- CURRENT AFFAIRS – 13/10/2023
- India ranks 111 out of 125 countries in Global Hunger Index
- Should the 50 % legal ceiling on reservation be reconsidered?- A Perspective
- Industrial growth (IIP) hit 14-month high of 10.3% in August
- Large ozone hole detected over Antarctica
- Labour force participation is up, unemployment is down. What about the quality of work?
CURRENT AFFAIRS – 13/10/2023
India ranks 111 out of 125 countries in Global Hunger Index
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
India is ranked 111 out of 125 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2023. The country’s progress in addressing hunger has nearly halted since 2015.
- India’s GHI score is 28.7 on a 100-point scale, categorizing its severity of hunger as “serious.”
- This score is calculated based on four indicators, including undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.
- While India made significant improvements between 2000 and 2015, it has advanced on the GHI by only 0.5 points over the past eight years.
- Global Hunger Trends
- The 2023 GHI score for the world is 18.3, considered moderate, but it is only one point below the world’s 2015 GHI score of 19.1.
- Globally, the share of undernourished people increased from 7.5% in 2017 to 9.2% in 2022, affecting approximately 735 million individuals.
- Government Contesting GHI
- For the third consecutive year, the Indian government contested the GHI’s findings, citing a flawed methodology.
- They argued that the GHI did not reflect India’s true hunger situation.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) challenged the GHI’s use of data, particularly regarding child wasting prevalence.
- The GHI, however, defended its methodology, which is applied consistently to all countries to ensure comparability.
- Objections to Data Sources
- The Indian government expressed concerns about the GHI’s use of data sources, including an alleged telephone-based opinion poll to calculate undernourishment.
- The GHI maintained that it relied on data from India’s Food Balance Sheet to determine undernourishment.
- Global Hunger by Region
- South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara have the highest hunger levels, both with GHI scores of 27.0, indicating serious hunger.
- West Asia and North Africa ranked third with a score of 11.9, signifying a moderate level of hunger.
- Latin America and the Caribbean were the only regions where GHI scores worsened between 2015 and 2023.
- Variation in Regional Scores
- East and Southeast Asia, with populous China, had the second-lowest 2023 GHI score globally, with several countries, including China, having GHI scores of less than 5.
- Europe and Central Asia had the lowest 2023 GHI score, considered “low.”
- Factors Contributing to Hunger Stagnation
- The GHI 2023 report attributes the stagnation in global hunger reduction to a combination of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, economic stagnation, climate change impacts, and ongoing conflicts worldwide.
- These crises have led to a cost-of-living crisis and exhausted the coping capacity of many countries, hindering progress in addressing hunger.
About the Global Hunger Index (GHI)
- The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool that measures and tracks hunger on a global scale.
- The GHI is published annually and is a collaborative effort between several international organizations.
- Components: The GHI is based on four key indicators that capture the multi-dimensional nature of hunger:
- Undernourishment: The proportion of undernourished people in the population.
- Child Stunting: The percentage of children under the age of five who have low height for their age, indicating chronic malnutrition.
- Child Wasting: The percentage of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height, indicating acute malnutrition.
- Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.
- Scoring System:
- The GHI uses a scoring system on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents no hunger, and 100 represents the worst possible hunger.
- The higher the GHI score, the more severe the hunger.
- Countries are categorized based on their GHI scores into several categories, such as “low hunger,” “moderate hunger,” “serious hunger,” and “extremely alarming hunger.”
- These categories reflect the severity of hunger in a particular country.
Should the 50 % legal ceiling on reservation be reconsidered?- A Perspective
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
On October 2, the Bihar government released data from a caste survey.
- The survey revealed that OBCs, SCs, and STs make up approximately 84% of Bihar’s population.
- This has reignited the debate on whether the 50% legal cap on caste-based reservations should be lifted.
- Reconsidering the 50% Reservation Ceiling:
- It is suggests that breaching the 50% reservation ceiling is an inevitable historical process.
- The 50% reservation limit is viewed as arbitrary because it lacks a strong numerical basis.
- Some Indian states have already exceeded the 50% limit, such as Tamil Nadu, which provides 69% reservation through a 1994 law.
- The reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), introduced by the Central government in 2019, also challenges the 50% ceiling.
- The judiciary may need to reevaluate the 50% ceiling, but the timing and political context are crucial for such a reconsideration.
- Reconfiguration of Caste Categories:
- OBC is described as an administrative category, not a caste category, with various heterogeneous castes grouped under it.
- There is a risk that dominant and landed communities within OBCs may benefit more from reservations.
