Current Affair



1. Context
Days after former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif admitted that Islamabad had “violated” the Lahore pact, India recently said an “objective view” was emerging on the issue in Pakistan.
2. About Lahore Declaration

The Lahore Declaration is a bilateral agreement and a pivotal diplomatic document between India and Pakistan, aimed at de-escalating nuclear tensions and promoting peace in the region. It was signed on February 21, 1999, during a historic summit between the then Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively.

Key Points of the Lahore Declaration

  • Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter and the Shimla Agreement, and their determination to implement the Simla Agreement in letter and spirit.
  • India and Pakistan underscored the need to prevent conflict and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They agreed to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and to improve communication to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.
  • The declaration emphasized the need for additional confidence-building measures (CBMs) to foster a climate of trust and mutual understanding. This includes prior notification of ballistic missile tests and enhancing the exchange of information on military exercises.
  • Both sides agreed to encourage more people-to-people contact and promote friendly exchanges in various fields, including cultural, scientific, and educational exchanges, which can play a crucial role in building goodwill.
  • The declaration included a mutual commitment to resolve all outstanding issues, including the contentious Kashmir issue, through peaceful means and a bilateral dialogue.
Context and Significance
  • The Lahore Declaration came shortly after both countries had conducted nuclear tests in 1998, which significantly raised regional and international concerns about the potential for nuclear conflict in South Asia.
  • The declaration was seen as a significant diplomatic breakthrough and a rare moment of warmth in the often fraught relations between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore by bus was symbolically important and was meant to signal a desire for a fresh start in bilateral relations.
  • Despite the positive momentum created by the Lahore Declaration, subsequent events, such as the Kargil War in mid-1999 and the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, strained relations again. However, the declaration remains an important reference point in the history of Indo-Pak relations, symbolizing the potential for dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes.
3. History of India-Pakistan bilateral relations

India and Pakistan share a complex and often turbulent history of bilateral relations, marked by periods of conflict, attempted peace initiatives, and ongoing efforts to resolve deep-seated issues. 

Pre-Independence and Partition (Before 1947)

  • Both India and Pakistan were part of British India until 1947. Tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities grew, culminating in demands for separate nations.
  • The British Indian Empire was divided into two independent dominions, India and Pakistan, based on religious lines. The partition led to massive population exchanges, communal violence, and the displacement of millions.
Early Conflicts and Wars (1947-1971)
  • Shortly after independence, the First Indo-Pak War (1947-1948) war broke out over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. A UN-mediated ceasefire established the Line of Control (LoC), but the region remained disputed.
  • Another major conflict erupted over Kashmir, leading to the Second Indo-Pak War (1965). The Tashkent Agreement, mediated by the Soviet Union, resulted in a ceasefire and the return to pre-war boundaries.
  •  Political and civil unrest in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) led to the Bangladesh Liberation War (1971) between India and Pakistan. India’s military intervention supported the independence movement in East Pakistan, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh.
Efforts at Normalization and Continued Tensions (1972-1989)
  • In the aftermath of the 1971 war, Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi of India and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement (1972), agreeing to resolve issues through bilateral negotiations and maintaining the sanctity of the LoC in Kashmir.
  • Military skirmishes began in 1984 over the Siachen Glacier in the northern part of Kashmir, leading to a prolonged and costly conflict at high altitudes.
Nuclearization and Peace Initiatives (1990-2001)
  • Both countries conducted nuclear tests, India in May 1998 and Pakistan shortly thereafter, leading to international concerns about nuclear conflict in South Asia.
  • Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif signed the Lahore Declaration in 1999, aiming to reduce nuclear risks and promote peace. However, this was soon overshadowed by the Kargil War.
  • Pakistani soldiers and militants infiltrated the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to a limited war in 1999. India regained the territory, but relations soured significantly.
  • An attempt to resolve differences through dialogue occurred at the Agra Summit in 2001, but it ended without a concrete agreement.
Terrorism and Diplomatic Fluctuations
  • A terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, attributed to Pakistan-based groups, brought the two countries to the brink of war.
  • A series of bilateral talks were held to address various issues, including terrorism, trade, and Kashmir. Some progress was made, but the process was disrupted by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • Coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai, carried out by militants from Pakistan, led to a severe diplomatic crisis. India suspended the dialogue process, demanding action against the perpetrators.
Recent Developments (2010-Present)
  • Terrorist attacks on Indian military bases (Pathankot and Uri Attacks) in 2016 further strained relations. India conducted surgical strikes across the LoC in response to the Uri attack.
  • A major terrorist attack in Pulwama, Kashmir, killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. India responded with an airstrike on a militant camp in Balakot, Pakistan, leading to aerial skirmishes.
  • India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370) further escalated tensions, with Pakistan strongly opposing the move and downgrading diplomatic ties.
Ongoing Challenges and Dialogue
  • Despite periods of heightened tension, both nations have occasionally reaffirmed ceasefire agreements along the LoC.
  • Various backchannel and Track II diplomacy efforts continue to seek avenues for improving relations, though substantive breakthroughs remain elusive.

4. What was the Kargil conflict?


The Kargil conflict, also known as the Kargil War, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir, along the Line of Control (LoC). 

