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28th March 2024 (12 Topics)

28th March 2024

QUIZ - 28th March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes


India is witnessing an unprecedented construction boom,this growth brings economic opportunities and improved living standards but also poses significant environmental challenges.Therefore, addressing energy inefficiency in residential buildings is crucial, given India’s rising energy and cooling demand due to economic growth, urbanisation, heat islands, and climate change. 

1: Dimension-Unprecedented construction boom

  • Growth in building sector: The building sector is a major energy consumer, it accounts for over 33% of India’s electricity usage, contributing to environmental degradation and climate change. Over 3,00,000 housing units are getting erected annually.
  • Increasing cooling demand: The India Cooling Action Plan forecasts an eight-fold increase in cooling demand between 2017 and 2037, emphasising the need for thermal comfort while reducing active cooling demand.
  • Challenges in construction sector:Natural sand is fast becoming a scarce resource. Carbon dioxide emissions, especially from manufacturing cement or fired clay bricks, are increasing every year. The amount of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is on the rise—about 150 million tons are generated annually in India and the recycling rate is only about1%.

2: Dimension-Initiatives to make construction sector energy efficient

Initiatives like the Eco-Niwas Samhita (ENS) and the Residential Energy Conservation Building Code are steps in the right direction.

  • Eco-Niwas Samhita (ENS) is India’s building energy code for residential buildings. It was launched by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The ENS introduces the Residential Envelope Transmittance Value (RETV), a metric measuring heat transfer through a building’s envelope. Lower RETV values lead to cooler indoor environments and decreased energy usage.
  • Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC)sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings having a connected load of 100 kW or contract demand of 120 kVA or more.

3: Dimension-Challenges and Required Measures:

  • Issue (compromise in techniques):Current construction trends favour fast-paced, energy-intensive techniques with active cooling strategies, leading to compromises in thermal comfort.
    • Solution (awareness):There needs to be more widespread knowledge about climate-appropriate design and architecture, with perceptions of high first costs as a barrier to the design and construction of climate-responsive buildings needing to change.
  • Issue (Sustainability concerns acrossmaterials):Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks, red bricks, fly ash, and monolithic concrete (Mivan) are most popular material.  Red bricks exhibit moderate embodied energy, contributing to resource depletion, emissions, and waste.  Monolithic concrete have an embodied energy 75 times greater than AAC. Monolithic concrete, despite its quick construction time, presents the highest embodied energy, significant environmental impact, and sustainability challenges.
    • Solution (sustainable material):AAC blocks consistently had the lowest RETV across all climatic conditions, indicating their potential as a thermally efficient material. Hence, AAC blocks offer a better balance between embodied energy and construction time than red bricks and monolithic concrete.
  • Issue (Untapped potential):India has significant untapped potential for innovative building materials.
    • Solution (re-imagining construction design and practices): Building orientation, Window Wall Ratio (WWR), U-value (rate of heat transfer) of walls, roofs and window assemblies, glazing performance, active cooling systems, etc., can unlock the potential for a sustainable built environment.


The world is facing a critical threat with climate shifts. Though governments are employing carbon trading as a strategy to decrease their emissions, their “effectiveness” is questionable.

1: Dimension-Global shift towards Carbon Trading

  • The global, multibillion-dollar voluntary carbon trading industry has been embraced by governments, organisations and corporations including oil and gas companies, airlines, fast-food brands as a way of claiming to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.
  • It works by carbon offset credits being tradable “allowances” or certificates that allows the purchaser to compensate for 1 ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in greenhouse gases by investing in environmental projects that claim to reduce carbon emissions. 

2: Dimension-Role of Carbon credits in combating climate change

The increasing pressure to act on nature loss led governments and companies worldwide to ramp up their decarbonisation commitments.Though carbon crediting offers a multitude of benefits, making it an effective tool in the fight against climate change, there persist some issues:

  • Greenwashing: This does not lower the overall amount of greenhouse gases released by buyers. They are simply offset, which gives corporations a way to claim they are eco-friendly without reducing their overall emissions.
  • Lack of genuine efforts: Carbon credits will entice businesses to engage in greenwashing by purchasing offsets and not making genuine efforts to reduce their GHG emissions.
  • Permanence: The trees planted for additionality might be lost again and release the previously captured carbon back into the atmosphere. 
  • Other ways for reduction: The emissions reductions claimed by some carbon offset projects would have occurred anyway even without the offset project.
  • Multiple issues:Over the years, offset projects have been dogged by allegations of land conflicts, human rights abuses, hampering conservationand furthering coal use and pollution.

