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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 02 October 2023


  1. Mind Matters
  2. India’s statistical performance on the global stage

Mind Matters


Presently, it can be asserted that drug addiction is pervasive globally, sparing no region. Even in India, extending beyond major urban centers to smaller towns, the clutches of drug abuse are tightening. Adolescents, including school-goers, have conveyed that drugs are readily accessible in close proximity to their educational institutions. Consequently, this menace is rapidly infiltrating the younger demographic.


GS2- Health

Mains Question:

“Drug Abuse is emerging as an additional burden on adolescent psyche.” Analyse the causes of increasing drug abuse in India and suggest a way forward to it. (15 marks, 250 words).

Causes of Drug Addiction:

  • The evolving societal landscape in India, characterized by a burgeoning population and a shift towards nuclear family structures, is undergoing transformations in its social and cultural values.
  • The primary catalysts for drug use among adolescents are often cited as “easy availability,” followed by a quest for “relief from tension” and a desire for “acceptance by peers.”
  • Adolescents, navigating a transitional phase, are particularly susceptible to adopting detrimental habits during periods of confusion.
  • Adolescents’ inclination towards drug use is influenced by the modeling of substance use by family members, peers, and even celebrities in various media forms.
  • Additionally, adverse life events and circumstances, ranging from child abuse to excessive screen time, may contribute to the early initiation of substance use, often resulting in a lifelong pattern of irresponsible behavior.

Statistics related to drug abuse:

  • A nationwide survey in India disclosed that a substantial 63.6% of individuals seeking treatment for drug addiction were introduced to drugs at an early age, below 15 years.
  • Another report highlighted that 13.1% of those involved in drug and substance abuse in India fall below the age of 20. Heroin, opium, alcohol, cannabis, and inhalants constitute the top five substances abused by children in India.
  • An alarming trend is emerging among child drug abusers, involving the use of a combination of drugs through injection, often sharing needles, heightening the risk of HIV infection.
  • Shockingly, in India, 20 million children succumb to tobacco addiction annually, with nearly 55,000 children succumbing daily, in stark contrast to the United States, which witnesses 3,000 new child smokers each day.
  • Recent observations indicate a parallel increase in drug use among both boys and girls. Drug use among adolescents can propel them towards high-risk behaviors, such as engaging in multiple sexual partnerships.

Way Forward:

  • Efforts to curb drug abuse can be implemented at the school, family, and community levels. A holistic prevention and control program targeting adolescents, their parents, and other family members is imperative.
  • Measures should focus on shaping the attitudes of schoolchildren towards self-confidence and adequacy.
  • Teaching assertiveness, active coping, problem-solving, and social skills at the school level can fortify students against sociocultural and environmental pressures.
  • Family-focused interventions, emphasizing improved bonding, communication, and parental supervision, are vital in preventing substance abuse.
  • Research indicates that school-based prevention programs, incorporating assertiveness, personalized feedback, information dissemination, and social skills training, effectively reduce cannabis and alcohol use among adolescents.


Given the pervasive influence of social media and the virtual world on children and adolescents, leveraging cyberspace and electronic media becomes crucial for spreading awareness about drug abuse. Competence-enhancement programs, encompassing social skills, social resistance, and life skills training, can empower this vulnerable population to adopt more adaptive coping strategies, recognize situations of peer pressure, and resist the allure of smoking, drinking, or using controlled substances. These initiatives are instrumental in stemming the escalating burden of substance abuse.

India’s Statistical Performance on the Global Stage


The World Bank’s collection of Statistical Performance Indicators (SPI) positions India at the 67th position among 174 countries in 2019. An analysis reveals both deficiencies and notable achievements across various dimensions of SPI. As India celebrates its election to the United Nations Statistical Commission, the nation’s own official statistical system has recently come under scrutiny domestically.



  • Growth and Development
  • Planning

Mains Question:

Drawing from the Statistical Performance Indicators (SPI) by World Bank, highlight how far has the Indian statistical system improved over the years. What shortcomings still persist in this aspect? (15 marks, 250 words).

