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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 7 July 2023

 

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. Demographic dividend: How can India leverage its biggest strength?

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Sarpanch Pati

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Internationalisation of rupee: Why and what are the benefits?

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Zo tribe
  2. Chatbot for people in mental distress
  3. Farmers Distress Index
  4. New methane source
  5. Microplastics 

 


 

Demographic dividend: How can India leverage its biggest strength?

GS Paper 1/ 2

Syllabus: Population related issues/ Development and management of social sectors or service

 

Source: IE

 Context: The next 25 years could be the golden years for the country, provided it makes the best use of its favourable demographic composition.

Demographic dividend: It is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population is larger than the non-working-age share of the population. (UNFPA)

 

India’s demographic dividend:

  • India’s average age is 29 years, whereas the average age in US, China, France, Germany and Japan is 38, 38, 42, 45 and 48 years, respectively.
  • Therefore, India is the youngest among the most populous countries in the world.

 

Implications:

  • India is now in a phase in which its working-age population is rising and the old-age dependency ratio is coming down.
  • For example, India’s old-age dependency ratio will reach 37% in 2075, whereas the same will be 56% in France, 75% in Japan, 49% in the US, etc.

 

Success stories:

  • Most developed countries today have been able to make use of their phase of favourable demographics for higher growth and standard of living.
  • China has already set an example of being a superpower by harnessing its demographic dividend from the early Eighties till 2008-2009.
  • Similarly, Japan (between the mid-50s and late 80s), South Korea (from the early 90s till 2015), Malaysia and Singapore have shown consistent growth by engineering structural transformations to utilise their demographic dividend.

What’s behind China’s success? China’s early focus on labour-intensive manufacturing and subsequent structural transformation resulted in an almost 10% annual average growth rate over four decades, which is unprecedented.

 

Opportunities for India: Most countries are experiencing record low fertility rates (6.77 births per 1,000 people in China) and a shrinking labour force.

 

What should India do?

  • Focus on quality education and health facilities, skilling, reskilling and up-skilling of the labour force to make them more productive and efficient.
  • Create opportunities for the existing labour force and the new entrants into the labour market by improving their productivity.
  • Shift a major chunk of the 45.5% of the labour force engaged in agriculture with low and negligible labour productivity.
  • Focus on labour-intensive manufacturing such as textiles, toys, footwear, auto components, sports goods and agricultural processing, as most of the labour force has limited education and skill sets.
  • Reap the benefits of sectors (like restaurants, hotels, mining and construction, healthcare and caregiving services) with huge potential.
  • For the manufacturing sector to grow, India needs an accelerated focus on –
    • Infrastructure development to reduce trade and transaction costs,
    • Trade facilitation measures,
    • A better IPR ecosystem,
    • Ease of doing business on the ground, and
    • Further rationalisation of labour laws and the taxation system.
    • MSMEs – the backbone of Indian manufacturing, need support in improving competitiveness, achieving scale, digital infrastructure, technology up-grade and branding to be part of a larger supply chain and the global value chains.

 

Steps taken:

  • Skill development programmes such as the Jan Shikshan Sansthan, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme are welcome steps.
    • They have increased human resources supply in various sectors during 2017-22.
  • The Vision 2025 (of the MSDE) aims to improve linkages between education and skill, catalyse demand for formal skills and create a high-skilled ecosystem.
  • Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat Mission and PM Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana have ensured health equity to a great extent.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 gives importance to updating knowledge, ensuring productive employment opportunities and decent/dignified work as listed in the UN SDGs 2030.
  • Samagra Shiksha programme provides inclusive, equitable and quality education at all levels of school education.

 

Challenges:

  • 93% of the employment in India is absorbed by the unorganised sector, where workers are employed in underpaid jobs.
  • High out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare, poor quality of education, non-functional schools, reluctant authorities, etc.

 

Way ahead:

  • Improve the labour force participation by improving the employability of the labour force through large-scale skilling.
  • At the same time, creating employment opportunities for the youth who enter the job market every year.
  • Scale up access and quality health services for the majority of the population.
  • Delivery of quality education up to higher secondary education to all is imperative for making a productive labour force.

 

Conclusion: India’s biggest strength is its manpower. India can be the source of the labour force for the rest of the world, provided that it accelerates reforms and achieves the desired results of flagship programmes of Skill India, Make in India, Start-up India, etc.

 

Insta Links:

India as most populous can be more boon than bane

Sarpanch Pati

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Governance

Source: TH

Context: The Supreme Court of India has stated that the issue of men wielding power behind elected women in grassroots politics (also called as sarpanch Pati) should be addressed by the government and not the judiciary.

