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22 May 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Notes PDF

1. Climate change, a passing cloud in Indian politics

Topic: GS3 – Environment and Ecology – Environmental pollution and degradation
Context
The article highlights the conspicuous absence of climate change discourse in India’s recent general election, despite global environmental crises and calls for sustainable development.

It discusses the calculated omission of climate issues by major political parties, the challenges of integrating climate action into electoral platforms, and the urgent need for proactive policies amidst increasing public awareness.

 Introduction:

  • The recent Indian general election witnessed a notable absence of discourse on climate change from major political parties’ agendas.
  • Despite global environmental crises and calls for sustainable development, both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress largely ignored this critical issue.

Significance of Climate Change in National Policy:

  • Recent events, such as environmental activist Sonam Wangchuk’s concerns over ecological degradation in Ladakh, highlight the urgent need for robust climate action integrated into national policy frameworks.
  • However, the central government’s muted response to Wangchuk’s outcry underscores a larger political reluctance to address environmental issues in electoral platforms.

Calculated Omission in Electoral Rhetoric:

  • The absence of climate change discourse is not accidental but a calculated omission by major political parties.
  • Integrating serious climate action into their agendas would require acknowledging trade-offs between rapid industrial growth and environmental sustainability, potentially alienating powerful industrial constituencies.

Manifesto Analysis:

  • Two of the largest parties in India BJP and Congress manifestos lack detailed climate action plans, with vague mentions of environmental policies that lack specific, measurable commitments.
  • This reflects a broader trend in Indian politics prioritising short-term economic gains over long-term environmental sustainability.

Public Awareness and Demand for Action:

  • Educated middle-class voters, increasingly aware of global environmental issues, demand more than token mentions of sustainability in electoral discourse.
  • However, the silence on climate change sends a disheartening message to this demographic, capable of influencing policy through public opinion and voting power.

Challenges and Current Policies:

  • India’s vulnerability to climate impacts necessitates comprehensive climate strategies, but such policies may be unpopular due to short-term economic costs.
  • While India has various climate policies and laws, including the National Action Plan on Climate Change, the country lacks significant bottom-up demand for climate action.

Climate Action Tracker Assessment:

  • India’s climate policies and actions are rated “Highly Insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker, indicating the need for more ambitious measures.
  • However, certain initiatives like the Mumbai Climate Action Plan show promise in comprehensive climate policymaking at the local level.

Judicial Intervention and Climate Jurisprudence:

  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in M.K. Ranjitsinh vs Union of India recognizes citizens’ right to be free from adverse climate effects, marking the beginning of climate jurisprudence in India.

The Challenge Ahead:

  • Bridging the gap between electoral politics and climate policy requires a shift in political calculations, valuing long-term environmental and social gains over immediate economic benefits.
  • Media and civil society play crucial roles in driving a narrative that prioritises environmental sustainability in India’s development agenda.

Role of Electorate in 2024 General Election:

  • The 2024 general election presents an opportunity for informed Indian voters, especially the middle class, to demand proactive and committed climate action from political leaders.
  • Voters must prioritise policies promising sustainable growth and environmental security, ensuring that progress today does not compromise tomorrow’s security.

Conclusion:

  • As India stands at an electoral crossroads, choices made will impact the global fight against climate change and the future of sustainable development worldwide.
  • It’s imperative for political parties and the electorate to recognize the urgency of climate action and integrate it into national policy agendas for a sustainable future.
Absence of political discourse on climate change from major political parties’ agendas in India:
Reasons for Absence of Political Discourse on Climate Change:

  • Priority on Economic Growth: Political parties prioritise economic development over environmental concerns, viewing climate change as a secondary issue.
  • Lack of Public Awareness: Limited public awareness and understanding of climate change mitigate political pressure to address the issue.
  • Short-Term Focus: Political parties tend to focus on short-term electoral gains rather than long-term environmental sustainability.
  • Industry Influence: Pressure from powerful industrial lobbies may discourage political leaders from advocating for stringent climate policies.
  • Complexity of the Issue: Climate change is a complex and multifaceted issue, making it challenging for politicians to address effectively.

Challenges:

  • Policy Inertia: Resistance to change existing policies and reluctance to implement new climate initiatives hinder progress.
  • Resource Constraints: Limited financial resources and competing priorities pose challenges to funding climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  • International Commitments: Meeting international climate commitments while balancing domestic interests presents a challenge for political leaders.
  • Political Polarisation: Climate change often becomes politicised, leading to partisan divides and hindering bipartisan cooperation on solutions.

