Current Affair



1. Context

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is on a five-day visit to China, his country’s biggest and most important ally. The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to be formally announced during the visit.

2. About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a bilateral project between China and Pakistan that aims to connect the Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan to Kashgar in Xinjiang, China via a network of highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • The project is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a massive infrastructure development program that aims to create new trade and investment links between China and the rest of the world.

2.1. Objectives of CPEC

  • CPEC aims to enhance economic cooperation between China and Pakistan by promoting trade, investment, and economic growth.
  • It seeks to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries.
  • Pakistan faces chronic energy shortages, and CPEC addresses this issue through the development of energy projects, including coal, hydro, and solar power plants.
  • These projects are vital for meeting Pakistan's growing energy demands.
  • CPEC includes the construction of new highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • This improved infrastructure is essential for facilitating the movement of goods and people, reducing transportation costs, and promoting regional connectivity.

2.2. Components of CPEC

  • Gwadar Port is a central component of CPEC. It is located in Balochistan and is being developed into a deep-sea port and regional trade hub.
  • Gwadar's strategic location provides China with access to the Arabian Sea, which is significant for its maritime trade.
  • CPEC involves the construction and upgrading of transportation networks.
  • This includes the development of the Karakoram Highway, the construction of the Gwadar-Ratodero Motorway, and the expansion of railway lines connecting Gwadar to China's western regions.
  • Energy infrastructure is a critical part of CPEC. Several power projects, including coal-fired, hydroelectric, and solar power plants, are being developed to address Pakistan's energy deficit.
  • These projects enhance energy security and promote economic development.
  • CPEC envisions the establishment of Special Economic Zones in various regions of Pakistan.
  • These SEZs are designed to attract Chinese and other foreign investors by offering tax incentives, infrastructure, and a conducive business environment.

2.3. Strategic Significance

  • CPEC offers China a shorter and more secure route for its energy imports from the Middle East, reducing its reliance on the longer sea route through the Strait of Malacca.
  • This enhances China's energy security, a vital consideration for its economic growth.
  • China's investments and presence in Pakistan through CPEC strengthen its geopolitical influence in South Asia.
  • It provides Beijing with a stake in the region's stability and development.
  • Gwadar Port gives China access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, enabling it to bypass potential chokepoints in the South China Sea.
  • This has implications for China's naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

3. Impact on India

  • CPEC has been a source of significant geopolitical tension between India and Pakistan.
  • A portion of CPEC passes through Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan, which India claims as part of its own territory.
  • India views this as a violation of its sovereignty and has protested against the project, further straining Indo-Pak relations.
  •  India perceives CPEC as part of China's broader strategy to encircle India by strengthening its presence in neighbouring countries.
  • This perceived encirclement has led to increased security concerns for India.
  • To counterbalance China's influence in the region, India has pursued its own regional connectivity initiatives.
  • These include the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the Chabahar Port project in Iran.
  • India is also deepening its engagement with other South Asian countries to maintain its influence.
  • India is concerned about the security implications of CPEC. The corridor passes through regions of Pakistan that have experienced instability and terrorism, raising fears that extremist elements could target CPEC infrastructure.
  • CPEC's potential to boost Pakistan's economy and its strategic location as a trade corridor poses economic challenges for India.
  • It has the potential to divert trade away from India and impact India's economic interests in the region.
  • India has engaged in diplomatic efforts to voice its concerns about CPEC on various international platforms.
  • However, these efforts have yielded limited results, as many countries have chosen to engage with CPEC due to its economic potential.