  • The court advised an NGO, to make a representation before the Ministry of Panchayati Raj regarding this matter.
  • The NGO argued that unelected male relatives exerting political and decision-making power behind elected women is a mockery of constitutional democracy, despite the one-third quota for women in panchayat governance introduced by the Seventy-Third Constitution Amendment Act in 1992.

About Sarpanch Pati:

The phenomenon of sarpanch Pati or husbands who wield control in panchayats by making their wives contest is neither new nor rare. Even the Prime Minister has taken cognizance of the problem and identified it as a hurdle to women’s progress.

Examples:

  • In a case in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, a man even had a ‘power of attorney’ document which gave him the right to take decisions in place of the elected woman sarpanch whose election expenses he had purportedly paid for.
  • A woman sarpanch from Odisha also ‘authorised’ her husbandto carry out her duties as sarpanch saying that she did not do it under pressure but citing domestic responsibilities.

Reasons behind the practice of Sarpanch Pati:

  • Patriarchal gender norms
  • Lack of capacity building and training for womento take leadership roles in local government.
  • Poor social status of a woman with high levels of illiteracy.
  • Absence of strong deterrence laws to punish men.
  • Absence of recognition of women and their contributions.

 

Insta Links:

Women in Indian political system

 

Mains Link:

What do you understand by ‘Sarpanch Pati’ in the context of Indian society? Examine the causative factors and impact of such culture. (150 words)

Internationalisation of rupee: Why and what are the benefits?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Economy

 

Source: IE

 Context: According to the RBI, with India remaining one of the fastest-growing countries and showing remarkable resilience in the face of major headwinds, the rupee has the potential to become an internationalised currency.

 

What does internationalisation of the rupee mean?

  • Internationalisation is a process that involves increasing the use of the rupee in cross-border transactions – between residents in India and non-residents.
  • It involves promoting the rupee for import and export trade and then other current account transactions, followed by its use in capital account transactions.
  • Currently, the US dollar, the Euro, the Japanese yen and the pound sterling are the leading reserve currencies in the world.
  • China’s efforts to make its currency renminbi has met with only limited success so far.

 

Prerequisites: The internationalisation of the currency, which is closely interlinked with the –

  • Nation’s economic progress.
  • Further opening up of the currency settlement and a strong swap and forex market.
  • Full convertibility of the currency on the capital account (allowing free movement of local financial investment assets into foreign assets and vice-versa) and
  • Cross-border transfer of funds without any restrictions.

 

Current scenario:

  • India has allowed only full convertibility on the current account as of now.
  • The US dollar is said to enjoy an ‘Exorbitant Privilege’, supported by a range of factors, including the size of the US economy, a history of macroeconomic stability and currency convertibility, lack of viable alternatives, etc.
  • Chinese Renminbi is the obvious challenger to the US dollar dominance. However, its ability to rival the US dollar will depend on the –
    • Chinese economy and its financial system to demonstrate the same long-term resilience,
    • Integrity, transparency, openness and stability, which are characteristics of the US economy.

 

The RBI recommendations:

Short term Long term
Adoption of a standardised approach for examining the proposals on bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements The inclusion of the rupee in IMF’s SDR (special drawing rights)

 

 

The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement the official reserves of its member countries.

 

 

The value of the SDR is based on a basket of five currencies – the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound sterling.

Encouraging the opening of the rupee accounts for non-residents both in India and outside India
Integrating Indian payment systems with other countries for cross-border transactions
Strengthening the financial market by fostering a global 24×5 rupee market and recalibration of the FPI (foreign portfolio investor) regime
A review of taxes on masala (rupee-denominated bonds issued outside India by Indian entities) bonds, international use of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) for cross-border trade transactions and inclusion of Indian Government Bonds in global bond indices

These recommendations are significant:

  • In light of the economic sanctions imposed by the US on Russia for invading Ukraine and the growing clamour for finding an alternative to the US dollar for international transactions.
  • While reserves help manage exchange rate volatility and project external stability, they impose a cost on the economy.

 

Advantages of internationalisation of the rupee:

  • Cross-border transactions mitigate currency risk for Indian businesses by protecting them from currency volatility. This will –
    • Reduce the cost of doing business and improve the chances for Indian businesses to grow globally.
    • Add weight to the Indian economy and enhance India’s global stature and respect.
  • Internationalisation of the rupee reduces the need for holding foreign exchange reserves.
  • Reducing dependence on foreign currency will make India less vulnerable to external shocks.

 

Challenges:

  • Very little international demand: The daily average share for the rupee in the global foreign exchange market is ~1.6%, while India’s share of global goods trade is ~2%.
  • India does not permit full capital account convertibility: It is driven by past fears of capital flight (outflow of capital from India due to monetary policies/lack of growth) and exchange rate volatility, given significant current and capital account deficits.

