1. Gender gap in employment has put India behind China

According to World Bank data, China’s per capita GDP was 2.4 times that of India in 2016. In terms of per worker GDP, this ratio is just 1.7. The gap between China’s lead over India in terms of per capita GDP and per worker GDP has been increasing in the last three decades.  almost one-third of the gap between per capita GDP of India and China is because fewer people are working in India than China. This is due to a much bigger gender gap in employment in India. The share of men aged 15 years and above who are employed in India and China was 76.4% and 73.5% respectively in 2017. For women, these numbers were 25.9% for India and 60.4% for China.

More than half of Indian women still do not enjoy free mobility. Statistics from the fourth round of National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) show that more than half of Indian women do not even enjoy the freedom to go out of their homes without anybody’s company. Freedom of mobility is the most curtailed for younger women.

2. Cabinet relief package for telecom sector to attract investment, enhance ease of doing business

The Union Cabinet gave its nod to a relief package for the stressed telecom sector in India. During its meeting on Wednesday, the government agreed to allow more time to the telecom operators to pay for the spectrum bought in auctions, and relax the spectrum holding limit for telecom companies.

  • According to the new decision, the telecom operators will have a one-time opportunity to pay for the spectrum bought in auction within 16 years instead of the present limit of 10 years. Till now, a portion of spectrum auction amount was taken as upfront payment by the Department of Telecom (DoT). The balance, after a two-year moratorium, used to be paid out in 10 annual instalments.

The Cabinet, based on recommendations from the Telecom Commission and Trai, has agreed to remove every ceiling for individual or combined spectrum holding in above 1 GHz band. A cap of 50 per cent has been imposed on combined holding of sub-1GHz bands. The revised spectrum caps limits may be revisited after Final Acts of World Radio-communication Conference (WRC) 2019. Revising the limit for spectrum holding is likely to facilitate consolidation of telecom operators and may encourage their participation in future auctions.

  • Telecom operators have traded charges on multiple occasions, blaming each other for the sector’s financial difficulties. Reliance Jio accused incumbent operators of milking the sector using borrowed money while older players (Airtel, Vodafone and Idea) blamed free voice and data offering by the Mukesh Ambani’s telecom firm for bleeding the sector.

3. Balkrishna Doshi wins architecture’s top Pritzker Prize, first Indian to do so

  • His designs include the IIM-Bangalore; Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad; cultural spaces in Ahmedabad such as Tagore Memorial Hall, the Institute of Indology, and Premabhai Hall; and private residence Kamala House (Ahmedabad), among many others.
  • Nonagenarian architect and reputed urban planner Balkrishna Doshi has been named this year’s winner of architecture’s highest honour — the Pritzker Prize, becoming the first Indian to do so.
  • His designs include the IIM-Bangalore; Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad; cultural spaces in Ahmedabad such as Tagore Memorial Hall, the Institute of Indology, and Premabhai Hall; and private residence Kamala House (Ahmedabad), among many others.
  • Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation that sponsors the award made the ammouncement in Chicago, selecting Doshi as the 2018 Pritzker Architecture  Prize Laureate.

4. Why has WTO warned of the possibility of recession?

The United States announced last week that it will impose tariffs on the import of aluminium and steel. The tariff is essentially a tax on the manufacturers of foreign steel and aluminium who, unless they find other ways to cut down their costs, could possibly be outplayed by their American competitors. U.S. President Donald Trump justified the decision arguing that free trade is the reason why the U.S. suffers a huge trade deficit. He also believes that tariffs can help protect American businesses and jobs from the threat posed by foreign competition. Most economists support free trade because it allows free competition without any of the protective barriers imposed by governments. Such competition is believed to give consumers access to cheaper and better products from across the world, thus improving their standard of living over time. Mr. Trump, however, hopes to protect American manufacturers who have failed to keep up with global competition through the means of restrictive tariffs. Naturally, this will affect consumers across the world, which includes ordinary Americans, who will no longer be able to enjoy the full benefits of free trade across borders.

  • Unfortunately, except for special interest groups who can influence the trade policy of their respective governments, there are likely to be no winners as a result of a global trade war. In fact, ordinary consumers of all countries are likely to lose as a result of any trade war between countries.

A major global trade war in the 1930s had disastrous results as it deepened the Great Depression. Yet the European Union (EU) has vowed to hit back by imposing retaliatory tariffs on the import of American goods.

5. Safety Issues at Fukushima

A Government-Commissioned Group of experts has concluded that a costly underground that a costly underground ice wall is only partially effective in reducing the ever-growing amount of contaminated water at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima Nuclear plant and other measures are needed as well

35 bn yen ice wall helps, but doesn’t solve the problem

1.5 kms coolant filled underground structure was installed around the wrecked reactor buildings to create a frozen soil barrier.

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