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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 16 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. UNFPA’s population report
  2. UNDP commissioned study flags ‘labour issues’
  3. Rupee logs sixth straight session of loss
  4. WPI inflation quickens to a record 7.4%

UNFPA’s population report

Context:

The State of World Population Report 2021 titled ‘My Body is My Own’ by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) shows only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Women, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies), GS-I: Indian Society, GS-II: International Relations (International Organizations, Important Reports)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the State of World Population Report 2021
  2. Highlights regarding Indian Women and Bodily Autonomy
  3. About United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  4. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and India

About the State of World Population Report 2021

  • This is the first time a United Nations report has focused on bodily autonomy, defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
  • The report shows that in countries where data is available, only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex. It also highlights that only 75% of countries legally ensure full and equal access to contraception.

Some examples of violation of bodily autonomy include:

  1. child marriage,
  2. female genital mutilation,
  3. a lack of contraceptive choices leading to unplanned pregnancy,
  4. unwanted sex exchanged for a home and food,
  5. when people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot walk down a street without fearing assault or humiliation,
  6. it also includes people with disabilities stripped of their rights to self-determination, to be free from violence and to enjoy a safe and satisfying sexual life.

Realising bodily autonomy is essential to achieving the UNFPA’s goals of ending the global unmet need for contraception, preventable maternal deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices by 2030.

Highlights regarding Indian Women and Bodily Autonomy

  • In India, according to NFHS-4 (2015-2016), only about 12% of currently married women (15-49 years of age) independently make decisions about their own healthcare, while 63% decide in consultation with their spouse.
  • For a quarter of women (23%), it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.
  • Only 8% of currently married women (15-49 years) take decisions on the use of contraception independently, while 83% decide jointly with their spouse.
  • Information provided to women about use of contraception is also limited — only 47% women using a contraceptive were informed about the side effects of the method, and 54% women were provided information about other contraceptives.

About United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a UN agency aimed at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide.
  • UNFPA’s work includes developing national healthcare strategies and protocols, increasing access to birth control, and leading campaigns against child marriage, gender-based violence, obstetric fistula, and female genital mutilation.
  • The UNFPA supports programs in more than 150 countries across four geographic regions: Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of funding for population and reproductive health programs.
  • UNFPA uses a human rights-based approach in programming to address three “transformative goals”:
  1. Zero preventable maternal death
  2. Zero gender-based violence
  3. Zero unmet need for family planning.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and India

  • According to the UNFPA reports, India will be the most populous country by the year 2028, although its fertility rate has declined from about 3.6 to 2.4 children in the last three decades. 
  • Now a middle-income country, India has seen significant improvements in health and education but wide inequalities persist:
  1. Maternal mortality and gender discrimination remain high.
  2. Early marriage and pregnancy contribute to excessive maternal death among women under 24.
  3. The low status of women is a factor as well, one that is reflected in an extremely skewed ratio of girls to boys.

-Source: The Hindu


UNDP commissioned study flags ‘labour issues’

Context:

A recent joint study, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Coca-Cola Company, has noted that in some of the sugarcane producing states, such as Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, authorities discounted underage child labour as “children helping parents in the field”.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children and Employment, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Study on Child Labour
  2. What is Child Labour and Forced Labour?
  3. Constitutional Provisions for Children
  4. Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

Highlights of the Study on Child Labour

  • Most of the interventions in the sugarcane sector, either by government authorities or by the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of companies, were focused just on “improving farming techniques to ensure an increase in cane productivity”.
  • Authorities discounted underage child labour as “children helping parents in the field”.
  • Similarly, confusion was about the advance payment to migrant workers, and associated risks of forced or bonded labour.

Highlights related to India

  • According to data from Census 2011, the number of child labourers in India is more than 1 crore of which 56 lakhs are boys and 45 lakhs are girls.
  • Despite rates of child labour declining over the last few years, children are still being used in some severe forms of child labour such as bonded labour, child soldiers, and trafficking. Across India child labourers can be found in a variety of industries: in brick kilns, carpet weaving, garment making, domestic service, food and refreshment services (such as tea stalls), agriculture, fisheries and mining. Children are also at risk of various other forms of exploitation including sexual exploitation and production of child pornography, including online.
  • Child labour and exploitation are the result of many factors, including poverty, social norms condoning them, lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents, migration and emergencies. These factors are not only the cause but also a consequence of social inequities reinforced by discrimination.     

What is Child Labour and Forced Labour?

  • The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
  • Forced labour is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.
  • The term forced labour includes slavery and practices similar to slavery as well as bonded labour or debt bondage.
  • Bonded Labour is a practice in which employers give high-interest loans to workers who work at low wages to pay off the debt.

Constitutional Provisions for Children

  1. Article 21 A: Right to Education: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State, by law, may determine.
  2. Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.: No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
  3. Article 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing
  4. (e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016

  • According to the Provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 employment of children below the age of 14 years in any commercial enterprise is illegal.
  • The Act also bars the employment of adolescents in occupations that deal with hazardous working conditions such as chemical plants and mines.
  • The Act says that children can only work after school hours or during holidays and that children are allowed to work in family-owned secure sectors.

Issues with the Act

  • The Act allows child labour in “family or family enterprises” or allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”.
  • It excludes a section of toiling children in the unorganized sectors including agriculture as well as the household work.
  • The Act does not define the hours of work and it simply states that children may work after school hours or during vacations.

-Source: Indian Express


Rupee logs sixth straight session of loss

Context:

The Indian Rupee fell for the sixth straight session and depreciated to a nine-month low of 75.4 against the USD, it is one of the biggest losers among the emerging market currencies.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy, Capital Market)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Currency Depreciation and the Factors
  2. Reasons for the Decline of the rupee
  3. Intervention to Control Depreciation of the Rupee

Understanding Currency Depreciation and the Factors

Currency depreciation is a fall in the value of a currency in a floating exchange rate system where market forces (based on demand and supply of a currency) determine the value of a currency.