4. Way forward

  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has far-reaching implications for India, affecting both its geopolitical and economic interests.
  • India's concerns about sovereignty, security, and the economic impact of CPEC have led to a complex and challenging dynamic in its relations with both China and Pakistan.
  • As CPEC continues to evolve and shape the regional landscape, India will need to carefully navigate these challenges while seeking to protect its own interests and explore alternative avenues for regional cooperation and connectivity.
For Prelims: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, energy, water management, climate change, Belt and Road Initiative, Special Economic Zones, International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port, 
For Mains: 
1. Discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by CPEC for India in the context of regional cooperation and economic competitiveness. How can India navigate these challenges effectively? (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions

1. Belt and Road Initiative’ is sometimes mentioned in the news in the context of the affairs of (UPSC CSE 2016)

(a) African Union
(b) Brazil
(c) European Union
(d) China

Answer: D

2. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently published the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, in 2020. Which of the following statements is correct about EIA? (Punjab Civil Service 2020)
1. It predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment.
2. It prevents the proposed activity/project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.
3. It compares various alternatives for a project and seeks to identify the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits.
4. As per the new notification, Coal and non-Coal mineral prospecting and solar photovoltaic projects do not need prior environmental clearance.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. Only 1 and 2
B. Only 2, 3 and 4
C. Only 1, 2 and 3
D. Only 1, 2 and 4
Answer: D
3. In the context of India’s preparation for Climate -Smart Agriculture, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2021)
1. The ‘Climate-Smart Village’ approach in India is part of a project led by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), an international research program.
2. The project of CCAFS is carried out under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural (CGIAR) headquartered in France.
3. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India is one of the CGIAR’s research centers.
Which of the statements given above is correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only                (b) 2 and 3 only              (c) 1 and 3 only                      (d) 1, 2 and 3
Answer: D


4. With reference to the water on the planet Earth, consider the following statements : (UPSC 2021)
1. The amount of water in the rivers and lakes is more than the amount of groundwater.
2. The amount of water in polar ice caps and glaciers is more than the amount of groundwater.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: B
5. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2020)
1. 36% of India's districts are classified as "overexploited" or "critical" by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
2. CGWA was formed under the Environment (Protection) Act.
3. India has the largest area under groundwater irrigation in the world.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 2 only
D. 1 and 3 only
Answer: B
6. Consider the following statements:
1. On the planet Earth, the freshwater available for use amounts to less than 1% of the total water found.
2. Of the total freshwater found on the planet Earth 95% is bound up in polar ice caps and glaciers.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A
7. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have been created first time in the: (OPSC OAS 2019)
A.  EXIM Policy, 2000       
B.  EXIM Policy, 2005
C. Industrial Policy, 1956
D. Industrial Policy, 1991
Answer: A
8. Consider the statement: "India wants Chabahar port to be included in the 13-nations International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that extends from India to Russia." Which of the following country/countries is/are members of INSTC? (Haryana Civil Services 2021) 
1. Iran
2. Iraq
3. China
4. Mongolia
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. 1 only        B. 2 and 3 only          C. 3 and 4 only         D.  1, 3 and 4
Answer: A
9. What is the importance of developing Chabahar Port by India? (UPSC CSE 2017)
A. India's trade with African countries will enormously increase.
B. India's relations with oil-producing Arab countries will be strengthened.
C. India will not depend on Pakistan for access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
D. Pakistan will facilitate and protect the installation of a gas pipe between Iraq and India.
Answer: C

1. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same. (UPSC CSE 2018)

2. China and Pakistan have entered into an agreement for the development of an economic corridor. What threat does this pose for India’s security? Critically examine. (UPSC CSE 2014)

3. “China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia”. In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour. (UPSC CSE 2017)

Source: Indianexpress



1. Context

The Delhi High Court recently observed that the Central Information Commission (CIC) has no jurisdiction to comment on the utilization of funds by the members of Parliament under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

2. What is the MPLAD Scheme?

  • The MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme is a constituency development scheme formulated by the Indian Government on 23 December 1993.
  • It enables the members of Parliament (MPs) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies with importance accorded to creating durable community assets, based on needs locally felt by the community. The spending limit is ₹ 5 crores per year.
  • States have their version of this scheme with varying amounts per MLA.
  • Delhi has the highest allocation under MLALAD; each MLA can recommend works for up to Rs 10 crore each year.
  • In Punjab and Kerela, the amount is Rs 5 crore per MLA per year: in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, it is Rs. 2 crores; in Uttar Pradesh, it was recently increased from Rs 2 Crore to Rs 3 Crore.

