Current Affairs - Reports,Survey And Index

Singapore Tops Henley Passport Index 2023

According to the latest Henley Passport Index released on 18th July, Singapore's passport has been ranked as the world's most powerful passport in 2023, granting visa-free access to an impressive 192 countries.

Key Points:

  • Japan Drops to Third Place: The previous title holder, the Japanese passport, has slipped to the third position, now sharing it with Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden.
  • India's Progress: India has made significant progress in the rankings, climbing to the 80th spot along with Senegal and Togo.
  • Indian passport holders now enjoy visa-free access to 57 destinations, showing an improvement from the 83rd position in 2022.
  • European Countries in Second Place: Among European countries, Germany, Italy, and Spain jointly hold the second rank, offering visa-free access to 190 destinations.
  • UK Passport's Resurgence: In a surprising turn, the UK passport has risen two places to claim the fourth position after a six-year decline.
  • United States' Decline: The United States, however, continues its downward trajectory, dropping two places to the eighth position, granting access to only 184 destinations without a visa.
  • Henley Passport Index Methodology: The Henley Passport Index compares visa-free access for 199 passports across 227 travel destinations. The index assigns a score based on whether a visa is unnecessary, obtainable upon arrival, or through an electronic travel authority.
  • Importance of Passport Ranking: The Henley Passport Index provides valuable insights into passport strength, reflecting each country's level of global mobility and travel freedom for its citizens. Higher rankings signify greater ease of travel and accessibility to various destinations worldwide.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

On July 11, 2023, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford released the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

The key findings are:

  • India's Achievement: India witnessed a remarkable reduction in poverty, with 415 million people moving out of poverty within a span of just 15 years, from 2005/2006 to 2019/2021.
  • Rapid Progress: 25 countries, including India, successfully halved their global MPI values within 15 years, demonstrating that rapid progress in poverty reduction is achievable.
  • Other countries that achieved this milestone include Cambodia, China, Congo, Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Serbia, and Vietnam.
  • Fastest Absolute Progress: The report highlights that the poorest states and groups, including children and people from disadvantaged caste groups, witnessed the fastest absolute progress.
  • Deprivations in nutrition, child mortality, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, and housing showed significant improvements.
  • Global Poverty Statistics: At approximately 1.1 billion people, just over 18% of the global population, live in acute multidimensional poverty across 110 countries.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are home to about five out of every six poor people.
  • Children and Rural Poverty: Children under the age of 18 account for half of the MPI-poor people, with a poverty rate of 27.7%. Poverty predominantly affects rural areas, with 84% of all poor people residing in rural regions.
  • Impact of COVID-19: The report acknowledges the challenges in assessing the immediate prospects and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of comprehensive data during the pandemic period.
  • However, in some countries such as Mexico, Madagascar, Cambodia, Peru, and Nigeria, where data were available, there were indications of continued progress in poverty reduction, offering hope amid the pandemic.
  • Data Collection and Policy Efforts: As per the report there's need for intensified efforts in data collection and policy measures to comprehend the dimensions most negatively affected by the pandemic and to get poverty reduction back on track.
  • It also calls for improved data on multidimensional poverty, particularly concerning the impacts on children, to inform effective interventions.
  • Data Accessibility and Solvability: The report highlights the scarcity of data on multidimensional poverty for a significant portion of the global population and urges funders and data scientists to work towards making breakthroughs in poverty data collection.

Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation

Recently, India demonstrated its outstanding performance in the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific's (UNESCAP) Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation.

Key Findings

  • Outstanding Performance: India achieved an impressive score of 93.55% in the 2023 survey, showcasing its commitment to digital and sustainable trade facilitation. This score represents a significant improvement from 90.32% in 2021.
  • Leading Global Trade Facilitation Efforts: India is at the forefront of global trade facilitation efforts, as recognized by the survey.
  • The country's exceptional progress across various sub-indicators highlights its relentless efforts to streamline trade processes, enhance transparency, and promote cooperation among stakeholders.
  • Perfect Scores in Key Areas: India attained perfect scores of 100% in four crucial areas: Transparency, Formalities, Institutional Arrangement and Cooperation, and Paperless Trade.
  • This achievement demonstrates India's effectiveness in implementing measures that enhance trade facilitation.
  • Women in Trade Facilitation: India showcased substantial improvement in the "Women in Trade Facilitation" component, increasing the score from 66.7% in 2021 to 77.8% in 2023.
  • This highlights India's commitment to gender inclusivity and empowering women in the trade sector.
  • Best Performing Country in South Asia: India emerged as the best-performing country in the South Asia region, surpassing many developed countries like Canada, France, the UK, and Germany in terms of overall score.
  • Continuous Improvement: India's overall score has been steadily improving year by year, indicating a strong commitment to further enhancing the ease of doing business and implementing next-generation trade facilitation measures.
  • Recognized Digital Initiatives: The survey recognized Indian Customs' digital initiatives, including Turant Customs, Single Window Interface for Facilitation of Trade (SWIFT), Pre-Arrival data processing, and e-Sanchit.
  • These initiatives aim to create a paperless, contactless, and faceless trade environment.
  • Fact-Based Evaluation: The UNESCAP survey is a fact-based evaluation that covers the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and approximately 60 trade facilitation measures categorized into eleven sub-groups.

