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Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GTCI 2020

Mains level : Unemployment in India


The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) was recently published.

About the report

  • The GTCI report is compiled by INSEAD in collaboration with human resource firm Addeco and Google.
  • The report, which measures countries based on six pillars —
  1. enable
  2. attract
  3. grow
  4. retain talent
  5. vocation and technical skills
  6. global knowledge skills

Performance Analysis

  • India has climbed eight places to 72nd rank in the GTCI which was topped by Switzerland, the US and Singapore.
  • Sweden (4th), Denmark (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Finland (7th), Luxembourg (8th), Norway (9th) and Australia (10th) complete the top 10 league table.
  • In the BRICS grouping, China was ranked 42nd, Russia (48th), South Africa (70th) and Brazil at 80th position.
  • This year’s GTCI report explores how the development of AI is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

Remarks for India

  • India’s highest-ranked sub-pillar is employability, but the ability to match labour market demand and supply stands in contrast to the country’s poor “mid-level skills”, which result in a mediocre score in vocational and technical skills.
  • India’s poor ability to attract and retain talent is its greatest challenge.
Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Corruption Perception Index 2019IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Corruption Perception Index 2019

Mains level : Menace of corruption in India


The Corruption Perception report for 2019 has been released. It has revealed that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

About CPI

  • The CPI is annually released by Transparency International.
  • It draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

India’s performance

  • India’s ranking in the CPI-2019 has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to the previous year.
  • Its score of 41 out of 100 remains the same.
  • CPI highlighted that unfair and opaque political financing, undue influence in decision-making and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups, has resulted in stagnation or decline in the control of corruption.

Global corruption

  • In the Asia Pacific region, the average score is 45, after many consecutive years of an average score of 44, which “illustrates general stagnation” across the region.
  • China has improved its position from 87 to 80 with a score of 41 out of 100, a two-point jump.
  • Despite the presence of high performers like New Zealand (87), Singapore (85), Australia (77), Hong Kong (76) and Japan (73), the Asia Pacific region hasn’t witnessed substantial progress in anti-corruption.
  • In addition, low performers like Afghanistan (16), North Korea (17) and Cambodia (20) continue to highlight serious challenges in the region.
  • The top ranked countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).
Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Trolling in IndiaIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Abuse of women on social media and its implications


 

The Amnesty International India has released a report titled “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India”. The report analysed more than 114,000 tweets sent to 95 women politicians in the three months during and after last year’s general elections in India.

Highlights of the report

  • The research found that women are targeted with abuse online not just for their opinions – but also for various identities, such as gender, religion, caste, and marital status.
  • Indian women politicians face substantially higher abuse on Twitter than their counterparts in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Around 13.8% of the tweets in the study were either “problematic” or “abusive”.
  • Problematic content was defined as tweets that contain hurtful or hostile content, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple occasions, but do not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.
  • While all women are targeted, Muslim women politicians faced 55% more abuse than others.
  • Women from marginalized castes, unmarried women, and those from non-ruling parties faced a disproportionate share of abuse.

A matter of concern

  • Abusive tweets had content that promote violence against or threaten people based on their race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, age, disability or other categories.
  • They include death threats and rape threats.
  • Problematic tweets contained hurtful or hostile content, often repeated, which could reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes, although they did not meet the threshold of abuse.

Democracy Index 2019IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Democracy Index 2019

Mains level : Fallouts on democracy in India


 

The latest edition of the Democracy Index spells gloom for India. The world’s biggest democracy slipped 10 places in the 2019 global ranking to 51st place.

Democracy Index

  • The report is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit — the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, which is the sister company to The Economist newspaper.
  • It records how global democracy fared, analysing 165 independent states and two territories.
  • The 2019 survey attributes the primary cause of “the democratic regression” to “an erosion of civil liberties in the country”.

India’s performance

  • India’s overall score fell from 7.23 to 6.9, on a scale of 0-10, within a year (2018-2019) — the country’s lowest since 2006.
  • India was graded in electoral process and pluralism (8.67), government functioning (6.79), political participation (6.67), political culture (5.63) and civil liberties (6.76).
  • In the Asia and Australasia region, India ranks eighth, behind Taiwan and Timor-Leste.
  • The report talks about the repeal of both Article 370 and Article 35A and various restrictions such as house arrests, internet shutdowns and excessive use of forces.

India: A flawed democracy?

