Daily Current Affairs : 15th and 16th November

Topics Covered

  1. UNFPA
  2. Regional Connectivity Scheme
  3. 3d Printed Habitat
  4. India’s long-term strategy to transition to a “low emissions”
  5. G-20 Bali summit
  6. Retail Inflation
  7. Facts for Prelims

1 . UNFPA Report on India’s Population


Context:  The planet’s population surpass the mark of 8 billion on 15th November 2022, as per the demographic estimates of the United Nations with the international body declaring November 15 as the “Day of Eight Billion”.

Key Highlights of UN Report

  • Global population has crossed 8 billion.
  • The global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under 1 per cent in 2020.
  • The world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. It is projected to reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s and to remain at that level until 2100.
  • More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania. Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050.
  • For China, which added 73 million people, the projection is that its contribution to the next billion in the global population will be in the negative.

How is India placed?

  • India was the largest contributor to the 8 billion milestone, having added 177 million people of the last billion people born in the world.
  • India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023, with prospects to reap the demographic dividend as the median age of an Indian this year was 28.7 years, compared to 38.4 for China and 48.6 for Japan against a global value of 30.3 years.
  • The good news is that India’s population growth appears to be stabilising.
    • The Total Fertility Rate — average number of children born per woman — has declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level.
    • A total of 31 States and Union Territories (constituting 69.7% of the country’s population) have achieved fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1, it said.
  • As per UN estimates, over 27 per cent of the country’s population is between the ages of 15-29. At 253 million, India is also home to the world’s largest adolescent population (10-19 years).
  • According to UNFPA projections, India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world till 2030 and is currently experiencing a demographic window of opportunity, a “youth bulge” that will last till 2025.

About UNFPA

  • UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.
  • It was established as a trust fund in 1967 and began operations in 1969.
  • In 1987, it was officially renamed the United Nations Population Fund but the original abbreviation, ‘UNFPA’ for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities was retained.
  • It is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly, and The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) establishes its mandate.
  • UNFPA works directly to tackle Sustainable Development Goals on health (SDG3), education (SDG4) and gender equality (SDG5).
  • UNFPA is not supported by the UN budget, instead, it is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, foundations and individuals.


2 . Regional Connectivity Scheme


Context: The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) will increase the levy charged from airlines flying major routes in order to fund the country’s ambitious regional connectivity programme UDAN.

About the news

  • The new levy will be ₹10,000 for every departure beginning January 1, 2023, and up to March 31, 2023. From April 1, 2023, to April 30, 2027, the levy will be ₹15,000 per departure.
  • The current levy, ₹5,000 per departure, was introduced in June 2017.
  • Airlines reportedly included a charge of around ₹50 in every ticket as part of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) levy.
  • This would mean, effective January 1, the levy would be doubled; and, subsequently, trebled next fiscal onwards.
  • This levy was introduced in 2017 primarily towards the Viability Gap Fund (VGF) for participating carriers. The VGF was shared between the Centre and the states concerned.
  • The increased levy will be towards viability gap funding, especially with new routes opening up since UDAN is a self-financing scheme.
    • Currently, 425 routes are operational and 575 routes are ‘on track for implementation’ within the next five-odd years.

About Regional Connectivity Scheme – UDAN

  • UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik), a Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation was launched in 2016 and its first flight was flagged off by PM Modi in 2017.
  • It was formulated based on the review of The National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP)-2016 and it was planned to remain in force for a period of 10 years.
  • It was launched with the objective to develop the regional aviation market and to provide affordable, economically viable and profitable air travel on regional routes to the common man even in small towns.
  • The scheme envisages providing connectivity to unserved and underserved airports of the country through the revival of existing air-strips and airports.
    • Under-served airports are those which do not have more than one flight a day, while unserved airports are those where there are no operations.

Salient Features of UDAN-

  • The regional connectivity scheme will be applicable on route length between 200 to 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions.
  • The Central government will provide concessions to the tune of 2 per cent excise on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax at 1/10th the rate and liberal code sharing for regional connectivity scheme airports.
  • A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are expected to contribute 20 per cent to the fund.
  • For balanced regional growth, allocations will be spread equitably across 5 regions – North, West, South, East and North East with a cap of 25 percent.
  • Market-based reverse bidding mechanism to determine least VGF to select the airline operator with the right to match to the initial proposer. The government said VGF will be reduced if passenger load factor remains high and will be discontinued after 3 years when route becomes self-sustainable.


3 . 3 D Printed Habitat


Context: As the stand-off began with China in eastern Ladakh in 2020 and the Army mobilised thousands of troops to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Corps of Engineers used 3D printing to construct 22,000 temperature-controlled, re-locatable habitat in the high-altitude areas, according to sources in the security establishment.

