UN lowers India GDP growth forecast for 2017 to 7.3%, cautions on bad loans

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

A global report. One among favorites of UPSC. The news card is important for both Prelims as well as Mains.

From UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims level: The report, who publishes it, other such relevant reports.

Mains level: Note the suggested reforms in news card. They can be quoted in Mains answers related to policy making.


News

  1. The United Nations (UN) has revised downward India’s GDP growth forecast for 2017 but predicted an increased 7.9% GDP growth next year
  2. It cautioned that stressed balance sheets in the banking sector due to bad loans will prevent strong investment rebound in the near term.

Report:

  1. The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid- 2017 report, said India is projected to achieve a 7.3% growth in 2017, a downward revision from the 7.7% forecast for the year made when the report was launched in January
  2. Despite temporary disruptions from the demonetisation policy, economic conditions in India remain robust, underpinned by sound fiscal and monetary policies and the implementation of key domestic reforms, report said
  3. It noted that current accounts deficits have narrowed “visibly” in India, Brazil and South Africa, and some countries have undergone significant corporate deleveraging, particularly Russia
  4. The report said world gross product is expected to expand by 2.7% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018, unchanged from UN forecasts released in January this year
  5. The report identifies a tentative recovery in world industrial production, along with reviving global trade, driven primarily by rising import demand from East Asia

Suggested reforms:

  1. The report points to a combination of short-term policies to support consumption among the most deprived and longer-term policies such as improving access to healthcare and education and investment in rural infrastructure
  2. The report states that inflation dynamics in developed economies have reached a turning point, and risks of prolonged deflation have largely dissipated
  3. By contrast, inflationary pressures have eased in many large emerging markets, allowing interest rates to come down
  4. Looking ahead, the report advocates for renewed global commitments to deeper international policy coordination in key areas including:
    • Aligning the multilateral trading system with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
    • Expanding official development aid;
    • Supporting climate finance and clean technology transfer; and
    • Addressing the challenges posed by large movements of refugees and migrant

Back2basics

World Economic Situation and Prospects Report

This report is published at the beginning of each year by the combined efforts of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 5 UN regional commissions. World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Read about reports and indices published on this comprehensive blog –

Important World Reports & their Organisations | Important for IAS Prelims

 

India three points down to 136 in World Press Freedom Index

  1. This Index is released annually by Reporters Without Borders, the Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists
  2. Norway is at the first place and North Korea at the last place of the 180 nations
  3. India has gone down from last year’s 133 rank

Back2basics:

1. Reporters Without Borders (RWB), or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press. The organization, with a head office in Paris, France, has consultant status at the United Nations.
2. Reporters Without Borders has two primary spheres of activity: one is focused on Internet censorship and the new media, and the other on providing material, financial and psychological assistance to journalists assigned to dangerous areas.

[op-ed snap] The many shades of happiness

Context:

  1. In a recent UN report, Norway was declared as the “world’s happiest country”
  2. The top of the list included Denmark, Finland and Iceland
  3. The U.S. came 14th and the U.K. was in 19th position
  4. Given the everyday stress and the alienation from social life that defines life in the U.S. and U.K., all one can say is that this World Happiness Report cannot really be about happiness
  5. India was ranked 122nd in this list

Happy days are here again!

  1. The contemporary way to forget worries is through shopping
  2. Happiness is only another commercial product
  3. Happiness as a product makes it possible for it to be designed, packaged and delivered when and where needed
  4. Our society is full of products, most of which are designed primarily to make us ‘happy’. Not a surprise that shopping is the easiest route to happiness today
  5. Happiness as accumulation and consumption of goods, as a kind of product that can be sold, is endemic to modern definitions of happiness
  6. From Happy Days we have moved to Happy Hours, a more desperate sales pitch to make people consume more alcohol
  7. This inculcation towards consumption as somehow related to happiness begins early in our life, in that celebration called the Birthday

Birthday celebrations- a consumerism:

