News & Editorial Analysis 11 February 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Gaganyaan Mission:
GS III Topic Science and Technology
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Indian Navy undertook a significant test for the Gaganyaan manned space flight programme. On Tuesday, they carried out the Crew Module’s initial recovery testing at the Navy’s Water Survival Test Facility (WSTF) in Kochi.
The exercises were a part of preparation for the crew module recovery operations for the Gaganyaan mission, which, according to the space agency, will take place in Indian waters with the aid of Indian Government agencies and be supervised by the Indian Navy.
Three launches into orbit are planned.
There will be one manned and two unmanned space missions.
The Gaganyaan system module, also known as the Orbital Module, would carry three Indian astronauts, one of whom is a woman.
It will orbit the planet at a low Earth orbital altitude of 300–400 km for 5-7 days.
Payload elements consist of:
A human-carrying spacecraft referred to as a crew module.
Powered by two service module-mounted liquid-propellant engines.
It will contain features for mission cancellation and emergency evacuation.
Launch: Because it has the necessary payload capacity, the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk III, also known as the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3), will be used to launch Gaganyaan.
The Human Space Flight Centre of the ISRO and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmos inked a deal for the training in June 2019. It involves Russian support in the selection of applicants, their medical examination, and their training in space.
The applicants will thoroughly examine the Soyuz manned spacecraft’s equipment and train in short-term weightlessness aboard the Il-76MDK aeroplane.
The Soyuz spacecraft was made in Russia. The Soyuz shuttles passengers and supplies to and from the space station.
Il-76MDK, a military transport plane, was developed especially for parabolic flights by would-be astronauts and space tourists.
It will stimulate youth and enhance the nation’s technological and scientific skills.
Gaganyaan will involve a wide range of divisions, organisations, laboratories, subject areas, and businesses.
It will help to promote industrial growth.
The government recently established a new organisation, IN-SPACe, as part of efforts to increase commercial participation in the space sector.
It will advance technology for the betterment of society.
It will help to improve international cooperation.
One International Space Station (ISS) developed by various countries might not be sufficient. Local ecosystems will be necessary, and Gaganyaan will focus on addressing local needs for the security of food, water, and energy.
Additional forthcoming initiatives in India:
Chandrayaan-3 is a new moon mission that India is preparing. Probably in the first half of 2021, it will make its debut.
The ISRO is also getting ready for a Venus expedition that it has given the working name Shukrayaan.
2 – Disinvestment:
GS III Topic Indian Economy
In the Union Budget for 2023–2024, the government has set a disinvestment goal of 51,000 crore, which is just 1,000 crore less than the revised estimate and down around 21% from the budget forecast for the current year. The objective is also the lowest in seven years. Additionally, while having produced a total profit of 31,106 crores thus far, of which 20,516 crores, or roughly a third of the intended estimate, came from the IPO of 3.5% of its shares in the Life Insurance Corporation, the Center has not yet attained the disinvestment goal for 2022–23. (LIC).
With only about Rs 14,000 crore having been raised thus far through minority stake sales, the government’s disinvestment aim for 2020–2021 is to raise Rs 2.1 lakh crore.
New public sector regulations As part of the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” programme, the government announced in May 2020 that there would only be a maximum of four public sector enterprises in the strategic sectors and that state-owned companies in other industries will eventually be privatised.
The strategy calls for the release of a list of important industries that will include at least one and a maximum of four public sector corporations in addition to private sector companies.
Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) in other industries may be privatised depending on their viability.
The deadline for submitting bids for the disinvestment of Pawan Hans has been extended by one month.
Strategic sales of government-owned businesses like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Air India are not likely to be completed this year.
Before the Life Insurance Corporation of India gets listed on the stock market, the LIC Act of 1986 needs to be amended further.
Need for Disinvestment Proceeds:
To support the economic recovery and meet forecasts for rising healthcare costs, the government is under pressure to increase financing.
The upcoming budget’s increased public spending will need the collection of disinvestment earnings and the sale of assets to cover a sizeable percentage of the cost.
to eliminate the need for government action in areas that are not crucial from a strategic standpoint.
In relation to disinvestment:
Disinvestment is the term used to describe when the government sells or liquidates assets, usually businesses, projects, or other fixed assets in the Central and State Public Sector.
Disinvestment is a step done by the government to reduce the burden on the exchequer or to raise money to meet specific requirements, including making up for a shortfall in income from other regular sources.
