Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Sex Ratio in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sex Ratio

Mains level : Sex ratio in India

A 2018 report on “vital statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System” shows crucial data of sex ratios of major states in India.

Sex Ratio

  • Sex ratio at birth is the number of females born per thousand males.
  • Sex ratios are among the most basic of demographic parameters and provide an indication of both the relative survival of females and males and the future breeding potential of a population.

Try this PYQ

Q.Consider the following specific stages of demographic transition associated with economic development:

  1. Low birth rate with a low death rate
  2. High birth rate with a high death rate
  3. High birth rate with a low death rate

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 3, 2 and 1 only

(c) 2, 3 and 1 only

(d) 3, 2 and 1 only

Statewise data

  • Arunachal Pradesh recorded 1,084 females born per thousand males, followed by Nagaland (965) Mizoram (964), Kerala (963) and Karnataka (957).
  • The worst was reported in Manipur (757), Lakshadweep (839) and Daman & Diu (877), Punjab (896) and Gujarat (896).
  • Delhi recorded a sex ratio of 929, Haryana 914 and Jammu and Kashmir 952.
  • The number of registered births increased to 2.33 crore in 2018 from 2.21 crore registered births the previous year.

Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

What is a Technical Recession?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Terminologies such as Slowdown, Recession, Depression

Mains level : Hurdles to India's economic growth

Latest RBI bulletin projects contraction for a second consecutive quarter, which means the economy, is in a ‘technical recession’.

Nowcasts by RBI

  • In its latest monthly bulletin, the Reserve Bank of India has dedicated a chapter on the “State of the economy”.
  • The idea is to provide a monthly snapshot of some of the key indicators of India’s economic health.
  • As part of the exercise, the RBI has started “nowcasting” or “the prediction of the present or the very near future of the state of the economy”.
  • And the very first “nowcast” predicts that India’s economy will contract by 8.6% in the second quarter (July, August, September) of the current financial year.
  • It implies India that has entered a “technical recession” in the first half of 2020-21— for the first time in its history.

What is a Recessionary Phase?

  • At its simplest, in any economy, a recessionary phase is the counterpart of an expansionary phase.
  • In simpler terms, when the overall output of goods and services — typically measured by the GDP — increases from one quarter (or month) to another, the economy is said to be in an expansionary phase.
  • And when the GDP contracts from one quarter to another, the economy is said to be in a recessionary phase.
  • Together, these two phases create what is called a “business cycle” in any economy. A full business cycle could last anywhere between one year and a decade.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following actions by the Government:

  1. Cutting the tax rates
  2. Increasing government spending
  3. Abolishing the subsidies

In the context of economic recession, which of the above actions can be considered a part of the “Fiscal stimulus” package?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

How is the Recession different?

  • When a recessionary phase sustains for long enough, it is called a recession. That is, when the GDP contracts for a long enough period, the economy is said to be in a recession.
  • There is, however, no universally accepted definition of a recession — as in, for how long should the GDP contract before an economy is said to be in a recession.
  • But most economists agree with the US definition that during a recession, a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year.

Then, what is a Technical Recession?

  • While the basic idea behind the term “recession” — significant contraction in economic activity — is clear, from the perspective of empirical data analysis, there are too many unanswered queries.
  • For instance, would quarterly GDP be enough to determine economic activity? Or should one look at unemployment or personal consumption as well?
  • It is entirely possible that GDP starts growing after a while but unemployment levels do not fall adequately.
  • To get around these empirical technicalities, commentators often consider a recession to be in progress when real GDP has declined for at least two consecutive quarters.
  • That is how real quarterly GDP has come to be accepted as a measure of economic activity and a “benchmark” for ascertaining a “technical recession”.

How long do recessions last?

  • Typically, recessions last for a few quarters. If they continue for years, they are referred to as “depressions”.
  • But depression is quite rare; the last one was during the 1930s in the US.
  • In the current scenario, the key determinant for any economy to come out of recession is to control the spread of Covid-19.

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Index of Eight Core Sector Industries


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Core Sector Industries

Mains level : Core sector industries and their impacts

The Office of Economic Advisor within the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has released the Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) for September 2020.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In the ‘Index of Eight Core Industries’, which one of the following is given the highest weight?