 

Reforms needed:

  • Rupee must be made more freely convertible, with a goal of full convertibility by 2060.
  • The RBI should pursue a deeper and more liquid rupee bond market, enabling foreign investors and Indian trade partners to have more investment options in rupees.
  • Indian exporters and importers should be encouraged to invoice their transactions in rupee.
  • Currency swap agreements (as with Sri Lanka) would further allow India to settle trade and investment transactions.
  • Tax incentives to foreign businesses to utilise the rupee in operations in India would also help.
  • The Tarapore Committees’ (in 1997 and 2006) recommendations must be pursued including –
    • A push to reduce fiscal deficits lower than 3.5%,
    • A reduction in gross inflation rate to 3%-5%, and
    • A reduction in gross banking non-performing assets to less than 5%.

 

Insta Links:

Internationalisation of rupee

 

Mains Links:

It is essential to approach the internationalisation of the rupee cautiously, considering the potential advantages and risks associated with it. Critically examine.

Zo peoples of Manipur & Mizoram

Facts For Prelims

Source: IE

Context: The recent clashes in Manipur has raised attention of many leaders who called for a reunification of the Zo people in view of the continuing ethnic violence between the dominant Meiteis and the Kuki-Zomi tribes in the neighbouring state.

About Zo tribes:

  • The Zo people comprise various tribes, including Chin, Kuki, Mizo, Lushei, Zomi, and others, spread across Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh. The tribes share a common history, including migration and settlements in different regions, and are connected by their Christian faith.
  • The movement for Zo reunification, while emotionally appealing to the people of Mizoram, faces political challenges in terms of carving out areas from Manipur, Tripura, and neighbouring countries for integration with Mizoram.

Chatbot for people in mental distress

Facts For Prelims

 

Source: TH

Context: India’s first Tele-MANAS chatbot, designed to engage with people in distress, has been launched in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

  • The initiative aims to provide round-the-clock access to health counsellors, clinical psychologists, and consultants. The launch took place during the J&K Health Conclave on Mental Health and Non-Communicable Diseases.

Under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Tele-MANAS is a two-tier system.

  • Tier 1 comprises State Tele MANAS cells, which includes trained counsellors and mental health specialists.
  • Tier 2 comprises specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation and/or eSanjeevani for audio visual consultation.

Farmers Distress Index

Facts For Prelims

 

Source: DTE

Context: The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) in India has developed a unique early warning system known as the “farmers’ distress index.”

Significance of the index:

  • The purpose of this index is to minimize agrarian distress, including crop loss, failure, and income shocks, which have led to an increase in farmer suicides.
  • The index’s methodology involves monitoring local newspapers, news platforms, and social media for reports of distress, followed by telephonic interviews with small and marginal farmers to assess early signs of distress using standardized questions.
  • The index allows for targeted interventions, such as focusing on improving women’s incomes if the distress is gender-based.

New methane source

Facts For Prelims

 

Source: DTE

Context: Climate change is causing groundwater springs to release methane in the Arctic as retreating glaciers expose these methane-rich springs, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.

  • The groundwater springs found in Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic, could be emitting over 2,000 tonnes of methane annually, which is equivalent to 10% of Norway’s methane emissions from its oil and gas industry.
  • The presence of methane near shale rocks suggests a geologic or thermogenic source of gas that moves upward through fractures in the rocks and accumulates beneath the glacier.

As global warming continues and glaciers retreat further, the release of methane from glacial groundwater springs is expected to increase, highlighting the need to assess the risk and impact of these emissions.

Microplastics

Facts For Prelims

 Source: DTE

Context: A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights the significant impact of microplastics and nano plastics on human and animal gut microbiomes and the environment.

Findings:

  • Exposure to plastic has been observed to cause intestinal inflammation and gut dysbiosis, altering the gut microbiome and microbiota.
  • Microplastics and nano plastics are known to affect soil microorganisms and can enter the food chain. Evidence suggests that these particles have been found in human lung tissue, placenta, stool, blood, and meconium.
  • Most studies in the report indicate alterations in the host due to microplastic exposure, including changes in gene markers, biochemical markers, mucus layer, gut permeability, oxidative stress, immune response, and liver function.

About Microplastics:

Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter. They are of two types,

  • Primary Microplastics: They are tiny particles designed for commercial use and microfibers shed from clothing and other textiles. g., microbeads found in personal care products, plastic pellets and plastic fibres.
  • Secondary Microplastics: They are formed from the breakdown of larger plastics such as water bottles.

 

Read the CA in PDF format here: 

 


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