World Environment Day is celebrated on 5th June every year to encourage awareness and environmental protection.
On the Occasion, India launched ‘Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) Movement’.
WHAT ARE THE KEY HIGHLIGHTS ABOUT WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY?
The United Nations Assembly established World Environment Day in 1972, which was the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the human environment.
The celebration of world environment day every year is done according to a specific theme and slogan which addresses the major environmental concern of the time.
It is hosted by a different country each year.
For example, India hosted the 45th celebration of World Environment Day under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
World Environment Day celebration last year also kicked off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) which is a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the seas.
Theme for 2022:
It mirrors the theme of the first World Environment Day in 1973.
The idea promotes an environmentally conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful and deliberate utilisation’ instead of ‘mindless and wasteful consumption’.
With the launch of the Mission, the prevalent "use-and-dispose" economy-governed by mindless and destructive consumption-will be replaced by a circular economy, defined by conscious and deliberate consumption.
The Movement aims to utilise the power of collective action and nudge individuals across the world to undertake simple climate-friendly actions in their daily lives.
It also seeks to leverage the strength of social networks to influence social norms surrounding climate.
The Mission plans to create and nurture a global network of individuals, namely ‘Pro-Planet People’ (P3).
P3 will have a shared commitment to adopt and promote environmentally friendly lifestyles.
Through the P3 community, the Mission seeks to create an ecosystem that will reinforce and enable environmentally friendly behaviours to be self-sustainable.
WHAT HAS INDIA ACHIEVED IN CONSERVING THE ENVIRONMENT?
Increase in Forest Cover:
India’s forest cover is increasing and so is the population of lions, tigers, leopards, elephants and rhinos.
The total forest cover is 21.71% of the total geographical area in 2021, compared with 21.67% in 2019 and 21.54% in 2017.
The country’s installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity stands at 150.54 GW (solar: 48.55 GW, wind: 40.03 GW, Small hydro Power: 4.83, Bio-power: 10.62, Large Hydro: 46.51 GW) as on 30th Nov. 2021 while its nuclear energy based installed electricity capacity stands at 6.78 GW.
India has the 4th largest wind power capacity in the world.
Central banks across the World are trying to formulate policies to ensure that Inflation, in some advanced economies including the U.S., is cooled without triggering a Recession, since some of the experts are seeing Stagflation in the near future.
WHAT IS STAGFLATION?
Stagflation means a situation characterized by simultaneous increase in prices and stagnation of economic growth.
The term Stagflation was coined by Iain Macleod, a Conservative Party MP in the United Kingdom, in November 1965.
It is described as a situation in the economy where the growth rate slows down, the level of unemployment remains steadily high and yet the inflation or price level remains high at the same time.
It is Dangerous for the economy.
In a usually low growth situation, central banks and governments try to stimulate the economy through higher public spending and low interest rates to create demand.
These measures also tend to elevate prices and cause inflation. So, these tools cannot be adopted when inflation is already running high, which makes it difficult to break out of the low growth-high inflation trap.
On the one hand, the rise in oil prices constrained the productive capacity of most western economies that heavily depended on oil, thus hampering economic growth. On the other hand, the oil price spike also led to inflation and commodities became more costly.
For instance, in 1974, the oil prices went up by almost 70% and it leads to a consequent rise in inflation.
WHAT HAS SPARKED THE LATEST CONCERNS ABOUT STAGFLATION?
Covid-19 and Subsequent Fiscal and Monetary Measures:
While the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the curbs imposed to contain the spread of the virus caused the first major recent economic slowdown worldwide, the subsequent fiscal and Monetary Measures taken to address the downturn, including substantial increases in liquidity in most of the advanced economies, fuelled a sharp upsurge in inflation.
Russia- Ukraine Situation and Sanctions on Moscow:
While the Fed and the Bank of England are among central banks that have started raising interest rates to cool soaring prices, the ongoing war in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of its southern neighbour and the consequent Western sanctions on Moscow have caused a fresh and as yet hard-to-quantify ‘supply shock’.
With the prices of commodities ranging from oil and gas to foodgrains, edible oils and fertilizers all surging sharply in the wake of the conflict, authorities face an uphill battle to contain inflation that is now less a function of demand (and so can be controlled by regulating credit) and almost entirely caused by supply factors that are far harder to manage.
Policy support for a sustained and inclusive recovery may be needed for longer.
The focus is likely to be on the normalisation of prudential policies and the strengthening of insolvency frameworks and restructuring mechanisms, including for the overhang of public and private debt.
The Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Take off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India.
WHAT IS eVTOL AIRCRAFT?
An eVTOL aircraft is one that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.
Most eVTOLs also use what is called as distributed electric propulsion technology which means integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe.
In order to maximize efficiency, and to also ensure safety, there are multiple motors.
This is technology that has grown on account of successes in electric propulsion based on progress in motor, battery, fuel cell and electronic controller technologies and also fuelled by the need for new vehicle technology that ensures Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
Thus, eVTOL is one of the newer technologies and developments in the aerospace industry.
There are an estimated 250 eVTOL concepts or more being fine-tuned to bring alive the concept of UAM.
Some of these include the use of multi-rotors, fixed-wing and tilt-wing concepts backed by sensors, cameras and even radar. Here the key word here is “autonomous connectivity”.
