Daily Current Affairs 03rd September -2021
- Sri Lanka declares economic emergency
- UNSC adopted ‘Resolution 2593’ on Taliban
- Mission Poshan 2.0 – Nurturing the future of India
- Core sector output for the month of July
- PISA (Program for International Student Assessment)
- Raptors species under threat
1.Sri Lanka declares economic emergency
#GS2 #India and its Neighbourhood – Relations #Indian Diaspora #Issues related to Hunger #Infaltion
Context: President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared an economic emergency to control spiraling inflation after a sharp fall in the value of the country’s currency caused a rise in food prices.
- State of emergency is declared under the public security ordinance to stop the hoarding of essential items, including rice and sugar.
- The government has appointed a commissioner of essential services, who is authorised to seize food stocks hoarded by traders and retailers and control their prices.
- The emergency declaration followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes, while long queues have formed outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, kerosene oil and cooking gas.
What triggered this extraordinary move?
- The value of Sri Lankan rupee has dropped by 7.5% against the US dollar this year.
- It is eroded by about 20% since November 2019.
- As per the official data, Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves fell to $2.8 billion at the end of July, from $7.5 billion in November 2019.
- In recent months, essential goods price has hit the roof due to the tumbling local currency and high global market prices driven by the pandemic.
- The government blames traders for hoarding which led to rise in food prices.
- Tourism which happens to be Sri Lanka’s one of the main foreign currency earners has suffered due to the travel restrictions placed owing to the pandemic.
- Sri Lanka’s economy contracted by a record 3.6% last year.
The declaration of economic emergency will permit Sri Lankan government to:
- Officials are empowered to make sure that essential goods are sold at government-guaranteed prices or prices based on import costs at customs.
- Prevent the hiding and hoarding of essential goods by traders.
- It will also help the government to recover import duties owed to the state by the traders.
Inflation and the pandemic:
- Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.
- A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time.
- The rise in the general level of prices, often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods.
- Inflation has been rising constantly in several countries since the beginning of Covid19 pandemic.
Reasons behind this:
- Supply and demand-side disruptions due to travel and cargo restrictions.
- Cost of production has increased in several industries due to rise in international fuel prices.
- Normal conduct of business is disrupted majorly due to volatility in labour market.
- Rise in demand; particularly for essential commodities amongst the masses due to the fear of lockdown has led to hoarding by common public.
- Shortage of products in domestic market as producers are diverting their goods to foreign markets due to increase in global prices.
- Government should make sure of adequate supply of essential items through suitable measure.
- Monitor the pricing mechanisms of essential items to prevent any sharp rise.
- Market intervention through sale of government-held stocks to bring down the prices of essential goods.
- Reduce multiplicity of taxes on essential goods like petroleum by bringing it under the ambit of GST.
2.UNSC adopted ‘Resolution 2593’ on Taliban
#GS2 #Important International Institutions #Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests
#GS3 #Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism
Context: Recently, ‘Resolution 2593’, sponsored by France, UK and the US, was adopted in United Nations Security Council with 13 members, including India, voting in favour, with two abstentions (Russian Federation and China) and none against it.
- Adopted UNSC Resolution 2593, condemns terrorism and urges the Taliban to ensure human rights in Afghanistan.
- UNSC demanded that Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country and reiterated the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, including those individuals and entities designated pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) i.e., Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), etc.”
- The LeT and JeM are anti-India terrorist groups that are based in Pakistan.
- In the past, LeT and JeM camps have sprouted in Afghanistan when Kabul was in the control of the Taliban between 1996-2001.
- It also called for greater efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and called on all parties to allow safe, unhindered access for the United Nations and its agencies, including with respect to internally displaced persons.
- Further by its terms, it called on all donors and international humanitarian actors to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and major Afghan refugee-hosting countries.
Why Russia and China Abstained from voting?
- The Russian Federation representative condemned the terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport.
- But it abstained from the vote because the draft resolution ignored its concerns and refused to add an additional passage on terrorism and refused to acknowledge the terrorist threat of other groups, especially Islamic State (ISIS) and the Uighur East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), instead separating them into “ours and theirs”.
- The draft also did not acknowledge the negative effects of brain drain by evacuating skilled experts in various fields who will be significant for the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
- Furthermore, it did not address the economic and humanitarian consequences of US freezing the Afghan government’s US accounts following the Taliban takeover.
- China shared some of Russia’s concerns. It believes that the current disorder was a direct result of Western countries’ “disorderly withdrawal”.
- Russia and China wanted all the terrorist groups, to be named specifically in the document.
India’s move post-Taliban take over:
- India has engaged a high-level group composed of EAM (External Affairs Minister), NSA (National Security Adviser) and senior officials to focus on the immediate priorities of India.
- Issues like, safe return of stranded Indians to India and
- to make sure that the Afghanistan territory is not used in any manner for terrorism directed against India.
- Recently, Indian government publicly acknowledged the meeting of India’s ambassador with the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar.
