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On 9th July, 2023, the Ministry of Education (MoE) released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) report, which assesses the performance of the school education system at the district level.
- This report combines data from 2020-21 and 2021-22 to provide insights into the educational performance of districts across the country.
- Decline in Educational Performance: The report highlights a decline in the educational performance of many districts in the country due to the impact of the pandemic.
- Categorization of Districts: The PGI-D categorizes districts into 10 grades based on their performance. The top two grades, Daksh and Utkarsh, were not achieved by any districts in the latest report.
- Decrease in Ati-Uttam Grade: The number of districts graded as Ati-Uttam decreased significantly from 121 in 2020-21 to 51 in 2021-22, indicating a decline in performance.
- Increase in Prachesta-2 Grade: The number of districts in the Prachesta-2 grade increased from 86 in 2020-21 to 117 in 2021-22, suggesting the impact of the pandemic on educational performance.
- Varied Performance across States: Different states and union territories had districts graded in different categories. Examples include Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Kolkata.
- Focus Areas for Improvement: The PGI-D report provides indicator-wise scores, highlighting areas where districts need improvement. It covers categories such as outcomes, effective classroom transaction, infrastructure facilities, school safety, digital learning, and governance process.
- Role of PGI-D: The report aims to help state education departments identify gaps at the district level and improve performance in a decentralized manner. It serves as a valuable tool for prioritizing intervention areas and striving for higher grades.
Recently, the 2023 World Press Freedom Index report was released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
- India’s Rank: India's ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 161 out of 180 countries.
- This represents a drop from India's previous year's rank of 150.
- Top Three Positions: Norway, Ireland, and Denmark occupy the top three positions in press freedom.
- Bottom Three Positions: Vietnam, China, and North Korea are at the bottom three.
On May 2, 2023, the Global Network Against Food Crisis, an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, and other agencies working to tackle food crises, released the Global Report on Food Crisis.
- Acute Hunger on the Rise: The number of people experiencing acute hunger has increased to 258 million from 193 million in the previous year, representing a 34% jump in just one year.
- Three Key Drivers: The report identified three key drivers of this crisis, namely economic shocks, conflicts, and climate extremes.
- Economic shocks: Economic shocks, which include the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine, have become the primary driver of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in several major food crises, surpassing conflict.
- Conflict: Conflict and insecurity were still the most significant driver of acute food insecurity in 19 countries/territories.
- Weather and Climate Extremes: Weather and climate extremes were the primary driver of acute food insecurity in 12 countries.
- Reminder of Failure: The report serves as a reminder of the world's failure to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) of ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition by 2030.
Recently, National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) released a report stating that India witnessed a significant increase in patent filings in fiscal year 2022.
- India's patent filings in fiscal year 2022 showed a Year-over-Year growth rate of 13.6%, marking the highest annual increase in the past decade.
- Out of a total of 584,000 patents filed between FY2010 and FY2022, 266,000 were related to technology.
- Of these technology patents, 160,000 pertained to emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Cybersecurity, and Blockchain.
- Within the telecommunications sector, 2.4% of the total patents filed were focused on emerging areas like 5G and 6G.
- In FY22, the share of domestic filings increased to 44.4% of total patents filed, compared to 41.6% in the previous year.
- Nasscom's President emphasized the importance of partnerships among various stakeholders to create and raise awareness about intellectual property, which would ultimately boost domestic patent filings.
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the human mind or intellect. It includes intangible assets such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
Intellectual Property Right (IPR) refers to a category of legal rights that protects IP. Intellectual property can be protected through various forms of legal mechanisms such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
Recently, NITI Aayog released a report, titled "Promoting Millets in Diets: Best Practices across States/UTs of India".
- The report presents a set of good and innovative practices adopted by state governments and organizations in various aspects of millet value-chain, especially production, processing, and consumption.
- It aims to revive and mainstream millets in our diets, which are nutritionally wholesome crops.
- Odisha Millet Mission, Andhra Pradesh's Comprehensive Revival of Millets Cultivation by Tribals and Drought Mitigation Project, Chhattisgarh Millet Mission, and Nagaland's Promotion of Millets through National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Nutri Cereals Mission are some of the initiatives that have resulted in positive impacts.
- Additionally, several states have integrated millets in the Supplementary Nutrition Programme under ICDS, leading to increased production, consumption, and distribution.
- NITI Aayog's Vice Chairman emphasized the importance of leveraging the power of branding and marketing to popularize millets as a superfood and make it fashionable.
- NITI Aayog has also proposed the establishment of a National Nutrition Commission to combat malnutrition and ensure the availability of safe, affordable, and nutritious food to all.
- The commission will work towards strengthening the existing policies and programs related to nutrition and also suggest new interventions.
- This proposal comes in light of the recent National Family Health Survey which indicates that malnutrition is still a major concern in India, with high rates of stunting and wasting among children under the age of five.
