The flagship environmental channel, National Geographic and the reputed fact checker, Snopes recently debunked social media claims regarding improvement in the environment like increased dolphin and swan sightings in Italy. In the meantime, this has spiked up fresh debate between environmentalists and scientists worldwide: Can the human social isolation adopted to fight against the ongoing COVID-19, do any good torevive Nature? Or is it just a temporary distraction to the underlying problem at hand, i.e the pandemic itself?
Crux of the Matter
Small Step To Giant Leap in Carbon Footprint Reduction? The transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. As per reports released by researchers at Columbia University (CU), emission of carbon monoxide from cars and planet heating Carbon Dioxide (CO2), has reduced by nearly 50% as compared to 2019, improving the overall environment. With schools and businesses adopting strict work from home policy worldwide, there could be a further decrease in travel carbon footprint.
An analysis by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment suggests that there has been a 35% drop in energy usage of fossil fuels like coal, over a two week period due to less industrial activities. The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimates it to be equivalent to 200 million tons of CO2. In Europe, satellite images show nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions receding in northern Italy, Spain, and the UK.
On the flip side, the household carbon footprint has the potential to increase. It depends mainly on weather conditions, geography and different family lifestyles followed at home. According to Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at CU, “People may spend more time watching television or using appliances if they’re cooped up in their houses, increasing household’s carbon footprint.”
India Takes Deep Breaths as Air Quality Improves Over 90 cities in the nation have recorded minimum air pollution recently during the ongoing 21 days lockdown period aimed to control COVID-19. As per figures generated by the Government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), there has been a noteworthy drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutant) by 30 percent in Delhi. In Pune, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution has reduced by 43 percent, in Mumbai, by 38 percent, and in Ahmedabad, by 50 percent.
What Has Happened in the Past? Julia Pongratz, professor at the University of Munich, Germany, discovered that epidemics left subtle prints on atmospheric CO2 levels, by measuring tiny bubbles trapped in ancient ice cores. The list included epidemics such as the Black Death in Europe in the 14th Century and smallpox in South America. Even in the case of afinancial crash of 2008-09, there was an overall dip in emissions of 1.3%. Combined emissions from manufacturing, industrial processes and construction round up to 18.4% of global anthropogenic emissions.
Challenge Yet to be Addressed: Clean Energy Plans Paused A global recession as a result of coronavirus shutdowns could stall the shift to clean energy. If capital markets lock up, it will become difficult for companies to secure financing for planned wind and electric grid projects, and it could bomb proposals already made or new projects. Low prices could further depress electric-vehicle sales and make people less inclined toward projects like retrofitting energy-saving homes and offices.
As a matter of fact, the world’s largest share of solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries are produced in China. The Dragon land is already relaxingenvironmentalsupervision of companies to stimulate its economy, which means that the aforementioned 25% cut in carbon emissions could evaporate, followed by even more emissions than before. Similarly, US has a $2 trillion stimulus bill passed earlier this week and is being popularised as the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history. It does include direct payments to individuals and extended unemployment benefits but not relief for renewables, such as crucial tax credit extensions for solar and wind energy.
Sneak Peek to a Zero-Carbon Economy? The world can have a promising future of coexistence of both Human Beings, natural environment and other living species including birds and animals if there is both public and political will with international cooperation. Policymakers can further move forward with their climatic plans of action while keeping the global economy stable, as stated by the European Green Deal, a new policy package that commits European Union member states to zero emissions by 2050.
On the digital front, Tech giant IBM has already launched a Call for Code Global Challenge which addresses both climate change and COVID-19 and shall involve different coding communities round the globe. With the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow planned to be derailed till the pandemic cools down, online environmental activism is parallelly being carried out. Thus not with mere words, but by actual actions, we can look forward to a greener, more sustainable future.
India doing it’s own part in bringing together willing climate patriots
A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases, including the carbon-containing gases carbon dioxide and methane, can be emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.
An individual’s, nation’s, or organization’s carbon footprint can be measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment, a life cycle assessment, or other calculative activities denoted as carbon accounting. More Info
Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants in the environment. From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major threat to health and climate. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about seven million premature deaths every year.80% people are affected by its unfortunate consequences, in the form of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections. More Info
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has estimated that India may require around 1 million Coronavirus test kits and has put a bid for the same. Recently, a Pune-based company Mylabs got approval for testing kits and is likely to bid for manufacturing testing kits at nearly one-fourth the rate. Complete Coverage: Coronavirus
Crux of the Matter
Coronavirus Update In India, Coronavirus cases have crossed the 700-mark and the death toll is nearing 20 as on 27 March. The government has declared a shutdown to stem the spread of virus. But that may not be enough if proper Coronavirus testing is not carried out.
It is evident from USA’s current predicament, what harm lack of proper testing can do. It has more than 85,000 COVID-19 patients, surpassing the number of Coronavirus cases in China. The global count of Coronavirus cases is now more than half a million.
