Current Affairs - Survey And Index

Global Non-profit ATNI Launches India Index 2023

Recently, Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), a prominent non-profit organization, collaborated with Consumer Voice and Confederation of Indian Industry to unveil the India Index 2023, evaluating 20 major food and beverage manufacturers in India.

Key Points

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: The India Index 2023 assesses 20 prominent food and beverage manufacturers, including 14 listed on Indian or international stock exchanges, aiming to catalyze market transformation for improved nutrition access.
  • Business Boom in India: The food sector in India is experiencing significant growth, with the government targeting a doubling of the food processing sector's contribution to GDP by 2030. Indian household consumption is expected to quadruple by 2030.
  • Rapid Economic Growth and Dietary Transition: India's food processing industry, now the sixth-largest globally, is projected to reach INR 40.1 trillion (USD 480 billion) by 2026.
  • The nation's economic growth is accompanied by a shift in dietary patterns and increased consumption of processed foods.
  • Health Landscape: Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in India, with over 23% of adults overweight and 35.5% of children under five experiencing stunted growth.
  • Additionally, 3.4% of children under 5 face early-onset overweight issues, highlighting health challenges compared to developed nations.
  • Government's Vision: The Government of India aims to boost the food processing sector, responding to the surge in packaged F&B sales, which have grown by 15% annually since 2011, surpassing total food sales.
  • Global Initiative for Market Transformation: ATNI's global initiative focuses on catalyzing market transformation to address nutritional challenges, aligning with India's evolving economic landscape and dietary shifts.
  • The India Index serves as a benchmark for the nutritional performance of leading F&B manufacturers.

Bengaluru Leads with 1,783 Women-Led Startups

Amid India's burgeoning startup landscape, Bengaluru emerges as the hub for women-led startups, boasting 1,783 ventures, surpassing Mumbai (1,480) and Delhi (1,195), according to Tracxn data.

  • Despite Karnataka's progressive policies fostering risk-taking, the gender gap persists, prompting initiatives like grants and fellowships to support women founders.

Key Points

  • Startup Ecosystem Dynamics: India's startup ecosystem has grown to become the world's third-largest, with over 61,400 startups, trailing only the US and China in global rankings.
  • Policy Framework Support: Karnataka stands out as the first state to provide a grant-in-aid of Rs 50 lakh to encourage early-stage funding for startups without taking equity, with 30% of recipients being women founders.
  • Top Women-Led Startups: Tracxn identifies Zomato, Byju’s, OfBusiness, Upstox, Lenskart, and Open among the top 10 women-led startups in India.
  • Funding Landscape: The funding landscape for women-led startups has witnessed a surge, with rounds increasing from 171 in 2014 to 460 in 2022. However, in 2023, the number dropped to 185, and funding decreased from 183 startups in 2014 to just 7 in the current year.
  • Women-Led Unicorns: From 2008 to 2018, 14 women-led unicorns emerged. Bengaluru-based neobank Open, Nykaa, Mamaearth, Hasura, Pristyn Care, OfBusiness, Mobikwik, The Good Glamm Group, and Livspace are among the unicorns with at least one woman co-founder.
  • Shift in Funding Trends: While the number of rounds and funding into women-led startups surged in recent years, 2023 witnessed a decline, emphasizing the need for sustained support for women entrepreneurs in India's dynamic startup ecosystem.

UN Report Reveals Hidden Costs and Benefits of Global Agrifood Systems

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recently introduced a framework to assess the hidden costs and benefits of agrifood systems, aiming to guide these systems toward greater sustainability.

Key Points

  • Global Challenges: The FAO emphasizes the need to appreciate all food producers and understand the true costs of agrifood systems.
  • They state that various global challenges, such as food availability, accessibility, affordability, the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, economic slowdowns, and poverty, are interconnected and require a holistic approach.
  • Impact of Unhealthy Diets: The report highlights that over 70 percent of hidden costs are driven by unhealthy diets high in ultra-processed foods, fats, and sugars.
  • These diets lead to obesity and non-communicable diseases, resulting in labour productivity losses, particularly in wealthier nations.
  • Environmental Costs: About one-fifth of the total hidden costs are environment-related, including greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, land-use change, and water use.
  • These costs affect all countries, indicating a global environmental impact.
  • Vulnerable Low-Income Nations: Low-income countries bear a significant burden of hidden costs, amounting to over a quarter of their GDP. Poverty and undernourishment are the most significant contributors to these costs in these nations.
  • True Cost Accounting: The report calls for more in-depth and frequent analysis by governments and the private sector, using true cost accounting.
  • FAO's Commitment: The FAO plans to dedicate two consecutive editions of the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report to this theme, focusing on targeted assessments for mitigation strategies, including taxation, subsidies, and legislation.
  • The FAO encourages governments to use "true cost" accounting to address issues like the climate crisis, poverty, inequality, and food security.

