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13 May Current Affairs

China’s population growth slows to lowest rate in decades

In News:

China’s seventh census, once-in-a-decade population census, was conducted recently.

Key findings:

12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961, a year when China was in the midst of a four-year famine unleashed by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward policy in 1958 that devastated the farm sector and claimed millions of lives.

China’s population was 1.41 billion in 2020, increasing by 72 million since the last census in 2010, recording a 5.38% growth in this period. The average annual growth was 0.53%.

The census recorded a slowing population growth rate that will likely see China’s population peak — and be overtaken by India’s — by as early as 2025.

Concerns for China:

The slowing growth rate is a consequence of China’s stringent family planning rules over decades — known as the “one-child policy”.

It has evoked concerns of a rapidly ageing society and the impact on China’s labour force, and fears that China will, as some experts have said, “get old before it gets rich”.

The impact on the labour force and healthcare is a particular concern.

Efforts towards a change:

China loosened family planning rules and allowed couples to have two children in 2016, but that has failed to mark a boom amid changing lifestyles and declining preferences, particularly in urban areas, for larger families.

Why was the One Child Policy adopted by China?

It was adopted out of the Malthusian fears that unchecked population growth would lead to economic and environmental catastrophe. It was also a response to concerns about food shortages.

What is Malthusian theory all about?

Thomas Robert Malthus was the first economist to propose a systematic theory of population. He argued that if left unchecked, a population will outgrow its resources, leading to a host of problems.

What’s good about One Child Policy?

Helps to ease the overpopulation problems.

It is seen as practical by some families.

Lowers the poverty rate.

Why it isn’t a good idea?

  • The enforcement is unequal.
  • It is a human rights violation.
  • Shrinking work population.
  • Gender imbalance due to the strong cultural preference of boys for labor and work.
  • Increase in abortions and female infanticide.
  • Extra babies end up being illegal and never becoming a citizen, due to fines.
  • Intrudes on people’s personal values and opinions.

The role of DETER committees formed in Bengaluru

In News:

To manage Covid pandemic at the local level, the Karnataka state government has formed Decentralized Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) Committees at ward-levels in Bengaluru.

About DETER committees:

The objective is to strengthen government response and management of the coronavirus pandemic.

These teams will emphasise on the distribution of localised action in a decentralised system of disaster response.

They will be run in synergy with officials, ward committee members, government officers, representatives of the peoples, volunteers from resident welfare associations, civil society organisations, and disaster-support initiatives.

Roles and functions:

They will act as the first-point contact for those infected with Covid-19.

The Karnataka government has formulated a ‘3E Strategy’ for WDCs to micromanage Covid-19 in a comprehensive manner. The 3E Strategy is explained as follows: Efficient admission to hospitals facilitated by community triage services; Efficient discharge from hospitals enabling efficient bed-turnover; Empowering hospitals, doctors, and their management with supportive supervision.

Significance:

This is expected to improve supervision for better ward-level Covid governance.

WHO classifies India variant as being of global concern

In News:

The World Health Organization has classified B.1.617, a coronavirus variant first identified in India as a “global variant of concern”.

Details:

This variant was classified as a variant under investigation (VUI) by authorities in the UK earlier in May.

It has already spread to more than 17 countries.

Concerns for India:

Last week, the Indian government said that this variant also called the “double mutant variant” could be linked to a surge in the cases of coronavirus seen in some states.

How do variants of a virus emerge and why?

Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.

Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.

Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus:

It is evolving fast because of the scale at which it has infected people around the world. High levels of circulation mean it is easier for the virus to change as it is able to replicate faster.

The B.1.617 variant of the virus has two mutations referred to as E484Q and L452R. Both are separately found in many other coronavirus variants, but they have been reported together for the first time in India.

How does the WHO define a variant of concern?

A variant of interest (VOI) becomes a variant of concern (VOC) in two ways:

First, if, through a comparative assessment, it has been demonstrated to be associated with increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation or a decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

Alternatively, a variant may be classified as a VOC by the WHO in consultation with the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group.