3 December 2021 – Daily Current Affairs

FOUR PRONGED PLAN ON SRI LANKA CRISIS

Trincomalee oil farms, Indian investments to be speeded up, says Colombo

India and Sri Lanka agreed to a four¬pronged approach to discuss initiatives on food and energy security to help mitigate Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, during a two-day visit by Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa to New Delhi.

Four-pillar initiative

The decisions included a four-pillar initiative, comprising lines of credit for food, medicines and fuel purchases granted by India, a currency swap agreement to deal with Sri lanka’s balance of payment issues, an “early” modernisation project of the Trinco oil farms that India has been pursuing for several years, and a Sri Lankan commitment to facilitate Indian investments in various sectors.

“It was agreed that modalities to realise these objectives would be finalised early, within a mutually agreed timeline,” said a Sri Lankan High Commission statement issued at the end of the visit by Mr. Rajapaksa, who met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in an unusual “joint meeting” on Wednesday. It was also attended by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda and Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle. Mr. Jaishankar will meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday in Abu Dhabi when they will inaugurate the Indian Ocean Region Conference organised by the India Foundation.

Direct communication

“Ministers Sitharaman and Jaishankar agreed to open direct lines of communication and to be in direct and regular contact with each other to coordinate the initiative,” the statement said. Mr. Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda, also met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Thursday.

According to a statement by the Sri Lankan Finance Minister’s office, they discussed a “range of issues pertaining to mutual strategic interests”. However, the MEA and the Finance Ministry did not issue any statements on the outcome of the meetings in Delhi. India and Sri Lanka have had a number of differences on economic issues in the past two years, particularly over the perception that the Rajapaksa Government has favoured Chinese companies on projects that it expedites. Matters came to a head this year after President Gotabaya cancelled an MoU signed with India and Japan for the East Coast Terminal project. India protested the cancellation though it later agreed to the West Coast Terminal being developed by the Adani group.

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The Council has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis. The headquarters of the Council is in Geneva, Switzerland.

 The Council investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in United Nations member states, and addresses thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

The Council was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 to replace the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR), which had been strongly criticized for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members. The Council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the United Nations special procedures.

 The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.

MEMBERS

The Council consists of 47 members, elected yearly by the General Assembly for staggered three-year terms. Members are selected via the basis of equitable geographic rotation using the United Nations regional grouping system. Members are eligible for re-election for one additional term, after which they must relinquish their seat

 The seats are distributed along the following lines

 13 for the African Group
 13 for the Asia-Pacific Group
 6 for the Eastern European Group
 8 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
 7 for the Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

STOP NATO EXPANSION, RUSSIA TELLS U.S.

NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION- NATO

 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries, 2 North American countries, and 1 Asian country. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.

 NATO constitutes a system of collective security, whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. The NATO headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

 Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes. The combined military spending of all NATO members in 2020 constituted over 57% of the global nominal total. Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defence spending of at least 2% of their GDP by 2024.

HISTORY

on 4 march 1947, the treaty of dunkirk was signed by france and the united kingdom as a treaty of alliance and mutual assistance in the event of a possible attack by germany or the soviet union in the aftermath of world war ii. in 1948, this alliance was expanded to include the benelux countries, in the form of the western union, also referred to as the brussels treaty organization (bto), established by the treaty of brussels. talks for a new military alliance, which could also include north america, resulted in the signature of the north atlantic treaty on 4 april 1949 by the member states of the western union plus the united states, canada, portugal, italy, norway, denmark and Iceland.  Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks, after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF.

L&T AND RENEW SIGN GREEN HYDROGEN PACT

Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (L&T) and ReNew Power, a renewable energy company, have entered into an agreement to tap the emerging green hydrogen business in India. Under this pact, L&T and ReNew will jointly develop, own, execute and operate green hydrogen projects in India and nearby countries

WHAT IS GREEN HYDROGEN

 Green hydrogen is a clean fuel that allows renewable energy to be generated utilising electrolysis of water, using wind energy or solar energy

Jules Verne told us about green hydrogen more than 125 years ago in his novel The Mysterious Island: “What are they going to burn instead of coal?… Water. Water broken down into its elements by electricity will one day be used as fuel.”

However, we have not yet been able make what the author wrote about this type of renewable energy and the production of green hydrogen a reality. We currently use fossil fuels every day, both as part of our daily lives and in industrial development. A sustainable future, however, depends on whether we are able to achieve an energy transition by unreservedly committing to renewable energies and fuels such as green hydrogen.

 Governments and institutions around the world are committing to achieving carbon neutrality in just a few decades. The European Commission, for example, advocates a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. Green hydrogen will be key in achieving this goal. Europe sees hydrogen as a key fuel 5 | P a g e and the development of technology is a priority for the Commission. Green hydrogen has therefore become one of the keys to the NextGenEu recovery packages.