- India’s Afghan policy is at a major crossroads; to protect its assets there as well as to stay relevant in the unfolding ‘great game’ in and around Afghanistan, India must reorganize its Afghanistan policy accordingly.
3.Mission Poshan 2.0 – Nurturing the future of India
#GS2 # Government Policies & Interventions for Development # Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections #Issues related to women and Children
Context: Union Minister for Women and Child Development recently inaugurated the Poshan 2.0 and urged all Aspirational Districts to establish a Poshan Vatika (nutrition garden) during the Nutrition Month (Poshan Mah) from 1st September, 2021.
- A month-long celebration of the POSHAN Abhiyan mission places special attention on Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM) children.
- The programme seeks to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
- Launched in 2018 with specific targets to be achieved by 2022.
- It aims to reduce:
- Stunting and wasting by 2% a year (total 6% until 2022) among children.
- Anaemia by 3% a year (total 9%) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
- The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcomes, Union Government in its 2021-22 budget merged the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and Poshan Abhiyan to launch Mission POSHAN 2.0
- Mission Poshan 2.0 brings together the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)—Anganwadi Services, Supplementary Nutrition Programme, Poshan Abhiyaan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls and National Crèche Scheme.
- Since 2018, entire month of September every year is celebrated as POSHAN Maah with a focus on improving nutritional outcomes for children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
- Government conducts activities focussed on antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, Anaemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation and eating healthy.
- It is a programme is to make sure the supply of nutrition through organically home-grown vegetables and fruits simultaneously ensuring that the soil must also remain healthy.
- Plantation would be done in space available at anganwadis, school premises and gram panchayats.
Status of Malnutrition in India:
- As per the Integrated Child Development Services- Rapid Reporting System (ICDS-RRS) portal, as on November 30, 2020, there are 9,27,606 severely acute malnourished (SAM) children that have been identified by the ministry.
- These children range between the ages of 6 months to 6 years.
- Around 4 lakh children (40%) suffering from SAM in Uttar Pradesh alone followed by Bihar with 2,79,427 children.
- As reported under NFHS-5, nutritional status has improved in many states despite the short interval of four years between the survey rounds.
National Family Health Survey-5 Findings:
- NFHS-5 suggests that malnutrition increased among children in 2019-20 from 2015-16 in 22 states and UTs.
- Stunting: Around 13 states and UTs out of the 22 surveyed recorded a rise in percentage of children under five years who are stunted in comparison to 2015-16.
- Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
- Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.
- Wasted: 12 states and UTs recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years who are wasted.
- Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height.
- It often indicates recent and severe weight loss, although it can also persist for a long time. It usually occurs when a person has not had food of adequate quality and quantity and/or they have had frequent or prolonged illnesses.
- Anaemia has also declined, but still remains widespread. More than half of children are anaemic in ten of the 15 States/Union Territories.
About Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM):
- Severe acute malnutrition is defined by very low weight-for-height/length (Z- score below -3 SD of the median WHO child growth standards), or a mid-upper arm circumference < 115 mm, or by the presence of nutritional oedema.
- Severe Acute Malnutrition is both a medical and social disorder.
- Reasons for SAM:
- Lack of exclusive breast feeding, late introduction of complementary feeds, feeding diluted feeds containing less amount of nutrients, repeated enteric and respiratory tract infections, ignorance, and poverty are some of the factors responsible.
- SAM significantly increases the risk of death in children under five years of age.
- Median case fatality rate in children with SAM is approximately 23.5%, which may reach 50% in oedematous malnutrition.
- Nutritional oedema: Abnormal fluid retention in the tissues (oedema) resulting especially from lack of protein in states of starvation or malnutrition.
- Oedema can, however, occur in starvation even if the blood levels of albumin are not lowered.
- Early detection and treatment of children with wasting and other life-threatening forms of malnutrition are critical to save their lives and put them on the path to healthy growth and development.
- In most cases, children with wasting can be treated with ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), allowing them to recover in their own homes and communities rather than in a health facility.
- Treatment services should be resourced by governments and managed primarily by the national health system rather than humanitarian workers.
- And make RUTF more affordable and sustainable.
- Strengthening health worker capacities.
- Integrating nutrition supplies within national health systems.
- Role of Anganwadi Centres: The identification of SAM children was done by over 10 lakh Anganwadi centres from across the country.
- The anganwadis have to become much more functional and if the possibility of children reaching anganwadis is going to become hard because of lockdowns, then the anganwadis need to reach the children.
4.Core sector output for the month of July
#GS3 # Indian economy- issues related to growth and planning # Growth & Development
Context: India’s eight core sectors output registers 9.4% growth in July,2021.
- This is the 05th consecutive month of growth in the core sector.
- Core sector had seen a 9.3% increase in June.
- Cement production expanded the fastest in July, with 21.8% growth.
- Natural gas production grew by 18.9%
- Growth of Coal output was at 18.7%
- Steel and electricity saw output swell by 9.3% and 9%, respectively.
- Refinery products registered the growth at 6.7%.
