New base year for Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) (TH)
- Context: The Labour and Employment Ministry has revised the base year of the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016 to reflect the changing consumption pattern, giving more weightage to spending on health; education; recreation; transport and communication; personal care and effects; household goods and services etc., while reducing the weight of food and beverages.
- The weight to food and beverage was reduced from 46.2% to 39%, while spending on housing increased from 15.2% to 17%.
- The reduction in weight to spending on food and beverages indicated an increase in disposable income.
- Among consumption categories, a segment comprising spending on heads like education, health and transport by workers has been given a sizable jump in weight from 23% earlier to 30% now.
- The number of centers, markets, and the sample size for working-class family income and expenditure survey were all increased.
- The CPI-IW is primarily used:
- to regulate the dearness allowance of government employees, dearness relief for pensioners, and the workers in the industrial sectors;
- in the fixation and revision of minimum wages in scheduled employments;
- in measuring the inflation in retail prices.
- Before the latest revision, the series was revised from 1944 to 1949;1949 to 1960; 1960 to 1982 and 1982 to 2001.
- Note: This topic was comprehensively covered in 13th October file.
RBI’s new initiative on SDL OMOs (TH)
- Context: In a first-of-its-kind measure, the Reserve Bank of India bought bonds issued by state governments via secondary market open market operations, to ensure they don’t face rising interest costs amid high borrowings.
- While OMOs in central government securities are routine, this is the first time the RBI has announced OMOs for state government bonds.
- In a bid to soothen bond market concerns over large State borrowings in the second half of the fiscal, the RBI announced open market operations (OMOs) purchase of State Development Loans (SDLs) for the first time, as a special case, in its October policy.
- The first auction of ₹10,000 crore of SDLs in October not only received good response, but experts also believe that future auctions could help narrow the spreads between SDLs and equivalent government securities in certain tenures.
- This is timely considering the relatively higher supply expected of SDLs in the next few months
- State governments have borrowed nearly Rs 3.76 lakh crore through SDLs between April and the first week of October, 53.6% higher than during the same period in the previous year, according to ICRA Ratings.
- According to the borrowing calendar published by the RBI, they are expected to borrow an additional Rs 2 lakh crore during the October to December quarter.
- In recent auctions, the increased borrowings have led to higher spreads for state government bonds.
- The spread is the additional amount sought by investors over the benchmark central government bond yields.
- Certain SDLs of States such as Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, and Kerala were not purchased.
- The central bank also introduced an on-tap long-term repo operation, which will provide Rs 1 lakh crore in liquidity to banks for a three-year tenure.
Basics of Government Securities
- In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs).
- A bond is a debt instrument in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or government) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate.
- The bond spread or yield spread, refers to the difference in the yield on two different bonds or two classes of bonds.
- Bond yieldis the return an investor realizes on a bond.
Open Market Operations
- Open Market Operations are defined as purchase and sale by central bank of variety of assets such as foreign exchange, gold, Government securities or treasury bills and even company shares.
- The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply (liquidity) in the economy.
- Liquidity has a bearing on both interest rates and inflation rates.
- When the RBI wants to increase the money supply in the economy, it purchases the government securities from the market and it sells government securities to suck out liquidity from the system.
- RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public.
- OMO is one of the major monetary policy instruments that RBI uses to smoothen the liquidity conditions throughout the year and minimize its impact on the interest rate and inflation rate levels.
- These operations are often conducted on a day-to-day basis in a manner that balances inflation while helping banks continue to lend.
- The RBI uses OMO along with other monetary policy tools such as repo rate, cash reserve ratio and statutory liquidity ratio to adjust the quantum and price of money in the system.
- If central bank signals that it will move to a ‘neutral’ liquidity stance from a ‘deficit’ stance, it means more liquidity in the system in future. This could arm banks with more funds for lending, and lead to softer interest rates in the economy.
3.The World’s Women 2020: Trends and Statistics (IE)
- Context: The World’s Women 2020 has recently been released.
- As has been done at five-year intervals since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, which, 25 years after its adoption, remains the most comprehensive road map for advancing women’s rights worldwide, The World’s Women 2020 provides the latest data on the state of gender equality worldwide.
- The World’s Women 2020, released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is a collection of 100 stories providing up-to-date assessments of progress towards gender equality in the following six critical areas, including, under each area, the impact of COVID-19 on women:
- (a) population and families;
- (b) health;
- (c) education;
- (d) economic empowerment and asset ownership;
- (e) power and decision-making; and
- (f) violence against women and the girl child.
- Importantly, in adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, Member States reaffirmed, in Sustainable Development Goal 5, that gender equality is central to the achievement of sustainable development for all by 2030.
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World’s Women report: Key findings
- Less than 50% of working-age women are in the labour market, a figure that has barely changed over the last quarter of a century.
- In Southern Asia, Northern Africa and Western Asia, the number is even lower, with less than 30% of women participating in the labour market.
- Women also make up over 70% of workers in the health sector, therefore facing higher infection risks than men in the workplace.
- In terms of power and decision making, women held only 28% of managerial positions globally in 2019 – almost the same proportion as in 1995.
- And only 18% of enterprises surveyed had a female Chief Executive Officer in 2020.
- In political life, while women’s representation in parliament has more than doubled globally, it has still not crossed the barrier of 25% of parliamentary seats in 2020.
- Women’s representation among cabinet ministers has quadrupled over the last 25 years, yet remains well below parity at 22%.
- No country has achieved gender equality, and the COVID-19 crisis threatens to erode the limited gains that have been made.
- The world has made substantial progress in achieving universal primary education, with girls and boys participating equally in primary education in most regions.
- In tertiary education, women outnumber men, and enrolment is increasing faster for women than for men.
- However, women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, representing only slightly more than 35% of the world’s STEM graduates.
- Women are also a minority in scientific research and development, making up less than a third of the world’s researchers.
- Laws to address domestic violence are not yet universally available, with only 153 countries having such laws.
- Gaps are largest in Northern Africa, Western Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where 43% and 35% of countries respectively have not passed such laws.
Future of Jobs report, 2020 (IE)
- Context: The Future of Jobs report, 2020, of the World Economic Forum, maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change. It aims to shed light on the pandemic-related disruptions in 2020, contextualized within a longer history of economic cycles and the expected outlook for technology adoption, jobs and skills in the next five years.
- 50% of employers will accelerate the automation of their work, while over 80% are set to expand the digitization of their work processes.
- That means that some jobs that have been lost will never come back, and those that do will require new ways of working and new skills
- By 2025, the hours of work performed by machines and people will be equal.
- Despite the accelerated disruption to jobs, the report also predicts that 97 million new jobs of tomorrow will emerge by 2025.
- The most in-demand roles in future job markets include Data Analysts and Scientists, AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Robotics Engineers etc.
C) International Relations
5.Sri Lanka: Controversial 20th Amendment passed (TH)
- The controversial 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution that envisages expansive powers and greater immunity for the Executive President was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority.
- The 20th Amendment rolls back Sri Lanka’s 19th Amendment, a 2015 legislation — then in Opposition — that sought to clip presidential powers, while strengthening Parliament. The new legislation in turn reduces the Prime Minister’s role to a ceremonial one.
D) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues
6.Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) (PIB)
- Context: Haryana State has the best Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) Index among 29 states in the country.
- The Anemia Mukt Bharat, an initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and UNICEF, has been launched to reduce the prevalence of Anemia all over India.
- It is one of the National Programmes being run under National Health Mission.
- Anemia is something that has a simple, workable solution – Blue, Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets once a week and deworming tablets every six months.
- Considering, the slow progress i.e. less than 1% per annum in reduction of anaemia from 2005 to 2015, the Government of India has launched the Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) strategy under the POSHAN Abhiyaan and the targets has been set to reduce anaemia by 3% per year.
