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UNSC: India’s Tenure


GS Paper II


Context: Unprecedented in its focus on maritime security, terrorism, UN peacekeeping, reformed multilateralism, and the Global South, India served on the UN Security Council (UNSC) for two years. India acted as the chair of three significant UNSC committees, worked to resolve disputes between countries, and brought up significant topics including xenophobia.

India’s tenure in the UNSC from 2020 to 2022:

Focus on Priorities:

  • Priorities that are clear when you join the Council in January 2021.
  • Priorities include the Global South, UN peacekeeping, terrorism, maritime security, and reformed multilateralism.
  • India chosen to lead three significant UNSC Committees.
India’s Role in Maritime Security:
  • A UNSC meeting on marine security was presided over by the Indian Prime Minister.
  • The first in-depth report on marine security was a Presidential Declaration that was released.
  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was cited in the document as the international law providing the framework.
  • The freedom of navigation, anti-piracy measures, and maritime counterterrorism and international crime were also asked for in the statement.
Conflicts on the Agenda:
  • In addition to Ukraine, there were wars in Burma, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Haiti, Libya, and the Sahel.
  • The Council was divided and unable to take decisive action.
  • On these matters, India made an effort to bring the Council together.
India’s Involvement in Myanmar:
  • Myanmar was taken over by the military in February 2021.
  • When ASEAN advised restraint, Permanent-5 were tugging in opposite ways.
  • Over 1,700 kilometres of India’s border with Myanmar must be peaceful, stable, and conducive to the advancement of democratic processes.
  • India made ensuring that Council statements were fair and thorough, which led to a resolution on Burma (approved under India’s presidency) in December 2022.
India’s Impact on the UNSC:
India’s role in Afghanistan Crisis:
  • India led discussions that led to UNSC Resolution 2593 for Afghanistan’s standards, which included putting an end to cross-border terrorism, preserving minorities’ and women’s rights, establishing an inclusive government, and offering humanitarian aid.
  • India continues to take a strong stance in favour of the Taliban preserving these standards.
India’s stance on Ukraine Conflict:
  • Several developing nations were moved by India’s independent demand for dialogue and peace amid the situation in Ukraine.
  • India came out against imposing arbitrary penalties on food, fertiliser, and oil.
  • India is now announcing an endeavour to put its pro-active stance into practise after the controversy spilled over into its G-20 Presidency.
India’s focus on counter-terrorism:
  • In October 2022, India hosted the UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) meeting as the committee’s chair.
  • India tried to add terrorists to the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions list but was unsuccessful; nevertheless, India’s proposal to add Abdul Rehman Makki, the Deputy Amir and Leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the list was accepted by the UNSC.
India on peacekeeping:
  • Biggest contributor, including women: India has been a leader in women’s peacekeeping and the greatest provider of UN peacekeepers overall.
  • It is important to mention that it has launched the UNITE Aware technological platform to improve the real-time protection of peacekeepers.
  • Introducing the first UNSC resolution by India in more than 50 years, demanding for justice for atrocities against peacekeepers, was introduced by India in August 2021. Also, India gave all UN soldiers two lakh immunisations.
On other important issue:

Climate change:

  • In light of their long-standing historical ties, India placed a greater emphasis on the developing world, particularly in Africa and West Asia.
  • An attempt by the West to remove climate change from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change-led process and bring it within the purview of the UNSC, where the P-5 are also significant historical polluters, was foiled by India in December 2021.
  • India and Russia cast no votes in favour of the resolution, which led to its rejection in the Council.
  • The voice of the Global South, particularly Small Island Developing States, would have been silenced if the climate change architecture had been altered.
Contemporary issues:
  • Although criticising phobias against Abrahamic faiths, India also brought up the topic of a modern form of religiophobia in the Council by vehemently arguing that non-Abrahamic religions must also be protected from the rise in hate crimes and phobias.
  • India’s position has to be vigorously advanced since entrenched interests are encouraging hate crimes overseas.

The discussion on urgent Council reform that followed India’s President focused on India’s impressive performance and the necessity of maintaining its permanent seat at the horseshoe table.

Source: The Hindu


Sand Battery


GS Paper III


Context: The first sand battery in the world, which can store heat from multiple energy sources for months, has been erected successfully in Finland.

