Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 September 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 28 September 2016


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Invisible foe in air kills 600,000 in a year

 

According to a study conducted by WHO, air pollution could have killed at least 600,000 Indians in 2012.

 

What else the study notes?

  • About a fifth of the 3 million who died worldwide were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that may have aggravated or been directly responsible for cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.
  • India comes just behind China – which witnessed an estimated 800,000 deaths. It is second among all countries in the absolute number of deaths caused due to exposure to air pollution.
  • About 2,49,388 Indians died of Ischemic heart disease;1,95,001 of stroke; 1,10,500 of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and 26,334 of lung cancer.
  • Industries, households, cars and trucks emit complex air pollutants, including invisible PM2.5 particulates.

 

Impact of PM2.5:

  • The impact of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) study is felt through a broad spectrum of acute and chronic illnesses that cause premature death. These include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Worldwide, PM2.5 is estimated to cause about 16% of lung cancer deaths, 11% of COPD deaths, and more than 20% of ischaemic heart disease and stroke.
  • More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits. The study gave the WHO air quality guidelines for PM2.5 as 10 micrograms per cubic metre annual average, and 25 micrograms per cubic metre 24-hour average.
  • While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted. Overall, 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 56%.
  • Of all of pollutants, fine particulate matter has the greatest impact on health. A lot of the fine particulate matter comes from fuel combustion, both from mobile sources such as vehicles and from stationary sources such as power plants, industry, households or biomass burning.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

India to invest $2 billion in Sri Lanka over 3-4 years

 

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during a recent meeting on the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), said that India will invest $2 billion in Sri Lanka in the next three-four years. The Minister also called on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss the terms of the agreement.

 

Background:

The ETCA initiative follows unfruitful negotiations, spanning nearly a decade, on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the neighbours. India and Sri Lanka already have a Free Trade Agreement since 1998.

 

ETCA:

The Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement better known as ETCA (formerly CEPA) is a trade agreement. The ETCA agreement seeks to boost cooperation in technical areas, scientific expertise and research amongst institutions, boost standards of goods and services able to compete on the global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

WEF ranks India as 39th most competitive economy

 

World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the Global Competitiveness Report for the year 2016-17.

 

India’s performance:

  • India has risen rapidly among all countries in the global competitive stakes by climbing 16 notches to the 39th position during the past year.
  • This marks the biggest scale of improvement in competitiveness among all countries and is the second year in a row India has gone up 16 ranks in the WEF index.
  • India’s competitiveness has improved, particularly in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation, while lower oil prices and improved monetary and fiscal policies have made the economy not only stable, but also the fastest growing among G20 countries.
  • The report suggests that improvements in institutions and infrastructure have increased overall competitiveness along with recent reforms such as opening the economy to foreign investors and increasing transparency in the financial system.

 

Challenges ahead:

According to the report, huge challenges lie ahead on India’s path to prosperity.

  • Despite significant improvements in infrastructure and social indicators such as health and education over the past decade, India lags other nations in various parameters.
  • India’s tax regulations, corruption, tax rates and poor public health are the most problematic factors for doing business.
  • The labour market rigidities and the presence of large, public enterprises especially in the utilities and financial sector make the economy less efficient. The labour market is segmented between workers protected by rigid regulations and centralised wage determination, especially in the manufacturing sector, and millions of unprotected and informal workers.
  • Lack of infrastructure and ICT use (where India is ranked 120th in the world) remain bottlenecks. Besides, progress in recent years has been slow and further investment is necessary to connect rural areas and ensure they equally benefit from and contribute to India’s development.
  • The country’s biggest relative weakness today is in technological readiness, where initiatives such as Digital India could lead to significant improvements.
  • The efficiency of the goods market in India has also deteriorated over the past decade, and the WEF reckons this would change once the GST regime is implemented.

 

Performance of other countries:

  • Globally, Switzerland has retained its top position as the world’s most competitive economy for seventh year in a row and is followed by Singapore, the US, Germany and the Netherlands in the top-five.
  • These are followed by Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, Sweden and the UK in the top ten.
  • Among emerging economies, South Africa is ranked higher and it has re-entered the top 50, progressing seven places to 49th.
  • Elsewhere, macro economic instability and loss of trust in public institutions has dragged down Turkey (51st), as well as Brazil (75th), which posted one of the largest falls.
  • China, holding steady at 28, remains by far the most competitive among large emerging economies, although its lack of progress moving up the ranking shows the challenges it faces in transitioning its economy.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Joblessness rises to 5-year high

 

According to the latest annual household survey on employment conducted by Labour Bureau, jobless economic growth continues to haunt India’s youth, with the country’s unemployment rate rising to a five-year high of five per cent in 2015-16.

 

Highlights of the report:

  • India’s unemployment rate stood at 4.9% in 2013-14, 4.7% in 2012-13 and 3.8% in 2011-12.
  • Female job seekers were the worst hit as the pace of unemployment rose sharply to 8.7% in 2015-16 compared to 7.7% in 2013-14.
  • While unemployment rate in rural areas rose to 5.1% in 2015-16 from 4.7% in 2013-14, it declined to 4.9% from 5.5% in urban areas during the same period.
  • The annual survey also showed that 47.8% of the surveyed population was reported to be employed in 2015-16 compared with 49.9% (also known as worker population ratio) two years earlier when the previous survey was conducted by the Labour Bureau, under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  • The survey also shows that fewer households benefited from various employment schemes of the government in 2015-16. For instance, the benefits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme were availed by 21.9% households compared to 24.1% households in 2013-14.
  • The survey showed a decline in the proportion of self-employed and salaried workers and a rise in contractual employment.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

  • MCGS Victory: It is the first fast patrol vessel delivered to Mauritius by Goa Shipyard Limited. The 50m vessel has been designed for coastal patrolling, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, anti-drug surveillance, anti-poaching operations, and search and rescue operations. The contract of the vessel was signed on May 17, 2014, and the keel for the vessel was laid on December 18 2014. GSL is the largest exporter of military ships from the Indian subcontinent and is presently executing export orders worth 1,200 crore.

 

  • IGI becomes carbon neutral: The Indira Gandhi International Airport has become Asia-Pacific’s only and one of the world’s few airports to achieve a “carbon neutral” status. Less than 25 airports in the world, with most of them located in Europe, have earned carbon neutral status. IGI, managed by private operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), boasts green buildings, solar power plants, rainwater harvesting system, etc., which have helped it reduce and offset its carbon emissions. The announcement was made by the Airports Council International during the Airport Carbon Accreditation certificate presentation ceremony held recently in Canada.

 

  • Jim Yong Kim: The World Bank has reappointed Jim Yong Kim to a five-year term as President of the multilateral development lender after the nomination period closed without any challengers coming forward. Mr. Jim, an American citizen, was unanimously chosen by the bank’s executive directors for a term that begins on July 1, 2017.
Jim Yong Kim

Jim Yong Kim

  • New lizard species: A new species of a ground-dwelling lizard has been discovered in Mumbai, 130 years after the last such gecko was discovered, and has been named after a Bengaluru-based scientist Varad Giri. The species, of the genus Cyrtodactylus known in Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka, is a member of the subgenus Geckoella, which are small ground-dwelling geckos largely found in leaf litter in forests.
Cyrtodactylus Varadgirii

Cyrtodactylus varadgirii