14th Oct, 2020

South Asia Economic Focus Report released by World Bank

Biennial South Asia Economic Focus report was recently released. 

Released by: World Bank 

Title of the edition: “Beaten or Broken? Informality and Covid-19”.

The report includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It predicts that the extended closure of schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic could reduce India’s future earnings by between 420 billion USD and 600 billion USD.

This is so because depleted learning levels of students will translate into poorer productivity.

Impact on Education

Around 5.5 million students could drop out of schools across South Asia.

391 million students have been kept out of school in primary and secondary education due to


Dropouts and learning losses would cost South Asia as much as 622 billion USD in future earnings and GDP.

Also, due to the closure of schools, the children may have forgotten their previous learning.

The average child in South Asia may lose 4,400 USD in lifetime earnings once having entered the labor market, equivalent to 5% of total earnings.

Impacts on Economy

Impact on Informal Sector: The report has flagged damage to businesses, consumption patterns and imposed social hardship on poor and vulnerable households, especially urban migrants and informal workers in the South Asia region. 

GDP: The regional GDP of the South Asia region is estimated to contract by 7.7% in 2020. India’s GDP can contract by 9.6% in 2020-21.

Labor productivity will also take a greater hit from Covid-19 than most previous natural disasters. 

Lepidoptera Species move up the Himalayas due to Climate Change

According to a recent study, rising average temperatures in the Himalayan region have driven several dozen species of butterfly and moth to habitats higher up the mountains.

Carried out by: Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) 

Funded by: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

At least 49 species of moth and 17 species of butterfly have shown considerable new upward altitude movement.

The extension of the range of Lepidoptera due to climate change has been observed all over the world as well.

The ZSI predicts a decline of as much as 91% in the suitable area for the Notodontidae family of moths in J&K, Himachal, and Uttarakhand by 2050.

The study also revealed an increase in the richness of Lepidoptera biodiversity from the Western to the Eastern Himalayas.


It is the order of insects that includes butterflies, moths and skippers.

The name Lepidoptera is derived from the Greek, meaning “scaly winged”.

It also refers to the characteristic covering of microscopic dust like scales on the wings.


(1) They transform large amounts of plant matter into the animal matter and in turn serve as food for many other groups of animals;

(2) They aid in pollination.

The Himalayas are home to more than 35% of Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths) found in India.

French territory of New Caledonia voted against independence from France 

The French territory of New Caledonia voted against independence from France in a referendum held recently.

The referendum was a part of a decolonization plan agreed in 1998, known as the Noumea Accord.

The Noumea Accord, which was concluded in 1998, provided for a practically sovereign status.

Under this agreement, New Caledonia is allowed up to three referendums on independence, the latest one being the last of them.

New Caledonia 

It is an archipelago.

It is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean.

It was discovered in 1774 by the British navigator James Cook.

It was annexed by France in 1853.

In 1946, it became an overseas territory.

By 1953, French citizenship had been granted to all New Caledonians, regardless of ethnicity.

It accounts for around 10% of the world’s nickel reserve.

Mechanism by which bacterium Xoo interacts with rice plants uncovered

Recently, scientists from the Centre for Plant Molecular Biology (CPMB) have uncovered the mechanism by which bacterium called Xoo causes disease in rice plants.

Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) causes a serious bacterial leaf blight disease in rice. 

It is also known as Bacterial blight.

The most-common method of defending against rice bacterial blight is the cultivation of rice varieties with genes that confer resistance to Xoo infection.

However, this method involves breeding or gene manipulation techniques that are laborious and time-consuming.

New Approach

Scientists are working to identify and develop few molecules which are derived either from the Xoo bacterium or from the infected rice cell walls.

Treatment of rice with cellulase, a cell wall degrading enzyme secreted by Xoo induces rice immune responses and protects rice from subsequent infections by Xoo.


It is a gram-negative bacterium.

Xoo infection causes huge yield losses to rice cultivation throughout the world.

Since rice paddies are flooded throughout most of the growing season, Xoo may easily spread among crops. 

Bacteria travel through the water from infected plants to the roots and leaves of neighbouring rice plants.

Wind may also help spread the Xoo bacteria to other crops and rice paddies.

2020 Nobel Prize In Economics

Two American economists Paul R Milgrom and Robert B Wilson jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics. 

They were awarded for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.

The new auction formats are an example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society.