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Current Affairs November 04, 2023: Biosphere Reserves, Food Safety Index, Lewis Model, 70-Hour Work Week, IMF’s Extended Fund Facility

{GS2 – Health – Issues} State Food Safety Index 2023

  • Context (IE): Nearly all states slipped on food safety compared to 2019.

State Food Safety Index (SFSI)

  • SFSI is released annually by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on World Food Safety Day (7th June) since 2019.
  • The index measures the performance of States on food safety.

FSSAI, FSSAI Act, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, State Food Safety Index 2023

Finding of SFSI 2023

  • After adjusting for a new parameter (Improvement in SFSI Rank) included in the 2023 index, 15 out of 20 states recorded lower 2023 scores compared to 2019.
  • The steepest fall in scores over five years was seen in Maharashtra, Bihar, and Gujarat.
  • The worst drop has been observed in the ‘Food Testing Infrastructure’ parameter.

States Ranking in Their Respective Categories

State Food Safety Index 2023

{GS2 – IR – India-US} 2+2 dialogue

  • Context (TH): The U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Defence Secretary will travel to New Delhi for the ‘2+2’ meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister.
  • The 2+2 dialogue is a format of the meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of India and its allies on strategic and security issues.
  • India has 2+2 dialogues with four key strategic partners:
    1. US
    2. Australia
    3. Japan
    4. Russia
  • Besides Russia, the other three countries are India’s partners in the Quad.

India’s 2+2 Dialogue with the US

  • The US is India’s oldest 2+2 talks partner. The first 2+2 dialogue occurred in 2018.

India-US Groupings

  1. QUAD
  2. I2U2
  3. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
  4. Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative

Importance

  • Strengthening the cooperation between the two militaries will play a significant role in tackling China’s aggression.
  • India and the US have signed three key “foundational pacts” to deepen military cooperation:
    1. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
    2. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) following the first 2+2 dialogue in 2018.
    3. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020.

{GS2 – IR – UN} IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF)

  • Context (TH): India will continue collaborating with Sri Lanka on debt treatment, says FM.
  • Sri Lanka must bring its major creditors to unlock the second tranche of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
  • The Extended Fund Facility is the lending facility of the fund of the IMF to help countries address medium and longer-term balance of payments problems. It was established in 1974.
  • It assists countries experiencing serious payment imbalances because of structural weakness or slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments.
  • An EFF provides support for comprehensive programs, including the policies needed to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.

Longer Engagement and Repayment Periods

  • As structural reforms to correct deep-rooted weaknesses often take time to implement and bear fruit, EFF engagement and repayment cover longer periods than most fund arrangements.
  • Extended arrangements are typically approved for three years but may be approved for periods as long as four years to implement deep and sustained structural reforms.
  • Amounts drawn under EFF are to be repaid over 4½–10 years in 12 equal semiannual instalments.

Naam 200 (We are 200)

  • It is an event held in Sri Lanka to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of India Origin Tamils in Sri Lanka.

{GS2 – Polity – Civil Services} Director General of Police

  • Context (TH): UPSC tightens guidelines for appointing State Director General of Police (DGP).
  • The guidelines were revised to discourage States from appointing “favourite officers” about to retire in a bid to extend their tenure.

Appointment of the Director General of Police (DGP) of a State

  • The State government appoints DGP from the top three officers included in the panel by the Empanelment Committee.

Zone of Consideration

  • Service Tenure: Police officers must have at least 6 months of service before retirement.
  • Experience: Police officers must have at least 25 years of experience (Earlier, it was 30 years).
  • Relevant areas: Police officers should have at least 10 years of experience in areas such as law and order, crime branch, economic offences wing, or intelligence wing, and deputation to central bodies such as the Intelligence Bureau, RAW, or CBI, etc.
  • Voluntary: Officers will not be included in the panel unless they themselves are willing.
  • Centre’s consent: Police officers on central deputation should not be considered if the Union Home Ministry informs the State government that “it will not be possible to relieve the officers.”