What is 3D printing?

  • Three-dimensional printing (3-D printing) is also known as Additive manufacturing (AM) process.
  • 3D printing or additive manufacturing uses computer-aided designing to make prototypes or working models of objects by laying down successive layers of materials such as plastic, resin, thermoplastic, metal, fiber or ceramic.
  • With the help of software, the model to be printed is first developed by the computer, which then gives instructions to the 3D printer.
  • 3D printing and a viable industry around it is mostly in the shape of additive manufacturing, wherein companies make specific products for projects where there are very specific demands such as lightweight equipment, etc.

Army’s 3D-printed habitats-

  • These habitats are relocatable, modern, compact, and can be lifted and erected in a few days.
  • Besides building habitat for 22,000 troops and shelters for storing equipment have been constructed in the last two years.
    • Nearly 450 A vehicles and guns can be stored in these shelters
  • These habitats were made over two years for troops’ convenience, and these are modualar, relocatable structures. Solar fuel cells were procured for providing power.

The use of 3D printers by the Indian military is, however, not confined to houses alone:

  • Expanding its usage to bunkers and parking facilities for military vehicles in border areas
  • The Army’s Corps of Engineers in consultation with Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar came up with 3D printed permanent defences for forward areas.
  • The 3D printed defences can take direct hit from T-90 tank from 100 metres away and can be constructed in a much shorter time frame compared to regular defensive bunkers.


4 . India’s long-term strategy to transition to a “low emissions” pathway.


Context: At the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, India announced its long-term strategy to transition to a “low emissions” pathway.

About the news

  • India is one of the 57 nations out of 197 member countries which were obliged to submit the long-term document by 2022.
  • The LT-LEDS (Long Term-Low Emission Development Strategy) has been prepared in the framework of India’s right to an equitable and fair share of the global carbon budget.
  • India has ensured that the strategy emphasises energy security, energy access, and employment, while keeping focus on our vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat
  • Steps announced by India are consonant with India’s “five-decade journey” to net zero or being carbon neutral by 2070 — a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Glasgow (COP26).

What are LT-LEDS?

  • LT-LEDS (Long Term-Low Emission Development Strategy) are qualitative in nature and are a requirement emanating from the 2015 Paris Agreement whereby countries must explain how they will transition their economies beyond achieving near-term NDC targets, and work towards the larger climate objective of cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero around 2050. This is what, scientists say, offers the best chance of keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Steps announced by India

  • At least a three-fold increase in nuclear capacity by 2032.
  • Achieving an ethanol blending target of 20% by 2025 (currently at 10%).
  • The National Hydrogen Mission, launched in 2021, aims to make India a ‘green Hydrogen Hub’.
  • Maximizing the use of electric vehicles and public transportation for passenger and freight traffic.
  • India will also focus on improving energy efficiency by the Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme.
  • It will also focus on increasing electrification, enhancing material efficiency, and recycling and ways to reduce emissions.

Is the strategy different from Nationally Determined Contributions?

  • The NDCs, which India must periodically update, are voluntary commitments by countries to reduce emissions by a fixed number relative to a date in the past to achieve the long-term goal of climate agreements of preventing global temperature rising beyond 1.5°C or 2°C by the end of the century. Thus, India’s most updated NDC commits to ensuring that half its electricity is derived from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and reducing the emissions intensity by 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. They are concrete targets unlike the low-carbon strategy which is qualitative and describes a pathway.

India’s commitments at COP26

  • Reach 500GWNon-fossil energy capacity by 2030.
  • 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
  • Reduction of total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now to 2030.
  • Reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy by 45 per cent by 2030, over 2005 levels.
  • Achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2070.


5 . G -20 Bali Summit


Context– Preparations for 17th Summit of G20 nations are currently underway at Bali, Indonesia.

Background

  • The 17th G20 Summit in Bali would take place in the backdrop of food and fuel prices spiking worldwide, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the renewed threat of nuclear war.
  • There will be one conspicuous absence around the table — Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Agenda for 17th G20 Summit

  • Indonesian President Jokowi has made recovering from the pandemic a major focus despite geopolitical tensions overshadowing the summit.
  • The leaders will engage in discussions over three sessions: on Food and Energy security, Health Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, and Digital Transformation.
    • Global Health Architecture: This involves deliberations towards strengthening global health resilience and making the global health system more inclusive, equitable, and responsive to crises.
    • Digital Transformation: Deliberations here have centred on achieving the full potential of rapid digitalisation of the global economy by creating a new landscape of cooperation among nations.
    •  Sustainable Energy Transition: Under this rubric, the discussions have focussed on ways to accelerate the transition towards cleaner energy sources. Since any such transition requires substantial investments, the efforts have been focussed on finding a platform for such investments.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also set to spell out his agenda for the year ahead under India’s G-20 presidency, with special focus on the Global South and the problems it is facing due to geopolitical tensions, food and fuel shortages.

