National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 12th October 2018
India ranks 115 in World Bank human capital index
Topic: Indian Economy
IN NEWS: Overall, India was ranked 115 among 157 countries. That’s much below its Asian peers, including China ranked 46, Indonesia (87), Malaysia (55). Singapore was ranked number one in the world followed by Japan, Hong Kong and Finland.
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- A child born in India today will be only 44% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health, according to the report. Only 96% of the Indians born today will have the probability to survive to age five indicative of how India is still struggling to control infant mortality in a big way.
- The report, which took into account the human capital investments and outcomes, almost reiterated that Indian children are not learning enough in schools. Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years, effectively putting to question the impact of the Right to Education Act, 2009, that promises eight years of compulsory education to all Indians.
- Across India, 83% of all 15-year-olds will survive until age 60, the World Bank said. Talking about the health parameters, it said only 62 out of 100 children are not stunted, putting 38% of kids at the risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
- The government, however, expressed reservation over the report questioning its utility.
More on Human Capital Index
- The report is based on the Global Human Capital index, which provides a quantifiable way to measure human capital based on individuals’ ability to acquire, develop, and use new skills beyond their years of schooling and during their professional lives
- In October 2018, the World Bank published the Human Capital Index (HCI) as a measurement of economic success. The Index ranks countries according to how much is invested in education and health care for young people.
Antibiotics to grow farm animals raise superbug risk
Topic: Health Related Issues
In news: The world’s biggest animal drugs company has been accused of double standards and of exposing consumers in India to “higher levels of risk” by selling antibiotics for purposes now banned in Europe and the U.S.
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- Zoetis, the largest producer of veterinary medicines, is supplying Indian farmers with antibiotics to help their animals grow faster. The practice should be banned worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), because it increases the prevalence of resistant bacteria that can infect humans and cause deadly and untreatable infections.
- The company stopped advertising antibiotics as growth promoters to American farmers almost two years ago. Zoetis publicly supported new laws in the U.S. banning this abuse of antibiotics as part of its “continued commitment to antibiotic stewardship”.
- However, Zoetis continues to sell antibiotics directly to Indian farmers with claims on the company’s Indian website that they will make animals grow bigger and faster.
Is it against Indian law
- This is not currently against Indian law although the government has called for it to end and Maharastra banned the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in agriculture.
The threat of Antibiotic Resistance:
- The unnecessary use of antibiotics in human medicine and agriculture, such as their use to make animals grow faster rather than treat disease, are major contributors to growing levels of resistant bacteria.
- It is estimated 1,00,000 babies a year in the country die from infections from resistant bugs. Worldwide they’re believed to kill 7,00,000 people, according to a British government-commissioned review in 2016. WHO has called antibiotic resistance one of the greatest threats to public health.
Anti biotic Resistance:
- Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
- Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
- Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
- A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
- Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, individuals can:
- Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional.
- Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.
- Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.
- Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
- Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
- Prepare food hygienically, following the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, use safe water and raw materials) and choose foods that have been produced without the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention in healthy animals.
1 in 5 Indian children ‘wasted’, says GHI
Topic: Health related issues
In news: At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are ‘wasted,’ which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018.
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- Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”.
- India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.
- Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report, which is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
- The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake. The next three indicators use data for children under five: child wasting (low weight for height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality.
- India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018. The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
- However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%.
- South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%. Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
- Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
Work with sincerity, responsibility on issue of stubble burning: Centre to states
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In news: The Centre appealed to neighbouring states like Haryana and Punjab to work with full sincerity and responsibility in persuading farmers not to burn paddy stubble in order to check pollution.
More on the Topic
- Stubble burning has been a major concern in northern India during the harvesting season. It led to severe air pollution in National Capital Region and its neighbouring areas in the past few years, prompting the authorities to take measures to tackle the problem.
- Stubble burning is an issue where we need to increase awareness and social movement. Government needs to be very vigilant.
- The National Green Tribunal has fixed the environment penalties at Rs 2,500 per incident for landowners with less than two acres, and Rs 15,000 for those owning over 5 acres, among others.
- Punjab recently set up a Paddy Straw Challenge Fund of $1 million for scientists around the world to present technological solutions on crop residue management. Large-scale production of ethanol from paddy straw is also being explored.
- Further, the Central government-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) early this year announced the setting up of India’s first second-generation ethanol bio-refinery in Bathinda at a cost of Rs 600 crore.
- The refinery that will use biomass and agricultural residues like rice-straw and wheat stubble has, however, remained a non-starter because of pure economics — the cost per litre from the refinery is expected to be as high as Rs 76 whereas ethanol from existing sources is Rs 46.
- Ethanol blending up to 10% with petrol and diesel is encouraged mainly to save foreign exchange on petroleum products. The other way of handling the residues is to set up biomass electricity generation units all across Punjab and northern parts of Haryana.
- Another way out is the farmers shifting to new rice varieties like PR 121 and PR 126, which are harvested early, thereby creating a reasonable gap between the two crops.
Assam CM launches RoRo service
Topic: Infrastructure Development
In news: Assam Chief Minister launched the Roll-on-Roll-off (RoRo) service which will ferry people and goods vehicles to provide much needed connectivity to Majuli river island.
More on the Topic:
- The RoRo service was launched in collaboration between Inland Waterways Authority of India and Assam government.
- The RoRo service will reduce the travel distance for trucks from Neamati to Majuli island via Tezpur Road Bridge.
- Majoli is a river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam and in 2016 became the first island to be made a district in India.
- Majuli has shrunk as the river surrounding it has grown.
- The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north.
- It was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit. Majuli is the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture.
Inland Waterways Authority of India
- India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14,500 km, out of which about 5200 km of the river and 4000 km of canals can be used by mechanised crafts.
- Freight transportation by waterways is highly under-utilised in India compared to other large countries and geographic areas like the United States, China and the European Union.
- Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India.Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
- It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.
- IWAI made 13 standardised state-of-art design public for the transportation of cargo and passengers keeping in mind Ganges complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, currents etc. in National Waterway – 1. The first implementation will be between Varanasi-Haldia stretch in assistance and investment from World Bank.
National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET)
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
In news: The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of the existing regulatory institutions in the skills space – National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) into the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET).
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- NCVET will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term and establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities.
- The Council would be headed by a Chairperson and will have Executive and Non-Executive Members.
The primary functions of NCVET will include:
- Recognition and regulation of awarding bodies, assessment bodies and skill related information providers.
- Approval of qualifications developed by awarding bodies and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs).
- Indirect regulation of vocational training institutes through awarding bodies and assessment agencies.
- Research and information dissemination.
- Grievance redressal.
G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
In news: The Final G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting under the 2018 Argentine Presidency and the final BRICS Deputies Meeting under the 2018 South African Chairmanship were held in Bali, Indonesia on the sidelines of the IMF/Fund Bank Annual Meetings.
More on the Topic:
- The deliberations in the G-20 FMCBG meeting centered on key risks facing the global economy, enhancing a resilient international financial architecture, financing infrastructure development, progress on compact with Africa as well as streamlining of the GPFI process.
- The meeting discussed the risks related to trade tensions, financial vulnerabilities and oil prices and stated that it have materialized and are having major impact on the Emerging Market Economies.
- 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.