GS-3 Mains

QUESTION: Key challenges faced by India in health sector and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play crucial role in tackling covid-19 like pandemic?



  • Health disasters and air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions


  • Stalking the efforts to revive the economy in the time of pandemic are two dangers to people’s health — air pollution and greenhouse gases and a weak public health system.


Association between pollution levels and death rates

Associated casualties worldwide:

  • Globally some 9 million premature deaths a year are associated with air pollutants, such as fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5.
  • The avoided number of early deaths from dirty air quality in recent months in China is estimated to have exceeded the number of those who have died from COVID-19.
  • For instance, In Europe, 11,000 air-pollution related deaths were estimated to have been averted since the start of lockdowns.

 Link between air pollution and COVID-19 infection rates :

  • This link has been observed in New York City and the northern provinces of Italy.
  • Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu, in the top tier of pollution concentration, have also seen high COVID-19 associated deaths and infections per thousand people.


  • 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. The air in Ghaziabad, Delhi, and Noida is particularly hazardous.
  • In 2019, a public health emergency was declared as post-Diwali New Delhi’s air quality index approached 500, the “severe-plus emergency” category.
  • India is ranked as the world’s fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.


  • Locust swarms in Jaipur and Gurugram have been linked to climate change.
  • Emergence of diseases
  • Evidence is also emerging on a link between global warming and the emergence of diseases.
  • Mosquito-borne diseases in our country have been connected to global warming through both increased rainfall and heatwaves.
  • Despite the plunge during the lockdown, atmospheric carbon emissions are a record high because of past accumulation.


  • It is a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • The GHS Index is the first comprehensive assessment and bench marking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).
  • The GHS Index assesses countries’ health security and capabilities across six categories, 34 indicators, and 85 sub-indicators. The six categories are as follow:
  • Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens.
  • Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern.
  • Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic.
  • Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers.
  • Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms.
  • Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats.
  • According to Global Health Security (GHS) Index,2019 India is ranked 57th with a score of 46.5, falling in the middle tier.


 Reducing emissions from the transport sector :

  • Cities such as Delhi, which is set to overtake Tokyo as the most populous city by 2030, needs to deal with transport, responsible for two-fifth of the PM 2.5 in the skies.
  • Reforms should encourage public transportation in place of the 10 million vehicles, expand electric vehicles, and provide inter connectivity between the metro and buses.

Building a stronger public health system :

  • Emission reduction needs to be complemented by a stronger public health system.
  • Currently, government spending on health is just 1.6% of GDP.
  • India also fails the test of readiness for health disasters, according to the 2019 Global Health Security Index.



GS-3 Mains

QUESTION : Invaluable contribution of PC Mahalanobis in Indian Planning and establishing National Statistical System.Discuss.



  • Mahalanobis and his relevance


  • Mahalanobis is perhaps more relevant today when the accuracy of different sorts of data — from economic data to COVID-19 data — is under the scanner.


  • Starting from the first area sample in the whole world for jute forecast in 1934, Mahalanobis built up a strong and trustworthy statistical heritage in India.
  • Mahalanobis envisaged large-scale sample surveys as statistical engineering rather than pure theory of sampling.


  • Mahalanobis also known as India’s ‘Plan Man’, conducted a large-scale sample survey of Bengal’s famine-ravaged villages.
  • The period of analysis was between July 1944 and February 1945 for causal analysis, and to assess the extent of the disaster and an estimate of the number of people affected.


  • It showed that one-fourth of the number of families (1.5 million people) who had owned rice land before the famine had either sold in full or in part their rice land or had mortgaged it.
  • The survey also showed that the economic position of nearly four million people deteriorated during the famine.
  • Economic disparities became further accentuated during the famine.

 Relevance of such data in the content of COVID-19 pandemic

  • Mahalanobis is certainly more relevant today when the accuracy of different sorts of data from economic data to COVID-19 data is the need of the hour.
  • Bengal’s famine survey reminds us that we need estimates of the millions who will lose jobs or livelihoods and of the hundreds of millions whose economic conditions will deteriorate in today’s COVID-19-hit India.

 CONTRIBUTIONS BY Prof. PC Mahalanobis

  • He is known for his invaluable contribution
  • In the fields of economic planning and statistical development in the post-independent era
  • And in establishing the National Statistical System.



  • He became the 1st Indian statistician to receive world recognition and is called as Father of Indian Statistics.
  • Laid the foundation of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI): At Kolkata in 1931, which was declared an autonomous “Institute of National Importance” through an act of Parliament in 1959. ISI celebrates 29th June as the Worker Day.
  • In 1936, Mahanalobis introduced a statistical measure called Mahalanobis distance, widely used in cluster analysis and classification techniques for which he is widely known.
  • He was instrumental in establishing the National Sample Survey (NSS) in 1950 and the Central Statistical Organization in 1951.
  • He was also instrumental in formulating India’s second five-year-plan (1956-1961), which laid the blueprint for industrialisation and development in India.
  • Mahalanobis’ birth anniversary is celebrated as the National Statistics Day.
  • Interpenetrating Network of Subsamples: The desire to have built-in cross-checks and to get an estimate of errors in sampling led him to introduce the Inter-Penetrating Network of Subsamples.


Using technology:

  • It is clear that given the spread and nature of pandemic, conducting household surveys with no error margin will be a difficult task. However, various technological tools can be helpful in this area
  • Even Mahalanobis never shied away from technology, whether in bringing statistical technology through volumes of Biometrika in his voyage from England, or even bringing computers to India.
  • The Mahalanobis-led Indian Statistical Institute procured India’s first computer in 1956 and the second in 1959.

 Minimizing the errors in data collection

  • Cross-checking by an independent set of agents for data collection can be done so that more accurate data can be collected.

System of data-based policy making

  • According to Mahalanobis “Statistics are a minor detail, but they do help.” This is an eternal truth.
  • Therefore, the need of the hour is listening to the heartbeats of data and for framing data-based policy decisions for human welfare and national development.

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