The Global Security Initiative (GSI)
GS Paper II
Context: The Global Security Initiative (GSI), a China-led initiative to reestablish peace and security in Asia, seems more like a counter-narrative to American leadership than a sincere effort to create a lasting security order.
What is GSI?
- Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang presented the GSI at the Lanting Conference in Beijing.
- Mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, multilateralism, mutual benefit, and a comprehensive approach are the five pillars around which the programme is built.
- Analysis: Contrary to what the GSI predicts China’s past performance paints a different picture.
Mutual Respect and Adherenceto International Law:
- China’s interactions with its neighbours, including those in Southeast Asia and India, show a disregard for their territorial integrity and right to self-determination.
- The first principle of the GSI is at contrast with China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, denial of UNCLOS, and weakening of India’s territorial integrity.
Openness and Inclusion:
China engages in exclusive practises in the East and South China Seas, opposing freedom of navigation and expanding its sphere of influence despite arguing for openness and inclusion.
Multilateralism and Security Cooperation:
- As seen by its interactions with ASEAN members, China’s participation in global institutions frequently entails asymmetric power relationships.
- This idea is undermined by the government’s procrastination in drafting a code of conduct for the South China Sea and the region’s escalating militarization.
- The potential benefits of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) might be shared by all stakeholders. Yet, it increases debt loads and undermines global macroeconomic stability by supporting unsustainable projects for nations with poor credit ratings.
- Another instance of China neglecting the benefits to both parties is its insistence on a higher share of cooperative resource exploration with the Philippines.
- China’s ascent amid a multipolar world order in transition has sparked power struggles with both established and emerging nations like the United States and India.
- Its interactions with these powers point to a specific objective for its power interests. Moreover, China’s engagement in non-conventional security concerns, such the COVID-19 epidemic and equipping terrorist organisations, demonstrates a lack of a comprehensive strategy.
China’s emergence in a multipolar international order in transition has sparked power struggles with both existing and emerging countries, and its engagement in non-traditional security issues demonstrates a lack of a comprehensive strategy. The Global Security Initiative, which represents a vision of a new security system, differs significantly from China’s prior history of international participation.
Source: The Hindu
GS Paper II
Context: The Supreme Court will decide whether or not a Constitution Bench has to be consulted over petitions contesting the legality of the electoral bonds programme.
What are Electoral Bonds?
- In order to donate to political parties anonymously, any individual or business may acquire electoral bonds, which are financial instruments.
- It resembles a promissory note and is available from a few State Bank of India branches to any Indian national or Indian-incorporated firm.
- Thereafter, the individual or business can contribute the money to any qualifying political party of their choice.
- These bonds will be available for digital or check purchases by an individual or group.
About the scheme:
- A person or organisation incorporated in India or who is a citizen of India may acquire the bond.
- These bonds may be acquired from any of the designated State Bank of India branches for any amount in multiples of 1,000, 10,000, 10 lakh, and one crore.
- The buyer will only be permitted to acquire electoral bonds after properly completing all KYC requirements and paying with money from a bank account.
- The bonds will expire after 15 days (15 days time has been prescribed for the bonds to ensure that they do not become a parallel currency).
- Donors who contribute less than ₹20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details, such as Permanent Account Number.
Objective of the scheme:
To guarantee that the money being raised by political parties is accounted for or clean money, there must be transparency in political finance.
Who can redeem such bonds?
- An qualifying political party may only redeem the electoral bonds through a bank account with the authorised bank.
- To be eligible to receive Electoral Bonds, a political party must be registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951), and it must have received at least 1% of the votes cast in the most recent general election for the Lok Sabha or the State Legislative Assembly.
Restrictions that are done away:
- Before, the Companies Act prohibited donations from foreign corporations to political parties.
- According to Section 182 of the Companies Act, a company may contribute up to 7.5% of its average three-year net profit to political causes.
- Companies were required to include information about their political donations in their yearly statement of accounts under the same clause of the Act.
- In order to ensure that this proviso would not be applied to businesses in the event of electoral bonds, the administration introduced an amendment in the Finance Bill.
- Consequently, political parties may now accept donations from Indian, foreign, and even shell businesses without needing to notify anybody.
Issues with the Scheme:
- Although the donor’s identity is recorded, neither the party nor the general public are made aware of it. Hence, the voter’s access to transparency is not improved.
- Moreover, tax advantages for income may not be offered for donations made through electoral bonds. The contributor is forced to decide between preserving their anonymity and avoiding taxes as a result.
- While the bank will know the donor’s identify, their privacy is jeopardised.
