US-China trade war
Topic: GS –II: International relations
Researchers at Morgan Stanley, a leading investment bank, have alerted that if US and China continue to heap increasing tariff and non-tariff barriers over the next four to six months, the global economic growth rate to fall to a seven-year low of 2.8 per cent, and worse still, the world economy could enter a recession within the next three quarters.
More in news:
- The last massive downward spiral in the global economy happened in the wake of the great financial crisis of 2008 and continued till 2010.
What is a global recession?
- In an economy, a recession happens when output declines for two successive quarters (that is, six months). However, for a global recession, institutions such as the International Monetary Fund tend to look at more than just a weakness in the economic growth rate; instead, they look at a widespread impact in terms of the impact on employment or demand for oil etc. The long-term global growth average is 3.5 per cent. The recession threshold is 2.5 per cent.
What has triggered the alarm?
- On August 1, trade tensions between the two biggest economies of the world escalated further when the US announced that it would impose 10 per cent tariff on imports from China. These measures are to come in to effect on September 1.
- In retaliation, China threatened to take countermeasures. The US has also declared China a “currency manipulator”. In other words, the US accuses China of deliberately weakening the yuan to make Chinese exports to the US more attractive and undercut the effect of increased tariffs that the US is employing.
- The renewed trade tensions threaten to derail the already struggling global economy. For instance, the global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index and new orders sub-index have contracted for the second consecutive month in July; they are already at a seven-year low. Further, the global capital expenditure cycle has “ground to a halt”; since that start fo 2018, there’s been a sharp fall-off in nominal capital goods imports growth.
- Central banks around the world are cutting interest rate in a bid to shore up global economic activity. To some extent, that cheap money policy is countering the adverse impacts of trade wars and all-round global uncertainty, thanks to Brexit and geopolitical tensions in West Asia, and between the US and North Korea.
How do higher tariffs affect growth?
- According to Morgan Stanley, two-thirds of the goods being lined up for increased tariffs are consumer goods. Higher tariffs are not only likely to douse demand but, most crucially, hit business confidence. The apprehension is that the latest US tariffs and similar countermeasures by China could start a negative cycle wherein businesses do not feel confident to invest more, given the lower demand for consumer goods. Reduced capital investment would reflect in fewer jobs, which, in turn, will show up in reduced wages and eventually lower aggregate demand in the world.
- What makes this scenario tricky is that fact that monetary policy is already loose. Ideally, the global economy should not risk reaching a recession at a time when the monetary levers may not have a lot to offer. In fact, at present, the trade tensions and uncertainty is negating the positives that a cheap money policy could provide to the world economy.
Trump’s modified immigration regulations
Topic: GS –II: International relations
The administration of President Donald Trump has proposed to modify the inadmissibility criteria of its immigration regulations, which are likely to impact over a million green card and visa applicants.
More in news:
- The new regulations under the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” will make it more difficult for applicants to change their status of application or seek permanent residency. It is likely to be effective from October this year.
The new rule
- Legal immigrants can stay in the United States as long as they are “self-sufficient”. Immigrants should be able to support themselves without using public resources to meet their needs, and rely on their own potential or have a person in the United States who can assure that the individual will not need public support, and thereby not be a burden on the taxpayer. This is to ensure that the availability of public benefits does not incentivise immigrations to the United States.
- Inadmissibility on account of public charge is not a new focus in United States immigration policy. The US has denied admission on public charge grounds since at least 1882. However, the new rule seeks to clearly define the terms “public charge” and “public benefit”, which had no set definition prior to this. Additionally, over eight provisions have been proposed under this rule. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed to establish clear frameworks under which the minimum factors determining an immigrant’s admissibility will be judged. Determinations under this rule will be made in the totality of circumstances, under which certain factors such as assets, resources and financial status will be weighted more heavily than the others.
Public charge and public benefit
- An individual (immigrant or nonimmigrant) who receives one or more public benefits is said to be a public charge. Public benefits is a list of cash and non-cash support including cash medical care, housing, food and benefit programmes.
Who is affected?
- The proposed rule will affect individuals who are present in the United States, seeking an adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident. It will also be applicable to individuals applying for a visa to enter the United States temporarily or permanently, for admission or for adjustment of status of their visa, or to be a lawful permanent resident. The visa categories H-1B (individuals in specialty occupation) and F-1 (student visa), which are the nonimmigrant categories under which many Indians seek visa, come under the ambit of public charge conditions. Applications submitted and moved before the rule becomes final will not be impacted.
Who can be inadmissible?
- If at the time of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status, the applicant is likely to become a public charge, he/she will not be admissible into the United States. The DHS will consider parameters including the applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education and skills, where findings under these factors will be labelled negative or positive. As per the totality of circumstances framework, an applicant is admissible if the DHS finds that his/her positive factors and circumstances outweigh the negative factors and circumstances. Additionally, an immigrant who was previously receiving public benefits for which he/she was eligible, may not be allowed re-entry into the United States under the rule.
