1. National Family Health Survey: 5th Edition
The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) confirmed signs of a demographic shift in India.
The NFHS-5 survey work has been conducted in around 6.1 lakh sample households from 707 districts (as of March 2017) of the country; covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men to provide disaggregated estimates up to district level.
- For the first time since the NFHS began in 1992, the proportion of women exceeded men: there were 1,020 women for 1,000 men. In the last edition of the survey in 2015-16, there were 991 women for every 1,000 men.
- Only the decadal census is considered the official marker of population trends in India and has a wider surveillance program. The NFHS surveys are smaller but are conducted at the district level and are a pointer to the future.
- However, the sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years only improved from 919 per 1,000 males in 2015-16 to 929 per 1,000, underscoring that boys, on average, continued to have better odds of survival than girls.
- Most states and Union Territories (UTs) had more women than men, the NFHS-5 shows.
- States that had fewer women than men included Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Union territories such as Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Ladakh.
- All of these States and UTs, however, showed improvements in the population increase of women
- More hospital births, but limited gains in childhood nutrition: National Family Health Survey-5
- A State-wise breakup of the NFHS data also shows that India is on its way to stabilizing its population, with most States and UTs having a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of less than two.
- A TFR of less than 2.1, or a woman on average bearing two children over a lifetime, suggests that an existing generation of people will be exactly replaced.
- Anything less than two suggests an eventual decline in population over time. Only six states: Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh have a TFR above two.
- Bihar has a TFR of three which, however, is an improvement from the 3.4 of the NFHS-4. Again, much like the broader trend towards feminization, the TFR in all States has improved in the last five years.
- India is still poised to be the most populous country in the world with the current projection by the United Nations population division forecasting that India’s population will peak around 1.6 to 1.8 billion from 2040-2050.
- A Government report last year projected that India would overtake China as the world’s most populous country around 2031 — almost a decade later than the United Nations projection of 2022.
- A notable exception is Kerala, a state with among the highest ratios of women to men at 1,121 and an improvement of over 1,049 recorded in the NFHS-4.
- However, the TFR in Kerala has increased to 1.8 from 1.6. The State has also reported a decline in the sex ratio of children born in the last five years.
- There are 1,047 females per 1,000 males in 2015-16 that has now declined to 951 per 1,000 males.
2. O-SMART Scheme
- It is a government scheme that aims at promoting ocean research and setting up early warning weather systems.
- It was launched in August 2018.
- It also aims at addressing ocean development activities such as technology, services, resources, science, and observations as well as offering required technological assistance for implementing aspects of the Blue Economy.
- It comprises seven sub-schemes that are being implemented by autonomous institutes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
- Sub-Schemes are: Ocean Technology, Ocean Modelling and Advisory Services (OSMAS), Ocean Observation Network (OON), Ocean Non-Living Resources, Marine Living Resources and Ecology (MLRE), Coastal Research and Operation, Maintenance of Research Vessels
- To generate and regularly update information on Marine Living Resources and their relationship with the physical environment in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- To periodically monitor levels of seawater pollutants for health assessment of coastal waters of India, to develop shoreline change maps for assessment of coastal erosion due to natural and anthropogenic activities.
- To develop high-resolution models for ocean forecast and reanalysis systems.
- To develop algorithms for the validation of satellite data for coastal research and to monitor changes in coastal research.
- Acquisition of Coastal Research Vessels (CRVs) for coastal pollution monitoring, testing of various underwater components, and technology demonstration and to support their operation and maintenance.
- Establishment of Ballast water treatment facility.
- To carry out exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (MPN) from a water depth of 5500 m in a site of 75000 sq. km allotted to India by the United Nations in the Central Indian Ocean Basin, and to carry out investigations of gas hydrates.
- MPN, also called manganese nodules, are rock concretions formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core.
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3. River Cities Alliance
Union Minister launched the River Cities Alliance (RCA), a dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers.
- It is a dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for the sustainable management of urban rivers, here today.
- It is formed by the successful partnership of the two Ministries i.e., Ministry of Jal Shakti and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
- It focuses on three broad themes- Networking, Capacity Building, and Technical Support.
- The Secretariat of the Alliance will be set up at National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA), with NMCG’s support.
- The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA) have collaborated together to launch the River Cities Alliance (RCA).
- It will enable cities to learn from each other’s successes and failures as well as connect people with the rivers
- It will give an opportunity to municipal administrators and their teams to take path-breaking initiatives and learn and inspire each other.
- It will work towards adopting and localizing national policies and instruments with key river-related directions, prepare their Urban River Management Plans and develop city-specific sectoral strategies that are required for sustainable urban river management.
- The Alliance gives opportunities to these cities to strengthen governance aspects for river cities and improves their liveability to attract external economic investments.
4. Trade retaliation case
- The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it is moving to terminate its trade retaliation case against India after Washington and New Delhi agreed on a global tax deal transition arrangement that will withdraw India’s digital services tax.
- USTR said the agreement between the U.S. Treasury and India’s Finance Ministry applies the same terms agreed to with Austria, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey, but with a slightly later implementation date.
- The pact follows an October agreement by 136 countries in principle to withdraw their digital services taxes as part of a sweeping global tax deal agreed on Oct. 8 to adopt a 15 percent global minimum corporate tax and grant some taxing rights on large profitable companies to market countries.
- The countries agreed not to impose new digital services taxes before the OECD tax deal is implemented by the end of 2023, but arrangements need to be made with seven countries that had existing digital taxes largely targeting U.S. technology giants including Google, Facebook, and Amazon.com.
- The deal brings all seven countries into a transition arrangement and came after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai concluded a trip to India to discuss increasing trade cooperation on agricultural and other goods.
- Under the agreed withdrawal terms, the countries can continue to collect digital services taxes until the new regime is put in place.
- But for Turkey and the European countries, any taxes collected after January 2022 that exceed what companies would have to pay under the new rules would be credited against the firms’ future tax liabilities in those countries.
5. Govt inks deal with the US to phase out equalization levy
India and the United States have agreed to a transitional approach on equalization levy or digital tax on e-commerce supplies beginning April 1.
- In a major reform of the international tax system, on October 8 this year, 136 countries, including India, have agreed to an overhaul of global tax norms to ensure that multinationals pay taxes wherever they operate and at a minimum 15% rate.
- However, the deal requires countries to remove all digital services tax and other similar unilateral measures and to commit not to introduce such measures in the future.
- The proposed two-pillar solution of the global tax deal consists of two components – Pillar One, which is about reallocation of an additional share of profit to the market jurisdictions, and Pillar Two, consisting of minimum tax and subject to tax rules.
- United States, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on a transitional approach to existing unilateral measures while implementing Pillar one.
- India and the United States have agreed that the same terms shall apply between the United States and India with respect to India’s charge of a 2% equalization levy on e-commerce supply of services
- However, the interim period that will be applicable will be from April 1, 2022, till the implementation of Pillar One or March 31, 2024, whichever is earlier.
- India and the U.S. will remain in close contact to ensure that there is a common understanding of the respective commitments and endeavor to resolve any further differences of views on this matter through constructive dialogue, it added.
- The final terms of the agreement shall be finalized by February 1, 2022.
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