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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 May 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 May 2023


Contents

  1. Decarbonizing the steel industry will pay rewards
  2. Sexual harassment in the workplace

Decarbonizing the Steel Industry Will Pay Rewards


Context

  • The current reliance on coking coal-based steel-making poses environmental issues and accounts for 11% of the nation’s emissions, but India’s steel industry is expected to undergo tremendous expansion, with crude steel production anticipated to reach 435 million tonnes by 2050.
  • In order to lessen this, a quicker switch to steel production using hydrogen combined with a carbon price of $50 per tonne can spur a move to more environmentally friendly steel production.This not only lowers emissions but also gives India the chance to develop a reputable, sustainable centre for the production of green steel, which might result in cost savings and a reduction in overall emissions by 2050.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

Mains Question

Explain the various actions that can be taken to facilitate the decarbonization of the steel industry in India. (150 Words)


Decarbonization.

  • Decarbonization is the process of reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of economic sectors, including energy, transportation, industry, and agriculture, with the aim of limiting global warming and mitigating climate change.
  • The decarbonization of India’s steel sector is crucial for long-term growth and cutting carbon emissions.

Importance:

  • India’s steel sector is currently responsible for 11% of the nation’s carbon emissions. In order to meet climate targets and lessen the negative effects of climate change, decarbonization is essential.
  • Sustainable development: By minimising its negative environmental effects and fostering cleaner production methods, decarbonizing the steel industry is consistent with sustainable development objectives.
  • International accords: India’s adherence to global climate agreements like the Paris Agreement requires a transition to low-carbon industries like steel production.
  • Economic opportunities: Establishing a greener steel industry can make India a hub for the production of green steel, luring investments, generating employment, and boosting economic competitiveness.

Challenges

  • Technological barriers: Low-carbon technologies are still being adopted, and there are issues with cost, scalability, and infrastructure development. One example is the production of steel using hydrogen.
  • Cost implications: The switch to decarbonized steel manufacturing may result in higher production costs, which might reduce the industry’s ability to compete and drive up the cost of homes and cars.
  • Resource accessibility: India’s reliance on coking coal for the production of steel presents difficulties in terms of accessibility, quality, and expanding global demand, particularly as the sector grows.

Several steps can be taken to facilitate the decarbonization of the Indian steel industry:

  • CO2 Pricing: Implementing CO2 pricing, such as carbon taxes or carbon trading systems, promotes investments in low-carbon technology and hastens the adoption of hydrogen-based steel production.
    • It gives steel producers incentives to cut emissions and switch to greener production techniques.
  • Material Efficiency: Policies that encourage scrap collecting and recycling are necessary to promote the production of steel from scrap, which produces fewer carbon emissions.
    • This includes establishing centres for collecting, processing, and disassembly in order to scale up domestic steel production using scrap.
    • This lessens the steel industry’s dependency on coking coal and promotes a circular economy.
  • Green Steel Consumption: o Promoting the usage of green steel in end-use industries like the automotive and construction sectors can increase demand for low-carbon steel.
    • Green steel usage is encouraged by setting targets for embodied carbon in public and private projects.
    • By establishing a home market for green steel, this helps domestic steel producers and increases their ability to compete.
  • Incremental Decarbonization Measures: o Energy-efficiency upgrades and process optimisations can be applied to existing steel assets to achieve considerable emission reductions.
    • Strategies for decarbonization include increasing the amount of scrap used in the BF-BOF process, obtaining green power, and putting in place methods for controlling the use of biomass.
  • Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS): o CCUS technology investments offer a significant lever for lowering emissions in the steel industry.
    • Research and development initiatives ought to concentrate on lowering capture costs and setting up CCUS hubs in steel-producing regions.
    • This makes it possible to capture and store carbon emissions, reducing their negative environmental effects.

Green Steel

  • In order to make “green steel,” or steel without the emission of carbon dioxide, hydrogen must be used as a “reducing agent” (a substance that removes oxygen).In other words, iron ore is essentially iron oxide, and steel is made by adding a small amount of carbon to pure iron after hydrogen is used to remove oxygen from iron oxide.Currently, coke is used to remove oxygen from the atmosphere; nevertheless, coke and oxygen combine to generate carbon dioxide, which is currently the greatest threat to humanity.
  • Coke may be replaced by hydrogen just as effectively.
  • Iron ore from India is largely unsuitable for the production of green steel.
  • India’s low-grade iron ore, along with that of Australia, makes up 66% of the world’s iron ore, according to the Commonwealth Industrial and Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia. Only in blast furnaces, which are enormous cooking pots where iron ore is melted and combined with coke before being poured into moulds to create steel slabs, can low-grade iron ore be converted into steel.
  • The ‘electric arc furnace’ method of producing green steel is necessary for technological reasons; EAFs require high-grade ores with an iron content of at least 60%.

Conclusion:

  • On the road to sustainability, India’s steel sector has both possibilities and difficulties.
  • Given the anticipated increase in steel production, it is imperative to reduce the industry’s high carbon emissions.
  • A more environmentally friendly steel industry may be possible with an expedited shift to hydrogen-based steel production, supported by the implementation of CO2 pricing and regulations for material efficiency.
  • Investing in carbon capture technologies and making incremental changes to energy efficiency are also essential.
  • The long-term advantages of these initiatives outweigh any potential increases in production costs and prices for homes and cars.
  • An expedited decarbonization scenario is a tempting option for India’s steel industry due to decreased cumulative emissions, forex savings, and the creation of a hub for the production of environmentally friendly steel on a global scale.
  • India can create a steel industry that not only satisfies expanding demand but also works towards a greener and more affluent future by embracing sustainable practises from the outset.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


Context

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, enacted in 2013, intends to address workplace sexual harassment; nevertheless, the Supreme Court of India has noted gaps and uncertainties in its implementation.
  • The court has asked government bodies to confirm the existence of Internal Complaint Committees and ensure that their composition is consistent with the Act.