What is the Sand Battery System?
  • The battery was erected in Finland’s Kankaanpaa town in June 2022. It is a substantial steel silo that is 7 m tall, 4 m wide, and contains 100 tonnes of sand.
  • It is linked to the town’s central heating system, which regulates the temperature of the buildings and the public water supply.

The storage system has three main components:

  1. Sand silo,
  2. Electrical air heater, and
  3. Air-to-water heat exchanger
Working principle:
  • With the electrical air heater, air is heated to 600°C for charging the sand silo.
  • The sand in the silo’s core is then heated to 600°C using a heat-exchange pipe and blowers that circulate the hot air throughout the silo.
  • The blowers are used to push air into the pipe inside the sand silo when the storage reaches the discharging stage.
  • The air is delivered to the air-to-water heat exchanger, where it is utilised to boil water, after it has reached 200°C.
  • The heating network is then notified about it.
Electricity Requirements and Capacity of the Battery:
  • The storage system needs power constantly in order to drive the blowers when the battery is being used, check the temperature while it is in standby, and charge the battery.
  • The installed battery has a capacity of 8 megawatt-hours (MWh) and can produce heat at a rate of 0.1 megawatts (MW), which is sufficient to heat and supply hot water to around 100 houses as well as a public pool.
Advantages of Sand as a Heat Storage Material:
  • Sand was used in place of water in the battery system by the Finnish researchers due to its benefits.
  • Sand can withstand temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius (°C), whereas water boils at 100°C.
  • Also, because of its poor heat conductivity, less energy is lost.
Importance of Heat Energy:
  • According to the International Energy Agency, the globe uses half of its energy for heating, 30% for transportation, and 20% for electricity (IEA).
  • Presently, polluting fossil fuels provide 80% of the world’s energy.

Source: The Hindu


Generative AI


GS Paper III


Context: In addition to their search engines and browsers, Google and Microsoft have also integrated generative AI into a number of their consumer products, including Gmail, Docs, Teams, Copilot 365, Outlook, Word, and Excel.

What is Generative AI?
  • Generative AI, like other types of artificial intelligence, learns how to take actions from the past.
  • Instead of just categorising or recognising data like traditional AI, it develops entirely new material based on that training, such as writing, images, and even computer code.
  • The most well-known implementation of generative AI is ChatGPT, a chatbot that Microsoft-supported OpenAI published in late 2017.
  • Since it reads a written prompt and creates a human-like answer from it, the AI that powers it is referred to as a big language model.
Generative AI products offered by Google and Microsoft:
  • In addition to their search engines and browsers, Google and Microsoft have also integrated generative AI into a number of their consumer products, including Gmail, Docs, Teams, Copilot 365, Outlook, Word, and Excel.
  • Generative AI may assist users in writing documents automatically in Google’s Gmail and Docs, such as an email of welcome to new staff.
  • Depending on the subject, Copilot 365, a function of Microsoft 365 programmes, may create spreadsheets automatically or even compose a full essay in Word.
  • Both businesses are integrating generative AI systems and models into their cloud services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
What are Google and Microsoft offering?
  • Generative AI will assist users in creating papers automatically in Google’s Gmail and Documents.
  • Instead than drafting out a welcome email for new staff, an HR manager could just ask the AI programme to generate one.
  • With its Microsoft 365 programmes, which include Teams, Outlook, Word, and Excel, Microsoft provides “Copilot 365” in a similar fashion.
  • In this case, AI may automatically create a spreadsheet or even write a complete article on Word (depending on the topic).
  • Copilot can also provide short, useful suggestions for what someone should pay attention to in meetings by comparing Calendar entries with emails.
How can these developments impact human workforce?
  • While being widely used, the technology is presently not particularly precise and frequently returns false results.
  • Google and Microsoft were discovered to respond incorrectly during the first product demos.
  • Although these items may be useful, they are not yet ready to take the role of workers.
  • Information created by AI can be verified more effectively by humans.
Various challenges posed:
  • Bias: Generative AI systems may provide biassed results as a result of biassed training data.
  • Misinformation: As generative AI systems derive their knowledge from the internet or training data that may have been incorrect in and of itself, they may contribute to the online spread of disinformation.
  • Security: Deepfakes and other types of digital manipulation that might be used to propagate misinformation or engage in fraud could be produced by generative AI systems.
  • Ethics: The use of generative AI raises ethical questions, notably in relation to concerns about responsibility, transparency, and privacy.
  • To guarantee that generative AI is utilised responsibly, ethically, and without having a harmful influence on society, legal frameworks are necessary.

Source: The Hindu


Climate Change


GS Paper III


Context: Certain climate change mitigation initiatives are included in India’s budget for 2023–2024, however adaptation has not received enough attention. To foster an environment where all parties may collaborate and cooperate towards creating locally appropriate adaptation solutions, the government must establish a Mission Adaptation.

Climate Change Mitigation Measures:
  • Funding for the green transition has been included in India’s budget for 2023–24, with an emphasis on green growth initiatives that aim to lower the carbon intensity of the economy, such as green mobility, energy efficiency, and the announcement of the green hydrogen mission.
  • promoting eco-friendly programmes: Eco-friendly programmes like the community-based wetland protection plan and the mangrove planting effort both promise to potentially help reduce climate change.
Lack of Attention to Climate Change Adaptation:
  • Indirect mention of climate change: While climate change mitigation has been given consideration in the budget, climate change adaptation has only been mentioned in passing.
  • Lack of resilience-enhancing measures: Notwithstanding India’s significant sensitivity to climate change, the budget does not include any resilience-enhancing measures for communities and habitations.
  • For illustration: The budget makes no clear reference of any measures to take into consideration hazards brought on by climate change, like the recent incident in Joshimath.
Funding for Adaptation:
  • In the global climate discourse, adaptation has historically gotten far less emphasis than mitigation, which has led to reduced investment for adaptation.
  • In India, there is a 1:10 financial split between climate adaptation and mitigation. While just 25% of the necessary cash is available for mitigation, there is a far larger budget gap for adaptation, which is only 7.9% of what is required.
Challenges in Funding Adaptation:
  • Responding to climate change frequently necessitates very localised, environmentally friendly solutions without a traditional ROI. As a result, there is a lack of mainstream, interest-seeking money funding adaptation.
  • In India, funding for climate adaptation has mainly remained a public undertaking; virtually all of the money for adaptation comes from public sources. Due to the distorted narrative on climate change, international financing has also been sparse.
The Need for a Strategic Investment:
  • Climate shocks are predicted to become more frequent and severe, and if towns and habitations aren’t built to be resilient, the effects might be disastrous.
  • The public sector must actively address this issue and see resilience development as a strategic goal.
  • In order to climate-proof lives, livelihoods, the environment, and the economy, the public sector must begin to view climate adaptation as a strategic investment.
Mission Adaptation:
  • In the context of climate change, the phrase “mission adaptation” describes the requirement for a planned, proactive approach to constructing adaptable capacity in order to climate-proof lives, livelihoods, the environment, and the economy.
  • In order to create and scale up locally sound adaptation solutions in India, it is recommended to establish a supporting ecosystem for all organisations, including the corporate sector, non-profits, and civil society.
  • The goal is to use the notion of public purpose to direct corporate activity and policy while viewing climate adaptation as a strategic investment by the public sector to address the complex issues facing society today.

Given the escalating frequency of climate-related stress that has occurred and is anticipated, the public sector will continue to play a significant role in providing finance for climate adaptation. To make Mission Adaptation a reality, the government must strive towards fostering a more systemic knowledge of resilience and support initiatives targeted at fostering such an awareness throughout the ecosystem.

Source: Indian Express


India’s Subnational Human Development


GS Paper III


Context: India’s economy is currently one of the fastest-growing ones worldwide. Yet this expansion hasn’t translated into a matching rise in the country’s Human Development Index (HDI). India is ranked 132 out of 191 nations in the Human Development Report for 2021–22, behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).

