- Jun 22, 2021
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India slips two places on 17 SDGs of UN’s 2030 Agenda: Report
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released the State of India’s Environment Report 2021 on June 6, 2021. It revealed that India’s ranking slipped two places from last year to 117th pertaining to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
They were adopted as part of the 2030 agenda by 193 United Nations Member States in 2015. Due to major SDGs that remain unmet in India, such as SDG 2: Ending hunger and achieving food security, SDG 5: Achieving gender equality, and SDG 9: Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation, India dropped two places from 115th this year.
- According to the report, India’s overall SDG score is 61.9 out of 100, putting it in last place among the other South Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
- According to the report, Bihar and Jharkhand are the two states in the country that are least prepared to meet the SDGs by 2030, the goal year. Bihar is behind in seven SDGs, while Jharkhand is behind in five.
- The states/UTs with the best overall scores are Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Kerala, all of which are on course to meet the SDGs.
- According to Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2020 report, India is rated 168th out of 180 countries.
- Biodiversity, sanitation and drinking water, air pollution, climate, environmental health, ecosystem services, and other indicators are used to calculate the EPI.
- India was placed 172 in the EPI’s environmental health category, which measures how well the country protects its citizens from environmental health threats.
- In the biodiversity and habitat category, India was ranked 148, while Pakistan was ranked 127.
- This indicator is used to evaluate countries’ efforts to maintain biodiversity and preserve natural ecosystems.
- The United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, which laid out a plan for plant and human flourishing and peace in the present and future.
6th edition of Sustainable Development Report ranks India at 120
India was placed 120th out of 165 countries in the 6th edition of the Sustainable Development Report (2021), which was released on June 14, 2021. Finland led the rankings with an 85.90 score, followed by Sweden (85.61), Denmark (84.86), Germany (82.48), and Belgium (82.19).
On June 14, 2021, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released its annual Sustainable Development Report 2021, ranking all UN member nations based on their progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The International Spillover Index is also included in the study.
- India’s spillover score is 98.90 out of 100, and it ranks 32 out of 165 countries in terms of spillover.
- The potential of other countries to accomplish the SDGs can be influenced by each country’s action plan.
- A higher spillover score implies that a country is more likely to produce positive spillovers and less likely to cause negative spillovers.
- The Sustainable Development Report (previously the SDG Index and Dashboards) is the world’s first research to evaluate each country’s progress toward all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were accepted by all UN member countries in 2015.
- The SDG Index and Dashboards for all UN member nations are featured in the Sustainable Development Report 2021.
- The SDG Index and Dashboards rank all UN member countries according to their progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all nations have shown a reversal in progress toward meeting the SDGs for the first time since 2015.
- Low-income developing countries (LIDCs) in particular lack the financial capacity to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.
- On a regional level, East and South Asia have made more progress on the SDGs than any other region.
- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and the Ivory Coast are the three countries that have made the highest progress on the SDG Index since 2015.
- The Central African Republic, Chad, and South Sudan have the lowest SDG scores.
- The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General since 2012.
- The SDSN gathers technology and scientific knowledge from throughout the world to help discover solutions for sustainable development, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Free vaccination for all adults to begin from 21 June, 2021
From June 21, 2021, the Central Government will give free Coronavirus vaccines to all Indian citizens over the age of 18 under the centralised COVID-19 free immunisation policy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the consolidated free vaccination policy in a televised speech to the country.
He stated that the Central Government will take up the worldwide vaccination effort, and that the government will distribute free immunizations to the state beginning June 21 (International Day of Yoga). PM Modi said in his speech that everyone will get free immunizations under the scheme, whether they are poor, middle-class, lower-middle-class, or upper-middle-class.
- The central government will purchase 75% of COVID-19 vaccines and distribute them to state governments free of charge to all people over the age of 18.
- Under the previously stated liberalised plan, the government would also handle 25% of vaccinations that were previously handled by states.
- COVID-19 immunisation will be available for free to all citizens over the age of 18 at any government location.
- In his presentation, Prime Minister Modi stated that private hospitals will continue to purchase the remaining 25% and inoculate individuals who are ready to pay for their vaccinations.
- Private hospitals, on the other hand, are not allowed to charge more than Rs. 150 per dosage as a service charge over the regulated price of vaccines.
- Prior to the Central Government’s decision that adults over the age of 18 would receive free vaccines, state governments were responsible for procuring and administering half of the immunizations for residents aged 18 to 45.
- The Central Government, on the other hand, only supplied free immunizations to individuals aged 45 and up.
- After the manufacturers refused to supply vaccinations directly, the Chief Ministers of many states urged the central government to procure them.
