1.Out of UNESCO (The Hindu)

2.Growth without industrialization (Live Mint)

1.Out of UNESCO (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the decision of US and Israel to come out of UNESCO. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Israeli Prime Minister mentioned that Jerusalem would follow Washington’s lead and withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; after U.S. President cited “anti-Israel bias” in announcing his administration’s move.
  • How the U.S.’s decision to quit UNESCO is an attempt to reassert geopolitical influence in West Asia?

About UNESCO

  • The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945.UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. It strengthens the ties between nations and societies, and mobilizes the wider public so that each child and citizen.

The decision

  • The US administration had prepared orders to halt U.S. funding to global institutions that advocate membership for the Palestine Authority. The Washington also blocked the appointment, at the eleventh hour, of a former Palestinian premier to serve in a senior UN position. These one-time decisions are doing nothing for the peace process.
  • Moreover the president has been forced to defer the controversial relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and push for a pause in Israeli settlements, even as he prevaricates on the two-state solution.
  • US withdrawal is, at best, a face-saver for President who has been unable to back his pre-election rhetoric on the Palestinian peace process with substance. According to the Israel, UNESCO has become a platform for delusional, anti-Israeli and in effect-anti-Semitic decisions.

The triangle- US, UN and Palestine

  • The UNESCO, which designates world heritage spots, accorded recognition in 2011 to Palestine as its 195th member. Ever since, controversies over the historical status of the region’s religious symbols, that have divided the Palestinian Authority and Israel, have come into sharp focus.
  • US has long opposed to the admission of Palestine to world bodies until the question of its UN membership was resolved, promptly slashed funding, amounting to about a quarter of UNESCO’s annual budget.
  • The 2012 elevation to a non-member observer status at the UN came as a shot in the arm for Palestinians demanding separate statehood. In the meanwhile, Arab nations vested in decision-making positions at the UNESCO have sought to fast-track the designation of holy sites as endangered heritage sites, alleging Israeli attacks on their authenticity and integrity. The agency comes with a declaration of the bitterly contested shrine in Hebron city as an endangered Palestinian heritage site. Hebron is under Palestine administration, the core of the shrine is surrounded by Israeli military guards.
  • Under a 2015 proposal, Arab members on the body’s executive aimed to classify the Western Wall, one of the holiest spots of Judaism, as part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. A potential escalation was averted only because the Director-General prevailed against any attempt to reopen the status of this UNESCO heritage location. Israel has denounced these moves and deplored the distortions of the Hebrew context to these sites.

Way ahead

  • Israel has followed the U.S. lead, it would nevertheless be hasty to view Washington’s exit from the UNESCO as a point of no return. As globalisation accentuates the need among communities to amplify historical and cultural identities, the challenge could only intensify further. 

Question As globalisation accentuates there is need among communities to amplify historical and cultural identities, elaborate in the context of US and Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO.

 

2.How many schemes does it take to light up a sky? (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of programmes to electrifying village. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • World over the economic growth is driven by energy, either in the form of finite resources such as coal, oil and gas or in renewable forms such as hydropower, wind, solar and biomass, or its converted form, electricity.
  • In India, the demand for electricity has always been more than the supply. The importance of electricity as a prime driver of growth is very well acknowledged and in order to boost the development of power system, the Indian government had launch the power for all scheme, ‘Saubhagya’ -which promises electrification of all households, which was presented India’s night-time light (NTL) satellite images for 2012 and 2016 released by the US space agency Nasa.

the night-time light (NTL) satellite images

  • The NTL images capture light resulting from human activity that is reflected to the outer space at night. In the absence of reliable and granular datasets, recent research indicates that NTL is a powerful tool for economists and a good proxy for urbanization, electricity consumption, and economic activity.
  • The Indian government as proof of ministry’s progress has shared the two images on social media, contrasting a relatively dark India in 2012, with a well-illuminated satellite image from 2016. But there is need to understand ground realities and ascribe changes in satellite data to policy developments, it is best to validate NTL with national accounts or household survey data.
  • For example one such attempt was made to track electrification in Vietnam using night-time lights, but it was found that electrified villages appear brighter in satellite imagery because of public lighting, and subsequently, brightness increases with the number of streetlights. 
  • Processed satellite NTL data registers a one-point increase in brightness for every 60–70 additional streetlights or 240–270 electrified homes. This implies one streetlight as captured by NTL is at least four times the weight of an electrified household from outer space.

Programmes

  • The Central government launched in 2015 had launched -the Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All (Ujala) programme, the world’s largest LED bulb distribution scheme to promote efficient lighting and reduce energy consumption.
  • Under Ujala’s street lighting component that aims to replace conventional street lights with LEDs, 50,000km of Indian roads have been illuminated till August. The nationwide push for Ujala is unprecedented this effort in other countries being the prerogative of local governments.
  • The most economical LEDs are whiter, brighter and richer in short-wavelength blue and green light. Though LED lighting is 2.5 times more luminous than conventional street lamps, it doesn’t get recorded in the 2012 and 2016 images because the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band, night-time sensor, that records these satellite images, is “blue-blind”, i.e. it is not sensitive to wavelengths shorter than 500 nanometres (blue and green spectrum). It serves as a caution to policymakers about the constraints of NTL data to reflect policy changes on the ground.
  • It is imperative to analyse the progress made by the other flagship programme of the power ministry, the village electrification programme. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) started in 2005 by the previous government. The later government rehashed RGGVY as the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) which was to electrify the last 18,000 dark villages. Saubhagya is a substantive step in the right direction. Although between 2012 and 2016, the village electrification schemes are unlikely to have added significantly to NTL.

Way ahead

  • There is a whole gamut of challenging areas in the power sector that India needs to address on priority in order to meet its growth targets. The ambitious household electrification scheme is indeed able to bring last-mile electricity connectivity in rural and urban areas by December 2018, the NTL images are bound to be significantly brighter in the coming years.

Question The current power infrastructure in India is not capable of providing sufficient and reliable power supply, critically analyse the government’s initiatives to address this problem.