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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 12th February 2018

  • IASbaba
  • February 13, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 12th February 2018

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(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


India and UAE @ World Government Summit (WGS)

Part of: (Prelims+Mains GS Paper II) – India and the World; India and UAE

World Government Summit (WGS) was held in Dubai, UAE.

Understanding basics: About World Government Summit (WGS)

  • The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of government worldwide.
  • World Government Summit (WGS) will be held in Dubai, UAE every year.
  • Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
  • WGS is a knowledge exchange center at the intersection between government, futurism, technology, and innovation.

Just remember – WGS is a global platform, a non-government body, it focuses on focus on the issues of futurism, technology and innovation. It analyzes the future trends, issues, and opportunities facing humanity.

WGS 2018 WGS highlights:

  • Efforts to address the misuse of cyberspace by terrorists and hackers.
  • Importance of assimilating technology with governance to ensure equitable growth and prosperity for all.
  • India is aspiring to assume leadership position in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, cybersecurity and cloud computing.

“Technology should be used as a means to development, not destruction”. (Can be essay question)

Other Key Pointers: India and UAE

  1. PM Modi inaugurated a project for the construction of the first Hindu temple (Swaminarayan temple) in Abu Dhabi.
  2. India and UAE to hold a bilateral naval exercise (to conduct the first bilateral Naval Exercise during 2018).
  3. UAE supports India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.
  4. UAE’s sovereign wealth fund ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) to participate in India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) – a joint investment platform for ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India.

Article Link: Click here


SpaceX Falcon Heavy (FH)

Part of: (Prelims+Mains) GS Paper III – Science and Technology; Space Missions

Key pointers:

  • The privately-funded Falcon Heavy (FH) is now the most powerful working booster on Earth and can lift 64 tonnes of cargo to near-Earth orbits, claims SpaceX (Space Exploration).
  • FH, with its reusable rocket stages, dwarfs the power of NASA’s Delta IV Heavy by half at a third of its cost.

Where does India stand in rocketry?

  • 58-year-old Indian Space Research Organisation is currently perfecting a rocket that can lift four tonnes to higher orbits and about eight tonne loads to lower orbits, the GSLV Mark III.
  • ISRO has envisioned developing super-heavy launchers that can one day lift loads as heavy as 50 to 60 tonnes.
  • ISRO is currently developing reusable technologies. The re-entry component was demonstrated in 2016.

Article link: Click here


Three new eel species found in Bay of Bengal

Part of: (Prelims+Mains) GS Paper III – Environment and Biodiversity

Key pointers:

  • Scientists have discovered three new species of eel.
  • Where? Bay of Bengal (Digha coast of the Bay of Bengal and Visakhapatnam coast)
  • With these new discoveries, the Bay of Bengal coast has yielded at least five new species of eel.
  • Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. Across the world about 1,000 species of eels have been identified. In India, the number is around 125.

Article Link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY

TOPIC: General Studies 3:

  • Economic Development – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment;
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Inclusive growth and Challenges of inequality.

Fighting Inequality: Empowering women and Farmers

Background:

How to fight inequality as become an important question in recent times.
An Oxfam report reported, the top one percent of the world increased their wealth by $762 billion while the bottom 50 per cent saw no growth, increasing the divide between social classes.

This kind of economic inequality can result in unfair political institutions, unfair control by a few wealthy over others and unfair workers’ laws.

Solutions:

Solutions to reducing income inequality lie in three aspects:

  • investing in women
  • investing in agriculture
  • reforming workplace laws

(1) Investing in women – Why is it necessary?

Investing in women as important workers is necessary and urgent today to reduce inequality and increase nations’ gross domestic product (GDP).

As IMF Chief Christine Lagarde recently said, if women’s participation in the workforce matched men’s, Japan could grow at 9 per cent per annum and India at 27 per cent.

McKinsey reported in August 2016 that women contribute only 17 per cent of India’s GDP, and estimates that India could add $700 billion to its GDP in 2025 by closing this gap.

How?

Helping women stay active in the workplace while raising a family is key to achieving this growth.

  • More family-friendly work policies, such as paid parental leave.
  • Creating an environment where kids are allowed in the workplace.
  • More men should take equal responsibility in raising kids and managing household chores.
  • Men in leadership roles should build a culture where there is more relevant empathy in the team members toward parents of all genders.

(2) Investing in agriculture – Why is it necessary?

As per the World Bank, agriculture can help reduce poverty for 80 per cent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming.

It further states that 65 per cent of the poor working adults make a living through agriculture. More than one billion people have moved out of extreme poverty in recent decades, but 80 per cent of those that remain live in rural areas.

How?

  • Providing farmers with a bundle of services like access to seeds, plant nutrients and production practices are critical.
  • But today, climate smartness and climate resilience also need a special focus.
    We should focus on risk mitigation mechanisms like weather insurance and risk prevention mechanisms.

(3) Reforming workplace laws

Reforms in workers’ laws can reduce inequalities.

How?