  1. For children today, increasingly across all sections of the society, happiness on this day is nothing more than cutting a cake, singing the birthday song and wearing new clothes
  2. Birthdays have succeeded in reducing our idea of happiness into a set of rituals of consumerism
  3. It is interesting to contrast this with more traditional modes of celebrating birthdays which were primarily about thanksgiving and prayers for the future rather than an excuse for a ‘birthday party’

The ritual of happiness:

  1. Now, we have converted religious and cultural festivals into Happy Days. Every event has to be a happy event: Happy Diwali, Happy Christmas, Happy Independence Day and so on
  2. There is tremendous pressure to show that we are happy, whether we are really happy or not
  3. And since we manage to be quite unhappy most of the time, it is easier to follow a ritual of happiness rather than strive for happiness
  4. In this proliferation of Happy Days, it is only the business people who seem to have attained happiness!

Age-old definition of happiness:

  1. The relation between shopping and happiness is a cynical continuation of the age-old relationship between happiness and freedom
  2. We are often told that freedom is happiness and our unhappiness arises from various constraints placed on our personal and social life
  3. But, most often, when we have ‘pure’ freedom, we suffer
  4. Sometimes we do not know what to do, how to act. Many times an existential angst begins to pervade the free individual
  5. One of the freedoms much talked about is the one to have multiple sexual partners
  6. Are people who are not monogamous in their relationship more happy? Those who escape commitment in a relationship — are they more free and happy? In other words, do we desire freedom in order to be happy?
  7. If so, then freedom has been an abysmal failure, since when we are free to do what we want, we end up being dissatisfied
  8. Living in highly restricted contexts is also a sure recipe for unhappiness; so what are we to do? Like everything else about human life, there is a middle path and the real task is only to find this path

The reality of happiness:

  1. There is truth in the observation that some poor people are happier than some richer folks, and that children are happier than adults
  2. It is true that we discover sudden moments of happiness when listening to music or watching a beautiful sight
  3. This experience of happiness when you listen to music or see the mountains is not akin to a psychological state of joy or the pleasure of the senses
  4. When a parent sees her child, the happiness she gets is not in the sensual pleasure of seeing that child but in something more
  5. Happiness is more than pleasure or joy since the poor do not find any pleasure in being poor but in spite of it they find moments of happiness
  6. The happiness associated with love is a good example. Love may not always be joyful and pleasurable, it may not even be pleasant all the time but the moment of happiness that defines that love is indeed real and rare
  7. Living in constant comfort does not lead to happiness, it can only lead to boredom

What then is the nature of happiness?

  1. It is one which arises from the removal of ego and from being aware that there is no real difference between an individual and the world
  2. It is the state where knowledge, artificial distinctions and utilitarian values do not figure
  3. Happiness is the state where it is not possible to distinguish between the person who is experiencing and the object of experience
  4. This is also the state of surrender — to another individual, to nature or to the divine

Note4Students:

Surely this is not the happiness which the UN report refers to nor is it even part of the world view of the culture of the countries high up in the list. To find something close to this notion of happiness, they would have to walk the streets of societies in which people still happily smile through the rubble of their everyday world. This op-ed can be helpful in Essay writing.

Norway is the world’s happiest country

  1. Source: The World Happiness Report 2017 released by the United Nations on the International Day of Happiness
  2. It is the fifth such report since the first was published in 2012
  3. Norway surged from fourth place to the top spot
  4. Top 10: Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden tied for 9th
  5. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance
  6. The entire top 10 are affluent, developed nations, although money is not the only ingredient for happiness
  7. In fact, among the wealthier countries the differences in happiness levels had a lot to do with differences in mental health, physical health and personal relationships: the biggest single source of misery is mental illness
  8. Another major country, China, has made major economic strides in recent years. But its people are not happier than 25 years ago
  9. China ranked 79th in the study of 155 countries

Note4students:

Prelims trivia. Note the report, publishing agency, toppers. Few points may be included in essay or mains answer also. Make a note of the top ranked country and India’s rank.