3. Implementation of the MPLADS Scheme

  • MPLADS was announced in December 1993, by the late Prime Minister Shri. P.V Narasimha Rao.
  • Although its announcement received criticism initially, MPLADS has continued to date, with successive governments supporting the scheme by allocating budgetary funds.
  •  Funds Allocation for each MP was ₹ 5 lakhs in 1993-94; it increased to ₹ 2 crores in 1998-99. This was further revised to ₹ 5 Crores in 2011-12.
  • MPLADS is administered by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). MoSPI publishes an annual report on the MPLADS program operations, which provides information on the extent of work or the number of work completed for each Lok Sabha member (MP). The report helps assess how the MP has utilized their MPLADS funds, and the cumulative work undertaken under the scheme.
  •  At the height of the Covid pandemic, the central government suspended MPLADS to help mobilize money for priority sectors like vaccine development and health infrastructure.

4. How does the scheme work?

  • MPs and MLAs do not receive any money under these schemes.
  • The government transfers it directly to the respective local authorities. The legislators can only recommend works in their constituencies based on a set of guidelines.
  • For the MPLAD Scheme, the guidelines focus on the creation of durable community assets like roads, school buildings, etc.
  • Recommendations for non-durable assets can be made only under limited circumstances. For example, last month, the government allowed the use of MPLAD funds for the purchase of personal protection equipment, coronavirus testing kits, etc.
  • The guidelines for use of MLALAD funds differ across states. For example, Delhi MLAs can recommend the operation of fogging machines (to contain dengue mosquitoes), installation of CCTV cameras, etc.
  • After the legislators give the list of developmental works, they are executed by the district authorities as per the government's financial, technical, and administrative rules.

5. How long are the schemes supposed to continue?

  • The central scheme has continued uninterrupted for 27 years.
  • It is budgeted through the government’s finances and continues as long as the government is agreeable.
  • In 2018, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the scheme until the term of the 14th Finance Commission, which is March 31, 2020.
  • In the recent past, there has been one example of the discontinuation of a Local Area Development scheme.
  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar discontinued the state’s scheme in 2010, only to revive it before the 2014 general elections.

6. Impact of the MPLAD Scheme

  • In 2018, when a continuation of the scheme was approved, the government noted that “the entire population across the country stands to benefit through the creation of durable assets of locally felt needs, namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, and roads, etc, under MPLAD Scheme”.
  • Until 2017, nearly 19 lakh projects worth Rs 45,000 crore had been sanctioned under the MPLAD Scheme.
  • Third-party evaluators appointed by the government reported that the creation of good-quality assets had a “positive impact on the local economy, social fabric, and feasible environment”.
  • Further, 82% of the projects have been in rural areas, and the remaining is in urban/semi-urban areas. 

7. Challenges with MPLADS

  • Inadequate citizen participation: MPLADS was envisaged to have the character of decentralized development based on the principle of participatory development. However, citizen participation has remained lukewarm. There is no information on how locally felt needs are given primacy.
  • Insufficient monitoring of sanctioned works: Guidelines stipulate that district authorities should monitor the sanctioned works. However, there is no indicator for monitoring. Annual reports do not throw light on monitoring. There is no indication of monitoring of asset condition after the completion of works.
  • Tendency to use MPLADS to gain political mileage: Research data indicate that MPs tend to go slow in the 1st half of their term. A majority of the MPLADS funds were spent during the last year of their term, just before elections, to gain political mileage.

