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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 May 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 May 2017


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1;


Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) The Uttarakhand High Court has granted ‘legal persons’ status to rivers Ganga and Yamuna. From environmental and pollution point of view, discuss the significance of this judgement. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The Ganga, often called India’s lifeline, has significant economic, environmental and cultural value attached to it. Originating in the Himalayas and flowing into the Bay of Bengal in the east, it travels for more than 2,500km through the plains of northern and eastern India, passing through 29 major cities, 23 small cities and 48 towns.

The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage at the hands of humans, a legal voice. The court also directed the central government to constitute the Ganga Management Board within eight weeks to look into the issue of cleaning and maintaining the river.

Significance of this judgement-

  • Recognizing the rivers as a living entity grants them new found legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India. Recognizing the rivers as a living entity grants them new found legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India.
  • Stating that the rivers are central to the existence of half of Indian population and their health and well-being, the court directed the central government to constitute a Ganga Management Board. 
  • The decision is likely to boost the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) Mission, launched by present Indian government to clean and revive the river.
  • The judgement not only seeks to clean Ganga and Yamuna but also their tributaries and water sources too. This would improve the overall drainage basin for conservation purpose.
  • This could be an extremely useful tool in fighting actions like dumping of waste in the river, instead of having to show that a given person or persons is harmed because of the consequences of dumping waste in the water. The dumping of waste will now directly constitute harm.
  • Decision given by Uttarakhand HC could be an effort by courts to broaden their scope for intervention in the river’s management.
  • The Ganga flows through Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. But all the states have different rules and regulations when it came to maintaining the river. This will help in bring about a uniform set of regulations
  • Judgement is in tune with International practice. Ecuador is first country to recognize the ‘Rights of Nature’ in its Constitution. New Zealand too has granted legal status to Whanganui river.

Conclusion-

The rivers have provided both physical and spiritual sustenance to all of us from time immemorial. Rivers Ganga and Yamuna have spiritual and physical sustenance. They support and assist both the life and natural resources and health and well-being of the entire community. Rivers Ganga and Yamuna are breathing, living and sustaining the communities from mountains to sea.

Government has been trying to clean up the river by spending a lot of money, putting in a lot of infrastructure and technology, but they aren’t looking at the governance of the river. Thus the judgement stands as watershed moment for the purifying Indian rivers.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human resources,

2) A study published in The Lancet indicates that India’s TB crisis is set to snowball by 2040 when one in 10 cases could be drug-resistant — both multidrug-resistant TB (or MDR-TB),  and extensively drug-resistant TB (or XDR-TB). What is MDR-TB and XDR-TB? In the light of this study, how should India fight TB? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Lancet report highlights-

  • India’s TB crisis is set to snowball by 2040 when one in 10 cases could be drug-resistant — both multidrug-resistant TB (or MDR-TB, resistant to more than one of the first-line drugs) and extensively drug-resistant TB (or XDR-TB, also resistant to fluoroquinolones and at least one of the second-line injectable drugs).
  • The more alarming is the projection that the increased number of drug-resistant cases will come from direct transmission from infected people to others rather than by strains acquiring resistance to TB drugs during treatment due to inadequate treatment or discontinuation of treatment midway. 
  • The study found that “most incident” MDR cases are “not caused” by acquired drug resistance, which will become a “decreasing cause” of drug-resistant TB.
  • The increased availability of drugs to fight drug-sensitive TB has led to the emergence of MDR-TB strains. With an increasing number of MDR-TB cases, there has been a shift in the way people get infected with drug-resistant TB — from strains acquiring drug resistance during treatment to direct transmission of MDR-TB strains from an infected person. The same trend is seen in the case of XDR-TB too.
  • The study, based on a mathematical model to forecast how TB is likely to progress in the four most-affected countries (Russia, the Philippines, South Africa, India), suggests that new MDR-TB cases a year in India will touch 12.4% by 2040, up from 7.9% in 2000.
  • In 2015, the four countries accounted for about 40% (more than 230,000) of all drug-resistant TB cases in the world.
  • Besides targeting early diagnosis and treatment of those with the disease, India’s TB control programme has identified enhanced interventions to break the transmission cycle of the bacteria in the community.