[op-ed snap] An inconvenient truth

Context:

  1. The world’s elite, including political leaders and corporate titans, met at the annual World Economic Forum last week in Davos

Forum discussion:

  1. The Forum discussed the contents of the Global Risks Report which identified a number of threats to the world order
  2. At the top of this list was income inequality
  3. The report invokes the rich and powerful to suggest that a fundamental reform of capitalism is necessary to tackle the public anger which it blames not just for the popularity of Donald Trump, but also Brexit

India’s case:

  1. If public anger is the result of inequality, then the recent Credit Suisse Annual Report on Global Wealth for 2016 should alarm Indian society
  2. India is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and this inequality is growing at an astonishing pace
  3. In 2016, the richest 1% in India owned nearly 60% of the country’s total wealth; in contrast, the equivalent figure for most western European nations is between 20% to 30%
  4. The top 20% commanded a staggering 80%, while the entire bottom half of the country owned a pathetic 2%

Impact of national inequality:

  1. The analysis demonstrates the strong correlation between higher levels of national inequality and a wide range of health and social problems, from poorer physical and mental health to higher rates of drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and violence
  2. More worryingly, rising inequality is a major driver for the emergence of authoritarian leaders
  3. Rising inequality is fuelling conflict, both the incidence of crime in our daily lives and full-scale civil conflict and war

Reducing inequality:

  1. Reducing inequality is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which India has signed up
  2. Inequality can be reduced, but it requires strong political will to do so
  3. A number of middle-income countries have managed to contain and even reduce income inequality while achieving strong growth performance
  4. This belies the belief that inequality is inevitable while India struggles to achieve a basic standard of living for her population
  5. We need a political consensus, to act with urgency, to reduce the grotesque levels of inequality

Inequality destroys the soul of nations, of societies, of communities and, ultimately, of every individual’s well-being.

Note4Students:

The op-ed is important for Mains as well as Essay writing.

Eight men as rich as half the world

  1. Source: An analysis by Oxfam
  2. The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people
  3. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem
  4. If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald
  5. Trump as U.S. President and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union

Note4students:

This data is useful for development or in/equality related essays.

Back2basics:

  1. Oxfam is an international confederation of charitable organizations focused on the alleviation of global poverty
  2. Oxfam was founded at 17 Broad Street in Oxford, Oxfordshire, in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief by a group of Quakers, social activists, and Oxford academics; this is now Oxfam Great Britain, still based in Oxford
  3. It was one of several local committees formed in support of the National Famine Relief Committee
  4. Their mission was to persuade the British government to allow food relief through the Allied blockade for the starving citizens of occupied Greece
  5. The first overseas Oxfam was founded in Canada in 1963

World Economic Forum says capitalism needs urgent change

  1. Source: Global Risks Report 2017 by the World Economic Forum
  2. Reforming the very nature of capitalism will be needed to combat the growing appeal of populist political movements around the world
  3. Getting higher economic growth is necessary but insufficient to heal the fractures in society that were evident in the election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, or Brexit
  4. Rising income and wealth disparity are potentially the biggest driver in global affairs over the next 10 years
  5. As an example of this growing inequality, the WEF highlighted the massive increases in CEO pay at a time when many people in advanced economies have struggled to make ends meet following the global financial crisis

Note4students:

An essay ‘Can capitalism bring inclusive growth?’ was asked in Mains-2015. Such bits can enhance value of your essay. Also note the report and the publishing institution.

