Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 16th October -2020

 

1)India-Bangladesh per capita GDP Comparison:

Context: The International Monetary Fund’s latest update on the World Economic Outlook released on Wednesday.

  • In IMF’s latest Economic Outlook, Bangladesh has overtaken India in GDP per capita.
  • In the IMF’s estimation, in 2020, growth of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) will witness a contraction of over 10%.
  • But more than the sharp contraction, what has caught everyone’s attention is that in 2020, the per capita income of an average Bangladeshi citizen would be more than the per capita income of an average Indian citizen.

How did this happen? Isn’t India one of the world’s biggest economies?

  • Typically, countries are compared on the basis of GDP growth rate, or on absolute GDP.
  • For the most part since Independence, on both these counts, India’s economy has been better than Bangladesh’s.
  • India’s economy has mostly been over 10 times the size of Bangladesh, and grown faster every year.

Reasons:

First reason

  • The first thing to note is that Bangladesh’s economy has been clocking rapid GDP growth rates since 2004.
  • However, this pace did not alter the relative positions of the two economies between 2004 and 2016 because India grew even faster than Bangladesh.
  • But since 2017 onwards, India’s growth rate has decelerated sharply while Bangladesh’s has become even faster.

Secondly

  • Over the same 15-year period, India’s population grew faster than Bangladesh’s population

Third

  • The most immediate factor was the relative impact of Covid-19 on the two economies in 2020.
  • While India’s GDP is set to reduce by 10%, Bangladesh’s is expected to grow by almost 4%.
  • In other words, while India is one of the worst affected economies, Bangladesh is one of the bright spots.

Has this ever happened earlier?

  • Yes. In 1991, when India was undergoing a severe crisis and grew by just above 1%, Bangladesh’s per capita GDP surged ahead of India’s.
  • Since then, India again took the lead.

Is India expected to regain the lead again?

  • Yes. The IMF’s projections show that India is likely to grow faster next year and in all likelihood again surge ahead.

How has Bangladesh managed to grow so fast and so robustly?

  • In the initial years of its independence with Pakistan, Bangladesh struggled to grow fast.
  • However, moving away from Pakistan also gave the country a chance to start afresh on its economic and political identity.
  • As such, its labour laws were not as stringent and its economy increasingly involved women in its labour force.
  • This can be seen in higher female participation in the labour force.
  • A key driver of growth was the garment industry where women workers gave Bangladesh the edge to corner the global export markets from which China retreated.
  • Its GDP is led by the industrial sector, followed by the services sector.
  • Both these sectors create a lot of jobs and are more remunerative than agriculture.
  • India, on the other hand, has struggled to boost its industrial sector and has far too many people still dependent on agriculture.
  • Over the past two decades, it improved on several social and political metrics such as health, sanitation, financial inclusion, and women’s political representation.
  • On financial inclusion, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex database, while a smaller proportion of its population has bank accounts, the proportion of dormant bank accounts is quite small when compared to India.
  • Bangladesh is also far ahead of India in the latest gender parity rankings
  • Out of 154 countries mapped for it, Bangladesh is in the top 50 while India languishes at 112.
  • The same trend holds for the Global Hunger Index.
  • The GHI goes beyond treating hunger in terms of calorie intake. It looks at four factors: Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability), Child Wasting (which reflects acute undernutrition), Child Stunting (which reflects chronic undernutrition) and Child Mortality (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment).

Besides the advances it has made, what challenges does Bangladesh face?

  • For instance, its level of poverty is still much higher than India’s.
  • Moreover, it still trails India in basic education parameters and that is what explains its lower rank in the Human Development Index.
  • Its loosely regulated garment industry is known to cut corners on labour safety and the onerous work conditions are beginning to have adverse health repercussions.
  • The bigger threat to its prospects emerges from its everyday politics. The leading political parties are routinely engaged in violent oppression of each other.
  • Corruption, In the 2019 edition of Transparency International’s rankings, Bangladesh ranks a low 146 out of 198 countries (India is at 80th rank; a lower rank is worse off).
  • Add to this a massive surge of radical Islam, which has resulted in several bloggers being killed for speaking out unpopular views.

These developments have the ability not just to arrest Bangladesh’s progressive social reforms that have empowered women but also to derail its economic miracle.

 

2) World Food Day:

The World Food Day is observed on October 16 every year.

  • The theme for World Food Day 2020 is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together”.
  • This year’s World Food Day is highlighting the significance of food and agriculture in COVID-19 response.
  • The day is observed to mark the foundation of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
  • FAO was established on October 15, 1945.
  • The day was observed as a day for action against hunger in 1979 for the first time.

How people can contribute?