India Looks Inward for Solutions To meet the demand of 1 million Coronavirus testing kits, Ahmedabad-based CoSara Diagnostics has become the only Indian company so far to receive the consent to manufacture test kits. Following suit, Pune-based microbiology lab Mylab got approval from Indian FDA-CDSCO for its indigenous COVID-19 testing kits that reduces testing time from 6 hours to 2.5hours. It has assured the government that it can produce 1 lakh testing kits per week and even increase production if needed.
ICMR has also said that it will begin conducting tests for antibodies. This is called Serological test. It looks for antibodies in a person’s blood. It tells the doctors if the patient had developed antibodies to Coronavirus.
Chinese Kits – A Noose for Countries Till date, countries like Spain and the Czech Republic were using a faulty testing kit produced by China. Spain said that the test kits could only detect 30% of the cases correctly. Spain currently has more than 4,000 deaths, world’s second-highest.
Thus Indian authorities have decided the standards of the test kits to be equivalent to the criteria set by US Food and Drug Administration or the European regulator’s CE in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) certification. It can also be validated through a validation certificate issued by the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. ICMR’s 26 national institutes address themselves to research on specific health topics like tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera and diarrhoeal diseases, viral diseases including AIDS, malaria, kala-azar, vector control, nutrition, food & drug toxicology, reproduction, immuno-haematology, oncology, medical statistics, etc. The Indian Journal of Medical Research is published under the auspices of the council. More Info
India will now be using indigenous COVID-19 detection testing kit after Mylab, a Pune-based molecular diagnostics company, developed a testing kit for Coronavirus and got approval from the India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Complete Covergae: Coronavirus
Crux of the Matter
Mylab Molecular Diagnostic Company developed a testing kit for Coronavirus in only 6 weeks. ‘Mylab PathoDetect Covid-19 Qualitative PCR kit’ will be a great help in India’s fight against coronavirus as it will reduce the screening and confirmation time for coronavirus symptoms from 6 hours to 2.5 hours.
Further, the Co-founder Mr. Shrikant Parole is quite confident to sell the test kit at one-fourth of the current COVID-19 testing price i.e. Rs. 4,500 per sample. According to the company, one test kit can be used to test around 100 people. If an average lab is equipped with automated PCR then 1000 tests could be completed in 1 day. The company will start producing 1 lakh kits per week, but if needed it will increase the production. Till now India was importing testing kits produced from Germany.
However, after Mylab gets confirmation from CDSCO, it will change the course of Indian’s fight against Coronavirus.
Coronavirus Test Coronavirus is tested by a swab test in which a cotton ball passed through your throat or nose is taken to determine whether you have Coronavirus. Other tests like nasal aspirate, tracheal aspirate, sputum test, and blood test are also carried out.
Laboratory Diagnosis of Viral Infections – In the diagnostic laboratory, virus infections can be confirmed by a multitude of methods. Diagnostic virology has changed rapidly due to the advent of molecular techniques and increased clinical sensitivity of serological assays. A wide variety of samples can be used for virological testing. The type of sample sent to the laboratory often depends on the type of viral infection being diagnosed and the test required. Proper sampling technique is essential to avoid potential pre-analytical errors. Viruses are often isolated from the initial patient sample. This allows the virus sample to be grown into larger quantities and allows a larger number of tests to be run on them. This is particularly important for samples that contain new or rare viruses for which diagnostic tests are not yet developed. Molecular techniques are the most specific and sensitive diagnostic tests. They are capable of detecting either the whole viral genome or parts of the viral genome. In the past nucleic acid tests have mainly been used as a secondary test to confirm positive serological results. However, as they become cheaper and more automated, they are increasingly becoming the primary tool for diagnostics. More Info
On 24th March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an unprecedented complete lockdown of India for 21 days to mitigate the spread of the worldwide pandemic, coronavirus. The world has seen more than 4 lakh cases in the first quarter of 2020, while India has seen over 600 cases.
Crux of the Matter
India saw its first Coronavirus case on 30th Jan 2020. The case count touched 100 after 44 days, after which the cases have doubled roughly every 4-5 days. As of 25th March the case count has crossed 600 with 11 deaths, 55 days after the first case.
This exponential rise in cases has caused a sense of panic among the people. So far the world has seen over 4 lakh cases and around 20,000 deaths. The virus which originated in China in November 2019, has travelled across the Silk Route, wreaking havoc in Italy, Spain, UK and the rest of Europe along with Iran. It has now spread in the USA and India, and has also affected China’s neighbours such as South Korea and Japan. In a massively globalised world, a virulently contagious disease is spreading like wild fire. Countries across the world including China, Italy and Spain, the 3 worst hit countries in terms of death toll, have resorted to locking down affected areas to contain the spread of the virus.
PM’s Appeal Although India hasn’t seen nearly as many cases as Europe, China or USA, given the country’s size and population density, Coronavirus poses a very potent threat to this country.
To stop the spread in its tracks, the Prime Minister has decided to implement a nation wide lock down of 3 weeks starting from 25th March. PM Modi made a special televised address on 24th March, and conveyed the seriousness of the situation in simple terms. He requested the citizens to stand together with discipline against this potential calamity.
