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Yojana - May 2021

Federal Structure of India

Note: Please note that some inputs have been given by our team in order to make the topic more relevant to UPSC.

Important terms

Federalism: Federalism refers to a vertical division of power in a political system. It is a system in which power is divided between a central authority and other constituents. For e.g. in India, political power is divided between the Central government, state governments and the institutions of local governance. According to DD Basu, there are four important features of a federal system:

  1. Multiple levels of government: Federalism, by its very definition, requires multiple levels of government functioning within their defined territory.
  2. Division of Power: The power is divided by the division of subjects between the entities so that the chances of conflict are reduced to a minimum.
  3. Written Constitution: It ensures there is clarity in the respective division of power. Again, a rigid constitution ensures that this division of power is not easily disturbed.
  4. Independent Judiciary: It acts as a dispute resolution mechanism between the different levels of government.

Cooperative Federalism: It refers to the horizontal relationship between the entities in a federal structure. For e.g. India is a federal country with power divided between the Centre and the States. Cooperative federalism refers to the cooperation between the two entities in pursuit of unified socio-economic development of the country. For e.g. despite having their divisions over various issues, the Centre and States are expected to come together to face a crisis, which affects the country in its entirety.

Competitive Federalism: It refers to promoting healthy competition between the states to keep them motivated in pursuit of economic development. For e.g. NITI Aayog has developed multiple indices to showcase the progress achieved by respective states in different sectors. The laggard states are expected to put in extra efforts to catch-up with the front-runners, while the front-runners are expected to work hard to retain their ranking in the indices.

Fiscal Federalism: It deals with the division of financial powers as well as the functions between multiple levels of the federal government. It has within its ambit the imposition of taxes as well as the division of different taxes between the Centre and the constituent units. Similarly, in the case of joint collection of taxes, an objective criterion is determined for the fair division of funds between the entities. Usually, there is a constitutional authority (like Finance Commission in India) for the purpose to ensure fairness in the division.

NITI Aayog – Redefining federalism

Topics covered from the Syllabus:

  • GS-2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011: It was undertaken by the government of India in 2011 to identify the beneficiaries of welfare schemes, based on pre-defined parameters. The SECC divides respondents into 3 categories:

  1. Automatically included: These are the households which are considered most vulnerable and are required to be supported by the government for sustaining livelihood. It includes destitute, households without shelter, manual scavengers, legally released bonded labour and primitive tribal groups.
  2. Automatically excluded: These are the households which are identified to be in a relatively better status and do not need government support. The criteria include being a government servant, owning a vehicle, among others.
  3. Based on calculation: Rest of the households are awarded points on the basis of a set of criteria to be classified as deprived. The criteria include landless labour, female-headed households, SC/ST households, differently-abled households, among others.



NITI Aayog

  • Origin: NITI Aayog was formed in 2015 by replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission.
  • Executive Body: Since NITI Aayog was formed by a cabinet resolution, therefore it is an executive body.
  • Governing Council of NITI Aayog:
    • Chairperson: Prime Minister
    • Ex-officio members: Cabinet Ministers in charge of Finance, Defence, Home Affairs and Agriculture are ex-officio members of the NITI Aayog
    • Vice-chairperson: She/he is appointed by the Prime Minister
    • Full time members: These are experts in various fields
    • Chief Ministers of the States and Union Territories with Legislatures and Lt Governors or Administrators of the other Union Territories
    • Chief Executive Officer: She/he is a government servant and is appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure.


Objectives of NITI Aayog

  • Development Priorities: NITI Aayog seeks to evolve a shared paradigm of the development model of the country in close cooperation with states. In a country like India, where resources are limited it is important to maintain efficiency to optimize the usage of resources, besides maintaining clarity in priorities for achieving outcomes, commensurate to outlays.
  • Cooperative Federalism: Earlier, state leaderships had accused the Planning Commission of high-handedness and impinging on the fiscal sovereignty of the States. NITI Aayog, on the other hand, recognizes the importance of the States in ensuring faster development in the country. Therefore, it fosters the spirit of Cooperative Federalism by aligning the developmental needs of the States with the resource allocation from the Centre.
  • Competitive Federalism: Along with promoting cooperative federalism as a measure of unity towards the common goal of national development, NITI Aayog has also been instrumental in pushing the states towards doing their best by coming up with indices which place the states according to their relative performance in the respective sectors. This includes indices like Performance in Health Outcomes, Composite Water Management Index, School Education Quality Index and SDG Index, among others.
  • Grassroot Democracy: NITI Aayog shifts the obligation of plan formulation to the local levels as they are the primary beneficiaries of the Welfare provisions. Also, the development needs of the people are better understood at the local levels. Therefore, it envisages an important role for the local bodies including Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies in the formulation of local plans, which are then aggregated at the District level.
  • Involving Civil Society: The major deficiency in the welfare schemes is the lack of implementation at the grassroots. This requires the involvement of the Civil Society Organizations and the Private Sector, as they are relatively free from bureaucratic inertia and red-tapism. This gives them the required flexibility and the agility to be mobile for the purpose of execution of the welfare provisions.
  • Inclusivity: NITI Aayog seeks to formulate strategies for the betterment of weaker sections to pass on the benefit of economic and social development to the marginalized sections of the society. Again, it envisages balanced regional development in its endeavor to enhance inclusivity be including the North Eastern states, which have complained repeatedly of neglect by the mainland, and the strategically located islands of India.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: One of the primary functions of NITI Aayog is to consistently monitor the policies and schemes and the government of India. This is important to evaluate their performance and to restructure the schemes which are not performing well. The schemes which need further improvement are brought back to the drawing board and tinkered with to implement them better in successive implementation runs.
  • Repository of Best Practices: There are various innovations happening along the territory of India by motivated officers to provide better service delivery to the people. For e.g. recently an Arunachal Pradesh officer tried to counter vaccine hesitancy by providing for free rice distribution on vaccine inoculation, yielding good results. Such best practices are documented and shared by the NITI Aayog with the other functionaries for replication across other territories.



  • Aspirational District Programme: The programme focuses on developing 112 of the most backward districts in India, with at least one from each of the 28 states, except Goa. The idea is to measure the progress in these districts and ensure development through promoting effective, healthy competition. It promotes decentralization by envisaging a larger role for the district administration. The five key sectors for intervention are:
    • Health and Nutrition: It includes child care services, checking the growth of contagious diseases and the creation of health infrastructure.
    • Education: It focuses on learning outcomes and the creation of basic infrastructure (like clean toilets) to promote enrolment for girls.
    • Agriculture and Water Resources: It includes improvement in access to water for irrigation, agricultural extension services (like agricultural marketing) and agricultural inputs.
    • Financial inclusion and Skill Development: Financial inclusion includes access to formal financial services and credit facilities. Skill development is majorly focused on training and schemes and promoting on-the-job training through the apprenticeship program.
    • Basic Infrastructure: It includes better housing with basic facilities (like water, electricity etc.) as well as road infrastructure.
  • Ayushman Bharat Programme: The flagship scheme was launched in 2018. It has two components:
    • Health and Wellness Centres (H&WCs): The scheme provides a sum of Rs. 1200 Crore for the creation of Health and Wellness Centres by upgradation of the existing sub-centres and Primary healthcare centres. The idea is to increase access to primary healthcare closer to home.
    • PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY): It seeks to enhance equity by improving access to secondary and tertiary healthcare services, through providing an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakhs per family per annum to 10.74 Crore poor and vulnerable households in the country. The households are identified based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census, 2011 (see inset).
  • PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Development and Nutrition (POSHAN) Abhiyan: The scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescent mothers and lactating mothers, by providing better service delivery in the form of Anganwadi Services. The major objective of the scheme is to have a malnutrition-free India by reducing stunting in the country.
  • SATH (Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital): It was launched in 2017. The scheme seeks to create 3 model states by interventions in areas like teacher training, Learning enhancement, governance reforms and IT-enabled monitoring of schools. Another sector for intervention includes the Health sector to showcase the effect of a coordinated intervention to different states.
  • Atal Innovation Mission: The scheme was launched in 2016. It aims to create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. It has various action areas including the creation of research infrastructure in the schools, universities, research centres as well as the private sector in the country. It has various components like Atal Tinkering Labs (in the schools), Atal Incubation Centres (at the universities and corporates) and Atal Community Innovation Centres (in the unserved or underserved regions of India), among others.
  • Strategy for New India @75: NITI Aayog has proposed to come up with innovative ideas for the development of the country through multiple plans, which can be aggregated together to form a long-term vision. For e.g., it has proposed the concept of 3-year action plan, 7-year strategy and 15-year vision document, which are interrelated to each other. Strategy for New India @75 is one of such documents which seeks to assist the decision-makers by providing them specific inputs in the priority areas.



