Daily Current Affairs for 21th January 2023

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Annual Status of Education Report

Why in News?

The Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) for 2022 was released by the Pratham Foundation.

About ASER

  • The first ASER was conducted in 2005 and repeated annually for ten years.
  • ASER is a rural survey, and urban areas are not covered in it. ASER 2022 reached almost 700,000 children in over 19,000 villages across 616 districts in India, and generated district, state, and national level estimates of children’s enrolment status and foundational skills.
  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey. This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools, or anywhere else.
    • Information on schooling status is collected for all children in the age group 3-16 living in sampled households.
    • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic.
  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham, which is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the country created to improve the quality of education in India.

Key Findings of the Report

Enrolment and attendance

Despite school closures during the pandemic, overall enrolment figures have increased from 2018 to 2022.

The proportion of children (aged 6 to 14) enrolled in government schools has increased sharply from 2018 to 2022.

In 2022, the all-India figure for 11-14-year-old girls not enrolled in school stands at 2%, thereby continuing the falling trend since 2006.

The proportion of 3-year-olds enrolled in some form of early childhood education has increased in 2022.

Further, nationally, the proportion of children in Std I-VIII taking paid private tuition classes increased from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022.

Average teacher attendance increased slightly, from 2018 to 2022, while average student attendance continues to hover at around 72% for the past several years.

Learning levels

Nationally, children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years. Drops are visible in both government and private schools in most states, and for both boys and girls.

Also, children’s basic arithmetic levels have declined over 2018 levels for most grades.

School facilities

Nationally, small improvements are visible in all Right to Education-related indicators over 2018 levels:

fraction of schools with useable girls’ toilets have increased

The proportion of schools with drinking water available has increased

The proportion of schools with books other than textbooks being used by students has increased

Paid private tuition classes:

Over the past decade, rural India has seen small, steady increases in the proportion of children in Std I-VIII taking paid, private tuition classes.

Between 2018 and 2022 this proportion increased further, among students in both government and private schools.

Nationally, the proportion of children in Std I-VIII taking paid private tuition classes increased from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022.


China’s Population Declines

Why in News?

China’s Population, according to its National Bureau of Statistics, fell to 1,411.8 million in 2022 from 1,412.6 million in the previous year.

Key Highlights

  • India will overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in 2023, according to a UN report released last year.
  • The number of births in China was 9.56 million, a more than 10% drop from 2021. The number of deaths was 10.41 million.
  • China Government campaigns over the past decade to boost birth rates, a U ­turn from years of a harsh “one child policy” have failed to reverse the trend.
  • In 2021, Beijing’s family planning authority for the first time allowed couples to have a third child. The move came five years after a “two child policy” had been introduced to boost birth rates.
  • A government survey carried out at the time of the introduction of the two child policy found 70% of respondents cited financial reasons, including costs of education, healthcare and housing, to not have many children.

Reason behind this Decline

There are two drivers that play an important role in population decline which are mortality and fertility.


  • A country’s population increases with reduced mortality or relative number of deaths.
  • Mortality falls with increased education levels, public health and vaccination programmes, access to food and medical care, and provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
  • The crude death rate (CDR) ,the number of persons dying per year per 1,000 population, was 23.2 for China and 22.2 for India in 1950.
    • It fell to single digits for China first in 1974 (to 9.5) and for India in 1994 (9.8), and further to 7.3-7.4 for both in 2020.
  • Another mortality indicator is life expectancy at birth.
    • Between 1950 and 2020, it went up from 43.7 to 78.1 years for China and from 41.7 to 70.1 years for India.


  • In China’s fertility decline over the past decades, marriage and childbearing postponement played a considerable role.
  • Research in western countries shows that marriage postponement is a major driving factor of TFR decline
  • Because of the Marriage Law enacted in 1981, the age at first marriage in the early 1980s was lower than in the 1970s, and it increased steadily after 1986.
  • Some studies have reported the effect of tempo and parity change on fertility also there.

If India’s TFR is already below Replacement level then why is its Population still increasing?

  • The total fertility rate(TFR), the number of babies an average woman bears over her lifetime, was as high as 5.8 for China and 5.7 for India in1950.
  • The TFR has fallen sharply for India in the past three decades.
    • Between 1992-93 and 2019-21, it came down from 3.4 to 2. The fall was especially significant in the rural areas.
  • Populations can keep growing even with TFRs falling. De growth requires TFRs to remain below replacement levels for extended periods.
  • The effects of fewer children today becoming parents tomorrow and procreating just as much or less may reflect only after a couple of generations.
  • China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in1991, which was almost 30 years before India’s. Recall that the CDR decline below 10, too, happened two decades earlier for China.
  • China’s population more than doubled from 544 million in 1950 to 1.1 billion in 1987, and peaked in 2021.
    • It took over 30 years for below-replacement fertility rates to translate into negative population growth.
  • China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in 1991,which was almost 30 years before India’s.
  • CDR decline below 10, too, happened two decades earlier for China.
  • China’s population more than doubled from 544 million in 1950 to 1.1 billion in 1987, and peaked in2021.
    • It took over 30 years for below-replacement fertility rates to translate into negative population growth.

Why China Faces a Crisis?

  • China ended its One Child policy, introduced in 1980,from 2016. But that’s unlikely to stem the decline in the country’s population, which the UN has projected at 1,312.6 billion in 2050, a near 100 million drop from the 2021 peak.
  • Decline in Working Age Population.
    • If there is a large population that’s able to work and earn, not only will there be relatively fewer people to support those too old or too young but also greater tax revenues and savings potential from the generation of incomes.
    • As these are directed to finance investments, a virtuous cycle of growth is unleashed as indeed happened in China.
    • But that cycle has started to reverse, and the share of China’s working-age population is projected to fall below 50% by 2045.

