News & Editorial Analysis 16 February 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – ITBP:
GS III Topic Internal Security of India:
The raising of seven new ITBP battalions and the allocation of $4,800 million under the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) to villages bordering China to stop migration and boost tourism were two decisions the Union Cabinet approved on Wednesday to strengthen the social and security framework along the border with China.
Seven additional battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force were first approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). In order to deploy in Arunachal Pradesh, where 12 staging camps and 47 new border outposts are being created, 9,400 people will need to be hired. The outposts gained clearance in January 2020. There are a total of 176 ITBP outposts along the 3,488 km China border.
The ITBP is one of India’s five Central Armed Police Forces.
In accordance with the CRPF Act, it was founded on October 24th, 1962, following the Sino-Indian War.
The 1992 Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, enacted by Parliament, granted it total autonomy.
Its functions are under the control of the Union Home Ministry.
Its slogan is Shaurya Dridhata Karm Nishtha (English: Valour – Steadfastness and Commitment).
Currently, ITBP is a strong Central Armed Police Force with 90000 troops.
It largely safeguards the 3,488 km long Indo-China boundary that runs between the Tibet Autonomous Region, Karakoram Pass in Ladakh, and Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh.
In addition, the ITBP force is engaged in a number of internal security initiatives, including disaster management, operating community medical clinics, reacting to nuclear, biological, and chemical catastrophes, and taking part in UN peacekeeping missions across the globe.
2 – EPFO:
GS II Topic Statutory and Non-Statutory Bodies:
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has been requested in writing by the Union Labour Ministry to expedite the procedure so that people who wish to claim greater pensions based on higher salary may do so. On March 4, the Supreme Court-imposed deadline for submitting joint alternatives from companies and employees to request greater Provident Fund pensions expires. The EPFO has been asked by the Ministry to specify the procedures for submitting joint options for EPS members who are currently employed and those who retired after September 1, 2014.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) was established by an act of the Indian Parliament to provide social security to foreign workers in India. It was put into action by the Employee Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provision Act of 1952. EPFO is governed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment of the Indian Government.
An administrative board of trustees oversees the EPFO. The Central Board and Executive Committee are members of the Trustees Board. Both the Central Board and the Executive Committee each have a chairperson. A vice-chairman serves on the central board, and the central PF commissioner is a member of the Executive Committee. Both of them are represented by the federal government, state governments, labour unions, and employers’ unions (Numbers vary.)
Social Security Act of 2020:
The 2020 Code on Social Security mandates that upon central government notice, all establishments shall provide social security.
The Code on Social Security 2020 should be taken into account in addition to the following factors:
Social security funds for gig workers, platform workers, and unorganised workers will be established by the federal government.
For the unorganised employees, the state governments would create and administer separate social security programmes.
The National Social Security Board is able to propose and direct programmes for gig and platform workers. It can also act in the role of the Board for the benefit of these workers.
The Code on Social Security 2020 includes a list of aggregators that will participate in funding programmes for gig workers and platform employees. You can learn more about Social Security Plans by reading the article that is linked.
The Social Security Code of 2020 modifies the following definitions:
The Code changed the definition of “employee” to cover workers hired through contractors.
Inter-State Migrant Workers – Self-employed migrant workers from other states are now included in the definition of this category.
The Central Government should submit more service or activity categories in accordance with this criterion.
Films, online serials, talk programmes, reality shows, and sports broadcasts are now considered audio-visual productions.
Building or other construction work – If the entire cost of the work exceeds Rs 50 lakhs, it is not considered building work.
The grace period for working journalists is reduced from five to three years under the 2020 Bill.
The National Social Security Board for Unorganized Workers will now include ten central government representatives. The State Social Security Boards will have ten representatives from state governments.
New measures in the 2020 Bill may be relevant in an outbreak scenario. For example, the federal government may delay or reduce employer or employee contributions (under PF and ESI) for a period of up to three months in the event of a pandemic, endemic disease, or significant calamity.