Some of these are in various test phases and there are also others undergoing test flights so as to be certified for use.
In short, eVTOLs have been likened to a third wave in an aerial revolution.
The first being the advent of commercial flying and the second, the age of helicopters.
HOW ARE DEVELOPMENTS IN eVTOLs BEING MADE?
The roles eVTOLs adopt depends on battery technology and the limits of onboard electric power.
Power is required during the key phases of flight such as take off, landing and flight (especially in high wind conditions).
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) has a completion rate of 67.72%, whereas the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) scheme that started a year ahead is lagging behind with a 50% completion rate.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR DELAY IN BOTH THE SCHEMES?
The completion rate for houses sanctioned before the Covid-19 pandemic stood around 80%.
Poor Implementation by the states:
Six States account for 70% of the target units — West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Out of them only two States — Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — have a completion rate above the national average.
Bihar has one of the lowest completion rates.
Lack of clear titles and Documents:
In urban areas, issues such as a lack of clear titles and other land documents tend to crop up. This further slowed down the pace.
The same is true for rural areas as well.
Centre’s withholding funds in two States:
In West Bengal, there was an allegation that the current state govt was repackaging the scheme as the Bangla Awas Yojana.
Funds for Chhattisgarh were withheld because the State failed to provide its share of contribution for the scheme.
The Centre pays 60% and the States have to bear 40% of the cost.
WHAT IS PMAY-G SCHEME?
Launch: To achieve the objective of “Housing for All” by 2022, the erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) was restructured to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) w.e.f 1st April, 2016.
Ministry Involved: Ministry of Rural development.
Aim: To provide a pucca house with basic amenities to all rural families, who are homeless or living in kutcha or dilapidated houses by the end of March 2022.
To help rural people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) in construction of dwelling units and upgradation of existing unserviceable kutcha houses by providing assistance in the form of a full grant.
Beneficiaries: People belonging to SCs/STs, freed bonded labourers and non-SC/ST categories, widows or next-of-kin of defence personnel killed in action, ex servicemen and retired members of the paramilitary forces, disabled persons and minorities.
Selection of Beneficiaries: Through a three stage validation - Socio Economic Caste Census 2011, Gram Sabha, and geo-tagging.
Cost Sharing: The cost of unit assistance is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.
It was initiated with a target of completing 2.7 crore houses.
So far, according to the database maintained by the Union Rural Development Ministry, 1.8 crore houses have been constructed.
This is 67.72% of the target.
WHAT IS PMAY-U SCHEME?
25th June 2015, intends to provide housing for all in urban areas by year 2022.
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Addresses Urban housing shortage among the Urban Poor including the Slum Dwellers by ensuring a pucca house to eligible urban poor.
The Mission covers the entire urban area consisting of Statutory Towns, Notified Planning Areas, Development Authorities, Special Area Development Authorities, Industrial Development Authorities or any such authority under State legislation which is entrusted with the functions of urban planning & regulations.
All houses under PMAY(U) have basic amenities like toilet, water supply, electricity and kitchen.
The Mission promotes women empowerment by providing the ownership of houses in the name of female members or in joint name.
Preference is also given to differently abled persons, senior citizens, SCs, STs, OBCs, Minority, single women, transgender and other weaker & vulnerable sections of the society.
It was initiated with a target of constructing 1.2 crore homes.
According to the latest numbers from the Union Urban Development Ministry, only 60 lakh units have been completed to date.
Therefore, it reduces biting rates and malaria transfer.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
The first challenge is that it is still unclear how artificial lights might be used to lessen the risk of malaria infections.
Demonstration of the effects of artificial light in controlled laboratory settings is one thing, but rolling out their use as an effective vector control strategy is quite another.
Moreover, LED light can have negative impacts on human health like disrupted sleep.
WHAT IS MALARIA?
Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito borne blood disease caused by plasmodium parasites. It is predominantly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America as well as Asia.
The parasites spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
After entering the human body, parasites initially multiply within the liver cells and then attack the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) resulting in their rupture.
There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat.
Symptoms of malaria include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
It is preventable as well as curable.
Known by its lab initials as RTS, S but branded as Mosquirix, the vaccine has passed lengthy scientific trials that found it to be safe and reducing the risk of malaria by nearly 40%, the best recorded.
It was developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) company and approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015.
The RTS, S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite (Plasmodium (P.) falciparum, the deadliest species of the malaria parasite).
Although a decline in total no. of cases from about 81.1 cases per 1,000 population to 59 per 1,000 since 2000, the world has not yet won the war against Malaria.
Globally, around 240 million cases and 6,00,000 deaths were reported in 2020.
Africa carries the world’s largest disease burden for Malaria.
In Africa, 94% of global cases and 96% of global deaths have been recorded. It is alarming that children aged five or younger account for 80% of these deaths.
Though vaccines look promising, antimalarial drug resistance specifically in East Africa is rising.
Genetic mutations in the parasite enables them to escape routine diagnosis.
Increased resistance to insecticides has been evolving in the mosquitoes.
Need of the hour
This situation undermines the requirement for sharpening the vector control options, and exploring new strategies.
Impacts of artificial light use needs to be fully understood before thinking about the implementation strategy.
The growing body of work on this issue suggests that this definitely needs more attention from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant bodies.