Strategic disinvestment is the process of handing over control and administration of a public sector organisation to another organisation (mostly to a private sector entity).
Comparing a strategic sale to a straightforward disinvestment, privatisation is suggested.
A strategic sale, as defined by the disinvestment commission, is the selling of managerial control and up to 50% of the government’s shareholding in a central public sector enterprise (CPSE).
The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) of the Ministry of Finance serves as the main point of contact for the sale of strategic holdings in PSUs (PSUs).
Strategic disinvestment in India is based on the fundamental economic tenet that the government should not be engaged in the manufacture of goods or the provision of services in markets where competition is already established.
Strategic investors may be better able to determine the economic potential of such companies due to a variety of factors, including cash infusion, technological update, effective management approaches, etc.
3 – Collegium System:
GS II Topic Judiciary related issues
The Supreme Court Collegium on Thursday suggested five new Chief Justices to the High Courts of Calcutta, Allahabad, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Manipur to replace the present Chief Justices who have either retired or been appointed to the position of judges on the Supreme Court.
The Collegium of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and K.M. Joseph finalised the recommendations based on seniority, experience, regional representation, and inclusion at a meeting that took place throughout the day.
The mechanism for appointing and transferring judges has evolved as a result of Supreme Court rulings rather than being established by a statute passed by parliament or a provision in the constitution.
Modifications to the System:
The First Judges Case of 1981:
It was said that “cogent arguments” might be offered to disprove the “primacy” of the Chief Justice of India’s recommendation regarding judicial transfers and appointments.
The Executive would have precedence over the Judiciary in appointing judges for the subsequent twelve years.
Second Judges Case of 1993:
SC created the Collegium system with the idea that “consultation” genuinely meant “concurrence.”
It was further clarified that this was not the CJI’s personal judgement but rather a decision made by the institution in cooperation with the two senior judges of the SC.
Third Judges Case (1998):
On the President’s referral (Article 143), the SC enlarged the Collegium to a five-member panel, which included the Chief Justice of India and four of his most senior colleagues.
Who Is the Collegium Head of the System?
The CJI is in charge of the SC collegium, which is made up of the four most senior judges on the court (Chief Justice of India).
A collegium is made up of the three senior judges on the High Court, including the incumbent Chief Justice.
Only the collegium system is utilised to nominate judges for the higher judiciary, and when the collegium has selected names, the government gets involved.
What are the procedures for judicial appointments?
The President of India appoints the Chief Justice of India and the other SC judges.
In terms of the CJI, the outgoing CJI suggests his successor.
The only deciding element in practise has been seniority ever since the supersession controversy of the 1970s.
For the other judges of the SC, the CJI makes the proposal.
The CJI makes contact with the other Collegium members as well as the court’s senior-most judge who is a member of the High Court, where the suggested person is a member.
The consultees are required to provide textual feedback, which should be saved in the file.
The Collegium sends the recommendation to the Law Minister, who subsequently sends it to the Prime Minister for the President’s approval.
For the Chief Justice of the High Courts:
The Chief Justice of the High Court is chosen in accordance with the custom of having Chief Justices from outside the different States.
The Collegium decides whether to promote someone.
The CJI and the two most senior justices form a Collegium that makes recommendations for High Court judges.
The outgoing Chief Justice of the relevant High Court, however, initiated the recommendation after speaking with two of her most senior colleagues.
The recommendation is given to the Chief Minister, who suggests that the Governor give it to the Union Law Minister.
What Issues Do the Collegium System Present?
Exclusion of executives:
The full exclusion of the executive from the judicial selection process led to a system where a small number of judges covertly appoint the remaining judges.
They are also not accountable to any administrative body, which increases the risk that they would choose the wrong candidate while omitting the right one.
Probabilities of favouritism and nepotism:
Because the collegium system does not outline any criteria for evaluating candidates for the office of CJI, it gives a lot of space for nepotism and favouritism.
It has a negative impact on the nation’s ability to maintain peace and order by making the justice system less transparent.
Contravening the concept of checks and balances:
The check-and-balance principle is ineffective under this arrangement. In India, three organs function largely independently of one another, yet they keep one another in check and curb any organ’s excessive power.
However, the collegium structure gives the judiciary a great deal of power, leaving few options for checks and balances and increasing the risk of misuse.
Closing Mechanism for Doors:
Critics have called attention to the fact that this setup lacks a formal secretariat. It is believed that a collegium meets in private and renders decisions without the knowledge of the general public.
Furthermore, there are no official records of collegium meetings.
