There are more than 250 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations and more than 800 ambient air quality monitoring stations operating across the country.
The budget allocation for air pollution increased substantially in 2020-21 from what it was in 2018-19 to ensure cleaner air in cities having populations above one million.
The establishment of the Commission for Air Quality Management with penal provisions against polluters in the NCR and adjoining areas is a welcome move.
India has jumped from BSIV to BSVI vehicles.
There is an increased focus on e-mobility.
Through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, there has been an effort to reduce indoor air pollution in rural areas by increasing LPG coverage.
While these measures will have a major impact in the long term, India needs innovations to deliver on the promise of cleaner air in the immediate future.
The Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s PUSA Bio Decomposer, which turns crop residue into manure in 15-20 days, could become a cost-effective alternative to tackle stubble burning.
UNDP is also promoting startup-led innovations such as a filter-less retrofit device for cutting particulate matter at source in industries and vehicles, and a nature-based solution to amplify air purification through breathing roots technology for improving indoor air quality.
The GeoAI platform for brick kilns, developed by UNDP in partnership with the University of Nottingham, is supporting environment regulators to identify non-complaint brick kilns from space.
The platform has already mapped over 37,000 brick manufacturing units across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
It is important for it to develop a single window online platform for showcasing innovations with the potential to mitigate the challenges of air pollution.
There needs to be significant government support for enterprises to come up with scalable pollution abatement technologies.
Resources need to be allocated to support testing, certifying and scaling of innovative solutions and also to extend support for intellectual property rights protection.
It is equally important to mobilise private sector participation.
Towards Net Zero | ToI
There was a virtual climate summit organised last week by the UK, France and the UN on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement.
It took place against the backdrop of 126 countries either having formally enshrined or planning to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century.
Notably, China recommitted to a target of carbon neutrality by 2060.
What is often underestimated is the change in the economic dynamics of technologies that will help us transition to decarbonisation, or an economic system which lowers CO2 emissions.
India’s story on solar energy encapsulates the economic argument to switch to cleaner sources of power generation.
At the end of 2019-20, the solar capacity was 34.62 GW, of which 65% was set up in just the last three years.
Energy Transitions Commission - energy demand could be lower by up to 15% by 2050 without a compromise in living standards.
A lot of technological innovation is coming from the private sector
Governments have role in nudging
UNEP - global CO2 emissions this year will be 7% lower than 2019 on account of lockdowns
Net zero is an achievable goal.
Winter has set in Ladakh
The last round of talks between Corps Commanders – took place more than a month ago
There is no road map yet to a return to the status quo prior to May’s transgressions by China
MEA Jaishankar - acknowledged – India China relation is at the “most difficult phase” in the last 30 to 40 years
Mr. Jaishankar - the relationship had been “profoundly disturbed” this summer, and China had “literally brought tens of thousands of soldiers in full military preparation mode right to the LAC in Ladakh”.
The sharp exchange last week underlined the perilous state of relations and the long road ahead towards restoring normalcy, which, India has made clear, is predicated on peace on the border.
MEA - cautioned that full disengagement may not be an immediate prospect, drawing a parallel to the Sumdorong Chu crisis of 1986 that took nine years to resolve.
The slow-moving talks on the LAC - both sides are yet to schedule the next round
Peace on the border is what every other aspect of the relationship with China has rested on over the past three decades, from trade to growing links in new fields such as investment and education.
The lawsuits against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 46 U.S. States, the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam are a significant challenge to the dominant Internet empire that Mark Zuckerberg has built in such a short time.
The plaintiffs, working in close coordination, sued Facebook on Wednesday for its anti-competitive conduct, which they said harms users, advertisers, competition, and innovation.
It either buys potential competition or, if it cannot, cuts them off from accessing its large platform.
Facebook, which last year made a revenue of over $70 billion, right now has a market capitalisation that is just a shade under $800 billion.
Europe and the U.S., especially, have moved against these ‘Big Tech’ not just on anti-trust charges but also on cases involving violation of privacy.
There seems to be a growing realisation about the disproportionate clout that these technology platforms have in the global scheme of things, which they exploit to further their domination in the industry.
In fact, calls for the break-up of technology firms have been put forward by politicians in the U.S.
Internet monopolies are not a feature of just the developed world.
A sector that needs to be nursed back to health
Nurses and midwives will be central to achieving universal health coverage in India.
India’s nursing workforce is about two-thirds of its health workforce.
Its ratio of 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population is 43% less than the World Health Organisation norm; it needs 2.4 million nurses to meet the norm.
In addition to the low number of nurses, the sector is dogged by structural challenges that lead to poor quality of training, inequitable distribution, and non-standardised practices.
Nursing education in India has a wide array of certificate, diploma, and degree programmes for clinical and non-clinical nursing roles.
The Indian Nursing Council regulates nursing education through prescription, inspection, examination, and certification.
However, the induction requirements vary widely and so does the functioning of regulatory bodies in the States.
In addition, 91% of the nursing education institutions are private and weakly regulated.
The quality of training of nurses is diminished by the uneven and weak regulation.
