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World Population Prospects 2019

Paper : General Studies 1

Topic : population and associated issues


Why in the news?

  • India is set to overtake China as the most populous country by 2027 and will have almost 1.64 billion inhabitants by 2050 according to the World Population Prospects 2019.
  • The report also said that South Asia’s opportunity to reap the “demographic dividend” will peak by 2047.
  • India is expected to add 273 million people by 2050, which will be the largest national increase in the world. China, on the other hand, is expected to become smaller, dropping from its current 1.43 billion people to approximately 1.4 billion by 2050.
  • The Central and the Southern Asia region, of which India is a part, is expected to see a 25% increase in population between now and 2050.
  • India is still among the countries where the working-age population (25-64 years) is growing faster than other groups, creating an opportunity for accelerated economic growth.
  • Globally, it’s the post-working-age group that is growing the fastest. By 2050, one in six people will be above 65, compared with one in 11 people in 2019. In 2018, for the first time in history, people above 65 outnumbered children under five years of age. By 2050, the number of people over 80 is expected to triple to 426 million.
  • This trend has also led to falling proportions of working-age people to support an ageing population. By 2050, almost 50 countries are expected to have less than two working-age people to support every person above 65.
  • The rate of population growth is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where the fertility rate stands at 4.6 births per woman over a lifetime. The region is expected to double its population by mid-century. Nigeria is expected to add 200 million people over the next three decades and overtake the U.S. to become the third most populous nation.
  • The report estimates that the next 30 years will see the global population add an extra 2 billion people to today’s figure of 7.7 billion, and, by the end of the century, the planet will have to sustain around 11 billion.


What is the World Population Prospects?

It is a publication of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations Secretariat.


Speaker of the Lok Sabha

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic :  Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Why in the news?

NDA has nominated BJP MP Om Birla for the election to the position of Speaker of the Lok Sabha.


Who is the Speaker of the Lok Sabha?

  • The Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha is known as the Speaker.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha is elected from amongst its members. Whenever the office of the Speaker falls vacant, the Lok Sabha elects another member to fill the vacancy.
  • The date of the election of the Speaker is fixed by the President.
  • The Speaker remains in office during the duration of the Lok Sabha. However, when the Lok Sabha is dissolved, the Speaker does not vacate his office and continues till the newly elected Lok Sabha meets.
  • The Speaker can be removed from his office by a resolution passed by a majority of all members of the Lok Sabha.
  • His salary and allowances are fixed by the Parliament and are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha and its representative. He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, the House as a whole and its committees.
  • He is the Principal spokesperson of the House and his decision in all Parliamentary matters is final.
  • He derives his Powers and duties from three sources – Constitution of India, Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha and Parliamentary Convention.


Monitoring Report by UNICEF and WHO on sanitation

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Why in the news?

  • A monitoring report by UN organisations released on Tuesday shows that there has been absolutely no growth in the population with access to piped water facilities over that period, while large inequalities remain between rural and urban areas.
  • As for drinking water, the Joint Monitoring Programme report by UNICEF and WHO shows that India has increased the percentage of its population with access to a protected drinking water source less than 30 minutes away, from 79% in 2000 to 93% in 2017.
  • However, the percentage of households getting piped water has remained stagnant at 44% over the 17-year period.


About the UNICEF

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children and mothers in countries that had been devastated by World War II.
  • Today it functions as a specialized agency of the UN

UNICEF has decided the following 5 areas as priority or main areas for work:

  • Young Child Survival and Development
  • Primary Education and Gender Equality
  • Child protection
  • Early childhood

Some other priority areas are the child in the family, and sports for development.

State of the World’s Children is its flagship report.

About the World Health Organization (WHO)

  • WHO is a specialized agency of the UN founded in 1948 with its headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland
  • Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.
  • Its main areas of work are health systems; health through the life-course; non-communicable and communicable diseases; preparedness, surveillance and response; and corporate services.


Namami Gange

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Why in the news?

Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat reviewed the ongoing Namami Gange projects in Varanasi. He inspected the 140 Million Litres Day (MLD) Dinapur Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) from inlet upto outfall point into Varuna.