Who will be exempted?
- Certain groups that are considered to be “vulnerable populations of immigrants and nonimmigrants” have been exempted. These include refugees and asylum seekers, pregnant woman and children (Medicaid), Afghan or Iraqi interpreters or nationals employed by or on behalf of the US government, and special immigrant juveniles, among others. Also, as per a provision dating back to 1893, an immigrant who is inadmissible under this rule may be granted admission on the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, “if otherwise admissible”, upon giving a suitable and proper bond, which assures the state that the immigrant will not become a public charge.
57.3% allopathic practitioners not qualified
Topic: GS–II: Social Justice Health
The Union Health Ministry has warned that an uneven distribution of qualified doctors puts rural patients at risk.
- Ministry’s data says that at present, 3% of personnel currently practising allopathic medicine do not have a medical qualification,this puts rural patients at risk given the high density of doctors in urban areas and India’s poor doctor-population ratio of 1:1456 as compared with the World Health Organisation standards of 1:1000.
A huge skew
- There is a huge skew in the distribution of doctors working in the urban and rural areas. Consequently, most of our rural and poor population is denied good quality care, leaving them in the clutches of quacks.
- Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, prohibits a person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register to practice medicine in the State.
- According to government records, a total of 11,46,044 allopathic doctors were registered with the State Medical Councils/ Medical Council of India as on December 31, 2018.
EC kicks off delimitation process
Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity
Election Commission held internal discussions on the delimitation of constituencies ahead of elections to the new Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Delimitation Commission would start the process as per the law.
- Total population would be divided over the 114 seats to get an average number of electors per constituency. The boundaries of the constituencies would then be drawn while ensuring that administrative units are not split as far as possible.
- According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the UT of J&K would be increased from 107 to 114. The Act also specifies that delimitation will be based on the 2011 census till 2026.
· Delimitation means the drawing of boundaries. The boundaries may be domestic, national and International, but the most general use of this term is in context with electoral boundaries.
· Article 82 (Readjustment after each census) makes provision for delimitation of the electoral boundaries. It is the process of allocation of number of Seats and their demarcation into territories.
· Under Article 82, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.
· Delimitation commissions have been set up four times in the past viz. 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under Delimitation Commission acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
Delimitation commission of India:
· The Delimitation commission or Boundary commission of India is a commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.
· The main task of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census. The representation from each State is not changed during this exercise. However, the number of SC and ST seats in a state are changed in accordance with the census. The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
· The Commission is a powerful and independent body whose orders cannot be challenged in any court of law. The orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, modifications are not permitted.
Perseid Meteor Shower
Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology
On its journey around the Sun, the Earth passes through large swathes of cosmic debris. The debris is essentially the remnants of comets, great frigid chunks of matter that leave behind dirty trails of rocks and ice that linger long after the comets themselves have passed. As the Earth wades through this cloud of comet waste, the bits of debris create what appears from the ground to be a fireworks display in the sky known as a meteor shower.
- Several meteor showers can be seen around the year. Among the brightest and best known of them is the Perseid Meteor Shower, which has been active from July 17 onward, and can be seen until August 26.
- The Perseids occur as the Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud of debris is about 27 km wide — and at the peak of the display, between 160 and 200 meteors streak through the Earth’s atmosphere every hour as the pieces of debris, travelling at some 2.14 lakh km per hour, burn up a little less than 100 km above the Earth’s surface.
- The Perseids currently visible in the night sky are not due to the debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle during its most recent pass, which happened in 1992. This particular comet goes around the Sun once in 133 years, and the meteors now visible were left behind by the pass before the last one — or perhaps even earlier.
- Meteors are best seen on a cloudless night, when the entire sky is visible, and when the Moon is not extremely bright. Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities. Pollution and monsoon clouds make the Perseids difficult to view from India.
- The showers peak when the Earth passes through the most dense part of the debris cloud. Peaks can last for a few hours or several nights. They tend to be most visible after midnight and before dawn. The showers should be seen with naked eyes; binoculars and telescopes narrow the field of vision.
NEWS IN BREEF
Rajasthan bags award at World Education Summit
- Rajasthan has bagged the “best innovation and initiative leadership award” for its achievements in higher education in the World Education Summit-2019 held in New Delhi.
Centre’s new app for waste collection
An app that will allow users to have waste — solid, wet or construction and demolition (C&D) — collected by their urban local bodies, was launched by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs
- People will have to pay to civic bodies to avail the service through Swachh Nagar app.
- They can also track the waste-collection vehicle on the app, ensuring accountability of municipal corporations.
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