India's Income Inequality Persists Despite Reduction in Multidimensional Poverty

India has been identified as one of the countries with high income and wealth inequality, according to the recent 2024 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Key Points

  • Reduction in Multidimensional Poverty: The report highlights that between 2015 and 16 and 2019-21, India made progress in reducing multidimensional poverty, with the percentage of the population living in such conditions decreasing from 25% to 15%.
  • Persistent Income and Wealth Inequality: Despite reductions in multidimensional poverty, India continues to grapple with high income and wealth inequality.
  • The top 10% of the population receives 57% of the national income, and the top 1% controls 22% of it, making it one of the most unequal income distributions.
  • Wealth disparities are also substantial, with the top 10% controlling 65% of the nation's total wealth. Wealth inequality has shown a significant rise, particularly in the post-2000 period.
  • Regional Concentration of Poverty: The report underscores that poverty remains concentrated in states where 45% of the population resides but contains 62% of the poor.
  • It also highlights that many individuals are on the brink of poverty, including women, informal workers, and inter-state migrants. Women represent only 23% of the labour force.
  • India's Contribution to Global Middle Class: The report notes that India plays a substantial role in the growth of the global middle class, accounting for 24% of the growth, equivalent to 192 million people.
  • Regional Income Disparities: The Asia-Pacific region is expected to contribute two-thirds of global economic growth.
  • However, the report observes that income and wealth disparities are increasing, particularly in South Asia, where the wealthiest 10% control over half of total income.

Food Safety Scores Decline in Most Large Indian States

In the latest State Food Safety Index (SFSI) report by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the majority of large Indian states witnessed a decline in their food safety scores, with Maharashtra experiencing the most significant drop over a five-year period.

Key Points

  • SFSI Scores Decline for Most Large States: The 2023 SFSI scores for 19 out of 20 large Indian states, including Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have fallen compared to their 2019 scores.
  • After adjusting for a new parameter introduced in the 2023 index, 15 out of 20 states recorded lower scores in 2023 compared to 2019.
  • Maharashtra Sees Sharpest Drop: Maharashtra witnessed the steepest decline in food safety scores over five years, with a score of 45 out of 100 in 2023, down from 74 out of 100 in 2019.
  • Other states, such as Bihar and Gujarat, also experienced significant drops in their scores.
  • Decline in 'Food Testing Infrastructure' Parameter: The 'Food Testing Infrastructure' parameter recorded the worst decline over five years, with an average score dropping from 13 points out of 20 in 2019 to 7 points out of 17 in 2023.
  • Several states, including Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat, saw lower scores in this parameter.
  • SFSI Evaluation Parameters: SFSI scores are calculated based on five parameters: 'Human Resources and Institutional Data,' 'Compliance,' 'Food Testing Infrastructure,' 'Training and Capacity Building,' and 'Consumer Empowerment.'
  • Introduction of 'Improvement in SFSI Rank' Parameter: In the 2023 index, a new parameter called 'Improvement in SFSI Rank' was introduced, assessing the improvement in each state's rank from the previous year.
  • Weightages of other parameters were adjusted to accommodate this new parameter without exceeding a total score of 100.

India Slips to 45th Position in Global Pension Index, 2023

India has fallen from the 41st position among 44 countries in the 2022 Global Pension Index to the 45th position among 47 countries in 2023.

  • This decline in the global ranking was revealed in an index published by Mercer, a United States-based consulting company, in collaboration with the not-for-profit organization CFA Institute

Key Points

  • Comprehensive Index Criteria: The Global Pension Index assesses retirement income systems in 47 countries, taking into account more than 50 indicators. It comprises three sub-indices: adequacy, sustainability, and integrity.
  • Adequacy Sub-Index: The adequacy sub-index evaluates the sufficiency of benefits provided by the pension system.
  • Sustainability Sub-Index: The sustainability sub-index examines the likelihood of the pension system's ability to provide benefits in the future.
  • Integrity Sub-Index: The integrity sub-index considers legislative requirements influencing the governance and operations of the pension system and the level of public trust in it.
  • Marginal Score Improvement: India's score in the Global Pension Index has marginally improved, rising from 44.4 in the previous year to 45.9 in the latest report.
  • Components of India's Pension System: The report highlights that India's retirement income system consists of an earnings-related employee pension scheme, a defined contribution (DC) employee provident fund (EPFO), and supplementary employer-managed pension schemes, which are mostly DC in nature.
  • Government schemes have been introduced as part of the universal social security program, particularly aimed at the unorganized sector.
  • Areas for Improvement: The report suggests that India can enhance its pension system by improving minimum support, expanding pension coverage to unorganized sector workers, and strengthening regulatory requirements for the private pension system.
  • Top Performers: The Netherlands leads the Global Pension Index with a score of 85, followed by Iceland at 83.5 and Denmark at 81.3.

