[pib] SDG Investor Map for India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SDGs

Mains level : India's measure for SDGs

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

UNDP and Invest India have launched the SDG Investor Map for India, laying out 18 Investment Opportunities Areas (IOAs) in six critical SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) enabling sectors.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), a UN mechanism to assist countries transition towards greener and more inclusive economies, emerged at:

(a) The Earth Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, Johannesburg

(b) The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, Rio de Janeiro

(c) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015, Paris

(d) The World Sustainable Development Summit 2016, New Delhi

SDG Investor Map for India

  • SDG Finance Facility platform at UNDP in partnership with Invest India, the investment promotion arm of the Government of India has developed this Map.
  • The map will help public and private sector stake-holders direct capital towards IOAs, and White Spaces (Areas of Potential) that can contribute to the sustainable development needs of the country.
  • The map has identified 18 IOAs and 8 White Spaces across 6 Priority Sectors including Education, Healthcare, Agriculture and Allied Services, Financial Services, Renewable Energy and Alternatives, and Sustainable Environment.

Utility of this map

  • Investing in the SDGs at this point is crucial to ‘Building Back Better’ and making the economy and our societies more resilient and sustainable.
  • With the COVID-19 pandemic, the financing gap for the SDGs in India has only widened further and decades of development progress is nearly on the verge of reversal.
  • Enhanced productivity, technology adoption and increased inclusion are all critical factors that this map uses to identify the most attractive sectors for investors.

Back2Basics: What are SDGs?

  • The SDGs or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.
  • They were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
  • They are included in a UN Resolution called the 2030 Agenda or what is known as Agenda 2030.
  • Countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these Goals.
  • Implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations

South Asian University


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : South Asian University

Mains level : SAARC and its fading relevance

The Delhi-based South Asian University, established by all eight SAARC countries, has not had a president for over a year, while its executive council and governing board have not met for almost two and three years respectively.

Note the features of SAARC, ASEAN and East Asia Summit.

South Asian University

  • South Asian University (SAU) is an International University sponsored by the eight Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • The eight countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • India, as the host and the largest country in the SAARC group, bore the entire capital cost for setting up the university, and also pays 50% of the operational costs.
  • SAU attracts students predominantly from all the eight SAARC countries, although students from other continents also attend.
  • There is a country quota system for admission of students. Every year SAU conducts admission test at multiple centres in all the eight countries.
  • The degrees of the university is recognised by all the member nations of the SAARC according to an inter-governmental agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the eight-member states.

Institution on failure

  • After a decade of existence, the university has yet to appoint a non-Indian president, despite rules stipulating a rotation among the member countries.
  • At a time when the Union government is trying to encourage international education in India, an existing international institution is facing a crisis of leadership.

A matter of reluctance

  • According to the agreement signed by all the SAARC countries, the first president should have been from India, and then rotated among the other countries in alphabetical order.
  • So the next president should be from the Maldives.
  • But the MEA has put an advertisement calling only for Indian applicants, but there has been no appointment after one year.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

China-led RCEP takes off without India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RCEP

Mains level : RCEP and its economy

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade bloc comprising 15 countries led by China has come into existence.

Try answering this:

Q.Signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement would have given more substance to India’s Act East policy. Analyse.

About RCEP

  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement (FTA) between –
  1. The 10 members of ASEAN
  2. Additional members of ASEAN +3 = China, Japan, South Korea
  3. Members with which ASEAN countries have FTA = Australia, New Zealand
  • The group is expected to represent at least 30% of the global GDP and will emerge as the largest free trade agreement in the world.
  • It includes more than 3 billion people, has a combined GDP of about $17 trillion, and accounts for about 40 per cent of world trade.

India’s reluctance

  • India’s ties with China in recent months have been disturbed by the military tension in eastern Ladakh along the LAC.
  • In the meantime, India has also held a maritime exercise with Japan, Australia, and the United States for the “Quad” that was interpreted as an anti-China move.
  • However, these moves did not influence Japanese and Australian plans regarding RCEP.

 Leverage for China

  • Despite the pandemic, the RCEP is certainly leverage for China and shows the idea of decoupling from China is not a substantive issue in a regional sense.
  • The agreement means a lot for China, as it will give it access to Japanese and South Korean markets in a big way, as the three countries have not yet agreed on their FTA.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-SCO

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SCO

Mains level : SCO and India

In an indirect reference to the Chinese infrastructure projects in PoK, our PM has urged members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to respect “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty”.

