India has retained its 40th position among 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2023, as recently reported by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- India's Consistent Improvement: India's steady climb in the GII ranking is attributed to its rich knowledge capital, a thriving startup ecosystem, and remarkable contributions from both public and private research organizations.
- NITI Aayog highlighted its efforts to drive policy-led innovation in various sectors, including electric vehicles, biotechnology, nanotechnology, space, and alternative energy sources.
- India's Standing among Middle-Income Economies: WIPO's report noted that, apart from India, only four other middle-income economies are in the top 40, including China (12th), Malaysia (36th), Bulgaria (38th), and Türkiye (39th).
- India also leads as the top innovation economy among lower-middle-income countries, with Vietnam and Ukraine following suit.
- Innovation Overperformers: India, the Republic of Moldova, and Vietnam have consistently outperformed in innovation for 13 consecutive years, according to the report.
- Global Unicorn Distribution: The report highlighted that five economies host 80 percent of the world's unicorns: the US (54 percent), China (14 percent), India (6 percent), the United Kingdom (4 percent), and Germany (2 percent).
- Out of a total unicorn valuation of $3.8 trillion in 2023, the US held $2 trillion, followed by China with $736 billion and India with $193 billion.
- Government and Innovation Ecosystem: Various government departments, including scientific ones like the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Biotechnology, and the Department of Space, have contributed significantly to India's innovation ecosystem.
- Initiatives such as the Atal Innovation Mission have played a pivotal role in expanding the innovation landscape.
About the Global Innovation Index (GII)
- An annual publication measuring an economy's innovation performance.
- Widely used by numerous countries to evaluate and enhance their innovation ecosystems.
- Recognized by the UN Economic and Social Council as a benchmark for measuring innovation in relation to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Indicators of the GII
- Parameters include 'institutions', 'human capital and research', 'infrastructure', 'market sophistication', 'business sophistication', 'knowledge and technology outputs', and 'creative outputs'.
About WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
- Global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information, and cooperation.
- A self-funding agency of the United Nations with 193 member states.
- Aims to develop an equitable international IP system fostering innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.
- Established in 1967 under the WIPO Convention, outlining its mandate, governing bodies, and procedures.
On 28th Sept, Taiwan's president inaugurated the island's inaugural domestically manufactured submarine, commencing testing activities at a port in Kaohsiung.
- U.S. Influence on Asymmetric Warfare: The United States has encouraged Taiwan to develop asymmetric warfare strategies, emphasizing investments in smaller and lighter weapons like the reduced-size submarine.
- This strategy aligns with Taiwan's efforts to bolster its military capabilities.
- Challenges and Construction Process: Following seven years of design and construction, the prototype will undergo testing in the harbour before venturing into the open sea.
- The submarine, named Hai Kun after a legendary Chinese fish, will be officially handed over to the military after successfully completing both harbour and ocean-faring tests.
- Taiwan plans to construct an additional submarine if the prototype proves successful, with both intended for deployment by 2027.
- Origins of Taiwan's Submarine Initiative: Taiwan initiated the challenging task of building its own submarines after encountering obstacles from Beijing, which prevented foreign purchases through economic and diplomatic pressures.
- China's increased military activities near Taiwan have prompted the island nation to enhance its defence capabilities.
- China's Response and Military Exercises: China's Defence Ministry expressed disapproval of Taiwan's submarine project, viewing it as detrimental to the prospect of reunification.
On 28th Sept, Union Minister Shri Piyush Goyal emphasized the pivotal role of industry and institutes in advancing India's technical textiles sector during the 7th Meeting of the Mission Steering Group (MSG) of National Technical Textiles Mission.
- Diverse R&D Projects Approved: The Ministry of Textiles sanctioned 18 research and development (R&D) projects during the 7th MSG meeting, with a total value of INR 46.74 crores.
- These projects span critical domains of technical textiles, including Geotech, Protech, Indutech, Sustainable Textiles, Sportech, Smart E-Textiles, and Meditech segments.
- Project Breakdown: Among the 18 approved projects, 14 are categorized as high-value projects, while 3 fall under the Prototype Grant projects, and 1 is an Ideation Grant project.
- These initiatives encompass a wide range of applications within technical textiles, with specific allocations for various sectors.
- Education and Skill Development: Progress in education, training, and skill development was also on the agenda. A total of 26 applications from 15 public and 11 private institutes, amounting to INR 151.02 crores, were approved to enhance technical textiles education and training.
Recent claims by Canadian Prime Minister, linking the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil to the Indian government, have drawn attention to the intelligence-sharing alliance 'Five Eyes,' which is believed to have played a role in Canada's accusations against India.