Global Remote Work Index

India, once considered a favorable location for remote work, is now facing challenges in this domain, according to recent research by cybersecurity company NordLayer.

  • The Global Remote Work Index (GRWI) ranks India at 64, marking a significant drop of 15 places from the previous year.

Key Points

  • Index Evaluation: The GRWI evaluates countries based on several criteria, including cyber safety, economic safety, digital and physical infrastructure, and social safety.
  • Top 10 Countries for Remote Work: The top 10 countries for remote work, according to the index, are Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Estonia, Lithuania, Ireland, and Slovakia.
  • India's Position: India secures the 49th spot in the GRWI but lags behind due to poor performance across all dimensions, particularly in digital and physical infrastructure (77) and social safety (74).
  • India's e-infrastructure ranks low at 95, reflecting challenges in both affordability (78t) and quality (70) of internet connection.
  • Cyber and Economic Safety: In terms of cyber and economic safety, India achieves a mediocre performance (56 and 55, respectively).
  • While it stands as one of the most affordable destinations with the third lowest cost of living, healthcare (93) falls short of appealing standards.
  • India maintains a reasonable standing in cyber infrastructure (13) and response capacity (19).
  • Regional Perspective: Compared to its neighboring countries, India outperforms both Pakistan (93) and Nepal (89).
  • India's cyber infrastructure (13) surpasses Pakistan (62) and Nepal (78), and its tourism attractiveness (13) sets it apart, with Pakistan (18) and Nepal (22) trailing behind.
  • Cost of Living Advantage: India's most significant advantage lies in its cost-of-living index (3), second only to Pakistan (1).
  • However, it's noted that English proficiency in India is subpar (58), suggesting that India remains more suitable for holidays than remote work.
  • Index Dimensions: The GRWI used four dimensions to assess remote work attractiveness, including cyber safety (infrastructure, response capacity, and legal measures), economic safety (tourism attractiveness, English language proficiency, cost of living, and healthcare), digital and physical infrastructure (internet quality, affordability, e-infrastructure, e-government, and physical infrastructure), and social safety (personal rights, inclusiveness, and safety).

India Surpasses UK and Japan in Mobile Speed Rankings

Recently, India has outpaced developed nations like the UK and Japan in mobile speed, with its performance surging 3.59 times due to the introduction of 5G services.

Key Points

  • Outperforming Neighbours and G20 Countries: India has also surpassed its neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, as well as several G20 nations, including the UK, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa.
  • Speed Increase: Since the introduction of 5G, median download speeds in India have surged from 13.87 Mbps in September 2022 to 50.21 Mbps in August 2023, marking a substantial enhancement in user experience.
  • Global Index Rise: This improvement has propelled India from the 119th position to the 47th position in the Speedtest Global Index.
  • Enhanced User Experience: The deployment of 5G has led to an overall improvement in the user experience across all telecom circles, with significant investments in backhaul infrastructure by telecom operators.
  • Jio and Airtel: Major telecom providers like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have contributed significantly to the increase in 5G subscribers, having initiated 5G technology deployment since October 2022 following the acquisition of 5G spectrum licenses.

India Maintains 40th Rank in Global Innovation Index 2023

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).

Key Points

  • 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.

Global Debt Surges to Record $307 Trillion in Q2 despite Rising Interest Rates

According to a recent study, global debt reached an all-time high of $307 trillion during the second quarter of the year, even as rising interest rates slowed bank credit growth.

Key Points

  • Record Global Debt: Despite the impact of increasing interest rates on bank lending, global debt in dollar terms has surged by $10 trillion in the first half of 2023 and by a staggering $100 trillion over the past decade.
  • Rising Debt-to-GDP Ratio: The latest increase has pushed the global debt-to-GDP ratio higher for a second consecutive quarter, reaching 336%. Prior to 2023, this ratio had been declining for seven quarters.
  • Factors behind Rising Debt Ratio: Slower economic growth and a slowdown in price inflation were cited as the main drivers of the rising debt ratio.
  • The sudden surge in inflation had previously led to a sharp decline in the debt ratio over the past two years.
  • Origins of Debt Build-Up: Over 80% of the recent debt accumulation originated in developed countries, with the United States, Japan, Britain, and France witnessing the largest increases. Among emerging markets, China, India, and Brazil contributed significantly to the debt rise.
  • Impact on Government Interest Expenses: As interest rates rise alongside higher debt levels, domestic debt pressures will intensify, particularly concerning government interest expenses.
  • Impact on Emerging Markets: Prolonged high rates in the United States could direct necessary investments toward less-risky developed nations, potentially pressuring emerging markets.
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