Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- India Development Report
- Women’s Reservation Bill
- New Adoption Regulation
- Facts for Prelims – International North South Transport Corridor, Urals Crude, Yuang wang 5
1 . India Development Report
Context: The World Bank on December 6 lifted its growth forecast for India’s economy this year to 6.9%, after having downgraded it to 6.5% in October, citing resilience in economic activity despite a deteriorating external environment.
About India Development Report
- World Bank released India Development Report titled ‘Navigating the Storm’.
- It revised the GDP forecast considering the strong upturn in the July to September quarter of 2022-23, when it grew 3% despite inflationary pressures and tighter financing conditions, “driven by strong private consumption and investment”.
- It expects the Indian economy to grow at a slightly slower 6.6% in 2023-24 as a challenging external environment and faltering global growth will affect its economic outlook through different channels.
- The report said that while a one percentage point decline in growth in the United States is associated with a 0.4 percentage point decline in India’s growth, the effect is around 1.5 times larger for other emerging economies, and the result is similar for growth spillovers from the EU and China.
- A widening goods trade deficit, driven by rising imports and softening exports, has expanded India’s current account deficit to 2.8% of GDP in Q2 this year from 1.5% in the first quarter.
Why this assessment?
- India’s economy has been remarkably resilient to the deteriorating external environment, and strong macroeconomic fundamentals have placed it in good stead compared to other emerging market economies.
- The government’s focus on bolstering capital expenditure also supported domestic demand in the first half of 2022-23.
- A well-crafted and prudent policy response to global spillovers is helping India navigate global and domestic challenges.
- Like its COVID-19 response, the Indian government’s response to the external shock combined demand-side and supply-side policies, with both fiscal and monetary policy levers deployed, the report noted.
- RBI’s management of short-term volatility in exchange rates has contributed to a decline in reserves, though they are still at a relatively high level.
- Despite an over 10% dip in India’s forex reserves this year, they are still over $500 billion and provide adequate buffer against global spillovers with an import cover of at least eight months.
- The adoption of several regulatory and policy measures—including introduction of a new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and creation of the new National Reconstruction Company Limited—facilitated an improvement in financial sector metrics over the past five years.
Concerns in the report
- It cautions India about trade-offs between trying to limit the adverse impact of global spillovers on growth and the available policy space.
- For example, the RBI’s gradual withdrawal of liquidity and policy rate hikes have been aimed at anchoring inflation expectations.
- However, this has increased borrowing costs, which along with elevated input prices have potentially constrained private investment.
- The RBI’s gradual withdrawal of liquidity and policy rate hikes have been aimed at anchoring inflation expectations. However, this has increased borrowing costs, which along with elevated input prices have potentially constrained private investment.
- Strong revenue growth would largely offset India’s higher subsidy bill and lower fuel taxes, but these measures have slowed the pace of fiscal consolidation.
2 . Women’s Reservation Bill
Context: The long pending Women’s Reservation Bill should be reintroduced in the Winter Session, several political parties have demanded at a meeting of Lok Sabha Business Advisory Committee chaired by Lok Sabha speaker.
About the bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008]
- The bill seeks to reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
- The seats will be reserved for women based on various constituencies in the state or the union territory.
- Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.
- Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.
History of the bill
- It was first introduced under the United Front government of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda.
- Similar versions of the Bill were introduced later in 1988, 1999, and 2008.
- In 2008, the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha and after going through the standing committee was passed by the Upper House in 2010 and sent to the Lok Sabha.
- The Lok Sabha did not vote on the bill from 2010 to 2022. Neither a majority passed it, that is 51% of India’s state legislature, nor was it signed by the president, making it pending.
Why has the bill not been passed till now?
- From 1996 to 2007, the bill used to get dissolved for various reasons- such as no answer by the president, illiteracy among women, and no majority of votes supporting women.
Why is the Women’s Reservation Bill required?
- Lower Women’s participation- It is reported that the participation of women in the lower house of parliament, that is, the Lok Sabha and all other state assemblies, is meagre compared to men. To promote women as ministers, the bill was laid before the parliament.