Causes and Planning

  • The primary motive for Pakistan's incursion was to disrupt the lifeline of the Indian military in Siachen and to internationalize the Kashmir issue by bringing it back into focus. By occupying high-altitude positions, Pakistan aimed to sever the link between Ladakh and Kashmir and force India to negotiate.
  • Pakistani soldiers and militants, disguised as insurgents, infiltrated across the LoC into the Indian side in the Kargil sector. They occupied strategic peaks and ridges, from where they could dominate the vital National Highway 1A, which connects Srinagar to Leh.
Key Events and Phases
  • The infiltration was discovered in early May 1999 when local shepherds reported unusual activity. The Indian Army initially thought the infiltrators were militants, but later realized that the intruders were well-equipped regular Pakistani soldiers and well-trained militants.
  •  India launched Operation Vijay to evict the intruders. The operation involved mobilizing a large number of troops and using artillery, air power, and infantry assaults to dislodge the Pakistani forces from the high-altitude positions they had occupied.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted air strikes against the infiltrators, marking the first time since the 1971 war that air power was used in the region. The IAF faced significant challenges due to the high-altitude terrain and the need to avoid crossing the LoC to prevent escalation.
  • Fierce ground battles were fought at high altitudes, often over 16,000 feet, in extremely harsh conditions. Key battles took place at points such as Tololing, Tiger Hill, and Batalik, where Indian forces faced well-entrenched Pakistani positions.
By the end of July 1999, Indian forces had successfully recaptured most of the positions, and the remaining Pakistani soldiers and militants withdrew.
5. What was Operation Shakti?

Operation Shakti was the codename for a series of nuclear tests conducted by India in May 1998. These tests marked India's second entry into the group of declared nuclear-armed states, following its first nuclear test in 1974, which was codenamed "Smiling Buddha."

Key Details

  • The tests were conducted on May 11 and May 13, 1998. The tests took place at the Pokhran Test Range in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India.  India conducted five underground nuclear tests as part of Operation Shakti.
  • Three tests were performed on  May 11, 1998. These included a thermonuclear device (or hydrogen bomb), a fission bomb, and a sub-kiloton device. Two additional sub-kiloton nuclear tests were conducted.
  • The yield of the tests was a subject of international debate. The Indian government claimed the total yield to be around 45 kilotons, with the thermonuclear device contributing about 43 kilotons. However, some external analysts have questioned these figures, suggesting the yields may have been lower.
Objectives and Rationale
  • The primary objective was to establish a credible nuclear deterrent. India sought to enhance its security in the face of perceived threats from neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan and China, both of which had nuclear capabilities.
  • The tests were also aimed at demonstrating India's advanced nuclear technology and capability, showcasing both fission and thermonuclear devices.
  • By conducting these tests, India aimed to assert its strategic autonomy and decision-making independence in the international arena.
Domestic and International Reactions
  • The tests were widely supported within India and boosted national pride. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the success of the tests, emphasizing India's right to safeguard its national security.
  • The tests drew strong reactions from the international community:
    • The United States, Japan, and several other countries imposed economic and military sanctions on India in response to the tests.
    • There was widespread condemnation from countries advocating non-proliferation. The United Nations and various international bodies expressed concerns about the potential arms race in South Asia.
    • Pakistan conducted its own series of nuclear tests, known as Chagai-I, on May 28, 1998, to demonstrate its nuclear capability and maintain strategic balance in the region.
Legacy and Impact
  • Following the tests, India declared a "No First Use" (NFU) policy and committed to developing a credible minimum deterrent. India’s nuclear doctrine emphasized deterrence and the defensive nature of its nuclear arsenal.
  • Operation Shakti confirmed India's status as a nuclear-armed state, leading to a shift in its strategic posture and defence policy.
  • The tests reignited debates on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, with India arguing for a more equitable global nuclear order and criticizing the discriminatory nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
6. The areas of cooperation and conflict between India and Pakistan
Areas of Conflict
  • The primary source of conflict is the territorial dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. Both countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it. This has led to several wars (1947-48, 1965, 1971, and 1999 Kargil War) and continuous skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC).
  • India accuses Pakistan of supporting and harbouring terrorist groups that carry out attacks in India, such as the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attack, and the 2016 Pathankot attack. Persistent issues of infiltration by militants from Pakistan into Indian-administered Kashmir.
  • Both countries’ nuclear tests in 1998 exacerbated tensions, leading to a regional arms race. The development of nuclear arsenals and delivery systems on both sides adds a layer of strategic threat and instability.
  • Both countries often clash in international forums, including the United Nations, over various issues, particularly Kashmir. Periodic downgrades in diplomatic ties and the expulsion of diplomats following terrorist attacks or military skirmishes.
  • Ongoing military standoff on the Siachen Glacier, one of the highest battlegrounds in the world. Dispute over the demarcation of the boundary in the Sir Creek area in the Rann of Kutch.

Areas of Cooperation

  • Establishment of hotlines between military commanders to prevent misunderstandings and manage crises. Agreements to cease hostilities along the LoC, though these are often violated.
  •  There have been periods where both countries have allowed trade across the LoC and through specific routes. Despite restrictions, there are sectors where trade continues, albeit limited.
  • Indus Waters Treaty (1960) A long-standing agreement mediated by the World Bank that governs the distribution of the waters of the Indus River system. Despite conflicts, both countries have largely adhered to this treaty.
  • Facilitation of pilgrimages for religious devotees, such as Sikh pilgrims visiting holy sites in Pakistan and vice versa. Instances of collaboration in sports (cricket, hockey) and cultural exchanges in music, literature, and film.
  • Instances of cooperation during natural disasters, such as earthquakes, where both countries have offered assistance.
  • Participation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) initiatives, which aim to promote regional cooperation in various fields, including economic, technical, and cultural areas.
7. Way Forward

Building a peaceful and cooperative relationship between India and Pakistan requires sustained effort, trust-building, and addressing core issues through dialogue. By reinforcing confidence-building measures, enhancing diplomatic engagement, boosting trade, fostering people-to-people contact, and collaborating on shared challenges, both countries can work towards a more stable and prosperous future. The legacy of the Lahore Declaration and other peace initiatives can serve as a foundation for these efforts.

