Context: The United Nations Population Fund, India, has released the “2023 India Ageing Report,” which projects a significant increase in the elderly population in India.
The report used data from the 2011 Census, the 2017-18 Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI) conducted by the Health Ministry, population projections of the Government of India and the World Population Projection 2022 report.
Key findings and implications of the report
Estimated a decadal growth rate of 41% for the elderly population in India and by 2050, the elderly population will make up over 20% of India’s total population.
By 2046, it is expected that the elderly population will surpass the population of children aged up to 15.
More than 40% of India’s elderly population is in the poorest wealth quintile, and around 18.7% of them live without any income such levels of poverty may affect their quality of life and healthcare utilisation.
Women, on average, had higher life expectancy at the age of 60 and at 80, when compared to men with variations across States and Union Territories.
In Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, women aged 60 can expect to live more than 20 additional years.
Since 1991, the elderly sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) has been rising consistently, except in Union Territories and western India.
Poverty is gendered in old age, with older women more likely to be widowed, living alone, and dependent on family support.
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.
The report also notes that increasing life expectancy and declining fertility rates are contributing to a global trend of ageing populations.
This trend is not unique to India but is observed worldwide, which will have implications for countries across the globe.
Challenges faced by the elderly population
Ruralisation of Elderly Population: According to the Census of India 2011, on average, 71 per cent of older persons live in rural areas, with significant interregional variation, ranging from 62–63 per cent in the west and south to 78–80 per cent in the east, north and north-east.
Feminisation of Elderly Population: Women living longer than men resulting in higher levels of widowhood and associated socio-cultural and economic deprivations and dependencies.
Economic challenges: More than 40% of India’s elderly population is in the poorest wealth quintile, and around 18.7% live without income, making it hard for them to have a good life and get the healthcare they need.
Income insecurity is one of the major causes of vulnerability especially in old age. 47% share of elderly women who never worked in the past. Around 33 per cent of the older females have never worked and do not have any income
Disease prevalence: Over 30 per cent of the elderly women and 28 per cent of the men suffered from one chronic morbid condition and nearly one-fourth (across both sexes) suffered from more than two morbid conditions. With the increasing age, the share in such conditions gradually increased in the cohort.
Depression: Mental illness arising from senility, showing poor mental ability because of old age and neurosis.
Depression was observed to increase with age in approximately 8% of older individuals, and it was more prevalent among elderly women than men.
Less awareness and hindrance in receiving social security schemes: Only 29 % of the elderly benefit from various social security schemes.
Only 24% of widowed women in BPL households receive benefits from the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).
Around 7 % of elderly women do not have proper documents to avail the benefits of IGNWPS.
Around 47% of elderly widows believe that they are not eligible to get benefits under IGNWPS.
Recommendation given by Mohini Giri committee: Women and men age differently. Both have their concerns. Elderly women and their problems need special attention like
Advancements in medical technology medicine and in technology for assistive living (and technology),
Mainstream senior citizens, especially older women, bring their concerns into the national development debate with a priority to implement mechanisms already set by governments and supported by civil society and senior citizens associations.
Promote the concept of “Ageing in Place” or ageing in own home, housing, income security and homecare services, old age pension and access to healthcare insurance schemes and other programmes and services to facilitate and sustain dignity in old age.
Government must work on increasing awareness about schemes for older persons, bring all Old Age Homes under regulatory purview and focus on facilitating in-situ ageing to the extent possible.
Government to encourage the creation and running of elderly self-help groups, and stressed the importance of having elderly people live in multigenerational households.
Government should encourage in situ (at home) ageing as much as possible by creating short-term care facilities like creches or day-care facilities, citing better care when elderly people live with their respective families.
The enhancement of geriatric care to cater to the unique healthcare needs of seniors.
A multitude of government schemes and policies addressing the health, financial empowerment, and capacity building needs of the elderly population.
Community-based organizations actively engaged in digital empowerment through computer and internet usage sessions.
Ministerial committees dedicated to shaping policies for elderly welfare.
Corporate efforts for joyful aging, social assistance, old age homes, and elder abuse awareness campaigns.
Addressing these challenges often requires a combination of family support, community resources, healthcare services, and public policy initiatives to ensure that the elderly population can age with dignity and quality of life.
