Global Food Crisis 2022

For the past 2-3 months, the world is seeing a global food crisis like never before. Sri Lanka is by far the worst country to be affected by the global food crisis. Afghanistan and Myanmar are also driven by their extremist leaders towards self-isolation, leading the majority of the population towards below poverty-line. Ukraine is devastated by war with Russia, and hence both countries are seeing lowering of crop production, rise in hunger, and sharp decline in economy.

But many developed countries in the world are seeing food shortages like never before. Sanctions by the European and American countries against Russia, has hit them hard, as they are currently without primary Russian exports of wheat, cotton, edible oil, and mineral oil. Previously, all of the European countries were partially or entirely dependent on Russian supplies to feed the population. Now, with the sanctions, countries like the UK, France, Germany, US and even neutral Switzerland are facing some food crisis.

Not only food, but also production of fertilizers, pesticides, processing machines, and logistics, have dwindled since the Covid-19 pandemic, and has not fully recovered yet in most countries. As the excess stock has been exhausted, we are seeing food shortages across the globe. India, being so huge in size, is not much affected by the global food crisis, as loss in one region is compensated by excess in another region. However, keeping in mind the future food shortages, which may hit the country, India has banned the export of wheat to most countries. Other countries have followed suit, notable among them is Indonesia, banning export of palm oil and China, banning export of fertilizers. India is also looking forward to severely restricting the export of sugar, so that domestic prices are kept within the limits of the common people.

Experts say that this global food crisis was expected at the turn of the decade, when the Covid-19 pandemic started. However, the shortage is not equal throughout the world, and some countries are facing worse economic conditions than others. Some countries are getting help from neighbours and other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, while others like Myanmar and Afghanistan have opted to ruin their own people. Only if the whole of humanity works together and fights the crisis we are facing today, we will get out of this global food crisis without much damage to our economy and our brothers and sisters.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cyclists Number Growing in the Country after Pandemic

The latest research has shown that West Bengal holds the highest percentage of households having a bicycle among all Indian states and Union Territories. 78.9% of households in the state have a bicycle. With the abundant availability of local transports, like e-rickshaws, good network of local trains, trams, and electric buses, West Bengal is showing the way for a green as well as effective mode of transportation.

The national average percentage of households having a bicycle is quite less at only 50.4%. The presence of hilly terrain is a hindrance to cycling. Hence, some states like Nagaland (5.5%) and Sikkim (5.9%) have fallen behind, being the states with lowest and second lowest percentage of households having a bicycle. However, others like Gujarat and Delhi have recorded poor percentages of only 29.9% and 27.2% respectively.

Presence of bicycles is still a hindrance in Kolkata, where many busy streets have a cycle ban on them. However, the Newtown and Salt Lake areas in Kolkata fared well with bicycle tracks and regular riders where young riders are mostly found. The rural Bengal is however, the greatest contributor, where a recent Sabuj Saathi scheme was floated by the State Government. According to the scheme, bicycles are given to students of class 9 to 12 for easier commuting to school. According to a senior Government official, this is responsible for West Bengal achieving the top spot in percentage of households having a bicycle.

With the increase in fuel prices, bicycles have the potential to replace existing motor bikes and cars in some places at least. Also, as the resources are getting depleted, we right now need alternative sources of energy which will sustain our needs as well as not get depleted anytime soon. Bicycling is currently the best solution among the youth for a healthy lifestyle as well, and is fast becoming a way to stay fit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, more than half of Indian households have a bicycle. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered the use of bicycles as the public transport was little available. The Covid-19 pandemic also made sure to be self-dependent on transportation, health maintenance and other factors. The number is expected to grow bigger in the coming days, as we modernize the bicycle, use it for general purposes everywhere, and become more conscious about our health and environment. However, it also depends on how the new generation spreads awareness about cycling.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Sri Lanka’s Worst Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka, being a not-so-small island nation, has to depend on imports from various other countries for various essential commodities. But despite heavy imports, and some occasional instances of financial crisis, Sri Lanka managed to hold out its economy amid civil wars, natural disasters, and Government collapse. However, without a signal, the country has now plunged into a severe economic crisis, the worst till date, bringing the country’s economy on the verge of collapse.

Sri Lanka, the land of cinnamon and tea, is known for the export of tea and spices, and is also a major hub of tourism in Asia. The geography of Sri Lanka promotes fertile, flat lands towards the north, hilly interior, supports a great fishing industry, and has major ports between the west and the east. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka lacked big industrial regions like other developed nations, and that is why foreign debt is always a mounting pressure in the Sri Lankan economy. It’s 100% dependence on fuel oil from other countries has marked a severe fuel shortage in the country.