- Sub-categorization of communities within OBCs may become necessary to ensure fair representation and address backwardness.
- The need for reconfiguration of caste categories arises when some groups within OBCs are found to be better off than others, similar to situations in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
- Challenges in Defining OBCs:
- Defining OBCs is challenging as there is no clear way to categorize them. The Constitution describes OBCs as “socially and economically backward classes (SEBCs).”
- Sub-categorization is necessary but requires conceptual and jurisprudential rethinking of who qualifies as socially and educationally backward.
- Implications of Caste Census and Demands for Separate Reservations:
- Rahul Gandhi’s slogan “jitniabadiutnahaq” (representation according to the population) has raised concerns about the potential consequences of a caste census.
- There is a worry that a caste census might lead to individual caste groups demanding separate reservations based on their numerical strength.
- Sub-categorization within castes is seen as a zero-sum game, which may have political repercussions, as demonstrated in Karnataka where strong reactions emerged.
- Sub-categorization could raise questions about the inclusion of certain castes on the list of beneficiaries.
- A caste census might accentuate caste identities and lead to a fragmented polity, but this should not deter the need for data collection to address existing realities.
- There is a need for an ideological campaign or political mobilization to counter or regulate individual caste-based mobilization that may arise from a caste census.
- Impact of Caste Census on Political Landscape:
- The demand for a caste census is likened to “Mandal 2.0,” a reference to the Mandal Commission’s recommendations in the 1990s, which had a significant political impact.
About Mandal Commission
- The Mandal Commission, formally known as the Second Backward Classes Commission, was a government-appointed body in India that was established in 1979.
- The Mandal Commission was constituted by the Janata Party government in 1979, with B.P. Mandal serving as its chairman.
- The commission’s primary task was to determine the criteria and methodology for identifying OBCs and to recommend measures for their social, economic, and educational advancement.
- In 1980, the commission submitted its report, which became widely known as the “Mandal Commission Report.”
- The report identified and categorized OBCs based on various parameters, including social and educational backwardness.
- 27% Reservation:
- One of the most significant recommendations of the Mandal Commission was to provide 27% reservations in government jobs and educational institutions for OBCs.
- The Mandal Commission’s recommendations faced political and social resistance.
- However, the government of Prime Minister V.P. Singh implemented the commission’s suggestion of a 27% OBC reservation in 1990.
- This decision led to widespread protests, including the anti-Mandal Commission protests and self-immolation incidents.
- Legal Challenges:
- The Supreme Court of India upheld the 27% OBC reservation but imposed certain conditions and exceptions to it.
- Creamy Layer Exclusion:
- The Supreme Court ruled that the reservation benefits should not extend to the “creamy layer” within the OBCs.
- The creamy layer refers to the relatively affluent and socially advanced members within the OBC category who do not need the same level of affirmative action.
- Cap on Total Reservations:
- The Supreme Court capped the total reservation in government jobs and educational institutions at 50%.
- This meant that the combined percentage of reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and OBCs should not exceed half of the available seats or positions.
- Efficiency of Administration:
- The court emphasized that the reservation policy should not compromise the efficiency of administration.
- It stated that reservations should not lead to a decline in the quality and competence of the workforce in public institutions.
- Exceptions for Specific Services:
- The court also allowed for some exceptions in particular services or categories where reservations might not be applicable, such as specialized technical or scientific positions where a high level of expertise is crucial.
Industrial growth (IIP) hit 14-month high of 10.3% in August
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : TH
India’s industrial output recorded significant growth in August, reaching a 10.3% increase, the highest in 14 months.
- This comes after a 6% rise in July.
- The surge can be attributed to favorable base effects from the previous year, which saw production levels contracting by 0.7%.
- The manufacturing sector showed robust performance, marking its best since April, with a 9.3% increase in output.
- Key contributors to this growth were the electricity and mining sectors, which saw a sharp rise of 15.3% and 12.3%, respectively.
- In August, only seven out of 23 major manufacturing segments recorded a contraction, compared to nine in July.
- Mixed Performance in Consumer Goods Production
- Consumer goods production displayed a mixed trend.
- Durable goods’ output grew by 5.7%, marking the first increase in three months, reaching levels not seen since September 2022.
- Non-durable consumer items’ output saw a 9% year-on-year jump but was 3.9% below the levels in July.
- Base effects played a role in this uptick, as last August witnessed a 4.4% drop in durable goods output and a 9% decrease in non-durables.
- Double-Digit Growth in Use-Based Segments
- Among use-based segments, three out of six recorded double-digit growth.
