CURRENT AFFAIRS – 07/09/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 07/09/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 07/09/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 07/09/2023

India, that is Bharat: How the Constituent Assembly chose

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Indian Express

The framing of Article 1 of the Constitution of India, which determines the name and nature of the country, was a subject of passionate debate and discussion in the Constituent Assembly.

  • The debate revolved around whether to use both “India” and “Bharat” in the official name and the order of these terms.

Key Highlights

  • Post-Colonial Identity:
    • Some members, including Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, argued in favor of using both “Bharat” and “India” in the provision.
    • They believed that while “Bharat” represented the historical and cultural identity of the country, “India” acknowledged its international identity.
    • This approach aimed to strike a balance between the nation’s cultural heritage and its global presence.
  • Resistance to Colonial Legacy:
    • Several members expressed their resistance to using “India” alone, as they viewed it as a reminder of the colonial past.
    • They argued that the name “India” had been imposed on the country by foreign rulers and that clinging to it would be a sign of not being ashamed of this imposed name.
  • Preference for “Bharat”:
    • Some members, like Seth Govind Das, advocated for placing “Bharat” before “India” in the provision.
    • They believed that “Bharat” should take precedence as the primary name of the nation, with “India” being used as an alternative in foreign countries.
  • Comparison with Irish Constitution:
    • Hari Vishnu Kamath referenced the Irish Constitution, which changed the name of the Irish Free State to “Eire” in the English language upon achieving freedom.
    • He argued that using “Bharat” as the primary name with “India” as an alternative was similar to this example.
  • Regional Preferences:
    • Hargovind Pant highlighted that people from northern India, particularly the hill districts of the United Provinces, strongly preferred the name “Bharatvarsha.”
    • He argued that the people of his region wanted “Bharatvarsha” and nothing else.
  • References in Ancient Texts:
    • Some members, like Seth Govind Das, pointed out references to “Bharat” in ancient texts such as the Vishnu Purana and Brahma Purana.
    • They argued that these texts mentioned “Bharat” as the name of the country, emphasizing its historical and cultural significance.
  • Hiuen Tsang’s Mention:
    • It was mentioned that the seventh-century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang had referred to the country as “Bharat” in his accounts.
    • This historical reference was used to support the use of “Bharat” as the name for the nation.
  • Derivation of Names:
    • Seth Govind Das also discussed the derivation of the name “Bharat” and its connection to ancient language.
    • He mentioned that “Idyam” and “Ide” meant fire, and “Idenyah” had been used as an adjective of fire.
    • He argued that “Bharat” signified “voice.”
  • Origin of the Name:
    • There were varying opinions among historians and philologists about the origin of the name “Bharat.”
    • Some attributed it to the legendary figure Bharata, the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala, who established his rule in the region.
    • According to this perspective, the land came to be known as “Bharat” after him.

Ultimately, the motion to include both “Bharat” and “India” in Article 1 was adopted, reflecting a compromise that acknowledged the historical and cultural significance of both names for the nation.

About Article 1 of the Indian Constitution

  • Article 1 of the Indian Constitution is the first article in Part I of the Constitution, which deals with the Union and its territory.
  • It defines the territory of India and formally establishes the name of the country.
  • Article 1 says, “India, that is, Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
  • Meaning:
    • Article 1 describes India, that is, Bharat as a ‘Union of States’ rather than a ‘Federation of States’.
    • The use of “Union of States” implies that the Indian Federation is indivisible and indestructible.
    • In other words, Indian states do not have the right to secede from the federation.
    • The unity and integrity of India are fundamental principles of the Indian Constitution.
    • According to Dr B R Ambedkar, the phrase ‘Union of States’ has been preferred to ‘Federation of States’ for two reasons:
      • one, the Indian Federation is not the result of an agreement among the states like the American Federation; and
      • two, the states have no right to secede from the federation.