Learn more about World Happiness Report

  1. Aimed at: Influencing govt policy and is prepared based upon study undertaken by Gallup World Poll
  2. Context: Ranks nations based upon score of different variables on a scale running from 0 to 10
  3. Parameters: Real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, corruption levels and social freedoms
  4. Significance: For the first time, report has given a special role to Measurement and Consequences of Inequality in distribution of well-being among countries and regions

India ranks 118th in happiness index

  1. Context: The World Happiness Report 2016, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an UN initiative
  2. News: Denmark took the top spot as the ‘happiest country’ in the world
  3. India is among a group of 10 countries witnessing the biggest happiness decline
  4. People are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness
  5. Parameters: GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices

Mumbai best governed city: ASIC report

  1. Context: Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2015 report
  2. Findings: Mumbai has topped the ranking followed by Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, Pune and Bhopal
    Chandigarh was ranked last on the list, way below Patna, Raipur and Ranchi
  3. Survey by: Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and Jana Urban Space Foundation
  4. Ranks: Based on 4 parameters – urban planning; resources; legitimate political representation; transparency

Transparency sees Bengaluru rise up the ranks

  1. News: Bengaluru jump up 6 spots in the Annual Survey of India’s City Systems-2015 by Janagrahaa, an NGO
  2. Context: Bengaluru’s position has gone up from 18 (in 2014) to 12, but languishes behind Kolkata (which tops the rankings), Delhi, Patna and Bhopal
  3. Improvement in: Urban Capacities and Resources category, includes financial management, number of civic workers as a proportion to population and govt institutions for financial planning
  4. In Transparency, Accountability and Participation, the city has improved its score and maintains its position in the top 3
  5. Major constraints: staff shortage, as 52 per cent of the sanctioned posts in the civic body is vacant – one of the highest in the country

Indian airports top global rankings

  1. Context: Indian airports have yet again topped the rankings
  2. Rankings by? Montreal-based Airports Council International (ACI) service quality awards for 2015
  3. Basis: Passengers’ survey held at airports across the world
  4. Best airports in 2 categories: Region and passenger traffic
  5. Findings: Airports in India, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, and China are the top-5 best airports in the 25-40 million annual passengers category and in the 40-million-annual-passengers-plus category since 2010
  6. ACI comment: Asian airports have some of the newest and most impressive infrastructure

Learn know about Conflict Armament Research (CAR)

  1. Established in : 2011
  2. Context: It responds to growing worldwide demand for weapon-specific technical expertise to support research, analysis and policy making
  3. How they work? CAR investigation teams work on the ground in active armed conflicts
  4. Teams document weapons at the point of use and track their sources back through the chains of supply
  5. CAR teams investigate weapons in a variety of conflict-related situations—be they recovered by state security forces, surrendered at the cessation of hostilities, cached, or held by insurgent forces
  6. Where they work? In active armed conflicts across the globe, including theatres of international concern, such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria

Indian components used in IS explosives: report

  1. News: Products from at least 7 Indian companies figure in a large supply of components that have ended up in explosives used by Islamic State terrorists
  2. Report by: EU-funded 20-month-long study by the Conflict Armament Research (CAR)
  3. Report says: There was no illegality on the part of the Indian companies
  4. Under Indian law: Transfer of this material requires a licence. All components documented by CAR were legally exported
  5. Other countries: Turkey, Brazil and the United States also appeared on the list
  6. Concern: IS is now producing IEDs, quasi-industrial scale, using both regulated components and easily available items such as fertilisers and mobile phones
  7. Turkey is the most important source of components used in the manufacture of IEDs by the IS

Civil liberties in danger, but India fighting back

  1. Context: Amnesty International’s report for 2015-16
  2. Report: It has included India among countries that have failed to match up to the international standard of freedom of expression and civil liberties
  3. Censorship and attacks on freedom of expression by hardline Hindu groups have grown
  4. India held at least 3,200 prisoners in various prisons without trial under executive order
  5. India had failed to prevent hundreds of communal and ethnic riots in the past one year
  6. It criticizes the govt. for using archaic laws to suppress dissent

India 3rd most optimistic on consumer confidence

  1. Survey: Consumer Confidence survey by Master Card
  2. Asia Pacific: Global uncertainties have affected the Asia-Pacific consumer—for the first time since 2012
  3. Relevance: Consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are not optimistic about the immediate future
  4. India: Even here, confidence has shown some decline although the nation remains optimistic
  5. Why? High volatility, falling stock markets, and little improvement in employment prospects are the key reasons for the deteriorating confidence
  6. Ranks: 1st- Myanmar, 2nd- Vietnam, 3rd- India

Learn about Internet readiness index?

