Daily Current Affairs 13.11.2022 ( MBBS in Hindi lost in transliteration?, Political parties in Karnataka bicker over ‘statue politics’ ,Tirupati’s megalithic burial sites in a state of neglect,‘We want G-20 heads to meet, solve issues’, India supports ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific region: Dhankhar, India to host ‘No Money For Terror’ conference, Commuters shun the fast Mumbai water taxis for the high ticket rate, Two sculptors cross swords over Netaji statue at India Gate, How has the EWS ruling altered reservations?, Why are talks on 1.5°C at a cliff edge at COP27? , ‘India can buy Russian oil outside price cap’ , ‘India to stay fastest growing big economy’)

Daily Current Affairs 13.11.2022 ( MBBS in Hindi lost in transliteration?, Political parties in Karnataka bicker over ‘statue politics’ ,Tirupati’s megalithic burial sites in a state of neglect,‘We want G-20 heads to meet, solve issues’, India supports ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific region: Dhankhar, India to host ‘No Money For Terror’ conference, Commuters shun the fast Mumbai water taxis for the high ticket rate, Two sculptors cross swords over Netaji statue at India Gate, How has the EWS ruling altered reservations?, Why are talks on 1.5°C at a cliff edge at COP27? , ‘India can buy Russian oil outside price cap’ , ‘India to stay fastest growing big economy’)


1. MBBS in Hindi lost in transliteration?

Doctors, students, hospitals raise concerns about viability of programme and employability of students from bilingual stream in Madhya Pradesh

Transliterated medical textbooks, bilingual classes without separate language-based batches or faculty, and the choice of taking exams in Hindi or English — these are the main features of the new MBBS course being offered in Hindi, with the first batch of students set to begin their classes in Madhya Pradesh this coming week.

However, a number of stakeholders in the medical community have questioned the long-term viability of the system, and the employability of doctors who have studied this primarily English language syllabus in transliteration. In the first phase, transliterated books in three subjects — anatomy, medical biochemistry and physiology — will be offered to students.

This means that the text will be in English language written in the Devanagiri script rather than translated into Hindi.

Madhya Pradesh is the first State to have issued these books and the first to offer the programme. “There will be no language-based segregation of students or faculty. Students studying in Hindi and English will share classroom and teachers,” said Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishvas Kailash Sarang.

2. Political parties in Karnataka bicker over ‘statue politics’

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the 108-foot statue of Kempe Gowda, apparently with an eye to woo the Vokkaliga community that has remained elusive to the saffron party, the ruling BJP and the Opposition Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress in Karnataka continued to bicker around the issue of “politicising” the image of the Bengaluru’s founder with an eye on the Assembly elections in 2023.

The JD(S), which enjoys the support of a significant section of the Vokkaliga community, continued to harp on party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda not being given his due as a former Prime Minister in the inaugural ceremony. Responding to claims by the JD(S) that Mr. Gowda was not invited properly for the event and this was an insult to Kannadigas, the BJP tweeted claiming he was indeed invited and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had personally called the senior leader and sent him a letter.

Releases letter

On Saturday, the JD(S) hit back releasing the letter of the Chief Minister to Mr. Gowda, dated November 10, 2022, the day before the event. “The Chief Minister called Mr. Gowda at 9 p.m. the day before and the letter reached the house past midnight. Moreover, the event’s invitation did not have his name,” the JD(S) tweeted.

Congress leader Siddaramaiah said he got a call from the Chief Minister on the eve of the event at 7 p.m. and his name did not figure in the invitation.

KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, from the Vokkaliga community, accused the BJP of playing “statue politics” for votes.

3. Tirupati’s megalithic burial sites in a state of neglect

Tirupati district is dotted with anthropomorphic burial sites, said to be the largest as a collection in Andhra Pradesh.

Anthropomorphic sites are those marked by a representation of human form above the megalithic burials. However, most of them are in a state of neglect, with neither the government nor the local residents caring to protect what could become a cherished heritage.

