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Delhi Declaration to restore degraded land by 2030

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LDN, UNCCD

Mains level : Global mechanisms against desertification


News

  • The two week long UNCCD COP ended with a commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

Delhi Declaration

  • The Delhi Declaration, a consensus document, agreed upon by more than 100 countries “welcomed” the proposed adoption of a “voluntary” land degradation neutrality target by India.
  • India has committed to restoring at least 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The Declaration doesn’t detail commitments by other countries.
  • Almost 122 nations, including India, have made voluntary commitments in previous years to ensure that a certain percentage of their degraded land was restored.
  • India had agreed, again on a voluntary basis, to restore 20 million hectares by 2020.
  • Nearly 96 million hectares of land is deemed ‘degraded’ in India.
  • Countries will address insecurity of land tenure, promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emissions and mobilise innovative sources of finance from public and private sources.

Click here to access complete draft of the declaration (Not important)


Back2Basics

Explained: Land Degradation Neutrality

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

World University Rankings 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : State of higher education in India



News

  • The World University Rankings was recently released by the UK-based Times Higher Education.
  • Oxford University continues to lead the rankings table followed by California Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge. Stanford University and MIT complete the top five table.

No Indian university this year

  • For the first time since 2012, no Indian institution featured among the top 300.
  • The country’s best performing institution, IISc-Bangalore, slipped 50 places from the 251-300 ranking cohort into the 301-350 bracket.
  • The dip was on account of a significant fall in its citation impact score offsetting improvements in research environment, teaching environment and industry income.

Why India slipped?

  • The best Indian institutions are generally characterized by relatively strong scores for teaching environment and industry income.
  • But they perform poorly when it comes to international outlook in comparison to both regional and international counterparts.

No mean downgrade

  • Even as India dropped out of the top 300, it increased its representation in the rankings from 49 universities last year to 56 this time.
  • As a result, India holds on to its place as the fifth most-represented nation in the world and the third most-represented in Asia (behind Japan and mainland China).
  • It has eight more universities than Germany, which is sixth in the country ranking, but 25 fewer than China.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AMR

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • India has joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub as a new member.

Global AMR R&D Hub

  • The Hub was launched in May 2018 in the margins of the 71st session of the World Health Assembly, following a call from G20 Leaders in 2017.
  • It is supported through a Secretariat, established in Berlin and currently financed through grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).
  • It supports global priority setting and evidence-based decision-making on the allocation of resources for AMR R&D through the identification of gaps, overlaps and potential for cross-sectoral collaboration and leveraging in AMR R&D.
  • From this year onward, India will be the member of Board of members of Global AMR R&D Hub.
  • India looks forward to working with all partners to leverage their existing capabilities, resources and collectively focus on new R&D intervention to address drug resistant infections.

Back2Basics

Antimicrobial resistance

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR or AR) is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe
  • The term antibiotic resistance is a subset of AMR, as it applies only to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.
  • Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
  • Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant.
  • These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
  • It leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Basel Ban amendment becomes law

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Basel Ban

Mains level : Global mechanisms against desertification


News

  • The 1995 Basel Ban Amendment, a global waste dumping prohibition, has become an international law after Croatia ratified it on September 6, 2019.

Basel Convention against global waste dumping

  • Basel Convention in 1995, to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, according to Basel Action Network (BAN).
  • BAN is a Unites States-based charity organisation and is one among the organisations and countries, which created the Basel Ban Amendment — hailed as a landmark agreement for global environmental justice.
  • The Ban Amendment was originally adopted as a decision of the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties in March 1994.
  • The Ban Amendment prohibits all export of hazardous wastes, including electronic wastes and obsolete ships from 29 wealthiest countries of the OECD to non-OECD countries.
  • The Ban Amendment had been stalled for all these years due to uncertainty over how to interpret the Convention.

Giants are yet to ratify

  • Most countries like the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico are yet to ratify the ban.
  • The US produces the most waste per-capita but has failed to ratify the Basel Convention and has actively opposed the Ban Amendment.
  • Non-adherence to international waste trade rules has allowed unscrupulous US ‘recyclers’ to export hazardous electronic waste to developing countries for so-called recycling.
  • Nearly, 40 per cent of e-waste delivered to US recyclers is exported to Asian and African countries.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Mains Paper 2 : International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNHRC

Mains level : Mandate of the UNHRC


News

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, and the communications blackout and detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UNHRC

  • The UNHRC describes itself as “an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.
  • It addresses situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
  • The first session took place from June 19-30, 2006, three months after the Council was created by UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 on March 15 that year.
  • The UNHRC has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
  • The HRC replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

HRC Meetings

  • The Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least 10 weeks.
  • The meetings take place for four weeks in March, for three weeks in June, and for another three weeks in September.
  • The sessions are held at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • If one-third of the Member States so request, the HRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.

