Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 5th September 2023



Today’s Topics List:

  1. The G20 Workstreams

  2. Laptop Licensing Scheme

  3. Flex Fuel Engines – Pro and Cons

  4. Invasive Species and their impact on Economy



The G20 Workstreams


  • The 18th Annual Summit of heads of State and Government will take place in Delhi on September 9th and 10th.
    • It is the culmination of all the G20 processes and meetings held throughout the year in cities across the host country.

Structure of G20.

  • The G20 works in three major tracks – Two Official and One unofficial.
    • Official tracks: Finance and the Sherpa Track
    • Unofficial track: Engagement groups or Civil Society groups- Which mostly draft recommendations for the G20 leaders that contribute to the policy making process.

Finance track:

  • The Finance track is headed by the Finance Ministers and the central Bank governors.
    • They usually meet four times a year, with two meetings held on the sidelines of the World bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings.
    • It focuses on fiscal and monetary policy issues such as the
  • global economy,
  • infrastructure,
  • financial regulation,
  • financial inclusion,
  • international financial architecture, and
  • international taxation.


Sherpa Track:

  • It was established after the forum became a leaders’ summit in 2008.
    • It consists of representatives of Heads of State/Government.
    • There are 13 working groups within the Sherpa Track.
    • It focuses on Socio- economic issues such as,
  • Agriculture,
  • Climate,
  • digital economy,
  • education,
  • employment,
  • health,
  • tourism, etc.,
  • Each representative is known as a Sherpa- which is a metaphor from the mountaineering domain, where the Sherpa is supposed to do the heavy lifting and assist the mountaineer.



Laptop Licensing Scheme

    • Centre has decided to impose a licensing requirement for the import of laptops and personal computers in early August.
      • It invoked feelings of a pre – 1991 era decision, with many referring to this as a return to licence raj.
      • With G20 Summit around and presence of several world leaders in India, Centre decided that the strategy needed a little bit of rebranding.

Import restrictions and repercussions:

  • The import restriction issue has come up in meetings between US and Indian officials after American companies including Apple, Dell, and HP urged the US government’s intervention to initiate a conversation with New Delhi to reconsider its policy

New Proposals:

  • Introduce a condition that finished IT hardware such as laptops, personal computers and servers can only be imported from “trusted geographies”.
    • This is a move aimed at curbing imports from China amid a deepening rift between New Delhi and Beijing.

Import restriction to Import Management:

  • The licensing requirement is expected to be removed, and replaced with an import management system.
    • However, this is not a compromise as India aims of building India as an electronics manufacturing hub and at the same time, wants companies to establish new supply chains that are not as dependent on China.
    • By introducing a requirement to allow imports of finished IT hardware only from “trusted” regions, it aims to achieve just that.

Import Management: Case of Telecom sector:

►  It is a strategy that the government has already used in the telecom sector.

▪      In June 2021, the Central government launched the ‘trusted telecom portal’ and signaled the implementation of the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector (NSDTS).

▪      Under the directive, telecom companies are mandatorily required to connect in their networks only those new devices which are designated as “trusted products” from “trusted sources”




Flex Fuel Engines – Pro and Cons

  • A flex Fuel hybrid engine car has been launched by Toyota. It is first car with this option in India and claims to be world’s first BS6 Stage II compliant flex-fuel vehicle.

What does this prototype have?

  • It has a 2 litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine coupled with an electric motor.
  • It can run on petrol with more than 20% ethanol blending, currently mandated in India.
  • It would run 60% of the time in the electric vehicle mode using energy stored in the battery pack.

What is Flex fuel Technology?

  • A flex fuel Vehicle typically has an internal combustion engine.
    • Unlike a regular petrol engine, it can run on more than one type of fuel, or a mixture of fuels.
    • The most common version uses a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol.
  • Flex fuel vehicles can run on blends of ethanol that are far higher than the current standard 20% mix (E20)
    • This is made possible by equipping the engine with a fuel mix sensor and an Engine control module (ECM) programming those senses and automatically adjusts for any ratio of designated fuels.
  • Some special ethanol-compatible components are required to adjust to the different chemical properties and energy content in ethanol/methanol, such as
    • Modifications to the fuel pump and fuel injection system.
    • The ECM is also calibrated to accommodate the higher oxygen content of ethanol.
    • They have separate spark plugs, piston ring tops, and valves to render them more corrosion resistant, and a modified catalyst in the exhaust system to lower hydrocarbon emissions.
    • The vehicle’s fuel filter and fuel lines have also been tweaked.

