News Analysis 13th Sep, 2022

13 Sep, 2022


1.Disruption of Supply Chains due to the Ukraine War : Implications on Indian Food Security.
2. Russia-Ukraine War and A New Energy Disorder.
3. India and Japan : Second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue Takeaways.
4. Energy through Nuclear Fusion : Opportunities & Challenges.

1.Disruption of Supply Chains due to the Ukraine War : Implications on Indian Food Security.

Theme : Food Security

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                                    TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. What is Food Security?

  3. Indian Framework for Food Security

  4. Role of Russia and Ukraine in Global Food Supply Chain

  5. Reasons for Disruption in Global Food Supply Chain

  6. Impact of Disruption in Food Supplies

  7. Challenges related to Food Security in India

  8. Way Forward


Context : India has ranked 101 among the 116 countries on the Global Hunger Index, 2021. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Food Price Index has increased by 30% in the year 2021-22.

What is Food Security?

  • Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

  • Food security is the combination of the following three elements:

    • Food availability i.e. food must be available in sufficient quantities and on a consistent basis. It considers stock and production in a given area and the capacity to bring in food from elsewhere, through trade or aid.

    • Food access i.e. people must be able to regularly acquire adequate quantities of food, through purchase, home production, barter, gifts, borrowing or food aid.

    • Food utilization: Consumed food must have a positive nutritional impact on people. It entails cooking, storage and hygiene practices, individuals health, water and sanitation, feeding and sharing practices within the household.


Indian Framework for Food Security:

  • The Public Distribution System has become an important part of the Government's policy for management of the food economy in the country. PDS is supplemental in nature and is not intended to make available the entire requirement of any of the commodity.

  • The Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution can be interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.

  • Food Corporation of India (FCI) has the prime responsibility of procuring the food grains at minimum support price (MSP) and stored in its warehouses at different locations and from there it is supplied to the state governments in terms of requirement.

  • National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA): It marks a paradigm shift in the approach to food security from welfare to rights based approach.NFSA covers 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population


Role of Russia and Ukraine in Global Food Supply Chain :

  • Global Food Hubs: Russia and Ukraine contribute 12 percent of all food exports.   Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter while Ukraine is sixth largest exporter of wheat. Together they contribute 29 percent of global wheat exports. Therefore, any disruption in supplies from Black Sea Region will impact Global Food Security.

  • Export of other Agricultural Commodities: Russia and Ukraine contribute 19% of maize in exports, and 78% of sunflower oil exports. In fact, as per available data, Russia and Ukraine had 16 million tonnes of maize and 13.5 million tonnes of wheat packed for exports, which could not move out due to the break of war between the two countries.

  • Increase in Prices: Due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the world is expected to experience a shortage of between 10 and 43 million tonnes of wheat in 2023. This is equivalent to a calorie intake of approx. 60 to 150 million people. At the same time, this abrupt stoppage of supply is projected to increase the prices of wheat by 40% this year.


Reasons for Disruption in Global Food Supply Chain :

  • Agricultural Issues: Due to Russian invasion, 20-30% of crops have remained unharvested. At the same time, sowing of new crops could not begin due to shelling and safety issues for farmers. Most of the farmers abandoned their farms and moved to safer areas to protect themselves and their families.

  • Fuel Shortage: War effort by Russia has led to an artificial shortage of fuels due to the diversion of fuel supplies towards military use. This has affected the agricultural production in the area as many stages of agriculture demanding the use of heavy machinery could not proceed further.

  • Lack of Manpower: Russia, being short on manual labor, depends majorly on agricultural machinery and equipment for agricultural work. However, as stated above, the Russia-Ukraine war has created a shortage of fuel for the agricultural machinery. At the same time, the human resources are not available as they have migrated to safer areas fearing for the safety of themselves as well as their loved ones.

  • Logistics Issues: Russia has blocked the harbors of Black Sea through warships and sea mines so that no transport ship could move through Black sea. This has affected the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs), rendering them inaccessible for transport ships and crippling the global supply of food grains.

