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

NITI Aayog’s Draft National Policy on Migrant Workers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Migration pattern in India

Mains level : Welfare of the migrant workers

Spurred by the exodus of 10 million migrants from big cities during the Covid-19 lockdown, the NITI Aayog has prepared a draft national migrant labour policy.

Must read:

India’s internal migration

Highlights of the Policy

  • The draft describes two approaches to policy design:
  1. To focus on cash transfers, special quotas, and reservations
  2. To enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive

A rights-based approach

  • The policy rejects a handout approach, opting instead for a rights-based framework.
  • It seeks to remove restrictions on the true agency and potential of the migrant workers.
  • The goal a/c to the document should not be to provide temporary or permanent economic or social aids”, which is “a rather limited approach”.
  • Migration, the draft says, should be acknowledged as an integral part of the development and government policies should not hinder but…seek to facilitate internal migration.

Issues with existing law

  • The 2017 report argued that specific protection legislation for migrant workers was unnecessary.
  • Migrant workers aren’t yet integrated with all workers as part of an overarching framework that covers regular and contractual work.
  • The report discussed the limitations of The Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979, which was designed to protect labourers from exploitation by contractors by safeguarding their right to non-discriminatory wages.
  • It mentions that the Ministry of Labour and Employment should amend the 1979 Act for “effective utilization to protect migrants”.

Restructuring the institutions

The NITI draft lays down institutional mechanisms to coordinate between Ministries, states, and local departments to implement programmes for migrants.

  • Nodal agency: It identifies the Ministry of Labour and Employment as the nodal Ministry for implementation of policies, and asks it to create a special unit to help to converge the activities of other Ministries.
  • Resources centre: This unit would manage migration resource centres in high migration zones, a national labour Helpline, links of worker households to government schemes, and inter-state migration management bodies.
  • Migration corridors: On the inter-state migration management bodies, it says that labour departments of source and destination states along major migration corridors, should work together through the migrant worker cells.
  • Labour officers from source states can be deputed to destinations – e.g., Bihar’s experiment to have a joint labour commissioner at Bihar Bhavan in New Delhi.
  • Role for Panchayats: Alongside the long-term goal, policies should promote the role of panchayats to aid migrant workers and integrate urban and rural policies to improve the conditions of migration.
  • Migration management: Panchayats should maintain a database of migrant workers, issue identity cards and passbooks, and provide “migration management and governance” through training, placement, and social-security benefit assurance, the draft says.

Ways to stem migration

  • Even as it underlines the key role of migration in development, the draft recommends steps to stem migration.
  • The draft asks source states to raise minimum wages to bring a major shift in the local livelihood of tribal that may result in stemming migration to some extent.
  • The absence of community building organisations (CBO) and administrative staff in the source states have hindered access to development programmes, pushing tribals towards migration, the draft says.
  • The “long term plan” for CBOs and panchayats should be to “alleviate distress migration policy initiatives” by aiming “for a more pro-poor development strategy in the sending areas.

The importance of data

  • The draft calls for a central database to help employers “fill the gap between demand and supply” and ensures “maximum benefit of social welfare schemes”.
  • It asks the Ministries and the Census office to be consistent with the definitions of migrants and subpopulations, capture seasonal and circular migrants, and incorporate migrant-specific variables in existing surveys.
  • Both documents see limited merit in Census data that comes only once a decade.
  • It asked the National Sample Survey Office to include questions related to migration in the periodic labour force survey and to carry out a separate survey on migration.

Preventing exploitation

  • The policy draft describes a lack of administrative capacity to handle issues of exploitation.
  • State labour departments have little engagement with migration issues, and are in “halting human trafficking mode”, the draft says.
  • The local administration, given the usual constraints of manpower, is not in a position to monitor.
  • This has become the breeding ground for middlemen to thrive on the situation and entrap migrants which leads to potential exploitation and trafficking.

Specific recommendations

  • The draft asks the various ministries to use Tribal Affairs migration data to help create migration resource centres in high migration zones.
  • It asks the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to focus on skill-building at these centres.
  • The Ministry of Education should take measures under the Right to Education Act to mainstream migrant children’s education, to map migrant children, and to provide local-language teachers in migrant destinations.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs should address issues of night shelters, short-stay homes, and seasonal accommodation for migrants in cities.
  • The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and Ministry of Labour should set up grievance handling cells and fast track legal responses for trafficking, minimum wage violations, and workplace abuses etc.

Banking Sector Reforms

Tighter regulatory framework for NBFCs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NBFCs and their regulations

Mains level : Not Much

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has suggested a tougher regulatory framework for the non-banking finance companies’ (NBFC) sector to prevent the recurrence of any systemic risk to the country’s financial system.

