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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus]- 18th November 2017

  • IASbaba
  • November 18, 2017
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 18th November 2017

Archives


SOCIAL ISSUES

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Issues relating to Poverty and hunger

Engaging Private Sector to end Malnutrition

Background:

Nutrition outcomes in South Asia are among the worst in the world.

  • 38% of children (below five years) are stunted, as compared with 26% globally.
  • Wasting prevalence at 15% is also high.
  • Nearly half of women in the reproductive age suffer from anemia.
  • South Asia not only suffers from under-nutrition related issues, but is also experiencing a growing epidemic of obesity, with nearly 29% of adults now overweight.

Note: Stunting, or short height for age, and wasting, or low weight for length/height, are important public health indicators.

India’s position:

  1. India has one of the highest percentages of malnourished children in the world at 42%. Despite running one of the oldest child nutrition programmes, the ICDS has so far failed to address the country’s abysmal maternal and child health track record.
  2. The Union women and child development (WCD) has identified 12,000 undernourished children across 77 districts in eight states, with new monitoring methods.
  3. The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) found an unconscionably high percentage (38%) of children stunted and underweight (36%).
  4. The just released 2017 Global Hunger Index shows India has slid three places from the 2014 list and is one of four countries with a fifth of its children suffering from wasting.

Factors that lead to poor nutrition:

  • lack of access to clean drinking water, sanitation and health care
  • low education
  • poor consumption basket (skewed towards certain carbohydrates, for instance rice in Bangladesh and Myanmar)
  • low consumer awareness
  • poor quantity and quality of food
  • Malnutrition problems can be traced to poor-quality diets lacking in diversity
  • food insecurity due to inadequate production and lack of availability and affordability of certain food groups (eg fruits, dairy and meat)

In addition to above factors, other concerns such as – excessive use of chemicals in farming, export of better quality food, unhygienic food production/processing practices, and poor cooking practices (excessive use of oil and overcooking) – all these results in gross deficit of essential macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, etc.) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Measures:

Governments, civil society organisations and donors have made significant efforts to improve nutrition outcomes through school meals, distribution of micronutrient supplements, campaigns for behaviour change and other social programmes.

For more than 40 years, governments have intervened with food transfers in pre-school Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres. These infant food transfers were mandated as legal rights first by the Supreme Court and then by the National Food Security Act 2013.

But these efforts are likely to fall short.

If we are to meet South Asia’s SDG target of ending malnutrition by 2030, we must engage the private sector to accelerate progress.

Benefits of engaging the private sector:

  • Business/private sector can play on key strengths such as large-scale production capacity, product and business model innovation, marketing expertise and extensive distribution networks and supply chains, to complement government and social sector efforts.
  • Comparative analysis of different countries highlighted that businesses can leverage their product development expertise and production capacity to manufacture supplements and fortified food products (zinc-fortified rice, vitamin A-fortified edible oil, iodised salt).
  • They can partner with governments and CSOs for distribution through social programmes.

For instance,

  • In Bangladesh, edible oil millers mandatorily fortify their oil, and fortified rice is distributed to BPL women by the government through the Vulnerable Group Development Programme.
  • In Myanmar, CSOs and government support rice fortification by private players by subsidizing capex and distributing through social programmes.

In addition to supplements, there are five tangible opportunities to engage the private sector in driving up nutrition outcomes in South Asia:

  1. Nudging (to attract or influence) customers to purchase nutrition products:
  • Large and progressive retailers/retail chains can proactively carry nutritious products, display them prominently, and educate consumers on their benefits.
  • They can be a key channel of influence as consumers often rely on retailers for information and point-of-purchase decision-making.
  1. Tech-enabled nutrition awareness and service delivery:
  • Technology and telecom businesses can build platforms to deliver nutrition-related information, track diets and key nutrition indicators.
  • These will help in early identification of deficiencies, and connect consumers to relevant health services.
  1. Influencing cooking practices:
  • Media and food companies can help spread awareness on the nutritional value of different foods and improve cooking practices, through interventions such as health food TV shows.
  • Celebrity chefs can be key influencers.
  1. Workplace nutrition programmes:
  • Companies can be effective channels for distributing nutritious food and building awareness among employees and their communities.
  1. CSR support for nutrition:
  • Businesses that are not directly related to nutrition can also become “nutrition champions” by backing the cause as part of their social responsibility efforts.
  • It can be used to generate awareness and deliver nutritious food through their social programmes.

Therefore, it is important to catalyze private sector engagement through ecosystem level changes and enabling policy environment. This could include reduced import duties on fortification machinery, tax holidays/incentives, introduction of “fat tax”, input subsidies, among others.

Funding support in the form of grants and other sub-commercial debt options can also crowd-in private sector investment in nutrition. For businesses lacking knowhow to produce nutritious/fortified food items, CSOs could provide the necessary technical expertise.