  • International sanctions: Western countries have declared sanctions on Russia, condemning it for the ‘unilateral invasion of Ukraine’. However, these sanctions have also wreaked havoc on the Poor nations as the Sanctions have prevented these countries from having any trade relations with Russia.


Impact of Disruption in Food Supplies :

  • Food Crisis: According to FAO, one of every five calories eaten by people is imported from another country. Around 50 countries depend on Russia-Ukraine for their food supply, particularly for wheat. Due to the interruption in food supplies from Russia and Ukraine, countries like Egypt, Angola and Lebanon are facing double digit inflation in food prices.

  • Impact on Poor Countries: Poor countries have suffered disproportionately as they are net importers of food products. As per data, advanced economies spend just 17% of their earnings on Food as compared to Sub-Saharan Africa, which needs to shell out 40% of its earnings on Food.

  • Fertilizer Crises: Russia is a major fertilizer supplier, being top most supplier of Nitrogen fertilizers, second in the export of Potassium fertilizers and being third largest exporter of Phosphorus fertilizers. Therefore, due to the disruptions in fertilizer supply, the cost of NPK fertilizers is rising rapidly around the globe. This will further push the food inflation due to increased input costs.

  • Energy Crisis: Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of gas and petroleum. Due to the sanctions and disruption of the supply chain, fuel prices have increased around the globe. The increased fuel prices have translated into inflation of other commodities as transportation cost has increased.

  • Rise in price of substitutes: Many countries have no option but to substitute commodities like sunflower oil and wheat, which are in short supply, with others such as palm oil and rice. Respectively. This has led to an increase in the prices of the substitutes. The price of Rice has increased by 12% globally.

  • Export Restrictions: Countries like Indonesia, Turkey and India have put export restrictions on edible oil, wheat and meat due to uncertainty of supply and their own food security.  Indonesia has stopped palm oil export as its demand has risen as a substitute for sunflower oil.


Challenges related to Food Security in India :

  • Faults in Procurement: Farmers have diverted land from producing coarse grains to the production of rice and wheat due to a minimum support price.

  • Invasive Weed Threats: In the past 15 years, India has faced more than 10 major invasive pest and weed attacks.Fall Armyworm (Pest) destroyed almost the entire maize crop in the country in 2018. 

  • Deteriorating Soil Health: A key element of food production is healthy soil because nearly 95% of global food production depends on soil.

  • India lacks a strict management framework for food security. The Public Distribution System faces challenges like leakages and diversion of food-grains, inclusion/exclusion errors.

  • Changing precipitation patterns and growing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, floods are already reducing agricultural productivity in India, posing a serious threat to food security.

  • Russia and Ukraine represent 27% of the world market for wheat, 26 countries, mainly in Africa, West Asia and Asia, depend on Russia and Ukraine for more than 50% of their wheat imports.


Way Forward :

  • Precision Agriculture: There is a need to increase the use of information technology (IT) in agriculture.

  • Sustainable Farming : For ensuring Food Security in India , improvement in productivity through greater use of biotechnology, intensifying watershed management, use of nano-urea and access to micro-irrigation facilities.

  • Diversification of Supply chains: Five countries viz. China, India, Russia, Brazil and the US control 60% of the global food production. Any disruptions in the supplies of food grains from these countries will cause a shortage of global food supplies across the world. There is a need to decrease this dependency and let the low income countries of Africa and Asia diversify their food imports to ensure food security in emergency situations.

  • Diversification of food: Rice, wheat, corn and soy account for 50% of the average daily calorie consumption around the world. Poor countries need to diversify their calorie requirement to locally available alternatives such as coarse grains, corn or other such products.


2. Russia-Ukraine War and A New Energy Disorder.

Theme : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora ; Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

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                           TABLE OF CONTENT 

  1. Context

  2. What is Energy Security?

  3. Impact of Russia-Ukraine war on Energy Security

  4. Other Factors of Russia-Ukraine war

  5. Way Forward


Context :  The Ukraine war has disrupted the old energy order. We cannot afford to continue with our existing siloed approach.