- 'Five Eyes' Intelligence Sharing Network: The 'Five Eyes' is a collaborative intelligence-sharing network comprising over 20 agencies from five English-speaking nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- This alliance primarily focuses on surveillance and signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations.
- Classified documents exchanged among member countries are labelled 'Secret—AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US Eyes Only,' giving rise to the name 'Five Eyes.'
- Origin and Evolution: Formed around the time of World War II, this alliance was initially aimed at countering the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
- The foundation of 'Five Eyes' was formalized through the British-U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement (BRUSA), later known as the UKUSA Agreement, in 1946.
- Canada joined in 1948, while Australia and New Zealand became members in 1956.
- The existence of this intelligence-sharing network remained top-secret for several decades, with Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam learning about it only in 1973.
- Operations and Coverage: Initially focused on signals intelligence, the alliance's scope has expanded to address contemporary global challenges such as terrorism and China's increasing influence.
- Member countries have designated areas of responsibility for SIGINT activities. For example, the United States handles Russia, northern China, most of Asia, and Latin America, while Australia manages southern China, Indo-China, and neighbouring regions like Indonesia.
- The 'Five Eyes' has diversified its involvement in various areas, including ocean surveillance, defence intelligence, counterterrorism, and intelligence sharing through a collective database called 'Stone Ghost.'
- Recent Concerns and Criticisms: Concerns have arisen regarding privacy, security, and the operations of this secretive alliance.
- Critics argue that these agreements lack a legal foundation, bypassing domestic legislation and oversight. The "third party rule" in intelligence-sharing agreements restricts disclosure to third parties and oversight, raising democratic legitimacy concerns.
A recent official statement reveals that six infrastructure projects, involving roads and railways and amounting to Rs 52,000 crore, have been proposed for approval within the framework of the PM Gati Shakti initiative.
- Review in 56th NPG Meeting: During the 56th Network Planning Group (NPG) meeting held on September 27; six infrastructure projects underwent assessment.
- These projects include four from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and two from the Ministry of Railways.
- Integrated Planning for Infrastructure: The NPG, an inter-ministerial body, conducts bi-weekly meetings to evaluate infrastructure projects.
- It follows a multi-modal approach, emphasizing coordinated efforts and comprehensive development in project areas.
- PM Gati Shakti Initiative: The PM Gati Shakti initiative aims to establish an integrated infrastructure system with the goal of reducing logistics costs.
- All logistics and connectivity infrastructure projects exceeding Rs 500 crore must go through NPG assessment and approval.
- Approval Process: Approval from the NPG is a prerequisite before projects can be cleared by the Public Investment Board (PIB) or the Department of Expenditure under the Ministry of Finance.
- The majority of projects reviewed by the group typically relate to roads, railways, and urban development.
- Role of NPG: The Network Planning Group consolidates various layers of geospatial data, combining physical and social infrastructure information with land records.
- This streamlined approach expedites planning and design phases, optimizing the impact of investments.
- Collaboration across Ministries: NPG includes representatives from multiple ministries and departments responsible for connectivity infrastructure.
- Heads of network planning divisions from these departments collaborate for unified planning and proposal integration.
India's current account deficit (CAD) in the first quarter of 2023-24 has decreased to $9.2 billion, equivalent to 1.1% of GDP, as recently reported by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- CAD Overview: The current account deficit (CAD) occurs when the value of imports of goods, services, and investment incomes exceeds the value of exports.
- In Q1 2023-24, the CAD narrowed to $9.2 billion, although it remained higher than the $1.3 billion recorded in the preceding quarter.
- Factors Contributing to CAD Change: The quarter-on-quarter widening of CAD was primarily attributed to an increased trade deficit, coupled with a decrease in net services surplus and private transfer receipts.
- Trade Deficit Impact: The lower trade deficit of $56.6 billion, compared to $63 billion in the previous year, significantly contributed to the improvement in CAD.
- This improvement was attributed to declining global commodity prices in the current fiscal year.
- Future Trends and Projections: Economists anticipate potential changes in CAD trends due to factors such as fluctuating crude oil prices, foreign portfolio investments (FPI) inflows, external commercial borrowings (ECBs), and foreign direct investments (FDI).
On 27 September, 2023, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notification amending the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, introducing procedures for Multi-System Operator (MSO) registration renewals.
- Amended Rules for MSO Registration: MSOs must apply for registration or renewal through the Broadcast Seva Portal of MIB.
- Registration or renewal will be granted for ten years.
- A processing fee of Rs. One lakh is applicable for renewal.
- Renewal applications must be submitted within seven to two months before the existing registration expires.
- The revised procedure aims to enhance the ease of doing business and offer certainty to cable operators, encouraging foreign investment in the sector.