  • NITI Aayog has been successful in transforming the authoritarian image created by the Planning Commission as a body trampling upon the fiscal sovereignty of the states. It has also tried to foster a spirit of healthy competition among the states by coming up with indices, ranking states on different parameters.
  • However, experts have pointed to the lack of reward mechanism in the structure and policies of NITI Aayog, fearing oblivion whenever the ruling dispensation is changed. Therefore, there is a need to attach fiscal or other incentives to the rankings created by NITI Aayog to enable it to enforce its mandate of promoting growth and development in the economy.


Fiscal Federalism in COVID-19

Topics covered from the Syllabus:

  • GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • GS-2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • GS-3: Government Budgeting.



  • COVID-induced lockdown has created a stretch on the financial resources of both the Centre and the States. While the receipts have declined on account of disruption in economic activity, the expenditure has increased to ensure the welfare of the vulnerable sections as well as to expand the health infrastructure across the length of the country. This has thrown up various issues with reference to fiscal federalism (see important terms) in the federal structure envisaged by the Constitution.


Steps taken to Ease the States’ burden

  • Ways and Means Advances: RBI increased the limit for Ways and Means Advances (WMA) from Rs 1.2 trillion to Rs 2 trillion for the Centre. It also raised the limit for States by 60%. WMA is a temporary instrument which is used by the governments to tide over short-term liquidity crisis. These advances need to be repaid within a period of 90 days to the RBI. The rate charged on WMAs by the RBI is equal to the Repo rate. The rate increases by an additional 2 percentage points in case the overdraft facility is extended.
  • Enhancement of Borrowing Limits: Under Article 293 of the Constitution of India, states cannot raise borrow loans without the consent of the Centre, if they are under loan obligation of the Centre. Under this provision, the Centre had allowed a borrowing within a range of 3% of GSDP by the states. Due to raised expenditure due to COVID, the Centre has raised this limit by 2% of the GSDP. However, this raised limit is conditional on reforms in four sectors, namely One Nation, One Ration Card, Power Sector Reforms, Ease of Doing Business and reforms in Urban Local Bodies.
  • State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF): Centre released the SDRF funds to the states in May 2021, recently. The funds are usually released in June. This has been done to assist the states fiscally in their fight for economic recovery amid the COVID-induced lockdown.
  • Tax Devolution: Despite the fiscal stress induced by COVID, the Centre has maintained the fiscal transfers to States at 41%, as recommended by the Finance Commission. It must be noted that the 15th FC has reduced the states’ share from 42% to 41%, on account of the conversion of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory.