What is SCO?

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up.
  • The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
  • The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan.
  • Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority.
  • The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra. Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.

Try this PYQ now:

Q. In the context of the affairs of which of the following is the phrase “Special Safeguard Mechanisms” mentioned in the news frequently?

(a) United Nations Environment Programme

(b) World Trade Organization

(c) ASEAN- India Free Trade Agreement

(d) G-20 Summits

India’s entry to the SCO

  • India and Pakistan both were observer countries.
  • While Central Asian countries and China were not in favour of expansion initially, the main supporter — of India’s entry in particular — was Russia.
  • A widely held view is that Russia’s growing unease about an increasingly powerful China prompted it to push for its expansion.
  • From 2009 onwards, Russia officially supported India’s ambition to join the SCO. China then asked for its all-weather friend Pakistan’s entry.

Tap to read more about SCO

Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

What is OPEC+?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OPEC + members

Mains level : Global oil price dynamics

Oil prices jumped by close to 10% for its biggest daily gain in almost six months after news of a highly effective vaccine against COVID-19 and Saudi Arabia’s assurance that an OPEC+ oil output deal could be adjusted to balance the market.

About OPEC

  • OPEC stands for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
  • It is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
  • It aims to manage the supply of oil in an effort to set the price of oil in the world market, in order to avoid fluctuations that might affect the economies of both producing and purchasing countries.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.
  • Today OPEC is a cartel that includes 14 nations, predominantly from the middle east whose sole responsibility is to control prices and moderate supply.

What is OPEC+?

  • The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil along with the 14 OPECs are termed as OPEC plus countries.
  • OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
  • Saudi and Russia, both have been at the heart of a three-year alliance of oil producers known as OPEC Plus — which now includes 11 OPEC members and 10 non-OPEC nations — that aims to shore up oil prices with production cuts.

Why OPEC plus came into existence?

  • When Russia concluded the Vienna Agreement in 2016, the Russian leadership believed that it would help prepare the country for the Russian presidential elections in March 2018.
  • Higher oil prices ensured the Kremlin’s financial capacity to lead a successful electoral campaign.
  • This changed the regime’s priorities – from satisfying the needs of the general population to ensuring the sustainability of the Kremlin’s alliance with powerful tycoons, including that controlling oil production.
  • For Saudi Arabia, turning what had been an ad hoc coalition into a formal group provides a hedge (protection) against future oil-market turbulence.
  • For Russia, the formalization of the group helps expand Putin’s influence in the Middle East
  • However, both reportedly aimed at causing a drop in oil prices in order to hit US shale producers, who have continued to benefit from OPEC production cuts by expanding their market share.

Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UN ACABQ

Mains level : Success and failures of United Nations

In a significant victory for India at the United Nations, Indian diplomat Vidisha Maitra was elected to the U.N. Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Try this PYQ:

Which one of the following is not related to the United Nations?
(a) Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
(b) International Finance Corporation
(c) International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
(d) Bank for International Settlements


  • It is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. The 193-member Assembly appoints members of the Advisory Committee.
  • ACABQ consists of 16 members appointed by the Assembly in their individual capacity.
  • Members are selected on the basis of broad geographical representation, personal qualifications and experience.

Its functions

  • ACABQ ensures that fund contributions to the U.N. system are put to good effect and that mandates are properly funded.
  • It examines, on behalf of the General Assembly, the administrative budgets of the specialised agencies and proposals for financial arrangements with such agencies; and to consider and report to the General Assembly on the auditors’ reports on the accounts of the UN and of the specialised agencies.

Why is the seat given to India?

  • India has a stellar record of bringing professional auditing experience to the U.N. and contributing outstanding professionals to U.N. bodies.
  • With India’s rising obligations in both assessed as well as voluntary contributions to the U.N., India holds key responsibility of administrative and budgetary management of U.N.

Significance of the move

  • The victory gives a strong display of support by U.N. member states for India.
  • It comes as India gets ready to sit in the U.N. Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 2021.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

WWF Water Risk Filter


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WWF Water Risk Filter

Mains level : Water scarcity in urban India

Nearly a third of the 100 cities in the world susceptible to ‘water risk’ — defined as losses from battling droughts to flooding — are in India, according to the WWF Water Risk Filter.

