Ojaank IAS Academy




06 JANUARY 2023 – Current Affairs

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50 ASI-Protected Monuments Disappear

GS Paper I

Context: According to the Ministry of Culture, 50 of India’s 3,693 Centrally Protected Monuments (CPM) are missing, according to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
  • Previously, a CAG assessment in 2013 stated that at least 92 centrally protected monuments had gone missing across the country. However, ASI has detected 42 CPMs since then.
  • Missing monuments include the Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, the Guns of Emperor Sher Shah at Tinsukia, Assam, and the Ruins of Copper Temple in Paya, Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh.
What are protected monuments?
  • An ancient monument is one that has been recognised to be of national importance by or under the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958. (Central Act 24 of 1958)
  • The AMASR Act governs the preservation of national monuments and archaeological sites.
  • The Act preserves monuments and places older than 100 years, such as temples, cemeteries, inscriptions, cannons, and so on.
  • The AMASR Act requires ASI authorities to check monuments on a regular basis, assess their state, issue show cause notices for clearance of any encroachment, and so on.
How can a monument go “missing”?
  • Many of the monuments that were documented over a century ago can no longer be found in their authorised locations. The following are some possible explanations:
  • The government prioritises socioeconomic issues above heritage: In the decade following independence, successive administrations prioritised health, education, and infrastructure above historical preservation.
  • Even within the realm of heritage, the goal was to unearth new monuments and places rather than to conserve them.

Urbanization at a rapid pace: Rapid urbanisation has resulted in the destruction of 14 monuments.

Reservoir/dam submergence: 12 are inundated by reservoirs/dams.

Tracing difficulties in remote locations: 24 are untraceable.

Recommendations by the Standing Committee:
  • ASI earlier confirmed that no detailed physical inspection of all monuments was been carried out following Independence.
  • Provide budgetary allocation and evaluate security needs
  • Involving the local community, including Panchayats and the police
  • Trace monuments using technologies such as GPS, geolocation, and geotagging.
  • ASI personnel should be increased: ASI is now facing a severe labour shortage in order to physically man all of the large and minor monuments that may fall within a specific region.
  • Previous CAG recommendation: A adequately ranked official inspects each protected monument on a regular basis.
Can the’missing CPM’ be removed from the National Monuments List?
  • It is feasible to remove lost/untraceable monuments off the protected list, however it is a time-consuming operation.
  • Section 35 of the AMASR Act requires that the monument be denotified before it can be deleted.
  • However, experts argue that removing untraceable monuments from the list is not recommended because it removes the need to discover them.
Source: The Hindu

Digital Healthcare

GS Paper II

Context– During the epidemic, India made use of information and communication technology (ICTs). As systems migrated online to accommodate contactless care, digital health solutions played a critical role in bridging the gap in healthcare delivery.