Issues faced by the States

  • Effects of COVID-induced Lockdown: The rapid spread of COVID required the government to enforce strict social distancing norms for arresting the spread of cases. This not only closed down the factories and offices but also subdued the consumer demand in the country. It led to a reduction in tax inflows of the States as excise and sales tax on commodities like petroleum and alcohol constitute the chief source of revenues for the States.
  • State subjects: Many experts have pointed out that the Centre over-reached its mandate by imposing a complete lockdown. For e.g., under the 7th Schedule, subjects like Hospitals (Subject 6), Alcohol (8), Agriculture (14), Industries (24), shops and markets (28) and State government offices (Entry 41) fall in the State list, over which the States have complete authority. Therefore, it was only fair that it was the States which should have imposed a lockdown on the mentioned subjects. However, this view has been disputed by another school of thought which has equated COVID to ‘once in a century’ crisis and advocated a unified response to tide over the crisis.
  • Delay in GST Compensation: When the GST was introduced in the Constitution, it led to a significant loss of authority for the States, as both the Centre and the States surrendered a part of their autonomy to the GST council. In lieu of this, states were promised compensation over a period of 5 years for any revenue loss they would incur due to the imposition of GST. However, COVID has stretched the financial capabilities of the Centre due to a loss of receipts as well as increase in health expenditure. Therefore, the Centre has delayed the GST compensation for the states, leading to financial difficulties for the states.
  • Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Finance Commission (FC): The ToR formulated for the 15th FC includes examining the significance and continuation of Revenue Deficit grants to the states and measures required to control populist tendencies in the States. This has disgruntled many States, as they consider it a precursor to an attack over their fiscal sovereignty. It has also raised a question about misuse of the Constitutional bodies (FC and EC) for partisan interests.
  • Suspension of MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS): MPLADS scheme was started to provide funds to the Members of Parliament for initiating projects specific to the local requirements. This is a discretionary fund which is spent as per the instructions of the respective MPs. The Centre has suspended the scheme due to COVID-induced financial crisis. However, many experts have contended that MPLADS was an important instrument for decentralized development and its discontinuation, even if temporary, will have severe effects on the development projects in the local areas.



  • Despite the fiscal stress faced by the states in the lockdown, there has been considerable unity visible in the fight against COVID, manifested by the bipartisan support received by the Centre in the management of the pandemic.
  • It is imperative that in such extraordinary times, the States are taken onboard while taking financial decisions so that they feel empowered despite the fiscal stress faced by them. This would require effort from the Centre but would yield rich dividends in the long term.


One Nation One Election

Topics covered from the Syllabus:

  • GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • GS-2: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Model Code of Conduct: It is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission to ensure fairness in the elections conducted to the Central and State legislature.

  • The code was observed first in the 1960 elections.
  • It is a voluntary code which has been agreed upon by the political parties themselves to ensure free and fair elections. However, it is enforced by the Election Commission.



  • Recently the state assembly elections took place in four states. The elections have been one of the major reasons which contributed to the rise in COVID cases, leading to the devastating second wave of COVID.


Status of Simultaneous elections in India

  • Till 1967, the country had simultaneous elections at the Centre and in all the state assemblies except Nagaland and Pondicherry.
  • However, the premature dissolution of Lok Sabha in 1971 led to the lack of synchronization in the elections at the Centre and State assemblies.
  • Again, the premature dissolution of Lok Sabha in 1998 and 1999, apart from the loss of confidence in state governments and passing of No-Confidence motions has contributed to staggered elections in India. The imposition of President Rule has also exacerbated the situation.


Reasons why Simultaneous elections is a good idea

  • Cost to the Exchequer: Multiple elections at different times leads to a huge cost to the exchequer in the form of lost time, labour and financial costs. There are significant costs involved in the conducting of elections including the movement of security personnel, diversion of state machinery towards presiding over the elections and other similar costs.
  • Administrative Disturbance: Staggered elections lead to diversion of officials towards election duty. This also extends to the other requirements of the Election Commission like the official vehicles, buildings etc. Similarly, the teachers and other functionaries must leave their primary occupation in abeyance, leading to gaps in the social development of the community.
  • Policy Paralysis: A significant casualty of the multiple elections is Development. Since the government is prohibited from announcing any new development schemes after the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct (see inset), no new projects can be taken up. This is especially problematic once the elections start spreading over to multiple elections every year or even twice a year.
  • Political Opportunism: Multiple elections mean that the government cannot take decisions in the national interest, due to the fear of losing elections in the respective states. This usually translates to a lack of long-term vision of the developmental policy and security paradigm of the country. Again, the critics have lamented the diversion of funds from the security needs to the welfare provisions, mostly in the nature of appeasement, affecting the long-term needs of the armed forces.
  • Election Expenditure: The staggered elections not only lead to heavy expenditure by the State but also the political parties. The costs involved in printing election paraphernalia, movement of star campaigners and other miscellaneous costs must be borne by the parties. This enhances the need for donations to the political parties, leading to the industry-politician nexus and breeding corruption in the State.
  • Missing Leadership: Again, frequent elections lead to focus on winning the elections rather than the development of the nation, for the Ministers of the government. This leads to a political vacuum and absence of guidance for the bureaucracy, again, hampering development in the country.


