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Current Affairs 12 April 2024

  1. Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report
  2. QS World University Rankings: 2024
  3. Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve
  4. Invasive Alien Species
  5. Fiscal Monitor Report
  6. AUKUS Alliance


The World Trade Organisation has published the latest edition of the Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report
  2. About the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report


  • The WTO’s “Global Trade Outlook and Statistics” reviews recent global trade trends up to Q4 2023 and provides forecasts for 2024 and 2025.
  • Detailed breakdowns of merchandise and commercial services trade by sector and region are included, along with information on top traders.

Key Forecasts

  • World merchandise trade volume is forecasted to increase by 2.6% in 2024 and 3.3% in 2025, rebounding from a 1.2% decline in 2023.

Import Trends

  • Weak import demand was observed in 2023 across most regions, notably in Europe, North America, and Asia.
  • Exceptions include the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) where imports saw a significant rise.

Global GDP Growth

  • Global real GDP growth decelerated from 3.1% in 2022 to 2.7% in 2023.
    • The growth is expected to stabilize at 2.6% in 2024 and 2.7% in 2025.
    • The disparity between GDP growth and merchandise trade volume slowdown is attributed to inflationary pressures reducing consumption of trade-intensive goods.

Trade Value

  • The US dollar value of world merchandise trade dropped by 5% in 2023, reaching US$ 24.01 trillion.
    • This decline was counterbalanced by a 9% increase in commercial services trade, reaching US$ 7.54 trillion.
    • The decrease in merchandise exports was influenced by declining commodity prices like oil and gas.
    • The rise in commercial services trade was driven by the recovery of international travel and a surge in digitally delivered services.

Resilience of Global Trade

  • Despite major economic shocks, global trade has shown resilience in recent years.
    • Merchandise trade volume increased by 6.3% by the end of 2023 compared to 2019.
    • Commercial services trade also grew, with the annual US$ value rising by 21% between 2019 and 2023.

Inflation and Income Growth

  • Inflation is projected to gradually decrease in 2024 and 2025.
    • This will enable real incomes to rise in advanced economies, boosting the consumption of manufactured goods.
    • An increase in demand for tradable goods in 2024 is evident due to improved income prospects and increased household consumption.

Risks and Uncertainties

  • Downside risks to the forecast exist due to geopolitical tensions and policy uncertainty.
    • Conflict in the Middle East has disrupted sea shipments between Europe and Asia, while tensions in other regions could result in trade fragmentation.

About the World Trade Organisation (WTO)


  • The WTO is an intergovernmental organization that oversees and facilitates international trade among nations.
  • Established in 1995 under the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, it succeeded the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was founded in 1948.


  • The WTO fosters trade in goods, services, and intellectual property among its member countries.
  • It provides a platform for negotiating trade agreements, typically aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs, quotas, and other trade barriers.
  • These agreements are endorsed by representatives of member governments and subsequently ratified by their respective legislatures.


  • The WTO comprises 164 member states, accounting for over 96% of global trade and global GDP.


  • Located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Decision-making Process

  • Decisions within the WTO are made through consensus among all 164 member states.
  • As a result, all members possess veto powers, ensuring that no decision can be made without the agreement of every member.

-Source: The Hindu


2024 edition of the QS World Ranking for the Universities has been released, recently.


GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. QS World University Rankings
  2. Key Highlights of the QS World University Rankings 2024

QS World University Rankings:

  • The QS World University Rankings are annual rankings released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • These rankings aim to evaluate and compare the performance and quality of universities worldwide.
  • The methodology used by QS takes into account various indicators, including academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, employer reputation, sustainability, employment outcomes, international research network, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.
  • In addition to the overall rankings, QS also provides rankings by subject, region, student city, business school, and sustainability, catering to specific areas of interest and focus.

Key Highlights of the QS World University Rankings 2024


  • The 2024 QS World University Rankings by Subject offer an independent analysis of over 16,400 individual university programs.
  • These rankings encompass more than 1,500 universities across 95 countries and territories, spanning 56 academic disciplines and five main faculty areas: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.

Indian Universities in the Rankings

  • A total of 69 Indian universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, with 424 entries.
  • This marks a 19.4% increase from the previous year’s 355 entries.
  • JNU is India’s top-ranked university in development studies, securing 20th place globally as a new entrant in this field.
    • IIM-Ahmedabad ranks second globally for business and management studies (22nd position).
    • Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences is 24th globally in dentistry.

Asian Rankings

  • In Asia, India is the second-most represented country with 69 universities, following China with 101.
  • India ranks fourth in the number of subject entries, trailing China, Japan, and South Korea.

Most Represented Indian Universities

  • Delhi University (DU) leads with 30 entries.
  • IIT-Bombay follows with 28 entries.
  • IIT-Kharagpur is next with 27 entries.

Research Insights

  • India is now the world’s fourth-largest research producer, contributing 1.3 million academic papers in 2023-24.
    • It trails behind China (4.5m), the US (4.4m), and the UK (1.4m).
  • The international research network indicator has grown by 16%, indicating an increase in the volume and diversity of research partnerships.
  • However, there was a 5% decline in the index measuring the balance between research productivity and impact.

Overall Research Trends

  • India is emerging as one of the fastest-growing research hubs globally.
    • Research output in India surged by 54% from 2017 to 2022, more than doubling the global average and surpassing Western counterparts.
    • India is close to surpassing the UK in research productivity.
    • In terms of research impact, based on citation count, India ranks ninth globally for the period 2017-2022.
    • To continue this momentum, focusing on producing high-quality, impactful research and disseminating it within the academic community is crucial.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


Recently, several restrictions have been imposed on visitors to the Ahobilam Temple Complex, which is located within the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve

Key points:

Heatwave Restrictions at Cheethal Base Camp

  • A ban on plastic items
  • No overnight stays due to potential human-animal conflicts
  • Prohibition on animal sacrifices at the shrine

Wildlife in Nallamala Forest Area

  • Home to red sanders, leopards, and deer
  • Tigers also inhabit the region

Ahobilam National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

  • Constituted under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972
  • Oversees rare flora and fauna specific to the region

Ahobilam Temple Complex

  • Consists of 9 shrines to Lord Narisimha in Nallamala forest
  • Additional temple for Prahaladavarada Varadhan in the mountain foothills

Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve


  • Located in the Nallamala Hills of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Spans across five districts of Andhra Pradesh: Prakasam, Kurnool, Guntur, and Mahbubnagar.
  • Covers an area of approximately 3,568 square kilometers.

Geographical Aspects:

  • Diverse terrain with rugged hills, deep valleys, and dense forests.
  • Part of the Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar-Kurnool forest belt.
  • The Krishna River flows through the reserve, creating a unique ecosystem.


  • Tropical and dry deciduous forests.
  • Dominated by teak, terminalia, bamboo, and other native species.
  • Rich in medicinal plants and herbs.


  • Home to a significant population of Bengal tigers.
  • Other mammals include:
    • Indian leopard
    • Sloth bear
    • Dhole (Indian wild dog)
    • Indian pangolin
    • Chital (spotted deer)
    • Sambar deer
    • Nilgai (blue bull)
    • Four-horned antelope
    • Indian giant squirrel


  • Over 350 species of birds have been recorded.
  • Includes the grey junglefowl, painted spurfowl, and the critically endangered white-rumped vulture.


  • Indian python
  • Mugger crocodile
  • Bengal monitor
  • Star tortoise


  • Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1983 under Project Tiger.
  • Part of the Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar-Kurnool Biosphere Reserve.
  • Efforts are ongoing to conserve and protect the Bengal tiger and its habitat.

-Source: The Hindu


In a bid to manage the teeming population of invasive chital (spotted deer) in Ross Island the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration recently sought help from the Wildlife Institute of India.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Invasive Alien Species
  2. Impacts of Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive alien species, also known as invasive exotic species or non-native species, are organisms introduced to regions or ecosystems outside their native range. These species establish self-sustaining populations and often outcompete native species, disrupting ecosystem balance and causing negative impacts.

Factors Contributing to the Rise of Invasive Species:
  • Global Trade and Travel: Increased international trade and travel have unintentionally facilitated the movement of species across borders. Cargo ships, airplanes, and vehicles can carry invasive species within cargo, ballast water, or attached to surfaces, aiding their spread.
  • Climate Change: Elevated temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns create environments suitable for invasive species. Altered seasonal timings can disrupt native species’ life cycles, making them vulnerable to invasive competitors and predators.
  • Deliberate Introductions: Introducing non-native species intentionally for purposes like gardening, landscaping, and pest control can lead to invasions if these species escape cultivation.
  • Historical Factors: Some invasive species, like the Black Rat introduced to Australia in the late 1800s, have historical origins associated with shipwrecks and industries like pearling. These species are now recognized as some of the “World’s Worst” invasive species.