The subnational HDI:
  • It is crucial to overcome subnational or state-wise gaps in human development given India’s size and population.
  • A new index that assesses human development on a subnational level for 2019–20 has been created following the approach recommended by the UNDP and the National Statistics Office (NSO).
HDI Calculation:
  • Four factors are used to determine the HDI: life expectancy at birth, average number of years spent in education, anticipated number of years spent in school, and gross national income (GNI) per capita.
  • As subnational estimates of GNI per capita are not available, the subnational HDI substitutes GSDP per capita for GNI.
  • The approach entails adopting the maximum and lowest values advised by the UNDP and NSO while computing the geometric mean of the normalised indices for the three aspects of human development.
Subnational HDI Findings:
  • The subnational HDI demonstrates that although some states have achieved significant advancements, others are still having difficulty. The top place belongs to Delhi, while the worst slot belongs to Bihar.
  • The top five HDI-scoring states are Chandigarh, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Delhi. 19 states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, are categorised as having high human development and have scores between 0.7 and 0.799.
  • The five states with the lowest levels of human development are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam.
Reasons for Discrepancies:
  • The wealthiest 10% of Indians possess more than 77% of the country’s wealth, reflecting the unequal distribution of the country’s economic progress. Access to necessities, healthcare, and education now differs significantly depending on one’s location.
  • The quality of these services is still an issue even though India has made considerable strides in decreasing poverty and expanding access to healthcare and education.

To ensure that the benefits of growth are distributed more fairly, the government must prioritise both economic growth and human development. This calls for a multifaceted strategy to address issues like income inequality, gender inequality, access to high-quality social services, environmental problems, and investments in social infrastructure. To reap the benefits of its demographic dividend, India must prioritise investments in human development and job creation, particularly for its youth.

Source: Indian Express


Facts for Prelims


Enemy Property:

  • The assets and possessions of people or organisations that the Indian government has designated as “enemies” are referred to as enemy property.
  • This can apply to people or organisations that have participated in hostilities, acted against India’s interests, or are nationals of a nation at war with it.
  • People moved from India to Pakistan in the aftermath of the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflicts.
  • The Government of India seized the assets and businesses of persons who adopted Pakistani nationality in accordance with the Defence of India Guidelines created under the Defence of India Act, 1962.
  • The Custodian of Enemy Property for India received these “enemy properties” from the federal government.
  • After the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the same was done with respect to property left behind by people who migrated to China.
  • A paragraph in the Tashkent Declaration of January 10, 1966 said that India and Pakistan would talk about returning the property and assets that had been taken by either side as a result of the fighting.
  • Nevertheless, the Pakistani government sold off every one of these assets in that nation in 1971.


Letter of Comfort:

  • A letter of comfort is a statement of support sent to a borrower that strengthens the loan transaction.
  • Very often, a third party or an interested party in the transaction may provide a letter of comfort.
  • For instance, a holding company may provide a letter of comfort on behalf of a subsidiary, or the government could do the same for businesses in the public sector.
  • Banks, NBFCs, and auditors may also issue the letter of comfort.
  • The holding company is under no obligation to repay the debts as a result of the letter of comfort.
  • This just serves to reassure the lender that the controlling company is aware of the transaction, the subsidiary’s policies, and its intentions to apply for a loan.
  • This gives the financial institution some peace of mind when making short- or long-term loans.
  • One may argue that the letter of comfort might eventually turn into a moral responsibility rather than a legal one.
  • A letter of guarantee and a letter of comfort are separate documents.
  • The letter of guarantee serves as an assurance to the lender that the issuing business is assuming responsibility for the repayment, as indicated by the name.
  • Also, it has legal force and effect, making the guarantor responsible for the transaction.
  • Holding companies usually give letters of comfort when they are unable or unwilling to give letters of guarantees.


Vienna Convention:
  • The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is the agreement that the MEA is referencing in this situation (1961).
  • It offers a comprehensive structure for the beginning, upkeep, and breakup of diplomatic ties between independent sovereign States with mutual consent.
  • According to the Vienna Convention, the “receiving State” is the country that houses a diplomatic mission.
  • The duties relating to the Mission’s premises are covered under Article 22 of the Convention.
  • The receiving State has an unique obligation to “take all appropriate means to secure the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to avoid any disturbance of the peace of the mission or degradation of its dignity,” according to Part 2 of this article.
  • There has been a breach, as evidenced by the protesters’ ability to scale the walls of the High Commission building.
  • The UK government’s disregard for the safety of Indian diplomatic staff and facilities in the UK is unacceptable in India.
  • The UK has denounced the incident and vowed to thoroughly consider the security of the Indian High Commission in London.

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