(a) Coal production

(b) Electricity generation

(c) Fertilizer production

(d) Steel production

What is the Index of Core Industries?

  • As the title suggests, this is an index of the eight most fundamental industrial sectors of the Indian economy and it maps the volume of production in these industries.
  • It gives the details of these eight sectors — namely Coal, Natural Gas, Crude Oil, Refinery Products (such as Petrol and Diesel), Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity.
  • Since these eight industries are the essential “basic” and/or “intermediate” ingredient in the functioning of the broader economy, mapping their health provides a fundamental understanding of the state of the economy.
  • In other words, if these eight industries are not growing fast enough, the rest of the economy is unlikely to either.

ICI this year

  • This data is to focus on the trend of ICI growth over the past 6 months — that is, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns.
  • A crucial factor in this regard would be the next wave of Covid-19 infections.
  • If there is a surge in the winter months — as is being witnessed in most Europe and the US — then India’s recovery will be dented yet again.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Annual State of Education Report (ASER) Wave 1, 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASER

Mains level : State of school education in India

The ASER Wave 1 Survey was recently released since the COVID-19 crisis interrupted this years’ trajectory.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the efficacy of the One-Nation- One-Board System and its limitations.

About ASER Survey

  • This is an annual survey (published by education non-profit Pratham ) that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India.

How is the survey conducted?

  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham.
  • The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network. It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organisations in each district.
  • All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organisations, self-help groups and others.
  • The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali and Senegal.

Assessment parameters

  • 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.
  • In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed.
  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16.
  • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. The same test is administered to all children.
  • The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in Std 2; in 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.
  • In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.

Key Findings


  • 5.5% of rural children are not currently enrolled for the 2020school year, up from 4% in 2018.
  • This difference is the sharpest among the youngest children (6 to 10) where 5.3% of rural children had not yet enrolled in school in 2020, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
  • Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
  • Among 15-16 year-olds, however, enrollment levels are slightly higher than in 2018.
  • The proportion of boys enrolled in government schools has risen from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020, while for girls, that number has gone up from 70% to 73% in the corresponding period.
  • Patterns show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
  • The Centre has now permitted States to start reopening schools if they can follow Covid-19 safety protocols but the majority of the country’s 25 crore students are still at home.

2.Availability of Smartphones:

  • Among enrolled children, 61.8% live in families that own at least one smartphone which was merely 36.5% in 2018.
  • About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
  • WhatsApp is by far the most popular mode of transmitting learning materialsto students, with 75% of students receiving input via this app.

3.Availability of Learning Material:

  • Overall more than 80% of children said they had textbooks for their current grade.
  • This proportion was higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1%) than in private ones (72.2%).
  • In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • More than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.

4.Learning Activities:

  • Most children (70.2%) did some form of a learning activity through material shared by tutors or family members themselves, with or without regular input.
  • 11% had access to live online classes, and 21% had videos or recorded classes, with much higher levels in private schools.
  • About 60% studied from their textbooks and 20% watched classes broadcast on TV.


  • Fluid Situation: When schools reopen, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school as well as to understand whether there is learning lossas compared to previous years.
  • Building on and Strengthening Family Support: Parents’ increasing levels of education can be integrated into planning for learning improvement, as advocated by National Education Policy, 2020. Reaching parents at the right level is essential to understand how they can help their children and older siblings also play an important role.
  • Hybrid Learning: As children do a variety of different activities at home, effective ways of hybrid learning need to be developed which combine traditional teaching-learning with newer ways of “reaching-learning”.
  • Assessment of Digital Modes and Content: In order to improve digital content and delivery for the future, an in-depth assessment of what works, how well it works, who it reaches, and who it excludes is needed.
  • Mediating the Digital Divide: Children from families who had low education and also did not have resources like smartphones had less access to learning opportunities. However, even among such households, there is evidence of effort with family members trying to help and schools trying to reach them. These children will need even more help than others when schools reopen.

Way Forward

  • Covid-19 has left the nation with deep economic distress and uncertainty over school-reopenings and thrown open new challenges in every sector.
  • The nationally representative sample highlighted the role played by the families where everyone in the family supported children regardless of their education levels.
  • This strength needs to be leveraged by reaching out to more students and reducing the distance between schools and homes.

