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October 2020: Current Affairs Polity & Economy | Indian Economy for UPSC CSE

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Data Governance Quality Index: NITI Aayog

Recently, the Department of Fertilizers (Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers) has been ranked 3rd out of the 65 Ministries/Departments with a score of 4.11 on a scale of 5 on Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI).

  • It has been ranked 2nd amongst the 16 Economic Ministries/Departments.

Key Points

  • DGQI survey was conducted by the Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), NITI Aayog to assess different Ministries/Departments' performance on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
  • Objective: To drive healthy competition among them and promote cooperative peer learning from best practices.
  • Benefits: Improved implementation framework of government policies, schemes and programmes to achieve the desired goals.

Six major themes of DGQI: Data generation, Data quality, Use of technology, Data analysis, Use and dissemination, Data security and Human resource capacity and Case studies.

  • Classification of Ministries/Departments: Admin­istrative, Strategic, Infrastructure, Social, Economic and Scientific.

Central Schemes

  1. The central schemes are divided into Central Sector Schemes and Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
  2. Central Sector Schemes:
    • These schemes are 100% funded by the Central government.
    • Implemented by the Central Government machinery.
    • Formulated on subjects mainly from the Union List. o For example, Bharatnet, Namami Gange-National Ganga Plan, etc.
  3. Centrally Sponsored Schemes:
    • These are the schemes by the centre where there is financial participation by both the centre and states.
    • CSS are again divided into Core of the Core Schemes, Core Schemes and Optional schemes.
    • Currently, there are 6 core of the core schemes while 22 core schemes.
      (i) National Social Assistance Programme.
      (ii) Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.
      (iii) Umbrella Scheme for Development of Scheduled Castes.
      (iv) Umbrella Programme for Development of Scheduled Tribes.
      (v) Umbrella Programme for Development of Minorities.
      (vi) Umbrella Programme for Development of Other Vulnerable Groups.
    • Most of these schemes prescribe specific financial participation by states. For example, in the case of MGNREGA, state governments have to incur 25% material expenditure.

➤ Development

Monitoring and Evaluation Office

  • It was constituted in September 2015 by merging the erstwhile Program Evaluation Office (PEO) and the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO).
  • It is an attached office under NITI Aayog to fulfill the organisation's monitoring and evaluation (M & M&E) mandate and building the M&E ecosystem in India.

➤ Aim:

  • To improve sustainable outcomes and impacts of the government.
  • To enable high-quality monitoring and evaluation of government programmes to improve effectiveness, efficiency, equity and sustainability of service delivery, outcomes and impacts.

Monitoring through Output-Outcome Framework: In accordance with the Union Budget for 2019-20, the Output-Outcome Framework represents an important reform towards outcome-based monitoring. This is a paradigm shift from measuring simply physical and financial progress, to a governance model based on outcomes. DMEO has been working with Ministries and Departments to develop this framework since 2017.

Evaluation: The Government has assigned DMEO and the NITI Aayog, the responsibility to conduct the independent third-party evaluation of all the CSS in a time-bound manner so that the findings of the evaluation are made available to appropriate authorities for determining the rationalization of the schemes.

MoU Under PM SVANidhi

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Swiggy to onboard street food vendors on its e-commerce platform.

  • This move is a part of the Prime Minister Street Vendor's Atmanibhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme.
    An updated and modified version of PM SVANidhi Dashboard, which facilitates users with a better granular view of the scheme's performance and additional tools for comparisons, has also been launched.

Key Points

  • The MoU will give the vendors online access to thousands of consumers and help them grow their businesses.

➤ Aim:

o radically transform the business of street vendors across cities by facilitating them to receive orders and serve customers using online business mode.

• It becomes important during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic where physical distancing is the key to check it's spread. 

o To empower street vendors with digital technology and facilitate greater income-earning opportunities through e-commerce platforms.

Phased Implementation:

  • In a first of its kind initiative, MoHUA and Swiggy will run a pilot program by on-boarding 250 vendors across five cities namely Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Indore, and Varanasi. 
  • Upon the successful completion of the pilot, MoHUA and Swiggy plan to expand this initiative across the country in phases.

Key Stakeholders: MoHUA, Municipal Corporations, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Swiggy and Goods and Services Tax (GST) officials.

➤ Assistance: The street vendors will be helped with Permanent Account Number (PAN) and FSSAI registration, training on technology/partner app usage, menu digitisation and pricing, hygiene and packaging best practices.

PM SVANidhi Scheme

  • It was announced as a part of the Economic Stimulus-II under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • It has been implemented since 1st June 2020, for providing affordable working capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdowns, with a sanctioned budget of Rs. 700 crore.


