Home » Current Affairs » Current Affairs - English » Current Affairs – 20 October 2021

Current Affairs – 20 October 2021

Allium Negianum

Indian Express

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • A plant discovered in Uttarakhand in 2019 has been newly confirmed as a new species of
  • Allium is the genus that includes many staple foods such as onion and garlic, among 1,100 species worldwide.
  • The new species is described in journal PhytoKeys.

About:

  • Allium negianum grows at 3,000 to 4,800 m above sea level.
  • It can be found along open grassy meadows, sandy soils along rivers, and streams forming in snow pasture lands along alpine meadows, where the melting snow helps carry its seeds to more favourable areas.
  • With a narrow distribution, this newly described species is restricted to the region of western Himalayas and hasn’t yet been reported from anywhere else in the world.
  • This species has long been known under domestic cultivation to local communities.

 

IMF Outlook and Status of Jobs

Indian Express

GS 2: International body

GS 3: Economy

Context:

  • Recently, the IMF unveiled its 2nd World Economic Outlook (WEO).

About:

  • The IMF comes out with the report twice every year — April and October.
  • The WEO reports are significant because they are based on a wide set of assumptions about a host of parameters — such as the international price of crude oil — and set the benchmark for all economies to compare one another with.

 Main takeaways from the WEO in October:

  • The global economic recovery momentum had weakened a very small amount, due to pandemic-induced supply disruptions.
  • But more than just the marginal headline numbers for global growth, it is the increasing inequality among nations that IMF was most concerned about.
  • The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries remains a major concern.
  • Aggregate output for the advanced economy group is expected to regain its pre-pandemic trend path in 2022 and exceed it by 0.9% in 2024.
  • Aggregate output for the emerging market and developing economy group (excluding China) is expected to remain 5.5% below the pre-pandemic forecast in 2024, resulting in a larger setback to improvements in their living standards.
  • There are two key reasons for the economic divergences: large disparities in vaccine access, and differences in policy support.

Employment growth likely to lag the output recovery:

  • Employment around the world remains below its pre-pandemic levels, reflecting a mix of negative output gaps.
  • Worker fears of on-the-job infection in contact-intensive occupations, childcare constraints, labor demand changes as automation picks up in some sectors, replacement income through furlough schemes or unemployment benefits helping to cushion income losses, and frictions in job searches and matching.
  • There is a gap between recovery in output and employment, which is likely to be larger in emerging markets and developing economies than in advanced economies.
  • Young and low-skilled workers are likely to be worse off than prime-age and high-skilled workers, respectively.

What does this mean for India?

  • Beyond the IMF, several high-frequency indicators have suggested that India’s economic recovery is gaining ground.
  • But what the IMF has projected on employment — that the recovery in unemployment is lagging the recovery in output (or GDP) — matters immensely for India.
  • According to the data available with the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the total number of employed people in the Indian economy as of May-August 2021 was 394 million — 11 million below the level set in May-August 2019. In May-August 2016 the number of employed people was 408 million.
  • India was already facing a deep employment crisis before the Covid crisis, and it became much worse after it.
  • As such, projections of an employment recovery lagging behind output recovery could mean large swathes of the population being excluded from the GDP growth and its benefits.
  • Lack of adequate employment levels would drag down overall demand and thus stifle India’s growth momentum.

Why could employment lag output growth in India?

  • India already had a massive unemployment crisis.
  • India is witnessing a K-shaped recovery means different sectors are recovering at significantly different rates. And this holds not just for the divergence between the organised sector and unorganised sector, but also within the organised sector.
  • Some sectors like the IT-services sectors have been practically unaffected by Covid, while e-commerce industry is doing “brilliantly”.
  • But at the same time, many contact-based services, which can create many more jobs, are not seeing a similar bounce-back. Similarly, listed firms have recovered much better than unlisted firms.
  • Bulk of India’s employment is in the informal or unorganised sectors. So, a weak recovery for the informal/unorganised sectors implies a drag on the economy’s ability to create new jobs or revive old ones.
  • Last week, IMF Chief Economist pointed out that the number of people using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act provisions was still 50-60% above pre-pandemic level.
  • This suggests that the informal economy is struggling to recover at the same pace as some of the more visible sectors.

 

‘Double-dip’

Down to earth

GS 1: Geographical phenomenon

Context:

  • A La Nina system has formed for the second year in a row, according to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

About:

  • The latest La Nina is expected to last through the early spring of 2022 (February).
  • Previous La Ninas occurred during the winter of 2020-2021 and 2017-2018. An El Nino developed in 2018-2019.
  • Two La Ninas happening one after the other (with a transition through ENSO neutral conditions in between) is not uncommon. It is usually referred to as a ‘double-dip’.
  • In 2020, La Nina developed during the month of August and then dissipated in April 2021 as ENSO-neutral conditions returned.
  • La Nina is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon.
  • It is marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator.
  • It means ‘little girl’ in Spanish.
  • It is the opposite of El Nino (meaning ‘little boy’), that is marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator.
  • Both, La Nina and El Nino are part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.
  • ENSO is characterised by opposing warm and cool phases of oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • El Nino usually causes a decrease in precipitation and has been found to cause drought-like conditions in India.
  • On the other hand, La Nina causes an increase in precipitation. It also causes formation of low-pressure areas.

 

COP26 Climate Conference

The Indian Express

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • The UK is going to host the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference from October 31 to November 12.
    • The year 2021 marks the 26th Conference of Parties and will be held in the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.

Formation of COP:

  • The Conference of Parties comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.
  • The UNFCCC was established to work towards “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
  • The UNFCCC has 198 parties including India, China and the USA. COP members have been meeting every year since 1995.

List of responsibilities for the member states:

  • Formulating measures to mitigate climate change
  • Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change
  • Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change

Significance:

  • It is a pivotal movement for the world to come together and accelerate the climate action plan after the COVID pandemic.

Four goals of COP26:

  • Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  • Mobilise finance
  • ‘Finalise the Paris Rulebook’

Steps India should take to reach its targets:

  • Decarbonise the electricity, transport sector and start looking at carbon per passenger mile.
  • It is time for India to update its Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs.
  • Transitioning coal sector to renewable and sustainable energy sources.
  • India also needs to ramp up the legal and institutional framework of climate change.

 

India, Israel, UAE And USA Quad Forum

The Hindu

GS 2: International Relations

Context:

  • India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have decided to launch a new quadrilateral economic forum, as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar joined his counterparts at a videoconference from Jerusalem, where he is on a five-day visit.

About:

  • The quadrilateral builds on ongoing cooperation between the U.S., Israel and the UAE after the Abraham Accords last year, and the India, Israel and UAE cooperation that was launched since.
  • Jaishankar’s travel to Israel is also routed via the UAE, on flights that started as a consequence of the Abraham Accords and the opening of diplomatic missions and flights between them.
  • The grouping had decided to establish an international forum for economic cooperation, and specifically discussed “possibilities for joint infrastructure projects”.
  • The four Ministers discussed “expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and increasing maritime security,” as well as ways to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.