Polity & Governance
- India slips to 92nd rank on global talent competitiveness
- India most trusted nation in terms of institutions: Report
- India 60th in inclusive development index; ranks below China, Pakistan
- National Alliance against online Child sexual abuse and exploitation
- Richest 1% own 58% of total wealth in India: Oxfam Study
Environment & Ecology
- Graded response action plan on Delhi air pollution notified
- Ministry of Earth Sciences commissions Higher Resolution Weather Prediction Model
Bilateral & International Relations
- India ink ‘Financing Agreement’ with World Bank for ‘Nagaland Health Project’
Science & Technology
- Silicon identified as ‘missing element’ in Earth’s core
Key Facts for Prelims
- World Government Summit
- Timothy Gonsalves committee
Polity & Governance
India slips to 92nd rank on global talent competitiveness
India was ranked 92nd among 118 countries in the 2017 Global index of talent competitiveness (GTI) list.
About the index:
- The index is produced by global business school INSEAD in partnership with Adecco Group and Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) of Singapore.
- The index measures ability of countries to compete for talent i.e. how countries grow, attract and retain talent.
Highlights of index report:
- Top 10 Countries includes Switzerland (1st), Singapore (2nd), United Kingdom (3rd), United States (4th), Sweden (5th), Australia (6th), Luxembourg (7th), Denmark (8th), Finland (9th) and Norway (10th).
- Among five BRICS countries, India’s ranking is worst. China (54th), Russia (56th), South Africa (67th) and Brazil (81st).
- BRICS countries are not getting stronger and both China and India have slipped from their year-ago rankings.
- India slipped by 3 places compared to 89th rank in 2016 GTI. India stood on a relatively solid in pool of global knowledge skills compared with other emerging markets.
- But in terms of retaining and attracting talent indices, India ranked lowly 104th and 114th, respectively.
- Overall a major challenge for India is to attract talent from abroad, particularly in the context of large emigration rates of high-skilled people.
- India has been able to create a stable pool of global knowledge skills, but still experiences a brain drain.
- India’s ranking will improve only if it improves in its regulatory (94th) and market (99th) landscapes.
GTI global ranking of cities:
- 2017 edition of GTI also released the first-ever global ranking of cities on the basis of their reputation and growing footprint in attracting, growing, and retaining global talent.
- Top 10 global cities in terms of talent competitiveness: Zurich, Helsinki, San Francisco, Gothenburg, Madrid, Paris, Los Angeles, Eindhoven and Dublin.
- Mumbai was only Indian city to make into this list.
India most trusted nation in terms of institutions: Report
According to a released recently 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, India has emerged as the most trusted nation in terms of its institutions by general population.
- The survey was done by research firm Edelman Intelligence and consisted of 25-minute online interviews conducted.
Highlights of the survey:
- Globally, the trust level decreased to 47% cent this year from 50% in 2016.
- Overall, trust has declined in 21 out of 28 countries — “the broadest declines since beginning general population tracking in 2012”.
- This year’s barometer showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs.
- In terms of trust in government, China tops the league with 76 per cent trusting the country’s government followed by India with 75 per cent respondents feeling so.
- Trust in media (43%) fell precipitously and is at all-time lows in 17 countries, while trust levels in government (41%) dropped in 14 markets and is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries surveyed.
- The credibility of leaders also is in peril: CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to an all-time low of 37%, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29%) remain least credible.
- Among the 28 nations, India has emerged as the most trusted nation in terms of institutions with 72% of the respondents from general population feeling so. The country is followed by Indonesia, China, Singapore and UAE.
- The Indian government is the second most trusted after neighbouring China.
India 60th in inclusive development index; ranks below China, Pakistan
India ranked 60th among the 79 developing countries in 2017 Inclusive Development Index (IDI) released in World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Inclusive Growth and Development Report’.
About the index:
- The index is based on 12 performance indicators and countries are ranked on IDI scores based on a scale of 1-7.
- It has three pillars to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone:
- Growth and Development,
- Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity, and
Highlights of the study:
- Top 10 developing economies in 2017 IDI includes Lithuania (1st), Azerbaijan (2nd), Hungary (3rd), Poland (4th), Romania (5th), Uruguay (6th), Latvia (7th), Panama (8th), Costa Rica (9th) and Chile (10th).
- Top 10 advance economies in 2017 IDI includes Norway (1st), Luxembourg (2nd), Switzerland (3th), Iceland (4th) and Denmark (5th), (6th), Netherlands (7th), Australia (8th), New Zealand (9th) and Austria (10th).
- BRIC’s countries includes Russia (13th), China (30th) and Brazil (30th).
- India’s many of the neighbouring nations are ahead in the rankings. China (15th), Nepal (27th), Bangladesh (36th) and Pakistan (52nd).