Membership

  • The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UNGA through a direct and secret ballot.
  • The General Assembly takes into account the contribution of the candidate states to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years, and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
  • As of January 1, 2019, 114 UN Member States have served on the HRC. Both India and Pakistan are on this list.
  • The HRC has a Bureau of one President and four Vice-Presidents, representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

Seats distribution

  • African States: 13 seats
  • Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
  • Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
  • Western European and other States: 7 seats
  • Eastern European States: 6 seats
Human Rights Issues

UN Peacekeeping

Mains Paper 2 : Important International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UN Peacekeeping

Mains level : Importance of the UN Peacekeeping


News

  • India has told the UN Security Council that peacekeeping currently is in a “no-man’s land” and called for next generation of reforms in peacekeeping based on incentivisation, innovation and institutionalization.

UN Peacekeeping

  • Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.
  • It is distinguished from peacebuilding, peacemaking, and peace enforcement although the UN does acknowledge that all activities are “mutually reinforcing” and that overlap between them is frequent in practice.
  • Peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed.
  • UN peacekeepers often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

Need for reforms

  • UN peacekeeping is a unique innovation of multilateralism to respond to threats to international peace and security.
  • However, at the current stage, peacekeeping is in a “no-man’s land, between trying to keep the peace in fragile environments and trying to enforce the maintenance of peace, where there is none to keep.
  • Responses to new security environments require a willingness to adapt abilities to meet emerging realities.

Need of hour: Institutionalization

  • The institutionalization of an approach where all key actors, especially Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), are associated in a consistent and predictable manner in the decision-making matrix has been now discussed for decades.
  • However, in practice, there is not effective improvement of the cooperation between TCCs, the Security Council and the Secretariat.
  • It necessary to move from pursuit of activism of individual member states to collective action by this Council to institutionalize this effort.

Incentivizing women

  • India also called for further incentivising women peacekeepers.
  • As of July 31, women peacekeepers constituted 6 per cent. There are 5,243 female peacekeepers, out of a total of 86,687 peacekeepers.
  • In 26 years, member countries have increased the share of women by 5 per cent. At this rate, it may not be possible to meet even minimum targets.
  • There need to be special incentives for women peacekeepers and priority deployment of all women- unit pledges. Otherwise, the targets will remain just targets.

Innovation

  • Innovation in capacity building of peacekeepers needs to be a priority, if nations are to move away from a culture of caveats that bedevils peacekeeping into a segmented activity.
  • Innovative options such as co-deployment of peacekeepers from different countries engenders a genuine spirit of partnership for peace and needs to be promoted.
  • Further, there is need for expansion of online initiatives to develop capacities of future commanders and managers so that they lead by example and raise awareness of UN standards.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Eastern Economic Forum

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EEF

Mains level : Act Far East Policy of India



News

  • The Plenary Session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was recently held in Vladivostok, Russia.

Eastern Economic Forum (EEF)

  • According to its website, the EEF was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in 2015.
  • It aimed for supporting the economic development of Russia’s Far East, and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The ongoing EEF Summit at the Far Eastern Federal University is the fifth in its history.
  • Among the participants in the Summit are India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
  • The Summits have roundtable conferences, panel sessions, business breakfasts, besides business dialogues and bilateral talks and agreements.

Achievements of EEF

  • In the last five years, as many as 17 different countries have invested in the Far East, according to the EEF website.
  • These include regional and global heavyweights like China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam.
  • As a result, 20 advanced special economic zones and five free ports have been put in place.
  • A total of 1,780 new investment projects, worth over 3.8 trillion rubles, and 230 new enterprises have become functional, the EEF website says.