Pros of Flex Fuel

  • Ethanol blending sharply lowers pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur, and carbon and nitrogen oxides.
    • Blending will also help cut oil imports.
    • The National Biofuel Policy 2018 envisaged a 2025 target of 20% blending.
  • While fuel economy is generally lower with increased levels of ethanol (engines are optimised for petrol), many flex-fuel vehicles have improved acceleration performance when operating on higher ethanol blends.

Issues associated with it:

  • flex-fuel cars typically take a 4-8% hit on fuel efficiency when using ethanol for motive power.
  • The Source of Ethanol such as Sugar cane are water intensive.
  • According to a NITI Aayog report, in 2019-20, more than 90% of the ethanol produced in the country came from sugar cane, which is also a politically important crop in Maharashtra and UP.

Way Forward

  • To overcome the challenges of lower fuel efficiency of flex-fuel vehicles, electrified flex-fuel vehicles are being introduced, which offer the advantages of both a flex fuel engine and an electric powertrain, as in the case with the Toyota prototype.


Situation in Brazil:

According to IHS Markit, as of 2018, there were more than 21 million flex-fuel vehicles in the US, but Brazil was the biggest market and leader in this segment.

►  In Brazil, nearly all cars are required to be able to handle fuel blends with a minimum of 22% ethanol, and almost no light vehicle in Brazil runs on pure petrol.

►  There is also a government subsidy to narrow the price gap of higher ethanol blends, a factor that would have to be considered as India steps up its fuel blending plan.

Situation In India:

The ethanol mix in petrol in India went up from 1.53% in 2013-14 to 11.5% in March 2023.

►  This helped cut the oil import bill by an estimated Rs41,500 crore in the last eight years.

►  In2020-21, ethanol blending enabled a reduction of 26 million barrels of petrol, resulting in savings of Rs 10,000 crore, according to official estimates.

►  The expected implementation of E20 by April 2025 is estimated to result in annual savings of Rs 35,000 crore in India’s oil import bill.




Invasive Species and their impact on Economy


  • A team of 86 researchers from 49 countries released a four-year assessment of the global impacts of some 3,500 harmful invasive species, finding that economic costs now total at least $423 billion every year.
    • The spread of the invasive species has seen economic damages quadruple every decade since 1970.

Invasive Species:

  • Invasive species are plants or animals, often moved around by human activity, that take hold in an environment with deleterious effects.
    • These range from outcompeting native wildlife, damaging infrastructure, and threatening human health and livelihoods.
    • Impacts are often slow to materialise, but can be catastrophic when they do.
  • Some examples of environmental Chaos caused by Invasive Species:
    • The deadly wild fires in Hawaii last month were driven by flammable invasive grasses brought over from Africa as livestock pasture.
    • Invasive mosquito species, too, can spread diseases such as dengue, malaria, Zika, and West Nile.
    • Fishing grounds choked by water hyacinths.
    • Electric lines downed by brown tree snakes.
  • These alien invaders play key role in 60% of recorded plant and animal extinction.

How to eradicate them?

  • About three-quarters of the negative impacts from invasive species occur on land, especially in forests, woodlands, and farmed areas.
    • Invasive species can come in many forms including microbes, invertebrates and plants, animals often have the greatest environmental impact.
    • Getting rid of Invasive species once they are established Is difficult.
  • But some small Islands have seen succeeded, they saw success in eradicating invasive rats and rabbits with trapping and poisonings.
    • As large populations that are quick to reproduce can be tricky.
    • Invasive plants often leave their seeds lying dormant in the soil for years.
  • Prevention measures through border biosecurity and import controls, is most effective as advised by Scientists.

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