Policy Wise: India’s Power Sector

[pib] Electricity Access & Utility Benchmarking Report


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Household electricity supply in India

NITI Aayog, Ministry of Power, Rockefeller Foundation, and Smart Power India have together launched the ‘Electricity Access in India and Benchmarking Distribution Utilities’ report.

About the report

  • It is based on a primary survey conducted across 10 states––representing about 65% of the total rural population of India.
  • Aimed at capturing insights from the demand (electricity customers) as well as supply-side (electricity distribution utilities), the report seeks to:
  1. Evaluate the status of electricity access in India across these states and distribution utilities along all dimensions that constitute meaningful access
  2. Benchmark utilities’ capacity to provide electricity access and identify the drivers of sustainable access
  3. Develop recommendations for enhancing sustainable electricity access

Key findings of the report:

  • As much as 92% of customers reported the overall availability of electricity infrastructure within 50 metres of their premises; however, not all have connections, the primary reason being the distance of households from the nearest pole.
  • Overall, 87% of customers have access to grid-based electricity. The remaining 13% either use non-grid sources or don’t use any electricity at all.
  • The hours of supply have improved significantly across the customer categories to nearly 17 hours per day.
  • Nearly 85% of customers reported to have a metered electricity connection.
  • Access to electricity is observed in 83% of household customers.
  • Considering the overall satisfaction level, a total of 66% of those surveyed were satisfied––74% of customers in urban areas and 60% in rural areas.

Recommendations made

The key recommendations provided in the report are in the areas of policy and regulation, process improvement, infrastructure and capacity-building of utilities. Other recommendations included:

  • prioritizing the release of new connections for non-household customers
  • transfer of subsidies or other benefits directly into a customer’s account
  • enhanced technology-driven customer service; ensuring 100% metering of customers
  • segregation of feeder lines

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Obesity in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Obesity

Mains level : Obesity in India

Adults in urban India consume much more fat than those in rural areas, found the latest survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Nutrition.

Do you know?

Over-nutrition is also a form of malnutrition.

‘What India Eats’ Survey

  • Adults in India’s urban centres consumed 51.6 grammes fat per day per head on an average. The volume was 36 g in rural areas, according to the survey report What India Eats.
  • The report categorised fat into two groups:
  1. Visible or added fat, comprising oils and fat in preparing food, in fried food and those derived from meat and poultry
  2. Invisible fat, including fat/oils from rice, pulses, nuts and oilseeds

Urban-Rural data

  • 84 per cent of the rural population secured their energy (E) per day requirement from total fats/oils, or visible / added fats.
  • On the other hand, less than 20 per cent of the urban population derived their E / day from this category.
  • In urban areas of the country, northern India had the highest intake of added fat with 45.9 g / day.
  • Southern India reported the lowest per capita consumption of added fat/oils with 22.9 g / day in this segment of the population.
  • In the urban region of north India, fat intake (67.3 g) was among the highest; and overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity were highest when compared to other regions.

Start-up Ecosystem In India

[pib] Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems, 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems

Mains level : Not Much

The Results of the second edition of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystems were recently released by Minister of Commerce & Industry.

About the Ranking

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has conducted the second edition of the States Startup Ranking Exercise.
  • The key objective is to foster competitiveness and propel States and Union Territories to work proactively towards uplifting the startup ecosystem.
  • It has been implemented as a capacity development exercise to encourage mutual learning among all states and to provide support in policy formulation and implementation.

7 focus areas

  1. Institutional Leaders
  2. Regulatory Change Champions
  3. Procurement Leaders
  4. Incubation Hubs
  5. Seeding Innovation Leaders
  6. Scaling Innovations Leaders
  7. Awareness and Outreach Champions

Banking Sector Reforms

EASE Banking Reforms Index


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EASE Banking Reforms Index

Mains level : Banking sector reforms

Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs has felicitated best performing banks on EASE Banking Reforms Index.

Note the various themes under which the index works.

EASE Banking Reforms Index

  • EASE stands for ‘Enhanced Access and Service Excellence’. The index is prepared by the Indian Banking Association (IBA) and Boston Consulting Group.
  • It is commissioned by the Finance Ministry.
  • It is a framework that was adopted last year to strengthen public sector banks and rank them on metrics such as responsible banking, financial inclusion, credit offtake and digitization.

