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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 August 2023

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 17 August 2023


  1. Consumption-Based Poverty Estimates
  2. Recreating State Universities’ Science Education Role

Consumption-Based Poverty Estimates


Over time, the idea of measuring poverty has expanded to include both income-based and multidimensional methods. Multidimensional poverty estimates have drawn attention recently, however it is debatable whether they are as useful as consumption-based poverty estimates. The significance of consumption-based poverty estimates is highlighted while delving into the nuances of these approaches.


GS Paper 3 – Poverty

Mains Question

Why do consumption-based poverty estimates continue to be useful poverty indicators despite the fact that multidimensional poverty indices highlight different aspects of deprivation? Talk about the difficulties in creating and interpreting multidimensional indexes. ( 250 Words)

Estimates of Consumption-Based Poverty

  • Based on consumption patterns, estimates of consumption-based poverty, such as those from the National Sample Survey (NSS), shed light on the percentage of the population that falls below a specified poverty line. These estimates provide a thorough picture of poverty dynamics and are based on income and spending data.
  • The consumption-based poverty ratios from the NSS capture variations in poverty over time, which are frequently linked to economic expansion. For instance, according to these figures, the number of impoverished people in India decreased by 137 million between 2004–05 and 2011–12.

Indian Poverty Post-Independence Assessment

Several committees were involved in estimating poverty in India after independence, and they used metrics like caloric consumption or per capita spending to estimate the poverty line and the number of people living in poverty.

N Rath and VM Dandekar (1971):

They suggested basing the poverty line in both rural and urban areas on expenditures that would provide 2250 calories per day, shifting the emphasis away from subsistence living using data from the National Sample Survey (NSS).

Alagh Committee (1979)

This Planning Commission Taskforce, led by YK Alagh, created the rural and urban poverty limits while taking into account dietary needs and consumer costs, modifying estimates over time to account for inflation.

Lakdawala Committee (1993)

The Lakdawala Committee advocated state-specific poverty lines updated with CPI data from NSS and stressed relying entirely on NSS data in order to link poverty to consumption patterns reflected by Consumer Price Indices (CPI-IW and CPI-AL).

Tendulkar Committee (2009)

This group, led by Suresh Tendulkar, suggested switching India’s rural and urban areas from calorie-based to uniform poverty line baskets. They updated the poverty line estimates by adjusting prices in accordance with spatial and temporal considerations, including private health and education costs.

C Rangarajan Committee (2012)

This panel, which was established by the Planning Commission, aimed to examine worldwide techniques, provide alternative approaches to estimating poverty, and bring gaps in consumption data into harmony. Rangarajan’s assessment, which contradicted the Tendulkar Committee, showed a higher poverty rate of 29.5% for the years 2011–2012.

These committees had a significant impact on the way India measured poverty, as well as the distribution of resources for that purpose.

Index of Multidimensional Poverty (MPI):

  • Non-income components of deprivation like education, health, sanitation, and more are included in multidimensional poverty indices, such as the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), as an example. These indices face problems with data collection, indicator choice, and information timeliness even though they emphasise the many aspects of poverty.
  • India’s multidimensional poverty index (MPI) declined from 27.5% in 2015–16 to 16.2% in 2019–21, indicating progress in decreasing poverty on multiple fronts.

Comparison of the outcomes

  • Estimates based on consumption for certain time periods are consistent with the MPI’s evaluation of poverty alleviation.
    • India has achieved enormous strides in eliminating multidimensional poverty, according to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2018 report. Between 2005/06 and 2015/16, the prevalence of multidimensional poverty virtually decreased, falling to 27.5%. As a result, India’s poor population decreased by more than 271 million in ten years, which is a genuinely enormous gain. This merits the highest commendation.
    • Is the conclusion of the worldwide MPI a brand-new discovery? In terms of the estimates for 2015–16, no. Over a seven-year period between 2004-05 and 2011-12, according to estimates of poverty based on consumer spending and the Tendulkar committee approach, the number of the poor decreased by 137 million despite a rise in population. According to the approach used by the Rangarajan Committee, there was a drop of 92 million between 2009–10 and 2011–12, or 46 million each year. It will be bigger than the world MPI for ten years. The poverty rates based on the Tendulkar and Rangarajan Committee approaches are, nevertheless, lower in absolute terms than what the global MPI predicted.
    • The search for non-income dimensions of poverty may be motivated by the belief that some of these ‘capabilities’ may not be tightly linked to the privately purchased consumption basket in terms of which the poverty lines are currently drawn. This belief arises from the capabilities approach to the concept and measurement of poverty. Therefore, deprivation based on education or health is distinct from poverty based on income or consumption.
    • The reduction in poverty based on techniques like the Tendulkar and Rangarajan Committees demonstrates significant advancement over time. It’s important to remember, though, that even if MPI includes non-income components, consumption-based estimates are still reliable measures of poverty.

Multidimensional Poverty Measures: Challenges

  • Measurability, indicator aggregation, and data availability are difficulties in the development of multidimensional indexes.
    • It can be difficult to combine indications with different features.
    • Problems may occur when indicators refer to various population subgroups, such as when child mortality is reported at the population group level rather than the household level.
    • Even while non-income characteristics are valuable, combining them into one index creates questions.

Consumption Expenditure Surveys Are Important:

  • Consumption expenditure surveys offer vital information for estimating poverty and supporting political choices.
    • Nevertheless, differences between the National Accounts Statistics (NAS) and the NSS consumption estimates have been found, and the gap is growing.
    • It is crucial to look more closely at this discrepancy, and the National Statistical Office has to look into ways to improve data collecting across both channels.

Public Expenditure’s Function:

  • When analysing poverty, it is important to take public spending on health and education into account. Understanding how public spending affects various expenditure classes can provide insight into the dynamics of poverty and the efficacy of governmental initiatives.


Consumption-based poverty estimates continue to be useful even if multidimensional poverty indices provide insights into numerous aspects of deprivation. These estimates give a complete picture of poverty changes, which are frequently correlated with economic expansion, and they support the development of well-informed public policy. A balanced approach that takes into account both income-based and multidimensional metrics is necessary for a comprehensive understanding of poverty and successful methods for eradicating it as data continues to develop.

Recreating State Universities’ Science Education Role


  • In order to meet modern demands, the landscape of science education in India—particularly at state-affiliated institutions and universities—needs to be transformed.
  • By utilising the potential of state universities, India can address its challenge of producing job-ready STEM graduates and contribute to its burgeoning scientific industries. The deficiencies in curricula, practical training, and resources call for a reimagining of these institutions’ roles, emphasising skill-based education.


GS Paper 2 – Government Intervention by Policies – Education

Mains Question

How can state-affiliated universities in India become centres for science education that emphasises practical skills? Talk about the problems with the current science education system and the possible advantages of adjusting it to meet business requirements. (150 Words)

Recognizing STEM

  • SMET, which stood for science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, was replaced with the abbreviation STEM in 2001 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States. An integrated and practical approach to various disciplines is prioritised in STEM education.
  • STEM education, often known as science, technology, engineering, and math education, uses an interdisciplinary approach. It stands for a programme that integrates these disciplines and encourages interdisciplinary learning. STEM, which originated in the United States, has gained popularity throughout the world, especially in India, a country that produces a lot of scientists and engineers.
  • constitutional requirement
  • The importance of STEM education is supported by Article 51A of the Indian Constitution, which anticipates the development of a scientific temperament, humanism, and an inquisitive spirit among its citizenry.

Key Advantages

  • Critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and a new generation of innovators are all fostered by a strong STEM education. According to the National Science Foundation, the majority of employment in the upcoming decade will require math and science skills, so STEM education is crucial in preparing people for the changing labour market.
  • The revolutionary potential of STEM education goes beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. It strengthens students’ readiness for a future full of scientific and technical prospects by giving them the skills to analyse problems, unravel complexities, and guide innovations.

