There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Thirteenth Edition we are covering the following news:
- Can India really boycott China?
- What the EU-India partnership on circular economy entails?
- G7 expansion causes tension
- Russia Oil Spill
- New Zealand now has 95% chance of eliminating coronavirus
(By Gunika Vij, Shitij Goyal and Aashika Deb)
The entire world has witnessed a lot and experienced a lot in the year 2020, but the world witnessed one of the most deadly viruses, spreading like wild fire which has claimed over 6 lac plus lives, critics may claim at the behest of one country- the People’s Republic of China.
While India, was still catching up with the impacts of the virus and the rising death toll, border tensions with China started peaking, this time over the construction of a road near the Line of Actual Control, which would help India gain a strategic advantage in the area.
Popular nationalist sentiment claims that we must for once and for all do away with China, not the country but the Chinese goods being sold in India. But the real question is will it be possible for a country like India which imports more than 16% of its goods from China and this number increases by 12% on an average each year.
The most important fact that needs to be taken into consideration before going ahead is that in order to boycott China the import of goods must be substituted with production of goods in the country itself and making sure that the goods are at par with the quality, if not worse and affordable price wise too. India imports a lot of products from China. Some of these products are raw materials such as steel, minerals, etc. Others are finished products. It may be possible for India to stop the import of finished goods. It may not be economically beneficial. Many Chinese companies have started their Indian operations recently. This has been made possible by the “Make In India” campaign started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If a total boycott of Chinese goods is issued, these companies will also face pressure from China to stop production in India. The end result will be a loss of employment in huge numbers. Also since China only imports $2.5 billion worth from India, it can afford to buy from other countries and yet it’s GDP will not be impacted as much. On the other hand, since India imports from China in large quantities, it will not be easy for India to find a replacement for Chinese goods. Finding a substitute source which can match the cost and availability of Chinese products will be a difficult task. This is the reason why Indian GDP will be more impacted in this scenario.
When a company or a country for this matter plans on changing the way its operations are performed it leads to a paradigm shift in how the economy will function. How the economic relations will henceforth be and lastly how long it will take to stabilize the economy after such a supply shock. It is always important that a country maintain cordial relations with each of its neighbours this however has not been the case with India we have had a history of wars and land disputes with most of our neighbours, which constantly keeps us under that threat of a war. Every dispute can and should be worked out with dialogue with mutual consent of both parties, in a war, in any war at the end of the day it is people like you and me, ordinary men and women who have to suffer.
The European Union wants to work with India on issues of resource efficiency and their reuse by application of circular economy. The EU is looking forward to engaging with India as it moves towards the presidency of the G-20 in 2022. This will allow the countries to adopt more green national recovery strategies and move towards more sustainability.
As countries are planning to restart their economies, they are looking forward to innovative measures to give a boost to slackening economies keeping in mind the needs of a pandemic hit world and factoring in climate change. Therefore, India is looking forward to adopting a circular economy; its model of growth offers India the roadmap for making ecological and economic welfare sustain and complement each other. India has announced a significant post-COVID economic stimulus package with inclusion of resource efficiency into strategies across various sectors.
Looking at figures, by 2022, India will be the most populous nation in the world and by 2030 its material consumption is expected to reach 14.2 billion tonnes. While Europe recycles 70% of its consumption items, India lags behind at 20%; adding to that, India also produces 9.2% of total greenhouses gases worldwide. This shows that India’s traditional take-make-waste linear economic approach will cause severe ecological damages with unwanted economic ramifications.
R P Gupta, Secretary at the Environment Ministry of India, said the ministry is partnering with the EU on resource efficiency under the joint declaration of intent with EU-REI (European Union- Resource Efficiency Initiative) because the Indian government has recognised the need for integrated resource efficiency. In this regard the ministry has formulated a draft policy for resource efficiency that aims to provide a framework to enable efficient use of resources and recycling of wastes across all sectors. The partnership intends that the actions aimed at driving the economy have to be so designed that they yield results in the short as well as medium and long terms.
There is enormous scope for recycling of resources both in India and Europe. Transitioning to a circular economy will result in $624 billion in economic benefits and reduce carbon emissions by 44% in 2050 alone.
This partnership could see new employment opportunities, with plenty of scope for innovation and it would be a significant step towards fighting climate change. The EU is a significant trade partner of India and this recent partnership could help strengthen the ties further. There will be cross sectoral collaborations, development of policy instruments and action plans. Since the European Green Deal is at the heart of EU’s recovery plan, the goal will be to achieve climate neutrality, combat biodiversity loss and boost reuse of resources.
USA’s invitation to India, Russia, Australia and South Korea for the upcoming G-7 summit was met with China’s rage with the latter saying that any attempts to draw a “small circle” against Beijing will be “doomed to fail” and become “unpopular”. Trump’s exclusion of China comes at a time when the US abrogated special status given to Hong Kong and the withdrawal of its contribution to World Health Organisation and he is also pushing for decoupling China from global supply chains which could hurt the world’s second largest economy in the long run.
This could lead to a cold war brewing between China and USA, with Trump accusing the Chinese government of not divulging timely information about the disease and demanding a probe into the origins of the virus and there have been many implications and accusations that COVID-19 could have been a “political virus”. This time for the G7 summit, Trump’s siding with Russia is a matter of concern for Beijing because Russia and Beijing had grown closer since G8 in 2014. Some of USA’s close allies such as the UK and Canada have expressed their opposition towards Russia’s return after it was expelled from the G8 in 2014 as they believe there has been no evidence of changed behaviour to justify Russia’s return. This could dampen Trump’s wish to expand G7.
