Today Current Affairs English 5 February 2022

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With Birth Rate in decline, India must Change

Why in News?

With the fertility rate going below replacement, India will face issues such as increased reliance, rising healthcare, and social security needs, all of which will necessitate legislative responses.

What did the NFHS-5 say?

The total fertility rate (TFR) is set at 2.0 by the NFHS-5, which is also known as the replacement level of fertility. A TFR of 1.9 or below exists in 29 states and UTs.

The lingering shock and uncertainty caused by the pandemic will likely drive down birth rates even more, as NFHS-5 was primarily collected before the nation felt the heat of Covid-19.

What are the implications of the demographic transition?

India’s health, fiscal, and gender policies will all be affected by the inevitable demographic shift.

Problems with your health- India’s health policies and programmes have concentrated on family planning, maternal and child health, and communicable diseases, based on the 2000 Population Policy. India’s attention is gradually shifting away from under nutrition and onto the growing problem of obesity among the general population.

However, as the population of older persons grows, additional health issues emerge. This includes the following:

Increase in the number of non-communicable diseases- According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases account for roughly 60% of all fatalities in the country. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are examples of morbidities.

Food insecurity is a risk for 6% of Indians over 45.Medical bills are rising. Health insurance is difficult to obtain – less than 1% of older persons have health insurance. Issues with transportation Specialized services are unavailable.

Budgetary costs will rise as the fertility rate declines, posing a fiscal burden in the shape of an increased dependence ratio.In India, the dependency ratio has risen from 5.4 in 1960 to 9.8 in 2020, and is expected to rise to more than 20.3 in 2050.

As the population of young people ages, resources allocated to youth will dwindle.Demand for work among the elderly will rise, potentially delaying retirement, resulting in a “job squeeze” in which young and old fight for a limited number of positions.

A new gender dilemma will emerge as the population ages, with the number of older adult women exceeding the number of men.

Women’s life expectancy is predicted to be two years longer than men’s at 65 years in the next three decades.

Because of the disparity in life expectancy, more women will become widows later in life, jeopardising their social and economic security. Because the average number of years spent in education among women aged 40-45 is not promising, many older women will be under-empowered and prone to social insecurity.

What can be done to smoothen the concerns of demographic transition?

Policy objectives: India must pursue two objectives at the same time.In the long term, investing in today’s young will result in a healthier and empowered population.

Developing a more secure platform to give instant benefits to seniors.India can attain healthy ageing and flatten the curve where sickness, disability, and disempowerment increase with age by doing so.India has to spend more in its youth in order to ensure that they have good jobs and earnings. Targeted behavior-change communication for healthy life practises will help the youth to become healthier.

Education is the first step toward increasing the market worth of youth by strengthening the educational system to make it globally competitive. Flagship skill-building initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal are examples of this. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Vikas Yojana Grameen Kausalya Yojana should be given more funding and its attention shifted to the youth.

Policy shifts- Shifting policies in favour of older persons will lead to a more sustainable society in the future. This includes the following:Making specialised health services available at the primary care level, and improving the transportation system for older adults

Replicating the ASHA worker model Developing a cadre of health outreach workers who are trained in providing first-line geriatric care (medical care for older adults)

India’s old-age pension share, which now stands at 1% of GDP, has to be increased. When older folks offer their expertise and wisdom to the workplace in order to maximise youth energy, it can be an extra benefit.

Ramsar Sites and the Significance of Listing

Why in News?

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands designated Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh as wetlands of international importance on the eve of World Wetlands Day (February 2).

What are wetlands?

Wetlands are defined as “areas of marsh, fen, peat land, or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water whose depth at low tide does not exceed 6 metres,” according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

River channels, paddy fields, and other areas where economic activity occurs are excluded from the Indian government’s definition under The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.

“Lands transitioning between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water,” according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wetlands must have one or more of the following three characteristics to be classified in this way:At least once a year, the land is dominated by hydrophytes.

The substrate is mostly hydric dirt that hasn’t been drained. The substrate is non-soil, and at some point during the growing season of each year, it is saturated with water or covered by shallow water.”Wetlands Action for People and Nature” is the topic of this year’s World Wetlands Day.

Wetlands provide a variety of valuable resources and ecosystem services, including food, fibre, ground water recharge, and water purification.flood moderation erosion control regulation of the climate

There are five major types of wetlands that are commonly recognised:

Coastal wetlands such as coastal lagoons, rocky coastlines, and coral reefs are all examples of marine wetlands.Deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps are examples of estuarine habitats.Lacustrine wetlands are wetlands that are linked with lakes. Wetlands along rivers and streams are known as riverine wetlands.

Palustrine – marshes, swamps, and bogs – meaning “marshy.”

Fish and shrimp ponds, farm ponds, irrigated agricultural land, saltpans, reservoirs, gravel pits, sewage farms, and canals are examples of man-made wetlands.