Conclusion:

Addressing the nutrition crisis in the subcontinent requires concerted effort and the private sector can play an important complementary role. Private sector can help South Asia to meet its SDG target of ending malnutrition by 2030.

It is time that governments recognise this and formulate favourable policies and encourage the setup of multi-stakeholder networks that can catalyse private participation.

Evidence from other countries has shown that countries which have adopted a multi-sectoral framework, the results are tangible and specific. India needs demographic dividend and not a demographic disaster.

Connecting the dots:

  • Can India meet sustainable development goals on poverty, hunger and malnutrition despite sluggish economy? Also examine the need for catalyzing private sector engagement to meet the above goal.
  • What is food fortification and bio-fortification? Discuss how fortification can be a major strategy of the government of India to reduce malnutrition in India.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 1:

  • Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies

General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

The conflict between Adaptation, Mitigation and Loss & Damage

Background:

In Paris in December 2015, countries across the globe agreed

  • to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C;
  • to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C; and
  • to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of this century.

Each country also outlined what post-2020 climate actions they intended to take under the Paris Agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

Three broad categories of Climate Change:

All the things to do under ‘dealing with climate change’ fall into following broad categories:

  • Mitigation-
    It is about limiting further rise in global temperature. It involves phasing out fossil fuels and shifting to renewables, electric vehicles, green buildings etc.
  • Adaptation-
    It is about what to do to cope with the effects of climate change that people are already facing.
  • Loss and damage (L&D)-

It is about the repair work that would need to be done after a certain climate event, say a hurricane, hits a place.

Divide over three broad categories:

  • Mitigation is important to the developed countries. They are better equipped to handle disasters and they only need to ensure that the disasters don’t grow bigger than they can handle.
  • Adaptation is crucial for developing countries. India is particularly vulnerable to climate risks. North India will be visited upon alternately by floods and droughts if the Himalayan glaciers melt (they are melting).
  • L&D measures are most important for the least developed countries, particularly the small island nations.

An equal attention is required:

Logically, equal attention should be paid on all the three.

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) brought out its (second) Adaptations Gap report, in which it agrees that adaptation has not gained much attentiom. Despite the awareness, it has not translated sufficiently into tangible action.
  • The entire narrative around climate change has been heavily skewed (inclined) towards mitigation.
  • The powerful developed world has made the whole climate narrative mitigation-centric because it seemingly is in their own interests.
  • Even developed countries are not immune to climate impact. Thus, not paying enough attention towards adaptation would lead to strategic error.
    Example- the recent droughts and forest fires in California and the havoc-wreaking rains in Houston resulted into huge damage.

Climate related funds:

  • The Adaptation Fund, conceived in 2001, took six years to operationalise.
    The $462 million fund has been given out in the ten years of its operations. At Bonn, Germany contributed €50 million to the fund.
  • The Green Climate Fund, set up in 2010 with target of making available $100 billion annually by 2020, has so far collected a corpus of $9.2 billion only in the last seven years.

More allocation towards mitigation:

  • The GCF was meant to divide its resources equally between mitigation and adaptation, but only a third of the allocations have gone to adaptation.
  • Similar is the case with World Bank’s allocations of its climate funds.
  • Adaptation finance available to developing countries today is very less given the cost of damage is huge. Examples: Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico recently resulted into loss of $45 billion. Typhoon Haiyan, which it the Phillipplines in 2014, cost the country $12 billion.

Challenges for India:

  • India, has 121 highly climate-vulnerable agro-climatic zones, and thus urgently needs to pay attention to adaptation.
  • India has its own National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change with ?531 crore from the Budget. But the demand is so high that the government cannot manage from its own resources.

Way forward:

  • India needs to seek more multilateral funding from the developed world going by the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
  • Money is needed not only to build physical defences but also equally for increasing knowledge base of “adaptation science”—like predicting weather to developing heat-resistant crop varieties.

As Fiji has taken over the Presidency of the Conference of Parties (from Morocco), the country should course-correct the talks towards L&D and Adaptation. India, in its own interests, should be focus the talks towars adaptation.

Conclusion:

The importance of adaptation, even if global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees, can never be overstressed. The recent Emissions Gap Report of UNEP projects a 3 degrees warmer world by 2100. This means we should expect big trouble. The least we can do is to learn to deal with it and the first step towards it is to treat adaptation on par with mitigation.

Connecting the dots:

  • Define adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage- the three broad categories of climate change. Across global negotiations there is more than required inclination towards adaptation, while logically equal attention should be paid on all three. Discuss. 

PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS


India’s sovereign rating raised by Moody’s 

Part of: Main GS Paper III – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, growth, development, investment.

