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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Democracy Index 2019

Why in news?

India has slipped 10 places in the 2019 Democracy Index to 51st position. In 2018, India was ranked at 41.

  • The Democracy Index (began in 2006)which is prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide in 165 independent states and two territories.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, which is the sister company to The Economist newspaper.

Democracy Index

  • Based on five categories:

Civil liberties,

  1. Electoral process and pluralism;
  2. Functioning of government;
  3. Political participation; and
  4. Political culture.
  • The countries are scored on ascale of 0 to 10 on 60 indicators within the above categories.
  • Based on their scores, each country is classified as one of four types of regimes:
  • Full democracy (scores greater than 8);
  • Flawed democracy (greater than 6 and up to 8);
  • Hybrid regime (greater than 4 and up to 6); and
    • Authoritarian regime (less than or equal to 4).
  • Fall in Global Score
  • The average global score has fallen from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 in 2019.This is the worst average global score since 2006.
  • Cause:Driven by sharp regressions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, four out of the five categories that make up the global average score have deteriorated.

There are only 22 “full democracies” as compared to 54 “authoritarian regimes” and as many “flawed democracies”.

  • Almost one-half (48.4%) of the world’s population live in a democracy of some sort, although only 7% reside in a “full democracy”, down from 8.9% in 2015 as a result of the US being demoted from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” in 2016.
  • The total score of some 68 countries declined from 2018, but almost as many (65) recorded an improvement.
  • Thailand registered the biggest improvement in score owing to an election in March 2019, which was the first since the military coup d’état in May 2014.
  • China registered the greatest decline because of discrimination against minorities, especially in Xinjiang, and digital surveillance of the population.

India’s Performance:

  • Fall in Score:India’s score is down from  23 in 2018 to 6.90 in 2019. This is the lowest score since 2006.
  • Primary Cause:Erosion of civil liberties in the country. Specified examples include:

Stripping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status with the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A and the various security measures that followed the bifurcation of the state including restriction of Internet access.

The exclusion of 1.9 million people from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and with the majority of people excluded being Muslims.

On the Citizenship Amendment Act, the report said that the law has enraged the large muslim population, stoked communal tensions and generated large protests in major cities.

  • Flawed Democracy:India’s score of 7.23 places it in the “flawed democracy” category i.e. countries that hold free and fair elections and where basic civil liberties are respected, but have significant weaknesses in aspects of democracy, such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.
  • Comparison with Other Countries:In Asia and Australasia region, India ranks eighth, even behind countries like Taiwan and Timor-Leste.

 

  • The United States, with a score of 7.96 that is just below the benchmark for a “full democracy”, is a “flawed democracy”, in the same category as India.
  • Bangladesh (5.88)is in a “flawed democracy”
  • Pakistan,with a score of 4.25, is categorised as a “hybrid democracy”;
  • China (2.26) and North Korea (bottom-ranked with 1.08)are categorised as “authoritarian regimes”; and
  • Norway (top-ranked with 9.87)is counted as a “full democracy”. Following Norway at the top of the rankings are Iceland (9.58), Sweden (9.39) and New Zealand (9).

HCFC-141b

Why in news?

India has successfully achieved the complete phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, claims the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

 About HCFC- 141 b:

  • It is a chemical used by foam manufacturers.
  • It is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.
  • It is one of the most potent ozone depleting chemical after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Background:

On 31 December 2019, as part of the move towards environment friendly technologies, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) also brought out a Gazette notification prohibiting the issuance of import licence for HCFC-141b from 1 January 2020 under Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Significance:

  • Nearly, 50% of the consumption of ozone depleting chemicals in the country was attributable to HCFC-141 b in the foam sector.

India has now emerged as one among the few countries globally and a pioneer in some cases in the use of technologies, which are non-Ozone Depleting and have a low Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Montreal Protocol:

The complete phase out of HCFC 141 b from the country in foam sector is among the first at this scale in Article 5 parties (developing countries) under the Montreal Protocol.

 

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are a large group of compounds, whose structure is very close to that of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but including one or more hydrogen atoms.

  1. Under normal conditions, HCFCs are gases or liquids which evaporate easily. They are generally fairly stable and unreactive.
  2. HCFCs do not usually dissolve in water, but do dissolve in organic (carbon-containing) solvents.
  3. HCFCs are chemically similar to Hydrobromofluorocarbons(HBFCs) ,Chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) & Halons.

WBL Index 2020

Why in News?

India scores highest among South Asian nations in Women, Business and Law Index released recently.

Women, Business and the Law:

  • A woman, Business and the Law (WBL) is a World Bank Group project collecting unique data on the laws and regulations that restrict women’s economic opportunities.

Women, Business and Law (WBL) Index:

  • Women, Business and the Law (WBL) measures gender inequality in the law.
  • Released by: World Bank

Eight parameters:

  • The study examined laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunities across 190
  • There were eight parameters –
  • Workplace
  • Pay
  • Mobility
  • Marriage
  • Parenthood
  • Pensions
  • Assets
  • Entrepreneurship

Global Performance:

  • Only eight economies among the 190 score the perfect 100 on the WBL Index.
  • These are Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden and Canada.

About India

  • India is placed 117th among 190 countries.
  • The country gained 4 per cent year-on-year with a score of 74.4 out of 100.
  • Among the BRICS countriesIndia’s score is only second to the last.
  • South Africa tops the WBL index, followed by Brazil.

 

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