Try this question for mains:

Q.For Indian cities to break away from the vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer an alternative. Examine.

What is Water Risk Filter?

  • This is an online tool, co-developed by the Worldwide Fund for Nature that helps evaluate the severity of risk places faced by graphically illustrating various factors that can contribute to water risk.
  • Launched in 2012, it is a practical online tool that helps companies and investors assess and respond to water-related risks facing their operations and investments across the globe.
  • After a major upgrade in 2018, the Water Risk Filter 5.0 enables companies and investors to Explore, Assess, Value and Respond to water risks.
  • Lately, the Water Risk Filter provides scenarios of water risks for 2030 and 2050, integrating climate and socio-economic changes in different pathways.

Highlights of the recent analysis

  • It reported 30 Indian cities that would face a ‘grave water risk’ by 2050 due to a dramatic increase in their population percentage to 51 per cent by 2050, from 17 per cent in 2020.
  • Jaipur topped the list, followed by Indore and Thane. Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi also featured on the list.
  • The global list includes cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Mecca and Rio de Janeiro. China accounts for almost half the cities.

Major recommendations

  • The future of India’s environment lies in its cities. As India rapidly urbanizes, cities will be at the forefront both for India’s growth and for sustainability.
  • For cities to break away from the current vicious loop of flooding and water scarcity, nature-based solutions like restoration of urban watersheds and wetlands could offer solutions.
  • Urban watersheds and wetlands are critical for maintaining the water balance of a city, flood cushioning, micro-climate regulation and protecting its biodiversity, the report notes.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

In news: International Labour Organization


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ILO

Mains level : India and ILO

After 35 years, India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization (ILO).

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), a UN mechanism to assist countries transition towards a greener and more inclusive economies, emerged at:

(a) The Earth Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, Johannesburg

(b) The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, Rio de Janeiro

(c) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015, Paris

(d) The World Sustainable Development Summit 2016, New Delhi

About the International Labour Organization

  • The ILO is a UN agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards.
  • Founded in 1919 under the League of Nations, it is the first and oldest specialised agency of the UN.
  • The ILO has 187 member states: 186 out of 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands.
  • The ILO’s international labour standards are broadly aimed at ensuring accessible, productive, and sustainable work worldwide in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity.

About its Governing Body

  • The Governing body is the apex executive body of the ILO which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget and elects the Director-General.
  • It meets three times a year, in March, June and November.

Significance for India

  • India will be presiding over the upcoming meeting of the Governing Body to be held in November 2020.
  • India would have the opportunity to interact with the senior officials and social partners of the member states.
  • It will also provide a platform to apprise participants of the transformational initiatives taken by the Government in removing the rigidities of the labour market.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

UN Report on Gender Gap in Labour Market


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Gender gap in labor market

Gender equality across the world remains a far-fetched goal and no country has achieved it so far, according to the 2020 edition of the United Nations report on the state of gender equality in the world.

Try this question for mains:

Q.Discuss how marriage age and women’s health are linked with each other?

About the Report

  • The report titled “World’s Women: Trends and Statistics” was released by the UN-DESA.
  • The report provided a reality-check on the global status of women 25 years since the world adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
  • It presented the global state of gender equality in six critical areas: Population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Highlights on status of women

  • The gender gap in the labour market, for example, has not budged a bit since 1995.
  • While the status of women has improved with regard to education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality, the progress has stagnated in other areas.

Participation in the labour market

  • The gender gap in the labour market has remained as it was since 1995: The gap of 27 percentage points has barely changed since then, the report showed.
  • Only 47 per cent women of working age participated in the labour market, compared to around 74 per cent men, according to the report.
  • The largest gender gap in labour force participation was observed in the prime working age (25-54).
  • This gap has remained unaddressed since 1995 and was at 32 percentage points as of 2020, according to the report. It was 31 percentage points in 1995.
  • In India, the ratio of female-to-male labour force participation rate was 29.80 in 2019 as against the desired ratio of 50 per cent.

Working for free

  • The data in the interactive UN report showed how women remained under the burden of unpaid domestic and care work.
  • On an average day, women globally spent about three times (4.2 hours) as many hours on unpaid domestic and care work as men (1.7 hours).
  • Unpaid domestic work includes activities related to the maintenance of the household, including food preparation, upkeep of the home, caring for pets etc.

