Topic 1: Indians eat more salt than WHO recommendation
Why in news: The estimated mean daily salt intake in India stands at 8 g (8.9 g a day for men and 7.1 g a day for women) against the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of up to 5 g daily, a study has found.
Key findings of the report:
- The salt intake was significantly higher among men, those in rural areas and overweight and obese, according to a recent survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) published in the journal Nature.
- The study was carried out as part of the National Non-communicable Disease Monitoring Survey in India.
- It noted that the sample population had a low perception of the harmful effects of high salt intake and practices to limit consumption.
- The study notes that salt intake was higher in employed people (8.6 g) and tobacco users (8.3 g) and those with high blood pressure (8.5 g).
- It specifies that reducing the intake is a beneficial and cost-effective way to bring down elevated blood pressure by 25% and advocates a 30% reduction in mean population salt intake by 2025.
- It found that less than half of the participants practised measures to control dietary salt intake and the most commonly adopted step to prevent salt overdose was avoiding meals outside home.
- Cardiovascular diseases account for an estimated 28.1% of the total deaths in India.
- n 2016, 1.63 million deaths were attributable to hypertension as against 0.78 million deaths in 1990.
Significance of the study:
- The study was conducted in a nationally representative sample wherein dietary sodium intake was estimated from spot urine samples, a validated method used to assess dietary sodium intake.
- The population mean was calculated using sampling weights; thus, the study findings could be generalised at a population level and used to plan and implement dietary salt control measures.
Limitations of the study:
- The information on awareness and behaviour of salt intake was self-reported and could be subjected to information bias.
- The study did not capture data on the actual dietary sources of salt in food items and condiments for any correlation analysis.
Topic 2: Odisha wants to have its own tiger census
Why in news: After it announced a tiger census of its own, questioning the findings of the All-India Tiger Estimation (AITE) 2022, the Odisha government has unveiled how it plans to carry out the exercise.
- The AITE report had said more than half the tigers Odisha had in 2016 have vanished, with one of its two notified tiger reserves, the Satkosia Tiger Reserve, left with none.
- It said Odisha has 20 tigers, down from 45 in 2006.
- The number at the other reserve, the Similipal Tiger Reserve, has doubled from 8 in 2018 to 16 in 2022.
- Disagreeing with the AITE’s methodology, the Odisha government began preparing for a census of its own.
- Odisha Forest department officials said the figures depicted in AITE-2022 might not be an accurate reflection of the presence, habitat occupancy and number of tigers in Odisha, as the sampling intensity was relatively low.
- They said though the AITE protocol mandates that the phase-I survey be carried out in all forest beats and phase-III in all potential tiger-bearing forest blocks, in Odisha, it was carried out only in limited areas.
- The state claimed a total of 733 camera traps were deployed in Odisha, as against 6,894 and 4,872 in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra respectively.
What does Odisha aim for with its own survey?
- The idea is to have a more realistic estimation of the number of tigers in the state and of the forest blocks/habitats occupied by them, for closer monitoring and protection.
- The state government has also said it will carry out the counting more frequently than the AITE, which is done every four years.
- It claimed that because of the four-year interval, only adult tigers are counted in each cycle.
- This leads to the exclusion of sub-adults, which would have reached adulthood before the next AITE is due.
Where will the survey be carried out?
- Except for the four coastal districts, where tigers are not known to be present, the survey will be carried out in the rest of Odisha by dividing the state into two categories:
- tiger reserves and
- forest blocks outside tiger reserves.
How will the survey be done?
- The survey aims to arrive at a yearly estimate of tigers through camera-trapping and DNA analysis of scats, and to prepare a tiger occupancy map for the state based on primary field data.
- Phase I:
- The survey will be carried out in phases, including a preparatory phase during which secondary information about tigers is being collected from various sources, and the divisions, ranges and forest blocks to be taken up for the ‘sign survey’ are being finalised.
