31 December 2019 05:26:54

The Big Picture : SDG India Index 2019-20

By Aspire IAS


NITI Aayog has recently released the second edition of Sustainable development goals India Index which comprehensively documents the progress made by all states and union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets. While Kerala has retained the top position in states, Bihar is at the bottom of SDG India Index 2019 though it has improved its score from 48 in 2018 to 50 this year. Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim have joined all the southern states in the top tier of front runners who scored more than 65 points out of 100. India's progress in the SDGs is crucial for the world as we are home to about one sixth of the world's population.


The SDG India Index 2019-20:

The SDG India Index 2019-20, developed by NITI Aayog, was launched on December 30th, 2019.

NITI Aayog today released the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets.

The SDG India Index—which has been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), United Nations in India, and Global Green Growth Institute.

The SDG India Index 2019 tracks progress of all States and UTs on 100 indicators drawn from the MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework (NIF). The process of selection of these indicators included multiple consultations with Union ministries/departments and States/UTs.

The SDG India Index 2019 is more robust than the first edition on account of wider coverage of goals, targets, and indicators with greater alignment with the NIF.


The Index spans 16 out of 17 SDGs with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17. This marks an improvement over the 2018 Index, which covered only 13 goals.

Additionally, this year, the SDG India Index report has a new section on profiles of all 37 States and UTs, which will be very useful to analyse their performance on all goals in a lucid manner.

NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and UTs.

A composite score was computed in the range of 0–100 for each State/UT based on its aggregate performance across 16 SDGs, indicating the average performance of every State/UT towards achieving 16 SDGs and their respective targets. If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the closer it is towards achieving the targets.

Classification criteria based on SDG India Index score is as follows:

  • Aspirant: 0–49
  • Performer: 50–64
  • Front Runner: 65–99
  • Achiever: 100


How will the Index will be useful to States/UTs?

Support States/UTs to assess their progress against national targets and performance of their peers to understand reasons for differential performance and devise better strategies to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Support States/UTs to identify priority areas in which they need to invest and improve by enabling them to measure incremental progress.

Highlight data gaps related across SDGs for India to develop its statistical systems at the national and State levels.

Highlights of the index:

India’s composite score has improved from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019, thereby showing noticeable progress.

The maximum gains been made in Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), Goal 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure) and Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy).

All three states that were in the ‘Aspirant’ category (with score/s in the range of 0–49)—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam—have graduated to the ‘Performer’ category (50–64).

Five states—Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Goa, and Sikkim—moved up from the ‘Performer’ category to the ‘Front Runner’ category (65–99).

Kerala achieved the first rank in the composite SDG Index with a score of 70, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 69.

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu ranked at the third position with the score of 67 and Karnataka has a score of 66.

The biggest improvers since 2018 are UP (which has moved from the 29th position to the 23rd), Orissa (23rd to 15th), and Sikkim (15th to 7th).

While Bihar improved its score from 48 in 2018 to 50 in 2019, it still has a long way to go in achieving the targets.

The world is now in the fifth year of the SDG era.

India’s National Development Agenda is mirrored in the SDGs. India’s progress in the global Goals is crucial for the world as the country is home to about one-sixth of the world’s population.


Significance and analysis:

India is the first country in the world with a government-led, sub-national measure of progress on Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s clarion call of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement: people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

The Index is designed to function as a tool for focused policy dialogue, formulation and implementation, and moving towards development action pegged to globally recognizable metrics.

The Index also supplements NITI Aayog’s continuous efforts to encourage evidence-based policymaking by supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress, identifying priority areas and sharing best practices.

The SDG India Index 2019 also helps highlight crucial gaps related to monitoring SDGs and the need for improving statistical systems at the National/State/UT levels.

Further, the Index highlights the need for improvements in data collection, reporting and methodology.

NITI Aayog is also exploring partnerships for disaggregating data and developing capacity for real-time monitoring and measuring incremental progress.

There are many schemes to achieve those goals which the central and state governments are running.

There is a need to train and motivate people to achieve the goals.

The SDGs still remain outside of the system. We are not mainstreaming many of the concerns.

There is a lot of overlap. India has 40% food wastage which impact SDG goal 2.

The growth which has taken in technology is very critical in achieving our targets.

If we use cutting edge technology in the monitoring and evaluation in a correct way in achieving SDGs it will give results.

Interconnectivity between the goal is very critical and important.

Each district, taluk and gram panchayats should have a SDG plan.

We should develop proper monitoring measure.

