15th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘G-20 Trade and Ministerial meeting’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, will participate in the G-20, Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting, being held in Mar del Plata in Argentina on 14th – 15th September 2018.
Significance of the meeting
The meeting will provide an opportunity for a dialogue on current developments in international trade and its implications for the global economy. The Ministerial Meeting will discuss about building an inclusive trade system that contributes to sustainable and shared growth. Trade and investment must benefit all and countries must jointly address both the opportunities and challenges of globalization, innovation and technological advancements. The Ministerial Meeting will examine the inter relationship between trade and development with a special emphasis on the need to promote further integration of small and medium sized companies into international trade, and the opportunities posed by the digital economy and new technologies.
The key issues that will be discussed in the Ministerial Meeting include global value chains, the new industrial revolution and the international trade outlook
About the G-20
The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Founded in 1999, the G20 aims to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. The G20 heads of government or heads of state have periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008, and the group also hosts separate meetings of finance ministers and foreign ministers due to the expansion of its agenda in recent years.
Membership of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank. Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade (or, if excluding EU intra-trade, 75%), two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area.
The heads of the G20 nations met semi-annually at G20 summits between 2009 and 2010. Since the November 2011 Cannes summit, all G20 summits have been held annually.
‘Human development index’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: India ranks a low 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development Index (HDI) released by the United Nations Development Programme Friday, with the findings indicating a glaring inequality in the country though “millions have been lifted out of poverty”.
What the report says?
- The UNDP report stated that with an HDI value of 0.64 compared to last year’s 0.636, India is categorized as a medium human development and that its rank rose one spot compared to the 2017 HDI.
- According to the 2018 findings, between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value increased from 0.427 to 0.640, an almost 50 per cent increase, which is “an indicator that millions have been lifted out of poverty”. At the same time, in what signals the glaring inequality in the country, the HDI value declines by more than a fourth when adjusted for inequality. The value of India’s Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) falls to 0.468, a 26.8 per cent decrease, far worse than the global average decrease in the global HDI value due to inequality at 20 per cent.
- Norway at 0.95 has been ranked the highest on the HDI scale while Niger is the bottom at 0.35. The greatest increase in HDI rank over the last five years is by Ireland followed by Turkey while the worst decline was seen in conflict-hit countries of Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
About the index
The HDI is the composite measure of every country’s attainment in three basic dimensions: standard of living measured by the gross national income (GNI) per capita, health measured by the life expectancy at birth, and education levels calculated by mean years of education among the adult population and the expected years of schooling for children.
The IHDI combines a country’s average achievements in health, education and income with how those achievements are distributed among country’s population by “discounting” each dimension’s average value according to its level of inequality. Thus, the IHDI is distribution-sensitive average level of HD. Two countries with different distributions of achievements can have the same average HDI value. Under perfect equality the IHDI is equal to the HDI, but falls below the HDI when inequality rises.
The difference between the IHDI and HDI is the human development cost of inequality, also termed – the loss to human development due to inequality. The IHDI allows a direct link to inequalities in dimensions, it can inform policies towards inequality reduction, and leads to better understanding of inequalities across population and their contribution to the overall human development cost.
‘Engineers day’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Deemed the father of engineers by many, Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya is remembered as a pre-eminent engineer of India. Today, his birth anniversary is being celebrated as Engineer’s Day in the country.
About Sir MV
- M Visvesvaraya was born on 15 September, 1861 to a Kannada speaking Brahmin family in Muddenahalli village, in the princely state of Mysore
- Besides being a world-renowned civil engineer, M Visvesvaraya was the 19th Diwan of Mysore, who served between 1912 and 1918.
- He was instrumental in developing a system to protect Visakhapatnam port from sea erosion.
- M Visvesvaraya received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest honour, in 1955.
‘Indian rupee’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday night announced a series of measures to boost market confidence, curb the widening current account deficit and stabilize the rupee after a marathon meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the nation’s economy.
Measures taken by the government include:
- Mandatory hedging conditions for infrastructure loans through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route will be reviewed and a 20% exposure limit on investments by foreign portfolio investors in debt to a single corporate group will be removed.
- Government will permit the manufacturing sector to access ECBs up to $50 million with residual maturity of one year instead of three years
- Masala bonds will be exempted from withholding tax this financial year and Indian banks will be allowed to become market makers in masala bonds including by underwriting.