Family responsibilities

  • Family responsibilities and unequal distribution of unpaid domestic and care workers were among the primary reasons for women not joining the labour force.
  • Their participation depended on their liabilities and responsibilities in their household, noted UN. It found that women living alone were more likely to be in the labour market.
  • On an average, 82 per cent women of prime working-age living alone were in the labour market, compared to 64 per cent women living with a partner and 48 per cent living with a partner and children.
  • Their participation rates in the economy were found to improve in the latter part of their lives after their responsibilities reduced — when their children grew older.

Air Pollution

State of Global Air Report, 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Particulate Matter

Mains level : Pollution induced mortality in India

Air pollution now biggest health risk in India, says the State of Global Air 2020 Report.

State of Global Air Report

  • The State of Global Air report brings into one place the latest information on air quality and health for countries around the globe.
  • It is produced annually by the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease project.

India’s exposure to pollution

  • Long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases and neonatal diseases in India in 2019.
  • Overall, air pollution was now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks, the report noted.
  • Outdoor and household particulate matter pollution also contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 Indian infants in their first month of life last year.
  • For the youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and preterm birth.

A comparison with peers

  • India faced the highest per capita pollution exposure — or 83.2 μg/cubic metre — in the world.
  • It is followed by Nepal at 83.1 μg/cubic metre and Niger at 80.1.
  • Countries with the least population exposure are below 8 micrograms (μg) per cubic metre.

Back2Basics: Particulate Matter

  • PM is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye.
  • Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
  • Particle pollution includes:
  1. PM10 : inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometres and smaller; and
  2. PM2.5: fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometres and smaller.

Sources of PM

  • These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals.
  • Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.
  • Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.

Harmful effects of PM

  • Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems.
  • Some particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream.
  • Of these, particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, also known as fine particles or PM2.5, pose the greatest risk to health.

Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

Highlights of the Global Hunger Report, 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GHI

Mains level : Various facets of hunger and malnutrition in India

India has the highest prevalence of wasted children under five years in the world, which reflects acute undernutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2020.

Note the parameters over which the GHI is based and their weightage composition.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

  • The GHI has been brought out almost every year by Welthungerhilfe lately in partnerships with Concern Worldwide since 2000; this year’s report is the 14th one.
  • The reason for mapping hunger is to ensure that the world achieves “Zero Hunger by 2030” — one of the SDGs laid out by the UN.
  • A low score gets a country a higher ranking and implies better performance.
  • It is for this reason that GHI scores are not calculated for certain high-income countries.
  • Each country’s data are standardised on a 100-point scale and a final score is calculated after giving 33.33% weight each to components 1 and 4, and giving 16.66% weight each to components 2 and 3.

For each country in the list, the GHI looks at four indicators:

  1. Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability): calculated by the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient)
  2. Child Wasting (which reflects acute undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, those who have low weight for their height)
  3. Child Stunting (which reflects chronic undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, those who have low height for their age)
  4. Child Mortality (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment): calculated by the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

India’s performance this year

  • In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 94th out of the 107 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2020 GHI scores.
  • With a score of 27.2, India has a level of hunger that is serious.
  • The situation has worsened in the 2015-19 period, when the prevalence of child wasting was 17.3%, in comparison to 2010-14, when it was 15.1%.
  • India fares worst in child wasting (low weight for height, reflecting acute undernutrition) and child stunting (low height for age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), which together make up a third of the total score.

Useful comparative data

  • Overall, India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Index, lower than neighbours such as Bangladesh (75) and Pakistan (88).
  • In the region of the south, east and south-eastern Asia, the only countries which fare worse than India are Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

What is New START Treaty?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OST, INF Treaty, New START policy

Mains level : US-Russia power tussle

Russian President Mr Putin has proposed a one-year extension without conditions of the last major nuclear arms reduction accord, the New START Treaty between Russia and the U.S.

The New START, INF and the Open Skies …. Be clear about the differences of these treaties. For example- to check if their inception was during cold war era etc.

New START Treaty

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • If it falls, it will be the second nuclear weapons treaty to collapse under the leadership of US President Donald Trump.
  • In February, US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of violating the agreement.