  • Minimum wages and universal basic income (UBI) are two of the popular ways to reform workplace laws.
  • They both have the same aim — raising incomes of the least fortunate to reduce the income gap. These are imposed by law and paid by the employer.
    Minimum wages should have inflation adjustment and a premium for inequality reduction. This needs an annual reassessment and suitable correction.

Hiking minimum wages alone won’t alter the root cause of inequality. Globalisation and technology create bigger wage premium for the top employees and stagnating wages for the bottom.

UBI, supported by tech gurus like Mark Zukerburg and Elon Musk, envisions that everyone receives a monthly pay packet from the state that covers their basic needs — no strings attached. UBI through cash transfers ensures that the benefits of technology are felt by everyone.

In developing countries such as India, despite having hundreds of pro-poor schemes, the biggest question is whether such benefit is reaching the poor.

But the real challenge will be in distinguishing the poor from non-poor, particularly when such data are questionable.

Conclusion:

Let us not forget history. The Roman Empire was one of the richest on the planet, with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few senatorial elite and the rest were utterly poor. Warning signs of inequality were ignored and it resulted in civil war and the entire empire collapsed.
Keeping this in mind we need to collectively work towards making an equitable world.

Connecting the dots:

  • How to fight inequality has become an important question in recent times. Discuss. Suggest at least three measures by which we can reduce inequality.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 1:

  • 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.

Formulating a National Urban Policy

Background:

India is in the midst of a major urbanization boom.

As per Census 2011, 377 million Indians comprising 31.1% of the total population lived in urban areas. This is estimated to have risen to 420 million in 2015 (UN-Habitat “World Cities Report 2016”).

India’s level of urbanization is lower than its peer group of developing countries: China (45%), Indonesia (54%), Mexico (78%) and Brazil (87%).

Going ahead, by 2030, India’s urban population is projected to increase to 600 million.

Issues:

Indian cities face challenges in terms of deficits in infrastructure, governance and sustainability.
With rapid urbanization, these problems are going to aggravate, and can cumulatively pose a challenge to India’s growth trajectory.

AMRUT- Government inititatives:

Keeping in mind the above challenges, the government launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut)) as a step towards harnessing the agglomeration economies of the urban centres and making cities engines of growth.

The mission lays emphasis on creating infrastructure, improving service delivery, making cities smarter for improved livelihood and providing for faster and integrated mobility.

It envisages convergence across various initiatives such as Amrut, Smart Cities, Hriday (National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Swachh Bharat.

The intent is matched with a corresponding mobilization of resources. For 2018-19, the government increased the budget for the housing and urban affairs ministry by 2.8%, to Rs41,765 crore.

The centre has also formulated separate policies for urban sanitation, transport, transit-oriented development and also a national mission on sustainable habitat, each with a specific mandate and vision.

Way forward- A comprehensive framework required:

A comprehensive framework that takes a holistic approach to the interrelated challenges is required.

Sustainable urban development needs to be led by the central government working closely with state and local governments.

India needs to develop its own national urban policy (NUP) as an instrument for applying a coherent set of interventions in relation to the future growth of cities, in partnership with all stakeholders.

Globally, around one-third of countries have a NUP in place.

National Urban Policy:

NUP will outline and highlight the importance and objectives of cities. We need to update our definition of urban areas, understand the importance of cities and what we can achieve through urbanization with responsive infrastructure.

India needs to fine-tune this vision in light of the aspirations of citizens, state capabilities, historical legacy, cultural context and present economic situation.
It will highlight the key enablers, cross-cutting principles, desired outputs and eventual outcomes.

Urbanization in India is a complex issue, with the majority of city-related issues being state subjects. States would have to take the lead in order to make cities vibrant economic centres.
There is a need to build adequate capacities at the state/urban local bodies level to prepare cities for future challenges. The NUP would set the common minimum agenda, involving participation of all stakeholders.

For instance, the Australian national urban policy document identifies objectives of productivity, sustainability, livability and governance as key agenda drivers for its cities. In India, such agenda setting would encourage programmes and policies to be integrated and aim at operationalizing the spirit of the 74th Amendment. The importance of such a common minimum agenda cannot be overstated. It is required to get the entire ecology of urban-related stakeholders on the same page as a starting point.

The world of the 21st century is substantially more complex than the traditional urban world of the 20th century when citizens, government and civil society were, to a large extent, the only stakeholders.

The stakeholders may also not be physically located in the cities of operation. Various aggregators like Uber and Amazon; distance learning universities; the active participation of non-resident Indians; service aggregators such as UrbanClap present a complex web of interdependent and interconnected stakeholders.

A NUP framework would recognize all these stakeholders and prevent cities from seeing through these participants.

Conclusion:

A NUP is a prerequisite, obviously, for leveraging urbanization to the fullest extent and with the greatest efficiency. Addressing India’s current urban woes without NUP will be considerably more difficult.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the issues related to urbanisation in India. What are the government initiatives taken in this regard? Also analyze the need of a holistic national urban policy.

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