Although the proposal to expand the G7 summit is a step in the right direction, it fails to provide a truly universal representation because China is irked at the proposal and it’s hardly possible to implement serious undertakings without China’s participation. The international balance of power has been undergoing a significant change especially because there has been global backlash against China due to coronavirus but China has denied all accusations. Western countries’ dominance on international politics has been waning. Against this background, Russia’s return to G7 becomes meaningless. It would be unwise for Russia to join a Western group because it won’t be treated equally.
The national strength and global governance ability of China surpasses those of India and Russia; clearly, even though Trump’s attempt at expansion was aimed at China, he failed to factor in global governance. It’s more likely that Russia will decline the invitation since it’s more in favour of Russia to adopt a China-friendly approach.
Another reason why Trump’s plan is doomed to fail is his response to the on-going civil unrest in the US; it undermines USA’s case against China. Moreover, India joining an expanded G-7 that perceives China to be an imaginary enemy will result in India-China bilateral relations deteriorating especially in the context of the tensions on the border between the two countries where large numbers of soldiers have been face to face for a month now. However, siding with US could also be counted as sending China a strong message, and it would strengthen India-US ties.
Russia oil spill
- On 29th May, there was an oil spill of more than 20,000 tons of diesel into the Ambarnaya River near the city of Norilsk after a fuel tank collapsed at a power plant owned by Norilsk Nickel. The company said that the thawing permafrost was the reason for one of the tank’s pillars to collapse. The diesel leaked from the burst tank and spread into the water and soil as much as seven miles from the site. While we are still struggling as to combat climate change, here comes another environmental disaster. This is said to be one of the country’s worst such accidents. The leak has turned a river crimson.
- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency in the affected region in northern Siberia. But the leak is now a huge threat to the Arctic environment and will likely inflict significant damage.
- Oil in the Arctic marine ecosystem originates mainly from two sources: drilling activity and oil spills during transportation.
The potential damage of this oil leak on the ecosystem is
- Drilling activity in the Arctic causes long-term harm and thus chronic effects on Arctic marine ecosystems. The local ecosystem sustains damage as there are notable changes in species composition, dominance and biomass, made even worse by oil spills.
- This chasing of fossil fuel and exploration in the ecologically sensitive Arctic region – whether it originates from shipping activities or drilling activity – destroys all aspects of the environmental integrity of the marine ecosystems including fisheries, marine mammals, corals, ocean and shorebirds, and the coastal wildlife. This hurts the growth and reproduction of the native species and also leads to behavioural changes seen reflected in the feeding, activity and motility, avoidance reactions etc of the marine birds and animals.
- The oil spill will disturb the Arctic food chain for decades, rather forever. Oil spills in ice are more complicated to deal with than oil spills in open waters. Especially in the marginal ice zone, during the high production period, the impacts of oil on these highly sensitive shallow waters could hurt the prospects of survival of the organisms of all levels of the Arctic food chain.
- We cannot even hope that time will heal the damage. On these near-zero temperatures, the slow rate of biological degradation of oil means that oil spills in the Arctic Ocean might remain there for periods of 50 years or more, feel marine biologists.
- Unlike oil spills on open water ecosystems, the effect of oil in ice-covered environments may be more devastating to the ice biodiversity, particularly as oil tends to become trapped between glaciers, and within channels in the ice. This may prolong the degradation time of the oil and meanwhile increase the contamination time in such a manner that even after several years of an oil accident, the recovery process of the ecosystem may still be incomplete and, in the worst case, may not ever reach the original state.
New Zealand now has a 95% chance of eliminating coronavirus
Since all people are scared by this word Corona and also the superspreading virus has no limits. Here I come with a brand new update but a decent one. New Zealand is on the verge of eradicating the virus from its shores after it notched a 15th straight day with no reported new infections. Only one person has the virus out of a population of 5 million. However, it remains likely that the country will see new cases once it reopens its borders.
The country has already lifted many of its virus restrictions and will remove most of these that remain, including limiting crowd sizes, next week. Just over 1,500 people have contracted the virus during the outbreak, including 22 who died. The total number of cases stands at 1,504 with 22 deaths. The country is set to lift COVID-19 restrictions now.
There is still a small chance of undetected cases, and that we know that COVID-19 is passed on at superspreading events. New Zealand is now preparing to relax its COVID-19 restrictions to alert level 1, which would end physical distancing and size restrictions on gatherings. But our modelling suggests removing limits on large gatherings will increase the risk of a very large new outbreak from 3% to 8%. To fight back this risk, New Zealanders will have to continue avoiding the three Cs of a possible infection: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.
As we know half of New Zealand’s economy is based on tourism and exports. These both sectors are largely affected by the ongoing pandemic. Tourism is a sector which can’t restart before this pandemic gets over at the global level. The people travelling to New Zealand will be a threat to it now as they can be the carriers of Covid-19. On the other hand exports of Dairy products, meat, logs and wood products, fruit, machinery and equipment, wine, fish and seafood are also affected to China, EU and USA. Milk powder, butter, and cheese are New Zealand’s largest exports, followed by meat and edible offal. The exports are only to a level of 1/4th and this has affected the economy and people engaged in the Industry largely. Though the restrictions are being eased out, still precautions need to be taken as the virus have records of rebirth and the problem is not over yet. No country is self-reliant and there is always a chance of transmission of the virus. New Zealand has been successful in fighting against the virus and now its time to celebrate but with some precautions.