What makes this G-20 different from others?

  • For the world-
    • This is the first G-20 since Russia began the war in Ukraine and the west imposed sanctions on Russia. Efforts will be made to build global consensus over issues that have clearly divided the world.
    • Additionally, this is only the second time Chinese President Xi Jinping has travelled abroad since the COVID pandemic, and the first time since he was re-elected at China’s Party Congress last month.
  • For India-
    • It is India’s turn to host the summit next.
    • Mr. Modi will receive a handover from the Indonesian President Joko Widodo after which India will assume the presidency on December 1

Who all are attending and who is not?

  • The summit in Bali will be attended by leaders of Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.
  • Spain is a permanent invitee, and the special invitees this year also include leaders of Cambodia, Fiji, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Senegal, Singapore, Suriname and UAE.
  • In addition, heads of several international agencies like the UN, the IMF, ASEAN, the African Union will attend the 2022 G-20.
  • The Indonesian President has also invited the Ukrainian President to address the summit virtually, while Russian President Putin, and leaders of Mexico and Brazil (which is in a leadership transition), will not attend the summit.

Significance of G20

  • G-20 countries represent 85% of the global GDP, 75% of global trade and 66% of the world population.
  • G-20 has been seen as a more representative and egalitarian grouping of global leadership than ‘elitist’ G7’ and more unwieldy 38-member OECD, and was particularly useful in steering the global economy after the global financing crisis and banking collapse of 2008.
  • Significantly, next year the “Troika” of G-20 will be made up of emerging economies for the first time with India, Indonesia and Brazil — an indicator of the shift in the global economic agenda towards the Global South.


6 . Retail Inflation


Context– India’s retail inflation eased to 6.77% in October from 7.41% in September, but it stayed above the RBI’s upper threshold of 6% for the 10th consecutive month.

How does India measure retail inflation?

  •  Rate of inflation based on the consumer price index (CPI) is called as Retail Inflation
  • The CPI monitors retail prices at a certain level for a particular commodity; price movement of goods and services at rural, urban and all-India levels.
  • The change in the price index over a period of time is referred to as CPI-based inflation, or retail inflation.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data is released monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

What is Consumer Price Index

  • Consumer Price Index is a measure of change in retail prices of goods and services consumed by defined population group in a given area with reference to a base year.
  • This basket of goods and services represents the level of living or the utility derived by the consumers at given levels of their income, prices and tastes.
  • The consumer price index number measures changes only in one of the factors; prices.
  • This index is an important economic indicator and is widely considered as a barometer of inflation, a tool for monitoring price stability and as a deflator in national accounts.
  • The dearness allowance of Government employees and wage contracts between labour and employer is based on this index.
  • Consumer price indices compiled in India are CPI for Industrial workers CPI(IW), CPI for Agricultural Labourers CPI(AL) and; Rural Labourers CPI(RL) and (Urban) and CPI(Rural).

CPI(IW) and CPI(AL& RL)

  • The CPI(IW) and CPI(AL& RL) compiled are occupation specific and centre specific and are compiled by Labour Bureau.
  • This means that these index numbers measure changes in the retail price of the basket of goods and services consumed by the specific occupational groups in the specific centres.

CPI(Urban) and CPI(Rural)

  • CPI(Urban) and CPI(Rural) are new indices in the group of Consumer price index and has a wider coverage of population.
  • This index compiled by Central Statistical Organisation tries to encompass the entire population and is likely to replace all the other indices presently compiled.
  • In addition to this, Consumer Food Price Indices (CFPI) for all India for rural, urban and combined separately are also released w.e.f May, 2014.

Other Important Points

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started using CPI-combined as the sole inflation measure for the purpose of monetary policy.

Why is faster inflation a concern for policymakers?

  • Faster retail inflation is indicative of prices of household items rising quickly. While inflation affects everyone, it is often referred to as a ‘tax on the poor’ as the low-income stratum of society bears the brunt.
  • Persistent high inflation pushes several items out of reach for this category of consumers. For example, onions and potatoes are generally a key staple in an average Indian family’s diet.
  • But, if the price of potatoes starts rising rapidly, a poor household is often forced to sharply reduce or forgo its consumption of this key source of essential nutrients, including carbohydrates.
  • Over time, if unchecked, persistent high inflation erodes the value of money and hurts several other segments of the population, including the elderly living off a fixed pension. It hence ends up undermining a society’s consumptive capacity, and thereby, economic growth itself.

