Category: Reports

CREDIT SUISSE’S GLOBAL WEALTH REPORT 2019

Why in News?

  • The Credit Suisse Group, a Switzerland-based multinational investment bank, has released the 10th edition of its annual Global Wealth Report.

About:

  • According to the experts, wealth is defined in terms of “net worth” of an individual.
  • This, in turn, is calculated by adding up the value of financial assets (such as money) and real assets (such as houses) and then subtracting any debts an individual may have.
  • The Global Wealth Report tracks the growth and distribution of wealth – in terms of the numbers of millionaires and billionaires.
  • It also tracks the proportion of wealth they hold and the status of inequality around the world.

Key Findings:

  • A key finding of 2019’s report is that China has overtaken the US this year to become “the country with most people in the top 10% of global wealth distribution.
  • As things stand, just 47 million people – accounting for merely 0.9% of the world’s adult population – owned $158.3 trillion, which is almost 44% of the world’s total wealth.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are 2.88 billion people – accounting for almost 57% of the world’s adult population – who owned just $6.3 trillion or 1.8% of the world’s wealth.
  • The other way to look at this distribution of wealth is from the prism of inequality.
  • The bottom half of wealth holders collectively accounted for less than 1% of total global wealth in mid-2019, while the richest 10% own 82% of global wealth and the top 1% alone own 45%,” states the report.

Concerns With Respect To India:

  • Total wealth in India increased fourfold between 2000 and 2019, reaching $12.6 trillion in 2019, making India the fifth globally in terms of the number of ultra-high net-worth individuals, as per the report.
  • India has 8.27 lakh adults in the top 1% of global wealth holders – 1.6% share of the global pool.
  • It is estimated that India has 4,460 adults with wealth of over $50 million and 1,790 that have more than $100 million.
  • However, the study also found that while the number of wealthy people in India has been on the rise, a larger section of the population has still not been part of the growth in overall wealth.

INDIA INNOVATION INDEX 2019

Why in News?

  • NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner released the India Innovation Index (III) 2019.

About India Innovation Index 2019:

  • Recognizing the role of innovation as a key driver of growth and prosperity for India, NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner has released the India Innovation Index 2019.
  • The study is an outcome of extensive research and analysis, which looks holistically at the innovation landscape of India by examining the innovation capabilities and performance of Indian states and union territories.
  • The aim is to create a holistic tool which can be used by policymakers across the country to identify the challenges to be addressed and strengths to build on when designing the economic growth policies for their regions.
  • The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven union territories in India and intends to perform the following three functions-

1.Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores,

2.Recognizing opportunities and challenges, and

3.Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation.

  • The India Innovation Index 2019 is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.
  • The Enablers are the factors that underpin innovative capacities, grouped in five pillars:

1.Human Capital

2.Investment

3.Knowledge Workers

4.Business Environment, and

5.Safety and Legal Environment.

  • The Performance dimension captures benefits that a nation derives from the inputs, divided in two pillars: (6) Knowledge Output and (7) Knowledge Diffusion.

Key Findings:

  • Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
  • Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh form the remaining top ten major states respectively.
  • The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India.
  • Sikkim and Delhi take the top spots among the north- eastern & hill states, and union territories/city states/small states respectively.
  • Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most efficient states in translating inputs into output.
  • The index shows that the innovation ecosystem of the country is strong in south and western parts of India. In fact, three of the top five major states are from southern India. Delhi and Haryana seem to be an exception to this rule and seem to be doing well on the Index. Thus, there seems to be a west-south and north-east divide across the country.
  • The states have been bifurcated into three categories: major states, north-east and hill states, and union territories / city states / small states. Karnataka is the leader in the overall rankings in the category of major states.
  • Karnataka’s number one position in the overall ranking is partly attributed to its top rank in the Performance dimension. It is also among the top performers in Infrastructure, Knowledge Workers, Knowledge Output and Business Environment.
  • Among the category of major states, Maharashtra performs the best in the dimension of Enablers. This implies that it has the best enabling environment for innovation, even though the state comes in at the third position in the overall innovation index.

Way Forward:

  • The broad level learnings and some policy imperatives at the national level include increasing the spending on research and development, improving the capability of top rung educational institutions in the country to produce greater innovation outputs.
  • There is also a need for greater coordination and collaboration between the industry and educational institutions for enhancing innovation capability.
  • A collaborative platform consisting of all the stakeholders of innovation – innovators, researchers, and investors from the industry should be developed.
  • This will help in strengthening the industry-academia linkages and will ease the process of technology transfer by providing a platform for innovators to showcase their inventions.
  • At the state level, broad level key learning includes forming policies at the state level that seek to improve the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Cluster development programs are also an area in need of greater coordination and can benefit from a more open collaborative approach.
  • Also, the industrial policies at the state level should focus more on innovation. At present only a few policies exist for innovation even in the most innovative states and union territories.

WHO’S GLOBAL TUBERCULOSIS REPORT 2019

Why in News?

  • WHO has released the 2019 edition of the Global Tuberculosis Report recently. The report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic and progress in the response at global, regional and country levels for India.

Key Findings of the Report:

  • Around 10 million people developed TB in 2018 and three million sufferers “are not getting the care they need”.
  • Countries where people suffer most are China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa.
  • Although the 2018 TB toll was marginally better than in 2017, the burden remains stubbornly high among poor and marginalized populations, particularly those with HIV.
  • Drug resistance remains another obstacle, WHO maintained, with 2018 seeing an estimated half a million new cases of drug-resistant TB.
  • There is massive and chronic underfunding for TB research estimated at $1.2 billion a year. On top of this, the shortfall for TB prevention and care is estimated at $3.3 billion in 2019.
  • The World Health Assembly-approved Global TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030 compared with 2015 levels.

Status in India:

  • The report notes that in 2017, India had 27.4 lakh TB patients which came down to 26.9 lakh in 2018.
  • Incidence per 1,00,000 population has decreased from 204 in 2017 to 199 in 2018.
  • The number of patients being tested for rifampicin resistance has increased from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
  • And the treatment success rate has increased to 81% for new and relapse cases (drug sensitive) in 2017, which was 69% in 2016.
  • TB remains the top infectious killer in the world claiming over 4,000 lives a day.
  • This report presents progress towards targets set at the first-ever United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on TB in 2018 as well as the targets of the WHO End TB Strategy and Sustainable Development Goals.

Government Interventions Taken:

  • The India TB-Report 2019notes that India is closest ever to covering all TB cases through the online notification system (NIKSHAY).
  • National Strategic Plan (NSP) to end TB

a) It encapsulates the bold and innovative steps required to eliminate TB in Indiaby the year 2025.

b) Objective (Detect-Treat-Prevent-Build)

  • Detect:Find all Drug Sensitive TB and Drug Resistant TB cases with an emphasis on reaching TB patients seeking care from private providers and undiagnosed TB in high-risk populations.
  • Treat:Initiate and sustain all patients on appropriate anti-TB treatment wherever they seek care, with patient friendly systems and social support.
  • Preventthe emergence of TB in susceptible populations.
  • Buildand strengthen enabling policies, empowered institutions, additional human resources with enhanced capacities, and provide adequate financial resources.

