Current Affair – June 11, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward

  • The report “Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward” has been released by ILO and UNICEF.
  • The report released ahead of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, 2021.
  • This year, ILO will promote a “week of action” from June 10 to June 17 as an extended celebration of the World Day Against Child Labour.
  • The UN has made 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, calling for urgent action

What does the Report say?

  • Global progress to end child labour stopped for the first time in 20 years.The process of bringing children out of the labour force worldwide has hit a bump.
  • Child labour figures declined by 94 million between 2000 and 2016. But in the last four years, 8.4 million children were pushed into labour, representing a reversal of the downward trend.
  • The total number of children engaged in labour globally increased to 160 million (63 million girls and 97 million boys) at the beginning of 2020.
  • Asia and the Pacific as well as Latin America and the Caribbean have steadily reduced child labour since 2008 but similar progress has escaped sub-Saharan Africa, according to
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, population growth, extreme poverty and inadequate social protection measures have forced an additional 16.6 million to work over the past four years, said
  • The world is not on track to eliminate child labour by 2025, the report warned. Global progress would need to be almost 18 times faster than the rate observed over the past two decades to put an end to the malpractice.

COVID-19 impact

  • Close to 140 million children will be working in 2025, based on the pace of change from 2008 to 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to push millions more into labour in the absence of urgent mitigation.
  • In 2020, the pandemic increased the number of children in poor-income households by an estimated 142 million, adding to the 582 million children already in poverty in 2019.

Globally, nine million more children are at risk of being pushed into labour by the end of 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic

Other key findings from the 2020 global estimates include:

  • 70% of all child labour — 112 million children in total — are in agriculture.
  • The largest share of child labour takes place within families. Around 72% of all child labour and 83% of child labour among those aged five-11 years occurs within families, primarily on family farms or in family microenterprises.
  • Child labour is frequently associated with children being out of school.

Call for urgent action

  • Adequate social protection for all, including universal child benefits
  • Increased spending on quality education and getting all children back to school, including children who were out of school before COVID-19
  • Promotion of decent work for adults, so families don’t have to resort to children helping to generate family income
  • End to harmful gender norms and discrimination that influence child labour

· Investment in child protection systems, agricultural development, rural public services, infrastructure and livelihoods

Source: Down to earth

UNCTAD’s Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures report

  • The 2021 edition of UNCTAD’s Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures report was released on June 10, 2021.
  • UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
  • The current report has been published ahead of UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial ministerial conference to be held online from October 3-7, hosted by Barbados, one of the SIDS.

Findings

  • Small island developing states (SIDS), already in extreme risk from global warming, have had a double whammy

— their gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline 9% in 2020, way more than 3.3% for other developing countries.

  • SIDS had a tough task ahead of them as they sought to recover from the impacts of the novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • COVID-19 had affected all spheres of life in SIDS including health, the economy and trade, according to the report. For instance, COVID-19 has affected tourism services across the world. This has had a huge impact on SIDS as most of them are heavily reliant on tourism.

· SIDS were also 35% more vulnerable to external economic and financial shocks than other developing countries.

  • SIDS countries are unique in that most of them hardly emit greenhouse emissions but are the first to suffer the impacts of climate change.

Other studies

  • Many of them are low-lying, situated just five metres above sea level. This makes them vulnerable to sea-level rise, storm surges and coastal destruction. Four of the top 10 most environmentally vulnerable countries in the world are SIDS, according to the 2020 Environmental Vulnerability Index.
  • The United Nations’ report on World Population Prospects 2019 had warned that many SIDS would not be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 because of increasing populations and climate risks.
  • The highest level of support for climate action — 74% — was found in people living in SIDS, according to the results of the Peoples’ Climate Vote was published January 27, 2021 by the United Nations Development Programme.
Source: Down to earth

Beed model of crop insurance Maharashtra

Maharashtra Chief Minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him for state-wide implementation of the ‘Beed model’ of the crop insurance scheme Pradhan MantriFasal Bhima Yogna (PMFBY).

About insurance scheme

  • Launched in 2016, the flagship PMFBY insures farm losses against inclement weather events.

·  Farmers pay 1.5-2% of the premium with the rest borne by the state and central governments.

  • It is a central scheme implemented by state agriculture departments as per central guidelines.

Coverage of scheme

  • Prior to 2020, the scheme was optional for farmers who did not have loans pending, but mandatory for loanee farmers. Since 2020, it has been optional for all farmers. In Maharashtra, over the years, more non-loanee farmers have enrolled, although it was optional for them.
  • A total of 422 lakh farmers in the country had enrolled for the scheme paying a combined premium of Rs 3,018 crore (farmers’ share only) and insuring 328 lakh hectares in 2019-20.

What is Beed model the state government wants implemented?

  • Located in the drought-prone Marathwada region, the district of Beed presents a challenge for any insurance company. Farmers here have repeatedly lost crops either to failure of rains or to heavy rains. Given the high payouts, insurance companies have sustained losses. The state government had a difficult time getting bids for tenders to implement the scheme in Beed.
  • During the 2020 kharif season, tenders for implementation did not attract any bids. So, the state Agriculture Department decided to tweak the guidelines for the district. The state-run Indian Agricultural Insurance Company implemented the scheme. Under the new guidelines, the insurance company provided a cover of 110% of the premium collected, with caveats. If the compensation exceeded the cover provided, the state government would pay the bridge amount. If the compensation was less than the premium collected, the insurance company would keep 20% of the amount as handling charges and reimburse the rest to the state government.
  • In a normal season where farmers report minimal losses, the state government is expected to get back money that can form a corpus to fund the scheme for the following year. However, the state government would have to bear the financial liability in case of losses due to extreme weather events.