What is the RBI’s role in tackling inflation?

  • In 2016, the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, was amended to provide a statutory basis for the implementation of a flexible inflation-targeting framework, where the Centre and the RBI would review and agree upon a specific inflation target every five years.
  • Under this, 4% was set as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6% and the lower tolerance limit of 2%.
  • To the extent that ensuring price stability is its primary goal, the RBI through its MPC must constantly assess not just current levels of inflation and prices of various goods and services in the economy, but also take into consideration inflation expectations both of consumers and financial markets so as to use an array of monetary tools, including interest rates, to contain inflation within its target range.



7 . Facts for Prelims


Exercise Sea Vigil

  • The third edition of ‘Sea Vigil-22’ is all set to commence on the eastern seaboard as part of the nation-wide coastal defence exercise from November 15, 2022.
  • This National Level Coastal Defence Exercise was conceptualised in 2018 to validate various measures that have been instituted towards enhancing maritime security since ‘26/11’.
  • The concept of ‘Sea Vigil’ is to activate the Coastal Security apparatus across India and assess the overarching Coastal Defence mechanism.
  • This exercise will be undertaken along the 7,516 km coastline of the country, covering the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India. It will involve all the coastal States, Union Territories and other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
  • The exercise is being conducted by the Indian Navy in coordination with the Coast Guard and other ministries entrusted with the task of maritime activities.
  • The exercise is a build up towards the major Theatre Level Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX), which the Indian Navy conducts every two years.
  • Sea Vigil and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges.
  • Assets of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Customs and other maritime agencies will participate in the exercise.

Automatic identification system

  • The automatic identification system, or AIS, transmits a ship’s position so that other ships are aware of its position.
  • The International Maritime Organization and other management bodies require large ships, including many commercial fishing vessels, to broadcast their position with AIS in order to avoid collisions.
  • AIS was made compulsory for all vessels above 20 metres after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
  • The decision was taken by the National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, set up to investigate issues related to coastal security.
  • However, for vessels under 20 metres, the process has been delayed for several reasons.
    • There are close to three lakh registered fishing vessels in India of which around 2.5 lakh are under 20 metres
    • This delayed process is now making progress, with a project underway in Tamil Nadu.

Hong Kong Convention

  • The Hong Kong Convention) is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.
  • The Hong Kong Convention was adopted at a Diplomatic Conference held in Hong Kong, China, in May 2009.
  • It was developed with input from IMO Member States and non-governmental organizations, and in co-operation with the International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
  • It intends to address all the issues around ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone depleting substances and others.
  • It will address concerns about working and environmental conditions in many of the world’s ship recycling facilities.
  • It covers the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships.
  • Government of India decided to accede to the Hong Kong International Convention in 2019 with the passage of ‘The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019’.
  • The Convention is yet to come into force because to come into effect the Convention needs –
    • to be ratified by 15 countries
    • representing not less than 40 per cent of gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping
    • the combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States must constitute not less than three per cent of gross tonnage of maximum annual ship recycling volume in the recent ten years.
  • And at present-
    • 17 countries have ratified it: Norway, Congo, France, Belgium, Panama, Denmark, Turkey, Netherland, Serbia, Japan, Estonia, Malta, Germany, Ghana, India, Croatia, Spain
    • Approximately 10 per cent of the tonnage and 0.4 per cent of the recycling volumes need to be added before the Convention can enter into force.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

  • A Public Interest Litigation also known as PIL is a form of litigation that is filed to safeguard or enforce public interest.
  • Public Interest is the interest belonging to a particular class of the community affects their legal rights or liabilities. It may include pecuniary interest.
  • The term “public interest litigation” was taken from American law, where it was intended to give legal representation to previously unrepresented groups like the underprivileged, members of racial minorities, etc
  • The concept of public interest litigation (PIL) is suited to the principles enshrined in Article 39A[a] of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law.
  • It is a relaxation on the traditional rule of locus standi. Before 1980s the judiciary and the Supreme Court of India entertained litigation only from parties affected directly or indirectly by the defendant.
  • PIL allows even people who are not directly involved in the case to bring matters of public interest to the court. However, It is the court’s privilege to entertain the application for the PIL.
  • PN Bhagwati and Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer were among the first judges to admit PILs in court.
  • Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar (1979) was the first PIL case to be publicly known. It focused on the inhumane treatment of prisoners and those awaiting trial and resulted in the release of more than 40,000 such prisoners.

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