The other area of concern is the makeup of the upper court, where women are noticeably underrepresented.
What were the efforts to reform the appointment system?
On the grounds that it threatened the independence of the judiciary, the court dismissed the attempt to replace it with a “National Judicial Appointments Commission” (through the 89th Amendment Act of 2014) in 2015.
How to Proceed:
The procedure for filling vacancies is continuous and has no deadline because it involves both the executive and judicial departments. The time has come, however, to think about establishing a long-lasting, independent organisation to institutionalise the process with adequate protections to preserve the independence of the judiciary and ensure judicial supremacy, but not judicial exclusivity.
It should guarantee impartiality, display diversity, display competence and honesty, and reflect
4 – Border Connectivity of India:
GS III Topic Internal Security of India:
India’s connectivity attempts with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar have advanced as a result of its “clear” concerns about the Chinese border, according to S. Jaishankar, minister of external affairs. He cited a number of development projects along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and attempts to link the borders of “friendly neighbours,” which include all nations that border India on land with the exception of Pakistan.
We have prioritised the rapid development of infrastructure along the northern borders with China for obvious strategic reasons, Mr. Jaishankar told a gathering of journalists. In order to improve trade, energy, and other people-to-people interactions, he allegedly continued, “We have focused on quickly building border connections with our friendly neighbours.” This was said in anticipation of an expected attack on the ongoing military standoff with China at the LAC by opposition parties in Parliament.
What does the Border Infrastructure & Management (BIM) Scheme aim to achieve?
The BIM project would assist in building infrastructure such as border walls, border floodlights, technology solutions, border roads, Border OutPosts (BOPs), and corporate operating bases to protect India’s borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
By bolstering the border infrastructure, it will enhance border management, policing, and border protection.
The length of India’s border with Pakistan is 3,323 km, including 775 km of the Line of Control. There are 4,096 kilometres of border with Bangladesh and Bangladesh, 3,488 km with China, 1,751 km with Nepal, 699 km with Bhutan, and 1,643 km with Myanmar.
What further border security measures exist?
Vibrant Villages Program:
Small-population, poorly connected, and underdeveloped border settlements frequently miss out on the advantages of development. Such northern border settlements would be included in the new Vibrant Villages Programme, which was proposed in the Budget 2022–23.
A few of the proposed projects include the development of village infrastructure, housing, tourist attractions, road connectivity, the availability of decentralised renewable energy, direct home access to Doordarshan and educational channels, and support with livelihood creation.
Chinese “model villages” close to the LAC prompted the protest (Line of Actual Control).
The programme will be a more improved version of the existing border area development programme.
Border Area Development Program:
In order to ensure the infrastructural development of border areas and the promotion of a sense of security among the border people, the BADP was initiated in the border regions of the western region during the Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-1990).
The programme aims to meet the special development needs of the residents of remote and inaccessible areas adjacent to the international border and to saturate the border areas with the necessary infrastructure through the convergence of Central/State/BADP/Local schemes and a participatory approach.
Smart Fencing in India (CIBMS):
The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) has completed two pilot projects totaling about 71 km on the border between India and Pakistan (10 km) and India and Bangladesh (61 km).
A few of the cutting-edge surveillance technologies used as part of CIBMS include thermal imagers, infrared and laser-based intruder alarms, aerostats for aerial surveillance, unattended ground sensors that can help detect intrusion bids, radars, sonar systems to secure riverine borders, fiber-optic sensors, and a command and control system that shall receive data from all surveillance devices in real time.
BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) is also in use in the Dhubri district of Assam along the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The Border Road Organization, which was founded in 1960, is a major actor in the construction of defence infrastructure, including as roads, bridges, highways, airports, tunnels, buildings, and other similar structures.
BRO. has constructed lifelines extending more than 53,600 km for the citizens of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
Exploring The Blue In The India France Partnership:
On January 26, India and France will commemorate their 25-year strategic partnership, providing an important opportunity for both parties to look back on their interactions. Due to common objectives for peace, stability, and most importantly, strategic autonomy, the created strategic alliance, which was established in 1998, has become stronger.
The main ideas:
There are no notable substantive differences between the two nations. France has emerged as one of India’s most significant trading partners, with annual trade reaching $12.42 billion in 2021–2022. It ranks as the 11th largest foreign investor in India with a total investment of $10.31 billion between April 2000 and June 2022, or 1.70% of all inflows of foreign direct investment into India.