- Fertilizers’ output growth was at the slowest pace at 0.5%.
- Crude oil was the only sector to show a decline, with output shrinking 3.2%
- The production levels of 05 core sector segments—crude oil, natural gas, fertilizer, steel and electricity—are now higher than the pre-Covid levels (February 2020)
- Growth in core sector has been credited to the base effect from last July, when output contracted 7.6%, and some affirmative action by the government on infrastructure spending.
- The base effect refers to the effect that the choice of a basis of comparison or reference can have on the result of the comparison between data points.
- Also, the recovery post second wave of pandemic has been faster than the first wave. This implies that the core segment which, carries a weight of 40.27% in the Index of Industrial Production, will also provide cushion to the industrial sector recovery.
What is a core sector?
- The eight-core sector industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity.
- The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
- The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- These core industries are considered as main or key industries of the economy and serve as the backbone of all other industries.
Index of Industrial Production:
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mining, electricity and manufacturing.
- It is an indicator that measures the changes in the volume of production of industrial products during a given period.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- Base Year for IIP is 2011-2012.
5.PISA (Program for International Student Assessment)
#GS2 #Issues related to children #Issues related to education
Context: The field trial of PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is planned to be held from September, 2021.
- Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a study done to produce analogous data on education policy and outcomes across countries.
- The study, which began in the year 2000, organises a test assessing 15-year-old students in member and non-member countries to evaluate the quality and inclusivity of school systems in these countries.
- The PISA test is held every 03 years and it students reading, mathematics, and science literacy to apply their knowledge to real-life situations.
- Since 2015 the test also includes an optional section on innovative subjects such as collaborative problem-solving and financial literacy.
- The test is taken in the language of instruction that the students are familiar with.
- It is an international survey coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- The test is set by educational experts from across the world. Until now, experts from more than eighty countries have contributed towards framing the test questions, mostly from countries that have already participated in the test.
India’s Performance so far:
- India has participated in the PISA test only once before, in 2009.
- In this round of PISA, where students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu sat for the test, India ranked 72nd out of 73 countries, outranking only Kyrgyzstan.
- Since then, India has strayed away from the test until now, for students from Chandigarh will be sitting for the test in 2022.
- Approximately 1.75 lakh students from government schools in Chandigarh, along with 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas and 3,000 Kendra Vidyalayas will take the three-hour long PISA test in 2021.
Significance for India:
- If a nation gets good score, it suggests that not only does it has an effective education system but an inclusive one, in which students from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds perform equally well.
- Further, the test assesses whether the education system in these countries teach students suitable social and community skills, which will enable the students to excel holistically as a member of the workforce.
- PISA requires experiential learning and out of the box thinking, so, to get better rankings, educators and policy makers and pushed to formulate effective education policies and improve their own systems, using others as examples.
- It would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:
- OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
- It is a group of nations committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, pursue answers to common problems, recognize good practices and direct domestic and international policies of its members.
- Commonly, OECD members are high-income economies with a very high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries.
- As of 2017, the OECD member countries collectively comprised 62.2?% of global nominal GDP and 42.8?% of global GDP at purchasing power parity.
- The OECD is an official United Nations observer.
- India is not a member but one of the key partners of the organisation.
- It is headquartered at Paris, France.
6.Raptors species under threat
#GS3 #Biodiversity #Environment and conservationContext:
The new analysis by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Birdlife International, was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences August 30, 2021.
Highlights of the analysis:
- 160 species of birds of prey endangered worldwide.
- Indonesia had the most raptor species, followed by Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
- Around 30% of the 557 raptor species around the globe are threatened by extinction to some degree.
- Of them, 18 species are critically endangered, 25 are endangered, 57 are vulnerable and 66 are near-threatened.
- The Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobon scops-owl were among the 166 species facing some degree of threat.
- These birds of prey hunt larger vertebrates and feed on their flesh.
Reasons behind the decline:
- Extensive deforestation: the population of Philippine eagles, the largest variety of eagles in the world, decreased rapidly in the last decades because of deforestation.
- Several Vulture populations have deteriorated by over 95% in Asian countries because of the extensive use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
- In Africa, particularly West Africa, vultures have reduced by an average of 95% in rural areas in last 30 years as the result of shooting and poisoning through feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with diclofenac.
- The Annobon scops-owl, with an estimated population of fewer than 250 and restricted to Annobon Island off West Africa, was recently classified as ‘critically endangered’ because of hasty habitat loss and degradation.
- Other threats: pollution, toxic substances, human–wildlife conflicts, collisions with aerial structures and electrocution by power lines and climate change.
- Migratory birds of prey are at risk to these threats due to long annual journeys from their breeding grounds to wintering areas and back.
Significance of raptor birds:
- Hawks, eagles, and falcons can function as indicator species of the ecological condition of a region.
- Raptors kill on a wide range of vertebrates and thus, enable long-distance seed dispersal.
- This indirectly increases seed production and pest control.
UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 03rd September -2021
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