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Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

India Maldives Relations

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: The Maldives has recently become embroiled in diplomatic turmoil, prompting concerns about its relationship with India due to undiplomatic remarks, military positioning, and the cancellation of crucial agreements. Additionally, the Maldives has entered into new agreements with China, further complicating the geopolitical landscape.

Key Points Regarding India and Maldives Relations

Historical Ties: The diplomatic and political ties between India and the Maldives trace back to 1965 when the British relinquished control of the islands. Since the democratic transition in 2008, India has dedicated years to cultivating strong connections with various stakeholders in the Maldives, encompassing political, military, business, and civil society figures.

Significance of Maldives for India: Strategic Location: Situated to the south of India, the Maldives holds significant strategic importance in the Indian Ocean, serving as a gateway to the Arabian Sea and beyond. This positioning allows India to monitor maritime traffic and bolster regional security.

Cultural Link: India and the Maldives share a profound cultural and historical connection that spans centuries. Buddhism was the principal religion in the Maldivian islands until the first half of the 12th century, with evidence of Vajrayana Buddhism existing in ancient times.

Regional Stability: A stable and prosperous Maldives aligns with India's "Neighbourhood First" policy, contributing to the promotion of peace and security in the Indian Ocean region.

India's Significance for Maldives:

  • Essential Supplies: India plays a pivotal role as a supplier of everyday essentials, including rice, spices, fruits, vegetables, and medicines. Additionally, India contributes to Maldivian infrastructure development by providing materials like cement and rock boulders.
  • Education: India serves as the primary education provider for Maldivian students pursuing higher education in Indian institutions, offering scholarships to deserving students.
  • Disaster Assistance: India has consistently provided aid during crises, such as tsunamis and drinking water shortages. The support extended during the Covid-19 pandemic underscores India's role as a dependable partner.
  • Security Provider: India has a history of offering security assistance, intervening during a coup attempt in 1988 through Operation Cactus and conducting joint naval exercises for the protection of the Maldives. Notable joint exercises include "Ekuverin," "Dosti," and "Ekatha."
  • India's Dominance in Maldives Tourism: Indian tourists have become the primary source market for the Maldives since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2023, they constituted a significant 11.2% of total tourist arrivals, amounting to 18.42 lakh visitors.

Note: The Eight Degree Channel separates Indian Minicoy (part of Lakshadweep Islands) from the Maldives.

Major Challenges in India-Maldives Relations

India-Out Campaign: Recent years have seen a political campaign in the Maldives advocating an "India Out" platform, portraying Indian presence as a threat to Maldivian sovereignty. This includes demands for the withdrawal of Indian military personnel, with the current Maldivian President setting a deadline of March 15, 2024, for their withdrawal.

  • Tourism Strain: Diplomatic tensions have affected the tourism scenario in the Maldives, with disparaging comments about the Indian Prime Minister leading to a boycott Maldives trend on social media.
  • China’s Rising Influence: China's increasing visibility in the Maldives, strategically positioned near key shipping lanes and India, raises concerns for India and may contribute to a regional geopolitical contest.

Key Takeaways from Recent China-Maldives Deals:

  • Elevation of Bilateral Ties: China and the Maldives have elevated their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership, indicating a deepening relationship.

Key Agreements:

  • Belt and Road Initiative: Joint efforts to accelerate the Belt and Road Initiative, focusing on connectivity and infrastructure development.
  • Tourism Cooperation: Strengthening collaboration in the tourism sector, recognizing its significance to the Maldives' economy.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: Cooperation in disaster risk reduction, emphasizing joint efforts to address and mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
  • Blue Economy: Commitment to advancing cooperation in the blue economy, focusing on sustainable use of ocean resources.
  • Digital Economy: Efforts to enhance investments in the digital economy.
  • Economic Assistance: China has provided grant assistance to the Maldives, although the specific amount remains undisclosed. Bilateral trade in 2022 amounted to USD 451.29 million.

Conclusion

Swift actions by the Maldives government, such as suspending ministers, indicate an effort to manage the crisis. Regular diplomatic dialogue, cooperation on shared concerns, addressing grievances, and emphasizing the long-standing ties between the two nations can pave the way for a diplomatic resolution.


