Current Affairs Analysis

12th September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM); ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ report; Ordnance Factory Board (OFB); Economic Freedom of the World: 2020 report; Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems; Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework; Communist martyrs; Swami Vivekananda's Chicago speech; Sri Viswanatha Satyanarayana; Labour cooperatives; 1619 Project; Kapi ramnagarensis; US spacecraft named after astronaut Kalpana Chawla; etc.
By IASToppers
September 12, 2020

Contents

Issues related to Health & Education

  • India’s child mortality rate declined between 1990-2019: UN Report

Economy

  • India slips 26 places in global economic freedom index
  • Results of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF 2.0) & Streets for People Challenge launched

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India, China resolves border standoff

Defence & Security Issues

  • Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board

Indian History

  • Communist martyrs may not figure on freedom fighters’ list
  • 127 years of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech

Art & Culture

  • Labour cooperatives of the Dongria Kandh

Persons in News

  • 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Viswanatha Satyanarayana

Key Facts for Prelims

  • 1619 Project
  • Kapi ramnagarensis
  • US spacecraft named after astronaut Kalpana Chawla

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Issues related to Health & Education

India’s child mortality rate declined between 1990-2019: UN Report

India’s child mortality rate has declined substantially between 1990 and 2019 but the country still accounted for almost a third of all under-five deaths last year.

  • ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ report is released by the United Nations inter-agency group for child mortality.

Global Highlights of the report:

  • The report warned that COVID-19 pandemic threatens to undo decades of progress in eliminating preventable child deaths globally.
  • The report said that the number of global under-five deaths dropped to its lowest point on record in 2019 – down to 5.2 million from 12.5 million in 1990.
  • The regions of Central and Southern Asia and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) both saw a faster decline in under-five mortality from 2010-2019 compared to 2000-2009.
  • However, the global burden of under-five deaths weighs most heavily on just two regions – sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.
  • The report said that about 53 per cent of all under-five deaths in 2019 – 2.8 million – occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, and roughly 1.5 million children (28 per cent) died in 2019 before reaching age 5 in Central and Southern Asia.
  • These two regions alone accounted for more than 80 per cent of the 5.2 million global under-five deaths in 2019, but they only accounted for 52 per cent of the global under-five population.
  • Nearly half (49 per cent) of all under-five deaths in 2019 occurred in just five countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Nigeria and India alone account for almost a third.

India specific highlights:

  • The under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined to 34 in 2019 from 126 in 1990.
  • India registered a 4.5 per cent annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality between 1990-2019.
  • The number of under-five deaths in India dropped from 3.4 million in 1990 to 824,000 in 2019.
  • The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined from 89 in 1990 to 28 last year, with the country registering 679000 infant deaths last year, a significant decline from 2.4 million infant deaths in 1990.
  • The country also witnessed a decrease in neonatal mortality rate between 1990 and 2019 from 57 to 22 – 1.5 million neonatal deaths in 1990 to 522,000 deaths in 2019.
  • Further, the probability of dying among children aged 5–14 years declined from 21 in 1990 to 5 in 2019 and the probability of dying among youth aged 15–24 years dipped from 24 to 10 between the period under review.
  • The sex-specific under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India in 1990 stood at 122 males and 131 females and this declined to 34 males and 35 females in 2019.
[Ref: The Week]

Economy

India slips 26 places in global economic freedom index

India slipped 26 places to 105 among 162 countries and territories on the index of global economic freedom, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2020 report released by the Fraser Institute in Canada.

About the report:

  • The report measures the economic freedom or the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions in a country, by analysing policies and institutions of these countries.
  • Indicators of the report: Regulation, the freedom to trade internationally, size of government, property rights, government spending and taxation.
  • In India, the report was co-published by Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society.
  • The report measures economic freedom (levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property and rule of law, among others).