Children and Armed Conflict Report 2023

On June 27, 2023, a report, titled 'Children and Armed Conflict' for the year 2023 was released by UN Secretary-General.

Key findings of the report are:

  • India's Removal from the Report: For the first time since 2010, India has been taken off the list of countries mentioned in the report on children and armed conflict.
  • This decision was based on the measures taken by the Indian government to better protect children.
  • Improved Child Protection Measures: The report acknowledges that India has implemented various policies and institutional changes since 2019 to enhance child protection.
  • These measures include the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act, establishment of Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards, and Child Care Homes, and training of security forces in the protection of children.
  • Engagement with the UN: The Government of India has actively engaged with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to address child protection concerns.
  • An inter-ministerial meeting in November 2021 paved the way for enhanced cooperation, leading to the appointment of a national focal point and joint technical missions with the UN.
  • Suspension of Pellet Guns: As part of the efforts to protect children, the use of pellet guns has been suspended. Pellet guns had been a cause of concern due to their potential harm to children during security operations.
  • Implementation of JJ Act and POCSO Act: India has been working on the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.
  • These Acts provide legal frameworks for safeguarding the rights and well-being of children.

Global Liveability Index 2023

Recently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released its 2023 report on the Global Liveability Index, which ranks cities based on the quality of life.

The key highlights are:

  • Indian Cities: New Delhi and Mumbai secured the 141st position, while Chennai followed closely at 144th. Ahmedabad and Bengaluru were ranked 147th and 148th, respectively.
  • Asia-Pacific and Western Europe: While cities in the Asia-Pacific region made significant gains in the rankings, several western European cities have slipped down in the 2023 rankings.
  • Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Countries Show Optimism: The EIU report highlighted that there is growing focus on healthcare and education in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries.
  • Vienna Tops the Rankings: Vienna, the capital of Austria, secured the top spot as the most liveable city in 2023.
  • It retained its position due to its excellent liveability factors, including stability, culture, entertainment, reliable infrastructure, and exemplary education and health services.
  • Copenhagen and Australian Cities Follow: Copenhagen in Denmark maintained its second-place ranking from the previous year.
  • Melbourne and Sydney in Australia secured the third and fourth spots, respectively, indicating their high liveability standards.
  • Stability Scores Decrease: The report mentioned that stability scores have declined compared to the previous year, primarily due to civil unrest in various parts of the world.
  • Developing Countries and Post-Pandemic Recovery: The EIU highlighted that attempts to restore normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic and incremental improvements in liveability made by many developing countries have been the major drivers of changes in the global liveability rankings.
  • Kyiv and Moscow: Kyiv, the capital of war-raged Ukraine, ranked lowly at 165th out of 173 cities. Moscow, Russia's capital, remained stable this year after falling to 96th place in 2022.
  • Damascus and Tripoli at the Bottom: Damascus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya occupied the bottom positions on the list, similar to the previous year, indicating significant challenges in terms of liveability.

Global Gender Gap Report 2023

On 20th June 2023, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published the 17th edition of the Global Gender Gap Index, which serves as a benchmark for measuring gender parity across 146 countries.

Key Findings of the report.