What is Energy Security?

  • It is defined as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.

  • Long-term energy security deals with timely investments to supply energy in line with economic developments and environmental needs.

  • Short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to respond promptly to sudden changes in the supply-demand balance. 


Impact of Russia-Ukraine war on Energy Security:

  • Energy Poverty: It refers to lack of assured and reliable electricity supply for fulfilling the basic needs of standard of life. The term is used mostly in the context of poor African and South Asian countries. However, US sanction has led to the term being used in European countries as they expect volatility in supply and inflation in energy prices in the coming years.

  • US Sanctions: Russian attack on Ukraine has led to coordinated sanctions by the Western countries including US, UK and Japan on the Russian exports. The US administration is also making concerted efforts to coerce nations into decreasing their trade with Russia and to not find ways to bypass sanctions. In fact, six of the top 19 shipping companies, which control 60% of the global capacity have suspended Russian bookings, in compliance with the sanctions.

  • Threats to third parties: In fact, in a recent visit of US’s Deputy NSA to India, India was warned of ‘long term and significant consequences’ if it bypassed the US sanctions on Russia. Though, it was later clarified that this was not a ‘threat’ to India. India and Russia are planning to increase Rupee-Rouble trade as a way of continuing Russian defense and energy imports.

  • Uncertainty in Fuel Prices and Supply: Russia is the third largest crude oil producer (after the US and Saudi Arabia) as well as the second largest producer of natural gas after the US. Therefore, sanctions on Russia have led to volatility in the prices of energy products. For e.g., Brent Crude has crossed $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014 and reached a maximum of $127.98 leading to increase in inflation in many countries including India.

  • Dilemma for EU: European Union has been one of the largest importers of Russian natural gas and crude oil. In fact, it imports 40% of its natural gas, 27% of its crude oil and 47% of its solid fuel (mostly coal) from Russia. Therefore, tapering off its imports from Russia will come at the cost of energy security for EU countries.

  • Other factors: Strong economic recovery after COVID as well as huge demand from China and India had already raised the price of crude oil in the global market. Also, COVID times had led to a shortfall in production, while lack of investment in the oil supply infrastructure.


Other Factors of Russia-Ukraine war :

  • Slowdown in Growth: Inflation in Energy prices due to the war has the potential to stem the economic recovery happening in the world. WTO has already lowered the forecast for growth rate of the global merchandise trade from earlier 4.7% to 3%.

  • Food Security: Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of global wheat exports, 18% of corn exports and 70% of sunflower oil exports in the world. Therefore, supply restrictions from these countries will impact the global availability of agricultural products. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) releases a Food Price Index, which has seen a jump from 98 points in 2020 to 140 points in Feb 2022, signaling heating up of the prices of food products in the global market.

  • Ukraine’s Ban: In anticipation of future shortages, Ukraine has banned the exports of wheat, millets, meat and other such products. This is expected to cause a shortage in the importing countries. A similar ban by Russia would see food shortages and inflation in West African and North African countries.

  • Other Factors: As we have already seen, war has led to an increase in oil prices across the world. This could affect agricultural prices by increasing the transportation and harvesting costs. Similarly, a rise in the prices of natural gas has the potential to increase the prices of fertilizers, thereby, increasing the prices of agricultural products.

  • Climate Security: A shortage of agricultural products can indirectly affect global efforts to combat climate change by increasing deforestation and razing of grasslands to increase the global agricultural area.

  • Shift from Climate Change to Energy Security: Similarly, unavailability of cheap Russian gas and crude oil has led to a shift of European nations from committing to arresting climate change, to looking for cheap energy sources. Another worrying trend is the reclassification of natural gas and nuclear energy as clean fuels, despite protests by the environmental organizations against doing so.

  • Russian Loss is American Gain: Russia exports almost 3 million barrels of oil and oil products a day into the global market. It earns $350 million per day from oil and $200 million per day from gas. Therefore, a ban or tapering off of its exports may lead to an economic crisis in Russia.

