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India contributes to start UN fund for sex abuse victims by UN peacekeepers

The fund was established in March 2016, amid an international outcry against sex abuse and exploitation carried out by the UN peacekeepers

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United Nation Building. Image source: kids.britannica.com

India has made the starting contribution to the trust fund set up by the UN for victims of sex abuse by peacekeepers, a spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday, July 22.

The spokesperson, Farhan Haq, told reporters that India’s contribution of $100,000 was the first to the fund established in March to help the victims of sex abuse by UN peacekeepers.

“India has illustrated its strong commitment to our victim-centred approach in addressing sexual exploitation and abuse by UN civilian and uniformed personnel,” Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said in a statement. His department administers the fund.

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The fund was established in March 2016, amid an international outcry against sex abuse and exploitation carried out by the UN peacekeepers. The UN has reiterated and strengthened its zero-tolerance policy for abuse.

Protest against sexual violence in India. Image source: www.bbc.co.uk
Protest against sexual violence in India. Image source: www.bbc.co.uk

Indian peacekeepers have received a clean chit from the UN for the early part of this year  in 2016 and all of 2015, when the UN began publicly releasing reports of abuse identifying the nationalities of the violators.

Although India is historically the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, its personnel have a relatively clean record and India has taken strong steps to execute its zero-tolerance policy.

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The last time Indians were found involved in abuse was between 2010 and 2013 when the Office of Internal Oversight Services said there were three substantiated cases of sexual exploitation or abuse by Indian peacekeepers.

Earlier to that India conducted DNA tests of peacekeepers for paternity tests when allegations of abuse arose from a deployment in Congo during 2007-08.

One soldier was found to have fathered a child there and action was taken against him and three of his superiors. (IANS)

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Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

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For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

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Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

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Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.