A short history of the nation’s names, from the Rig Veda to the Constitution of India

  • The name ‘Bharat’ or ‘Bharata’ has its roots in Puranic literature and the epic Mahabharata.
  • In Vishnu Puarana, Bharata is described as the land located between the southern sea and the northern abode of snow.
  • Bharata is also associated with the ancient legendary king of the Bharatas, who is considered the ancestor of the Rig Vedic tribe of the Bharatas and, by extension, the progenitor of all peoples in the subcontinent.
  • The Names ‘India’ and ‘Hindustan’
    • The name ‘Hindustan’ likely originated from ‘Hindu,’ the Persian cognate form of the Sanskrit ‘Sindhu’ (Indus).
    • This name gained prominence during the Achaemenid Persian conquest of the Indus valley in the 6th century BC.
    • The Achaemenids used ‘Hindu’ to identify the lower Indus basin, and over time, the suffix “stan” was added to create “Hindustan.”
    • The Greeks, who learned of ‘Hind’ from the Achaemenids, transliterated it as ‘Indus.’
    • By the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion in the 3rd century BC, ‘India’ was associated with the region beyond the Indus.
    • During the early Mughal period (16th century), ‘Hindustan’ was used to describe the entire Indo-Gangetic plain.
    • However, by the late 18th century, British maps increasingly used the name ‘India,’ and ‘Hindustan’ lost its association with all of South Asia.
  • The adoption of ‘India’ by the British signified a change in perspectives and helped establish the subcontinent as a single, bounded British political territory.
  • Supreme Court’s View
    • In June 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL seeking to remove “India” from the Constitution and retain only “Bharat” to shed the colonial past, noting that “India is already called Bharat in the Constitution itself.”

The Black Sea Grain Deal

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Indian Express

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was confident Russia would “soon” revive the Black Sea grain deal, which was signed in July 2022.

  • Turkey has repeatedly expressed its commitment to renewing the deal to prevent a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Key Highlights

  • The Black Sea grain deal was an important international agreement signed in July 2022, aiming to ensure safe passage for cargo ships carrying grain from Ukraine through the Black Sea.
  • This agreement held significance for global food security, particularly in regions heavily reliant on grain imports, such as Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

What is the Black Sea Grain Deal?

  • Ukraine’s Role as a Major Grain Exporter:
    • Ukraine is one of the world’s leading exporters of food grains, including wheat and corn.
    • It plays a substantial role in contributing to the United Nations’ food aid programs.
  • Russian Aggression and Blockade:
    • Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the blockade of its ports led to soaring food prices and raised concerns about food security in vulnerable countries.
    • For example, wheat prices surged in Pakistan, leading to a crisis.
  • The Black Sea Grain Initiative:
    • In response to the crisis, the United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 22, 2022.
    • Under this initiative, cargo ships could travel to and from three Ukrainian ports: Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny), provided they underwent inspections to ensure they weren’t carrying arms.
    • The safe passage route in the Black Sea was 310 nautical miles long and three nautical miles wide.
  • Extensions and Russia’s Withdrawal: The deal was extended twice, but Russia eventually withdrew from it.

Why Russia Refused to Renew the Deal?

  • Claims of Unmet Promises:
    • Russia argued that the promises made under the deal were not fulfilled, and it faced difficulties in exporting its agricultural products and fertilizers due to Western sanctions.
    • While there were no direct restrictions on Russia’s agricultural products, it pointed to barriers related to payment platforms, insurance, shipping, and logistics that hampered its exports.
  • Russian Concerns and Putin’s Statement:
  • Russia had initially agreed to the grain deal to help ensure global food security.
  • However, it claimed that Ukraine had mainly exported to high- and middle-income countries, neglecting poorer nations.
  • Putin stated that Russia had shown goodwill to extend the deal but had reached a breaking point due to these concerns.

Developments after the Deal Ended

  • Russian Aggression Continues:
    • Since Russia’s refusal to renew the deal, Moscow has continued to target the Odesa region, Ukraine’s primary Black Sea port.
    • Recent events include a Russian drone strike on the Danube River port of Izmail in Odesa, causing damage to warehouses and buildings.
  • Russia’s Export Plans:
    • Russia is exploring opportunities to export grain to African nations.
    • Putin mentioned a potential deal with six African countries, including Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea, involving the supply of up to 50,000 tonnes of grain.
  • Russia intends to handle logistics and deliveries at no cost to the African nations.

In Image: Under the Black Sea Grain initiative, cargo ships would be allowed to travel from and to three Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny).

Kunbi Caste Certificates to Marathas in Marathwada

(General Studies- Paper II)

Kunbi certificates for Marathas with Nizam-era records: Shinde

Source : The Hindu

The Maharashtra government has made a significant decision in response to protests by Maratha reservation advocates.