  • FAO have urged people to celebrate the people who produce, plant, harvest, fish or transport our food.
  • FAO also called people to thank these #Food Heroes.
  • These food heroes continue to provide food to their communities, help to grow, nourish and sustain our world in any circumstances.

 

3) India’s generic medicines across the world:

  • Market size of Chemicals & Petrochemicals sector in India is around 165 billion dollars; expected to grow to 300 billion dollars by 2025
  • India is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of generic medicines across the world.
  • During initial phase, HCQ and Azithromycin was identified as one of medicines under treatment protocol for covid-19 in emergency cases.
  • Referring to India supplying these medicines to more than 120 countries across the world;
  • India thereby earned the reputation of reliable supplier of medicines.
  • India is the only country with largest number of US-FDA compliant Pharma plants (more than 262 including APIs) outside of USA with exports $ 20 billion worth of pharma products to various countries including high standards complying countries like US and Europe.
  • We have recently launched schemes for development of seven mega parks—three bulk drug parks and four medical devices parks across country.
  • New manufacturers will be eligible for Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme under which they will be eligible for financial incentives on basis of their sales for first 5-6 years.
  • The size is expected to grow up to 300 billion dollars by 2025. This presents a huge opportunity in Chemical sector India

 

4) Fertilizer Sector:

  • Fertilizer sector is also an attractive sector in India.
  • There is huge demand for fertilizers by our farmers every year.
  • However, domestic production is itself is not enough to meet requirements of fertilizers.
  • We are large importers of urea, & P & K fertilizers.
  • For example, in 2018-19, India imported 7.5 million ton of urea, 6.6 million ton of DAP, 3 million ton of MOP and 0.5 million ton of NPK fertilizer.
  • Instead of competing in market as buyers, we should be cooperating for making supply chains more efficient so that adequate quantity can be sourced at competitive prices.

 

5) Kisan Rail:

Under ‘Operation Greens – TOP to Total’ scheme of MoFPI, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Food Processing Industries have decided to extend 50% subsidy on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables

  • This subsidy has become applicable of Kisan Rail trains with effect from 14.10.2020
  • Using the services of Kisan Rail, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Food Processing Industries have decided that the 50% subsidy on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables (under ‘Operation Greens – TOP to Total’ scheme of MoFPI) shall be granted directly to Kisan Rail – for which MoFPI will provide necessary funds to Ministry of Railways.
  • This subsidy has become applicable of Kisan Rail trains with effect from 14.10.2020.
  • Any other fruit/vegetable can be added on the basis of recommendation by Ministry of Agriculture or State Government.

Kisan Rail

  • Kisan Rail ensures agro products reach from one corner to another corner of the country in a quick time by faster transportation benefitting both the farmers and the consumers.
  • The Kisan Rail catering to the requirements of small farmers and small traders is proving to be not only a game changer but also a life changer as it fulfils the endeavor of increasing the income of farmers.
  • Kisan Rail is surely changing the lives of farmers with the assurance of better price with faster & cheaper transportation, providing seamless supply chain, preventing the destruction of perishable farm produce thereby opening up the scope to increase the income of farmers.

First Kisan Rail

  • The first Kisan Rail, ex Devlali (Nashik, Maharashtra) to Danapur (Patna, Bihar), was inaugurated on as a weekly train.
  • Subsequently on popular demand the train has been extended to Muzaffarpur (Bihar), and has also been made bi-weekly.
  • In addition, link coaches – from Sangla and Pune – have also been introduced which joins this Kisan Rail at Manmad.

Second Kisan Rail –

  • From Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) to Adarsh Nagar Delhi – was inaugurated as a weekly train.

Third Kisan Rail

  • From Bengaluru (Karnataka) to Hazrat Nizamuddin (Delhi) – was inaugurated as a weekly train.

Fourth Kisan Rail

  • From Nagpur & Warud Orange City (Maharashtra) to Adarsh Nagar Delhi – was inaugurated
  • Indian Railways is continuously making efforts to move the agro products through freight trains.
  • Even during the lockdown, the freight trains of Indian Railways were moving to ensure continuous supply of essential commodities so that no part in the country should face any hardship.
  • There has been significant improvement in loading of crops like wheat, pulses, fruits, vegetables with more rakes.

 

6) Zozila Tunnel – the longest tunnel road in Asia:

  • The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh (Ladakh plateau) on NH-1
  • Tunnel will bring about an all-round economic and socio–cultural integration of Jammu & Kashmir (Now UTs of J&K and Ladakh).
  • It involves construction of a 14.15 Km long tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass (presently motorable only for 6 months in a year) on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras & Kargil.
  • It is one of the most dangerous stretch in the world to drive a vehicle & this project is also geo-strategically sensitive.
  • The project was first conceived in 2005 and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by BRO in year 2013 on BOT (Annuity) mode.