Empanelment Committee

  • The Committee for empanelling officers for appointment as DGP (Chief of the Police) of the State Government consists of:
    1. UPSC Chairman (President)
    2. Union Home Secretary
    3. State’s Chief Secretary and
    4. State’s DGP
    5. One of the heads of the Central Armed Police Forces nominated by the MHA who is not from the same State cadre.
  • The Empanelment Committee shortlist a maximum of three officers. They can shortlist less than three officers in exceptional circumstances.
  • DGP is selected by the State government from the top three officers included in the panel by the Empanelment Committee.
  • UPSC rules stipulate a two-year fixed tenure for a State DGP.

Issues with the Appointment of DGP

  • Some states have been appointing their preferred officers as DGPs just before their retirement to extend their tenure.
  • Several States have appointed acting DGPs to avoid the requirement to go through the UPSC-selected panel of eligible officers.
  • Though States send names of officers to be included in the panel, sometimes the names selected by UPSC are not acceptable to them.
  • In June 2023, Punjab passed legislation to appoint the State DGP independently. However, the bill is yet to get the Governor’s assent.

{GS3 – Envi – CC} Desert Storms Aiding Carbon Sequestration

Desert Storms Aiding Carbon Sequestration

  • Deserts are considered barren and a challenge for human habitation.
  • But they contribute significantly in making oceans productive and turning them into carbon sinks.
  • Desert dust particles carried by wind are major source of minerals for phythoplanktons in oceans.
  • Phytoplankton biomass amounts to only 1-2% of global plant carbon. But phytoplankton fix 40% of the total global carbon emission.

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Biosphere Reserves as Pockets of Hope

  • Context (TH): World Biosphere Reserve Day is observed on 3rd November annually.

Biosphere Reserves (BRs)

  • The concept of BRs was developed by the UNESCO.
  • BRs are sites for the conservation of biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable development.
  • They are places where people and nature can live in harmony.
  • They extend over large terrestrial or marine ecosystem areas or a combination of both.
  • They are announced by the Central or State governments by notification.
  • There are currently 748 BRs across 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites

Zones of BRs

  • BRs are divided into three zones.

Biosphere Reserves (BRs) Zoning

Core Zone
  • It is the most protected area of a BR.
  • It may contain centres of endemism and serve as a genetic reservoir.
  • It is kept free from human activities.
  • In India, core are National Parks or Sanctuaries protected by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Buffer Zone
  • It adjoins or surrounds the core zone.
  • Human activities in this area are regulated to protect the core zone’s natural condition.
  • Activities allowed include tourism, fishing, grazing, research and educational activities.
Transition Zone
  • It is the outermost part of a BR.
  • It is a zone of cooperation where human activities and conservation are harmonised.
  • Activities allowed include settlements, croplands, managed forests, intensive recreation, and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

Criteria for Designation BRs

  • A site must contain a protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
  • The core area must be a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain a viable population representing all trophic levels.
  • Involvement of local communities and their knowledge in biodiversity preservation.
  • Areas for preserving traditional tribal or rural lifestyles harmoniously with the environment.

Benefits of BRs

  • Biodiversity conservation: For e.g., the Sundarbans BR has helped to conserve the Bengal tiger.
  • Sustainable development: For e.g., the Nilgiri BR has promoted sustainable agriculture and forestry practices among local communities.
  • Adaptive management: They offer a framework for adapting to environmental and social changes.
  • Global cooperation for protecting biodiversity

Mutual Benefit of BRs and Locals

  • There have been significant advancements in the conservation of BRs due to local efforts.
  • Similarly, locals are also getting benefitted due to the establishment of BRs.

Gulf of Mannar BR: Case Study

  • In the Gulf of Mannar BR, locals contribute to conservation & eco-tourism by forming SHGs.
  • Gulf of Mannar BR Trust has introduced ‘plastic checkpoints’ managed by locals to inspect vehicles and tourists for plastic waste. The collected plastic waste is recycled for road construction.
  • All these efforts have helped the Gulf of Mannar BR to win the UNESCO Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management 2023.