The most prominent one is the ‘pillared dolmen’ of the megalithic era, found at Mallayyagaripalle, nestling on a hillock between Chandragiri and Dornakambala, 20 km from Tirupati. The structure locally referred to as ‘Pandava Gullu’ or ‘Pandavula Banda’ in memory of the Pandavas, is estimated to be 2,500 years old.

Compared to other districts, the erstwhile combined Chittoor district [Tirupati district was carved out of it in April 2022] has an array of such structures, found almost in every mandal. “This could be an indication of the presence of people living in groups during the megalithic period (300–500 BC) in this region,” observes noted archaeologist Sivakumar Challa, who is associated with the Archaeology Research Group (ARG).

Multiple threats

The pillared dolmen with rock art beneath the capstone at Mallayyagaripalle came under threat owing to granite mining in the vicinity.

The site escaped damage by a whisker as villagers, supported by anthropologists, intervened and got the mining activity stopped. The Mines department is said to have granted licence for mining without verifying the importance of the site.

There is another endangered megalith monument in Palem village near Kallur, which resembles a bull’s horn. Called locally as ‘Devara Yeddhu’, the site has suffered repeated damage due to clandestine excavation by treasure hunters. Also, an electric post was fixed very close to the site, which is indicative of official apathy.

Yet another type of a megalithic burial site is the ‘stone circle’, where the tomb is surrounded by round stones arranged in a circle. One such site in Venkatapuram, 15 km east of Tirupati near Karakambadi, is damaged due to the installation of a mobile tower.

4. ‘We want G-20 heads to meet, solve issues’

While Indonesia is encouraging all G-20 leaders to meet and resolve issues at the upcoming summit in Bali, no information has yet been received on any plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Indonesian Ambassador to India, Ina Krisnamurthi, said on Satuday.

Speaking to the The Hindu on the eve of the summit, Ambassador Ina Krisnamurthi said that Indonesia and India have been working closely together on developing the G-20 agenda for the “Global South”. The G-20 forum of the world’s largest economies will be steered by emerging economies for the near future: Indonesia this year, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.

“At the summit level, we always want the leaders to meet, because the principle of hosting these events is to maintain dialogue, to maintain discussions in whatever format — trilateral or bilateral or multilateral. If there is no dialogue, then how can any issues between them be resolved,” said Ambassador Krisnamurthi.

On Sunday, all eyes will be on the meeting between U.S. President Joseph Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the Ambassador said that as host, Indonesia does not “intervene” to ensure any bilateral meetings take place, and had not been intimated about the possibility of any meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the G-20. Mr. Modi is due to arrive in Bali after an overnight travel from Delhi on Sunday, and will return to Delhi on Tuesday. During the summit, Mr. Modi will accept a handover from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as India assumes presidency of the G-20 process from December.

“On the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts. Prime Minister will also address and interact with the Indian community in Bali,” the Ministry of External Affairs had announced, though officials said the exact number of bilateral meetings was still under discussion.

Much of the interest surrounds any possible interaction between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi, given the continuing stand-off at the Line of Actual Control, and the fact that the two leaders have not spoken to each other in three years. Mr. Modi is expected to meet with Mr. Biden, and is likely to have pull-aside meetings with the newly appointed U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emannuel Macron, and Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who cancelled a visit to Delhi on Sunday due to scheduling issues. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed last week that he would not attend the G-20 summit, given the war in Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to address the grouping via video conference. The Presidents of Brazil and Mexico will also not attend the summit due to election processes in their countries, officials said.

Asked about the uncertainty over a joint communique being issued at the G-20 and threats of a boycott by western countries in case Mr. Putin was attending, Ms. Krisnamurthi said that Indonesia had “maintained its priorities even after the war in Ukraine”, which was to ensure that the G-20 grouping remains the “primary economic engagement”.

“Our focus is on post-pandemic economic recovery as well as the disruption of global value chains. We have maintained our priorities, even after the war in Ukraine, although many believe that we need to shift that focus, because Indonesia maintains its belief that the three priorities most relevant are the future of the world, the future of the earth, and the future of the Global South (emerging economies),” Ms. Krisnamurthi told.

