The Hindu Editorial Analysis
23 October 2021

1. Violence in Bangladesh

  • Source: The Hindu- Page7/OPED - Fault lines grow deeper in Bangladesh
  • GS 1: Communalism, GS 2: IR

Context: Bangladesh has seen a series of targeted attacks on religious sites, businesses and houses of those belonging to the Hindu community since October 13. 

 

About the Violence:

    • The Trigger: A photograph showing the Quran placed on the knee of a Hindu deity had gone viral on social media. Within a few minutes, the officer in charge of the Kotwali police station reached the spot in plain clothes, asking the muslims 'to wake up'.

    • Impact: But this act quickly spiralled out of control, courtesy social media platforms, and reportedly resulted in several major attacks on Hindu temples and houses belonging to the minority community. Several religious sites, including Hindu temples, puja venues, and over 100 shops and houses, were reportedly attacked since the Cumilla incident in more than a dozen districts. This had left at least six dead and dozens injured.

    • The reality: A week later, police identified a person named Iqbal Hossain, after analysing the CCTV footage available to them who allegedly placed the Quran at the puja venue in Cumilla city. This makes it look as a pre-planned incident. 

 

Demography of Bangladesh:

    • Bangladesh has a population of over 160 million.

    • According to the 2013 Census, Sunni Muslims constitute 89% of the population and Hindus 10%.

    • The remaining population is predominantly Christian, mostly Roman Catholic, and Theravada-Hinayana Buddhist.

    • The country also has a small number of Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims and Biharis.

 

History of violence in Bangladesh:

    • The quantum of violence: Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a local human rights body, give a clearer picture of what has been happening in the country for years now. According to the ASK, as many as 3,710 attacks on the Hindu community took place between January 2013 and September 2021.

    • Modus operandi: Vandalism and arson involving the homes, shops and businesses of Hindu families were some of the incidents documented by the ASK. Attacks on Hindu temples and the grabbing of land and properties of those belonging to the minority community were also reported. 

 

The Political angle:

    • The post-election violence in 2014: The 10th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh were held on January 5, 2014, which saw the Awami League returning to power and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina becoming the country’s head for the third term. Violence during this period reportedly left many dead in the country, including many from the Hindu community.

    • There are allegations that BNP-Jamaat men were behind the recent violence on the Hindu community to create instability in the country

    • The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), a centre-right nationalist party that had forged an alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, which was opposed to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 and ruled the country giving war criminals a place in the Begum Khaleda Zia-led Cabinet in the past.

 

Worldwide condemnation

    • Within Bangladesh: Many, including political parties, cultural organisations, university teachers, youth, civil society members, cultural activists, sports personalities and singers, have condemned the attacks.

    • Internationally: The United Nations, the U.S. and India have also condemned the incidents of violence against the Hindu community in the country.

    • Reaction of social media in Bangladesh: Social media also saw an outpouring of faith and assertion in the ideals of secularism amidst the violence.

    • Indian response: India acknowledged the “prompt” steps taken by the Government of Bangladesh with the additional deployment of security forces following the vandalism of Hindu temples and Durga Puja venues. 

 

The constitutional Progress: Bangladesh is currently an Islamic nation.

    • Bangladesh was a secular nation before 1972 as dreamed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the ‘Father of the Nation’. Military dictators had tried to undermine Bangladesh’s core ideal of secularism by declaring Islam to be the state religion.

    • State Minister for Information Murad Hassan said that “We will return to the 1972 Constitution. We will get that Bill passed in Parliament under the leadership of the Prime Minister,” he said, adding, “I don’t think there is anyone in Parliament to oppose it.”

 

 ​​​​​​2. A clean energy transition plan for India

  • Source: The Hindu- Page6/Editorial - A clean energy transition plan for India
  • GS 3: Environment

Context: The editorial traces a path of clean energy for India and it also demonstrates a commitment to climate change mitigation by optimising resources with indigenous technology

 

Energy security: Energy security is the association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption.

    • Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and technological diversification of energy sources, would result in significant energy security and economic benefits.

    • Energy security warrants the uninterrupted supply of energy at affordable prices.

    • India's challenges: India faces the twin challenges 

      1. Meeting the aspirations of its 1.3 billion population even as it safeguards its energy security 

      2. Contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change and fulfilling our Nationally determined contributions(NDCs) under the Paris agreement.

 

Increased coal capacity: Since the passage of Electricity Act of 2003 the installed coal ­fired thermal power plant (TPP) generation capacity in India more than doubled from 94 GW to 192 GW between March 2011 and 2017. 

    • This sharp increase in the installed capacity has enabled the government to increase per capita electricity consumption by 37% while reducing peak demand deficit from 9.8% (2010­11) to 1.6% (2016)

    • But India has a long way to go in providing electricity security to its people since its per capita electricity consumption is still only a third of the global average.

 

Advantages of Coal:

    • No dependence on import: Thermal plants are the core Coal is the only fuel that India has in abundance and the geopolitics of India’s neighborhood do not permit ready access to piped natural gas. 

    • Affordable energy for all: TPPs contributed 71% of the 1,382 billion units (BU) of electricity generated by utilities in India during FY 2020­21 though they accounted for only 55% of the total installed generation capacity of 382 GW (as of March 2021). Coal, therefore, plays a vital role in India’s ongoing efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, which is “to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

 

Renewable energy

    • Installed capacity in India: Variable renewable energy (VRE) sources account for 24.7% of the total installed generation capacity, as of March 2021, they contributed 10.7% of the electricity generated by utilities during FY 2020­21.

    • Issues in Renewable energy currently:

      • High cost: The rapid growth of VRE  sources in India results into increasing the cost of power procurement for DISCOM

      • Low utilization of TPP: the ramp­-up of VRE  generation capacity without commensurate growth in electricity demand has resulted in lower utilisation of TPPs  whose fixed costs must be paid by the distribution companies (DISCOMs) and passed through to the final consumer.

 Steps planned for future:  

    • High ­Efficiency­ Low­ Emission (HELE) thermal power plants(TPPs):  We have developed a time­-bound transition plan for India’s power sector involving the progressive retirement of 36 GW of installed generation capacity in 211  TPPs (unit size 210 MW and below) based on key performance parameters such as efficiency, specific coal consumption, technological obsolescence, and age. 

    • New Powe purchase policy: These TPPs have already signed power purchase agreements with the respective DISCOMs; and thanks to the two­ part tariff policy, their fixed costs must be borne by power consumers irrespective of their usage. 

    • Nuclear energy: In addition, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is also constructing 11 nuclear power plants with a total generation capacity of 8,700 MW that will supply 24x7 power without any CO2 emissions. 

    • Capacity increase : The total installed capacity of TPPs operated by utilities will increase from the current level of 209 GW (as of September 2021) to 220 GW by FY 2029­-30 even after retiring 211 inefficient and obsolete TPPs that are more than 25 years old and need major sustenance capital expenditures for life extension, modernisation, and retrofit of flue gas de-slphurisation plants (FGDs).  

 

Estimated benefits

    • Environmental benefits: Since HELE TPPs minimise emissions of particulate matter (PM), SO2, and NO2, our transition plan offers operational, economic, and environmental benefits including avoidance of sustenance Capex and FGD costs in the 211 obsolete TPPs to be retired besides savings in specific coal consumption and water requirement leading to reductions in electricity tariffs and PM pollution.

      •  electrostatic precipitators that can remove 99.97% of the PM pollution 

    •  Energy security and ensure efficient grid operations with lower water consumption, PM pollution, and CO2 emissions. 

 

CONCLUSION: Ultimately, this plan demonstrates India’s commitment to climate change mitigaion by optimising the use of our land, coal, water, and financial resources with indigenous technology.

 

Expected Question: Enumerate the challenges that India's power generation sector currently faces. Evaluate the steps taken by the government in this regard. (250 words)