National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 12th February 2019

Assessment Methodology – SDG India Index


Topic: Important Reports

In News: The ‘SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018’ was recently released by the NITI Aayog.But the methodology used leads to the assessment falling short of reflecting the true picture.

More on the topic:

  • India was one among the 193 United Nations member states to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
  • The report offers a comparative account on the performance of the States and UTs in India in their efforts to achieve the SDGs.
  • The index comprises a composite score for each State and UTs based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs.
  • The score, ranging between 0 and 100, denotes the average performance of the State/UT towards achieving the goals and their respective targets.
  • The average Indian score was 57.
  • On the whole, 62 indicators representing 14 goals (of 17 SDGs) have been identified based on their measurability across States over time.
  • It has not been possible to establish suitable indicators for three of the 17 goals, including climate action (SDG-13).

What are the Problems with the report:

  • Despite classification being an appropriate method, there is arbitrariness in the assessment exercise.
  • It is found that many States fall into the aspirant category, especially for SDG-5, SDG-9 and SDG-11.
  • These kinds of differences could be due to a different number of indicators considered under different SDGs as well as their corresponding variability across the States.
  • This is evident in the variation of scores across different goals among the states.
  • g. For goals 1 and 2, the range for the majority of the States is between 35 and 80; for goals 3 and 6, it is between 25 and 100.
  • Given these variations across different goals, merely averaging them would compromise the uniqueness of each state.
  • Resultantly, there seems to be a negatively skewed distribution of scores among the states.
  • It hints at a purposive designation of a few States in two extremes (achievers and aspirants) and a major share of them in between (front runners and performers).
  • Moreover, categorisation does not reflect the difference between two states of the same category (the gap) in achieving a goal.

What can be done?

  • Setting simple averages as targets for all states for each of the goals overlooks the aspect of inter-dependence of various goals.
  • A geometric average would ensure that achievement of progress in one goal cannot compensate for compromise in another.
  • The choice of indicators representing specific goals, beyond availability, should also have proper representation without duplication.

Source: The Hindu

Periodic Labor Force Survey – NSSO II

Topic: Economy

In News: The NSSO recently released a draft report on unemployment based on the periodic labour force survey (PLFS).

More on the Topic:

  • Labour force participation rate (LFPR) is defined as the section of working population in the age group of 16-64 in the economy currently employed or seeking employment.
  • The overall labour force participation rate (LFPR) has declined sharply between 2011-12 and 2017-18.
  • The decline has been particularly striking among females.
  • The overall LFPR was 49.8% in 2017-18, down from 55.9% in 2011-12 and reduced even more since 2004-05, when it was 63.7%.
  • But for females above 15 years of age, the decline was twice as steep in recent years.
  • It declined by 8% between 2011-12 and 2017-18, compared to a four percentage point drop for males.
  • The LFPR for adult females now stands at an especially low figure of 23.3% in 2017-18.
  • This is driven in particular by a massive decline in labour force participation by females in rural areas.
  • In towns, the female LFPR remained approximately the same, whereas it declined by 11% in rural areas.

India on path to formalization of work force:

  • According to the report, the share of workforce receiving a regular salary has increased.
  • In towns, it increased to 47% from 43.4% in 2011-12, at a similar rate of increase to that seen since 2004-05, when it was 39.5%.
  • Since almost half the urban workforce is now receiving monthly salaries, it is a vital indicator of the potential for formalisation.
  • It also suggests that income security has been increasing for this segment of the workforce.
  • However, more needs to be done to bring them into the social security net.
  • This is because, while half of these salaried workers were eligible for social security benefits, 70% of them had no formal contracts.
  • This has to be ensured by the government, so that successful formalisation of India’s workforce be made into a reality.

Model Mains Question:Discuss the importance of formalization of work force? Suggest measures to realization of the same?

Source: The Hindu

U.S.’s Trade Concessions to India


Topic: International Relations

In News: The U.S. could possibly remove India from the generalised System of Preferences (GSP) list.

More on the Topic:

  • In retaliation to US restrictions, India earlier proposed tariffs of about $235 million on 29 American goods.
  • But it has put off implementing these, five times in the past year, in the hope that a negotiated trade settlement will come through.
  • The latest deadline on implementation of the proposals expires on March 1, 2019.
  • Despite several rounds of talks between officials over the past few months, there is no breakthrough.
  • Besides, India has also attempted to address the trade deficit, with purchase of American oil, energy and aircraft.

