Important Data and Facts for Mains-June 2021

IMPORTANT FACTS & FIGURES

GEOGRAPHY & RESOURCES

  • Land degradation could reduce global food productivity by 12%, causing food prices to soar by up to 30% by 2040. 
  • In 2019, the S. imported 80% of its rare earth minerals from China. The EU gets 98% of its supply from China.
  • India has the world’s fifth-largest reserves of rare earth elements, nearly twice as much as Australia, but it imports most of its rare earth needs in finished form from China.

SOCIAL ISSUES

HUNGER

  • Hunger, drought and disease will afflict tens of millions more people within decades, according to a draft UN assessment that lays bare the dire human health consequences of a warming planet.

POPULATION

  • India’s elderly population is on the rise, and as per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050. 
  • China’s fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman in 2020 is well below replacement level, but so, too, are fertility rates in every rich country. Australia’s rate is 1.66, the US rate is 1.64. In all developed economies, fertility rates fell below replacement in the 1970s or 1980s and have stayed there.
  • China’s population aged 20 to 64 will likely fall by around 20% in the next 30 years, but productivity growth will continue to deliver rising prosperity. India’s population in that age band is currently growing by around ten million per year and will not stabilise until 2050.
  • According to Census 2011, every fifth person in India is a youth (15-24 years). 

GENDER EQUALITY

ACCORDING TO UN WOMEN 2021 REPORT

  • More than 640 women aged 15 and over have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partner.
  • 19% of girls are married before the age of 18
  • It’s estimated that based on current progress women will not achieve pay or leadership equity with men for at least another 135.6 years.
  • 190 million women who wanted to avoid pregnancy did not use any contraceptive method
  • Women do 3x more unpaid care work then men and less than of women are in the labor force, compared to 90% of men, which remains largely unchanged for the last 3 decades.

POLITY, CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNANCE

  • NCRB data shows that between 2016 to 2019, there has been a whopping 160 per cent increase in the filing of sedition charges with a conviction rate of just 3.3 per cent. Of the 96 people charged in 2019, only two could be convicted.
  • According to data released by the Supreme Court in the June 2020 newsletter of the e-Committee, 27 crore cases are pending before Indian courts, of which 85,000 have been pending for over 30 years.
  • According to the report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), between 2016 and 2019 there was a 160% increase in the registration of sedition cases whereas the conviction rate during this period fell from 33.3% to 3.3%. Thus, the process itself becomes the punishment. 
  • According to data from the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in December, 2020 over 55 per cent of forest dwellers has still not been granted either individual or community ownership of their lands.  
  • According to Google Transparency Report, political parties mostly in the last two years have spent around $800 million (Rs 5,900 crore) on election ads.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

HEALTH

  • As per World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 will die of cancer.
  • Cancer kills 8.51 lakh people in India every year (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2020, Globocan).
  • We have 5,624 community health centres (CHCs) against the requirement of 7,322. Data on CHCs, which act as a referral centre covering a population of 80,000 people to 1.20 lakh people, show that, overall, there is a shortfall of 81.8% specialists at CHCs as compared to the requirement for existing CHCs.
  • As in the Human Development Report 2020, India has eight hospital beds for a population of 10,000 people, while in China, it has 40 beds for the same number of people.
  • AIDS is one of the deadliest pandemics of modern time with 77.5 million people so far infected with HIV, while nearly 35 million people have died from AIDS.
  • According to National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)’s annual HIV Estimates report of 2019, there were over 58,000 AIDS-related deaths and over 69,000 new HIV infections added to the pool of 2.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS, with 98% of new infections in the high-risk groups. 

EDUCATION

  • According to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20, in the last five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, there has been a growth of 11.4% in student enrolment.
  • The rise in female enrolment in higher education during the period from 2015-16 to 2019-20 is 18.2%.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

INDIA AND PAKISTAN

  • As per the India-Pakistan FTA, Pakistan currently maintains a Positive List of Importable Items from India, inclusive of a total of 1,075 items. 
  • In 2020, Pakistan’s imports from India were valued at US$242 million. 
  • In 2020, Pakistan’s exports to India were valued at US$1.6 million.

INDIA AND SRILANKA

  • In 2020, Sri Lanka’s imports from India were valued at US$3 billion. 
  • In 2020, Sri Lanka’s exports to India were valued at US$654 million. The exported goods included mineral fuels, coffee, tea, spices, fruits, apparel, electrical equipment, furniture, and wood.
  • The imported goods included pharmaceuticals, sugar, cotton, mineral fuels, iron, steel, machinery, coffee, tea, spices, and vehicles besides railway and tramway.

