The Hindu Editorials Summary : WTO’s Investment Facilitation Negotiations: A Dispute

GS-2 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Question : Evaluate the potential of plurilateral agreements like IFD in revitalizing the WTO’s legislative function and suggest strategies for addressing the deadlock in decision-making processes.


  • 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) did not adopt the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) agreement.

IFD Agreement

  • Proposed trade agreement by WTO.
  • Aims to create binding provisions for smoother investment flows.
  • Requires increased regulatory transparency and predictability for investments.
  • Open to all WTO members (over 100 countries support it).
  • India did not participate in negotiations.

India’s Concerns

  • Agreement may require:
    • Increased regulatory transparency.
    • Streamlined procedures for foreign investment.
  • Does not include:
    • Market access provisions.
    • Investment protection.
    • Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
  • India, with South Africa, opposed including IFD in WTO rules.
  • India’s main concerns:
    • Whether investment belongs in the WTO framework (investment vs. trade).
    • The process used to create the IFD agreement.

ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement)

  • System for investors to sue countries over discriminatory practices against foreign investment.
  • Seen as a tool to encourage foreign investment.
  • Included in many bilateral investment treaties (BITs).

Investment vs. Trade

  • India argues investment is not inherently trade-related.
  • Investment may or may not lead to cross-border trade.
  • OECD data shows 70% of international trade occurs through global value chains (investment and trade linked).
  • Modern trade agreements (RCEP, CPTPP) often include investment provisions.
  • India’s new agreement with EFTA also has investment provisions (limited to facilitation and promotion).

Process Concerns

  • India argues there was no mandate for WTO to negotiate on investment.
  • They believe the IFD negotiations and resulting text are illegal since all countries didn’t agree.
  • India is correct that there’s a negative mandate against launching negotiations on the trade-investment relationship.

Way Forward

  • WTO needs to update rules for the complex world of international trade.
  • Deadlocked decision-making process hinders progress.
  • Plurilateral Agreements (PAs) like the IFD could help revive the WTO’s legislative function.
  • India, soon to be the world’s third-largest economy, should reconsider its approach to PAs.



The Hindu Editorials Summary : Sustainable Building Materials in India’s Construction Boom

GS-3 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Discuss the role of sustainable building materials in India’s construction boom, considering the country’s energy consumption, environmental impact, and climate change concerns.



  • India’s booming construction sector (300,000+ housing units annually) is a major energy consumer (33% of India’s electricity usage).
  • This contributes to environmental degradation and climate change.
  • The India Cooling Action Plan projects an eight-fold increase in cooling demand by 2037.
  • Energy-efficient buildings are crucial for thermal comfort and reduced cooling needs.

Energy Efficiency in Buildings

  • Addressing energy inefficiency is essential due to rising energy demand from:
    • Economic growth
    • Urbanization
    • Heat islands
    • Climate change
  • Initiatives like Eco-Niwas Samhita (ENS) and Residential Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) promote energy efficiency.
    • ENS introduces Residential Envelope Transmittance Value (RETV) to measure heat transfer through building shells.
    • Lower RETV signifies cooler buildings and less energy use (ideally below 15W/m2).
  • Current trends favor fast-paced construction with active cooling, compromising thermal comfort.
  • Widespread knowledge about climate-responsive design is needed to overcome the perception of high initial costs.

Optimal Building Materials

  • Common materials include:
    • Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks
    • Red bricks
    • Fly ash
    • Monolithic concrete (Mivan)
  • Despite sustainability concerns, Mivan is popular for speed, strength, and scalability.
  • AAC blocks have the lowest RETV across all climates, indicating high thermal efficiency.
  • A literature review shows a significant difference in embodied energy (environmental impact) of materials:
    • Monolithic concrete – 75 times higher embodied energy than AAC blocks.
  • Construction time comparison for a 100 sq. ft wall:
    • Red bricks (longest)
    • Mivan (fastest)
  • While AAC offers a balance between embodied energy and construction time, all options have limitations:
    • Red bricks – moderate embodied energy, resource depletion, emissions, and waste.
    • AAC blocks – lower embodied energy, but still contribute to emissions and waste.
    • Monolithic concrete – fastest construction but highest embodied energy and environmental impact.


  • India has untapped potential for innovative building materials.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration is needed to optimize building design and strategies:
    • Building orientation
    • Window Wall Ratio (WWR)
    • U-value (heat transfer rate) of building components
    • Glazing performance
    • Active cooling systems
  • Mivan’s popularity raises concerns about embodied carbon and thermal discomfort.
  • Sustainable construction requires innovation from manufacturers to develop:
    • Cost-effective
    • Scalable
    • Durable
    • Fire-resistant solutions
    • Superior thermal performance
    • Climate resilience


  • Sustainable construction is crucial for a greener future.
  • Re-imagining design practices, innovative materials, and a culture of sustainability are key to creating energy-efficient buildings for a better quality of life.


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