8. Criticism

  • The criticism has been on two broad grounds.
  • First, it is inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution as it co-opts legislators into executive functioning.
  • The most vocal critic was a DMK ex-MP and a former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Era Sezhiyan. He said the workload on MPs created by the scheme diverted their attention from holding the government accountable and other legislative work.
  • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000) and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Veerappa Moily (2007), recommended the discontinuation of the scheme.
  • In 2010, the Supreme Court held that the scheme was constitutional.
  • The second criticism stems from allegations of corruption associated with the allocation of works. The Comptroller and Auditor General have on many occasions highlighted gaps in implementation. 

Previous year Question

With reference to the funds under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), which of the following statements is correct? (UPSC 2020)
1. MPLADS funds must be used to create durable assets like physical infrastructure for health, education, etc.
2. A specified portion of each MP's fund must benefit SC/ST populations.
3. MPLADS funds are sanctioned on yearly basis and the unused funds cannot be carried forward to the next year.
4. The district authority must inspect at least 10% of all works under implementation every year.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A.  1 and 2 only
B. 3 and 4 only
C. 1, 2, and 3 only
D. 1, 2, and 4 only
Answer: D

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme, COVID-19,  Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, 14th Finance Commission, Local Area Development Scheme, National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000) and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005).
For Mains: 1. Critically examine whether MPLADS has helped in bridging the gaps in the provisioning of public services.
Source: The Indian Express


1. Context

Among the many readings of Verdict 2024 is this one: The outcome, in many parts of the country, may have been shaped by economic issues like berozgari (unemployment) and mehengai (inflation) rising to the surface, and becoming salient. Of the two, the latter may have proved to be more decisive — Indian voters have historically blamed governments for inflation.

2. Consumer Price Index

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the change in prices of a basket of goods and services that are commonly purchased by consumers. It is the most commonly used measure of inflation.
  • The CPI is calculated by comparing the prices of the goods and services in the basket in a particular period to those of the same in a base period.
  • The base period is usually the previous year's corresponding period. The difference in prices is expressed as a percentage, and this is the CPI inflation rate.
  • The CPI is calculated for eight different categories of goods and services Food and beverages, Housing, Clothing and footwear, Transport, Health, Education, Communication, Recreation and Miscellaneous goods and services.
  • The weights of each category in the CPI are determined by the expenditure patterns of urban households. For example, food and beverages have the highest weight in the CPI, followed by housing and transport.
  • The CPI inflation rate is an important indicator of the cost of living.
  • It is used by the government to set monetary policy and by businesses to make pricing decisions.

3. Wholesale Price Index

  • The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is a measure of the change in prices of goods and services at the wholesale level.
  • It is calculated by comparing the prices of a basket of goods and services in a particular period to those of the same in a base period.
  • The base period is usually the previous year's corresponding period. The difference in prices is expressed as a percentage, and this is the WPI inflation rate.
  • The WPI is calculated for 67 groups of commodities, which are further divided into 225 subgroups.
  • The weights of each group and subgroup in the WPI are determined by the value of the goods and services produced in each group and subgroup.
  • The WPI inflation rate is an important indicator of inflation at the wholesale level.
  • It is used by businesses to make pricing decisions and by the government to set monetary policy.

4. Findings of the Report

4.1. Food inflation

  • Food inflation in India remained high in August, at 9.94%. This was driven by rising prices of essential food items, such as cereals, pulses, vegetables, and oils.
  • Eleven of the 12 items on the heavyweight food and beverages group of the CPI logged price increases, with oils and fats, the sole item logging a year-on-year decline in prices, posting its first sequential increase in nine months.
  • Vegetables provided some relief, with tomatoes leading an appreciable month-on-month deflation of 5.88% in the 19-member basket.
  • However, the cooking staples of potatoes and onions were among the seven items that continued to log sequential inflation (2.3% and 12.3%, respectively).

