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Down to Earth Magazine Analysis – 1st to 15th October 2021 Part 2 – Free PDF Download


  • The latest national serosurvey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in June-July 2021, shows only 44.6 per cent of the people in Kerala have developed antibodies against the virus, sars-cov-2, which is the lowest in the country.
  • The covid-19 Genome Surveillance portal, which is run by independent researchers based on data from INSACOG and other sequencing initiatives by states, suggests that Kerala does not have a new variant so far.

  • Kerala protected almost 90 percent of its population during the first wave, leaving them vulnerable to the more virulent variants like delta.
  • The death rate has been among the lowest in the country despite the fact that the state has a high number of old people with comorbidities.
    • Kerala had completely vaccinated 23 per cent of its adult population and administered the first dose to 54 per cent till July 31, which was much higher than the national average.

Kerala Government steps:

  • The government introduced a four tier-based system where lockdowns with different intensities were implemented in high risk regions identified on the basis of the test positivity rates.
  • The state implemented a triple lockdown system in wards with more than 10 cases per 1,000 people. The first is the general containment strategy to keep the overall movement of the population to the minimum, the second is high surveillance in clusters where primary and secondary contacts of the infected persons are staying in quarantine and the third involves focused intervention on the households of the infected persons and well as those of their primary and secondary contacts.
  • Kerala decentralised its vaccination drive on August 11 for better reach.

  • Recovery from covid-19 has boosted demand for coal-based thermal power in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in India, China and New Zealand. This has raised doubts on their ability to phase out the energy source in the face of climate change.
  • US-based research centre Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), projected that “significant transmission will continue to happen even after the end of 2022”, with 10 million infections and 28,000 deaths expected each day.
  • ACT-A or Access to covid-19 Tools accelerator is a platform developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to aid virus research; it’s “A” arm deals with therapeutics.
  • One treatment that has caught physicians’ attention comprises proteins called “mono-clonal antibodies” (mAbs). In this, naturally occurring antibodies in humans are engineered in a laboratory and given as injectables at very early stages of infection.
  • In India, Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical firm Biocon markets the mAb drug Itolizumab, which costs around Rs 60,000.

  • Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral initially developed for the treatment of Ebola virus, is being widely used against sars-cov-2.
  • Corticosteroids were the first class of medicines to be approved by who for covid-19 treatment as early as September 2020. They do not act against the virus but come into play when a patient turns hypoxic, a condition in which oxygen supply to tissues is reduced due to an overactive immune system.
  • While rich countries in Europe and elsewhere have immunised more than 70 percent of their population, 52 of the poorest places, predominantly in Africa, have barely covered 3.5 per cent of their people.

  • Water scarcity could soon become the next main cause for mass internal migrations across the world, reminiscent of the earliest movement of people from East Africa 400,000 years ago. But the pattern this time will be different, with disproportionate impact on the poor, low-skilled workers.

  • Water scarcity could soon become the next main cause for mass internal migrations across the world, reminiscent of the earliest movement of people from East Africa 400,000 years ago. But the pattern this time will be different, with disproportionate impact on the poor, low-skilled workers.

Eucalyptus Plantation

  • Eucalyptus is an alien species first introduced to the country in 1790 by Tipu Sultan, ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore.
  • Almost two centuries later, in the 1970s, the forest department decided to reintroduce the species for its perceived use as firewood and timber.
  • It soon became a popular raw material for the paper and pulp industry and a source of fuel for small-scale industries like brick kilns, potteries and lime production. It is also in demand from the construction industry to be used as poles.

Harmful Impacts:

  • First, it is a water-guzzling and nutrient-depleting crop. A five-year-old eucalyptus tree can absorb 785 litres of water per kg of its biomass—this is double the water consumed by ragi (finger millet).
  • Second, eucalyptus has an allelopathic effect. Its roots and leaves exude toxic chemicals (plant hormones) that restrict the generation of undergrowth species like grasses, herbs and shrubs. No other crop can grow in eucalyptus plantations after a few years.
  • Third, the plants are vulnerable to wildfires because of the oil and resin they secrete. This was evident during the 2020 Australian bushfires. The plant is thus often referred to as “ecological terrorist”.
  • Commercial push for eucalyptus plantations in Odisha puts both biodiversity and people at risk.
  • This trend has two broad impacts on the region’s ecosystem as well as the tribal communities, who are mostly small or marginal cultivators.
  • The plantations threaten the fragile ecology of these districts, which the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2002 declared as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and biodiversity hotspots.
  • Companies are promoting eucalyptus as an intercrop, to be grown along with staple crops such as black gram and millets. In reality, eucalyptus not only guzzles a major share of the water and nutrients available for other crops, it also requires a lot of care in terms of regular pruning. Due to this, farmers end up neglecting the other crops grown on their fields.
  • A survey of eucalyptus farmers in Rayagada, Koraput and Nabarangpur districts by local non-profits shows that over 90 percent of the plantations now only grow this species (with no other seasonal farming practices). This threatens the food availability and sovereignty of these regions where most are subsistence farmers.
  • The local farmers, who are lured into plantation deals with the promise of easy money from their “degraded lands”, often end up putting in unpaid labour.

Native Replacement

  • It is essential that the relevant departments immediately ban the introduction of new species to these parts of Odisha.
  • There is a need to promote regenerative agriculture based on ecological principles. This will help the tribal farmers improve traditional agricultural systems and practices, which stood the test of time and are climate resilient.
  • They can create nature reserves and initiate education tours to spread awareness about local agroecology, biodiversity and culture.
  • True reclamation can happen only when native species are re-established in the region. For this, the people must focus on native species that not only help the environment but also boost people’s income.
  • Bamboo is one such option. It is adaptive to many soil types. While people can grow it as a non-timber forest produce, industry can use it as raw material for paper and pulp.



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