For Prelims: India-Pakistan, Lahore Declaration, Indus War Treaty, Terrorism, Kargil war, Bangladesh Liberation War, Sachin Glacier, SAARC, Line of Actual Control, Nuclear Non-Profilation Treaty, Article 370  
For Mains: 
1. Critically analyze Operation Shakti and its impact on India's nuclear doctrine and regional security dynamics. How did the international community react to India's nuclear tests, and what were the broader implications of these tests on global non-proliferation efforts? (250 Words)
2. Examine the role of external factors, such as terrorism and international diplomacy, in influencing India-Pakistan relations. How have events like the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir impacted bilateral ties and regional stability?  (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Significance of Lahore Resolution (1940) of the Muslim League was (WBCS Prelims 2018)
A. To cooperate with National Congress
B. To create a constitution for the Muslim League
C. To cooperate with the British
D. Pakistan resolution was taken
2. Features of the Government of India Act 1935 are: (Rajasthan Police SI 2016)
(a) The provincial autonomy
(b) The establishment of Federal Court
(c) The establishment of All India Federation at the Centre
A. a and b       B.  b and c       C. a and c         D. a, b and c
3. The All India Muslim League was founded in 1906 at: (SSC MTS 2021) 
A. Lahore          B. Bombay       C.  Lucknow         D. Dacca
4. All India Muslim League was founded in the year (MPPSC 2014)
A. 1905          B. 1904        C. 1907       D. 1906

5. When did the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir come into force? (UPSC CAPF 2016)

A.26th January 1957

B. 15th August 1947

C. 25th July 1956

D.14th November 1947

6. State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir can confer special rights and privileges on permanent residents of J and K with respect to - (MPSC 2019)

Find the correct options below.

(a) Employment under State Government

(b) Settlement in the state

(c) Acquisition of immovable property

(d) Right to Scholarship

(e) Right to entry into heritage sites

A.  (a), (b), (c), (d), (e)     B. (a), (b), (c), (d)        C. (a), (b), (c)            D. (a), (b)

Answers: 1-D, 2-D, 3-D, 4-D, 5-A, 6-B

1. Analyse the circumstances that led to the Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the Agreement. ( UPSC 2013)
Source: The Indian Express


1. Context
Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) at Thonnakkal here have developed a novel way of generating non-infectious Nipah virus-like particles (VLPs) in the laboratory, which mimic the wild-type Nipah Virus (NiV)
2. Nipah Virus
  • Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus that can spread between animals and people.
  • The natural host of NiV is fruit bats, also known as flying foxes.
  • NiV can also infect pigs and people
  • NiV infection can cause a range of illnesses, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. The case fatality rate for NiV infection is estimated to be between 40% and 75%
  • The symptoms of NiV infection typically appear 4-14 days after exposure to the virus. The initial symptoms are similar to those of the flu, including fever, headache, and cough.
  • In severe cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain. Encephalitis can lead to coma and death.
  • NiV can be transmitted from animals to people through contact with infected saliva, urine, or other bodily fluids.
  • It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated food or water. Person-to-person transmission of NiV is possible, but it is rare.
  • Nipah virus outbreaks have been reported in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, and Singapore.
  • The virus has caused sporadic outbreaks, with varying levels of severity
Nipah Virus — The Jenner Institute
  • The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999).
  • The virus takes its name from the village in Malaysia where the person in whom the virus was first isolated died of the disease.
  • The transmission from animals happens mainly through consumption of contaminated food. According to the CDC, transmission can happen due to consumption of raw date palm sap or fruit that has been contaminated with saliva or urine from infected bats.
  • Some cases of NiV [Nipah] infection have also been reported among people who climb trees where bats often roost.
  • The animal host reservoir for this virus is known to be the fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox.
  • Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep
  • Humans get infected mainly through direct contact with these animals, or through consumption of food contaminated by saliva or urine of these infected animals
  • Since it was first identified in 1998-99, there have been multiple outbreaks of the Nipah virus, all of them in South and Southeast Asian nations. In Bangladesh, there have been at least 10 outbreaks since 2001.
    In India, West Bengal had seen an outbreak in 2001 and 2007, while Kerala had reported several cases in 2018, and isolated cases in 2019 and 2021.
4. Zoonotic diseases

Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. These diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, and they pose a significant public health concern worldwide. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with infected animals, their secretions, or contaminated environments. Some common examples of zoonotic diseases include:

  1. Influenza: Various strains of influenza viruses can infect both animals and humans. Influenza viruses can undergo genetic changes, leading to new strains that have the potential to cause pandemics.

  2. Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that primarily affects mammals, including bats, dogs, and raccoons. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

  3. Salmonellosis: Caused by the bacterium Salmonella, this disease is often associated with contaminated food products, particularly those of animal origin such as poultry and eggs.

  4. Lyme Disease: Transmitted by ticks, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is commonly found in wildlife, particularly deer. Humans can become infected when bitten by an infected tick.

  5. West Nile Virus: This mosquito-borne virus primarily circulates among birds but can be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, leading to fever and, in some cases, severe neurological complications.

  6. E. coli Infections: Certain strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans. Contaminated food and water, as well as contact with infected animals, can lead to E. coli infections.

  7. HIV/AIDS: While the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is primarily transmitted among humans, it is believed to have originated from the transfer of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) from non-human primates to humans, making it a zoonotic disease.

  8. COVID-19: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is believed to have originated in bats and was likely transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host, highlighting the zoonotic nature of the virus.