  1. This is a composite index on components like e-infrastructure index, e-participation index, IT services and e-governance index
  2. Purpose: To help business and governments to leverage the strength, and policy measures can also be taken where improvements are required
  3. Why? – Given the rapid advancement in e-services and e-commerce, it is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the states

Maharashtra tops Internet readiness index report

  1. According to Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States, Maharashtra has emerged as the top ranking state in terms of the overall Internet readiness index
  2. The report was published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indicus Analytics
  3. Among the smaller states, Delhi has emerged as the topmost state, followed by Puducherry and Goa
  4. The report notes, much more needs to be done in the form of investment and infrastructure development in northeast India
  5. The report aims to give a more holistic picture of the digital ecosphere that presently exists in the states

India Ranked 37th on USCC IP Index

  1. India has ranked 37th out of 38 countries for its intellectual property rights environment in the annual IP index released by the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC)
  2. The index painted a grim picture of India, which scored 7.05, lower than last year’s 7.23
  3. Based on 6 key parameters like rights and limitations of the patent, copyright and trademark regimes, trade secrets, enforcement and ratification of international treaties
  4. India took hit in- absence of regulation for data protection, bar on patentability under Section 3(d) of Patent Act 1970, not part of TPP
  5. However, many strengths have been ignored like- a robust litigation system, enforcement of IPRs is at peak in India, Commercial Courts Act etc

2.8 million cancer deaths in China in 2015: study

Some 2.8 million Chinese may have died of cancer in 2015 or over 7,500 deaths daily, according to a new study.

  1. With increasing incidence and mortality, cancer is the leading cause in China and is a major public health problem.
  2. The lung, stomach, esophageal, liver and colorectal cancers were the most common ones in men, accounting for about two-thirds of all cases.
  3. Breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and esophageal cancers were the most commonly seen cancers among women.
  4. The air pollution is an important cause of lung cancer deaths.
  5. Mortality rates of cancers have decreased by about 21 per cent for both men and women since 2006.
  6. China should be prepared as the number of cancers deaths will still climb with the arrival of aging population.

Indian life insurance lagged Asian peers: McKinsey

India’s life insurance sector has underperformed compared to its Asian peers.

  1. None of the private insurers are creating value of the type indicated by the potential, all of them serving a minuscule segment, mainly to meet narrow investment needs.
  2. Unlike other markets, growth in India’s life insurance sector is correlated more closely to equity market performance than rising GDP.
  3. For over a decade, the private segment has delivered overall returns far below the cost of capital and even below those in other Asian markets.
  4. For value growth, they should expand capabilities in agency and lower costs, besides reinventing relationships with customers and distributors by using digital tools and analytics.
  5. They should build risk and capital management skills, besides leveraging existing customer relationships.

What does India’s rank indicate?

  1. Last year, India was placed at the 78th This year, it has slipped 11 places.
  2. According to the list, a lower position indicates a sharp shortage of skilled workforce
  3. It reflects an acute shortage of skilled labour force and difficult business conditions.
  4. India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries, with China leading the pack with a global rank of 48.
  5. India’s position also reflects skill shortage in vocational talent.
  6. The report noted that the improvement of India would have the greatest impact in terms of the pool of talent not only in the region but also globally.

India slips to 89th rank on global talent competitiveness

  1. India is ranked at the 89th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) for the year 2015-16.
  2. The list has been compiled by the INSEAD business school, in partnership with Adecco and Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI).
  3. It is released every year on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.
  4. The Global Talent Competitiveness index measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain.

 

The hidden wealth of nations

India’s biggest source of FDI is India itself, black money routed back as FDI aka ROUNDTRIPPING .

