property rights, are renowned in India’s handicraft industry.
    • Our handcraft businesses would be able to secure their innovations thanks to the digital tokens created by Web 3 platforms.
  • Web 3-based instruction tools allow for the quick transfer of grassroots innovations from master artisans to fellow members, which would boost the economic standing of artisans and craftsmen in north-eastern, western, and peninsular India.
  • India’s significant investment in digital public infrastructure and the extensive use of Internet of Things (IoT) in rural development projects present significant opportunities for the deployment of Web 3.
  • The quick rise of community data has been one of the understated facts of India’s transformation story in recent years.
    • The Atal Bhujal Yojana is a significant source of data on aquifer contamination and groundwater use practises, though this resource is largely untapped due to a lack of data analytics capacity at the local level.
    • The (decentralised) analytics systems of Web3 are able to get around this restriction.
  • Large amounts of community data produced by IoT-enabled development initiatives like the Jal Jeevan Mission can also provide insights thanks to Web 3.0.
  • The ability for ‘analytics at the edge’ offered by Web 3.0 offers a lot of potential for mapping community water use patterns.
  • In a similar vein, Web 3.0 will enhance flood early warning systems thanks to data analytics tools obtained at the sub-basin level.
  • One limitation of today’s data analytics technology is its inability to keep up with the rate of data generation in rural areas.
    • The talent pool for web design and data analytics is expanding quickly in India.
    • It is possible to tap into the talent pool for the benefit of rural communities by offering incentives for decentralised analytics and tokenizing them (as Web 3 envisions).
  • Web 3.0 will therefore be transformative in economically underdeveloped regions.

Conclusion

  • In summary, India’s National Blockchain Strategy 2021 calls for investigating tokenization and utilising blockchain technologies for development initiatives.
    • India will naturally move towards developing a third-generation web strategy that maximises public interest, and it should aim to combine the positive aspects of Web3 and Web 3.0.

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