Try this PYQ:

Which of the following can be said to be essentially the parts of Inclusive Governance?

  1. Permitting the Non-Banking Financial Companies to do banking
  2. Establishing effective District Planning Committees in all the districts
  3. Increasing government spending on public health
  4. Strengthening the Mid-day Meal Scheme

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 2, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

What are NBFCs?

  • Nonbank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that offer various banking services but do not have a banking license.
  • An NBFC in India is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by a government or local authority, or other marketable securities.
  • A non-banking institution that is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments is also an NBFC.

What is the difference between banks & NBFCs?

NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are akin to that of banks; however, there are a few differences as given below:

  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself
  • The deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in the case of banks

What are the new RBI regulations?

  • The regulatory and supervisory framework of NBFCs will be based on a four-layered structure — the base layer (NBFC-BL), middle layer (NBFC-ML), the upper layer (NBFC-UL), and the top layer.
  • If the framework is visualized as a pyramid, at the bottom of the pyramid will be those where least regulatory intervention is warranted.
  • It can consist of NBFCs currently classified as non-systemically important NBFCs.
  • Moving up, the next layer may comprise NBFCs currently classified as systemically important NBFCs (NBFC-ND-SI), deposit-taking NBFCs (NBFC-D), HFCs, IFCs, IDFs, SPDs, and CICs.
  • The regulatory regime for this layer shall be stricter compared to the base layer.
  • The next layer may consist of NBFCs identified as ‘systemically significant’.
  • This layer will be populated by NBFCs having a large potential of systemic spill-over of risks and the ability to impact financial stability.

Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Second edition of India Innovation Index 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian innovation index

Mains level : Innovation ecosystem in India

NITI Aayog is set to release the second edition of the India Innovation Index 2020 tomorrow.

*Statewise rankings will be updated tomorrow.

Updated on 21st Jan, Thursday.

India Innovation Index (III)

  • The release of the second edition of the index—the first was launched in October 2019—demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment towards transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy.
  • The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven UTs in India.
  • It intends to perform the following three functions-
  1. Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores
  2. Recognizing opportunities and challenges, and
  3. Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation
  • The India Innovation Index 2019 is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.
  • The states have been bifurcated into three categories: major states, north-east and hill states, and union territories/city-states/small states.

Significance

  • The study examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories.
  • The aim is to create a holistic tool which can be used by policymakers across the country to identify the challenges to be addressed and strengths to build on when designing policies.

Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

Burden of Anaemia in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anaemia

Mains level : Anaemia

Indian women and children are overwhelmingly anaemic, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2019-20 released this month, and the condition is the most prevalent in the Himalayan cold desert.

Anaemia is the condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or a quantity of haemoglobin. How widespread is it in India?

What is Anaemia?

  • The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or a quantity of haemoglobin. It can make one feel tired, cold, dizzy, and irritable, and short of breath, among other symptoms.
  • A diet that does not contain enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 is a common cause of anaemia.
  • Some other conditions that may lead to anaemia include pregnancy, heavy periods, blood disorders or cancer, inherited disorders, and infectious diseases.

How widespread is anaemia in our country?

  • In Phase I of the NHFS, result factsheets have been released for 22 states and UTs.
  • In a majority of these states and UTs, more than half the children and women were found to be anaemic.
  • In 15 of these 22 states and UTs, more than half the children are anaemic. Similarly, more than 50 percent of women are anaemic in 14 of these states and UTs.
  • The proportion of anaemic children and women is comparatively lower in Lakshadweep, Kerala, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
  • However, it is higher in Ladakh, Gujarat, J&K, and West Bengal, among others.
  • Anaemia among men was less than 30 percent in a majority of these states and UTs.

What was the methodology used?

  • NFHS used the capillary blood of the respondents for the estimation of anaemia. For children, haemoglobin of fewer than 11 grams per decilitre (g/dl) indicated anaemia.
  • For non-pregnant and pregnant women, it was less than 12 g/dl and 11g/dl respectively, and for men, it was less than 13 g/dl.
  • Among children, the prevalence was adjusted for altitude and among adults, it was adjusted for altitude and smoking status.

Why is anaemia so high in the country?

  • Iron-deficiency and vitamin B12-deficiency anaemia are the two common types of anaemia in India.
  • Among women, iron deficiency prevalence is higher than men due to menstrual iron losses and the high iron demands of a growing foetus during pregnancies.
  • Lack of millets in the diet due to overdependence on rice and wheat, insufficient consumption of green and leafy vegetables could be the reasons behind the high prevalence of anaemia in India.

What about the cold desert region of the western Himalaya?

  • In the union territory of Ladakh, a whopping 92.5 per cent children, 92.8 per cent women, and around 76 per cent men are anaemic in the given age groups, as per the survey.
  • The high prevalence in this region could be due to the short supply of fresh vegetables and fruits during the long winter each year.
  • Crops here are generally only grown in summer and during winter; residents fail to get a regular supply of green vegetables and fresh produce from outside, due to restricted connectivity in harsh weather.
  • However, there could be other factors as well and the causes of anaemia here are yet to be scientifically ascertained.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Internet usage in Indian states

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Internet usage in India and the digital divide

The recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) survey helps us gain an idea about the spread of awareness regarding the internet among people.

This newscard provides a picture of gendered as well as regional differentiation of internet usage in India.

Statewise Internet Usage

(1) Gendered data

  • A very high differential is also seen among the female and male population who have ever used the internet. In every state, it is seen that the percentage of male users exceeds the number of females.
  • The states and Union territories with the highest percentage of internet users among men are Goa (82.9 %), Lakshadweep (80.3 %), and Mizoram (79.7 %).
  • Also, states like Sikkim (76.7 %), Goa (73.7 %) and Mizoram (67.6 %) have the highest percentage of female internet users. The lowest internet usage among men is seen in Meghalaya (42.1 %), Assam (42.3 %) and Bihar (43.6 %).
  • In some states like Bihar, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, there is almost double the number of male internet users than female ones. Among women, it is seen in Bihar (20.6 %), Andhra Pradesh (21 %) and Tripura (22.9 %).

(2) Urban-Rural divide

  • Except for West Bengal, there is no other state which shows a lower percentage of urban male internet users compared to rural ones.
  • States like Goa, Kerala and Lakshadweep don’t show a huge variation in internet accessibility in the urban and rural areas.
  • But in every other state, there is an approximate difference of 10-15 % between the two regions, with urban areas staying ahead.

Why it matters?

  • The internet today has a very huge range and a big impact on the lifestyle and empowerment of people.
  • Female empowerment and gender equality have been one of the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals that our country is trying to achieve.
  • Good and affordable internet availability to women will be a big step towards fulfilling this goal.

Significance of the data

  • Gender differentiation that is seen in the offline world also affects the variations that we have seen in the online world, which includes differences in education, employment and income.
  • Sexual harassment and trolling are other reasons why people prefer to keep their female relatives away from the internet.
  • Just like phone ownership was used as an indicator to understand the women empowerment situation in the country, this too can be an indicator for the same.

Conclusion

  • The results from the NFHS-5 survey are still partial, but they have shown a great variation in the access to the internet among the states, between men and women and also between the rural and urban regions of each state.
  • When we look at the differentials in the usage of the internet by women across the rural and urban regions, a huge gap is seen between the urban and rural women’s use of the internet.
  • The variations are very high, with the percentage of women users of the internet in rural areas being just half of that in urban areas. These disparities paint a sad picture.

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

National Family Health Survey- 5 (NFHS-5)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NFHS

Mains level : Data on India's health

  • Current times require integrated and coordinated efforts from all health institutions, academia and other partners directly or indirectly associated with the health care services to make these services accessible, affordable and acceptable to all.
  • The data in NFHS-5 gives requisite input for strengthening existing programmes and evolving new strategies for policy intervention, therefore government and authorities should take steps to further improve the condition of women in India.

The first phase of the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has been released.

Do you think that India is still the sick man of Asia?

What is the National Family Health Survey?

  • The NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • Three rounds of the survey have been conducted since the first survey in 1992-93.
  • The survey provides state and national information for India on fertility, infant and child mortality, the practice of family planning, maternal and child health, reproductive health, nutrition, etc.
  • The Ministry of Health has designated the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) Mumbai, as the nodal agency, responsible for providing coordination and technical guidance for the survey.

Part I of the Survey

  • The latest data pertains to 17 states — including Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal — and five UTs (including J&K) and, crucially, captures the state of health in these states before the Covid pandemic.
  • Phase 2 of the survey, which will cover other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, was delayed due to the pandemic and its results are expected to be made available in May 2021.

Highlights of the NHFS-5

  • The NFHS-5 contains detailed information on population, health, and nutrition for India and its States and Union Territories.
  • This is a globally important data source as it is comparable to Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) Programme of 90 other countries on several key indicators.
  • It can be used for cross country comparisons and development indices.

Good news

  • Several of the 22 states and UTs, for which findings have been released, showed an increase in childhood immunisation.
  • There has been a drop in neonatal mortality in 15 states, a decline in infant mortality rates in 18 states and an increase in the female population (per 1,000 males) in 17 states.
  • Fertility rate decline and increase in contraceptive use were registered in almost all the states surveyed showing trends of population stabilization.

