State of World Population Report, 2023
GS1 Population & Associated Issues
- Recent publication of the State of World Population Report, 2023 by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
About the Report
- Since 1978, the State of the World’s Population report has been the flagship publication of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
It sheds light on emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, mainstreaming them and examining the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.
- Population data:
- India Overtaking China:
- India is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation by the middle of 2023, according to United Nations data.
- India’s population is projected to reach 142.86 billion, compared to China’s 142.57 billion.
- This indicates that India will have 29 lakh more inhabitants than China.
- The world’s population hit the 800-crore mark in November 2022.
- Just eight countries will account for half the projected growth in global population by 2050-
- The Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania
- Two-thirds of people now live in a country where lifetime fertility corresponds with zero growth.
- The United States is a distant third, with an estimated population of 34 crore. In November of 2022, the global population surpassed 800 billion.
- In November of 2022, the global population surpassed 800 billion.
- By 2050, only eight nations will account for half of the projected increase in the world’s population: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
- Presently, two-thirds of the world’s population resides in a country with zero population growth and zero fertility.
- The United States, with an estimated population of 34 crore, is a distant third.
- Slowing of population growth:
- The report says that contrary to the alarm bells about exploding numbers, population trends everywhere point to slower growth and ageing societies.
Addressing changing demographies
- Caution against family planning:
- The report called for a radical rethink on how countries address changing demographics and cautioned against use of family planning as a tool for achieving fertility targets.
- It warned that global experience showed that family planning targets can lead to gender-based discrimination and harmful practices such as prenatal sex determination leading to sex-selective abortion.
- The report urged a radical rethinking of how nations address changing demographics and cautioned against using family planning to achieve fertility goals.
- It cautioned that global experience demonstrated that family planning goals can lead to gender-based discrimination and harmful practices, such as prenatal sex determination leading to sex-selective abortion.
- Policy framing:
- The report strongly suggested that governments implement gender equality and rights-centered policies, such as
- Parental leave initiatives, Child tax credits,
- Policies that promote gender equality in the workplace, and Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.
- For India:
- With close to fifty percent of its population under the age of 25, India has a limited window of opportunity to benefit from the demographic dividend, which it must convert into “economic benefits through additional investments in health, education, and quality jobs for young people — including targeted investments in women and girls.”
- India’s population anxieties:
- The UN agency stated that its findings for India indicated that “population anxieties have infiltrated large portions of the general public”
- The imposition of such targets can result in unbalanced sex ratios, preferential health and nutrition for male children, denial of paternity for female children, violence against women who give birth to girls, and coercion of women to have fewer or more children.
Challenges for India
- Delayed Census
- This can lead to unbalanced sex ratios, preferential health and nutrition for male children, denial of paternity for female children, violence against women who give birth to girls, and coercion of women to have fewer or more children.
- The Census exercise produces basic input data for all sorts of indicators used for planning and policy implementation.
- In the absence of reliable indicators, based on solid numbers from the Census, the quality of these decisions could suffer.
- Focus on key areas:
- A population of more than 1.4 billion will necessitate the unwavering attention of policymakers on fundamental aspects of human welfare, including education, nutrition, healthcare, housing, and employment.
- Productivity and economy:
- Youth will need to be equipped with indispensable skills for the knowledge economy.
- Productivity must increase in order to maintain a constant per capita income.
- Will require policies to increase employment so that the labor force participation rate of both men and women increases.
- Climate change:
- o Due to the climate crisis and other ecological imperatives, many activities will have minimal environmental impact.
- Democratic challenges:
- Most importantly, the challenges will generate debate, discussion, and even dissension, necessitating the amplification of diverse perspectives.
- Going forward, India’s democratic traditions and the strength of its institutions will be required.
- State-wise focus:
- o Obviously, much more needs to be done in many regions of the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh, where the total fertility rate is above the national average and gender discrimination has deep social roots.
- Choice to women:
- In order for the government to effectively implement Population Control, it should first focus on educating women and giving them the freedom to make decisions.
- The state must ensure that contraceptives are available, affordable, and in a variety of acceptable forms.
- India has a window of opportunity well into the 2040s for reaping its “demographic dividend”, like China did from the late 1980s until up to 2015.
- However, this is entirely contingent upon the creation of meaningful employment opportunities for a young population — in the absence of which, the demographic dividend can well turn into a demographic nightmare.
|United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
National Quantum Mission (NQM)
GS 3 Science & Technology
The Union Cabinet approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM), putting India in the top six nations for research and development of quantum technologies.
