Kurukshetra IAS Academy Blogs

1. GDP growth estimate for current year raised to 7.6%

Making a flurry of revisions in the economy’s growth estimates, the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Thursday raised India’s real GDP growth estimate for this year to 7.6% from the 7.3% projected last month. It also scaled down its 7.2% growth estimate for 2022-23 to 7% and raised its 2021-22 estimate from 9.1% to 9.7%.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy is projected to rise 6.9% this year, with the NSO downgrading last year’s GVA growth to 6.7% from 7%. GDP growth for the first two quarters of this year was raised to 8.2% and 8.1%, further rising to 8.4% for the October to December 2023 quarter (Q3).

Economists expressed surprise that GVA growth in Q3 slid to just 6.5% from revised estimates of 8.2% and 7.7% in Q1 and Q2, respectively. Concerns also persisted about private consumption, which grew 3.5% in Q3 from 2.4% in Q2.

The full-year growth estimate was downgraded to 3% from the 4.4% reckoned in early January.

Struggling farm sector

Farm sector GVA growth slipped into a 0.8% contraction in Q3, and the full year is now expected to record a mere 0.7% rise, compared with 4.7% in 2022-23. Chief Economic Advisor V. Anantha Nageswaran said he expects the farm sector to recover next year, adding that industrial growth had lifted growth this year. Acceleration in GVA growth from three key sectors has helped: construction, up 10.7%; manufacturing, which is up 8.5% from a 2.2% dip in 2022-23; and mining, up 8.1% versus 1.9% last year.

Upasna Bhardwaj, chief economist at Kotak Mahindra Bank, attributed this year’s growth upgrade to the downward revision to last year’s growth numbers, and the stronger investment and net exports, although consumption is lagging.

GVA growth in the employment-intensive trade, hotels, transport, communications, and broadcasting services sectors is expected to almost halve to 6.5% in 2023-24 from 12% in 2022-23. Mr. Nageswaran stressed that this comes on the back of very strong upticks in 2021-22 and 2022-23, so this is more of a stabilisation rather than a dip.

“Some surprises that need further exploration relate to GVA growth remaining at 6.9% while GDP growth is being revised upwards to 7.6%. Also, the average GDP growth for the first three quarters of the year is 8.2%, implying that the fourth quarter growth would only be at 5.9%,” noted EY India chief policy advisor D.K. Srivastava.

“The data still has a lot of noise in it as reflected in large swings in the discrepancy numbers for this year as well as last year. Interestingly, there has been a downward revision in the growth of demand-side drivers,” India Ratings and Research economists Sunil Kumar Sinha and Paras Jasrai said, noting that consumption demand remains weak and skewed towards items largely consumed by upper-income households.

2. India’s leopard population rises to 13,874; M.P. on top

Forest surveyors cover nearly 6.5 lakh km looking for carnivore signs across 20 States; man-animal conflict is likely the reason for decline in the big cat population by 22% in Uttarakhand, says report

India’s leopard numbers rose by 8% from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022, according to a report made public by the Environment Ministry on Thursday.

While the highest number of leopards were reported in Madhya Pradesh (3,907), only three other States reported over 1,000 animals each — Maharashtra (1,985), Karnataka (1,879) and Tamil Nadu (1,070). While Uttarakhand reported a 22% decline in the big cat numbers — reportedly due to poaching and man-animal conflict, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal saw a collective 150% rise to 349 animals.

The survey covered 20 States of India, and focused on about 70% of the animals’ expected habitat, which are India’s tiger reserves and protected forest areas. Unlike tigers, which are largely confined to forest reserves, leopards are far more adaptable and tend to be found in significant numbers, in villages and sometimes, even in cities. They are also known to prey on cattle and thus be involved in conflict, resulting in higher mortality.

Habitat conservation

“About a third of the leopards are within protected areas. When we conserve tiger reserves, we also conserve leopard habitat,” said Qamar Qureshi of the Wildlife Institute of India and one of the authors of the report. The analysis — coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India — only looked at forest areas where a similar survey was done in 2018. The Shivalik hills and the Gangetic plains recorded 3.4% yearly decline, while Central India and the Eastern Ghats, the Western Ghats and the hills of the northeast, and the Brahmaputra flood plains recorded growth of 1.5%, 1%, and 1.3% per annum respectively. “The population in the last four years is stable, which also indicates the growth is minimal and in comparison to tigers, leopard population is likely getting impacted by people in multiple use areas,” the report added.

Leopard numbers have declined in Ramnagar forest division (Uttarakhand), where tiger numbers have shown a very steep growth in the past four years. About 65% of the leopard population is present outside protected areas in the Shivalik landscape. In Uttar Pradesh, both leopard and tiger numbers have increased, the report noted.

Forest surveyors travel 6,41,449 km for carnivore signs and prey abundance estimation. Camera traps were deployed at 32,803 locations, resulting in 4,70,81,881 photographs.

The sharp rise in numbers reported out of the northeastern States were the result of a “sampling artefact”, said Dr. Qureshi, meaning that previous years saw very little of a systematic survey and fewer cameras installed.

3. Lancet study shows obesity rates going up across world

Obesity rates among children and adolescents worldwide increased four times from 1990 to 2022, while obesity rates among adults have more than doubled, a new study published in The Lancet has revealed.

The total number of children, adolescents and adults worldwide living with obesity has surpassed one billion. In total, 159 million children and adolescents, and 879 million adults were obese in 2022.

Form of malnutrition

Along with the declining prevalence of people who are underweight since 1990, obesity has become the most common form of malnutrition in most countries, said the paper that analysed global data estimates.

The study was conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Over 1,500 researchers in more than 190 countries analysed weight and height measurements of over 220 million people aged five years or older. They reportedly looked at body mass index (BMI) to understand how obesity and underweight have changed worldwide from 1990 to 2022.

Representatives from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation were among the co-authors of the study in India. V. Mohan, Anjana Ranjit and Guha Pradeepa, who were also instrumental in the countrywide INdiab study, were co-authors.

Coexisting conditions

Dr. Mohan said that in India, both obesity and underweight continue to co-exist. “We have also seen, as part of the INdiab study that both abdominal obesity and generalised obesity are increasing in the population, with of course variations in rural areas.”

As per The Lancet paper, in India, the obesity rate increased from 0.1% in 1990 to 3.1% in 2022 for girls, and 0.1% to 3.9%, for boys.

In the prevalence of obesity category for girls and boys, India ranked 174th highest in the world in 2022. Among adults, the change was starker: in women, the obesity rate increased from 1.2% in 1990 to 9.8% in 2022 and in men from 0.5% to 5.4%.

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