October 2019

Daily Current Affairs (11-10-19)

GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX 2019

Related Topics: Reports & Indices, World Economic Forum

News

  • India was ranked 68th in the annual Global Competitiveness Index compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • This is the fourth version of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI 4.0) and was introduced in 2018.

What is Global Competitiveness Index (GCI)?

  • GCI, which was launched in 1979, maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars.
  • It provides a compass for thriving in the new economy where innovation becomes the key factor of competitiveness.
  • The basic notion behind the GCI is to map the factors that determine the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in a country.
  • The TFP is essentially the efficiency with which different factors of production such as land, labour and capital are put to use to create the final product.
  • It is believed that it is the TFP in an economy that determines the long-term economic growth of a country.

Factors & Categories

  • The GCI 4.0 tracks data and/or responses on 12 factors divided into 4 broad categories.
  • The first category is the “Enabling Environment”, which includes factors such as the state of infrastructure, institutions, the macroeconomic stability of the country and its ability to adopt new technology.
  • The second category is “Human Capital” and includes health and level of skills in the economy.
  • The third category is the state of “Markets such as those for labour, product, financial and the overall market size.
  • The fourth category is “Innovation Ecosystem” which includes business dynamism and innovation capability.

Ranking of Countries

  • A country’s performance on the overall GCI results as well as each of its components is reported as a ‘progress score’ on a 0-to-100
  • A score of 100 represents the ‘frontier’, an ideal state where an issue ceases to be a constraint to productivity growth.
  • Singapore has become the world’s most competitive economy in 2019, pushing the US to the second place.
  • Hong Kong SAR is ranked 3rd, Netherlands is 4th and Switzerland is ranked 5th.

Performance of India

  • India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th in the 2019 Index.
  • The slippage this year is not just because India’s score in the Global Competitiveness Index fell, but also because several other close competitors surged ahead.
  • India is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (71st rank).
  • India ranks high in terms of macroeconomic stability and market size, while its financial sector is relatively deep and stable despite the high delinquency rate, which contributes to weakening the soundness of its banking system.
  • India is ranked high at 15th place in terms of corporate governance, while it is ranked second globally for shareholder governance.
  • In terms of the market size, India is ranked third, while it has got the same rank for renewable energy regulation.
  • Healthy life expectancy, where India has been ranked 109th out of total the 141 countries surveyed for the index, is one of the shortest outside Africa and significantly below the South Asian average.
  • With a ratio of female workers to male workers of 26, India has been ranked very low at 128th place.
  • India is also ranked low at 118th in terms of meritocracy and incentivisation and at 107th place for skills.
  • In the overall ranking, India is followed by some of its neighbours including Sri Lanka at 84th place, Bangladesh at 105th, Nepal at 108th and Pakistan at 110th place.

Key Findings of the Report

  • The study highlighted that the global economy is unprepared for a major slowdown.
  • The report shows that those countries which integrate an emphasis on infrastructure, skills, research and development into their economic policies and support those left behind are more successful compared to those that focus only on traditional factors of growth.
  • The report showed that several economies with strong innovation capability like Korea, Japan and France, or increasing capability, like China, India and Brazil, must improve their talent base and the functioning of their labour markets.
  • The presence of many competitive countries in Asia-Pacific makes this region the most competitive in the world, followed closely by Europe and North America.
  • 10 years on from the global financial crisis, the global economy remains locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth despite the injection of more than USD 10 trillion by central banks.

[Source: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

Related Topics: Awards & Honours, Literature

News

  • Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have won the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes for literature.
  • Both winners will receive a full cash prize, valued at 9-million kronor ($918,000), a gold medal and a diploma.

The Nobel Winners

Peter Handke (2019)

  • The Swedish Academy praised Mr. Handke’s work for exploring “the periphery and the specificity of human experience” with linguistic ingenuity.
  • Beginning with The Hornets in 1966, he made his name with works that combine introspection and a provocative streak.
  • One early play was called Offending the Audience and featured actors insulting theatregoers.

Olga Tokarczuk (2018)

  • She was chosen by the Swedish Academy for works that explore the “crossing of boundaries as a form of life”.
  • She is one of Poland’s best-known authors, known for her humanist themes and playful, subversive streak.
  • She won the Booker International Prize in 2018 for Flights, which combines tales of modern-day travel with the story of a 17th-century anatomist who dissected his own amputated leg and the journey of composer Frederic Chopin’s heart from Paris to Warsaw after his death.
  • She is only the 15th woman to win the Nobel literature prize in more than a century.

Why Literature Nobel Prize was not announced in 2018?

  • The rare double announcement came after no literature prize was awarded in 2018 due to sex abuse allegations that tarnished the Swedish Academy, the group that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • The Academy has made changes to improve transparency.
  • The 2018 and 2019 awards were chosen by the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee, a new body made up of four academy members and five “external specialists”.