Way forward

Carbon credits provide a mechanism to quantify and incentivize emission reductions at a time when the world is trying to mobilize all the forces to fight climate change. It represents a crucial step towards a more sustainable future, and it encourages the adoption of more methods to reduce GHG emissions. Additionally, considering the fact that almost all of the criticisms facing carbon credits are due to the lack of a well-established management mechanism, more standardized frameworks formed through multilateral cooperation will definitely help it to maximize its potential.

Case Study: Australia's carbon credit scheme

Australia's carbon credit scheme was undermined by new research, which found a world-leading reforestation project had been an underperforming "catastrophe".

Australis’s offsets program was "one of the world's largest" natural carbon offset projects.Australia’s offsets program is the world’s fifth biggest nature-based offsets program, with projects covering nearly 42m hectares, an area larger than Japan.

Claims made by the Study

  • No change in tree cover: The most popular technique used to create offsets in Australia, known as “human-induced regeneration” and pledged to regenerate scrubby outback forests, had mostly not improved tree cover as promised between about 2015 and 2022.
    • Forest cover had either barely grown or gone backwards in nearly 80%.
  • No reduction in emission: These projects were therefore not reducing emissions as promised, and polluting companies that bought offsets created through these projects were often not reducing their impact on theclimate as they claimed.
  • Questionable credits: Despite this, Australia had used these projects to bank millions of tonnes in questionable carbon credits, which are used to supposedly offset polluting industries.

The researchers called on the Australian government to stop issuing carbon credits to regeneration projects in un-cleared areas “for the sake of the integrity of Australia’s carbon market and the country’s decarbonisation efforts”.



Q: Should the pursuit of carbon credit and clean development mechanisms set up under UNFCCC be maintained even though there has been a massive slide in the value of carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth. (UPSC 2014)


The Indian economy is grappling with a slowdown in foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2022-23, FDI equity inflows dropped by 22% year-on-year to USD 46 billion, following a 1% contraction from the previous year.

1: Dimension-Slowdown in FDI flows to developing countries

  • Affected global investments:While overall global FDI flows rose 3% to an estimated USD 1.4 trillion in 2023, economic uncertainty and higher interest rates did affect global investment, reflected in FDI flows to developing countries falling by 9%.
    • The decline in India’s net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow is in line with the slowdown in such investments to developing countries.
  • Reductions for India: Gross FDI inflows to India also dipped but only slightly in the period April 2023-January 2024 [from USD 61.7 billion to USD 59.5 billion]. In net terms, the comparable figures were USD 25.5 bn. vs. USD 36.8 billion.

2: Dimension-Risks for global market

  • Significant risks: These risks include geopolitical risks, high debt levels accumulated in many countries, and concerns about further global economic fracturing.
  • Positive factors:However, a modest increase in global FDI flows is likely this year, due to a decline in inflation and borrowing costs in major markets which may stabilise financing conditions for international investment deals.

3: Dimension-Need of FDI in Indian Economy

  • Long-term growth:FDI leads to the long term growth of the economy. MNCs bring about technology transfer to the domestic companies which lead to the organic growth or expansion takes place in the companies also in the Employment.
  • Per capita income increases and consumption improves. Tax revenues increase and government spending rises.
  • GDP increases and there is also a lagged effect due to which subsequent years GDP too increases.
  • Higher growth rate:FDI puts the companies and hence the economy on higher growth mode and the right process of FDI is selection of the strategic sectors in the economy that generate highest RoI.
  • Forex reserves rises significantly: Exports get a fillip and balance of payments show surplus which causes rupee to appreciate vis-à-vis Dollar.
  • Skill development: In FDI there is technology transfer or the movement of technical knowhow to the domestic country due to which skill development takes place and together with higher capital this raises productivity and profitability.

Fact Box

India’s FDI equity inflows

  • Around 65% of India’s FDI equity inflows came in the services, drugs and pharmaceuticals, construction (infrastructure activities) and non-conventional energy sectors.
  • The Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, the USA, and Mauritius account for around 70% of the total FDI equity inflows into India.

About FDI

  • A foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a firm or individual in one country into business interests located in another country.
  • Routes through which India gets FDI
  • Automatic route: The non-resident or Indian company does not require prior nod of the RBI or government of India for FDI.
  • Government route: The government's approval is mandatory. The company will have to file an application through Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal. The application is then forwarded to the respective ministry, which approves/rejects the application in consultation with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce. DPIIT then issues the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications under the existing FDI policy.