- Infrastructure and construction goods grew by 14.9%, marking the fifth successive month of double-digit growth.
- Capital goods’ output jumped by 12.6%, reaching the highest levels in 2023-24, indicating strengthening investment demand.
- Primary goods also experienced growth, with a 12.4% increase, while intermediate goods rose by 6.5%.
- Caution for the Future
- Economists have expressed the need to see if this industrial buoyancy translates into increased sales for Indian companies in their second-quarter results.
- The performance of the next two months will be significant, with a focus on whether rural demand revives.
- Potential challenges on the horizon include the external economic environment, as major Western economies are expected to decelerate, uneven monsoons affecting rural demand, and the transmission of rate hikes to lending rates possibly impacting domestic demand.
About the Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an economic indicator used to measure the performance of various sectors of the industrial economy in a given country.
- In the case of India, it is used to assess the performance of the country’s industrial sectors.
- Purpose and Significance:
- The IIP provides insights into the short-term changes and trends in industrial production.
- It is crucial for policymakers, economists, and businesses to gauge the health and growth of the industrial sector.
- It helps in making informed decisions regarding economic policies, investments, and resource allocation.
- The IIP is calculated using the volume or quantity of production output as compared to a chosen base year.
- It is typically expressed as an index number.
- The base year is periodically updated to ensure that the IIP remains relevant and reflects changes in the industrial landscape.
- The IIP covers various sectors of industrial activity, including manufacturing, mining, and electricity generation.
- Sectoral Coverage: The IIP encompasses three main sectors:
- Manufacturing: This sector includes various industries such as textiles, chemicals, machinery, and automobiles.
- Mining: It covers the extraction of minerals, ores, and fuels from the Earth.
- Electricity: This sector focuses on the generation and distribution of electrical energy.
- The different sectors are assigned weightage based on their contribution to the overall industrial output.
- Sectors with higher significance have a greater influence on the IIP.
- The weightage structure is usually updated to reflect the changing composition of the industrial landscape.
- Index Numbers:
- The IIP is presented in the form of index numbers, often with the base year’s index set at 100.
- The index numbers for subsequent years represent changes in production relative to the base year.
- Seasonal Adjustments:
- Seasonal variations can impact industrial production.
- Therefore, IIP data is often seasonally adjusted to remove such variations.
- Seasonal adjustment allows for a clearer understanding of underlying trends.
- Analysts use IIP data to forecast economic growth, assess inflationary pressures, and make investment decisions.
- In India, the IIP is typically released on a monthly basis, providing more frequent updates on industrial production trends.
- The monthly data can be compared to assess short-term changes, and annual data is useful for longer-term analysis.
- The IIP focuses on quantity or volume of production and does not consider the value of goods or services produced.
- It may not account for qualitative changes in production methods or technology.
- The accuracy of the data can be influenced by factors like delays in reporting and data collection.
- IIP in India:
- In India, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is responsible for compiling and releasing the IIP.
- Core Sectors
- The core sectors of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) in India, often referred to as the “Eight Core Industries,” are a group of key industries that play a significant role in the country’s industrial and economic growth.
- These core sectors are:
- Crude Oil
- Natural Gas
- Refinery Products
- These core sectors comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
Large ozone hole detected over Antarctica
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Indian Express
Satellite measurements conducted by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite on September 16, 2023, revealed a colossal hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica.
- The hole covered an area of 26 million square kilometers, approximately three times the size of Brazil.
- Scientists have referred to this ozone-depleted region as one of the largest they’ve ever observed.
In Image: ESA satellites detected a huge hole in the ozone layer in September.
- Not a Concern for Climate Change:
- According to Claus Zehner, the mission manager for Copernicus Sentinel-5P, the massive ozone hole opening earlier than usual this year is not a cause for concern regarding climate change.
- The hole’s appearance is due to the Earth’s rotation creating specific winds over Antarctica, which form a shield over the continent, preventing it from mixing with surrounding air.
- When these winds weaken, the hole gradually closes.
- Yearly Fluctuation of Ozone Holes:
- The size of the ozone hole over Antarctica experiences annual variations, typically opening in August and closing by November or December.
- The reason for this cycle is the special winds generated by the Earth’s rotation, creating a unique climate in the region.
- This climate effectively prevents the mixing of Antarctic air with the air from the surrounding areas.
- Possible Causes of the Massive Ozone Hole in 2023:
- Scientists attribute this year’s significant ozone hole to volcanic eruptions in Hunga Tonga, Tonga, which occurred between December 2022 and January 2023.
- The eruption released substantial water vapor into the stratosphere, leading to chemical reactions affecting the ozone layer’s heating rate.
