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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 18 June 2021

Contents

  1. Centre opens 14 disability early intervention centres
  2. World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2021
  3. India extends $100 mn loan to Sri Lanka

Centre opens 14 disability early intervention centres

Context:

The Union Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry launched 14 cross disability early intervention centres across the country to provide support to infants and young children at risk of or with disabilities.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes, Government Initiatives and Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding what is “Disability”
  2. Disability in India
  3. Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys
  4. About the cross disability early intervention centres
  5. Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

Understanding what is “Disability”

  • Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
  • An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
  • An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
  • A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
  • Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to face discrimination in the workplace. These barriers are social, not personal, and cannot be “overcome” through sheer force of will.
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975): “Any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly the necessities of a normal individual and or social life as a result of a deficiency either congenital or not in his/her physical or mental abilities” could be described as disabled.

Disability in India

  • About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released 2019.

How are the disabled identified?

  • Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire. This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.
  • Accordingly, the 2019 report included questions to identify people with temporary loss of an ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition to the earlier definition, that included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.
  • Significantly, the revised definition recognises deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • Rural men had the highest prevalence of disability in India, according to the NSO report. A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.
  • These numbers were self-reported. In other words, the respondents were asked if they experienced any difficulty in performing tasks like moving, talking, etc.

Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys

  • The 2011 census estimated that the number of people with disabilities in India is close to 2.68 crore (or 2.2% of the population) — that is more than the entire population of Australia.
  • This number was based on the older definition of disability, yet the proportion of disabled people in the population is not different from the 2019 NSO report, which used the expanded definition of disability. However, the 2019 edition of disability statistics reported a slightly higher prevalence than those reported in earlier editions of the survey.
  • Other metrics for evaluating disability have provided different estimates. A 2019 study by the Public Health Foundation of India found that the use of the Annual Health Survey’s metrics results in a lower prevalence. Similarly, a group of doctors from AIIMS found that alternate questionnaires like the Rapid Assessment of Disability have resulted in a prevalence ranging from 1.6%-43.3%.

How can the range be so wide?

The proportion of population facing disability becomes bigger as one moves from a narrow definition to a broader one. For instance, if one defines disability as the difficulty in accessing public services for all kinds of reasons, even social or economic, then the proportion goes up.

About the cross disability early intervention centres

  • Through the cross disability early intervention centres Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are covered.
  • Among the services provided at the centres are screening of children and referral to appropriate rehabilitative care; speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy; parental counselling and training and peer counselling.
  • The DEpwD (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities) said all its 21 composite regional centres would have early intervention centres gradually.

Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

  1. ADIP Scheme: The main objective of the Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances (ADIP) scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential. The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme shall conform to BIS specifications to the extent possible. The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).
  2. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan): Achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication eco-system.
  3. Sugamya Pustakalaya: “Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.
  4. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme is aimed to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its objective is also to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Protection of Rights) Act of 1995.
  5. National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities: In order to recognise dedicated efforts of persons and institutions involved in the process of empowerment of disabled and encourage others to strive to achieve excellence in this field, the National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities are being awarded every year.

Constitutional Provisions and Legislations

  • The Preamble, Article 14, Article 21 and DPSP provide right to equality, justice and dignity of all individuals leading to an inclusive development which also includes the Disabled Persons.
  • The Indian Lunacy Act 1912, The Lepers Act, 1899, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple    Disabilities Act 1999, The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 are enacted for the betterment of disabled people.

-Source: The Hindu


World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2021

Context:

India maintained its 43rd rank on the World Competitiveness Index 2021, compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Inclusive Growth)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY)
  2. Highlights of World Competitiveness Index 2021
  3. How the countries performed in World Competitiveness Index 2021?
  4. India’s Performance World Competitiveness Index 2021

World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY)

  • The World Competitiveness Index is a comprehensive annual report and worldwide reference point on the competitiveness of countries.
  • WCY was first published in 1989 and is compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).
  • It provides extensive coverage of 64 economies.
  • It measures the prosperity and competitiveness of countries by examining four factors (334 competitiveness criteria):
    1. Economic performance
    2. Government efficiency
    3. Business efficiency
    4. Infrastructure

Highlights of World Competitiveness Index 2021

  • The report notes that qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalisation, welfare benefits and leadership, resulting in social cohesion have helped countries better weather the crisis and thus ranked higher in competitiveness.
  • The top-performing economies are characterised by varying degrees of investment in innovation, supportive public policy and diversified economic activities.
  • The report stated that strength in these areas prior to the pandemic allowed these economies to address the economic implications of the crisis more effectively.
  • Further, it said that the competitive economies succeeded in transitioning to a remote work routine while also allowing remote learning. It added that addressing unemployment has been fundamental.
  • The report also pointed out that the countries that ensured the effectiveness of key public spending, such as public finance, tax policy and business legislation, are seen as essential policies to relieve the pressure on the economies hit by COVID-19.

How the countries performed in World Competitiveness Index 2021?