MDR-TB

  • The bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB) can develop resistance to the antimicrobial drugs used to cure the disease. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful anti-TB drugs.
  • The two reasons why multidrug resistance continues to emerge and spread are mismanagement of TB treatment and person-to-person transmission. Most people with TB are cured by a strictly followed, 6-month drug regimen that is provided to patients with support and supervision. Inappropriate or incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs, or use of ineffective formulations of drugs (such as use of single drugs, poor quality medicines or bad storage conditions), and premature treatment interruption can cause drug resistance, which can then be transmitted, especially in crowded settings such as prisons and hospitals.

XDR-TB

  • XDR-TB, an abbreviation for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), is a form of TB which is resistant to at least four of the core anti-TB drugs. XDR-TB involves resistance to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin, also known as multidrug-resistance (MDR-TB), in addition to resistance to any of the fluoroquinolones (such as levofloxacin or moxifloxacin) and to at least one of the three injectable second-line drugs (amikacin, capreomycin or kanamycin).
  • MDR-TB and XDR-TB both take substantially longer to treat than ordinary (drug-susceptible) TB, and require the use of second-line anti-TB drugs, which are more expensive and have more side-effects than the first-line drugs used for drug-susceptible TB.
  • People may get XDR-TB in one of two ways. It may develop in a patient who is receiving treatment for active TB, when anti-TB drugs are misused or mismanaged, and is usually a sign of inadequate clinical care or drug management. It can happen when patients are not properly supported to complete their full course of treatment; when health-care providers prescribe the wrong treatment, or the wrong dose, or for too short a period of time; when the supply of drugs to the clinics dispensing drugs is erratic; or when the drugs are of poor quality.
  • The second way that people can develop XDR-TB is by becoming infected from a patient who is already ill with the condition. Patients with TB of the lungs can spread the disease by coughing, sneezing, or simply talking. A person needs only to breathe in a small number of these germs to become infected. However only a small proportion of people infected with TB germs develop the disease. A person can be infected by XDR-TB bacteria but not develop the active disease, just as with drug-susceptible TB.

How should India fight TB?

  • These studies (The Lancet) come at a time when India’s Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) and state and city governments have succeeded in demonstrating innovative workable and scalable solutions. In several settings, the RNTCP has effectively engaged private providers, successfully attracting large numbers of private TB case notifications.
  • With that information, the RNTCP has improved diagnosis of patients with free tests, provided patients free TB drugs, and extended adherence support to increase rates of TB treatment completion. These innovative approaches are bringing previously invisible, privately-treated TB patients into the light of public health services, where care and adherence can be monitored. Thanks to the information and communications technologies deployed, these projects are also generating unprecedented data on TB outcomes in the private sector.
  • Private providers engaged in these projects are seeing the value their TB patients are getting via free test vouchers, free TB drugs, and continuous support and counseling to ensure treatment completion. This value, in turn, helps them retain their patients, secure their respect, and grow their practice.
  • Private practitioners also appreciate the direct human contact they have with public health workers, getting feedback on how their patients are progressing, and helping their patients sustain a full course of treatment. Most importantly, they appreciate being made a partner in their city’s TB control effort.
  • To scale up these effective interventions to reach all TB patients, it is critical for the government to take TB control as a genuine mission and make serious financial investments.
  • Simply put, treating twice as many TB patients will cost twice the budget currently being provided. And that should be a fantastic investment for the nation, because TB control is a very cost-effective strategy with exceptional returns on investment from a societal perspective.
  • From an economic perspective, investing in the Global Plan to End TB is estimated to deliver India $364 billion as overall economic return. Any plan to end TB in India must include a comprehensive approach to partnering with the private sector. Otherwise, more than half the TB burden in the country will be left unaddressed.
  • Equally importantly, TB patients cannot remain invisible. There is a need for more robust estimates of TB burden and continued efforts to measure quality of care in the private sector.
  • Countries such as China have made serious investments in TB control, effectively used repeated rounds of national TB prevalence surveys to track their TB epidemic, and have shown major reductions in prevalence over time.

