25 July, 2019

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GS-I :
What are India’s challenges as its fertility rate falls?


GS-I Paper: What are India’s challenges as its fertility rate falls?

Higher education, increased mobility, late marriage, financially independent women and overall prosperity are all contributing to a falling Total fertility rate.

  • The government’s Sample Registration System in 22 states shows that TFR for India declined to 2.2 in 2017 after being stable at 2.3 between 2013 and 2016.
  • The total fertility rate has more than halved in both urban and rural areas.

 What does the data say about India’s Total fertility rate?

The government’s Sample Registration System in 22 states shows that TFR for India declined to 2.2 in 2017 after being stable at 2.3 between 2013 and 2016. TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years. The 2017 figure is just 10 basis points more than the replacement level of 2.1%. The replacement level is the number of children needed to replace the parents, after accounting for fatalities, skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, etc. Population starts falling below this level.

How does TFR vary between urban and rural areas?

The total fertility rate has more than halved in both urban and rural areas, falling even below the replacement level in the former where it is 1.7, down from 4.1 in 1971. In rural areas, TFR has fallen from 5.4 to 2.4 during the same period. For rural areas, it varies from 1.6 in Delhi and Tamil Nadu to 3.3 in Bihar. For urban areas, the variation is from 1.1 in Himachal Pradesh to 2.4 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Of the 22 states, only six have a TFR of 2 or more in urban areas. There are 10 states where TFR is below 2 in rural regions.

 Why is TFR falling?

 Higher education, increased mobility, late marriage, financially independent women and     overall prosperity are all contributing to a falling TFR. It goes below 2 in both urban and rural areas, where girls complete schooling and reduces further as they pass college. Bihar, with the highest TFR of 3.2, had the maximum percentage of illiterate women at 26.8%, while Kerala, where the literacy rate among women is 99.3%, had among the lowest fertility rates. As more cities come up, people move for jobs and employment tenure gets shorter.

Source: Live Mint

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Faltering steps in the anti-AIDS march

GS-II Paper: Faltering steps in the anti-AIDS march


The joint UN programme on AIDS commonly known as UNAIDS is facing worst challenges afflicting the global AIDS response this time an existential threat questioning its very relevance.

A pivotal role

  • Since its establishment in 1994, UNAIDS has been able to successfully mobilise world opinion to mount an exceptional response to an epidemic which has consumed over 20 million lives with still no effective treatment or cure.
  • The UN General Assembly Special Session(UNGASS) 2001 was a game changer with the adoption of a political resolution that itself was exceptional in many ways.
  • The creation of global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the slashing of prices of AIDS drugs by Indian generics have brought treatment within the reach of many countries.
  • Today some 22 million people are under antiretroviral therapy and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV has become an achievable goal by 2020.

Antiretroviral Therapy...

What does it do?

Antiretroviral therapy is the daily use of a combination of HIV medicines to treat HIV.ART saves lives, but does not cure HIV.

  • Reduces the amount of HIV in the body
  • Reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
  • Prevents HIV from advancing to AIDS.

AIDS- Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome

  • The word AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. This means deficiency of immune system, acquired during the lifetime of an individual indicating that it is not a congenital disease.

Causes Of AIDS

  • AIDS is caused by the Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV), a member of a group of viruses called Retrovirus, which have an envelope enclosing the RNA genome.
  • Transmission of HIV-infection generally occurs by
  1. Sexual contact with infected person.
  2. By transfusion of contaminated blood and blood products.
  3. By sharing infected needles as in the case of intravenous drug abusers.
  4. From infected mother to her child through placenta.



  • A widely used diagnostic test for AIDS is Enzyme Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (ELISA).
  • Treatment of AIDS with anti-retroviral drugs is only partially effective. They can only prolong the life of the patient but cannot prevent death, which is inevitable.
  • In our country the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are doing a lot to educate people about AIDS.
  • WHO has started a number of programmes to prevent the spreading of HIV infection.
  • Infection with HIV or having AIDS is something that should not be hidden – since then the infection may spread to many more people.
  • HIV/AIDS-infected people need help and sympathy instead of being shunned by society.




Source: The Hindu

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IUCN ‘Red List’

GS-III Paper: IUCN  ‘Red List’


  • Mankind’s destruction of nature is driving species to the brink of extinction at an “unprecedented” rate, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.
  • It added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered “Red List”.


  • Freshwater fish species globally are under grave threat according to the latest edition of the IUCN’s Red List.
  • In fact, over half of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes and more than a third of freshwater fishes in Mexico were threatened with extinction, the list of threatened species released on July 18, 2019.
  • The main reasons behind this were the usual suspects, namely loss of free-flowing rivers and agricultural and urban pollution.
  • It was revealed recently that two-thirds of the world’s great rivers no longer flow Another noteworthy factor was competition with and predation by invasive alien species of fish.

About IUCN

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
  • Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.
  • It was involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

About IUCN ‘Red List’

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  • It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of all species and subspecies.
  • A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
  • The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years.

Red list categories of IUCN

Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups specified through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. They are:

  • Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species is no longer extant.
  • Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity, cultivation and/or outside native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys.
  • Critically endangered (CR) – in a particularly and extremely critical state.

Source: The Hindu

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India’s first dragon blood-oozing tree

GS-III Paper: India’s first dragon blood-oozing tree



Assam has added to India’s botanical wealth a plant that yields dragon’s blood — a bright red resin used since ancient times as medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.

Dracaena Cambodiana

  • A group of researchers has discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in the Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong, Assam.
  • This is for the first time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India.
  • In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceae is represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species.
  • The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its natural conservation.
  • Recent overexploitation to meet the increasing demand for dragon’s blood has resulted in rapid depletion of the plant.


  • Dracaena cambodiana is an important medicinal plant as well as an ornamental tree.
  • It is a major source of dragon’s blood, a precious traditional medicine in China.
  • Several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc., have been extracted from various parts of the plant.

Source: The Hindu

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