- government will take efforts to reduce non-essential imports
Factors affecting Indian rupee
External factors like policy decisions taken by the US that is seeing the dollar strengthen, global crude prices and trade wars are impacting us despite India having strong macroeconomic fundamentals
‘Swachhata Hi Seva campaign’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Launching the “Swachhata Hi Seva” campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that all sections of society and every part of the country have joined the cleanliness drive
About the campaign
The “cleanliness is service” campaign will continue till Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on 2 October, with PM asking people to rededicate themselves to fulfilling the father of the nation’s dream of a clean India during an interactive programme.
‘AIDS 2030’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: India’s long battle against AIDS is not likely to end any time soon, if the latest figures released by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on Friday are any indication. The data revealed that, as of 2017, there were still around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV in India, with the prevalence among adults stood at 0.22 per cent.
What the data says?
- There were around 87,000 new HIV infections and over 69,000 AIDS-related deaths (ARDs) in 2017. Around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
- National prevalence and incidence remains low, but the epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population groups.
- The 2017 estimation report also indicates that there is no place for complacency as the country aims to achieve the ambitious goal of ending AIDS in India by 2030. It adds, however, that the impact of the HIV/AIDS control programme has been significant, with more than an 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the epidemic’s peak in 1995.
The objective of HIV estimations is to provide updated information on the status of the HIV epidemic in India at the national and State/Union Territory level.
‘Carbon neutral’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Mahindra Group has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2040. This was stated by chairman Anand Mahindra at the Global Climate Action Summit that is currently underway at San Francisco.
M&M was the first company in the world to commit to doubling energy productivity by signing on to The Climate Group’s program EP100. Using energy efficient lighting, efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), motors and heat recovery projects, M&M has doubled the energy productivity of the automotive business almost 12 years ahead of schedule
M&M is also a signatory of the Science Based Targets initiative, which provides companies with a clear pathway for reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal for limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. All these commitments are helping the company on its path to go carbon neutral.
What Carbon neutral means?
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, and industrial processes such as production of carbon neutral fuel.
The carbon neutrality concept may be extended to include other greenhouse gases (GHG) measured in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence (CO2e) —the impact a GHG has on the atmosphere expressed in the equivalent amount of CO2. The term “climate neutral” reflects the broader inclusiveness of other greenhouse gases in climate change, even if CO2 is the most abundant, encompassing other greenhouse gases regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, namely: methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Both terms are used interchangeably throughout this article.
The best practice for organizations and individuals seeking carbon neutral status entails reducing and/or avoiding carbon emissions first so that only unavoidable emissions are offset. Carbon neutral status is commonly achieved in two ways:
- Balancing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, with renewable energy that creates a similar amount of useful energy, so that the carbon emissions are compensated, or alternatively using only renewable energies that don’t produce any carbon dioxide (also called a post-carbon economy).
- Carbon offsetting by paying others to remove or sequester 100% of the carbon dioxide emitted from the atmosphere – for example by planting trees – or by funding ‘carbon projects’ that should lead to the prevention of future greenhouse gas emissions, or by buying carbon credits to remove (or ‘retire’) them through carbon trading. While carbon offsetting is often used alongside energy conservation measures to minimize energy use, the practice is criticized by some
‘Temperature and Monsoon’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Other than being an essential source of water for Indian agriculture, the monsoon plays a critical role in flushing out pollutants over Asia. However, increased pollution — particularly from coal burning — could potentially weaken this ability of the monsoon, says a study in this week’s issue of the magazine Science.
What the study says?
- In winter, when atmospheric moisture is low, fumes from un-burnt particles disperse toward the Indian Ocean, creating a vast pollution
- The researchers measured the summer monsoon outflow in the upper troposphere between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. They found that the monsoon sustained a “remarkably efficient” cleansing mechanism in which contaminants are rapidly oxidized and deposited on the Earth’s surface.
- However, some pollutants were lofted above the monsoon clouds, and chemically processed in a reactive reservoir before being redistributed globally, including to the stratosphere.
- While pollution levels — especially in north India’s Gangetic plane — skyrocket in winter, there have also been spikes in summer air pollution. Delhi, Gurugram and several parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are currently in the grip of a ‘dust haze’ that has pushed pollution levels to the ‘severe’ category on the air quality index.
Indian rainfall, other scientists have pointed out, is enhanced in spring due to increased loading of black carbon but the monsoon may subsequently weaken through increased cloudiness and surface cooling.