5. India supports ASEAN-centrality in the Indo-Pacific region: Dhankhar

India supports ASEAN-centrality in the evolving regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar said at the 19th ASEAN-India summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia which is commemorating the 30th anniversary of the India-ASEAN dialogue.

During the summit, the delegations declared the establishment of the ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and reaffirmed the importance of “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the strategically important region.

“The cultural, economic and civilisational ties that have existed between India and Southeast Asia since time immemorial provided the strong foundation to build our partnership in modern times from a sectoral partnership in 1992 to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2022,” said Vice-President Dhankhar.

A Joint Statement issued on the occasion recognised the importance of “unimpeded lawful maritime commerce” saying that disputes should be resolved by following “universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Both sides also agreed to intensify maritime cooperation including anti-piracy operations, armed robbery against ships, maritime safety, search and rescue (SAR) operations, humanitarian assistance, and emergency response and relief.

Enhanced collaboration

Among other security measures, both sides announced plans to enhance collaboration against “terrorism and transnational crimes including international economic crimes and money laundering, cybercrime, drugs and human trafficking and arms smuggling.” “Military medicine” is also an area that drew attention during the deliberation.

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the space sector including “through the establishment of Tracking, Data reception and Processing Stations in Vietnam and Indonesia”. India and ASEAN agreed to expedite the review of the ASEAN-India Trade In Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to render it “trade-facilitative”.

As part of maintaining “ASEAN-centrality”, the two sides reaffirmed the importance of deepening dialogue and coordination through ASEAN-led mechanisms including the ASEAN-India Summit, the East Asia Summit, the Post-Ministerial Conference with India (PMC+1), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF).

6. India to host ‘No Money For Terror’ conference

The Ministry of Home Affairs will be organising the Third Ministerial ‘No Money For Terror’ conference next week where participants from around 75 countries are expected to attend.

The conference will be held in Delhi on November 18-19 after a gap of two years due to the travel restrictions imposed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement by the Ministry said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be participating in the conference and will convey India’s determination in its fight against terrorism as well as its support systems for achieving success against it.

Discussions at the conference will be focussed on global trends in terrorism and terrorist financing, use of formal and informal channels of funds for terrorism, emerging technologies, and requisite international co-operation to address related challenges.

7. Commuters shun the fast Mumbai water taxis for the high ticket rate

With round trips on one route priced as high as ₹800, commuters say cheaper, faster water transport modes are needed as alternatives to the congested land routes, but they don’t prefer using the water taxis often because of the exorbitant cost

Water taxis are a welcome addition to the modes of transport available in traffic-heavy Mumbai, but commuters find it unaffordable for daily travel. On February 17, a water taxi service was started covering three routes, all starting at Belapur.

The service to the Mumbai Domestic Cruise Terminal (DCT) costs ₹200 one way, while the one to Elephanta Caves costs ₹750 for a round trip. The service to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Transport (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai takes 35 minutes and costs ₹800 for a round trip.

“The Belapur to JNPT service is doing very well. Belapur to DCT — response is not coming as everyone wants to go to the Gateway of India. And Belapur to Elephanta is filling 80% capacity as it is full of tourists,” Infinity Harbour Service partner Gurpreet Bakshi said.

Residents of Navi Mumbai, however, say that they will not be using the service often. “I took the water taxi once to go to work and come back home, but I can’t afford to do it every day,” said advocate Vishwas Ingale, 36, who lives in Belapur and works in an office at Kala Ghoda. “It is definitely a stress-free experience when you compare it with the local trains. But it drops you off at Mazgaon, so I have to take a taxi or bus to reach my office at Churchgate, which ends up taking the same time I would take in the train. So it does not check both the boxes of affordability and saving time.”

Cecilia Rodriquez, 32, a chartered accountant who lives in Kharghar and works in Churchgate, said, “I will not use the water taxi for a regular journey. It is not as cost effective inspite of saving time. I would rather take the local train for a little over an hour. I will not mind taking it once a while.”