4.2. Monsoon deficit and rising crude oil prices

  • The near-term inflation outlook is also made more uncertain by other factors, including a distinct deficit in monsoon rainfall.
  • Besides the overall 10% shortfall, sharp regional and temporal anomalies in rain distribution have impacted either the sowing or the quality of produce of several farm items.
  • Kharif's sowing of pulses had, as of September 8, recorded an 8.6% shortfall compared with the year-earlier period.
  • Another inflation driver, crude oil, has also seen a steady rise in prices as the output cuts by major oil producers of the OPEC+ grouping start to bite.
  • The price of India's crude basket had, as of September 12, climbed 7.2% from the average in August to $92.65/barrel, according to official data.

4.3. RBI measures to control inflation

  • For the RBI, the latest inflation data further roils its interest rate calculus.
  • Unless CPI inflation decelerates by an incredible 250 basis points in September to a 4.33% pace, price gains are certain to substantially overshoot the monetary authority's 6.2% forecast for the July-September quarter, leaving it with few real options to achieve its medium-term price stability goal of 4% inflation.
  • As the RBI has been at pains to stress, failure to anchor inflation expectations risks hurting growth.

5. About the sticky Consumer Price Index (CPI)

  • The sticky Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a subset of the CPI that includes goods and services that change prices relatively infrequently.
  • These goods and services are thought to incorporate expectations about future inflation to a greater degree than prices that change more frequently.
  • Some of the items included in the sticky CPI are Rent, Housing costs, Utilities, Education, Healthcare, Transportation, Household furnishings and appliances, Personal insurance, Recreation, and Miscellaneous goods and services. 
  • The sticky CPI is often used by economists to measure inflation expectations.
  • This is because prices of sticky goods and services are less likely to be affected by short-term changes in supply and demand, and are therefore more likely to reflect changes in inflation expectations.
  • The sticky CPI is also used by central banks to set monetary policy.
  • This is because the central bank wants to make sure that inflation expectations are anchored at a low level.
  • If inflation expectations start to rise, the central bank may raise interest rates to bring them back down.

6. How India’s retail inflation is measured?

  • India's retail inflation is measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a basket of goods and services commonly purchased by urban households.
  • The CPI is calculated by the National Statistical Office (NSO) every month.
  • The CPI is calculated by comparing the prices of the goods and services in the basket in a particular month to those of the same in a base month.
  • The base month is usually the previous year's corresponding month. The difference in prices is expressed as a percentage, and this is the CPI inflation rate.
  • The CPI is calculated for eight different categories of goods and services, Food and beverages, Housing, Clothing and footwear, Transport, Health, Education, Communication, Recreation and Miscellaneous goods and services.
  • The weights of each category in the CPI are determined by the expenditure patterns of urban households. For example, food and beverages have the highest weight in the CPI, followed by housing and transport.
  • The CPI inflation rate is an important indicator of the cost of living in India.
  • It is used by the government to set monetary policy and by businesses to make pricing decisions.

7. Calculation of Inflation

  • Inflation is the rate at which the prices of goods and services increase over time.
  • It is calculated by comparing the prices of a basket of goods and services in a particular period to the prices of the same basket of goods and services in a base period.
  • The base period is usually the previous year's corresponding period. The difference in prices is expressed as a percentage, and this is the inflation rate.

There are two main ways to calculate inflation

1. Consumer Price Index (CPI): The CPI is a measure of the change in prices of a basket of goods and services that are commonly purchased by consumers. It is the most commonly used measure of inflation.

The CPI is calculated by the following formula:

CPI = (Cost of a basket of goods and services in current period / Cost of a basket of goods and services in base period) * 100

2. Producer Price Index (PPI): The PPI is a measure of the change in prices of goods and services that are produced by businesses. It is used to track inflation at the wholesale level.