Also read:

US confirms pull out from INF treaty

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)

Mains level : Not Much

Russian Navy along with CSTO members has begun military exercises in the central waters of the Caspian Sea north of the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) sometimes seen in news is an alliance led by:


(a) Russia (b) USA (c) India (d) European Union

Collective Security Treaty Organization

  • CSTO is an intergovernmental military alliance that was signed on 15 May 1992.
  • In 1992, six post-Soviet states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States—Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—signed the Collective Security Treaty
  • This is also referred to as the “Tashkent Pact” or “Tashkent Treaty”.
  • Three other post-Soviet states—Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia—signed the next year and the treaty took effect in 1994.
  • Five years later, six of the nine—all but Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan—agreed to renew the treaty for five more years, and in 2002 those six agreed to create the CSTO as a military alliance.

Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Comparison between India- Bangladesh per capita GDP


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDP, GNP, GVA etc.

Mains level : India's GDP related issues

In IMF’s latest Economic Outlook, Bangladesh has overtaken India in GDP per capita. This has caught everyone’s attention.

Do you know?

  • In the 2019 edition of Transparency International’s rankings, Bangladesh ranks a low 146 out of 198 countries (India is at 80th rank; a lower rank is worse off).
  • In the latest gender parity rankings, out of 154 countries mapped for it, Bangladesh is in the top 50 while India languishes at 112.

Bangladesh surpasses India

  • Typically, countries are compared on the basis of GDP growth rate, or on absolute GDP.
  • For the most part since Independence, on both these counts, India’s economy has been better than Bangladesh’s.
  • This can be seen from Charts 1 and 2 that map GDP growth rates and absolute GDP — India’s economy has mostly been over 10 times the size of Bangladesh, and grown faster every year.
  • However, per capita income also involves another variable — the overall population — and is arrived at by dividing the total GDP by the total population.

What made India lag behind?

There are three reasons why India’s per capita income has fallen below Bangladesh this year:

  • The first thing to note is that Bangladesh’s economy has been clocking rapid GDP growth rates since 2004.
  • Secondly, over the same 15-year period, India’s population grew faster (around 21%) than Bangladesh’s population (just under 18%).
  • Lastly, the most immediate factor was the relative impact of Covid-19 on the two economies in 2020. While India’s GDP is set to reduce by 10%, Bangladesh’s is expected to grow by almost 4%.

How has Bangladesh managed to grow so fast and so robustly?

  • Freshly start: In the initial years of its independence with Pakistan, Bangladesh struggled to grow fast. However, moving away from Pakistan also gave the country a chance to start afresh on its economic and political identity.
  • Diverse labour participation: As such, its labour laws were not as stringent and its economy increasingly involved women in its labour force. This can be seen in higher female participation in the labour force.
  • Textile boom: A key driver of growth was the garment industry where women workers gave Bangladesh the edge to corner the global export markets from which China retreated.
  • Less dependence on Agriculture: It also helps that the structure of Bangladesh’s economy is such that its GDP is led by the industrial sector, followed by the services sector. Both of these sectors create a lot of jobs and are more remunerative than agriculture.
  • Better social capital: Bangladesh improved a lot on several social and political metrics such as health, sanitation, financial inclusion, and women’s political representation.

Retaining the lead

  • The IMF’s projections show that India is likely to grow faster next year and in all likelihood again surge ahead.
  • But, given Bangladesh’s lower population growth and faster economic growth, India and Bangladesh are likely to be neck and neck for the foreseeable future in terms of per capita income.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

The Human Cost of Disasters Report (2000-2019)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Climate change induced disasters

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) recently published its report titled “The Human Cost of Disasters”.

The report holds much significance for prelims as well as mains. Just for the sake of information, we must be aware of the report.

Highlights of the report

  • 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.
  • Of this, China (577 events) and the US (467 events) reported the highest number of disaster events followed by India (321 events).
  • Climate change is to be blamed for the doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years says the report.
  • There had also been an increase in geophysical events like earthquakes and tsunamis that are not related to climate but are particularly deadly.

Back2Basics: UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • The UNDRR was established in 1999 as a dedicated secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is mandated to serve as the focal point in the UN system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster reduction activities.
  • It has a vision to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses for a sustainable future with the mandate to act as the custodian of the Sendai Framework to which India is a signatory.

Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

[pib] Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAO

Mains level : India and FAO

On the occasion of 75th Anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 16th October 2020, PM has released a commemorative coin of Rs 75.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The FAO accords the status of ‘Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)’ to traditional agricultural systems. What is the overall goal of this initiative?

  1. To provide modern technology, training in modern farming methods and financial support to local communities of identified GIAHS so as to greatly enhance their agricultural productivity.
  2. To identify and safeguard eco-friendly traditional farm practices and their associated landscapes, agricultural biodiversity and knowledge systems of the local communities.
  3. To provide Geographical Indication status to all the varieties of agricultural produce in such identified GIAHS Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

About FAO

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  • It was founded in October 1945 and is headquartered in Rome.
  • It maintains regional and field offices around the world, operating in over 130 countries.
  • It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, operates educational and training programs, and collects data on agricultural output, production, and development.
  • Composed of 197 member states, the FAO is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member executive council.
  • The Director-General serves as the chief administrative officer.

India and FAO

  • India has had a historic association with FAO.
  • Indian Civil Service Officer Dr Binay Ranjan Sen was the Director-General of FAO during 1956-1967.
  • The World Food Programme, which has won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020, was established during his time.
  • India’s proposals for the International Year of Pulses in 2016 and the International Year of Millets 2023 have also been endorsed by FAO.

Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Pakistan likely to remain on FATF Greylist


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FATF

Mains level : Money laundering and terror financing

Pakistan is unlikely to exit the Financial Action Task Force (FATF’s) greylist with this plenary session as well.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is FATF? Discuss its role in combating global financial crimes and terror financing.

What is the FATF?

  • FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
  • It holds three Plenary meetings in the course of each of its 12-month rotating presidencies.

Why is Pakistan under its scanner?

  • Pakistan has been under the FATF’s scanner since June 2018, when it was put on the Grey List for terror financing and money laundering risks.
  • FATF and its partners such as the Asia Pacific Group (APG) are reviewing Pakistan’s processes, systems, and weaknesses on the basis of a standard matrix for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime.
  • In June 2018, Pakistan gave a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime, and to address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies.
  • Pakistan and the FATF then agreed on the monitoring of 27 indicators under a 10-point action plan, with specific deadlines.
  • The understanding was that the successful implementation of the action plan, and its physical verification by the APG, would lead the FATF to move Pakistan out of the Grey List.
  • However, Islamabad managed to satisfy the global watchdog over just five of them.


What are the Black List and Grey List of the FATF?

FATF has 2 types of lists;

1.  Black List

2. Grey List

1. Meaning of Black List: Only those countries are included in this list that FATF considers as uncooperative tax havens for terror funding. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). In other words; countries that are supporting terror funding and money laundering activities are placed in the Blacklist.

The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.

The FATF updates the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

grey list 2018

(This map shows the countries included in the Greylist)

2. Meaning of Grey List: Those countries which are not considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering; included in this list. The inclusion in this list is not as severe as blacklisted.

Now Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come in Black list (Just like a yellow card in a football match). If a country is unable to curb mushrooming of terror funding and money laundering; it is shifted from grey list to black list by the FATF.


Indian Ocean Power Competition

Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freedom of Navigation Operations

Mains level : Not Much

Indian Navy is scheduled to hold another Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the US to undertake Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP).

Try this question:

Q.What do you mean by Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)? What are its legal backings?  Discuss its significance.

Freedom of Navigation Operations

  • FONOPs are closely linked to the concept of freedom of navigation, and in particular to the enforcement of relevant international law and customs regarding freedom of navigation.
  • Freedom of navigation has been thoroughly practised and refined, and ultimately codified and accepted as international law under UNCLOS, in a legal process that was inclusive and consent-based.
  • The drafting of UNCLOS was driven in part by states’ concerns that strong national maritime interests could lead to excessive maritime claims over coastal seas, which could threaten freedom of navigation.
  • FONOPs are outgrowths of this development of international law, based on sovereign equality and international interdependence.

Significance of FONOPs

  • FONOPs are a method of enforcing UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and avoiding these negative outcomes by reinforcing freedom of navigation through practice.
  • It is exercised by sailing through all areas of the sea permitted under UNCLOS, and particularly those areas that states have attempted to close off to free navigation as defined under UNCLOS.

