24TH OCTOBER CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Millets in India

Context: This article is based on a news article of ‘The India Express’ named as ‘Healthy and Wise’ which talks about promotion of the production and consumption of nutria-cereals is a policy shift in the right direction.

Millet crops in India

  • The three major millet crops currently growing in India are jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet). India also grows a rich array of bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets” like kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa. Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

Benefits of millets cultivation

  • Millets are good for the soil, have shorter cultivation cycles and require less cost-intensive cultivation.
  • These unique features make millets suited for and resilient to India’s varied agro-climatic conditions.
  • Millets are not water or input-intensive, making them a sustainable strategy for addressing climate change and building resilient agri-food systems.

Why its production declining in India?

  • In the 1960s before the Green Revolution, millets were extensively grown and consumed in India.
  • With the Green Revolution, the focus, rightly so, shifted to food security and high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice.
  • An unintended consequence of this policy was the gradual decline in the production of millets. Millets were increasingly seen as “poor person’s food”. The cost incentives provided via MSPs also favoured a handful of staple grains.

Concerns regarding health

  • Along with declining millet production, India saw a jump in consumer demand for ultra-processed and ready-to-eat products, which are high in sodium, sugar, trans-fats and even some carcinogens.
  • This demand was again met by highly-refined grains. With the intense marketing of processed foods, even the rural population started perceiving mill-processed rice and wheat as more aspirational.
  • This has lead us to the double burden of mothers and children suffering from micronutrient deficiencies and the astounding prevalence of diabetes and obesity.

Strategy for promotion of nutri-cereals

  1. Rebranding the cereals as nutri-cereals
  • The first strategy from a consumption and trade point of view was to re-brand coarse cereals/millets as nutri-cereals. As of 2018-19, millet production had been extended to over 112 districts across 14 states.
  1. Incentive through hiking MSP
  • Second, the government hiked the MSP of nutri-cereals, which came as a big price incentive for farmers.
  • From 2014-15 to 2020 MSPs for ragi has jumped by 113 per cent, by 72 per cent for bajra and by 71 per cent for jowar. MSPs have been calculated so that the farmer is ensured at least a 50 per cent return on their cost of production.
  1. Providing steady markets through inclusion in PDS
  • To provide a steady market for the produce, the Modi government included millets in the public distribution system.
  1. Increasing area, production and yield
  • The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare is running a Rs 600-crore scheme to increase the area, production and yield of nutri-cereals.
  • With a goal to match the cultivation of nutri-cereals with local topography and natural resources, the government is encouraging farmers to align their local cropping patterns to India’s diverse 127 agro-climatic zones.
  • Provision of seed kits and inputs to farmers, building value chains through Farmer Producer Organisations and supporting the marketability of nutri-cereals are some of the key interventions that have been put in place.
  1. Intersection of agriculture and nutrition
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been working at the intersection of agriculture and nutritionby -1) setting up nutri-gardens, 2) promoting research on the interlinkages between crop diversity and dietary diversity 3) running a behaviour change campaign to generate consumer demand for nutri-cereals.

Conclusion

  • As the government sets to achieve its agenda of a malnutrition-free India and doubling of farmers’ incomes, the promotion of the production and consumption of nutri-cereals seems to be a policy shift in the right direction.

2. State of Gender Equality in the World

News: Gender equality across the world remains a far-fetched goal and no country has achieved it so far, according to the 2020 edition of the United Nations report on the state of gender equality in the world.

About the Report

  • The report titled “World’s Women: Trends and Statistics” was released by the UN-DESA.
  • The report provided a reality-check on the global status of women 25 years since the world adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
  • It presented the global state of gender equality in six critical areas: Population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Status of women

  • The gender gap in the labour market, for example, has not budged a bit since 1995.
  • While the status of women has improved with regard to education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality, the progress has stagnated in other areas.

Labour participation

  • The gender gap in the labour market has remained as it was since 1995: The gap of 27 percentage points has barely changed since then, the report showed. Only 47 per cent women of working age participated in the labour market, compared to around 74 per cent men, according to the report.
  • The largest gender gap in labour force participation was observed in the prime working age (25-54).
  • This gap has remained unaddressed since 1995 and was at 32 percentage points as of 2020, according to the report. It was 31 percentage points in 1995. In India, the ratio of female-to-male labour force participation rate was 29.80 in 2019 as against the desired ratio of 50 per cent.

Working for free

  • The data in the interactive UN report showed how women remained under the burden of unpaid domestic and care work. On an average day, women globally spent about three times (4.2 hours) as many hours on unpaid domestic and care work as men (1.7 hours). Unpaid domestic work includes activities related to the maintenance of the household, including food preparation, upkeep of the home, caring for pets etc.

Role of Family

  • Family responsibilities and unequal distribution of unpaid domestic and care workers were among the primary reasons for women not joining the labour force.
  • Their participation depended on their liabilities and responsibilities in their household, noted UN. It found that women living alone were more likely to be in the labour market.
  • On an average, 82 per cent women of prime working-age living alone were in the labour market, compared to 64 per cent women living with a partner and 48 per cent living with a partner and children.
  • Their participation rates in the economy were found to improve in the latter part of their lives after their responsibilities reduced — when their children grew older.