6x6x6 strategy under AMB
- The 6x6x6 strategy under AMB implies six age groups, six interventions and six institutional mechanisms.
- The six population groups under AMB strategy are:
- Children (6-59 months)
- Children (5-9 years)
- Adolescents girls and boys (10-19 years)
- Pregnant women
- Lactating women
- Women of Reproductive Age (WRA) group (15-49 years)
- The six interventions are:
- Prophylactic Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation;
- Intensified year-round Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Campaign and delayed cord clamping;
- Testing of anemia using digital methods and point of care treatment;
- Mandatory provision of Iron and Folic Acid fortified foods in Government-funded health programs;
- Addressing non-nutritional causes of anemia in endemic pockets with special focus on malaria, hemoglobinopathies and fluorosis.
- The six institutional mechanisms are:
- Inter-ministerial coordination
- National Anemia Mukt Bharat Unit
- National Centre of Excellence and Advanced research on Anemia Control
- Convergence with other ministries
- Strengthening the supply chain and logistics
- Anemia Mukt Bharat Dashboard and Digital Portal- one-stop-shop for Anemia.
- Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiologic needs, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking, and pregnancy status.
- Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anemia globally, although other conditions, such as folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies, chronic inflammation, parasitic infections, and inherited disorders can all cause anaemia.
- In its severe form, it is associated with fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.
- Dairy products (tea, coffee, milk) during or immediately after a meal, decreases absorption of iron by the body.
- According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)–IV (2015-16), the prevalence of anaemia among women aged 15 to 49 years is 53%.
The steps taken by the Government to prevent and treat anemia amongst women are as follows:
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2013 launched “National Iron Plus Initiative” to combat Iron Deficiency Anaemia.
- There are age-specific interventions with Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation and Deworming for improving the hemoglobin levels and reducing the prevalence of anemia for all age groups, that is children 6-59 months, 5 – 10 years, adolescent girls and boys (11-19 years), pregnant and lactating women and women in reproductive age group (20 – 49 years).
- To tackle the problem of anaemia due to malaria particularly in pregnant women and children, Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) and Insecticide Treated Bed Nets (ITBNs) are being distributed in endemic areas.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan as it aims to reduce anaemia prevalence by 3 percent per year among children, adolescents, women in reproductive age group and pregnant women between the year 2018 and 2022.
- Universal screening of pregnant women for anaemia is a part of ante-natal care and all pregnant women are to be provided iron and folic acid tablets during their ante-natal and post-natal visits.
E) Science and Technology/Defence/Space
7.Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs) (IE)
- We have never observed the black hole directly, but we can infer its presence by the stars orbiting around it at incredible speeds of up to 5000 kilometers per second around a single point!
- It’s been hypothesized that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of almost every large galaxy, residing in the regions that are most densely populated by stars.
- It’s only natural to think that eventually one of these stars will come in close contact with the black hole and will either get torn apart and produce a bright flash of light, or get swallowed in an instant.
- The black hole’s “size” is defined as the Schwarzschild radius or the radius at which nothing can escape the black hole.
- The mass of a black hole also determines its “tidal disruption radius”, or the radius at which the black hole is likely to disrupt a star.
- The tidal disruption radius scales to the 1/3 power with the mass of the black hole, meaning that a black hole that is 8 times more massive will have a tidal disruption radius that’s only 2 times more massive.
- Yet the Schwarzschild radius scales linearly, so the same black hole will have a Schwarzschild radius 8 times larger.
- One can see that for increasingly more massive black holes, the Schwarzschild radius will eventually catch up to the tidal disruption radius, and any star that dares to come close enough to the black hole will just be swallowed, never to be seen again.
- However, it’s possible for the star to interact with the black hole without being entirely swallowed. This is where tidal disruption events come in.
- As the star gets closer to a black hole, the pull from gravity will be stronger on the side closest to the black hole, and weaker on the side that’s further away.
- This difference in the pull of gravity (which is called a “tidal force”) would cause the star to get pulled apart (spaghettification).