What is Namami Gange?

  • Namami Gange Programme’, is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.

Its main pillars include:

  • Sewage Treatment Infrastructure
  • River Surface Cleaning
  • Afforestation
  • Industrial Effluent Monitoring
  • River Front Development
  • Biodiversity
  • Public awareness
  • Ganga gram


It is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).


Competition Commission of India

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is conducting a Market Study on E-commerce in India (‘Study’). In view of the rapid growth of electronic commerce (‘e-commerce’) and the rising importance of online trade in a large number of goods and services in India.
  • The study will allow the CCI to develop a better understanding of the functioning of e-commerce in the country and its implications for markets and competition.

What is the Competition Commission of India?

  • It is a statutory body created under the Competition Act, 2002.
  • CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
  • It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinions on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.


Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

Haryana FDA finds it difficult to seize ENDS as they are hard to detect.

What are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)?

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS) heat a solution (e-liquid) to create an aerosol which frequently contains flavourants, usually dissolved into Propylene Glycol or/and Glycerin.
  • All ENDS (but not ENNDS) contain nicotine. Electronic cigarettes, the most common prototype, are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution the user then inhales.
  • The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine when nicotine is present, are propylene glycol, with or without glycerol and flavouring agents. ENDS solutions and emissions contain other chemicals, some of them considered to be toxicants.


What are the harmful effects of ENDS?

The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.

Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

  • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
  • volatile organic compounds
  • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead


National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Disaster and disaster management.

Why in the news?

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) met a 25-member delegation from Gambia here today. The visit was a part of the Special Training Programme for Gambian civil servants organised by the National Centre for Good Governance, Mussoorie

What is the National Disaster Management Authority?

  • It is a statutory body created by the Disaster Management Act, 2005
  • It is headed by the Prime Minister of India


NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:-

  • Lay down policies on disaster management ;
  • Approve the National Plan;
  • Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;
  • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management;
  • Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation;
  • Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government;
  • Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary;
  • Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.



Minimum educational qualification for transport vehicle drivers removed

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to remove the requirement of minimum educational qualification for driving a transport vehicle. Under Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a transport vehicle driver needs to have passed class 8.
  • However, while removing the requirement of a minimum educational qualification, the Ministry has strongly emphasized upon training and skill testing of drivers so that road safety is not compromised in any way.
  • Anyone applying for a driving license will have to mandatorily pass a stringent skill test.
  • The Ministry has emphasized that training imparted by a school or establishment as mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 should ensure that the driver can read signs and perform logistical duties such as maintenance of driver logs, inspection of trucks and trailers, submission of pre-trip and post-trip records, determination of discrepancies in paperwork, effective communication to report safety hazards.  
  • Moreover schools and establishments which are providing vocational training and skilling facilities are subject to regulatory control by the states. Hence, the training imparted should be of high quality covering all aspects of driving a particular type of motor vehicle.


Why was this decision taken?

  • There are large numbers of unemployed persons, especially in rural areas of the country, who may not have a formal education, but are otherwise literate and skilled. Hence it was felt that driving being more a matter of skill than of educational competence, the condition of minimum educational qualification acts as a hindrance for the otherwise eligible unemployed youth. The removal of this requirement will open up employment opportunities for a large number of unemployed people, especially the youth in the country.
  • Not only this, the decision will also help meet the shortage of nearly 22 lakh drivers in the transport and logistics sector, which is hindering its growth.



Libra : Cryptocurrency by Facebook

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

Why in the news?

Facebook has launched its own cryptocurrency called Libra.

What is a cryptocurrency?

  • It is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
  • Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized systems based on blockchain technology, a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers.
  • A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its biggest allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
  • Cryptocurrencies make it easier to conduct any transactions, for transfers are simplified through the use of public and private keys for security and privacy purposes. These transfers can be done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by traditional financial institutions.
  • However, they bring the risk of anonymity for spurious or suspicious transactions wherein the funds can be transferred by non-state actors for terrorist activities, mone laundering etc.