Earlier on 22nd March Modi had announced a Junta Curfew, a self imposed curfew by the citizenry, which was observed by most of the country. Since then, different states had started announcing various lockdown measures till the end of March. Since the Junta Curfew day, streets across India have become empty with people staying locked up in their homes.
How will we lock down? In the upcoming weeks, all non-essential places of business will be closed. Police forces have been mandated to ensure that people stay at home. The government has promised the citizens that it will try to reduce the inconveniences of the general population while taking specific steps to combat the spread of coronavirus. PM Modi has already announced a Rs 15,000 crore package for strengthening the medical infrastructure of the country while the FM has announced a slew of relief measures to ease the fiscal burden on the working class.
To make the lockdown manageable, essential services such as groceries, medical stores, hospitals, police stations, fire stations, etc will stay open. Government will function with reduced capacity of work force. The government will not be cutting wages of its employees and has appealed to private business owners to follow suit. By and large, the prime minister’s appeal has been met with support by the populace as well as the industry.
Exponential Explosion At present, no vaccine or medicine has been confirmed as an antidote for the virus, although certain malaria and HIV medications have worked in treating some patients. Currently, the overall fatality rate across the world lies at 4% on the optimistic side. In cases that have been closed (i.e. the cases whose outcome has been determined), the worldwide fatality rate is currently 15%. Italy, the worst hit country so far, has a closed case fatality rate of 45% and overall fatality rate of 10%. (Here overall fatality rate is the total percentage of active and closed cases that resulted in deaths.)
The virus is transmittable across humans and is as contagious as flu. Every new patient increases the chance of spread. Also the symptoms stay dormant for 1-2 weeks, which means that an affected person may spread it without knowing about it. All of this increases the probability of transmission. The contagiousness of the disease makes it spread exponentially – assume 1 person transmits to 2 people, those 2 can transmit to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16 and so on and so forth. Given the asymptomatic first week, every carrier can transmit to many more people which would just increase the rate of spread.
This can be seen in the case data as well. It took 87 days to spread to the first 50,000 people. It doubled to 100,000 in another 23 days, then 200,000 in another 12 days and 400,000 in another 6 days. After the first 50,000 cases (which were mostly in China) once it spread out, the cases have doubled in half the time for every doubling event. This kind of exponential explosion can be curbed by pre-emptively restricting the interaction of humans – and hence, governments across the world are resorting to nation-wide lockdowns.
Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself. In the long run, exponential growth of any kind will overtake linear growth of any kind. A virus (for example SARS, or smallpox) typically will spread exponentially at first, if no artificial immunization is available. Each infected person can infect multiple new people. More Info
In the Budget session of the Parliament, the Cabinet approved two schemes associated with electronics manufacturing in India. Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing and Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC2.0) schemes were passed in the parliament.
Crux of the Matter
EMC2.0 as the Support System Through the development of infrastructure and common amenities, this scheme would help in the development of the Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector and an entrepreneurial environment in electronics manufacturing.
It will aid in setting up Electronics Manufacturing Clusters in certain geographical areas, and Common Facility Centre (CFC) in industrial parks, etc at a cost of ₹3,762.25 crores. The following benefits can be yielded out of the Scheme:
It will create a robust infrastructure with Plug & Play offices.
It will bring new investment in the electronics sector.
It will create new job opportunities in the electronics manufacturing sector.
It will generate revenue, in the form of taxes, for the government as well.
“Assemble in India for the World” PLI scheme is aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and investment in specified electronic components including ATMP (Assembly, Testing, Marking, and Packaging) units and mobile production. It will achieve this through a production linked incentive in which it will extend a 4-6% incentive on incremental sales of Indian-made goods over a period of 5 years. It is likely to benefit 5-6 global players and a few domestic electronics manufacturers.
The government has set aside a sum of ₹40,995 crores for this scheme. It is estimated that the scheme will generate 2 lakh direct jobs. India produced ₹1.70 lakh crores worth mobile phones in 2018-19. With the conflux of this ‘Assemble in India for the World’ and ‘Make in India’, India aims to boost its electronic production.
New World Leader Coronavirus may have hampered the growth of Chinese manufacturing as many world nations are mulling over sanctioning China. After the USA-China Trade War, now Coronavirus may have a lasting impact on the Chinese industry. India’s production boost, especially in the electronics and mobile manufacturing, can put India abreast of China. India can see this as an opportunity to become a manufacturing hub for multinationals, besides definitely encouraging domestic production.
The electronics industry in China grew rapidly after the liberalization of the economy under the national strategic policy of accelerating the “informatization” of its industrial development. Manufacturing was the sector that grew the fastest. Major Chinese electronics companies include BOE, Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Huawei, Konka, Lenovo, Panda Electronics, Skyworth, SVA, TCL, Xiaomi, Oppo, DJI and ZTE. China’s production recorded the largest world market share for its electronics exports in 2016. It also recorded high volume outputs across a wide spectrum of consumer electronics; between 2014 and 2015—according to China Daily—286.2 million personal computers (90.6% of the global supply), 1.77 billion phones (70.6% of global supply of smartphones) and 109 million units (80% of global supply of air conditioners) were produced. More Info