The Index also categorizes India under “flawed democracies”, i.e. countries that hold free and fair elections and where basic civil liberties are respected, but have significant weaknesses in aspects of democracy, such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020

Mains level : Unemployment in India


The report World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 (WESO) was recently released.

About the Report

  • The WESO report is an initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
  • ILO forecasts that unemployment will rise by about 2.5 million this year.
  • The ILO is a UN agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards.
  • The report analyses key labour market issues, including unemployment, labour underutilization, working poverty, income inequality, labour income share and factors that exclude people from decent work.

Highlights of the report

  • Global unemployment is projected to increase by around 2.5 million in 2020.
  • The number of people unemployed around the world stands at some 188 million.
  • In addition, 165 million people do not have enough paid work, and 120 million have either given up actively searching for work or otherwise lack access to the labour market.
  • In total, more than 470 million people worldwide are affected, the report said.
  • Almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work.
  • Not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labour market.

Data on working poverty

  • Currently working poverty (defined as earning less than USD 3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms) affects more than 630 million workers, or one in five of the global working population.
  • Inequalities related to gender, age and geographical location continue to plague the job market, with the report showing that these factors limit both individual opportunity and economic growth.
  • Some 267 million young people aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training, and many more endure substandard working condition.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Global Risks Report 2020IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Risks Report 2020

Mains level : Read the attached story


The top five risks to humanity are recently published in the Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Top five risks

  • An important finding of the report is that today’s younger generation, consisting of “Millenials” born after 1980 have ranked environmental risks higher than other older respondents in the short- and long-terms.
  • According to the report, the top five risks by likelihood over the next decade are:
  1. Extreme weather events like floods and storms
  2. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  3. Major natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and geomagnetic storms
  4. Major biodiversity losses and ecosystem collapse
  5. Human-made environmental damage and disasters

Top 5 risks by severity of impact over the next 10 years

  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  • Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.)
  • Water crises

Top most strongly connected global risks

  • Extreme weather events + failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Large-scale cyber-attacks + breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks
  • High structural unemployment or underemployment + adverse consequences of technological advances
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse + failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Food crises + extreme weather events

Other risks

  • The report also warned about the increasing economic and societal costs due to non-communicable diseases and the lack of research on vaccines and drug resistance to address the threat of pandemics in the recent future.
  • Economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarization” are significant short-term risks in 2020, the report said.
  • This is a warning for the global South including India and Africa where social unrest has seen a rise. For example, unrest has grown among India’s youth.
Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

‘Time to Care’ ReportIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 'Time to Care' Report

Mains level : Income inequality in India


 

The report ‘Time to Care’  was recently released ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

‘Time to Care’ Report

  • It is published by Oxfam International.
  • Its calculations are based on the latest data sources available, including from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Databook 2019 and Forbes’ 2019 Billionaires List.

Findings of the report

  • Although global inequality has declined over the past three decades, domestic income inequality has risen in many countries, particularly in advanced economies and reached historic highs.
  • The report said that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet’s population.
  • The report flagged that global inequality is shockingly entrenched and vast and the number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade, despite their combined wealth having declined in the last year.
  • The Oxfam report further said “sexist” economies are fuelling the inequality crisis by enabling a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.

Income inequality in India

  • India’s richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country’s population.
  • The total wealth of all Indian billionaires is more than its full-year budget.
  • Regarding India, Oxfam said the combined total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires is higher than the total Union Budget of India for the fiscal year 2018-19 which was at Rs 24,42,200 crore.
  • It further said women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the Indian economy of at least Rs 19 lakh crore a year, which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 (Rs 93,000 crore).
  • He said women and girls are among those who benefit the least from today’s economic system.
  • They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving.

Data on earnings

  • Oxfam said governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care and tackle poverty and inequality.
  • As per the report, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year.
  • With earnings pegged at Rs 106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what a domestic worker would make in one year.
  • Besides, direct public investments in the care economy of 2 per cent of GDP would potentially create 11 million new jobs and make up for the 11 million jobs lost in 2018, the report said.
Air Pollution

Carbon Disclosure Project Report 2019IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Carbon Disclosure Project

Mains level : India's various moves for curbing carbon emissions


The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2019 report was recently published.

Carbon Disclosure Project

  • CDP is published by the Global Reporting Initiative.
  • It is aimed at measuring the carbon reduction activities undertaken by different companies and firms operating in various countries across the globe.
  • The report surveys corporate commitments to science-based targets (SBT) and evaluates the climate change risk that they are exposed to.

India’s performance

  • India secured the 5th spot on the project report.
  • The CDP Report 2019 said that a total of 58 companies shared details about the environment-related activities undertaken by them in this year.
  • The report also claims that over 98 percent of top Indian companies have formed some type or committee or group within its organization to drive and address climate-related issues.
  • The report also showcased the changing mind-set of India Inc with nearly all major companies setting up some form of oversight to evaluate climate risk.

Global scenario

  • The US topped the annual CDP report with 135 companies disclosing their climate-related activities, followed by Japan in the second position with 83 companies and the UK in the third position with 78 countries.
  • While France was placed fourth with 51 companies disclosing their details, India was placed fifth with 38 companies committing to the science-based targets.
  • In 2018, India had only 25 companies committing to the SBTs.
  • India is followed by Germany and Sweden with 30 and 27 companies respectively, while Switzerland and Spain had 23 and 22 companies respectively.
  • Netherlands was listed 10th on the list with 18 companies committing to SBT initiatives.

Importance

  • India was ranked 5th, ahead of Germany and Sweden.
  • India is the first developing economy with a maximum number of companies committing to the science-based targets.
Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

Global Social Mobility Report 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Social Mobility Report 2020 and its highlights

Mains level : Social Mobility


 

The Global Social Mobility Report was recently released at the ongoing World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

Global Social Mobility Report

  • The World Economic Forum organizes the well-known annual gathering of the world’s most influential business and political decision-makers at Davos.
  • It has come out with its first-ever Global Social Mobility Report, which has ranked India a lowly 72 out of the 82 countries profiled.
  • According to the report, the Nordic economies such as Denmark and Finland top the social mobility rankings while countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa languish at the bottom (see Table 1).

Table 1: WEF’s Global Social Mobility Rankings

Country Rank (out of 82)
Denmark 1
Germany 11
United Kingdom 21
United States 27
Russia 39
China 45
Saudi Arabia 52
Brazil 60
India 76
Pakistan 79

 

What is the context for this report?

  • Notwithstanding fast global growth, inequalities have been growing across the world.
  • The rise of inequality has not only created massive social unrest but also adversely affected the global consensus on the kind of economic policies that countries follow.
  • A good example of this is the rise of trade protectionism across the world over the past few years.
  • Be it US or the UK several countries have started looking inwards in the hope that greater trade protectionism will help allay the fears and apprehensions of domestic workers.

What is Social Mobility?

  • Typically, inequalities are measured in income terms. And this measure has been found inadequate.
  • As the report states, “many situations exist where, despite high levels of absolute income mobility, relative social mobility remains low.
  • For example, in economies such as China and India, economic growth can lift entire populations upward in terms of absolute income, but an individual’s status in society relative to others remains the same”.
  • The report states: “The notion of relative social mobility is more closely related to the social and economic status of an individual relative to their parents. I
  • n a country with a society with perfect relative mobility, a child born in a low-income family would have as much chance to earn a high income as a child born to parents who earn a high income”.

Thus, the concept of social mobility is much broader than just looking at income inequality. It encompasses several concerns such as:

  • Intragenerational mobility: The ability for an individual to move between socio-economic classes within their own lifetime.
  • Intergenerational mobility: The ability for a family group to move up or down the socio-economic ladder across the span of one or more generations.
  • Absolute income mobility: The ability for an individual to earn, in real terms, as much as or more than their parents at the same age.
  • Absolute educational mobility: The ability for an individual to attain higher education levels than their parents.
  • Relative income mobility: How much of an individual’s income is determined by their parents’ income.
  • Relative educational mobility: How much of an individual’s educational attainment is determined by their parents’ educational attainment.

Why does social mobility matter?

  • How far an individual can move up in the society determines a lot whether one is closer to the income “floor” (or poor) or “ceiling” (or rich).
  • Social mobility levels, then, can help us understand both the speed – that is, how long it takes for individuals at the bottom of the scale to catch up with those at the top – and the intensity – that is, how many steps it takes for an individual to move up the ladder in a given period – of social mobility.
  • Research also shows that countries with high levels of relative social mobility—such as Finland, Norway or Denmark— exhibit lower levels of income inequality.
  • Conversely, countries with low relative social mobility—such as India, South Africa or Brazil—also exhibit high levels of economic inequality.
  • That’s why it matters for countries like India to increase social mobility.