India needs to do the same, and we applaud the direct disease burden estimation that the RNTCP has proposed via a national TB prevalence survey. But prevalence estimation is not enough, the TB programme needs to track and support individuals with TB. The RNTCP’s e-Nikshay TB case notification system offers hope that case notifications can result in meaningful public health action. This will require investments in information and communications technology infrastructure and real-time data intelligence.

  • Lastly, leadership is critical and India is starting to step up. The government has taken several steps over the past few years to address TB. This includes making TB a notifiable disease, developing the Standards for TB Care in India, introducing daily drug regimens, and molecular and drug susceptibility testing.

There is an opportunity to do more and better, and for India to assume a global leadership role. With its strong research expertise in TB, biotech and IT capacity, and recent successes (for example, polio elimination, indigenous rotavirus vaccine), India has the potential to lead from the front.


 

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human resources,

3) Concerns over academic dishonesty and plagiarism have risen in the digital age. How can these practices be fixed? Discuss the challenges and solutions. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

Academic integrity encompasses a number of values including honesty, trust, respect, fairness, and responsibility and ideals that should be upheld by all educational stakeholders. “Academic integrity involves ensuring that in research, and in teaching and learning, both staff and students act in an honest way. They need to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others, be open and accountable for their actions, and exhibit fairness and transparency in all aspects of scholarly endeavour”

Academic integrity breaches include a diverse range of unfair practices including plagiarism, cheating in exams or assignments, inappropriate collusion, theft of other students’ work, paying a third party for assignments, downloading whole or part of assignments from the Internet, falsification of data, misrepresentation of records, or other actions that undermine the integrity of scholarship. Plagiarism is one of the most vehemently derided breaches of academic integrity because it undermines the premise that scholarly work will make an original and honest contribution to an existing body of knowledge. 

Challenges-

  • Plagiarism undermines the integrity of education and occurs at all levels of scholarship.
  • Plagiarism discourages original writer/author and reduces his/her interests towards his/her work. This could seriously hamper the creativity and originality of academic and research institutes.
  • Plagiarism has set the bad precedent for the young generation who is more interested the short-term quick-fix solutions rather than long-term hard work.
  • Many students cannot identify instances of plagiarism and do not adequately understand how to paraphrase text with appropriate citation to avoid plagiarism.
  • Plagiarism is not only an issue of student assessment. It is a symptom of a deeply entrenched academic culture that arguably places tangible rewards (grades, diplomas, publications, promotions, grants) above the intrinsic value of learning and knowledge creation.

How these challenges can be fixed?

To address the issue of plagiarism and other breaches of academic integrity, educational institutions must work towards fostering a culture of integrity that goes beyond deterrence, detection, and punishment of students.

  • While no single solution can be the ‘silver bullet’ to this multidimensional menace, a combination of systemic changes (reforming the education system and inculcating values) and short-term steps (improving the conduct of examinations) may help in building a culture of academic integrity.
  • Counselling should be provided to students and parents to encourage admissions based on interest and aptitude.
  • In addition, curriculum design should be aligned with skill building. It should encourage critical thinking among students.
  • Quality teaching should be incentivised and conversely, a ‘no-tolerance policy’ towards non-performance should be adopted.
  • Overhauling the evaluation system by focussing more on application of knowledge and introducing ‘non-traditional’ assessment techniques, such as verbal tests and critical paper reviews, could contribute in reducing the need for and incidence of cheating.
  • It is also crucial to make students realise the gravity of violations of academic integrity. Universities across the world give enormous importance to academic ethics. In India, however, even a reputed institution such as Delhi University has no mention of ethics in either its handbook or website.
  • This lack of sensitivity may be addressed by discussing academic ethics in college orientation programmes, along with making the students sign an ‘honour code’ statement wherein they submit a written declaration that they will refrain from such practices.

Conclusion-

Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic integrity in that it detracts from the value of original and honest scholarly work.  Recent research has demonstrated that plagiarism is a complex issue, with many stakeholder groups requiring much more induction, information, training, and support to ensure that they have the necessary understanding and skills to fulfil their academic responsibilities. Educational institutions therefore need to recognise that addressing plagiarism requires a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach which aims to foster a scholarly community based on shared understandings and practices of academic integrity.

