Ojaank IAS Academy




11 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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Deadly fever

Paper 2 HEALTH 

Why You Should Know?

• The number of deaths from Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever since the start of the year in Iraq.
• The tick-borne disease, also known as Congo fever, causes severe haemorrhaging. with people usually catching it through contact with the blood of infected animals, according to the World Health Organization.
• The disease has a fatality rate of between 10 and 40% of all cases.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

• Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic disease transmitted by ticks and characterized by fever and hemorrhage.
• It was first described in Soviet soldiers in the Crimea in 1944 and was named Crimean fever.
• In 1956, the virus was isolated from a child with similar symptoms and was named Congo virus.

Behind Low Wheat Procurement


Why You Should Know?

• Recently, Wheat Procurement by government agencies is set to dip to a 15-year low in the current marketing season, from an all-time high scaled last year.
• The 18.5 million tonnes (mt) likely procurement this time – farmers mostly sell from April to mid-May, although government wheat purchases technically extends until June and the marketing season until the following March – will be the lowest since the 11.1 mt bought in 2007-08.
• Moreover, this would be the first time that wheat procured from the new crop(18.5 mt) is less than the public stocks at the start of the marketing season(19 mt).
• As the table shows, fresh procurement has always exceeded the opening balance stocks. It was so even during the previous two low procurement years of 2006-07 and 2007-08
• This year would be an exception and in sharp contrast to 2020-21, which had unprecedented levels of both opening stocks (27.3 mt) and procurement (43.3 mt).

Why it has fallen

• There are two main reasons for procurement plunging to a 15-year-low this time.
• The first is export demand, In 2021-22. India exported a record 7.8mt of wheat.
• Supply disruptions from the RussiaUkraine war – the two countries account for over 28% of global wheat exports – have led to skyrocketing prices and a further increase in demand for Indian grain.
• Wheat futures prices at the Chicago Board of Trade exchange closed at $407.30 per tonne, as against $276.77 a year ago.
• With Indian wheat getting exported at about $350 or Rs 27,000 per tonne free-on-board (i.e. at the point of shipping), farmers are realising well above the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 20,150/tonne at which government is procuring.
• This is even after deducting various costs – from bagging and loading at the purchase point, to transport and handling at the port.
• These would add up to Rs 4,500-6,000 per tonne, depending on the distance from the wholesale mandi to the port.

The second reason is lower production

• In mid-February, the Union Agriculture Ministry estimated the size of India’s 202122 crop (marketed during 2022-23) at 111.32 mt, surpassing even the previous year’s high of 109.59 mt.
• But the sudden spike in temperatures from the second half of Marchwhen the crop was in grain-filling stage, with the kernels still accumulating starch, protein and other dry matter – has taken a toll on yields.
• In most wheat-growing areas-barring Madhya Pradesh, where the crop is harvest-ready by mid-March-farmers have reported a 15-20% decline in per-acre yields.
• A smaller crop, in combination with export demand, has resulted in open market prices of wheat crossing the MSP in many parts of India.
• The shorter the distance to the ports, the higher the premium that exporter/traders have paid over the MSP.
• Even in Punjab and Haryana – where the state governments charge up to 6% market levies, compared to 0.5-1.6% in MP, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan – flour millers have paid farmers Rs 50-100 above the MSP of Rs 20,150 per tonne, Traders and millers aren’t the only ones stocking up in anticipation of prices going up further.
• Many farmers, especially the more entrepreneurial/better-off sections among them, are also holding back their crop.
• Such “hoarding” by farmers was seen in the recent past in soyabean and cotton, too, again driven by soaring international prices.
• The end-result of a heatwave-affected crop and open market prices rising closer to export parity levels has been that procurement by government agencies has plummeted to 9.6 mt in Punjab(from 13.2 mt last year), and even more in MP(12.8 mt to 4 mt). Haryana (8.5 mt to 4.1 mt) and other states (8.8 mt to not more than 0.8 mt).