There is a need that Technology and People should converge.


27 December 2019 06:25:16

The Big Picture : Higher Education Quality Mandate

By Aspire IAS

Context: Aiming to improve the quality in Higher Education Institutions the University Grants Commission has adopted the Higher Education Quality Improvement Programme Mandate.

• The quality mandate aims at evolving higher education system to equip country’s next-generation with vital skills, knowledge and ethics for leading a rewarding life.


5 Verticals in Higher educational institutions

SATAT - Framework for Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Campus development

MulyaPravah - Guidelines for Inculcation of Human values and Professionals Ethics.

Guru-Dakshta – Recruit, Retain, Role model - to sensitize and motivate the faculty to adopt learner-centred approaches, ICT integrated learning and new pedagogic approaches to teaching-learning, assessment tools in higher education.

CARE: Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics: continuously monitor and identify quality journals across disciplines. create more awareness and help the cause of promoting academic integrity and ethical publishing

Evaluation reform: to make student assessment more meaningful, effective and linked to Learning Outcomes


Other Programs:

Deeksharambh - a guide to Student Induction Programme is to help new students adjust and feel comfortable in the new environment, inculcate in them the ethos and culture of the institution

Paramarsh - scheme for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education. will also facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in Mentee Institutions.

STRIDE - multidisciplinary research for capacity building, research in all, humanities for high impact research. provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant



• Outcome oriented.

• Continuous evaluation from rote system – scientific reasoning. Internal assessment throughout the semester rather than only at the end of semester.

• Monitor the behavioral outcome – Cognitive, Connotation & Affective


Way Forward:

• Self-discipline

• Peer pressure – lack of reward if research papers not being published in reputed journals. 

The reforms are to achieve SDG-4 quality in higher education but rigorous implementation would be the key.


26 December 2019 06:15:53

The Big Picture : Ensuring Water Security

By Aspire IAS

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently released the operational guidelines of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which is centre govt's initiative to provide Functional Household Tap Connections to every rural household by 2024. Out of 17.87 crore rural households in the country about 14.6 crore which accounts for 81.67 percent are yet to have household tap connections for water.

  • The Jal Jeevan Scheme will be implemented through institutional mechanism at four levels - national, state, district and gram panchayat or its sub committees.
  • Women will play a bigger role in this scheme and the paani samitis or the user group will decide about the user fee for sustainability of the scheme.


Work to be taken up under JJM:

  • In-village water supply (PWS) infrastructure for tap water connection to every household
  • Reliable drinking water source development/ augmentation of existing sources
  • Transfer of water (multi-village scheme; where quantity & quality issues are there in the local water sources)
  • Technological intervention for treatment to make water potable (where water quality is an issue, but quantity is sufficient)
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing piped water supply schemes to provide FHTC and raise the service level
  • Grey water management
  • Capacity building of various stakeholders and support activities to facilitate the implementation


73rd Amendment of Constitution of India: Gram Panchayats or its sub-committees will play a crucial role in planning, designing, execution, operations and maintenance of the in-village infrastructure under the Jal Jeevan Mission – Every village is to prepare a village action plan (VAP) which will be essentially having three components namely;

  1. Water source & its maintenance
  2. Water supply and
  3. Grey water management.



The Issue:

  • In 1951, per-capita water availability in India was just over 5,000 cu m per year. In 2011, it was 1,545 cu m. The figure has almost certainly come down since. Should it drop below 1,000 cu m per year, India will formally become a water-scarce country for the first time in its 5,000-year history. If water availability is a problem, inequality in access is even more so.


  • India has 180 million rural households. About 33 million have access to piped water; a little over 145 million don’t. This mission means 4.5 times more houses have to be linked to piped water in the coming five years than has been done in the past 72 years-


Augmenting water availability will be the sum of several efforts:

  • Conservation and revival
  • Recycle and reuse of water (including grey water)
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Judicious use of water for farming (an expansion of ‘per drop, more crop’)
  • Efficient use of water in industry
  • In situ treatment of waste rather than transporting it long distances using copious quantities of water
  • Labelling products, or pushing industry to benchmark optimal use of water


The Way Forward

  • Need to relook at water-guzzling sugarcane —with a value chain that sucks is terrible in terms of subsidies at various stages
  • Need to reimagine the public health engineering department (PHED) as not just a technical body but also as a public utility that oversees water entitlements as well as pricing of such entitlements is a goal. Digital sensors could facilitate remote monitoring of household water supply and quality, and eliminate tedious meter readings.
  • This devolution can be incentivised by GoI, linked to milestones state governments and gram panchayats must reach, and hand-held by NGOs. For instance, JJM could tie up with the skill development ministry to train village women to measure turbidity and quality.
  • On the lines of the Swachh Bharat Mission, extensive information, education and communication will be needed to create a jan andolan for water management. The ongoing Jal Shakti Abhiyan will help in creating awareness about the importance of integrating source sustainability and water reuse with the provision of household water supply.