 


Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional post

4) How is High Court judge selected and appointed? In the light of recent C S Karnan issue, experts have argued that due care should be taken while appointing judges to High Courts. Do you agree? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The usual contractor-engineer-politician troika was always in command of highway projects since the very inception of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). It bloomed when the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral commenced in 2000. While this initiative drew much applause in the initial years, it was soon overtaken by delays, cost over-runs and gold-plating as the contractual framework remained archaic and PWD-style. However, the damage was comparatively limited as the programme was confined to budgetary resources of the central government.

For the efficient execution of any infrastructural project, the three people who play the most significant role include the contractor, the engineer and the politician. For a project not to be categorised as an NPA, the integrity of all three must be upright. The role all three play has been discussed:

  • Contractor: Since S/he makes the BOQ (Bill Of Quantities), there are chances of him/her being indifferent towards it by using inferior materials to maximize his/her own profit.
  • Engineer: The engineer is responsible for the efficient implementation of the programme and most often s/he is well versed with the market rates of all the raw material being used. S/he should ensure that the contractor uses the right material at the right price in the rights amount of time.
  • Politician: S/he is responsible for financing the project and has to ensure that sufficient timely funds are directed only to the project and no one else.
    Hence, all three play a significant role in maintaining the profits to be expected from the project.

Other reasons for failure/delay of Highway projects:

There are 46 projects which have been identified by NHAI as languishing with a total length of these projects is 4,860 km. covering a total project cost of Rs 51,338 crore. Out of 46, issues have been resolved in 27 cases whereas issues on 19 projects are yet to be sorted out.

  • Lack of equity with the concessionaire:In several sections (e.g. Motihari-Raxaul section, Rohtak-Jind section, Gurgaon-Kotputli-Jaipur section, Haridwar-Dehradun section), the lack of equity with the concessionaires has delayed the projects much beyond the scheduled completion date. In some projects, this has also resulted in the bankers not disbursing even the loan sanctioned at financial close.
  • Diversion of funds:In few cases the physical progress of work is not commensurate with the financial progress. These are likely cases where the funds may not have been utilised towards the projects and concessionaires are finding it difficult to bring back the funds so diverted.
  • Delays due to reasons not attributable to the concessionaire:The Authority has also defaulted in fulfilling its conditions precedent in a number of cases due to land acquisition, environment /forest clearance /utility shifting /RoB issues. In cases like Rimoli-Roxy-Rajamunda, delay in forest clearance has turned the project unviable and therefore has to be terminated and re-bid.
  • Refusal of banks to accept first charge of NHAI:For any languishing highway project in BOT (toll/annuity) mode that has achieved at least 50 per cent physical completion, NHAI will provide financial assistance to complete the project subject to first charge on the toll/annuity receivables of these projects. However, the banks have refused to accept the first charge of NHAI and therefore no progress in implementation of this policy to complete languishing projects is being achieved.
  • High cost of interest during construction (IDC):The cost of construction in case of delay, whether due to concessionaire or the Authority, results in increase in the cost of debt which turns the project unviable. In case of termination due to delay by concessionaire during the construction period, there, too, is no termination payment.
  • Difficulty in obtaining additional debt in stalled projects:In projects where the concessionaire is already faced with delays, there is no possibility of obtaining additional debt to complete the project as the account in many cases may have already turned NPA. Overleveraged balance sheet of the developers anticipating high level of growth. The economic downturn seen in the last few years has caused revenue realisation at a much lower rate than was anticipated. Many developers have taken future obligation which created difficulties in debt servicing.
  • Stress on the existing road infrastructure loan portfolios of FIs:Reduced revenue realisation due to economic slowdown affected debt servicing by the concessionaire as the contracted debt servicing obligations could not be met with the existing revenue. As the sector got affected, the lenders debt portfolio for roads came to have a disproportionally high level of debts. NPAs saddled banks with additional capital adequacy requirements, provisioning demands and income recognition restrictions.
  • Long period of revenue collection:The current practice of financing large infrastructure projects based on revenue streams spread over 20 to 30 years, but with project debt having tenure of 10 to 15 years, is also unsustainable.
  • Debt sanctioned by banks higher than total project cost estimated by NHAI:Because the project debt is based on the developer’s cost estimates, which is, on an average, 35 per cent more than the NHAI project cost, the lenders are exposed to a higher risk particularly in the event of termination of the concession agreement, wherein NHAI guarantees compensation based on its own appraised project cost and not the developer’s estimate.
  • Corporate debt restructuring has been affected in many SPV debt:Concessionaires unable to service debt have to propose to the lenders to restructure the debt: While the first restructuring exercise is permitted by lenders without any adverse asset classifications, any exercise going forward automatically affects the asset classifications in the books of lenders. A second restructuring necessarily requires that the debt be classified as non performing.
  • Sector exposure norms of FIs getting exhausted:With the debt obligations mounting on account of debt repayment deferment, sector exposure increased, reaching exposure norms for this sector.
  • Higher cost of financing:The lenders who provide major part of financing in the form of debt are concerned with the downside risks which influences the project progress and debt serving capability and consequently to mitigate the risk of financing have enhanced the cost of lending to the sector.
  • Bond market for infrastructure financing:The Bond market can provide a viable option for long term financing. Under the Infrastructure Debt Fund, Banks have to accept the first charge of Infrastructure Debt Funds on termination payment. As projects have been financed at a much higher cost than the NHAI total project cost, the debt due may not cover the complete senior debt leading to resistance of banks to first charge of Infrastructure Debt Funds.