 

As shown in Table 2, it would take a whopping 7 generations for someone born in a low-income family in India to approach mean income level; in Denmark, it would only take 2 generations.

 

Table 2: Income Mobility across Generations

Country Number of generations required by a poor family member to achieve mean income level
Denmark 2
United States/ United Kingdom 5
Germany/ France 6
India/China 7
Brazil/South Africa 9

 

So, how is social mobility calculated?

The WEF’s Global Social Mobility Index assesses the 82 economies on “10 pillars” spread across the following five key dimensions of social mobility:

  1. Health;
  2. Education (access, quality and equity, lifelong learning);
  3. Technology;
  4. Work (opportunities, wages, conditions);
  5. Protection and Institutions (social protection and inclusive institutions).

How did India perform on each of the 10 pillars of social mobility?

India’s overall ranking is a poor 76 out of the 82 countries considered. Thus it should not come as any surprise that India ranks lowly in individual parameters as well.

Table 3 below provides the detailed breakup.

Table 3: Where India ranks on the 10 Pillars of Social Mobility

Parameter Rank (out of 82 countries)
Health 73
Access to Education 66
Quality and Equity in Education 77
Lifelong learning 41
Access to Technology 73
Work Opportunities 75
Fair Wage Distribution 79
Working Conditions 53
Social Protection 76
Inclusive Institutions 67

 


Back2Basics

World Economic Forum (WEF)

  • The WEF based in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland, is an NGO founded in 1971.
  • The WEF’s mission is cited as “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”.
  • It is a membership-based organization, and membership is made up of the world’s largest corporations.
  • The WEF hosts an annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.

Various reports published by WEF:

[Tikdam: Most (Not all) reports titled with ‘Global’ are released by WEF.]

  1. Global Competitiveness Report
  2. Global Information Technology Report
  3. Global Gender Gap Report
  4. Global Travel and Tourism Report
  5. Global Enabling Trade Report etc.
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

[pib] UNCITRALIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNCITRAL

Mains level : Not Much


 

An International Arbitration Tribunal has dismissed all claims brought against  India in entirety. The arbitration arose out of the cancellation of Letters of Intent for the issuance of telecom licences to provide 2G services in five telecommunications circles by reason of India’s essential security interests.

UNCITRAL

  • The UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is a subsidiary body of the U.N. General Assembly responsible for helping to facilitate international trade and investment.
  • Established by the UNGA in 1966, UNCITRAL’s official mandate is “to promote the progressive harmonization and unification of international trade law” through conventions, model laws, and other instruments that address key areas of commerce, from dispute resolution to the procurement and sale of goods.
  • UNCITRAL carries out its work at annual sessions held alternately in New York City and Vienna, where it is headquartered.
  • The Tribunal constituted in accordance with the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 1976 is seated at the Hague, Netherlands, and proceedings are administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Business and the Law (WBL) Index 2020IOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WBL index

Mains level : India's poor performance and reasons behind


 

The Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020 index to measure the economic empowerment of women was recently published.

WBL Index

  • The WBL report released by the World Bank.
  • It is based on the countries’ formal laws and regulations that have a bearing on women’s economic participation, covering eight areas (eg, parenthood, equality of pay).
  • It tracks how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

India’s poor performance

  • India placed 117th among 190 countries on the index.
  • India, the world’s most populous democracy scored 74.4 on a par with Benin and Gambia and way below least developed countries like Rwanda and Lesotho.
  • The global average was 75.2 — a slight increase from 73.9 in the previous index released in 2017.

Global Performance

  • Only eight economies scored a perfect 100 — Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden.
  • Those countries have ensured equal legal standing to men and women on all the eight indicators of the index.
  • No economy in ‘East Asia and the Pacific’, ‘Europe and Central Asia’, or ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ were among top reformers, the report claimed.
  • Countries in ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ accounted for nine of the 10 top progressing countries on the WBL Index:
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. The United Arab Emirates
  3. Nepal
  4. South Sudan
  5. São Tomé and Príncipe
  6. Bahrain
  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Djibouti
  9. Jordan
  10. Tunisia

Significance of the Index

  • Legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective.
  • When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join the workforce and help strengthen their country’s economies.
Tourism Sector

Henley Passport Index 2020IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Index

Mains level : Global visa policies for Indians


The Indian passport is closer to the bottom, ranked 84th in the world, according to the 2020 edition of the Henley Passport Index.

