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News Analysis: 12-10-2018
General Studies-II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
1 in 5 Indian children ‘wasted’, says GHI
At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are ‘wasted,’ which means they have extremely low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018.
The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan, says the report, which was released on Thursday.
Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”.
India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.
Four main indicators are used to calculate hunger levels in the report, which is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
The first indicator is undernourishment, which is the share of the population which is undernourished and reflects insufficient caloric intake.
The next three indicators use data for children under five: child wasting (low weight for height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; child stunting (low height for age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and child mortality.
India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.
The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.
Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations.
The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
An economics fix
The Nobel to work on growth and long-run sustainability frames a crucial priority
American economists William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer were jointly awarded the 50th economics Nobel prize this week in recognition of their work on economic growth and its long-run sustainability.
The Nobel committee noted that the duo’s work “brought us considerably closer to answering the important question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable economic growth”.
The committee’s praise is fitting as both economists devoted their careers to the study of the various “externalities” or “spillovers” that affect economic growth in a market economy.
Mr. Nordhaus, for one, has been a pioneer in the movement towards quantifying the impact of economic growth on the climate and, in turn, the impact of climate change on economic growth.
To correct this problem, he recommended imposing appropriate carbon taxes to curb pollution that was detrimental to growth in the long run. Mr. Romer, on the other hand, studied the importance of technology in achieving economic growth.
He proposed the endogenous growth model where technological progress is seen as the outgrowth of businesses and other entities investing in research and development.
At the same time, he recognised ways in which the market economy may undersupply technological innovations.
Consequently, he recommended the use of subsidies, patents and other forms of government intervention to encourage economic growth through increased investment in technology.
In essence, the Nobel committee’s decision is a recognition of economic research concerning market failure.
Of course, critics have highlighted flaws in the works of these two noted economists.
For one, it may often be impossible to arrive at an objective measure of the carbon tax rate or the ideal amount of pollution to allow in a developing economy.
It is equally troublesome when one needs to determine how much subsidy, or other forms of government support, should be allotted towards research and development. Even though mathematical models have been devised to address these problems, they are only as good as the data fed into them
. Further, such decisions regarding the perfect carbon tax rate or the ideal subsidy allocation are likely to be determined by political considerations rather than simply pure economics.
So the threat of government failure may have to be taken as seriously as the effects of market failure.
These concerns lead to questions about the real-world impact of the policies supported by the pair.
Nonetheless, many would argue that Mr. Nordhaus and Mr. Romer’s works are an improvement from the past in that they try to use the market mechanism itself to address its failures.
The Nobel committee has done well to recognise important work on issues that are particularly relevant to the developing world.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
World Bank’s Human Capital Index released
The World Bank released today a Human Capital Index (HCI) as part of the World Development Report 2019.
Broader theme of the World Development Report (WDR) this year is “The Changing Nature of Work”
The HCI has three components:
(i) Survival, as measured by under-5 mortality rates;
(ii) Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School which combines information on the quantity and quality of education (quality is measured by harmonizing test scores from major international student achievement testing programs and quantity from number of years of school that a child can expect to obtain by age 18 given the prevailing pattern of enrolment rates across grades in respective countries); and
(iii) Health environment using two proxies of (a) adult survival rates and (b) the rate of stunting for children under age 5.
UNDP constructs Human Development Index (HDI) for several years. The HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate instead of life expectancy as measure of health, and quality-adjusted learning instead of merely years of schooling as measure of education.
HCI also excludes per capita income whereas the HDI uses it.
Two significant changes from HDI are exclusion of income component and introduction of quality adjustment in learning. Exclusion of income element and introduction of quality adjustment makes HCI far less representative of Human Capital Development than the Index claims it to be.
The key observations regarding HCI for India in the Report are as under:
Human Capital Index: A child born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health.
The HCI in India for females is marginally better than that for males.
Further, there has been marked improvement in the HCI components in India over the last five years.
Probability of Survival to Age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5.
Expected Years of School: In India, a child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of school by her 18th birthday.
Harmonized Test Scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.
Learning-adjusted Years of School: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.
Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds will survive until age 60.
Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted, and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.
Gender Differences: In India, HCI for girls is marginally higher than for boys.
There are serious reservations about the advisability and utility of this exercise of constructing HCI. There are major methodological weaknesses, besides substantial data gaps.
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