  • To benefit over 50 lakh street vendors who had been vending on or before 24th March 2020, in urban areas including those from surrounding peri-urban/rural areas.
  • To promote digital transactions through cash-back incentives up to an amount of Rs. 1,200 per annum.


  • The vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly installments in one year's tenure. 
  • On timely/early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy of 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on a quarterly basis. 
  • There will be no penalty on early repayment of the loan. The vendors can avail the facility of the enhanced credit limit on timely/early repayment of the loan.

Recent Developments:

  • As of October 2020, over 20 lakh loan applications have been received under the scheme and out of these over 7.5 lakh loans have been sanctioned. 
  • However, only 2 lakh applicants have received the money so far, with officials and applicants pointing to a number of hurdles that are slowing the process.


  • Several banks are seeking applications on stamp papers worth between Rs. 100 and Rs. 500. 
  • There have also been instances of banks seeking PAN cards and even checking the CIBIL or Credit score of applicants or state authorities asking for voter ID cards, which many migrant vendors do not carry with them.
  • CIBIL score evaluates one's credit history and determines their eligibility for a loan. 
  • There have also been complaints of harassment by police and municipal officials.


  • States should be asked to ensure that the authorities do not harass street vendors as all they are asking is a right to livelihood. 
  • The Centre has also decided to send the applications directly to bank branches listed by the applicant as a "preferred lender" or where the vendor holds a savings bank account.
  • A software has also been developed that can “push" around 3 lakh applications to the banks.

THSTI: Part of Vaccine Assessment Project

The Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI), a global initiative, has named Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad as one of the six laboratories for assessing Covid-19 vaccine candidates that are under development.

Key Points

Six Laboratories:

  • The CEPI network will initially involve six labs, one each in Canada, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and India.    
  • All the labs would use the same reagents (cause a chemical reaction) and follow a common set of protocols to measure the immune response of multiple vaccine candidates under development and trial.

This will greatly harmonise the vaccine trial process and allow different vaccine candidates to be compared and speed up selecting the most effective candidate.

  • The mandate of the THSTI is to provide validated assays (analysis) for vaccine development on a par with global standards.
  • Bioassay is the determination of a substance's relative strength (drug) by comparing its effect on a test organism with that of a standard preparation.

Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI):

  1. CEPI is a global partnership launched in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. 
  2. CEPI was founded in Davos (Switzerland) by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum. 
  3. The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, and Government of India has been implementing the IndCEPI mission 'India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development'.
    • The objectives of this mission are aligned with that of CEPI and aims to strengthen the development of vaccines and associated competencies/technologies for the diseases of epidemic potential in India.

Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI):

  • It is an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). 
  • It is located in Faridabad (Haryana).

National Startup Awards 2020

Recently, the first edition of National Startup Awards (2020) has been released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

  • The Startup India Showcase and Blockchain-based Certificate Verification System were also launched during the event.

Key Points

About the Startup Awards:

  1. Designed by: Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  2. Aim: To recognize and reward outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact.
  3. 12 Sectors: The awards invited applications across 12 sectors, which are Agriculture, Education, Enterprise Technology, Energy, Finance, Food, Health, Industry 4.0, Space, Security, Tourism and Urban Services.
    • Apart from these, startups were selected from those sectors that impact rural areas, are women-led, and are founded in academic campuses (3 special categories).
    • Prize: The winning startup founders will get a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh and an opportunity to present their solutions to relevant public authorities and corporates. Incubators and accelerators will get Rs. 15 lakh as the winning amount.
    • A total of 38 startups were awarded, one in each of the 35 categories and 3 special categories in the 12 sectors.

 ➤ Startup India Showcase:

  • It is part of the Startup India portal intended to be an online discovery platform for the country's most promising startups.
  • The Government of India has initiated the Startup India Scheme in 2016. o The startups showcased here shall be handpicked by experts and span across different sectors like FinTech, EdTech, and Social Impact. o The showcase will help industry, investors and public authorities find and connect with startups for potential partnerships, investments and public procurement respectively.

Blockchain-based Certificate Verification System: 

  • It will enable instant verification and access to certificates of recognitions issued by DPIIT. 
  • This feature introduces an added layer of security to the startup certificates. 
  • It can be accessed by Government Departments, procurement entities, investors, and other third parties to verify the status of recognized startups for accessing different opportunities.