- Infrastructure Sharing Provision: The amendment introduces a provision for cable operators to share infrastructure with broadband service providers.
- This initiative aims to boost internet penetration and optimize resource utilization, reducing the need for additional broadband infrastructure.
On 28th Sept, Union Minister has introduced 'CRIIIO 4 GOOD,' an online life skill learning initiative, in collaboration with the International Cricket Council, UNICEF, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
- Promoting Gender Equality through Cricket: The program leverages the popularity of cricket to empower girls and boys with life skills and raise awareness about gender equity.
- CRIIIO 4 GOOD Modules: 'CRIIIO 4 GOOD' comprises eight cricket-based animation films designed to promote gender parity, equip girls with essential life skills, and encourage sports participation.
- These modules are designed to engage and educate young audiences, emphasizing life skills and gender equality.
- The program is accessible free of charge on criiio.com/criiio4good in English, Hindi, and Gujarati.
- Themes of Learning Modules: The eight modules cover various life skills such as leadership, problem-solving, confidence, decision-making, negotiation, empathy, teamwork, and goal setting.
- They use cricketing examples and state-of-the-art animation to make the content engaging and relatable.
- In-depth research into local nuances ensures the content resonates with the target audience.
Russia is recently aiming to regain a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a significant move that will test its global reputation following its expulsion from the council last year due to its actions in Ukraine.
- Previous Expulsion: Russia was removed from the UN Human Rights Council in April 2022 after its military intervention in Ukraine.
- Renewed Effort: Russian diplomats are now seeking re-election to the council for a fresh three-year term.
- Vote Date: The vote for Russia's re-election will occur next month.
- Document Details: A position paper circulated by Russia to UN members outlines its commitment to address human rights issues and prevent the council from serving the political interests of specific countries, likely referring to Western nations.
- Seeking Credibility: Russia aims to restore some international credibility after facing accusations of human rights violations both in Ukraine and domestically.
- Latest Findings: The UN's Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine presented evidence of war crimes, including torture, rape, and attacks on civilians, to the Human Rights Council.
- Russia's Human Rights Situation: A recent report by the UN's special rapporteur for Russia highlighted a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in Russia, with critics of the invasion facing arbitrary arrest, torture, and ill-treatment.
- Upcoming Elections: Russia will compete with Albania and Bulgaria for the two seats designated for central and eastern European countries in the upcoming October 10th elections.
- Voting Process: All 193 members of the UN General Assembly in New York will participate in the vote, with Russia reportedly campaigning aggressively and offering incentives to smaller countries in exchange for their votes.
- Report Findings: Campaign groups including UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights have stated that Russia is "unqualified" for HRC membership due to its ongoing actions in Ukraine.
- UK's Stance: The UK strongly opposes Russia's bid to rejoin the Human Rights Council, citing extensive evidence of human rights abuses in Ukraine and against Russian citizens.
- Calls to Uphold UN Values: Critics argue that Russia's potential return would undermine the credibility of the UN and its commitment to human rights.
UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
- Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006.
- Replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) serves as the Secretariat of the HRC.
- OHCHR is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Comprised of 47 United Nations Member States.
- Elected by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
- Membership criteria include contributions to human rights promotion and protection, voluntary pledges, and commitments.
- Seats distributed based on equitable geographical distribution:
- African States: 13 seats
- Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
- Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
- Western European and other States: 7 seats
- Eastern European States: 6 seats
- Members serve for three years and cannot be immediately re-elected after two consecutive terms.
Procedures and Mechanisms
- Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
- Evaluates human rights situations in all UN Member States.
- Advisory Committee
- Acts as the council's "think tank."
- Provides expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues.
- Complaint Procedure
- Allows individuals and organizations to report human rights violations to the council.
- UN Special Procedures
- Comprises special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts, and working groups.
- Monitors, examines, advises, and reports on thematic human rights issues or specific country situations.
On 27th Sept, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, inaugurated the Capacity Building Plan (CBP) for Government employees at the DoPT headquarters in New Delhi.
- Skills Enhancement: The Capacity Building Plan (CBP) is a new initiative by Indian Prime Minister aimed at training officers and optimizing their deployment based on acquired competencies.
- Induction Training: The Karmayogi Prarambh module has been integrated into the induction training for all government employees, including new recruits who joined through the Rozgar Mela.
- iGOT Training Modules: The Capacity Building Commission (CBC) has introduced iGOT training modules catering to government employees at all levels, from ASO to JS, and select courses even for Secretaries.
- Skill Commonality: Around 80% of the skills covered are related to functional and behavioural aspects, with the remaining 20% being domain-specific tasks and roles.
- Transformation Objective: The Mission Karmayogi and iGOT aim to transform government employees into efficient and skilled individuals.