Some of the factors that influence the value of a currency are:

  1. Inflation
  2. Interest rates
  3. Trade deficit
  4. Macroeconomic policies
  5. Equity market

Currency depreciation increases a country’s export activity as its products and services become cheaper to buy.

Reasons for the Decline of the rupee

  • Rising Covid-19 cases have emerged as a key concern and as several states are now considering more stringent lockdown measures, market participants are concerned over delay in the recovery of the economy, which was hit hard in 2020-21 by the pandemic.
  • The strengthening of USD in line with expectations of better growth in the US economy, has also put pressure on the Rupee.
  • RBI’s announcement of Government Securities Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) programme to infuse liquidity has also put additional pressure on the Rupee. – This is being read as a sort of quantitative easing policy the global central banks had followed, in which the RBI will support the government’s elevated borrowing programme through infusion of liquidity.
  • Another factor that is putting additional pressure is the decreasing support of the Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs), who pumped huge inflows into Indian equity markets between October 2020 and February 2021.

Impact of Depreciating Rupee

  • Depreciating rupee will adversely affect those who are: Importing from outside, seeking foreign education, travelling abroad, investing abroad, seeking medical treatment abroad etc.
  • However, those who are exporting from India, receiving remittances from Non-Resident Indians (NRI) and Foreigners who travel to India will be benefitted.

Intervention to Control Depreciation of the Rupee

  • The RBI intervenes in the currency market to support the rupee as a weak domestic unit can increase a country’s import bill.
  • The RBI can intervene directly in the currency market by buying and selling dollars.
  • If the RBI wishes to increase the rupee value, then it can sell dollars and when it needs to bring down rupee value, it can buy dollars.
  • The RBI can also influence the value of rupee by the way of monetary policy.
  • RBI can adjust the repo rate (the rate at which RBI lends to banks) and the liquidity ratio (the portion of money banks are required to invest in government bonds) to control rupee.

-Source: The Hindu


WPI inflation quickens to a record 7.4%

Context:

Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) accelerated in March 2021 to a record 7.4%, a surge that is expected to feed into higher retail prices in the near term.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Macroeconomics, Inflation, Monetary Policy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Inflation?
  2. What is Wholesale Price Index (WPI)?
  3. What is Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
  4. Differences between WPI Vs CPI

What is Inflation?

  • Inflation refers to the consistent rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc. Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time.
  • A moderate level of inflation is required in the economy to ensure that production is promoted. Excess Inflation is indicative of the decrease in the purchasing power of a unit of a country’s currency. This could ultimately lead to a deceleration in economic growth.
  • In India, inflation is primarily measured by two main indices — WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index) which measure wholesale and retail-level price changes, respectively.

What is Wholesale Price Index (WPI)?

  • Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the changes in the prices of goods sold and traded in bulk by wholesale businesses to other businesses.
  • WPI is published by the Office of Economic Adviser, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It is the most widely used inflation indicator in India and it is used for macro-level policy making.
  • The weightage given in WPI is consistent with the structure of the economy: manufactured goods (64) > primary articles (23) > fuel and power (13)
  • WPI for manufactured goods is released monthly, for the other two (Primary Article and Fuel and power) it is released weekly.
  • It is worth noting that many commodities have two sets of prices. One is the retail price which the consumer actually pays. The other is the wholesale price, the price at which goods are traded in bulk. These two may differ in value because of the margin kept by traders. 
  • Major criticism for this index is that the general public does not buy products at wholesale price.
  • The base year of All-India WPI has been revised from 2004-05 to 2011-12 in 2017. Revision in 2010 led to more items, wider coverage, more quotations helping in disseminating more realistic and reliable data,facilitating better DM and policy intervention.

What is Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures price changes from the perspective of a retail buyer.
  • CPI is released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • Base Year for CPI is 2012 and the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) uses CPI data to control inflation.
  • The CPI calculates the difference in the price of commodities and services such as food, medical care, education, electronics etc, which Indian consumers buy for use.
  • The CPI has several sub-groups including food and beverages, fuel and light, housing and clothing, bedding and footwear.

Four types of CPI are as follows:

  1. CPI for Industrial Workers (IW).
  2. CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL).
  3. CPI for Rural Labourer (RL).
  4. CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined).

Of these, CPI for Industrial Workers (IW), CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL) and CPI for Rural Labourer (RL) are compiled by the Labour Bureau in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined) is compiled by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Differences between WPI Vs CPI

Basis For ComparisonWholesale Price Index (WPI)Consumer Price Index (CPI)
 Meaning WPI, amounts to the average change in prices of commodities at the wholesale level CPI, indicates the average change in the prices of commodities, at the retail level.
 Published by Office of Economic Advisor (Ministry of Commerce & Industry) Central Statistics Office (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation)
 Measures prices  of Goods only Goods and Services both
 Measurement of  Inflation The first stage of the transaction The final stage of the transaction
 Prices paid by Manufacturers and wholesalers Consumers
 How many items covered697 (Primary, fuel & power and manufactured products) 448(Rural Basket)  460 (Urban Basket)
 What type of items covered Manufacturing inputs and intermediate goods like minerals, machinery basic metals etc. Education, communication,  transportation, recreation, apparel, foods and beverages, housing and medical care
 Base year 2011-12 2012
 Used by Only a few countries including India 157 countries
 Data released on  Primary articles, fuel, and power (Weekly basis) & overall (monthly basis since 2012) Monthly basis

-Source: The Hindu

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