What is the status of wetlands in India?

Wetlands cover 6.4 percent of the earth’s surface area.

According to the National Wetland Inventory and Assessment conducted by ISRO, wetlands cover 1,52,600 sq km in India, accounting for 4.63 percent of the country’s total geographical area.

Inland natural wetlands account for 43.4 percent of this, while coastal natural wetlands account for 24.3 percent.

There are 19 different types of wetlands in India. Gujarat is the state with the most wetlands (22.7 percent of the country’s total wetlands), followed by Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

What is Ramsar Convention?

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance came into existence in 1971.

It is named after Ramsar, the Iranian city.It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.

As per the Convention, signatory countries can declare specific wetlands as ‘Ramsar sites’, if they meet one or more of nine criteria (such as if it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds).

What is Montreux Record?

The Montreux Record is a database of wetland sites on the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance List that have experienced, are experiencing, or are projected to experience changes in ecological character as a result of technological advancements, pollution, or other human interference.

It’s a non-binding technique to draw attention to specific wetlands of worldwide significance that are facing immediate threats. It is still listed on the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance List. The two Indian sites now classified under it are Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan and Loktak Lake in Manipur. Chilika Lake was also mentioned in the Montreux Record in 1993 owing to a siltation concern, but it was eventually removed from the list after the situation was resolved by the Indian government.

What about Ramsar sites in India?

On February 1, 1982, India ratified the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention classified Chilika Lake in Odisha and Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan as the first Indian wetland of international significance. The Sundarbans is India’s largest Ramsar Site. In India, there are now 49 Ramsar Sites distributed over 18 states and two Union Territories, the most of any country in South Asia. Ten of the 49 locations are in Uttar Pradesh, six in Punjab, and four each in Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir.

What are the two new additions?

The Khijadia Bird Sanctuary is a freshwater wetland in Gujarat that is a bird’s paradise.

There are also marshy fields, mangroves, prosopis areas, mudflats, salt pans, rivers, woodland scrub, sandy beaches, and even farmlands abutting the area, in addition to marine and fresh water ecosystems. More than 220 species of endangered resident and migratory birds, including the Dalmatian Pelican, Asian Open Bill Stork, Black Necked Stork, Darter, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, bar-headed goose, and Indian Skimmer, call these habitats home. Many worldwide migratory species make their first stop in Gujarat.

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary- Located in Uttar Pradesh, Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe wintering and staging location for several Central Asian flyway species.

The sanctuary’s lake, which was established in 1980, is significant for migrating birds who fly down here during the winter season.

What is the significance of Ramsar listing?

States can recognise wetlands of importance under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2017.

Similarly, under the Central Asian Flyway Action Plan, state forest departments can identify wetlands of importance. From the standpoint of birds, this can provide legal protection to these places.

Designating a wetland as a wetland of global importance by the Ramsar secretariat may not result in additional money from the global body, but it is akin to certification.

A Ramsar designation requires authorities to tighten the protection regime in the area and to build defences against encroachment and other threats to wetlands. When a wetland is designated as a Ramsar site, it receives increased public attention.

Uttar Pradesh is Ganna Pradesh

Why in News?

Sugarcane should be included in a ‘circular economy,’ and its full potential should be realised by the next government in Lucknow.

What about the status of sugarcane production?

Brazil is the world’s top sugarcane producer, followed by India.

In the last five seasons (October-September), Uttar Pradesh has been India’s leading sugar production.

It has also become the country’s leading ethanol producer.

In 2020-21, Uttar Pradesh will be the only state to reach 10% blending in gasoline, a year ahead of the national target. In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane is grown on roughly 2.5 million hectares, and the entire northern part of the state is a Ganna Pradesh (Sugarcane State).

How did the state accomplish in sugarcane production?

Until 2003-04, the sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh could only crush about 4 lakh tonnes of cane per day (tcd). The Sugar Industry Promotion Policy, which was implemented in 2004, prompted significant investment in both new mills and brownfield expansions.

Aggregate crushing capacity had surpassed 7 lakh tcd by 2006-07. Between 2007 and 2012, the government increased cane prices by Rs 120 per quintal and guaranteed that farmers were paid on time. The administration pledged to treble UP’s ethanol output between 2016-17 and 2020-21 by increasing the number of distilleries from 44 to 75.

Bakshi Ram’s blockbuster cane variety, Co-0238, increased average yields and sugar-to-cane recovery in the state.

To summarise, the development of UP’s sugarcane industry is the result of a “tripartisan effort” by all three reigning regimes.

How is FRP related to sugarcane?

The notion of the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) of sugarcane was replaced with the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane with the revision of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 in 2009.

The minimal price that mills must pay to sugarcane growers is known as the FRP.