About Tuberculosis:

  • TB is caused by Bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
  • Transmission:TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
  • Symptoms:Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • Treatment:TB is treatable and curable disease. It is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
  • Anti-TB medicines have been used for decades and strains that are resistant to 1 or more of the medicines have been documented in every country surveyed.

1.Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.

2.Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB)is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.

About WHO:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health.
  • Established in 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and its headquarters is located at Geneva.

STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN REPORT 2019

Why in News?

  • UNICEF has released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019 recently. Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children.
  • For the first time in 20 years, UNICEF’s flagship report examines the issue of children, food and nutrition, providing a fresh perspective on a rapidly evolving challenge.

Key Highlights of the Report:

  • Around 200 million children under-five are either Undernourished or Overweight.
  • One-in-three globally – and almost two-thirds of children are not fed food that nurtures proper development.
  • The Flagship Report describes the “triple burden” of malnutrition: Undernutrition, overweight, and deficiencies in essential nutrients.
  • Stunting and wasting:149 million children are stunted, or too short for their age, 50 million children are wasted, or too thin for their height.
  • Breastfeeding has demonstrated it can supply a range of benefits, including lowering the likelihood of infant mortality, being overweight and obesity; and improving school performance. But it has to be noted that only 42 per cent of children under-six months of age are exclusively breastfed.
  • Lack of Micronutrients: 340 million children – or 1 in 2 – suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin A and iron, 40 million children are overweight or obese.
  • Overweight: The result in a young population globally which is chronically overweight, which has increased across every continent.

Status of India:

  • In India, every second child is affected by some form of malnutrition.
  • 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.
  • Stunting and wasting among children in the country has reduced by 3.7 per cent and the number of underweight children have reduced by 2.3 per cent from 2016 to 2018.
  • Among countries in South Asia, India fares the worst (54%) on prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight.
  • In India, poverty, urbanisation as well as climate change are some of the factors that are driving poor diet.
  • Only 61% Indian children, adolescents and mothers consume dairy products at least once a week, and only 40% of them consume fruit once a week.
  • One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states. Every second woman in the country is anaemic, as are 40.5% children.
  • One in ten children are pre-diabetic. Indian children are being diagnosed with adult diseases such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

The Report also Talks About:

  • Long term Impact: The lack of adequate nutrition increases youngsters’ vulnerability to health problems, namely poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased susceptibility to infections and in many cases, premature death.
  • Systems Approach: The agency’s “systems approach” highlights the role of food, health, water and sanitation, social protection and education, in better feeding the world’s youngsters.
  • Role of Government: The effort to address faults in the food system must involve governments, the private sector and civil society.

About UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund):

  • It is special program of UN devoted to aid national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
  • It was established in 1946 to provide relief to children in countries devastated by World War II.
  • It is headquartered in New York City, United States.
  • It was formerly known as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX-2019

Why in News?

  • In the recently released Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report-2019, India was ranked at 102nd position out of 117 countries.

About Global Hunger Index:

  • The report is an annual peer-reviewed publication that is jointly prepared by the Concern Worldwide (an Irish agency) and the Welt Hunger Hilfe (a German organization).
  • The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using four component indicators:

1.UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is under-nourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake

2.CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute undernutrition.

3.CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic undernutrition.

4.CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

Categorisation of countries:

  • Based on the overall score of the country, the country has been classified as follows:
Overall Score of the countryCategory
<= 9.9LOW
10.0–19.9MODERATE
20.0–34.9SERIOUS
35.0–49.9ALARMING
>=50.0EXTREMELY ALARMING
  • Each of the four component indicators is given a standardized score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator on a global scale in recent decades.
  • India’s overall score this year is 30.3 and has been categorised under “serious” category.

Key Findings of the Report:

  • Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five.
  • The Central African Republic holds the bottom position in the index. The Central African Republic is in the “extremely alarming” level in the hunger index.
  • Among the 117 countries, 43 have “serious” levels of hunger.
  • Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030.
  • While there has been progress in reducing hunger, but the gains are now being threatened and severe hunger persists in many regions across the world. It is becoming difficult to feed the world due to climate change.
  • The various steps recommended by the report to tackle this serious problem were:
  • Prioritizing resilience among the most vulnerable groups, better response to disasters, addressing inequalities, action to mitigate climate change are among measures suggested in the report.

An overview of India’s Position and a comparison with its Neighbours:

  • In the Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report-2019, India was ranked at 102nd position out of 117 countries.
  • India’s rank has slipped from 95th position (in 2010) to 102nd (in 2019) behind its neighbours Nepal (73), Pakistan (94) and Bangladesh (88). China (25) has moved to a ‘low’ severity category and Sri Lanka is in the ‘moderate’ severity category.
  • Over a longer-term duration, the fall in India’s rank is sharper, i.e, from 83rd out of 113 countries in 2000 to 102nd out of 117 in 2019.
  • Countries like Yemen and Djibouti, which are conflict-ridden and facing severe climate issues respectively, fared better than India on that front, according to the report.
  • Just 9.6% of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a “minimum acceptable diet”, it said. “India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8%, the highest for any country in this report.
  • The share of wasting among children in India marked a steep rise from 16.5% in the 2008-2012 to 20.8% in 2014-2018.According to UNICEF, child wasting is a strong predictor of mortality among children (under 5 yrs. of age).
  • India has demonstrated an improvement in other indicators that includes, under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children, and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.
  • The report also took note of open defecation in India as an impacting factor for health. It pointed out that as of 2015–2016, 90% of Indian households used an improved drinking water source while 39% of households had no sanitation facilities.
  • Open defecation jeopardizes the population’s health and severely impacts children’s growth and their ability to absorb nutrients.

IMF’S WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK (WEO)

Context:

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its report “World Economic Outlook” (WEO)- 2019 recently.

About the Report:

  • The World Economic Outlook is a biennial report that is released in April and October of every year. According to the report released recently, the global economy is at its slowest pace of growth at 3%. This is a serious climb down from 3.8% in 2017.

Key Findings of the Report:

  • The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent next year amid a synchronised slowdown.
  • The Global growth rate is projected to improve to 3.4% by 2020. The growth of advanced economies is projected to slow down by 1.7%.
  • The emerging and developing economies are projected to experience a growth pick up from 3.9% in 2019 to 4.6% in 2020.
  • Reasons for slowdown: rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in Developed Countries.

India- Specific Observations:

  • India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, tying with China.
  • It has a projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal year, despite an almost one per cent cut in the forecast.
  • The report downgraded India’s growth projections to 6.1% in 2019, however, India’s economy is projected to pick up and grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year.
  • According to the report, China is projected to grow at 6.1% in 2019 and 5.8% in 2020. The trade volume reached the lowest since 2012. It reduced by 1% since 2012.

Reasons behind the downgraded growth projection of India:

  • India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter, as its growth is held back by sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.
  • Corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty are part of the factors that weighed on the demand.
  • The reduction in India’s growth projection for this year “reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand”.