  • India has proved its digital capability by developing digital public goods such as the Aadhaar digital identification system, digital public goods built on top of Aadhaar, and the Unified Payments Interface.
  • While Aadhaar has become an integral part of India’s public service delivery infrastructure, UPI has changed the way payments are made.
  • With 1.2 billion wireless connections and 800 million internet users, our digital public infrastructure has reached the last mile.
  • The Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoWIN) and the Aarogya Setu application are two examples. CoWIN pushed India to become totally digital with their immunisation plan. Aarogya Setu provides real-time information on active cases and containment zones to assist individuals in assessing danger in their communities.
  • Telemedicine platforms showed a significant rise in user acquisitions during the pandemic, as 85 percent of physicians used teleconsultations, highlighting the need to better integrate cutting-edge digital technology into healthcare services.
Acknowledging the current need?
  • Although the pandemic’s impact on health care has heightened awareness of the benefits of digital innovation and technology-enabled solutions, corporate organisations, health technology firms, and the public sector have been advancing digitisation in the field for some time.
  • To tie together existing compartmentalised initiatives and move toward proactive, holistic, and citizen-centric healthcare, it has become evident that a full digital healthcare ecosystem is required.
Government efforts in this direction?
  • Recognizing this need, the government established shared public goods for healthcare and devised a framework for a national digital health system. This marked a watershed moment in Indian healthcare.
  • On September 27, 2021, the Prime Minister inaugurated the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission under the auspices of the National Health Authority. ABDM has developed a solid framework for providing accessible, cheap, and egalitarian healthcare via digital highways within a year of its start. The ABDM has put in place critical building blocks to bring all players in the digital healthcare ecosystem together.
  • The ABHA standardises patient identification among healthcare providers. Citizens may link, save, and share their health records using the ABHA and its related Personal Health Record (PHR) app to access healthcare services with autonomy and permission. The mission is rapidly expanding, with over 300 million ABHAs and 50 million connected health records.
  • HFR and HPR accounts give verified digital identities to public and commercial health facilities and professionals of all sizes. This allows individuals to connect to a centralised digital environment while also serving as a single source of verified healthcare provider-related information. HFR and HPR enable healthcare providers develop an online presence and deliver services more effectively by improving the finding of healthcare facilities.
  • It is a critical building piece towards the creation of a single, up-to-date, centralised repository of all licenced medications across all medical systems.
  • It aspires to boost the health sector by allowing all healthcare service providers and end-user apps on its network to communicate with one another. This will provide a consistent experience for service discovery, appointment scheduling, teleconsultations, ambulance access, and other functions. The UHI is built on open network protocols and can alleviate the present issue of disparate digital solutions being unable to connect with one another.
What the government is planning next in this domain?
  • Aarogya Setu is being redeveloped into a general health and wellbeing app. Simultaneously, CoWIN will be integrated with a light Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) for tiny clinics, bringing digitalisation to the masses.
  • Scan and share is another use of ABDM that employs a QR code-based token system to control lineups at hospital counters. It leverages the ABHA and PHR basic features to expedite the outpatient registration procedure in major hospitals.
  • The government also intends to expand its digital healthcare projects via Heal by India, which would make India’s healthcare experts’ services available globally.
  • A technology is also being built to automate the allocation of dead organ and tissue donations, making the procedure more efficient and transparent.
Way Forward
  • The next step after implementing digital solutions is to digitise and automate the insurance claim settlement process using the Health Claim Exchange platform.
  • It is necessary to make claim-related information verifiable, auditable, traceable, and interoperable among diverse entities, allowing claim processing to become more affordable, transparent, and real-time.
  • This year, India will hold the G20 presidency. The G20 Worldwide Initiative on Digital Health asks for the establishment of an institutional framework for a linked health ecosystem in order to coordinate global initiatives in digital health.
  • It also asks for the expansion of technologies like global DPGs in order to speed Universal Health Coverage.

The ABDM has proven to be a useful tool, and the National Health Authority has advanced its deployment throughout states. It intends to lay the groundwork for a long-term digital public health infrastructure, allowing India to attain universal health coverage. The objective embraces the G20 motto of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which translates as “One Earth. One Family. One Future.”