Other Releases:

  • Results of the 2nd edition of Ranking of States on Support to Startup Ecosystem in which Gujarat performed best among all States by the DPIIT.
  • The Ease of Doing Business Rankings of the States- 2019, by the DPIIT, in which Andhra Pradesh topped. 
  • A report related to startups has been tabled in Parliament by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

Report on Big Tech Companies

Recently, a US House of Representatives panel submitted a bipartisan investigation into the working of big technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

  • It called for the big technology companies to be broken up and also for a “presumptive prohibition against future mergers and acquisitions by the dominant platform".

Key Points


  • These companies have been on the government radar in many countries for being big spenders and trying to steamroll competition by either buying out their rivals or pushing vendors to avoid working with their competitors. 
  • As part of reviewing the state of competition online, the US House panel probed these companies and looked into how they controlled the flow of data for themselves as well as their competition.


  1. Company heads were questioned over the evidence that suggested that the companies have exploited, entrenched, and expanded their power over digital markets in anti-competitive and abusive ways. The answers by the heads were often "evasive and non-responsive".
    • This aspect raises questions on the powers assumed by the big tech companies and whether they consider themselves beyond the reach of democratic oversight.
  2. Each of these companies acts as a "gatekeeper" over a key channel of distribution, which means that they have full control over what goes on in their respective domains.
    • By controlling access to markets, they can pick winners and losers throughout the economies.
  3. These companies not only wield tremendous power, but also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them. 
  4. Companies ran the marketplace for their respective domains, while also competing in it and to ensure they retain the number one position, the companies have restored to "self-preferencing, predatory pricing, or exclusionary conduct".
    • Self-preferencing involves actions by an undertaking which are designed to favour its own products or services over those of its competitors.
    • Predatory pricing is an act of setting prices low in an attempt to eliminate the competition.
    • Exclusionary conduct is a conduct that creates or maintains monopoly power by disadvantaging and harming competitors.


  1. To push for "structural separations" of the big tech companies. These companies should be broken into smaller companies to ensure that they would not be able to have as much influence as they have currently over the digital marketplace.
  2. These companies should be prohibited from operating in an "adjacent line of business".
    • Adjacent business is to leverage a business's existing capabilities and apply them to a distinctly new market which is close in proximity to the existing business.
  3. There should be a "presumptive prohibition" against big tech companies going for mergers and acquisitions.
    • For example, Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp and has been accused of using money to outright buy competition and then push them aggressively against other competitors.

Impact of the Recommendations:

  1. Although the recommendations are not legally binding on either the USA government or any other agency, they have the potential to start a debate and deeper research in the direction of more controls by big tech giants.
  2. Laws on vertical mergers and overriding problematic legal decisions can be rethought and changed after the recommendations.
    • A vertical merger is the merger of two or more companies that provide different supply chain functions for a common good or service.
    • Vertical mergers are a way for companies to significantly cut costs, increase profits, expand their market, and turn their focus on bigger goals of improving their company.
  3. Big tech companies might not be directly impacted by these as of now, but there will be increased scrutiny of regulators and probe agencies worldwide.
  4. Companies are likely to face more questions and probes from states in the USA, which have been dragging them for not doing more to control their influence on day-to-day aspects of life.

➤ Big Tech Influence in India

  1. The report also mentions the big tech companies' role in stifling competition in India.
    • It refers to the various antitrust probes going on against Google in India, which has had run- ins with regulators, especially the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
  2. In the last two years, the CCI has raised issues with Google's commercial flight search option, its dominant position in the search marketplace, the abuse of its dominant position in the Android phone and smart television market, and others.
    • In 2019, Google was held guilty of misuse of its dominant position in the mobile Android market for imposing unfair conditions on device manufacturers to prevent them from using other operating systems.
    • Google has also been accused of following a high and unfair commission mechanism for apps listed on its Play Store.
  3. Amazon and Facebook, which are trying to enter the retail space in India, are also likely to be under the lens for the way they price their products and the space they give/deny to their competition.

Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched the 'Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM)' under Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (SCs) to promote innovation and enterprise among SC students studying in higher educational institutions.

Key Points

Major Objectives of the Mission:

  1. To promote entrepreneurship among the SC Youth with special preference to Divyangs. 
  2. To support (1,000) innovative ideas till 2024 through a synergetic work with the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) set up by the Department of Science and Technology.
    • Implemented By: Venture Capital Fund for SCs (VCF- SCs) which was set up in 2015-16 with the Fund size of Rs. 500 Crore.
  3. Under this fund, 117 companies promoted by SC entrepreneurs have been sanctioned financial assistance to set up business ventures.