  1. OECD- BEPS final report lays out 15 action points to curb abusive tax avoidance by MNEs.
  2. Economic growth without public investment in social infrastructure such as health care and education can do very little to better the life conditions of the majority.
  3. Curbing tax evasion to boost public finance is also the part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  4. But as stock market sneezes, the Indian state swoons.
  5. Case in point multiple postponement of the enforcement of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) to 2017, and implementing SIT recommendations related to KYC on P-notes.
  6. India has spent much of 2015 ‘trying’ to re-negotiate this treaty.
  7. Meanwhile, China has already renegotiated its DTAA, and it can force investors to pay 10 per cent capital gains tax in China.
  8. Government needs to muster up the political will to clamp down on the tax avoidance via legal but abusive accounting tricks of MNEs.

Let’s know about World Economic Forum (WEF)?

  1. WEF is an international institution founded by Klaus Schwab that works to improve the state of the world through public-private cooperation.
  2. It was established in 1971 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  3. It is an independent not-for-profit organization that works closely with other international organizations.
  4. It also works with leaders in the field of politics, business, academia to set global, regional and industrial agenda.

World Economic Forum meeting starts in Davos, Switzerland

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting has started in Swiss resort of Davos, Switzerland.

  1. In this edition of WEF meeting, the agenda includes the outlook of the global economy and measures to fight terrorism.
  2. The 4-day conference will cover the discussions on tumbling oil prices and China’s uncertain economic prospects.
  3. It will be also discussing the issue of growing terror threats in the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris (France) and influx of migrants and refugees in Europe.
  4. Participants will also discuss environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. They will also review the latest efforts to improve industrial production with robotics, artificial intelligence and information technology.

IMF cuts global growth forecast as China slows

Near-term fiscal policy should be more supportive of the recovery, especially through investments that would augment future productive capital.

IMFlogo


  1. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth forecasts for the third time in less than a year.
  2. As new figures from Beijing showed that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015.
  3. The IMF cited a sharp slowdown in China trade and weak commodity prices that are hammering Brazil and other emerging markets.
  4. The Fund forecast that the world economy would grow at 3.4 per cent in 2016 and 3.6 per cent in 2017.
  5. The IMF projected 7.3 per cent GDP growth for India in 2015-16 and 7.5 per cent in 2016-17, levels unchanged from its outlook released in October.

World Development Report 2016

The report explores the impact of Internet and digital technologies on development.

  1. India’s UID scheme is worthy of replication by other countries as an example of technology leading to economic transformation.
  2. Through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, govt. is saving Rs.15,000 crore a year in LPG subsidy.
  3. Over the past decades, Digital technologies have succeeded in bringing the excluded sections of society into the formal system.
  4. The number of internet users has more than tripled in a decade, reaching an estimated 3.2 billion in 2015.
  5. The challenge is that nearly 60% of the world’s population falls outside the digital economy.

Technological advancement has made manufacturing more capital-intensive and automation of mid-level jobs has led to a hollowing of the labour market.

Meeting or missing the fiscal deficit targets may not lead to immediate change in India’s rating: Moody’s

The deficit target could be missed because of the impact of the 7th Pay Commission for central government employees.

  1. India’s fiscal position is very weak and even if deficits targets are met, the fiscal position will be weaker, so even meeting the target will not be enough and a slight miss is anticipated.
  2. India plans to keep its fiscal deficit within 3.9% of GDP in fiscal 2016.
  3. Moody’s has a ‘Baa3 rating’ on India, which is slightly higher than a junk rating.
  4. The rating didn’t change even when India grew at 10% and the general deficit fell, including the centre and states.
  5. This is because the reduction was not policy driven but because of very high nominal growth, very high corporate profitability and it was not expected to sustain.

Let’s know about World Development Report (WDR)?