Back2Basics: UNCLOS

  • The Law of the Sea Treaty formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It entered into force in 1994.
  • The convention establishes a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and to replace previous U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea
  • The convention defines the distance of 12 nautical miles from the baseline as Territorial Sea limit and a distance of 200 nautical miles distance as Exclusive Economic Zone limit.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Deterrence in Australia-China Ties


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quad Group

Mains level : Deterrence in Australia-China Ties

Australia and China’s cordial economic ties, established over the last three decades, have been soured this year over several points of friction.

Try this question

Q. Discuss the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or the Quad) and its purpose to establish “Asian Arc of Democracy”.

Various points of friction

 (1) Australia’s Covid-19 inquiry

  • Australia’s appeal for an independent global inquiry into the origins and initial response of Covid-19 created fury in Beijing.
  • China alleged that Australia was teaming up with the US to spread “anti-China propaganda”.

(2) Tension over journalists

  • The second diplomatic spat began with the detention of an Australian news anchor based in Beijing by the Chinese authorities after she was suspected of “criminal activities” that endangered China’s national security.
  • The Australian government said the journalist was held under “residential surveillance” at an unknown location.
  • Following this, the journalists sought refuge in Australian diplomatic missions, as they were not allowed to leave the country.

(3) Ideological issues

  • The two countries have also been at loggerheads on other ideological issues previously too.
  • After reports of China keeping Uighur Muslims in state-run detention camps surfaced, Australia was swift to respond and expressed “deep concern” over the “human rights situation.”
  • Australia also supported Hong Kong’s autonomy cause. It decided to extend visas for Hong Kong residents.
  • In both instances, China responded staunchly and asked Australia to not meddle in its “internal matters.”

(4) Economic dependence

  • China is Australia’s largest trading partner in terms of both exports and imports.
  • China’s share in Australia’s exports reached a record A$117 billion, or 38 per cent, in 2019, more than any other country.
  • Australian sectors like mining, tourism, education benefit from trade with China. China even imports products such as milk, cheese, wine and meat.
  • Over the years, it has been increasing its investment in Australian infrastructure and real estate products too.

Human Development Report by UNDP

World Bank’s Human Capital Index 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HCI, HDI

Mains level : Impact of coronovirus outbreak on Human Capital

India has been ranked at the 116th position in the latest edition of the World Bank’s annual Human Capital Index that benchmarks key components of human capital across countries.

Try this PYQ:

Q.As per UN-Habitat’s Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, which one among the following regions has shown the fastest growth rate of urbanization in the last three decades?

(a) Asia

(b) Europe

(c) Latin America and Caribbean

(d) North America

Highlights of the 2020 rankings

  • The 2020 Human Capital Index update includes health and education data for 174 countries — covering 98 per cent of the world’s population — up to March 2020.
  • It provides a pre-pandemic baseline on the health and education of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.

Impact of the pandemic

  • The analysis shows that pre-pandemic, most countries had made steady progress in building the human capital of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.
  • The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic has been particularly deep for women and for the most disadvantaged families, leaving many vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty.
  • Due to the pandemic’s impact, most children — more than 1 billion — have been out of school and could lose out, on average, half a year of schooling, adjusted for learning, translating into considerable monetary losses.
  • Data also shows significant disruptions to essential health services for women and children, with many children missing out on crucial vaccinations.

India’s performance

  • India’s score increased to 0.49 from 0.44 in 2018, as per the Human Capital Index report released by the World Bank.
  • Last year, India had raised “serious reservations” over the Human Capital Index, wherein India was ranked 115 out of 157 countries.
  • This year India finds itself at 116th from among 174 countries.

Back2Basics: Human Capital Project

  1. As part of this World Development Report (WDR), the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).
  2. The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement, and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital.
  3. There are three components of HCP:
  • a cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI),
  • a programme of measurement and research to inform policy action
  • a programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital.

Human Capital Index (HCI)

  1. The HCI has been constructed for 157 countries.
  2. It claims to seek to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.
  3. The HCI has three components:
    • Survival: as measured by under-5 mortality rates
    • Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School: which combines information on the quantity and quality of education
    • Health environment: Using two proxies of (a) adult survival rates and (b) the rate of stunting for children under age 5. 


  1. UNDP constructs Human Development Index (HDI) for several years.
  2. The HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate instead of life expectancy as a measure of health, and quality-adjusted learning instead of merely years of schooling as a measure of education.
  3. HCI also excludes per capita income whereas the HDI uses it.