5. Way forward
Nipah virus is considered a serious public health concern due to its high mortality rate, the potential for person-to-person transmission, and the lack of specific treatments or vaccines. Surveillance and research efforts are ongoing to better understand and combat this virus. It's essential to stay updated on the latest information and follow public health guidelines if you live in or travel to regions where Nipah virus is known to be present.
For Prelims: Viruses, Bacteria, Immunity, Vaccine types
For Mains: 1.Discuss the challenges in controlling viral diseases and the strategies employed by governments and international organizations in addressing viral epidemics. Highlight the lessons learned from recent viral outbreaks
2.Analyze the global problem of antibiotic resistance and its implications for healthcare. Suggest policy measures and interventions to combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Previous Year Questions
1.Viruses can affect (UPSC CSE 2016)
2. Fungi
3. Plants
Select the correct code with the following code
A.1 and 2 only
B. 3 Only
C. 1 and 3
D. 1, 2, 3
Answer (D)
2. Which of the following statements is/ are correct? (UPSC CSE 2013)
1. Viruses lack enzymes necessary for the generation of energy
2.Viruses can be cultured in any synthetic medium
3.Viruses are transmitted from one organism to another by biological vectors only 
Select the correct answer using the code given below
A. 1 Only
B. 2 and 3
C. 1 and 3
D. 1, 2, 3
Answer (A)
Source: indianexpress


1. Context
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Hunga Tonga for short) erupted on January 15, 2022, in the Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. It created a tsunami, which triggered warnings across the entire Pacific basin, and sent sound waves around the globe multiple times
2. Merapi volcano in West Sumatra and “Ring of Fire”
  • The Marapi volcano, located in West Sumatra, Indonesia, is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped area in the Pacific Ocean basin where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. It's characterized by active tectonic plate boundaries, including subduction zones, where one tectonic plate is forced beneath another.
  • Marapi is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and stands about 2,891 meters (9,485 feet) tall. It's situated near the city of Bukittinggi and has a history of frequent eruptions. While some of its eruptions have been relatively small and non-explosive, it has occasionally produced more significant eruptions with ash plumes and pyroclastic flows.
  • The region surrounding Marapi and much of Indonesia, in general, is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire due to the complex tectonic activity in the area. The Indo-Australian Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate, leading to seismic and volcanic activity along the Sumatran Fault and other associated fault lines.
  • The Pacific Ring of Fire is known for its high seismic and volcanic activity, housing a majority of the world's active volcanoes and experiencing a large number of earthquakes. This area's geological dynamics make it prone to geological hazards, but it also provides valuable insights into plate tectonics and volcanic activity for scientific research

Plate Tectonics and the Ring of Fire

3. Volcanoes and Volcanic Landforms

Volcanoes are natural features on Earth's surface that form when magma (molten rock beneath the Earth's crust) erupts through openings or vents. The erupted materials, including lava, ash, gases, and pyroclastic flows, accumulate around the vent, building up and forming various volcanic landforms. Here are some key volcanic landforms:

Shield Volcanoes: These are broad, gently sloping volcanoes characterized by their low viscosity lava, which flows easily. They're built up by numerous eruptions of thin, runny lava. Examples include Mauna Loa in Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands' volcanoes.

Stratovolcanoes (Composite Volcanoes): These are steep-sided, conical volcanoes built by multiple layers of lava, ash, and volcanic rocks. They are often associated with explosive eruptions due to their viscous lava. Famous examples include Mount St. Helens in the United States, Mount Fuji in Japan, and Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

Cinder Cone Volcanoes: These are small, steep-sided volcanoes formed from ejected lava fragments that pile up around the vent. They usually have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit. Paricutin in Mexico is a well-known cinder cone volcano.

Calderas: These are large, basin-shaped depressions formed after massive eruptions, where the volcano's summit collapses into the emptied magma chamber. Crater Lake in Oregon, USA, is a prime example of a caldera.

Lava Plateaus: These are vast flat areas created by successive lava flows that cover large areas of land. The Deccan Plateau in India and the Columbia River Plateau in the United States are examples of lava plateaus.

Volcanic Islands: Many islands around the world, like Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines, were formed by volcanic activity. These islands were created as volcanoes erupted underwater and gradually built up above sea level.

Volcanic Craters: Formed at the summit of some volcanoes, these bowl-shaped depressions are created either by explosions or the collapse of the volcano's summit following an eruption.

Volcanic landforms vary based on factors like the type of eruption, the composition of the lava, and the frequency of eruptions. They contribute significantly to the Earth's landscape and often provide fertile soils and valuable resources, while also posing risks to nearby populations due to potential eruptions and associated hazards

4. Types of Volcanoes

Volcanoes - Exploring Extreme Environments

Volcanoes come in various types, each formed by different eruptive processes and materials. Here are the main types of volcanoes:

Shield Volcanoes: These volcanoes have broad, gentle slopes due to the relatively fluid lava (low viscosity) they produce. Eruptions from shield volcanoes tend to be non-explosive and result in the flowing of lava over large distances. Examples include Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Stratovolcanoes (Composite Volcanoes): Stratovolcanoes are tall, steep-sided cones formed by alternating layers of lava, ash, and volcanic rocks. They often produce explosive eruptions due to the higher viscosity of their lava. Mount St. Helens in the United States and Mount Fuji in Japan are examples of stratovolcanoes.

Cinder Cone Volcanoes: These small, steep-sided volcanoes are formed from the accumulation of pyroclastic material (such as ash, cinders, and volcanic rocks) ejected during eruptions. They usually have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit. Paricutin in Mexico is a famous cinder cone volcano.

Lava Domes: Lava domes are created by the slow extrusion of highly viscous lava. They form rounded mounds often found within the craters of larger volcanoes. Lava domes, such as Mount St. Helens' post-eruption dome, can be highly unstable and prone to collapse.

Complex Volcanoes: These are composite volcanoes that exhibit multiple vents and overlapping cones. They're formed by the accumulation of materials from various eruptions over time. Mount Rainier in the United States is an example of a complex volcano.

Submarine Volcanoes: Found underwater, these volcanoes create seamounts or volcanic islands. They can form chains, like the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, as tectonic plates move over hotspots beneath the Earth's crust.

Supervolcanoes: These are rare but extremely powerful volcanoes capable of producing colossal eruptions. They form immense calderas after catastrophic explosions that empty the magma chamber. Yellowstone Caldera in the United States is an example of a supervolcano

5. Relation among Plate Tectonics, Volcanoes and Earthquake 

Plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes are interconnected and are all part of the Earth's dynamic processes.

7 Major Tectonic Plates: The World's Largest Plate Tectonics - Earth How

Plate Tectonics: The Earth's lithosphere (the outermost layer) is divided into several large and small plates that float on the semi-fluid asthenosphere beneath them. These plates are in constant motion, driven by forces like mantle convection, and this movement is known as plate tectonics.

Volcanoes: Volcanoes are closely associated with plate boundaries, where tectonic plates interact. There are three primary types of plate boundaries:

    • Divergent Boundaries: At divergent boundaries, plates move away from each other. Magma from the mantle rises to fill the gap, solidifies, and creates new crust. This process forms mid-ocean ridges, where underwater volcanoes and volcanic activity occur.

    • Convergent Boundaries: At convergent boundaries, plates move toward each other. When an oceanic plate collides with a continental plate or another oceanic plate, the denser oceanic plate sinks beneath the lighter plate in a process called subduction. The sinking plate melts as it descends into the mantle, leading to the formation of magma that rises to the surface, resulting in explosive volcanoes. Examples include the Andes and the Cascades.

    • Transform Boundaries: At transform boundaries, plates slide past each other horizontally. While these boundaries are not associated with volcanic activity directly, the stress buildup and release along these boundaries often cause earthquakes.

Earthquakes: Earthquakes occur due to the movement and release of stress along faults, which are fractures in the Earth's crust. Tectonic plate movements generate enormous amounts of energy that cause the Earth's crust to crack along these faults, resulting in seismic waves, or vibrations, that we feel as earthquakes.

Thus, the movement and interaction of tectonic plates at plate boundaries create conditions conducive to both volcanic eruptions and seismic activity (earthquakes). The locations and types of volcanoes and earthquakes are influenced by the specific plate boundary and the nature of the plate movement at that boundary. Overall, plate tectonics serve as the underlying mechanism that connects the occurrence of volcanoes and earthquakes on Earth

6. How can volcanic eruptions affect the environment and natural ecosystem?

Volcanic eruptions can have significant impacts on the environment and natural ecosystems in several ways:

Air Quality: Eruptions release gases such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and others. These gases can contribute to air pollution, leading to acid rain formation, smog, and the potential for respiratory issues in humans and animals.

Climate Effects: Volcanic ash and gases can reach the upper atmosphere, where sulfur dioxide reacts with water vapor to form sulfuric acid aerosols. These aerosols can reflect sunlight, leading to a cooling effect on the Earth's surface. However, this effect is temporary and can be followed by a period of warming due to greenhouse gases emitted during the eruption.

Ash Fallout: Volcanic ash can blanket large areas, affecting vegetation by blocking sunlight, damaging crops, and contaminating water sources. Heavy ashfall can collapse roofs, disrupt transportation, and damage infrastructure.

Lahars and Mudflows: Eruptions can melt snow and ice on a volcano's slopes, generating lahars (volcanic mudflows) that carry debris, ash, and rocks downslope, potentially devastating nearby communities and ecosystems.

Ecosystem Disturbance: Volcanic eruptions can destroy habitats, vegetation, and animal populations. However, some ecosystems are adapted to volcanic activity and may even benefit from the nutrient-rich volcanic soils that support new growth over time.

Water Contamination: Ash and volcanic materials can contaminate water sources, affecting aquatic life and making water unsafe for consumption.

Global Effects: Major volcanic eruptions, especially so-called "supervolcano" eruptions, can release vast amounts of ash and gases into the atmosphere, potentially leading to short-term global climate effects, including temperature drops and altered weather patterns

For Prelims: Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World
For Mains: General Studies I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
Source: The Hindu