Collaboration in defence:
More importantly, it has grown to be an important defence partner for India, moving up to become the country’s second-largest defence supplier between 2017 and 2021. Due to significant defence agreements and increasing military-to-military communication, India and France now have a stronger strategic cooperation.
Two excellent instances of this are the arrival of the French Scorpene conventional submarines, which are being constructed in India as a result of a technology transfer agreement from 2005, and the Indian Air Force’s purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
In Vadodara, Gujarat, the Tata group and Airbus have teamed up to construct the C-295 tactical transport plane. This line is expected to be expanded into the production of other commercial and military aircraft in a joint venture with France.
The wide network of military discussions and the frequently held joint exercises Varuna (for the navy), Garuda (for the air force), and Shakti (for the army) serve to further deepen these connections (army).
A protracted history of strategic partnerships:
As the challenges in the global geopolitical system have grown, both countries have worked to strengthen and broaden their cooperation. France was one of the first countries that India inked a civil nuclear accord with. Following the nuclear tests in 1998, Paris was also crucial in ensuring that India didn’t become overly isolated in the non-proliferation framework.
As a sign of their expanding cooperation, France supports India’s bid for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and its admittance to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Both countries are concerned about climate change, and India backed France in the Paris Agreement as a demonstration of its unwavering dedication to limiting its impacts. As a part of the joint climate change initiatives between New Delhi and Paris, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was founded in 2015.
Their marine cooperation reflects the strengthening of the strategic alliance. In the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean, respectively, France and India both have a permanent presence.
The “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,” which provided a road map for a deepening of ties, was warmly received by the leadership of both countries when French President Emmanuel Macron visited New Delhi in 2018. This trip brought home how important the Indian Ocean region is.
Operationally, New Delhi’s determination to collaborate with friends who share its ambitions for expanding its presence there is demonstrated by the joint patrolling of French and Indian ships in the Indian Ocean. Maritime security has accelerated as both countries have stated their common desire for a free, just, and open Indo-Pacific.
As both countries share a broad Indo-Pacific policy, India and France decided in September 2022 to create the Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund (IPTDCF), which will promote sustainable creative solutions for countries in the region (it seeks to provide comprehensive solutions for maritime security, regional cooperation, and climate change adaptation).
The two countries have formed a trilateral grouping with the United Arab Emirates to maintain marine domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.
A common foundation for collaboration:
Despite having different perspectives on the Ukraine conflict, both countries have a strong understanding of one another’s points of view and are working together to solve the issue. It
Both countries have committed to work together to avoid an Indo-Pacific imbalance. They are both concerned about China’s rise and its aggressive actions both domestically and internationally.
Based on comparable values and goals, France and India have formed an alliance. Both have emphasised the importance of maintaining strategic independence while sharing a similar understanding of the threats from around the world across many different disciplines.
There is constant high-level political dialogue between France and India in the fields of defence, maritime, counterterrorism, and the Indo-Pacific. They are currently cooperating in fields like digitisation, cyber, green energy, a blue economy, ocean sciences, and space.
Whether they involve China or Russia, India and France are cognizant of one another’s dependencies and interests. Due to the long-standing strategic alliance and shared goal of enhancing strategic autonomy and resilience, there is still a tonne of space for cooperation.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
India’s Green Hydrogen Challenge:
On the nation’s 75th anniversary of independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the National Hydrogen Mission, which aims to make India a centre for the production and export of green hydrogen.
On January 4, 2023, the Union Cabinet gave its blessing to this project, allocating an initial sum of Rs 19,744 crore ($2.3 billion) over the ensuing five years. By 2030, it intends to produce 5 MMT (million metric tonnes) yearly and boost the capacity of renewable energy by about 125 GW (giga watts).
Fueling with hydrogen:
Because hydrogen only occurs in combination with other elements, it must be extracted from naturally occurring things like water. Hydrogen is the most common element in nature (which is a combination of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom). Despite being a pure molecule, getting hydrogen demands a lot of energy.
It took the oil price shocks of the 1970s before the idea of hydrogen replacing fossil fuels began to gain serious consideration, despite nearly 150 years of research into hydrogen’s promise as a clean fuel source.
The sources and processes used to manufacture hydrogen are categorised using coloured tabs.
The majority of the hydrogen produced today is grey hydrogen, which comes from fossil fuels. Green hydrogen is created using electrolysers powered by renewable energy sources, whereas blue hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels with the option of carbon capture and storage.
Hydrogen coding based on production:
Government initiatives are mostly concentrated on producing green hydrogen.