Another water taxi from the DCT to Mandwa in Raigad district started from November 1 with three fixed time slots. However, due to less footfall, there is only two round trips running from November 10, said Atul Kala, consultant with Nayantara Shipping Private Limited.

“We have done 60 round trips in 10 days with less than 10% people travelling in the water taxi. The passenger seating capacity is 200 and the price is ₹400 for the executive class and ₹450 for the business class,” he added.

Nitin Thakkar, 67, who runs an organic vegetable business and owns a two-acre plot of land in Mandwa, noted that there was already a ferry connecting the Gateway to Mandwa. He said, “I don’t see the point behind the water taxi as there already is a ferry running perfectly fine connecting the two places. It is affordable and takes almost the same time.”

Experts say that water taxis need to become a more affordable mode of mass transport.

“Water transport should be welcomed but it has to be affordable. It is not mass transport so it is not feasible for commuters. There does not seem to be any last-mile connectivity problem with any of the exit points,” said Neera Adarkar, an architect and urbanist.

8. Two sculptors cross swords over Netaji statue at India Gate

Spar over freedom hero: The statue of Subhas Chandra Bose being prepared for unveiling in this September photo.

After the lull imposed by the pandemic, Kartvyapath is attracting crowds all over again. One of the centres of attraction is the 28-foot-tall black granite statue of Subhas Chandra Bose placed under the canopy behind India Gate.

But, two artists are contesting over their share of contribution to the piece of art, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.

After sculptor Arun Yogiraj, through a series of social media posts on Friday, contested the claim of artist Naresh Kumawat that he designed the model of the statue, both artists produced their respective work orders allotted by the National Gallery of Modern Art. Mr. Kumawat, in an interview with The Hindu, published on November 11, had said that he created a model of the statue before a team of craftsmen carved it in stone.

Two work orders

While the NGMA officials agreed that work orders were issued to the two artists, they refused to go into the claims and counterclaims made by the artists.

NGMA Director Adwait Gandanayak chose to remain silent on the subject. “I will check with the office,” he said. With the NGMA not clearing the air, the dispute remains alive.

There is no dispute over Mr. Yogiraj leading the team of sculptors that carved the stone statue. The Hindu, in an article published on September 9, credited him with chiselling the statue.

Mr. Kumawat’s assertion all along has been that Mr. Yogiraj worked on the model designed by him. In a video interview to the news agency ANI, conducted around the time of the unveiling in September, Mr. Kumawat said that “he considered himself lucky that he got an opportunity to design the model of Netaji’s statue”.

On Saturday, Mr. Kumawat reiterated the claim and produced the work order. The order dated May 26, 2022, said that the NGMA was pleased to issue a work order to Matu Ram Art Centres, the company of Mr. Kumawat, for the making and supplying of solid models to the NGMA for the Netaji statue.

Earlier, Mr. Yogiraj posted his order issued by the NGMA on June 13, 2022. Addressed to Mr. Yogiraj’s Kashyapa Shilpkala Nikethan, it conveyed the approval of the competent authority for having “the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose carved in granite stone from your esteemed agency”.

Mr. Kumawat held there were two work orders issued by the NGMA for building the statue. “One was for sculpting a model and another one was for carving it in stone. After days of research, which included taking inputs from the family of Netaji and the NGMA Director-General, Mr. Gandanayak, an acclaimed sculptor himself, we sculpted clay models and cast them in fibreglass for submission. One of these models was approved and given to the carving team to build the final statue in stone.”

In a Deccan Herald article dated June 3, Mr. Yogiraj is quoted as saying that “the design of the statue would be provided by the NGMA”. On Saturday, Mr. Yogiraj said he did not refer to anyone’s model and that he created his own prototype for reference after extensive research. On the article, he said, “I was told that the Ministry wanted the salute pose of Netaji and I, accordingly, created a model. A sculptor of my standing doesn’t need to copy or refer to anybody else’s model. And I have documentary proof to show that Mr. Kumawat is misguiding people.”

Asked about the work order issued to Mr. Kumawat, Mr. Yogiraj said it was something between Mr. Kumawat and the NGMA. “I can only guess that his models were rejected.” One of the general conditions was that the models would be finalised after the approval of the Director-General, NGMA.