State of Science Education Currently

  • In India, state-affiliated institutions and universities have a significant impact on the educational experiences and future job paths of STEM graduates.
    • Despite the large number of students enrolled in Bachelor of Science (BSc) courses, there are barriers to entry into programmes leading to Masters and Ph.D. levels of research and education.
    • State institutions produce the vast majority of science graduates, who make up a sizable portion of the labour force of the future.

Number of students enrolled and graduation rates

Around 50 lakh students are enrolled in BSc programmes in India, and more than 11 lakh of them graduate from these programmes each year.At the postgraduate level, however, this pool substantially shrinks, with only 2.9 lakh individuals pursuing master’s degrees and 6,000 receiving scientific PhDs annually. The discrepancy between first-time enrolment and advanced degrees highlights the necessity of targeted interventions.

STEM gender disparity

  • An all-time high of 43% of STEM graduates in India are female. However, at only 14%, their representation in STEM fields is still appallingly low.
  • This imbalance is caused by a number of variables, including stereotypes, cultural pressures, and safety concerns. It is not just the proportion of women who graduate that is of concern; it is also the proportion that obtain STEM employment. Nevertheless, a number of programmes, like the Vigyan Jyoti Scheme, GATI Scheme, and KIRAN Scheme, work to close this gap. Three organizations—Vigyan Jyoti, GATI, and KIRAN—support gender equality in institutions and encourage girls in rural areas to pursue STEM education.
  • Additional barriers to women’s advancement in the sector include household duties, commuter safety issues, and workplace harassment.

State-Associated Universities: What They Mean

State-run institutions play a key role in higher education in India, enrolling more than 30% of students in a range of academic fields. The principal source of science graduates, these universities can play a crucial role in developing a trained scientific workforce as science courses at these institutions draw a sizeable enrollment, second only to the arts.

Issues and Roadblocks

  • State-affiliated institutions’ current science education faces a number of difficulties. Modern technologies and industrial expectations are not reflected in out-of-date curricula and syllabi, which also restrict practical training. Inadequate laboratory facilities also obstruct practical training, and short external internships are insufficient for thorough skill development.
  • The role of state-affiliated universities needs to be reimagined, and part of that involves giving them a clear mandate that supports India’s objectives in science and technology.
  • Through collaborations with businesses, these institutions can become centres for skill-based science education, emphasising the teaching of practical skills in addition to academic knowledge, and • through hands-on experience, workshops, and apprenticeships, these institutions can close the gap between academia and the job market.

Examples of Best Practises from Around the World

  • Successful models for skill-based education include community colleges and technical universities in the United States and Europe, which prioritise local needs while producing graduates who are prepared for the workforce. In order to restructure public institutions for the benefit of both students and companies, India might take inspiration from these methods.
  • Key Components of Skill-Based Education Practical training, industry-relevant skills, and certificates should be incorporated into the curricula of state-affiliated universities as part of the transformation process.The employability of graduates can be improved by placing more emphasis on programming, data analysis methods, instrumentation know-how, quality control, and benchmarking. The learning process can be improved by partnerships between academia and business, including seminars, expert discussions, and job fairs.

Accordance with national objectives

The suggested reinvention fits in perfectly with India’s goal of developing an economy that is centred on research and technology. State institutions can help create a skilled workforce as the economy grows in industries like biomanufacturing, information technology, and the life sciences.By maximising resources and boosting practical training, this strategy ties together the goals of the National Research Foundation and the National Education Policy.


India can address the issues with graduate employability and satisfy the needs of its scientific businesses by transforming state-affiliated universities and colleges into centres of skill-based science education. Such a change will provide students with skills that are applicable to the workplace, give them significant exposure, and help India advance as a leader in science and technology.

July 2024