- Many vaccination centres across the country were forced to close due to a vaccine shortage.
- The Supreme Court of India had already chastised the Indian government for its ‘liberalised’ vaccination policy, calling it ‘irrational and arbitrary.’
- The Supreme Court bench, led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, had questioned the government about Rs. 35,000 crore set aside in the Union Budget for vaccine procurement.
India and US collectively launch a Hydrogen task force
On June 17, 2021, India and the United States created a hydrogen task group as part of their Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) to help India’s energy security initiatives. The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum advised us of this (USISPF).
The US Department of Energy, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), and the USISPF formed the US-India Hydrogen Task Force. Using India’s green hydrogen, according to a draft proposal released by the Renewable Energy Ministry, is one of the steps toward reaching energy sufficiency for the country.
- The Task Force, which will include representatives from industry and government, will primarily review technology status, research novel policy possibilities, and offer recommendations.
- The task force’s high-level priorities are discussed during the launch’s inaugural session.
- Senior government officials from India and the United States, as well as representatives from the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, the Task Force’s secretariat, were in attendance.
- The United States and India can assist address the climate catastrophe by discovering ways to expand access, affordability, and deployment of essential hydrogen technologies through strong international partnership.
- The US-India Hydrogen Task Force brings together government research with distinct industry insights in order to achieve our common aim of decarbonizing high-polluting industrial sectors and creating a greener, cleaner world.
- The main goal of the US-India Hydrogen Task Force will be to provide a forum for developing cheap hydrogen solutions and to increase energy security and resilience by scaling up and deploying low- or zero-carbon hydrogen technology.
- The Hydrogen Task Force framework will stimulate concentrated public-private cooperation between India and the United States, paving the path for faster hydrogen energy technology development and deployment.
About the task force
- The US-India Hydrogen Task Force is a high-level bilateral partnership between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
- It will bring together industry and academia with the goal of incorporating private sector inputs into the development and implementation of hydrogen technologies by bringing in the newest technology and adopting commercial strategies.
- The Hydrogen Task Force will be organised into a Government Steering Committee, an Industry Council, and working groups or subcommittees in priority areas indicated.
- The main focus will be on enhancing hydrogen cooperation between both countries’ industries and institutions.
USD 64 million FDI received by India
According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2021 released on June 21, 2021, India got USD 64 billion in foreign direct investment in 2020. India is now the world’s fifth-largest beneficiary of inflows.
The COVID-19 second wave, according to the UN study, has a significant impact on the country’s overall economic activity, but the country’s strong fundamentals provide “optimism” for the medium term.
- The World Investment Report 2021 highlighted that the pandemic had a significant impact on global FDI flows, which fell by 35% in 2020 to USD 1 trillion from USD 1.5 trillion in 2019.
- According to the survey, global COVID-19 lockdowns hindered existing investment projects, and the fear of a recession prompted multinational companies (MNEs) to reconsider new initiatives.
- According to the research, FDI inflows into India surged by 27% to USD 64 billion in 2020, up from USD 51 billion in 2019.
- India is now the world’s fifth-largest FDI recipient. Acquisitions in the information and communication technology (ICT) business bolstered the inflow.
- It further stated that the pandemic increased global demand for digital infrastructure and services.
- As a result, the value of greenfield FDI project announcements aimed at the information and communication technology industry has increased.
- The value of such announcements increased by more than 22% to USD 81 billion.
- One of the most significant project announcements in the ICT business was Amazon’s USD 2.8 billion investment in India’s ICT infrastructure.
- The second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in India in April 2021, on the other hand, had a significant influence on the country’s total economic activities, resulting in a significant recession in 2021.
- The outbreak wreaked havoc on major investment destinations such as Maharashtra, which has one of the largest automobile manufacturing clusters in the world, and Karnataka, which is home to the Bengaluru software hub.
First joint exercise between Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force
For the first time, the Indian Navy took part in a joint naval drill in the Gulf of Eden with the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR). On June 18 and 19, 2021, a total of five warships from four navies took part in the drill.
The Indian Naval ship INS Trikand, a stealth frigate, took part in the two-day practice because it was already stationed in the vicinity on an anti-piracy mission. Other vessels participating in the naval drill were the Spanish Navy Ship ESPS Navarra, the Italian Navy Ship ITS Carabiniere, and two French Navy Ships FS Surcouf and FS Tonnerre, according to an Indian Navy release.
- Anti-submarine exercises and advanced air defence, tactical manoeuvres, cross deck helicopter operations underway replenishment, boarding operations, man overboard drills, search and rescue, and other maritime security operations were all part of the two-day naval exercise.