South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM)

  • UNESCO, in partnership with MoEF and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, concluded the 10th SACAM in Chennai.
  • Theme of 10th SACAM: ‘From Ridge to Reef’
  • SACAM provides a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration in sustainable environmental practices in South and Central Asia.

Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB)

  • MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme launched by UNESCO in 1971.
  • Aim: to promote sustainable development based on a balanced relationship between man and nature.
  • BRs are nominated by national governments for MAB.
  • They are designated under the MAB by the Director-General of UNESCO.
  • BRs under MAB remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
  • BRs under MAB form a World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

Suggested > Biosphere Reserves of India

{GS3 – IE – Development} Lewis Model on Labour and Industrialisation

  • Context (IE): Lewis Model on Labour and Industrialisation is a theory of economic development proposed by Sir William Arthur Lewis in 1954.
  • Sir William Arthur Lewis won the Economics Nobel Prize in 1979.
  • The model suggests that developing countries with ample low-cost labour can achieve significant industrialisation. The theory has worked in China but failed in India.

The Gist of the Lewis Model

  • The model assumes a dual economy with traditional agriculture and modern industry.
  • The agriculture sector is characterised by zero or negative marginal labour productivity, meaning output does not decrease even when workers leave.
  • The industry sector is characterised by positive marginal labour productivity, meaning output increases when workers are added.
  • Surplus agricultural workers will move to the modern sector. This will have two benefits:
    1. It will solve the problem of disguised employment in agriculture.
    2. It will boost industrialisation.

Lewis Model and India

  • Agriculture employed about two-thirds of India’s workforce till the early nineties.
  • Then, agricultural employment share fell from 64.6% to 48.9% between 1993-94 and 2011-12.
  • But manufacturing didn’t significantly contribute to this change as its share in employment rose marginally, from 10.4% to 12.6%, during this period.
  • Then there was a further drop in the agricultural employment share but very slowly.
  • And post COVID-19, there is an increase in the agricultural employment share.
  • As per the NSSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey report for 2022-23 (July-June), agricultural employment share is 45.8%, which is still higher than the pre-pandemic levels.
  • In the case of manufacturing, its employment share has grown marginally till 2010-11. Then, its employment share started falling (though it increased once in 2021-22).
  • The Lewis model had relevance for India in the 1950s when the industry was synonymous with textile mills employing many people. But now, the Lewis Model could not be followed.

Lewis Model on Labour and Industrialisation

Lewis Model on Labour and Industrialisation

Lewis Model on Labour and Industrialisation

Reasons of Failure of Lewis Model in India

  • Informal sector growth: Most non-agricultural jobs are generated in low-paid services (e.g., gig workers) and construction, not in manufacturing and high-productivity services (e.g., IT).
  • Skill mismatch: The surplus workforce did not possess the skills demanded by the modern sector.
  • Disguised unemployment: India had/has a near-unlimited supply of surplus labour working in subsistence sectors, suffering disguised unemployment.
  • Excess workforce: India has always experienced a bulge in the working-age population.
  • Limited capital: Initially, the shortage of investible capital limited the modern sector’s growth.
  • Limited opportunities: Gainful employment through conventional routes has always remained low.
  • Services dominance: The services sector has played a crucial role in India’s economic growth.
  • Economic Reforms of 1991: Such reforms opened the doors of liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation, which the Lewis model did not anticipate.
  • Regional disparities: Some states experienced rapid industrialisation, while others remained agrarian.
  • Technological change: Employing labour-saving and labour-displacing technologies (Robotics, automation and recently, Artificial Intelligence).

Way Forward

  • NITI Aayog is developing a new economic model for India, focusing on creating well-paying jobs in and around agriculture.
  • These jobs can involve activities like aggregating, grading, packaging, transporting, processing, warehousing, retailing of produce, or providing inputs and services to farmers.
  • Other promising sectors around agriculture are biofuels and bioproducts.

