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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 2 September 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Over 4 billion don’t have social protection: UN
  2. Sri Lanka declares economic emergency
  3. Odisha district only place in India with all 3 crocodile species
  4. Ladakh adopts State animal and bird

Over 4 billion don’t have social protection: UN

Context:

In a report on the state of social protection globally, the UN’s International Labour Organization said that over half of all people in the world have no social protections.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to Poverty, Government Interventions and Policies, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Government Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Social Security?
  2. UN on Social Protection coverage in the world
  3. On low coverage of Social Security 
  4. What is the ‘Unorganised Sector’ in India? Unorganised workers and social security
  5. Social Security Code, 2021 in India

What is Social Security?

  • Social security is “any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income”.
  • It refers to the action programs of an organization intended:
    1. to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food and shelter and
    2. to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.
  • Social protection includes access to health care and income security measures related especially to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or the loss of the main breadwinner in a family, as well as extra support for families with children.
  • Services providing social security are often called social services.

UN on Social Protection coverage in the world

2017

  • Way back, in 2017 itself, according the World Social Protection Report 2017: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, only 45 per cent of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent– 4 billion people – are left unprotected. 
  • Also, in 2017 – Only 29 per cent of the global population enjoys access to comprehensive social security – a small increase compared to 27 per cent in 2014-2015.
  • In 2017, only 35 per cent of children worldwide enjoy effective access to social protection. Almost two thirds of children globally – 1.3 billion children – are not covered, most of them living in Africa and Asia. On average, just 1.1 per cent of GDP is spent on child and family benefits for children aged 0-14, pointing to significant underinvestment in children.

2020

  • The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) in its report on the state of social protection said that only 46.9% of the global population benefitted from at least one form of social security/protection.
  • The report said that 4.1 billion people (Around 55%) were living without any social safety net of any kind. (NO significant improvement since 2017).
  • This poor coverage of Social Security comes even after the pandemic spurred countries to offer more services to their populations.
  • Also, access to healthcare, sickness and unemployment benefits have more than ever proved their relevance during the pandemic – and yet the coverage of social security hasn’t improved much.

On low coverage of Social Security 

  • The lack of social protection leaves people vulnerable to ill-health, poverty, inequality and social exclusion throughout their lifecycle. Denying this human right to 4 billion people worldwide is a significant obstacle to economic and social development.
  • While many countries have come a long way in strengthening their social protection systems, major efforts are still necessary to ensure that the right to social protection becomes a reality for all.
  • It is important to note that universal social protection contributes to eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, promoting economic growth and social justice, as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs).

What is the ‘Unorganised Sector’ in India? Unorganised workers and social security

  • Unorganised sector is a sector which is generally not governed by the rules and regulations that are laid down by the Government regarding the condition of employment.
  • The term unorganised sector when used in the Indian contexts defined by National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, in their Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector as “… consisting of all unincorporated private enterprises owned by individuals or households engaged in the sale or production of goods and services operated on a proprietary or partnership basis and with less than ten total workers.”
  • The Characteristic features of Unorganised sector are:
    • Jobs in the unorganised sector are very low paid.
    • No paid leaves, provident fund, holidays and medical benefits are given to the employees.
    • Job security is absent as in the case of no work, the employee may be asked to leave at any time.
    • It is the employer who decides the rules and regulations of work. 

Why Labour code on Social Security and Welfare is needed?

  • Almost 90% of the current workers are not covered under any social security.
  • The current thresholds for wage and number of workers employed for a labour law to be applicable creates tenacious incentives for the employers to avoid joining the system which results in exclusions and distortions in the labour market.

Social Security Code, 2021 in India

  • The Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 replaced nine social security laws, including Maternity Benefit Act, Employees’ Provident Fund Act, Employees’ Pension Scheme, Employees’ Compensation Act, among others.
  • The code universalizes social security coverage to those working in the unorganised sector, such as migrant workers, gig workers and platform workers.
  • Definition of employee and categorization of workers covers all kinds of employment including part-time workers, casual workers, fixed term workers, piece rate/ commission rated workers, informal workers, home-based workers, domestic workers and seasonal workers.
  • For the first time, provisions of social security will also be extended to agricultural workers also.
  • A proper percentage-based structure for contribution, vis-à-vis socio economic category and minimum notified wage, has been put in place under the Code.
  • It introduces new approaches to ensure a transparent and fair financial set up, such as:
    1. Time bound preparation of Accounts within six months of the end of the financial year;
    2. Provision for social audit of social security schemes by State Boards after every five years;
    3. Accounts of Intermediate Agencies to be subject to CAG Audit on the same lines as that of Social Security Organizations.
  • Wage Ceiling and Income Threshold: The term ‘wage ceiling’ is for the purpose of determining a maximum limit on contribution payable; whereas the term ‘income threshold’ is for the purpose of enabling the government to provide for two different kind of schemes (for same purpose) for two different class of workers.
  • Contribution Augmentation Funds would be established through which governments could contribute to the social security in respect of workers who are unable to pay contribution.
  • National Stabilization Fund will be used for harmonizing the Scheme Funds across the country and will be managed by the Central Boards.