Relevance:

GS Paper -1 and GS Paper-2: Issues related to women, Social Issues

Mains Question

What are the roadblocks to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013’s implementation? What steps should be taken to improve the act’s implementation?


How did the PoSH Act come to be?

  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, often known as the PoSH Act, was enacted in reaction to the gang rape of Bhanwari Devi in 1992.
  • To remedy the lack of a dedicated law, the Supreme Court created the Vishakha Guidelines in 1997, which provided temporary tools to combat workplace sexual harassment.
  • The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill was introduced in 2007 and became law on December 9, 2013.
  • The purpose of the PoSH Act is to prevent, ban, and rectify sexual harassment while also promoting gender equality and protecting the dignity of female employees.

Under the PoSh Act, how are sexual harassment, the workplace, and an employee defined?

  • Sexual Harassment: o Physical contact, sexual approaches, demands or requests for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, exhibiting pornography, and any other unwanted physical, verbal, or nonverbal sexual conduct.
    • Five circumstances that constitute sexual harassment: i. Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in employment; ii. Implied or explicit threat of adverse treatment in employment; iii. Implied or explicit threat about present or future employment status; iv. Interference with work or creation of an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment; and v. Humiliating treatment likely to affect health or safety.
  • Workplace: o Definition expanded beyond traditional offices to encompass all forms of organisations across industries.
    • Includes non-traditional workplaces and venues where employees go for work.
    • This applies to both public and commercial sector organisations in India.
  • Employee: o Broadly defined to encompass all female employees.
  • Regular, temporary, contractual, ad hoc, daily pay employees, apprentices, interns, and even those hired without the knowledge of the major employer are all included.
    • All female employees have the right to seek remedies for workplace sexual harassment.

What are the obligations placed on employers?

  • Internal Complaints Committee (ICC): Employers with more than ten workers are required to form an ICC.
    • The ICC is in charge of accepting and handling official sexual harassment complaints from female employees.
    • The committee must be led by a woman and have at least two female employees.
    • Another employee and a third-party member, such as an NGO worker with five years of expertise dealing with sexual harassment concerns, should be included.
  • Local Committee (LC): The Act requires the establishment of a Local Committee in each district.
    • LC handles complaints from women working in businesses with fewer than ten employees, as well as from the informal sector, which includes domestic workers, home-based workers, and voluntary government social workers.
  • Inquiries and Compliance: o Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) and Local Committees (LC) conduct inquiries in accordance with the POSH Act and natural justice principles.
    • A woman can file a written complaint with either the internal or municipal complaints committee within three to six months of the incident.
  • Resolution Process: o Except for financial settlements, the committees might address the issue by conciliation between the complainant and the respondent.
    • Alternatively, the committees can launch an investigation and then take necessary action based on their findings.
  • Annual Audit Report: o Employers are required to file an annual audit report with the district officer, including the number of sexual harassment complaints received and the steps taken.
  • Employer Responsibilities: o Employers must hold regular training and awareness programmes to educate employees about the Act.
    • They must hold orientation sessions for ICC members.
      • Failure to create an ICC or comply with other provisions may result in fines of up to $50,000, with increased penalties for repeat offences.

Implementation stumbling blocks

  • Inadequate ICC Constitution: o Some organisations have not created Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) or do not have enough members, including necessary external members.
  • Inadequate Clarity and Accountability: o The Act lacks clarity on enforcement accountability, and state governments have not taken aggressive measures to verify compliance.
  • Limited Access for Informal Sector Workers: o A substantial percentage of women in the informal sector lack access to the law, and there is a lack of information of the Act and complaint procedures.
  • Underreporting and Power Dynamics: o Fear of professional repercussions, as well as power imbalances, lead to considerable underreporting of workplace sexual harassment instances.
  • probes and Evidence Challenges: o ICC probes frequently rely significantly on solid evidence, which may not be readily available in cases of sexual harassment.
  • Due Process Requirements: o ICCs shall adhere to natural justice principles while taking into account the special dynamics of sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination.

Recent Concerns and Directions of the SC:

  • The Importance of Maintaining Dignity and Respect: o The Supreme Court emphasised that the PoSH Act’s effectiveness is dependent on stringent enforcement and a proactive attitude by all parties.
    • It emphasised the negative effects of sexual harassment on women’s self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical health.
  • Ensuring a Safe and Secure Workplace: o According to the Court, if women are not assured of a safe and secure workplace, they may be hesitant to step out and use their talent and skills.
    • It emphasised the need of authorities, management, and businesses prioritising the creation of a welcoming work environment.
  • Verification and Compliance: o The Court asked the Union, States, and UTs to investigate whether various organisations had established ICCs, LCs, and ICs in accordance with the Act.
    • Authorities were instructed to post committee information on their websites and file compliance affidavits with the Court within eight weeks.

Conclusion:

  • The PoSH Act is critical in combating sexual harassment in Indian workplaces.However, the Supreme Court’s recent concerns emphasised the need for robust implementation and closer adherence to the Act’s requirements.
  • Overcoming obstacles, ensuring accountability, raising awareness, and creating safe and respectful work environments for women are all critical.

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