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The Hindu PDF Newspaper Analysis Today
No union, but Centre ready to ease living of gay couples: Page 1
- The Union government has informed the Supreme Court that it is willing to form a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary to consider administrative measures for addressing genuine human concerns faced by same-sex couples.
- The committee will look into the concerns faced by same-sex couples in areas such as banking and insurance, without delving into their petitions for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
- Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Constitution Bench that the government is positive and something can be done administratively regarding genuine concerns of same-sex couples.
- The Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, termed the government’s stand a step forward towards achieving wider social acceptance of the right of same-sex couples to cohabit.
- The court can now go into whether same-sex couples have a right to cohabit together in a normal, peaceable environment in the country without facing any form of discrimination, societal or otherwise.
- The suggestion from the government to form a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary indicates its readiness to recognise the incidence of cohabitory relationships among same-sex couples.
April PMI signals services sector had best expansion in 13 years: Page I
- The seasonally adjusted S&P Global India Services PMI Business Activity Index rebounded from a decline to 57.8 in March to 62 in April, recording the highest uptick in new business and output levels since June 2010.
- The finance and insurance segment led the strong upturn in the services sector, while new export orders expanded for the third month in succession at the fastest pace over this period.
- Input cost inflation surged to a three-month high, with firms reporting a rise in costs on food, fuel, medicine, transportation, and wages. However, job creation remained negligible in April.
- All services sectors raised selling prices at the fastest pace in 2023, with the most acute price hikes undertaken by transport, information and communication businesses.
- Business confidence revived a bit in April, with close to 22% of surveyed companies forecasting growth of business activity over the coming 12 months.
- Outstanding business volumes increased for the sixteenth straight month, but rose only marginally in April, reflecting the slowest growth in sixteen months.
- The services sectors’ performance lifted overall output in India’s private sector to the highest level since July 2010, with aggregate sales also rising at the fastest pace in almost 13 years.
- Despite the substantial upturn in sales, job creation across the private sector remained mild, with rates of expansion broadly similar at manufacturing firms and their services counterparts.
Guaranteed pension is not bad economics: Page 7
- The debate on pensions in India is gaining momentum, with some state governments reverting to the old pension scheme (OPS) and some more considering doing the same.
- Most economists believe that the OPS is bad economics for two reasons: it puts an unsustainable burden on the state’s finances and takes away from more pressing welfare expenditures for the poor and marginalized.
- The authors propose a contributory guaranteed pension scheme (CGPS) that would allow public sector workers to contribute towards their pensions during their working life, and receive a guaranteed pension of 50% of their last drawn salary adjusted for inflation after retirement.
- Under the CGPS, a large part of the pension would be funded by the employees themselves, with the state paying the additional balance of the difference between the 50% guaranteed pension and the market-determined pension amount.
- The authors argue that the burden of uncertainty in market returns should not fall solely on the employees, and should instead be shared by their employers.
- The authors compare the OPS, CGPS, and the new pension scheme (NPS) using a chart that shows the projected amount a worker would get depending on two rates of return: 9% (the average rate currently prevailing) and 12% (a hypothetical rate).
- The chart shows that under the CGPS, the burden on the state is only the employer’s contribution part, which is similar to the NPS. When the market return is 9%, the state pays the gap, but when it is 12%, it gets to pocket the extra amount.
- The authors caution that a guaranteed pension of 30% of the last salary drawn without being adjusted for inflation, as speculated by the government, would be grossly unfair to employees.
- The authors propose an inflation-indexed CGPS of 50% of the last salary drawn, which would address the issue without adding to the fiscal burden and would be a win-win for all stakeholders.
Europe uses India, China to get Russian oil despite sanctions: Page 7
- The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has published a data-driven study on a loophole that enables the European Union (EU), majority of G7 nations, and Australia to indirectly obtain oil from Russia through India and China, despite having banned or restricted imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products.
- The loophole weakens the sanctions imposed on Russia by the countries enforcing these limitations.
- The “laundromat” countries, including China, India, Turkey, the UAE, and Singapore, have increased their purchases of Russian crude oil, processed it, and exported the products to countries enforcing sanctions on Russian oil.
- The import of crude oil from Russia into China increased from 39.8 million tonnes in the one year before the invasion to 57.7 million tonnes in the one year post the invasion. For India, the import figures surged from just 3.85 million tonnes before the invasion to 55.9 million tonnes post the invasion.
- Due to their lack of sanctions on Russian crude oil, the “laundromat” countries are increasing their imports of Russian crude oil, which is available to them at a reduced price.
- Between the start of the crude oil import ban and price cap policy and one year after the Russian invasion, price cap coalition countries imported 12.9 million tonnes or €9.5 billion worth of oil products from the “laundromat” countries.
- India was the largest exporter of oil products to price cap coalition countries since the implementation of the crude oil price cap up to the one-year anniversary, followed by China.
- In the one year since the Russian invasion, the EU was the largest region importing from these “laundromat” countries, buying 20.1 million tonnes of oil products.