Way Ahead:

  • India should make use of the following measures to improve its overall growth:
    • It must make use of its monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence.
    • A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term.
    • This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalisation and Tax-Base Enhancing Measures.

About IMF:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the inter-governmental organisation established to stabilize the exchange rate in the international trade.
  • It helps the member countries to improve their Balance of Payment (BOP) condition thorough the adequate liquidity in the international market, promote the growth of global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade.
  • It is one of the Bretton woods twins, which came into existence in 1945, is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.
  • HQ – Washington
  • Official language – Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic

EDUCATION OF MOTHERS DIRECTLY LINKED TO BETTER NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN

Why in News?

  • The first pan India survey (a part Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey) on nutrition levels among children conducted by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry shows a direct correlation between mothers’ education and the wellbeing of children.

About the Survey:

  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey was jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) along with UNICEF to assess the nutritional status of more than 115,000 children and adolescents (Aged 0-19 Yr) in all States of India.
  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey studied 1.2 lakh children between 2016 and 2018 and measured food consumption, anthropometric data, micronutrient levels, anaemia, iron deficiency and markers of noncommunicable diseases.
  • These were charted against population characteristics such as religion, caste, place of residence and the mothers’ levels of schooling.

Core Indicators :

  • The three core indicators of nutrition deficiency among infants and young children taken into consideration are:

1.Diet diversity

2.Meal frequency

3.Minimum acceptable diet

Major Findings of the Report:

  • Data from the study show that with higher levels of schooling in a mother, children received better diets.
  • Diet diversity
    • Only 11.4% of the children of mothers with no schooling received adequately diverse meals, while 31.8% whose mothers finished Class XII received diverse meals.
    • Moreover, 7.2% of the children whose mother is educated consumed iron rich food, whereas this was at 10.3% for those children whose mother is uneducated.
    • The proportion of children aged two to four consuming dairy products, eggs and other fruits and vegetables increased with the mothers’ education level and household wealth status.
  • Minimum Acceptable Diet:
    • The study found 3.9% of the children whose mothers had zero schooling got minimum acceptable diets, whereas this was at 9.6% for those whose mothers finished schooling.
  • Levels of stunting, wasting and low weight were higher in children whose mothers received no schooling as opposed to those who studied till Class XII.
 Prevalence among Children of Educated Mothers
( Atleast till class XII)
Prevalence among children of Uneducated mothers
Level of Stunting5.90%19.30%
Level of Wasting5.10%14.80%
Level of Underweight4.30%5.70%
  • Level of Anaemia: Anaemia saw a much higher prevalence of 44.1% among children up to four years old with mothers who never went to school, versus 34.6% among those who completed their schooling.

Flip Side:

  • But on the flip side, a higher level of education among mothers meant that their children received meals less frequently, perhaps because the chances of the women being employed and travelling long distances to work went up.
  • Such children were also at a higher risk of diabetes and high cholesterol as relative prosperity could lead to a higher consumption of sugary drinks and foods high in cholesterol.
  • Children in the age group of 10 to 19 showed a higher prevalence of prediabetes if their mother had finished schooling. The prevalence of high cholesterol levels was at 6.2% in these children as opposed to 4.8% among those whose mothers never attended school.

WORLD VISION REPORT

Why in News?

  • The first-ever World Vision Report was recently released by WHO.

Highlights of the Report:

  • More than a quarter of the world’s population — some 2.2 billion people — suffer from vision impairment.
  • The report warned that population ageing would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people with vision impairment and blindness.
  • Presbyopia, a condition in which it is difficult to see nearby objects, affects 1.8 billion people. This condition occurs with advancing age.
  • The common refractive error — myopia (a condition in which it is difficult to see objects at a distance) affects 2.6 billion, with 312 million being under the age of 19 years.
  • Cataract (65.2 million), age-related macular degeneration (10.4 million), glaucoma (6.9 million), corneal opacities (4.2 million), diabetic retinopathy (3 million), trachoma (2 million), and other causes (37.1 million) are other common vision impairments listed in the report.
  • Trachoma is caused due to bacterial infection in the eye. Many countries have eliminated it, including India.There was praise for India in the report for its National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB).
  • According to the report, in 2016-17, the NPCB provided cataract surgery to a total 6.5 million people in India, achieving a cataract surgical rate of over 6,000 per million population.
  • During this period, school screening was provided to nearly 32 million children and approximately 750,000 spectacles were distributed, the report said about the NPCB.

Regional and Gender Distribution:

  • The prevalence of vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions was estimated by the report to be four times higher than in high-income regions.
  • Three Asian regions alone (representing 51% of the world’s population) account for 62 per cent of the estimated 216.6 million vision-impaired people in the world.
  • South Asia (61.2 million); East Asia (52.9 million); and South-East Asia (20.8 million).
  • Myopia is the highest in high-income countries of the Asia-Pacific region (53.4 per cent), closely followed by East Asia (51.6 per cent).
  • Adolescents in urban areas of China and South Korea have reported rates as high as 67 per cent and 97 per cent, respectively.

Why Vision Matters?

  • The WHO report said studies had consistently established that vision impairment severely impacted quality of life (QoL) among adult populations.
  • Besides, vision impairment also caused productivity loss and economic burden.
  • The economic burden of uncorrected myopia in the regions of East Asia, South Asia and South-East Asia were reported to be more than twice that of other regions and equivalent to more than one per cent of gross domestic product.

Prevention is Possible:

  • Out of one billion cases of vision impairment that could have been prevented, 11.9 million suffered from glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and trachoma that could have been prevented.The estimated costs of preventing the vision impairment in these 11.9 million would have been $5.8 billion.
  • This represented a significant missed opportunity in preventing the substantial personal and societal burden associated with vision impairment and blindness.

Various factors:

  • Regarding gender gap, the WHO said no strong association existed between gender and many eye conditions, including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.However, rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” it clarified.
  • Incidence of a rural-urban divide does exist.
  • Rural populations also face greater barriers to accessing eye care due to them having to travel greater distances and poor road quality, among other factors.
  • Lifestyle differences ensured that unlike cataract, higher rates of childhood myopia were found in urban populations of China and Australia since children living in rural areas spent more time outdoors.

Barriers to Eye Care:

  • Accessibility to eye care services and high costs particularly for rural populations are the major drivers of vision impairment.
  • Therefore, the WHO emphasised expanding Universal Healthcare Coverage and making eye care an integral part of it around the world.
  • Direct costs are key barrier to accessing eye care in high-income countries, particularly for people living in rural areas or those with low socio-economic status.
  • Affordability to buy lenses or spectacles was a major stumbling block.
  • The WHO report, as with many other studies, highlighted that there was a gender disparity in accessibility to eye care services, with women standing a lesser chance of availing them.
  • Lack of trained human resources was another factor pushing these ailments further.

GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX 2019

Why in News?