3 – Climate Change in Antarctica:
GS III Topic Environmental Conservation:
Scientists claim that in January, the Antarctic Ocean’s ice cover was at its lowest ever level, exposing Earth to much more heat that is already warming the planet.
With temperatures reaching all-time highs on New Year’s Day in some places, this month was also the third warmest January on record across the continent, according to the Copernicus climate monitor operated by the European Union (C3S).
Recent temperatures in the Antarctic region broke all previous records for warmth, soaring above 20 degrees Celsius. A temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius, a record high for the region, was measured on an island off the coast of the continent on February 9. The warmest temperature ever recorded on Antarctica’s main continent, 18.3 degrees Celsius, was registered on February 6 at an Argentine research station in Esperanza, setting the most current temperature record. The previous record temperature for the whole Antarctic region—which includes the continent, islands, and ocean—that is subject to the Antarctic climatic zone was 19.8C in January 1982. The new temperature reading, while not a part of a more extensive study, is adequate to demonstrate how quickly Antarctica is warming, according to scientists.
Indicators of Ice Glacier Melting:
Burnt Fossil Fuels:
The combustion of fossil fuels has caused a buildup of greenhouse gases in the environment, which has an impact on the warming trend since they trap heat in the atmosphere. As a result of rising temperatures, more and more glaciers are melting, exposing the land underneath.
oil and gas drilling
During the process of extracting oil and gas, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is also emitted. The gas is also more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide and speeds up global warming. This is accomplished by more effectively locking in heat. 21% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, which include methane, come from the extraction of oil, gas, and coal from public lands.
The amount of methane pollution in and around the regions is considerably increased by avoidable seeping out and inadequate infrastructure in the production of natural gas since they happen so frequently. Oil and gas companies routinely experience natural gas leaks, controlled natural gas discharges, and natural gas burns, all of which result in the deliberate release of methane into the atmosphere.
Trees significantly contribute to the stability of the ecosystem and the global cooling of the planet. Maybe there’s a reason why they’re called the planet’s “natural fans.” As a result, cutting down trees to make place for more human activities is actually harming the delicate balance of the environment.
Deforestation has a number of negative effects, including an increase in sea levels. Deforestation also results in fewer trees, which means that less carbon dioxide is absorbed by them and more is released into the atmosphere. As a result, it accelerates global warming and sea level rise.
During the summer, icebreaking ships make their way north into the Arctic Ocean, breaking through the ice at sea and leaving trails of open waters in their wake. The Arctic sea ice reflects the majority of the heat, keeping the Arctic and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere cool.
Open water, however, absorbs more heat since it does not reflect as much sunlight back as ice does. As a result, the water warms up and more ice melts.
According to the UNEP Emission Gap Report, Extreme Changes Are Needed:
Global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 7.6% year in order to meet the 1.5°C warming goal outlined in the Paris Agreement.
The study predicted that by 2100, global temperatures would have increased by about 3.2 degrees Celsius, causing catastrophic weather like harsher, more deadly heatwaves, more frequent floods, and drought.
China, the United States, the European Union, and India were the leading four emitters over the past 10 years, accounting for more than 55% of global emissions, excluding those brought on by changes in land use, such as deforestation.
The rankings would change if emissions from land-use change were included, with Brazil likely moving up to become the top emitter.
India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
It is one of a small group of countries that have vowed to fulfil their own climate targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
The total decarbonization of the energy industry is both possible and crucial.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy are key components of the energy transition.
Electricity generated from renewable sources has the potential to cut emissions by 12.1 gigatonnes by 2050.
The electrification of transportation might result in a 72% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.
Every sector of the economy and every country has unique opportunities to use renewable energy, protect the environment, people’s lives, and way of life, and advance down the road of decarbonization.
The consequences of glacier melting include:
The only source of energy generation in many places throughout the world is the continuously flowing water from melting glaciers. If water flow is decreased or interrupted, power generation will end. People will turn to various means of producing energy because the contemporary world cannot function without it, some of which may end up damaging the environment and exacerbating global warming.