Various themes and performance by the states


Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

[pib] Global Indices to Drive Reforms and Growth (GIRG) Exercise


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MPI and various other dimensions of poverty

Mains level : Not Much

NITI Aayog as the nodal agency has been assigned the responsibility of leveraging the monitoring mechanism of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to drive reforms.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In a given year in India, official poverty lines are higher in some states than in others because (CSP 2019):

(a) Poverty rates vary from State to State

(b) Price levels vary from State to State

(c) Gross State Product varies from State to State

(d) Quality of public distribution varies from State to State

GIRG Exercise

  • Global MPI is part of GoI’s decision to monitor the performance of the country in 29 select Global Indices.
  • The objective of the exercise is to fulfil the need to measure and monitor India’s performance on various important social and economic parameters.
  • It would enable the utilization of these Indices as tools for self-improvement; bring about reforms in policies, while improving last-mile implementation of government schemes.
  • As the Nodal agency for the MPI, NITI Aayog has constituted a Multidimensional Poverty Index Coordination Committee (MPICC).

About Global MPI

  • Global MPI is an international measure of multidimensional poverty covering 107 developing countries.
  • It was first developed in 2010 by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for UNDP’s Human Development Reports.
  • It is computed by scoring each surveyed household on 10 parameters based on -nutrition, child mortality, and years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing and household assets.
  • It utilizes the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which is conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS).

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

State Reforms Action Plan Rankings 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : State Reforms Action Plan Rankings 2019

Mains level : Ease of Doing Business

Andhra Pradesh has bagged the first rank among all the states in the country in the state business reforms action plan-2019 (BRAP-2019), representing ease of doing business for Atmanirbhar Bharat.

About the Ranking

  • It is the annual ease of doing business index of states and UTs of India based on the completion percentage scores of action items points of annual Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP) under the Make in India initiative.
  • This ranking is based on the implementation of the business reform action plan.
  • Some of the key focus areas are access to information and technology, the setting up of a single-window system, construction permit enablers and land administration, according to DPIIT.
  • It based on the progress of states in completing annual reform action plan covering 8 key areas.

The top ten states under the State Reform Action Plan 2019 are:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Uttar Pradesh
  3. Telangana
  4. Madhya Pradesh
  5. Jharkhand
  6. Chhattisgarh
  7. Himachal Pradesh
  8. Rajasthan
  9. West Bengal
  10. Gujarat

NCRB data on Accidental Deaths and Suicides


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NCRB

Mains level : NCRB and its report

The cases of suicide and the number of accidental deaths registered an increase across the country last year compared to 2018, according to the annual National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.

Do you know?

NCRB also released data on hate crimes, fake news, and anti-national activities etc.

(1) Data on Suicides

  • Statewise data: The maximum cases of mass/family suicides were reported from Tamil Nadu (16), followed by Andhra Pradesh (14), Kerala (11) and Punjab (9) and Rajasthan (7).
  • Unemployed person: Suicides by unemployed persons amounting to 14% were in Kerala (1,963), followed by 10.8% in Maharashtra, 9.8% in Tamil Nadu, 9.2% in Karnataka and 6.1% in Odisha. Of the 97,613 male suicides, the maximum were daily wage earners (29,092), followed by self-employed persons (14,319) and the unemployed (11,599).
  • Farmer’s suicide: Majority of victims engaged in the farming sector were reported in Maharashtra (38.2% of 10,281), Karnataka (19.4%), AP (10.0%), MP (5.3%) and Chhattisgarh & Telangana (4.9% each),” said the report.
  • Rural-Urban: The suicide rate in cities (13.9%) was higher compared to the all-India average. Family problems (other than marriage related problems)’ (32.4%); ‘marriage related problems’ (5.5%); and ‘illness’ (17.1%) accounted for 55% of the total suicides.
  • Gender-specific cases: The overall male-female ratio was 70.2:29.8. Nearly 68.4% of males were married and the ratio was 62.5% for female victims. While 12.6% of the total victims were illiterate, 16.3% had studied up to primary level, 19.6% up to middle level and 23.3% up to Matriculation level. Only 3.7% were graduates and above.
  • Defence personnel: In the Central Armed Police Forces, a total of 36 personnel died by suicide, 38.9% were due to “family problems”.

