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Current Affairs – 5 June 2021

Current Affairs (5th June 2021)

SDG India Index 2020-21: NITI Aayog

Context:

  • Recently, the third edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index and Dashboard 2020–21 was released by NITI Aayog.
  • The SDG India Index 2020–21 is developed in collaboration with the United Nations in India.

Highlights:

  • This edition of the index report focuses on the significance of partnerships as its theme.
  • India’s overall SDG score improved by 6 points—from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020–21.
  • According to the 2020 SDG Index, India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development, and health in 2020.
    • All the States showed some improvement from last year’s scores.
    • Mizoram and Haryana saw the biggest gains.
  • The SDGs on eradication of poverty and hunger both saw significant improvement.
  • The SDGs that deal directly with wages and industrial growth reflect the fact that India’s economy has taken a beating over the last year.
  • There has been a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation, and infrastructure as well as decent work and economic growth.
  • Clean Water and Sanitation SDG also saw a drop.
  • Kerala retained its position at the top of the rankings, with a score of 75, followed by Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, both scoring 72.
  • Bihar, Jharkhand, and Assam were the worst performing States.

About:

  • The NITI Aayog launched its index in 2018.
  • This Index aims to monitor the country’s progress on the goals through data-driven assessment and foster a competitive spirit among the States and Union Territories in achieving them.
  • 100 being the highest score, it implies that the State/UT has achieved the targets set for 2030. ‘0’ score implies that the state is at the bottom of the table.
  • NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the adoption and monitoring of the SDGs in the country and promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and UTs.
  • The index represents the articulation of the comprehensive nature of the Global Goals under the 2030 Agenda while being attuned to the national priorities.
  • In 2015,the UNs General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The 17 SDGs are a bold commitment to finish what the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started, and tackle some of the more pressing challenges.
  • The SDG India Index 2020–21 is also live on an online dashboard,which has cross-sectoral relevance across policy, civil society, business, and academia.
  • The SDG India Index 2020–21 is more robust than the previous editions on account of wider coverage of targets and indicators with greater alignment with the National Indicator Framework (NIF).
  • The 115 indicators incorporate 16 out of 17 SDGs, with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17, and cover 70 SDG targets.

States and Union Territories are classified as below based on their SDG India Index score:

  • Aspirant: 0–49
  • Performer: 50–64
  • Front-Runner: 65–99
  • Achiever: 100

 

World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2021 Report: ILO

Context:

  • Recently, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends (WESO) report 2021.

Impact of COVID-19:

  • It has pushed over 100 million more workers into poverty
  • The world would be 75 million jobs short at the end of this year compared to if the pandemic had not occurred.
  • Relative to 2019, an estimated additional 108 million workers are now extremely or moderately poor, meaning that they and their family members are having to live on less than USD 3.20 per day (It is the World Bank poverty line for lower-middle-income countries) in purchasing power parity terms.
  • The sharp increase in poverty rates is due to lost working hours as economies went into lockdown, outright job losses, and a decline in access to good quality jobs.
  • Five years of progress towards the eradication of working poverty have been undone, as working poverty rates have now reverted to those of 2015.

Rising Inequality:

  • The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in the labour market, with lower-skilled workers, women, young people, or migrants among the most affected.

Loss of Working Hours:

  • Many people have held onto their jobs but have seen their working hours cut dramatically.
  • In 2020, 8% of global working hours were lost compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 — the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs.
  • While the situation has improved, global working hours have far from bounced back, and the world will still be short the equivalent of 100 million full-time jobs by the end of this year.

Unemployment Rate:

  • Unemployment rate of 6.3% this year (2020-21), falling to 7% next year (2021-22)but still up on the pre-pandemic rate of 5.4% in 2019.

Women’s Unemployment:

  • Women have suffered disproportionate job losses while seeing their unpaid working time increase.
  • The burden of intensified childcare and homeschooling activities has disproportionately fallen on them.
  • As a result, women’s employment dropped by 5% compared with 3.9% for men.

Effect on Workers:

  • There will be pandemic’s longer-term “scarring” effects on workers and enterprises.
  • Looking ahead, the projected employment growth will be insufficient to close the gaps opened up by the crisis,

Recommendation:

  • Concerted policy efforts are needed to prevent long-lasting damage.
  • It recommended among other things ensuring worldwide access to vaccines and financial assistance for developing countries – including through debt restructuring or enhancing social protection systems.

 

Engagement between India and Australia

Context:

  • Recently, the frequent engagement on agriculture between India and Australia has been acknowledged in a virtual meeting held between the Agricultural Ministers of both the countries.

Major Highlights

  • The collaboration in agriculture is a part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced by both nations in their Virtual Summit of June 2020.
  • The India-Australia Grains Partnership was a significant inclusion aiming to use Australia’s expertise in post-harvest management to strengthen rural grain storage and supply chains to reduce losses and wastage.
  • The National Institute of Agricultural Marketing is the nodal organisation from India.
  • Both Ministers expressed satisfaction on the progress of giving market access to the respective agricultural products.
    • Australia has recently given market access for export of Indian pomegranates and there would be a joint strategy for deeper access for Indian mangoes as well.

 

Eighth Global Nitrogen Conference:

Context:

  • The 8th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference (INI2020) was scheduled to convene in Berlin, Germany, from 3-7 May 2020. But, due to the pandemic it was cancelled last year and was held recently- virtually.

About the International Nitrogen Initiative Conference:

  • Set up in 2003 under sponsorship of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP).
  • It is a triennial event that brings together scientists from around the world dealing with reactive nitrogen compounds in agriculture, industry, traffic, soil, water, and air.
  • Objective: To stimulate an exchange among policymakers and other relevant stakeholders of results, ideas, and visions to improve future holistic management of reactive nitrogen.
  • The program is currently a sustained partner of Future Earth.

Nitrogen as an essential nutrient:

  • Nitrogen, which is a vital macronutrient for most plants, is the most abundant element in the atmosphere.
  • A little over 78% of dry air on Earth is nitrogen. But atmospheric nitrogen, or dinitrogen, is unreactive and cannot be utilised by plants directly.
  • Therefore, nitrogen-fixing bacteria like rhizobia live symbiotically with leguminous plants, providing nitrogen to the plant and soil in the form of reactive compounds like ammonia and nitrate.

How Nitrogen turned into pollutants from nutrients and how it is affecting health and environment?

  • Nitrogen compounds running off farmland have led to water pollution problems around the world, while nitrogen emissions from industry, agriculture and vehicles make a big contribution to air pollution.
  • Over 80% of the nitrogen in soil is not utilised by humans. While over four-fifths of the nitrogen is used to feed livestock, only about six per cent reaches humans in case of non-vegetarian diet, as compared to the 20% that reaches the plate of a vegetarian.
  • Therefore, Nitrogen becomes a pollutant when it escapes into the environment and reacts with other organic compounds. It is either released into the atmosphere, gets dissolved in water sources such as rivers, lakes, or groundwater, or remains in the soil.
  • It creates harmful algal blooms and dead zones in our waterways and oceans; the algae produce toxins which are harmful to human and aquatic organisms (and indirectly affects fisheries and biodiversity in coastal areas).
  • Contamination of drinking water: 10 million people in Europe are potentially exposed to drinking water with nitrate concentrations above recommended levels. This can have an adverse effect on human health.
  • Food Security: Excessive nitrogen fertiliser application contributes to soil nutrient depletion. As the world needs to feed an ever-growing population, loss of arable land is a major global problem.
  • The release of Nitrous Oxide is essentially a greenhouse gas which is harmful to the environment.