Covid-19 has a major role to play in crippling the Sri Lankan economy. Though the island never experienced huge surges of Covid-19 victims, its mainstay, the tourism industry suffered a huge setback, when the whole world went into lockdown. Though many African and South American countries opened up their doors to foreigners as the pandemic subsided, Sri Lanka remained virtually cut off from the tourism sector till date. Repeated lockdowns in the country, followed by economic crisis put both foreign and domestic tourists out of reach of famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Adding fuel to the fire were some Government policies that were taken hastily with little planning for the future. Some of them, like reduced taxation, and organic farming backfired as they were implemented overnight, without any backup plans. While the measures were really good, sudden change in taxation drained the Government Treasury, and replacing conventional farming with organic farming resulted in less productivity of crops. Sri Lanka’s reliance on China on port building has also backfired as its Hambantota port has been a commercial failure, prompting Chinese companies to take up the port business.

Till date, India has given almost 2 billion financial aid to Sri Lanka. India has donated essential items like rice and fuel to Sri Lanka so that common people may get themselves out of the crisis. More countries, including China, have come forward, and helped Sri Lanka regain their lost ground. However, the future of Sri Lanka is not looking bright with the whole Parliamentary cabinet except the President and the Prime Minister resigned.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Renewable Sector Inching Towards the Milestone

The renewable energy sector in India made a sharp increase at the end of the last decade. But the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 became a big stumbling block in its progress to reach the 175 GW goal by 2022. With the increase in prices of fuels and abundant availability of natural resources, the scope of renewable energy in India is vast. The only thing required at this hour is a push from the Government that may eventually start the process of replacing non-renewable resources with renewable resources.

Recently on August 12, 2021, the Government of India announced that it has installed 100 GW of renewable energy without large hydro. This good piece of news came way too late as the last 2 years of renewable energy addition was sluggish. Presently too, it is not showing any encouraging trend in the near future despite the pandemic situation waning in the country.

Solar Panels In India

The target falls way behind the 175 GW target that was set back in 2015. At that time, large hydro was not a part of renewable resources in India. By large hydro, we mean the hydro-electric plants having generating capacity of greater than 25MW. Until mid-2019, large hydro was not a part of the Ministry of New and Renewable but was administered separately as a part of the Ministry of Power. Now, the Indian Government has merged large and small hydro-electric power plants under renewable resources, taking the tally to 146 GW as of August 12, 2021.

Wind Turbines in India

As of October, 2021 according to the Ministry, the renewable energy tally stood at 103.05 GW. The 103.05 GW capacity included 47.66 GW of solar, 39.99 GW of wind, 10.58 GW of biopower and 4.82 GW of small hydro capacity. The rest of nearly 150 GW milestone was covered by large hydro. The Ministry also said that projects of 50.98 GW capacity were at various stages of completion, while projects of 32.06 GW capacity were under various stages of bidding.

Hydro Electric Power Generation Dam in India

As of 30th November 2021, the renewable energy capacity including large hydro reached the milestone of 150 GW, an addition of 4 GW since August. Hence, though it seems that 175 GW is not at all far away, reaching there will take a considerable amount of time unless some drastic measures are taken by the government. However, 2022 has a long way to go, and many sites of hydel, solar, wind and biomass energy have been allocated or auctioned. In a nutshell, despite India being very close to meeting its target of renewable energy, the last lap is still a long way to go.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cycling Makes Comeback in India

Cycling was the most common method of personal vehicle transportation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most developed countries in the world are promoting cycle transport to stem the pollution from motor vehicles. Bicycles have the least carbon footprint among all means of transportation as they operate using the energy of the rider. However, they are classified as slow-moving vehicles and are banned from entering congested streets in many cities across India. This limited the growth of this eco-friendly mode of transportation in the early 21st century.

In 2020, world transportation was shattered by Covid-19. Short journeys, for which people used to take auto or bus rides, are replaced by cycles. The unavailability of private cars, buses, and autos means the roads are nearly empty most of the time. So cycling on empty roads did not pose any hindrance to the traffic. In such a scenario, the Government allowed several otherwise-congested roads for cycling purposes. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, all have seen a spurt in the number of cycles and sales of cycles. A cycle is not only very cheap, but an effective mode of transportation for short distance journeys, and can be parked almost anywhere.

However, various independent surveys show that cycling is more a fitness sport than a transport. In lockdown situations, when fitness lovers are unable to move out to gyms or yoga, cycling comes to their rescue. Cycling not only keeps our body fit but also makes us go out in the sun. Various studies show that Vitamin D is linked with our immunity against Covid-19 and the major source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Thus there is a sudden growth in the number of cycle riders in the afternoon.

Seeing a positive response from the public, the Government is now thinking of making the congested cities suitable for large-scale cycle transportation. Cycle helps in reducing pollution, and also saves a lot of fuel. The commuters have also seen the benefits of cycling, both in terms of health and in terms of money-saving. There has been a 300-600 per cent increase in cycle sales across megacities of India. The best-sellers are expensive bicycles, specially meant for racing purposes. The rich section of the society, which previously did not feel the need to cycle, is now considering cycling as a means of staying fit. The Government now requires cycling as a safe form of transport. The Government should promote the development of bicycle tracks across cities so that riders can move from one part of the city to another without disturbing the traffic. The question is, after the pandemic, will the riders feel safe to ride across congested roads. The Government should create an atmosphere of prioritising cycling as a safe and effective transportation option, which not only the poor but also the rich can utilize.

Written by – Himadri Paul