About National Quantum Mission (NQM)
- It will cost a total of Rs 6,003,65 crore between 2023-24 and 2030-31
- It will focus primarily on bolstering India’s research and development in the quantum field, as well as the indigenous construction of quantum-based (physical qubit) computers that are significantly more capable of solving the most complex problems in a highly secure manner.
- DST will lead this national mission, with assistance from other agencies.
- Quantum technology research and development is currently being conducted in the United States, Canada, France, Finland, China, and Austria.
- It will entail the development of satellite-based secure communications between a ground station and a receiver located within 3,000 km during the first three years.
- For satellite-based communication within Indian cities, NQM will lay communication lines utilizing Quantum Key Distribution over a distance of 2,000 kilometers.
- In the upcoming years, tests will be conducted for long-distance quantum communication, particularly with foreign nations.
- Over the next eight years, the mission will concentrate on developing quantum computers (qubit) with physical qubit capacities ranging from 50 to 1000 qubits.
- The development of computers with up to 50 physical qubits will take three years, 50 – 100 physical qubits will take five years, and computers with up to 1000 physical qubits will take eight years.
- It will also support the design and synthesis of quantum materials for the fabrication of quantum devices, including superconductors, novel semiconductor structures, and topological materials.
- For quantum communications, sensing, and metrology applications, single-photon sources/detectors and entangled photon sources will be developed.
- Themes: Four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) will be established in the domains of Quantum Computing, Quantum Communication, Quantum Sensing & Metrology, and Quantum Materials & Devices in top academic and national R&D institutes.
- The hubs will focus on the generation of new knowledge through basic and applied research as well as promote R&D in areas that are mandated to them.
- It will have wide-scale applications ranging from healthcare and diagnostics, defence, energy, and data security.”
- It can take the technology development ecosystem in the country to a globally competitive level.
- It will help develop magnetometers with high sensitivity in atomic systems and Atomic Clocks for precision timing, communications, and navigation.
- It would greatly benefit communication, health, financial and energy sectors as well as drug design, and space applications.
- It will provide a huge boost to National priorities like digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Stand-up India, Start-up India, Self-reliant India, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
GS 3 Science & Technology
- Discussions around Web3 are increasing as it is considered as the internet for the next generation.
Evolution of Internet
- Web1.0 Read-Only (1990-2004): Users would casually read or browse static pages on the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s. Internet users were merely information consumers, and it was read-only. As an illustration, consider Yahoo, which displays news, weather, sports, entertainment, and financial data.
- Web2.0 Read-Write (2004-now): The current state of the internet, where users can now interact with web pages, is known as Web2. The internet no longer merely presents information; it can now adapt to the preferences of readers and allow users to upload content to other people’s websites. The internet was originally read-only, but Web2 changed that to read/write.Popular examples include Meta’s Facebook and YouTube. Facebook users could interact with one another by liking or commenting on pictures and posts. On YouTube, anyone can upload their own videos.
- • While keeping the Web2 functionalities, Web3 has the potential to transform corporate-owned networks into user-controlled networks.Another way to put it is read/write/own. These blockchain-based networks can be controlled by users using cryptocurrency tokens. The community may benefit as a result of the network’s expansion as token prices rise.
- The decentralized web, also referred to as dApps or smart contracts in the blockchain system, enables the creation and exchange of digital assets.Decentralized applications (dapps) are not controlled by a single entity, but by cooperative governance structures.
- The creation and exchange of digital assets are made possible by the decentralized web, also known as dApps or smart contracts in the blockchain system.
- For instance, if every potential business decision made by Facebook and Google had to be proposed to its users before adoption. Most would likely not agree with the extent of data collection, bans and derisive content feeds you see today. Conceptually, Web3 eliminates many of the Web2 issues that derive from its centralization.
How is Web3 different from Web2?
- Centralization vs. decentralization: Web2 is centralized, which means that data is kept on centralized servers that are run by major corporations and under their ownership and control. Web3 is decentralized, in contrast, which means that data is kept on a network of computers that are owned and managed by the users themselves.
- Data ownership and control: In Web2, big businesses with extensive control over user data, such as Facebook and Google, are able to monetize it in ways that users might find objectionable. Users of Web3 have the option to limit data sharing to people they know and trust. Users of Web2 must have faith that intermediaries will protect their data and transactions. Users of Web3 can rely on the network to protect their data and transactions.
GS 3 Science & Technology
- The three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany have been shut down as part of a long-planned shift to renewable energy.
Timeline for the Transition of Germany
- • Then tragedies like those at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima Germany experienced decades-long anti-nuclear protests that forced succeeding governments to ban a technology.
- • Germany was exposed to radioactive fallout during the Chernobyl reactor accident. Large swaths of the nation would become inhabitable in the event of a reactor accident. In Germany, the problem of managing radioactive waste remains unsolved.
- In light of this, a large, bipartisan majority approved the nuclear phase-out law in 2011.
- • The nuclear plants’ scheduled shutdown on December 31, 2022, was postponed due to the war in Ukraine last year, and the final shutdown took place on April 15.
- The nation in Europe is concentrating on increasing its production of wind and solar energy. Germany wants to produce 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, such as wind and solar.
Global Scenario of Nuclear Power Generation
- In the 1950s, the first nuclear power plants for commercial use went online.
- Around 440 power reactors use nuclear energy to generate 10% of the world’s electricity today.
- With 26% of the total in 2020, nuclear power is the second-largest source of low-carbon energy worldwide.
- There are about 220 research reactors that use nuclear energy in more than 50 countries. These reactors are employed not only for research but also for training and the production of industrial and medical isotopes.
- • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has updated its projections, which state that over the next three decades, electricity generation will rise by 85%. By 2050, nuclear energy could provide 14% of the world’s electricity, up from its current 10% share.
- Since 1980, coal’s share of the energy mix used to produce electricity has gradually decreased, but it still holds the top spot.
- From less than 1% in 1980 to 9% in 2021, the share of solar and wind energy has experienced a sharp rise in recent years.
- The IAEA now projects that by 2050, global nuclear generating capacity will have more than doubled to 873 gigawatts net electrical (GW(e)), from its current levels of around 390 GW(e). In the worst case, generating capacity essentially stays flat.
- The annual outlook cites recent occurrences like the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions, and the military conflict in Europe as having impacted the dependability of energy systems, impeded energy flows across regions, and resulted in significant increases in energy prices as being the key drivers of decisions to continue or expand the use of nuclear power.
Nuclear Power Scenario in India
- Operation Smiling Buddha: On May 18, 1974, India carried out Pokhran-I, the nation’s first successful nuclear test, also known as “Operation Smiling Buddha.” India became the first nation outside of the five nuclear-armed states recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to conduct nuclear tests as a result of the event. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was founded in 1974, which was one of the more obvious effects of the test in 1974.
- • After that, India’s successful nuclear tests on May 11 and May 13 forced the rest of the world to accept India as a member of the nuclear order.
- Civil nuclear agreement with the US: The agreement allowed for much closer cooperation between India and the US on civil nuclear energy issues while also facilitating much deeper engagement between the two countries. The 2005 agreement also demanded modifications to the IAEA and NSG as well as the global framework for civil nuclear energy.
- 123 Agreement: In 2008, the “123 agreement” (also known as the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement) was signed as a result of discussions between India and the US that established the foundation for rekindled bilateral ties. India was the first nuclear-armed nation to be permitted to trade nuclear materials with the rest of the world even though it was not a signatory to the NPT.
- Civil nuclear agreements with India: These agreements seek to foster mutually advantageous economic, scientific, and technical cooperation for the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
- Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Namibia, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom, US, and Vietnam are the 14 nations with which India has forged such agreements.
R&D at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
- India is the only developing country with nuclear reactors that it has independently developed, tested, and installed.
- Boiling water reactors (BWRs): Two BWRs built at Tarapur as part of an Indo-US partnership were the country’s first nuclear power reactors.
- Pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs): BARC assumed responsibility for component development and testing as well as other significant R&D support for the design and safety of PHWRs as part of their establishment after Canadian support ended in 1974.
- Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR): After the disasters at Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979 (TMI) and Chernobyl in 1986, there was a fundamental shift in the design philosophy of new nuclear reactors. Systems for passive safety have become a crucial component of Gen-III and III+ reactors. This philosophy served as the inspiration for the AHWR concept that BARC created.
- Recent developments: India was given the chance to build nuclear reactors with international cooperation after signing the International Civil Nuclear Cooperation agreement in 2008.
- Additionally, this treaty guaranteed a steady supply of fuel for Indian NPPs. BARC intends to create PWRs domestically to speed up capacity building. To start the domestic PWR program, BARC has developed forging technology for pressure vessels, reactivity drives, etc.The third stage of the Indian nuclear power program will burn thorium on the Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR).The Innovative High Temperature Reactor (IHTR), which BARC is also developing, aims to supply high temperature process heat for hydrogen production by thermochemical water splitting. This reactor is a pebble bed type with molten salt cooling.
Arguments in Favour of Nuclear Power
- Clean Energy Source: Nuclear power is frequently overlooked when discussing “clean energy,” despite being the second-largest global source of low-carbon electricity after hydropower. A clean energy source with no emissions is nuclear. It also maintains clean air by removing thousands of tons of dangerous air pollutants annually that cause smog, lung cancer, acid rain, and cardiovascular disease.
pollutants annually that cause smog, lung cancer, acid rain, and cardiovascular disease.
- Land footprint: Nuclear energy uses less land than any other clean-air source while still producing enormous amounts of carbon-free electricity. To generate the same amount of electricity as a typical commercial reactor, or more than 430 wind turbines, more than 3 million solar panels would be required.
- Use as little fuel as possible: Nuclear fuel is incredibly dense. It is roughly 1 million times greater than that of other conventional energy sources, so less nuclear fuel is used as a result.
- Closing the energy gap: The mainstays of low-carbon electricity production are nuclear and hydroelectric power. They provide 75 percent of the world’s low-carbon generation collectively. Nuclear power has reduced CO2 emissions by more than 60 gigatonnes over the past 50 years, or nearly two years’ worth of global energy-related emissions.
Arguments Against of Nuclear Power
- Safety Concerns: Concerns regarding nuclear safety have led to protests. These protests have been a result of multiple concerns, such as diversion of water to the plants, environmental degradation, land acquisition, as well as issues of rehabilitation.
- Nuclear Accidents: Numerous significant nuclear reactor accidents have occurred since 1952. A mishap in Kyshtym, Russia, caused waste that hadn’t been properly handled to explode. Unqualified personnel in Chernobyl, Ukraine, caused an explosion. After an earthquake and tsunami, there was an explosion in Fukushima, Japan.
- Large amounts of radioactive material were released into the environment as a result of these accidents. The areas close to the damaged reactors are now off-limits to habitation. Long-term Low-level radiation exposure can be extremely dangerous and raise the risk of developing cancer.
- Misuse of Nuclear Power: Many nations possess the knowledge, expertise, and resources necessary to independently develop nuclear weapons or non-lethal nuclear energy programs. Furthermore, if the nations that currently possess nuclear power refuse to give it to them, they will be more inclined to do so.
- Nuclear Waste: Radioactive waste is produced by nuclear power plants, and managing and getting rid of this waste is difficult. The radioactive waste is mostly safe—about 97% of it. After only a few days or weeks, the majority of low- or intermediate-level waste loses its radioactivity.
- The remaining 3%, however, is high-level waste. It can continue to be radioactive for centuries. Future generations will continue to be at risk from radioactive waste that is stored underground and could leak into the groundwater.
- High Operating Costs: It is considerably cheaper to extend the life of a reactor than build a new plant, and costs of extensions are competitive with other clean energy options, including new solar PV and wind projects. The estimated cost of extending the operational life of 1 GW of nuclear capacity for at least 10 years ranges from $500 million to just over $1 billion depending on the condition of the site.
- Safe Mechanisms: Because of their persistent development problems and rising energy needs, developing nations like India find it difficult to choose between different energy sources. The continued development of secure nuclear energy use mechanisms should therefore be given top priority.
- Public Participation: At the domestic level, initial studies examining the effects on the environment, the water balance, and waste management systems, as well as matters of rehabilitation and resettlement, should be incorporated at the planning stage.
- Emergency Plans: The public must have access to the emergency plans created by the Atomic Energy agencies. Regular revisions of these plans are required, as well as training exercises involving law enforcement.
- Despite the fact that India’s civil nuclear interactions with the world community have improved its standing in the global civil nuclear order, the nation still needs to push for deeper interactions with more significant suppliers and stakeholders in order to realize its full civil nuclear potential and assert its status as a responsible nuclear state.
R21 Malaria Vaccine
GS 2 Government Policies & InterventionsHealthGS 3Science & Technology
With the approval of the new malaria vaccine R21/Matrix-M, which was created by the University of Oxford and produced by the Serum Institute of India, Nigeria made medical history.After Ghana, it is the second nation to do so.
- The R21 vaccine, also known as the Matrix-M malaria vaccine, is the second disease-specific vaccine ever created.
- In 2021, the WHO approved RTS, S or mosquirix, the first-ever malaria vaccine.
- The WHO Director-General has granted malaria-free status to 9 nations since 2015, including the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Algeria, China (2021), and El Salvador (2021).
- The plasmodium protozoa that cause it are spread by mosquitoes.
- The parasites are spread by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes that are infected.
- Plasmodium parasites are the cause of this deadly illness.Transmission:
- The parasites are spread by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes that are infected.
- Parasites develop in the liver cells of the human body before attacking the Red Blood Cells (RBCs).
- Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, two of the five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, pose the biggest danger.
- It is predominantly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America and Asia.
