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28th December Current Affairs

NITI Aayog Health Index

(GS-II: Issues related to health)

In News:

Niti Aayog has released the fourth edition of its state health index for 2019-20.

The “Health Index” is part of a report commissioned by the NITI Aayog, the World Bank and the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

Performance of states in the latest index:

For the fourth year in a row, Kerala has topped.

Uttar Pradesh has come in at the bottom.

Tamil Nadu and Telangana are at 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

Mizoram topped the health index among smaller states while Nagaland was ranked at the bottom.

Among union territories, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu was ranked at the top and Andaman & Nicobar was ranked at the bottom.

How are the states ranked?

The Health Index score is prepared based on the States’ performance across a large set of indicators that are divided into three broad domains — health outcomes, governance and information, and key inputs and processes.

Health outcomes, for instance, include parameters such as neonatal mortality rate, under-5 mortality rate and sex ratio at birth.

Governance includes institutional deliveries, average occupancy of senior officers in key posts earmarked for health.


Health Index has been developed as a tool to leverage co-operative and competitive federalism to accelerate the pace of achieving health outcomes.

It would also serve as an instrument for “nudging” States & Union Territories (UTs) and the Central Ministries to a much greater focus on output and outcome-based measurement of annual performance than is currently the practice.

With the annual publication of the Index and its availability on public domain on a dynamic basis, it is expected to keep every stakeholder alert to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal number 3.

Iran nuclear talks set to resume after five months

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

The international talks have resumed in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.


The talks are held between the remaining partners to the deal — Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the U.K.

The talks seek to bring back the United States, after it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then President Donald Trump and began imposing sanctions on Iran.

About the Iran Nuclear Deal:

Also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, or the EU).

Under the deal, Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.

What’s the concern now?

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018. Besides, he opted for a “maximum pressure” campaign by imposing sanctions and other tough actions.

Iran responded by intensifying its enrichment of uranium and building of centrifuges, while maintaining its insistence that its nuclear development was for civilian and not military purposes.

Again, In January 2020, following the drone strike on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Qasem Soleiman, Iran announced that it would no longer observe the JCPOA’s restraints.

The collapse of the JCPOA drags Iran towards nuclear brinkmanship, like North Korea, which has created major geopolitical instability in the region and beyond.

Significance of the deal for India:

Removing sanctions may revive India’s interest in the Chabahar port, Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.

This would further help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.

Restoration of ties between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.

Sri Aurobindo

(GS-I: Modern History and important Personalities)

In News:

PM Modi has announced that 150 universities across the country will be involved in writing papers on different aspects of spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo’s life and philosophy to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary.


Sri Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872, in Kolkata, West Bengal.

About Sri Aurobindo:

He was a yogi, seer, philosopher, poet, and Indian nationalist who propounded a philosophy of divine life on earth through spiritual evolution.

From 1902 to 1910 he partook in the struggle to free India from the British.

In Pondichéry he founded a community of spiritual seekers, which took shape as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.

He was much influenced by the American Revolution, revolts in Italy and the medieval French revolts against England.

He attended Congress sessions and at the same time, helped establish the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902.

He and his brother revolutionary Barin Ghose contributed articles to the magazine Jugantar which inspired many young people to take up revolutionary work.

He was also a journalist, editing newspapers such as Bande Mataram.

In May 1908, Aurobindo was arrested in connection with the Alipore Conspiracy Case.

In 1914, he started publishing a magazine Arya.

He wrote copiously and his greatest literary achievement was ‘Savitri’, an epic poem with about 24000 lines.

He developed a kind of Yoga called Integral Yoga.

His theory of Nationalism:

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was considered as a prophet of Indian nationalism. Along with Bankimchandra, Tilak and Dayanand, he developed the theory of nationalism in India.

Sri Aurobindo’s theory of nationalism was based on Vedanta philosophy which saw unity and oneness in man and God.

He declared that India was in fact Mother India which represented the united power and Shakti of millions of her children. Mother India represented the infinite energy of her people: He identified Mother India with God and maintained that it was God’s divine mission to set India free.

He said that the village should retain its autonomy and self-government but at the same time, ‘should seek to promote national cohesion. The ideal of national Swaraj must be modeled on the old village community which was self-sufficient, autonomous and self-governing.

Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM)

(GS-I: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies)

Performance analysis of the scheme as per the latest survey:

Telangana stood first in the implementation of the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM).

Tamil Nadu and Gujarat took the second and third positions respectively.

About Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission:

Launched in 2016, the programme is designed to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.

It is now a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

Funding: Shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio of 60:40 for Plain area States and 90:10 for Himalayan and NE States.

Main objective of the scheme is bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.


Under the mission, the Central government in coordination with the district administration has taken measures to bring about multi-layered phased development of the rural gram panchayats and villages on the lines of urban cities with proper civic amenities keeping the soul of villages intact.

What are Rurban areas? Why develop them?

A ‘Rurban cluster’, would be a cluster of geographically contiguous villages with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and with a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages.

The larger outcomes envisaged under this Mission are:

  • Bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
  • Stimulating local economic development with emphasis on reduction of poverty and unemployment in rural areas.
  • Spreading development in the region.
  • Attracting investment in rural areas.

Need for:

According to the 2011 Census, India has more than 6 lakh villages while there are around 7,000 towns and urban centres. Out of a total population the rural population accounts for 69% and urban population 31%.

About 70% of the population lives in rural areas and about 50% of the overall labour force is still dependent on agriculture that is not productive enough.

Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages. These clusters, once developed, can then be classified as ‘Rurban’.