Reasons why the present system should continue

  • Constitutional Amendments: The present system is envisaged by the Constitution and would require multiple amendments to effect any significant change. For e.g., for the first-time synchronization, there needs to be an amendment to the Article 83 of the Constitution which envisages a term of five years for the Lok Sabha. It is important to note that the Constitution does not allow for the extension of the term of Lok Sabha except in the case of Proclamation of Emergency (National Emergency).
  • Difficult to Maintain Synchronization: It is difficult to maintain simultaneous elections in a democracy. Even if we can achieve simultaneous elections at the Centre and in all states by prolonging and shortening the tenures of the Lok Sabha and the respective State Assemblies, it would be difficult to maintain such a situation for long. As soon as any government loses confidence in its assembly, again the system will fall into disarray.
  • No-Confidence Motion: The lower house has been envisaged to keep a check on the government through various instruments given in the Constitution like the No-confidence motion or the Censure motion or the devices invented by the Parliament for the purpose like the Zero hour. However, to maintain simultaneous elections, there would be a need to modify the Constitution by removing such motions which can dissolve the Lok Sabha without completing its term.
    • Constructive Vote of Confidence: An alternative to the motion of No-confidence is the Constructive Vote of Confidence which is the norm in the German parliament. In this system, a vote of No-Confidence is moved only with a vote of Confidence in the successor. Therefore, the government cannot be dissolved without electing another one in its place.
  • Against the Principles of Democracy: The present system has been consciously chosen by our forefathers to uphold the will of democracy by providing for regular elections so that people can express their will through the right to vote. However, modifying the election system would mean tampering with the power of people to express their democratic will.
  • Accountability: Again, regular elections mean that the government is under an obligation to listen to the will of the people lest it loses the elections in one state or the other. However, if the government is assured of a fixed tenure without any fear of recall, it might lead to autocratic tendencies, where the ministers exercise their powers, at least initially, as per their whims and fancies, and conduct political welfare in the latter part of the tenure to influence the voters.
  • Costs don’t matter: Experts contend that there are certain functions where the costs are immaterial. For e.g. ensuring food security or law and order in the territory is the primary function of the government, irrespective of the costs incurred in such an endeavor. Similarly, ensuring the continuation of democracy in the country is independent of the associated costs.
  • Disadvantage to Regional parties: Many experts have pointed that in case of simultaneous elections to the Centre and the States, the voter is much influenced by the national issues rather than the local problems. Therefore, it is inherently disadvantageous for the regional parties as it diminishes their chances to perform well.
  • Loss of Centre’s control over the States: In the present system, the President can dismiss the government of a State in case it does not follow Centre’s directions. However, in case of simultaneous elections, this power would need to be withdrawn from the Centre, loosening the Centre’s control over the State governments.
  • Local Body elections: If the system of simultaneous elections is extended to the local body elections, then it would create additional burden for the Election Commission. Either the State Election Commissions would need to be disbanded or Election Commission would be given additional accountability of the Commissions. This would disturb the federal structure and might face resistance from the States.



  • Simultaneous election is an idea whose time has come. It has multiple benefits for the country, especially because of India being the largest democracy in the world.
  • However, since the issue is concerned with the federal structure of the Constitution, it needs to be discussed and debated properly across the political spectrum to assuage the concerns of regional parties. This will make it easier to implement the idea in the country.