The PPI is calculated by the following formula:

PPI = (Cost of a basket of goods and services at the wholesale level in the current period / Cost of a basket of goods and services at the wholesale level in the base period) * 100


For Prelims: Consumer Price Index, Wholesale Price Index, Inflation,  retail inflation, Producer Pirce Index, National Statistical Office, OPEC+, Crude oil, Kharif season, Monsoon, 
For Mains: 
1. Analyse the factors contributing to high food inflation in India in recent months. Discuss the impact of high food inflation on the Indian economy and suggest measures to mitigate it. (250 words)
2. Explain the concept of sticky inflation. What are the various factors that contribute to sticky inflation? Discuss the implications of sticky inflation for the Indian economy. (250 words)
Previous Year Questions
1. With reference to inflation in India, which of the following statements is correct? (UPSC 2015)
A. Controlling the inflation in India is the responsibility of the Government of India only
B. The Reserve Bank of India has no role in controlling the inflation
C. Decreased money circulation helps in controlling the inflation
D. Increased money circulation helps in controlling the inflation
Answer: C
2. With reference to India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2010)
1. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in India is available on a monthly basis only.
2. As compared to Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI(IW)), the WPI gives less weight to food articles.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? 
A. 1 only       B. 2 only       C. Both 1 and 2          D.  Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C
3. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2020)
1. The weightage of food in Consumer Price Index (CPI) is higher than that in Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
2. The WPI does not capture changes in the prices of services, which CPI does.
3. Reserve Bank of India has now adopted WPI as its key measure of inflation and to decide on changing the key policy rates.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
 A. 1 and  2 only       B. 2 only       C. 3 only           D. 1, 2 and 3
4. India has experienced persistent and high food inflation in the recent past. What could be the reasons? (UPSC 2011)
1. Due to a gradual switchover to the cultivation of commercial crops, the area under the cultivation of food grains has steadily decreased in the last five years by about 30.
2. As a consequence of increasing incomes, the consumption patterns of the people have undergone a significant change.
3. The food supply chain has structural constraints.
Which of the statements given above are correct? 
A. 1 and 2 only          B. 2 and 3 only        C. 1 and 3 only          D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: B
5. The Public Distribution System, which evolved as a system of management of food and distribution of food grains, was relaunched as _______ Public Distribution System in 1997. (SSC JE EE 2021) 
A. Evolved         B. Transformed      C. Tested            D. Targeted
Answer: D
6. Under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, up to what quantity of rice and wheat can be purchased at a subsidised cost? (FCI AG III 2023) 
A. 35 kg          B. 40 kg          C. 30 kg           D. 25 kg           E. 50 kg
Answer: A
7. As per the the National Statistical Office (NSO) report released on 7 January 2022, India's Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow at ___________ per cent (in first advance estimates) in the fiscal year 2021-22?  (ESIC UDC 2022) 
A. 17.6 per cent     B. 9.5 per cent     C. 11 per cent        D. 9.2 per cent   E. None of the above
Answer: D
8. The main emphasis of OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is on which of the following? (UKPSC 2016)
A. The production of petroleum
B. Control over prices of petroleum
C. Both (a) and (b)
D. None of the above
Answer: C
9. In the context of global oil prices, "Brent crude oil" is frequently referred to in the news. What does this term imply? (UPSC 2011)
1. It is a major classification of crude oil.
2. It is sourced from the North Sea.
3. It does not contain sulfur.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 2 only    B. 1 and 2 only        C. 1 and 3 only         D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: B
10. The term 'West Texas Intermediate', sometimes found in news, refers to a grade of (UPSC 2020)
A. Crude oil   B. Bullion         C. Rare earth elements       D.  Uranium
Answer: C
11. With reference to the cultivation of Kharif crops in India in the last five years, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. Area under rice cultivation is the highest.
2. Area under the cultivation of jowar is more than that of oilseeds.
3. Area of cotton cultivation is more than that of sugarcane.
4. Area under sugarcane cultivation has steadily decreased.
Which of the statements given above are correct? 
A. 1 and 3 only        B.  2, 3 and 4 only        C. 2 and 4 only         D. 1, 2, 3 and 4
Answer: A
Source: The Hindu


1. Context
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 7th June 2024 decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%.