- Australia, the largest country to import oil products from these countries, purchased 9.1 million tonnes (€8.0 billion), followed by the U.S. that imported 8.5 million tonnes (€6.6 billion).
The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act: Page 8
- Members of the European Parliament reached a preliminary deal on a new draft of the European Union’s ambitious Artificial Intelligence Act, aimed at regulating general-purpose artificial intelligence systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
- The risks and uncertainties associated with AI have also ballooned, and there have been instances of wrongful arrests due to AI-enabled facial recognition, discrimination and societal biases seeping into AI outputs, and inaccurate or copyrighted material generated by AI-based chatbots.
- The AI Act seeks to bring transparency, trust, and accountability to AI and create a framework to mitigate risks to the safety, health, fundamental rights, and democratic values of the EU.
- The draft of the AI Act defines AI broadly and identifies AI tools based on machine learning, deep learning, knowledge as well as logic-based and statistical approaches. There are four risk categories in the Act — unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal.
- The Act prohibits using technologies in the unacceptable risk category with little exception, and lays substantial focus on AI in the high-risk category, prescribing a number of pre-and post-market requirements for developers and users of such systems.
- AI systems in the limited and minimal risk category are allowed to be used with a few requirements like transparency obligations.
- Recently, lawmakers have targeted the use of copyrighted material by companies deploying generative AI systems like ChatGPT, which could have implications for the development and deployment of similar systems in other parts of the world.
- The article highlights the need for policymakers to accelerate the development of “robust” AI governance systems and to strike a balance between promoting the uptake of AI while mitigating or preventing harms associated with certain uses of the technology.
India slips in press freedom index, ranks 161 out of 180 nations: Page 10
- India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries.
- Pakistan has fared better than India in terms of media freedom, with a rank of 150, an improvement from last year’s 157th rank.
- Sri Lanka has made significant improvement on the index, ranking 135th this year as against 146th in 2022.
- Norway, Ireland, and Denmark occupy the top three positions in press freedom, while Vietnam, China, and North Korea occupy the bottom three positions.
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) releases a global ranking of press freedom every year to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories in the previous calendar year.
- RSF defines press freedom as the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.
- Concerns have been raised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Press Club of India, and the Press Association over the country’s dip in the index, with a joint statement highlighting the constraints on press freedom due to hostile working conditions like contractorisation and insecure working conditions that can never contribute to a free press.
Jaishankar to hold talks with Chinese, Russian Ministers today: Page 11
- External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will hold talks with the Foreign Ministers of China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and other SCO members.
- The meeting will take place in Goa, and will include bilateral meetings, cultural performances, and dinners.
- This is the first time that Mr. Jaishankar will meet Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in India, and also the first such meeting since the Poonch terror attack.
- The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the meeting just after Russian forces shot down two UAVs in what it called an alleged assassination attempt on President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, and is expected to seek strong condemnation of the attack from the SCO countries.
- South Block will be keen to see if Mr. Lavrov echoes Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s speech at the SCO Defence Ministers’ gathering last week, where he criticised the ‘Quad’ grouping of the U.S., India, Australia and Japan.
- Mr. Jaishankar will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for a bilateral meeting, which will also be watched closely for any handshakes.
- The discussions on Afghanistan at the Goa meet will be significant, especially on the subject of recognition for the Taliban regime.
IMD forecasts a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal next week: Page 12
- The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has stated that a cyclone is likely to form in the Bay of Bengal by early next week, but its strength, direction and impact are yet to be gauged.
- A low-pressure area is usually a precursor to the development of a cyclone, and according to the IMD’s calculations, it is expected to take shape on May 7.
- A preliminary analysis available on the IMD website suggests that the cyclone could form by May 9 and grow to a “severe cyclonic storm” by May 10.
- Depending on the location of the storm and existing weather conditions, it is possible for the storm to gain or reduce in strength.
- This will be the first cyclone to form this year and it will be called Cyclone Mocha, named after the Red Sea port city by Yemen following an international convention on naming cyclones.
- Seafaring vessels and the fishing community should avoid the waters of southeast Bay of Bengal after May 7 as they will be turbulent.
‘Adapting to climate change to cost India 05.6 lakh crore by 2030’: Page 14
- The cumulative total expenditure for adapting to climate change in India is estimated to reach ₹85.6 lakh crore by 2030.
- India’s goal of achieving net zero by 2070 would require an accelerated reduction in the energy intensity of GDP by about 5% annually and a significant improvement in its energy-mix in favour of renewables to about 80% by 2070-71.
- India’s green financing requirement is estimated to be at least 2.5% of GDP annually till 2030 to address the infrastructure gap caused by climate events.
- The financial system may have to mobilise adequate resources and reallocate current resources to contribute effectively to the country’s net-zero target.
- Public sector banks (PSBs) may be more vulnerable than private sector banks to climate-related financial risks.
- A pilot survey of key stakeholders in the financial system in India suggests that risk mitigation plans for climate-related financial risks are largely at the discussion stage and yet to be widely implemented.
Source: The Hindu Epaper
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