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Current Affairs 24 December 2020 for UPSC Exam


  1. NFHS-5 on Access to drinking water, sanitation
  2. Skill India undertakes Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
  3. Kilauea volcano erupts in Hawaii
  4. World Bank deal for Green National Highway Corridors
  5. MoES: Early Health Warning System



The recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 provides with data regarding access to drinking water sources and sanitation facilities which are crucial to understand the present situation and plan ahead for improvement.


GS-II: Social Justice, Governance (Issues relating to health, poverty and hunger)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Interpreted data from NFHS-5 on Access to Drinking Water
  2. Interpreted data from NFHS-5 on Sanitation Facility
  3. What is regarded as ‘Improved Sources of Drinking water’ and ‘Improved Sanitation Facilities’?
  4. Criticisms
  5. Conclusion

Interpreted data from NFHS-5 on Access to Drinking Water

  • According to NFHS-5 in the past 5 years, Access to Improved Drinking Water Sources across all states and UTs (except Sikkim) has increased.
  • A majority of the states are progressing towards achieving universal access to clean drinking water.
  • Bihar showed the best results (with 99% of the population having access to improved drinking water sources) and – Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland witnessed significant improvement.
  • Except Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Ladakh, all other 17 states and UTs that were surveyed – recorded above 90 per cent population having access to improved sources of drinking water.
  • Across all 22 surveyed states, urban residents had better access to improved drinking water sources in comparison to rural population.
  • Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Maharashtra reported widest rural-urban disparity.
  • Access to water facilities needed work in certain districts in the Northeastern states and Maharashtra.

Interpreted data from NFHS-5 on Sanitation Facility

  • According to NFHS-5, despite progress on the sanitation front, several states reported every third or fourth person having no access to improved sanitation facilities. 
  • Bihar recorded huge improvement in last five years in sanitation, but stood second-lowest among the 22 surveyed states.
  • Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Nagaland, Goa and Andaman and Nicobar Islands performed fairly well in terms of access to improved sanitation facilities.
  • Mizoram, Kerala and Lakshadweep had good sanitation facilities.
  • The rural-urban divide persists widely across several states.
  • People residing in urban areas had a relatively higher access to unshared and quality sanitation facilities in a majority of the states except Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Nagaland and Kerala, where urban population was more deprived.
  • The highest rural-urban gap was observed in Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Karnataka.

What is regarded as ‘Improved Sources of Drinking water’ and ‘Improved Sanitation Facilities’?

  • Improved sources of drinking water include piped water, public tap / standpipe, tube well or borehole, protected dug well, protected spring, rainwater, tanker truck, cart with small tank, bottled water and community reverse osmosis plant.
  • Improved sanitation facilities include flush to piped sewer system; flush to septic tank; flush to pit latrine; ventilated improved pit / biogas latrine; pit latrine with slab; twin pit / composting toilet that is not shared with any other household.


  • The NFHS-5 factsheet does not give any information on the distance of the improved water sources from the household, hence accessibility to drinking water sources in the true sense cannot be inferred directly.
  • The NFHS-5 factsheet does not give information on prevalence of open defecation.
  • The provided data on sanitation facilities challenges the government’s claim of achieving open-defecation free India.
  • Several districts in Bihar, West Bengal, Northern Karnataka and Western parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat require special attention and decentralized programs to address the issue.


  • The United Nations-mandated sustainable development goal 6.1 aims to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
  • SDG 6.2 targets to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, pay special attention to the needs of women and girls and of those in vulnerable situations by 2030.
  • The NFHS-5 Phase-I data demonstrates substantial improvement in access to clean water and improved sanitation facility. There is, however, a need to bridge the rural-urban divide.

-Source: Down To Earth Magazine



Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is conducting a Special Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program for workers, with Department of Panchayati Raj (DoPR) in Chandauli and Varanasi.


GS-II Governance, Social Justice (Government schemes and Interventions, Development and management of Social Sector), GS-III: Indian Economy (Economic Development in India)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Introduction to Development of Skilled workforce in India
  2. About Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program
  3. Significance of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program
  4. About Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)
  5. National Skill Development Mission (NSDM)

Introduction to Development of Skilled workforce in India

  • As opposed to developed countries, where the percentage of skilled workforce is between 60% and 90% of the total workforce, India records a low 5% of workforce (20-24 years) with formal vocational skills.
  • As per the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015, it was estimated that the average age of the population in India by 2020 would be quite young at 29 years (to compare against 40 years in the US, 46 in Europe and 47 in Japan).
  • Thus, India has a great opportunity to tap into the young population for economic progress and this is also likely to attract foreign companies to set up industries in the country.
  • However, the proportion of formally skilled workers in India is extremely low, at less than 5% of total workforce (to compare against 24% in China, more than 50% in the US, 75% in Germany, 80% in Japan).

About Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program

  • The Special Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program is implemented under SANKALP Programme of MSDE, and has now been rolled out in more than 300 Gram Panchayats.
  • The implementing agency for the programme is National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  • Under the partnership, MSDE is supporting the State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs)/District Skill Committees (DSCs) in selection and onboarding of the PIAs and facilitating successful execution of the programme.
  • Both the ministries (MSDE and MoPR) are being supported by Directorate of Panchayati Raj, UP and the State Skill Development Mission, UP.
  • Both the ministries are monitoring the pilot to comprehensively understand the key challenges and learnings and implement necessary corrective measures.
  • RPL aims to align the competencies of the pre-existing workforce of the country to the standardized framework.

Significance of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program

  • About 70% of our country’s population resides in rural India and hence the inclusion of gram panchayats is crucial for the success of District Skill Development Plans.
  • RPL will provide a huge boost to the Skill India Mission.
  • Supporting formalization of the informal learning of youth will supplement their efforts in finding sustainable livelihood opportunities and reduce inequalities based on privileging certain forms of knowledge over others.
  • In addition to recognizing the skills of the trainees, RPL will also link them with work opportunities emanating from the Gram panchayat’s development work.

About Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)

  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) is a Centrally sponsored (World Bank supported) scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • It is an outcome focused scheme marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.
  • SANKALP aims to implement the mandate of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM).
  • The objective of SANKALP is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.
  • The scheme provides the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions.
  • It is aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aims at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

Under SANKALP four key result areas have been identified:

  1. Institutional Strengthening (at National, State & District level)
  2. Quality Assurance Quality Assurance of skill development programs
  3. Inclusion of marginalised population in skill development
  4. Expanding Skills through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

SANKALP aims at:

  1. Strengthening institutions at the State and National levels
  2. Monitoring of market relevant training;
  3. Improving the quality and relevance of skill developed programs;
  4. Making skills training accessible to female trainees and other underprivileged groups;
  5. Expanding the scheme’s reach through private-public partnerships (PPPs). 

National Skill Development Mission (NSDM)

The National Skill Development Mission was launched by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to rapidly scale up skill development efforts in India, by creating an end-to-end, outcome-focused implementation framework, which aligns demands of the employers for a well-trained skilled workforce with aspirations of Indian citizens for sustainable livelihoods.

Objectives of NSDM

  1. Implementing the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) which will allow opportunities for long-term, as well as short-term training, leading to productive employment and career improvement.
  2. Using the framework to maintain a balance between the industry/employer demand and the workforce which will lead to a sustainable livelihood because of determined training.
  3. Providing facilities of re-skilling and up-skilling to the workforce of the unorganised sectors of the industry.
  4. Ensuring high-quality training standards through high-quality teaching and benchmarked institutions according to national and international standards which result in a highly-skilled workforce and global job opportunities.
  5. Support weaker and disadvantaged sections of society through focused outreach programmes and targeted skill development activities.
  6. Enabling pathways for transitioning between the vocational training system and the formal educational system, through a credit transfer system.
  7. Maintaining a national database, known as the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which will act as a portal for matching the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the country.

-Source: PIB



The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted followed by an earthquake that struck at the volcano’s south flank.


GS-I: Geography (Physical Geography – Volcanoes), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Kīlauea Volcano
  2. About Shield Volcanoes

About Kīlauea Volcano

  • Kīlauea is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Structurally, Kīlauea has a large, fairly recently formed caldera at its summit and two active rift zones and is known for its frequent outpouring of lava.
  • Kīlauea erupted nearly continuously from 1983 to 2018, causing considerable property damage.
  • Like all Hawaiian volcanoes, Kīlauea was created as the Pacific tectonic plate moved over the Hawaiian hotspot in the Earth’s underlying mantle.
  • Kīlauea is one of five subaerial volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaiʻi, created by the Hawaii hotspot.