Q: Justify the need for FDI for the development of the Indian economy. Why is there a gap between MOUs signed and actual FDIs? Suggest remedial steps to be taken for increasing actual FDIs in India. (UPSC 2016)


In a historic move, the Kerala Kalamandalam has decided to lift the ban on males studying 'Mohiniyattam'.

About Mohiniyattam

  • Mohiniyattam is one of the eight classical dances of India that developed and remained popular in the state of Kerala.
  • Mohiniyattam dance gets its name from the word Mohini– a mythical enchantress avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, who helps good prevail over evil by developing her feminine powers.
  • Mohiniyattam’s roots, like all classical Indian dances, are in the Natya Shastra – the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text on performance arts.
  • However, it follows the Lasya style described in Natya Shastra which is a dance that is delicate and feminine. The delicate body movements and subtle facial expressions are more feminine in nature and therefore are ideally suited for performance by women.
  • Costumes: The costume includes plain white or off-white such as ivory or cream coloured sari embroidered with bright golden or gold laced coloured brocade (similar to a ceremonial Kasavu saree).
  • Music and instruments:The vocal (music) of Mohiniyattam involves various rhythms. There are numerous compositions for a Mohiniyattam repertoire, most of whose lyrics are in Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam.
    • The musical instruments usually used in Mohiniyattam are Mridangam or Madhalam (barrel drum), Idakka (hourglass drum), flute, Veena, and Kuzhitalam (cymbals).
    • The ragas (melody) are rendered in the sopana (steps) style, which is a slow melodic style with roots in the Natya Shastra.

India’s recognised classical dances: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri, and Mohiniyattam.


China (Sri Lanka’s primary bilateral creditor) has pledged to develop Sri Lanka’s strategic deep sea port and the capital's airport after talks with his counterpart in Beijing.China says it is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact.

Key Highlights

  • China offered “assistance to develop” the capital’s Katunayake International Airport, Hambantota Port, and Colombo Port.
    • The strategically significant Hambantota Port was handed to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease. 
    • The Hambantota Port, also known as the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, is a maritime inland port located in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.
    • It is located down the southern coast of the island.
    • Located ten nautical miles from the global shipping route linking the Far East with the West, Hambantota Port is Sri Lanka's most diversified deep-water, multi-purpose port.

Fact Box: Rubber-Rice Pact

  • India and the United States are both concerned that a Chinese foothold at Hambantota, on the island’s southern coast, could boost its naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.
  • Sri Lanka has insisted its ports will not be used for any military purposes, but New Delhi has objected to Chinese research vessels calling at Hambantota fearing that they could be used for espionage.


IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) gave the go ahead to launch a new online marketplace for insurance. It’s called ‘Bima Sugam’.

About Bima Sugam

  • BimaSugam is going to be a one-stop platform where Indians can find all kinds of insurance policies offered by different companies.
  • And if something catches their eye, they can swipe right and make a purchase.


Meme coins, a unique category of cryptocurrencies, have gained significant popularity in the digital currency space.

What are meme coins?

  • Also known as ‘memetic tokens’ or ‘community coins’, meme coins are digital currencies created as a form of satire or humorous tribute to the internet culture.
  • They often feature quirky names, logos, and branding that reference popular memes, jokes, or internet phenomena.
  • Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, meme coins are characterised by their lighthearted and often comedic nature, designed to go viral and be shared widely.


India's stock market is set to usher in the T+0 settlement system, making it among the handful of countries to implement the shorter trade settlement cycle. 

What is T+0 system?

  • In the T+0 system (T refers to the day of the trade and 0 is the day of settlement), trades done in shares will be settled on the same day.
  • This means shares will be transferred to the buyer's account and the funds will be deposited in the seller's account on the same day of the trade.
  • Impact:A shorter settlement cycle on full implementation is aimed at making the system more dynamic. Since funds will be available on the same day of selling, it is expected to improve liquidity, allowing traders to use cash better.
  • Evolution:Currently, India follows the T+1 cycle, which means trades are settled by the next day.
    • After following a T+5 settlement cycle, India moved to T+3 in 2002 and further reduced it to T+2 in 2003.
    • In 2021, Sebi introduced the T+1 system before making it the norm in 2023. The regulator has also set its sights on instant trade settlement.





Carbon offsets

  • Carbon offsets are used by the government and polluting companies as an alternative to cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Instead of reducing their own pollution, they can choose to buy offsets that are meant to represent a reduction in emissions elsewhere.
  • Each carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has either been stopped from going in the atmosphere, or sucked out of it.



  • Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money that is based on blockchain technology and secured by cryptography.


Debt restructuring

Debt restructuring is a process used by companies, individuals, and countries to change the terms on loans to make them easier to pay back.



