CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/02/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 19/02/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/02/2024

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/02/2024

Joblessness rising in country with education levels: study

(General Studies- Paper II) 

Source  The Hindu

A recent study conducted by D. Tripati Rao of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, in collaboration with researchers from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, and the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, highlights troubling trends in India’s economy.

  • The study, published in the Indian Journal of Labour Economics, examines data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Employment and Unemployment Survey and Periodic Labour Force Survey Dashboard spanning from 1983 to 2020–21.

Key Highlights

  • Stagnating Employment Growth:
    • The country is experiencing a stagnation in employment growth, coupled with weakening employment elasticity and slow structural transformation.
    • From 2004–05 to 2018–19, there was a phase of ‘jobless growth,’ where economic output increased, but job creation did not keep pace with this expansion.
    • Following the jobless growth period, there was only a minor rebound in employment, indicating ongoing challenges in the labor market.
  • The study identifies the agricultural sector as a major employer of the youth but notes that it contributes low value-added to the overall economy, leading to significant employment challenges.
  • Economic growth, rather than creating more jobs, has resulted in net labor displacement, emphasizing the need to not only focus on the quantity but also the quality and decency of jobs.
  • The study points out structural problems in the labor market, including low female labor force participation and a rise in the unemployment rate with education levels.
  • Policy Recommendations:The researchers propose targeted policy interventions to address the identified challenges.
    • The study suggests a conscious effort to identify and promote the labor-intensive manufacturing sector as a key strategy for achieving inclusive growth.
    • Making the manufacturing sector more labor-intensive is seen as having high linkage effects, uplifting various industries and contributing to overall economic growth.
  • Labor Force Composition:
    • As per a comprehensive study on India’s labor market, the total labor force in 2020–21 was estimated at 556.1 million.
    • Self-employment constituted the majority, with 54.9% (292.2 million), followed by regular employment at 22.8% (121.1 million), and casual employment at 22.3% (118.6 million).
    • The number of unemployed individuals decreased from 26.4 million in 2019–20 to 24.3 million in 2020–21.
  • Gender Disparity:
    • The study highlights persistent gender-based disparities in the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in both rural and urban areas.
    • The decline in LFPR is more pronounced for females compared to males from 1983 to 2020–21.
    • The overall female Work Force Participation Rate (WFPR) for ages 15–59 in 2020–21 was 32.46%, significantly lower (44.55 percentage points) than that of men.
    • The total percentage of male WFPR (81.10%) was more than double that of female adults (33.79%) in the same age group.
  • Education-Based Unemployment:
    • An alarming trend revealed by the study is the correlation between education level and unemployment rate (UR).
    • The unemployment rate rises with higher education levels. In 2020–21, the UR for illiterate and less educated individuals (below primary) was 0.57% and 1.13%, respectively.
    • In contrast, for the highly educated class (graduates and above), the UR was substantially higher at 14.73% in the age group ’15–29 years.’
  • Role of Public Programs:
    • The study underscores the positive impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), public works projects, and poverty alleviation measures on rural livelihoods.
    • While such initiatives contribute to a 5% increase in wages in rural areas, they also drive out private sector employment.
    • Additionally, MGNREGA is associated with increased Labor Force Participation (LFP) among females, improved bargaining power for low-caste workers, higher rural wage levels, and reduced dependence on high-caste employers.

About the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

  • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) is a key organization under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) in India.
  • It was established in 1950 with the primary objective of collecting data through sample surveys on various aspects of socio-economic life in the country.
  • The NSSO conducts surveys on various socio-economic subjects, annual survey of industries, rural and urban prices, and plays a significant role in the improvement of crop statistics through the supervision of area enumeration and crop estimation surveys of the State agencies.
    • It also maintains a frame of urban area units for use in sample surveys in urban areas.
    • NSSO conducts large-scale sample surveys to collect data on various socio-economic indicators.
    • These surveys provide comprehensive and reliable information that helps in understanding the prevailing conditions and trends in different sectors of the economy.

Jnanpith Award for 2023

(General Studies- Paper I)

Source : The Hindu

Celebrated Urdu poet, Bollywood writer, and director Gulzar (Sampooran Singh Kalra) and Sanskrit scholar JagadguruRambhadracharya have been selected for the Jnanpith Award, considered India’s highest literary honor.