Global Highlights of the report:

  • According to the report, based on 2018 data, Hong Kong and Singapore once again topped the index, continuing their streak as first and second ranked, respectively.
  • India has been ranked higher than China, which stands at the 124th position.
  • New Zealand, Switzerland, US, Australia, Mauritius, Georgia, Canada and Ireland round out the top-10.
  • The 10 lowest-rated countries are African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Algeria, Iran, Angola, Libya, Sudan and Venezuela.
  • Other notable rankings include Japan (20th), Germany (21st), Italy (51st), France (58th), Mexico (68th), Russia (89th) and Brazil (105th).

India Specific Highlights:

  • In 2018, India ranked 54 in size of government, compared with 11 in 2017.
  • Its rank dropped to 122 in regulation from 108 during this time, while its rank in freedom to trade internationally also dropped to 137 from 131 previously.
  • India marginally improved its position in areas of ‘legal system and property rights’ and ‘sound money’, moving up a rank each to place 79 and 88, respectively.

[Ref: The Economics Time, The Indian Express]

Results of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems

The Results of the second edition of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems were released by Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

About States’ Startup Ranking Exercise

  • It is conducted by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Objectives

  • To foster competitiveness and propel States and Union Territories to work proactively towards uplifting the startup ecosystem.
  • It has been implemented as a capacity development exercise to encourage mutual learning among all states and to provide support in policy formulation and implementation.

Features

  • The framework has 7 broad reform area, consisting of 30 action points ranging from Institutional Support, Easing Compliances, Relaxation in Public Procurement norms, Incubation support, Seed Funding Support, Venture Funding Support, and Awareness & Outreach.
  • States and UTs have been divided into two groups to establish uniformity and ensure standardization in the ranking process.
  • While UTs except Delhi and all States in North East India except Assam are placed in Category ‘Y’. All other States and UT of Delhi are in Category ‘X’.
  • For the purposes of Ranking, States are classified into 5 Categories:
    1. Best Performers
    2. Top Performers
    3. Leaders
    4. Aspiring Leaders
    5. Emerging Startup Ecosystems
  • States are also recognized as Leaders in 7 reform areas of support to startups.
  • State Specific Report for each of the 25 participating entities has also been released, containing a comprehensive analysis of respective ecosystem, which highlights strengths and priority areas for future.
  • A ‘Compendium of Good Practices’ adopted by various States in supporting startups has also been released.
  • It identifies 166 good practices, which may be directly used by States to identify and implement newer initiatives.

States’ Startup Ranking Exercise, 2019

  • This is the second edition of the States’ Startup Ranking Exercise.
  • A total of 22 States and 3 Union Territories participated in the exercise.
  • Gujarat has occupied the top spot in Ranking for the second year in a row.
  • A proactive mechanism to identify regulatory issues from disruptive sectors, conceptualising iCreate (one of the largest start-up incubators in the country), and its student start-up and innovation policy helped Gujarat bag the Best Performer tag.
  • Karnataka and Kerala were the other top performers.
  • Andaman & Nicobar bagged the top spot among Union Territories (UTs).
  • India has become the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world with over 36,000 start-ups recognised under the Startup India initiative.
[Ref: PIB, Business Standard]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF 2.0) & Streets for People Challenge launched

Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0 along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’ in a virtual event.

  • CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.

About Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework

  • To provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments, MoHUA launched a ClimateSmart Cities Assessment Framework in February 2019, for 100 smart cities.
  • The framework was developed after review of existing frameworks and assessment approaches adopted throughout the world.
  • The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely;
    1. Energy and Green Buildings
    2. Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity
    3. Mobility and Air Quality
    4. Water Management
    5. Waste Management
  • The Climate Centre for Cities under National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in implementation of CSCAF.

