NATO to raise its response force from 40,000 to 3 lakh troops
(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India or affecting India’s interests)
NATO will increase the strength of its rapid reaction force(RRF) nearly eightfold to 3,00,000 troops as part of its response to an “era of strategic competition”.
The NATO reaction force currently numbers around 40,000
In NATO’s new strategic concept, the alliance is also expected to address for the first time the security challenges posed by China.
Key new objectives:
Deliver further military support to Ukraine When they convene in Spain, with NATO members set to adopt a “strengthened comprehensive assistance package,” including deliveries of secure communication and anti-drone systems.
Help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era armaments to modern NATO equipment.
Address for the first time the security challenges posed by China.
Methods to respond to the growing influence of Russia and China in their southern neighbour.
Another central theme at the NATO summit will be the possibility for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.
Oceans Great Dying 2.0
(GS-III: Environment: Environmental pollution and degradation)
Scientists from Stanford University, warn of imminent mass annihilation of marine species similar to the Permian extinction (250 million years ago) that wiped out most lives in oceans
What is Permian extinction?
Permian extinction (or the “Great Dying”) was caused by global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe. Roughly 96 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of land species went extinct.
Permian Era: During this period, land masses collided to form the supercontinent Pangaea. The supercontinent was arid; only a few parts received rainfall round the year.
However, the large Panthalassic Ocean, which covered much of Earth, was home to many marine species.
What led to extinction?
Volcanic eruption: Towards the end of the era, a series of volcanic eruptions occurred in central Siberia, injecting massive amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. Then, as of now, the uncontrolled GHG emissions triggered climatic changes.
Why the studies are important now?
Earth is undergoing a similar phase of warming: The studies predict a 2-10 degree C warming lead to many species getting extinct while other species may migrate from the tropics into polar waters.
Ocean importance: Oceans are the planet’s largest ecosystem accounting for 95 per cent of all spaces available for life and hosting 90 per cent of the planet’s total species.
Ocean accommodating more heat: Deep oceans are warming up. Ocean heat content is the energy accumulated by the ocean. The atmosphere has a low heat capacity compared to the ocean water, which can accommodate 1000 times more heat. So, most of the heat from GHG is moving into the ocean.
Ocean heat content reached a record high in 2021.
Niti Ayog Report on India’s gig workforce
(GS-II: Development of social sector, Issues related to the development of the social sector)
NITI Aayog has recommended steps to provide social security for the country’s gig workforce, which is expected to grow to 2.35 crore by 2029-30.
Current Number: According to a study released by NITI Aayog, the number of gig workers is estimated to be 77 lakh in 2020-21.
Key findings of the report:
Platformization of work: It has given rise to a new classification of labour-platform labour, falling outside of the purview of the traditional dichotomy of formal and informal labour.
The report broadly classified gig workers into:
Platform workers: are those whose work is based on online software applications or digital platforms,
Non-platform gig workers: are generally casual wage workers and own-account workers in the conventional sectors, working part-time or full-time.
More medium-skilled jobs: At present, about 47% of gig work is in medium-skilled jobs, about 22% in high-skilled, and about 31% in low-skilled jobs, the trend shows the concentration of workers in medium-skilled jobs is declining and that of the low skilled and high skilled is increasing.
Increase in the non-agricultural workforce: By 2029-30, gig workers are expected to form 7% of the non-agricultural workforce or 4.1% of the total livelihood workforce in India.
Separate enumeration exercise: It recommended undertaking a separate enumeration exercise to estimate the size of the gig and platform workforce and collecting information during official enumerations ( Periodic Labour Force Survey) to identify gig workers.
Wider scope: Apart from impetus through digitalisation, operating outside the traditional “employer-employee” relationship enables platforms to scale within and across geographies as well as sectors.
Positive implication of paid leaves: The report said that giving paid sick leave, health access and insurance to all workers will have positive implications.
Reclassification: Citing international regulations for gig and platform workers, it said in the UK, a Supreme Court ruling in February 2021 led to the reclassification of Uber’s driver-partners in the country as “workers”.
Compensation: It suggested gig firms adopt policies that offer old age or retirement plans and benefits and other insurance covers for contingencies such as injury arising from work that may lead to loss of employment and income.
Introduction of Platform India initiative: NITI Ayog recommended introducing a ‘Platform India initiative’ on the lines of the ‘Startup India Initiative’.
Many in Andhra get SMS on vaccination without taking a jab
(GS-II: Issues related to the management of the social sector related to health, and schemes for vulnerable sections of society)
Several senior citizens and adult citizens in Andhra Pradesh who have not visited any vaccine centre after the second dose were taken aback on receipt of messages that they had ‘received’ the dose as per CoWIN.
People received SMSs on their phone numbers used for the earlier doses that have been successfully administered with the third dose and certificates were also generated.
CoWIN app is an extension of the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) that provides real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country
It is a cloud-based IT platform and it handles minute details for India’s Covid-19 immunization programme
The Co-WIN platform is owned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and was earlier the platform used for conducting Pulse Polio and other crucial immunization programmes across the country.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT along with the National Informatics Centre are handling the backend and the tech infrastructure for it.
Monitoring and tracking: This app enables monitoring the inoculation drive and tracking the listed beneficiaries for vaccination on a real-time basis.
Thus, it also helps to counter proxy vaccinations.
Aadhaar enabled: This app would enable beneficiaries to be identified efficiently through the use of the Aadhaar platform.