Mr. Kumawat said if his model was not approved, “why was I paid around ₹70 lakh for the work?”

While Mr. Kumawat provided a photocopy of the work order and photographs to show his involvement with the project, he could not share any proof of the payment made to him despite repeated assurances.

9. How has the EWS ruling altered reservations?

The story so far:

The Supreme Court, by a 3:2 majority, has upheld the validity of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019, providing reservation up to 10% for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in education and employment among those groups that do not come under any community-based reservation. The legislation marked a major change in the country’s approach to reservation. From a form of affirmative action in which membership of a social group was the main basis for extending reservation, it moved towards using income and means as the basis for special provisions.

What did the amendment do?

In Indra Sawhney (1992), a nine-judge Bench had ruled that there can be no reservation solely based on economic criteria, as the Constitution did not provide for it. The 103rd amendment introduced Article 15(6), an enabling provision for the state to make special provisions for “any economically weaker sections of citizens” other than those mentioned in the previous two clauses, namely, the “socially and educationally backward classes” and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It also introduced a corresponding Clause 6 in Article 16 to enable reservation for “economically weaker sections”, other than the SEBCs and SC/ST, in public employment and education. Article 15, which protects against discrimination on any ground, and Article 16, which mandates equality of opportunity in public employment, were thus changed to allow special provisions and reservations for the EWS category, subject to a maximum of 10%.

Following this amendment, the government also notified in 2019 the criteria to identify EWS. By this, anyone having an annual family income of less than ₹8 lakh from all sources in the financial year preceding the year of application would be identified as EWS for reservation purposes. Also excluded were those who had five acres of agricultural land, or a residential flat of 1,000 square feet, or a residential plot of 100 square yards and above in notified municipalities, or 200 square yards in other areas. The EWS quota has since been implemented in Central government and Central public sector recruitments.

What were the main grounds of challenge?

A law can be declared unconstitutional if the court finds that it violates fundamental rights. However, when the law is a constitutional amendment, it cannot normally be struck down, as it is part of the text of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court evoked the ‘basic structure doctrine’ under which it has held that Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution has some inherent limitations.

A substantive limitation is the principle that an amendment to the Constitution cannot abrogate or destroy its basic structure. While there is no exhaustive list, concepts central to the constitutional system such as secularism, federalism, independence of the judiciary, rule of law and equality before the law are considered its basic features.

Therefore, petitioners contended that the amendment violated the basic structure of the Constitution because it violated the equality code. The violation occurred (a) by the introduction of economic criterion when reservation was only meant for groups that were socially and educationally backward due to historical disadvantages and not due to individual lack of means, and by converting a scheme to overcome structural barriers for the advancement of social groups into an anti-poverty measure (b) by excluding OBC/SC/ST candidates from the EWS category and (c) by breaching the 50% ceiling on total reservation.

What is the majority’s reasoning for upholding EWS quota?

Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi and J.B. Pardiwala, the three judges who constituted a majority of the five-judge Bench, rejected the basic structure challenge completely. They held that there was nothing wrong in addressing economic weakness through reservation as an instrument of affirmative action. Reservation need not only be for socially and backward classes, but can also cover any disadvantaged section. Classifying a section based on economic criterion alone was permissible under the Constitution, and the EWS quota did not violate any essential feature of the Constitution.

The majority also ruled that the exclusion of the classes already enjoying reservation from the EWS category does not offend the equality principle. In fact, unless the EWS segment was exclusive, the object of furthering economic justice cannot be achieved. Regarding the breach of the 50% limit, the majority view was that the ceiling itself was not inflexible or inviolable. At the same time, another point in favour of the extra 10% quota was that the 50% limit was applicable only to the existing reserved categories (OBC/SC/ST), they said.

Why did two judges dissent?

Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat differed from the majority, with the latter writing the dissenting opinion. At the outset, the minority too agreed that introducing special provisions on the basis of economic criteria is legitimate and does not per se violate the Constitution’s basic structure.