  • Switzerland topped the 2021 rankings, followed by Sweden at 2nd place.
  • While Denmark moved one spot down to the 3rd rank, the Netherlands retained its 4th place and Singapore slipped to the 5th place from its top ranking in 2020.
  • The Top-performing Asian economies were:
    1. Singapore (5th)
    2. Hong Kong (7th)
    3. Taiwan (8th)
    4. China (16th)
  • BRICS Nations Ranking:
    1. China (16th)
    2. India (43rd)
    3. Russia (45th
    4. Brazil (57th)
    5. South Africa (62nd)
  • The qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalisation, welfare benefits, diversified economic activities, supportive public policy and leadership, resulting in social cohesion have helped countries better manage the crisis and thus ranking higher in competitiveness.
  • Competitive economies succeeded in transitioning to a remote work routine while also allowing remote learning.
  • The effectiveness of key public spending, such as public finance, tax policy and business legislation, are seen to relieve the pressure on the economies hit by the Covid-19.

India’s Performance World Competitiveness Index 2021

India’s overall ranking in World Competitiveness Index 

20172018201920202021
4544434343

India’s performance based on these four factors in past 5 years

Factors20172018201920202021
Economic Performance1821243737
Government Efficiency4850465046
Business Efficiency2929303232
Infrastructure6056554949
  • According to IMD, India has maintained its position for the past three years but in 2021, it showed significant improvements in government efficiency and this can be a result of relatively stable public finances despite difficulties brought by the pandemic.
  • It can also be a result of the positive feedbacks registered among Indian business executives with respect to the support and subsidies provided by the government to the private companies.
  • Among the four indices used, India’s ranking in government efficiency increased to 46 from 50 a year ago, while its ranking in other parameters such as economic performance (37th), business efficiency (32th) and infrastructure (49) remained the same.
  • Improvements in Government Efficiency was seen mostly due to relatively stable public finances. Despite difficulties brought by the pandemic, in 2020, the government deficit stayed at 7%. The Government also provided support and subsidies to the private companies.
  • India’s strengths lie in investments in telecoms (1st), mobile telephone costs (1st), ICT services exports (3rd), remuneration in services professions (4th) and terms of trade index (5th).
  • India’s performance is the worst in sub-indices such as broadband subscribers (64th), exposure to particulate pollution (64th), human development index (64th), GDP per capita (63rd) and foreign currency reserves per capita (62nd) among others.

-Source: Economic Times


India extends $100 mn loan to Sri Lanka

Context:

India and Sri Lanka signed an agreement for a $100-million loan from the Export Import Bank of India to support the island nation’s efforts to expand solar power coverage.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies and treaties affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India – Sri Lanka and debt
  2. Sri Lanka’s Approach to India for help with Currency
  3. About India’s loan to Sri Lanka for Solar Power
  4. About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

India – Sri Lanka and debt

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister has told that there was no final decision on the East Container Terminal (ECT) project at the Colombo Port, which Sri Lanka, India and Japan in 2019 agreed to jointly develop.
  • The Sri Lanka government was accused of “giving away national assets” to India, though Sri Lanka’s Port Authority was to retain 100% ownership of the facility, as per the 2019 tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation.
  • South Asia watchers often resort to the India-China geopolitical lens, while analysing Sri Lanka’s international relations in the neighbourhood and beyond.
  • The examples of Singapore-Malaysia and New Zealand-Australia indicate that a smaller country’s economic success is tied to having a strong or at least stable relationship with its larger neighbour.
  • Both India and Sri Lanka should focus on increasing the volume and quality of people-to-people links.

Sri Lanka’s Approach to India for help with Currency

  • In 2020, the President of Sri Lanka requested India for a USD 1 billion credit swap, and separately, a moratorium on debts that the country has to repay to India.
  • But India-Sri Lanka relations have been tense over Colombo’s decision to cancel a valued container terminal project at Colombo Port, which made India put off the decision.
  • Earlier, in July 2020, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) extended a USD 400 million credit swap facility to Sri Lanka, which the Central Bank of Sri Lanka settled in February. The arrangement was not extended.

About India’s loan to Sri Lanka for Solar Power

  • The Sri Lankan government said one of the “key plans” of the government was to generate solar power, with the contribution of state-owned buildings, places of worship and houses of the low-income families.
  • Over the last five years, Sri Lanka has sought to tap more renewable sources of power, particularly solar power. The country’s electricity demand is expected to grow at an average 5.3% from 2015-2034, according to the Public Utilities Commission.
  • India said the $100 million line of credit will help finance various projects Sri Lanka’s solar energy sector, including those announced at the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) held in March 2018, in New Delhi, such as rooftop solar photo-voltaic systems for households and government buildings.
  • As many as 89 countries, including Sri Lanka, signed the framework agreement of the ISA, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015, with the aim of bringing together countries to promote large-scale deployment of solar energy.
  • The line of credit extended by India, according to officials, is for a period of 20 years, with an interest of 1.75 %. Sri Lanka owes about $960 million in debt repayment.

About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.
  • The Headquarters of ISA is in Gurugram, Haryana, India.
  • The Purpose of ISA is Bring together a group of nations to endorse clean energy, sustainable environment, public transport and climate
  • The membership of ISA is applicable to all UN Members.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization.
  • Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
  • After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states world-wide.
  • The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 200 countries have joined.

-Source: The Hindu

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