Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)
- Operation Polo
- Sickle cell disease
- Facts for Prelims
1 . European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)
Context: The government will take all necessary steps to protect Indian industry from any adverse impact of the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) which mandates reporting of carbon emissions for certain exports to Europe from October 1, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal assured.
What is CBAM?
- The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism is a plan from the European Union (EU) to tax carbon-intensive products, such as iron and steel, cement, fertiliser, aluminium and electricity generation, from 2026.
- Its primary objective is to avert ‘carbon leakage’. It refers to a phenomenon where a EU manufacturer moves carbon-intensive production to countries outside the region with less stringent climate policies. In other words, replace EU-manufactured products with more carbon-intensive imports.
- The gradual introduction of the CBAM is aligned with the phase-out of the allocation of free allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to support the decarbonisation of EU industry.
- By confirming that a price has been paid for the embedded carbon emissions generated in the production of certain goods imported into the EU, the CBAM will ensure the carbon price of imports is equivalent to the carbon price of domestic production, and that the EU’s climate objectives are not undermined. The CBAM is designed to be compatible with WTO-rules.
- The CBAM will enter into force in its transitional phase as of 1 October 2023 and permanent system enters into force on 1 January 2026. It will initially apply to imports of certain goods and selected precursors whose production is carbon intensive and at most significant risk of carbon leakage: cement, iron and steel, aluminium, fertilisers, electricity and hydrogen.
- From 2026, once the CBAM is fully implemented, importers in the EU would have to buy carbon certificates corresponding to the payable carbon price of the import had the product been produced in the continent, under its carbon pricing rules.
- Conversely, if a non-EU producer is paying a price (or tax) for carbon used to produce the imported goods, back home or in some other country, the corresponding cost would be deducted for the EU importer.
- The Commission, in coordination with relevant authorities of the member states, would be responsible for reviewing and verifying declarations as well as managing the central platform for the sale of CBAM certificates.
- It will avert the possibility of carbon leakage alongside encouraging producers in non-EU countries to green their manufacturing processes. Moreover, it will ensure a level playing field between imports and EU products. This would also form part of the continent’s broader European Green Deal which endeavours to achieve 55% reduction in carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and become a climate neutral continent by 2050.
- The gradual introduction of the CBAM would be in parallel with the phasing out of the allocation of free allowances given out under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which was also aimed at supporting the decarbonisation of the region’s industries.
- The ETS had set a cap on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be released from industrial installations in certain sectors. Allowances were to be bought on the open decentralised ETS trading market; however, certain allowances were given out for free to prevent carbon leakage.
- Though effective in addressing the issue of leakage, the EU concluded it dampened the incentive to invest in greener production at home and abroad. This was because of the tendency to rely on free allowances to meet operational requirements and obligations. Thus, the idea to have an import-based tariff instead.
Implications for India
- The imposition of the CBAM is likely to affect a significant share of India’s exports to the EU. In fact, the UNCTAD forecasts that India will lose $1-1.7 billion in exports of energy-intensive products such as steel and aluminium.
- In addition to the quantum of the “carbon border tax” itself, the CBAM will increase compliance costs by requiring companies to monitor, calculate, report, and verify emissions.
- It constrains developing countries to either expedite their climate targets under the Paris Agreement or face a disadvantage in the EU market.
- The BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries have criticised an EU CBAM saying that it would be coercive and/or punitive, violating both the UNFCCC CBDR principle and the nationally determined spirit of the Paris Agreement.
- The CBAM may also be discriminatory under WTO rules as it differentiates between the like products coming from different countries solely based on their carbon footprint.
- It also poses the risk of creating a domino-effect, whereby carbon border measures may become commonplace, with countries such as Australia and the US already looking at such measures.
- Economy-wide impact of this would mean a slump in demand in not only these commodities but also others, via forward and backward linkages. Such a slump may severely affect the economic fortunes of the poorer countries despite their much lower per-capita emissions.
- This may also mean a trade diversion of exports from India as well as many other developing countries away from the EU towards other countries, resulting in an excess supply situation, thereby reducing the global prices of these commodities.
2 . Operation Polo
Context: Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Polo, the military action launched by the Indian Army on September 13, 1948, to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad. The Nizam of Hyderabad was dithering on joining India ever since Independence on August 15, 1947. The military offensive in Hyderabad state was termed as ‘Police Action’ at the time by the then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Nizam’s forces surrendered to the Indian Army by September 18.
What was the background against which Operation Polo was launched?
- The Nizam of Hyderabad state, Mir Osman Ali Shah, had the intention of keeping his state as an independent entity and did not join India or Pakistan after Independence.
- The Nizam took advantage of the fact that the Indian government got preoccupied with the Kashmir war soon after Independence and all focus and resources were diverted toward tackling the Pakistani threat to Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Nizam signed a standstill agreement with India in November 1947. This essentially meant that a status quo would be maintained between the Indian dominion and the Hyderabad state till a solution was found to the imbroglio.
- The agreement was signed for a period of one year during which the Indian government would not exercise any authority over Hyderabad and all conditions prevalent at the time of signing the agreement would continue.
Why was Operation Polo launched on September 13, 1948?
- Situated in the Deccan, Hyderabad was one of the most populous and richest states and had 17 districts including Aurangabad (now in Maharashtra) and Gulbarga (now in Karnataka).
- The landlocked state had a majority Hindu population with the state administration almost entirely run by its Muslim rulers. There was no common border with Pakistan but the Nizam had every intention to have fraternal relations with that country.