Challenges of Skill Development

Topics covered from the Syllabus:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Current State of Skill Development in India

  • Demographic Dividend: India is currently in a demographic sweet spot, with the average age being just 29 years. This is 37 years in US and China and 45 years in the Western Europe. In fact, almost 63% of its population is in working age currently. This opportunity can be harnessed to create India as the skill capital of the world.
  • Human resource deficit: It is estimated that, India will have a surplus of almost 52 million workers, against a global deficit of almost 47 million workers. This is chiefly because of the ageing population in advanced countries. Therefore, with a careful strategy, this gap can be bridged to the benefit of Indian youth as well as the global economy.
  • Lack of gainful employment: It is estimated that every year Indian education system adds 12 million youths to the economy. However, during the period of 2005-12, hardly 2.7 million net additional jobs were created in the country. This shows the challenges being faced by the youth in accessing remunerative employment and fulfilling their aspirations.
  • Demographic Disaster: There is a need to tap the energy of the youth by creating employment opportunities and upgrading their skills. Otherwise, it would be difficult to contain the frustration of youth, which might manifest itself in myriad ways including creating a disturbance in the law and order situation in the country.
  • Demand-Supply Mismatch: India suffers from the dual challenge of deficit of skilled workers as well as unemployment caused by the shortage of skill enhancement opportunities. This means that on one hand, the industry is suffering from the shortage of skilled manpower and not operating at its maximum potential. While, at the same time, youth is facing an existential crisis as they are unable to land a suitable job opportunity. This points to the importance of the skill development paradigm in the country.


Government Efforts to improve the skilling scenario

  • Institutional Structure:
    • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship: With an aim to provide overarching guidance to the skill development institutions and instilling a sense of urgency, a new ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship was created in 2014. It will coordinate with different ministries like the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Industry to set uniform standards and streamline the working of organizations working for skill development.
    • National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship: The policy was formulated in 2015. The aim of the policy is to improve the skill ecosystem in India by aligning the requirements of the industry to the skill development curriculum applicable across the universities and institutions in the country. Also, it seeks to align the present institutional structure to the skill development efforts of the government.
    • National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC): It works under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to provide viability Gap Funding to the private sector institutions working in the area of skill development. This is an important intervention as the unemployed workers cannot spend huge sums of money on upskilling or reskilling themselves. Therefore, the government needs to step in to perform the funding in the interest of creating a better valued human resource.
  • National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF): It was formulated in 2013. It seeks to organize the qualifications in levels, based on their knowledge, skills and aptitude. The aim of the framework is to connect the existing knowledge system to the vocational education framework to ensure mobility between them. It pursues various strategies in the endeavor:
    • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): It seeks to allow the experienced professionals, already working in the market, to transition to the organized job market by formally accepting their skills.
    • Global Acceptability: Formulation of a skill framework is a global exercise, aimed to align the skill qualifications to a common standard, to ensure easy mobility of skilled workforce to any country, as per the requirement.
    • Progression pathways: Again, working in the same profile continuously can create fatigue, especially, in the absence of avenues of growth. Therefore, the NSQF seeks to identify the pathways within the sector as well as outside the sector, for a worker to encourage her towards self-improvement.
    • Formulation of Standards: Similarly, NSQF envisions the creation of a uniform set of standards across the country for ensuring the quality of service delivery as well as to ease the process of evaluation and monitoring the skill upgradation in the institutions.
  • PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana: It is a flagship scheme under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to improve the livelihood standards of the youth by skilling them with industry-relevant skills. It is implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation. The scheme has various aspects including short-term courses, Recognition of Prior Learning, Skill Certification, Kaushal and Rozgar Melas, Placement Assistance and continuous monitoring.
  • Skill Development and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP): The scheme was launched in 2018 with funding assistance from the World Bank. It focuses on decentralization in skilling initiatives by strengthening District Skill Committees. It also seeks to strengthen the institutional architecture of the skill development architecture in the country, apart from maintaining quality assurance and promoting inclusion.
  • UDAAN: The scheme is launched in Jammu and Kashmir by the National Skill Development Corporation, with funding from the Ministry of Home Affairs. It seeks to expose the educated youth of J&K (including the graduates, post-graduates and diploma holders) to corporate life. It also helps the corporate sector access the rich talent pool of the J&K youth.