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
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has spotted the earliest-known galaxy, one that is surprisingly bright and big considering it formed during the universe’s infancy — at only 2% its current age. The discovery was made by an international team of astronomers, who used JWST to observe galaxies as part of the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) program.
2. What do we know about the galaxy?
This galaxy, called JADES-GS-z14-0, measures about 1,700-light years across. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, which is 9.5 trillion km. The galaxy has a mass equivalent to 500 million stars the size of our Sun and is rapidly forming new stars — about 20 every year.
Until now, the earliest-known galaxy dated to about 320 million years after the Big Bang, as announced by the JADES team last year.
“It is significantly larger than other galaxies that the JADES team has measured at these distances, and it’s going to be challenging to understand just how something this large could form in only a few hundred million years,” Hainline said.
Source: BBC
3. Why is the galaxy so bright?
Three main hypotheses have been proposed to explain the brightness of early galaxies. The first suggested that supermassive black holes in these galaxies were consuming large amounts of material. However, this idea seems unlikely based on new findings, as the observed light is spread over a larger area than would be expected from black holes alone.
Astrophysicist and study co-author Francesco D’Eugenio from the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge noted that it is still uncertain whether the other hypotheses—that these galaxies contain more stars than anticipated or that the stars are inherently brighter than those found today—will be supported by further research.

4. Features of James Webb Space Telescope


The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) boasts several advanced features that make it a groundbreaking instrument for astronomical observations:

  • Large Primary Mirror:

    • The JWST's primary mirror is larger than the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror. This large mirror allows for greater light-gathering capability, enabling the telescope to observe faint and distant objects.
  • Infrared Observations:

    • JWST is primarily an infrared telescope, designed to observe the universe in the near-infrared (0.6 to 5 micrometers) and mid-infrared (5 to 28.5 micrometers) wavelengths. This capability is crucial for studying the early universe, star formation, and the atmospheres of exoplanets.
  • Advanced Instruments:

    • The telescope is equipped with four main scientific instruments:
      • NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera): Captures images in near-infrared light.
      • NIRSpec (Near-Infrared Spectrograph): Performs spectroscopy in the near-infrared range.
      • MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument): Observes in the mid-infrared spectrum, providing both imaging and spectroscopy.
      • FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph): Aids in precise pointing and provides additional imaging and spectroscopic capabilities.
  • Sunshield:

    • JWST features a large, multi-layered sunshield the size of a tennis court. This sunshield protects the telescope's instruments from the heat and light of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, keeping them at extremely low temperatures necessary for infrared observations.
  • Location:

    • The telescope orbits at the second Lagrange point (L2), approximately 1.5 million kilometers (about 1 million miles) from Earth. This stable location allows for uninterrupted observations and a clear view of the cosmos without the interference of Earth's atmosphere.
  • Deployment and Folding Design:

    • Due to its large size, JWST was designed to be folded to fit into the rocket for launch. It then undergoes a complex unfolding process in space, including the deployment of its mirror and sunshield.

These features collectively make JWST a powerful tool for advancing our understanding of the universe, from the earliest galaxies to the potential for life on other planets.

Source: BBC

5. Way Forward

JWST, which by peering across vast cosmic distances is looking way back in time, observed the galaxy as it existed about 290 million years after the Big Bang event that initiated the universe roughly 13.8 billion years ago, the researchers said. This period spanning the universe’s first few hundred million years is called cosmic dawn


Previous Year Questions
Mains PYQ:
Q. Launched on 25th December, 2021, James Webb Space Telescope has been much in the news since then. What are its unique features which make it superior to its predecessor Space Telescopes? What are the key goals of this mission? What potential benefits does it hold for the human race? (2022)


Source: Indian Express


1. Context
The World Health Organization (WHO) on June 5 2024 confirmed the death of a 59-year-old man in Mexico caused by a strain of bird flu called H5N2, which was never recorded in humans before. The man, who died on April 24, had no history of exposure to poultry or other animals, raising significant concerns about the virus’s transmission. 
2. Avian Influenza
Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is a viral infection that primarily affects birds. Avian influenza is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread from animals to humans. Certain subtypes of the virus infect humans, leading to severe respiratory illnesses. 

