Editorial – 1
Title of the editorial: Hitting fossil fuel companies where it hurts
Written by: Sujatha Byravan – Sujatha Byravan is a scientist who studiestechnology, science and developmentpolicy.
Topic in syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation (GS-3)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about how divestment from fossil fuel companies can help environment conservation.
- Divestment: Divestment is the process by which money put into stocks and bonds of certain companies is withdrawn.
- Fossil fuels: Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, formed from the remains of dead plants and animals.
Introduction: One way to undermine activities connected with elite networks of the fossil fuel industry complex is to take aim at their finances.
What is the idea?
- Many committed people have been undertaking systematic organised drives for divestment from fossil
- Divestment is the process by which money put into stocks and bonds of certain companies is withdrawn. In this case, divestment has been directed against companies that extract, refine, sell and make profits from fossil fuels.
- The purpose is to restrict fossil fuel companies’ ability to function with no regard for their impact on climate change.
Can mere divestment serve such purposes?
- The ultimate collapse of apartheid in South Africa was due to hardship caused to the regime by the divestment movement.
- A committed campaign by various organisations has, over the last decade or more, systematically attacked equity, or investments, and loans, or credit, available to the fossil fuel industry.
- The campaign’s persistence is finally being noticed for its successes.
Who needs this strategy?
- Developed countries like USA need such kind of a campaign.
- Arguments for divestment do not apply to India at this time. The reason is that India’s contribution
to the stock of greenhouse gases is minimal.
- Even in terms of annual flows, the country’s contribution is less than two tonnes of CO2/capita.
Why India still needs to be cautious?
- The costs of production and storage of renewables are falling precipitously and we therefore need to be poised to make a just transition away from coal in the near future.
- This process will be complex and necessarily involve many sectors and activities including land restoration, local jobs, and timely transfer of storage technologies for renewable energy, apart from dealing with entrenched vested and political interests.
How our environment conservation efforts are becoming futile? & bank plays major role in this?
- According to the 2020 report Banking on Climate Change by the Rainforest Action Network, after
the Paris Agreement of 2015, where countries agreed to try to limit average global warming to well
below 2oC, global banks continued to finance the fossil fuel industry with $2.7 trillion.
- The main fossil fuel subsectors are oil from tar sands; Arctic oil and gas, for which financing has been increasing; fracked oil and gas; liquefied natural gas; mining of coal, for which financing is dominated by Chinese banks; and coal power financing, again led by Chinese banks.
- This demonstrates how misaligned the banking sector is with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Did this experiment become successful anywhere?
- Noteworthy institutions that have divested are: World Council of Churches, large pension funds from France and Australia, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, New York City, many U.K. universities, the University of California, and Columbia University.
- As of 2019, it is estimated that more than $11 trillion in assets has been committed to divestment
from fossil fuels.
- Goldman Sachs (a bank) announced that it would, among other things, no longer finance new oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and also not provide capital for some of the worst kinds of coal
mines, such as mountaintop mining.
- These efforts are having an effect is seen in the US. Some companies going bankrupt state that the divestment movement is making it difficult to raise capital. Shell, for instance, considers the movement a “material risk”.
Way forward: When banks and investors begin to shift away from fossil fuel companies because they become
risky business, then the campaign must be having an effect.
Editorial – 2
Title of the editorial: Academia and the free will
Written by: Jos Chathukulam – Jos Chathukulam is the director of Centre for RuralManagement (CRM), Kottayam
Topic in syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about the issue of lack of academic freedom in India.
- International Academic Freedom Index (AFI) uses eight components to evaluate the scores:
- freedom to research and teach,
- freedom of academic exchange and dissemination,
- institutional autonomy, campus integrity,
- freedom of academic and cultural expression,
- constitutional protection of academic freedom,
- international legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
- existence of universities.
- India announced its National Education Policy (NEP) on July 29 this year.
- The policy aims at overhauling the educational system in the country and making “India a global knowledge superpower”, with a new system that is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal4 (SDG 4).
- It also emphasises universal access to schools for all children, raising the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), and ending the spiralling dropout rate in India.
What is the problem?
- The real problem plaguing the educational system in the country and the higher education system, the erosion of academic.
- India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI) with a score of 0.352, which is closely followed by Saudi Arabia (0.278) and Libya (0.238).
- In the last five years, the AFI of India has dipped by 0.1 points.
Where does India is failing?
Following are the parameters where India performed poor:
- The freedom of scholars to discuss politically and culturally controversial topics, without fearing for their life, studies or profession.
- Institutional autonomy
- Campus integrity
- Freedom of academic and cultural expression
- constitutional protection of academic freedom
What are the issues associated with academic freedom India?
- Most universities in the country are subjected to unsolicited interference from governments in both academic and non-academic issues.
