Nepal has been an independent nation and it is India's extended family.
Nearly 7 million Nepal citizens live in India and about 6,00,000 Indian citizens are domiciled in Nepal.
The British used Nepal as a frontline and a buffer state.
But the independent states of India and Nepal changed all that when they signed the 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship' in 1950
It provided free movement to nationals of both countries beyond each other's geographical borders along with many other mutual benefits.
Most distressingly, however, there are voices in Nepal calling it an encroachment of its sovereignty and an unwelcome extension of Indian influence.
Prime Minister Oli asked the Chinese envoy to refrain from interfering in domestic affairs of Nepal and strengthening (nefarious) linkages with the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
A regular exchange of men and material between the Maoists in Nepal and Naxalite outfits in India was observed and Prachanda had come under the very close watch of Indian intelligence agencies actively supported by security systems of both countries.
General Naravane, in accordance with a well-established tradition, was conferred with the honorary rank of General of the Nepalese Army.
It is estimated that about 50 thousand Nepal nationals serve in 39 battalions of seven Gorkha regiments of the Gorkha Brigade in the Indian Army and paramilitary organisations.
Approximately 30 Gorkha Gentlemen Cadets graduate as officers from military academies every year.
During these difficult situations, only a sensitive perception and acknowledgement of each other's impediments can help.
Green over brown
Virtual Climate Ambition Summit – UN
India asserted - it is well on its way to not just fulfilling its national pledge on emissions reduction, but exceeding the commitment.
The performance, outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rests primarily on the estimated present reduction of emissions intensity by 21% over 2005 levels (the goal is between 33% and 35% of GDP by 2030), and the twin pillars of renewable energy and higher forest cover.
Indeed, the Emissions Gap Report 2020 of the UNEP includes India among nine G20 members who are on track to achieve their unconditional commitments under the Paris pact, based on pre-COVID-19 projections.
Significantly, the G20 bloc as a whole, responsible for 78% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), was not expected to meet its pledges, but some countries and the EU as a group announced higher ambition at the summit.
Modi took credit for expansion of forests, which, according to the national pledge under the Paris Agreement, will serve as a carbon sink of 2.5 bn to 3 bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
The Centre has questioned the veracity of State afforestation data and said only a fourth of the claims they made were deemed credible.
Clearly, without a cohesive policy on verifiable afforestation, the carbon sink approach may yield poor dividends, with questions hanging over the spending.
Transport-related emissions, which are a major component of the whole, have risen sharply in the unlock phase of the pandemic as people prefer personal vehicles, but the issue received little support from States which failed to reorder cities for cycling and pedestrianisation.
Large-scale agriculture insurance against climate disasters also needs attention.
In the year that remains before countries meet at the UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow in 2021, India needs to focus on future emissions and plan green investments that qualify for global climate funding.
For India to meet nationally determined contributions | ToI
India’s pledges for 2030 – called nationally determined contributions (NDC) – are achievable with a clear strategy.
A number of measures and schemes are underway; such as, renewable energy (REN) targets of 175 GW by 2022 and 450 GW by 2027, energy efficient appliances such as LED bulbs, star ratings of refrigerators, air conditioners, schemes for industries and power generators etc.
NDCs do involve the states as partners.
But for ambitious mitigation plans, they will have to further devise their own plans, suited to their own structure of emissions, state characteristics and development agenda.
In India fossil fuels, especially their mining and distribution, are under the Centre’s ambit; but key sectors for climate mitigation such as forests, land use, power, transport and agriculture are either state subjects or on concurrent list.
In addition, each state is different in terms of demographics, economic structure and level, resource endowments and available energy resources etc.
They may achieve much more by state specific pathways to achieve targets.
Typically, the shift to low carbon futures will involve reaching higher share of renewable energy, efficient fossil based power plants, reduced losses in transmission and distribution of power, electric vehicles, efficient public transport, efficient and less polluting vehicles, retiring old, polluting and expensive power plants, providing reliable power supply to reduce diesel generators or captive power plants.
States need to be supported with capacity building as well as national and international finance and technical assistance.
Some current regulatory measures such as fixed Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) for each category of REN separately, may involve tweaking some rules to offer flexibility.
For example, instead of fixed RPO for each REN – such as wind, solar, biomass – each state can achieve the total percentage from any renewable source as per its REN resource endowment, local expertise, energy demand and costs.
Create a mechanism for tradable NDC quotas among states so that those states which perform over and above their share of the required reduction, can sell the credits to those that are lagging behind because they are difficult or expensive in their states.
Some motivating incentives, such as tax benefits, technical and financial support and awards may help.
There needs to be a clearing house at the Centre, which can do hand holding, mobilise technical assistance, financial support and encourage knowledge sharing among states by sharing their experiences, best practice reports, holding webinars or group consultations.
States need to be on board to make the national vision a reality.
We will need full involvement of many more agencies pushing the envelope; be it states, cities, institutions, industries and all citizens.
India needs to rethink its nutrition agenda
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released data fact sheets for 22 States and Union Territories (UTs) based on the findings of Phase I of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5).
The 22 States/ UTs don’t include some major States such as Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
While the national picture will only be clear when the survey is completed and data are released for all the States and UTs, what we have so far paints a troubling picture in relation to nutrition outcomes.
Of the 22 States and UTs, there is an increase in the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition in 16 States/UTs (compared to NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-16).
Kerala and Karnataka are the only two big States among the six States and UTs where there is some decline.
The percentage of children under five who are underweight has also increased in 16 out of the 22 States/UTs.
Anaemia levels among children as well as adult women have increased in most of the States with a decline in anaemia among children being seen only in four States/UTs (all of them smaller ones — Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, and Meghalaya).
What is also a matter of concern is that most States/UTs also see an increase in overweight/obesity prevalence among children and adults, once again drawing attention to the inadequacy of diets in India both in terms of quality and quantity.
The data report an increase in childhood stunting (an indicator of chronic undernutrition and considered a sensitive indicator of overall well-being) in 13 of the 22 States/UTs compared to the data of NFHS-4.
Among the remaining nine States, five see an improvement of less than 1 percentage point (pp) in this five-year period.
Sikkim (7.3 pp), Manipur (5.5 pp), Bihar (5.4 pp) and Assam (1.1 pp) are the four States which see some improvement although even these are below the goals set by the government.
The World Health Organization calls stunting “a marker of inequalities in human development”.
Over the last three decades, there have been phases where India has experienced high rates of economic growth.
But this period has also seen increasing inequality, greater informalisation of the labour force, and reducing employment elasticities of growth.
Volunteers of the Right to Food campaign have listed over 100 starvation deaths based on media and/or verified fact-finding reports since 2015.
Field surveys such as the recent ‘Hunger Watch’ are already showing massive levels of food insecurity and decline in food consumption, especially among the poor and vulnerable households.
Overall, one of the main messages is that the basic determinants of malnutrition – household food security, access to basic health services and equitable gender relations – cannot be ignored any longer.
An employment-centred growth strategy which includes universal provision of basic services for education, health, food and social security is imperative.
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