Impact on availability 

• With opening stocks of 19 mt and expected procurement of 18.5 mt, government agencies would have 37.5mt of wheat available for 2022-23.
• Not all this, however, can be sold, as a minimum operational stockcum-strategic reserve has to be maintained.
• The normative buffer or closing stock requirement for March 31 is 7.5 mt. Providing for that will leave 30 mt available for sale from government godowns this fiscal.
• That quantity should suffice for the public distribution system, midday meals and other regular welfare schemes, whose annual wheat requirement is around 26 mt. But the last two years have also witnessed substantial offtake under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme(10.3 mt in 2020-21 and 19.9 mt in 2021-22) and open market sales to flour mills (2.5 mt and 7.1 mt, respectively).
• There’s clearly not enough wheat for these, which explains the Centre’s recent decision to slash allocation under the PMGKAY from 10.9 mt to 5.4 mt for April September 2022.
• Meeting even this requirement may not be easy, leave alone supplying to millers and other bulk consumers to moderate open market prices during the lean months after October.
• Simply put, one can expect wheat prices to firm up and a rerun of what happened in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
• That period, too, saw a worldwide agri-commodity price boom and production shortfalls, causing reduced procurement and depletion of stocks.
• However, the relatively tight supplies in wheat this time is compensated for by the comfortable public stocks of rice.
• At over 55 mt as on April 1, these were more than four times the required buffer of 13.6 mt. And a good monsoon should further augment availability from the ensuing kharif crop and tide over the shortages in wheat.

The Importance of Emigrants


Why You Should Know?

• Though the phenomenon of Indian-origin executives becoming CEOs of top U.S. companies highlights the contribution of Indian talent to the U.S. economy, the role played by Indian semi-skilled migrant labour in the global economy is no less illustrious.
• According to the Ministry of External Affairs, there are over 13.4 million Non-Resident Indians worldwide.
• Of them, 64% live in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the highest being in the United Arab Emirates, followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Almost 90% of the Indian migrants who live in GCC countries are low- and semi-skilled workers, as per International Labour Organization estimates. Other significant countries of destination for overseas Indians are the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Canada.
• High remittances Every year, about 2.5 million workers from India move to different parts of the world on employment visas.
• Besides being involved in nation-building of their destination countries, Indian migrant workers also contribute to the homeland’s socioeconomic development, through remittances.
• According to a report by the National Statistical Office, urban and rural households receiving remittances (both international and domestic) have approximately 23% and 8% better financial capacity, respectively, than non-remit tance-receiving households.
• As per a World Bank Group report (2021), annual remittances transferred to India are estimated to be $87 billion, which is the highest in the world, followed by China ($53 billion), Mexico ($53 billion), the Philippines ($36 billion) and Egypt ($33 billion).
• In 2021, remittances transferred to India had seen an increase of 4.6% compared to 2020. Remittances in India have been substantially higher than even Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the flow of remittances is much less fluctuating than that of FDI.
• Still, remittances’ contribution of 3% in GDP is lower than that of countries such as Nepal (24.8%), Pakistan (12.6%), Sri Lanka (8.3%) and Bangladesh (6.5%), as per a World Bank report.
• Besides being a win-win situation for both the destination and source country, labour migration is good hedging strategy against unsystematic risks for any economy.
• Human capital should also be invested in a diversified portfolio akin to financial capital. For many countries, remittances have been of vital support to the domestic economy after a shock. For example, after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, overseas Nepalese increased remittances to an estimated 30% of GDP.

Can India increase remittances to say 10% of GDP? 

• Both the cost of recruitment of such workers and the cost of sending remittances back to India should come down. The safety and well-being of migrant labour is of top priority for the government.
• Reducing informal/undocumented migration and formalising all remittances is being given due focus. Recruitment agencies should also be regulated leveraging information technology for en suring protection of migrant workers leaving India.
• An integrated grievance redressal portal, ‘Madad’, was launched by the government in 2015. Of the approximately 78,000 grievances registered so far by the Indian migrants, more than 95% have been resolved.
• Provisions of the Emigration Bill The Indian government proposed a new Emigration Bill in 2021 which aims to integrate emigration management and streamline the welfare of emigrant workers.
• It proposes to modify the system of Emigration Check Required (ECR) category of workers applying for migration to 18 notified countries.
• The ECR category mainly comprises those who have not passed Class 10 and face the challenge of risky informal emigration and subsequent hardships abroad.
• The Bill makes it mandatory for all category of workers to register before departure to any country in the world to ensure better protection for them, support and safeguard in case of vulnerabilities.
• The proposed Emigration Management Authority will be the overarching authority to provide policy guidance.
• The number of migrant workers need not go up for remittances to increase if the skill sets of workers are improved.
• Provisions of the Bill such as registration of all emigrants, skill upgradation and training, and pre-departure orientation will enhance protection measures.
• Besides workers, as about 0.5 million students also migrate for education from India every year, the Bill also covers such students.
• This will provide a comprehensive data set for the efficient management of Indian migrants.
• Skilling of migrant workers has the potential to boost the domestic economy and low-cost interventions such as foreign language training can be of great help for such workers.

9.99% Ethanol Blending in Petrol


Why You Should Know?

• The level of ethanol blendingin petrol in India has reached 9.99 per cent, Petroleum.
India had targetted 10 per cent ethanol blending in petrol by the end of 2022 and 20 per cent blending by 2030.
• The Centre has also targetted 5 percent blending of biodiesel with diesel by 2030.
• The ethanol blending programme is aimed at reducing India’s dependence on crude oil imports, cutting carbon emissions, and boosting farmers’ incomes.
• The centre has also announced an additional duty of Rs 2 per litre on unblended fuels starting October to incentivise blending.
• “9.99% ethanol blending in petrol achieved by our OMCs (Oil Marketing Companies) today, much ahead of the year end target.

What is ethanol (alcohol)?

• Ethanol, also called alcohol, ethyl alcohol and grain alcohol, is a clear, colorless liquid and the principle ingredient in alcoholic beverages like beer, wine or brandy.

What is the role of ethanol in the study of Chemistry?

• Chemistry is the branch of science that involves the application of chemical processes including reactions and properties in nature.
• Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is an organic compound and a chemical liquid with the formula – C2H5OH. It is primarily used as a solvent.

Collider Detector at Fermilab 


Why You Should Know?

• On April 7, researchers from Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) Collaboration, in the U.S., announced, through a paper in Science, that they have made a precise measurement of the mass of the so-called W boson. T
• hey stated that this precisely determined value did not match with what was expected from estimates using the standard model of particle physics.
• This result is highly significant because this implies the incompleteness of the standard model description.
• This is a major claim, since the standard model has been extraordinarily successful in the past decades.
• Hence, physicists are looking for corroboration from other, independent, future experiments.

What is the standard model of elementary particle physics? 

• The standard model of elementary particles is a theoretical construct in physics that describes particles of matter and their interaction.
• It is a description that views the elementary particles of the world as being connected by mathematical symmetries, just as an object and its mirror image are connected by a bilateral (left-right) symmetry.
• These are mathematical groups generated by continuous transformations from, say, one particle to another.
• According to this model there are a finite number of fundamental particles which are represented by the characteristic “eigen” states of these groups.
• The particles predicted by the model, such as the Z boson, have been seen in experiments and the last to be discovered, in 2012, was the Higgs boson which gives mass to the heavy particles.

Why is the standard model believed to be incomplete? 

• The standard model is thought to be incomplete because it gives a unified picture of only three of the four fundamental forces of nature – electromagnetic, weak nuclear, strong nuclear and gravitational interactions -it totally omits gravity.
• So, in the grand plan of unifying all forces so that a single equation would describe all the interactions of matter, the standard model was found to be lacking.
• The other gap in the standard model is that it does not include a description of dark matter particles. So far these have been detected only through their gravitational pull on surrounding matter.

How are the symmetries related to particles? 

• The symmetries of the standard model are known as gauge symmetries, as they are generated by “gauge transformations” which are a set of continuous transformations (like rotation is a continuous transformation). Each symmetry is associated with a gauge boson.
• For example, the gauge boson associated with electromagnetic interactions is the photon. The gauge bosons associated with weak interactions are the W and Z bosons. There are two W bosons – W. and W.
• Inspired by the success of quantum electrodynamics, in the sixties, Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg developed the similar but more general, ‘electroweak’, theory in which they predicted these three particles and how they mediated the weak interactions. They were given the Nobel prize for their efforts in 1979.
• The W boson was first seen in 1983 at CERN, located in the Franco-Swiss border. Unlike the photon, which is massless, the W bosons are quite massive, which results in the force they mediate – the weak force – being very short ranged.
• Unlike the photon, which is electrically neutral, the W-plus and W-minus are both massive and charged. By exchanging such W bosons, a neutron can change into a proton, for example. This is what happens in beta decay, a radioactive interaction that takes place in the sun. Thus, the W boson facilitates the interactions that make the sun burn and produce energy.

What is the discrepancy they obtained? 

• The recent experiment at CDF, which measured the mass of the W boson as 80,433.5 +/- 9.4 Mev/c, which is approximately 80 times the mass of a hydrogen nucleus, showed this to be more than what is expected from the standard model. The expected value using the standard model is 80,357 +/- 8 MeV/c2.
• This is estimated from a combination of analytical calculations and high-precision experimental observation of a few parameters that go into the calculation like the W boson mass, strength of the electromagnetic interaction, Fermi constant, Higgs boson mass and Top quark mass.
• Thus, the W boson mass itself is a prediction of the standard model. Therefore, any discrepancy in its mass means a lack of self-consistency in the standard model.
• However, this is not the last word, as the mass discrepancy of the W boson needs to be checked and confirmed to the same accuracy by other facilities, for example, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Where do we stand now in terms of new physics?

• New physics is in the air, and experiments have been gearing up for some years now to detect new particles.
• The Large Hadron Collider itself has been revamped for “Run3” that will carry out special experiments to look for physics beyond the standard model.
• A Perspective article by Claudio Campagnari and Martijn Mulders in Science points out several high-precision experiments which are in the pipeline such as the International Linear Collider in Japan, the Compact Linear Collider and the Future Circular Collider in CERN, the Circular Electron-Positron Collider in China etc.
• With its high-precision determination of the W boson mass, the CDF has struck at the heart of the standard model, so it is a significant finding and if this is confirmed by the LHC and other experiments, it will throw open the field for ideas and experiment.

The Search Algorithm in Action


Why You Should Know?

• Algorithms play a crucial role for search engines as they process millions of web searches every day.
• With the quantity of information available on the internet growing steadily, search algorithms are becoming increasingly complex, raising privacy and other concerns and drawing the attention of regulators.
• Last month, U.K.’s digital watchdog said they will take a closer look at algorithms, seeking views on the benefits and risks of how sites and apps use algorithms, as well as inputs on auditing algorithms, the current landscape and the role of regulators.

How do search algorithms work? 

• An algorithm, essentially, is a series of instructions. It can be used to perform a calculation, find answers to a question or solve a problem.
• Search engines use a number of algorithms to perform different functions prior to displaying relevant results to an individual’s search request
• Tech giant Alphabet Inc’s Google, whose flagship product is the Google search engine, is the dominant player in the search market.
• Its search engine provides results to consumers with the help of its ranking systems, which are composed of a broad set of algorithms, that sort through web pages in its search index to find the most appropriate results in quick time.
• Its search algorithms consider several factors, including the words and expressions of a user’s query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and the user’s location and settings, according to the firm.
• While Google captures a significant chunk of the general search market, there are alternative search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo available for users to explore.
• The latter, a privacy-focused search engine, claims it does not collect or share users’ personal information.
• In January, market leader Google generated 61.4% of all core search queries in the U.S., according to database company Statista.
• During the same period of time, Microsoft sites handled a quarter of all search queries in the U.S.
• As the algorithms used to deliver results would vary from one search engine to another, when a user inputs a query, the results would also differ.
• Moreover, results from different users would be rarely similar, even when searching for the same things, since the algorithms take into account multiple factors, like their location.

How are they developed?

• Algorithms are often built using historical data and for specific functions. Once developed, they go through frequent updates from the companies to enhance the quality of search engine results presented to users.
• Most large search engine providers also bank on machine learning to automatically improve their users’ search experience, essentially by identifying patterns in previous decisions to make future ones.
• Over the years, Google has developed search algorithms and updated them constantly, with some major updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, RankBrain, Medic, Pigeon, and Payday, meant to enhance some function or address some issue.
• In March, it introduced another update to improve the search engine’s ability to identify high-quality product reviews.
• Search engines exert huge control over which sites consumers can find. Any changes or updates in their algorithms could also mean that traffic is steered away from certain sites and businesses, which could have a negative effect on their revenue.

What are the concerns? 

• The search giant’s trackers have allegedly been found on majority of the top million websites, as per a DuckDuckGo blog post.
• According to a Council of Europe study, the use of data from profiles, including those established based on data collected by search algorithms and search engines, directly affects the right to a person’s informational self-determination.
• Most of Google’s revenues stem from advertisements, such as those it shows consumers in response to a search query.
• DuckDuckGo, in addition to providing an alternative to Google’s search engine, offers mobile apps and desktop browser extensions to protect users’ privacy while browsing the web.
• The privacy-focused firm, in a blog post, said that editorialised results, informed by the personal information Google has on people like their search, browsing, and Bubble” based on what Google’s algorithms think they are most likely to click on.

What’s the current state of these algorithms?  

• These search algorithms can be used to personalise services in ways that are difficult to detect, leading to search results that can be manipulated to reduce choice or artificially change consumers’ perceptions.
• Additionally, firms can also use these algorithms to change the way they rank products on websites, prioritising their own products and excluding competitors.
• Some of these concerns have caught the eye of regulators and as a result these search algorithms have come under their scrutiny.
• The European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison-shopping service.
• Moreover, under the Commission’s proposal on the Digital Services Act, transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including the algorithms used for recommending content or products to users are expected to come into force.

The Grim Forewarnings of a Global Study on Birds


Why You Should Know?

• The State of the World’s Birds, an annual review of environmental resources published by nine natural sciences and avian specialists across the globe, has revealed that the population of 48% of the 10,994 surviving species of birds is declining.
• The report led by the Manchester Metropolitan University gives an overview of the changes in the knowledge of avian biodiversity and the extent to which it is imperilled.

What are the key findings of the study?

The study found that 5,245 or about 48% of the existing bird species worldwide are known or suspected to be undergoing population declines.
• While 4,295 or 39% of the species have stable trends, about 7% or 778 species have increasing population trends.
• The trend of 37 species was unknown. The study draws from BirdLife International’s latest assessment of all birds for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List that shows 1,481 or 13.5% species are currently threatened with global extinction.
• These include 798 species classified as vulnerable, 460 as endangered and 223 as critically endangered while 52 species were considered to be data deficient.
• About 73% species are estimated to have fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, 40% have fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, and almost 5% have fewer than 50 mature individuals.
• The bird species are non-randomly threatened across the avian tree of life, with richness of threatened species disproportionately high among families such as parrots, pheasants and allies, albatrosses and allies, rails, cranes, cracids, grebes, megapodes, and pigeons.
• The more threatened bird species (86.4%) are found in tropical than in temperate latitudes (31.7%), with hotspots for threatened species concentrated in the tropical Andes, southeast Brazil, eastern Himalayas, eastern Madagascar, and Southeast Asian islands.

What is the importance of birds to ecosystems and culture? 