The current nursing education is outdated and fails to cater to the practice needs.
The education, including re-training, is not linked to the roles and their career progression in the nursing practice.
There are insufficient postgraduate courses to develop skills in specialties, and address critical faculty shortages both in terms of quality and quantity.
These factors have led to gaps in skills and competencies, with no clear career trajectory for nurses.
Multiple entry points to the nursing courses and lack of integration of the diploma and degree courses diminish the quality of training.
A common entrance exam, a national licence exit exam for entry into practice, and periodic renewal of licence linked with continuing nursing education would significantly streamline and strengthen nursing education.
Transparent accreditation, benchmarking, and ranking of nursing institutions too would improve the quality.
Further, the faculty positions vacant in nursing college and schools are around 86% and 80%, respectively.
There is a lack of job differentiation between diploma, graduate, and postgraduate nurses regarding their pay, parity, and promotion.
The nursing practice remains largely unregulated in the country.
Nurses in India have no guidelines on the scope of their practice and have no prescribed standards of care. This may endanger patient safety.
First, the governance of nursing education and practice must be clarified and made current.
The Indian Nursing Council Act of 1947 must be amended to explicitly state clear norms for service and patient care, fix the nurse to patient ratio, staffing norms and salaries.
The jurisdictions of the Indian Nursing Council and the State nursing councils must be explained and coordinated so that they are synergistic.
The exodus of qualified nurses must be contained.
Incentives to pursue advanced degrees to match their qualification, clear career paths, opportunity for leadership roles, and improvements in the status of nursing as a profession will be key steps to do so.
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has recently formulated a framework for public-private partnership in medical education that could be referred to develop a model agreement for nursing education.
Hazardous ideas for the Himalayas
China announced that it is planning to build a major hydropower project as a part of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), on the Yarlung Zanbo River, in Mêdog County in Tibet.
The hydropower generation station is expected to provide 300 billion kWh of electricity annually.
The Chinese authorities say the project will help the country realise its goal of reaching a carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
As speculation about this news began floating around in Mêdog County, not far from Arunachal Pradesh, Indian counterparts were quick to reiterate their plans to dam the Himalayas on this side of the border.
India is reportedly considering a 10-GW hydropower project in an eastern State.
In this mad rush of one-upmanship, both countries ignore how unviable such ‘super’ dams projects are, given that they are being planned in an area that is geologically unstable.
There are two hydropower projects in the works in Arunachal Pradesh on the tributaries of the Brahmaputra: the 600 MW Kameng project on the Bichom and Tenga Rivers and the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectricity Project.
China has already completed 11 out of 55 projects that are planned for the Tibetan region.
The 1950 earthquake just south of the McMahon Line was of 8.6 magnitude.
It was the largest continental event ever recorded, and devastated Tibet and Assam.
The earthquake was felt over an extensive area comprising parts of India, Tibet, erstwhile East Pakistan and Myanmar.
The 2015 Gorkha earthquake of magnitude 7.8 in central Nepal resulted in huge losses in the hydropower sector.
Nepal lost about 20% of its hydropower capacity consequent to the earthquake.
About 30 projects with a capacity of 270 MW, mostly located along the steep river valleys, were damaged.
The cost of physical damage is calculated to be about $200 million.
Even without earthquakes, the steep slopes made of soft rocks are bound to slide due to deforestation and road-building.
Desilting of dams is not an economically viable proposition and is technologically challenging.
The Himalayan range is a transnational mountain chain and is the chief driver of the Asian climate.
It is a source for numerous Asian river systems and glaciers which are now under the threat of degradation and retreat due to global warming; these river systems provide water for billions of people.
In a recent article in Nature, Maharaj K. Pandit, a Himalayan ecologist, says in recent years, the Himalayas have seen the highest rate of deforestation and land use changes.
He suggests that the upper Himalayas should be converted into a nature reserve by an international agreement.
He also says the possibility of a Himalayan River Commission involving all the headwater and downstream countries needs to be explored.
Nation remembers supreme sacrifice of brave hearts who defended Parliament from terrorist attack in 2001 (13-Dec)
VP M. Venkaiah Naidu says, terrorism is a serious threat to democracy, individual freedom and global economic advancement
Over 55 per cent polling registered in the 6th phase of DDC polls in J&K
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar asserts that recent election results in different States show people's overwhelming faith in Prime Minister's leadership
National COVID-19 recovery rate mounts to 94.93 per cent
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleges opposition of double standards on farm sector
2 Pak terrorists gunned down, one associate arrested in joint operation launched by JKP, Army and CRPF at Poshana in Poonch
140 unscrupulous persons arrested in a nationwide drive against fake invoice frauds, so far
BJP President J P Nadda tests positive for COVID-19
PM Modi to lay foundation stones of several development projects in Kutch on 15th of this month
UNESCO to launch international prize in the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib
‘Swadhinata Sarak’ between Bangladesh and India will be opened on March 26 Next year- Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Momen
Bangladesh signs agreement with Serum Institute of India for procuring COVID-19 vaccine
CinemaSCOpe: India's diplomatic outreach to SCO countries