3. G-20 Anti Corruption working group

News: Recently, Saudi Arabia hosted the first-ever Ministerial Meeting of the G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) virtually. CurrentlySaudi Arabia holds the presidency of G-20 and is the first Arab nation to do so.

G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group:

  • It was set up in June 2010 at the Toronto Summit of G-20.The year 2020 marks its 10th
  • Objective: To prepare “comprehensive recommendations for consideration by leaders on how the G20 could continue to make practical and valuable contributions to international efforts to combat corruption”.
  • ACWG has led the G-20 anti-corruption efforts coordinating the collective and national actions taken by its members.
  • It actively works with the World Bank Group, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), etc.
  • The World Bank and the UNODC are also involved in the ACWG through the active participation and contribution of Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative(StAR) to its work, which plays an advisory role on asset recovery, anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing, transparency and beneficial ownership, etc.

G-20 on Corruption:

  • In recent years the G-20 has played a critical role in global and national anti-corruption efforts.
  • It recognises the negative impact of corruption which, ‘threatens the integrity of markets, undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust, and undermines the rule of law’.
  • It is committed to ensuring that member countries lead by example and add value to existing international instruments and commitments.
  • The G-20 agreed on the Anti-Corruption Action Plan, 2019-2021in Buenos Aires in 2018. In the framework of this action plan, G-20 members look forward to developing targeted actions where the G-20 can best add value in promoting international efforts in the fight against corruption.

India on Anti-Corruption

Central Vigilance Commission:

  • Though created in 1964,it became an independent statutory body in 2003.
  • Its mandate is to oversee the vigilance administration and to advise and assist the executive in matters relating to corruption.

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988:

  • The Act aims at checking corruption in big places and striking hard against corporate bribery. It seeks to establish a vicarious liability so that the actual bribe giver is also exposed.
  • It was amended in 2018to introduce a number of new provisions including criminalizing the act of giving bribes also in addition to taking the bribe and at the same time putting in place an effective deterrence for such actions by individuals as well as corporate entities.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States. These institutions are operational in the country to bring in more transparency, more citizen-centricity and accountability in governance.

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018:

  • It empowers authorities for non-conviction based attachments and confiscation of proceeds of crime and properties as well as assets of a fugitive economic offender.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002:

  • Money laundering is the process of making large amounts of money generated by criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source.
  • The law was enacted to prevent and control money laundering, provide for confiscation and seizure of property obtained from laundered money and to deal with any other issue connected with money-laundering in India.

Other Related Legislation and Moves:

  • Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014.
  • Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2016.
  • Ratification of United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2011.
  • Introduction of e-governance.

What is the G20?

  • The G20 is an annual meeting of leaders from the countries with the largest and fastest-growing economies. Its members account for 85% of the world’s GDP, and two-thirds of its population.
  • The G20 Summit is formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy”.

Genesis of G20:

  • After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998,it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.

Full membership of the G20:

  • Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

What is G20+?

  • The G20 developing nations, also called G21/G23/G20+ is a bloc of developing nations which was established on August 20, 2003. Its origins can be traced to the Brasilia Declaration signed by the foreign ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa on 6th June 2003. The G20+ is responsible for 60% of the world population, 26% of the world’s agricultural exports and 70% of its farmers.

4. Revised base year for CPI-IW

News: The Labour and Employment Ministry has revised the base year of the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016. This was revised to reflect the changing consumption pattern, giving more weightage to spending on health, education, recreation and other miscellaneous expenses, while reducing the weight of food and beverages.

Details:

  • The new series with base year 2016 covers the latest consumption pattern of the target population.
  • It gives more weightage to spending on health, education, recreation and other miscellaneous expenses, while reducing the weight of food and beverages.
  • The weight of spending on housing and clothing increased from 15.2% to 17%.
  • The weight of miscellaneous items, like education and health rose to 30.31% from 23.26%.
  • The weight of food and beverage was reduced from 46.2% to 39% and indicates an increase in disposable income. The number of markets and the sample size for working class family income and expenditure surveys were increased. The sample size was increased from 41,040 families to 48,384, also the number of selected markets for collecting retail price data was increased from 289 to 317.
  • The number of items in the index basket has increased to 463 items as against 392 items in the 2001 series.
  • The Labour Bureau is also working towards revising the index every five years.

Effect:

  • The new series would not have an immediate impact on the dearness allowance(DA) as the government has freezed biannual hike in dearness allowances since January 2020 to offset the financial implications on the exchequer during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The DA, a component of salary, is revised every six months to keep pace with the inflation rate.
  • For private sector workers, the central government and most states increase the variable DA component of minimum wages twice a year based on the CPI-IW inflation numbers.
  • However, the change in base year will certainly have an effect on DA calculation by june 2021, when the freezing on DA will come to end.

CPI-IW

  • The CPI-IW is mainly used for determining dearness allowance (DA) paid to central/state government employees and workers in the industrial sectors besides measuring inflation in retail prices, fixation and revision of minimum wages in scheduled employments. CPI-IW is compiled and maintained by the Labour Bureau, an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment.