Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 12 July 2023

India’s remarkable reduction in poverty: UN

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

According to the United NationsIndia has witnessed a remarkable achievement in poverty reduction, with a staggering 415 million individuals transitioning out of poverty within a relatively short span of 15 years, from 2005/2006 to 2019/2021. This was highlighted in the latest update of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which was jointly released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford.

More about the report

  • The report showed that 25 countries, including India, managed to halve their global MPI values within a 15-year timeframe, illustrating the possibility of rapid progress.
  • Among the countries that achieved this feat are CambodiaChinaCongoHondurasIndiaIndonesiaMoroccoSerbia, and Vietnam.
  • In April, India surpassed China to become the world's most populous nation, with a population of 1.4286 billion people, according to UN data.
  • In 2005/2006, approximately 645 million individuals in India were experiencing multidimensional poverty.
  • This number declined to around 370 million in 2015/2016 and further dropped to 230 million in 2019/2021, reflecting a substantial reduction in poverty levels.
  • The report noted that deprivation in all indicators declined in India, and "the poorest states and groups, including children and people in disadvantaged caste groups, had the fastest absolute progress."
  • According to the report, people who are multidimensionally poor and deprived under the nutrition indicator in India declined from 44.3 per cent in 2005/2006 to 11.8 per cent in 2019/2021, and child mortality fell from 4.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.
  • India was among the 19 countries that halved their global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) value during one period - for India it was 2005/2006-2015/2016.

Flashback

  • The global MPI monitors poverty reduction and informs policy, showing how people experience poverty in different aspects of their daily lives - from access to education and health to living standards such as housingdrinking watersanitation, and electricity.
  • The MPI as a poverty index can be pictured as a stacked tower of the interlinked deprivations experienced by poor individuals, with the aim of eliminating these deprivations.

 

India’s presence in SCO

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The SCO summit hosted virtually by India was a success as it witnessed participation of heads of states from all member countries and the successful induction of Iran as a full member of the grouping. In the joint declaration, members sought to forge closer ties and boost cooperation within the expanding Eurasian bloc.

New Delhi Declaration

  • The agreements signed include the New Delhi Declaration, outlining areas of cooperation between SCO countries, a joint statement on countering radicalisation and a statement on digital transformation, where India offered to share expertise on digital payment interfaces such as UPI.
  • But there were many clashing voices that emerged during the summit focussing on narrow agendas that dimmed the focus on ‘multi-dimensional cooperation’.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, for instance, took the opportunity to lash out against the Western countries, stressing that his country will stand up against Western sanctions (following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine) and “provocations”.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping used the platform to hardsell his country’s ambitious infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, that India has been opposing as it passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
  • India, however, remained isolated in its opposition to the BRI as all other members endorsed the paragraph on supporting the initiative in the economic strategy statement.
  • India and Pakistan, too, took pot-shots at each other on terrorism and alleged targeting of minorities.

What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an inter-governmental organisation founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001 by six countries — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • It was basically an extension of the Shanghai Five Group formed on 26 April 1996 with the signing of the treaty on deepening military trust in border regions by all the countries except Uzbekistan.
  • The Shanghai Five Group was conceptualised, as per some analysts, as a counterweight to the influence of the US in Central Asia.
  • India was granted observer status in July 2005 and on 9 June 2017, at the historic summit in AstanaIndia and Pakistan officially joined SCO as full- members.
  • Now, with Iran joining as a full member of the SCO during the virtual summit hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 July 2023, the membership of SCO has now expanded to nine.

What are the key areas on which it seeks cooperation or joint action?

  • The objectives of the SCO include strengthening relations among member states and mutual confidencepromoting cooperation in political affairs, economics, trade, and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental protection.
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region and moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order, are some of its other goals.
  • India, which holds the rotating presidency of the organisation, created five new pillars and focus areas of cooperation in SCO.
  • These are Startups and InnovationTraditional MedicineDigital Inclusion, Youth Empowerment and Shared Buddhist Heritage.

 

Capture carbon and storage

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

key tool to stop climate change is costly and has for decades not worked as well as fossil fuel companies said it would. Experts say carbon capture and storage — a way to grab a planet-heating gas and lock it underground — is sorely needed to cut pollution in sectors where other clean technologies are farther behind.

What is carbon capture and storage?

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a way to catch carbon and trap it beneath the earth.
  • It is different to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) — where carbon is sucked out of the atmosphere — although some of the technologies overlap.
  • The key difference is that CDR brings down the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, cooling the planet, while CCS in fossil fuel plants and factories prevents the gas from getting out in the first place.
  • In its latest review of scientific research, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found both options will be needed for emissions that are hard to wipe out.
  • For chemical processes that release carbon dioxide, there are few alternatives to capturing CO2 straight away or sucking it out of the air later.
  • Scientists see a big role for CCS in factories that make cement and fertiliser, as well as in plants that burn rubbish.
  • They are split on whether it makes sense to use it to make steel and hydrogen, which have some greener alternatives.
  • Most of their skepticism goes to capturing carbon when making electricity, because there are already cheaper alternatives that work better, like wind turbines and solar panels.
  • In theory, it could play a role in gas plants as a back-up when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow — particularly in countries that are still building fossil fuel plants today — but it would have to quickly grow cheaper and more effective.

How well does CCS work?

  • For decades, engineers have captured carbon from concentrated streams of gas — pushing it into tanks, scrubbing it clean and using it in industry or storing it underground.
  • Some bioethanol plants, where the gas stream is pure, already report capturing more than 95% of the carbon emissions.
  • But when it comes to capturing carbon from dirtier gas streams, like those from factories and power plants, CCS projects have repeatedly overpromised and underdelivered.
  • While a handful of test facilities have managed to capture more than 90% of emissions from some dirty gas streams, commercial projects have been plagued with problems.
  • Some have broken down or not been made to run all the time. Others have been designed to capture only a fraction of the total emissions.
  • Still, experts see the failures of CCS more as an economic problem than a technical one. They say companies have little incentive to capture their pollution.

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