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15th December Current Affairs

GLAAS Report on WASH

(GS-II: Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, and Human Resources.)

In News:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events continue to impact universal access to safe and sustainably managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).


The GLAAS report, released by the WHO and UN-Water, provides the most up-to-date information on WASH systems in more than 120 countries, making it the biggest data collection ever.

Key highlights of the report:

WASH and Health: Implementation of policies and plans on WASH in health care facilities and on hand hygiene is constrained by a critical lack of financial and human resources.

Climate resilience of WASH systems: Most WASH policies/plans do not address climate-related risks to WASH services.

Finance: Insufficient WASH funding was reported by 75% of countries.

Leaving no one behind: Measures to reach vulnerable populations and settings with WASH services lack monitoring and financial resources.

Human resources: Insufficient human resources are limiting WASH service delivery.

Gender: Increased inclusion, financial support and monitoring are needed to ensure women are considered in WASH decisions and services.

Data use: Data are not sufficiently used in decisions on planning or resource allocation for WASH.

Regulation: Regulatory authorities often do not fully perform their functions.

India’s slowing exports

(GS-III: Indian economy and related issues)

In News:

According to the Ministry of Commerce, India’s exports declined by about 16.7 (sixteen point seven) % in October compared with the year earlier.


This is the first slide reported for any month since February 2021.

The October imports rose at a much milder pace than earlier, most likely because of softening commodity prices worldwide, resulting in the widening of the trade deficit by 50%.

Main reason for this performance of the export sector:

Engineering goods (the backbone of India’s merchandise exports previously), fell by 21%. The Engineering Export Promotion Council of India attributed the slowdown to –

  • High inflation in developed regions,
  • Falling demand in China,
  • The slowdown in the EU and the U.S. and
  • The Russia-Ukraine war.

In October, a decline of $2 billion worth of exports was seen in steel and allied products.

Due to the export duty levied on these products to help increase local availability.

The government has since removed this duty.

The Diwali festive season prompted workers to take leave, thus impacting output.

How have the other exporting nations performed?

Vietnam, an export-dominated country, recorded a 4.5% growth and in the Philippines, it grew by 20%.

China is an exception this year (registering a decline in export growth) due to harsh lockdowns affecting its manufacturing output.

Signs of relief for the Indian economy:

Resilient local demand: The investment cycle will spur growth and job creation in the coming days.

The private sector capital expenditure, on track to touch six lakh crores this fiscal, would be the highest in the last six years.

The private Capex typically depends on credit or loans, from the banking system

Inflation has been driven by local factors: Including higher food prices, than imported reasons. However, retail inflation, which has been consistently above 7% in the past few months, stood at 6.8% in October

Easing international commodity prices and the arrival of the Kharif crop.


Whether the above indicators (positive and negative) signify a temporary or permanent trend, remains to be seen over the coming months.

Parliamentary Panel on Competition Amendment bill 2022

(GS-III: Liberalization/ Parliament-Structure, functioning and conduct of business, Competition Commission of India etc)

In News:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, has suggested that the government extend the provision of settlement under the Competition Amendment Bill 2022 to cartels so as to make the initiative more pragmatic.


The amendment to the competition act broadens the scope of ‘anti-competitive agreements’ to catch entities that facilitate cartelization even if they are not engaged in identical trade practices.

Further suggestions of the Committee:

It recommended some changes to the transaction value threshold prescribed in the draft bill to prevent certain mergers and acquisitions (M&As) from coming under the ambit of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). However, it didn’t suggest any change in the value of the threshold set at Rs 2000 Crores.

The Amendment Bill makes it mandatory to notify the Commission of any transaction with a deal value in excess of ₹2,000 croresand if either of the parties has ‘substantial business operations in India’.

Don’t reduce the timeline as there is a shortage of staff.

The new Bill seeks to accelerate the timeline from 210 working days to only 150 working dayswith a conservatory period of 30 days for extensions to approve the merger.

The Commission should have at least one judicial member.

What are Antitrust laws?

They are regulations that encourage competition by limiting the market power of any particular firm.

National Rail Plan (NRP)

In News:

The National Rail Plan envisages that the share of freight traffic by rail should go up from the current share of 27% to 45% by 2030


The Government had come up with the National Rail Plan last year.

Objectives of the plan:

To create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050.

To increase the modal share of Railways from 27% currently to 45% in freight by 2030 as part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emissions and to continue to sustain it.

To assess the actual demand in the freight and passenger sectors

Forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.

Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing the average speed of freight trains from the present 22Kmph to 50Kmph

Reduce the overall cost of Rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.

The construction of Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) on the important high-density route

Benefits of DFC operation:

Higher throughput per wagon and per train: Run Heavy Haul trains with an overall load of 13000 tonnes.

Lower Energy Consumption: Reduce Operation and Maintenance Costs

Reduction in Transit time: Reduce the logistic cost of transportation and better utilization of Rolling stock

Other programmes of Railways for freight:

Tariff rationalization and Tariff/freight incentive schemes

Diversification of freight basket

Automobile Freight Train Operator Scheme (AFTO)

Introduction of Cube Container for two-wheeler traffic

A New ‘Gati Shakti Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal (GCT)’ policy

As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2030has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects.