Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 30 September 2023

India retains its 40th position in GII 2023

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

India retained its 40th position on the annual Global Innovation Index (GII) 2023 with a score of 38.1, due to its vibrant start-up ecosystemknowledge capital and the work done by public and private research organisations. The index by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) was released and ranked 132 economies on the Innovation Index.

More about the Index

  • India also retained its top position in the lower-middle-income group and the Central and South Asian region.
  • A total of 21 economies outperformed on innovation as expected relative to their level of development.
  • Indiathe Republic of Moldova and Vietnam are each innovation overperformers for 13 years in a row, WIPO said.
  • Meanwhile, Switzerland (1st place), followed by SwedenUnited StatesUnited Kingdom and Singapore are the world’s top innovative economies in 2023.
  • Barring China (12th place), no other middle or lower-middle-income economy features in the top 30.
  • The GII 2023 used 80 indicators to track global innovation trends in 132 economies, guiding policymakers and business leaders in stimulating human ingenuity.
  • This year, the report’s findings are unveiled against a background of slow economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, high interest rates and geopolitical conflict.
  • Of the 80 indicators, India holds top rankings in key indicators such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services exports (5th place)venture capital (VC) received (6th place)graduates in science and engineering (11th place) and global corporate Research and Development (R&D) investors (13th place).
  • Besides, the report mentions that scientific publicationsresearch and development (R&D), the number of venture capital deals and patents increased in 2022, and the spending by corporations representing the largest investors in R&D reached $1.1 trillion in 2022—an increase of 7.4 per cent year-on-year.
  • The VC outlook for 2023 and 2024 is uncertain, withhigh-interest rates likely to continue to impact the financing of innovation.
  • Reflecting a deteriorating climate for risk finance, the total value of VC investments declined sharply byclose to 40 per cent in 2022.


  • According to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) AayogIndia has been on a rising trajectory over the past several years, from a rank of 81 in 2015 to 40 in 2023, as all government departments have played a pivotal role in enriching the national innovation ecosystem.
  • Most importantly, the Atal Innovation Mission has played a major role in expanding the innovation ecosystem.
  • NITI Aayog has been working tirelessly to ensure the optimisation of national efforts for bringing policy-led innovation in different areas such as electric vehiclesbiotechnologynanotechnologyspacealternative energy sources.
  • The report also mentions that the world’s five biggest science and technology clusters are all located in East Asia, including the BengaluruDelhiChennai and Mumbai cluster.
  • Another noteworthy trend is the ascent of India in terms of publication output (ranking 4th in 2022), overtaking the United Kingdom (fifth) and close behind Germany (third).

China-Philippines tussle over South China Sea

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The Philippine coast guard said it had removed a floating barrier placed by China’s coast guard to prevent Filipino fishing boats from entering a disputed area in the South China Sea. The 300-metre-long barrier was installed at the entrance to the lagoon at the Scarborough Shoal, located about 200 km off the Philippines. The country claimed the barricade was in violation of international law and its sovereignty.

What is the South China Sea dispute?

  • The South China Sea is situated just south of the Chinese mainland and is bordered by the countries of BruneiChinaIndonesiaMalaysiaPhilippinesTaiwan and Vietnam.
  • The countries have bickered over territorial control in the sea for centuries, but in recent years tensions have soared to new heights.
  • The reason? China’s rise as a global power. The South China Sea is one of the most strategically critical maritime areas (more on this later) and China eyes its control to assert more power over the region.
  • In 1947, the country, under the rule of the nationalist Kuomintang party, issued a map with the so-called “nine-dash line”.
  • The line essentially encircles Beijing’s claimed waters and islands of the South China Sea — as much as 90% of the sea has been claimed by China.
  • The line continued to appear in the official maps even after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power.
  • In the past few years, the country has also tried to stop other nations from conducting any military or economic operation without its consent, saying the sea falls under its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

What’s the importance of the South China Sea?

  • There are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in deposits under the South China Sea, according to the estimates of the United States Energy Information Agency.
  • Moreover, the sea is home to rich fishing grounds — a major source of income for millions of people across the region. More than half of the world’s fishing vessels operate in this area.
  • Most significantly, the sea is a crucial trade route. “The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that over 21% of global trade, amounting to $3.37 trillion, transited through these waters in 2016”.

What is the ‘nine-dash line’?

  • The nine-dash line demarcates China’s territorial claims in the sea on Chinese maps. It was initially the “eleven-dash line” but in 1953, the CCP-led government removed “the portion encompassing the Gulf of Tonkin, simplifying the border to nine dashes,” CFR said.
  • The line runs as far as 2,000 km from the Chinese mainland to within a few hundred kilometres of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.
  • But on what parameters the line has been drawn? China’s claim on the waters and islands within the boundary is based on its “historical maritime rights”.
  • However, the country has never clearly stated the line coordinates and the line runs many miles beyond what is allowed under the United Nations treaty on maritime territorial issues, which China has signed.

Gender inequality in Cancer care

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

Around 63% of premature deaths due to cancers in Indian women could have been prevented by reducing risk factorsscreening, and diagnosis, while 37% could have been averted with timely and optimal treatment, a new Lancet Commission report on gender inequity in cancer care said.

More about the report

  • Titled ‘Women, Power and Cancer’, the report said around 6.9 million cancer deaths among women in India were preventable and 4.03 million were treatable.
  • The report highlighted that even though men are at a higher risk of cancers that affect both genderscancer incidence and mortality in women remains high.
  • Globally, women account for 48% of the new cancer cases and 44% of cancer deaths. This happens even though some of the cancers in women, such as breast and cervical cancers are highly preventable and treatable.

What is behind the poorer outcomes for women?

  • The report said women face challenges in accessing timely and appropriate care in the absence of knowledgedecision-making and financial powers and availability of services at the primary level closer to home.
  • Irrespective of which part of the world they live in and which strata of the society they belong to, women are more likely than men to lack the knowledge and power to make informed decisions, the report said.
  • It added that they are also much more likely to experience financial catastrophe due to cancer.
  • When it comes to providing cancer care, the report said, women are under-represented as leaders, are likely to face gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, and also constitute the largest unpaid workforce.
  • The report estimated that the value of unpaid cancer care-giving by women is about 3.66% of India’s national health expenditure.

What are the recommendations of the report?

  • The report said there is a need to regularly collect data on gender and social demographics for cancer health statistics.
  • It called for developing, strengthening, and enforcing laws and policies that reduce exposures to known cancer risks.
  • Stating that cancer care and research is dominated by men who decide what is prioritised, funded, or studied, it called for equitable access to cancer research resourcesleadership, and funding opportunities for women.

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