GS PAPER: II
Laïcité: Secularism Principle of France
Why in the news?
Recently, the French government announced that the practice of wearing abaya would be banned in state run schools as it violated the principle of Laïcité, which is the French idea of secularism.
What is Laïcité?
- Laïcité is a French term that refers to the separation of church and state.
- It is a core principle of French society, and it is enshrined in the French constitution.
- The French government argues that the ban on abayas is necessary to uphold this principle, as it sees the abaya as a religious symbol that could be used to promote religious extremism.
How French Secularism is different from Indian Secularism?
- While, French secularism is a strict separation of religion and state, with the state taking an active role in suppressing religious expression in public.
- Indian secularism is based on the principle of sarva dharma sambhava, which means “respect for all religions”.
- The Indian government does not favor any particular religion, and it allows for the free practice of religion. However, the government also has a responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.
- Critics of the ban argue that it is an infringement on religious freedom. They point out that the abaya is not a religious requirement for all Muslims, and that many Muslim women wear it for cultural or personal reasons. They also argue that the ban is discriminatory, as it only applies to Muslim women.
The debate over the ban on abayas is likely to continue. It is a complex issue that raises important questions about the relationship between religion and state, and about the limits of religious freedom.
GS PAPER – III
Flex Fuel Technology: Toyota’s Innova Hycross
Why in news?
Recently, Toyota has unveiled a prototype of the Innova Hycross with a flex-fuel hybrid powertrain, its first car in India with this option.
- The company claims the prototype can run on petrol with more than 20% ethanol blending that is currently mandated in India, and that its performance would be at par with the standard Hycross hybrid, even with ethanol-blended petrol.
- The Hycross flex-fuel prototype has a 2-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine coupled with an electric motor
What is Flex Fuel Technology?
- A flex-fuel vehicle typically has an internal combustion engine, but unlike a regular petrol vehicle, it can run on more than one type of fuel, or a mixture of fuels. The most common versions use a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol.
- Flex-fuel vehicles such as the prototype Hycross can run on blends of ethanol that are far higher than the current standard 20% mix (E20).
How does the Flex Fuel Technology work?
- This is made possible by equipping the engine with a fuel mix sensor and an engine control module (ECM) programming that senses and automatically adjusts for any ratio of designated fuels.
- The ECM is also calibrated to accommodate the higher oxygen content of ethanol.
Analysis of Flex Fuel Technology –
- Reduces dependence on imported oil
- Improves air quality by reducing emissions
- Can be used in existing vehicles with minor modifications
- Can be used with a variety of ethanol blends
- Lower fuel efficiency than gasoline-only vehicles
- Higher cost of ethanol production
- Water-intensive crop used to produce ethanol
- Engine may need to be modified for higher ethanol blends
Overall, flex fuel technology offers a number of advantages over traditional gasoline-only vehicles. However, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed before it can be widely adopted.
GS PAPER – II
G-20 Workstreams: The Three Tracks
Why in news?
Recently, the 18th annual G20 Heads of State and Government Summit took place in New Delhi.
- The Group of Twenty, or G20, is an intergovernmental organisation made up of the European Union and 19 other nations (EU)
- Most of the world’s main economies, both industrialised and developing countries, are represented by the G20, which also comprises 75-80% of global trade, two-thirds of the world’s population, and nearly half of its land area.
- In 1999, the G20 was established in response to various global economic crises.
What are the Three Major Tracks?
- The G20 works in three major tracks — two of them are official and one is un official.
- The Finance Track is headed by the finance ministers and central bank governors, who usually meet four times a year. It mainly focuses on fiscal and monetary policy issues such as the global economy, infrastructure, financial regulation, financial inclusion, international financial architecture, and international taxation.
- The Sherpa Track consists of representatives of Heads of State/Government, and it focuses on socio-economic issues such as agriculture, climate, digital economy, education, employment, health, tourism, etc. Each representative is known as a Sherpa. The Sherpa Track was established after the forum became a leaders’ summit in 2008.
- The Unofficial Track comprises engagement or civil groups. These groups often draft recommendations for the G20 Leaders that contribute to the policy-making process.
The three tracks of the G20 ensure that all aspects of the global economy are considered, and that the voices of all stakeholders are heard.
GS PAPER – III
Invasive Alien Species
Why in news?
Recently, an article reported the economic damages caused by invasive species have quadrupled every decade since 1970, and that the global cost of invasive species is estimated to be at least $423 billion every year.
- Invasive species are plants or animals that are not native to an area and that cause harm to the environment or to human interests.
- Invasive species play a key role in many plant and animal extinctions.
- Invasive species can be difficult to control once they are established.
- Some small islands have been successful in eradicating invasive species, but this is often difficult and expensive.
Invasive species are a serious problem that can have a devastating impact on the environment and on human interests.