- This water vapor also contained elements like bromine and iodine, which can contribute to ozone depletion.
- History of Ozone Holes:
- In the 1970s, scientists identified the presence of ozone holes, mainly caused by the widespread use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- CFCs were used in aerosol propellants, and the chlorine they released in the stratosphere significantly depleted the ozone layer.
- In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was established to phase out the production of harmful ozone-depleting substances, which led to a decrease in the size of ozone holes.
- Impact of Climate Change on Ozone Holes:
- While ozone depletion is not a primary driver of global climate change, there are signs that increasing global temperatures may have an influence on ozone holes.
- In 2020 and 2021, unusually deep and long-lasting ozone holes were observed, with wildfires in Australia being identified as a significant factor in 2020.
- Rising global temperatures have led to more frequent and intense wildfires worldwide, increasing the likelihood of ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
- Ozone holes can contribute to cooling effects and may alter the progression of seasons, leading to longer and more extended polar vortexes.
What are Ozone Holes?
- Ozone holes refer to regions in the Earth’s stratosphere where the concentration of ozone (O3) molecules is significantly reduced, allowing more ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun to reach the Earth’s surface.
- Ozone in the stratosphere plays a crucial role in absorbing and filtering harmful UV radiation, making it an essential component of the Earth’s atmosphere.
- Formation and Depletion:
- Ozone holes typically form in Polar Regions, with the most famous example being the Antarctic ozone hole.
- They usually appear during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring (September to November) and then recover during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer (December to February).
- The main cause of ozone depletion is the release of synthetic chemicals into the atmosphere, particularly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform.
- These chemicals contain chlorine and bromine atoms, which, when released into the stratosphere, can destroy ozone molecules.
- Impact on UV Radiation:
- The depletion of ozone in these regions allows more UV radiation, particularly UV-B and UV-C, to penetrate the Earth’s surface.
- This increase in UV radiation can have harmful effects on human health, including an increased risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and sunburn.
- Furthermore, higher UV radiation can harm ecosystems, affecting plant life, marine environments, and phytoplankton.
- It can disrupt food chains and have cascading effects on biodiversity.
- The Ozone Layer:
- Ozone holes occur within the ozone layer, which is located in the Earth’s stratosphere, approximately 10 to 30 kilometers (6 to 19 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
- The ozone layer is primarily responsible for absorbing the majority of harmful UV radiation from the sun.
- The Montreal Protocol:
- In response to the discovery of ozone depletion, the international community adopted the Montreal Protocol in 1987.
- This landmark treaty aimed to phase out the production and consumption of substances known to deplete the ozone layer, particularly CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals.
- Regional Variability:
- While the most famous ozone hole is located over Antarctica, similar but smaller ozone holes have been observed over the Arctic (the Arctic ozone hole).
- These are typically less severe due to differences in climate and geography.
Labour force participation is up, unemployment is down. What about the quality of work?
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : The Indian Express
The periodic labor force survey for 2022-23 shows a notable increase in labor force participation rates across India.
- The labor force participation rate for individuals aged 15 years and above has risen from 49.8% in 2017-18 to 57.9% in 2022-23.
- This increase is more pronounced in rural areas, with females contributing significantly to the rise in participation, particularly in rural regions.
- Female participation in rural areas surged from 24.6% in 2017-18 to 41.5% in 2022-23, indicating a substantial 17-percentage-point increase.
- While this increase may appear positive, some experts suggest it might be driven by economic distress in rural areas, leading women to seek employment to augment family incomes.
- Programs like MGNREGA, known for lower wages compared to non-farm occupations, have seen steady growth over the years, and women’s participation in the program has increased steadily.
- Shift in Employment Structure
- The survey reveals changes in the employment structure.
- The share of the self-employed workforce has increased from 55.6% in 2020-21 to 57.3% in 2022-23.
- In contrast, the share of regular wage/salaried employment has slightly declined, falling from 21.1% to 20.9% during the same period.
- Additionally, the percentage of workers engaged in informal sector enterprises in the non-agricultural sector has risen from 71.4% in 2020-21 to 74.3% in 2022-23.
- While unemployment rates have decreased overall and among the youth (aged 15-29), the declining share of regular wage/salaried employment and the increase in self-employment raise concerns about the economy’s ability to create productive and well-paying jobs for the growing labor force.
- The challenge of insufficient job creation continues to be a significant concern for policymakers and the labor market.
Note: The labor force survey in India is conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO), which is a part of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The NSO conducts various surveys and collects data related to labor force, employment, and other socio-economic aspects in India.