INDIA AND NEPAL

  • In 2020, Nepal’s imports from India were valued at US$782 million.  The imported goods included oil, gold, iron, steel, clothing, pharmaceuticals, cement, electrical equipment, food items, and vehicles.  
  • In 2020, Nepal exported iron, steel, textiles, plastics, knotted carpets, and vegetables to India.

INDIA AND MALDIVES

  • In 2020, Maldives’ imports from India were valued at US$196.17 million. The imported goods included pharmaceuticals, cereals, plastics, machinery, vegetables, medical apparatus, electrical equipment, dairy products, and fruits.
  • In 2020, Maldives’ exports to India were valued at US$17.74 million. The exported goods included ships, boats, iron, steel, medical apparatus, machinery, aluminum, copper, electrical equipment, mineral fuels, and vehicles besides railway and tramway.

INDIA AND BHUTAN

  • In 2018, Bhutan’s imports from India were valued at US$810 million.  The imported goods included diesel, wood, charcoal, and gasoline.
  • In 2018, Bhutan’s exports to India were valued at US$433 million. The exported goods included cement, dolomite, cement clinkers, timber, wood products, and fruits.

INDIA AND BANGLADESH

  • In 2019, Bangladesh’s imports from India were valued at US$7.91 billion. The imported goods included cotton, mineral fuels, vehicles besides railway and tramway, machinery, organic chemicals, electrical equipment, iron, steel, and plastics.
  • In 2019, Bangladesh’s exports to crossed US$1 billion. The imported goods included textiles, and textile machinery.
  • Indo-Bangladesh border trade passes through Petrapole-Benapole, 80 km from Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal. Some 70 percent of the two-way land trade takes place through this integrated check post.

INDIA AND AFGHANISTAN

  • In 2019, Afghanistan’s imports from India were valued at US$453.7 million. The imported goods included electrical equipment, sugar, iron, steel, pharmaceuticals, fruits, tobacco, aluminum, and miscellaneous articles of base metals.
  • In 2019, Afghanistan’s exports to India were valued at US$410.14 million. The exported goods included fruits, coffee, tea, spices, vegetables, cereals, lead, and wool.

INDIA AND AFRICA

  • According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, in 2020-21, India’s exports to and imports from Africa stood, respectively, at $27.7 billion and $28.2 billion, a reduction of 4.4% and 25% over the previous year. Thus, bilateral trade valued at $55.9 billion in 2020-21, fell by $10.8 billion compared to 2019-20, and $15.5 billion compared to the peak year of 2014-15.
  • India’s investments in Africa too saw a decrease from $3.2 billion in 2019-20 to $2.9 billion in 2020-21. Total investments over 25 years, from April 1996 to March 2021, are now just $70.7 billion, which is about one-third of China’s investment in Africa.
  • India’s top five markets today are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Togo. The countries from which India imports the most are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Angola and Guinea. India’s top three exports to Africa are mineral fuels and oils (processed petroleum products), pharmaceutical products and vehicles. Mineral fuels and oils, (essentially crude oil) and pearls, precious or semi-precious stones are the top two imports accounting for over 77% of our imports from Africa.

INDIA AND MALAYSIA

  • Recently, Malaysia has surpassed Indonesia to become the biggest Crude Palm Oil (CPO) exporter to Indiain 2020-21.

EU & SRILANKA

  • The EU is Sri Lanka’s second-largest trading partner after China and its second main export destination, absorbing 22.4% of Sri Lankan exports in 2020, mainly textiles and clothing, according to the European Commission.

ASEAN & CHINA

  • China-ASEAN trade had grown to $684.6 billion and the expectation is for that to only grow following the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