- Ships from four great navies worked to improve their warfighting capabilities and their ability to work together to promote maritime security, peace, and stability.
- The Indian Navy and the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) have converged on multiple issues which include counter-piracy operations and the protection of the vessels deployed under the Charter of World Food Programme (UN WFP).
- The Indian Navy and the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) have reached an agreement on a number of subjects, including counter-piracy operations and the security of vessels deployed under the World Food Programme’s Charter (UN WFP).
- SHADE (Shared Awareness and Deconfliction) sessions, held yearly in Bahrain, allow both naval forces to engage on a regular basis.
- EUNAVFOR and the Indian Navy have strengthened their coordination, synergy, and interoperability through this type of engagement.
- It also emphasises common ideals as partner navies, such as preserving freedom of the seas and a commitment to a global order that is inclusive, open, and rules-based.
5 ‘Divyangta Khel Kendras’ to be set up by the Government
On June 20, 2021, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot announced the establishment of five Divyangta Khel Kendras around the country. The Minister was speaking at the ‘Samajik Adhikarita Shivir’ in Gujarat, where Divyangjan was receiving aids and assistive gadgets through the ADIP (Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances) scheme.
The Union Minister said that, in light of the interest in sports among the country’s “Divyangjan ” and their outstanding accomplishments at the Paralympics, the Ministry has decided to build five “Divyangta Khel Kendra” in various regions of the country.
- Ahmedabad would be one of such open facilities.
- The Union Minister announced that the Central Government had awarded Rs. 8.06 crores to Gujarat as part of the Scholarship scheme, which benefited 2,808 people.
- Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has covered a total of 10,175 bus depots, 709 railway stations, and 683 websites.
- CPWD has also begun work on the National Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in Sehore, MP, according to the Minister.
- At the block or panchayat level, a total of 6,225 aids and assistive gadgets, worth Rs. 3.57 crore will be supplied free of charge to 3,805 Divyangjan.
- In the inaugural distribution event on June 20, 2021, aids and assistive gadgets were delivered to around 50 recipients of Jamnagar city block, Gujarat, out of a total of 3,805 pre-identified Divyang beneficiaries.
Aashish Chandorkar appointed as the director of India’s WTO mission
The Indian government has selected Aashish Chandorkar as ‘Counsellor’ in India’s Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for three years, ahead of the WTO ministerial session in 2021.
A private person has been appointed to the Mission for the first time. Aashish Chandorkar is the director of the Smahi Foundation of Policy and Research, a policy think tank based in Bengaluru.
- He has been for a duration of three years, according to an official order from the Department of Commerce.
- Aashish Chandorkar is the current head of a global technology firm’s India consulting division.
- Chandorkar, a management consultant with over 21 years of experience, has led business and technology transformation projects for clients in a variety of industries and geographies.
- He’s also a co-founder of the Smahi Foundation for Public Policy and Research, which focuses on entrepreneurship, governance, and technology.
- Chandorkar recently published a paper on the Indian metro system in which he examined the evolution of metros in Indian cities as well as the implementation lessons learned from prior projects.
About World Trade Organisation
- The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is a 164-member multinational organisation that deals with worldwide trade.
- It’s an intergovernmental trade body that regulates and facilitates cross-national trade. In accordance with the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) began operations on January 1, 1995, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATTE), which was formed in 1948.
- It is the world’s largest economic trading organisation, accounting for more than 96 percent of global commerce and Gross Domestic Product. Since 1995, India has been a member of the World Trade Organisation.
Laurel Hubbard becomes the 1st Trans Olympian
Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, is set to create history and stir up controversy after being confirmed as the first transgender athlete to compete in an Olympic Games. The 43-year-old is viewed as a serious medal contender in the women’s super heavyweight 87kg-plus category in Tokyo, where she will be the fourth oldest weightlifter at an Olympics.
Those who believe she has unfair advantages in strength and power because she went through male puberty before transitioning in 2012 have questioned her inclusion, while it is being welcomed by trans groups.
- Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 women’s world championships, expressed her happiness at being selected for the Olympics after recuperating from a significant arm injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
- Hubbard’s selection has already polarised opinion, with some claiming that it means that Kuinini Manumua, a 21-year-old Tongan weightlifter who would have otherwise qualified for the Olympics, would miss out.
- Hubbard did not compete in international weightlifting until she transitioned after 35 years as a guy.
- She has, however, won a number of prestigious prizes since then.
- Her participation in Tokyo is due in part to 2015 changes to the International Olympic Committee’s transgender guidelines.