India’s engagement with Russia

  • Indian firms have invested over $7 billion in taking stake in Russian oil and gas fields.
  • India ventured into Russia when its flagship overseas firm ONGC Videsh in 2001 acquired a 20 per cent stake in Sakhalin-1 oil and gas field in Far East Russia.
  • OVL later bought Imperial Energy, which has fields in Siberia, as also stakes in Vankor oilfield in eastern Siberia.
  • IOC and its partners have picked up 29.9 per cent stake in a separate Taas-Yuryakh oilfield in East Siberia.
  • Russian oil firm Rosneft in 2017 bought Essar Oil, which operates in Vadinar oil refinery in Gujarat and some 5,500 petrol pumps, for USD 12.9 billion.
  • Going beyond the bonhomie and historical ties, India is also a key customer of the Russian arms industry.
  • In March, India entered into a joint venture with Russia to manufacture the legendary Kalashnikov assault rifles in India.
  • In 2018, Russia sold the S-400 advanced air defence system to India.
  • India is interested in expanding the level of trade between the two countries. An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.

India’s interest in the EEF

  • PM Modi has described the EEF as a “historic opportunity” to give new impetus to the cooperation between India and Russia.
  • He has said that the relationship between the two countries has “special chemistry, special ease”, even pointing out that Siberian cranes migrate to “my home state Gujarat”.

Extending to Act Far East Policy

  • The PM recalled that India was the first country in the world to open a consulate in Vladivostok, and underlined the age and depth of the country’s relations with the Far East.
  • Engaging closely with East Asia was in line with India’s policy goal of “Act East”.
  • PM also unveiled the “Act Far East” policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East region.
  • This will also give a new dimension to our economic diplomacy.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Index

Mains level : Development of Tourism in India



News

  • A report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking the travel & tourism competitiveness of 140 economies was recently released.

About the Index

  • Published biennially by WEF, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmarks the Travel & Tourism (T&T) competitiveness of 140 economies.
  • The study scored countries on four indicators — enabling environment; travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions; infrastructure; natural and cultural rankings.
  • The four broad indicators looked at 14 variables, which were further subdivided into 90 indicators such as property rights, efficiency of the legal framework, quality of electricity supply, female labour force participation, visa requirements and the number of World Heritage cultural sites.

India’s progress

  • The biennial report shows that India has made the greatest improvement since 2017 among the top 25 per cent of the countries that were previously ranked.
  • Overall, India is ranked 34, up six places from 2017.
  • India’s highest improvement was in enabling environment, by 10 places to 98.
  • The least improvement is in infrastructure as well as in natural and cultural rankings, by just three places each, but India’s rank was already high in the latter.

Global scene

  • Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States are the world’s most travel-ready nations.
  • Japan remains Asia’s most competitive travel and tourism economy, ranking 4th globally.
  • China is the largest travel and tourism economy in Asia-Pacific and 13th most competitive globally.
Tourism Sector

Global Liveability Ranking 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Factors affecting liveability in India


 


News

  • New Delhi has dropped by six places to rank 118th on a list of the world’s most liveable cities due to increase in cases of petty crimes and poor air quality.
  • While New Delhi registered the biggest decline in Asia, Mumbai also fell two places since last year to rank 119th on the list topped by Vienna (Austria) for the second consecutive year.

About the ranking

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) publishes an annual Global Liveability Ranking.
  • The EIU ranking of 140 cities is based on their scores in five broad categories — stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
  • Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.

Global scenario

  • Among the BRIC countries, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was positioned at the 89th place, Moscow (Russia) at 68th, St Petersburg (Russia) 71st.
  • The Chinese cities in the list include Suzhou at 75th rank, Beijing 76th, Tianjin 79th, Shanghai 80th, Shenzhen 84th, Dalian 90th, Guangzhou 96th and Qingdao 97th.
  • Several major global cities received mixed scores. London and New York ranked 48th and 58th out of the 140 cities in the survey.

Why decline in liveabilty in India?

Abuses against journalists

  • The EIU also flagged “an escalation in abuses against journalists in recent years” in India.
  • It cited a decline in the country’s ranking in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index where India now sits in the bottom quartile of countries.
  • The study said that Asian cities overall have scored slightly below the global average while three Asian cities — Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (135th), Pakistan’s Karachi (136th) and Bangladesh’s Dhaka (138th) — are among the ten least liveable globally.

Rise in Crime rates

  • The EIU said decline in Mumbai’s rank was mainly due to a downgrade in its culture score, while New Delhi has fallen in the index because of downgrades to its culture and environment score as well as fall in the stability score owing to rising crime rates.

Climatic changes

  • Several cities, such as New Delhi in India and Cairo in Egypt received substantial downgrades on their scores owing to problems linked to climate change, such as poor air quality, undesirable average temperatures and inadequate water provision,” the report said.

