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12th November Current Affairs

What are govt securities?

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that it had decided to purchase Government securities for an aggregate amount of ₹20,000 crore under Open Market Operations (OMO).

What are govt securities?

A government security (G-Sec) is a tradeable instrument issued by the central government or state governments.

Key features:

It acknowledges the government’s debt obligations.

Such securities can be both short term (treasury bills — with original maturities of less than one year) or long term (government bonds or dated securities — with original maturity of one year or more).

The central government issues both: treasury bills and bonds or dated securities.

State governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the state development loans.

Since they are issued by the government, they carry no risk of default, and hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.

FPIs are allowed to participate in the G-Secs market within the quantitative limits prescribed from time to time.

Why are G-secs volatile?

G- Sec prices fluctuate sharply in the secondary markets. Factors affecting their prices:

Demand and supply of the securities.

Changes in interest rates in the economy and other macro-economic factors, such as, liquidity and inflation.

Developments in other markets like money, foreign exchange, credit and capital markets.

Developments in international bond markets, specifically the US Treasuries.

Policy actions by RBI like change in repo rates, cash-reserve ratio and open-market operations.

Evidence of dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilisation

In News:

For the first time it’s been proved scientifically that dairy production was in place in the Indus Valley civilization in 2500 BCE, and the earliest known evidence of dairy production.

Details:

The results were based on molecular chemical analysis of residue in shards of pottery found at the archaeological site of Kotada Bhadli located in Gujarat.

Of the 59 samples studied, 22 showed the presence of dairy lipids.

Key findings from a latest study:

Dairy production in India began as far back as in the 3rd millennium BCE and may have been a factor behind sustaining the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Through a process called stable isotope analysis, the researchers were also able to identify the type of ruminant used for dairy, and concluded that these were cattle, like cows and buffalo, rather than goats and sheep.

Industrial level of dairy exploitation: The Harappans did not just use dairy for their household. The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements. This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation.

Why these findings are significant? What can we learn from them?

When we talk about Harappans, we always refer to the metropolitan cities and the big towns. But we have no idea of the parallel economy — agro-pastoral or rural.

We know they had great urban planning, trading systems, jewellery making. But we don’t have any idea how the common masters were living during the Harappan times, their lifestyle and how they were contributing in the larger network.

How was the study carried out?- Carbon isotope studies:

Molecular analysis techniques were used to study the residues from ancient pottery.

Pots are porous. So as soon as we put any liquid form of food, it will absorb it.

But, the pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins.

Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis we can identify the source of lipids.

Analysis of India’s performance in Global Hunger Index (GHI)

What is the Global Hunger Index and what determines its ranking?

It is an annual peer-reviewed publication by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

It tracks hunger at global, regional and national levels.

It uses four parameters to calculate its scores:

UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient).

CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition).

CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition).

CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

0 to 100 point scale:

Zero means  no hunger at all.

Countries scoring 9.9 and less are classified as having a low severity.

A score between 10 and 19.9 is considered moderate, that from 20 to 34.9 is serious, and a score of 35 or more is alarming.

Findings from the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI):

Nearly 690 million people in the world are undernourished; 144 million children suffer from stunting, a sign of chronic undernutrition; 47 million children suffer from wasting, also a sign of acute undernutrition.

India and neighbours:

India has been ranked 94 out of 107 countries, lower than neighbours like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India falls in the ‘serious’ category on the Index, with a total score of 27.2. This is a definite improvement from the situation two decades ago, when it scored 38.9 and fell into the ‘alarming’ category.

India’s performance is abysmal when compared to its peers in the BRICS countries.

India’s performance in various parameters (Have a general overview):

Overall undernourishment: 14% of India’s population does not get enough calories, an improvement from almost 20% in 2005-07.

The child mortality rate is 3.7%, a significant drop from 9.2% in 2000.

Child stunting: Almost 35% of Indian children are stunted, and although this is much better than the 54.2% rate of 2000, it is still among the world’s worst.

Child Wasting: 17.3% of Indian children under five are wasted, which is the highest prevalence of child wasting in the world.

States that usually fare poorly on development indices, such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, actually do better than the national average, with 13-14% rates of wasting.

What is the main cause for such high levels of child stunting and wasting in India?

Poor maternal health: South Asian babies show very high levels of wasting very early in their lives, within the first six months. This reflects the poor state of maternal health.

Mothers are too young, too short, too thin and too undernourished themselves, before they get pregnant, during pregnancy, and then after giving birth, during breast-feeding.

Poor sanitation is another major cause of child wasting and stunting.

International Labour Organization

In News:

India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization.

Details:

Shri Apurva Chandra, Secretary (Labour and Employment) has been elected as the Chairperson of the Governing Body of the ILO for the period October 2020 to June 2021.

About the Governing Body:

It is the apex executive body of the ILO which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget and elects the Director-General.

It meets in Geneva. It meets three times annually.

About ILO:

  • Established as an agency for the League of Nations following World War I.
  • Established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • It became the first specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) in the year 1946.
  • It got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • It is the only tripartite U.N. agency. It brings together governments, employers and workers.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.