  • American Exports: At the same time, the shale gas revolution in the US has brought it to the top spot in global crude oil (20% of global production) as well as natural gas production (24% of global natural gas production). Therefore, any void in supply being created by the sanctions on Russia will lead to a windfall for the US.


Way Forward :

  • Create a mechanism for the development and execution of an integrated energy policy.

  • Need a dedicated executive authority responsible for energy. There are ministries responsible for components of energy policy but no formal mechanism for aligning their separate approaches.

  • The Ukraine war has disrupted the existing energy order. The new energy (dis) order has created fissures that impact our national security, economic growth, trade, clean energy supply lines, transfer of technology and international relations. We cannot, therefore, afford to continue with our existing siloed approach.


3. India and Japan : Second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue Takeaways.

Theme : Effects of policies of developed nations.

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                  TABLE OF CONTENT


  1. Context

  2. What are 2+2 talks?

  3. Significance.

  4. India’s strategic 2+2 partners.

  5. Key Takeaways of India-Japan Second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.


Context : The second India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held in Tokyo.



What are 2+2 talks?

The 2+2 dialogue is a format of meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of India and its allies on strategic and security issues.

Significance :

A 2+2 ministerial dialogue enables the partners to better understand and appreciate each other’s strategic concerns and sensitivities taking into account political factors on both sides, in order to build a stronger, more integrated strategic relationship in a rapidly changing global environment.


India’s strategic 2+2 partners :

India has 2+2 dialogues with four key strategic partners: the US, Australia, Japan, and Russia. Besides Russia, the other three countries are also India’s partners in the Quad.

Key Takeaways of India-Japan Second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue :

  • Rules-based global order: The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to a rules-based global order that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations.

  • Strategic goal : They highlighted their commitment to a common strategic goal of achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific, that is inclusive and resilient,based on the rule of law and free from coercion. 

    • They also reiterated their strong support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality and their full support for the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)” which upholds the principles such as the rule of law, openness, freedom, transparency and inclusiveness.

  • Discussion on issues : The Ministers had a frank and fruitful discussion on the regional and global issues of mutual interests and concerns, particularly those in the Indo-Pacific as well as Ukraine.

  • Defense capabilities:  Both sides expressed their support to work towards enhanced security and defense cooperation.

    • They welcomed the participation of Japan for the first time in the multilateral exercise MILAN and the operationalization of the Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces in the exercise.

    • The Ministers expressed their commitment to continuing bilateral and multilateral exercises including "Dharma Guardian”, JIMEX and "Malabar.”

    • The Ministers also committed to seek deeper cooperation on HA/DR and response to infectious diseases and pandemics

  • Science and Technology  :They expressed satisfaction with the ongoing cooperation in the areas of Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV)/Robotics and the Sixth India-Japan Joint Working Groupon Defense Equipment and Technology Cooperation and concurred to further identify concrete areas for future cooperation in defense equipment and technology.


4. Energy through Nuclear Fusion : Opportunities & Challenges.

Theme : Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

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                                                    TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. Process of Nuclear Fusion

  3. Benefits of Nuclear Fusion

  4. Challenges

  5. International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)

Context : Nuclear fusion process holds the key to producing non-polluting, sustainable power, which could run the global economy, without hurting ecological balance in the world.



Process of Nuclear Fusion : 

  • Nuclear Fusion: It is a reaction in which two or more light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. During this process, the total mass of the merged nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei. The leftover mass is converted to energy. The scientists hope to harness this leftover energy to heat water and turn a turbine in order to produce sustainable, non-polluting electricity.

  • Working of the Process of Nuclear Fusion: Nuclear Fusion process involves the fusion of two nuclei to form another element. The stages of process are as below:

  • Deuterium and tritium atoms are heated to temperatures 10 times hotter than the surface of the sun. This is necessary as the pressure on Earth is very low as compared to that of the Sun.

  • The nuclei of the atoms fuse. The fusion reaction leads to the formation of helium, releasing neutrons and energy.