- A star being tidally disrupted by a black hole is actually a rare event.
- To date, scientists have observed about 60 TDEs.
- For context, astronomers have observed hundreds of supernovae in the last year alone!
- A supernova is the explosion of a star. It is the largest explosion that takes place in space.
- Where Do Supernovas Take Place? Supernovas are often seen in other galaxies. But supernovas are difficult to see in our own Milky Way galaxy because dust blocks our view.
- The infalling debris interacts with the outflowing debris resulting in the circularization and the formation of an accretion disk – the temporary accumulation of matter outside the back hole before it dives into the black hole.
- The accretion disk produces thermal emission that is observed as a bright transient that can last from weeks to a few months before fading.
- By observing this transient light and comparing it to theoretical models, we can study the properties of the system.
- From tidal disruption event (TDE) scientists can infer the black hole mass and spin, star mass, and the point of closest approach of the star’s orbit.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) (PIB)
- Context: the 59th Raising Day of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
- It was raised in October, 1962 in the wake of Chinese aggression on Indo-China border.
- The ITBP was initially raised for:
- reorganizing the frontier intelligence,
- preventing illegal intrusion & smuggling and
- security set up along the Indo-Tibetan border as a guerilla force.
- Consequent upon the expansion of the Force, the ITBP was also entrusted with the additional tasks from time to time in addition to:
- border security duty,
- counterinsurgency duty,
- anti-Naxal operations and
- internal security duties.
- Its battalions are also deployed on:
- VIP security duties;
- security to Embassy of India in Kabul;
- security to Border Roads Organisation personnel for their Delaram-Zaranj road construction project in Afghanistan;
- UN peacekeeping operations;
- security to the pilgrims during Kailash Mansarovar Yatra etc.
- It is the first responder for natural Disaster in the Himalayas
- It is a multi-dimensional force.
- Presently, ITBP is deployed on Border Guarding Duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 KM of the India-China border.
- ITBP is basically a mountain trained Force and most of the officers & men are professionally trained Mountaineers and Skiers.
F) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
9.Graded Response Action Plan for Delhi & NCR (TH)
- Context: Winter is almost here and the perennial battle of the National Capital Region (NCR) against air pollution, arising out of both local factors and the burning of agricultural stubble, has begun once again.
- In pursuant to the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order in December 2016 in the matter of C. Mehta vs. Union of India regarding air quality in National Capital Region of Delhi, a Graded Response Action Plan has been prepared for implementation under different Air Quality Index (AQI) categories namely, Moderate & Poor, Very Poor, and Severe as per National Air Quality Index.
- The GRAP is a set of emergency measures to be taken to reduce air pollution, including odd-even vehicle rationing policy, depending on the level of pollution.
- A new category of “Severe+ or Emergency” has also been added.
- Severe + or Emergency (ambient PM2.5 or PM10 concentration values of 300 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m3) or 500 µg/m3 respectively persist for 48 hours or more).
- Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has notified for implementation of Graded Response Action Plan through the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority.
- If the pollution of Delhi further increases, then GRAP measures under “severe+ or emergency” category will kick in.
- These measures, include stopping the entry of trucks into Delhi, stopping construction activities and implementing the odd-even scheme.
- Delhi’s air quality was expected to improve, but a drop in speed of local surface winds is one of the reasons for the air quality worsens.
- Though boundary layer wind direction has changed from north-westerly to easterly as predicted, the impact of disturbed wind circulation due to deep depression over west-central Bay of Bengal could not be realised in Delhi as it was expected.
- GRAP works only as an emergency measure. As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.
- The plan is incremental in nature — therefore, when the air quality moves from ‘Poor’ to ‘Very Poor’, the measures listed under both sections have to be followed.
Has GRAP helped?
- The biggest success of GRAP has been in fixing accountability and deadlines.
- For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked.
- In a territory like Delhi, where a multiplicity of authorities has been a long-standing impediment to effective governance, this step made a crucial difference.