ECONOMY

  • One third of global fish stocks are overexploited, up from 10% in 1974 (FAO, 2020).
  • Restoration through agroforestry alone has the potential to increase food security for 1.3 billion people.
  • Global toy market is about 100 billion dollars and India have only 1.5 per cent of this market. India imports almost 80 per cent of its toys.
  • The foreign direct investment (FDI) flows dropped globally by 35 per cent to $1 trillion — from $1.5 trillion in 2019 — according to World Investment Report 2021 by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
  • According to the United Nations (UN), as many as 90 per cent of businesses are generated from MSMEs and these businesses provide 60 to 70 per cent of employment. The contribution of MSME to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worldwide is 50%.
  • India’s renewable energy capacity is the 4th largest in the world.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. Against this, the e-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 7.82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.
  • Lower consumption of electronic and electrical devices in the first nine months of 2020 (compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario) led to a drop in e-waste generation by 4.9 million metric tonnes. But low- and middle-income countries reported a 30% fall in e-waste, compared to just 5% in high-income countries, according to a reportby the United Nations University and the UN Institute for Training and Research titled ‘Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on e-waste.
  • In 2018, the Ministry of Environment had told the tribunal that 95% of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and scrap dealers unscientifically dispose of it by burning or dissolving it in acids. 
  • More than 18 million children and adolescents working at e-waste dumpsites in low- and middle-income countries are potentially at the risk of severe health hazards, the World Health Organization said in its recent report by WHO.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

  • India’s investment in research remains unsatisfactory, the UNESCO Science Report has observed. The gross domestic expenditure on research (GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7% of the GDP for years.
  • India’s research intensity has been declining since 2014. The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2% of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007. This target date was set back to 2018 in the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2013) then again to 2022 by the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister. 
  • In 1990, the density of scientists/engineers engaged in R&D in the country per 10,000 of the labour forces stood at 10. It rose to just 11 in 2018, when it stood at 50 in China, 130 in Japan and 180 in South Korea.
  • Indian researchers are publishing between 1.5 and 1.8 times the global average on smart-grid technologies, photovoltaics, biofuels and biomass and wind turbine technologies, complementing the government’s push to expand green energy sources.
  • R&D in the government sector has been in steady decline since 2015, whereas the share of private business enterprises in it has shot up to 42%. 
  • Investment in R&D by foreign multinationals is on the rise, accounting for as much as 16% of private-sector investment in R&D in 2019.

BIODIVERSITY & ENVIRONMENT

  • Ecosystem degradation is already affecting the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people 40% of the world’s population. (IPBES, 2018)
  • Every year, the world loses 10 million hectares of forests – an area the size of the Republic of Korea, or twice the size of Costa Rica. (FAO and UNEP, 2020)
  • In the last three decades, there have been 660 heat waves across India causing 12,273 deaths.
  • Approximately 30% of natural freshwater ecosystems have disappeared since 1970.
  • According to a 2018 study by the World Travel & Tourism Council, the total economic contribution of wildlife tourism to global GDP was about $343.6 billion and supporting 21.8 million jobs. 
  • Around $10 trillion in global GDP could be lost by 2050 if ecosystem services continue to decline.
  • Up to 700 million people are predicted to migrate because of land degradation and climate change by 2050. (IPBES, 2018)
  • Ecosystem degradation can increase contact between humans and wildlife and has been linked to outbreaks of diseases. 
  • Globally, we have lost 7% intact forests since 2000, and recent assessments indicate that over a million species might be lost forever during the next several decades.
  • In recent decades, populations of more than 40% of large mammals have declined and insect biomass has decreased by more than 75%. 
  • The fallout is a severe loss of forest cover across the planet today we have less than half the numbers of trees than when we took the plow; 4 out of our 7 billion population faces severe water scarcity; Deforestation accounts for 11 % of GHG emissions annually; 68% of large-bodied animals have disappeared in the last 50 years; oceans have acidified and left with an impaired ability to fix carbon and are actually exacerbating the impact of climate change.
  • Forest ecosystems cover about 4% of India’s land in its National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, large-scale commercial agriculture accounted for 40 per cent of tropical deforestation; and local subsistence agriculture was not far behind, accounting for another 33 per cent. But human food systems depend on biodiversity to function, and conventional food systems reduce biodiversity – effectively destroying their own foundation.
  • Over the past 100 years, more than 90 per cent of crop varieties have disappeared and today, just nine plant species account for 66 per cent of total crop production – contributing to ubiquitous health risks like diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.
  • According to the World Economic Forum, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse rank among the top five threats to humanity in the next ten years.
  • Degradation is already affecting the well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people – that is 40 percent of the world’s population. Every single year we lose ecosystem services worth more than 10 percent of our global economic output.
  • Despite progress in key environmental areas such as clean water, sanitation, clean energy, forest management and waste, countries are still living unsustainably and are on course to miss the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to the Measuring Progress: Environment and the SDGs report issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to coincide with the International Day for Biological Diversity.
  • India’s contribution to climate change in the last 200 years has been only 3%.
  • Developed nations owe USD 1.1 trillion to developing nations as a part of climate change mitigation under the Paris Agreement.
  • According to the UN-REDD programme, after the energy sector, deforestation accounts for massive carbon emissions close to 11 per cent in the atmosphere. 
  • Between 2002-2020, Brazil’s total area of humid primary forest reduced by 7.7 per cent while India’s reduced by 3.4 per cent. 

