04 November, 2020

  • Takeaways from the discussion
  • Divestment from Fossil fuel Industry - (Environment)
  • Governance in Indian States - Data Point (Polity & Governance)
  • Merchandise trade of India - (Economy)
  • Academic Freedom in India - (Polity & Governance)
  • MALABAR Naval Exercise reference
  • Question for the day (Economy)

Prelims Quiz

    Solution.

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    UPSC Current Affairs: Hitting fossil fuel companies where it hurts | Page 6

    UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper III – Indian Economy  

    Sub Theme: Disinvestment  |UPSC     

    Context: The author highlights the important role that is being played by the divestment movement in checking the funding of Fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for carbon emissions. In this background let us look at what is meant by the term divestment and the status of investment in fossil fuel industry.

     What is divestment?

    • Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.
    • The global movement for fossil fuel divestment (sometimes also called disinvestment) is asking institutions to move their money out of oil, coal and gas companies for both moral and financial reasons. These institutions include universities, religious institutions, pension funds, local authorities and charitable foundations.
    • Previous divestment campaigns have targeted the tobacco and gambling industries and companies funding the violence in Darfur. Divestment is perhaps most well known for its role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa

    Arguments for Divestment

    • The moral argument -  Scientific research shows that in order to keep to international targets to limit global warming to a 2C rise and thus prevent catastrophic levels of climate change, between two-thirds and four-fifths of fossil fuels need to remain in the ground.
    • But fossil fuel companies are currently banking on these targets not being met so are extracting these reserves and selling them – and are actively prospecting for more. In doing so they are setting the human race on a route to irreversible climate change that will cause rising seas, flooding, droughts, rising disease, increased conflicts and refugee crises.
    • The financial argument - it rests on the premise that if international agreements on climate change are met, the investments will become worthless. Such investments will then be treated as stranded assets which could lead to another global economic crisis.

    India's case -

    • Such divestment appeals have not been applied much in India because of the its lesser contribution to the carbon emissions. 
    • However India's needs to be aware of the falling renewable energy prices and accordingly chart its own path of divesting from the fossil fuel industry.

    Current status of divestment

    • As of 2019, it is estimated that more than $11 trillion in assets has been committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
    • Global banks have continued to finance the fossil fuel industry with $2.7 trillion.
    • Majority of the US banks, some of the EU banks as well as Chinese banks are investing heavily in the fossil fuel industry.
    • A total of $975 billion was the bank financing for 100 key oil, gas, and coal companies between 2016 and 2019.

    Impact of the divestment movement -

    According to a recent report of the climate-related Market Risk Subcommittee (a body under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government), climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system.

    Companies going bankrupt state that the divestment movement is making it difficult to raise capital.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Equity Index – Article| Page 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Indian governance

    Sub Theme: Public Affairs Index /Equity Index |UPSC                

    Context: Public Affairs Centre (PAC) has developed PAI as a unique statistical tool to evaluate the performance of governance in the States. PAI is largely based on secondary data and has been extracted from Union Government Ministries and Departments.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Exports fall again on global trade woes| Page 14

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims – Indian economy and export/import trends

    Sub Theme:  Trends in India’s Merchandise exports/ import | UPSC   

    Context: According to Engineering Export Promotion Council of India (EEPC), exports during April-October 2020-21 declined 19 per cent to $150 billion compared to the same period last fiscal. Imports, at $182 billion, were 36 per cent lower than the first seven months of 2019-20.

    India’s Merchandise Trade Performance- Composition and Direction of Foreign Trade

    Merchandise Exports

    1. Trends in Merchandise Exports: Between 2009-14, the merchandise exports accounted for 16% of GDP. However, since then the merchandise exports as % of GDP has steadily declined to 11.3% of GDP in first half of 2019-20.

    2. Top 5 Export commodities: Petroleum Products, Pearls and Precious Stones, Drug Formulations, Gold Jewelry, Iron and Steel.

    3. Top 5 Export Destinations for India: USA, UAE, China, Hongkong and Singapore.

    Merchandise Imports

    1. Trends in Merchandise Imports: Between 2009-14, the merchandise imports accounted for 24.3% of GDP. However, since then the merchandise imports as % of GDP has steadily declined to 17.6% of GDP in the first half of 2019-20.

    Reasons for the decline in merchandise Imports as % of GDP:

    • Decline in the International Crude oil prices (Crude oil accounts for 26% of India’s imports)
    • Slowdown in the Indian Economy on account of declining demand has also led to decline in imports.

    Top 5 Import Commodities: Crude Oil, Gold, Petroleum Products, Pearl and Precious stones, Coal and Coke,

    Top 5 Exporters to India: China, USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Academia and the free will |Page 7    

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Social Issues  

    Sub Theme: Education sector in India  | UPSC        

    Context - India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI). In the last five years, the AFI of India has dipped by 0.1 points. The AFI and the accompanying report quantify the freedom of scholars to discuss politically and culturally controversial topics, without fearing for their life, studies or profession — an aspect where India is failing terribly.

    Country

    AFI score

    Uruguay

    0.971

    Portugal

    0.971

    Latvia

    0.964

    Germany

    0.960

    Malaysia

    0.582

    Pakistan

    0.554

    Brazil

    0.466

    Somalia

    0.436

    Ukraine

    0.422

    India

    0.352

    Saudi Arabia

    0.278

    Libya

    0.238


    The AFI used eight components to evaluate the scores –

    1. freedom to research and teach
    2. freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
    3. institutional autonomy
    4. campus integrity
    5. freedom of academic and cultural expression
    6. constitutional protection of academic freedom
    7. international legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and
    8. existence of universities.

    India has not fared well in components like –

    • institutional autonomy
    • campus integrity
    • freedom of academic and cultural expression and
    • constitutional protection of academic freedom.

    Factors hampering academic freedom in India –

    • Governments interference in both academic and non-academic issues
    • Appointments, especially to top-ranking posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have been highly politicised. Such political appointments not only choke academic and creative freedom, but also lead to corrupt practices, including those in licensing and accreditation, thus promoting unhealthy favouritism and nepotism in staff appointments and student admissions.
    • The AFI has cited the ‘Free to Think: Report of the Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project’, to suggest that the political tensions in India may have something to do with declining ‘academic freedom’.

    National Education Policy (NEP) and hope for academic Freedom

    • National Education Policy (NEP) aims at overhauling the educational system in the country and making “India a global knowledge superpower”, with a new system that is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4).
    • The NEP 2020 claims that it is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
    • The policy states that faculty will be given the “freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework, including textbook and reading material selections, assignments and assessments”.
    • It also suggests constituting a National Research Foundation (NRF), a merit-based and peer-reviewed research funding, which “will be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields”.
    • At present, many educational institutions and regulatory bodies, both at the Central and State levels, are headed by bureaucrats. However, the NEP 2020 aims to de-bureaucratise the education system by giving governance powers to academicians.
    • It also talks about giving autonomy to higher education institutions by handing over their administration to a board comprising academicians. This may help de-bureaucratise the education system and reduce political interference to an extent.

    However, the question is whether these promises and offers will be put into practice.

    Comments

    Subhendu Sarkar 2 months ago

    Sir,
    Good Morning !!!
    Not able to download the DNS. Please share the download link. 

    ABHISHEK MANDAL 2 months ago

    Sir, cannot find the notes for dns of 4.11.2020....please help

    Pooja Yadav 2 months ago

    sir plz share link to download the notes..

    Khushi Rajput 2 months ago

    there's no option to download the notes