  • The government has agreed to issue Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas in the Marathwada region who possess Nizam-era documents recognizing them as Kunbis.

Key Highlights

  • This move will grant Marathas access to Other Backward Classes (OBC) benefits and reservations.
  • Chief Minister announced the decision and the formation of a committee to establish the procedure for issuing these certificates.
  • Background:
    • Marathas have been demanding OBC status for access to reservations.
    • A police lathicharge on protesters in Jalna on September 1 led to Deputy Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis apologizing on behalf of the government.
    • Manoj Jarange-Patil led protests demanding Kunbi caste certificates for those with Nizam-era documents.
    • The Kunbi community in Maharashtra is linked to agriculture and classified as OBC.
  • Key Decisions:
  • The government will issue Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas with old Nizam-era documents.
  • A five-member committee, led by retired Justice Sandeep Shinde, will create a procedure to verify these documents within a month.
  • The government will issue a Government Resolution (GR) for this purpose.
  • The committee will contact officials in Hyderabad to verify old documents.
  • Historical Context:
    • In the past, Marathas in Marathwada were counted as Kunbis when the region was part of the Hyderabad province.
    • After Marathwada became part of Maharashtra, they were classified as Marathas.
    • In 1967, OBC status was demanded for Marathas in the Vidarbha region.
    • In 2004, the Maharashtra government granted Kunbi status to Marathas in that region.

About Kunbi Community

  • The Kunbi community is primarily associated with agriculture and farming.
  • Traditionally, they have been engaged in various agricultural activities, including cultivating crops and tending to the land.
  • In different parts of Maharashtra, the Kunbi community has been classified differently.
  • In some regions, they were considered part of the OBC category, while in others, they were listed as Marathas.

Bridging the malnutrition gap, the Bemetara way

(General Studies- Paper II)

Bridging the malnutrition gap, the Bemetara way

Source : The Hindu

The role and importance of nutrition counselling which is a crucial component of achieving food and nutrition security in India, cannot be ignored.

  • The government’s efforts in providing food security through initiatives like mid-day meals, Public Distribution System (PDS), and supplementary nutrition programs is commendable.
  • However, despite these efforts, nutrition security remains a challenge due to limited knowledge of proper eating and feeding practices and the prevalence of food myths and processed foods.
  • Hence, there is a need for nutrition counselling and social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) as essential tools for addressing this issue.

Key Highlights

  • Government Efforts in Food Security:
    • The Indian government has undertaken significant efforts to ensure food security, including mid-day meals in schools, monthly ration distribution through the PDS, and supplementary nutrition programs.
    • Programs like the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) Abhiyaan provide ready-to-eat meals, especially for mothers and children at Anganwadi Centres (AWCs).
    • Various state-specific schemes, such as the MukhyamantriSuposhanYojana in Chhattisgarh, offer additional nutritional support like eggs, bananas, protein powders, peanut chikki, and jaggery.
  • Challenges in Achieving Nutrition Security:
    • Despite these efforts, nutrition security remains a distant goal.
    • Lack of knowledge regarding proper eating and feeding practices and the proliferation of processed foods and food myths contribute to the problem.
  • The Role of Nutrition Counselling:
    • Nutrition counselling is proposed as a potential solution to address these challenges.
    • Counselling can help educate individuals and communities about healthy eating practices, dispel myths, and promote the consumption of nutritious foods.
    • It can play a crucial role in changing behaviour and fostering a culture of healthy eating.
  • Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC):
    • SBCC, also known as “Jan Andolan,” has been incorporated into the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
    • SBCC initiatives include bicycle rallies, planting PoshanVatikas, celebrating PoshanMaah (Nutrition Month), conducting PoshanPakhwaras (Nutrition Weeks), and organizing GodhBharaais (baby showers).
    • While SBCC has been instrumental, there is room for further integration of nutrition counselling into these efforts.
  • Need for Uniform Implementation:
    • The POSHAN Abhiyaan Progress Report, 2018, emphasizes the importance of a focused and coherent SBCC Action Plan.
    • There is a need for proper training of field staff in nutritional counselling and uniform implementation across states.
    • Institutionalizing nutrition counselling can enhance the impact of food security initiatives and contribute to better nutrition outcomes.
  • Lessons from Bemetara:
    • Bemetara, a prosperous district in Chhattisgarh unaffected by Naxalite activities, faced a high number of Severe Acute Malnutritioned (SAM) children, totaling 3,299 in December 2022.
    • The malnutrition problem in Bemetara was attributed to a lack of knowledge about proper feeding practices rather than access to food.
  • Nutrition Counselling Approach:
    • The “PotthLaikaAbhiyaan” (Healthy Child Mission) is a nutrition counselling program implemented in 72 of the most affected AnganwadiCenters (AWCs) in Bemetara.
    • Ground-level staff from health and women and child development departments were trained to provide nutrition counselling.
    • Parents of SAM and Medium Acute Malnutritioned (MAM) children receive counselling in simple Chhattisgarhi language, covering topics like balanced diets and handwashing.
    • Harmful dietary myths and superstitions are dispelled during these sessions.
    • The progress of targeted children is closely monitored, and local leaders participate in counselling sessions.
    • Door-to-door visits are conducted to monitor children’s progress.
  • Encouraging Outcomes:
    • As a result of the efforts, it is reported that 53.77% of targeted children were brought out of malnutrition through the program between December 2022 and July 2023, a total of 599 out of 1,114 children.
    • Of MAM children, 61.5% and 14.67% of SAM children were successfully treated.
    • Comparatively, in control groups where the program was not implemented, only 30.6% of children were taken out of malnutrition.
    • The program demonstrates a significant increase in effectiveness compared to the control group.
    • Importantly, the program is cost-effective, requiring minimal budgeting and resources.
  • Replicating the Model:
    • The success of the nutrition counselling program in Bemetara suggests that it should be replicated on a larger scale across districts and states.
    • Providing food to the poor should be complemented with nutrition counselling and monitoring to effectively combat malnutrition.
    • A broader implementation of this model can contribute to India’s goal of becoming “KuposhanMukt Bharat” (Malnutrition-Free India).