Impacts of Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive species can have profound and often detrimental effects on ecosystems, economies, and human health. Here are some key impacts:

  • Competition with Native Species: Invasive species can outcompete native species for essential resources like food, water, and habitat, leading to a decline or extinction of native species.
  • Predation: Some invasive species become predators of native species, causing declines in prey populations. This can disrupt ecological food webs and ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem Disruption: These disruptions have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem stability and resilience, often altering the natural balance of ecosystems.
  • Economic Costs: The annual economic costs of invasive alien species have been steadily increasing, exceeding USD 423 billion globally in 2019. Costs can include damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and fisheries.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Species like Zebra mussels can clog water pipes and infrastructure, leading to expensive repairs and maintenance.
  • Reduction of Food Supply: Many invasive species impact food supplies, such as the Caribbean false mussel damaging fisheries in Kerala, India.
  • Spread of Diseases: Invasive species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti can spread diseases like malaria, Zika, and West Nile Fever, posing risks to human health.
  • Impact on Fisheries: For example, water hyacinth in Lake Victoria led to the depletion of tilapia fish, significantly impacting local fisheries and livelihoods.

-Source: Indian Express


Recently, in its Fiscal Monitor the International Monetary Fund said industrial policy initiatives pursued by the United States, Europe and other countries to steer innovation in certain sectors were no panacea to boost economic growth.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Fiscal Monitor Report
  2. Key Facts about the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

About the Fiscal Monitor Report


  • The Fiscal Monitor Report offers a snapshot of the latest developments in public finance, updates the medium-term fiscal outlook, and evaluates the fiscal consequences of policies pertinent to the global economy.
  • This biannual report is produced by the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department.
  • The projections in the report are derived from the same database utilized for the World Economic Outlook (WEO) and the Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR).
  • IMF desk economists are responsible for preparing the fiscal projections for individual countries in accordance with WEO guidelines.

Key Facts about the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Formation and Mission

  • Established in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference with the aim of rebuilding the international monetary system.
  • The IMF’s mission is to foster global economic growth and financial stability, promote international trade, and alleviate poverty worldwide.


  • The IMF finances its operations through quotas and subscriptions from its member countries.


  • It aims to stimulate economic growth and employment by offering temporary financial assistance to countries to facilitate balance of payments adjustments and provide technical assistance.

IMF Reports

  • The IMF publishes the World Economic Outlook and the Global Financial Stability Report.


  • Located in Washington, DC, USA.

-Source: The Hindu


The AUKUS alliance, comprising Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is set to enter discussions for expanding its membership.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is AUKUS?
  2. Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia:
  • A 2021 defence deal between Australia, the UK and the US
  • Aims to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific region
  • Officially made to emphasise the countries’ “shared commitment to a free-and-open Indo-Pacific region”
  • Intended to combat China’s ambitions in the region
  • China has staked territorial claims across the resource-rich region and has multiple nuclear-capable submarines
  • AUKUS was signed to bolster Australia’s naval power in the region
  • The partnership was described by the then Australian PM Scott Morisson as a “partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits all”.

Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia:

  • Near infinite endurance: Nuclear-powered submarines have an internal nuclear reactor, which gives them the ability to operate and stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface to recharge their batteries.
  • Faster and more advanced: Typically, nuclear submarines are faster and more advanced than conventional submarines, which allows them to reach far out into the ocean and launch attacks on the enemy.
  • Greater range and capability: Nuclear submarines like the SSN-AUKUS will give the Royal Australian Navy the capability to go into the South China Sea to protect its assets and conduct patrols, which it currently does not possess.
  • Improved strategic position: The nuclear-powered submarines will enhance Australia’s strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region and provide a significant boost to its naval power.
  • Commitment to non-proliferation: The new deal includes “clear commitments” to the countries’ respective nuclear non-proliferation obligations, ensuring that Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will not be equipped with nuclear warheads.

-Source: Live Mint

May 2024