  • The annual Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) is released.
  • India slipped to 68th rank in the annual Global Competitiveness Index 2019. It was ranked 58th in the 2018 edition.
  • The GCI was launched in 1979, maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

Highlights:

  • The Global Competitiveness Index 2019 ranks 140 countries on the basis of 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars.
  • Singapore with a score of 84.8 took the top spot in this year’s index, pushing the United States to the second spot.The top-five economies in the Global Competitiveness Index 2019 included Singapore, US, Hong Kong, Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • Japan took up the 6th spot, Germany ranked 7th, Sweden ranked 8th, UK ranked 9th and Denmark ranked 10th to complete the top ten economies in the index.
  • China was ranked at the 28th spot, while Hong Kong was ranked 3rd and Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, also ranked higher at the 12th

Global Competitiveness Index 2019: India

  • According to the World Economic Forum, the major reason for the fall in India’s rank is due to improvements witnessed by several other economies.
  • India was ranked second in shareholder governance and third in terms of market size and renewable energy regulation.In corporate governance also, India was ranked considerably higher at the 15th In macroeconomic stability also, India was ranked high at the 43rd rank. However, India was performed poorly in pillars including Information, communication and technology adoption (120 rank), health (110), skills (107), product market (101), labour market(103) and stability (103).
  • In terms of healthy life expectancy, India was ranked 109 out of 141 countries. In meritocract and incentivization also, India was ranked at the 118th position, largely due to its low ratio of wage and salaried female workers to male workers, in which it was ranked 128Among its neighbours, India was ranked ahead of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Only China ranked better at the 28th position.

ABUSE OF WOMEN DURING CHILDBIRTH IS WIDESPREAD: REPORT

Why in News?

  • A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal has stated that more than one-third of the women in Asia and Africa were subjected to physical abuse during childbirth. This has been further confirmed by the observations of WHO.

Highlights of the Lancet Report:

  • The report states that more than one-third of women in four low-income countries in Africa and Asia were slapped, mocked, forcibly treated or otherwise abused during childbirth in health centers and suggests that such mistreatment occurs worldwide.
  • Also, women of these regions have experienced high rates of caesarean sections and surgical cuts to the vagina, or episiotomies, without their consent — and often without a painkiller.
  • Mistreatment during childbirth can amount to a violation of human rights, and could be a powerful disincentive from seeking facility-based maternity care,” the study said.

Observations of WHO:

  • The new study led by the World Health Organization followed more than 2,000 women during labour and interviewed more than 2,600 women after childbirth.
    • Some 42% reported physical or verbal abuse or discrimination during childbirth. Some women were punched, shouted at, scolded or forcibly held down.
    • Younger, less-educated women are at risk of such mistreatment which also includes neglect by health workers or the use of force during procedures, the study said.
    • Most of the abuse occurred in the 15 minutes before and during childbirth. The study cited research that found that “midwives and doctors described women as ‘uncooperative’ during this period and some justified using physical and verbal abuse as “punishment”.
    • The abuse also includes instances where women are forcibly separated from their new-borns for several days.
  • Health officials say the mistreatment of women during childbirth appears to be global, including in developed countries.

About WHO:

  • World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health was founded in 1948.
  • Its headquarters are situated in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • There are 194 Member States, 150 country offices, six regional offices.
  • It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health.
  • The WHO provides leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
  • It began functioning on April 7, 1948 – a date now being celebrated every year as World Health Day.

STATIONS’ CLEANLINESS SURVEY REPORT

Context:

  • Recently Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry has released the “Stations’ Cleanliness Survey Report” (Cleanliness assessment of Non-suburban and Suburban Stations 2019).

Background:

  • Railways have been conducting third party audit and cleanliness ranking of major railway stations annually since 2016. Earlier the survey covered 407 stations, but this year the survey was expanded to include 720 stations. The suburban stations were also brought under the ambit of the survey for the first time.

Basis for Ranking:

  • Criteria chosen for Ranking:
    1.Process Evaluation

    2.Direct Observation

    3.Citizen Feedback

  • Each of the above criteria carries 33.33% weightage and score is given based on this.
  • The total score is out of 1000 and based on the score, the stations under consideration are ranked.

Major Findings of the Report:

  • Top Three Railway Zones- North Western Railway followed by South East Central Railway and East Central Railway.
  • Top Three Cleanest Railways Stations – Jaipur, Jodhpur and Durgapura. (All 3 are from the western state of Rajasthan).
  • Top three suburban stations: Andheri, Virar and Naigaon railway stations.

Similar Efforts in this Regard:

  • Single use plastics has been banned completely by the Indian Railways across its premises recently.
  • Cleanliness programme is being conducted over 6500 stations across Indian Railways to showcase the efforts putting in by Indian Railways to keep trains, stations and railway premises clean.
  • Our present government’s commitment to develop India as a “Clean India, Healthy India and Prosperous India” is also in line with the above efforts.

WORLD URBANIZATION PROSPECTS DATA

Why in News?

  • The economic outlook update released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) highlighted that the number of urban inhabitants in ‘Developing Asia’ has increased “almost five-fold since 1970”.

World Urbanisation Prospects Data:

  • It refers to a group of 45 countries that are members of the ADB.
  • The report, tracking World Urbanisation Prospects data, states that the two-thirds of the nearly 1.5 billion additional city dwellers in the region belonged from India and China.
  • As such, between 1970 to 2017, the urban population in this bunch of countries grew from 375 million to 1.84 billion.
  • The region led the global increase in the urban population in this period and accounted for 53 per cent of it.

Low pace of Urbanization:

  • The ADB reports states that, notwithstanding the fast growth in urban population, “developing Asia’s urbanisation rate still lagged at 46% in 2017”.
  • Urbanisation rate means the percentage of the population living in urban areas.
  • The US achieved the 46 per cent urbanisation mark over a century ago while Japan reached there in the early 1950s. But the US and Japan are far cries at the moment.
  • Developing Asia’s urbanisation rate in 2017 was lower than the average in other developing economies (which stood at 58 per cent) and the average in the developed economies (which stood at 81 per cent).
  • India, specifically, has 34 per cent of its population living in urban areas.

Population rise:

  • Developing Asia urbanized faster than the rest of the world not only in terms of absolute growth, but also in terms of growth rate.
  • Urban population in this region increased at an average of 3.4 per cent per annum between 1970-2017.
  • This is much faster than the 2.6 per cent in the rest of the developing world – mainly Africa and Latin America – and 1.0 per cent in the developed world.

WORLD DIGITAL COMPETITIVENESS RANKING (WDCR) 2019

Why in News?

  • India has advanced four places to 44th position in terms of digital competitiveness in the world.

Highlights:

  • The Ranking, produced by the IMD World Competitiveness Center, measures the capacity and readiness of 63 nations to adopt and explore digital technologies as a key driver for economic transformation in business, government and wider society.
  • To evaluate an economy, WDCR examines three factors:
    • Knowledge: the capacity to understand and learn the new technologies;
    • Technology: the competence to develop new digital innovations; and
    • Future readiness: the preparedness for the Coming Developments.