Streets for People Challenge

  • The Streets for People Challenge is the response to the need for making cities more walkable and pedestrian friendly.
  • The Challenge builds on the advisory issued by MoHUA for the holistic planning for pedestrian-friendly market spaces.
  • The Challenge will support cities across the country to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.
  • Adopting a participatory approach, cities will be guided to launch their own design competitions to gather innovative ideas from professionals for quick, innovative, and low-cost tactical solutions.
  • All cities participating in the challenge shall be encouraged to use the ‘test-learn-scale’ approach to initiate both, flagship and neighbourhood walking interventions.
  • The interventions can include inter alia creating pedestrian-friendly streets in high footfall areas, re-imagining under-flyover spaces, re-vitalizing dead neighbourhood spaces, and creating walking links through parks and institutional areas.
  • Fit India Mission along with the India program of the Institute for Transport Development and Policy (ITDP) have partnered with the Smart Cities Mission to support the challenge.

Aim

  • ​To inspire cities to create walking-friendly and vibrant streets through quick, innovative, and low-cost measures.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

India, China resolves border standoff

India, China agree on 5-point plan for resolving border standoff and to guide their approach to the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • It also includes the disengagement of troops and easing of tensions.

Five-point plan

  1. Both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
  2. The current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side and therefore the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
  3. The two sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocols on China-India boundary affairs and maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
  4. The two sides will continue communications through the Special Representatives mechanism, and meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs will continue.
  5. As the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new confidence-building measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Defence & Security Issues

Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board

Consequent to the decision of the Government to convert Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the Government has constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers.

About the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB):

  • OFB consisting of the Indian Ordnance Factories, Government agency under the control of department of defence production, Ministry of Defence.
  • OFB comprises 41 ordnance factories consisting training institutes, regional marketing centres and regional controllerates of safety, which are spread all across the country.
  • OFB forms an integrated base for indigenous production of defence hardware and equipment, with the primary objective of self-reliance in equipping the armed forces with state of the art battlefield equipments.
  • OFB is the world’s largest government-operated production organisation and the oldest organisation in India.
  • It is often called the “Fourth Arm of Defence” and the “Force Behind the Armed Forces” of India.

Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM):

  • Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is a Group of Ministers (GoM) of the Union Government who, after being appointed by the Cabinet, a Cabinet Committee or the Prime Minister.
  • They are authorized (empowered) by the appointing authority to take decisions in such matters after investigation.
  • While a GoM investigates and reports to the Cabinet, which takes the decision, an EGoM additionally takes decisions on matters it is authorised for, and such decisions have the force of the Government decision.
  • Both EGoM as well as the GoM get appointed under the Government of India’s Transaction of Business Rules 1961.

Key fact:

  • Every year, 18 March is celebrated as the Ordnance Factory Day in India.
[Ref: PIB]

Indian History

Communist martyrs may not figure on freedom fighters’ list

After the Wagon tragedy victims, a report to the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) has suggested dropping the Communist martyrs of Punnapra-Vayalar, Karivelloor and Kavumbayi agitations from the list of martyrs of India’s Independence struggle.

  • The manuscript titled “The Dictionary of Martyrs: Freedom Struggle 1857-1947” is controversial for its publication.
  • The names of the 46 martyrs of Punnapra-Vayalar agitation and Kumaran Pulluvan and Kunhiraman Pulukkal of Kavumbayi stir and Keeneri Kunhambu, a sixteen-year-old minor, who was killed in police firing, during the Karivellur uprising, are on the list.

Why?

  • These Communist agitations cannot be counted as the part of the Independence movement as they took place after the interim government led by Jawaharlal Nehru assumed office.
  • These riots were basically against the interim government.
  • Indeed, strange to conclude that the party which boycotted and sabotaged the national movement, organized freedom struggle in the remote corner of Kerala.
  • So, the names associated with Communist movement in Kerala should be deleted from the yet to be published project.
  • The Karivelloor uprising took place on December 20, 1946. It is also not the part Indian freedom struggle.
  • Another Communist movement in Kerala took place at Kavumbayi on December 30, 1946. The names of these two Communist martyrs creating riots should not be incorporated in the Martyr’s Dictionary.
  • The Indian Communists believed that India is not a cultural and political unit. It is the conglomeration 17 nationalities. Thus their agitation is against the interim government.