Greenwashing is the act of making false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product or practice.


Heat islands

Heat islands are urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas. Structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies. 


Amidst escalating tensions between China and Taiwan, India finds itself strategically positioned with strong interests but is unlikely to engage militarily in any conflict over Taiwan.

Maintain the Status Quo

  • Economic and Strategic Interests: India has a vested interest in maintaining the current status quo regarding Taiwan, given the significant economic ties between the two nations. The burgeoning trade relations and potential collaborations in sectors like semiconductor manufacturing underscore the importance of stability across the Taiwan Strait for India's economic growth and strategic security.
  • Potential Costs of Conflict: Any Chinese aggression against Taiwan would have dire consequences for India's economy and regional stability. The disruption of global trade routes and industrial supply chains, coupled with the possibility of a broader conflict involving major powers like the U.S., would severely impact India's economic and security interests.
  • Regional Ramifications: A conflict over Taiwan could escalate tensions in the broader Indo-Pacific region, potentially affecting India-China relations and regional security dynamics. The risk of nuclear escalation and the reshaping of the regional security architecture highlight the imperative for India to prioritize stability and growth over involvement in a conflict over Taiwan.

Preventing Calamity

  • Deterrence and Diplomacy: India can play a crucial role in preventing a conflict over Taiwan by bolstering deterrence measures and engaging in diplomatic efforts to dissuade China from resorting to military aggression. Utilizing international law arguments, building anti-aggression narratives, and coordinating diplomatic messaging can help dissuade Beijing from escalating tensions.
  • Economic De-risking and Information Operations: Implementing economic de-risking measures and actively supporting the Taiwanese people through information operations can further contribute to deterring Chinese aggression. Additionally, providing military support to U.S. forces in the Indian Ocean can enhance deterrence capabilities and signal India's commitment to regional stability.
  • Advancing Strategic Interests: These policy options not only serve to prevent conflict over Taiwan but also align with India's broader strategic interests. Strengthening cooperation with the U.S., enhancing India's strategic leverage, and asserting international leadership among Global South countries would contribute to India's national rise and regional stability.
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The issue revolves around the politics of humanitarian aid, particularly concerning Gaza, Taiwan, and other conflict zones. Recent events highlight the intersection of geopolitical interests and humanitarian concerns, impacting the lives of vulnerable populations.

Gaza Humanitarian Crisis:

  • Politicization of humanitarian aid:United States' decision to halt funding to UNRWA amid acute food insecurity in Gaza raises questions about the politicization of humanitarian aid.
  • Complexities:The announcement of building a temporary pier by the U.S. for humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza underscores the complexities of aid distribution amidst geopolitical tensions.
  • Suffering:The situation in Gaza exemplifies how political decisions can impede humanitarian efforts, exacerbating suffering and violating international law.

Global Patterns of Humanitarian Aid:

  • Strategic objectives:Instances from India's aid provision to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan illustrate how humanitarian assistance can be leveraged for political messaging and strategic objectives.
  • Manipulation for gains:The politicization of aid delivery in conflict zones, such as Syria, Yemen, and Ethiopia, underscores the manipulation of humanitarian efforts for geopolitical gains.
  • International community's failure to prioritize humanitarian needs over political interests perpetuates suffering and undermines the principles of humanitarianism.
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The failure to adopt the agreement on investment facilitation for development (IFD) at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has raised concerns regarding the inclusion of investment within the WTO framework and the negotiation process followed for the IFD agreement.

Concerns over IFD Agreement:

  • Concern:The IFD agreement, aimed at facilitating investment flows, was opposed by countries like India due to concerns regarding its inclusion within the WTO framework and the negotiation process.
  • Issues in agreement: The IFD agreement lacks provisions on market access, investment protection, and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which have been contentious issues, especially given the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism.
  • India's Objections:While India acknowledges the need to update WTO rules, it questions the legality of launching negotiations on the IFD agreement without multilateral consensus and emphasizes the importance of adherence to existing mandates.

Reconsidering Approach to Plurilateral Agreements:

  • Plurilateral agreements (PAs) like the IFD agreement can play a vital role in revitalizing the WTO's legislative function amidst challenges in arriving at consensus for multilateral agreements.
  • Defensive stance: India, as a major economy and upcoming global player, may need to reconsider its defensive stance towards PAs and recognize their potential for updating and modernizing WTO rules.
  • Deadlock in WTO decision-making highlights the importance of exploring alternative mechanisms like PAs to address contemporary trade issues and adapt to the evolving nature of international trade.
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