Contents

  1. World Press Freedom Index 2021: India 142nd
  2. Indian ads further gender stereotypes
  3. State of the Global Climate 2020
  4. Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum

World Press Freedom Index 2021: India 142nd

Context:

The World Press Freedom Index 2021 placed India at 142nd rank yet again out of 180 nations, same as the ranking in 2020.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions and their reports), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Freedom of Speech)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the World Press Freedom Index?
  2. Highlights of the Report
  3. Highlights of the report specific to India
  4. Freedom of Press in India

What is the World Press Freedom Index?

  • World Press Freedom Index is an index published each year by the international journalism (non-profit body), Reporters Without Borders [also called Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF)].
  • RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
  • The World Press Freedom Index ranks countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
  • It is NOT an indicator on the quality of journalism.
  • The parameters used in the World Press Freedom Index include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

Highlights of the Report

  • Journalism is completely or partly blocked in 73% of the 180 countries.
  • Only 12, i.e., 7% of the Indexed 180 countries can claim to offer a favorable environment for journalism.
  • The Report has raised concern about the larger Asia-Pacific region as several nations in an attempt to curb freedom of press have in place draconian laws on ‘sedition,’ ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security’.
  • Norway is Ranked 1st for the fifth year in the row, followed by Finland and Denmark.
  • China is ranked 177th and hence is just above the bottom 3 – Turkmenistan at 178, North Korea at 179 and Eritrea at the bottom.

Highlights of the report specific to India

  • India was ranked 142 in the year 2020 as well, thus showing no improvement in the environment it provides to its journalists.
  • India has fared poorly amongst its neighbours with Nepal at 106, Sri Lanka at 127 and Bhutan at 65. Pakistan is a close follower at 145th spot.
  • India is among the countries classified “bad” for journalism and is termed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their jobs properly.
  • The report has blamed an environment of intimidation created by the nationalist government for any critical journalist often brandishing them as anti-state or anti national.
  • The situation is worrying in Kashmir, where incidents of harassment of reporters by police and paramilitaries have surfaced.

Reasons Behind India’s Poor Performance

  • Journalists are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.
  • The journalists have often been subjected to coordinated hate campaigns on social networks. Such campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women.

Freedom of Press in India

  • Article 19, said to be the foundation of Democratic rule in India, guarantees freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens only.
  • These freedoms are not absolute and they can all be curtailed by imposing some reasonable restriction.
  • Reasonable restrictions can be imposed (imposed only on the grounds mentioned in the constitution) only by authority of law and NOT by executive action alone.

Freedom of Speech and Expression actually covers:

  1. Right to Information
  2. Freedom of press
  3. Right to privacy
  4. Right to hoist the national flag
  5. Right to demonstration or picketing, but not right to strike
  6. Rights to Not Speak

Status of Freedom of Press

  • Unlike several countries such as USA, there is no separate provision guaranteeing the freedom of press, but the Supreme Court in Sakaal paper vs. Union of India case, has held that the freedom of press is included in the “freedom of expression” under Article 19(1) (a).
  • In Brij Bhushan case, SC clarified that there is no prior censorship on the media, i.e., no prior permission is needed.
  • 44th amendment, 1976 introduced Article 361A that provides protection to a person publishing proceeding of the Parliament and State Legislatures.

In the Indian Express case, it was clarified that the Freedom of Press includes:

  1. Right to Information
  2. Right to Publish
  3. Right to Circulate
  • In 1997, the Prasar Bharti Act grants autonomy to Doordarshan and All India Radio (which means it can criticize the state policies and actions).
  • In 1966, Press Council of India was created to regulate the print media.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution (NCRWC) recommended that Freedom of Press be explicitly granted and not be left implied in the Freedom of Speech.

-Source: The Hindu


Indian ads further gender stereotypes

Context:

“Gender Bias and Inclusion In Advertising In India” report was recently released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDI).

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Women), GS-I: Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gender Equality in India
  2. Highlights of the report
  3. Way forwards suggested by the report
  4. Recently in news: SC on gender stereotypical comments

Gender Equality in India

  • Gender equality in India has made gains as a result of legislative and policy measures, social-protection schemes for girls and adolescents and gender sensitive budgets over past years.
  • Some Indian Initiatives Related to Girls: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme, Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, etc.
  • India has attained gender parity in primary enrolment and boosted female literacy from 54% (2001) to 66% (2011).
  • India ranks 108th out of 153 countries in the global gender inequality index in 2020, an increase since 2015 when it was ranked 130th out of 155 countries.
  • India is among one of the few countries where under-5 mortality rates among girls is higher than boys.
  • Gender-based discrimination and normalization of violence continues to be a challenge. Many women face overlapping social, emotional, physical, economic, cultural and caste related deprivations.
  • Adolescent girls face vulnerabilities, including poor nutritional status, increased burden of care, early marriage and early pregnancy, and issues related to reproductive health and empowerment while 56% are anemic.

Highlights of the report

  • Male characters are more likely to be shown making decisions about their future than female characters (7.3% compared with 4.8%), the latter are twice as likely to be shown making household decisions than male characters (4.9% compared with 2.0%).
  • Two-thirds of female characters (66.9%) in Indian ads have light or medium-light skin tones—a higher percentage than male characters (52.1%). This is problematic because this advances the discriminatory notion that light skin tones are more attractive.
  • Female characters are nine times more likely to be shown as “stunning/very attractive” than male characters (5.9% compared with 0.6%). Female characters are also invariably thin, but male characters appear with a variety of body sizes in Indian advertising.
  • Sexual objectification has serious consequences in the real world. The more girls and women internalize the idea that their primary value comes from being a sex object, the higher their rates of depression, body hatred and shame, eating disorders, and a host of other personal impacts.

The report on Gender and Prominence

  • While girls and women have a strong presence in Indian advertising, they are mostly reinforcing traditional gender roles by selling domestic and beauty products to female consumers.
  • This is problematic because of the intergenerational transfer of norms to children, including a lack of empowering role models for men undertaking domestic work in the home and women working in the paid workforce.
  • The research has shown that while ads in India are superior to global benchmarks insofar as girls and women have parity of representation in terms of screen and speaking time, their portrayal is problematic as they further gender stereotypes.

Way forwards suggested by the report

  • Establish guidelines for advertising with benchmarks for equitable representation for girls and women and promoting positive gender norms, including around leadership and body attitudes.
  • Establish skin color guidelines and caste/class guidelines.
  • Promote diverse templates of beauty rather than regressive beauty norms of women and girls being only fair, thin, etc.
  • Advocate with advertisers to see value add in diversifying representation in gender, skin tone, and caste/class benchmarks to help promote brand equity and expand the consumer base.
  • Content Creators need to be more sensitive and aware towards gender representation.   

Recently in news: SC on courts making gender stereotypical comments

  • The Supreme Court forbade judges from making gender stereotypical comments like “’good women are sexually chaste”, women who drink and smoke ‘ask’ for sexual advances or presume that a sexually active woman consented to rape while hearing cases of sexual offence.
  • The SC said that judgments and orders continue to reflect “entrenched paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes” even after 70 years as a Republic.
  • A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges the conduct of a woman from a masculine point of view.
  • SC also said that the law does not support a scenario where a victim can potentially be traumatised many times over and be led to accept or condone a serious offence.
  • Even one such insensitive judgment adversely reflects upon the entire judiciary undermining the guarantee to fair justice to all.

-Source: The Hindu


State of the Global Climate 2020

Context:

Recently, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual State of the Global Climate for 2020 ahead of the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by the US.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate change, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Government Interventions and Policies for management of Climate Change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the State of the Global Climate for 2020 report
  2. About the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Highlights of the State of the Global Climate for 2020 report

Global Warming

  • 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event.
  • The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.
  • The other two warmest years are 2016 and 2019.
  • The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record & 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.
  • In 2019, the oceans had the highest heat content on record. In 2020, it has broken this record further. Over 80% of the ocean area experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2020. [A marine heatwave is defined when seawater temperatures exceed a seasonally-varying threshold for at least 5 consecutive days.]
  • The percentage of the ocean that experienced “strong” marine heat waves (45%) was greater than that which experienced “moderate” marine heat waves (28%).
  • Since record-taking started in 1993 using the satellite altimeter, sea-level has been rising. It is due to the La Niña induced cooling.
  • Sea level has recently been rising at a higher rate partly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Emissions

  • Emission of major greenhouse gases increased in 2019 and 2020 and it will be higher in 2021.
  • Concentrations of the major greenhouse gases in the air continued to increase in 2019 and 2020.
  • Globally, averaged mole fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm), and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach or exceed 414 ppm in 2021.