- India, with a score of only 3.38, ranks low among 79 developing economies, despite its growth in GDP per capita is among the top 10 and labour productivity growth has been strong.
- India scores well in terms of access to finance for business development and real economy investment.
- India’s debt-to-GDP ratio is high, that raises some questions about the sustainability of government spending. India’s labour force participation rate is low, informal economy is large and many workers are vulnerable to employment situations with little room for social mobility.
- India needs more progressive tax system to raise capital for expenditures in infrastructure, health care, basic services and education.
National Alliance against online Child sexual abuse and exploitation
The Ministry of Women & Child Development is planning to form a National Alliance against Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.
Aim of the alliance:
- The alliance aims to develop a comprehensive outreach system to engage parents, schools, communities, NGO partners and local governments (PRIs and ULBs) as well as police and lawyers to ensure better implementation of the legal framework, policies, national strategies and standards in relation to child protection and child rights.
Objectives of the alliance:
- Bring a common definition of child pornography including amendment of acts (Information technology Act, POCSO Act).
- Set up a multi-member secretariat based in MWCD with a portal inclusive of a hotline for reporting and strengthening existing service delivery systems.
- Provide a platform for Government/ NGOs and other child rights activists for networking and information sharing.
- Document and showcases success stories and best practices in terms of prevention of online abuse and exploitation of children.
- Inform and educate member organisations, parents, teachers, front line service providers and children on the rights of the children and various issues related to online child abuse and exploitation.
- Provide a forum for advocacy for child rights and policy inputs based on research and studies.
Problem of Child sexual abuse in India:
- Child sexual abuse is a multi-layered problem which negatively impacts children’s safety, health and well being.
- Research from world-wide indicates that children’s exposure to violence and abuse is associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm.
- Child abuse is finding new forms and channels through mobile and digital technologies.
- Online child abuse and exploitation amplifies existing forms of offline bullying, stalking and harassment. It also facilitates the sexual exploitation of children through the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and by facilitating the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Online abuse knows no national boundaries.
- Even though India has a comprehensive legal framework for protection of child rights in the form of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, POCSO Act, 2012 along with RTE Act 2009 and recently amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2106, there is limited awareness of online risks for children, both among parents and guardian and children themselves.
Richest 1% own 58% of total wealth in India: Oxfam Study
According to study conducted by rights group Oxfam, India’s richest 1% now hold a huge 58% of the country’s total wealth, indicating rise income inequality. It is higher than the global figure of about 50%.
- In the report titled ‘An economy for the 99 per cent’, Oxfam said it is time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few.
Highlights of the report:
- Globally, just 8 billionaires have the wealth as the poorest 50 % of the world population.
- The total global wealth in the year 2016 was $255.7 trillion of which about $6.5 trillion was held by billionaires, led by Bill Gates ($75 billion), Amancio Ortega ($67 billion) and Warren Buffett($60.8 billion).
- Since 2015, richest 1 % owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.
- Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $ 2.1 trillion to their heirs (a sum larger than GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people).
- Over the last two decades, richest 10% of the populations in China, Laos, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have seen their share of income increase by more than 15%.
- The poorest half of world has less wealth than had been previously thought. The poorest 10% have seen their share of income fall by more than 15%.
- It shows that 57 billionaires in India now have same wealth ($216 billion) as that of the bottom 70% population of the country.
- In India, there are 84 billionaires with a collective wealth of $248 billion led by Mukesh Ambani ($19.3 billion), Dilip Shanghvi ($16.7 billion) and Azim Premji ($15 billion).
- India suffers from huge gender pay gap. It has among the worst levels of gender wage disparity (men earning more than women in similar jobs) and the gap exceeding 30%.
- In India, women form 60% of the lowest paid wage labour but only 15% of the highest wage–earners. Thus, India women are poorly represented in top bracket of wage–earners and experience wide gender pay gap at the bottom.
Suggestions for India:
- Indian government must introduce inheritance tax and increase wealth tax as the proportion of this tax in total tax revenue is one of the lowest in India to end the extreme concentration of wealth and to end poverty.
Environment & Ecology
Graded response action plan on Delhi air pollution notified
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified the Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR Delhi region.
- In this regard, MoEFCC amended laws and formally tasked a Supreme Court-appointed panel with implementing a graded action plan for pollution control.
- The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and was submitted to the Supreme Court in December 2016.
- The court had accepted the plan and asked the Union Government to notify it.
What is Graded Response Action Plan?
- Graded Response Action Plan defines the measures to taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere.
- Based on the air quality the grades have been classified as Emergency, Severe, Very Poor and Moderate poor.
- It will be enforced by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
How it works?