- Phase II:
- The actual survey starts on the field in phase-II, as part of which information collected from secondary sources is validated on the ground.
- During the sign survey, indirect evidence like pug marks and scats, scratch marks on the trees, rake marks, animal kills and the alarm call by prey animals will be collected along the pre-determined trails inside a census unit.
- Genetic analysis of the scat samples will also be done for identification of species and sex of the big cats.
- Phase III:
- After the sign survey leads to identification of beats with tiger presence, phase-III will start, with deployment of camera traps.
- Phase IV:
- In the fourth and final phases, analysis of camera trap images and DNA findings from scats will be done before compilation of numbers.
- The state government had taken a good step towards getting a more realistic estimation of big cats.
- The pugmark method will help the forest department in better deployment of camera traps, judicious deployment of forest personnel, and in creating micro plans for tiger conservation.
- The census move is welcome, but the success of it will depend on the sincerity of the forest officers during different phases of the survey.
- Instead of the four-year gap in case of AITE, the state’s survey should take place annually.
Topic 3: Tigers dying in Nilgiris district
Why in news: A total of 10 tigers (six cubs and four adults) have died in the Nilgiris since the middle of August.
What are the reasons for the deaths?
- One of the theories put forward is that the high density of tigers in the Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarhole complex of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is pushing populations into the surrounding habitats in the Mukurthi National Park, Nilgiris and Gudalur forest divisions.
- This leads to increased competition between animals and more fighting, resulting in more deaths.
- This increase in population could lead to more negative human-animal interactions in the near future.
- They emphasise the need to regenerate degraded habitats that can be re-colonised by the tigers’ prey such as Sambar, spotted deer and the Indian gaur.
What is being done:
- To allay fears that poachers could be targeting tigers, the forest department plans to set up anti-poaching camps.
- There are also plans to begin annual monitoring of tiger populations in the Nilgiris Forest Division, with the population size, range of each individual animal and other parameters to be recorded for better management.
- They have also increased perambulation of areas surrounding key tiger habitats.
|About Nilgiri Biosphere ReserveThe Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was the first biosphere reserve in India established in the year 1986.It is located in the Western Ghats and includes 2 of the 10 biogeographical provinces of India. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve comprises of substantial unspoilt areas of natural vegetation ranging from dry scrub to evergreen forests and swamps thus contributing to highest biodiversity.The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve encompasses parts of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka.|
Topic 4: Lancet Commission report on gender inequity in cancer care
Why in news: A new Lancet Commission report on gender inequity in cancer care titled ‘Women, Power and Cancer’, has been released recently.
Key findings of the report:
- Around 63% of premature deaths due to cancers in Indian women could have been prevented by reducing risk factors, screening, and diagnosis.
- 37% could have been averted with timely and optimal treatment,
- 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 genders, cancer 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 knowledge, decision-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.
- It added that they are also much more likely to experience financial catastrophe due to cancer.
- When it comes to providing cancer care, 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.
- The most common cancers in women are breast and cervical cancer.
- However, women hesitate to approach male doctors with these problems or even let a female doctor check the genital area, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment.
- The need for travel to district hospitals, state capitals, or to big tertiary hospitals in other states for screening, diagnostic tests, and treatment also leads to delays in treatment, resulting in poorer outcomes.
Importance of screening
- When it comes to the two most common cancers in women– breast and cervical – they are highly preventable and treatable.
- Women come in at late stages of the disease when both cancers can be caught very early on through screening.
- Women who detect any lumps during self-examination must consult a doctor immediately.
- For cervical cancer women between the ages of 25 and 65 years should get a pap smear test to check for pre-cancerous growth on their cervix.
- An HPV test — a test to detect the human papilloma virus that causes a majority of cervical cancers — can also be done every five or ten years.
Role of the government:
- Spreading awareness:
- One of the most important interventions needed, was creating awareness among people, especially women, so they come forward for screening and seek care.