Constrained liveability conditions

  • A score between 50-60 points, which is the case for India, indicates constrained liveability conditions.
  • The 2018 update to the WHO Global Ambient Air Quality Database shows that New Delhi has the sixth highest annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter among cities around the world.
  • Companies pay a premium to employees who move to cities where living conditions are particularly difficult and there is excessive physical hardship or a notably unhealthy environment.
  • The suggested allowance for Indian cities is 15%.
Air Pollution

“Reducing Food Loss and Waste” Report

Mains Paper 2 : International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Food Wastage



News

“Reducing Food Loss and Waste” Report

  • It is a new report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • It has quantified global food wastage.
  • It put forward a Global Action Agenda that calls on governments, companies, farmers and consumers to collectively overcome “the world’s food loss and waste problem.”
  • Some of these actions include developing national strategies for food loss and waste reduction, creating national PPP, launch supply chain initiatives, reducing small-holder losses and shifting consumer social norms.

Globally uneaten food

  • Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion.
  • The uneaten food is responsible for emitting about 8 per cent of planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, said the report.
  • Referencing “numerous studies”, the report said most of the food loss happens “near the farm” predominantly in lower-income countries.
  • And most of the food waste happens “near the plate” predominantly in higher-income countries.

Most perishable items

  • Fruits and vegetables follow, with over 41%.
  • When viewed as a proportion, by weight, of all the food estimated to be lost and wasted globally, fruits and vegetables make up the largest share of total annual food loss and waste.
  • Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the report concluded that roots and tubers are the food group that face the maximum wastage, at over 62% for 2007.
Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Interpol Red Notice

Mains Paper 2 : International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Interpol, Red notice

Mains level : INTERPOL and its mandate



News

  • Union Home Minister has conveyed to Interpol Secretary-General that India would like the international police agency to expedite its process of publishing Red Notices (RNs).
  • As many as 18 requests for RNs from India are pending with Interpol, including against famous fugitives hiding abroad.

Red Notices (RNs)

  • Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice. An RN alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
  • Interpol describes an RN as “a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action”.
  • RNs contain information that helps identify wanted persons, such as their names, dates of birth, nationality, and physical attributes such as the colour of their hair and eyes.
  • It also includes pictures and biometric data such as fingerprints, if they are available.

Not a warrant of arrest

  • The Interpol itself does not want individuals; they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
  • Also, an RN is an international wanted persons’ notice; it is not an international arrest warrant.
  • Which means that the Interpol cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest the subject of an RN.
  • It is up to individual member countries to decide what legal value to give to an RN, and the authority of their national law enforcement officers to make arrests.

Why RN?

  • RNs mention the crime(s) they are wanted for.
  • An RN is published by Interpol at the request of a member country.
  • The fugitives may be wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
  • The country issuing the request need not be the home country of the fugitive; Interpol acts on the request of a country where the alleged crime has been committed.
  • In cases where the help of the public is needed to locate an individual, or if those individuals pose a threat to public safety, a public extract of the RN is published on the Interpol’s website.

Importance of RNs

  • RNs are issued to simultaneously alert police in all member countries about internationally wanted fugitives.
  • An RN can help bring a fugitive to justice, sometimes many years after the crime was committed.
  • However, because an RN is not an arrest warrant, action against a fugitive frequently rests on the diplomatic clout that the country making the request has with the country where the fugitive is located.
  • Nations with a big international profile, and economic or political heft, are often more successful than the rest.

Checks and balances

  • The Interpol says that an RN must comply with its constitution and rules.
  • It says that “every Red Notice request is checked by a specialised task force to ensure it is compliant with (Interpol) rules”.
  • The Interpol argues that an RN is issued only after a competent court has taken cognizance of a chargesheet against the fugitive.
  • In the case of Nirav Modi, the CBI filed a chargesheet in May 2018, and Interpol issued an RN in July that year.
  • However, in the case of Choksi, India has been frustrated: while the chargesheet was filed in June 2018, the RN is yet to be issued.