  • The Jnanpith selection committee announced the decision for the 58th edition of the award, acknowledging the outstanding contributions of these eminent writers to Indian literature.

Key Highlights

  • Gulzar’s Achievements:
    • A respected Urdu poet, Gulzar has significantly contributed to Hindi cinema as a top director and writer.
    • Born in 1934, Gulzar has received numerous accolades, including the SahityaAkademi Award for Urdu in 2002, the DadasahebPhalke Award in 2013, and the Padma Bhushan in 2004.
    • Known for directing classics such as “Koshish,” “Parichay,” and “Ijaazat,” Gulzar’s impact extends to his work in literature and poetry, where he introduced the ‘Triveni’ genre.
    • Noteworthy contributions include the Oscar and Grammy-winning song “Jai Ho” from the film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
  • Rambhadracharya’s Accomplishments:
    • JagadguruRambhadracharya, a renowned Hindu spiritual leader and polyglot fluent in 22 languages, is a prolific writer with over 240 books and texts to his credit.
    • He is the founder and head of TulsiPeeth in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, and holds the position of one of the four JagadguruRamanandacharyas of the Ramananda sect since 1982.
    • Born in 1950, Rambhadracharya received the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions to various Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Awadhi, and Maithili.
  • Award Details:
    • The Jnanpith Award for 2023 includes a cash prize of ₹11 lakh, a statue of Vagdevi, and a citation.
    • This is the second time the award is being given for Sanskrit and the fifth time for Urdu.
  • The awardees were chosen based on their significant literary contributions, with Gulzar being recognized for his impact on both cinema and literature, and Rambhadracharya for his extensive writings in multiple languages.

About the Jnanpith Award

  • The Jnanpith Award is the highest literary award in India, established in 1961 by the BharatiyaJnanpith organization.
  • It is presented annually to Indian authors who have made significant contributions to literature in any of the 22 scheduled languages recognized in the Indian Constitution, as well as in English since 2013.
  • The award includes a cash prize of ₹11 lakh, a citation, and a bronze replica of Vagdevi (Saraswati), the goddess of learning.
  • The Jnanpith Award was initially given for a specific work, but since 1982, it has been awarded for an author’s overall contribution to literature.
  • The nominations for the award are received from various literary experts, teachers, critics, universities, and numerous literary and language associations.
  • Every three years, an advisory committee is constituted for each language, and the language of the most recent recipient’s work is not eligible for consideration for the next two years.
  • The first Jnanpith Award was given to G. SankaraKurup in 1965 for his collection of poems in Malayalam, “Odakkuzhal.”
  • The award has been presented to many of India’s most celebrated writers, including Rabindranath Tagore, Premchand, R.K. Narayan, and Arundhati Roy. In 2018, Amitav Ghosh became the first writer in English to receive the Jnanpith Award.

A ruling that gives primary school teaching a new slate

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Hindu

In August 2023, the Supreme Court of India affirmed the Rajasthan High Court’s decision, declaring that the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree is unsuitable for primary school teaching.

  • The court emphasized the importance of specialized qualifications such as the Diploma in Education (DEd), Diploma in Elementary Education (DElEd), or Bachelor of Elementary Education (BElEd) for teachers at this level.
  • This decision overturned a previous notification by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) that had permitted the acceptance of the B.Ed degree for primary education.