The impacts on the climate of the entire world are significant. This region produces heat in the summer and absorbs heat in the winter.
A wide range of biophysical and socioeconomic repercussions, including as biodiversity loss, rising glacial melting, and less predictable water sources, might have a negative influence on the livelihoods and overall well-being of the HKH.
As a result of accelerated snow and glacier melting brought on by global warming, glacial lakes have already begun to form. Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) are becoming increasingly frequent and are causing serious damage to the local infrastructure as well as loss of life.
Due to the quicker melting glaciers in HKH, river flows have been steadily rising. On the Tibetan Plateau, river runoff has grown by 5.5 percent.
The majority of high altitude lakes have also reported a 0.2 m/year rise in water level in addition to expanding surface areas.
The ICIMOD assessment paints a bleak picture for the future of an area that supplies food, electricity, water, and carbon storage to over two billion people and is the source of ten of Asia’s major rivers.
Human development, pollution, resource misuse, and climate change all hasten the loss of biodiversity. For example, urbanisation is growing in a number of HKH countries.
Due to the growing effects of climate change as well as new infrastructure plans, trade routes, and hydropower dams slated for the sensitive area, the ramifications for biodiversity are anticipated to worsen.
This would lead to the extinction of species as well as the loss of essential environmental services like carbon and water storage that the region provides to the rest of Asia.
The government has little control over the border regions, many of which are remote and oftentimes rife with enduring wars.
4 – UNSC Reforms:
GS II Topic International Relations:
India and Bangladesh made the decision on Wednesday to support one another’s application for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In addition to multilateral operations, the two sides held discussions about bilateral development initiatives, defence cooperation, and security issues during the official visit of Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra to Dhaka. During his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mr. Kwatra conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of “continued commitment to the bilateral relationship, upholding Bangladesh as the centrepiece of India’s “Neighborhood First Policy” and a key partner of its “Act East Policy,” according to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
What Challenges Linger for UN Reform?
The General Assembly has a long history of heated debate. The 193 countries are divided into five negotiation groups, and they are attempting to balance one another out.
The General Assembly’s work is equally as important to ensuring UN system reform as the permanent members of the UNSC.
Although the permanent members acknowledge that they have “historically not been enthusiastic” about UN system change, they all agree that the Security Council needs to undergo improvements.
What is the role of the UN Security Council?
The UNSC was established in 1945 by the UN Charter.
It is one of the six main organisations of the UN.
The UNSC is composed of 15 people: 5 permanent members and 10 non-permanent members appointed to two-year terms (P5).
The five permanent members are the United States, the Russian Federation, France, China, and the United Kingdom.
India has served as a non-permanent member of the UNSC seven times, becoming a member for the eighth time in January 2021.
What Issues Affect the UNSC?
Africa, a continent with 54 countries, is notably noted for its absence from the UN Security Council, which makes it less effective.
The current global issues are complex and interconnected. A major percentage of the world’s views is excluded from the top security summit due to the underrepresentation of economically and geopolitically significant states.
Major countries like South Africa, Germany, Brazil, and India are noticeably absent from the UNSC’s list of permanent members.
Abuse of the Veto Power:
The veto power has been constantly criticised by many experts and the majority of States as an undemocratic “self-selected club of the privileged” that stops the Council from adopting crucial decisions whenever it offends one of the P-5.
The current status of international security should not be guided by elite decision-making processes.
Conflict over Geopolitics Among the P5:
Due to the geopolitical rivalry among the permanent members, the UNSC has been unable to create effective strategies to address global concerns.
Imagine the P5 countries—the United States, Russia, and China—as three poles at the edge of the planet, with a multitude of geopolitical crises swirling around them (Taiwan Issue and Russia-Ukraine War).
The state’s independence is in danger:
As the premier organisation for international peacekeeping and conflict resolution, the UNSC is in responsibility of maintaining peace and managing crises. Unlike the General Assembly, its decisions (known as resolutions) are enforceable throughout all member countries.