Back2Basics

INTERPOL

  • The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.
  • Headquartered in Lyon, France, it was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC).
  • NTERPOL provides investigative support, expertise, and training to law enforcement worldwide in battling three major areas of transnational crime: terrorism, cybercrime, and organized crime.
  • Its broad mandate covers virtually every kind of crime, including crimes against humanity, child pornography, drug trafficking and production, political corruption, copyright infringement, and white-collar crime.
  • The agency also helps coordinate cooperation among the world’s law enforcement institutions through criminal databases and communications networks.
  • India accepted Interpol membership in June 1956.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

World Population Projections 2019: Highlights

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Demographic transition in India


News

  • World Population Prospects 2019 was released  few weeks back by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • Some of the key takeaways from the report are as under:

Global population trend

  • While the report projects the world population to some 9.7 billion by 2050, it says the overall growth rate will continue to fall.
  • The next 30 years will see the population add 2 billion people to today’s 7.7 billion, and reach 11 billion by the end of the century.
  • The countries expected to show the biggest increase are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.However, fertility rates are falling worldwide.
  • The average number of births per woman globally, from 3.2 in 1990, fell to 2.5 by 2019, and is projected to fall further to 2.2 births by 2050.
  • To avoid decline in a national population, a fertility level of 2.1 births per woman is necessary (in the absence of immigration).

More in 65+ bracket

  • In 2018, for the first time, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five.
  • Projections indicate that by 2050, there will be more than twice as many persons above 65 as children under five.
  • By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 or over will also surpass the number of adolescents and youth aged 15-24.

  • In India, children under age five still outnumber the over-65 population, who are projected to overtake the under-five group between 2025 and 2030.
  • By 2050, persons over age 65 will make up about one-seventh of India’s population.
  • By then, the 15-24 group in India (13.8%), too, will outnumber the over-65 group (13.6%).
  • Children under age five are projected to constitute less than 6% of India’s population in 2050, as compared to 7% globally.

Life expectancy

  • Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind.
  • Today, the average lifespan of a baby born in one of the least developed countries will be some 7 years shorter than one born in a developed country, the report said.
  • The main reasons cited in the report are high child and maternal mortality rates, conflict and insecurity, and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.

Dwindling populations

  • The populations of 55 countries are projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2019 and 2050 because of sustained low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration.
  • The largest relative reductions in population size over that period, with losses of around 20% or more, are expected in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
  • Migration flows have become a major reason for population change in certain regions, the report said.
  • Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines are seeing the largest migratory outflows resulting from the demand for migrant workers.
  • Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela are the countries where the largest numbers are leaving because of insecurity or conflict.

Sex ratio

  • Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.

18th CoP of CITES, Geneva

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various species mentioned

Mains level : CITES and its mandate


News

  • Over a hundred nations approved a proposal by India, Nepal, and Bangladesh to prohibit commercial international trade in a species of otter native to the subcontinent and some other parts of Asia.
  • India’s proposal to remove Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention is also under consideration.

Indian proposals

  • Members at the Conference have voted to move the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I because it is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction.
  • It is detrimentally affected by international trade, as well as habitat loss and degradation and persecution associated with conflict with people (and fisheries).
  • The other proposal that was passed was to include the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) in CITES Appendix II.
  • The proposal on protecting the Tokay gecko mentioned threats from hunting and collection for use in traditional medicine.
  • Apart from the smooth-coated otter, India had proposed Appendix I status for the small-clawed otter, mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) and the Tokay gecko.

About CITES

  • The CITES is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.
  • CITES was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • CITES entered into force on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
  • The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • India is a signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.

CITES Appendices

  • CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
  • All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.
  • It has three appendices. Appendix I include species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.
  • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling trade.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Explained: Is the WTO becoming a new battlefront?

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WTO

Mains level : WTO and its relevance


News

Context

  • S. President Trump earlier this month attacked the World Trade Organization (WTO) for allowing countries such as India and China to engage in unfair trade practices that affect American economic interests.
  • While addressing a gathering he took issue with the “developing country” status enjoyed by India and China at the WTO.
  • He argued that these countries are not developing economies, as they claim to be, but instead grown economies that do not deserve any preferential trade treatment from the WTO over developed countries such as the U.S.

The “developing country” status

  • The “developing country” status allows a member of the WTO to seek temporary exception from the commitments under various multilateral trade agreements ratified by the organisation.
  • It was introduced during the initial days of the WTO as a mechanism to offer some respite to poor countries while they try to adjust to a new global trade order marked by lower barriers to trade.
  • Countries such as India and China, while seeking exception from various WTO agreements, have argued that their economic backwardness should be considered when it comes to the timeline of implementation of these agreements.
  • The issue of farm subsidies, for instance, is one over which rich and poor countries have had major disagreements.