Reforming Organ Transplantation

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: The Delhi High Court has recently recommended an optimal timeframe of 6-8 weeks for completing organ transplant processes involving living donors. The court has directed the government to establish specific timelines for all stages of organ donation applications in accordance with The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (THOT) Act, 1994, and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014 (THOT Rules).

What Does the THOT Act, 1994 Say?

Overview:

  • The THOT Act, 1994, governs the transplantation of human organs and tissues in India, encompassing both deceased and living organ donations.

Regulations:

  • The law provides regulations for healthcare providers and hospitals involved in organ transplantation and prescribes penalties for any violations.

Organ Donors and Recipients:

  • Transplants can involve organs from deceased persons donated by their relatives or living donors who are known to the recipient.
  • Living donations are generally permitted from close relatives, such as parents, siblings, children, spouses, grandparents, and grandchildren.

Donations From Distant Relatives and Foreigners:

  • Altruistic donations from distant relatives, in-laws, or long-time friends are allowed after additional scrutiny to ensure there is no financial exchange.
  • Living donations from close relatives, whether Indians or foreigners, require documentation establishing their identities, family relationships, and photographic evidence.
  • Donors and recipients undergo interviews as part of the scrutiny process.

Donations from Unrelated Persons:

  • Donations from unrelated persons necessitate providing documents and photographic evidence demonstrating a long-term association or friendship with the recipient.
  • An external committee reviews these cases to prevent illegal dealings.

Fines and Punishments:

  • Engaging in organ transactions, whether paying for organs or supplying them for payment, initiating, negotiating, or advertising such arrangements, seeking individuals to supply organs, or assisting in preparing false documents can result in imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 crore.

Formation of NOTTO:

  • The National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a national-level organization established under the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family. Mandated by the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011, NOTTO functions as the apex center for All India activities, coordinating and networking for organ and tissue procurement and distribution, along with maintaining a registry for organ and tissue donation and transplantation in the country.

What Do the THOT Rules, 2014 Say?

Authorisation Committee:

  • Rule 7 of the 2014 Rules provides for the constitution of the Authorisation Committee and the nature of enquiry and evaluation conducted by it.
  • Rule 7(3) says the Committee must ensure there is no commercial transaction involved in cases where the donor and recipient are not near relatives.
  • Rule 7(5) says that if a recipient is in a critical condition and needs transplantation within a week, the hospital can be approached for an expedited evaluation.

Living Donor Transplantations:

  • For living donor transplantations, Rule 10 describes the application process, which requires joint applications by the donor and recipient.
  • Rule 21 requires the Committee to personally interview applicants and determine their eligibility to donate.

What is the Authorisation Committee?

About:

  • The Authorisation Committee oversees and approves organ transplant procedures involving donors and recipients who are not near relatives.
  • This approval is crucial, especially in cases where organs are donated for reasons of affection, attachment, or other special circumstances, to ensure ethical compliance and prevent illegal practices.

Composition:

  • Section 9(4) of the Act,1994 says the “composition of the Authorisation Committee shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government from time to time”.
  • State government and Union Territories “shall constitute one or more Authorisation Committee consisting of such members as may be nominated by the State Government and the Union Territories.”

Powers:

  • Under Section 9(5), the Committee is expected to conduct a thorough inquiry while reviewing applications for transplant approval.
  • A crucial aspect of the inquiry is to verify the authenticity of the donor and recipient, and ensure that the donation is not driven by commercial motives.

Role of Parliament:

  • Section 24 of the Act allows the Centre to make rules, subject to parliamentary approval, for carrying out the various purposes of the Act.
  • These can relate to the manner and conditions under which a donor may authorise the removal of their organs before death.
  • Also how a brain-stem death is to be certified, or the steps to be taken to preserve human organs removed from anyone, etc.

What was the High Court's Decision?

Formation of Authorisation Committees:

  • The Act mandates state governments/Union Territories to establish one or more authorisation committees, composed of nominated members. The high court stresses its necessity to uphold the integrity and effectiveness of organ transplantation protocols.