(2) Data on Accidents

  • Accidental deaths in the country increased by 2.3%. Compared to 4,11,824 in 2018, the figure stood at 4,21,104 last year.
  • The rate (per lakh population) increased from 31.1 to 31.5. The maximum casualties of 30.9% were reported in the 30-45 years age group, followed by 26% in the 18-30 years’ age group.
  • The highest rate was reported from Puducherry (72.8), followed by Chhattisgarh (68.6), Maharashtra (57.4), Haryana (54.3), Goa (51.5) and Madhya Pradesh (51.4).
  • Maharashtra reported the highest deaths (70,329), amounting to nearly one-sixth of the total figure. UP, the most populous state, accounted for 9.6% cases, followed by MP (10.1%).
  • Maximum deaths (85.4%) were in road accidents. While 38% of the victims were two-wheeler riders, 14.6% involved trucks.
  • Dangerous/careless driving or overtaking contributed to 25.7% road accidents, claiming 42,557 lives and leaving more than 1 lakh people injured.

(3) Deaths due to disasters

  • A total of 8,145 deaths were due to the causes attributable to forces of nature, including 35.3% due to lightning, 15.6% by heat/sunstroke and 11.6% deaths in floods.
  • Maximum deaths (400) due to lightning was reported each from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, followed by Jharkhand (334) and Uttar Pradesh (321).

Back2Basics: NCRB

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • It was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task-force 1985 and National Police Commission 1977.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

How marriage age and women’s health are linked?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IMR, MMR

Mains level : Marriage age issues

PM had announced a panel to fight malnutrition in young women and ensure they get married at the right age. Take a look at how the two are linked:

How prevalent is underage marriage?

  • Data show that the majority of women in India marry after the age of 21.
  • Chart 1 shows the mean age of women at marriage is 22.1 years, and more than 21 in all states. This does not mean that child marriages have disappeared.
  • The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) found that about 26.8% of women aged 20-24 (Chart 2) were married before adulthood (age 18).

Try this question for mains:

Q. Discuss how marriage age and women’s health are linked with each other?

How does the age of marriage correlate with health?

  • Preventing early marriage can reduce the maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio.
  • At present, the maternal mortality ratio — the number of maternal deaths for every 100,000 children born — is 145.
  • India’s IMR shows that 30 of every 1,000 children born in a year die before the age of one.
  • Young mothers are more susceptible to anaemia. More than half the women of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are anaemic.

What delayed marriage can alter?

  • Poverty, limited access to education and economic prospects, and security concerns are the known reasons for early marriage.
  • If the main causes of early marriage are not addressed, a law will not be enough to delay marriage among girls.

What do the data show?

  • Women in the poorest 20% of the population married much younger than their peers from the wealthiest 20% (Chart 5).
  • The average age at marriage of women with no schooling was 17.6, considerably lower than that for women educated beyond class 12 (Chart 6).
  • Almost 40% of girls aged 15-18 do not attend school, as per a report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • Nearly 65% of these girls are engaged in non-remunerative work.
  • That is why many believe that merely tweaking the official age of marriage may discriminate against the poorer, less-educated and marginalised women.

Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

National Strategy for Financial Education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Financial education

The National Strategy for Financial Education (NSFE): 2020-2025 documents has been released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Try this question for mains:

Q.What is the role of Financial Education in ensuring financial inclusion in India?

What is the Strategy?

  • The NSFE for the period 2020-2025, the second one after the 2013-18 NSFE, has been prepared by the National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE) in consultation with all the Financial Sector Regulators (RBI, SEBI, IRDAI and PFRDA.
  • Other stakeholders include (DFIs, SROs, IBA, and NPCI) under the aegis of the Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy (TGFIFL) under the Chairmanship of Deputy Governor, RBI.