Granting of the status

  • The WTO does not formally classify any of its members as a developing country.
  • Individual countries are allowed to unilaterally classify themselves as developing economies.
  • So, as many as two-thirds of the 164 members of the WTO have classified themselves as developing countries.
  • Since the WTO allows countries to unilaterally classify themselves as “developing”, many countries have been happy to make use of this freedom.
  • Even many developed economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong which have per capita income levels higher than the U.S., have made use of the provision to classify themselves as growing economies.

How do countries such as India and China benefit from the special status?

  • The WTO was envisaged as an international trade body to help foster more trading in goods and services between nations by lowering various barriers to trade such as tariffs, subsidies and quotas.
  • Towards this end, several trade agreements have been ratified over the years under the WTO.
  • Developing countries such as India and China, however, as earlier mentioned, can seek to delay the implementation of these WTO agreements owing to their disadvantaged economic status.
  • They can continue to impose tariffs and quotas on goods and services in order to limit imports and promote domestic producers who may otherwise be affected adversely by imports that are lower in price or better in quality.
  • India, for instance, subsidises agriculture heavily in the name of food security in order to protect its farmers.
  • While local producers may be protected by protectionist barriers such as tariffs, consumers in India and China will have limited access to foreign goods.

Is the U.S. justified in criticizing the WTO?

  • While the “developing country” status was supposed to help poor countries ease gradually into a more globalised world economy, it has had other unintended effects.
  • Further, countries such as China justify that while their per capita income level has increased many-fold over the last few decades, these are still far below that of high income levels in countries such as the U.S.
  • Thus, Mr. Trump may have a prima facie case in urging the WTO to address the issue of how countries arbitrarily classify themselves as “developing” to justify raising trade barriers.

Who are at loss with ‘developing’ status?

  • This is not to say that WTO rules always work to the advantage of developing countries alone.
  • Developed countries such as the U.S. have tried to force poorer countries to impose stringent labour safety and other regulations that are already widely prevalent in the West.
  • These regulations can increase the cost of production in developing countries and make them globally uncompetitive.
  • Developing countries further view the introduction of labour issues into trade agreements as beyond the scope of the WTO, which is primarily supposed to be an organisation dealing with trade.

Status not a big indicator

  • Many economists also oppose the fundamental argument of poorer countries that low per capita income levels justify their decision to raise trade barriers.
  • They argue that free trade benefits all countries irrespective of their income levels.
  • In fact, they argue that protectionist trade barriers impede the transition of developing economies to higher income levels.
  • The developing country status may thus simply be a false pretext to justify protectionism.

Targeting China

  • Trump’s criticism of the WTO is seen by many as the opening of a new front in his trade war against China.
  • Earlier, he had termed China as a “currency manipulator” for allowing the yuan to depreciate against the dollar.
  • China and the U.S. have also been slapping steep tariffs on imports from each other since early last year.
  • China’s developing country status at the WTO gives Trump yet another opportunity to attack China.

Conclusion

  • Since developing countries are likely to oppose any efforts to stop them from protecting their domestic economic interests, global trade rules are unlikely to experience any drastic reform any time soon.
  • The inability of the WTO to rein in global trade tensions has raised questions about its relevance in today’s world.
  • This is particularly so given that global tariff rates over the years have dropped more due to bilateral trade agreements rather than due to multilateral trade agreements brokered at the WTO.
  • Further, the dispute resolution mechanism of the WTO, which can pass judgments on disputes, lacks the powers to enforce them as the enforcement of decisions is left to individual member states.
  • While initially envisaged as a global body to promote free trade, the WTO has now deteriorated into a forum where competing governments fiercely try to protect their narrow interests.

Back2Basics

Everything that you should know about the World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO and India

Special Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS) of IMF

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SDDS

Mains level : IMF and India



News

  • In 2018, India failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) mandatory for all IMF members

Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS)

  • The SDDS is an IMF standard to guide member countries in the dissemination of national statistics to the public.
  • It was established in 1996 to guide members that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets in providing their economic and financial data to the public.
  • It is a global benchmark for disseminating macroeconomic statistics to the public. Its subscription indicates that a country meets the test of “good statistical citizenship.
  • Countries that subscribe to the SDDS agree to follow good practices in four areas: the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; public access to those data; data integrity; and data quality.
  • India subscribed to the SDDS on December 27, 1996.

Indian datasets not updated

  • India failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the SDDS — a practice mandatory for all IMF members.
  • Whereas comparable economies comprising the BRICS grouping of Brazil, China, South Africa and Russia, have maintained a near impeccable record in the same period.
  • Also, India’s non-compliance in multiple categories in 2018 and to an extent in 2017 breaks with an otherwise near perfect dissemination record.
  • When contacted, the IMF acknowledged India’s deviations but termed them “non-serious”.
  • However, independent observers see these deficiencies as a result of indifference to data dissemination procedures.