Key Highlights

  • Distinct Requirements for Primary Teaching:
    • Teaching young students in primary grades demands unique skills, particularly in understanding Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN).
    • The ability to design engaging lessons that ensure all students grasp these fundamental competencies is a complex task, requiring specific training provided by DEd, DElEd, or BElEd programs.
    • The decision underscores that the B.Ed degree, with its focus on teaching subjects to middle and high school students, does not adequately prepare teachers for the intricacies of primary education.
    • The Right to Education Act 2009 highlights not only the necessity for professional qualification but also the importance of an appropriate qualification for teaching at different levels.
  • Implications and Current Scenario:
    • The ruling carries significant implications for recruitment and education policy, emphasizing the need for teachers with specialized training in primary education.
    • Despite the overall impressive statistic of 90% of teachers holding professional qualifications, the State of Teachers, Teaching and Teacher Education Report 2023 (SoTTTER-23) reveals disparities.
    • Specifically, only 46% of teachers in primary grades possess the recommended DElEd or equivalent qualification, while 30% hold a B.Ed degree, and 10% lack professional qualifications altogether.
    • The report notes variations in qualification distribution between government, aided sectors, and the private sector, highlighting the need for aligning recruitment norms with the appropriate qualifications for effective primary education.
  • Disparities in Private Unaided and Elite English Medium Schools:
    • The primary school level in the private unaided sector exhibits imbalances, with 22% holding the recommended DElEd or equivalent, 43% possessing BEd degrees, and 17% lacking professional qualifications.
    • In elite English medium schools under government societies, only 24% have DElEd, while 56% hold BEd degrees, indicating a need for realignment with the recent Supreme Court ruling.
  • Challenges in Teacher Training Programs:
    • The aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling necessitates rectifying existing anomalies.
    • Attention must be directed towards enhancing the availability of high-quality DEd/DElEd/BElEd programs.
    • Analysis of Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) data reveals a disparity in quality, with government-funded institutions outperforming self-financed ones.
    • Government-funded institutions, specifically District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) and aided colleges, show better performance, highlighting potential issues like irregularities and corruption in the self-financed sector.
    • Despite a higher success rate in government-funded institutions, concerns arise as only 14% of qualifying candidates score 60% or above.
    • Low mean scores in mathematics (46%) indicate the need for increased focus on candidates’ quality and pedagogical content knowledge.
    • The Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) might benefit from section-wise qualifying cut-off marks to ensure competence in specific areas like mathematics.
  • Government Support and Innovative Programs:
    • There is an urgent call for strengthened government support and innovation in primary education.
    • Successful programs like BElEd from Delhi University demonstrate effective curriculum strategies, yet the recently approved Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP) in 2023 primarily offers BEd programs (about 3,40,00 seats), with only 10% allocated for preparatory and foundational stages.
    • This raises concerns about the limited focus on primary schoolteacher preparation within higher education spaces.
  • Innovative Pathways for BEd Holders:
    • The survey findings highlight the importance of creating innovative programs to facilitate professional development for BEd holders seeking certification for primary school teaching without re-enrolling for full degree/diploma programs.
    • The SoTTTER 2023 survey reveals that 4% of DElEd students already possess a B.Ed.
    • Recognizing the diverse paths individuals take towards teaching, many developed countries offer multiple entry points into the teaching profession, acknowledging the value of diverse life experiences among educators.
    • The survey indicates that 22% of B.Ed students, with 26% being women, are married.
    • Proposing a two-year B.Ed program with specialization for the preparatory/primary level could be a viable alternative, especially for mature students and those looking to switch careers.
    • This recognizes the appeal of the two-year B.Ed program for individuals at different life stages.
  • Union Budget 2023 and Missed Opportunities:
    • The Union Budget 2023 pledged to continue the Scheme of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers & Teaching, launched in 2014, with a focus on faculty development in higher education.
    • However, the unveiled scheme on September 5 exclusively concentrated on higher education, neglecting essential aspects of schoolteacher preparation and innovation within university settings.
  • Ministry of Education’s DIET Strengthening Initiative:
    • A positive development is the Ministry of Education’s recent initiative to strengthen District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs).
    • While commendable, there is a call for a more comprehensive approach in the upcoming full Budget, addressing issues related to primary/preparatory stage teacher education.
    • This includes increased government support and incentives for innovation within this sector to ensure a holistic improvement in teacher training.

About the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers & Teaching (PMMMNMTT)

  • Mission Overview:
    • The PMMMNMTT is designed to bring innovation into pedagogy with the ultimate goal of enhancing learning outcomes.
    • With the education sector experiencing significant growth across all levels, the mission addresses the increasing demand for teachers by focusing on Integrated Teacher Education programs.
    • These programs aim to meet the professional development needs of both pre-service and in-service teachers and faculty.
  • Objectives in Higher Education:
    • The PMMMNMTT has specific objectives for higher education, primarily targeting newly appointed Assistant Professors in colleges and universities.
    • The mission emphasizes the importance of proper orientation and induction training for faculty.
    • It recognizes the need for a more scientific evaluation process to foster the development of diverse skills in students, aligning with the broader goal of improving the professional capabilities and performance of teachers to ensure effective and quality learning.
  • Mandatory Induction Programs:
    • The core objective of mandatory induction programs is to sensitize and motivate faculty to adopt learner-centered approaches, integrate information and communication technology (ICT) into learning, and embrace new pedagogic methods.
    • The induction program encompasses various aspects, including teaching and research methodologies such as flip classrooms and collaborative learning, the use of ICT, curriculum structure and design, sensitization to gender and social diversity, professional ethics, sharing of best practices, and staying updated on developments in their respective fields.
    • This comprehensive approach aims to equip faculty with the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver effective and quality education in higher institutions.