Reasons for the US’s decision:

  • The proposal comes in a series of measures taken by the Trump administration against India to reduce U.S.’s trade deficit with India.
  • President Donald Trump is concerned with the “unequal tariffs” from India, as the trade relationship is in favor of India.
  • Notably, Indian exports to the U.S. in 2017-18 stood at $47.9 billion, while imports were $26.7 billion.
  • The U.S. has been imposing tariffs on several Indian products since March 2018.
  • The USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) also parallels began a review of India’s GSP status.
  • This was after receiving complaints of trade barriers from India, from the dairy industry and manufacturers of medical devices.
  • India’s decisions on data localization for all companies operating in India and tightening norms for FDI in e-commerce have aggravated the situation.
  • Recently, the U.S. withdrew GSP status on at least 50 Indian products.

Way Forward:

  • Both sides should work towards calling a halt to trade hostilities and speed up efforts for a comprehensive trade “package”.
  • This would address the concerns of both sides much better than the measures to match each concern product by product.
  • India must be aware of the larger, global picture about U.S.-China trade war issues as well.
  • If a trade deal with the U.S. is reached, India could be the biggest beneficiary of business deals lost by China.

Source: The Hindu

Shehri Samridhi Utsav


Topic: Social Justice

In News: The Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in February 2019 launched the Shehri Samridhi Utsav, an initiative that aims to extend the outreach of Deendayal Antyodaya Mission – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to the most vulnerable.

More on the Topic:

  • The Day one of Shehri Samriddhi Utsav began with a series of rallies led by women’s’ SHGs across the country. These rallies spread awareness about DAY-NULM in urban poor communities.
  • Job melas and fairs were organised by many states to market the products made by women micro-entrepreneurs.
  • Through Shehri Samridhi Utsav, the SHG members across cities are being linked to government schemes such as Swachchh Bharat Mission (Urban), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana and National Nutrition Mission.
  • A major highlight of Shehri Samridhi Utsav is the National Exhibition cum sale of SHG products and National Street Food Festival that will be organised in New Delhi.
  • Over 100 stalls are being set up in Central Delhi with various handlooms, handicrafts, snacks and other local products made by 200 Self Help Groups representing 23 states.

Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM):

  • The Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission extends coverage to all the 4041 statutory cities and towns, there by covering almost the entire urban population.
  • The mission aims to provide the shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless in a phased manner to reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor households.
  • The scheme addresses the livelihood concern of the urban street vendors by facilitating with suitable space, institutional credit, and social security and skills to the urban street vendor for accessing emerging market opportunities.
  • The core belief of National Urban Livelihoods Mission is that the poor are entrepreneurial and have innate desire to come out of poverty. The challenge is to unleash their capabilities to generate meaningful and sustainable livelihoods.
  • NULM believes that any livelihood promotion program can be scaled up in a time bound manner only if driven by the poor and their institutions.

Source:The Hindu

India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: During the Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India in January, India and Norway had agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a MoU and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue.

More on the topic:

  • The Initiative will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.
  • Both countries will share experiences, competence and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans.
  • Both the sides will jointly collaborate for sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy.
  • In January, 2019, the Indian and Norwegian governments agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a MoU and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue during the Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India in January.
  • A joint Task Force on Blue Economy with government officials, researchers and experts as well as private sector was established to develop sustainable solutions within strategic areas of the blue economy, such as maritime and marine sector in addition to energy sector. The initiative will also support beach clean-up efforts, awareness-raising campaigns and pilot project using plastic waste as fuel substitution for coal in cement production and developing frameworks for deposit schemes.


Rajasthan scraps economic criterion for panchayats


Topic: Indian Polity

In News: The education criteria was introduced which stipulated that for contesting the zila parishad or panchayat samiti polls, a contestant must have a minimum qualification of secondary education (Class X). Few experts are of the opinion that the requirement of minimum qualification for contesting elections is against the very spirit of 73rd and 74th amendments.

More on the Topic:

  • The The Rajasthan Assembly had passed two Bills which seek to end the minimum education criterion for panchayat and civic poll candidates.
  • The House passed by voice vote the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Rajasthan Municipality (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
  • The previous Vasundhara Raje-led government had introduced education criterion in 2015 which required a candidate to pass Class X for contesting zila parishad, panchayat samiti and municipal elections.
  • For contesting elections for sarpanch of a panchayat in scheduled and non-scheduled areas, it was mandatory to pass Class V and VIII, respectively.
  • Replying to the debate on the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Amendment Bill, 2019, Panchayati Raj Minister Sachin Pilot said that the present government is committed for development of every section of the society

Model Mains Question: Education as a qualification for contesting elections is a form of exclusion of unprivileged sections of citizens. Critically Analyse.

Source: The Hindu



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