- Due of the government’s ability to track financial contributions and recipients, these bonds will benefit any party in power.
- In accordance with the Finance Act of 2017’s revisions, “unlimited donations from individuals and foreign corporations to political parties without any record of the sources of money” are permitted.
- Nevertheless, concerns about the electoral bond plan go beyond its blatant legality.
- The worry about possible financial abuse is really significant.
- The EC has been pushing for the passage of legislation that would require political parties to have their financial records reviewed by an auditor chosen from a panel proposed by the CAG or EC. This has to be highlighted.
- Creating a National Election Fund and designating it as the recipient of all donations is another viable choice.
- This would eliminate the funders’ imagined fear of political retaliation.
Source: The Hindu
Waste-to-Energy Plants Fail
GS Paper III
Context: Kozhikode will be the site of the Kerala government’s first waste-to-energy facility, which is anticipated to be completed in two years and produce roughly 6 Megawatts of electricity.
What are Waste-to-Energy Plants?
- Facilities known as waste-to-energy plants employ dry, non-recyclable garbage to produce power.
- The method includes burning the dry, non-recyclable garbage to produce heat that is then transformed into energy.
- These facilities are utilised to boost a state’s ability to produce electricity while reducing the difficulty of managing solid waste.
Feasibility of such plants:
- Urban local bodies (ULBs) in the area create dry non-recyclable garbage, some of which is consumed by waste-to-energy facilities.
- These facilities have the potential to be an effective solution for handling the mountains of trash that Indian cities generate, but their success depends on the municipality, the local populace, and the State.
Operational status in India:
- In India, solid trash is typically made up of 15% silt, stones, and drain garbage, 55%–60% biodegradable organic waste, 25%–30% nonbiodegradable dry waste.
- Despite the fact that there are about 100 waste-to-energy plants spread out over the nation, only a small number of them are really in use because of different production and management difficulties.
Why do such projects often fail?
- Waste-to-energy projects often fail because of improper assessments, high expectations, improper characterisation studies, and other on-ground conditions.
- They faces several challenges, such as-
- Low calorific value of solid waste in India due to improper segregation
- High costs of energy production, and
- Variable quantity of waste generated by cities due to multiple factors.
Inappropriate segregation: Mixed Indian waste has a calorific value of roughly 1,500 kcal/kg, which makes it unsuitable for the production of electricity. Waste-to-energy facilities need dry non-recyclable garbage that has been separated, dried, and given a calorific value of 2,800–3,000 kcal/kg. Yet, improper waste segregation frequently results in low-quality feedstock and insufficient power production.
High prices: The price at which the States’ energy boards purchase electricity from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants is around Rs 3–4/unit, compared to the cost of producing power from garbage, which is around Rs 7-8/unit. Waste-to-energy projects may not be as appealing as other energy sources due to the high cost of energy generation.
Poor efficiency: These projects are inefficient because mixed garbage has a low calorific value, which limits the quantity of energy that can be produced. It may be difficult to generate enough electricity as a result for the project to be profitable.
Operational issues: These initiatives frequently face operational issues include inaccurate evaluations, unreasonable expectations, poor characterization studies, and other on-the-ground circumstances. Cities produce varying amounts of trash depending on the season, rainfall, and shifting populations, which can make it challenging to acquire a steady source of feedstock.
Environmental worries: These facilities may produce pollutants that are bad for the environment and people’s health, such particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. It is crucial to make sure that these plants are operating with the appropriate environmental controls in place.
The town must make sure that only non-biodegradable dry garbage is delivered to the plant and must separately manage the other types of waste in order to overcome these difficulties.
Public awareness: The success of the initiative depends on having the full backing of the municipality, the State, and the people.
Extensive fieldwork: It’s also important to carry out fieldwork and draw lessons from previous projects’ experiences.
Collaboration among all parties: To reduce the cost per unit of power, there should be a tripartite agreement between the municipality, the plant operator, and the power distribution company.
Source: The Hindu
Death by Hanging
GS Paper II
Context: The Centre has been requested by the Supreme Court to offer information that would indicate an alternative to the hanging mode of execution that is more honourable, less painful, and socially acceptable.
- A petition questioning the validity of the hanging method of execution is being heard by the Supreme Court.
- According to the petition, there is a need to develop a “humane, swift, and respectable alternative” to hanging because the United States’ lethal injection method is “brutal and barbarous” in comparison.
Quest for painless execution:
- According to some literature, hanging is the closest thing to painless, Judge Narasimha observed.
- The Centre submitted an affidavit in favour of hanging in 2018, describing lethal injection and firing squad as “barbaric, brutal, and terrible” methods.