SECURITY

  • The UN verified that over 7,000 children had been recruited and used as soldiers in 2019 alone.
  • According to the year book, India possessed an estimated 156 nuclear warheads at the start of 2021 compared to 150 at the start of last year, while Pakistan had 165 warheads, up from 160 in 2020. China’s nuclear arsenal consisted of 350 warheads up from 320 at the start of 2020.
  • There are 9,118 women currently serving the army, navy and air force.
  • According to 2019 figures, women comprise only 3.8% of the world’s second-largest army compared to 13% of the air force and 6% of the navy.

MAJOR REPORTS AND INDICES

UN World Drug Report 2021

Context

·         Recently, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna has released World Drug Report 2021.

·         The UN General Assembly, on December 7, 1987, decided to mark June 26 as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Key Findings of World Drug Report 2021

  • Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.
  • In Asia, China and India are the most frequently mentioned countries linked to shipment of drugs sold on the 19 major darknet markets analysed over 2011-2020.
  • Access to drugs has also become simpler than ever with online sales, and major drug markets on the dark web are now worth some $315 million annually. Contactless transactions, such as through the mail, are also on the rise, a trend possibly accelerated by the pandemic.
  • About 5.5% of those between 15 and 64 have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13% of the total number of people who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders.
  • Many countries saw a rise in the use of cannabis during the coronavirus pandemic. In surveys of health professionals across 77 countries,
    • 42% said cannabis use had increased. A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs was also observed in the same period.
    • In the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased as much as four times in some parts, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40%.
  • Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health.
  • Globally, over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs, half of whom are living with Hepatitis C. Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.
  • There is a rise in larger shipments of illicit drugs and frequency of overland routes used for trafficking.
  • Private planes are being increasingly used for drug trafficking, and even contactless methods have risen to deliver drugs.

Back to Basics

Golden Triangle

  • The notorious Golden Triangle represents the region coinciding with the rural mountains of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. It is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producing region and one of the oldest narcotics supply routes to Europe and North America. With a 1643km long border with Myanmar, India has been at risk for the longest time, even before the emergence of Golden Crescent.
  • States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland share their border with Myanmar. Drugs including opium, heroin, methamphetamine and many more are smuggled from Myanmar into the northeast. Also, drugs illicitly cultivated in India travel through the same route for trade. Drugs produced in the ‘Golden Triangle’ enter India through Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland from Bhamo, Lashio, and Mandalay in Myanmar. The route bifurcates and one channel moves northwards through Moreh in Manipur while other moves southwards to enter Champai in Mizoram. Moreh (Manipur), Champai (Mizoram), Dimapur (Nagaland), and Guwahati (Assam) have become the nucleus of drug trafficking industry in India’s northeast.

Golden Crescent

  • The name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit opium production (with the other being the Golden Triangle), located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia.
  • This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.

Suicide worldwide 2019 report

Context

  • Recently, the Suicide worldwide 2019 report has been published by the WHO.

Key Findings of Suicide worldwide 2019 report

  • It shows that some 703,000 people or one in a 100, died by suicide in 2019.
  • More than half of global suicides (58 per cent) occurred before the age of 50 years.
  • Suicide was the 4th-leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 globally in 2019, according to the Suicide worldwide 2019 report.
  • Some 77 per cent of global suicides in 2019 occurred in low- and middle-income countries. On an average, 9 out of every 100,000 people ended their lives in the world.
  • But, three WHO regions — Africa, Europe and South-East Asia — recorded suicide rates higher than the global average. This number was highest in the WHO Africa region (11.2) followed by Europe (10.5) and South-East Asia (10.2).
  • The report noted that in 20 years (2000-2019), the global suicide rate had decreased by 36 per cent. The decrease ranged from 17 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47 per cent in the European Region and 49 per cent in the Western Pacific Region.
  • The Region of the Americas recorded a substantial 17 per cent increase in the suicide rate during the same period and has been an exception.

·         United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Reducing the global suicide mortality rate by a third is both, an indicator and a target (the only one for mental health) in the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
    • However, despite this overall decline, the world will not be able to achieve the SDGs concerning mental health.
  • The SDGs call on countries to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by a third, by 2030 through prevention and treatment and to promote mental health and well-being.
  • Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted, the report said. Currently, only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.