- These initiatives by NITI Aayog are crucial steps towards achieving the goal of better nutrition and health for all, and promoting sustainable and resilient food systems in India.
On April 25, 2023, the World Bank released its World Development Report 2023.
- The report focuses on the theme of “Migrants, Refugees, and Societies.”
- The report analyzes international migration and its potential to serve as a force for growth and shared prosperity in all countries.
- The report highlights the rapidly changing demographics around the world, which are making migration increasingly necessary for countries at all income levels.
- There are currently 184 million people across the world who lack citizenship in the country in which they live, including 37 million refugees.
- The report presents a framework to guide policy-making based on how well migrants' skills and related attributes match the needs of destination countries and on the motive for their movement.
- The report identifies several policies that are needed to maximize gains for all parties involved in migration, including managing migration for development in origin countries, managing migration more strategically in destination countries, and fostering international cooperation.
On April 20, 2023, UNICEF India released its global flagship report, 'The State of the World's Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination’.
- The report highlighted the significance of childhood immunization.
- According to this report, India is one of only three countries where confidence in children's vaccines has increased.
- India was able to arrest the backslide and bring down the number of zero-dose children to 2.7 million, which represents a smaller proportion of India's under-5 child population given its size and the world's largest birth cohort.
- The report also highlights the decline in vaccine confidence in over a third of the studied countries due to various factors, including access to misleading information and declining trust in vaccine efficacy.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest sustained backslide in childhood immunization in 30 years, with 67 million children missing out on vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, and vaccination coverage levels decreasing in 112 countries.
- The report also highlights existing inequities in vaccination coverage, with unvaccinated children often living in hard-to-reach communities such as rural areas or urban slums, and mothers who have been unable to attend school.
- The report emphasizes that routine immunizations and strong health systems are essential for preventing future pandemics and reducing morbidity and mortality, and reaching the last child with immunization is a key marker of equity that benefits the whole community.
On April 21, 2023, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its State of the Global Climate 2022 report, which revealed that despite three consecutive years of La Niña cooling, climate change continued to wreak havoc worldwide, with multiple records being broken.
- Global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era average.
- The years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest in the instrumental record.
- Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a record high in 2021.
- Global carbon dioxide levels increased to nearly 415.7 parts per million, 149% higher than pre-industrial levels.
- Weather and climate-related events posed humanitarian risks.
- Tens of millions of people were affected, driving food insecurity and mass migration.
- The events cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.
- East Africa faced continuous droughts.
- Record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe caused significant damage and economic losses.
- The report emphasizes how populations worldwide are gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events.
- Melting glaciers and sea level rise, which again reached record levels in 2022, will continue to affect the planet for thousands of years.
- The report calls for accelerated climate action with deeper and faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- The report also calls for massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities.
Recently, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released the Global Food Policy 2023 report calling for long-term investments in building resilient and equitable food systems, beyond short-term fixes.
- Food insecurity has risen due to a variety of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, natural disasters, civil unrest, and political instability.
- Climate change could lead to as many as 72 million more people undernourished by 2050, and conflict and displacement are also affected by the climate crisis.
- Africa has the highest proportion of food-insecure and undernourished people at 20%, more than double any other region of the world.
- In 2021, 768 million people worldwide were undernourished, well above the 572 million reported in 2014.
- The Russia-Ukraine war and related spikes in food and fertilizer prices worsened food insecurity in 2022, with fertilizer prices rising by 199% between May 2020 and the end of 2022.
- This has increased the number of people at risk of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition.
- As many as 205 million people in 45 countries experienced crisis-level acute food insecurity or worse in 2022, nearly double the number in 2016.
- A humanitarian-development-peace nexus approach can address the multifaceted nature of food crises more cost-effectively in the short to medium term.
- Governments should foster a business environment that encourages flexibility, technical and financial innovation.
- Investing in early warning systems and strengthening agrifood value chains is essential to support livelihoods and food security during crises.
Recently, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has conducted the country's first census of water bodies, providing valuable insights into their distribution and usage across various states and districts.
- India has 24.24 lakh waterbodies, with West Bengal having the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim having the least (134).
- West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks, Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes, and Maharashtra is the leading state with water conservation schemes.
- West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas has been ranked as the top district having the highest number of waterbodies across the country.
- Ponds make up the majority of waterbodies (59.5%), followed by tanks (15.7%), reservoirs (12.1%), water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3%), lakes (0.9%), and others (2.5%).
- Six other states have over one lakh waterbodies, while four states and UTs account for less than 1,000 waterbodies each.
- The census defines a waterbody as any natural or man-made unit bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes such as industrial, pisciculture, domestic/drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge, etc.
- The census collected data on encroachment of waterbodies for the first time, revealing that 1.6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached, with 95.4% of encroached waterbodies in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.