About Shield Volcanoes

  • A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually composed almost entirely of fluid lava flows.
  • This is caused by the highly fluid (low viscosity) lava erupted, which travels farther than lava erupted from a stratovolcano, and results in the steady accumulation of broad sheets of lava, building up the shield volcano’s distinctive form.
  • Active shield volcanoes experience near-continuous eruptive activity over extremely long periods of time, resulting in the gradual build-up of edifices that can reach extremely large dimensions.
  • With the exclusion of flood basalts, mature shields are the largest volcanic features on Earth.
  • Rift zones are a prevalent feature on shield volcanoes that is rare on other volcanic types.

-Source: Hindustan Times



The Central government of India and World Bank signed a $ 500-million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.


GS-III: Infrastructure (Roads)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Green National Highways Corridor Project
  2. About National Green Highways Mission (NGHM)

About the Green National Highways Corridor Project

  • The Green National Highways Corridor Project will support MoRTH to construct in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial by-products and other bioengineering solutions.
  • The project will help reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in construction and maintenance of highways.
  • The project will also widen and strengthen the existing structures by constructing drainage facilities, new pavements, bypasses.
  • It will also improve junctions and introduce road safety measures.

About National Green Highways Mission (NGHM)

  • National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) was launched in July 2016 under Green Highways Policy 2015.
  • The vision of NGHM is to develop green corridors along the national highways for sustainable environment and inclusive growth.
  • The aim of the NGHM is to plant trees along 100,000km of national highways and create jobs for youth.
  • It will improve the quality and maintenance of green cover along National Highways.
  • It will increase employment opportunities for local people by encouraging participation of local communities, NGOs, farmers, and local self-government bodies.

-Source: The Hindu Business Line



Them Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is developing an ‘Early Health Warning System’ which is expected to forecast the possibility of disease outbreaks in the country.


GS-III: Science and Technology, Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Working of the Early Health Warning System model
  2. What is vector-borne diseases and what are vectors?
  3. List of vector-borne diseases, according to their vector

Working of the Early Health Warning System model

  • The Early Health Warning System that is being developed by the MoES along with involvement from India Meteorological Department (IMD) – is based on the relationship between weather changes and incidence is expected to predict outbreaks of vector-borne diseases (and subsequently, it is likely to help in monitoring non-communicable diseases as well)
  • There are certain diseases where weather patterns play a crucial role.
  • Such as malaria, for which particular temperatures and rainfall patterns can approximately predict whether an area is likely to have an outbreak with fairly reasonable accuracy.
  • Changes in rainfall and temperature patterns likely play a major role in the increased incidence of these diseases across geographical locations.
  • Such a system, when deployed, would give local authorities ample time to prepare.
  • Analysis of the system found that temporal and spatial variability in weather parameters, for example, a short-term increase in temperature and rainfall as an effect of El-Niño can lead to malaria epidemics.
  • An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted in its 2007 report that climate change may increase the risk of diarrhoeal diseases, which is of major concern in developing countries, with increasing incidents of floods as well as drought.

What is vector-borne diseases and what are vectors?

  • Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors.
  • Disease Vectors are agents which carry and transmit an infectious pathogen into another living organism, such as intermediate parasites or microbes.

List of vector-borne diseases, according to their vector

VectorDisease causedType of pathogen
Mosquito Aedes  Chikungunya Dengue Lymphatic filariasis Rift Valley fever Yellow Fever ZikaVirus Virus Parasite Virus Virus Virus
Lymphatic filariasis MalariaParasite Parasite
Japanese encephalitis Lymphatic filariasis West Nile feverVirus Parasite Virus
Aquatic snailsSchistosomiasis (bilharziasis)Parasite
BlackfliesOnchocerciasis (river blindness)Parasite
FleasPlague (transmitted from rats to humans) TungiasisBacteria Ectoparasite
LiceTyphus Louse-borne relapsing feverBacteria Bacteria
SandfliesLeishmaniasis Sandfly fever (phlebotomus fever)Parasite Virus
TicksCrimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever Lyme disease Relapsing fever (borreliosis) Rickettsial diseases (eg: spotted fever and Q fever) Tick-borne encephalitis TularaemiaVirus Bacteria Bacteria Bacteria Virus Bacteria
Triatome bugsChagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)Parasite
Tsetse fliesSleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis)Parasite

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024