The WHO had published new LIVE LIFE guidelines to help countries reduce the global suicide mortality rate by a third by 2030. These are:

  • Limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms.
  • Educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide.
  • Fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents.
  • Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

  • One of the most archaic laws that punishes attempts to commit suicide – Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)— contrary to popular perception that it has been repealed, continues to exist in the statute book and, as reports suggest, is often misused.

Who can be booked under Section 309 IPC? What punishment does it carry? Why is it there to begin with?

  • Anyone who survives an attempted suicide can be booked under Section 309 IPC, which deals with “Attempt to commit suicide”.
  • The section reads: “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year (or with fine, or with both)”.
  • The law, brought in by the British in the 19th century, reflected the thinking of the time, when killing or attempting to kill oneself was considered a crime against the state, as well as against religion.

But wasn’t Section 309 repealed a few years back?

  • No. The section continues to remain in the IPC. What has happened though, is that The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017, which came into force in July 2018, has significantly reduced the scope for the use of Section 309 IPC — and made the attempt to commit suicide punishable only as an exception.
  • Section 115(1) of The MHCA says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.”
  • Section 115(2) says that “The appropriate Government shall have a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.”

What problems can arise out of the use of this Section?

  • Chennai based psychiatrist Dr Laxmi Vijaykumar, who is also a member of the WHO’s Network on Suicide Research and Prevention, said that use of this Section can potentially deprive a victim of treatment in the golden hour, as hospitals wait for a go-ahead from police in what would be seen as a “medico-legal case”.
  • It is possible that unscrupulous hospital authorities may misuse this situation and charge extra to “hush up” the case by not informing the police; similar extortion is possible on the part of corrupt police personnel as well.
  • All of this is in addition to the trauma and harassment that an already severely distressed individual and people around him/her would likely be going through. Only 24 countries around the world have a section such as this in their laws

Efforts Taken to Repeal this Law

  • 1971: The Law Commission in its 42nd Report recommended the repeal of Section 309 IPC. 
  • 1978: The IPC (Amendment) Bill, 1978, was even passed by Rajya Sabha, but before it could be passed by Lok Sabha, Parliament was dissolved, and the Bill lapsed.
  • 1996: In ‘Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab’, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 309. 
  • 2008: The Law Commission in its 210th Report said that an attempt to suicide needed medical and psychiatric care, and not punishment. 
  • 2011: The Supreme Court recommended to Parliament that it should consider the feasibility of deleting the section.
  • The Delhi High Court stated that if Section 309 is restricted in its application to attempts to commit suicide which are cowardly and which are unworthy, then only this section would be in consonance with Article 21. 

India’s Initiatives

  • National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982
  • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017
  • Manodarpan Initiative
  • To relieve the distress of the student community during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has launched Central University of Odisha Helpline “Bharosa’’.

Conclusion

  • The report said these needed to go hand-in-hand with foundational pillars like situation analysis, multi-sectoral collaboration, awareness raising capacity building, financing, surveillance and monitoring and evaluation.

World Investment Report 2021

Context

  • Recently, the World Investment Report 2021 by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been released.

Key Findings World Investment Report 2021

Indian Scenario

  • India received USD 64 billion in FDI in 2020, the fifth largest recipient of inflows in the world.
    • FDI increased 27 per cent to USD 64 billion in 2020 from USD 51 billion in 2019, pushed up by acquisitions in the ICT industry.
    • Major project announcements in the ICT industry included a USD 2.8 billion investment by online retail giant Amazon in ICT infrastructure in India.
  • Covid-19 second wave in the country weighs heavily on the country’s overall economic activities but its strong fundamentals provide optimism for the medium term.
  • Announced greenfield projects in India contracted by 19 per cent to USD 24 billion.
  • The second wave in April 2021 severely hit main investment destinations such as Maharashtra, which is home to one of the biggest automotive manufacturing clusters (Mumbai-Pune-Nasik-Aurangabad) and Karnataka (home to the Bengaluru tech hub), exposing the country to production disruption and investment delays.
  • FDI to India has been on a long-term growth trend and its market size will continue to attract market-seeking investments. In addition, investment into the ICT industry is expected to keep growing.
  • Export-related manufacturing, a priority investment sector, will take longer to recover, but government facilitation can help.
  • India’s Production Linkage Incentive scheme, designed to attract manufacturing and export-oriented investments in priority industries including automotive and electronics, can drive a rebound of investment in manufacturing.
  • Investments from India are expected to stabilise in 2021, supported by the country’s resumption of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with the European Union (EU) and its strong investment in Africa.

