Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

Current Affairs 15 December 2020 for UPSC Exam


  1. National Family Health Survey NFHS-5
  2. Lancet Citizens’ Commission for UHC
  3. Handling Contribution of Coal to electricity generation
  4. Droughts in India and North Atlantic air currents
  5. India’s soft power in comparison to China


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released first-phase partial data (pertaining to 17 states) of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) 2019-20.

What is National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5)?

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • The NFHS is a collaborative project of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, India; ORC Macro, Calverton, Maryland, USA and the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
  • NFHS was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with supplementary support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India, designated IIPS as the nodal agency, responsible for providing coordination and technical guidance for the NFHS.

How often is the NFHS conducted?

  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has been conducted five times so far with the latest survey being the fifth NFHS.
  • NFHS-1 was conducted in 1992-93 – which collected extensive information on population, health, and nutrition, with an emphasis on women and young children.
  • The Second National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2) was conducted in 1998-99 in all 26 states of India with added features on the quality of health and family planning services, domestic violence, reproductive health, anemia, the nutrition of women, and the status of women.
  • The Third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) was carried out in 2005-2006 in 29 states of India funded by – USAID, DFID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and MOHFW, GOI.
  • The fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) was conducted in 2015 under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the survey included all 6 Union territories at that time.

Details and Highlights of the NFHS-5

The new survey shows that several states have either witnessed meagre improvements or sustained reversals on child (under 5 years of age) malnutrition parameters such as child stunting; child wasting; share of children underweight and child mortality rate.

Child Wasting

  • Child Wasting reflects acute undernutrition and refers to children having low weight for their height.
  • States such as Telangana, Kerala, Bihar, and Assam as well as the UT of J&K have witnessed an increase in Child wasting.
  • Other states like Maharashtra and West Bengal have been stagnant on Child Wasting status.

Child Mortality

  • Infant Mortality Rate (the number of deaths per 1000 live births for children under the age of 1) and Under 5 Mortality Rate data is mostly stagnant.
  • Several big states, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Assam and Kerala, have seen an increase in Underweight Children issue.
  • Under 5 mortality was observed to have a decline of about 33% over 10 years.
  • NFHS-5 and NFHS-4 are about five years apart, but we are seeing very little progress in many states.
  • In Maharashtra, the under-5 mortality rate is basically the same in NFHS-4 and 5, and in Bihar, it reduced by just 3% over five years
  • Over 60% of child mortality is explained by child malnutrition, which is the central problem and needs to be addressed.

Population Control

  • India’s population is stabilizing, as the total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased across majority of the states.
  • Of 17 states analyzed in the fifth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS), except for Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya, all other states have a TFR of 2.1 or less, which implies that most states have attained replacement level fertility, an analysis by the Population Foundation of India (PFI) has said.
  • All 17 states have witnessed an increase in the use of modern contraceptives of family planning.
  • Male engagement in family planning continues to be limited and disappointing as seen by the low uptake of condoms and male sterilisation across states.

Child Marriages

  • There has been an increase in child marriages in Tripura (40.1 per cent from 33.1 per cent in 2015-16), Manipur (16.3 per cent from 13.7 per cent in 2015-16) and Assam (31.8 per cent from 30.8 per cent in 2015-16), while states like West Bengal (41.6 per cent) and Bihar (40.8 per cent) still have high prevalence of child marriages.
  • States such as Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland have also shown increase in teenage pregnancies.


  • Anaemia among women remains a major cause of concern. In all the states, anaemia is much higher among women compared to men.
  • Female sterilisation continues to dominate as the modern method of contraception in states like Andhra Pradesh (98 per cent), Telangana (93 per cent), Kerala (88 per cent), Karnataka (84 per cent), Bihar (78 per cent) and Maharashtra (77 per cent).

