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25 Sept 2019: The Hindu Editorial Summary

1) On Bipin Rawat's revelation of terrorist camp

  • Army chief Bipin Rawat’s revelation at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai that the terrorist camp in Balakot has begun functioning again is a deeply worrying development on several counts. Evidently, the strike on terrorists in Pakistan did not have a lasting impact.
  • It was barely seven months ago, in February, that the Air Force bombed Balakot and claimed to have taken out about 300 terrorists being trained there. That action was sold as being a pre-emptive one, and at the same time as a punitive response for the Pulwama attack which killed 40 CRPF personnel earlier that month.
  • Though the Army Chief paraded this information on resumption of Balakot camp’s activities as yet more conclusive proof that the air force strike had put that terrorist camp out of business for the intervening months.
  • It really comes across as an action that has not had any of the intended effects the planners had hoped for, not one. Indeed, it seems to have had the opposite effect.
  • Evidently, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, though a banned entity, continues to operate with impunity. This underlines the reality that replenishing the numbers of terrorists who are taken out of reckoning is not a challenge for Pakistan’s establishment.
  • That things have been turned around in less than seven months opens the door to more questions about the much touted efficacy of the strike as well. Certainly, the development does not increase the Indian people’s confidence that the Balakot strike has somehow frightened terrorists and their patrons in Pakistan into demoralised disarray.
  • Far from it. Gen. Rawat said that there were 500 terrorists ready to infiltrate into Kashmir, and that to counter those attempts the Army had “thickened” its presence along the Line of Control.
  • This is possibly in addition to the troops that were sent into Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen the security grid ahead of the moves on Article 370 and Article 35A, after which the State has been in a lockdown. The longer the clampdown lasts, the longer the soldiers remain deployed on trigger fingers, the more the accretion of belligerence continues on either side of the LoC.
  • The Army chief has chosen to provide this information ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral meeting with American President Donald Trump, ahead of the Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.
  • The hope is once all the grandstanding is done, saner counsel will prevail and steps taken to guide both Kashmir and the bilateral relations with Pakistan to a space where they can be better managed bilaterally. Unfortunately, with about a month to go for elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, this may not turn out to be the case.


2) On UN Climate Action Summit

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertive stance on the need for all countries to walk the talk on climate change action is to be welcomed as a signal of India’s own determination to align domestic policy with its international commitments.
  • Mr. Modi’s comments at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York have turned the spotlight on not just the national contributions pledged under the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but also the possibility of India declaring enhanced ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the pact next year.
  • Several aspects place the country in the difficult position of having to reconcile conflicting imperatives: along with a declared programme of scaling up electricity from renewable sources to 175 GW by 2022 and even to 450 GW later, there is a parallel emphasis on expanding coal-based generation to meet peaks of demand that cannot be met by solar and wind power.

  • The irony of the Prime Minister telling the international community in Houston that his government had opened up coal mining to 100% foreign direct investment was not lost on climate activists campaigning for a ban on new coal plants and divesting of shares in coal companies.
  • No less challenging is a substantial transition to electric mobility, beginning with commercial and public transport, although it would have multiple benefits, not the least of which is cleaner air and reduced expenditure on oil imports.
  • Advancing the national climate agenda in the spirit of Mr. Modi’s action-over-words idiom requires the Central government to come up with a strong domestic action plan.
  • The existing internal framework, the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is more than a decade old. It lacks the legal foundation to incorporate the key national commitment under the Paris Agreement: to reduce the emissions intensity of economic growth by a third, by 2030.
  • Without an update to the NAPCC and its mission-mode programmes, and legislation approved by States for new green norms governing buildings, transport, agriculture, water use and so on, it will be impossible to make a case for major climate finance under the UNFCCC.
  • It is equally urgent to arrive at a funding plan for all States to help communities adapt to more frequent climate-linked disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts.
  • There is, no doubt, wide support for India’s position that it cannot be held responsible for the stock of atmospheric carbon dioxide influencing the climate; even today, per capita emissions remain below the global average.
  • Paradoxically, the country is a victim of climate events on the one hand and a major emitter of GHGs in absolute terms on the other. In New York, Mr. Modi chose to rely on the country’s culture of environmentalism to reassure the international community on its ability to act.
  • India’s call for solid steps on climate change must be matched by domestic measures. In coming years, national actions will have to be demonstrably effective in curbing carbon emissions.