 


Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,

5) How are medicines named? Do you think prescription of generic drugs alone would bring down out of pocket expenditure? What else can be done? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express

Introduction :-Demonetisation has impacted agriculture in various ways. Cash is the primary mode of transaction in agriculture sector which contributes 15% to India’s total output. Formal financing in many parts, especially Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala is significantly from cooperative banks, which are barred from exchange-deposit of demonetized currency.

Agriculture is impacted through the input-output channels as well as price and output feedback effects. Sale, transport, marketing and distribution of ready produce to wholesale centres or mandis, is dominantly cash-dependent. Disruptions, breaks in the supply chains feedback to farmers as sales fall, increased wastage of perishables, lower revenues that show up as trade dues instead of cash in hand and when credited into bank accounts with limited access affect the sector.

Impact of Demonetisation on various crops :-

The impact is visible in different sub-segments. Winter crops such as wheat, mustard, chickpeas are due for sowing in a fortnight. Wheat prices were already up due to low stocks and anticipated shortfall in 2015-16 output and have firmed up further as demonetization fallout pushes traders to build more inventories. Production in 2016-17 could drop if sowed acreage (Rabi) reduces for want of enough seeds on time to exploit the adequate soil moisture. Yields could fall from late sowing and subsequent exposure to rough spring weather, the lack of sufficient or timely application of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Farm labour, vital for this period, is reported to be unpaid as farmers have no cash. Many of them are reported to be returning from some northern parts to homes in UP and Bihar. Labour shortages and wage-spikes may follow with a lag.

Plantation crops such as rubber, tea, jute, cardamom are seeing no wages paid to workers. Small-medium tea growers have few buyers now (a third of the tea was unsold in recent auction in the south). Raw jute trade is halted as paucity of funds affects procurement-delivery by traders. Projections of scarcity have appeared with appeals for official procurement support. Cotton is witnessing havoc: daily arrivals have plunged to 30,000-40,000 bales against the usual 1.5-2 lakh bales at this time (harvest) as per reports and prices have soared 9% in a week, pushing up global prices in turn.

Vegetables and fruits that along with crops added 61% of agriculture’s gross value added in 2015-16, depends critically upon a cash-strapped transport sector for daily supply network. Sales have dropped sharply (25-50%) across markets with occurrences of dumping. At present, demand is repressed for want of currency, so prices are subdued, but eventually, supply shortages could cause prices to rise.

There are series of developments which led recent protest by farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra :

  • During last two years droughts affected the produce but in 2016 a bumper monsoon brought down the prices for Kharif crops. Also government didn’t revise Minimum Support Price for Kharif crops compelling farmers to sell their produce at low rates.
  • Cash crunch during the demonetization led disruptions, breaks in supply chains, wastage of perishables led revenue losses for farmers.
  • Collapse of wholesale vegetable prices due to demonetization.
  • Loan waiving by newly elected government in Uttar Pradesh, encouraged farmers of Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra agitate for the same.