Henley Passport Index

  • According to Henley & Partners publishes the ranking and the Index of the world’s passports “according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa”.
  • The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of some 290 airlines, including all major carriers.
  • The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
  • The data are updated in real time as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

India’s performance

  • Since the index began in 2006, the Indian passport has ranked in a band of 71st to 88th. (The number of passports ranked has, however, varied from year to year.)
  • The Indian passport’s 2020 ranking of 84th translates into visa-free access to 58 destinations, including 33 which give Indians visas on arrival.
  • It ranked higher in both 2019 (82, with visa-free access to 59 destinations) and 2018 (81, with visa-free access to 60 destinations).
  • Twenty of the 58 visa-free access destinations in the 2020 list are in Africa, and 11 each in Asia and the Caribbean.
  • Serbia is the only European country to which Indian passport holders can travel visa-free. There is no major or developed country to which Indian passport holders have visa-free access.

Global performance

  • The top 10 most powerful passports this year are ranked in this order: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark.
  • Japan has been topping the Index for three straight years; according to the 2020 index, its citizens are able to access 191 destinations without having to obtain a visa in advance.
  • Afghanistan at rank 107 is the weakest.
  • Singapore, in second place (same as in 2019), has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190.
  • Germany is No. 3 (same position as in 2019), with access to 189 destinations; it shares this position with South Korea, which dropped from the second place it held a year ago.
  • The US and the UK have been falling consistently over successive Indices.

Six degrees of Endangerment of a LanguageIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Endangered languages

Mains level : Not Much


Recently, The NY Times reported that the “near-extinct” Nepalese language Seke has just 700 speakers around the world. As per the Endangered Languages Project (ELP), there are roughly 201 endangered languages in India and about 70 in Nepal.

The last year, 2019, was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, mandated by the UN.

Nepal’s Seke language

  • According to the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), Seke is one of the over 100 indigenous languages of Nepal.
  • The dialects from these villages differ substantially and are believed to have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility.
  • In recent years, Seke has been retreating in the face of Nepali, which is Nepal’s official language and is considered to be crucial for getting educational and employment opportunities outside villages.

Degrees of endangerment

UNESCO has six degrees of endangerment. These are:

  1. Safe, which are the languages spoken by all generations and their intergenerational transmission is uninterrupted;
  2. Vulnerable languages, which are spoken by most children but may be restricted to certain domains;
  3. Definitely endangered languages, which are no longer being learnt by children as their mother tongue.
  4. Severely endangered are languages spoken by grandparents and older generations, and while the parent generation may understand it, they may not speak it with the children or among themselves.
  5. Critically endangered languages are those of which the youngest speakers are the grandparents or older family members who may speak the language partially or infrequently and lastly,
  6. Extinct languages, of which no speakers are left.
Coastal Zones Management and Regulations

Centre eases CRZ rules for ‘Blue Flag’ beachesIOCRPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRZ norms, Blue flag certification

Mains level : Blue Flag Certification


The MoEFCC has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

Why such move?

  • The Blue Flag certification, however, requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like.
  • However, India’s CRZ laws don’t allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands.
  • The new order allows for some constructions subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 meters from HTL (High Tide Line).

Blue Flag certification

  • The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.
  • The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education.
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • It has 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is, (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services.

Blue Flag beaches

  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in south and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395 Blue Flag beaches, respectively.

In India

  • Last year, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate.
  • The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Puducherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Carbon Stock in Indian forestsIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Carbon Stock

Mains level : India's INDC


  • The State of Forest Report (SFR) 2019 has shown an increase in the carbon stock trapped in Indian forests in the last two years.
  • However it shows why it is going to be an uphill task for India in meeting one of its international obligations on climate change.

India’s carbon commitment

  • India, as part of its contribution to the global fight against climate change, has committed itself to creating an “additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent” by 2030.
  • That is one of the three targets India has set for itself in its climate action plan, called Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, that every country has to submit under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • The other two relate to an improvement in emissions intensity and an increase in renewable energy deployment.
  • India has said it would reduce its emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 33% to 35% by 2030 compared to 2005.
  • It has also promised to ensure that at least 40% of its cumulative electricity generation in 2030 would be done through renewable energy.