  • The energy is used to heat water, and the released steam runs turbines that produce electricity.

  • The Experiment: The experiment was conducted at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire. It led to the generation of 12 MW of power for a period of 5 seconds. Though it may seem small, it is a great achievement in the field of Nuclear fusion.

  • High temperature: This process happens at extremely high temperatures. As stated above, in the Sun, this process happens at 10 million °C. However, on the Earth, where the pressure is much lower as compared to the gravitational pressure in the Sun, the required temperature is above 100 million °C.

  • Plasma formation: On heating Deuterium and Tritium, the two variants of hydrogen at the required temperature, the gases get converted into plasma which is the fourth state of matter. It was then held in place using superconducting electromagnets as it spun around in the doughnut-shaped reactor, fusing and releasing a vast amount of energy as heat.

  • Global Research: Many countries around the world have shown progress in harnessing nuclear energy. For e.g., at Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) located in China, plasma temperatures at 120 million °C for 101 seconds and 160 million °C for 20 seconds, were achieved. Similarly, in 2020, South Korea also reached 100 million °C for 20 seconds in an experiment.

  • India’s Contribution: India is also trying to achieve energy security. The country built its 1st Tokamak in the 1980s and an advanced version of this machine was commissioned in 1995 at the Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar. India has also contributed 9% of ITER’s construction cost and is responsible for delivering cryostat, which is necessary to cool the reactor.


Benefits of Nuclear Fusion :

  • Fuel Efficiency: One of the benefits of Nuclear Fusion is the low requirement of fuel, despite the production of a huge amount of energy. 

  • Availability of Fuel: Unlike fossil fuels, Deuterium and Tritium are abundantly found in nature, thus, solving the issue of the availability of fuel. For e.g., Deuterium can be extracted from sea water. Similarly, Tritium is the by-product of nuclear fission, which is already being undertaken in several countries around the world.

  • No wastage: Unlike fossil fuel based energy production, nuclear fusion does not release harmful gases or toxins as the by-product of reaction. The fusion process involving hydrogen atoms releases Helium gas, which is inert in nature and is relatively non-reactive. In fact, even the nuclear fission reaction, which is currently used to produce energy in the nuclear plants, produces radioactive wastes, which need to be disposed of, so as to not harm the population.

  • Ecological Benefits: Nuclear fusion as a source of clean energy could help the world reach net-zero emissions. It can help limit global average temperature rise to below 2?, preferably 1.5? above the pre-industrial level, as enumerated in the Paris Climate deal.

  • Safety: Nuclear fusion is considered safer than Nuclear fission. This is because nuclear fission may be subjected to disasters like uncontrolled chain reaction, leakage of radioactive material, weaponization of byproducts. 


Challenges :

  • Maintaining the reaction: As stated above, nuclear fusion requires high temperatures as a prerequisite for the production of energy. The problem is compounded on the surface of Earth as the existing low pressure on Earth raises the required temperature level. Although scientists have been able to create Sun-like conditions on Earth, it is difficult to maintain over a long period of time, thus imposing limitations on the process.

  • Financing the Project: Due to the above-mentioned challenges, it has been difficult for the Scientific Establishments to procure funding for the Project. However, experts have reported that the situation is changing quickly as the Experiments have started to show promise of future delivery.

  • Viability: Currently, the problem being faced in the Nuclear Fusion process is the high requirement of energy to produce a favorable environment. For e.g., the Joint European Torus (JET) reactor, used 36 MW to release 12 MW of energy, thus questioning its viability. However, the scientists are confident of increasing the efficiency of the reactor in the long term to make it viable and feasible for commercial use.


International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) :

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER): It is an experimental megaproject, being undertaken in France.

  • The Project seeks to replicate the production of Solar energy on the Earth by using nuclear fusion reactions to generate heat.

  • ITER is being made in the form of a ‘Tokamak’ device (toroidal chamber with magnetic coil).

  • The project is being funded by Seven countries, viz. India, China, US, EU, Russia, Japan and South Korea. However, it has cooperation agreements with other countries like Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Thailand.