Context: In a paper in Nature Physics, a researcher at Google Quantum AI reportedly demonstrated a problem that is difficult for classical computers. If a quantum computer solves this problem, it can achieve quantum supremacy.
Quantum Supremacy (QS)
When a quantum computer outperforms a classical supercomputer on a well-defined computer science problem, this achievement is known as quantum supremacy.
Superposition states allow qubits to carry more information.
Because of quantum superposition, a quantum computer can mimic several classical computers working in parallel.
This capacity of doing several computations in parallel gives quantum computers an advantage over classical computers, allowing them to perform a disproportionately greater number of operations.
Google’s quantum computer, named Sycamore, claimed ‘supremacy’ because it reportedly did the task in 200 seconds that would have apparently taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.
Supercomputer is a class of extremely powerful computers. The term is commonly applied to the fastest high-performance systems available at any given time.
The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
Since 2017, there have existed supercomputers which can perform over 1017 FLOPS (a hundred quadrillion FLOPS, 100 petaFLOPS or 100 PFLOPS.
These are very large classical computers, often with thousands of classical CPU and GPU cores capable of running very large calculations and advanced artificial intelligence.
Need of Quantum Computers
Even supercomputers are binary code-based machines reliant on 20th-century transistor technology. They struggle to solve certain kinds of problems.
When classical computers fail, it’s often due to complex problems which are problems with lots of variables interacting in complicated ways.
There are some complex problems that we do not know how to solve with classical computers on any scale.
The real world runs on quantum physics. Computers that make calculations using the quantum states of quantum bits should in many situations be our best tools for understanding it.
A quantum computer is a computer that takes advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena.
Quantum computers are machines that use the properties of quantum physics to store data and perform computations.
This can be extremely advantageous for certain tasks where they could vastly outperform even our best supercomputers.
Classical computers, which include smartphones and laptops, encode information in binary “bits” that can either be 0s or 1s.
In a quantum computer, the basic unit of memory is a quantum bit or qubit.
Quantum computing is driving new discoveries in healthcare, energy, environmental systems, smart materials, and beyond.
Just like a binary bit is the basic unit of information in classical computing, a qubit is the basic unit of information in quantum computing.
Qubits vs Bits
Qubits are represented by a superposition of multiple possible states.
A qubit uses the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition to achieve a linear combination of two states.
A classical binary bit can only represent a single binary value, such as 0 or 1, meaning that it can only be in one of two possible states.
A qubit, however, can represent a 0, a 1, or any proportion of 0 and 1 in superposition of both states, with a certain probability of being a 0 and a certain probability of being a 1.
There are many physical implementations of qubits
Where classical computers use familiar silicon-based chips, qubits (sometimes called “quantum computer qubits”) can be made from trapped ions, photons, artificial or real atoms, or quasiparticles.
Depending on the architecture and qubit systems, some implementations need their qubits to be kept at temperatures close to absolute zero.
Qubits are fragile
One of the most significant hurdles in quantum computing is the fragile nature of qubits.
Entanglement of the qubit system with its environment, including the measurement setup, could easily perturb the system and cause decoherence.
Multiple qubits can exhibit quantum entanglement.
Entangled qubits always correlate with each other to form a single system.
Even when they’re infinitely far apart, measuring the state of one of the qubits allows us to know the state of the other, without needing to measure it directly.
Entanglement is required for any quantum computation, and it cannot be efficiently performed on a classical computer.
Applications include factoring large numbers (Shor’s algorithm) and solving search problems (Grover’s algorithm).
Superposition is a phenomenon in quantum computing that allows quantum objects to simultaneously exist in more than one state or location.
This means that an object can be in two states at one time while remaining a single object.
Quantum computers use the entanglement of qubits and superposition probabilities to perform operations.
Superposition enables the qubits of the quantum computer to perform multiple operations simultaneously, making them faster than conventional computers.
Superposition gives quantum computers superior computing power
Superposition allows quantum algorithms to process information in a fraction of the time it would take even the fastest classical systems to solve certain problems.
The amount of information a qubit system can represent grows exponentially for example Information that 500 qubits can easily represent would not be possible with even more than 2^500 classical bits.