Spousal Violence

  • While spousal violence has generally declined in most of the states and UTs, it has witnessed an increase in five states, namely Sikkim, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka.
  • Karnataka witnessed the largest increase in spousal violence, from 20.6 per cent in NFHS 4 to 44.4 per cent in NFHS-5.
  • Sexual violence has increased in five states (Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and West Bengal), as per the data.

Urban-rural Gender Gaps in Internet Use

  • There is an urban-rural gap as well as gender divide with respect to the use of the Internet in several states and union territories.
  • 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.
  • An average 42.6% of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16% among the men.
  • The percentage of women, who ever used the Internet, significantly dropped in rural India.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System was launched recently marking a step taken towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.

Details about the Lancet’s Commission for UHC

  • Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System is a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  • The Primary objective of the commission is to enable participatory public engagement to develop a citizens’ blueprint for the implementation of UHC.
  • The focus will be on the architecture of India’s health system.

Principles of the Committee

  1. UHC covers all health concerns.
  2. Prevention and long-term care are key.
  3. The concern is financial protection for all health costs.
  4. Aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.

Mission of the Committee

  1. To lay out the path to achieving UHC in India in the coming decade, working with all stakeholders.
  2. To formulate a roadmap for realising a resilient health system that offers comprehensive, accountable, accessible, inclusive, and affordable quality health care to all citizens in India.
  3. To gather insights from across India through grassroots surveys, public consultations and online discussions.
  4. To build partnerships and work closely with academic institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to catalyse dialogue and knowledge sharing across fields.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

  • Universal Health Coverage means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
  • UHC includes the full range of essential, quality health services from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.
  • It enables everyone to access the services that address the most significant causes of disease and death, and ensures that the quality of those services is good enough to improve the health of the people who receive them.
  • The goal of universal health coverage (UHC) as stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs no. 3) and it is one of the most significant commitments to equitable quality healthcare for all.

UHC in India

  • India has the world’s second-largest population, rising from 760 million in 1985 to an estimated 1.3 billion in 2015 and the existing healthcare infrastructure is not enough to meet the needs of the population.
  • Biggest challenge remains in identifying what services are to be universally provided to begin with and what level of financial protection is considered acceptable. Offering same set of services to the entire population is not economically feasible and demands huge resource mobilisation.
  • Prioritising certain services to the poor and vulnerable sections to ensure both access and affordability, while leaving the rest of the population for coverage at a later stage is also not a good option as it essentially leaves out the tenet of universality.
  • India moved a step closer towards its commitment to the SDGs, when in 2018 the country launched a national health protection scheme, Ayushman Bharat, to achieve UHC.

Ayushman Bharat and POSHAN Abhiyaan

  • Ayushman Bharat is a flagship initiative that attempts to move away from the sectoral and segmented approach of service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan is another scheme that aims to ensure service delivery and interventions by use of technology, behavioral change through convergence and lays-down specific targets to be achieved across different monitoring parameters.

-Source: Hindustan Times


Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure, Environment and Ecology


  • Coal will continue to be the mainstay of India’s power generation till at least 2030, but efforts must made to ensure it is used efficiently to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Improving fleet technology and efficiency, propagating biomass co-firing and investing in carbon capture and storage are among the few feasible measures put forth by experts during a webinar by think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
  • The measures, among others, could help cut GHG emissions by 22 per cent, according to CSE.

India’s coal-based thermal power

  • India’s coal-based thermal power sector is one of the country’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • The amount of CO2 that is emitted by India’s coal-based thermal power generation amounts to 2.5 per cent of global GHG emissions; one-third of India’s GHG emissions; and around 50 per cent of India’s fuel-related CO2 emissions.

Way Forward

Improve fleet technology and efficiency, renovate and modernise:

  • India has one of the youngest coal fleets in the world, with around 64 per cent of the capacity (132 GW) less than a decade old.
  • Maintaining efficiency of this large fleet will be crucial as it is going to be operational for at least the next 15-20 years.
  • The government’s renovation and modernisation policies need to play a key role in maintaining the efficiency of this fleet.