An Opportunity For India?

  • India has just begun seeing fertility rates fall to replacement levels, including in rural areas. The latter has to do with the spread of education and, perhaps, also farm mechanization and fragmentation of land holdings.
  • Reduced labor requirements in agricultural operations and smaller holdings make it that much less necessary to have large families working the land.
  • But even with fertility rate declines, India’s population is projected to de-grow only after touching 1.7 billion about 40 years from now.
  • Working-age population share in the overall population crossed 50% only in 2007, and will peak at 57% towards the mid-2030s.
  • Overall then, 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.


Cancer Report

Why in News?

A new report says cancer deaths intheUnitedStateshavedeclined by a third over the past three decades.

What is the incidence of cancer and mortality in India currently?

  • 14.6 lakh new cancer cases were detected in 2022, up from 14.2 lakh in 2021 and 13.9 lakh in 2020, as per data from the National Cancer Registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) presented in Parliament.
  • Deaths due to cancer increased to 8.08 lakh in 2022 from 7.9 lakh in 2021 and 7.7 lakh in 2020.
  • The incidence of all cancers is estimated to increase to 15.7 lakh by 2025, according to the data.
  • One in nine Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, according to an ICMR study using data from population-based cancer registries.
  • One in 68 men will develop lung cancer and one in 29 women will develop breast cancer, according to the study.
  • The incidence of cancer is higher among women 103.6 per 100,000 in 2020 compared to 94.1 among men.
  • Among men, the most common cancers were of the lung, mouth, prostate, tongue, and stomach; for women, they were breast, cervix, ovary, uterus, lung.

Why are some cancers on the decline and others continue to rise?

  • The incidence of cervical cancer has dropped in India over the last 50 years from 45 to 10 per 100,000 population,
  • there is an increase in rates of breast cancer, especially in urban centres.
  • Rates of cervical cancer have declined because of later marriages, fewer children, better hygiene, and vaccination.
  • The incidence of breast cancer has gone up because of the same reasons later age of marriage, having the first child at a later age, not breastfeeding, and a high protein diet.
  • The incidence of breast cancer is 9 per 100,000 in Barshi, Maharashtra, and 45 per 100,000 in Hyderabad,
  • The incidence of breast cancer is 110 cases per 100,000 population in the US.
  • The rates of tobacco-related cancers, oral, oesophageal cancers are also coming down. This is largely due to tobacco laws that have brought down smoking in public places.
  • Lung cancers, however, remain a cause for concern. “Lung cancer is caused not only by smoking. For example, lung cancer rates are high in Arunachal Pradesh because they light fires indoors in winter. We see lung cancers in women in Bihar because they have spent years cooking on chullahs.
  • Unfortunately, the survival rate for lung cancer is not very high and it is mostly diagnosed in the late stages.

Have there been improvements in cancer treatments?

  • The cure rate for various cancers is rising.
  • The cure rate for pancreatic cancer has doubled from 3% 50 years ago to 6%.
  • For prostate cancer, it has gone up from 60% to 100%.
  • And for breast cancer it has improved from 50% to 90% with newer treatments.
  • In order to reduce mortality, we have to ensure people get diagnosed early on and receive timely treatment,” .
  • Certainly cancer is no longer synonymous to death, but there is much that remains to be done.

What must be done to bring down overall mortality like in the US?

  • The first intervention has to be screening.
  • Screening for the three most common types of cancer — breast, cervical, and oral — has already started through the government’s upgraded health and wellness centres.
  • There used to have a 80/20 rule — 80% of patients present to the hospital late, of whom 20% are curable, and 20% of patients present early, of whom 80% are curable. Over the last 10 years, this has become 70/30 — now 30% of patients are presenting early to hospitals
  • Cervical, breast, and oral cancers account for 34% of cancers in India, so screening for them is good; however, it has to be more focused in order to achieve mortality gains
  • Dual stain testing is the best tool for screening for cervical cancer, while a low-dose CT in those with a history of smoking is the best for lung cancer.
  • Breast self-examination cannot be standard screening for breast cancer. We have to improve and better target screening methods to start showing mortality benefits.
  • WHO says there should be 1 radiotherapy machine per million population in developing countries, so for our 1.4 billion people we need 1,400 machines, and we have only 700.


Spot­bellied eagle owl

Why in News?

A wildlife team recently stumbled upon a spot­bellied eagle owl (Bubo Nipalensis) for the first time in the Seshachalam forest, and for the third time in Andhra Pradesh.

About Spot Bellied Eagle Owl

  • Its Scientific name is Bubo nipalensis
  • Spot Bellied Eagle Owl is also known as the forest eagle-owl.
  • They are large, very powerful and bold predatory birds.
  • It measures about 50 to 65 cm in length and weighs 1500 to 1700 grams.
  • It is a forest-inhabiting species found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • These species occur in altitudes from 300 to 3000 meters.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Status : Least Concern
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 : Schedule IV
  • CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) : Appendix II.

Seshachalam Hills

  • The Seshachalam Hills are a part of the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh.They are a group of seven hills namely, Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri.
  • The ranges were formed during the Precambrian era (3.8 billion to 540 million years ago)
  • The Seshachalam hills consist of sandstone and shale along with limestone.
  • The Srivenkateshwara National Park is also located in this mountain range.
  • Seshachalam was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in the year 2010
  • It has large reserves of red sandalwood.

Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve

  • The Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Sanctuary was declared officially in 1978 and has been recognized by the Project Tiger in 1983.
  • It is the largest tiger reserve in India.
  • In 1992, it was retitled as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The Tiger reserve is spread over 5 districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The area consists mostly of the Nallamala Hills.
  • The Krishna River cuts the basin of this reserve.

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