What is Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) Abhiyaan?

  • The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN Abhiyaan) is a flagship program of the Government of India.
  • It is aimed at addressing malnutrition and improving nutritional outcomes, especially among women and children.
  • The program was launched on March 8, 2018, on International Women’s Day.
  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).
  • Key Policy Objectives of POSHAN Abhiyaan:
    • Targeted Beneficiaries:
      • Focus on improving the nutritional status of specific population groups, including children (0-6 years), adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
    • Holistic Approach:
      • Ensure a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to address malnutrition, covering all 36 states and union territories.
    • Stunting Reduction:
      • Target to reduce the prevalence of stunting in children (0-6 years) from 38.4% in 2016 to 25% by 2022.
    • Anemia Reduction:
      • Aim to reduce anemia among women and adolescent girls (15-49 years).
    • Improved Birth Weight:
      • Strive to improve birth weight to enhance the health of newborns.
    • Three-Year Program:
      • POSHAN Abhiyaan operates as a three-year program with the objective of achieving significant improvements in nutritional outcomes.
    • Malnutrition-Free India:
      • Work towards the overarching goal of eradicating undernutrition in India and creating a malnutrition-free nation by 2022.
    • The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan in 315 Districts in first year, 235 Districts in second year and remaining districts will be covered in the third year.
    • Other Key Components:
      • Convergence:
        • The program promotes convergence and coordination between various government departments and ministries, including Health and Family Welfare, Education, Rural Development, and Water and Sanitation.
      • Behavior Change Communication (BCC):
        • POSHAN Abhiyaan recognizes the importance of behavior change communication and social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategies.
      • ICT-Based Real-Time Monitoring:
        • The program uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for real-time monitoring and tracking of nutritional outcomes.
      • Strengthening of AnganwadiCenters (AWCs):
        • A key component of the program is the strengthening of AWCs, which are at the forefront of service delivery.
        • This includes improving infrastructure, providing training to Anganwadi workers, and ensuring the availability of essential services and supplies.
      • Supplementary Nutrition:
        • POSHAN Abhiyaan focuses on providing supplementary nutrition to children aged 6 months to 6 years, pregnant women, and lactating mothers through AWCs. It includes the provision of take-home rations and hot-cooked meals.
      • Jan Andolan (People’s Movement):
        • POSHAN Abhiyaan seeks to mobilize communities and engage with various stakeholders, including local leaders, NGOs, and religious heads, to create a people’s movement for better nutrition.
      • Conjunction of Schemes/Programs:
        • POSHAN Abhiyaan integrates various existing schemes and programs, including Pradhan MantriMatruVandanaYojana (PMMVY), Anganwadi Services, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, National Health Mission (NHM), Swachh Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System (PDS), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), and others, to address malnutrition comprehensively.
      • Focus on the 1,000-Day Window:
        • Targeting the critical 1,000-day window around childbirth and providing support to mothers during pre- and post-delivery stages to reduce malnutrition.