Way Forward:

  • Public Engagement: Increase public awareness and engagement on climate change through education, outreach, and media campaigns.
  • Policy Integration: Integrate climate considerations into broader policy agendas, such as economic development and energy security.
  • Stakeholder Collaboration: Foster collaboration among government, industry, civil society, and academia to develop and implement climate policies.
  • Incentive Mechanisms: Create incentives for businesses and individuals to adopt sustainable practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Capacity Building: Enhance institutional capacity and expertise on climate change within government agencies and regulatory bodies.
  • International Cooperation: Strengthen international partnerships and cooperation to address global climate challenges and fulfil international commitments.
  • Encourage Political Leadership: Encourage political leaders to prioritise climate action and incorporate climate goals into their electoral agendas.
  • Policy Innovation: Promote innovation in climate policy, including market-based mechanisms, technology solutions, and nature-based approaches.
  • Accountability Mechanisms: Establish mechanisms to hold political leaders accountable for climate commitments and progress toward emissions reduction targets.
PYQ:

Q.1 Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2020)

Q.2 ‘Climate Change’ is a global problem. How will India be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India be affected by climate change? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2017)

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of integrating climate change discourse into electoral politics in India. Evaluate the challenges faced by political parties in addressing environmental concerns and propose measures to enhance climate action within the electoral framework. (250 Words /15 marks)

2. Spotlighting pre-eclampsia, ensuring safe motherhood

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
Context
The article underscores the critical importance of perinatal care in safeguarding both mother and newborn, emphasising the prevalence of congenital anomalies and neurological challenges.

● It highlights preventable conditions like pre-eclampsia and advocates for early screening and comprehensive management strategies.

The Indian Radiological and Imaging Association’s “Samrakshan” program exemplifies dedicated efforts to extend safe motherhood initiatives across India.

 Introduction:

  • The importance of perinatal care in ensuring the well-being of both mother and newborn is underscored by the prevalence of congenital anomalies and neurological challenges in newborns.
  • Stakeholders across perinatal care, from obstetricians to frontline workers, share a collective responsibility in safeguarding maternal and neonatal health.

Addressing Preventable Conditions:

  • Preventable conditions such as prematurity, low birth weight, growth restriction, and pre-eclampsia significantly contribute to maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality globally.
  • Long-term complications of pre-eclampsia, including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health issues for both mother and baby, impose a substantial economic burden on healthcare systems.
What is pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, often the liver and kidneys.

● It usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can lead to serious complications for both the mother and baby if left untreated.

 Neglected Post-Partum Cardiovascular Health:

  • Postnatal cardiovascular assessment after delivery is a largely neglected area of research, despite its potential to improve long-term maternal health outcomes.
  • Emerging evidence suggests a significant increase in the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular mortality for mothers who experience pre-eclampsia.

Indian Context:

  • India, accounting for a quarter of the world’s adverse pregnancy outcomes, faces challenges in addressing perinatal health concerns.
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) statistics reveal high perinatal and neonatal mortality rates, with hypertensive disorders in pregnancy remaining a leading cause of maternal death.
  • Pre-eclampsia, characterised by hypertension and multiorgan dysfunction in the mother, requires early screening and management to mitigate adverse outcomes.

Screening and Management Strategies:

  • Screening for pre-eclampsia and foetal growth restriction in the first trimester, along with managing high-risk pregnancies, is essential for optimising maternal and foetal outcomes.
  • Combined screening methods, including maternal history, demographics, colour Doppler ultrasound, mean arterial pressure, and placental biomarkers, aid in identifying and managing high-risk pregnancies.

Comprehensive Care Approach:

  • Comprehensive care throughout all trimesters, with colour Doppler ultrasound as a cornerstone, is crucial for surveillance and early identification of pre-eclampsia.
  • Timely pharmacological interventions for the high-risk cohort in the first trimester play a vital role in managing pre-eclampsia and ensuring favourable outcomes.

Initiative by Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA):

  • The IRIA’s flagship program “Samrakshan” aims to extend safe motherhood initiatives across all districts of India.
  • With a pledge to reduce pre-eclampsia and foetal growth restriction rates by the turn of the decade, “Samrakshan” exemplifies dedication to mitigating risks faced by pregnant women and newborns.

Community Engagement and Leadership:

  • Community engagement and sustained leadership are essential in championing the cause of safe motherhood.
  • By spreading awareness and ensuring access to comprehensive perinatal care, every woman can have the opportunity to bring forth life with confidence and security.

Conclusion:

  • Prioritising perinatal care is imperative for ensuring safe motherhood and birth, particularly in addressing preventable conditions such as pre-eclampsia.
  • Collaborative efforts from stakeholders, along with initiatives like “Samrakshan,” demonstrate a commitment to mitigating risks and improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes in India.
Maternal Health Services in India:
Some important facts:

Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in India for 2020-22 is 97/100,000 live births.

● This marks a decline of 33 points from 2014-16 when the MMR was 130/100,000 live births.

● The decline translates to 8,580 additional mothers saved annually in 2020 compared to 2016.

● Total estimated annual maternal deaths decreased from 33,800 in 2016 to 25,220 deaths in 2020.

Pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19.

Issues with Maternal Health Services in India:

Access Barriers: Rural and marginalized communities face challenges in accessing maternal health services due to geographical remoteness, lack of transportation, and financial constraints.

Quality of Care: Disparities in the quality of maternal health services, including inadequate infrastructure, shortage of skilled healthcare providers, and insufficient medical supplies.

Awareness and Education: Limited awareness among pregnant women and their families about the importance of antenatal care, safe delivery practices, and postnatal care.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies contribute to poor maternal health outcomes, including maternal mortality and low birth weight.