  • Health and Survival: India has a significant gender gap in health and survival, with a sex ratio at birth of 92.7% compared to the top-scoring countries at 94.4%.This indicates the need for ongoing efforts to ensure equal health outcomes for girls and boys in India.
  • Overall Gender Parity: The overall gender parity in India stands at 64.3%.
  • Education: India has achieved parity in enrolment across all levels of education.
  • Economic Participation and Opportunity: India falls short in achieving gender parity in economic participation and opportunity, with only 36.7% parity in this area.
  • Political Empowerment: In terms of political empowerment, India has made some progress with 25.3% gender parity.
  • However, women still make up only 15.1% of Members of Parliament (MPs).
  • Representation in Local Governance: The report mentions that out of 117 countries with available data since 2017, India is one of 18 countries that have achieved women's representation of over 40% in local governance.
  • Overall Global Gender Gap: The global gender gap score for all 146 countries in the index is 68.4% closed, indicating that there is still a significant gender gap worldwide. The score improved by 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous year.
  • Countries with Highest Gender Parity: No country has achieved full gender parity yet. The top nine countries with the highest gender parity are Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, and Lithuania. Iceland continues to be the top-ranking country, with a gender gap score of 91.2%.
  • Regional Gender Parity: Europe surpasses North America to rank first among the eight geographic regions in terms of gender parity, with a score of 76.3%. The Middle East and North Africa region remains the furthest away from parity, with a score of 62.6%.
  • Gender Gaps in the Labor Market: Women's participation in the global labor market has slightly improved, but significant disparities still exist. The labor-force participation rate parity increased from 63% to 64% between 2022 and 2023.
  • However, women continue to face higher unemployment rates than men, and a significant portion of the employment recovery since 2020 is attributed to informal employment.
  • Workforce Representation: Women's representation in senior leadership positions remains lower than in the overall workforce. Globally, women account for 41.9% of the workforce but only 32.2% of senior leadership positions.
  • The representation of women in C-suite positions is even lower at 25%. (Note:C-suite typically include titles such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), among others)
  • Gender Gaps in STEM: Women are significantly underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations.
  • While they make up nearly half of total employment across non-STEM occupations, they account for only 29.2% of all STEM workers. The retention of women in STEM fields after graduation is also a challenge, with lower representation in high-level leadership roles.
  • Gender Gaps in Future Skills: Online learning platforms offer opportunities for acquiring future skills, but there are gender gaps in access and enrollment. Disparities exist in enrollment across various skill categories, with technology skills showing significant gender gaps.

New Collective Quantified Goal

Recently, the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) has gained significant prominence as a crucial component of the climate finance framework.

  • Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the establishment of the NCQG represents a pivotal step towards setting a new financial goal for climate financing before 2025.

Key Points about the NCQG in the Climate Finance Framework

  • Significance: The NCQG has emerged as a crucial aspect of climate finance, aiming to set a new financial goal for climate financing before 2025.
  • Paris Agreement: The NCQG was established under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, signifying its importance in aligning financial commitments with climate action.
  • Addressing Developing Nations' Needs: The goal of the NCQG is to address the financial needs and priorities of developing nations in their efforts to combat climate change.
  • Beyond $100 Billion: The NCQG seeks to surpass the previously pledged amount of $100 billion per year until 2020, recognizing the inadequate funding to tackle climate challenges.
  • Evolving Challenges: Climate change requires substantial financial resources, potentially amounting to trillions of dollars, necessitating a new financial goal.
  • Bridging the Funding Gap: The NCQG aims to bridge the funding gap by providing a more accurate representation of the resources needed for effective climate action.
  • Mitigation, Adaptation, and Loss & Damage: The NCQG covers various dimensions of climate finance, including mitigation, adaptation, and addressing loss and damage caused by climate impacts.
  • Transparency and Accountability: The NCQG emphasizes the importance of transparent reporting, clear definitions, and sources of climate finance to enhance trust and accountability.
  • Inclusive Approach: The NCQG considers the unique circumstances and vulnerabilities of different countries, aiming to ensure an inclusive and comprehensive approach to climate finance.
  • Mobilizing Resources: By establishing a robust and equitable financial framework, the NCQG aims to mobilize the necessary resources for climate action and support the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook 2023

Recently, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its Yearbook 2023, which provides comprehensive insights into global security and arms control.