- The Nizam’s administration in Hyderabad had taken advantage of the standstill agreement signed with India and the lull which followed to increase the number of its irregular force called Razakars which was led by Maj Gen SA El Edroos, the Arab commander in chief of the Hyderabad state forces.
- The excesses of the Razakars on the predominantly Hindu population of the state, their belligerence along the state borders through cross-border raids, the overtures being made to Pakistan and the intention to establish an independent country in the heart of India were the reasons why the Indian government decided to act against Hyderabad and remove the threat of secession.
How were the Nizam’s forces placed vis-a-vis the Indian Army?
- Hyderabad state forces numbered little less than 25,000 and only a fraction was well-trained. By one estimate, there were not more than two brigades worth of opposition. There were a substantial number of Razakars in the state but these ill-trained volunteers were more of a nuisance than any particular military opposition.
- The Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Mir Laik Ali, had boasted that if the Indian Army acted against the state, then a force of 1,00,000 troops was ready to meet the challenge.
- In the end, this proved to be a hollow claim and the Hyderabad opposition to the Indian Army crumbled within the first two days of the offensive.
- The Indian forces were led by Maj Gen Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, the General Officer Commanding of 1 Armoured Division, who later went on to become the Chief of Army Staff.
When did Hyderabad forces surrender?
- The Nizam of Hyderabad announced a ceasefire on September 17. On September 18, Maj Gen Chaudhuri entered Hyderabad city with his forces and Maj Gen El Edroos surrendered to him.
- Maj Gen Chaudhuri was later appointed the Military Governor of Hyderabad.
- Havildar Bachhitar Singh of 2 Sikh was awarded the first Ashoka Chakra of Independent India posthumously for his role in Operation Polo. He laid down his life on September 13, 1948, while advancing to Naldurg, which is now in Maharashtra but at the time was part of Hyderabad state.
3 . Sickle cell Disease
Context- A plan to issue permanent disability certificates to those above the age of five with sickle-cell disease has been stuck in a quagmire at three Union Ministries for nearly three years. In a report tabled during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, a Standing Committee of Parliament urged the government to take a quick decision.
About the news
- The Health Ministry is responsible for determining the criteria and rules for disability certificates, while the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry issues the certificates, which are required for getting reservation and benefits of schemes.
- Given that sickle cell disease, a debilitating genetic blood disorder, is especially prevalent among tribal populations across India, the Tribal Affairs Ministry is keen on ensuring that the certificates are issued to patients with chronic anaemia, pain, and complications arising out of tissue and organ damage.
- The Union government has been publicising its campaign to “eradicate” SCD in India by 2047. But despite the chronic and progressive nature of their disease, patients are eligible only for disability certificates with a three-year validity.
- Asked about the status of the plan, Health Minister told that the current focus was on “detection”. A project is under way to screen seven crore tribal people in 17 States and Union Territories for SCD.
- Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda has been pushing for the issue of certificates. However, the Social Justice Ministry’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has said that the final call is with the Health Ministry, which is expected to put out its report on the issue in a month.
- When the disease was added to the list of disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, patients could only get disability certificates with a one-year validity.
- With complaints coming in from patients about the cumbersome procedure for renewal and experts saying that the disability only progresses among patients, the Tribal Affairs Ministry in 2020 initiated a dialogue with the department about the possibility of issuing permanent disability certificates.
What Is Sickle Cell Disease?
- Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affect hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the body.
- Normally, red blood cells are disc-shaped and flexible enough to move easily through the blood vessels. In sickle cell disease, red blood cells become crescent- or “sickle”-shaped due to a genetic mutation. These sickled red blood cells do not bend or move easily and can block blood flow to the rest of the body.
- Anemia. Sickle cells break apart easily and die. Red blood cells usually live for about 120 days before they need to be replaced. But sickle cells typically die in 10 to 20 days, leaving a shortage of red blood cells (anemia). Without enough red blood cells, the body can’t get enough oxygen and this causes fatigue.
- Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of extreme pain, called pain crises, are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia. Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen and joints.
- The pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few days. Some people have only a few pain crises a year. Others have a dozen or more a year. A severe pain crisis requires a hospital stay.
- Some adolescents and adults with sickle cell anemia also have chronic pain, which can result from bone and joint damage, ulcers, and other causes.
- Swelling of hands and feet. The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood circulation in the hands and feet.
- Frequent infections. Sickle cells can damage the spleen, increasing vulnerability to infections. Infants and children with sickle cell anemia commonly receive vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.
- Delayed growth or puberty. Red blood cells provide the body with the oxygen and nutrients needed for growth. A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.
- Vision problems. Tiny blood vessels that supply the eyes can become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images — and lead to vision problems.
Treatment and Diagnosis
- Treatments might include medications and blood transfusions.
- For some children and teenagers, a stem cell transplant might cure the disease.
- National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission:introduced in the Union Budget 2023, focuses on addressing the significant health challenges posed by sickle cell disease, particularly among tribal populations of the country.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) number is a 14 digit number that will uniquely identify you as a participant in India’s digital healthcare ecosystem.
- Benefits : Unique & Trustable Identity- Establish unique identity across different healthcare providers within the healthcare ecosystem.
- Unified Benefits- Link all healthcare benefits ranging from public health programmes to insurance schemes to your unique ABHA number
- Hassle-free Access- Avoid long lines for registration in healthcare facilities across the country.
- Easy PHR Sign Up- Seamless sign up for PHR (Personal Health Records) applications such as ABDM ABHA application for Health data sharing.