It would take a classical computer millions of years to find the prime factors of a 2,048-bit number, Qubits could perform the calculation in just minutes.
Initiative taken by Indian Government towards Quantum Computing
Quantum Computer Simulator (QSim)
The launch of Quantum Computer Simulator (QSim) Toolkit by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) with an objective to
Carry out research in Quantum Computing in a cost-effective manner.
Address the common challenge of advancing the Quantum Computing research frontiers in India.
Allowing researchers and students to write and debug Quantum Code that is essential for developing Quantum Algorithms.
Allowing researchers to explore Quantum Algorithms under idealised conditions and help prepare experiments to run on actual Quantum Hardware.
Feature Highlights of QSim include
Intuitive UI: QSim offers a robust QC Simulator integrated with a graphical user interface (GUI) based Workbench allowing students/researchers to create Quantum programs, visualise the instant circuit generation and simulated outputs.
Simulate noisy Quantum logic circuits: Helps simulate Quantum circuits with and without noise and test how well various algorithms work with imperfect quantum components. This is essential to simulate real-life conditions.
Pre-loaded Quantum algorithms and examples: QSim comes loaded with Quantum programs and algorithms providing a head start to the users. E.g., QFT, Deutsch Jozsa, Grovers, and so on.
Integrated with HPC: The quantum simulations are performed on powerful HPC resources allowing multiple users to submit jobs simultaneously with different qubit configurations.
To solve challenges of national importance, the mission plans to focus on fundamental science, translation, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation, and start-ups.
QCL by C-DOT indigenously developed Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) solution which can support a distance of more than 100 kilometers on standard optical fiber.
Indian Army’s establishment of quantum laboratory
Army, with support from the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has established the Quantum Lab to spearhead research and training in this key developing field.
Research undertaken by the Indian Army in the field of quantum technology will help leapfrog into next-generation communication and transform the current system of cryptography in the Indian Armed Forces to Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC).
Key thrust areas are quantum key distribution, quantum communication, post-quantum cryptography and quantum computing.
Quantum Information Science and Technology (QuST)
Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has initiated a new directed research programme on “Quantum Information Science and Technology (QuST)”.
QuST promises to revolutionize the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have a huge impact on the Nation and our society.
Broad Objectives of QuST:
Development and demonstration of quantum computers.
Development and demonstration of quantum communication & cryptography.
Development of quantum-enhanced and inspired technology.
Development of advanced mathematical quantum techniques, algorithms and theory of quantum information systems.
Challenges with Initiatives taken by government
Policy gaps: India has loosely built quantum ecosystem where metrics to assess outcomes of its quantum efforts are not clearly defined. E.g., lack of target-oriented policies.
Raising funds: Indian quantum computing startups struggle with funds for product development and scaling due to low venture capital investment. E.g., the budgeted R&D outlay is less than 1%.
Insufficient talent pool: India has small pool of researchers, industry professionals, academicians, and entrepreneurs as compared to China or the US. E.g., problem of brain-drain, inadequate infrastructure and research facilities.
Poor-infrastructure: India lacks in hardware manufacturing and still imports critical quantum components. India also lacks sufficient superconducting materials, semiconductor chips, processors, and fabrication labs.
R&D in silos: India lacks common platform for all quantum research and development. At present, research is carried out in silos and knowledge exchange is not structured. E.g., no common platform to transmit real-time data of research in quantum computing.
Lack of industry connection: Most quantum-related R&D is carried out in universities. While academia can provide well-researched prototypes; industry connection is essential for developing scalable applications.
Rework Indian technology policy objectives, frameworks, and deliverables to move from importer of quantum technology to exporter.
Developing knowledge ecosystem by inculcating entrepreneurship, innovation, university courses, training programmes in quantum technology.
Develop metrics to assess success of strategy and short & long-term action plan.
Periodic feedback system to map progress of Quantum-Enabled Science and Technology initiatives.
Boost to investor ecosystem to amplify production of hardware components of quantum computer plus simultaneous push to semiconductor industry.
Context: Bihar is all set to get its second tiger reserve in Kaimur district by the end of the year or early 2024. The NTCA had, in principle, approved our proposal in July for the tiger reserve. The department has now started preparing for the final submission to be sent to the NTCA for its formal approval.
About Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary of Rohtas Forest Division is situated in the great Kaimur Range hills in the Rohtas District of Bihar.
KWLS came into existence in 1979 (the later area was increased in 2010) with an area of over 1784.73 sq km.
It is the largest and first wildlife sanctuary to be declared in the State of Bihar.
The KWLS is spread in Bhabhua and Rohtas District of the State of Bihar.
Habitats offered by deep valleys (locally known as khoras) and high hills (locally known as Ballas), daunted with rivers and nallahs having water all year round in the ‘doh’.
Rohtasgarh Fort and Shergarh Fort are also located in these forests.
It also has numerous Megaliths, Rock paintings of prehistoric age and stone inscriptions from a bygone era.
The Government of Bihar has planned to develop it into a Tiger Reserve.
This Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Rohtas Plateau and Kaimur plateau of Kaimur Range in the south-western part of Bihar.
This forms the watershed or divide for two of the major rivers of peninsular India, the Son on the south and Tamsa or Tons on the north.
The sanctuary forms an essential corridor between forest areas of Bihar, Jharkhand Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh ensuring the contiguity of forests in Vindhya.
In the valley portions, there are several waterfalls of which the finest are Karkat Waterfall, Manjhar Kund, Dhua Kund, Tutla Bhawani Waterfall, Geeta Ghat Waterfall, Kashish Waterfall, and Telhar.
There are several Dams and lakes, including Anupam Lake, Karamchat Dam and Kohira Dam.
Anupam Lake and Kalidah near Rameshwar Kund are located in the lake.
The major forest types are Tropical Dry Mixed Deciduous, Dry Sal Forests, Boswellia Forests and Dry Bamboo Brakes.
Important Fauna of Sanctuary
It harbours several other faunal species some of which figure in the IUCN Red Data List. These are Leopard, Indian Pangolin, Porcupine, Wild dogs, Jackal, Sloth bear.
The Crested eagle and Hawk eagle’s presence in Rohtas forests indicates the ecological sustenance of the area.
It is home to many migratory birds, such as the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer’s pochard duck and lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian openbill stork migrate from Central Asia to the park during winter.
Among snakes, cobras and kraits are of common occurrence while pythons are occasionally seen.
Practice MCQ Consider the following statements regarding Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
1. It is situated in the great Kaimur Range hills in the Rohtas District of Bihar.
2. It is the largest and first wildlife sanctuary to be declared in the State of Bihar.
3. It harbours many faunal species like Leopard Crested eagles and tigers.
4. It is proposed to be declared as the third tiger reserve in the state of Bihar.
Context: The microbiome research has gone from a ‘niche subject area’ to ‘one of the hottest topics in all of science’. Researchers have thrown light into the human microbiome — the community of microbes living in the human body.
Human Microbiome is the aggregate of all microbiota that reside on or within human tissues and biofluids along with the corresponding anatomical sites in which they reside, including the skin, mammary glands, seminal fluid, uterus, ovarian follicles, lung, saliva, oral mucosa, conjunctiva, biliary tract, and gastrointestinal tract.
Types of human microbiota include bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, and viruses.
In the context of genomics, the term human microbiome is sometimes used to refer to the collective genomes of resident microorganisms; however, the term human metagenome has the same meaning too.
Benefits of Microbiome:
Facts about Human Microbiome:
Every adult ends up with a unique microbiota configuration, even identical twins that are raised in the same household.
Mothers do not pass their microbiomes to their children at birth. Some microorganisms are directly transferred during birth but they constitute a small fraction of the human microbiota; and only an even smaller fraction of these microbes survive and persist throughout the child’s life.
Diseases are caused by undesirable interactions between microbial communities and our cells. Whether a microbe and its metabolite are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on the context. For example, most humans carry a species of bacteria called Clostridium difficile without any disease for life. It causes problems only in the elderly or in people with compromised immune systems.
The absolute microbial cells in one gram of human faeces are around 10^10 to 10^12. The human microbiota weighs about half a kg or less.
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms (live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts) intended to maintain or improve the “good” bacteria (normal microflora) in the body.