Importance of SDDS

  • The IMF launched the SDDS initiative in 1996 to guide members to enhance data transparency and help financial market participants with adequate information to assess the economic situations of individual countries.
  • The yearly observance report for each member country lists the compliances and deviations from the SDDS under each data category for that year.
  • There are over 20 data categories which IMF considers for this report to capture a nation’s economic health including national accounts (GDP, GNI), production indices, employment, and central government operations.

A recent phenomenon

  • India’s non-compliance with IMF standards is a recent phenomenon.
  • When asked for the reason for the delays in 2018, Deputy Director in the Department of Economic Affairs termed it as a “one off event due to technical glitches”.
  • They were made available on other (Indian) government websites on a timely basis through links on the NSDP to these websites”.

Implications of non-compliance

  • The IMF document states that monitoring observance of the SDDS is central to maintaining the credibility of the IMF’s data standards initiatives and its usefulness to policymakers.
  • It further states that if the IMF staff considers a non-observance as a “serious deviation” then procedures would be initiated against the member country.
  • When the IMF was asked to explain why India’s non-observance was deemed as non-serious , their statistical department persisted that this was due to “information availability in other government websites”.
  • It added that “the forthcoming harmonisation of the NSDPs for all SDDS countries with those for SDDS Plus and e-GDDS countries (other similar standards)” will solve this issue.
International Monetary Fund,World Bank,AIIB, ADB and India

Henley Passport Index 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India'S Interests |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Mobility of Indian Passport holders worldwide



News

  • The latest Henley Passport Index ranks India at 86, down five places from 81 in 2018. The index ranks passports based on their power and mobility.
  • Last year, an Indian passport holder had visa-free access to 60 countries; this year, it has access to 58.

Henley Passport Index 2019

  • Prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, the Henley Passport Index claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”.
  • The index gathers data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that manages inter-airline cooperation globally.
  • The Index is updated in real time according to countries’ visa policy changes. It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
  • The index receives data from the IATA on a fixed day every year that forms the basis of the index.
  • This data is supplemented by accounting for real-time changes in visa policies using publicly available sources to prepare a visa list, which is a list of destinations that a passport can access visa-free, through a visa on arrival, e-visa or with a traditional visa.

How are passport ranks and scores interpreted?

  • Each passport is attributed with a score and a rank.
  • For instance for 2019, India’s score is 58 and it ranks 86 in the list. Japan and Singapore, on the other hand, are ranked 1 and have a score of 189.
  • The score is the sum of the number of countries accessible by that passport holder without requiring pre-departure government approval for visa-types including a visitor’s permit, visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority (ETA).
  • For every territory/country that a passport holder of a particular country/territory is able to access through these visa-types (without pre-departure government approval), a value of 1 is attributed to it.
  • A value of 0 is attributed to a score when a passport holder has to seek pre-departure government approval for visa-types including e-visa (visas applied for online and received) and visa on arrival.
  • Therefore, the total score becomes the sum total for all the values of 1.
  • For instance, a passport holder from Singapore and Japan can travel to 189 countries/territories without requiring pre-departure government approval.

What does this mean for Indian passport holders?

  • India has a score of 58. That is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel to today, without pre-departure government approval.
  • That is the same as a citizen of any country, on an average, could travel to 13 years ago.
  • In 2006, a citizen, on an average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.
  • Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and 109, respectively. Syria and Pakistan follow with rankings of 107 and 106 and scores of 29 and 30, respectively.
  • Passport rankings point towards the strength of diplomatic relations between countries.
  • In the past decade travel freedom has expanded vastly as a result of the rising number of bilateral visa-waiver programmes signed between different countries and unilateral decisions implemented by governments of some countries.

What assumptions does the index make?

  • The index assumes that the passport is valid, belongs to an adult who is a citizen of the issuing country and that it is not diplomatic, emergency or temporary in nature.
  • It also assumes that the person travelling is doing so alone, rather than in tourist groups and meets all the basic requirements for entry such as hotel reservations.
  • Furthermore, the traveller is assumed to be arriving and departing from the same airport and is seeking a short stay (between three days-several months) for business and tourist purposes only.
Tourism Sector

Report on illegal global tiger trade counts highest in India

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Preventing animal poaching in India



News

  • A new report has quantified the illegal global trade in tigers and tiger parts over a 19-year period between 2000 and 2018.