- Currently, there are only 15% women MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha and 12.2% women MPs in the Rajya Sabha. This is lower than the global average of 25.5%. Only 8% of the total MLAs are women across all States in India.
- Effective administration- It is experienced that women working in the positions of Panchayati Raj have worked effectively.
- Gender discrimination- Due to high competition, women often are not able to fight for the election with men. Reserving seats will allow women to stand with men in the elections or get nominated.
Opposition to the bill
- Perpetuate the stereotype- Opponents argue that it would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to be competing on merit.
- Restriction of choice- Reservation of seats in Parliament restricts choice of voters to women candidates.
- Therefore, some experts have suggested alternate methods such as reservation in political parties and dual member constituencies.
- Reduced incentive to work- Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.
- Diversion of focus- This policy diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as criminalisation of politics and inner party democracy.
3 . New Adoption Regulation
Context: The pendency in the adoption of children has come down to 644 from 905 over the last two months since the new Adoption Regulations were notified and in a total of 361 cases, adoption orders have been issued.
- The Rules for adoption of the Juvenile Justice Act were notified on September 23 this year.
- The new Rules for adoption were brought about by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- The new rules empower District Magistrates to issue adoption orders.
- Earlier, this power was exercised by the judiciary.
- These Rules introduced the pre- and post-adoptive counselling sessions for prospective adoptive parents by counsellors trained with the help of the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
- A complete health check-up will be done through the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the child’s district before processing the adoption.
- In accordance with the new rules, prospective adoptive parents can now opt from their home State or region.
- This has been mandated to ensure that the child and the family adjust well with each other.
- Changes have also been made to the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS) online platform for adoption.
- Those children who couldn’t find families within their stipulated referral cycles, are now being offered to prospective parents who are Indian residents, NRIs and OCI card holders irrespective of their seniority.
- These children would have otherwise been referred to prospective parents who are foreigners.
- According to the new regulations, if the child adjusts well with the foster family, it can adopt the child after 2 years of fostering.
- Earlier, children placed in foster care waited for five years for adoption.
Effect of the new rules
- Reduced Pendency- The pendency in the adoption of children has come down to 644 from 905.
- Preference to Indians over Foreigners- After the module became operational from October 10, 1,804 Indian residents, 11 Non Resident Indians (NRI), eight Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), and 28 foreigners have been registered as prospective adoptive parents.
- Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) is the application providing the adoption services.
- Developed by the National Informatics Centre, the CARINGS provides all information on adoption — including eligibility, the documents required and the laws guiding adoption.
- It curtails delays at various level of adoption.
4 . Facts for Prelims
International North South Transport Corridor
- The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
- It was established in 2000 for the purpose of promoting transportation cooperation among the Member States.
- India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg.
- The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali and etc.
- Urals crude oil is a reference oil brand used as a basis for pricing of the Russian export oil mixture.
- It is a mix of heavy sour oil of Urals and the Volga region with light oil of Western Siberia.
- Other reference oils are Brent, West Texas Intermediate and Dubai.
- Urals Crude export to India has increased in the wake of Ukraine-Russia war and resulting embargo on Urals crude from the west.
- Russian Urals oil shipments to India accounted for about 53% – a record-high share of total tanker Urals shipments in November.
Yuang wang 5-
- Yuang wang 5 belongs to Chinese Yuan Wang-class of tracking ships which are used for tracking and support of satellite and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force.
- The class is not a single class of identical design, but instead, a group of different designs grouped under the same series that share the same name.
- Yuan Wang 5 is the third generation tracking ship of Yuan Wang series, and entered service on 29 September 2007.
- Loaded with electronic tracking gear, the Yuan Wang 5 has been called a “spy ship”.
- Yuan Wang 5 has a displacement of 25,000 tones, and is designed to withstand winds up to Beaufort scale 12.
- It has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tons DWT and its draught is reported to be 8.2 meters.
- It has recently re-entered the Indian Ocean in what coincides with a planned Indian long-range missile test, between December 15-16