- It is common knowledge by now that a majority of appointments, especially to top-ranking posts
like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have been highly politicised.
- Such political appointments not only choke academic and creative freedom, but also lead to corrupt practices, including those in licensing and accreditation, thus promoting unhealthy favouritism and nepotism in staff appointments and student admissions.
What is the concern?
- The AFI has cited the ‘Free to Think: Report of the Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project’, to suggest that the political tensions in India may have something to do with declining ‘academic freedom’.
- The police brutality against students at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and their being labelled as anti-nationals, has raised concerns about the state of academic freedom.
What are the claims of National education policy 2020?
- The NEP 2020 claims that it is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
- Policy states that faculty will be given the “freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework, including textbook and reading material selections, assignments and assessments”.
- It also suggests constituting a National Research Foundation (NRF), a merit based and peer reviewed research funding, which “will be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields”.
- the NEP 2020 aims to de-bureaucratise the education system by giving governance powers to academicians.
- It also talks about giving autonomy to higher education institutions by handing over their administration to a board comprising academicians.
- This may help de-bureaucratise the education system and reduce political interference
to an extent.
Title: The importance of Gilgit-Baltistan, and why Pakistan has given it provisional province status
Topic in syllabus: India and its neighbourhood- relations. (GS-2)
- On November 1, observed every year in Gilgit-Baltistan as “Independence Day”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that his government would give the region “provisional provincial status”.
- The region is claimed by India as part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu & Kashmir as it existed in 1947 at its accession to India.
Geographical location of Gilgit-Baltistan:
- Gilgit-Baltistan is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan, providing the country’s only territorial frontier, and thus a land route, with China, where it meets the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
- To G-B’s west is Afghanistan, to its south is Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and to the east J&K.
Why the region so important?
- The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has made the region vital for both countries.
- CPEC, the ambitious project of China is passes through this region.
History of G-B:
- On November 1 1947, after J&K ruler Hari Singh had signed the Instrument of Accession with India, and the Indian Army had landed in the Valley to drive out tribal invaders from Pakistan, there was a rebellion against Hari Singh in Gilgit.
- A small force raised by the British to guard Gilgit, ostensibly on behalf of the Kashmir ruler
- Gilgit had been leased to the British by Hari Singh in 1935. The British returned it in August 1947.
- Hari Singh sent his representative, Brigadier Ghansar Singh, as Governor, and Brown to take charge of the Gilgit Scouts.
- But after taking protective custody of the Governor on November 1, Brown would raise the Pakistani flag at his headquarters. Later the Gilgit Scouts managed to bring Baltistan under their control.
- Pakistan did not accept G-B’s accession although it took administrative control of the territory.
- After India went to the UN and a series of resolutions were passed in the Security Council on the situation in Kashmir, Pakistan believed that neither G-B nor PoK should be annexed to Pakistan, as this could undermine the international case for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
- This is why it is only being called “provisional” provincial status.
Reason behind provisional provincial status now:
- The plan to grant G-B provincial status gathered speed over the last one year.
- While some commentary links it to CPEC and Chinese interest, others in Pakistan say the push might have well come from India’s reassertion of its claims after the August 5, 2019 reorgansiation of Jammu & Kashmir.
- The Dawn paper reported that the Pakistan Army is also interested, and that Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa discussed the matter with the political leadership.
What is the current status of the region?
- Though Pakistan, like India, links G-B’s fate to that of Kashmir, its administrative arrangements are different from those in PoK.
- While PoK has its own Constitution that sets out its powers and their limits vis-à-vis Pakistan, G-B has been ruled mostly by executive fiat. Until 2009, the region was simply called Northern Areas.
- It got its present name only with the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009 which replaced the Northern Areas Legislative Council with the Legislative Assembly.
- The Legislative Assembly is only a slight improvement. It has 24 directly elected members and nine nominated ones.
Is granting this status a step towards Pakistan accepting the LoC status quo?
- There is a realisation that it is impossible to change the map of both countries now.
- The merger of G-B with Pakistan is a move that could help both countries put the past behind and move forward on the Kashmir issue, sometime in the future.
What do the people in the region want?
- The people of G-B have been demanding for years that it be made a part of Pakistan, they do not have the same constitutional rights Pakistanis have.
- There is virtually no connect with India. Some have in the past demanded a merger with PoK, but the people of G-B have no real connect with Kashmir either. They belong to several non-Kashmiri ethnicities, and speak various languages, none of these Kashmiri.
- There is anger against Pakistan for unleashing extremist sectarian militant groups that target Shias, and for dictating over the use of their natural resources, but the predominant sentiment is that all this will improve once they are part of the Pakistani federation. There is a small movement for independence, but it has very little traction.