Source: The Hindu

National Green Hydrogen Mission

GS Paper III

Context– The Union Cabinet authorised the National Green Hydrogen Mission, which aims to make India the worldwide centre for green hydrogen production.
What exactly is Green Hydrogen?
  • Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas created by electrolysis of water.
  • It is an energy-intensive technique that uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Green hydrogen now costs between $300 and $400 per kilogramme in India.
Mission Green Hydrogen
  • The National Hydrogen Mission was established on August 15, 2021, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and expanding the usage of renewable energy sources.
  • The scheme’s implementation instructions will be developed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Key Features
  • The goal is to support the development of green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT per year in the country by 2030, with an accompanying renewable energy capacity addition of around 125 GW.
  • It plans to spend over Rs. 8 lakh crore and create over 6 lakh jobs by 2030.
  • It would also result in a reduction of over 1 lakh crore in fossil fuel imports and a reduction of about 50 MMT of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
  • The mission will make it easier to generate demand for, produce, use, and export green hydrogen.
  • Under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT), the mission will provide two unique financial incentive mechanisms aimed at domestic manufacture of electrolysers and green hydrogen generation.
  • Green Hydrogen Hubs will be identified and created in regions capable of supporting large-scale hydrogen generation and/or utilisation.
Hydrogen Energy: A Backgrounder
  • In comparison to hydrocarbons, which have net carbon content in the range of 75-85 percent, hydrogen is a significant source of energy since it has zero carbon content and is a non-polluting source of energy.
  • Hydrogen energy is intended to cut carbon emissions, which are expected to increase by 1.5 billion tonnes by 2021.
  • It has the most energy by weight and the least amount of energy by volume.
  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen will account for 6% of global energy use by 2050.
  • Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it has significant potential to help in the shift from hydrocarbons to renewables.
Why hydrogen?
  • Hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odourless, tasteless, colourless, and highly flammable diatomic gas at ordinary temperature and pressure.
  • When combined with oxygen, hydrogen fuel produces no emissions. It is suitable for use in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. It is also utilised as a propulsion fuel for spaceships.
  • Natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind may all be used to generate hydrogen.
  • India is devoted to environmental and climatic causes, with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • This would be the major enabler of the change. That is why the arrival of hydrogen at the forefront is a good development.
How Hydrogen can be produced?
  • Commercial viability Hydrogen may be created from hydrocarbons such as natural gas, oil, and coal using techniques such as steam methane reforming, partial oxidation, and coal gasification.
  • Water, sunshine, and wind may be converted into energy by electrolysis, photolysis, and other thermo-chemical processes.
How is Green Hydrogen produced?
  • Green hydrogen is commonly created from water nowadays using electrolysis, a method that employs an electric current to divide water into its component components of hydrogen and oxygen.
  • This is accomplished with the help of an electrolyzer, which consists of a cathode and an anode (positively and negatively charged electrodes).
  • As a byproduct of this process, only oxygen – or steam – is produced.
  • To qualify as “green hydrogen,” the electricity utilised for electrolysis must be derived from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy.
  • Green hydrogen generation is now two to three times more costly than blue hydrogen production.
How can green hydrogen be used?
  • Hydrogen may be utilised in a variety of ways. It may either be burned to generate heat or fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity.
  • Fuel-cell Vehicles: Electric vehicles powered by hydrogen
  • Container ships propelled with hydrogen-based liquid ammonia
  • Green steel refineries use hydrogen as a heat source instead of coal.
  • Hydrogen-powered energy turbines that can generate electricity during high demand periods to assist stabilise the power system
Challenges in producing Green Hydrogen
  • The transition of India to a green hydrogen economy (GHE) is only possible if certain major concerns are solved.
  • GHE is dependent on the development of a supply chain that begins with the fabrication of electrolysers and ends with the generation of green hydrogen from a renewable energy source.
  • Green hydrogen necessitates the construction of electrolyzers on a bigger scale than has hitherto been observed.
  • Extreme pressures or extreme temperatures are necessary, both of which provide technical challenges.
  • Because of its low ignition energy and high combustion energy, it is dangerous.
  • Although automotive fuels are very combustible, a vehicle packed with hydrogen is more likely to be vulnerable in the event of a catastrophic accident.
  • To become competitive, the price of green hydrogen per kilogramme must be reduced to a benchmark of $2/kg. Green hydrogen can compete with natural gas at current costs.
  • To fulfil global standards, green hydrogen requires a massive quantity of electricity, which means a massive increase in wind and solar power.
  • Due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure, just 500 hydrogen stations exist worldwide. Only a few manufacturers are market participants in this technology.
  • User acceptability and societal awareness are low. Creating after-sales support for hydrogen technologies.
Policy and Economic Challenges
  • One of the most significant obstacles for the business in commercialising hydrogen is the economic sustainability of harvesting green or blue hydrogen.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technologies, for example, are in their early stages of development.
  • These technologies are costly, which raises the cost of hydrogen generation and necessitates significant investment, putting economic strain on the government.
  • Maintenance expenses for fuel cells once a facility is completed might be high.
  • Mechanisms for certification, recommendations, and requirements for various system components.
Way Forward
  • Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it offers enormous promise for facilitating India’s energy transformation.
  • The new strategy offers a vision for the future that may help the country not only decrease carbon emissions but also diversify its energy portfolio and minimise dependency on foreign sources.
  • India’s transformation can serve as a model for the rest of the globe in terms of achieving energy security without jeopardising the objective of sustainable development.
  • The GoI must vigorously pursue the goal of establishing a GHE in order to establish India as a worldwide manufacturing powerhouse and to position itself at the top of the green hydrogen export market.
Source: The Hindu

Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development (BIND) Scheme

GS Paper III

Context – The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs authorised the “Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development (BIND)” programme to enhance Prasar Bharati in order to increase the country’s public sector broadcasting
Prasar Bharati
  • Prasar Bharati, located in New Delhi, is India’s state-owned public broadcaster.
  • It is a statutory independent agency established by the Prasar Bharati Act of 1990.
  • It includes the Doordarshan Television Network and Akashvani All India Radio, which were once Ministry of Information and Broadcasting media entities.
BIND Scheme
  • The BIND plan is the vehicle through which Prasar Bharati receives financial assistance for charges linked to the growth and upgrade of its broadcasting infrastructure, content creation, and civil work.
  • Its characteristics include: It will allow the public broadcaster to upgrade its facilities with improved infrastructure, expanding its coverage in the LWE, border, and key locations, and providing high-quality material to viewers.
  • Another significant focus of the strategy is the creation of high-quality material for both domestic and foreign audiences, as well as the availability of diversified content to viewers.
  • It intends to increase the capacity of the DTH platform in order to accommodate more channels.
  • The project would boost the country’s coverage of AIR FM transmitters to 66 percent by geographical area and 80 percent by population, up from 59 and 68 percent, respectively.
  • The initiative also includes the free distribution of more than 8 lakh DD Free Dish STBs to persons living in distant, tribal, left-wing extremist, and border regions.
Benefits offered
  • The project has the potential to generate indirect jobs through manufacturing and services connected to broadcast equipment supply and installation.
  • Content creation and content innovation for AIR and DD have the ability to indirectly employ people with diverse media experience in the content production industry, which includes TV/radio production, transmission, and allied media-related services.
  • Furthermore, the effort to expand DD Free Dish’s coverage is likely to provide job opportunities in the production of DD Free Dish DTH equipment.
Source: Indian Express

High-Powered Committee on Ladakh

GS Paper-II

Context – The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently formed a high-powered committee for the Union Territory of Ladakh, which would be led by the Minister of State for Home Affairs.
Committee Requirement:
  • Since the repeal of Article 370 three years ago, civil society organisations in Ladakh have been demanding the protection of land, resources, and jobs.
  • The concern of large corporations and conglomerates stealing land and employment from locals has contributed to this desire.
  • It will address strategies to safeguard the region’s distinct culture and language, taking into account its geographical location and strategic significance.
Ensure land protection
  • Work for the people of Ladakh;
  • Plan for inclusive development.
  • Discuss concerns concerning the empowerment of the Leh and Kargil Autonomous Hill District Councils in Ladakh.
Ladakh also faces the following issues:
  • There has been no decentralisation of power: The area had four MLAs in the former J&K Assembly; the administration of the region is now entirely in the hands of bureaucrats.
  • Many people in Ladakh regard the administration as even more remote than Srinagar.
Jammu & Kashmir’s domicile policy has been altered:
  • In addition, the region is concerned about its own land, jobs, demographics, and cultural identity as a result of the changing domicile policy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Financial constraints:
  • The UT has two Hill councils, one in Leh and one in Kargil, however neither is listed in the Sixth Schedule.
  • Their authority is restricted to the collection of specific municipal taxes, such as parking fines, as well as the allocation and use of land vested in the Centre.
National Commission on Scheduled Tribes Recommendation:
  • Ladakh was proposed for inclusion in the Sixth Schedule by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes in September 2019.
  • The Commission noted that the newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh is mostly a tribal part of the country.
Highlights from the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report:
  • The Rajya Sabha recently heard a report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
  • According to the data, the tribal population in the Union Territory of Ladakh is 2,18,355, accounting for 79.61% of the overall population of 2,74,289.
Special Situation:
  • The committee suggested that the Union Territory of Ladakh be awarded special status in light of the indigenous population’s developmental needs.
Inquiring about the possibilities of a fifth or sixth Schedule:
  • The Committee also suggests that the potential of adding Ladakh in the fifth or sixth Schedule be investigated.
The viewpoint of the Centre:
  • The Centre is unwilling to grant Ladakh any special status, stating that the goal of including tribal populations in the sixth schedule is to ensure their overall socioeconomic development, which the UT administration has already been addressing, and sufficient funds are being provided to Ladakh to meet its overall developmental needs.
  • The Ladakh administration has enhanced the reservation for Scheduled Tribes in direct recruitment from 10% to 45%, which would greatly aid tribal development.
Source: Indian Express

Article 19

GS Paper- II

Context – Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) dramatically broadened the grounds for asserting free speech rights against other people.