Issues associated with India’s statistical system:

  • Concerns have emerged regarding the credibility of the produced statistics and the competence of official statisticians. Even acclaimed statistical methods, initially adopted by other developing nations, are now subject to questioning.
  • Notably, there is surprising assertion that results from statistical exercises, such as censuses and surveys, are deemed of inferior quality compared to data from administrative sources, many of which suffer from uncertain coverage and conceptual flaws.

The SPI and its Components:

  • The World Bank compiles Statistical Performance Indicators (SPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of national statistical systems in 174 countries.
  • The SPI assesses five key dimensions often referred to as the “five pillars” of a national statistical system, namely: data use, data services, data products, data sources, and data infrastructure.

India’s Scores and Rankings in 2019:

  • India’s SPI scores in 2019 (Overall Score: 70.4) indicate varying performance across pillars (Pillar 1 – Data use: 80.0; Pillar 2 – Data Services: 88.0; Pillar 3 – Data Products: 60.0; Pillar 4 – Data Sources: 68.9; Pillar 5 – Data Infrastructure: 55.0).
  • The corresponding rankings (Overall Rank: 67) reflect areas of strength and weakness (Pillar 1 – Data Use: 101; Pillar 2 – Data Services: 35; Pillar 3 – Data Products: 105; Pillar 4 – Data Sources: 31; Pillar 5 – Data Infrastructure: 73).


Data Use
The ‘Data Use’ category assesses how different sectors utilize statistics, and India performs well in certain areas but loses points due to the unavailability of comparable poverty estimates for the World Bank over the last decade.
The pillar-wise scores reveal lower performance in ‘Data Use’ and ‘Data Products,’ resulting in poor rankings of 101 and 105, respectively.
Data ProductsThe ‘Data Products’ pillar focuses on essential data for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India has initiated steps to enhance this pillar by conducting surveys aligned with SDGs.
Data InfrastructureFor ‘Data Infrastructure,’ India’s score is 55, ranking 73, with ‘Legislation and Governance’ scoring high but an overall diminished score due to moderate performance in ‘Standards and Methods’ and poor performance in ‘Finance.’

In the ‘Standards and Methods’ sub-dimension, India excels in adopting standards like the System of National Accounts (SNA) 2008 and COICOP. However, there is a decrease in the score due to non-adoption of the latest standards for classifying employment status and the non-utilization of the Generic Statistical Business Process Model (GSBPM), which seems perplexing given the alignment of NSS surveys with GSBPM.

The ‘Finance’ category receives a low score because, according to the World Bank, India’s national statistical plan lacks full funding.
Data SourcesUnder data sources, three indicators are evaluated: censuses and surveys, administrative data, and geospatial data. Among these indicators, censuses and surveys contribute the most to India’s ranking (score: 100/100 for censuses and 86.6/100 for surveys), followed by administrative data (score: 50/100), and finally, geospatial data (score: 38.9/100).

The relatively low score for administrative data is primarily due to the failure to meet the criterion of at least 90% registration of births under the Civil Registration System (CRS).

The World Bank has utilized estimates from the UN SDG monitoring database, which shows coverage estimates of 89% for children under five and 87% for children under one.
However, these estimates are derived from the National Family Health Survey conducted between 2019 and 2021, a period significantly affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. In contrast, the publication of the Office of the Registrar General of India, “Vital Statistics of India,” cites the coverage of births under CRS for 2019 at approximately 93%, considered a more reliable source than NFHS for estimating CRS coverage.
Data SetvicesIn the ‘Data services’ dimension, India receives full points for data releases and data services, yet there is room for improvement in terms of online accessibility. Improvements in this domain can be realized through the enhancement of download features, offering more extensive metadata availability, and adopting transparent terms for data utilization. India’s noteworthy position at 40 in the ‘Openness’ score according to the Open Data Inventory merits acknowledgment.


Clearly, the SPI for 2019, as compiled by the World Bank, underscores India’s superior performance in censuses and surveys compared to administrative data. A thorough examination of the SPI score is crucial for driving improvement and enhancing international competitiveness. Identifying issues and setting achievable goals can lead to a substantial rise in rankings. Proactive engagement with the World Bank to fortify the robustness of the SPI is warranted, such as using “Vital Statistics of India” instead of NFHS for estimating births and deaths registration.

December 2023