- High temperature and symptoms of the flu, such as chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- In 2021, there were 247 million cases of malaria, up from 245 million cases in 2020, according to the most recent World Malaria Report.
- Over 45,000 cases of malaria were reported in India in 2022.
- In the WHO African Region, children under the age of five made up about 80% of all malaria deaths.
Initiatives to Curb Malaria
- Global initiatives include:Under its “E-2025 Initiative,” the WHO has also identified 25 nations with the potential to eradicate malaria by 2025.
- According to the WHO’s global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030, case incidence and mortality rates should drop by at least 40% by 2020, at least 75% by 2025, and at least 90% by 2030 compared to baseline levels from 2015.
- Eleven nations with high malaria burdens, including India, have launched the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative.
- West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh are the four states where the “High Burden to High Impact (HBHI)” initiative is currently being implemented.
- Indian Initiatives:
- By 2027, the Indian government hopes to have eradicated malaria in the country.
- A National Framework for Malaria Elimination (2016-2030) was created.
- Five-year National Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Malaria.
- Launched in 2017
- It shifted focus from Malaria control to elimination.
- It provided a roadmap to end malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.
- MERA-India (Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India)
- Established by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
- It is a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control
GS 3 Species in News
Sri Lanka recently acknowledged China’s request to import 100,000 Toque macaques.
Image Courtesy: TH
About Toque Macaque
- The toque macaque monkey is endemic to Sri Lanka and is a golden brown color. It spends a lot of time in trees and inhabits all kinds of forests.
- In several regions of Sri Lanka, it is infamous for destroying crops and, on occasion, even attacking people.
- Threats include habitat loss brought on by plantations’ encroachment and fuel wood collection.
- Other threats include shooting, snaring, and poisoning of the animals, as they are considered to be crop pests.
- Protection Status: It is protected internationally under CITES Appendix II.
It is classified as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.
Seeds in Space
GS 3 Science & Technology
- Two seed varieties, arabidopsis and sorghum, were sent into space by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
This organization’s first feasibility study examining the impact of cosmic radiation, microgravity, and extreme temperatures on plant biology and genomes.
- More radiation alters the genetic makeup of plant seeds, enabling them to adapt to more challenging environmental factors like higher temperatures, arid soils, diseases, and rising sea levels. The term “space mutagenesis” refers to this adaptation process.
Significance of the Cosmic Experiment
- The experiment aims to create new crops that can adapt to climate change and improve global food security. With the world’s population expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, there is a clear need for creative solutions that will increase food production as well as more resilient crops and sustainable farming practices. Political unrest and the rising cost of basic grains have made it worse.
About Sorghum & Arabidopsis
- Sorghum: Sorghum, a member of the millet family, is a heat- and drought-resistant grain that is grown for food in many developing nations.
- Arabidopsis: This diminutive flowering plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes mustard.
- Due to its small size, quick life cycle, and adaptable genetics, it is frequently used as a model organism in plant biology research.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (HO: Vienna, Austria)
- The agency was founded on July 29, 1957, and although it is independent of the UN, it still submits reports to the General Assembly and Security Council of the UN.Its responsibility is to uphold the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s core values. India has not ratified the treaty.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- Established by the UN in 1945, this organization deals with global initiatives to end hunger.
Plant ‘cries’: Recalling J.C. Bose
GS 3 Science & Technolog yAchievements of Indians in S&T
- Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel claimed to be able to hear the sounds that distressed plants make.
- Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel claimed to have been able to hear the sounds made by distressed plants.
More about News
- The researchers said these plants had been making very distinct, high-pitched sounds in the ultrasonic range when faced with some kind of stress, like when they were in need of water.
- This was the first time that plants had been caught making any kind of noise.
|Do you know?
Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937)
- He was a physicist-turned-biologist who demonstrated more than a century ago that plants could feel pleasure and pain in the same ways that animals could.
- He created the crescograph, a tool for gauging plant growth.
- For his work on wireless signal transmission and on the physiology of plants, Jagadish Chandra Bose is best known.
- He was one of the pioneers in the development of solid state physics.
- The p-type and n-type semiconductors were something he had anticipated.
- Many people agree that Bose was the first to produce electromagnetic signals in the microwave range.
- He invented radio receivers, which allowed for wireless telegraphy, first.
His study of plants
- Bose’s straightforward experiments showed that the reactions of plant and animal tissues to outside stimuli are remarkably similar. Later, using extremely advanced instruments, biophysicists amply illustrated this principle.
- The “intermediates in a continuum that extended between animals and the non-living materials,” according to Bose, were plants.
- Plants were the “intermediates in a continuum that extended between animals and the non-living materials,” in Bose’s words.