About the report

  • The new report has been compiled by TRAFFIC, a NGO working in conservation and currently in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Findings of the report

  • Overall, conservative estimates of 2,359 tigers were seized from 2000 to 2018 across 32 countries and territories globally. These occurred from a total of 1,142 seizure incidents, the report said.
  • Apart from live tigers and whole carcasses, tiger parts were seized in various forms such as skin, bones or claws.
  • The report explains how the number of tigers was estimated from these diverse sets of seizures.
  • On average, 60 seizures were recorded annually, accounting for almost 124 tigers seized each year.
  • The top three countries with the highest number of seizure incidents were India (463 or 40.5% of total seizures) and China (126 or 11.0%), closely followed by Indonesia (119 or 10.5%).

Indian findings

  • While the latest census has put India’s tiger population at 2,967, the Traffic report uses the 2016 WWF estimate of 2,226, with India home to more than 56% of the global wild tiger population.
  • India is the country with the highest number of seizure incidents (463, or 40% of all seizures) as well as tigers seized (625).
  • In terms of various body parts seized, India had the highest share among countries for tiger skins (38%), bones (28%) and claws and teeth (42%).
Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

BASIC Countries

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BASIC group

Mains level : Mandate of the group


News

  • The BASIC countries — a grouping of Brazil, South Africa, India and China — held their 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change between August 14 to 16 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • India was represented by Union MoEFCC who underlined the importance of the grouping in “making the 2015 Paris climate Agreement accepted by all countries in its true letter and spirit”.

BASIC Countries

  • The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries on November 28, 2009.
  • This emerging geopolitical alliance, initiated and led by China, then brokered the final Copenhagen Accord with the United States.
  • The signatory nations, all recently industrialized, committed to acting together at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit.
  • The four committed to act jointly at the Copenhagen climate summit, including a possible united walk-out if their common minimum position was not met by the developed nations.
  • These nations have a broadly common position on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change.
  • The Accord is however not legally binding.

Why it is significant?

  • The BASIC group wields considerable heft purely because of the size of the economies and populations of the member countries.
  • Brazil, South Africa, India and China put together has one-third of the world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population.
  • The BASIC nations will work together ahead of the United Nations Session on Climate Change and the next Conference of Parties (CoP25) in Chile. China will host the next meeting of the BASIC Ministers.
  • BASIC is one of several groups of nations working together to fight climate change and carry out negotiations within the UNFCCC.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Explained: July 2019 was the hottest ever month on record; what now?

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Climate change impact

Mains level : Climate change impact


NEWS

The World Meteorological Organization announced that July 2019 matched, and broke the record for the hottest month since analysis began.

Background

  1. The previous warmest month on record was July 2016, and July 2019 was at least on par with it.
  2. July 2019 was close to 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level.

Problem

  1. Exceptional heat has been observed across the globe in recent weeks, with several European countries recording temperature highs.
  2. The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers.
  3. Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic devastating the pristine forests which absorb carbon dioxide and turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases.

If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Ocean warming, overfishing increase methylmercury toxin in fish

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Methylmercury - water pollution

Mains level : climate change impact


Despite a decrease in seawater concentration of methylmercury since the late 1990s, the amount of toxin that gets accumulated in certain fish which are higher in the food chain have been found to increase. 

Reasons

  1. The amount of methylmercury in fish higher in the food chain can change due to two reasons — ocean warming and dietary shifts due to overfishing by humans.
  2. Researchers have found that there has been an up to 23% increase in methylmercury concentration in Atlantic codfish in the Gulf of Maine in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean.
  3. The increase in the methylmercury concentration in codfish has been due to changes in the diet caused by overfishing.
  4. As a result of diet change, cod fish in the 2000s relied more on larger herring and lobster, which have higher concentrations of the toxin than other prey fish consumed in the 1970s.
  5. Besides dietary changes, ocean warming too causes changes in the methylmercury accumulation in fish.
  6. Fish metabolism is temperature-dependent. So as ocean temperature increases, fish experience higher metabolism and more energy obtained from food is spent on maintenance rather than growth, leading to more methylmercury getting concentrated in predatory fish.

The researchers warn that human exposure to the toxin through fish consumption is bound to increase as a result of climate change. Hence, there is a need for stronger regulations to protect ecosystem and human health.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.