Understanding India’s Coal Imports

GS-3 Mains : Economy 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Examine the factors contributing to India’s coal imports despite having significant domestic reserves.

Coal Shortage or Logistics Issue?

  • Electricity shortages occur due to rising demand and unpredictable weather.
  • Blaming domestic coal availability ignores the bigger problem: logistics.
  • Despite sufficient coal reserves (over 30 million tonnes in Aug-Sept 2023), moving it to power plants is the challenge (e.g., Aug 2023 shortage of 840 million units could have been addressed with 0.6 million tonnes).

Logistics Bottlenecks:

  • Despite sufficient domestic coal reserves, moving it to power plants is difficult.
  • Alternative sources beyond imports exist, such as Coal India spot auctions (70-80 million tonnes annually).
  • Auctions offer a cheaper alternative to imported coal, even with higher prices than some existing contracts.

The Issue of Imports:

  • Some blending of imported coal may be necessary, but not as a default solution.
  • The Ministry of Power advises power generators to import up to 6% coal by weight (until June 2024).
  • This can be misinterpreted as a mandate, allowing generators to pass on higher import costs to consumers.
  • Electricity regulators need to ensure cost-effectiveness and not interpret advisories as mandates.

Generation and Location:

  • Pit-head plants near mines face fewer shortages compared to distant plants.
  • High-demand shortages are more likely in distant plants with lower generation capacity.
  • A blanket import mandate of 6% for all plants is not justified.

Way Forward:

  • Address logistical bottlenecks to deliver coal efficiently.
  • Regulatory bodies and utilities should encourage exploring the cheapest alternatives (including domestic auctions) during shortages.

 

 

 

Measuring Internet Freedom in India (2014-2023)

GS-3 Mains : Science and Tech.

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Critically evaluate India’s approach to measuring and addressing internet freedom from 2014 to 2023, considering the prevalence of internet shutdowns, legal frameworks, international standards, content censorship, and the global context.

Internet Shutdowns:

  • India leads globally in internet shutdowns:
    • 780 shutdowns between 2014 and 2023 (SFLC data).
    • 60% of global shutdowns (2016-2022) occurred in India.
    • Highest economic loss due to shutdowns globally (over 70% in 2020).
    • Over 7,000 hours of internet shutdown in India (2023).
    • Jammu & Kashmir: Most affected region (433 shutdowns in 12 years).

Legal Framework:

  • Indian Telegraph Act allows shutdowns for “public emergency” or “public safety.”
  • Lacks clear definitions of these terms.
  • Supreme Court (Anuradha Bhasin case):
    • Internet shutdowns violate free speech.
    • Indefinite shutdowns unconstitutional.
    • Shutdown orders must be made public (poor compliance).

International Standards:

  • International law requires:
    • Legal basis for shutdowns.
    • Legitimate aim.
    • Necessity and proportionality.
  • Most shutdowns in India targeted specific districts/cities/villages.

Content Censorship:

  • Section 69A of IT Act: Most used for content censorship.
  • Ministries involved: Electronics & IT, Information & Broadcasting.
  • URLs blocked for links to banned organizations (Unlawful Activities Act).

Global Context:

  • Global internet freedom declining for 13 years.
  • Human rights online deteriorating in 29 countries (Freedom House report).
  • India’s ranking: Stagnant at 50 points (2023).
    • Decline from 59 points in 2016-2017.

Way Forward:

  • Strengthen legal framework for shutdowns based on human rights standards.
  • Amend outdated Telegraph Act to ensure compliance with constitutional and human rights standards.

 

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