Plan for the old capacity:

  • In 2015, over 34 GW capacity in India was more than 25 years old, and 60 per cent of it was highly inefficient.
  • Increasing India’s renewable electricity generation can help further the cause to accelerate the retirement of old and inefficient plants.

Propagate biomass co-firing:

  • Biomass co-firing is a globally accepted cost-effective method for decarbonising a coal fleet.
  • Only one plant currently co-fires biomass in India, said Trivedi.

Invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS):

  • Globally, carbon capture and storage has struggled to pick up – the CSE analysis notes that India’s prospects appear to be dim at least until 2030.
  • CSE analysts recommended that businesses should invest in indigenous research and development to bring down the costs of CCS.

Bring back coal beneficiation:

  • A 1997 environment ministry notification had mandated the use of beneficiated coal from 2001 with ash content not more than 34 per cent.
  • However, in 2020, overturning the good work, the government allowed use of coal irrespective of the ash content.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Focus: GS-I Geography

Why in news?

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) had conducted a study that found that El Niño was not the only cause for droughts during the Summer Monsoon in the Indian Subcontinent, as the study found that 10 out of 23 droughts that India faced in the past century have occurred during years when El Niño was absent.


  • The Study found that 43% of the droughts that occurred during the Indian summer monsoon season in the past century may have been driven by atmospheric disturbances from the North Atlantic region.
  • Sudden and steep drop in rainfall in late August that was linked to an atmospheric disturbance in the mid-latitude region over the North Atlantic Ocean, creating a pattern of atmospheric currents that move over the Indian subcontinent and “derail” the monsoon.
  • During El Nino years, the rainfall deficit begins mid-June and spreads throughout the country.

Drought during Normal Years

  • During the normal years there is normal rainfall during the monsoon season but a sudden and steep decline is observed in August.
  • The Cause for this decline in rainfall during August is attributed to the unusual atmospheric disturbance in the mid-latitudes.
  • The disturbance emerges from winds in the upper atmosphere interacting with a cyclonic circulation above abnormally cold North Atlantic water.
  • The resulting wave of air currents, called a Rossby wave, moves from the North Atlantic towards the Tibetan plateau and hits the Indian subcontinent around mid-August, suppressing rainfall and causing drought-like conditions.

El Niño

  • El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including the area off the Pacific coast of South America.
  • The ENSO is the cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature (SST) of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific.
  • During the development of El Niño, rainfall develops between September–November.
  • The cool phase of ENSO is La Niña, with SSTs in the eastern Pacific below average, and air pressure high in the eastern Pacific and low in the western Pacific.
  • The ENSO cycle, including both El Niño and La Niña, causes global changes in temperature and rainfall.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

India’s Defence Minister said that India’s soft power far exceeds that of China speaking at the FICCI meeting.

What did the Minister say?

  • There can be a serious debate on who owns more military might, but when it comes to soft power, there is no scope of ambiguity.
  • India is far ahead of China when it comes to leading the world with ideas.
  • If you look at the entire East Asia, there is a huge cultural impact of India.

What is Soft Power?

  • In politics (and particularly in international politics), soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce (contrast hard power).
  • In other words, soft power involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.
  • A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power includes culture, political values, and foreign policies.
  • In international relations, soft power is generated only in part by what the government does through its policies and public diplomacy.
  • The generation of soft power is also affected in positive (and negative) ways by a host of non-state actors within and outside the country.
  • Those actors affect both the general public and governing elites in other countries, and create an enabling or disabling environment for government policies.
  • While conventional, hard power relies on the State’s military and economic resources, soft power works on persuasion, aiming at furthering a country’s ‘attractiveness’.

It is based on three main categories of a country’s resources:

  1. Culture
  2. political values
  3. foreign policies

Soft power is mostly based on intangibles such as the power of example. E.g., Yoga, Buddhism, movies, music, spirituality etc.

  • Today, most countries use a combination of soft power and hard power, together called ‘smart power’.

-Source: Times of India

July 2024