Need for POSHAN Abhiyaan

  • While India’s malnutrition rates have dropped significantly, the country is still home to the largest number of stunted and wasted children in the world.

Mission POSHAN 2.0 Scheme

  • Mission POSHAN 2.0 was launched in February 2021 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to address declining nutrition indicators in India.
  • This scheme brings together multiple programs, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)—Anganwadi Services, Supplementary Nutrition Programme, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and the National Crèche Scheme.
  • The primary objective is to create a comprehensive, unified strategy to boost nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcomes while promoting health, wellness, and disease resistance.
  • Key Components:
    • Integrated Approach: Mission POSHAN 2.0 integrates several nutrition schemes and programs to streamline efforts and resources.
    • ICDS Scheme:
      • The ICDS Scheme, a central component, aims to bridge the gap between Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and Average Daily Intake (ADI).
    • Anganwadi Services:
      • Within ICDS, the Anganwadi Services are revamped under the SakshamAnganwadi Scheme.
    • Supplementary Nutrition Programme:
      • Part of ICDS, it focuses on improving the health and nutrition status of pregnant and lactating women, as well as children aged 6 months to 6 years.
    • Ministry Responsible:
      • Implementation of the ICDS Scheme falls under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • Key Implementation Details of Mission POSHAN 2.0:
      • Aspirational Districts:
        • The government has identified 112 aspirational districts for the initial phase of Mission POSHAN 2.0.
        • These districts will serve as the focal areas for implementing the program.
      • Implementing Ministries:
        • The Ministry of Women and Child Development will take the lead in implementing Mission POSHAN 2.0.
        • It will collaborate closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Education.
      • Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):
        • The program operates under the aegis of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), aligning with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP).
      • Budget Allocation:
        • The Finance Ministry has allocated an estimated budget of Rs. 20,105 crore (approximately US$ 2,741 million) for the fiscal year 2021-22 to support Mission POSHAN 2.0.
        • This budget encompasses five schemes that have been merged under the program.
      • Engaging the Private Sector in POSHAN Abhiyaan:
        • In March 2019, IMPAct4Nutrition was launched in New Delhi.
        • This initiative is convened by several organizations, including UNICEF, Tata Trusts, Sight and Life, CSRBOX, CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), WeCan, and NASSCOM Foundation.
        • IMPAct4Nutrition serves as a platform for the private sector to actively engage and contribute to the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
        • It encourages private companies to build a social movement involving their employees, customers, and their families, all of whom are part of their business ecosystem.

How unemployment is measured?

(General Studies- Paper II)

How unemployment is measured

Source : The Hindu

India’s Periodic Labour Force Survey in 2017 reported an unemployment rate of 6.1%, the highest ever recorded in India.

  • The 2021-22 PLFS showed a reduction in India’s unemployment rate to 4.1%, still higher than some developed economies.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate fluctuated between 3.5% in July 2022 to 3.7% in July 2023.
  • The methodologies used to measure unemployment differ between the two countries.
  • The United States is more industrialized compared to India.
  • India has a large informal sector, which poses challenges in measuring unemployment accurately.