India’s Progress:

  • India rose from 48th place in 2018 to 44th rank this year as the country has improved overall in all factors — knowledge, technology and future readiness — as compared to the previous year’s ranking.
  • India has made improvement in terms of knowledge and future readiness to adopt and explore digital technologies, according to a global report.

Global Scenario:

  • The US was ranked as the world’s most digitally competitive economy, followed by Singapore in the second place.
  • Sweden was ranked third on the list, followed by Denmark and Switzerland in the 4th and 5th place, respectively.
  • Others in the list of top-10 most digitally competitive economy include Netherlands in the 6th place, Finland (7th), Hong Kong SAR (8th), Norway (9th) and Republic of Korea (10th).
  • The largest jump in the overall ranking was registered by China, moving from 30th to 22nd, and Indonesia, from 62nd to 56

ALL INDIA SURVEY ON HIGHER EDUCATION: 2018-19

Context:

  • The Human Resource Development Ministry has recently published the 2018-19 edition of the AISHE Report 2019, which has thrown up some startling findings and revelations about the higher education sector in the country.

About AISHE Report:

  • AISHE is a Pan India, annual web-based survey which covers all the Higher Educational Institutions in the country conducted by Ministry of Human Resource Development in order to give an overview and understand about the latest developments in the field of higher education.
  • Various parameters on which the data is collected are teachers, student enrolment, programs, examination results, education finance, infrastructure etc.

Key Findings of the Report:

1. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER): GER is statistical measure for determining number of students enrolled in undergraduate, postgraduate and research-level studies within country and expressed as a percentage of population.

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education in India is 3% which is a marginal increase from 25.8% in 2017-18, which is calculated for 18-23 years of age group.

2. Gender parity among teachers: The total number of teachers are 14,16,299, out of which about 57.8% are male teachers and 42.2% are female teachers. At All-India level there are merely 73 female teachers per 100 male teachers.

3. Gender parity among students: It may be seen that ratio of male is higher than female in almost every level, except M.Phil., Post Graduate and Certificate.

Student enrolment at Under Graduate level has 51% male and 49% female. Diploma has a skewed distribution with 66.8% males and 33.2% females. Ph.D. level has 56.18% male and 43.82% female.

4. Narrowing Gender Gap: Total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 37.4 million and among them female constitute of 48.6% of the total enrolment. It was a slight improvement from earlier 47.6% in 2017-18.

5. Number of Higher Educational institutes: The number of universities has grown to 993 in 2018-2019 from 903 in 2017-18 and there is a 3.3% increase in the number of colleges in the country.

6. Preference to Higher studies: Of the total student enrolment in higher studies, about 79.8% of the students belongs to Undergraduate level programme, while only 0.5% of students of the total enrolment enrols for a Ph.D. programme.

7. Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR): PTR in Universities and Colleges is 29 and PTR for Universities and its Constituent Units is 18.

Other key Facts:

1. Share of female students is lowest in Institutions of National Importance followed by State Private Open Universities, Deemed Universities-Government.

2. Uttar Pradesh comes at number one with the highest student enrolment followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

3. In Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, there are now more females in the age group of 18-23 enrolling for higher education than male students.

State of Higher Education in India

  • India’s Higher Education sector is one of the largest in the world. However, it still lags behind other countries such as USA, China, Thailand etc.
  • This has been aptly proved by the absence of India’s top Universities in the world ranking list annually.

Some of the Key Challenges Faced by the Sector are as:

  • Dominance of private sector that has caused skewed regional and sectoral growth.
  • Lack of focus on Skill Development: Education system has been plagued with outdated syllabus, rot learning, lack of employability and lack of focus on skill development.
  • Overregulation: Higher Education System is regulated by many bodies that causes overlap of power and confusion. This has drastically reduced the autonomy of Universities.
  • Lack of resources and required funds and largely linear model with very little focus on specialization.
  • More emphasis only on few specialised branches such as social sciences and absence of due importance on diversified fields.

Government Interventions:

  • Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) scheme has been sanctioned to improve the development of infrastructure in premier education institutions.
  • Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh: Non lapsable funds for secondary and higher education sectors respectively.
  • New Delhi Declaration on Education: It reiterates India’s commitment to achieve SDG 4 and improve quality of education.

INDIA IS THE TOP SOURCE OF IMMIGRANTS ACROSS THE GLOBE

A UN report reveals that one-third of all immigrants come from 10 countries

  • As per the recent report (The International Migrant Stock 2019) released by the Union Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) in New York, India has emerged as the leading country of origin for immigrants across the world, with 17.5 million international migrants in 2019 coming from India, up from 15.9 million in 2015.

Key Findings of the report:

  • The percentage of international migrants of the total global population has increased to 3.5% from 2.8% in 2000.
  • Among countries, the U.S. hosts the highest number of international migrants (51 million), about 19% of the global population.
  • The statement also said that around two-fifths of all international migrants had gone from one developing country to another.

Facts regarding India:

  • India remained as the top source of international migrants among all other countries as per the report.
  • The number of migrants living in India saw a slight decline from 5.24 million in 2015 to an estimated 5.15 million in 2019 – both 0.4% of the total population of the country.
  • Bangladesh was the leading country of origin for migrants in India, the report stated.

About United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA):

  • Part of the United Nations Secretariat that upholds the objective of development
  • Member of the United Nations Development Group
  • Based at UN Headquarters in New York
  • It is a vital interface between global policies in the economic, social and environmental spheres and national action.
  • Its work is guided by the universal and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets

GLOBAL LIVEABILITY RANKING 2019

Why in 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.

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 liveability 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%.

“REDUCING FOOD LOSS AND WASTE: SETTING A GLOBAL ACTION AGENDA”

Why in News?

  • A new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation has quantified global food wastage — 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.
  • 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.”

Key Takeaways from The Report:

  • In the new report experts explain how tackling the issue of food loss and waste can ultimately generate a “triple win.” According to the report, implementing reduction efforts can help farmers, companies and households save money; combat hunger; and alleviate pressure on climate, water and land.
  • The report highlights the food loss and waste challenge, the cause of the issue, what should be done to address it, what progress has been made so far and more.
  • It also outlines a Global Action Agenda, encouraging countries and companies to adopt the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as their own, measure their food loss and waste, take action on identified hotspots, identify a shortlist of to-dos for each type of actor in the food supply chain and scale up the impact and pace of these actor-specific interventions.

Reduction as a Strategy:

  • Many areas across the globe are setting sustainability goals, including food loss and waste reduction goals and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Experts mention in the report that reduction can be a strategy to achieving these set goals.
  • Reducing food loss and waste can improve hunger, poverty and health, ultimately helping to create a sustainable food future and to fix an inefficient food system for the sake of people and the planet, the report points out.

Why Food Loss and Waste Matters?

  • Reduction of food loss and waste can have a significant impact on the environment, economy, food security, job market and ethics, according to the report.
  • For example, food loss and waste reduction can help slash greenhouse gas emissions, combat hunger across the globe, create jobs across the supply chain and help change behaviour and habits for the better.
  • Additionally, reduction can help meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, contribute to the Paris Agreement on climate change and sustainably feed the planet by 2050, the report points out.