This means that, if necessary, any state may implement laws like imposing penalties in order to violate another state’s sovereignty.
What could be the response?
Democratization of UNSC:
It is crucial to address the power imbalance between the P5 and other UNSC members in order to strengthen the UNSC’s democratic principles and give it more power to supervise international peace, security, and order.
The UNSC needs to go through significant reforms, including expanding its permanent and non-permanent seats, in order to tackle the complex and dynamic challenges to international peace and security.
Equitable Representation: To decentralise the UNSC’s ability to exert pressure on countries, all regions must have fair representation in the council.
The decentralisation of the UNSC’s decision-making processes will enable it to develop into a more representative, participatory body.
One of the current non-permanent members of the UNSC, India, can start by drafting a resolution that outlines a comprehensive list of suggestions for modernising the body.
In September 2022, India took the lead in advancing UNSC reform by hosting a gathering of the G-4 and L-69 groups in New York City in conjunction with the UN General Assembly.
By raising these partners’ concerns about peace and security in the UNSC, India, the head of the “global south,” may revitalise its ties with them.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
Constitutional Oath Is Not A Mare Formality:
The recent controversy surrounding Justice Victoria Gowri’s promotion has shed new light on the issue of judicial appointments and the constitutional oath.
The constitution is the foundational piece of legislation that establishes a country’s form of governance. For the organisations and entities tasked with putting them into action, it defines broad policies and directions. The fundamental requirements for nomination to various high constitutional posts are laid out in the Constitution.
However, there are several unstated restrictions in place. Courts imply and read these into the eligibility requirements because they are totally driven by the desire to uphold the Constitution, the law, and the integrity of the institution for which the functionary is chosen.
For instance, it was questioned whether the Governor had the authority to name Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister notwithstanding her conviction for a crime in the B.R. Kapur case (2001).
There are no requirements listed in Article 164(1) of the Constitution that would prevent the nomination of a Chief Minister. However, Article 173 states that someone with a criminal history is ineligible to serve in the legislature.
The court was compelled to determine whether it could impose a disqualification because there was no statutory prohibition against someone being chosen as Chief Minister. Yes, the Supreme Court made a decision.
The decision declared that “the will of the people, as represented by the majority party, only prevails if it is consistent with the Constitution.” The governor takes an oath promising to uphold the law and the Constitution (Article 159). No measures that would violate the law or the Constitution may be taken by the governor. After Jayalalithaa was found guilty, the Governor was found to have violated the law when he took her under oath.
The oath of the constitution:
Judges of High Courts are required by Schedule III of the Constitution to take an oath to support the Constitution and do their duties “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.” The nominee must also affirm that they would “uphold” the law and the constitution.
The judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court are the only people who can take such an oath because they are the guardians of the Constitution. The solemn promise of the oath to the people that justice will be carried out impartially.
Constitutional oath violations that resulted in disqualifications include the following:
The Supreme Court ruled in N. Kannadasan v. Ajoy Khose that a judge’s eligibility “shall not be construed in a pedantic manner” (2009).
Later, the Madras High Court’s then-chief justice made a suggestion for the appointment of a second High Court judge to act as the State Consumer Commission’s president. The Supreme Court declared the nomination to be illegal, ruling that only people who dispense justice “without fear or favour, ill-will or attachment” should serve on an independent and impartial court.
Deciding on the judges:
The independence and integrity of the judiciary are mocked by limiting a High Court judge’s “fitness” for nomination to the minimal 10 years of legal experience required by Article 217(2). By giving it such a cursory reading, the solemn promise of impartial and just justice is reduced to meaninglessness.
In reaction to the murky nature of judicial appointments and transfers, the Supreme Court ordered the Government and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to publish all the materials in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India (1981). The judges felt that it was part of their constitutional obligation to conduct such an examination through judicial review. In addition, they said that if it came out that the CJI wasn’t given access to all the information, the consultation and selection processes were invalid and faulty (now known as the collegium).