-Source: The Hindu


Sri Lanka declares economic emergency

Context:

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared an economic emergency to contain soaring inflation after a steep fall in the value of the country’s currency caused a spike in food prices.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbours, Foreign Policies and Developments affecting India’s Interests), GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Emergency Provisions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Sri Lanka’s Economic problems
  2. About the Economic Emergency in Sri Lanka 
  3. What is Currency Depreciation?
  4. Financial Emergency in Indian Constitution (Article 360)

About Sri Lanka’s Economic problems

  • Sri Lanka, a net importer of food and other commodities, is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths which has hit tourism, one of its main foreign currency earners.
  • Partly as a result of the slump in tourist numbers, Sri Lanka’s economy shrank by a record 3.6% in 2020. And in 2021, the Sri Lankan rupee has fallen by 7.5% against the US dollar.
  • According to bank data, Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves fell to less than to just over 2.5 Billion $ in 2021 from over 7.5 Billion $ (a decrease of 5 Bn $) in 2019.
  • Sri Lanka is also the first country in the region to raise interest rates amid a pandemic to help shore up its currency, the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR),

About the Economic Emergency in Sri Lanka 

  • The Sri Lankan President declared the state of emergency under the public security ordinance to prevent the hoarding of essential items, including rice and sugar.
  • The government has appointed a former army general as commissioner of essential services, who will have the power to seize food stocks held by traders and retailers and regulate their prices.
  • The military will oversee the action which gives power to officials to ensure that essential items, including rice and sugar, are sold at government-guaranteed prices or prices based on import costs at customs and prevent hiding of stocks.
  • The emergency move followed sharp price rises for sugar, rice, onions and potatoes, while long queues have formed outside stores because of shortages of milk powder, kerosene oil and cooking gas.
  • The wide-ranging measure is also aimed at recovering credit owed to State banks by importers.

What is Currency Depreciation and what are it causes?

  • Currency depreciation is a fall in the value of a currency in terms of its exchange rate versus other currencies.
  • Economic fundamentals, interest rate differentials, political instability, or risk aversion can cause currency depreciation.
  • Orderly currency depreciation can increase a country’s export activity as its products and services become cheaper to buy.
  • Currency depreciation in one country can spread to other countries.
  • Countries with weak economic fundamentals, such as chronic current account deficits and high rates of inflation, generally have depreciating currencies. Currency depreciation, if orderly and gradual, improves a nation’s export competitiveness and may improve its trade deficit over time. But an abrupt and sizable currency depreciation may scare foreign investors who fear the currency may fall further, leading them to pull portfolio investments out of the country. These actions will put further downward pressure on the currency.
  • Easy monetary policy and high inflation are two of the leading causes of currency depreciation. When interest rates are low, hundreds of billions of dollars chase the highest yield. Expected interest rate differentials can trigger a bout of currency depreciation.
  • Central banks will increase interest rates to combat inflation as too much inflation can lead to currency depreciation.
  • Additionally, inflation can lead to higher input costs for exports, which then makes a nation’s exports less competitive in the global markets. This will widen the trade deficit and cause the currency to depreciate.

Financial Emergency in Indian Constitution (Article 360)

  • If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of the country or any part of it is threatened, he/she may declare a financial emergency. 
  • Proclamation in this case also has to be approved by the Parliament as in the case of two other cases of emergency.
  • During the Financial emergency, the executive authority of the Union shall extend to giving of the directions to any state to observe such canons of financial propriety as may be specified in the direction or any other direction, the president may deem necessary for the purpose.
  • Such directions may include those requiring the reduction of salaries and allowances of the Government servants and even those of the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
  • A financial emergency has never been proclaimed in India.

-Source: The Hindu


Odisha district only place in India with all 3 crocodile species

Context:

With the sighting of mugger and gharial crocodiles, all three species of crocodiles have been found in the river systems of the Odisha’s Kendrapara district.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in News, Conservation of Ecology and Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Crocodile Species Found in India
  2. About the recent Gharial sightings in Odisha
  3. Bhitarkanika National Park

Crocodile Species Found in India

I- Marsh Crocodile/Mugger

  • Restricted to the Indian subcontinent, Mugger or Marsh crocodiles are generally found in freshwater habitats including lakes, marshes and rivers. They may also be found in coastal saltwater lagoons and estuaries.
  • They are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. They are also Listed in the Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • They are an egg-laying and hole-nesting species which preys on fish, reptiles, birds and mammals.
  • The main cause of their vulnerable status is habitat destruction, fragmentation, and transformation, fishing activities and use of crocodile parts for medicinal purposes.
  • This species of crocodile are already extinct in Myanmar and Bhutan. 

II- Saltwater Crocodile

  • The saltwater crocodiles, also known as the estuarine crocodile, are believed to be the largest crocodile species living on Earth.
  • They are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. They are also Listed in the Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • In India, it inhabits Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park, the Sundarbans in West Bengal and the Andamans and Nicobar Islands. They can also be found across Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
  • It is capable of prevailing over almost any animal that enters its territory and ambushes most of its prey and then drowns or swallows it as a whole.
  • Its reputation as a man-eater is one of the biggest reasons for its hunting and a threat to its existence. It is also hunted for its skin and another major cause of its decorating population is loss of habitat.

III- Gharial

  • The gharial, also known as the gavial is the longest of all living crocodilians and they have long and thin snouts which resemble an earthen pot (known as “Ghara” in Hindi”), and thus, are called gharial,
  • They are listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. They are also Listed in the Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It currently inhabits rivers in the plains of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent and the Chambal river in the northern slopes of the Vindhya mountains is known as the primary habitat of gharials.
  • The main causes of this decline include illegal sand mining, poaching, habitat destruction, floods and massive scale fishing operations.

About the recent Gharial sightings in Odisha

  • Odisha’s Kendrapara district, crisscrossed by rivers, creeks and water inlets, has earned the distinction of being the only district in India where all three species of crocodiles – salt-water, gharial and mugger are found.
  • The district has already claimed fame for its successful conservation programme for salt-water or estuarine crocodiles at the Bhitarkanika National Park.
  • The Bhitarkanika National Park having over 1700 estuarine crocodiles, is home to 70 per cent of India’s such crocodiles, the conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
  • The Bhitarkanika river systems are home to salt water crocodiles, while the Mahanadi and Brahmani rivers and their tributaries that pass through the district are inhabited by muggers and gharials.
  • With the sighting of mugger and gharial crocodiles, all three species of crocodiles have been found in the river systems of the district.

Bhitarkanika National Park

  • Bhitarkanika National Park is one of Odisha’s finest biodiversity hotspots and is famous for its mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles, and countless creeks.
  • The wetland is represented by 3 Protected Areas, the Bhitarkanika National Park, the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
  • Bhitarkanika is located in the estuary of Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, and Mahanadi river systems.
  • It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.

-Source: Livemint


Ladakh adopts State animal and bird

Context:

Ladakh adopted two endangered species, snow leopard and black-necked crane, as State animal and State bird, two years after it was carved out as a separate Union Territory (UT) from the erstwhile State of J&K.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in News)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Snow leopard
  2. About the Black-necked crane

About the Snow leopard

  • The snow leopard is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
  • The snow leopard, like all big cats, is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in CITES signatory countries.
  • Global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature Snow Leopards.
  • It inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m.
  • It is threatened by poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments.

Snow Leopards in India and their conservation

  • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas. The last three states form part of the Eastern Himalayas – a priority global region of WWF and the Living Himalayas Network Initiative.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It promotes an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation that fully involves local communities.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem. This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

About the Black-necked crane

  • The Black-necked Crane is a medium-sized crane in Asia that breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and remote parts of India and Bhutan. 
  • It is whitish-gray, with a black head, red crown patch, black upper neck and legs, and white patch to the rear of the eye.
  • It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range.
  • It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.
  • The estimated population of the black-necked crane is between 8800 and 11000 individuals.
  • These birds are legally protected in China, India and Bhutan.
  • However habitat modification, drying of lakes and agriculture are threats to the populations. In many areas, dogs belonging to herders are a major threat to young birds.

-Source: The Hindu

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