- For 110 years, the government compiled records on “botched-up” fatal injections administered to condemned criminals in the US.
Status of death penalty in India:
- A person who has been given the death penalty must “be hung by the neck till he is dead,” according to Section 354(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- The Air Force Act, 1950, The Army Act, 1950, and The Navy Act, 1957 all provide that executions in India must either be carried out by hanging the condemned person by the neck until death or by shooting them.
Why in news now?
- The court made it clear that it was not disputing the legitimacy of the death sentence, which had been decisively established in the Bachan Singh case and the Deena v. Union of India ruling, both of which were reported in 1980.
- The government said that the method of execution is a “matter of legislative policy” and that the death sentence is only applied in extremely rare circumstances. Between 2012 and 2015, there were just three executions.
Debate over Death Penalty:
Arguments in favor:
- Life forfeiture: Those who support the death sentence hold the view that because they have killed someone, they have also given up their own right to live.
- It is a reasonable form of retaliation, expressing and reiterating the moral outrage of the victim’s family members as well as of law-abiding individuals in general.
- The highest form of justice is death sentences since no other penalty would have been able to break the will of the prisoners in the case of the Nirbhaya Gangrape.
- Capital punishment is sometimes defended by the claim that by putting convicted murderers to death, we would dissuade other individuals from committing murder.
- Punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence for which the guilty party is responsible.
- prevailing lawlessness: Simple penalties will not enough to combat the crimes we are now experiencing. Horrific assaults against women, young girls, Dalits, minority populations, etc. are on the rise.
- There is no crime prevention since some crimes in our society can never be stopped, despite the existence of strict legislation.
- Eye for an eye: Reformative justice is more productive, that innocent people are often slain in the pursuit for revenge, and that “an eye for an eye renders the whole world blind.
- The idea that the death sentence deters serious crimes is a fallacy, according to the statement Death punishment is not a deterrent to serious crimes.
- Authorities in certain nations, including Iran and Sudan, employ the death sentence as a tactic of political repression to punish political opponents.
- Respect for life principle: The death sentence is an unethical punishment since, regardless of the justification, murdering another person is still considered to be a murder.
- The stigma associated with murder has increased since lethal injection was adopted as an execution technique. Nowadays, many experts will not perform such demises.
- Justice systems that are skewed: Amnesty International has documented several instances of persons being killed after being found guilty following egregiously unjust trials, using evidence tainted by torture, and with insufficient legal counsel.
- Discriminatory nature: Those from less privileged socioeconomic origins or who identify as members of a racial, ethnic, or religious minority bear a disproportionate amount of the burden of the death sentence.
- Punishing the innocent: The possibility of carrying out the death sentence on an innocent person prevents its use. Such killings occurred often during our country’s colonial past.
Other issues with such executions:
- According to current data, India’s death row inmates tend to come from the lower social groups.
- The bulk of families of those on death row are in abject poverty, and the death row inmates are from underprivileged social strata and religious minorities.
- These people, who are economically and socially disadvantaged, are unable to afford high-priced legal counsel and adequate court representation.
- The legislation stipulates a protracted procedure before the inmates are actually put to death.
- An convict, a member of their family, or even a concerned citizen might submit a writ petition to have their death sentence commuted for an unjustified delay in execution.
- Long periods of uncertainty regarding their future are frequently tragically forced to bear during their tribulations.
- In its 262nd Report (August 2015), the Law Commission of India made the following recommendation: The death sentence should be abolished for all offences other than those connected to terrorism and engaging in hostilities.
- The government should move quickly to implement policies including police reform, witness protection programmes, and victim compensation plans.
- It seems that India should take steps to abolish the death sentence. Nonetheless, it is frequently argued that eliminating the death sentence for crimes connected to terrorism and fighting wars will have an impact on national security.
Source: Indian Express
Cancer Cases in India
GS Paper II
Context: By 2025, the number of cancer cases in India is expected to surpass 15 lakh, raising worries about the financial burden of costly cancer therapies and the availability of patient-accessible, inexpensive healthcare.
What is Cancer?
- A category of disorders known as cancer develop when body cells start to multiply and expand out of control, causing tumours to form.
- Usually, the body’s cells divide, develop, and die in an orderly manner. But, in cancer, this process is thrown off, resulting in the buildup of aberrant cells that might result in a mass or tumour.
- Cancer comes in a variety of forms and can attack any region of the body. Leukemia is one example of a disease that does not produce tumours but nonetheless involves the unchecked proliferation of aberrant cells.
- Depending on the cancer’s nature and location, symptoms might vary, but typical indications include unexplained weight loss, weariness, discomfort, changes in the skin, or the appearance of a lump or mass.
Economic Burden of Cancer Treatment:
Inaccessible and Increasing Costs:
- According to the NSS 2017–18 report, the average medical expense per hospitalised case for cancer treatment was 68,259 in metropolitan regions.
- Concern was raised in a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee over how expensive and unavailable cancer treatment is.
- The price of radiation cannot be regulated since it has not been designated as an essential service, unlike the price of anti-cancer medications.
- Covered under Insurance and Out-of-Pocket Costs.
- At the time of retirement, cancer frequently strikes, leaving survivors with rising debt.
- 14.1% of cancer patients spend more than 30 days in the hospital on average, which drives up costs.
Insurance Coverage and Out-of-Pocket Expenses:
- Low Insurance Penetration: According to the NSS 2017–18 study, more than 80% of medical expenditures are paid out-of-pocket.
- Limitations of Ayushman Bharat: The Committee noted that the 2018-launched Ayushman Bharat insurance programme does not cover numerous diagnostic tests, the most recent cancer treatments, or full prescriptions.
- State-Specific Insurance Programs: The Committee recommended combining State and Central programmes since certain State-specific insurance programmes have been very helpful.
State-wise variation in Cancer Treatment Expenditure:
The average medical cost per hospitalisation case for cancer treatment in public hospitals varies by state, with Tamil Nadu and Telangana having the lowest costs and northern and north-eastern India having the highest.
The increasing incidence of cancer cases in India highlights the need to address the financial burden of costly cancer treatments and provide patient access to quality, affordable healthcare. To guarantee that patients may obtain life-saving therapies without encountering overwhelming financial problems, it is crucial to integrate State and Central insurance systems, broaden insurance coverage, and investigate measures to manage treatment prices.
Source: India Express
Facts for Prelims
- CAR T-cell treatments employ a patient’s own cells, unlike chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which depend on commercially available injectable or oral medications.
- In order to target and combat cancer cells, a patient’s own T-cells, a kind of immune cell, are modified in a lab as part of the treatment.
- The genetically modified receptor that is introduced to the patient’s T cells is known as a “chimeric antigen receptor,” or CAR.
- T-cells from the patient are collected and genetically altered in a lab to express the CAR.
- Once more injected into the patient’s body, the altered T-cells may hunt down and eliminate cancer cells that express the CAR’s target antigen.
- The cells directly trigger the patient’s immune system against cancer, making the therapy more clinically successful and even more specific than targeted drugs.
- They are known as living drugs for this reason.
- CAR T-cell therapy has showed encouraging results in the treatment of leukaemia and lymphoma, two kinds of blood cancer.
- The Supreme Court of India’s benches are referred to as the constitution bench.
- A Constitution Bench may be established by the Chief Justice of India, who may also refer cases to it.
- When the following conditions apply, constitution benches are set up:
- Constitutional interpretation: According to Article 145(3), any issue “involving a serious question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution of India should be decided by a court consisting of at least five judges.
- When the President of India requests the Supreme Court’s opinion on a factual or legal issue pursuant to Article 143 of the Constitution. The Constitution’s Article 143 grants the SC advisory jurisdiction. According to the Article, the President has the authority to ask the Supreme Court any issues he determines to be crucial for the general welfare.
- Conflicting Judgments: When two or more Supreme Court benches of three judges issue contradictory rulings on the same legal issue, a bigger bench must provide a clear explanation and interpretation of the law.
- The ad hoc Constitution benches are established when and when the aforementioned circumstances occur.
- Constitution benches have decided many of India’s best-known and most important Supreme Court cases, such as:
- K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (Preventive detention)
- Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (Basic structure doctrine) and
- Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (OBC reservations) etc.
IPCC Synthesis Report:
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compiles its prior assessment reports’ principal findings and policy recommendations into a summary report known as the IPCC Synthesis Report.
- It attempts to give decision-makers a succinct assessment of the state of our knowledge on climate change, its effects, and our options for mitigating and adapting to it.
- Representatives from the nations that make up the IPCC’s member organisations endorse the Synthesis Report before it is made public at the conclusion of each assessment cycle, which normally lasts six to seven years.
- Key highlights of the synthesis report:
- Climate extremes are increasing as a result of present levels of global warming, which are already causing increased heat-related mortality, decreased food and water security, and harm to ecosystems that are causing mass extinctions of species on land and in the ocean.
- High susceptibility In regions that are “extremely susceptible” to climate change, more than three billion people reside.
- Increased climate finance The developing world has the biggest climate financing deficits, but it also has the biggest opportunity.