Recalibrating merit in the age of Artificial Intelligence

(General Studies- Paper II and III)

Source : The Hindu

The concept of meritocracy, rewarding individuals based on abilities and hard work, sparks debates on its societal impacts.

  • Proponents and critics, influenced by thinkers like Michael Young, Michael Sandel, and Adrian Wooldridge, present compelling arguments, shaping the evolving discourse.

Key Highlights

  • Dystopian Vision by Michael Young:
    • British sociologist Michael Young’s satirical book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy” (1958), foresees a dystopian future (2034) where social class is solely determined by intelligence and effort through standardized testing, critiquing the emerging trend towards merit-based systems.
    • Young fears this may lead to a new form of social stratification.
  • Sandel’s Divisive Consequences Critique:
    • Michael Sandel critiques meritocracy for fostering entitlement among the successful and resentment among those left behind, eroding social cohesion.
    • Critical theorists, including the Frankfurt School, join this critique, arguing that meritocracy can mask deeper power dynamics and legitimize elite status under the guise of fairness.
  • Post-structuralists question the definition and measurement of merit, asserting that merit is socially constructed and reflects the biases of those in power.
  • They emphasize the subjective nature of meritocratic systems, suggesting that these can reinforce existing inequalities by perpetuating social hierarchies.
  • Wooldridge’s Practical Evolution and Reform:
    • Adrian Wooldridge offers a contrasting view, stressing the practical evolution of meritocracy.
    • In “The Aristocracy of Talent,” he explores how meritocracy, initially promoting progress and social mobility, has unintentionally fostered new inequalities.
    • Wooldridge acknowledges the potential for meritocracy to create a new elite but believes in its intuitive fairness.
    • He proposes reforms like making selective schools “escalators into the elite” while improving access for underprivileged students and advocating for better technical education.
  • AI Disruption in Meritocracy:
    • The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) introduces complexities to the concept of reforming meritocracy.
    • AI’s evolving capabilities reshape merit and meritocracy in six significant ways, challenging traditional metrics and raising ethical concerns.
    • Redefining Human Merit:
      • AI questions human merit by introducing non-human entities capable of surpassing human abilities, such as creativity.
      • Machines like OpenAI’sSora showcase that creativity is no longer an exclusive human trait, challenging traditional views on what constitutes merit.
    • Impact on Individual Merit:
      • AI prioritizes access to technology, giving individuals with such access a significant advantage, not solely based on personal abilities but due to the enhanced capabilities of AI tools.
      • This challenges the traditional notion of individual merit.
    • Bias Amplification:
      • AI systems trained on historical data can perpetuate biases present in that data, leading to discriminatory outcomes in hiring, law enforcement, and lending.
      • This exacerbates existing disparities, particularly affecting marginalized groups.
    • Job Displacement and Socioeconomic Disparities:
      • AI’s ability to predict and perform routine tasks can lead to job displacement, impacting both high-wage and low-wage jobs.
      • This polarization in the workforce exacerbates socioeconomic disparities, pushing those without access to high-level education towards lower-wage roles.
    • Opaque Algorithms and Accountability Challenges:
      • The opaque nature of many AI algorithms, combined with the concentration of power in tech giants, poses challenges to accountability.
      • In a meritocratic society, understanding the criteria for evaluation is crucial.
      • However, the ‘black box’ nature of AI systems makes it difficult for individuals to comprehend decisions, eroding the meritocratic ideal.
    • Data Hegemony and Organizational Impact:
      • Tech giants with access to vast volumes of data have a significant advantage in training sophisticated AI models, setting standards for what constitutes ‘merit’ in the digital age.
      • This data hegemony potentially sidelines smaller players with innovative ideas but limited access to similar datasets.
    • Recalibrating meritocracy in the age of AI requires a nuanced understanding of the interplay between technology and societal structures.
    • It demands a deliberate rethinking of how merit is defined and rewarded, considering AI’s augmentation of human capabilities and its potential to deepen existing inequalities.

What are IPCC’s assessment reports?

