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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Green Push?

Mahendra Guru

Title: Green push? 

(The new biofuels policy is high on ambition, but success will depend on the details) 

Context:- The Cabinet this month approved a National Policy on Biofuels, which encourages the generation and use of biofuels such as ethanol. It primarily tries to address supply-side issues that have discouraged the production of biofuels within the country. For one, it allows for a wider variety of raw materials to be used as inputs to produce ethanol that is blended with petrol. 

Until now, only ethanol produced from sugarcane was approved for this purpose. Under the new policy, feedstock for biofuels includes sugar beet(चुक़ंदर), corn, damaged foodgrain, potatoes, even municipal solid waste. This will likely reduce the cost of producing biofuels and improve affordability for consumers, particularly during times when oil prices reach discomforting levels. 

The Centre hopes the new policy will also benefit farmers, who will be able to sell various types of agricultural waste to industry at remunerative prices. But given the technology available, a large chunk of the biofuel will have to come from the sugar sector for now. Therefore, pricing is the key. The government estimates that ethanol supply of around 150 crore litres in 2017-18 could save foreign exchange worth over ₹4,000 crore. 

The production of biofuels from agricultural waste, it is hoped, will also help curb atmospheric pollution by giving farmers an incentive not to burn it, as is happening in large parts of northern India. 

There is also a need for caution in using surplus foodgrain to produce ethanol. And while removing the shackles on raw material supply can have definite benefits, it cannot make a significant difference to biofuel production as long as the supply-chain infrastructure that is required to deliver biofuels to the final consumer remains inadequate. 

Final Words 

To address this issue, the new policy envisages investment to the tune of ₹5,000 crore in building bio-refineries and offering other incentives over the next few years. 

The government should also take steps to remove policy barriers that have discouraged private investment in building supply chains. Until that happens, India’s huge biofuel potential will continue to remain largely untapped.

Title: Transition tests 

(The appointment of a caretaker PM in Pakistan signals it’s in election mode) 

Context:- The appointment of a caretaker Prime Minister (Nasir-ul-Mulk)in Pakistan, under whom the country will face general elections on July 25, sets the stage for the second consecutive transfer of power from one civilian government to another. 

This in itself is a landmark for democracy in Pakistan, where no civilian Prime Minister has completed a full term in office; only in 2013 did a government complete its full tenure for the first time. 

During his time in the Supreme Court, Justice Mulk heard several contentious constitutional matters, including one in which a sitting Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was summoned on contempt charges in 2012. He was also on the seven-judge bench that issued a restraining order against the then all-powerful President, Pervez Musharraf, in 2007. 

In 2013-14 he served as the acting Chief Election Commissioner, which will hold him in good stead in his task of taking Pakistan through free and fair polls, and conducting necessary government business in the interim in an impartial manner. 

However, Justice Mulk and his caretaker Cabinet will have crises to deal with over the next two months. To begin with, Pakistan is set to be placed on the grey list by the international terror financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, at its plenary session in June. 

The second issue is internal, but stems from the same problem: Pakistan faces the danger of terrorists and extremists being ‘mainstreamed’ into the electoral arena and marginalising the political centre, which is already missing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification from public office by the Supreme Court. 

As caretaker Prime Minister, Justice Mulk will be also required to steady the economy. A balance of payments crisis, for which the outgoing government has reportedly asked Beijing for a loan of $1 billion to $2 billion, will add to Pakistan’s burgeoning debt on account of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

Final Words 

The successful completion of the exercise will be a positive signal for all of South Asia as well, with Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan (in that order) all due for elections over the next year.

Vocabulary words: 

Transition (noun) = The process of changing from one condition to another (परिवर्तनकाल) 

Spectrum (noun) = Used to classify something in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme points 

Contentious (adj) = Controversial, disputable (विवादास्पद) 

Plenary (adj) = Fully constituted, general (परिपूर्ण) 

Blend (verb) = Put or combine together 

Envisage (verb) = Foresee, predict (परिकल्पना करना) 

Untapped (adj) = Not yet exploited or used (अप्रयुक्त) 

Contend (verb) = Struggle to a difficulty (संघर्ष करना) 

Caveat (noun) = Warning, caution (चेतावनी) 

Efficacy (noun) = The ability to produce a desired result (प्रभावोत्पादकता) 

Constrict (verb) = Become narrower, fasten (जकड़ना) 

Dispensation (noun) = A political, religious system (व्यवस्था) 

Inferiority (noun) = The condition of being lower in status (तुच्छता) 

Infiltration (noun) = The action of entering illegally (घुसपैठ) 

Tactical (adj) = Strategic, calculated (कार्यनीतिक) 


A plenary session 

A plenary session is a session of a conference which all members of all parties are to attend. Such a session may include a broad range of content, from keynotes to panel discussions, and is not necessarily related to a specific style of presentation or deliberative process. 

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