Global Gender Gap Index
GS paper 1: Women Empowerment, Issues in Indian Society
Prelims level exam: Ranking and Publisher
Mains level exam: India’s progress in field of women empowerment, achievement and failure
Why in news
India ranks 135 out of 146 in the Gender Gap Index.
About Global Gender Gap Index
• The Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks gender parity across four key dimensions or subindices
o economic participation and opportunity,
o educational attainment,
o health and survival, and
o political empowerment.
• It measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale, which can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity or the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed.
• The Global Gender Gap Report is published by the World Economic Forum.
• India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, 2022, released by the World Economic Forum.
o In the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, India was ranked at 140 out of 156 countries with a score of 0.625 (out of 1).
• The country is the worst performer in the world in the “health and survival” subindex in which it is ranked 146.
• Recovering ground since 2021, India registered the most significant and positive change to its performance on Economic Participation and Opportunity and ranked 143. But, labour-force participation has shrunk for both men and women since 2021.
o The share of women legislators, senior officials and managers increased from 14.6 percent to 17.6 percent, and the share of women as professional and technical workers grew from 29.2 percent to 32.9 percent.
• In the area of political empowerment, the sub-index where India ranks relatively higher at 48th place, showed a declining score due to the diminishing share of years women have served as head of state for the past 50 years.
• In the area of educational attainment, India ranks 107.
• The report notes that India’s score of 0.629 was its seventh highest score in the past 16 years.
• However, India was ranked the top globally in terms of gender parity for primary education enrolment and tertiary education enrolment and at the eighth place for the position of head of state.
• Within South Asia, India was ranked the sixth best on overall score after Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan. Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan scored worse than India.
Key Points of the report
• Iceland retained its place as the world’s most gender-equal country, followed by Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.
• The WEF warned that the cost of living crisis is expected to hit women hardest globally with a widening gender gap in the labour force and it will take another 132 years (compared to 136 in 2021) to close the gender gap.
• South Asia (62.3 per cent) has the largest gender gap of all regions, with low scores across all measured gender gaps and little progress made in most countries since 2021.
o At its current pace, it will take 197 years to close the gender gap in the region. The economic gender gap has closed by 1.8 per cent with increases in the share of women in professional and technical roles in countries including Bangladesh and India as well as Nepal.
• In face of a weak recovery, government and business must make two sets of efforts: targeted policies to support women’s return to the workforce and women’s talent development in the industries of the future. Otherwise, we risk eroding the gains of the last decades permanently and losing out on the future economic returns of diversity.
GS paper 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests
Prelims level exam: I2U2
Mains level exam: India’s interest in West asia
Why in news
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the first-ever I2U2 Virtual Summit along with the heads of state of Israel, the UAE, and the US on July 14.
• I2U2 stands for India, Israel, the UAE, and the US, and was also referred to as the ‘West Asian Quad’ by the Ambassador of the UAE to India.
• Back in October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries had taken place when the External Affairs Minister of India was visiting Israel. At that time, the grouping was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.
• The countries have had sherpa-level interactions regularly to discuss the possible areas of cooperation.
• A sherpa is the personal representative of a head of state or head of government who prepares an international summit, such as the annual G7 and G20 summits.
• The name is derived from the Sherpa people, a Nepalese ethnic group, who serve as guides and porters in the Himalayas, a reference to the fact that the sherpa clears the way for a head of state at a major summit.
Aim of I2U2 grouping
• Its stated aim is to discuss “common areas of mutual interest, to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond”.
• Six areas of cooperation have been identified by the countries mutually, and the aim is to encourage joint investments in
o Health and
o Food security.
• With the help of “private sector capital and expertise”, the countries will look to:
o Modernise infrastructure,
o Explore low carbon development avenues for industries,
o Improve public health and
o Promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.
• The Leaders will discuss the possible joint projects within the framework of I2U2 as well as the other common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond.
• The grouping also points to India’s growing engagement with countries in West Asia including Israel, with whom India has developed closer ties.
Sea Guardians-2 Maritime Exercise
GS paper 2: Relations between India and neighbouring countries; Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests
Prelims level exam: Sea Guardians-2 Maritime Exercise
Mains level exam: Not Much
Why in news
Sea Guardians-2 Maritime Exercise was held from July 10 to July 13, 2022 at the military port in Wusong, Shanghai.
About Sea Guardians-2 Maritime Exercise
• It was organised by the Pakistan Navy and Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.
• The naval exercise focuses on improving joint response towards maritime security threats.
• It is aimed at promoting defence cooperation and enhancing naval capabilities of navies from both the countries.
• The bilateral exercise also seeks to counter maritime security threats and consolidate the “Strategic Partnership between Pakistan and China”.
• According to a Chinese military expert China and Pakistan face non-traditional security threats including piracy and maritime terrorists in regions like the Indian Ocean, so it has become necessary that the two countries enhance cooperation in these aspects.
o The two countries also need to jointly demonstrate their capabilities in safeguarding strategic sea lanes that transport energy and goods.
• It was the second edition of the exercise. The first edition was organised in the northern Arabian Sea off Karachi, in January 2020.
China’s presence in Indian Ocean
• The Arabian Sea region is strategically important as major Indian ports including Kandla, Okha, Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore and Kochi are located there.
• The Arabian sea provides entry to the Indian Ocean where China currently has built a logistics base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
• Observers say Sino-Pakistan military cooperation in recent years focussed more on the Navy as China gradually stepped up its naval presence in India’s backyard, the Indian Ocean.Besides building its first military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean, China has acquired Pakistan’s Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea which connects with China’s Xinjiang province by land.