Punnapara-Vayalar Revolt

  • The Punnapra-Vayalar uprising occurred only after September 2, 1946, the day when Nehru’s interim national government took over the Indian administration.
  • Punnapra-Vayalar Uprising was a workers’ uprising led by the Communist Party in the Princely State of Travancore, British India.
  • It was workers’ agitations led by communist trade unions for labour rights.
  • A large number of workers who participated in that rebellion against the rule of Ramaswami Iyer were killed by the army of the Diwan during October 1946.
  • Hundreds got killed in police firing at Punnapra (October 24), Mararikulam (October 26) and at Vayalar, Olathala and Menachery on October 27.
[Ref: The Hindu]

127 years of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech

Year 2020 marks the 127th year of iconic speech. On 11th September, Indian thinker and spiritualist Swami Vivekananda delivered the historic speech in Chicago in 1893.

Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech in Chicago

  • Swami Vivekananda delivered the speech to an audience of delegates from all across the world at the first-ever World Parliament of Religion that was held between 11 and 27 September 1893.
  • The speech started differently from the conventional usage of more formal salutations. The opening remarks were, “Sisters and brothers of America”, for which he received a two-minutes-long standing ovation.
  • Between 11 September and 27 September, 1983, Swami Vivekananda actually gave six speeches in Chicago, of which the opening address is best known due to its novel and dramatic way of beginning.
  • He introduced Hinduism to the world and spoke about intolerance and the need to put an end to religious supremacy.
  • He propagated a message of religious acceptance in addition to mutual tolerance while attempting to define both the concepts.
  • Vivekananda explained that tolerance is the act of putting up with something that one disapproves of, while acceptance was admitting that even the seed of an idea can take root and produce an offshoot that was completely different and unique from the original ideology.
  • He said that he is proud to belong to a religion that has taught the worth both – tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions as true.
  • The speech garnered major attention and earned Vivekananda the title of ‘the cyclonic monk of India’.

Key Facts

  • Universal Brotherhood Day is observed every year on 11 September to commemorate the historic speech by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago.

World Parliament of Religion

  • The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions.
  • It aims to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
  • To accomplish this, it invites individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal.
  • The Parliament of the World’s Religions seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity. The problem with seeking unity among religions is the risk of loss of the unique and precious character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition.
  • Over the years, the Council has sparked renewed communication and relationship among the religious and spiritually diversified. 

First Meeting of a Parliament of World Religions

  • First Meeting of a Parliament of World Religions was an attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths.
  • The event was celebrated by another conference on its centenary in 1993. This led to a new series of conferences under the official title “Parliament of the World’s Religions”.
  • The 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions opened the door for the first inter-religious reconciliation movement and that event brought together thousands of people from all over the world.
  • It marked a pivotal moment for many different religions and spiritual communities from the east and west coming together around a common commitment to justice and peace.
[Ref: First Post]

Art & Culture

Many hands ensure green fields among Odisha’s tribal villages

Odisha State Tribal Museum recently screened a short film focusing on labour cooperatives of the Dongria Kandh, their structures and functioning.

Cooperative Labour in Tribes

  • The tribal society has umpteen examples of camaraderie, strong societal bonds and mutual help through exchange of labour.
  • The concept of labour cooperatives is still in vogue in almost all tribal communities including the Dongria Kandh, Juanga, Lanjia Saura, Saura, Didayi, Paudi Bhuyan and Kandh in Odisha.
  • Lanjia Saora community– all members are bound to participate in constructing terraces for farming on the slopes and designing and creating traditional irrigation systems, harnessing hill streams.
  • Juanga community– all villagers trek hills, clear trees and create crop fields. The village council ensures that all members contribute their labour.
    • They are the Munda ethnic groups from Southern Odisha.
  • Dongria Kandh practice at least 10 types of cooperative labour sharing within the community.
  • They have evolved an indigenous system to engage the labour available in the community as farming on the steep hill slopes requires more labour.
  • Cooperatives systems in Dongria Kondh:
    • Sahabati system– all Dongria households of the village work in turns for a day on the land of one villager. Host-labourer would offer a feast of rice, dal, curry and fermented gruel for the workers in return.
    • Pundabati system– 10 to 15 members of the community are called upon when fewer workers are required in the fields.
    • Daasibati system– a cooperative of younger, unmarried girls from the village who are called upon to take up less strenuous but tedious work such as weeding, fencing of fields, cleaning or harvesting of crops.
    • Dhangdabati system– young bachelors are required to take up work such as felling trees, hoeing, carrying logs and digging pits. Older men help each other in their respective fields for a share of liquor.