Challenges to Skill Development in the Country

  • Geographical Mismatch: It is seen that the employment sector in India suffers from the side-effect of the resource curse. The resource-rich states (like Jharkhand and Odisha) suffer from the lack of opportunities and thus, are incapable of attracting talented youth from the country. On the other hand, advanced states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, by virtue of their technological prowess, are able to attract the best talent from the laggard states, perpetuating the impoverishment in latter.
  • Lack of access for the Rural youth: As per the last census, more than two-thirds of India resides in rural areas. Therefore, if the rural youth is earning well, it can potentially create huge demand helping to promote economic growth. However, due to a lack of opportunity, the rural youth is contributing very little to economic growth.
  • Inferior perception of vocational education: In India, vocational education is not considered a preferred choice of education. It is considered fit for only those students who failed to make a mark in the school. This has led to deterioration in take-up of vocational education and has hurt the prospects of the industry in terms of the creation of a vast resource pool.
  • Decentralization: There is a need to cater the courses in alignment with the local requirements of the industry. For e.g., a city like Kanpur, which specializes in producing leather products, requires professionals trained in tanning, cutting and designing leather products. This needs a shift from centralized planning to the incorporation of local inputs as per the region-specific demand.
  • Inclusion of Marginalized Sections: The Caste system has hurt Indian society by creating deep fissures within the nation. This problem is exacerbated by the lack of inclusivity in access to education for the children of lower caste, due to which their impoverishment is perpetuated. It is imperative to include the weaker sections of the society to maintain harmony in the society and for improving living standards across the spectrum of the society.
  • Inclusion of women in the work-force: No society can seek to develop fast without including half of its population in the economic growth. With an aim to make India a $5 trillion economy, there is a need to include women in the labour force. This will provide the dual benefit of more workers as well as the creation of additional work for house help, creating a virtuous cycle in the economy.



  • It is imperative to understand that India has a very limited window before it loses the opportunity created by the demographic dividend it enjoys by virtue of being a young nation. As we move forward, experience shows that the funds would need to be diverted towards the caretaking of ageing population as well as upgradation of the health infrastructure. Therefore, it is imperative that the decision-makers create opportunities for the young to upgrade their skills and harness the opportunities existing in the global market.


UPSC Previous Year Questions

  • How are the principles followed by the NITI Aayog different from those followed by the erstwhile Planning Commission in India? (GS3 – 2018)
  • The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings. (GS2 – 2015)
  • Though the federal principle is dominant in our Constitution and that principle is one of its basic features, but it is equally true that federalism under the Indian Constitution leans in favour of a strong Centre, a feature that militates against the concept of strong federalism. Discuss. (GS2 – 2014)
  • How is the Finance Commission of India constituted? What do you about the terms of reference of the recently constituted Finance Commission? Discuss. (GS2 – 2018)
  • What are the reasons for introduction of Fiscal responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) act, 2003? Discuss critically its salient features and their effectiveness. (GS3 – 2013)
  • Discussion the rationale for introducing Good and services tax in India. Bring out critically the reasons for delay in roll out for its regime. (GS3 – 2013)
  • ‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss. (GS2 – 2017)
  • The nature of economic growth in India in described as jobless growth. Do you agree with this view? Give arguments in favour of your answer. (GS3 – 2015)
  • “Success of ‘Make in India’ programme depends on the success of ‘Skill India’ programme and radical labour reforms.” Discuss with logical arguments. (GS3 – 2015)
  • While we found India’s demographic dividend, we ignore the dropping rates of employability. What are we missing while doing so? Where will the jobs that India desperately needs come from? Explain. (GS3 – 2014)
  • “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable? (GS2 – 2016)


Mains Practice Questions

  • Explain the terms Cooperative Federalism and Competitive Federalism. Also, discuss the steps taken by NITI Aayog to foster the spirit of competition among the States in the pursuit of socio-economic development.
  • COVID-induced lockdown has thrown up challenges for the fiscal sovereignty of the States and fiscal discipline of the Central government. Discuss how they are interrelated.
  • Do you think ‘One Nation, One Election’ would be beneficial for the country, despite its adverse effects on federal structure of India. Critically examine.
  • Demographic Surplus is Demographic Dividend only when it is supported by the right policies, otherwise it turns into a Demographic Disaster. Substantiate the statement with suitable arguments.