  1. The World Development Report (WDR) is an annual report published since 1978 by the World Bank.
  2. Each WDR provides in-depth analysis of a specific aspect of economic development.
  3. Past reports have considered such topics as agriculture, youth, equity, public services delivery, labour, health, the environment, risk management, and poverty.
  4. Title of World Development Report 2015 is Mind, Society, and Behavior.

 

Digital dividends not spreading rapidly, says World Bank

With 60 per cent of the world’s population still offline, institutional and regulatory barriers to efficiency are exacerbating the problem of low and unevenly distributed “digital dividends” from growing Internet penetration.

  1. In World Development Report (WDR), the Bank appeared to strike a balance between outlining the positive outcomes from a deepening digital economy in countries such as India.
  2. The fact that automation of jobs was in some cases leading to inequalities in the labour market between high-skill and low-skill workers.
  3. The 2016 WDR issue titled “Digital Dividends,” noted that almost 1.063 billion Indians were offline even though India ranked among the top 5 nations in terms of internet users.
  4. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide.
  5. The WDR noted, 57 percent of Indians believe private information on the Internet is very secure.

Global growth to be disappointing in 2016: IMF

IMF MD, Christine Lagarde, said the prospect of rising interest rates in the U.S. and an economic slowdown in China were contributing to uncertainty and a higher risk of economic vulnerability worldwide.

  1. Growth in global trade has slowed considerably and a decline in raw material prices is posing problems for economies based on these.
  2. The financial sector in many countries still has weaknesses and financial risks are rising in emerging markets.
  3. Low productivity, ageing populations and effects of the global financial crisis were putting the brakes on growth.
  4. She warned that rising U.S. interest rates and a stronger dollar could lead to firms defaulting on their payments and that this could then “infect” banks and states.

Asia-Pacific region faces epidemic of HIV among adolescents : UN Report

  1. In 2014, 220,000 adolescents aged 10-19 were estimated to be living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.
  2. India is among the 10 countries in the region accounting for 98 per cent of those aged 10 to 19 living with HIV, the region is facing a “hidden epidemic” of HIV among adolescents.
  3. Prevalence is particularly high in large cities like Mumbai, Hanoi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other urban areas.
  4. The report, released ahead of World AIDS Day, added that in hotspot urban areas, HIV prevalence can be many times the national prevalence.

India ranks 131 on global ICT Development Index

It was revealed in UN International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) flagship annual Measuring the Information Society (MISR) Report.

  1. India has been ranked 131 out of 167 nations on ICT Development Index (IDI) that measures the level of information and communication technology access.
  2. Globally 3.2 billion people are now online i.e. having internet connection representing 43.4 per cent of the world’s population.
  3. South Korea, Denmark and Iceland are top 3 countries in IDI 2015.
  4. The Asia-Pacific region is the most diverse region in terms of ICT development that reflects stark differences in levels of economic development.

What is the antiretroviral therapy (ART)?

  1. ART consists of the combination of antiretroviral drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease.
  2. A combination of three or more antiretroviral medicines is more effective than using just one medicine (monotherapy) to treat HIV.
  3. ART also prevents onward transmission of HIV.

Studies recommend early antiretroviral therapy

As yet another World AIDS Day dawns, and States move towards the “Zero new infections, and deaths” goal.

  1. The debate now centres around the possibility of early initiation of antiretroviral therapy for all people with HIV.
  2. New evidence has emerged to prompt early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for better outcomes among people with HIV infection.
  3. Currently, anyone who has a CD4 cell count of 350, and consequently, a very high viral load, is eligible for free ARTs.
  4. Studies have shown initiating on ART irrespective of CD4 cell count have resulted in reduction in HIV transmission, and prevention of infections like TB and cancers.

CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection

Moody’s questions Centre’s ability to bring in key reforms

Failure to enact legislation on unified GST and Land Acquisition Bill could hamper flow of investments, by Moody’s Investors Service report

  1. The report said that weak global cues and an impending US rate hike may also have an impact on Indian businesses.
  2. A healthy 7.5 per cent GDP growth for India for the fiscal year ending March 2017 and a pickup in manufacturing activity will be broadly supportive of business growth.
  3. The downside factors are loss of reform momentum leading to annual GDP growth falling below 6 per cent, resulting in a deterioration of credit metrics.
  4. The upside factors include further government measures that could sustain the GDP growth at 8 per cent or more, leading to a broad-based improvement in corporate credit metrics.

India retirement system ranks last in the global pension index

Denmark and Netherlands are the only countries to achieve an ‘A’ grade in the history of the index

  1. A new Mercer report rated Denmark as the country with the best retirement system.
  2. The primary reason is its well-funded pension system with its good coverage, high level of assets and contributions and private pension system with developed regulations.
  3. Singapore has been ranked the highest among Asian countries.
  4. The Indian retirement system continues to rank last, as per 2015 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI).

Mortality rate among Indian girls below age of five higher than the boys: UN Report

It was mentioned in recently published UN Report titled The World’s Women 2015.

  1. Men have outnumbered women in southern Asia, eastern Asia, Oceania and western Asia.
  2. India is among the countries having largest surplus population of men and worrying under-five sex ratio.
  3. Higher mortality rate among girls is closely related to a general preference for sons.
  4. Special treatment for boys in terms of parental investment in nutrition, access to health treatment, vaccinations and parental care is main reason.
  5. Child marriage is the most common practice in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

India accounts for one-third of the total global child brides.

Need for an insurance index to measure financial and social progress in India: study

Distribution is the key to enhancing insurance penetration in India as distributors play a pivotal role in educating and advising clients

  1. There is a need to set up an insurance index in India for insurance penetration to be quantified as a measure of financial and social progress.
  2. By including insurance parameter , it is possible to get a more holistic view of the extent of financial under-penetration.
  3. At 3.9 per cent (2013-14), insurance penetration in India against the world average of 6.3 per cent largely due to limited financial awareness and literacy
  4. India is far behind advanced economies on insurance density, which is measured as a ratio of premium to total population.
  5. Insurance penetration measured as, a ratio of premium to gross domestic product (GDP).

World Bank estimates show fall in India’s poverty rate

Ending Extreme Poverty, Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies Report notes that, 12.8 per cent of the global population live in extreme poverty

  1. The World Bank revised the global poverty line, previously pegged at $1.25 a day to $1.90 a day.
  2. The latest data estimate for 2012, that close to 900 million people (12.8 per cent of the global population) lived in extreme poverty.
  3. World Bank Group set the target of bringing down the number of people living in extreme poverty to less than 3 per cent of the world population by 2030.
  4. Global poverty line does not currently take the Multi-dimensional poverty into account.
  5. The 2015 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) counts 1.6 billion people as multi-dimensionally poor, with the largest global share in South Asia and the highest intensity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Cancer not beyond us”- World Cancer Day Theme

  1. The theme highlights that solutions for cancer do exist and they are not beyond our reach and very much accessible.
  2. In 2011, UN adopted a world cancer declaration, which seeked to dispel the damaging myths and misconceptions about the disease.
  3. The campaign intends to implement known areas of cancer prevention, early detection , treatment and care to ease global cancer burden.

Key Points: World Asthma Day

  1. Asthma= airways shrink, because of immunological response to an allergen such as dust, food additives etc.
  2. Allergan vary from person to persons.
  3. Narrowed airways means difficulty in breathing.
  4. Asthma is not curable but fully controllable, with proper treatment.
  5. Asthma inhalers contain Bronchodilators & similar anti-inflammatory agents that help relaxing the airway.

India assumes presidency of 68th World Health Assembly

  1. India assumed the presidency of the 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva after a gap of 19 years.
  2. This edition of assembly is expected to deliberate on key issues –
  3. Antimicrobial resistance & Air pollution and health.
  4. Global health emergency, preparedness and surveillance.
  5. Global strategy and plan of action on public health.
  6. Innovation and intellectual property.


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