Significance of the project:

  • The construction of Zojila Tunnel will provide all-weather safe connectivity between Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh regions.
  • All round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions which remains cut-off from rest of the country during winters due to heavy snowfall for about six months.
  • A tunnel in Zozila is the only viable alternative at present for a full year connectivity road.
  • It will also be of great importance to the Defence of the country, in view of the fact that massive military activities along our borders in Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan regions are taking place.
  • This Project will make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.
  • Project would enhance the safety of the travelers crossing Zozila Pass and would reduce the Travel time from more than 3 hours to 15 minutes.
  • Project will generate employment to the locals.

 

7) India designated Vice-Chair of OECD Working Group on GLP:

  • India’s leadership in GLP brings a greater recognition of our certification of quality for global businesses
  • India has been designated the ‘Vice-Chair’ of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Working Group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), recognising the contribution of the Indian GLP programme.

What is GLP?

  • Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) is a quality system, which has been evolved by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to ensure that safety data generated on various chemicals like industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals (Human and Veterinary), agrochemicals, cosmetic products, food/ feed additives, and medical devices, etc., can be relied upon by regulatory authorities.
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, established the National GLP Compliance Monitoring Authority (NGCMA) with the approval of the Union Cabinet
  • NGCMA is the National body which grants GLP certification to test facilities (TFs) conducting safety studies on new chemicals of the above-mentioned categories in accordance with OECD Principles of GLP and OECD Council norms.
  • The Grant of the first GLP certificate by NGCMA in 2004 was a milestone.
  • The non-hazardous nature of chemicals needs to be established through studies and data, which is examined by the regulators of the concerned countries to certify that the use of these chemicals does not pose any hazards to human health and the environment.
  • India became full adherent to the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the OECD, which was a historical event.
  • The MAD status has given global recognition to India’s non-clinical safety data by tremendously augmenting its credibility and acceptability across the globe.
  • This has not only boosted the confidence of Indian GLP TFs but also led to removal of technical barriers to trade.
  • The dedicated training of the inspectors and continued capacity building of Indian TFs in emerging areas by the ground team of NGCMA has resulted in upgrading Indian TFs to meet international standards.
  • The spectrum of activities of Indian GLP TFs is wide, involving eight (8) types of chemicals/test items and nine (9) areas of expertise.
  • The National GLP program has not only helped to build a network of GLP TFs in the country but also created a huge quantum of highly competent human resources.
  • India’s leadership in GLP brings a greater recognition of our certification of quality for global businesses.
  • This is also a link in the chain to Atamnirbharta, which is to have structures and processes that are adhered to global standards.

What is OECD?

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international, intergovernmental economic organization of 36 countries.
  • OECD was founded in the year 1961 to stimulate world trade and economic progress.
  • Most OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries.
  • OECD members are democratic countries that support free-market economies.
  • OECD is an official United Nations observer and is referred to as a think-tank or as a monitoring group.
  • OECD originated in 1948, as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC).
  • The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was founded to govern the predominantly US-funded Marshall Plan for post-war reconstruction on the continent.
  • The OEEC was instrumental in helping the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC has evolved into the European Union (EU) to establish a European Free Trade Area.
  • OEEC was renamed as the OECD in 1961 when the USA and Canada joined to reflect a broader membership.

Objectives

  • The objectives of the OECD include fostering economic development and cooperation and fighting poverty through the promotion of economic stability.
  • It also ensures that the environmental impact of growth and social development is always considered.
  • Over the years, OECD has raised the standards of living in multiple countries.
  • It has also contributed to the expansion of world trade.

 

8) Director General Shipping notified as National Authority for Ships Recycling:

Context: Central Government has notified the Director General of Shipping as National Authority for Recycling of Ships under the section 3 of the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019.

  • Office of National Authority will be set up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat
  • As an apex body, DG Shipping is authorized to administer, supervise and monitor all activities relating to Ship Recycling.
  • DG Shipping will look after the sustainable development of the Ship Recycling industry, monitoring the compliance to environment-friendly norms and safety and health measures for the stakeholders working in the ship recycling industry.
  • DG Shipping will be the final authority for the various approvals required by the Ship-Recycling yard owners and State Governments.
  • Under Ship Recycling Act, 2019, India has acceded to Hong Kong Convention for Ship Recycling under International Maritime Organization (IMO).
  • DG Shipping is a representative of India in IMO and all the conventions of IMO are being enforced by DG Shipping.
  • National Authority of Ship Recycling will be set up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • The location of the office will benefit the Ship Recycling yard owners situated in Alang, Gujarat which is home of Asia’s largest ship breaking and ship recycling industry in the world.

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