What is the relationship between forests and carbon?

  • Forests, by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for the process of photosynthesis, act as a natural sink of carbon.
  • Together with oceans, forests absorb nearly half of global annual carbon dioxide emissions.
  • In fact, the carbon currently stored in the forests exceeds all the carbon emitted in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial age.
  • An increase in the forest area is thus one of the most effective ways of reducing the emissions that accumulate in the atmosphere every year.

How do the latest forest data translate into carbon equivalent?

  • The latest forest survey shows that the carbon stock in India’s forests (not including tree cover outside of forest areas) have increased from 7.08 billion tonnes in 2017.
  • This translates into 26.14 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent as of now.
  • It is estimated that India’s tree cover outside of forests would contribute another couple of billion of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

How challenging does this make it for India in meeting its target?

  • An assessment by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) last year had projected that, by 2030, the carbon stock in forests as well as tree cover was likely to reach 31.87 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
  • An additional 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of sink, as India has promised to do, would mean taking the size of the sink close to 35 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
  • Considering the rate of growth of the carbon sink in the last few years, that is quite a stiff target India has set for itself.
  • In the last two years, the carbon sink has grown by just about 0.6%%. Even compared to 2005, the size of carbon sink has increased by barely 7.5%.
  • To meet its NDC target, even with most optimistic estimates of carbon stock trapped in trees outside of forest areas, the sink has to grow by at least 15% to 20% over the next ten-year period.

Way Forward

  • There are two key decisions to be made in this regard — selection of the baseline year, and addition of the contribution of the agriculture sector to carbon sink.
  • When India announced its NDC in 2015, it did not mention the baseline year.
  • India’s emissions intensity target uses a 2005 baseline, so there is an argument that the forest target should also have the same baseline.
  • But there is a strong demand for a 2015 baseline as well, so that it results in some concrete progress in adding new forest cover.
  • The NDC specifically mentions that and “additional” 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon sink would be created through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 MoEFCC insist that tree cover outside forest areas must include agriculture as well.
  • India would also have to specify whether it wants to count the carbon sink in the agriculture sector in its target.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

WHO prequalifies Serum’s low-cost Pneumococcal VaccineIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pneumococcal Vaccine

Mains level : Not Much


Pneumococcal vaccine developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India has been pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Pneumococcal Vaccine

  • Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by the pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumonia) bacterium.
  • There are more than 80 different types of pneumococcus bacteria – 23 of them covered by the vaccine.
  • The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcus bacteria.
  • This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization.
  • It does not protect against pneumonia caused by microbes other than pneumococcus bacteria, nor does it protect against pneumococcal bacterial strains not included in the vaccine.

About the Vaccine

  • The pneumococcal vaccine PNEUMOSIL is a conjugate vaccine to help produce stronger immune response to a weak antigen.
  • Serum Institute had optimized an efficient conjugate vaccine manufacturing processes for its meningitis A vaccine (MenAfriVac).
  • It was used for manufacturing the pneumococcal vaccine. This helped the company reduce the manufacturing cost of pneumococcal vaccine.

Why?

  • It pneumonia caused 1,27,000 deaths in India in 2018, the second highest number of child mortality under the age of five in the world.
  • In India, pneumonia and diarrhoea cause the most deaths in children under five years.
  • In 2017, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was included in the under India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
  • It has been introduced in a phased manner starting with Himachal Pradesh, parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • The efficacy of the Serum vaccine was tested against an already approved pneumococcal vaccine (Synflorix).
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Prevalence of Mental disorders in IndiaIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Mental health and associated issues in India


A study by the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative published in The Lancet Psychiatry was recently released.

Highlights of the report

  • The report found that 197.3 million Indians (one in every seven) were suffering from mental disorders in 2017.
  • The study describes the prevalence of mental disorders in Indian states between 1990 and 2017.
  • The 197.3 million in 2017 included 45.7 million cases with depressive disorders and 44.9 million with anxiety disorders.
  • Among the disorders with the highest prevalence, idiopathic developmental intellectual disability affects most Indians, at 4.5 per cent.
  • It is followed by depressive disorders (3.3), anxiety disorders (3.3) and conduct disorders (0.8).