Why is the government pushing for it for the entire state?

  • The reason why Maharashtra is pushing for this scheme is that in most years, the claims-to-premium ratio is low with the premium being paid to the company.
  • In the Beed model, the profit of the company is expected to reduce and the state government would access another source of funds. The reimbursed amount can lead to lower provisioning by the state for the following year, or help in financing the paying the bridge amount in case of a year of crop loss. For farmers, however, this model does not have any direct benefit.
Source: Indian Express

UNSC Secretary-General

  • The United Nations Security Council formally approved Secretary-General António Guterres for a second term, assuring that him the top job for five more years starting January 1, 2022.
  • The recommendation will now go to the 193-member General Assembly, which is expected to make the appointment on June 18.

·  While there are no term limits applicable to this post, no Secretary-General has so far served more than two terms.

How is the UN Secretary-General chosen?

·The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.The Secretary-General’s selection is therefore subject to the veto of any of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

  • Essentially, the Secretary-General is chosen during closed-door sessions of the Security Council, and approval by the General Assembly is seen more as a formality.
  • The five permanent members of the 15-nation-strong Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – are the most powerful players in this process as any one of them can eliminate a candidature by a veto.

·The 10 elected non-permanent members of the Security Council, of which India is currently a part, do not have veto powers, but their backing is still crucial as a candidate requires at least nine out of 15 votes to be recommended for the top job.

  • For any candidate to have a real chance at being considered for the top post, a recommendation by any UN member state is essential.

2015 Resolution

A resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 2015 made the selection process more open and transparent, allowing member states for the first time to see basic information about all candidates, including their resumes, and to question them at open sessions.

What does the UN Secretary-General do?

  • The UN Charter refers to the Secretary-General as the body’s “chief administrative officer”, who shall act in that capacity and perform “such other functions as are entrusted” to them by the Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and other United Nations organs.

·   It’s role is defined as “equal parts diplomat and advocate, civil servant and CEO,” and “a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them”.

  • The Secretary-General’s day-to-day work includes attendance at sessions of United Nations bodies; consultations with world leaders, government officials, and others; and worldwide travel intended to keep the Secretary-General in touch with the peoples of the UN member states.
  • So far, all Secretaries-General have come from member states considered to be small- or medium-sized neutral powers, and a regional rotation is observed, as per the Council on Foreign Relations. All nine occupants of the post have been men.
Source: Indian Express

Ethanol Blending

  • The government of India has advanced the target for 20% ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030. E20 will be rolled out from April 2023.

·  Currently, 8.5% of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.

Significance

  • Reducing the country’s oil import bill and carbon dioxide pollution.
  • Improve energy security and self-sufficiency measures.
  • It also benefits sugarcane farmers.
The unregulated carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde emission were, however, higher with E10 and E20 compared to normal petrol. However, these emissions were relatively lower. Evaporative emission test results with E20 fuel were similar to E0.  

Use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The unregulated carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde emission were, however, higher with E10 and E20 compared to normal petrol. However, these emissions were relatively lower. Evaporative emission test results with E20 fuel were similar to E0.

Roadmap

  • The central government has also released an expert committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025.

· The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022 and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.

  • In order to introduce vehicles that are compatible the committee

recommends roll out of E20 material-compliant and E10 engine-tuned vehicles from April 2023 and production of E20- tuned engine vehicles from April 2025.

  • Further, the government plans to encourage use of water-sparing crops, such as maize, to produce ethanol, and production of ethanol from non-food feedstock.

Compatible vehicles

  • There is an estimated loss of 6-7% fuel efficiency for four wheelers and 3-4% for two wheelers when using E20These vehicles are originally designed for E0 and calibrated for E10.
  • With modifications in engines (hardware and tuning), the loss in efficiency due to blended fuel can be reduced.

Global evidences

  • An increase in the ethanol content in fuels reduced the emissions of some regulated pollutants such as CO, HC and CO2. However, no such change in emissions was observed for nitrogen oxides emissions.
  • Addition of ethanol, with a high blending octane number, however, allowed a reduction in aromatics in petrol. Such blends also burn cleaner as they have higher octane levels than pure petrol but have higher evaporative emissions from fuel tanks and dispensing equipment.
  • Therefore, petrol requires extra processing to reduce evaporative emissions before blending with ethanol.
  • Higher emission rates of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde relative to petrol is offset by reduction in benzene and 1,3- butadiene emissions, which are commonly emitted species from petrol combustion resulting in overall reduction in toxicity.
  • It is crucial to study the emissions from flexible fuel vehicles not only for the regulated gases but also the unregulated ones.
  • In Europe, biofuels have been seen as a measure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from road transport because they were considered CO2-neutral fuels once lifecycle emissions are considered.

·  Considering just the end use also indicates that CO2 emissions from blended fuel are lower than that for petrol since ethanol contains less carbon than petrol and produces less CO2.

  • The blended fuel burns more efficiently with a more homogenous mixture, which leads to a decrease in CO2 emissions compared with pure petrol. The emission benefit varies depending on feedstock used in producing ethanol.
  • The carbon dioxide released by a vehicle when ethanol is burned is offset by the carbon dioxide captured when the feedstock crops are grown to produce ethanol. Comparatively, no emissions are offset when these petroleum products are burned.

·  But producing and burning ethanol results in CO2 emissions. Hence, net CO2 emission benefit depends on how ethanol is made and whether or not indirect impacts on land use are included in the calculations.

Way forward

Progressing towards higher blending of ethanol, careful monitoring and assessment of emissions changes will be needed to make sure that emission reduction potential can be enhanced both for regulated and unregulated pollutants.

Source: Down-to-earth

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