Timelines for Living Donor Transplantation Application:

  • The high court specifies that the timeline for processing living donor transplantation applications should not surpass a maximum of 10 days from the date of application. Verification of documents related to the domicile status of the recipient and donor must be completed within a maximum of 14 days. Any opportunity given to the donor or recipient to complete necessary documentation must adhere to the prescribed timeline under the Rules.

Scheduled Interviews and Family Meetings:

  • Interviews should be scheduled within two weeks after four to six weeks of receiving the application. The committee should conduct the interview, facilitate a family meeting, and convey the decision within this timeframe. The court emphasizes that the entire process, from submission to decision, should ideally be completed within six to eight weeks.

Recommendations to the Government:

  • The high court urges that the judgment be presented to the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with a call for the prescription of timelines for all steps in the consideration of organ donation applications, following consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the significance of the Maldives for India?
View Solution


Green Hydrogen: Enabling Measures Roadmap for Adoption in India

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Bain & Company, has recently unveiled a report titled "Green Hydrogen: Enabling Measures Roadmap for Adoption in India." The report underscores the imperative of reducing the production cost of Green Hydrogen to less than or equal to USD 2 per kg.

Key Report Highlights:

Growing Energy Demand in India:

  • India presently stands as the world's third-largest economy concerning energy requirements, with an anticipated 35% surge in energy demand by 2030. The energy import bill for India in 2022 reached USD 185 billion, a figure expected to rise if conventional energy methods continue to meet the escalating demand.

Green Hydrogen's Crucial Role:

  • Recognizing the significance of Green Hydrogen, the Indian government initiated the National Green Hydrogen Mission in 2022. This mission, supported by approximately USD 2.3 billion in incentive funding distributed from 2022 to 2030, aims to stimulate green hydrogen production and consumption as part of India's commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2070.

Current Status of Hydrogen Production in India:

  • Presently, India generates 6.5 million Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MMTPA) of hydrogen, primarily used in crude-oil refineries and fertilizer production. The predominant type is Gray Hydrogen, produced using Fossil Fuels, resulting in CO2 emissions. Shifting to Green Hydrogen necessitates a robust supply of Renewable Energy for the electrolysis process.

Challenges in Green Hydrogen Adoption:

  • Key challenges hindering the widespread adoption of green hydrogen in India include the cost associated with production and delivery on the supply side. On the demand side, the readiness of Indian industries to incorporate green hydrogen into traditional processes remains a crucial consideration. Currently, there is limited traction for green hydrogen in the country, with significant production expected to commence around 2027 and beyond.

What is the Blueprint proposed by the Report for the evolution of Green Hydrogen in India?

Reduce the Cost of Producing Green Hydrogen:

  • Green hydrogen today costs roughly USD 4–5/kg to produce in India, approximately double the production costs for grey hydrogen.
  • The majority of production costs for green hydrogen (50–70%) are driven by the need for round-the-clock (RTC) renewable electricity.

Green hydrogen needs to come down to a benchmark goal of USD 2/kg for a green energy ecosystem to develop in India. This can be done through:

  • Increasing direct subsidies for early adopters – for example, the USA has announced, under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a tax credit of up to USD 3/kg of hydrogen.
  • Supporting long capital investment cycles for technologies with long-term clarity on policies and incentives
  • Encouraging the development and testing of indigenous electrolyzer technology

Reduce Costs related to Green Hydrogen Conversion, Storage, and Transport:

  • Despite low production costs, infrastructure expenses (conversion facilities, storage, and transport) can significantly affect the overall cost of green hydrogen and its derivatives.
  • Minimizing the costs of establishing this infrastructure, will reduce delivery costs and increase offtake.
  • Essential interventions to achieve this are
  • In the short to medium term, developing green hydrogen production clusters where a collaborative environment for production and offtake occur in close proximity.
  • Investing in long-term infrastructure construction, including pipelines for transporting green hydrogen throughout the country.
  • For example, the European Union’s European Hydrogen Backbone programme aims to develop a pipeline network in the EU.

Support Industries that are most likely to Adopt Green Hydrogen:

  • Certain industries are better positioned than others to embrace green hydrogen consumption.
  • Incentives, subsidies, and other support mechanisms should target likely adopters to increase India’s domestic demand for green hydrogen.
  • Chief among these are existing grey hydrogen users. Stakeholders can support domestic green energy demand among users of grey hydrogen by increasing direct subsidies.
  • This will reduce green hydrogen costs in the short term and encourage long-term demand for the new energy source.

Capitalize on India's Export Potential:

  • India has the potential to become a hub for green hydrogen derivative exports given its relatively low-cost renewable energy, skilled workforce, and abundance of land for renewable energy expansion.
  • Stakeholders can capitalize on India’s export potential by improving export infrastructure at ports.
  • Green hydrogen derivatives need to be converted at the production site or ports before they can be exported.
  • Export also requires storage and shipping facilities at port terminals.

Disincentivize Carbon-Intensive Energy Sources:

  • In addition to incentivizing green hydrogen adoption, India must also disincentivize carbon-intensive energy sources.
  • India can divert subsidies away from high-emission sources and redirect funds toward the green energy transition.
  • A comprehensive carbon-tax regime could help India meet rising energy demand, without compromising energy affordability for the population.

What is Green Hydrogen?

Overview:

  • Hydrogen, a pivotal industrial fuel, finds diverse applications in ammonia production (a crucial fertilizer), steel manufacturing, refineries, and electricity generation. Presently, the predominant type of hydrogen is termed 'black or brown,' deriving from coal-based production methods.

Hydrogen's Abundance and Transformation:

  • While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, pure elemental hydrogen is relatively scarce. Typically existing in compounds, such as water formed with oxygen, hydrogen undergoes electrolysis when an electric current is passed through water. This process splits water into elemental oxygen and hydrogen. When this electrolysis is powered by renewable energy sources like wind or solar, the resulting hydrogen is termed green hydrogen. The color-coded nomenclature signifies the electricity source used in the hydrogen production process; for instance, hydrogen produced using coal is labeled as brown hydrogen.

Importance of Green Hydrogen Production:

  • Hydrogen stands out as an exceptional energy source due to its high energy content per unit of weight, making it a common choice as rocket fuel. Green hydrogen, characterized by minimal emissions, is recognized as one of the cleanest energy sources. It finds applications in fuel cells for vehicles and energy-intensive sectors like fertilizer and steel production.

Global Embrace of Green Hydrogen:

  • Nations worldwide are actively developing green hydrogen capacity, driven by its potential to enhance energy security and contribute to substantial carbon emission reductions. The concept of green hydrogen has gained prominence on a global scale, particularly amid the current unprecedented energy crisis and the escalating reality of climate change.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the main objective of the National Green Hydrogen Mission initiated by the Indian government?
View Solution


India-Nepal Power Pact

Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context: India and Nepal have recently formalized a long-term agreement for power exports, marking a significant development in their bilateral relations. This agreement was solidified during the 7th meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission, underscoring the deepening ties between the two neighboring nations.

Key Highlights from the 7th Meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission:

  • Power Export Accord: Both India and Nepal have entered into a bilateral agreement aiming to export 10,000 MW of power over the next decade.
  • Inauguration of Cross-Border Transmission Lines: The meeting witnessed the joint inauguration of three cross-border transmission lines, namely the 132 kV Raxaul-Parwanipur, 132 kV Kushaha-Kataiya, and New Nautanwa-Mainahiya lines.
  • Cooperation in Renewable Energy: An important Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Nepal Electricity Authority and India's National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, focusing on collaboration in the realm of renewable energy.
  • Satellite Service Agreement: A Service Agreement for the Munal Satellite, developed by the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, was launched. This agreement involves collaboration between the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology and NewSpace India Limited. The Munal Satellite, crafted by Nepali students, is slated for a complimentary launch using an Indian rocket.

What are the Major Areas of Cooperation Between India and Nepal?