The Arctic and the Antarctica

  • In 2020, the Arctic sea-ice extent came down to second lowest on record.
  • The 2020 minimum extent was 3.74 million square kilometre, marking only the second time (after 2012) on record that it shrank to less than 4 million sq km.
  • In a large region of the Siberian Arctic, temperatures in 2020 were more than 3°C above average.
  • The Antarctic sea-ice extent remained close to the long-term average. However, the Antarctic ice sheet has exhibited a strong mass loss trend since the late 1990s.
  • This trend accelerated around 2005, and currently, Antarctica loses approximately 175 to 225 Gigaton per year, due to the increasing flow rates of major glaciers in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Extreme Weather Events

  • Along with the pandemic, people across the world struggled to survive as they faced extreme weather in the form of storms, cyclones, heavy rainfall and record heat.
  • Response and recovery to people hit by cyclones, storms and similar extreme weather was constrained throughout the pandemic in 2020.
  • India experienced one of its wettest monsoons since 1994, with a seasonal surplus of 9% that led to severe floods and landslides.
  • Cyclone Amphan, which hit Kolkata in May 2020, has been named as the costliest tropical cyclone for the North Indian Ocean region that brought about an estimated loss of USD 14 billion.

About the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is an intergovernmental organisation that originated from the International Meteorological Organisation (IMO) and became a specialised agency of the UN in 1951.
  • The United Nations Economic and Social Council is the parent organization of the UN’s WMO.
  • The WMO has 193 Member States and 6 Member Territories and it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Functions of the World Meteorological Organisation can be stated as:

  1. Coordinating activities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the member countries.
  2. Providing a guarantee of publishing the statistics and observation of Meteorology and Hydrology.
  3. The WMO also encourages R&D in Meteorology and Hydrology.
  4. Predicting the locust swarms and transport of various pollutants is another responsibility of the WMO.

WMO’s Publications/Reports

  • The World Meteorological Organisation publishes an annual report on the status of the World Climate. This report will provide detailed information on temperatures at the local, national and global levels along with extreme weather events.
  • The WMO report also provides information on long term climate change indicators. These indicators include the rise in sea levels, the extent of sea ice and concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Other reports published by the WMO are:

  1. Status of World Climate
  2. Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Xi Jinping at the Boao Forum

Context:

China’s President Xi Jinping said that global rules cannot be imposed “by one or a few countries” and attempts to “decouple” would not benefit any nation while peaking at the annual Boao Forum.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Boao Forum
  2. Highlights of BFA Annual Conference 2021

About Boao Forum

  • The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is an international not for profit organization which was jointly initiated by 26 member states in 2001, the members have now increased to 29.
  • India is also a member of the BFA.
  • Its annual conference is held in Boao, Hainan province of China on a regular basis.
  • The establishment of BFA is modelled on the lines of the World Economic Forum which bases its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Thus earning the name of ‘Davos of the East’.
  • The founding purpose of BFA was to promote economic integration in Asia. Its mission now is to pool positive energy for the development of Asia and the world.
  • The forum has not only played a unique role in pooling consensus and putting forward valuable “Boao proposals,” but also engaged countries in addressing global issues and promoting world development and prosperity.
  • Its five focal areas include technology innovation, health, education, culture and media in response to the new economy.
Boao Forum chronicle: 20 years of bridging Asia and the world - CGTN

Highlights of BFA Annual Conference 2021

  • The forum witnessed more than 2500 participants coming from more than 60 countries. This year’s theme is ‘A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation’.
  • The main agenda is to strengthen mutual understanding in the post-pandemic era, create additional incentives for overall socio-economic growth and effective global governance.
  • An annual report on Asian Economy was released on the occasion which highlighted the importance of Asian economies which have fared well despite the ongoing pandemic.
  • In terms of purchasing power parity, Asia’s share in the global economic aggregate in 2020 reached 47.3%, up 0.9 percentage points from 2019. It showed that the economic integration of all Asian economies is accelerating.

-Source: The Hindu

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