South Asia and India

  • FDI in South Asia rose by 20 per cent to USD 71 billion, driven mainly by strong Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As) in India, amid India’s struggle to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, robust investment through acquisitions in ICT (software and hardware) and construction bolstered FDI.
    • Cross-border M&As surged 83 per cent to USD 27 billion, with major deals involving ICT, health, infrastructure and energy.
  • FDI outflows from South Asia fell 12 per cent to USD 12 billion, driven by a drop in investment from India.
    • India ranked 18 out of the world’s top 20 economies for FDI outflows, with 12 billion dollars of outflows recorded from the country in 2020 as compared to 13 billion dollars in 2019.
  • While the Asian region has managed the health crisis relatively well, the recent second wave of Covid-19 in India shows that significant uncertainties remain,
    • This has major impacts on prospects for South Asia.
    • A wider resurgence of the virus in Asia could significantly lower global FDI in 2021, given that region’s significant contribution to the total.
  • FDI inflows to developing Asia grew by 4 per cent to USD 535 billion in 2020, making it the only region to record growth and increasing Asia’s share of global inflows to 54 per cent.
    • Some of the largest economies in developing Asia such as China and India recorded FDI growth in 2020, the rest recorded a contraction.
  • The report added that FDI inflows in Asia are expected to increase in 2021, outperforming other developing regions with a projected growth of 5-10 per cent.
    • Signs of trade and industrial production recovering in the second half of 2020 provide a strong foundation for FDI growth in 2021.
    • Yet, substantial downside risks remain for the many economies in the region that struggle to contain successive waves of Covid-19 cases and where fiscal capacity for recovery spending is limited.

Global Scenario

  • Global flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) have been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In 2020, FDI fell by one third to USD 1 trillion, well below the low point reached after the global financial crisis of 2007-08.
  • Greenfield investments in industry and new infrastructure investment projects in developing countries were hit especially hard.
    • A greenfield investment is a type of FDI in which a parent company creates a subsidiary in a different country, building its operations from the ground up.
    • In addition to the construction of new production facilities, these projects can also include the building of new distribution hubs, offices, and living quarters.
  • This is a major concern, because international investment flows are vital for sustainable development in the poorer regions of the world.
  • Lockdowns caused by Covid-19 around the world slowed down existing investment projects and prospects of a recession led Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) to reassess new projects.
  • The pandemic boosted demand for digital infrastructure and services globally. This led to higher values of greenfield FDI project announcements targeting the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, rising by more than 22 per cent to USD 81 billion.

Key Suggestions

  • Increasing investment to support a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the pandemic is now a global policy priority.
  • This entails promoting investment in infrastructure and the energy transition, in resilience and in health care.
  • The sustainable investment market needs to transition from a niche to a mass market that fully integrates sustainability in business models and culture, leading up to 2030 and beyond.
  • The market needs to tackle concerns of greenwashing and SDG-washing, and address its geographical imbalance.
    • Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.
    • It is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.
  • Much work has been done over the past decade by asset owners, financial institutions, exchanges, regulators and policymakers. Better coordination and effective monitoring of their activities can help accelerate the transition.
  • UNCTAD, together with partners, will launch the UN Global Sustainable Finance Observatory, which will address the challenges of fragmentation in standards, proliferation in benchmarking, complexity in disclosure, and self-declaration of sustainability.
    • The observatory will integrate the relevant instruments and outputs to facilitate the assessment, transparency and integrity of sustainable finance products and services.
    • It will work in tandem with the standards-setting processes of the financial industry and regulatory bodies to promote the full and effective integration of sustainable development into all aspects of the global financial ecosystem.

Draft UN assessment Report

Context

  • Hunger, drought and disease will afflict tens of millions more people within decades, according to a draft UN assessment report that lays bare the dire human health consequences of a warming planet.