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Hindu

Established in 1988, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been a key contributor to climate change assessment through periodic reports.

  • With six assessment reports, three special reports, and methodology reports, the IPCC guides estimation guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions and removal.

Key Highlights

  • Sixth Assessment Cycle (AR6) Reports:
    • During 2021-2022, the IPCC released three reports and a synthesis report as part of the sixth assessment cycle (AR6).
    • These reports cover physical science, consequences, adaptation, vulnerability, and climate mitigation aspects of climate change.
    • Scientists from 195 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) countries contribute to these reports.
  • Key Findings of AR6:
    • IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) emphasizes that the world is significantly warmer, attributing it to human influence.
    • It warns that time is running out to limit the rise in the world’s average surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris Agreement.
    • There’s a close proximity to breaching adaptation limits, especially in developing countries.
    • AR6 provides options and strategies for slowing warming through emission reduction (mitigation) and building resilience in natural and human-made systems, as well as communities depending on these climate-sensitive systems.
    • The focus is on adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
  • Initiation of Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7):
    • Following the publication of the AR6 synthesis report, IPCC initiated its seventh assessment cycle (AR7).
    • The process involves the nomination and election of an IPCC Bureau, ensuring representation from developed and developing countries, with a mandate for gender balance, requiring 40% women in the Bureau.
    • The AR7 cycle marks the continuation of the IPCC’s vital role in climate assessment and global efforts towards climate action.
  • Bureau Meeting in Turkey (January 2024):
    • In January 2024, the IPCC Bureau members convened in Turkey for a crucial meeting.
    • The agenda included discussions on budgeting, report publication timelines, report types, and the overall work program for the upcoming Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7).
    • Additionally, the vision for AR7 was outlined, focusing on policy relevance, inclusivity, and collaboration with biodiversity initiatives like the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
    • Informal Group on Lessons Learned’s Paper:
      • Prior to the meeting, the co-chairs and rapporteurs of the Informal Group on Lessons Learned compiled a paper consolidating findings from the AR6 cycle.
      • The paper incorporated submissions from 66 out of 195 member countries, addressing report types, the necessity for special reports, and the value of ‘full assessment reports.’
      • It highlighted concerns about the substantial time burden on the experts involved in report preparation.
    • Key Recommendations:
      • The paper emphasized a crucial recommendation from member countries, emphasizing the need to ensure adequate input from the IPCC for the second global stocktake concluding in 2028.
      • This input could manifest through contributions from assessment reports, topical special reports, or as a specific dedicated product.
    • Options for the Programme of Work in AR7:
      • A report titled ‘Options for the Programme of Work in the Seventh Assessment Cycle’ delved into possibilities for publication.
      • It explored ways to cluster reports for the production of special or additional reports, outlining their pros and cons.
      • This report, along with the lessons learned paper, served as essential inputs for the discussions during the Turkey meeting, shaping the strategic planning for AR7.
    • Paris Agreement Goals and Global Stocktake (GST):
      • The primary objective of the Paris Agreement is to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to restrict it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
      • To assess progress towards these goals, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) countries conduct a ‘global stocktake’ (GST) every 5 years.
      • The GST serves as a mechanism for stakeholders to collectively measure progress, identify gaps, and refine climate action strategies.
      • The first GST commenced in 2022 and concluded at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN FCCC in December 2023.
      • During COP28 in Dubai, member countries agreed on the first GST text, which requests the IPCC to explore ways to align its work with subsequent stocktakes.
      • This alignment aims to provide timely and relevant information for assessing progress towards the goals set by the Paris Agreement.
    • Linking AR7 Assessment Reports to the Second GST (2028):
      • Member countries, in their submissions, have called for the IPCC to publish its Seventh Assessment Report (AR7) before the second GST scheduled for 2028.
      • This strategic timeline allows countries to measure their progress against the IPCC assessment reports, providing a comprehensive evaluation of the state of the planet and facilitating informed decision-making for effective climate action.
      • The coordination between the AR7 cycle and the GST underscores the significance of scientific assessments in guiding global efforts towards climate goals.
    • Scope of Output in IPCC’s Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7):
      • During the Turkey meeting, the IPCC Bureau reached a consensus on the categories of reports to be produced in the Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7).
      • The agreed-upon categories include full assessment and synthesis reports, methodology reports, and a special report.
      • Full Assessment Reports:
        • The full assessment reports, of significant interest to most member countries, will consist of reports from three Working Groups, mirroring previous assessment cycles.
        • These reports will cover a synthesis report alongside the outputs of three Working Groups, addressing factors like the time for new literature publication, running climate models, engaging with under-represented communities, and managing stress on the IPCC technical support unit and authors.
      • Methodology Reports:
        • The methodology reports will focus on short-lived climate forcers (e.g., black carbon and methane) and carbon removal, encompassing carbon capture and storage (CCS).
        • Additionally, the Bureau decided to revise technical guidelines on impacts and adaptation, responding to a proposal from India, supported by Saudi Arabia.
        • This revision will be published along with the Working Group 2 report but as a standalone product.
      • Special Report:
        • While suggestions were made for special reports covering 28 topics, including tipping points, loss and damage, and adaptation, the Bureau decided to produce only one special report.
        • This special report will specifically address climate change and its impact on cities.
      • Timeline Challenges for IPCC’s AR7 Reports:
        • Several member countries urged the IPCC Bureau to prepare and publish the Seventh Assessment Cycle (AR7) assessment reports by 2028, aligning with the Global Stocktake (GST).
        • However, a consensus on the release date of the full reports could not be reached during the recent discussions.
        • Challenges Leading to Indecision:
          • Past experiences, where each assessment report typically took at least four years from start to finish, contributed to the indecision on the release date.
          • Concerns were raised about the time required for the review, finalization, and publication of approved reports, creating uncertainty regarding an accelerated AR7 cycle.
        • Content and Inclusivity Concerns:
          • Member countries expressed reservations about a shortened AR7 cycle compromising the content’s quality due to limited time for new scientific papers and incomplete modeling efforts.
          • Inclusivity concerns were raised, emphasizing that a constrained timeline could hinder engagement with individuals and institutions in under-represented countries.
          • The need for pre-scoping exercises, including surveys and regional or sectoral meetings, was highlighted as requiring more time.
        • Barriers for Developing Countries and Governmental Reviews:
          • A shortened timeline could pose challenges for expert authors from developing countries to contribute adequately to the reports.
          • Additionally, it may limit the time available for thorough governmental reviews, affecting the robustness and inclusivity of the assessment process.