  1. 1,000 SC youth would be identified in the next 4 years with start-up ideas through the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) in various higher educational institutions.
  2. They will be funded @ Rs. 30 lakhs in 3 years as equity (investment) funding so that they can translate their start-up ideas into commercial ventures.
  3. Successful ventures would further qualify for venture capital funding of up to Rs. 5 Crore from the VCF-SCs.
    • Venture capital is a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.


  1. Youth who the TBIs have identified.
  2. Students who have been awarded under the Smart India Hackathon or Smart India Hardware Hackathon being conducted by the Ministry of Education.
  3. Innovative ideas focusing on the socio-economic development of the society identified in the TBIs.
  4. Start-ups nominated and supported by corporates through Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) funds.


  1. ASIIM under VCF-SC will promote innovation in the SC youth and would help them to become job-givers from job-seekers.
  2. It would further give fillip to the 'Stand Up India' initiative of the Prime Minister.

Pulse Release from Buffer Stocks

The Union government plans to release 40,000 tonnes of tur dal from its buffer stock into the retail market in small lots in a bid to cool down the recent hike in pulses prices.

Key Points

➤ Hiking Prices:

  1. Major consuming centres (Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu) of urad and tur dal have seen a 20% spike in prices over the last two weeks alone.
    • These states have expressed an interest in buying one lakh tonnes of pulses from the Central buffer stock at the MSP rates to sell at subsidised prices.
  2. At an all-India level, the average retail prices of urad have shot up almost 40% compared to 2019, while the average retail prices of tur dal have increased by almost 24%.

Retail Intervention:

  1. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has introduced retail intervention, a mechanism to use the buffer stock of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
    • NAFED procures pulses from farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP) rates to moderate retail prices by supplying pulses to the States and the Union Territories.
    • The States are supplied pulses either in bulk or in retail packs for supply through the ration shops of the Public Distribution System (PDS), or through milk and vegetable outlets run by the government or cooperatives.
  2. For such retail intervention, offer prices are fixed based on MSP itself.
  3. This move will also help clear NAFED's existing stock to make way for procurement from this season's harvest, due to arrive in markets soon.

Using Open Market Sale:

  • Apart from the retail intervention, the DoCA has also decided to release 40,000 metric tonnes of tur from the buffer stock in Open Market Sale (OMS) Scheme in small lots so that the releases may reach the retail market at a faster pace and help in cooling off rising prices.

Earlier Measures:

  1. The Centre extended the procurement window for its Price Support Scheme (PSS) up to 90 days from the date of commencement of the scheme in each State.
    • The PSS is operationalised on the State governments' request when the prices fall below the MSP.
  2. The Centre promised to provide one kg of pulses per month to all families with ration cards for the three months as part of a Covid-19 relief package (Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana).

National Agricultural

Cooperative Marketing Federation of India

  • It is registered under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.
  • It was set up in 1958 with the objective to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.
  • Agricultural farmers are the members of the General Body of NAFED, who participate in the decision-making process.

Minimum Support Price

  • It is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.
  • The reason behind the idea is to counter the price volatility of agricultural commodities due to the factors like variations in the supply, lack of market integration and information asymmetry.
  • It is fixed on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Open Market Sale Scheme

  • Food Corporation of India (FCI) sells surplus stocks of wheat and rice at predetermined prices through e-auction in the open market from time to time to enhance the supply of food grains.  
  • It is done especially during the lean season to moderate the deficit regions' open market prices.

15 Years of RTI

A report by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies has pointed out that more than 2.2 lakh Right to information cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions (ICs) final courts of appeal under the RTI Act, 2005.

  • The report was released on the occasion of completion of the 15 years of Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Key Points

  1. Unavailability during Covid-19 lockdown: Out of the total 29 ICs that were studied, 21 were not holding any hearings.
  2. Even the websites of 3 ICs -Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Nagaland -were not accessible during the lockdown.
  3. Websites of 11 commissions out of 29, had no information/notification about the IC's functioning during the lockdown.
  4. Reduced Capacity: Of the 29 ICs, two ICs -Jharkhand and Tripura -were found to have no commissioners for varying lengths of time. They were completely defunct.
  5. 4 were functioning without a Chief Information Commissioner - Bihar, Goa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  6. Under the RTI Act, every commission should have a chief and up to 10 commissioners.
  7. Delays and Backlogs: On average, the CIC takes 388 days (more than one year) to dispose of an appeal/ complaint from the date that it was filed before the commission.
  8. The highest number of pending appeals, with over 59,000 cases were in Maharashtra, followed by Uttar Pradesh and the Central Information Commission (CIC).
  9. No Penalties: Government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law.
  10. Penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition.

Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019

  1. It provided that the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner (of Centre as well as States) shall hold office for such terms as prescribed by the Central Government. Before this amendment, their term was fixed for 5 years.
  2. It provided that the salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner (of Centre as well as States) shall be such as prescribed by the Central Government.
    • Before this amendment, the salary, allowances and other service conditions of the Chief Information Commissioner were similar to those of the Chief Election Commissioner and that of an Information Commissioner were similar to those of an Election Commissioner (State Election Commissioners in case of States).
  3. It removed the provisions regarding deductions in salary of the Chief Information Commissioner, an Information Commissioner, the State Chief Information Commissioner and a State Information Commissioner due to pension or any other retirement benefits received by them for their previous government service.
  4. The RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019 was criticized on grounds of diluting the law and giving more powers to the central government.

➤ Central Information Commission

  1. Established: It was established by the Central Government in 2005, under the provisions of the Right to Information Act (2005). It is not a constitutional body.
  2. Members: A Chief Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information Commissioners.
    • At present (2019), the Commission has six Information Commissioners apart from the Chief Information Commissioner.
  3. Appointment: The President appoints them on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.
  4. Tenure: The Chief Information Commissioner and an Information Commissioner shall hold office for such terms as prescribed by the Central Government or until they attain 65 years, whichever is earlier.
    • They are not eligible for reappointment.

Power and Functions of CIC:

  1. The Commission must receive and inquire into a complaint from any person regarding information request under RTI, 2005.
  2. The Commission can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo- moto power).
  3. While inquiring, the Commission has a civil court's powers in respect of summoning, requiring documents, etc.


  1. The government must ensure the timely appointment of chiefs and members of ICs.
    • The increasing backlog of cases is exacerbated by the fact that most Commissions are functioning at reduced capacity.
  2. It is absolutely critical that all information commissions conduct timely and effective hearings and disposal of cases to ensure people can exercise their fundamental right to information.
    • Commissions should hold hearings telephonically. Where possible, video calls can be set up.
  3. There should be a prioritization of cases dealing with life and liberty information. Information regarding matters like food distribution, social security, health and Covid-19-related issues should be proactively disclosed.
    • Section 7(1) of the RTI Act states that information concerning a person's life or liberty has to be supplied within 48 hours of the request being received.
    • Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo motu disclosure of information by each public authority.
  4. Urgent digitization of records and proper record management is important as lack of remote access to records in the lockdown has been widely cited as the reason for not conducting hearings of appeals and complaints by commissions.
  5. Governments should put in place a mechanism for online filing of RTI applications.

STARS Project

The Union Cabinet has approved implementation of the World Bank aided- Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project with Rs' total project cost. 5,718 crore with the financial support of World Bank amounting to about Rs. 3,700 crore.

Key Points

  1. The STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education (MoE).
  2. Aim and Focus: These are aligned with the objectives
  3. of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of Quality Based Learning Outcomes.
    • Strengthening the government-managed school education system that primarily caters to girls and students' educational needs from marginalised groups.
    • Focus on initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.


  1. Key Areas:
    • Access and retention;
    • Right to education entitlements;
    • Quality interventions;
    • Teacher education and training;
    • Gender and equity;
    • Inclusive education; and
    • Upgradation of the learning environment.
  2. Support for Participation in PISA: India's participation in the 2022 cycle of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey will also be funded by this project.
    • PISA was introduced in 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
    • It tests the learning levels of 15-year-old children in reading, mathematics, and science. The test is conducted every three years.
    • India stayed away from PISA in 2012 and 2015 on account of its dismal performance in 2009, when it was placed 72nd among the 74 participating countries. The government decided to end the boycott in 2019.

Major Components:

  1. At the national level:
    • To strengthen the national data systems of the Ministry of Education (MOE) to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students.
    • To support the strengthening of learning assessment systems.
    • PARAKH: Establishment of PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) as a National Assessment Centre.
    • Included in NEP, this independent and autonomous institution under the MOE will set standards for the around 60 examination boards in the country.
    • Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC): It will help the government respond to situations leading to loss of learning such as school closures/infrastructure damage, inadequate facilities, and use technology to facilitate remote learning.
  2. The CERC component would facilitate:
    • The rapid re-categorization of financing (to provide flexibility in the crisis situation).
    • The utilization of streamlined financing request procedures (so that delays in financing is eliminated).
  3. At the State level:
    • The project seeks to improve education outcomes and school-to-work transition strategies for better labour market outcomes in 6 states: Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha.
The document October 2020: Current Affairs Polity & Economy | Indian Economy for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Economy for UPSC CSE.
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