Dongria Kondh

  • The Dongria Kondh in southwestern Odisha is one of India’s so-called “particularly vulnerable tribal groups.”
  • They live in the Niyamgiri Hill range rising to 4500 ft. above sea level.
  • The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Odia script.
  • They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting and gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation or slash and burn cultivation or Podu.
  • The Dongria Kondh call themselves Jharnia meaning those who live by the Jharana (streams). Hundreds of perennial streams flow from Niyamgiri hill, and there are hundreds of Dongria villages by the streams.
  • The Dongria are considered the protectors of these streams, hills and jungles by the people of the nearby plains.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Persons in News

125th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Viswanatha Satyanarayana

125th birth anniversary celebrations of the Kavi Samrat, Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana organized by Viswanatha Sahitya Peetham inaugurated virtually by the Vice President of India.

  • The birth anniversary was observed on 10th September.

Speech of VP on Viswanatha Satyanarayana’s contribution

  • Preserving and protecting the mother tongue, Indian culture, values and the environment will be real tribute one could pay to the Telugu literary legend, Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana.
  • Viswanatha Satyanarayana remains the first writer to impart a true Teluguness to the Ramayana– Ramayana Kalpavruksham.
  • Imparting primary education in mother tongue would help in emotional and intellectual development of children.
  • Children can learn education in a holistic manner when culture, language and traditions are integrated.
  • New Education Policy-2020 has given priority to integrated education, is designed to equip the students with skills and knowledge of international standards to meet the challenges of 21st century.

Viswanatha Satyanarayana

  • Viswanatha Satyanarayana was a 20th century Telugu writer.
  • His works included poetry, novels, dramatic play, short stories and speeches, covering a wide range of subjects such as analysis of history, philosophy, religion, sociology, political science, linguistics, psychology and consciousness studies, epistemology, aesthetics and spiritualism.
  • Viswanatha’s wrote in both a modern and classical style, in complex modes.
  • His popular works include Ramayana Kalpa Vrukshamu (Ramayana the wish-granting divine tree), Kinnersani Patalu (Mermaid songs) and the novel Veyipadagalu (The Thousand Hoods).
  • Among many awards, he was awarded the Jnanpith Award in 1970, the first for a Telugu writer, and Padma Bhushan in 1971.
[Ref: PIB]

Prelims Key Facts

1619 Project

  • The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.
  • It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of national narrative.
  • It argues to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as the nation’s foundational date.

Kapi ramnagarensis

  • A 13-million-year-old fossil of ape species, which is the earliest known ancestor of the modern-day gibbon was discovered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur District.
  • The fossil belongs to a previously unknown genus and species Kapi ramnagarensis.
  • The new primate species lived approximately 12.5-13.8 million years ago (Middle Miocene epoch) and was distinct from all other known fossil apes.
  • Its complete lower molar was collected in 2015 from the Lower Siwaliks of Ramnagar in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
  • It represents the first new hominoid species discovered at the Ramnagar site in nearly a century and the first new Siwalik ape species in more than three decades.

Location of Kapi ramnagarensis relative to modern (dark green) and historical (light green)

US spacecraft named after astronaut Kalpana Chawla

  • An American commercial cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station has been named after fallen NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
  • She was the first India-born woman to enter space.
  • The NG-14 Cygnus capsule will be named the “S.S. Kalpana Chawla”, in memory of the mission specialist who died with her six crewmates aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
  • The S S Kalpana Chawla capsule is scheduled to launch on the NG-14 mission atop a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on September 29.
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