  • China's Nuclear Arsenal Expansion: SIPRI reports a significant increase in China's nuclear arsenal, which grew from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 warheads in January 2023.
  • This expansion raises concerns as it contradicts China's stated goal of maintaining minimum nuclear forces for national security.
  • Potential ICBM Equality with the US and Russia: Depending on the future structuring of its forces, China could potentially possess as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either the United States or Russia by the end of the decade.
  • This projection emphasizes China's growing capabilities and impact on global nuclear dynamics.
  • India and Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal Expansion: SIPRI highlights the expansion of nuclear arsenals in India and Pakistan. Both countries introduced and developed new types of nuclear delivery systems in 2022.
  • While Pakistan remains India's primary nuclear deterrent focus, India appears to be placing increasing emphasis on longer-range weapons capable of reaching targets in China.
  • Global Nuclear Modernization: SIPRI notes that all nine nuclear-armed states, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
  • In 2022, these countries deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems, indicating ongoing efforts to enhance their capabilities.
  • Global Nuclear Stockpiles: The SIPRI assessment estimates a total of 12,512 nuclear warheads globally in January 2023. Approximately 9,576 warheads were in military stockpiles for potential use, marking an increase of 86 warheads compared to January 2022. The United States and Russia possess nearly 90% of all nuclear weapons.
  • Decline in Transparency: Transparency regarding nuclear forces declined following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This event had an impact on the transparency of nuclear forces in both the United States and Russia, making it more challenging to assess the true size and capabilities of their respective arsenals.
  • Suspension of Arms Control Dialogues: In response to the conflict in Ukraine, the United States suspended its bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Russia.
  • Furthermore, in February 2023, Russia announced its suspension of participation in the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).

Global Trends in Forced Displacement 2022

Recently, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released the Global Trends Report 2022. This report provides crucial insights and data on the current state of forced displacement worldwide.

Key Findings

  • Forcibly Displaced People: Forcibly displaced people Number reached 108.4 million at the end of 2022, a 21% increase from the previous year. Largest ever increase in forced displacement according to UNHCR's statistics.
  • Location of Forcibly Displaced People: Nearly 90% located in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Conflict in Ukraine: Conflict in Ukraine resulted in fastest and largest displacement crisis since World War II.5.7 million refugees fled the country in less than a year.
  • Global Refugee Population: Under UNHCR's mandate, Global refugee population increased by one-third to reach 29.4 million by the end of 2022.
  • New Asylum Applications: New asylum applications reached a record high of 2.6 million in 2022. United States received the largest number of applications.
  • Internal Displacement: 58% of forcibly displaced people remain in their own country. 28 million new internal displacements recorded in 2022 due to conflict and violence.
  • Resettlement of Refugees: Resettlement of refugees Doubled in 2022 but still accounted for only a fraction of the projected 1.5 million refugees in need of resettlement.
  • Ongoing Conflicts And New Crises In 2023: Somalia and Sudan experiencing crises that force people to flee their homes.
  • Situation in Sudan: Devastating effects on civilian population in Sudan. Over 3.5 million internally displaced Sudanese and 1.1 million refugees hosted in the country.

Gender Social Norms Index

On June 12, 2023, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the 2023 Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI), shedding light on the prevailing biases against women around the world.

Key Findings

  • Biased Gender Social Norms: Biased gender social norms pose a significant obstacle to achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These norms undervalue women's capabilities and rights, limiting their choices and opportunities.
  • Global Prevalence: Gender bias is prevalent globally. The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures biases against women across four dimensions: political, educational, economic, and physical integrity. The index reveals that nearly 9 out of 10 men and women hold biases against women.
  • Approximately half of the world's population believes that men make better political leaders, and two out of five people believe that men make better business executives.
  • Global Issue: Gender biases persist across regions, income levels, and cultures, making them a global issue. These biases are evident in both lower and higher Human Development Index (HDI) countries.
  • Stagnation of Progress: The GSNI values have stagnated over the past decade, indicating limited overall progress in challenging biased gender social norms. Despite powerful campaigns for women's rights, such as Me Too, and Time's Up, little progress has been made.
  • Economic Implications: Biased gender social norms hinder women's economic empowerment. Recent evidence suggests a broken link between women's access to education and their achievements in economic empowerment.
  • Educational Disparities: Income gaps between women and men are more strongly correlated with measures of gender social norms than with educational disparities. Countries with higher bias in gender social norms tend to witness a disproportionate burden on women for domestic chores and care work.
  • Political Representation: Despite the removal of many formal barriers to women holding political office in most countries, gender gaps in political representation persist.
  • The share of women as heads of state or government has remained around 10 percent worldwide since 1995, and women hold just over a quarter of parliament seats globally.
  • Women leaders often face harsher judgment than their male counterparts, and changes in social norms can either foster greater acceptance of women's leadership or stronger backlash against it.
  • Societal Impact: Biased gender social norms not only limit women's freedoms and choices but also deprive societies of the benefits of women's leadership. Social norms that inhibit women's representation in decision-making prevent the inclusion of diverse perspectives, experiences, abilities, voices, and ideas.
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