- When the government carried out an information campaign to tell people that Covid-19 vaccines can prevent deaths due to the infection, people turned up in large numbers to get the shot.
- The same is needed for cancer prevention.
- Vaccination programmes:
- An HPV vaccination programme by the government, which is in the works, is likely to reduce the incidence of the common cancer in women.
- The vaccine for HPV that causes cervical cancer is already available in the country and an indigenous one has also been developed.
- The government is working to include the vaccine in the universal immunisation programme for young girls.
- The vaccine has to be administered in women below the age of 25 years before sexual activity.
- It prevents the virus from entering the body.
- Screening programmes:
- Screening programme of the government at the level of primary health centres and sub-centres can also help in early diagnosis.
- One of the challenges is that the patients are then lost for follow-up, because they have to go to higher centres for biopsy and then treatment.
- But, at least for cervical cancer, treatment can be provided by the nursing staff at the primary health centres itself, as is done in Bangladesh.
- There is a need to regularly collect data on gender and social demographics for cancer health statistics.
- There is a need for developing, strengthening, and enforcing laws and policies that reduce exposures to known cancer risks.
- Cancer care and research is dominated by men who decide what is prioritised, funded, or studied, and therefore there is a need for equitable access to cancer research resources, leadership, and funding opportunities for women.
Topic 5: Exercise Yudh Abhyas-23
Why in news: The 19th edition of “EXERCISE YUDH ABHYAS” will be conducted in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, USA.
About the exercise:
- It is an annual exercise conducted jointly by the Indian Army and the United States Army.
- The previous edition of the Exercise was conducted in Auli, Uttarakhand, India in 2022.
- The first Yudh Abhyas Exercise took place in Uttar Pradesh, India in 2002.
Topic 6: Sarna code
Why in news: Jharkhand Chief Minister recently wrote to Prime Minister of India, seeking recognition to the ‘Sarna’ code for tribals to protect their constitutional rights and religious identity.
- The proportion of tribals in the State’s population has declined from 36% to 26% since Independence.
- This could have an adverse impact on framing of policies for them under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Fifth Schedule contains provisions for the administration and control of the scheduled areas as well as Scheduled Tribes,
- The Sixth Schedule has provisions relating to the administration of tribal areas.
- The Jharkhand Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution in November 2020 for the inclusion of ‘Sarna’ as a separate religion in the Census document.
- The demand is being raised as a large population of Jharkhand adheres to ‘Sarna’ code, follows ancient traditions and considers worshipping trees, mountains and protecting forests as their religion.
- Their culture, worship methods, ideals and beliefs are different from all prevalent religions, he said.
What is Sarna?
- It is the religious faith of indigenous people, mainly the Scheduled Tribes.
- They mainly worship the Nature God such as mountains, forests, cattle, flora and fauna among others.
- They have their own calendar of festivals, which does not match with those of other faiths.
- They are also not idol worshippers nor do they adhere to the concept of the Varna system, heaven-hell, etc..
- The holy grail of the Sarna faith is “Jal (water), Jungle (forest), Zameen (land)” and its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas.
- The followers are largely concentrated in the tribal belt states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam.
Who follows Sarna?
- The tribals, who refused to follow any other religious faith such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
- They stick to their own customs and traditions, despite the insurgence of Christian missionaries and proponents of different other faiths.
Why the demand for a separate Sarna Religion Code?
- Primarily because they say they are not Hindus.
- Also, several tribal outfits claim that over 49.57 lakh people based in 29 States and Union Territories across the country had said that their religious faith is Sarna through their ‘special mention’ in the “Others” column of 2011 census survey.
- This is much higher than the Jains (44.51 lakh) but who have a separate religious code, they assert.
- They argue that the religious and cultural values of tribals cannot be equated with the followers of any other religious faith.
- They demand that Census 2021, which has got delayed due to the Corona pandemic, adds a separate column for the Sarna Religion Code.
