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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 06 December 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 06 December 2022


Contents

  1. India prioritises SDGs and digital infrastructure
  2. Is rhino and elephant conservation a success?

India Prioritises SDGs and Digital Infrastructure


Context

At the start of the Sherpa track’s first formal meeting in Udaipur, India identified rapid-inclusive-resilient growth on SDGs (primarily health and education) as key priorities for the G20 Summit, emphasising the importance of the Global South.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Mains Question

Examine India’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. What course corrections are necessary to meet the goals? (250 words)


Background

  • The Group of Twenty (G20) is an intergovernmental forum made up of 19 countries and the European Union.
    • The G20 members account for roughly 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, and roughly two-thirds of the world’s population.
  • The G20 is divided into two parallel tracks: the Finance track, which is led by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, and the Sherpa track.
    • A sherpa is a personal representative of a head of state or government who assists in the preparation of an international summit, such as the annual G20 summits.
    • In essence, the Sherpa track clears the way for a head of state to attend a major summit.
      • The presidency steers the G20 agenda for a year until the final summit.
    • During its tenure, India will hold over 200 meetings in 50 cities, attended by ministers, government officials, and members of civil society, culminating in the final summit in New Delhi in September 2023.

The Sherpa Track

  • The 4-day gathering of the Sherpa track to the G20 Summit began its first formal meeting with dignitaries from 40 countries.
    • The G20 talks take place at a time when the global economy is facing multiple challenges, including rising global debt, high inflation, and a slowing growth rate, all of which will be addressed by the Sherpa track.
  • The Sherpa track will set the agenda for the G20 leaders (in September 2023) and will engage on topics ranging from energy, trade and investment, agriculture, digital economy, environment, anti-corruption, and so on.
  • During its presidency, India brought to the forefront two new groups: the Disaster, Risk, and Resilience Group and the Startup20 Engagement Group.
  • According to the Ministry of External Affairs, discussions on the first day focused on technological transformation, green development, lifestyle for the environment (LIFE), global and regional economies: prospects and challenges, and so on.

The agenda and key priorities for the G20 Summit are as follows:

  • India’s Sherpa (Amitabh Kant) invoked India’s G20 presidency theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’/’One Earth One Family One Future’ – to evolve strategies for o Green development, o Fostering climate finance, o Technological transformation and digital public infrastructure, o Readying multilateral institutions for the twenty-first century, o 3 Fs – food, fuel, and fertilisers, o The broader
  • The discussions on trade and investment will centre on resilient global value chains, integrating small and medium-sized industries, and global trade and trade for growth and prosperity.
  • Development, data for development, and accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be discussed, as well as LIFE.
  • In terms of employment, the working group will discuss addressing the global skills gap, long-term financing for social security, the gig and platform economy, and social security.
  • The agriculture group will discuss improving food safety and nutrition, as well as sustainable agriculture with a climate-smart approach.
  • On the health front, discussions will centre on health emergency prevention, preparedness, and response, digital health for universal access, and strengthening cooperation for vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
  • The critical issues in education will be foundational literacy and numeracy, strengthening research and innovation, tech-enabled learning, and the future of work.
  • On energy, discussions will centre on low-cost financing for energy transition, future fuel – bio-energy collaboration, green hydrogen, which will decarbonize the economy by providing universal access to clean energy.

How will India accomplish this?

By advocating the oneness of all – priorities that will reflect not only the aspirations of the G20 partners, but also the Global South, whose voice is frequently unheard.


Stubble Burning Count: 31.5% Lower Than Last Year


Context

  • According to the Commission for Air Quality Management, Stubble burning in Delhi’s neighbouring states has decreased by 31.5 percent this harvest season compared to last year (CAQM).
    • The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjacent Areas was established to improve coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to the air quality index.

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Conservation and pollution related issues.

Mains Question

“In recent years, there has been an increase in attacks on stubble burning due to its contribution to rising air pollution.” Discuss how stubble burning causes air pollution in light of this. Suggest some solutions to India’s stubble burning problem. (250 words)


Why do farmers choose Stubble Burning?

  • Farmers generally burn rice and wheat straws left in the field after combine harvesting to facilitate seed bed preparation and seeding.
  • Farmers prefer this method for crop residue management because it is quick and inexpensive compared to other methods.
  • Because farming input costs are increasing on a daily basis, farmers are hesitant to invest in crop residue management equipment.
    • Happy Seeder (a tractor-operated machine for managing paddy stubble in-situ) remains an expensive method for the majority of farmers.

Areas where this practise is widespread

  • Agricultural residue is burned on a large scale in states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and the National Capital Region of Delhi.
  • This is also prevalent in other states. This includes states such as Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal.
    • The Effects of Agriculture Fires on the Environment
      • Agriculture fires are a major source of air pollution in north India during October and November.
      • Pollutants from these fires spread throughout the region, causing smog and poor air quality.
      • These months see an increase in the concentration of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere.
    • Harmful to soil health o Burning crop residues removes a significant amount of nutrient and organic carbon content from the soil.

The government’s efforts to address this issue

  • Photographed by Centre
    • A Central Sector Scheme for the Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation for In-Situ Crop Residue Management in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi was approved.
    • Farmers receive financial assistance of 50% of the cost of machinery/equipment for the purchase of such machinery.
    • From 2018 to 2023, the central government has allocated Rs 3,062 crore to the governments of Punjab, Delhi, and states in the National Capital Region for effective stubble management.
  • Farmers share the profits from the leftover biomass.
    • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Pusa Decomposer o The Pusa decomposer is a bio-enzyme developed by IARI to decompose crop residue.
      • It decomposes stubble in 20-25 days and converts it to manure, improving soil quality.
    • Adopted by state governments and other organisations
      • State governments and other organisations are educating farmers on healthier farming practises.
      • In July 2022, the Punjab government proposed offering farmers a cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre for not burning stubble.
      • It also decided to provide non-financial incentives to these industries in the form of Panchayat land available for storage of paddy straw with a lease agreement of up to 33 years.
    • Compared to 2021, the number of fires caused by stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and the NCR districts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan has decreased this year.
    • Between September 15 and November 30, the data included paddy crop residue burning events in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and the NCR districts of UP and Rajasthan.

Statistical highlights

  • Haryana saw the greatest reduction (47.6%), followed by Punjab (30%).
  • The largest drop in Haryana was reported from Fatehabad district, while the sharpest drop in Punjab was reported from Ludhiana.
  • Reasons for the positive result this year o Optimum use of crop residue management machines for in-situ management of stubble; o Significant increase in ex-situ application of stubble, such as co-firing in thermal power plants and industrial boilers or generation bio-ethanol production.

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