Key recommendations

  • The strategy recommends the adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach to achieve financial well-being of Indians.
  • The document has recommended a ‘5 C’ approach for dissemination of financial education in the country. These include an emphasis on:
  1. development of relevant content in the curriculum in schools, colleges and training establishments,
  2. developing capacity among the intermediaries involved in providing financial services,
  3. leveraging on the positive effect of the community-led model for financial literacy through appropriate communication strategy, and
  4. enhancing collaboration among various stakeholders

Other objectives

  • The strategic objective is also towards improving usage of digital financial services in a safe and secure manner; as well as bringing awareness about rights, duties and avenues for grievance redressal.
  • To achieve the vision of creating a financially aware and empowered India, certain strategic objectives have been laid down including:
  1. Inculcating financial literacy concepts among various sections of the population through financial education to make it an important life skill
  2. Encouraging active savings behaviour and developing credit discipline

Swachh Bharat Mission

[pib] Highlights of the Swachh Survekshan 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Swachh Survekshan 2020

Mains level : Success of SBM

Image Source: TH

Indore was declared the cleanest city in India for the fourth consecutive time in the Swachh Survekshan, 2020 — India’s annual survey on cleanliness.

Note the following things about Swachh Survekshan:

1) Nodal Ministry (It is Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs)

2) Authority carrying out the survey

3) Various parameters of the survey

Swachh Survekshan

  • It is an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and towns across India.
  • It ranks India’s cities, towns and states based on sanitation, waste management and overall cleanliness.
  • It was launched as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which aimed to make India clean and free of open defecation by 2 October 2019.
  • The first survey was undertaken in 2016 and covered 73 cities; by 2019 the survey had grown to cover 4237 cities and was said to be the largest cleanliness survey in the world.

Survey methodology

  • The surveys are carried out by the Quality Council of India. The criteria and weightage for different components of sanitation-related aspects used for the survey were:

a) Municipal documentation (solid waste management including door-to-door collection, processing, and disposal, and open defecation free status. These carried 45 per cent of the total 2,000 marks.

b) Citizen feedback – 30 per cent (450 + 150 marks)

c) Independent observation – 25 per cent (500 marks)

Highlights of the 2020 Rankings

  • Surat in Gujarat and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra bagged the second and third spot respectively among the cleanest cities with more than a million populations.
  • Maharashtra’s Karad, Saswad and Lonavala bagged the first three positions for cities having a population less than one lakh.
  • Among the cities with a population between one and 10 lakh, Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur was declared the cleanest, followed by Mysore in Karnataka.
  • In fact, Chhattisgarh has ranked the cleanest state in the category of states having more than 100 Urban Local Bodies (ULB). It was followed by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  • In 2019, Chhattisgarh was in the third position in the category. The survey found that Chhattisgarh is the first and only state where every city achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF)++ status.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Job Losses during Lockdown


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Coronovirus induced job-losses

The data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) briefs us about the job losses due to lockdown restrictions imposed because of the COVID pandemic.

We can utilize this data as examples for answer writing.

CMIE data on job losses

  • Salaried jobs: They suffered the biggest hit during the lockdown, with a total loss estimated to be at 18.9 million during April-July.
  • Informal and non-salaried jobs: They have shown improvement during the same period increasing to 325.6 million in July from 317.6 million last year, an increase of 2.5 per cent.
  • Small traders, hawkers and daily wage labourers: They were the worst hit by the lockdown in April, comprising 91.2 million of the jobs lost from the total loss of 121.5 million in that month.
  • Farm employment: A sharp rise was seen in June to 130 million, with good rains and the consequent sowing absorbing a lot of the labour that was lost in non-farm sectors.

About CMIE

  • CMIE, or Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, is a leading business information company.
  • It was established in 1976, primarily as an independent think tank.
  • CMIE produces economic and business databases and develops specialised analytical tools to deliver these to its customers for decision making and for research.
  • It analyses the data to decipher trends in the economy.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ARIIA 2020

Mains level : Not Much

The Vice-President has released the Atal ranking ‘ARIIA 2020’.

Note the indicators on which the ARIIA ranking is based.  Also try this PYQ:

Q. Which one of the following is not a sub-index of the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’? (CSP 2019)

(a) Maintenance of law and order

(b) Paying taxes

(c) Registering property

(d) Dealing with construction permits

Highlights of the ARIIA 2020

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has topped the ARIIA 2020 under the ‘Best Centrally Funded Institution’ category.
  • Last year too, the institute emerged as the top innovative institution in the country.
  • IIT Bombay and Delhi have secured the second and third spots, respectively.