However, they held that the exclusion of backward classes from the category violated the basic structure. Justice Bhat noted that reservation was a powerful tool to enable equal access and equal opportunity, but while introducing an economic basis for reservation, the socially and historically disadvantaged classes had been arbitrarily excluded. Excluding them “on the ground that they enjoyed pre-existing benefits is to heap fresh injustice based on past disability,” he said. He termed as ‘Orwellian’ the net effect that although all the poorest were entitled to be considered regardless of class or caste, only those from the forward classes or castes would be considered, and not those socially disadvantaged.

The conclusion was that the Amendment resulted in hostile discrimination against the poorest section of society that was socially and educationally backward, and that these classes were subjected to caste-based discrimination. Therefore, it violated the equality code, particularly the principles of non-discrimination and non-exclusion, which were part of the basic structure.

Justice Bhat had an additional ground to strike down Article 16(6). Article 16 mandates equality of opportunity in public employment, with representation for the unrepresented classes through reservation being the only exception. The EWS category “snaps this link between equal opportunity and representation” by introducing a category that is not premised on ‘inadequate representation’. This reservation for those already represented in public employment violates the equal opportunity norm, which is part of the basic structure.

10. Why are talks on 1.5°C at a cliff edge at COP27?

The story so far:

After the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change of 2015, the focus is on voluntary national actions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and keep the rise in average global temperature to well below 2°C and as close to 1.5°C as possible by the end of the century. All nations that signed on to the pact under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the COP27, to review progress, raise ambition on emissions cuts and draw up funding plans to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. But the scientific community is losing hope that temperature rise can be stopped in time, before uncontrollable tipping points are reached, leading to catastrophic climate change.

Why is the 1.5°C goal seeming unattainable?

Scientific reports from the UN released ahead of the COP27 meeting in Egypt point to the extremely narrow window available to close the emissions gap and prevent rise in average temperature beyond 1.5°C.

The UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2022 says, even if all the conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — voluntary pledges submitted under the Paris pact — followed by targets to reduce emissions to net-zero are implemented, global warming is projected to rise to 1.8°C with a 66% probability. The report also points out that global annual emissions during 2021 at 52.8 Gigatonnes (GtCO2e), represents a slight increase compared to 2019, the pre-COVID year, and that the outlook for 2030 is not bright. Collectively, G20 members account for 75% of emissions, although it is the richer countries that are responsible for accumulated emissions since the industrial revolution.

At the Egypt conference, scientist Johan Rockstrom said the key tipping points are the potential Greenland ice sheet collapse, West Antarctic ice sheet collapse, thawing of the boreal permafrost, and tropical coral reef die offs, all of which are expected to happen at 1.5°C. These and other estimates of temperature impacts were reported in a recent paper in the journal Science by Armstrong McKay and others. Tipping points represent moments that cascade into irreversible changes, with a domino effect on other elements such as monsoons and heat waves. To put things in perspective, Prof. Rockstrom said current temperature rise stands at 1.2°C to 1.3°C over the pre-industrial average, the highest in about 12,000 years since the last Ice Age. With the present soft approaches to limiting atmospheric CO2, it will be almost impossible to achieve the 1.5°C target.

What do scientific reports say on the fallout?

The COP27 is described as the conference of implementation, given that UN climate talks are often criticised as a ‘talk more, do little’ exercise. Yet, official reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which inform the UN system have reminders for the participating leaders, whose national pledges fall well short of the reductions needed. The latest Sixth Assessment Report (SAR) of the IPCC, with high confidence in its conclusions for the near term (until 2040), says that biodiversity loss, Arctic ice loss, threat to coastal settlements and infrastructure will all be experienced, while conflicts, migration of affected people and urban challenges to energy and water access could also arise. Beyond 2040 and until the end of the century, the IPCC report paints a grim picture. At 2°C, up to 20% decline in snowmelt water for irrigation, diminished water for farming and human settlements due to glacier mass loss, and a two-fold increase in flood damage could happen, while up to 18% of species on land could go extinct.

Of particular concern in the tropical regions is the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as cyclones, particularly in the medium to long term until 2100.