25 December 2019 05:50:36

The Big Picture : Chief of Defence Staff : Role and Responsibility

By Aspire IAS

Context: Aiming to usher in reforms in the higher defence management Centre govt has approved the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and Department of Military Affairs within the Ministry of Defence.


Chief of defense staff

• Rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.

• Chief of Defence Staff will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.

• He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters.

• CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.


Role of CDS:

• Promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.

• Restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilization of resource.

• Promoting use of indigenous equipment by the Services.


Functions of CDS:

• Administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service agencies/organisations/commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.

• Member of defense Acquistion council & defense planning committee.

• Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.

• Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.

• Assign inter-Services prioritization to capital acquisition.


Need of CDS:

• More need of joint working among Army, Navy & Airforce.

• Limited resources for the country so to utilize well.

• Communication issues, budgetary overruns by individual commands.

• Changing role of warfare – More technology oriented than manpower.

• Commonalities among three commands – logistics, training can be rationalized. (recommended by Shekatkar & Naresh kumar committee)



• Cross posting in the decision making still needed – military officials in the decision making.

• Capital acquisitions being left out from the mandate of CDS


It is expected that this reform in the Higher Defence Management would enable the Armed Forces to implement coordinated defence doctrines and procedures and go a long way in fostering jointmanship among the three Services. The country would be benefitted by coordinated action on greater jointmanship in training, logistics and operations as well as for prioritisation of procurements.


24 December 2019 05:44:35

NPR - National Population Register

By Aspire IAS

Context: The National Population Register exercise will be held between April and September 2020 in all states and Union Territories except Assam under the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 & Citizenship (registration of citizens & issue of National identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

• NPR: usual resident = (Citizens + Non-Citizens) defined as person who resided in a local area for past 6 months or intends to reside for next 6 months.

• What data to be collected? Demographic + biometric

• The database under the NPR will be maintained by the Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.

• The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011 which was further updated in 2015.

• NPR’s objective is to create “a comprehensive identity database in the country with full identification and other details by registering each and every usual resident in the country"



• Single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India conducted on the basis of the Census Act enacted in 1948.

• Procedure: House listing & enumerating.

• Provides detailed and authentic information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanization, fertility and mortality, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability besides others



• NPR - Identifying beneficiaries.

• Data would be put for use of all stake holders and users including Ministries, Departments, State Governments, research organizations.

• Census data is a powerful tool for public policy when combined with other administrative or survey data.

• Direct as well as indirect employment generation across India



• NPR as a first step to NRC in India – objection by few.

• Cost: 3.3Cr in Assam – but can’t be mercantile on national security. Sovereign state has right to know who lives in their state.

• Data will be with the government – privacy concerns.

• Duplicity of efforts – Aadhar & NPR?

• Non-cooperation by few states is a breach of federal structure as citizenship falls in List 1 of Schedule 7 hence states are bound to follow.


21 December 2019 05:37:32

The Big Picture : NGT – No Parking , No Car

By Aspire IAS

Context: The National Green Tribunal on Friday asked authorities in 122 cities, including Delhi, which lack ambient air quality, to curtail registration of vehicles there if they do not have adequate parking space and instead upgrade the public transport system.


Issues with transportation:

• Poor parking management – indiscipline of parking leading to congestion, accidents.

• Implementation of existing laws for parking.

• Public transport system are not adequate – safety, last mile connectivity: Delhi has only 1/3rd buses of 12000 needed.

• Cars registered from other states being parked in delhi leading to parking constraints.



• Piece meal approach to problem – to control air pollution or solar plan.

• ‘One size fits all’ planning – guided by centre or state.

• Lack of proper monitoring – solid waste, demolitions contribute as much to air pollution as vehicles, hydrogen sulphide gases from drainage.


Lessons from other countries

• Singapore has a similar law – need to show parking space before buying a car.

• European countries – good public transportation system & bike stations near metro stations for last mile connectivity.


Way forward:

• Better urban planning in an integrated manner – air pollution, drainage, solar planning all together.

