QUESTION : How much is India’s Cooling Action Plan efficient and explain how  is it a bold response to addressing India’s future cooling needs while neutralizing its impacts ? 

  • Cooling Action Plan of India  
• More frequent and intense heat waves are expected with a rise in global temperatures due to climate change.
o In the last three decades, there have been 660 heat waves across India causing 12,273 deaths.
• India, with currently low penetration levels of air conditioners (ACs), will likely require substantial cooling services to keep citizens healthy and productive.
• The India Cooling Action Plan projects the number of room air conditioners to become about four times in the next 10 years, and 10 times in the next 20 years, making India the world’s largest energy user for cooling.
• However, if cooling needs are met with inefficient ACs, it could be the bane of India’s climate mitigation efforts. 
• It was launched in March 2019 by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
• It provides a 20-year perspective and outlines actions needed to provide access to sustainable cooling.
The Plan seeks to:
• Reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25% by 2037-38,
• Reduce refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by 2037-38,
• Reduce cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by 2037-38,
• Recognise “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national Science and Technology Programme.
• Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, synergizing with Skill India Mission.
The Thematic Areas of the plan are:
• Space Cooling in Buildings
• Cold-chain and Refrigeration
• Transport Air-conditioning
• Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing Sector
• Refrigerant Demand and Indigenous Production
• R&D and Production sector – Alternative Refrigerants
The following benefits would accrue to the society over and above the environmental benefits:
• Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing.
• Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling.
• Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of produce to farmers, less wastage of produce.
• Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection.
• Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment’s.
• Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide push to innovation in cooling sector.
• A large part of the cooling demand is met through refrigerant-based cooling.
• These refrigerants are regulated under the Montreal Protocol.
• It regulates on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and India is a signatory to it.
• In 2016, the Kigali Amendment to the Protocol was made.
• India and few other developing countries agreed to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% of their 2024-26 levels by 2047.
• HFCs are commonly used in air-conditioners and as refrigerants. 
• Despite its clear importance, the implications of an increase in residential cooling demand have not been carefully examined.
o Estimates of AC ownership and usage, the two factors which will determine the extent of future cooling demand, have little empirical backing.
o There is little knowledge in India about what cooling appliances people seek, and how and why people make their purchase decisions.
o The aspects of energy efficiency (such as who buys efficient technologies and why), remains underexplored.
• Many people ignores the Energy efficiency aspect as a priority in the purchase of cooling appliances.
o Higher upfront cost and low market availability of more efficient air conditioners are some reasons for buying a less efficient AC. 
• Large-scale adoption of efficient cooling appliances will be essential to providing the required thermal comfort in a low carbon manner.
• There is need for energy efficiency awareness such as on Star Labelling programme.
• Subsidies and financial incentives that help with the higher upfront costs can help drive up the adoption of more efficient technologies.
• Encouraging the use of passive cooling alternatives including energy efficient building designs can help provide the desired thermal comfort with reduced dependence on energy intensive cooling. 
The impending cooling demand transition in India offers a potential advantage as a majority of investments in cooling technologies, infrastructure, and behaviours are yet to be made, there is a unique opportunity to lock-in energy efficient consumption patterns.

QUESTION : Discuss the role of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics in the medical sector and what are the challenges in the adoption of such technologies?” 