About:

  • India and Nepal, being immediate neighbors, enjoy special bonds of friendship and collaboration marked by an open border and strong people-to-people connections rooted in kinship and culture.
  • Nepal shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.
  • Economic Cooperation: India is Nepal's largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign investments, besides providing transit for almost the entire third country trade of Nepal.
  • India accounts for about two-third of Nepal’s merchandise trade and about one-third of trade in services.
  • Recently, India and Nepal agreed to review the Treaty of Transit and the Treaty of Trade, proposed amendments to existing agreements, strategies for enhancing investment, the harmonization of standards and the synchronized development of trade infrastructure.
  • Defense Cooperation: India has been aiding the modernization efforts of the Nepal Army through equipment supply and training provisions.
  • The joint military exercise, 'Surya Kiran,' at the battalion level, is conducted in both India and Nepal on a rotational basis.In 2023, it was held in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • The Embassy of India in Nepal, in collaboration with Lumbini Development Trust and Lumbini Buddhist University organized the inaugural India-Nepal Cultural Festival in Lumbini in December 2023.
  • The festival showcased the rich cultural heritage and traditions of India and Nepal, with a focus on Buddhism.
  • Water Sharing: The Koshi Agreement (1954, revised in 1966) and Gandak Agreement (1959, revised in 1964) were the initial significant agreements fostering India-Nepal cooperation in the water resources sector.
  • Another pivotal pact, the Mahakali Treaty (1996), ensures the fair utilization of Mahakali river, waters for both countries.
  • Connectivity: India is assisting Nepal by upgrading 10 roads in the Terai area, establishing cross-border rail links at Jogbani-Biratnagar and Jaynagar-Bardibas, and setting up Integrated Check Posts at key locations such as Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj.
  • Also, India exported about 2200 MUs of electricity to Nepal in 2021.

What Are the Key Challenges in India-Nepal Relations?

  • Boundary Dispute: The ongoing boundary dispute, particularly concerning the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh trijunction area in western Nepal and the Susta area in southern Nepal, has emerged as a significant source of tension in recent India-Nepal relations.
  • China's Growing Influence: Nepal has increasingly received financial and technical support from China in various sectors such as infrastructure, industrialization, human resources, health, education, and water resources. This expanding cooperation between Nepal and China raises concerns about Nepal's historical role as a buffer state between India and China.
  • Gorkhas' Involvement: The potential inclusion of Gorkhas, traditionally part of the Indian Army, in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is a looming concern. This shift may be prompted by apprehensions related to India's new Agniveer scheme.

The Way Forward:

  • Address Immediate Concerns: Prioritize the resolution of immediate concerns related to the Agniveer Scheme as a means to foster trust and goodwill between India and Nepal.
  • Joint Development Projects: Collaborate on joint projects aimed at benefiting border regions, thereby promoting a sense of shared development and cooperation.
  • Diplomatic Dialogue: Engage in sustained and open diplomatic discussions to address the ongoing boundary dispute and other contentious issues affecting bilateral relations.
  • Track-II Diplomacy: Promote Track-II diplomacy involving non-governmental entities, academics, and civil society to contribute to reshaping and strengthening India-Nepal cooperation.

The document Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What is the current status of India-Maldives relations?
Ans. The current status of India-Maldives relations is strong and friendly. The two countries have a long history of cooperation and collaboration in various sectors including defense, trade, tourism, and development assistance.
2. What are the key reforms proposed for organ transplantation in India?
Ans. The key reforms proposed for organ transplantation in India include streamlining the organ donation process, establishing a transparent and accountable system for organ allocation, strengthening the legal framework for organ transplantation, and promoting public awareness and education about organ donation.
3. What is the roadmap for the adoption of green hydrogen in India?
Ans. The roadmap for the adoption of green hydrogen in India includes enabling measures such as developing renewable energy capacity, establishing hydrogen production facilities, creating a regulatory framework for hydrogen use, incentivizing research and development in the hydrogen sector, and promoting international collaboration for technology transfer and knowledge sharing.
4. What does the India-Nepal power pact entail?
Ans. The India-Nepal power pact entails mutual cooperation between the two countries in the field of hydropower development. It includes the exchange of technical expertise, financial assistance, and sharing of electricity generated from hydropower projects. This pact aims to strengthen energy security and promote sustainable development in both countries.
5. What are the current affairs covered in the Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1?
Ans. The current affairs covered in the Weekly Current Affairs (15th to 21st January 2024) Part - 1 include significant events, developments, and news stories that occurred during that period. The specific details and topics covered in the current affairs article can vary, but they typically encompass national and international news, politics, economics, sports, science, and other relevant subjects.
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