What is Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations established in 1988 to advance scientific knowledge about climate change caused by human activities.
  • Formation:
    • The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988, and the United Nations endorsed its creation later that year
  • Objectives:
    • The IPCC assesses the risk of climate change, its potential impacts, and possible options for prevention.
    • Its assessments are comprehensive, objective, open, and transparent, and they cover all the information relevant to the scientific understanding of climate change.
  • Structure:
    • The IPCC has a panel that meets in plenary sessions, controls the organization’s structure, procedures, work program, and budget.
    • It also has three working groups focusing on the physical scientific basis of climate change, vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems, and options for mitigating climate change.
  • Assessment Reports:
    • The IPCC produces comprehensive assessment reports, which are drafted and reviewed in several stages to guarantee objectivity and transparency.
    • These reports are neutral, policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive.
  • Methodologies:
    • The IPCC develops methodologies to help countries estimate their greenhouse gas emissions and removals through sinks.
  • Working Relationship:
    • The IPCC works closely with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide scientific input for international climate negotiations.
  • Membership:
    • The IPCC has 195 member countries, and its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Latest Assessment:
    • The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, released in 2023, provides the most comprehensive, best available scientific assessment of climate change, highlighting the need for urgent action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F).
  • The IPCC’s assessments are critical for informing decision-makers to make better choices for combatting climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
  • The key highlights of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) include:
    • The report confirms that global warming is set to reach or exceed 1.5°C in the coming two decades, even with current emission reduction pledges.
    • Climate changes will increase in all regions of the globe, with more intense heat waves, longer warm seasons, and shorter cold seasons, especially at 2°C of warming.
    • Cities and urban areas will be warmer than surrounding rural areas due to the urban heat island effect.
    • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle, leading to more intense rainfall and flooding events, as well as more intense drought events in some regions.
    • Sea levels will continue rising throughout the 21st century, increasing the risk of flooding in low-lying areas.
      • Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
    • Marine heatwaves are projected to increase around the globe, while ocean deoxygenation is projected to persist for thousands of years.
    • Human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate, mainly by cutting emissions down to net-zero.
    • Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C is still possible, but immediate action is needed, including peaking global greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 and nearly halving emissions by 2030.
    • Climate change is exacerbating existing inequalities, with the magnitude and rate of change affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately.
    • Mitigation strategies are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, implementing carbon pricing, and scaling up carbon capture technologies.