1. Context
Rahul Gandhi’s statements regarding redistribution — and the polarising rebuttal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — have brought the topic of inequality to the forefront. Researchers from the Paris School of Economics have shown inequality in modern India to be greater than in colonial times.
2. Monopoly Power and Consumption
  • Billionaires accumulate their wealth through monopolistic practices. Their businesses hold dominant positions in their respective markets, enabling them to set prices independently rather than allowing market forces to dictate them.
  • The degree of price mark-up over production costs is a reflection of their monopolistic power. Consequently, for any given level of nominal wages, real wages—indicating purchasing power—are lower in economies with strong monopolistic influences.
  • Currently, these monopoly dynamics are manifesting as cost-of-living crises in developed economies. The term "greedflation" describes companies raising prices to boost profit margins amid various demand-and-supply disruptions caused by the pandemic.
  • This practice has been cited as a factor contributing to high inflation rates in Western countries.
  • Economic theory indicates that monopolies produce less output than competitive markets, resulting in a welfare loss. Therefore, monopolies can lead to reduced real wages, output, and investment
3. Inequality and Growth
  • Imagine a company decides to establish a new factory. Before this new capital asset is completed, wages are paid to workers involved in its construction.
  • These workers then spend their income on goods, which boosts the income of the goods-sellers.
  • These sellers, in turn, use their increased income to buy more goods, and this cycle continues.
  • As a result, the total increase in income for workers and goods-sellers exceeds the initial investment. This phenomenon is known as the ‘multiplier’ effect, where investment increases overall income by more than the initial amount invested.
  • However, when companies have significant market power, they can set higher mark-ups and prices.
  • This results in lower real wages for workers, who can afford fewer items. Despite selling fewer goods, companies still achieve high profits due to their increased margins. In a monopolistic market, the boost in income from a given investment is less significant because consumers have reduced purchasing power.
  • Consequently, investment has a diminished impact on economic growth under monopoly conditions, while company profits remain unaffected.
  • One might argue that consumption by the wealthy could stimulate growth. Although the rich consume more in absolute terms, they spend a smaller portion of their income. The multiplier effect relies on the proportion of income spent on consumption.
  • In an unequal economy, less income is in the hands of those more likely to spend it, resulting in weaker economic expansion
4.Redistribution and Growth
  • Some contend that the "cure" of wealth redistribution might be more damaging than the issue of inequality itself, as it could negatively impact job creation. They argue that high tax rates would reduce entrepreneurs' incentives to accumulate wealth, leading to a decrease in investment and job opportunities.
  • It's important to differentiate between wealth and profits. Investment is driven by expectations of future profits, while wealth represents accumulated past profits.
  • According to Polish economist Michal Kalecki, taxing wealth does not impact investment since it does not alter future profit expectations.
  • For instance, taxing Gautam Adani's wealth would not affect investments in airports, as these are based on the demand for air travel, which is independent of his wealth's value.
  • Certainly, making it harder to convert profits into wealth might discourage some business owners from investing.
  • However, in an economy with high profit expectations, businesses will continue to invest even if wealth is taxed.
  • Redistribution can stimulate growth even if some billionaires reduce their investments. For example, if wealth redistribution increases income, the multiplier effect would strengthen, encouraging businesses to invest where purchasing power is robust. Additionally, reducing monopolies would lower prices and increase real wages, boosting demand.
  • Consider Thomas Piketty's proposal to tax billionaire wealth and provide a basic income. While this might cause some to leave the economy, it could also foster a new class of entrepreneurs able to start businesses without needing to work for wages.
  • Redistribution is not a cure-all, and excessively high tax rates could harm the economy. However, when combined with other policy measures, reducing inequality can contribute to a healthier economy
5. Way Forward
The relationship between inequality and economic growth is context-dependent. While some inequality may incentivize economic activity, excessive inequality can hinder growth by reducing consumption, limiting access to education and healthcare, and causing social and political instability. Effective policies that balance the need for incentives with the benefits of equitable income distribution are essential for fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth
Source: The Hindu


1. Context
With hours left for the counting of votes to usher in the next Union government, another crucial event is lined up for the week: the bimonthly monetary policy statement, set for release on June 7 2024. With the poll results and government formation dominating headlines, the the monetary policy committee’s (MPC) decision is likely be overshadowed

Monetary policy refers to the actions and strategies undertaken by a country's central bank to control and regulate the supply of money, credit availability, and interest rates in an economy. Its primary goal is to achieve specific economic objectives, such as price stability, full employment, and sustainable economic growth.

Central banks use various tools to implement monetary policy, including:

Interest Rates: Adjusting the interest rates at which banks lend to each other (known as the federal funds rate in the United States) influences borrowing and spending in the economy.

Open Market Operations: Buying or selling government securities in the open market to regulate the money supply. When a central bank buys securities, it injects money into the system, and when it sells them, it reduces the money supply.

Reserve Requirements: Mandating the amount of reserves banks must hold, affecting their ability to lend money.

By influencing the availability and cost of money, central banks aim to stabilize prices, control inflation, encourage or discourage borrowing and spending, and promote economic growth. However, the effectiveness of monetary policy can be influenced by various factors such as global economic conditions, fiscal policies, and market expectations.

3.What is the primary objective of the monetary policy?

The primary objective of monetary policy typically revolves around maintaining price stability or controlling inflation within an economy. Central banks often set an inflation target, aiming to keep it at a moderate and steady level. Stable prices help in fostering confidence in the economy, encouraging investment, and ensuring that the value of money remains relatively constant over time.

However, while controlling inflation is often the primary goal, central banks might also consider other objectives, such as:

Full Employment: Some central banks have a secondary objective of supporting maximum employment or reducing unemployment rates.

Economic Growth: Encouraging sustainable economic growth by managing interest rates and credit availability to stimulate or cool down economic activity.

Exchange Rate Stability: In some cases, maintaining stable exchange rates might be an important consideration, especially for countries with open economies heavily reliant on international trade.

These additional objectives can vary depending on the economic conditions, priorities of the government, and the central bank's mandate. Nonetheless, ensuring price stability is typically the fundamental goal of most monetary policies, as it forms the basis for a healthy and growing economy.

4. Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • In line with the amended RBI Act, 1934, Section 45ZB grants authority to the central government to establish a six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) responsible for determining the policy interest rate aimed at achieving the inflation target.
  • The inaugural MPC was formed on September 29, 2016. Section 45ZB stipulates that "the Monetary Policy Committee will ascertain the Policy Rate necessary to meet the inflation target" and that "the decisions made by the Monetary Policy Committee will be obligatory for the Bank."
  • According to Section 45ZB, the MPC comprises the RBI Governor as the ex officio chairperson, the Deputy Governor overseeing monetary policy, a Bank official nominated by the Central Board, and three individuals appointed by the central government.
  • The individuals chosen by the central government must possess "capabilities, ethical standing, expertise, and experience in economics, banking, finance, or monetary policy" (Section 45ZC)
5.Monetary Policy Committe and Inflation
  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) plays a crucial role in managing inflation through its decisions on the policy interest rate.
  • When inflation is too high, the MPC might decide to increase the policy interest rate. This action aims to make borrowing more expensive, which can reduce spending and investment in the economy.
  • As a result, it could help decrease demand for goods and services, potentially curbing inflation.
  • Conversely, when inflation is too low or the economy needs a boost, the MPC might decrease the policy interest rate.
  • This move makes borrowing cheaper, encouraging businesses and individuals to spend and invest more, thus stimulating economic activity and potentially raising inflation closer to the target level.
  • The MPC's goal is to use the policy interest rate as a tool to steer inflation toward a target set by the government or central bank.
  • By monitoring economic indicators and assessing the current and expected inflation levels, the MPC makes informed decisions to maintain price stability within the economy
6. Way forward
With more than half of the current financial year witnessing positive developments in the economy, the full financial year should conclude as projected with a strong growth performance and macroeconomic stability. Yet risks on the downside persist. Inflation is one of them that has kept both the government and the RBI on high alert. Financial flows in the external sector also need constant monitoring as they impact the value of rupee and the balance of payments. A fuller transmission of the monetary policy may also temper domestic demand
For Prelims: Economic and Social Development
For Mains: General Studies III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Previous Year Questions
1. Consider the following statements:  (UPSC 2021)
1. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is appointed by the Central Government.
2. Certain provisions in the Constitution of India give the Central Government the right to issue directions to the RBI in the public interest.
3. The Governor of the RBI draws his natural power from the RBI Act.
Which of the above statements is/are correct? 
A. 1 and 2 only    B.  2 and 3 only     C. 1 and 3 only     D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: C
2. Concerning the Indian economy, consider the following: (UPSC 2015)
  1. Bank rate
  2. Open Market Operations
  3. Public debt
  4. Public revenue

Which of the above is/are component(s) of Monetary Policy?

(a) 1 only   (b) 2, 3 and 4    (c) 1 and 2     (d) 1, 3 and 4

Answer: C

3. An increase in Bank Rate generally indicates: (UPSC 2013)

(a) Market rate of interest is likely to fall.

(b) Central bank is no longer making loans to commercial banks.

(c) Central bank is following an easy money policy.

(d) Central bank is following a tight money policy.

Answer: (d) 

4. Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)? (UPSC 2017) 

1. It decides the RBI's benchmark interest rates.

2. It is a 12-member body including the Governor of RBI and is reconstituted every year.

3. It functions under the chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

A. 1 only      B.  1 and 2 only      C. 3 only      D. 2 and 3 only

Answer: A

Source: Indianexpress


1. Context
Taking forward the research to potentially establish a relationship between the Harappan civilisation and the people of the Vedic age, a group of archaeologists are now collaborating with Sanskrit scholars to decipher the text of the Rigveda.
2. What is Rig Veda?
  • The Rig Veda, one of the oldest and most important texts in the Hindu tradition, is a collection of ancient Indian hymns
  • The Rig Veda is one of the four Vedas, which are foundational texts in Hinduism. The other three are the Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda.
  • In Hinduism, the Rigveda is regarded as one of the four sacred Vedic texts. It was composed in an ancient form of Sanskrit around 1500 BCE in what is now the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
  • The Rigveda Samhita reflects the depth of canonical literature, consisting of nearly a thousand hymns or sūktas and thousands of poems, organized into ten mandalas or books.
  • While the Rigveda primarily contains hymns and lyrics that praise and honor various deities, it also includes philosophical and thought-provoking content that addresses contemporary societal issues.
  • The collection remains sacred and highly significant in Hindu culture, setting the standard for future religious literature. Notably, the Purusha Sukta, which discusses the origin of the caste system, is found in the Rigveda
3. Origin of Rig Veda
  • The original Rigveda texts are in the Sharada and Devanagari scripts, written on birch bark and paper. Comprising ten mandalas (books) and 1,028 hymns, the Rig Veda is the oldest known Veda.
  • Its hymns praise deities like Agni, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, and others. It includes the famous Purusha Sukta, which explains the creation of the four varnas—Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra—from the Creator's mouth, arms, thighs, and feet, respectively.
  • The Rig Veda also contains the renowned Gayatri mantra (Savitri). The exact date of the Rigveda's first written compilation is unknown, but the oldest manuscripts, discovered in Nepal, are estimated to date back to around 1040 CE
4.Classification of Rig Veda

The Rig Veda, one of the most ancient and revered texts in Hinduism, is organized in a highly structured manner. Here is a detailed classification of the Rig Veda:


  • Mandalas (Books):

    • The Rig Veda is divided into ten mandalas or books.
    • Each mandala varies in length and content, containing hymns (sūktas) that are further divided into verses (ṛc).
  • Sūktas (Hymns):

    • There are a total of 1,028 hymns in the Rig Veda.
    • These hymns are composed in praise of various deities and natural phenomena.
  • Verses (ṛc):

    • The hymns are made up of a total of about 10,600 verses.
    • Each verse follows a specific metrical pattern and rhythm.

Types of Mandalas

  • Family Books (Mandalas 2-7):

    • These are the oldest and most significant mandalas.
    • Each of these books is attributed to a particular rishi (sage) or his family, such as the Gritsamada family for Mandala 2 and the Vasishtha family for Mandala 7.
  • Mandalas 1 and 10:

    • These are the latest additions to the Rig Veda and contain a mixture of hymns from different periods and authors.
    • Mandala 1 serves as an introductory book, while Mandala 10 contains more philosophical hymns, including the Purusha Sukta and the Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn).
  • Mandalas 8 and 9:

    • Mandala 8 is diverse, containing hymns from various authors.
    • Mandala 9 is unique in that it is entirely dedicated to the Soma ritual, addressing hymns to Soma, the sacred ritual drink.