  • ARIIA is an initiative of erstwhile Ministry of HRD, implemented by AICTE and Ministry’s Innovation Cell.
  • It systematically ranks all major higher educational institutions and universities in India on indicators related to “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development” amongst students and faculties.
  • ARIIA 2020 will have six categories which also includes special category for women only higher educational institutions to encourage women and bringing gender parity in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • The other five categories are 1) Centrally Funded Institutions 2) State-funded universities 3) State-funded autonomous institutions 4) Private/Deemed Universities and 5) Private Institutions.

Major Indicators for consideration

  • Budget & Funding Support.
  • Infrastructure & Facilities.
  • Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
  • Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
  • Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
  • Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
  • Innovation in Governance of the Institution.

RBI Notifications

How are inflation rate and interest rate linked?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Monetary Policy tools

Mains level : Not Much

The Monetary Policy Committee of the RBI has decided to keep the benchmark interest rates of the economy unchanged.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following is not the most likely measures the Government/RBI takes to stop the slide of Indian rupee? (CSP 2019)

(a) Curbing imports of non-essential goods and promoting exports

(b) Encouraging Indian borrowers to issue rupee-denominated Masala Bonds

(c) Easing conditions relating to external commercial borrowing

(d) Following an expansionary monetary policy

What is the link between growth, inflation and interest rates?

  • In a fast-growing economy, incomes go up quickly and more and more people have the money to buy the existing bunch of goods.
  • As more and more money chases the existing set of goods, prices of such goods rise.
  • In other words, inflation (which is nothing but the rate of increase in prices) spikes.

How interest rates dominate?

  • To contain inflation, a country’s central bank typically increases the interest rates in the economy.
  • By doing so, it incentivizes people to spend less and save more because saving becomes more profitable as interest rates go up.
  • As more and more people choose to save, money is sucked out of the market and inflation rate moderates.

What happens when growth rate decelerates or contracts?

  • When growth contracts or when its growth rate decelerates, people’s incomes also get hit.
  • As a result, less and less money is chasing the same quantity of goods.
  • These results in either the inflation rate decline.
  • In such situations, a central bank cuts down the interest rates so as to incentivise spending and by that route boost economic activity in the economy.
  • Lower interest rates imply that it is less profitable to keep one’s money in the bank or any similar saving instrument.
  • As a result, more and more money comes into the market, thus boosting growth and inflation.

Why has RBI not raised interest rates this quarter?

  • RBI is facing an odd situation at present: GDP is contracting even as inflation is rising.
  • This is happening because the pandemic has reduced demand, on the one hand, and disrupted supply on the other.
  • As a result, both things are happening — falling growth and rising inflation.
  • It is true that for containing inflation, RBI should raise interest rates.
  • And under normal circumstances, it would have done just that. But raising interest rates at this stage would be catastrophic for India’s GDP growth.

Risks of altering interest rates

  • If the RBI cuts the interest rate, it may be fuelling retail inflation further. It must be remembered that inflation hits the poor the hardest.
  • So, the RBI has chosen to do what many expected it to do: stay put and waits for another couple of months to figure out how growth and inflation are shaping up.

Back2Basics: Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • The RBI Act, 1934 (RBI Act) was amended by the Finance Act, 2016,  to provide for a statutory and institutionalized framework for an MPC, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • The MPC is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level.
  • The meetings of the MPC are held at least 4 times a year and it publishes its decisions after each such meeting.
  • As per the provisions of the RBI Act, out of the six members of the committee, three members are from the RBI and the other three Members of MPC are appointed by the Central Government.
  • Governor of the RBI is ex officio Chairman of the committee.

Economics | Monetary Policy Explained with Examples

Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

Report of the All India Tiger Estimation 2020


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project Tiger

Mains level : Tiger conservation

India’s tiger population has reached a new high at 2,367.