Key Highlights

  • Defining Unemployment:
    • ILO Definition: Unemployment, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), involves three criteria:
      • being out of a job,
      • being available for employment, and
      • actively seeking work.
      • Someone who loses their job but doesn’t actively search for another isn’t considered unemployed.
    • Labour Force: The labor force comprises the employed and the unemployed.
      • Individuals neither employed nor unemployed, such as students and those in unpaid domestic work, are considered out of the labor force.
      • The unemployment rate is the ratio of the unemployed to the labor force.
      • It can decrease if an economy fails to generate enough jobs or if people stop searching for work.
    • S. Example:
      • In the U.S., the employment-to-population ratio (EPR) in 2019 was 60.8%, with an unemployment rate of 3.7%.
      • In 2022, the EPR was 60, but the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%.
      • This occurred because some individuals left the labor force.
    • Measuring Unemployment in India:
      • In developing economies like India, social norms can constrain decisions to seek work.
      • Many women engaged in domestic work express a willingness to work if opportunities were available within their households.
      • However, they are not actively looking for work and, therefore, aren’t counted among the unemployed.
      • Informal Jobs:
        • In India, informal employment is prevalent, and individuals often hold multiple jobs in different sectors throughout the year.
        • Determining whether they are unemployed at a specific moment can be challenging.
  • NSSO Measures:
    • India’s National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) uses two major measures:
      • Usual Principal and Subsidiary Status (UPSS) and
      • Current Weekly Status (CWS).
    • UPSS considers an individual employed if they were engaged in some economic activity for not less than 30 days, even if they were unemployed for an extended period.
    • CWS adopts a shorter reference period of a week, making it easier to classify someone as employed.
  • Rural vs. Urban Rates:
    • Lower UPSS unemployment rates in rural areas compared to urban areas can be attributed to the greater probability of finding work in agrarian economies where individuals have access to family farms or casual agrarian work.
  • CMIE Approach:
    • The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy classifies individuals based on their activity the day before the interview.
    • This approach estimates a higher unemployment rate but lower labor force participation rates due to the irregular nature of work in the informal economy.
  • Trade-offs:
    • There is a trade-off between different measurement frameworks in a developing economy.
    • Shorter reference periods yield higher unemployment rates and lower employment rates, while longer periods may yield opposite results.
    • Developed nations with more regular employment patterns don’t face this dilemma.
  • The Lockdown Effect on Unemployment Rates:
    • The nationwide lockdown announced in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the Indian economy.
    • The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) unemployment rates cover a period from July of one year to June of the next.
    • The lockdown and its effects would be reflected in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 PLFS data.
  • Unemployment Trends:
    • Interestingly, the PLFS data showed that unemployment rates, measured by both Usual Principal and Subsidiary Status (UPSS) and Current Weekly Status (CWS) standards, fell in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
    • The measurement framework influences the recorded unemployment rates during the lockdown.
    • An individual with regular employment who lost their job in March 2020 could still be counted as employed by UPSS if they had spent most of the previous year employed.

  • CWS Criterion:
    • CWS, with a shorter reference period, would record higher unemployment rates during the lockdown period.
    • However, PLFS data is an aggregation of interviews conducted throughout the year, and if those who lost jobs during the lockdown found employment relatively quickly, the yearly CWS rate might not show a high rise.
  • Quarterly Variation:
    • Quarterly data for urban CWS unemployment rates shows a spike during the lockdown quarter, followed by a reduction.
    • Averaging across these different periods can result in a lower annual CWS unemployment rate.

WHO Regional Director Election

(General Studies- Paper II)

Hasina’s daughter, Nepal WHO veteran vie for India’s vote

Source : The Hindu

Bangladesh and Nepal have nominated candidates for the post of World Health Organization’s (WHO) South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) Director.

  • The candidates are SaimaWazed from Bangladesh and Shambhu Prasad Acharya from Nepal.

Key Highlights

  • Election Details: The election will take place during a closed-door SEARO session in New Delhi, scheduled from October 30 to November 2.
  • The winner will be determined by a majority vote among 11 member countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.
  • Current Director: Poonam Khetrapal Singh from India has been holding the SEARO Director’s post since 2014.
  • India’s Position:
    • Undecided: Indian government officials have not yet made a decision on whether to support SaimaWazed from Bangladesh or Shambhu Prasad Acharya from Nepal for the WHO SEARO Director’s post.
    • It is suggested that Bangladesh might have an advantage due to the significance of the India-Bangladesh relationship and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s support for the candidate.
  • Reciprocity:
    • The outcome of the election could depend on each SEARO member country’s negotiations with Bangladesh and Nepal.
    • Countries may seek support on other UN votes as part of a system of reciprocity.
  • Candidates’ Campaigns:
    • Both candidates are expected to campaign actively with SEARO members and countries that have influence in the region.
    • WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus is expected to support Acharya, while Bangladesh is making diplomatic efforts to secure support from various countries.

What is ‘SEARO session of WHO’?