What’s the process of granting religious code?
- Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion to every Indian citizen and accordingly, six religious codes namely Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are functional in the country.
- Granting a separate religious code is not a State subject.
- It can only be enacted through a legislation passed by both the Houses of Parliament. \
How will Sarna’s recognition as a separate religion help?
- Recognition as a separate religious community will enable better protection of their language and history.
- In the absence of such a safeguard, many in the community have in recent times converted to Christianity to seek the benefits of reservation as a minority.
Topic 7: Kaimur Tiger Reserve
Why in news: Bihar is all set to get its second tiger reserve in Kaimur district by the end of the year or early 2024.
- The State is home to the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in West Champaran district.
- Officials are working on obtaining the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) approval for declaring Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve.
- Kaimur district primarily comprises two landscapes:
- the hills, known as Kaimur plateau, and
- the plains on the west, which are flanked by the rivers Karmanasa and Durgavati.
- It has a dense forest cover and is home to tigers, leopards and chinkaras.
- The forests in Kaimur are the biggest in the State, spanning 1,134 sq km and including the 986-sq km Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary.
- At 34%, the district also has the highest green cover.
- The district shares boundaries with Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Topic 8: India Ageing Report 2023
Why in news: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), India, has released its 2023 India Ageing Report.
Key findings of the report:
- Growth rate:
- The decadal growth rate of the elderly population of India estimated at 41% and its share of the total population projected to double to over 20% by 2050.
- By 2046, it is likely that the elderly population will have surpassed the population of children (aged up to 15) in the country.
- More than 40% of the elderly in India are in the poorest wealth quintile, with about 18.7% of them living without an income.
- Such levels of poverty may affect their quality of life and healthcare utilisation.
- Gendered growth:
- The population of people aged 80 and above will grow at a rate of around 279% between 2022 and 2050 with a predominance of widowed and highly dependent very old women — a finding in line with the pattern across several nations.
- Life Expectancy:
- The data showed that women, on an average, had a higher life expectancy at the age of 60 and 80 when compared with men — with variations across the States and Union Territories.
- For instance, in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, women at 60 have a life expectancy of 23 and 22 years, respectively, which is four years more than that of men at 60 in these States as compared with the national average differential of only a year and a half.
- Life expectancy of women at 60 is greater than 20 years in States such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, raising concerns about their social and economic well-being.
- Sex ratio:
- The sex ratio (number of females per 1,000 males) among the elderly has been climbing steadily since 1991.
- While the ratio in the general population has been stagnating.
- Between 2011 and 2021, the ratio increased in India as a whole and across all regions, barring the Union Territories and western India.
- In the northeast and the east, while the sex ratio of the elderly increased, it remained below 1,000 in both years, indicating that men still outnumber women in these regions even at 60-plus years.
- A case in point is central India, where the sex ratio went from 973 in 2011 to 1,053 in 2021.
- Inter-state variations:
- The report noted that there was a significant inter-State variation in absolute levels and growth of the elderly population as well, reflecting the different stages and pace of demographic transition across States.
- Most States in the southern region and select northern States such as Himachal Pradesh and Punjab reported a higher share of the elderly population than the national average in 2021, a gap that is expected to widen by 2036.
- While the States reporting higher fertility rates and lagging in demographic transition, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, expect to see an increase in the share of the elderly population between 2021 and 2036, the level will remain lower than the Indian average.
- Compared with southern and western India, central and northeastern regions have States with younger groups as indicated by the ageing index.
|About UNFPA:The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is a UN agency aimed at improving reproductive and maternal health worldwide.Its work includes:developing national healthcare strategies and protocols,increasing access to birth control, andleading campaigns against child marriage, gender-based violence, obstetric fistula, and female genital mutilation.The UNFPA supports programs in more than 144 countriesIt is a founding member of the United Nations Development Group, a collection of UN agencies and programmes focused on fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.|