Before reading this newscard, try these PYQs:

  1. The term ‘M-STrIPES’ is sometimes seen in the news in the context of: (CSP 2017)

(a) Captive breeding of Wild Fauna

(b) Maintenance of Tiger Reserves

(c) Indigenous Satellite Navigation System

(d) Security of National Highways

Q.Consider the following protected areas: (CSP 2012)

  1. Bandipur
  2. Bhitarkanika
  3. Manas
  4. Sunderbans

Which of the above are declared Tiger Reserves?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

All India Tiger Estimation

  • The tiger count is prepared after every four years by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) provides details on the number of tigers in the 18 tiger reign states with 50 tiger reserves.
  • However, this time, the census also included data collected from the rough terrains of north-eastern states which were not possible due to logistic constraints before.
  • The entire exercise spanned over four years is considered to be the world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage and intensity of sampling.
  • Over 15, 000 cameras were installed at various strategic points to capture the movement of tigers. This was supported by extensive data collected by field personnel and satellite mapping.

Details of the report

  • India has 70% of the world’s tigers, says the report.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
  • Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a “positive” increase, according to a press statement.

Implementing CATS frameworks

  • India had embarked upon assessing management interventions through the globally developed Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS) framework.
  • This framework will now be extended to all fifty tiger reserves across the country.

Back2Basics: Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 during PM Indira Gandhi’s tenure.
  • In 1970 India had only 1800 tigers and Project Tiger was launched in Jim Corbett National Park.
  • The project is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • It aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction etc.
  • Under this project the govt. has set up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers and funded relocation of villagers to minimize human-tiger conflicts.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

In news: National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NCDC and its formation

Mains level : Institutional failures in NCDC

India’s premier organisation mandated to collect data about diseases, the NCDC is failing in its task as the spread of COVID-19 continues unabated.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Health infrastructure in India is hardly capable of handling any pandemic. Critically comment.

About the National Centre for Disease Control

  • The NCDC carries out nationwide disease surveillance through its Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
  • It is a vertical programme under Directorate General of Health Services.

Its formation

  • This programme has been present in the country in different avatars since 1997 when the National Surveillance Programme for Communicable Diseases was set up.
  • This was upscaled to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project in 2004, with assistance from the World Bank, to address the demands of the WHO’s International Health Regulations, 2005.
  • Under this, each country had to assess public health emergencies of international concern within 48 hours and report them to WHO within the next 24 hours.
  • It was then included in the 12th Plan (2012-17) under the Union Health Ministry and renamed IDSP.

Mandate of the NCDC

To aid the process of an investigation, NCDC has put down 10 steps that need to be followed for each outbreak:

  • Determine the existence of an outbreak
  • Confirm the diagnosis
  • Define a case
  • Search for cases
  • Generate hypothesis using descriptive findings
  • Test hypothesis with the analytical study
  • Draw conclusions
  • Compare hypothesis with established facts
  • Communication of findings
  • Execute preventive measures

Why did NCDC fail?

  • IDSP’s manual says weekly and monthly updates are mandatory for each State and UTs even if no outbreaks are reported.
  • But this has never been observed to date.
  • There is an overlap between the diseases being followed by IDSP and other agencies like the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme
  • The fact that IDSP does not collect mortality data was also a concern. Moreover, the IDSP was not investigating zoonotic diseases.

Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

[pib] India’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) of SDGs

The NITI Aayog has recently presented India’s second Voluntary National Review at the UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, 2020.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the institutional approach adopted by NITI Aayog for the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

About the UN Forum on SDGs

  • The HLPF is the foremost international platform for follow-up and review of progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The HLPF meets annually in July for eight days under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.
  • The VNRs presented by the Member States at the HLPF are a critical component of the review of progress and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
  • The reviews are voluntary and state-led and are aimed at facilitating the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned.

India VNR 2020

  • NITI Aayog prepared and presented India’s first VNR in 2017.
  • The report is a comprehensive account of the adoption and implementation of the 2030 Agenda in India.
  • India’s VNR this year has undertaken a paradigm shift in terms of embodying a “whole-of-society” approach in letter and spirit.
  • Apart from presenting a review of progress on the 17 SDGs, the report discusses at length the policy and enabling environment, India’s approach to localizing SDGs, and strengthening means of implementation.
  • Leveraging science, technology and innovation for SDGs, and costing and financing of SDGs are the two levers of strengthening means of implementation which have been introduced this year.

Consultations made for the VNR 2020

From Global to Local -key steps of localisation of SDGs in India