Key Findings of draft UN assessment Report

  • It warns of the cascading impacts that simultaneous crop failures, falling nutritional value of basic foods, and soaring inflation are likely to have on the world’s most vulnerable people.
  • It predicts that up to 80 million more people than today will be at risk of hunger by 2050.
  • It projects disruptions to the water cycle that will see rain-fed staple crops decline across sub-Saharan Africa. Up to 40% of rice-producing regions in India could become less suitable for farming the grain.
  • Global maize production has already declined 4% since 1981 due to climate change, and human-induced warming in West Africa has reduced millet and sorghum yields by up to 20 and 15% respectively, it shows.
  • The frequency of sudden food production losses has already increased steadily over the past 50 years.
  • The protein content of rice, wheat, barley and potatoes, for example, is expected to fall by between six and 14%, putting close to 150 million more people at risk of protein deficiency.
  • Essential micronutrients — already lacking in many diets in poorer nations — are also set to decline as temperatures rise.
  • Extreme weather events made more frequent by rising temperatures will see “multi-breadbasket failures” hit food production ever more regularly.
  • As climate change reduces yields, and demand for biofuel crops and CO2-absorbing forests grows, food prices are projected to rise as much as a third at 2050, bringing an additional 183 million people in low-income households to the edge of chronic hunger.
  • Across Asia and Africa, 10 million more children than now will suffer from malnutrition and stunting by mid-century, saddling a new generation with life-long health problems despite greater socioeconomic development.
  • As with most climate impacts, the effects on human health will not be felt equally: the draft suggests that 80% of the population at risk of hunger live in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Water crisis looming

  • Just over half the world’s population is already water insecure, and climate impacts will undoubtedly make that worse.
  • Research looking at water supply, agriculture and rising sea levels shows that between 30 million and 140 million people will likely be internally displaced in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America by 2050.
  • Up to three quarters of heavily tapped groundwater supply — the main source of potable water for 2.5 billion people — could also be disrupted by mid-century.
  • The rapid melting of mountain glaciers has already “strongly affected the water cycle”, an essential source for two billion people that could “create or exacerbate tensions over water resources”, according to the report.
  • And while the economic cost of climate’s effect on water supply varies geographically, it is expected to shave half a percent off global GDP by 2050.
  • Water is one of the issues that our generation is going to confront very soon.

UNESCO Science Report

Context

  • Recently UNESCO Science Report has been released where it stated that, India’s investment in research remains unsatisfactory.

About UNESCO Science Report

  • The gross domestic expenditure on research (GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7% of the GDP for years, although, in absolute terms, research expenditure has increased.
  • India has one of the lowest GERD/GDP ratios among the BRICS nations.
    • India’s research intensity has been declining since 2014. The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2% of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007. This target date was set back to 2018 in the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2013) then again to 2022 by the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister.
    • In 2020, the task force drafting the country’s new Science and Technology Policy recommended pushing back the target date to a more realistic 2030.
  • In 1990, the density of scientists/engineers engaged in R&D in India per 10,000 of the labour force stood at 10.
    • It rose to just 11 in 2018, when it stood at 50 in China, 130 in Japan and 180 in South Korea.
  • R&D in the government sector has been in steady decline since 2015, whereas the share of private business enterprises in it has shot up to 42%.
  • Investment in R&D by foreign multinationals is on the rise, accounting for as much as 16% of private-sector investment in R&D in 2019.
  • On the bright side is the encouraging increase in scientific publications by Indian researchers on cutting-edge technologies. Total publications have risen from 80,458 in 2011 to 1.61 lakh in 2019.
  • Indian researchers are publishing between 1.5 and 1.8 times the global average on smart-grid technologies, photovoltaics, biofuels and biomass and wind turbine technologies, complementing the government’s push to expand green energy sources.

What are the Key Concerns?

  • Patenting by domestic corporations, research institutes, universities and individuals remains low in India.
  • Majority of the software-related patents were being bagged by MNCs operating from Indian soil, while pharma patents were obtained mostly by domestic firms.

Recommendations

  • The report underscores the need for ‘policy bridges’ for developing a more effective interaction between foreign and local research firms.
  • The report has also called for improved linkages between the start-up ecosystem and manufacturers. It will push technological development in sectors where India enjoys a global presence.

State of Finance for Nature Report 2020

Context

  • ·Recently, the United Nations has released the State of Finance for Nature Report 2020.