Key PT pointers:

  • Global ratings agency Moody’s revised India’s sovereign ranking to Baa2 from Baa3.
  • The upgradation has taken place for the first time in 13 years.
  • According to Moody, implementation of a string of economic reforms – GST, demonetization, UID, direct benefit transfer and new monetary policy system – have strengthened economy.
  • India now rated higher than Brazil, Russia and South Africa but lower than China.

Challenges being faced by Indian economy, as highlighted by the agency:

  • The GST’s implementation challenges.
  • Weak private sector investment.
  • The slow resolution of banks’ bad loans.
  • Pending land and labour market reforms

Long term gains:

  • The upgraded sovereign rankings to bring more foreign investments.

Article link: Click here


Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS)

Part of: Main GS Paper III – Cyber Security issues.

Key PT pointers:

  • The Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) is one of the world’s largest conferences in the field of cyberspace and related issues.
  • The conference will be held on November 23 and 24, 2017 at Aerocity in New Delhi.
  • The theme for this year’s GCCS is “Cyber4All: A Secure and Inclusive Cyberspace for Sustainable Development”.
  • The first ever GCCS was held in London in 2011, the second GCCS in 2012 in Budapest, the third edition of GCCS was held in 2013 in Seoul. The fourth version GCCS 2015 was held in 2015 in The Hague, Netherlands

Central focus:

The overall goals of GCCS 2017 are-

  • To promote the importance of inclusiveness and human rights in global cyber policy.
  • To defend the status quo of an open, interoperable and unregimented cyberspace.
  • To create political commitment for capacity building initiatives to address the digital divide and assist countries.
  • To develop security solutions.

Article link: Click here


Joint India-Bangladesh Training Exercise “Sampriti 2017” 

Part of: Main GS Paper II – International Relations, India and the World, Security issues

Key PT pointers:

  • It was conducted in Mizoram.
  • It was the seventh such exercise in the Sampriti series.

Central focus:

  • To strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh armies.
  • Further helps to strengthen bilateral ties.

Article link: Click here


Indian Road Assessment Programme (IndiaRAP)

Part of: Main GS Paper III – Infrastructure, Road Accidents, Role of NGOs

Key PT pointers:

  • Global logistics major FedEx Express launched a road assessment programme for India.
  • It is meant to address safety concerns.
  • This is in partnership with International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP).
  • International Road Assessment Programme is a registered charity dedicated to preventing road deaths through safer infrastructure.
  • The programme launched in India is titled Indian Road Assessment Programme (IndiaRAP).

FedEx has also made a commitment to invest USD 200 million globally, including India.

Central focus:

  • India accounts for one of the highest road accidents globally. Every year, 1.5 lakh people are killed while 3 lakh are crippled in 5 lakh accident
  • IndiaRAP aims to address the highest-risk roads around the country in partnership with national and state agencies.
  • The programme will provide policy, performance tracking and investment tools for the government to measure and manage road safety infrastructure and optimise investments across the country.

Article link: Click here


PSLV to be built by domestic industry by 2020

Part of: Mains GS Paper III – Indigenization of technology and developing new technology, Space Technology.

Key pointers:

  • ISRO is preparing to hand over the entire range of launch vehicle, including the PSLV and the GSLV, manufacture to domestic industry by 2020.
  • It will give a push to industry for production of end ­to ­end systems. Ultimately, we hope to see industry make the transition from vendors supplying parts, to partners providing integrated systems.
  • ISRO already has a partnership with private industry to produce satellites. ISRO had a partnership with about 500 domestic indus­tries for the supply of various com­ponents and devices.

Article link: Click here


India and France

Part of: Main GS Paper II – International Relations, India and the World, Security issues

Key areas:

  • decided to strengthen counter-terror cooperation, and asked the international community to oppose countries which are financing, sheltering and providing safe havens to terrorists.
  • decided to strengthen cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
  • discussed concrete measures to expedite operations at the Jaitapur nuclear power project.
  • Other areas – International Solar Alliance

Ahmedabad: India’s first heritage city

  • Ahmedabad – 600-year-old enclave was named India’s first ‘World Heritage City’ in July
  • Ahmedabad hosts the towering Bhadra fort, the legendary stone latticework of the 16th-century Sidi Saiyyed mosque, and countless relics fusing the unique Hindu and Muslim architectural styles of its conquerors.

Concerns:

  • It lacks a convincing plan for protecting its ancient citadels, mosques and tombs.
  • It faces task of defending its new UNESCO status
  • chronic air pollution, crushing traffic and chaotic urban sprawl – are rapidly eroding its cultural capital
  • UNESCO might revoke or downgrade Ahmedabad’s listing to “heritage in danger” if Ahmedabad fails to show it has slowed the decline and destruction of the old city.

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