Indians were expected to experience the excitement of a bullet train trip in 2022, as India celebrates its 75th year of independence.
However, the railway minister recently said that the projected completion date for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project has been delayed some years—possibly to 2026. The project is entangled in legal fights and development delays.
Notably, by 2026, just a 50-kilometre segment between Surat and Bilimora in Gujarat—less than 10% of the whole 508-kilometre corridor—is scheduled to be operational. Pilot runs on this length would begin with the train travelling at a maximum speed of 300 kilometres per hour; far faster than any train now operating in India, but significantly slower than the worldwide standard for high-speed trains. This brings up the issue of whether India is really prepared for a network of high-speed rail links.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR)
The MAHSR corridor was initially proposed in 2013 during a visit to Japan by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Japan International Cooperation Agency commissioned research in 2014, and the report was delivered in July 2015. (JICA).
Additionally, the Japanese government agreed to support the project with low-interest loans. The project was authorised by the Union cabinet in December 2015. A memorandum of understanding was signed with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project began in 2017 and was slated to operate for the first time in 2022.
It is the world’s first and only certified bullet train. It will link Gujarat’s capital with Mumbai, India’s financial hub. It will traverse through three Maharashtra districts, eight Gujarat districts, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The project is being implemented by the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL). The NHSRCL has so far completed the final site survey and geotechnical research and secured all necessary regulatory approvals.
What further high-speed rail projects are being considered?
According to Mint, the Union budget for 2022-23 may announce the establishment of a high-speed rail link between New Delhi and Varanasi. A Mumbai-Nagpur corridor is also a possibility, depending on the financial situation.
The NHSRCL is now working on comprehensive project studies for at least five more corridors: Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Amritsar, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Chennai-Mysore, and Varanasi-Howrah.
Why is high-speed rail (HSR) projects critical for India?
Following the Metro rail projects, the bullet train is seen as a second transportation revolution.
The HSR has a multiplier impact on the economy. Since the first Shinkansen (literally ‘new main line’) opened in 1964 in Japan, high-speed trains have been an obvious technical, commercial, and popular success.
Indian Railways now maintains one of the world’s biggest rail networks, conveying more than 22 million people daily and moving more than 1.2 billion tonnes of freight annually.
Once completed, the high-speed rail network is projected to further stimulate India’s economic growth and serve as a catalyst for the creation of satellite cities.
According to a 2008 study conducted by the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Hamburg, cities connected to high-speed rail systems typically see an increase in their gross domestic product (GDP) of at least 2.7 percentage points when compared to cities without an HSR station. The disparity was justified by better market access.
The HSR corridor will travel across Thane creek in Mumbai, a protected wetland home to mangroves and a flamingo population. To prevent upsetting this environment, the train track will have to pass via a 21-kilometre tunnel, 7 kilometres of which will be underwater.
Similarly, for the first time in India, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology will be used in a railway project.
According to the International Association of Railways (UIC), high-speed rail is eight times as efficient as aircraft and four times as efficient as automobiles. Additionally, it will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an improvement in air quality.
The project is intended to generate a large number of jobs, promote economic activity, raise productivity, and improve mobility.
What are the MAHSR’s challenges?
The train company is having difficulty obtaining property in Maharashtra, particularly in the Palghar and Thane regions.
Palghar’s whole region is classified as scheduled and tribal land. Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 safeguards Adivasi access to land and resources. Whether for governmental or commercial purposes, land acquisition often needs prior community permission through the Gram Sabha.
Villagers are concerned about relocation and financial uncertainty. An estimated 14,884 families would lose land, and over 37,000 trees will be felled.
NHSRCL must also overcome severe engineering hurdles, notably in the corridor’s final stretch, which will approach Mumbai from under the sea.
What should be done in India to accomplish HSR projects?
The government must recognise that the Adivasi community’s water-forest-land assets are integral to their identity and culture. As a result, policymakers and administration should priorities systematic efforts toward sustainable development.
State governments should take an active role in the land purchase process inin order to expedite approvals.
The Central government should address the MAHSR’s constraints first before proposing any more bullet train projects. This will distract attention and resources, slowing down the process.
The government must advocate for HSR technology transfer. This is because the agreement makes no reference to technology transfer.
By facilitating mixed land use, tourism, and commercial prospects, the HSR projects will rejuvenate India’s smaller towns and cities. While India is prepared for bullet trains, land acquisition regulations and others are not. As a result, India must alter the policies that obstruct HSR development.
Nuclear Suppliers Group and India
What is the matter?
It makes little difference if India does not join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a term that refers to a group of nuclear suppliers.
The NSG convened for the first time in November 1975 in London. As a result, it is often referred to as the “London Club.”
It was developed in reaction to India’s first nuclear test, codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’, in 1974.
The NSG is a 48-member organisation. As observers, the European Commission and the Chair of the Zangger Committee are present.
It aims to govern international nuclear business.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released the NSG Guidelines in 1978. (IAEA).
It aims to prevent nuclear proliferation by enforcing export controls on materials, equipment, and technology capable of being used to construct nuclear weapons.
The objective is to guarantee that nuclear materials transferred for peaceful reasons are not diverted to the fabrication of nuclear weapons.
In 1992, the NSG issued another set of criteria governing the transfer of “dual-use” products.
A supplier should authorise a transfer only if he or she is confident that the transfer will not contribute to nuclear weapon proliferation.
Additionally, there are rigorous requirements for importing nations to restock resources to a third country.
Who is eligible to join the NSG?
The NSG is open to NPT signatories.
The NSG operates on a consensus basis, which means that any decision must be accepted by all member nations.
How strong is the argument for India’s membership?
India has been seeking membership in the NSG with member nations.
China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, and Austria all oppose India’s entrance, claiming that India has not ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons.
In the aftermath of the 2006 India-US civil nuclear pact, the US fought vigorously for an exemption for India, noting the country’s spotless record.
Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, among others, have since endorsed India’s membership request.
In 2008, the United States lobbied the NSG to lift its longstanding restriction on civilian nuclear technology sales to India.
As a result, the NSG drafted “India-specific” requirements requiring India to open only its civilian nuclear reactors to the IAEA.
Members of the NSG decided to provide India with a “clean dispensation” from current regulations in return for a pledge to refrain from nuclear trading with non-NPT states.
Is India’s participation in the NSG necessary?
Membership in the NSG is only symbolic. India aspires to a seat at the top table, but that is all. It signifies nothing in practice.
The US provided a one-time waiver; However, the United States has not contributed a single megawatt of nuclear power to India.
India constructed just two units of the Kudankulam power plant with foreign assistance and fuel, and these units have no bearing on the one-time waiver.
Consultations with other foreign countries occur on a sporadic basis but swiftly fade away.
It seems as if there is no chance for the exotic flora.
Apart from environmental and liability concerns, such factories have essentially priced themselves out of the market.
Only the ten pressurised heavy water facilities of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (700 MW apiece) have a decent chance of coming operational.
Ethics | Paper – IV
Hedonism is a school of philosophy that maintains that the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain are the only components of happiness.
Ethical hedonism is a perspective that blends hedonism with welfarist ethics, arguing that what we should do is solely determined by what influences people’ well-being.
A continual pursuit of pleasure and happiness is an example of hedonism.
Code of Conduct:
A code of conduct is a collection of rules describing an individual’s or organization’s standards, rules, and duties or right procedures.
A corporate code of conduct is a collection of regulations that are often developed for the benefit of a company’s workers. It serves to safeguard the firm and educates employees about the company’s expectations.