- It allows athletes who transition from male to female to compete in the women’s category without having their testes removed if their total testosterone level in serum remains below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months.
- Last year, scientists Emma Hilton and Tommy Lundberg discovered that men have a 30% performance edge over women in weightlifting.
- Even when transgender women suppressed testosterone for a year, they only lost about 5% of their lean body mass, muscle area, and strength, according to their findings.
- Kereyn Smith, the chief executive of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, said it was proper for Hubbard to be chosen since she matched the IOC qualifying standards, albeit she acknowledged the delicate argument between justice and inclusivity.
Economic Advisory Council to be set ip in Tamil Nadu
To advise the chief minister, the Tamil Nadu government will organise an economic advisory board that will include Nobel laureate Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit announced the other members of the council in his ceremonial address during the first session of the 16th state legislative assembly in Chennai, including former chief economic advisor to the central government Arvind Subramanian, development economist Jean Dreze, and former Union finance secretary S Narayan.
- The government will concentrate on improving its budgetary situation and reducing its debt burden.
- In July, a white paper will be produced exposing the true situation of Tamil Nadu’s finances.
- While the Tamil Nadu government, led by MK Stalin, will retain a cordial relationship with the Union government, the governor stated that the state would continue to fight for its rights.
- Purohit declared that the ‘Singara Chennai 2.0′ programme would be launched in Greater Chennai Corporation to provide world-class infrastructure and services.
- He also stated that the administration would work to complete phase two of the metro rail system as soon as possible.
A new constitution to be drafted by Chile
In the election of an assembly to design a new constitution to replace the one imposed under the military dictatorship in the 1980s, Chileans chose left-leaning independent candidates.
According to official results released Monday, 48 seats in Chile’s 155-member constitutional assembly were awarded to independent candidates, the majority of whom identified with socialist ideology, during weekend voting.
- The ruling center-right coalition came in second with 37 seats, followed by the Communist Party with 28.
- Another communist coalition received 25 seats, with 17 seats set aside for Indigenous people.
- Before the election, analysts and surveys predicted that independent candidates would win only 10 to 12 seats.
- Activist groups are advocating for the new constitution to include equal rights for women, environmental and Indigenous people protections and the right to abortion.
- Conservatives want to keep the private sector dominant and maintain laws that make it difficult to pass big reforms in the legislature.
- Following a year of protests, nearly 80% of voters in a plebiscite last year supported having a constitutional assembly develop a new charter for the country.
- In mid-2022, the document that emerges from the assembly will be put to a public vote. If the proposal is rejected, the current political system will remain in place.
Cassava: Feedstock for Bioethanol Production
As the quest for alternative ethanol feedstocks heats up, the ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) has identified cassava (tapioca) as a suitable raw material for bioethanol production. It has been done in order to meet India’s Ethanol Blending Petrol (EBP) program’s 2025 deadline.
Cassava has been identified as a possible candidate for bioethanol production due to its high starch content and ability to thrive under low maintenance circumstances. Given the apparent failure of an alcohol plant put up in Palakkad in the late 1990s, the economic viability of scaling up production from cassava varieties must be determined.
- In comparison to sugarcane, cassava has a variety of competitive benefits as a biofuel crop. Its starch has a wide range of uses in the food and industrial sectors due to its unique physicochemical properties and functional qualities.
- Cassava agricultural leftovers such as peels, stems, and leaves could be used as a source of 2G bioethanol.
- The output of tapioca is predicted to be 4.98 million tonnes, with Tamil Nadu producing the most, followed by Kerala.
- To fulfil the predicted need for starch in the following decade, farming is expanding to non-traditional locations such as Maharashtra.
- The National Policy on Biofuels 2018 ensures that biofuels are available to meet the demand for 20% ethanol produced from molasses, sugarcane juices, biomass in the form of grasses and agricultural residues.
- It may also include sugar-containing materials such as sugar beet, sweet sorghum, and other sugar-containing materials, or starch-containing materials such as corn, rotten potatoes, cassava, and damaged food grains.
- As part of the EBP aim, India must generate 1,016 crore litres of ethanol for blending programmes and 334 crore litres for other applications by 2025.
- However, sugarcane-based distilleries have a capacity of 426 crore litres, whole grain-based distilleries have a capacity of 258 crore litres.
- To fulfil the aim of 1,350 crore litres, molasses output must be boosted to 760 crore litres, and grain-based distilleries must produce 740 crore litres.
- The Kerala government is also considering whether or not cassava may be used to make alcohol.
- Despite the fact that CTCRI has created unique enzyme technology for producing ethanol from cassava starch/flour, it believes a pilot study is needed to assess its economic potential.