Statewise data

  • Among depressive disorders, the prevalence is the highest in Tamil Nadu (4,796 per 100,000), followed by Andhra Pradesh (4,563), Telangana (4,356), Odisha (4,159) and Kerala (3,897).
  • In case of anxiety disorders, the prevalence is highest in Kerala (4,035), followed by Manipur (3,760), West Bengal (3,480), Himachal Pradesh (3,471) and Andhra Pradesh (3,462).
  • For conduct disorders, Jharkhand and Bihar have the highest prevalence, at 983 and 974 per 100,000 people.
  • At 6,339 and 5,503 per lakh respectively, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have the highest prevalence of idiopathic developmental intellectual disability.

[pib] Universal Postal Union (UPU)IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Mains level : Not Much


The Union Cabinet chaired gave its approval to the ratification of the Tenth Additional Protocol to the Constitution of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

  • The UPU established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874 is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
  • The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.
  • The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB).
  • It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives. Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties.

Benefits

  • The approval enables the Postal Administration of India to have the Instrument of Ratification signed with the Director-General of the International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union through diplomatic channels along with the approval of other Acts of the Union.
  • It will also enable the Department of Posts to bring out any administrative orders to implement the provisions of the UPU Convention in India.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

European Green DealIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : European Green Deal

Mains level : Developed countries and thier negligence for Climate action


After the failure at Madrid, the European Union has come up with an announcement on additional measures it would on climate change, called the European Green Deal.

European Green Deal

Two major decisions are at the heart of the European Green Deal. The Green Deal includes sectoral plans to achieve these two overall targets and proposals for the policy changes that would be required. They are:

1) Climate neutrality

  • The EU has promised to bring a law, binding on all member countries, to ensure it becomes “climate neutral” by 2050.
  • Climate neutrality, sometimes also expressed as a state of net-zero emissions is achieved when a country’s emissions are balanced by absorptions and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • Absorption can be increased by creating more carbon sinks like forests, while removal involves technologies like carbon capture and storage.
  • The EU is now the first major emitter to agree to the 2050 climate neutrality target. It has said it would bring a proposal by March next year on a European law to enshrine this target.

2) Emission reduction

  • The second decision pertains to an increase in its 2030 emission reduction target.
  • In its climate action plan declared under the Paris Agreement, the EU was committed to making a 40 per cent reduction in its emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
  • It is now promising to increase this reduction to at least 50 per cent and work towards 55 per cent.
  • Even at 40 per cent, the European Union had the most ambitious emission reduction targets among the developed countries.

Why such move by EU?

  • The 28 EU member countries are together the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China and the United States,
  • The EU also happens to be only one among major emitters to retain the 1990 baseline for emission cuts originally mandated under the Kyoto Protocol for all developed countries.

Significance

  • The European Union, as a whole, has been doing better than other developed countries on reducing emissions.
  • In 2010, the EU had pledged to reduce its emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels.
  • By 2018, it claimed to have achieved 23 per cent reduction in emissions.
  • In terms of emission reductions, it probably is on track to meet the 2020 target, unlike any developed country outside the EU.

More is needed

  • The EU, however, has not been fulfilling all its climate obligations.
  • The Kyoto Protocol required the rich and developed countries to provide finance and technology to the developing countries to help them fight climate change.
  • In those respects, there has been little climate money flowing out of the EU, especially for adaptation needs of developing countries, and transfer of new climate-friendly technologies.
  • This is the reason why developing countries, like India and China, have been repeatedly raising the issue of unfulfilled obligations of developed countries in the pre-2020 period, that is covered by the Kyoto Protocol.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) Report, 2019IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Climate change induced mortality in India


India saw the most pollution deaths — about 2.3 million — a new report has found. Air pollution — both ambient and indoor — is one of the largest and most obvious types of pollution affecting global health.

About the report

  • The report is titled Pollution and Health Metrics: Global, Regional and Country Analysis.
  • It is released by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP).
  • It seeks to update findings from The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, and provides a ranking of pollution deaths on global, regional and country levels.
  • The report uses the most recent Global Burden of Disease data from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation.

Deaths in India

  • India is followed by China in the number of pollution deaths, with about 1.8 million.
  • The United States makes the top 10 list with 1,97,000 pollution-related deaths, while ranking 132nd in the number of deaths per 100,000 people.
  • The report includes three lists on pollution-induced deaths. India is the only country that features in the top 10 in all three lists.
  • The top 10 countries with the most pollution deaths include both the world’s largest and wealthiest nations, and some of its poorer ones.