The circumstances that led to Justice Victoria Gowri’s selection by the Supreme Court highlight the differences between the executive and judicial branches of government. The selection procedure was questioned after the CJI asserted in open court that the papers currently before the collegium were unavailable previously.
The background data utilised by the collegium to suggest judges comes from government entities. The selection of judges must be transparent and accountable if an independent judiciary is to be ensured.
Both the union executive and the higher judiciary must concur on the transparency of judge appointments.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Green Transition Enabler:
The G20 agenda places a high priority on changes in the energy industry.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, concerns about energy security, and in many cases, the pressure to uphold financial commitments made in relation to combating climate change have made geopolitics and energy governance in 2023, when India holds the presidency, extremely challenging.
The concept of “Energy Poverty” is a serious issue in several parts of the world:
According to the International Energy Agency, 20 million more people don’t have access to electricity today than there were in 2021. The area that has been most severely impacted is sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen its lowest rate of electrification since 2013.
Insufficient energy supplies now affect 80 million people in Europe, increasing from 34 million in 2021.
Significant levels of inflation as well as a dearth of gasoline and electricity exist in even middle-income countries in Asia, South America, and Africa.
The loss of industries hurts economies, and the increased price of safe fuels like cooking gas has an impact on public health.
A lot of countries are also struggling with their balance of payments, which is partly a result of the high cost of energy. The application of technology, industry, and sustainable development goals—all G20 goals—are impacted by widespread, global “energy poverty.”
Energy should be readily available, safe, and able to solve issues related to energy.
In October 2022, Gateway House established a distinct task team to find quick fixes to increase energy availability, security, and affordability.
To do this, it is necessary to resolve the conflicts that exist between short-term and long-term energy goals, deal with the energy disruptions caused by the CoVid-19 pandemic and the conflict in the Ukraine and Russia, and use creative financing to hasten the development and adoption of new renewable technologies as well as new business models that make use of these technologies.
The G20 must be a major player in developing answers.
The following are three crucial recommendations that can provide India immediate prospects to win the G20 presidency:
The G20 should place equal focus on these concerns as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Protocol and successive COPs have reinforced and formalised financial aid for the most vulnerable as a cornerstone of climate action and the switch to renewable energy. This is a natural role for the G20 to play given the participation of leading economies and its capacity for assembling.
Even if financial assistance to developing countries has been increasing, it is still far insufficient to ensure a smooth transition. This agenda can be accomplished with the help of the G20.
Public money alone cannot resolve the current energy problems. Both public and private funds are required.
Therefore, it is necessary to make measures to maintain global financial flows in keeping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Innovative finance strategies are needed to combat climate change, such as mixing public and private investment, and significant barriers like exchange rate risk for project financing must be removed.
This global agenda must be advanced in large part by the G20, particularly by making sure that multilateral institutions continue to make progress on climate spending.
A game-changer might be the creation of a Global Climate Finance Agency to more effectively integrate and push this global agenda, particularly on very practical levels.
The agency could be required to lower hedging costs to lessen a significant risk that green project developers face as well as to insure large-scale clean energy projects against potential losses brought on by problems like public utilities failing to meet supply and payment obligations, a problem that still exists in developing countries like India.
Utilize the vast potential of the public procurement system to hasten the energy transition:
A tonne of research suggests that, when done correctly, this might be a powerful change agent, for example by ensuring funding and widespread adoption.
By leveraging public procurement to drive such reforms, the winner-takes-all dynamic that comes from new technologies can be avoided.
The development of tiny modular nuclear reactors, electric vehicle transport systems connected to renewable energy systems, and green hydrogen, all of which have a vital role to play in accelerating the adoption of new technologies, can all find inspiration and motivation from the G20.
These suggestions will ultimately lead to updated company strategy, energy transition technology, and new train lines.
The growth of this new economy depends on the G20 countries’ significant corporate hubs and financial centres, such as Mumbai.
In order to hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy and guarantee widespread access to energy, the G20 should encourage cooperation and coordination between these centres, particularly through green financing and economy taxonomies in accordance with the aforementioned ideas.
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