• Birds are a truly global taxon, with one or more species occupying all habitats across the earth’s terrestrial surface including urban environments with no natural analogues.
• Birds contribute toward many ecosystem services that either directly or indirectly benefit humanity. These include provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services.
• The functional role of birds within ecosystems as pollinators, seed-dispersers, ecosystem engineers, scavengers and predators not only facilitate accrual and maintenance of biodiversity but also support human endeavours such as sustainable agriculture via pest control besides aiding other animals to multiply.
• For instance, coral reef fish productivity has been shown to increase as seabird colonies recovered following rat eradication in the Chagos archipelago. Wild birds and products derived from them are also economically important as food (meat, eggs).
• Approximately 45% of all extant bird species are used in some way by people, primarily as pets (37%) and for food (14%).
• The cultural role of birds is perhaps more important than any other taxonomic group, the study says.
• Beyond its symbolic and artistic values, birdwatching is a global pastime practised by millions of people. Garden bird-feeding is valued at $5-6 billion per year and growing by four per cent annually.

What are the threats contributing to avian biodiversity loss?

• The study lists eight factors, topped by land cover and land-use change. The continued growth of human populations and of per capita rates of consumption lead directly to conversion and degradation of primary natural habitats and consequent loss of biodiversity, it says.
• Although global tree cover increased between 1982 and 2016, including by 95,000 sq. km in the tropical dry forest biome and by 84,000 sq. km in the tropical moist deciduous forest biome, this has been driven by afforestation with plantations (often of non-native species) plus land abandonment in parts of the global North, with net loss in the tropics.
• The other factors are habitat fragmentation and degradation, especially in the tropics; hunting and trapping with 11 to 36 million birds estimated to be killed or taken illegally in the Mediterranean region alone; the impact of invasive alien species and disease (971 alien bird species introduced accidentally or deliberately to 230 countries over the centuries have affected the native species); infrastructure, energy demands and pollution; agrochemical and pharmaceutical usage (pesticide ingestion kills an estimated 2.7 million birds annually in Canada alone); global trade teleconnections, and climate change.

Can the avian biodiversity loss be stemmed?

• The study says ornithologists have a good understanding of the spatio-temporal patterns of avian diversity compared to many other taxa and the measures needed to slow down and ultimately reverse avian biodiversity loss.
• “The growing footprint of the human population represents the ultimate driver of most threats to avian biodiversity, so the success of solutions will depend on the degree to which they account for the social context in which they are implemented, and our ability to effect changes in individual and societal attitudes and behaviours.
• Emerging concepts of conservation social science can inform efforts to address biodiversity loss and to achieve more effective and sustainable conservation outcomes, linking birds to human well-being, sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental justice.

89% children between 6-23 months don’t get adequate diet: NFHS


Why You Should Know?

• Highlighting A key gap in child nutrition, the recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has found that 89 percent of children between the formative ages of 6-23 months do not receive a “minimum acceptable diet”. This is only marginally better than the 90.4 percent recorded in NFHS-4.
• The NFHS report looked at adequate diet for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding children till they reached two years.

Major Points of Reports 

• It found that 88.9 percent of children between 6-23 months, who are breastfeeding, did not receive adequate diet in 20192020 – a slight improvement from 91.3 percent in 2015-16.
• And that 87.3 percent of nonbreastfeeding children in this category did not receive adequate nutrition in 2019-21, up from 85.7 percent in 2015-16.
• Among all states and Union Territories, the proportion of children aged 6-23 months who received a minimum acceptable diet was highest in Meghalaya (28.5 percent) and the lowest in UP and Gujarat (5.9 percent each).
• In 2015-16, the proportion of children in this category stood at 5.2 percent in Gujarat and 6.1 percent in UP.
• Apart from Gujarat and UP, 10 other states – Assam (7.2 percent), Rajasthan (8.3 percent), Maharashtra (8.9 percent), Andhra Pradesh(9 percent), MP (9 percent), Telangana (9 percent), Chhattisgarh(9.1 percent), Jharkhand(10 percent), Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (10.2 percent) and Bihar (10.8 percent) – recorded a lower than national-level proportion (11 percent) of children receiving adequate diet.
• Among the top-five states where the percentage of children fom 6-23 months receiving adequate diet was highest, Meghalaya was followed by Sikkim (23.8 percent), Kerala (23.3 percent), Ladakh (23.1 percent) and Puducherry(22.9 percent).
• Dr Basanta Kar, chief advisor, The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security, said there are a number of reasons for deficient diet-poverty, lack of access to nutrition (cereals, fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc), lack of awareness and low education, among others.
• The NFHS found that access to minimum acceptable diet in this category of children is higher in urban areas (12.1 percent) than rural areas (10.7 percent).