Conclusion :- Being highly informal in nature this sector severely impacted by demonetization in short term but this move can bring transformational changes in the Agriculture Sector in long term like easy credit for farmers, elimination of middle man and increase transparency in various subsidies by decreasing the leakages. Indeed a better understanding of the sector was needed before the move but concerns of farmers like reforming MSP need to be address as soon as possible. Waiving of loan for small and marginal farmers is also an appreciable move by Maharashtra Govt.

 


Topic:  Infrastructure – energy

6) Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be gaining in prominence as part of the renewable energy movement. What challenges will India face in mainstreaming electric vehicles and how these challenges can be overcome? Examine. 

Introduction :- An electric vehicle, also called an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through a collector system by electricity from off-vehicle sources, or may be self-contained with a battery, solar panels or a generator to convert fuel to electricity. EVs include road and rail vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electric aircraft and electric spacecraft.

EVM progress in India:-

  • In May, Nagpur became the first Indian city to have an electric cab fleet with about 100 EVs.
  • The state-run power giant NTPC set up its first EV charging stations in Delhi and Noida.
  • Importantly, these are not isolated initiatives; they are underwritten by broader policy shifts.
  • Power ministry has announced that government officials and agencies will soon be using only EVs, Public buses are also expected to go electric.
  • Niti Aayog, has already put out a road map for India’s mobility transformation that has three core elements: “shared”, “electric”, and “connected”.
  • The goal, according to the power ministry, is to have no diesel or petrol car sales in the country by 2030.

What are the Pros and cons with the initiative to mainstream electrical vehicle?

  • Mainstreaming electric vehicles will require an overhaul of the country’s energy and transport infrastructure.
  • For example, EV charging stations will have to be set up on a war footing, and electricity generation will have to improve significantly.
  • EV technology (especially the battery) will have to become much cheaper before it can perform well in a price-sensitive market like India.
  • If these challenges can be tackled effectively and India can leapfrog to EV technology, then of course, the benefits to be had are numerous.  
  • According to the Niti Aayog report, switching to EVs as part of the larger “shared, electric, and connected” mobility paradigm will cut India’s energy demand by 64%, its carbon emissions by 37%, and save the country $60 billion in energy bills by 2030.

What is issue with government’s strategy?

  • Niti Aayog recommends that to push EVs, the government must subsidize the EV industry while penalizing conventional cars.
  • It calls for lowering taxes and interest rates for loans on EVs while limiting the sale and registration of conventional cars, and using taxes from diesel and petrol car sales to create electric charging stations.
  • It also suggests the government open a battery plant by the end of 2018.
  • The Ministry of power has claimed that the plan is to let market forces decide how the EV industry will shape up and that the government is only offering a helping hand until the industry can find its feet.
  • The issue is the kind of support the government is offering.
  • For instance, hydrogen-powered fuel cells offer an equally eco-friendly option.
  • Both lithium-ion and hydrogen fuel cells are zero emission, and the hydrogen-powered fuel cells can in fact be recharged faster.
  • They also give more mileage than the lithium-ion batteries commonly used in EVs today.
  • Certainly, fuelling stations for hydrogen-powered fuel cells are much more expensive,
  • But in that case, there is no greater push for CNG vehicles.
  • They are cheap, almost as clean as EVs, and the related infrastructure is already in place.
  • The government has made its choice, it is choosing only the winning technology which is globally growing.

What is the way forward?

  • Governments generally do not have a good track record when it comes to picking tech winners.
  • For example, after the 1970s-energy crisis in the US, Millions of dollars were pumped into thermal solar technology which did not yield any viable commercial results even as the old photovoltaic cell technology continued to evolve.
  • Later, corn-based ethanol was all the rage and the government again put good money into developing a market for it but eventually it too collapsed.
  • These examples indicate the many risks associated with the government picking the winner a job that is better left to the market and industry.
  • However, this is not to say that the government should have no role at all.
  • Instead of trying to pick winners, the government should focus on building an enabling business environment that supports research and innovation.
  • Thus, instead of pumping money into one project or firm, it should support clean energy research in general.
  • That way, the government does its part in steering the policy ship towards clean energy while still being technology-agnostic.