Some bad news

  • There has been an increase in stunting and wasting among children in several states, a rise in obesity in women and children, and an increase in spousal violence.
  • In several other development indicators, the needle has hardly moved since the last NFHS-4.

(1) Hunger Alarm

  • The proportion of stunted children has risen in several of the 17 states and five UTs surveyed, putting India at risk of reversing previous gains in child nutrition made over previous decades.
  • Worryingly, that includes richer states like Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The share of underweight and wasted children has also gone up in the majority of the states.

(2) Fertility Rate

The total fertility rate (TFR) is defined as the average number of children that would be born to a woman by the time she ends childbearing.

  • The TFR across most Indian states declined in the past half-a-decade, more so among urban women, according to the latest NFHS-5.
  • Sikkim recorded the lowest TFR, with one woman bearing 1.1 children on average; Bihar recorded the highest TFR of three children per woman.
  • In 19 of the 22 surveyed states, TFRs were found to be ‘below-replacement’ — a woman bore less than two children on average through her reproductive life.
  • India’s population is stabilizing, as the total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased across majority of the states.

(3) Under-5 and infant mortality rate (IMR)

  • The Under 5 and infant mortality rate (IMR) has come down but in parallel recorded an increase in underweight and severely wasted under 5 children among 22 states that were surveyed.
  • These states are Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal, Lakshadweep and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

For the first time: Gaps in internet use

  • In 2019, for the first time, the NFHS-5, which collects data on key indicators on population health, family planning and nutrition, sought details on two specific indicators: Percentage of women and men who have ever used the Internet.
  • On average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India ever used the Internet, according to the survey.
  1. First, only an average of 42.6 per cent of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16 per cent among the men.
  2. Second, in urban India, average 56.81 per cent women ever used the Internet compared to an average of 73.76 per cent among the men.
  3. Third, dismal 33.94 per cent women in rural India ever used the Internet as against 55.6 per cent among men.
  • In urban India, 10 states and three union territories reported more than 50 per cent women who had ever used the Internet: Goa (78.1%), Himachal Pradesh (78.9%), Kerala (64.9%), and Maharashtra (54.3%).
  • The five states reporting the lowest percentage of women, whoever used the Internet in urban India were Andhra Pradesh (33.9%), Bihar (38.4%), Tripura (36.6%), Telangana (43.9%) and Gujarat (48.9%).

Human Rights Issues

India’s Population with Disabilities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Disability in India

December 3 is marked by the UN as International Day of Persons with Disabilities in a bid to promote a more inclusive and accessible world for the differently-abled and to raise awareness for their rights.

Try this question from our AWE initiative:

What are the legal provisions and policy initiatives in India for the welfare of persons with disabilities? What are the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in India? 10 marks

Disability in India

  • About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released last year.

How are the disabled identified?

  • Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire.
  • This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.
  • Accordingly, the 2019 report included questions to identify people with temporary loss of ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition.
  • The earlier definition included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.
  • Significantly, the revised definition recognizes deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • Rural men had the highest prevalence of disability in India, according to the NSO report.
  • A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.
  • These numbers were self-reported. In other words, the respondents were asked if they experienced any difficulty in performing tasks like moving, talking, etc.

Are these measures in line with those from other surveys?

  • The 2011 census estimated that the number of people with disabilities in India is close to 2.68 crore (or 2.2% of the population) — that is more than the entire population of Australia.
  • This number was based on the older definition of disability, yet the proportion of disabled people in the population is not different from the 2019 NSO report, which used the expanded definition of disability.
  • Other metrics for evaluating disability have provided different estimates.
  • A group of doctors from AIIMS found that alternate questionnaires like the Rapid Assessment of Disability have resulted in a prevalence ranging from 1.6%-43.3%.

How can the range be so wide?

  • The proportion of population facing disability becomes bigger as one move from a narrow definition to a broader one.
  • For instance, if one defines disability as the difficulty in accessing public services for all kinds of reasons, even social or economic, then the proportion goes up.

Why is it important to map disabled people?

  • Like other disadvantaged groups, the disabled in India are entitled to some benefits, ranging from reservation in educational institutes to concessions on railway tickets.
  • To claim these benefits, they have to furnish certificates as proof of disability.
  • At the macro level, data on the prevalence and type of disability is useful while making allocations for welfare schemes.

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

Sex Ratio in India

Note4Students

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?

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

1.Enrollments:

  • 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.

Suggestions

  • 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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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?

Note4Students

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

Note4Students

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