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14th July Current Affairs

India ranks 135 out of 146 on Gender Gap Index

(GS-II: vulnerable sections of the society and developments related to them, issues related to the development of the social sector, Gender Gap Index etc)

In News:

India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, 2022, released by the World Economic Forum.

Details:

The country is the worst performer in the world in the “health and survival” sub-index in which it is ranked 146.

Key Highlights:

The Global Gender Report, 2022, says it will now take 132 years to reach gender parity, with the gap reducing only by four years since 2021 and the gender gap closed by 68. 1%.

India ranks poorly among its neighbours and is behind Bangladesh (71), Nepal (96), Sri Lanka (110), Maldives (117) and Bhutan (126). Only the performance of Iran (143), Pakistan (145) and Afghanistan(146) was worse than India in South Asia. In 2021, India ranked 140 out of 156 nations.

Indicators:

It measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale, which can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity or the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed.

India ranks 146 in health and survival, 143 in economic participation and opportunity, 107 in educational attainment and 48 in political empowerment.

The report noted that India’s score of 0.629 was its seventh highest score in the past 16 years.

India also “recovered”ground since 2021 in economic participation and opportunity, though the report goes on to add that the labour force participation shrunk for both men (by 9.5 percentage points) and women (3 percentage points).

India’s stand on different sub-indices:

Political Empowerment: This includes metrics such as:

percentage of women in Parliament

percentage of women in ministerial positions etc

Of all the sub-indices, this is where India ranks the highest (48th out of 146)

Iceland is ranked 1 with a score of 0. 874 and Bangladesh is ranked 9 with a score of 0.546.

Economic Participation and Opportunity: This includes metrics such as:

percentage of women who are part of the labour force

wage equality for similar work

earned income etc.

India ranks a lowly 143 out of the 146 countries in contention even though its score has improved over 2021 from 0.326 to 0.350.

India’s score is much lower than the global average, and only Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are behind India on this metric.

Educational Attainment: This sub-index includes metrics such as:

Literacy rate and the enrolment rates in primary

Secondary and tertiary education.

Here India ranks 107th out of 146, and its score has marginally worsened since last year. In 2021, India was ranked 114 out of 156.

Health and Survival: This includes two metrics:

The sex ratio at birth (in %)

Healthy life expectancy (in years).

India is ranked last (146) among all the countries.

Its score hasn’t changed from 2021 when it was ranked 155th out of 156 countries.

Some major reports published by WEF are:

  • Energy Transition Index.
  • Global Competitiveness Report.
  • Global IT Report(WEF along with INSEAD, and Cornell University publishes this report.
  • Global Gender Gap Report.
  • Global Risk Report.
  • Global Travel and Tourism Report.

Antimicrobial resistance vaccines

(GS-III: General Science: Health)

In News:

WHO has released its 1st report on vaccines being developed to prevent infections caused by AMR bacteria.

Details:

The report aims to guide investments and research into feasible vaccines to mitigate AMR.

AMR: Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes evolve mechanisms that protect them from the effects of antimicrobials drugs. This makes infections harder to treat.

All classes of microbes can evolve resistance. Fungi evolve antifungal Viruses evolve antiviral resistance.

What does the report say?

The silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance is of major growing public health concern (resulting in the death of nearly 5mn people yearly)

Vaccines are still effective against Pneumococcal disease (Streptococcus pneumonia), Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and Typhoid fever (Salmonella Typhi).

Nee for more effective vaccine: Current Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccines against tuberculosis (TB) do not adequately protect against TB, therefore the development of more effective vaccines against TB should be accelerated

Recommendation by WHO:

Equitable and global access to the vaccines that already exist

Disruptive approaches are needed: The lessons from Covid 19 vaccine development and mRNA vaccines offer unique opportunities to explore for development of vaccines against bacteria

Need to overcome challenges: Such as pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections (HAI), difficulty in defining target population(s) among all admitted hospital patients; the cost and complexity of vaccine efficacy trials; and the lack of regulatory and/or policy precedent for vaccines against HAIs.

Easier regulatory requirement: Vaccine development is expensive, and scientifically challenging, and is associated with high failure rates, and therefore, the need for support from the government and private sector.

Fertilizers Flying Squad

In News:

Department of fertilizers has instituted a dedicated officer known as a ‘fertilizer flying squad’ to check any diversion, black marketing or adulteration of fertilizers.

Details:

About 10 lakh tonnes (the worth around 6000 cr) of agriculture-grade urea (despite the need for coating) is getting diverted for industrial use every year.

  • The subsidized urea is getting diverted mainly to industries.
  • The agriculture-grade urea is neem-coated while technical-grade urea is not. The neem-coating is removed through some chemical process and then the urea is used for industrial purposes

Deficit: India’s annual domestic demand for urea is around 350 lakh tonnes, of which 260 lakh tonnes are locally produced while the remaining is imported.

Subsidy: The government’s annual fertiliser subsidy bill is likely to be around Rs 2.5 lakh crore during this fiscal because of high international prices.

Huge requirement for industries: there is an annual requirement of around 13-14 lakh tonnes of technical-grade urea for industrial usage, of which only 1.5 lakh tonnes are produced in the country.

Uses of Urea: It is used in various industries such as resin/glue, plywood, crockery, moulding powder, cattle feed, dairy and industrial mining explosives.

The scale of municipal finances is inadequate

(GS-II: Local bodies(Municipalities and Panchayats), 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment Act etc)

In News:

The health of municipal finances is a critical element of municipal governance which will determine whether India realizes its economic and developmental promise.

Details:

Revenue losses after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the pandemic have exacerbated the situation.

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) analyzed data from 80 ULBs across 24 States between 2012-13 and 2016-17 to understand ULB finance and spending.

Background:

The 74th Constitution Amendment Act was passed in 1992 mandating the setting up and devolution of powers to urban local bodies (ULBs) as the lowest unit of governance in cities and towns.

Constitutional provisions were made for ULBs’ fiscal empowerment.

Key Findings:

Share of own revenue:

ULBs’ own sources of revenue were less than half of their total revenue, with large untapped potential.

The ULBs’ key revenue sources are taxes, fees, fines and charges, and transfers from Central and State governments, which are known as intergovernmental transfers (IGTs).

Dependent on IGTs:

Many ULBs are highly dependent on IGTs. Transfers from the Central government are as stipulated by the Central Finance Commissions and through grants towards specific reforms, while State government transfers are as grants-in-aid and devolution of the State’s collection of local taxes.

Difference in revenue sources:

Tax revenue is the largest revenue source for larger cities, while smaller cities are more dependent on grants. There are considerable differences in the composition of revenue sources across cities of different sizes

Operations and maintenance:

Operations and maintenance (O&M) expenses are on the increase but still inadequate.

O&M expenses are crucial for the upkeep of infrastructure and for maintaining the quality of service delivery.

The share of O&M expenses in ULBs’ total revenue expenditure increased from about 30% in 2012-13 to about 35% in 2016-17. While the expenses were on the rise.