- Under this plan emergency measures will be automatically enforced in NCR if level of PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm/m3) and PM10 levels stay above 500 (µgm/m3) for two consecutive days.
- The plan recommends measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities to combat air pollution.
- During ‘very poor’ air quality, it recommends banning diesel generators and parking fee increased by three to four times.
- It also lists a number of other measures such as closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and intensifying public transport services and increasing the frequency of mechanised cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads.
- For enforcement of the action plan, the Union Government has assigned the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA (Environment Pollution Control Authority) in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986).
Ministry of Earth Sciences commissions Higher Resolution Weather Prediction Model
To track severe cyclonic storms, such as Vardah, the Ministry of Earth Sciences has commissioned a very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model for generating operational weather forecasts.
- The model has been on trial since September 2016. It has shown significant improvements in skill of daily weather forecasts.
- This model replaces the earlier version which had a horizontal resolution of 25 km which was very helpful, in predicting track and intensity of recent Cyclonic Storm Vardah and cold wave over northern India.
- MoES’s operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) was upgraded to 12 km. For this, High Performance Computing (HPC) system resources were augmented to 10 Peta Flops (PFs) from current 1.2 PFs.
- The EPS was adopted to overcome problem of uncertainties in the forecasts. It involves the generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions.
- The EPS also help generate probabilistic forecasts and quantify the uncertainties. The latest model replaces the earlier version that had a horizontal resolution of 25 km.
- The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) provides Weather, Climate and Hydrological Services to various users round the year and 24/7.
- Both operational and research aspects for these services are implemented through its constituent units India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS).
Bilateral & International Relations
India ink ‘Financing Agreement’ with World Bank for ‘Nagaland Health Project’
The Government of India, the Government of Nagaland and the World Bank have signed a massive 48 million dollars credit agreement for the ‘Nagaland Health Project’.
About the Nagaland Health Project:
- The Objectives of the project are to improve health services and increase their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland.
- Communities in targeted locations will benefit from project activities at the community and health facility levels while the population of the state as a whole will benefit from improvements in higher-level facilities as well as system-wide investments.
Significance of the project:
- The project will directly benefit about 600,000 people.
- It will support and complement existing systems and mechanisms involving communities under the National Health Mission.
About International Development Association (IDA):
The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
- Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.
- IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 771 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries.
IDA and IBRD:
- IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
- IBRD was established to function as a self-sustaining business and provides loans and advice to middle-income and credit-worthy poor countries.
- IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.
Functions of the IDA:
- IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
- In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Science & Technology
Silicon identified as ‘missing element’ in Earth’s core
Scientists from Japan have claimed that Silicon (Si) is the ‘missing element’ in the Earth’s core.
- This discovery could help us to better understand how our world formed.
Highlights of the discovery:
- According to scientists, silicon likely makes up a significant proportion of Earth’s core after its major constituents iron and nickel. It was missing element in the deep interiors of our planet that has eluded us for decades.
- It was found that silicon is a major element and constitutes about 5% of the Earth’s inner core by weight. It could be dissolved into the iron-nickel alloys.
How it is done?
For the study, scientists recreated the high temperatures and pressures found in the deep interior of the Earth’s core. They recreated alloys of iron and nickel and mixed them with silicon. They then subjected these alloys to the immense pressures and temperatures that exist in the inner core.
Scientists discovered that this mixture matched what was seen in the Earth’s interior with seismic data.
- The innermost part of Earth i.e. core is thought to be a solid ball with a radius of about 1,200 kilometres.
- It is far too deep to investigate directly, so scientists study this region’s make-up using seismic wave.
- Earth’s core is mainly composed of iron (makes up about 85% of its weight) and nickel (accounts for about 10% of the core).
Key Facts for Prelims
World Government Summit
- The fifth edition of the World Government Summit (WGS) will get underway from February 12-14 in Dubai, UAE.
- There will be 10 new developments in the upcoming edition, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
- The leading global event will feature the first international gathering of experts on happiness under the title Global Dialogue for Happiness, as well as the Forum on Climate Change and Food Security, and an Arab Youth Forum.
- During the summit, the UN will discuss the potential of achieving its sustainable development goals (SDGs), while the World Bank will highlight the future of governments and education. For its part, IMF will debate the future of blockchain.
- OECD will focus on the future of innovation in governments.
Timothy Gonsalves committee
- To address the issue of slump in number of female students entering the prestigious institutes, the sub-committee under chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs.
- The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) for a final decision.
- The JAB will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from 2017 or from 2018.
- The committee has suggested creating up to 20% supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats. But only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered.
- The reservation for girl students will not affect the number of seats for male candidates. It will help IITs achieve the one lakh target by 2020.