Key Highlights of 

  • The annual investments in nature-based solutions (NbS) will have to be tripled by 2030 and increase four-fold by 2050 from the current level of investments.
    • The Nature-based solutions refer to sustainable management and use of nature to tackle socio-environmental challenges.
  • It found that approximately $133 billion currently flows into nature-based solutions annually (using 2020 as base year).
    • The public funds make up 86 per cent and private finance 14 per cent of these investments.
  • It estimated existing public and private investment directed to NbS.
    • The investments of $133 billion comprise about 0.10 per cent of global gross domestic product, most of which come from public sources.
  • The largest proportion of this investment is carried out by public financial services providers, including the governments, development finance institutions (DFIs), environmental / climate funds.
    • It represents 86 per cent of total investment flows to protect biodiversity and landscapes, mixed with activities such as sustainable forestry.
    • The public sector spending for the same is dominated by the United States and China, followed by Japan, Germany and Australia.
  • The US tops the list with approximately $36 billion a year in NbS spending, and is closely followed by China with $31 billion.
  • The countries such as Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia are likely spending large amounts of money too, but they do not report internationally comparable data.
  • The following contribute to 14 per cent of total NbS financing equal to $18 billion a year, mostly through investments in sustainable supply chains and biodiversity offsets:
    • Commercial financial institutions
    • Investors including insurance companies, asset management firms
    • Philanthropies including foundations and endowments

Future commitments under State of Finance for Nature Report

  • The public and private actors will need to scale up their annual investments by at least four times to meet future climate, biodiversity and land degradation targets.
  • By 2050, total investment of nature needs will amount to $8.1 trillion, while annual investment should reach $536 billion annually by 2050.
  • It called for a comprehensive system and framework for labelling, tracking, reporting and verifying the state of finance for NbS.
  • It recommended reforming taxes, repurposed agricultural policies and trade-related tariffs and harnessing the potential of carbon markets.

Back to Basics

About State of Finance for Nature Report

  • It was jointly produced by the United Nations Environment Programmethe World Economic Forum and the Economics of Land Degradation.
  • Its purpose is to provide up-to-date information about public and private sector finance that is channelled to activities and assets that can be considered NbS and to present estimates of the future needs.
  • It complements the vast array of existing literature and processes that monitor specific flows of environment or development finance.

World Competitiveness Index 2021

Context

  • According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY), Indiamaintained 43rd rank on the annual World Competitiveness Index.

Key Findings

  • Qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalization, welfare benefits and leadership, resulting in social cohesion, have helped countries to perform better. Thus, ranked higher in competitiveness.
  • Top-performing economies are characterized by varying degrees of investment in innovation, diversified economic activities, and supportive public policy.
  • Competitive economies succeeded in transitioning to a remote work routine while also allowing remote learning. Addressing unemployment has been fundamental

India’s Scenario

  • India has maintained its position for the past three years. 
  • This year, it had significant improvements in government efficiency
  • India performed better 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 was worst in broadband subscribers (64th), exposure to particulate pollution (64th), human development index (64th), GDP per capita (63rd).
  • Among the BRICS nations, India is ranked second after China (16), followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62th).
  • 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 (37), business efficiency (32) and infrastructure (49) remained the same
  • India has maintained its position for the past three years but this year, it had significant improvements in government efficiency.

Global Scenario

  • Switzerland has topped the index. It was followed by Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Singapore.
  • The top-performing Asian economies in order are: Singapore (5th), Hong Kong (7th), Taiwan (8th) and China (16th).
  • The UAE and the USA remain in the same spots as last year (9th and 10th, respectively)

Back to Basics

About World Competitiveness Index

  • The World Competitiveness Index is an annual report published since 1989.
  • The index is released by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).
  • The index ranks 64 economies. It assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through data and survey responses.
  • The index measures the prosperity and competitiveness of countries by examining four factors:
    • Economic performance
    • Government efficiency
    • Business efficiency
    • Infrastructure

Global Economic Prospects

Context

  • Recently, the World Bank has released its June 2021 Global Economic Prospects.

Key Findings

  • India’s economy is expected to grow at 8.3% for Fiscal Year 2021-22.
  • The world economy is expected to expand 5.6% , the fastest post-recession growth rate in eighty years, but global output will still be 2% below pre-pandemic projections by year-end.
  • The growth rate forecasted for India for 2021-22, the World Bank is an upward revision from its January forecast of 5.4%.
  • Activity will benefit from policy support, including higher spending on infrastructure, rural development, and health, and a stronger-than expected recovery in services and manufacturing.
  • For FY 2022-23 growth is expected to slow to 7.5% as a result of the pandemic’s lingering effects on the balance sheets of households, companies and banks and possibly low levels of consumer confidence and heightened uncertainty around job and incomes.
  • For India the massive COVID-19 wave had undermined the sharper than expected rebound in activity for the second half of FY 2020-21 – particularly in services. Since March, foot traffic around retail spaces has slowed to below a third of what it was in pre-pandemic times.

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