{GS3 – IE – Productivity} Long Working Hours

  • Context (TH): N.R. Narayana Murthy stated that India has one of the lowest productivity rates and suggested that the country’s youth should consider working 70 hours a week.
  • The data shows that Murthy is wrong on several counts.

Most Hardworking Workforce

  • The data suggest that Indians are among the most hardworking workforce in the world.
  • India ranks seventh globally for average weekly working hours, with 48 hours per worker per week, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
  • A significant proportion of the population in the UAE and Qatar comprises Indians, who are among the top ten on the hardworking list.
  • A research paper published in Harvard Business shows that the surge in working hours in developed nations can be partially attributed to the availability of the Indian and Chinese workforce.
  • The GoI’s time-use survey in 2019 found that men between 15 and 59 in urban India spent an average of over 60 hours a week in paid employment.

Working Hours and Productivity

  • The productivity is not linked to how many hours people work, and there are decreasing returns to working long hours.
  • Countries among the top ten in long working hours, such as Gambia, Bhutan, Lesotho, and the Congo, have very poor productivity.
  • On the other hand, countries such as Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Switzerland, known for their low working hours and great work-life balance, have high productivity.
  • Various studies indicate that working over 50 hours a week reduces productivity. Taking an entire day off each week increases hourly output.
  • Countries such as the UAE and Qatar have higher productivity with longer hours due to the massive capital investments made by these countries.

Productivity and Working hoursProductivity and Working hours

Issues of Long Working Hour

  • Unsustainable: It might be possible for someone to sustain a 70-hour work week for a week or two, but it is not sustainable in the long run.
  • Affect the well-being: Long working hours affect an individual’s physical and mental health.
    • Working more than 55 hours per week increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
  • Happiness will be a casualty: Extended working hours affects work-life balance & causes mental health issues.
  • The idea that people under 40 can handle a heavier workload is flawed.
  • The risk of cardiovascular diseases starts before age 40 due to cumulative damage over the years.
  • In the World Happiness Index, 2023, India holds the 126th position.
  • Loss for Women: A long working hour is against women’s career progression.
    • Women, especially mothers with young children with long working hours, would not have much time for themselves after all the care work.
    • They may opt for more minor shifts for lower pay after they become mothers.

Way Forward

  • It is not advisable for the country’s youth to work excessively long hours, as this can have adverse effects on their health and well-being and can ultimately hinder growth and development.
  • Gains made from long working hours will eventually be offset by higher healthcare costs and lower life-expectancy.
  • Indians should be encouraged to work smarter, not longer. An exhausted nation won’t have the time or resources to upskill or innovate. India cannot afford to stop growing.
  • It is crucial to implement stricter labour laws that limit working hours to ensure that employees are healthy, productive, and capable of sustaining their careers without compromising their well-being.
  • Achieving this balance is essential for the overall well-being of the workforce and the long-term success of any nation.
  • The government should improve the education system and provide workers with the skills necessary to compete, enhancing productivity.
  • It is essential to provide jobs to more people and offer them a chance to enter the formal economy rather than relying on employee overtime.
  • Many countries have implemented limits on work hours, typically ranging from 30 to 45 hours per week, with a maximum cap of 55 hours to protect the well-being of employees.
  • As per the “State of Working India 2023” report, over 40 per cent of graduates under 25 years old are unemployed.

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Gentiana Kurroo

  • Context (TOI): Uttarakhand Forest Department has successfully saved the critically endangered plant gentiana kurroo from extinction.
  • Gentiana kurroo (also called Himalayan gentian or Trayman) is a perennial herb with blue flowers.
  • It is a medicinal plant that treats liver ailments, digestive disorders, diabetes, asthma, and urinary tract infections (UTI).
  • Distribution: It is native to the Himalayas region of India (UK, J&K, HP), Nepal, and Pakistan.
  • Habitat: It is found in grasslands and rocky areas.
  • Threats: Overexploitation, habitat loss, climate change.
  • Conservation Status: IUCN: CR

Gentiana Kurroo

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