The Cause of Food Loss and Waste:

  • The report points to “direct causes” of food loss and waste, such as concerns about a food’s safety or suitability, and “underlying drivers,” which can be technological, managerial, behavioural or structural in nature.
  • Altogether, there are 15 underlying drivers that need to be addressed if food loss and waste is to be successfully reduced:
  1. Poor infrastructure
  2. Inadequate equipment
  3. Suboptimal packaging
  4. Inadequate food management practices, skills or knowledge
  5. Inflexible procurement practices
  6. Poor supply and Demand Forecasting and Planning
  7. Marketing strategies
  8. Norms and attitudes
  9. Lack of awareness
  10. Concerns about possible risks
  11. Conditions in Demographics
  12. Climate
  13. Policies and Regulations
  14. Economics
  15. Financing
  • It’s important to note that some underlying drivers are more prominent in certain regions and that food loss and waste is often driven by more than one driver.

What Action Needs to be Taken?

  • The report states that governments and companies should pursue a simple but effective “Target-Measure-Act approach” when it comes to reducing food loss and waste. Here’s a breakdown of what that means:
  1. Set Targets. Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action.
  2. Measure food loss and waste. Measuring food loss and waste can help decision-makers better understand how much, where and why food is being lost or wasted. Understanding the problem can help you overcome it and keep you on track to meet your goals.
  3. Take action. Create a priority to-do list for each type of actor to get started with reducing food loss and waste. Then, take action to put that list into motion.

10 Scaling Interventions:

  • To help accelerate and broaden the deployment of the Target-Measure-Act approach and the actor-specific interventions, the report highlights 10 scaling interventions:
  1. Develop national strategies for reducing food loss and waste.
  2. Create national public-private partnerships.
  3. Launch a “10x20x30” supply chain initiative, where at least 10 corporate “power players” commit to Target-Measure-Act and then engage their own 20 largest suppliers to do the same and achieve a 50 percent reduction in food loss and waste by 2030.
  4. Invigorate efforts to strengthen value chains and reduce smallholder losses.
  5. Launch a “decade of storage solutions.”
  6. Shift consumer social norms.
  7. Go after greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
  8. Scale up financing.
  9. Overcome the data deficit.
  10. Advance the research agenda.

WORLD POPULATION PROJECTIONS 2019

Why in News?

  • World Population Prospects 2019 was released few weeks back by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

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

International energy agency report

  • India’s carbon emission grew by 4.8% during 2018.
  • But India’s per capita carbon emission is less than 40% of the global average.
  • At the global level, renewable sources of energy grew by 7% during 2018.
  • China and Europe contributed to bulk of global carbon savings.
  • India is far away from fulfilling its target under the Paris agreement (to cut energy intensity of GDP by 33-35% by 2030, over 2005 levels.

About International Energy Agency:

  • IEA is an inter-governmental organization established in 1974 as per framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • It was established in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis after the OPEC cartel had shocked the world with a steep increase in oil prices.
  • Members: Presently it has 29 member countries. India is lone associate member of IAE. Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France.
  • Mandate: Its prime focus is on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development and environmental protection. It also seeks to promote alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies and multinational energy technology co-operation.
  • It publish World Energy Outlook Report.

Brexit – All you need to know

What is Brexit?

  • An unofficial word given to the exit of Britain from EU. A referendum to leave European Union (EU) was held in which UK has decided to leave EU.
  • The process of leaving has a time limit, which ends on March 29, 2019. The UK has to negotiate with the European Commission.
  • ✓ Britain = England+Scotland+Wales
  • ✓ UK = Britain + Northern Islands

Is this the first such referendum?

  • No, this is the second referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European project.
  • In 1975, in a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay or leave the European Community (Common Market) Area, the country voted for staying in with a resounding 67.2 per cent vote.

What is referendum?

  • A referendum (in some countries synonymous with a plebiscite — or a vote on a ballot question) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to vote on a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new law.

What is EU?

  • The European Union is a Customs Union which has no tariffs on trade moving from one country to another within the EU. There are tariffs on goods from outside unless a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been signed (the EU and India have been negotiating on an FTA for years). There is also a single market, which means professional people can work anywhere within the EU no matter where they were trained.
  • Health and safety rules are standardised.

Why demand for Brexit?

  • People who are disadvantaged and feel left behind after the Britain collaboration with EU
  • Trade and immigration policies on EU terms does not help many in Britain
  • Limited trade and commerce: UK’s relation have remained limited within EU group and have been unable to progress on bilateral agreements with China, India etc.
  • Multiplier -ve effect of Greece crisis to UK’s economy: Refugee absorption has resulted in stress on natural resources utilization of developed economies like UK.

Its possible impacts:

  • It will hurt Britain’s export competitiveness
  • Markets access to Europe will be hard to negotiate and Britain would have to adhere to quality and product regulation of EU, in the context of China, Chinese products, due to their quality and price have more penetration in markets like EU
  • London trade market, where trade in euro transactions are more, it would place London in a weaker position being outside of EU
  • London where more people in banking, finance and insurance are from outside the country would reduce because then they will no longer be able to take their pension rights and other conveniences that a single labour market provides
  • Seceding from EU, Britain would appear weak in its military prowess and its diplomatic relations, UK will remain member of NATO.

What can be the possible impact on India?

Positive Impact:

  • Access to UK market: With the exit, Britain will have full control over its economic policy and thus will act as a facilitator for India’s easier access to its market
  • Investments: Britain on a lookout for partner countries after the exit, would find India a bright spot in the slowing world economy.
  • Possibility of Bilateral Free Trade Agreement: The EU- India FTA is stuck for years and with the Brexit a possibility of entering into Bilateral FTA with the country will open up
  • Relaxation from the strict quality standards that EU currently imposes which has resulted in bans on Indian products like mangoes in the past in the Union.
  • Indian labour: Britain ‘s industry and economic growth has benefitted from the large number of immigrants it receives due to EU refugee policy.
  • Once the exit happens, the country will face labour shortage which could be filled by Indian labour market.

Negative Impact:

  • Short term effect: Global currency volatility will affect Indian rupee as well hampering India’s trade
  • Immigration controls: UK might implement immigration controls affecting large number of Indian diasporas in the country
  • Would become tough for India to balance the relations between the EU and Britain
  • EU countries will start imposing tariffs on British products, making it far less attractive for Indian businesses – like Tata Motors – to have a manufacturing base in the U.K

Process of Exit:

  • The British Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal proposed by the Prime Minister Theresa May.
  • The conservative objectors who were supporters of Brexit have also voted against the deal due to the “backstop” provisions.
  • As per the Backstop provisions, Britain would leave the EU in March 2019, single market in December 2020, but stay in the customs union for longer.
  • The Backstop provisions would keep trade rules between the world’s fifth-biggest economy and its largest export market almost unchanged for a transition period running to the end of 2020.
  • The conservatives fear that these provisions would keep the UK too closely bound by EU regulations.