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans are similar to those of regular flu and can include: Fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and severe respiratory distress in advanced cases.

3. Avian Influenza Type A Viruses
  • Type A viruses are classified based on two proteins on their surfaces – Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA). There are about 18 HA subtypes and 11 NA subtypes.
  • Several combinations of these two proteins are possible e.g., H5N1, H7N2, H9N6, H17N10, H18N11, etc.
  • All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can infect birds, except subtypes H17N10 and H18N11, which have only been found in bats.
  • The most notable of these subtypes is H5N1, which has been responsible for numerous human infections and fatalities in the past.
4. Avian Influenza and Human Transmission
The recent incident in Mexico raises significant concerns as the person affected had no identified contact with infected animals. This suggests a possible shift in the virus's capacity to transmit to humans without direct interaction with poultry implying a deviation from the traditional mode of transmission, where humans contract the virus through exposure to poultry. It indicates a new level of transmission or virulence of the virus that was not previously observed in the region.
Human infections with avian influenza viruses are not unprecedented yet rare, the potential for the virus to adapt and spread among humans is a serious public health concern. The H5N1 subtype, in particular, has caused human fatalities since it was first identified in humans in 1997. However, each new case, especially one without direct animal contact, underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and preparedness.
5. WHO Response
The WHO has emphasized the need for heightened vigilance and preventive measures to reduce the risk of infection.

The Mexico case serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for global health systems to remain alert to the threats posed by zoonotic diseases and to ensure rapid response mechanisms are in place to prevent widespread outbreaks.

6. Key Recommendations
Enhanced measures include:
a) Avoiding high-risk environments like live animal markets  and contact with sick or dead birds;
b) Prompt reporting of sick animals and consuming only thoroughly cooked poultry products
c) Ensuring practice of good hand hygiene and prompt medical care to individuals exposed to infected birds or environments
d) Implementing robust surveillance systems to detect and respond to new cases promptly.
7. Related Initiatives
i) India's self-declaration of freedom from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been approved by World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) in specific poultry compartments which follows a "detect and cull" policy as outlined in the National Action Plan for Prevention, Control, and Containment of Avian Influenza (revised - 2021).
ii) The Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), The Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) framework by World Health Organization (WHO). 
For Prelims: 
Avian influenza H5N2, Avian influenza H5N1, Bird Flu, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA), influenza A viruses, Genomic surveillance, Pathogens, and Viruses.
For Mains:
1.Discuss the impact of the H5N2 Avian Influenza virus on public health. What measures can be implemented at national and international levels to mitigate the spread of avian influenza viruses and minimize their impact on both poultry production and human health?

Previous Year Questions

1. H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news with reference to which one of the following diseases? (UPSC 2015)

B.  Bird flu
C.  Dengue
D.  Swine flu

Answer: D

2. Consider the following statements : (UPSC 2010)

1. Every individual in the population is an equally susceptible host for Swine Flu.

2. Antibiotics have no role in the primary treatment of Swine Flu.

3. To prevent the future spread of Swine Flu in the epidemic area, the swine (pigs) must all be culled.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 and 2 only

B. 2 only

C. 2 and 3 only

D. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: A

3. Which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC 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 codes given below.

A. 1 only

B. 2 and 3 only

C. 1 and 3 only

D. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: A

 4. Which of the following statements is/are correct? Viruses can infect (UPSC 2016)

  1. Bacteria
  2. Fungi
  3. Plants

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Ans: (d)

Source -  Indian Express

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