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1.India-Economic-Summit (The Hindu, WEF)

2.Coal-fired projections (The Hindu)

3.A learning crisis in the developing world (Live Mint)

1.India-Economic-Summit (The Hindu, WEF)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of India Economic Summit 2017. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The World Economic Forum is holding its 33rd India Economic Summit in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on 4-6 October in New Delhi. The summit will host 650 leaders from 35 countries, including 370 business leaders, 20 senior public figures and leading representatives of civil society, arts and culture, science and academia.

Indian Economic Summit

  • World Economic Forum’s 33rd India Economic Summit has theme of the conference is ‘Creating Indian Narratives on Global Challenges’. Leaders from various countries will allow Indian business, society and government leaders to interact and collaborate with peers from across the globe.
  • The climate change, India’s cultural renaissance, infrastructure, gender parity, tourism, education and skills are prominently featured in the programme. The recent economic reforms, including demonetization and the goods and services tax, will be addressed in a special plenary session.
  • With the first-ever Open Forum India, more than 35 live streamed sessions and over 130 journalists, the India Economic Summit offers unprecedented opportunities for the general public to follow the discussion and participate in the summit. The Open Forum India session, entitled My India @2022 will focus on the country’s unique window of opportunity to convert its demographic advantage into a dividend.
  • With two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion population are under the age of 35, the session explores how the country can create a future to which young people can aspire. Open Forum India was organized in partnership with the Department of Management Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi).
  • Sixteen of the world’s leading social enterprises will be represented at the India Economic Summit, filling critical niches in healthcare, education, human and labour rights, water and sanitation. The World Economic Forum is also committed to giving a voice to the next generation of leaders and has invited a record number of 51 Global Shapers to the India Economic Summit.

Way ahead

  • India is facing key challenges in areas including agriculture, infrastructure, energy and environment, and production systems need to be overcome. This is an important moment for India, when it can ensure that its economic growth is more broad-based and socially inclusive.

 

2.Coal-fired projections (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of draft energy policy, how it fails to consider several critical issues. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Energy is acknowledged as a key input towards raising the standard of living of citizens of any country, as is evident from the correlation between per capita electricity consumption and Human Development Index (HDI). Accordingly, energy policies of India have over the years directly aimed to raise per capita energy and electricity consumption, even while the main focus of the country’s development agenda has been on eradication of poverty.
  • The National Energy Policy (NEP) aims to chart the way forward to meet the Government’s recent bold announcements in the energy domain. All the Census villages are planned to be electrified by 2018, and universal electrification is to be achieved, with 24x7electricity by 2022. But it has been mooted that draft National Energy Policy (DNEP) fails to consider several critical issues involved in the ongoing energy transition.

About draft National Energy Policy

  • The NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy (DNEP) predicts that between now and 2040, there will be a quantum leap in the uptake of renewable energy together with a drastic reduction in fossil fuel energy intensity. Because of economic and population growth, India’s annual per-capita electricity consumption is expected to triple, from 1075 kWh in 2015-16 to over 2900 kWh in 2040.
  • The NEP builds on the achievements of the earlier omnibus energy policy the Integrated Energy Policy (IEP), and sets the new agenda consistent with the redefined role of emerging developments in the energy world.

Assessment

  • The world is moving away from overwhelming dependence on fossil fuel, and within the fossil fuels, away from coal and oil in favour of gas. Against an 88% total share of fossil fuels globally in the primary energy mix in the year 2005, the same fell to 86% in the year 2015.
  • Despite the fact that existing coal plants are running at low efficiencies, the DNEP relies on coal power to sustain the nation’s base load requirement to meet rising energy demand. It proposes that coal will fuel 67% of India’s power generation in 2022.

Anomalies

  • While India claims it will make a big push for renewables, it will continue to rely on coal for its base-load generation. While renewables grow, coal power grows too. This duality is possible because India did not commit to any actual reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions at the Paris climate meeting in 2015.
  • The second anomaly is that even with this target; India will need only 741 million tonnes of coal in 2022 and 876 million tonnes in 2027. But the Ministry of Coal continues to push its ambitious targets to raise coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020, of which 500 million tonnes is expected to be produced by private coal mines and about 1 billion tonne by the public sector.
  • The DNEP does not say what would be the fate of new allottees of coal mines which have bid aggressively and won rights to mine coal for captive power generation. Generation of power is licence free under the Electricity Act of 2003, so private miners do not need any licence to set up generating plants. All they need is a connection to the grid. Since the grid is State-owned, the Central government has adequate leverage to defer or delay connections.
  • In the past three years, with slow industrial growth, independent coal producers have been faced with reduced demand for their power. Power plants, both public and private, have been running at merely 60% plant load capacity utilisation. Coal producers await respite and look to the ministries of coal and power for support.
  • The conventional power industry already suffers a high level of bank loan defaults, insolvency and other legal proceedings. It is not surprising that new energy investors are crowding the nascent solar space.