What’s next?

  • The UK has now three options to choose from since UK is bound to leave EU by March. The options are:
  • UK can now reach to EU to further modify the agreement. But this doesn’t seem likely because EU leaders have made it clear that it was the best compromise available.
  • The other option is to exit without any deal. This would be a doomsday scenario which would trigger a massive recession in Britain and markedly slow the European Union’s economic growth. This doomsday scenario would become inevitable if British parliament votes against the deal
  • There could be another referendum on Brexit in Britain. Demands for another referendum is also gaining momentum since the previous one favoured the Brexit with a narrow 52 to 48 per cent.

More than Half of Global Population Now online: UN

In News:

  • 2 percent of the global population, or 3.9 billion people, will be using the Internet at the end of 2018, according to an ITU report.

ITU report findings:

  • For the first time, more than half of the global population is online. The United Nations said around 3.9 billion people are now using the Internet.
  • The percentage of population using the Internet in developed countries has grown from 51.3 percent in 2005 to 80.9 percent in 2018.
  • The percentage of population using the Internet in developing nations has surged from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent at the end of 2018.
  • In Africa, the percentage of people using the Internet increased from 2.1 percent in 2005 to 24.4 percent in 2018.
  • Fixed-broadband connections reached 1.1 billion in 2018 as compared with fixed-telephone connections of 942 million.
  • ​The penetration rate in active mobile-broadband subscriptions increased from 4 subscriptions per 100 people in 2007 to 69.3 in 2018. The number of active mobile-broadband subscriptions has increased from 268 million in 2007 to 5.3 billion in 2018.
  • In developing countries, penetration rate for mobile broadband subscriptions has reached 61 per 100 inhabitants in 2018
  • 96 percent of the world population lives within reach of a mobile cellular network. 90 percent of the global population can access the Internet through a 3G or higher speed network.
  • Almost 60 percent of household has Internet access at home in 2018 against less than 20 percent in 2005, ITU estimates

Importance of the report:

  • This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society.
  • ITU called for more support to technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves no one offline.
  • The gains have been more dramatic in developing countries, with Africa experiencing the strongest growth over the same period.
  • The report also showed that the number of mobile-cellular telephone subions is now greater than the global population. It also found that mobile broadband subions have skyrocketed.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

  • ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). Members include 193 countries and 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions.
  • HQ is present in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • ITU is responsible for allocating global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. It also develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies to seamlessly interconnect.
  • It also strives to improve access to ICTs among the underserved communities worldwide.

S.C. Constitutes Committee

SUPREME COURT CONSTITUTES COMMITTEE TO LOOK INTO JAIL REFORMS

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court formed a Committee on Prison Reforms headed by Justice (retd.) Amitava Roy, to examine the various problems plaguing prisons in the country, from overcrowding to lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.

Background:

  • The judgment came on a letter from former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti highlighting the overcrowding in prisons, unnatural deaths of prisoners, gross inadequacy of staff and the lack of trained staff.
  • Issuing a slew of directions, the Bench has directed the committee to examine the extent of overcrowding in prisons and correctional homes and recommend remedial measures, including an examination of the functioning of Under Trial Review Committees, availability of legal aid and advice, grant of remission, parole and furlough.
  • The panel would also probe the reasons for violence in prisons and correctional homes and recommend measures to prevent unnatural deaths and assess the availability of medical facilities in prisons and correctional homes and make recommendations.
  • It would assess the availability and inadequacy of staff in prisons and correctional homes, suggest training and educational modules for the staff and assess the feasibility of establishing open prisons.
  • The committee has been asked to recommend steps for the psycho-social well-being of minor children of women prisoners, including their education and health.
  • Further to examine and recommend measures for the health, education, development of skills, rehabilitation and social reintegration of children in observation homes, places of safety and special homes established under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
  • The court asked the committee to complete the collection of data and information and make submit it in a year.

DK JAIN COMMITTEE

The Court has also constituted a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice DK Jain to inquire in to the role of police officers in the conspiracy against Nambi Narayanan,who was accused of selling secrets pertaining to ISRO’s cryogenic programme to women who were allegedly acting as spies for Russia, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and other countries.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX

  • has climbed one notch to 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). India climbed one spot from its 2016 position.

About:

  • India’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2017 is 0.640, which put the country in the medium human development category.
  • The overall trend globally is towards continued human development improvements. Between 1990 and 2017, India made a steady progress in improving its HDI value, which has increased from 0.427 to 0.640, an increase of nearly 50%.
  • Within South Asia, India’s HDI value is above the average of 0.638 for the region, with Bangladesh and Pakistan countries with similar population size being ranked 136 and 150, respectively.
  • Movements in the HDI are driven by changes in health, education and income levels.
  • The success of India’s national development schemes like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Make in India’, and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and healthcare will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend on human development accelerates
  • Between 1990 and 2017, India’s life expectancy at birth increased by nearly 11 years, with even more significant gains in expected years of schooling. According to the report, today Indian school-age children can expect to stay in school for 4.7 years longer than in 1990.
  • India’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita also increased by a staggering 266.6% between 1990 and 2017.
  • As much as 26.8% of India’s HDI value is lost on account of inequalities, a greater loss than for most of its South Asian neighbours as the average loss for the region is 26.1%.
  • This confirms that inequality remains a challenge for India as it progresses economically, though the Union and state governments have attempted to ensure that the gains of economic development are shared widely and reach the farthest first,” the UNDP report pointed out.
  • These challenges are also evident in India, where despite considerable progress at the policy and legislative levels, women remain significantly less politically, economically and socially empowered than men.

Human development index:

  • The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic (composite index) of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development.
  • A country scores higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the GDP per capita is higher. The HDI was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian economist Amartya Sen which was further used to measure the country’s development by the United Nations Development Program
  • Every year UNDP ranks countries based on the HDI report released in their annual report. HDI is one of the best tools to keep track of the level of development of a country, as it combines all major social and economic indicators that are responsible for economic development.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION INDEX

  • The Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs launched the Financial Inclusion Index after his Annual Performance Review Meeting with CEOs of the Public Sector Banks in New Delhi.

About the Index:

  • Ministry of Finance will release an
  • Annual Financial Inclusion Index (FII) which
  • will be a measure of access and usage of a
  • basket of formal financial products and
  • services that includes savings, remittances,
  • credit, insurance and pension products.
  • The index will have three measurement dimensions;

1.Access to financial services

2.Usage of financial services

3.Quality.

  • The single composite index gives a snap shot of level of financial inclusion that would guide Macro Policy perspective.
  • The various components of the index will also help to measure financial services for use of internal policy making.
  • Financial Inclusion Index can be used directly as a composite measure in development indicators. It enables fulfilment of G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators requirements.
  • It will also facilitate researchers to study the impact of financial inclusion and other macro-economic variables.

Global Livability Index

  • Vienna displaces Melbourne as the most liveable city in the world in this year’s global liveability index released by The Economic Intelligence Unit.