What is the focus of negotiations at COP27?

Countries most affected by the effects of a changing climate have been seeking loss and damage payments from the richer industrialised nations, who have contributed the bulk of CO2 in the atmosphere. Firming up this compensation mechanism is a major area of focus at Sharm el-Sheikh.

The emissions background is explained as follows: CO2 level at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii stood at 416.22 parts per million (ppm) on November 11. The level was 315 ppm in 1958 and the pre-industrial revolution level was 280 ppm, U.S. records show. The emerging economies and small climate-affected countries argue that they were not responsible for this stock of CO2, and many want a massive loss and damage fund created, separate from the $100 bn per year agreed to under the Paris Agreement. At the last conference in Glasgow, this agenda was kicked down the road. Some communities in countries ranging from Peru to Pakistan and even India have started filing climate cases, seeking restraints or damages.

More fundamentally, activists are seeking a sharp move away from fossil fuels to peak emissions by 2025. A special report titled “10 New Insights on Climate Science” released at COP27 by Prof. Rockstrom points to continuing high emissions from fossil fuels because “success is still measured predominantly by GDP and affluence, rather than through improvements in resource use efficiency and advancing human well-being within the biosphere’s constraints.” World leaders and the financial system investing in polluting companies worldwide are, therefore, under pressure to divest from fossil fuels and support greener renewable options at COP27.

11. ‘India can buy Russian oil outside price cap’

Janet Yellen says India can source as much as it wants, will only need to avoid Western insurance, finance and maritime services bound by the cap; U.S. Treasury Secretary stresses that the goal is to drive global oil prices lower while curbing Russia’s revenues to limit its ability to finance the war

The United States is happy for India to continue buying as much Russian oil as it wants, including at prices above a G7-imposed price cap, if it steers clear of Western insurance, finance and maritime services bound by the cap, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday.

The cap would still drive global oil prices lower while curbing Russia’s revenues, Ms. Yellen said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on deepening U.S.-Indian economic ties. Russia will not be able to sell as much oil as it does now once the European Union halts imports without resorting to the capped price or significant discounts from current prices, Ms. Yellen added.

“Russia is going to find it very difficult to continue shipping as much oil as they have done when the EU stops buying Russian oil,” Ms. Yellen said. “They’re going to be heavily in search of buyers. And many buyers are reliant on Western services.”

India is now Russia’s largest oil buyer after China.

Final details of the price cap to be imposed by wealthy G7 democracies and Australia are still coming together ahead of a December 5 deadline.

The existence of the cap would give India, China and other major buyers of Russian crude leverage to push down the price they pay to Moscow, Ms. Yellen said. Russian oil “is going to be selling at bargain prices and we’re happy to have India get that bargain or Africa or China. It’s fine,” she added.

Ms. Yellen said India and private Indian oil companies “can also purchase oil at any price they want as long as they don’t use these Western services and they find other services. And either way is fine.”

The cap is intended to cut Russia’s oil revenues while keeping Russian crude on the market by denying insurance, maritime services and finance provided by the Western allies for tanker cargoes priced above a fixed dollar-per barrel cap. A historical Russian Urals crude average of $63-64 a barrel could form an upper limit.

The cap is a concept promoted by the U.S. since the EU first laid out plans for an embargo on Russian oil to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

India wary

Ms. Yellen’s remarks were made after India’s foreign minister said last week that his country would continue to buy Russian crude because it benefits India.

India’s finance and energy ministries were not available for comment, but officials have said they were wary of the untested price cap.

“I do not think we will follow the price cap… and we have communicated that,” one Indian government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

12. ‘India to stay fastest growing big economy’

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday exuded confidence that India will continue to be the fastest growing major economy with a likely growth rate of 7% in 2022-23 on the back of strong macroeconomic fundamentals and financial sector stability.

Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit 2022, Mr. Das emphasised that the country’s economy remains resilient, supported by the banking and non-banking sectors.

“So far as India is concerned… overall macroeconomic fundamentals, the financial sector stability, all these aspects remain resilient, he said.

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