Technology and Health Sector of India
• As several frontline warriors fighting COVID-19 lost their life, the relevance of disruptive technology and its applications comes into focus, potentially helping to reduce the chances of hospital staff contracting the infection.
There are innovative field hospitals using robots to care for COVID-19 affected patients.
• China: Several hospitals that use 5G-powered temperature measurement devices at the entrance to flag patients who have fever/fever-like symptoms.
o Other robots measure heart rates and blood oxygen levels through smart bracelets and rings that patients wear.
• India: A hospital in Jaipur held trials with a humanoid robot to deliver medicines and food to COVID-19 patients admitted there. 
New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, blockchain, cloud and quantum computing, data analytics, 5G can improve the welfare of societies and reduce the impact of communicable diseases. 
• It can help in addressing the interoperability challenges that health information and technology systems face.
• The health blockchain would contain a complete indexed history of all medical data, including formal medical records and health data from mobile applications and wearable sensors.
• This can also be stored in a secure network and authenticated, besides helping in seamless medical attention.
• It can help improve patient-based services such as early disease detection as well as hospital health-care facilities.
• Big data applications can help hospitals provide the best facilities and at less cost, provide a level playing field for all sectors, and foster competition.
AI and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
• IoMT is defined as a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services.
• It can help in creating smart health-care applications.
• It can support medical care delivery in dispersed and complex environments with the help of futuristic technologies.
• This system may also include autonomous critical care system, autonomous intubation, autonomous cricothyrotomy (incision made through the skin to establish a airway during certain life-threatening situations) and other autonomous interventional procedures.
• It can facilitate collaboration and data exchanges between doctors, departments, and even institutions and medical providers to enable best treatment. 
 In order to realize the vision for universal health coverage, the Government of India launched the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in 2020.
 The NDHM is a complete digital health ecosystem. The digital platform will be launched with four key features — health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor, and health facility registry.
 The NDHM is implemented by the National Health Authority (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
 NDHM is a manifestation of one of the guidelines of the National Health Policy 2017 that had envisaged the creation of a digital health technology eco-system aiming at developing an integrated health information system.
 It is a landmark move that is based on the principles of the India health stack and aims to connect the different touch-points of the health ecosystem, such as Health Information Provider to Health Information User to Consent Manager, through digital tools to provide affordable access to quality healthcare.
 The NDHM also aims to ensure that preventive and assistive healthcare come under the same broader umbrella. 
 Risk of Online Fraud: The lack of access to care and diminishing trust towards the healthcare system can make patients turning to inefficient therapies and online medical quackery.
Issue of Health Literacy: Despite the use of digital technologies, the development of health status is also dependent on health literacy.
o Those with lower health literacy levels are generally in a worse state of health, visit the doctor more often, use fewer prevention techniques, and on the whole, are more costly for the healthcare system.
 Addressing Out-of-pocket Expenditure: Before the transition from traditional health care to digital healthcare, there is a need to protect the poor from the uncertainties of doctor hunting, receiving irrational treatment from unqualified medical practitioners, provide drugs and address the inability to pay for high-end diagnostics.
o Unless the costs of outpatient treatment are catered, out-of-pocket expenditure will continue before a patient needs hospitalization.
 Misuse of Data: Before embracing digital healthcare, there is a need for certain checks and balances to ensure there is no misuse of the data.
o In this context, the government should expedite enacting the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which will ensure that consent for use of data can only be sought with the defined purposes. 
• India needs to own its digital health strategy that works and leads towards universal health coverage and person-centred care.
• Such a strategy should emphasise the ethical appropriateness of digital technologies, overcome the digital divide, and ensure inclusion across the economy.
• Ayushman Bharat and tools such as Information and Communication Technology could be used to promote ways to protect populations.
• Online consultation through video conferencing should be a key part of such a strategy, especially in times when there is transmission of communicable diseases.
• Initial efforts should involve developing a template for sharing data, and reengineering many of the institutional and structural arrangements in the medical sector.
• Improving infrastructure: There is a need of improvising the infrastructure of public hospitals which have a lot of burden due to the high population in India.
• Focus on private hospitals: Private hospitals must be encouraged by the government because their contribution is important. Private sector also needs to participate because the challenges are significant and these cannot be resolved only by the government alone.
• Efficiency enhancement: More medical personnel must be recruited to enhance the capabilities and efficiency of the sector.
• Technology utilisation: Technologies must be used to connect the dots in the health system. Medical devices in hospitals/ clinics, mobile care applications, wearables, and sensors are some forms of technology that should be added in this sector.
• Awareness: People should be made aware of early detection and preventive care. It would help them in saving pocket expenditure also. 
• There is no doubt that disruptive technology can play an important role in improving the health sector in general.
• However, the possible constraints for India are standardisation of health data, organisational silos, data security and data privacy, and also high investments.

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