Its failure

  • The DNEP fails to highlight the gradual substitution of internal combustion engines with electric vehicles. For example several European nations have announced their plans to go for 100% electric vehicles in the next two decades. This transformation in the automobile sector could be accompanied by grid- and consumer-level electricity storage at homes, offices and factories. While storage and electric vehicles are cursorily mentioned, the DNEP does not focus on these crucial subjects.
  • The DNEP acknowledges that India’s oil consumption has grown 63% from 2005 to 2016 whereas refining capacity has grown only 15%. Gas consumption has increased 38% while production has actually fallen since 2012.
  • India’s energy security does require a large strategic storage of oil to take care of any vagaries in its international supply chain. India has been building up its stored reserves while international oil prices have dropped in the past couple of years. But the strategic storage of oil does not tackle the systemic causes of this high dependence on oil.
  • The peaking of India’s oil demand could have been envisaged but has not been identified in the DNEP. Though the draft policy recognises that by 2040, India’s oil import dependence may reach 55% from the current level of 33%, but it offers nothing to curtail such dependence. All that the DNEP offers is to promote use of public transportation and railways to reduce oil consumption. Unless electric transport is carefully planned, India’s dependence on imported oil is likely to continue.

Way ahead

  • There is need to examine the paradigm shifts occurring in storage and electric vehicles to promote new technologies in renewable energy, such as smart grids, smart homes, battery storage and concentrated solar heat and power.
  • A close coordination between generation and transmission will be needed, especially if India has to succeed in raising the share of renewable electricity yet higher by the terminal year of NEP 2040.

Question– Critically analyse the NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy, How it can address the need of India’s growing demand for energy.

3.A learning crisis in the developing world (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue on the failure to perform in the learning outcomes are economic and ethical crisis. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • There have been various findings which mentioned that unacceptably large number of Indian children are attending school but not learning enough. Now, research shows that this is not just an Indian problem but a global epidemic that threatens several low and middle-income countries across the globe.
  • According to the new estimates from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) about 617 million children or six out of every 10 children are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.

Assessment

  • According to UIS data, the numbers are the worst for sub-Saharan Africa where, about 88% of children are not able to read properly or do simple math by the time they finish middle school. South and central Asia comes a close second, with 81% of children in the region not learning the basic minimum.
  • In rural India, the latest edition of the “Annual State of Education Report” (ASER) shows that only 47.8% of class V students can read a class II-level text and only 43% of class VIII students can do class V-level arithmetic.
  • International assessments of literacy and numeracy have consistently shown that students from low-income countries perform worse than those from high-income countries. And this is not just about pitting the extremes. Even top performers from strong middle-income countries are ranked below their rich country peers, and are struggling to catch up.
  • The World Bank report points to Indonesia, which has significantly improved its performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) over the last 10-15 years and yet, at its 2003-15 rate, will still take another five decades to reach the developed world’s average score for mathematics and another seven decades for reading.
  • Though India has achieved near-universal enrolment and, globally, the gap between children attending school in developed and developing countries is closing. So, access to education has improved but the quality of education hasn’t.
  • Some countries have succeeded while others failed, because they have not effectively integrate some of the key elements. The World Bank lists four such elements students, teachers, school administration and school infrastructure.
  • Several studies have shown that investments can produce vastly different outcomes, depending on how the investment is utilized. For example, one assessment of Brazil’s One Laptop per Child scheme showed that more than 40% of teachers rarely used the devices in classrooms.

Way ahead

  • In its annual “World Development Report”, the World Bank describes that as not just a “learning crisis” but a “moral crisis” amplifying inequalities between and within nations.
  • A disproportionate focus on inputs, and inadequate attention towards outcomes, is one of the most important reasons why India’s right to education legislation has performed below potential.  According to the World Bank’s top recommendation for making education systems more effective there is need to shift our policy and practice, we can start with assessing outcomes. Assessing, measuring and benchmarking performance is the first step.

Question– The poor performance of India’s educational institutions on global rankings continues unabated. Explain the causes about India’s poor performance of students also explain how Indian education system can improve its learning outcomes.