Controversies around 2019 Literature Nobel

  • Nobel Prize for Literature 2019 was awarded by Swedish Academy to Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”
  • According to critics, Handke’s choice is controversial because of his Serbia-as-victim stance in the Balkan war and for attending the funeral of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević.
  • Under Milosevic’s regime, thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed and at least a million had to flee.
  • The Serbian president was indicted for war crimes in 1999 but died in 2006 before a ruling was reached.
  • In a 1996 essay, Justice for Serbia, he accused Western media of depicting Serbs as aggressors in the wars that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  • He was an opponent of NATO’s air strikes against Serbia for that country’s violent crackdown in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

C40 CITIES CLIMATE LEADERSHIP GROUP (C40)

Related Topics: International Events, Environment & Biodiversity

News

  • CM Arvind Kejriwal will address the C40 Climate Change Summit through videoconferencing in the wake of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) declining to permit him to visit Denmark to attend the event.
  • The C40 summit is being held in Copenhagen, and attendees include mayors representing over 90 cities from around the world.

What is C40 World Mayors’ Summit?

  • It is a three-day conference where city leaders from around the world share ideas on green urban development and on ways to get national governments to act on climate issues.
  • It connects more than 96 of the world’s largest cities to deliver urgent and essential climate action needed to secure a sustainable future for urban citizens worldwide.
  • The group is committed to delivering on climate targets set under the 2016 Paris Agreement, and sets the bar for cities to develop and implement local level plans that comply with those targets.
  • C40 Summits are known for publishing important research, showcasing innovations by cities, and for forging global partnerships.
  • The C40 group was started in 2005 by the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and got its name in 2006, since it had 40 members that year.
  • It has 96 members at present, representing over 70 crore people, and one-quarter of the global economy.

C40 Summit 2019

  • The host city of C40 Summit 2019, scheduled to last from October 9 to October 12 is Copenhagen, which plans to become carbon neutral by 2025.
  • Apart from Mayors and Deputy Mayors, the Summit is being attended by climate experts, influencers, business leaders, innovators, change makers, and citizens.
  • At the 2019 Summit, the Mayor of Los Angeles will take over as chair of the group.
  • The cities from India that are part of the C40 are Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Kolkata.

Significance

  • Cities have the potential to deliver 40 per cent of the emissions reductions to meet the Paris targets.
  • Analysts believe that cities are better equipped to deal at climate negotiations than nations, since the former do not have to deal with issues such as borders and sovereignty.
[Source: The Hindu]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

INTERCONNECT USAGE CHARGE (IUC)

Reliance Jio has announced that it would start charging customers Interconnect Usage Charge (IUC), which is currently at 6 paisa per minute, on all outgoing calls made to Airtel and Vodafone-Idea’s networks. IUC is the cost paid by one mobile telecom operator to another when its customers make outgoing mobile calls to the other operator’s customers. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has fixed the IUC rates at 6 paise per minute, though it used be a little higher at 14 paise per minute. TRAI wants to bring IUC to zero from January 1, 2020. TRAI is ending IUC because it was assumed that all networks would move to VoLTE, or voice over LTE (Long Term Evolution). Jio is entirely a VoLTE network, but Vodafone and Airtel continue to offer their legacy 2G and 3G networks as well.

NATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEMS RESOURCE CENTRE (NHSRC)

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) formally announced the re-designation of National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Priority Medical Devices and Health Technology Policy. The mandate of the Division of Healthcare Technology at NHSRC is to draw up technical specifications for technologies procured under National Health Mission, draft policies for medical device maintenance and management, undertake evaluations of health product innovations, conduct Health Technology Assessments (HTA), and support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on issues related to diagnostics initiative, National Dialysis Program and other technology intensive services. This year in collaboration with WHO’s country’s office, NHSRC developed a guidance document for the Ministry’s free diagnostics initiative to further strengthen the agenda of Universal access to affordable diagnostics. NHSRC also works with WHO on development of technical specification of Blood pressure measuring devices, In vitro diagnostics and devices for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Future collaboration includes work on International Classification and Nomenclature for Medical Devices, which would improve access to affordable health technologies.

SAUDI ARABIA ALLOWS WOMEN TO JOIN THE ARMED FORCES

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will allow women in the kingdom to serve in the armed forces as it embarks on a broad programme of economic and social reforms. The move is the latest in a series of measures aimed at increasing the rights of women in the kingdom, even as rights groups accuse Riyadh of cracking down on women activists. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has approved a handful of reforms aimed at widening women’s rights, including allowing them to drive and to travel abroad without consent from a male “guardian”. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, is pushing to improve its image and attract tourists as part of a plan to diversify its economy away from oil.

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