• China is also developing Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port after it acquired it on 99 years lease. The modernisation of the Pakistan Navy coupled with the acquisition of the naval bases was expected to shore up the Chinese Navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
Commission for Air Quality Management(CAQM)
GS paper 3: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation
Prelims level exam: CAQM, CPCB
Mains level exam: Pollution in NCR region and readiness of Government to deal with it
Why in news
CAQM formulates a comprehensive policy to abate the menace of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Need of the policy
• Towards a crucial step to recede air pollution in Delhi-NCR, the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) has formulated a Comprehensive Policy.
o The policy intends to bring an overall amelioration of the air quality of the National Capital Region (NCR) through a differentiated geographical approach and timelines of action.
• The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) is a statutory body formed under the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, Act 2021.
o The Act, which received the presidential assent in August 2021 essentially replaced the Ordinance that was promulgated earlier by the government in April 2021
• The Commission has been set up for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas for better co-ordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
• The key target of this policy is to prevent, control and abate air pollution in the NCR including
o vehicles/ transport,
o construction and demolition (C&D),
o dust from roads and open areas,
o municipal solid waste burning, and
o crop residue burning.
• For the same, it provides sector-wise recommendations for Agencies and Departments of Central Government, NCR State Governments and GNCTD along with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) of NCR.
• In addition to the industrial recommendations to control pollution, the policy also deals with
o thermal power plants (TPPs),
o clean fuels & electric mobility,
o public transportation,
o road traffic management,
o diesel generators (DGs),
o bursting of firecrackers and subduing air pollution through greening and plantation.
Scope of this policy framework
• The core multi-sector assessment of the policy includes;
o power plants,
o vehicles and transportation,
o diesel generator sets,
o dust sources like construction/demolition projects/roads and open areas,
• municipal solid waste/biomass burning,
• episodic events like stubble burning, firecrackers and other dispersed sources.
• With some short-term (up to one year), medium-term (one-three years), and long-term (three-five years, preferably) actions, the Expert Group has suggested transformation ideas for critical areas as follows;
o Widespread access to affordable clean fuels and technology in industry, transport and households
o Mobility transition including through mass transit, electrification of vehicles, building walking and cycling infrastructure and reducing personal vehicle usage etc
o Circular economy for material recovery from waste to prevent its dumping and burning
o Dust management from C&D activities, roads/Right of Ways (RoW) and open areas with appropriate technology, infrastructure and greening measures
o Strict time-bound implementation improved monitoring and compliance.
• The policy document has been shared with the Central Government Ministries / Departments, NCR State Governments, GNCTD and various agencies for taking comprehensive action on the policy to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Rupee Settlement System For International Trade
GS paper 3: Mobilization of resources, Growth and Development
Prelims level exam: Nostro and Vostro
Mains level exam: Export promotion
Why in news
The Reserve Bank of India announced its decision to allow trade settlements between India and other countries in rupees.
How will the model work
• To settle trade transactions with any country, banks in India will open Vostro accounts (an account that a correspondent bank holds on behalf of another bank for example HSBC vostro account is held by SBI in India) of correspondent bank/s of the partner country for trading. Indian importers can pay for their imports in rupee into these accounts.
• These earnings (from imports) can then be used to pay Indian exporters in Indian rupee.
Nostro Account and Vostro Account
• Nostro and Vostro are terms used to describe the same bank account; the terms are used when one bank has another bank’s money on deposit, typically in relation to international trading or other financial transactions..
• Nostro and Vostro are used to differentiate between the two sets of accounting records kept by each bank.
o Nostro comes from the Latin word for “ours,” as in “our money that is on deposit at your bank.”
o Vostro comes from the Latin word for “yours,” as in “your money that is on deposit at our bank.”
• A Nostro account is a reference used by Bank A to refer to “our” account held by Bank B. Nostro is a shorthand way of talking about “our money that is on deposit at your bank.”
• The Nostro account is the record of the bank that has money on deposit at another bank. These accounts are often used to simplify settlements of trade and foreign exchange transactions.
• Nostro accounts differ from standard demand deposit bank accounts in that they are usually held by financial institutions, and they are denominated in foreign currencies.
• Vostro is the term used by Bank B, where bank A’s money is on deposit.
• Vostro is a reference to “yours” and refers to “your money that is on deposit at our bank.” A vostro account is like any other account held by a bank.
• The account is a record of money owed to or maintained by a third party, typically another bank, but it can be either a company or an individual.
Current system of payment
• If a company exports or imports, transactions are always in a foreign currency (excluding with countries like Nepal and Bhutan).
• In case of imports, the Indian company has to pay in a foreign currency (mainly dollars and could also include currencies like pounds, Euro, yen etc.).
• The Indian company gets paid in foreign currency in case of exports and the company converts that foreign currency to rupee since it needs rupee for its needs, in most of the cases.
• While the RBI order has not overtly said so, this arrangement is likely to be used only for Russia.
o There are sanctions on Russia post the Ukraine war and the country is off the SWIFT system (system used by banks for payments in foreign currency). This means payments do not have to be made in foreign currency and this arrangement would help both Russia and India.
Will it help arrest the fall of the Indian rupee?
• It will help the rupee to a ‘very limited extent’. Because We may want other countries to use this but they may not accept it as they may need foreign currency to pay for their own imports. This will limit its capacity to arrest the fall of rupees.