Content Classification

  1. Deity-Based Classification:

    • Hymns are primarily dedicated to different deities such as Agni (fire god), Indra (warrior god), Varuna (sky god), Mitra (god of friendship), and the Ashvins (twin horsemen).
    • Some hymns are also dedicated to natural phenomena like the sun (Surya) and dawn (Ushas).
  2. Ritual Classification:

    • Many hymns are intended for specific rituals and ceremonies, such as the Agnihotra (fire offering) and Soma sacrifices.
    • These hymns guide the performance of rituals and the invocation of deities.
  3. Philosophical and Cosmological Hymns:

    • Certain hymns explore deeper philosophical and cosmological questions, such as the origin of the universe and the nature of existence.
    • Notable examples include the Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of Creation) and the Purusha Sukta.
  4. Secular Hymns:

    • A few hymns deal with secular themes such as marriage, travel, and the daily life of the Vedic people.

Linguistic and Metrical Classification

  • Vedic Sanskrit:

    • The language of the Rig Veda is an early form of Sanskrit known as Vedic Sanskrit.
    • It is distinct from Classical Sanskrit and includes archaic forms and structures.
  • Meter (Chandas):

    • The hymns are composed in various meters, with the most common being the Gayatri, Anushtubh, Trishtubh, and Jagati.
    • Each meter has a specific number of syllables and a unique rhythmic pattern.

Manuscript Tradition

  • Sharada and Devanagari Scripts:

    • The Rig Veda has been preserved in various scripts, primarily Sharada and Devanagari.
    • Manuscripts are written on birch bark and paper.
  • Oldest Manuscripts:

    • The oldest known manuscripts of the Rig Veda were found in Nepal and date back to around 1040 CE
5. Major Hymns of Rig Veda

The Rig Veda, one of the oldest and most revered texts in Hinduism, contains numerous hymns dedicated to various deities and natural phenomena. Here are some of the major hymns of the Rig Veda:

Purusha Sukta (Hymn of the Cosmic Being)

  • Found in Mandala 10, Hymn 90, the Purusha Sukta is one of the most famous hymns of the Rig Veda.
  • It describes the cosmic sacrifice of Purusha, the primal being, from whose body the universe is said to have been created.
  • The hymn provides a cosmological explanation of the origins of the universe and the varna system (social classes).

Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of Creation)

  • Also known as the Hymn of Creation, it is found in Mandala 10, Hymn 129.
  • This hymn explores the mystery of creation, questioning the origins of the universe and the forces that brought it into existence.
  • It presents a philosophical inquiry into the nature of reality and the limitations of human understanding.

Agni Sukta (Hymn to Agni)

  • Agni, the god of fire, is a prominent deity in the Rig Veda, and numerous hymns are dedicated to him.
  • The Agni Sukta praises Agni's various forms and attributes, highlighting his importance in Vedic rituals and as a mediator between humans and the gods.

Indra Sukta (Hymn to Indra)

  • Indra, the king of the gods and the god of thunder and rain, is celebrated in several hymns of the Rig Veda.
  • The Indra Sukta extols Indra's heroic deeds, his victory over the demon Vritra, and his role as a protector of the cosmos.

Surya Namaskara (Hymn to the Sun)

  • The Rig Veda contains hymns dedicated to Surya, the sun god, praising his life-giving warmth and illumination.
  • The Surya Namaskara hymn expresses reverence for the sun and acknowledges its central role in sustaining life on earth.

Vishnu Sukta (Hymn to Vishnu)

  • Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism, is mentioned in several hymns of the Rig Veda.
  • The Vishnu Sukta glorifies Vishnu's divine qualities and his cosmic role as the preserver and sustainer of the universe.

Saraswati Sukta (Hymn to Saraswati)

  • Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts, is venerated in the Rig Veda for her wisdom and creative powers.
  • The Saraswati Sukta praises Saraswati's blessings and invokes her guidance for seekers of knowledge and inspiration.
6.Rig Veda Facts for UPSC Exam
  • The Rig Veda is one of the oldest known texts in the world, dating back to around 1500 BCE to 1200 BCE.
  • It originated in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the area that is now Punjab, India, and parts of Pakistan.
  • The Rig Veda is written in an early form of Sanskrit known as Vedic Sanskrit.
  • The text is preserved in two major scripts: Sharada and Devanagari.
  • The Rig Veda is organized into ten mandalas or books.
  • It contains a total of 1,028 hymns (suktas) and approximately 10,600 verses (ṛc).
  • The hymns of the Rig Veda are primarily dedicated to various deities and natural forces, including Agni (fire god), Indra (warrior god), Varuna (sky god), and Surya (sun god).
  • The Rig Veda also contains philosophical hymns, such as the Purusha Sukta (Hymn of the Cosmic Being) and the Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of Creation).
  • The Rig Veda is one of the foundational texts of Hinduism and is considered sacred by Hindus worldwide.
  • It serves as the basis for many religious rituals, prayers, and philosophical concepts in Hinduism.
  • The hymns of the Rig Veda continue to be recited and studied for their spiritual and literary significance.
  • While the Rig Veda was initially transmitted orally through generations, it was later written down in manuscripts.
  • The oldest known manuscripts of the Rig Veda were discovered in Nepal and are estimated to date back to around 1040 CE.
  • The Rig Veda provides valuable insights into the social, cultural, and religious practices of ancient Vedic society.
  • It has influenced various aspects of Indian culture, including language, literature, music, and philosophy.
For Prelims: Rig Veda, Indus Valley Civilisation, Samaveda
Source: The Hindu

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