Editorial 1 : Climate targets are becoming outdated: India needs its own


The target in the Paris Agreement, to keep the planet’s surface from warming by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, has been touted as a monumental goal. However, despite negotiations for more than two decades, global carbon emissions have not slowed. Also, the target was not derived scientifically.

Surface temperature rise

  • The 1.5 degrees Celsius warming target has received considerable press along with the El Niño this year.
  • Reports claim that the planet could soon cross this temperature threshold due to this natural climate phenomenon.
  • But even if the world’s average surface temperature warms by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius for a year, nothing dramatically different may happen – other than the heatwaves, floods, droughts, and similar events that are already happening.
  • It is a serious challenge today, yes, but a constant drumbeat of alarmist messages may only exacerbate climate anxiety and leave people feeling helpless – especially the young ones, who should be dreaming about saving the planet (or space travel) instead.

A questionable target

  • The target agreed to in the Paris Agreement, to keep the planet’s surface from warming by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, has been touted as a monumental achievement, and it may well be if we actually manage to achieve this goal by 2100.
  • But we must bear two things in mind. First, despite negotiations among the representatives of the world’s countries for more than two decades, global carbon emissions have shown no signs of slowing down.
  • Second, the 2 degrees Celsius target was not derived scientifically. The economics Nobel laureate William Nordhaus cautiously noted in the 1970s that a warming of 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level could render the planet warmer than it has ever been in several hundred-thousand years.
  • Indeed, no sooner was this figure enshrined in the Paris Agreement than the Alliance of Small Island States demanded that it be lowered to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Once again, the climate community, now together with the socioeconomic-modelling community, retrofitted future scenarios to meet this so-called “aspirational” target.

Earth system models

  • It is also not entirely clear whether the earth system models (ESMs) that scientists use to prepare climate projections can reliably reproduce the consequences of a world that has warmed by 2 degrees Celsius but at the scale of the Indian subcontinent.
  • As of today, they certainly cannot do so accurately at scales smaller than the subcontinent, particularly for rainfall.
  • The uncertainties in climate projections will be dominated by ESM deficiencies for the next decade or two.
  • For the decades beyond two, the assumed scenarios for radiative forcing, resulting from greenhouse gas emissions and socioeconomic choices, determine the warming levels and rates.

Uncertainties for India

  • This brings us to the next point: the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have made it abundantly clear that it is very difficult for us to imagine all the possible socioeconomic and geopolitical events that matter to the well-being of our world, including its people.
  • The inherent uncertainties, however, leave India, and the economically developing world, with some tough choices.
  • This group of countries needs to develop its own tools to determine the crisis’s local impacts, especially for adaptation plans that deal with unavoidable consequences.
  • India’s engagement with the international community on climate mitigation, to try and avoid the unmanageable, should also keep an eye on any Frankenstein’s-monster experiments by richer countries, such as spraying dust in the upper atmosphere (a climate geoengineering solution that scientists know carries an unreasonable risk of droughts and crop losses).

Way forward

  • More importantly, India should continue its leadership role by demanding that the community centred on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) be prepared to improve projections that quantify impacts at local scales.
  • The IPCC and India must also track climate change and its consequences continuously at the socially relevant timescale of a few years.
  • The country must consider non-market goods such as equity, well-being, and biodiversity more deliberately.
  • Decarbonising the system is more likely to save us from ourselves.
  • India can cash in on these opportunities and grow its economy by focusing on green technologies to decarbonise the future.

Editorial 2 : The politics of the Uniform Civil Code


On June 27, in Bhopal,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated that a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) be implemented,

Egalitarian pursuit

  • The fate of India’s egalitarian pursuit would ultimately depend on the resolutions of these two inter- twined questions.
  • Though the Constitution recommends a UCC, the fact is that a UCC has been seen as a communal agenda for a long time.
  • Even well-known, secular public intellectuals have chosen to shy away from taking a clear stand in its favour.

Personal law and gender

  • India may be moving towards majoritarianism, but the arc of democracy is increasingly bending towards multiculturalism.
  • Many Western liberal democracies, and not just India, are wrestling with the issue of gender equality, which is at the crux of a UCC.
  • For instance, the French courts deal with such cases that often come from Muslim immigrants from Morocco and Algeria. Canada, Australia, and the U.S. often use religious-based alternative dispute resolutions. India could learn from such efforts.
  • Another key issue of UCC is Muslim personal law. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) came into existence in 1973 mainly to preserve Muslim personal law.
  • But the history of personal law can be traced to as early as 1772, when the colonial state used religious doctrines to formulate personal laws.
  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 form the foundation of Muslim personal law.
  • The triple talaq bill, passed in 2019, is one of the recent major changes to personal law.

Advantages of Uniform Civil Code:

Equality and Uniformity:

  • Elimination of gender-based discrimination.
  • Ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.
  • Unifying diverse personal laws to promote social harmony and national integration.

Women’s Empowerment:

  • Protection of women’s rights and interests.
  • Countering regressive practices and promoting gender justice.
  • Encouraging education, employment, and independence among women.

Legal Certainty and Simplicity of uniform civil code:

  • Simplification of complex legal systems.
  • Avoidance of conflicting judgments and legal ambiguities.
  • Enhancing access to justice and promoting the rule of law.
  • Equality and Non-Discrimination

 Progressive Social Reforms:

  • Discouraging outdated customs and practices.
  • Promoting modernization and social progress.
  • Addressing issues related to child marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.

Disadvantages of Uniform Civil Code:

Cultural and Religious Sensitivities:

  • Potential erosion of cultural and religious identities.
  • Opposition from minority communities regarding interference in personal matters.
  • Preserving diversity and multiculturalism in a pluralistic society.

Implementation Challenges:

  • Resistance from conservative groups and political parties.
  • Logistical difficulties in enacting a comprehensive and uniform code.
  • Balancing uniformity with region-specific customs and traditions.

Legal and Administrative Burdens:

  • Overhauling existing personal laws and legal frameworks.
  • Establishing mechanisms for dispute resolution and enforcement.
  • Potential strain on the judiciary and administrative systems.

Socioeconomic Implications:

  • Disruption of established social and economic structures.
  • Unequal impact on different sections of society.
  • Ensuring safeguards to protect vulnerable groups.

Way forward

  • Recap the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a Uniform Civil Code.
  • Emphasize the need for a balanced approach considering both the benefits and challenges.
  • Highlight the importance of public discourse, consensus building, and careful consideration of social, cultural, and legal implications in any decision regarding the Uniform Civil Code.


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