• Involving local authorities in planning

• Need to spread out cities with better connectivity

• alternative means of nonpolluting transportation system

• Addressing pollution at source.

• Data backed planning – measurement of air quality everywhere.

NGT’s order can become a catalyst to come up with a plan to enhance public transportation system and plan in a holistic manner to enhance living conditions while balancing environmental concerns.


20 December 2019 06:22:48

RBI’s Operation Twist

By Aspire IAS

Context: The Reserve Bank of India will conduct a simultaneous sale and purchase of bonds, it said on Thursday, in a move seen by market participants as an attempt to bring longer-term yields lower. It is the first time the RBI has conducted a special open market operation (OMO) of this kind, similar to the 'Operation Twist' carried out in the United States near the start of the decade. Bond yields have been rising since the RBI unexpectedly left its key repo rate unchanged earlier this month, even as it slashed its forecast for economic growth to its lowest in over a decade. The RBI said it will buy 100 billion rupees' worth of the current benchmark 10-year bond while selling four bonds maturing in 2020 for an equivalent amount. The central bank said it had decided to conduct the special OMO after reviewing the liquidity & market situation and assessing financial conditions.


Operation Twist:

  1. It is the new buzz word in the money market ever since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made an announcement for the simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities on 19 December of a similar amount of Rs 10,000 crore. The same has been replicated on 26 December and 2 January with the auctions to take place
  2. This an unusual step by the RBI to flatten the yields curves.
  3. An open market operation (OMO) is where the RBI buys and sells securities to infuse or absorb liquidity in the system.
  4. But when the RBI does the same on both sides, it is different when the amounts are the same which means that overall liquidity does not get influenced at all.
  5. But what is done is that the RBI is buying the benchmark 6.45 percent 2029 paper which is the 10 year one. On the other hand, it sells various papers in the 2020 bracket which is less than one year.
  6. Now what happens is that when the RBI buys 10 years paper, the demand for the same goes up leading to an increase in price or decline in yields. The same happens when it sells short-term paper which banks buy that, in turn, increases the yield as supply increases reducing thus the prices.
  7. This attempt to sell short term and buy long term is essentially aimed at helping out the government to meet its borrowing requirement at a slight lower cost.
  8. Operation Twist normally leads to lower longer-term yields, which will help boost the economy by making loans less expensive for those looking to buy homes, cars and finance projects, while saving becomes less desirable because it doesn’t pay as much interest.


Why Operation Twist is conducted?

  1. If there is a shortfall in long term investment in the country and the investors are reluctant to do long term investment in the economy, then the government tries to reduce the interest rate for the long term investment ventures.
  2. These long term investment venture includes; purchase of land/house,  investment in infrastructure and securities, etc.
  3. The long-term investment will create jobs in the country which would lead to an increase in the demand for other products. So due to a positive atmosphere in the country, the holistic development of the entire country would take place.


Why is this being done now?

  1. The idea is to lower the long-term yields to something more tuned to the RBI.
  2. At the time of the first simultaneous OMO announced, the 10-year yield was 6.75 percent and after the two rounds of Operation Twist has come down to 6.51 percent.
  3. Clearly the RBI is not satisfied and is going in for the third round too. It is also possible that this operation can continue until such time the yields come down to the level with which the RBI is satisfied. While the 2020 paper yields have not quite increased to the same extent, the overall differential has come down. The latest auction announced also involves 4 and 6 years paper purchase along with the 10 years paper.
  4. At the theoretical level, such operations are influencing the yield curve which should reflect the differential in the tenures as well as move all rates down as the repo rate has been reduced by the RBI by 135 bps last year.
  5. As the transmission to the market did not take place in the last policy when the repo rate was reduced in October, Operation Twist has been used to guide rates.


Benefits of Operation Twist

  1. The interest rate for the long term investment will come down so the investor will take more loans for long term investments.
  2. Address the worries of lack of transmission of repo rate cuts.
  3. The flow of money will increase in the country, and aggregate demand in all sectors of the economy will boost.
  4. The overall increase in productive activities will further create jobs in the economy.


How does it affect investors?

  1. Fixed income investors with higher exposure to long term debt will benefit from easing yield of long-term bonds.
  2. Consumers/borrowers will also profit from ‘Operation Twist’ as the retail loans will now get cheaper.
  3. Previously banks were forced to price their retail loans at higher rates owing to high yields on long-term government borrowings.
  4. Cheaper retail loans mean a boost in consumption and spending in the economy which in turn will revive growth.