However, green hydrogen is where the government is concentrating its efforts due to its potential to maximise the decarbonization of the energy sector and the usage of energy in end-use sectors like transportation, buildings, and industry.
The National Mission has a number of benefits that have been publicly stated, including savings of $12.5 billion on fuel imports, the averting of 50 MMTs of carbon dioxide emissions annually, new investments totaling $100 billion, and the creation of 6,000 000 green jobs. However, there are also a number of drawbacks.
Green hydrogen’s key challenges are:
The challenges of manufacturing and utilising green hydrogen can be categorised using the 4Es electrolysers, energy source, end use, and endogenous resources.
According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), 8 GW/year will be available for global electrolyser production as of 2021.
In order to achieve its 2030 goal, India will therefore need between 60 and 100 GW of electrolyser capacity, which is comparable to around 12 times the existing world production capacity.
Despite the fact that India has currently begun building electrolysers, the real numbers are relatively small. A further obstacle to India’s ability to expand its electrolyser production capacity may be access to vital minerals like nickel, platinum group metals, and rare earth metals like lanthanum, yttrium, and zirconium.
These resources are concentrated in countries like China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, and Peru. Similar limitations apply to India’s ability to process these minerals.
In order to compete with other global players, India would need to establish large-scale manufacturing, advance knowledge, create geopolitical alliances for the acquisition of necessary minerals, and increase the overall technological and financial viability of electrolysers year over year.
Energy source complexity:
According to current estimates, a fully functional electrolysis machine would require 39 kWh of electricity to produce 1 kilogramme of hydrogen. It should be noted that this is a laboratory-tested figure, and an accurate practical figure is more in the range of 48 kWh per kg of hydrogen.
Renewable energy must be used as a power source to create green hydrogen. India now estimates a capacity of 125 GW of renewable energy to achieve its green hydrogen 2030 ambitions, in addition to the already proposed targets of 500 GW renewable energy capacity. Solar, wind, biopower, and small hydro have so far only been used to generate a portion of India’s estimated 175 GW of capacity.
The transmission capacity, which includes the ability to easily facilitate the cross-border exchange of power between states in addition to the generation capacity, is a vital necessity. In order to achieve this goal, India would need to generate close to 100 GW of total renewable energy capacity annually over the following seven years, as well as offer dispatch corridors and procedures.
The largest users of hydrogen today are the chemical sector, which produces ammonia for fertilisers, followed by the fuel desulfurization and hydrocracking processes in refineries.
It can serve as a source of heat for industry, especially in sectors like steel, cement, and aluminium production that are challenging to regulate and electrify. In the transportation sector, it can be used as fuel for heavy-duty vehicles, ships, and aircraft. The efficiency with which green hydrogen transforms one form of energy carrier into another in the final application will determine the scope of its usefulness.
For instance, it would not be practicable or cost-effective to have alternative energy carriers for the same use case when electricity may be used directly. Hydrogen’s potency in other substances like ammonia or methanol is only slightly lessened because it is a particularly combustible and volatile element. The price of hydrogen as a fuel will increase as safety standards for storage and transportation are developed. For later usage, green hydrogen is created and stored in a variety of methods.
Endogenous resource challenge:
One kilogramme of hydrogen is expected to be produced by electrolysis with nine litres of water.
India also requires a supply of around 50 billion litres of demineralized water, according to an independent assessment.
Many sections of India are already severely water strained, so solutions must be found to fulfil this growing water demand.
Desalination has been suggested, although this will not only increase the physical footprint of the required equipment but may also increase competition for land use, have an impact on biodiversity, and present challenges and limitations for where electrolysers can be located.
It would be challenging to strike a balance between being rich in water resources, abundant in renewable energy sources, and close to hydrogen demand (end-use) centres for the recommended green hydrogen hubs to be commercially feasible while incurring the fewest additional costs.
In 2020, the globe produced about 90 MMT of hydrogen. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, by 2050, hydrogen and its derivatives would account for 12% of the world’s total energy consumption (IEA estimate: 530 MMT), with two-thirds coming from green hydrogen (IRENA).
The global levelized cost of producing green hydrogen now ranges between Rs 250-650/kg ($ 3-8/kg), although India intends to produce it for around Rs 100-150/kg ($ 1-2/kg) by 2030.
In order to address all of the aforementioned problems, India will need to act rapidly to cooperate across multiple institutional organisations, both public and private. India should take on this issue even if it is undoubtedly difficult.
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