World’s Most Liveable City:

  • It is the first time a European metropolis has topped the annual chart compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • Each year, 140 cities are given scores out of 100 .
  • Global Liveability has improved for the second year in a row, increasing from 74.8% last year to 75.7% in 2018.
  • Upwards movement in the top ranked cities is a reflection of improvements seen in stability and safety across most regions in the past year.
  • Australia and Canada did the best overall, with three cities apiece in the top 10.

Factors:

  • The survey rates cities worldwide based on 30 qualitative and quantitative criteria, which fall into five general categories:
  • Stability
  • Healthcare
  • Culture and environment
  • Education and infrastructure.

India’s Ranking:

  • South Asian countries including India have fared poorly in a ranking of the world’s most liveable cities with New Delhi figuring at 112th and Mumbai 117th position in a list of 140 cities.
  • South Asian cities rank low in The EIU Liveability index. Of the 6 we cover New Delhi top (112th) then Mumbai next at 117th.

The Economic Intelligence Unit:

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a British business within the Economist Groupproviding forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis.
  • It also releases
    • Democracy Index
    • Government Broadband Index

Report on Rohingyas Issue

The turmoil taking place in Rakhine state and the alleged atrocities against Muslim populations residing in the region, alongside the outburst of a serious refugee crisis, has reached the spotlight of the international community

About:

  • The UN Security Council set up an ad hoc tribunal to analyse the human right situation in Myanmar.
  • The three-member “fact-finding mission” and their team, working under a mandate from the UN-backed Human Rights Council, meticulously assembled hundreds of accounts from expatriate Rohingya, as well as satellite footage and other information for the report.
  • It found that decades of state-sponsored stigmatisation against Rohingya had resulted in “institutionalised oppression from birth to death”
  • There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw (army) chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocidein relation to the situation in Rakhine state

Background:

  • Peace, stability and fundamental human rights in the area have been at stake since the independence of Myanmar (Burma at the time) by the British colony power.
  • A long time British colony, Burma declare its independence in 1948. Since then, the county has been bifurcated by ethnic strife.
  • In1982, the Rohingya were officially striped of their citizenship. Statelessness plays an important role in their mistreatment and the continuous violation of their rights, While statelessness directly violates the right to nationality, it indirectly jeopardises many other rights that derive from it.
  • In the meantime, Myanmar has experienced rounds of violence and conflict in domestic level and high political tension, including military coups, whilst after 2015, a period of stabilization in political level seems to be in process.
  • Rohingyas, Muslims living in Rakhine state, have been subject to oppression and marginalization policies from the very beginning of the independent Burmese state, now named “Myanmar”
  • The deprivation of their fundamental rights and the forced displacement of many people either within the territory of Myanmar or to other states, mainly Bangladesh.

Problems:

  • The conflict between Muslim groups (mainly Rohingya) and the official security forces.
  • The religious hatred grown within the population and especially the Buddhist majority of the country.
  • The atrocities committed against Rohingya civilians, including women and children, by the official Myanmar authorities.
  • The accusations for genocide or ethnic cleansing, expressed by official UN officers and many states, the fact that more than 1,000,000 Rohingyas are stalled in Bangladesh (a number overcoming the one of those being in Myanmar).
  • The ongoing and evolving humanitarian crisis, accompanying the refugee one, with the latter being deemed as the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis”.
  • According to the UN, the Rohingya have been identified as the world’s most persecuted people.
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing constitute atrocious practices mainly committed in the context of armed conflicts, putting specific groups of people in huge jeopardy.
  • Myanmar security forces are cooperating with local Buddhist armed individuals so as to implement organized, severe and coordinated attacks against Rohingyas with the aim to force them flee Myanmar or prevent them from returning to their homes, constituting thus the so-called effort to achieve Burmanization.

What is Genocide:

  • Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Conclusion:

  • It is critical to examine the variety of solutions and answers that could possibly be proposed and implemented. Nonetheless, as it has been thoroughly presented in the previous pages, the threat posed to the very essence of fundamental principles of humanity and international community by the situation in Myanmar is immense and it spreads out in a long period of time.
  • Investigators working for the UN’s top human rights body said that Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

Ease of living index

First ever Ease of Living Index launched by Housing and Urban Affairs Minister.

  • Three cities in Maharashtra, Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai top the first Ease of Living Index .
  • The index covers 111 cities that are smart city contenders, capital cities, and cities with population of 1 million plus.
  • With West Bengal refusing to participate in the Centre’s rankings, Kolkata is excluded from the index.

About:

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched a set of ‘Ease of Living’ standards that combines various facets of urban living.
  • Each city is given a score between 0 and 100. The Index construction follows the Dimensional Index Methodology.
  • The Ease of Living Index captures the breadth of the quality of life in cities across 4 pillars and 15 categories using 78 indicators, of which 56 are core indicators and 22 are supporting indicators.
  • The core indicators measure those aspects of ease of living which are considered ‘essential’ urban services. The supporting indicators are used to measure adoption of innovative practices which are considered desirable for enhancing ease of living.
  • This method computes the scores for each indicator with reference to ‘maximum within the comparison group’ or ‘absolute benchmarks’. These absolute benchmarks were derived from national or international standards.
  • In its current format, it seeks to serve as a common minimum framework for cities to evaluate themselves and will evolve in future rounds to better represent the needs and aspirations of the people.
  • This assessment is first of its kind globally in terms of scale and coverage.
  • Another highlight of the Ease of Living framework is its strong link to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The assessment covers several metrics critical to track progress towards the SDGs in an urban environment.

Significance:

  • It underpinned by concepts of healthy communities, economic development, environmental sustainability, and social capital and cohesion.
  • Drive an evidence-based approach for future interventions and investments to deliver Ease of Living outcomes.
  • Catalyse actions to improve the quality of life in Indian cities.
  • Track broader development outcomes including the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Serve as a basis for dialogue with citizens and urban decision-makers on key strengths and areas demanding improvement.

Index and Reports

Kerala stands as the best-governed state in the country said the Public Affairs Index 2018 released by the think tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC).

About the index:

  • Released annually since 2016, the index examines governance performance in the states through a data-based framework, ranking them on social and economic development they are able to provide.
  • A total of 10 themes, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators were measured to derive the PAI, relying solely upon government data.
  • It covers wide range of themes such as support to human development, social protection, essential infrastructure, women and children, crime, law and order, delivery of justice, transparency and accountability, environment, fiscal management and economic freedom.
  • This year’s PAI also included a separate index on the children of India, giving a measure of how child-friendly each of the states are. Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram topped the index on being the states to provide better living conditions for all children.

Rankings among states:

  • Kerala has topped the Public Affairs Index (PAI) for 2018 as the best-governed state among large states for the third consecutive year since 2016.
  • Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat followed Kerala among the top five states delivering good governance, according to the report.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar ranked the lowest on the PAI among the large states, indicating higher social and economic inequalities in the states.
  • Among smaller states (with population less than two crore), Himachal Pradesh topped the list, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura which figured among the top five states with good governance.
  • Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were ranked at the bottom of the index among small states.

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