Petition: One of the issues before the court was whether a basic right under Article 19 or 21 of the Indian Constitution might be asserted against someone other than the ‘State’ or its agents.The Court responded with a majority decision leaning toward yes.

Order of the Court: The court expanded free speech to private persons, opening up a variety of constitutional law options.

Application of Article 19:
  • Article 19 which guarantees freedom of speech and expression is a right invoked against the state.
  • Some fundamental rights such as those prohibiting untouchability, trafficking and bonded labour are explicitly against both the state and other individuals.
Reasonable Restrictions:
  • Sovereignty And Integrity Of India,
  • The Security Of The State,
  • Friendly Relations With Foreign States,
  • Public Order, Decency Or Morality, Or
  • In Relation To Contempt Of Court,
  • Defamation, Or
  • Incitement To An Offence.
Restriction on Curb:
  • The right to free expression and expression granted by Article 19(1)(a) cannot be restricted for any reason other than those already stated in Article 19. (2).
The transition from state to citizen:
  • State to Authorities to State Instruments to Government Agency to imbuation with Governmental character to enjoying of monopoly status given by State to deep and pervasive control over the nature of the duties/functions performed.
  • The government’s position in the Puttaswamy case: One of the government’s main arguments was that privacy is a right that may be enforced against other citizens and hence cannot be elevated to the position of a fundamental right against the state.
The Effect of the Court’s Interpretation
  • This view might impose a duty on the state to guarantee that private enterprises follow Constitutional rules as well.
  • The questions may potentially range from enforcing privacy rights against a private doctor to enforcing free expression rights against a private social media organisation.
Global Scenario utilised by SC for Decision
  • The US Supreme Court ruled that the state’s use of defamation law against The New York Times violated the Constitution’s protection of free speech and expression. The Supreme Court highlighted a movement in US law from a “purely vertical” to a “horizontal” approach.
  • A vertical approach prioritises individual liberty, choice, and privacy, whereas a horizontal approach attempts to instil Constitutional principles in all people.
  • These seemingly diametrically opposed methods highlight the age-old conundrum of individual vs. society.
  • A vertical application of rights means they can only be enforced against the state, but a horizontal approach means they may also be enforced against other people.
Way Forward
  • No jurisdiction in the world appears to use a strictly vertical or totally horizontal strategy.
  • As a result, in such instances, a hybrid strategy is required.
Source: Indian Express

Facts For Prelims

Utkarsh 2.0

Context – The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India unveiled ‘Utkarsh 2.0,’ the Reserve Bank of India’s Medium-Term Strategy Framework for the period 2023-2025.

Utkarsh 2.0 Overview:
  • In July 2019, the first strategic framework (Utkarsh 2022) spanning the years 2019-2022 was released.
  • It was transformed into a medium-term strategy plan that guided the Bank’s development toward the achievement of the defined milestones.

Vision: The vision in Utkarsh 2.0 that will guide the Reserve Bank of India over the period 2023-25 is as follows: excellence in function performance; strengthened trust of citizens and institutions in the RBI; enhanced relevance and significance in national and global roles; transparent, accountable, and ethics-driven internal governance; best-in-class and environmentally friendly digital and physical infrastructure; and innovative, dynamic, and skilled human resources.

SAIME Initiative

Context– A new sustainable shrimp production programme offers promise for Sundarbans mangrove restoration.

  • SAIME is a West Bengal community-based experimental initiative in which farmers grow mangrove trees around shrimp ponds.
  • The programme, which began in 2019, has built a collaborative ecosystem that includes various important players from government ministries, academia, and research institutes for project co-creation and progress.
  • It is the brainchild of NEWS and the Global Nature Fund (GNF), as well as Naturland Bangladesh Environment and Development Society (BEDS).
  • After clearing extensive expanses of mangrove forests in the Sunderbans, experts highlighted worries about unsustainable aquaculture, notably shrimp gathering.

India to take over Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) Leadership

Context: India will take over as Secretary General of the APPU for a four-year tenure.

  • The Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) is an international organisation comprised of 32 Asia-Pacific member countries. The APPU is the region’s sole limited union of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations specialised body.
  • It aspires to broaden, simplify, and strengthen postal links among member nations.
  • Bangkok, Thailand is the headquarters.

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