Cultural and Social Factors: Sociocultural norms and practices influence maternal health-seeking behavior, including preferences for traditional birth attendants over skilled birth attendants.

Health System Weaknesses: Fragmented health systems, weak referral mechanisms, and inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems impede the delivery of comprehensive maternal health services.

Way Forward for Improving Maternal Health Services:

Universal Health Coverage: Ensure universal access to quality maternal health services, including antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and postnatal care.

Strengthened Health Infrastructure: Invest in upgrading health facilities, including maternal health centers, with essential equipment, medicines, and trained staff.

Community Engagement: Empower communities through education and awareness campaigns on maternal health, involving local leaders and stakeholders.

Nutritional Support: Provide nutrition education and supplementation to pregnant women to address maternal malnutrition and improve birth outcomes.

Skilled Birth Attendance: Train and deploy more skilled birth attendants, including midwives and nurses, especially in underserved areas.

Integrated Care: Integrate maternal health services with other healthcare programs, such as family planning and child health, to provide comprehensive care to women and newborns.

Quality Improvement: Implement quality assurance measures, including clinical audits and feedback mechanisms, to enhance the quality of maternal health services.

Monitoring and Evaluation: Strengthen health information systems for better monitoring of maternal health indicators and program performance at all levels.

Policy Support: Develop and implement evidence-based policies and guidelines to address gaps in maternal health service delivery and improve maternal health outcomes.

Steps taken by the Indian government in this regard:

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) provides free, comprehensive antenatal care on the 9th of every month.

● It aims to detect and follow up on high-risk pregnancies, reducing maternal deaths and the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR).

Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) offers free maternity services and emergency referral systems nationwide.

● Maternal death audits are conducted to improve governance and management of health services.

● These initiatives demonstrate the government’s commitment to enhancing maternal and child healthcare in India.

PYQ: In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of perinatal care in ensuring safe motherhood and birth in India. Evaluate the challenges in addressing preventable conditions like pre-eclampsia and propose measures to enhance screening and management strategies. (150 Words /10 marks)

3. The risks of Russia’s nuclear posturing

Topic: GS2 – International Relations
Context
● The article discusses Russia’s recent announcement of conducting drills simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons along the Ukraine border amid the ongoing conflict.

● It examines Russia’s nuclear posturing in response to perceived threats from countries aiding Ukraine and analyses the implications for nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation efforts globally.

 Introduction:

  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict enters its second year with no resolution in sight, marked by concerning escalations such as Russia’s announcement of drills simulating tactical nuclear weapon use.
  • This article examines Russia’s nuclear posturing in response to perceived threats and its implications for nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation efforts.

Russia’s Nuclear Posturing:

  • Russia’s announcement of drills simulating nuclear weapon use along the Ukraine border follows its plan to station nuclear weapons in Belarus, indicating a worrying escalation.
  • Russia cites statements by leaders from countries aiding Ukraine, such as France and the UK, as justification for its nuclear posturing.

Brinkmanship vs. Existential Threats:

  • Russia’s nuclear plans appear to be more about brinkmanship and coercion than genuine responses to existential threats.
  • Statements by leaders like Macron and Cameron do not constitute existential threats that would justify Russia’s nuclear actions.

Shift in Nuclear Deterrence Logic:

  • Traditionally, nuclear deterrence relied on the principle of mutually assured destruction (MAD), with nuclear use reserved for existential threats.
  • Russia’s consideration of nuclear use at lower levels of conflict challenges this logic and redraws nuclear red lines.

Dangerous Precedent and Nuclear Instability:

  • Russia’s nuclear threats set a dangerous precedent, encouraging other states to openly brandish nuclear weapons as coercive tactics.
  • This may lead to nuclear proliferation anxieties among smaller states and undermine global efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament.

Implications for Non-Proliferation Efforts:

  • Russia’s actions threaten to undermine efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament, exposing the vulnerability of non-nuclear states.
  • Ukraine’s decision to relinquish its nuclear arsenal now appears ill-advised, potentially prompting other states to pursue nuclear weapons for deterrence.

New Nuclear Flash Point:

  • The unfolding dynamics create a new nuclear flashpoint, altering understandings of nuclear deterrence and exacerbating proliferation anxieties.
  • Nuclear weapons provide asymmetric advantages in conventional warfare, increasing the risk of further nuclear instability worldwide.

Conclusion:

  • Russia’s nuclear posturing in the Ukraine conflict signals a dangerous shift in nuclear deterrence logic and undermines non-proliferation efforts.
  • The risk of nuclear escalation heightens proliferation anxieties among smaller states and exacerbates nuclear instability globally.
  • Urgent diplomatic efforts are needed to de-escalate tensions and prevent further nuclear proliferation and instability.
PYQ: In what ways would the ongoing US-Iran Nuclear Pact Controversy affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to this situation? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2018)
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of Russia’s recent announcement of conducting drills simulating tactical nuclear weapon use along the Ukraine border for global nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation efforts. (150 Words /10 marks)

 

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