The national government sets the cane price based on recommendations from the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) in cooperation with state governments and comments from sugar sector organizations. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane, which is the same as the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The order calls for the sugarcane FRP to be fixed based on the following factors:

Sugarcane production costs are high. The return to growers from other crops, as well as the general trend in agricultural commodity prices Sugar is available to consumers at a reasonable price. Sugar producers’ selling price for sugar derived from Sugarcane. Profits from the sale of byproducts such as molasses, bagasse, and press mud, or their estimated worth

Sugarcane growers should be allowed to make reasonable profit and risk margins.

What is the significance of sugarcane in the state of UP?

UP would have 2.5 million cane farmer families if each family had a one-hectare plot of land.

Sugarcane harvesting, mills, distilleries, indigenous sugar facilities, and transportation employ approximately 4.5 million people in Uttar Pradesh.

Sugarcane consumes less water per unit of biomass generated than paddy and wheat, although having a water need nearly twice that of paddy and four times that of wheat.

Furthermore, its green upper leaves provide nourishment for animals during the winter and spring months. Sugar mills do not require external power or water because the boiler fuel, baggase fibre, and the water heated to produce steam are both found in the cane itself.

Even after steam generation, crushing, juice extraction, and concentration/evaporation loss, a fifth of the water in cane remains rendered surplus. Carbon sequestration- Sugarcane is a prodigious biomass producer and a very efficient carbon sequesterer. Press mud is the leftover cake after the cane juice has been clarified and filtered. It’s utilised as a compost fertiliser, a feedstock for bio-CNG production, and a way to recover potash from distillery effluent after it’s been burned in incinerator boilers.

What scope does it hold in the future?

Sugarcane should be part of a ‘circular economy,’ and the future government in Lucknow should work to realise the full potential of this champion crop. Import reduction is critical for a country that imports the majority of its natural gas and potassium fertiliser requirements. Ethanol blending- The state can take the lead in enforcing 12 percent and 15 percent ethanol blending in gasoline, which has previously been notified with mass emission regulations. Mills should be paid more efficiently and on time for the renewable electricity they supply to the UP Power Corporation. Such debts now total more than Rs 300 crore. Transparent pricing- There is a need for transparent cane pricing that is formula-based, connected to mills’ sugar and by-product realisations, and any price over that paid from the state budget.

Other Important Current Affairs

Nord Stream Pipeline

Following heightened tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine, the Nord Stream project has resurfaced in the spotlight. The Nord Stream Pipeline, which is owned by Russian energy company Gazprom, is the world’s longest undersea pipeline. It is a Russian-to-European gas export pipeline that travels beneath the Baltic Sea. The Bovanenkovo oil and gas condensate deposit in Western Siberia provides the majority of the gas for Nord Steam. Nord Stream is made up of two pipelines, each with two lines. Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2011 and runs from Vyborg in Leningrad, Russia, to Lubmin near Greifswald, Germany. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which extends from Leningrad’s Ust-Luga to Lubmin, was finished in 2021.


Nordstream’s twin pipelines can deliver a total of 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year to Europe for at least 50 years. The importance of the pipeline stems from the fact that it avoids transit countries, making it extremely dependable for European clients.


The Nord Stream passes across numerous countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, as well as Russia, Denmark, and Germany’s territorial seas.


The pipeline connects to the OPAL (Baltic Sea Pipeline) and NEL (North European Pipeline) in Germany, and from there to the European grid.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Mandhan Yojana

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Mandhan Yojana has enlisted a total of 21,86,918 farmers, according to Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Small and marginal farmers can participate in the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojna (PMKMY), which is a voluntary and contributory pension system (SMFs).


It is being introduced in order to give pensions to SMFs as a form of old age protection and social security net. This scheme provides for the payment of a minimum fixed pension of Rs. 3,000/- to qualifying SMFs upon reaching the age of 60, subject to certain exclusion criteria.


Eligibility – A Small and Marginal Farmer must be the recipient.

  • They must own up to 2 hectares of cultivable land.
  • The scheme is open to people aged 18 to 40.

SMFs covered by other statutory social security schemes, such as NPS, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation plan, Employees’ Fund Organization Scheme, and so on, should not be the beneficiaries.

They should not have chosen the Ministry of Labour & Employment’s Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana and National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self-Employed Persons.


Should not come from a group of people that have a higher socio economic level.


Contribution – By subscribing to a Pension Fund, a qualified beneficiary can become a member of the Scheme.


At the median entrance age of 29 years, the beneficiary is obliged to contribute Rs 100/- each month.


The Central Government also contributes an equal amount to the Pension Fund, which is maintained by the Life Insurance Corporation, which is also in charge of paying out pensions.


Status – Because the Scheme’s entrance age is 18 to 40 years old, no recipient has yet reached the age of 60 to be paid.

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