What is hydrogen and how do we get it?

Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the world. It is light, storable, dense in energy
and alone it does not generate direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases.

Today, we have various technologies that we can use to produce hydrogen, but not all of them are
sustainable. A colour code distinguishing between the four types of hydrogen has been created in
order to indicate the impact that they have and the emissions they generate:

Grey hydrogen: This is produced from fossil fuels and involves significant CO2 emissions.

Blue hydrogen :This is produced from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage technologies
and is less polluting than grey hydrogen. About three-quarters of the hydrogen produced today
comes from natural gas. Blue hydrogen could be an initial solution while the production and storage
capacity for green hydrogen is increased for industries such as the iron and steel industry. However,
blue hydrogen only reduces carbon emissions and does not eliminate them entirely.

Turquoise hydrogen: This is produced from natural gas using pyrolysis, but this process still
involves a fossil fuel and is therefore not free from carbon emissions.

Green hydrogen: This is produced using renewable energy, making it is the most suitable method for a totally sustainable energy transition. The most widely available option for producing green hydrogen is water electrolysis powered by renewable electricity. This process involves the decomposition of water (H2O) into the gases oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) using a continuous electric current that is passed through water with electrodes.

FROM GREY HYDROGEN TO GREEN HYDROGEN

around 5% of hydrogen is produced using electrolysis. Currently, hydrogen is primarily produced from natural gas and coal, which together account for the remaining 95 %. What’s more, grey hydrogen production emits around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and France combined.

Currently, only a small proportion of hydrogen is produced from renewable sources. The high cost of these renewable sources is one of the main reasons for this low level of production.

However, we are well placed at the moment to be optimistic about this situation: A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states that green hydrogen could be profitable in 2030. This is partly due to the ongoing gradual decline in solar and wind energy prices. This trend—a 40-80 % price decrease in the last decade—is expected to continue. In addition, IRENA estimates that the cost of hydrogen installations could decrease by 40 % in the short term, and by 80 % in the long term.

This future is closer than we think: The OCEANH2project, for example aims to design and validate Spain’s first offshore green hydrogen generation, storage and distribution plant. The project will offer modular, flexible and intelligent

optimisation adapted to new market trends based on offshore renewable electricity
generation, combining floating wind and photovoltaic technology

We have only just set out on the road to green hydrogen as an alternative to fossil
fuels. We expect this solution to be key in moving towards the goal of sustainable
development

BIRTHS AND RIGHTS

Laws on reproductive rights must recognise
differences in orientation, relationship choice

 A Bill that the government of the land intends to make law, cannot be exclusivist at the
very outset; and at least, with the time of passage, it is imperative that it loses its biases

 It cannot exclude certain categories of citizens from the benefits and rights that the law seeks to confer upon the people of the country. And, that is what the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020, that was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, has done, by excluding two categories — LGBTQIA+ and single men. Undoubtedly, the time has indeed come for such a Bill; for government intervention to regulate the field of fertility treatments, and by seeking to establish a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals in the segment, it will fill a vacuum.

The Bill has provisions to protect the rights of the donors, the commissioning couple and the children born out of ART, to grant and withdraw licences for clinics and banks depending on performance factors. It proposes to make it impossible for outlaws to operate within the system and profit from it, while exploiting patients. It also plans to put an end to illegal trafficking in embryos, and mistreatment of the poor coerced by their circumstances into donating eggs or sperm.

It is unfathomable that a Bill, so progressive by its very nature, would glaringly exclude members of the LGBTQIA+ community and single men. As citizens, these groups too have the right to exercise reproductive rights. The omission is particularly baffling considering that the legislation has made provisions for single women too, apart from a commissioning heterosexual couple.

 The Union Health Minister said that several recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee had been considered. Unfortunately, despite expert recommendations to include both categories, the Committee recommended ‘it would not be appropriate to allow live¬in couples and same sex couples to avail the facility of ART’ citing the best interest of the child born through ART. It also recorded that ‘given the Indian family structure and social milieu and norms, it will not be very easy to accept a child whose parents are together but not legally married’. While the law would do well to be cognisant of the sentiments of the people, its purpose is also to nudge retrograde social norms out of their freeze-frames towards broader acceptance of differences and preferences. Legislators have also pointed out that the Surrogacy Bill intrinsically connected with the ART Bill was 8 | P a g e pending in the Rajya Sabha, and that it would only be appropriate that both Bills be considered together before they are passed. The ball is now squarely in the court of the Upper House; legislators can still set right the omissions and introduce the spirit of justice in the letter of the law.

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