What are the key highlights of the first Global Stocktake (GST)?

The key highlights of the first Global Stocktake (GST) under the Paris Agreement, which took place in 2023, include:

  • The GST found that global progress on climate action is insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, including limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
  • The GST emphasized the need for deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, with a 2025 deadline to peak global emissions.
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): The GST outcome called for strengthened 2030 NDCs to be 1.5°C aligned, with all new NDCs due by early 2025.
  • A new initiative to accelerate technology transfer and implementation was introduced.
  • Annual Global Stocktake Dialogues: These dialogues will be held to ensure follow-through on the GST outcomes.
  • Roadmap to Mission 1.5: A new initiative to help countries align their NDCs with the 1.5°C goal.
  • The GST highlighted the need for increased and accessible climate finance, especially for developing countries, to meet the scale required to deliver the Paris Agreement.
  • The GST emphasized the importance of just and equitable transitions, including the global tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling of energy efficiency by 2030.
  • The GST outcome acknowledged the need to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, with a focus on phasing out unabated coal.
  • The GST assessed collective progress on adaptation, including the need for enhanced support for vulnerable countries to build resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate impacts.

Why have fresh protests erupted in Senegal?

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Hindu

Senegal’s President MakySall, weeks before the end of his second term, postponed the presidential elections scheduled for February 25.

  • The decision, citing a dispute between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council over candidate selection, has led to accusations of a “Constitutional coup d’état” by government critics.
  • The new election date is set for December 15, effectively extending President Sall’s term by 10 months.

Key Highlights

  • Background and Previous Unrest:
    • The current crisis echoes the violent clashes in Dakar last year, described as the worst in decades, following the sentencing of leading opposition candidate OusmaneSonko to a two-year prison term.
    • Sonko, a former populist tax inspector targeting corruption among the country’s elites, faced charges of immoral behavior against a woman.
    • The 2021 protests resulted in over 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
    • In January this year, the Constitutional Council barred Sonko from the presidential race.
  • President Sall’s Controversial Term Extension:
    • President Sall, who took office in 2012 amid popular resistance against his predecessor seeking a third term, has faced controversy over his eligibility for a third term.
    • Despite reducing the presidential tenure from seven to five years during his first term, Sall argued that the constitutional clock should start ticking from 2019 when he was re-elected under the new rule.
    • This interpretation allowed him to consider running for another term in 2024.
    • The decision to postpone elections has sparked speculation about President Sall’s intentions to consolidate power in the period leading up to the rescheduled elections.
    • Opposition legislators, forcefully removed from parliament, have expressed fury over the deferment, leading to protests across the country.
    • Police crackdowns on protestors, including indiscriminate detentions and violence, have further intensified the unrest, raising concerns about the political climate in Senegal.
  • Historical Democratic Record:
    • Senegal has a distinguished history of periodic and smooth power transfers under a multi-party democratic system.
    • Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Senegal has not experienced a military coup or civil war, setting it apart from its neighbors.
    • This democratic stability has positioned Senegal as a beacon of democracy in a region grappling with increasing military takeovers.
  • President Sall’s Role in Regional Stability:
    • President MakySall has played a crucial role in advocating for timely transfers of power to elected governments within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
    • Senegalese troops, under his leadership, successfully led a regional mission in 2017 to remove Gambia’s long-time leader YahyaJammeh, who refused to step down after losing elections.
    • Sall’s decision to defer elections represents a departure from Senegal’s traditional regional role in promoting democracy.
    • At a time when several West African states are grappling with military dictatorships, Senegal’s shift raises concerns about the potential breakdown of democratic norms in the region.
    • The situation parallels developments in Guinea, where President Alpha Condé’s controversial re-election for a third term in 2020 led to a coup the following year.
    • Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are already under military rule.
  • Call for Reevaluation by Global Powers:
    • The return of military dictatorships in some African countries in the 2020s is viewed as a serious regression after the liberation struggles of the 1960s.
    • The situation in Senegal emphasizes the need for major powers to reconsider their traditional role in the region and address the challenges posed to democratic governance in West Africa.