Over half of India’s population is still under age 30


Why You Should Know?

• India’s population remains young, with more than one-fourth aged under 15 years and less than an eighth over 60.
• There has been only a slight dip in the young population’s share in the last five years: Between the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) and NFHS-5(2019-21), released last week, the under-15 population has declined by 2 percentage points, from 29% to 27%, while the over-60 population has increased by as many points from 10% to 12%.

Major Points 

• Over half the population (52%) is below 30, compared to 55.5% in NFHS-4. The NFHS divides the population into 5-year age groups from 0-4 years to 75-79, while those over 80 are counted in a single age group.
• The age pyramid shows India’s population is young, which, NFHS-5 notes, is typical of developing countries with low life expectancy. The pyramid also shows that fertility has decreased considerably in the last 5 years, it says.
• NFHS-5 is based on 27,68,371 individuals in 6,36,699 sample households. The NFHS defines a household as a person or group of related or unrelated persons who live together in the same dwelling unit(s), who acknowledge one adult male or female as the head of the household, who share the same housekeeping arrangements, and who are considered a single unit.
• The average household size has decreased slightly between 2015-16 and 201921 (from 4.6 persons to 4.4). Just over one sixth of households (18%) have female heads, up from 15% in NFHS-4.



Why You Should Know?

• Recently attack on Punjab Police’s intelligence headquarters in Mohali used a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
• A look at how weapons of this kind work, and where these have been used over the years:


• The RPG is a weapon of Soviet origin. The initials in Russian stand for rucknoy peotivotankovvy granaromyot, which roughly translates into “handheld anti-tank grenade launcher”.
• An RPG is a portable, shoulder-fired weapon that is easy to operate and can cause widespread damage whether it is targeted at personnel, armoured vehicles or buildings.
• There are different versions that have been designed based on how they are intended to be used, with varying warhead capacities, effective ranges and penetration levels.


• The origins of the RPG’s use date back to conflicts around the world beginning with the First World War.
• Various such handheld weapons have been developed by western military powers, but the most prolific of these has been the RPG, which has been used in almost every major insurgency or terrorism-affected region around the world.
• Soviet-origin RPGs have been used extensively in the Vietnam conflict as well as in conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and even Jammu and Kashmir.
• Security forces in Kashmir have in the past recovered RPGs from terrorists they have killed, and have also found evidence of the use of RPGs.


• While only a detailed forensic analysis of the weapon recovered at Mohali can reveal its exact nature, experts who have taken a first look have observed that it resembles the RPG PG-22 Netto version.
• This kind of RPG consists of a front-loading tube from which it is fired. It can inflict severe damage up to a range of 200 metres, out of a total effective range of 250 metres. The projectile can penetrate 400mm of armour, 1.2m of brick or 1m of concrete.


• There is a thriving illicit market for such Soviet-origin weapons, which are still in circulation across the world.
• Such weapons are not difficult to procure for arms smugglers, and these then find their way to insurgent groups.
• Countries in eastern Europe, especially those from the former Soviet Union bloc, are well-known markets for sale and purchase of these weapons.
• In many countries that deny they distribute weaponry to terrorist organisations in other countries, their intelligence agencies are known to purchase such weapons through non-traceable routes.

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