  • The SEARO session of WHO refers to the meeting of the South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • WHO is divided into six regional offices, and SEARO is one of them, specifically responsible for the South-East Asia region.
  • These regional offices serve as administrative units that focus on addressing health issues and providing support within their respective regions.

About WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.

  • WHO was established on April 7, 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It was created in response to the need for a coordinated global approach to addressing health issues and pandemics following World War II.
  • Membership:
    • WHO has 194 member states, making it one of the largest and most inclusive specialized agencies within the United Nations system.
    • Each member state is represented in the World Health Assembly, which is the organization’s decision-making body.
  • Leadership:
    • WHO is led by a Director-General, who is appointed by the World Health Assembly.
    • The Director-General is responsible for overseeing the organization’s work and implementing its policies and programs.
  • WHO collaborates with numerous international organizations, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to achieve its global health objectives.
    • It often works closely with organizations like UNICEF, the World Bank, and UNAIDS.
  • Funding:
    • WHO is funded by contributions from member states, as well as voluntary contributions from other sources, including foundations and philanthropic organizations.

The Era of Global Boiling and Health Crisis

(General Studies- Paper III)

For an expanse of blue, with air so clean

Source : The Hindu

UN Secretary-General AntónioGuterres warns of the era of global warming with extreme weather events.

  • Urgent need to address the triple-planetary crisis: biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution.

Key Highlights

  • Air pollution is a silent killer contributing to health crises worldwide.
  • Lung cancer claimed 10 million lives in 2020, with projections of 3.2 million more deaths by 2050.
  • South Asia, home to two billion people, has nine of the world’s 10 most polluted cities.
  • Delhi’s air quality poses long-term health risks to its residents.
  • Air Pollution’s Toll and Vulnerable Groups
    • Air pollution contributes to lung cancer, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory ailments, and mental health issues.
    • Immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, children, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.
    • India saw 1.67 million pollution-related deaths in 2019, accounting for 17.8% of total deaths.
  • Efforts to Combat Air Pollution
    • Initiatives like the PUSA Decomposer and GRAP 3 are addressing agricultural and urban pollution.
    • Innovative startups are turning agricultural waste into valuable products.
    • Some global cities show success in prioritizing human health and environmental sustainability.
  • Global Initiatives and Hopeful Practices
    • UNESCO and UNEP initiatives include internal carbon taxes, emission reduction measures, and green solutions.
    • The UN General Assembly designated September 7 as the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies in 2019.
    • A specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for ‘Clean Air to Breathe’ is currently lacking.

Tackling Air pollution in India

India has taken several initiatives to tackle air pollution, particularly in its major cities, where poor air quality is a significant public health concern. Some of these initiatives include:

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
    • The National Clean Air Programme is a comprehensive action plan launched by the Indian government to address air pollution in 102 non-attainment cities.
    • It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) levels by 20-30% in these cities by 2024.
    • The program focuses on source apportionment studies, strengthening monitoring networks, and implementing city-specific action plans.
  • Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP):
    • GRAP is a set of emergency measures designed to combat severe air pollution episodes in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
    • It includes actions like banning construction activities, regulating industrial emissions, and implementing the odd-even road rationing scheme for vehicles during high pollution days.
  • Promotion of Electric Vehicles (EVs):
    • To reduce vehicular emissions, the Indian government has launched various incentives and schemes to promote the adoption of electric vehicles.
    • These include subsidies for EV buyers, tax incentives, and the development of EV charging infrastructure.
  • Banning Polluting Vehicles:
    • Several Indian cities have implemented strict regulations to ban older, highly polluting vehicles from entering certain areas or during specific times of the day.
  • Improved Public Transportation:
    • Expanding and improving public transportation systems, such as the Delhi Metro, helps reduce the number of private vehicles on the road, which can contribute to better air quality.
  • Stubble Burning Solutions:
    • To address agricultural pollution caused by stubble burning, initiatives like the PUSA Decomposer have been introduced.
    • This eco-friendly microbial technology helps decompose crop residue instead of burning it.
  • Green Spaces and Urban Planning:
    • Cities are working on creating more green spaces, urban forests, and parks to improve air quality.
    • Better urban planning and promoting eco-friendly construction practices also contribute to reducing pollution.
  • Air Quality Monitoring:
    • Expanding and improving air quality monitoring networks is essential for tracking pollution levels accurately.
    • Real-time data is crucial for implementing timely interventions.