Current Affair



1. Context
Growth in India’s gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections slowed to a three-year low in June, with revenues rising about 7.74% to about ₹1.74 lakh crore from ₹1,61,497 crore collected in the year-earlier period, according to numbers shared informally by officials.
2. What is the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a value-added tax levied on the supply of goods and services at each stage of the production and distribution chain. It is a comprehensive indirect tax that aims to replace multiple indirect taxes imposed by the central and state governments in India.
  • GST is designed to simplify the tax structure, eliminate the cascading effect of taxes, and create a unified national market. Under the GST system, both goods and services are taxed at multiple rates based on the nature of the product or service. The tax is collected at each stage of the supply chain, and businesses are allowed to claim a credit for the taxes paid on their inputs.
  • The GST system in India came into effect on July 1, 2017, replacing a complex tax structure that included central excise duty, service tax, and state-level taxes like VAT (Value Added Tax), among others. The GST Council, consisting of representatives from the central and state governments, is responsible for making decisions on various aspects of GST, including tax rates and rules.
  • GST is intended to create a more transparent and efficient tax system, reduce tax evasion, and promote economic growth by fostering a seamless flow of goods and services across the country. It has a significant impact on businesses, as they need to comply with the new tax regulations and maintain detailed records of their transactions for GST filing

3.Goods and Services Tax (GST) and 101st Amendment Act, 2016

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India was introduced through the 101st Amendment Act of 2016. This constitutional amendment was a crucial step in the implementation of GST, which aimed to create a unified and comprehensive indirect tax system across the country.

Here are some key points related to the 101st Amendment Act and GST:


  • The 101st Amendment Act was enacted to amend the Constitution of India to pave the way for the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.
  • It added a new article, Article 246A, which confers concurrent powers to both the central and state governments to levy and collect GST
  • The amendment led to the creation of the GST Council, a constitutional body consisting of representatives from the central and state governments. The council is responsible for making recommendations on GST rates, exemptions, and other related issues
  • The amendment introduced a dual GST structure, where both the central government and the state governments have the power to levy and collect GST on the supply of goods and services
  • For inter-state transactions, the 101st Amendment Act provides that the central government would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST), which would be a sum total of the central and state GST
  • The amendment also included a provision for compensating states for any revenue loss they might incur due to the implementation of GST for a period of five years
The 101st Amendment Act was a critical legislative step that provided the constitutional framework for the implementation of GST in India. It addressed the need for a unified tax system, simplifying the tax structure and promoting a common market across the country. The subsequent establishment of the GST Council has played a pivotal role in the ongoing management and evolution of the GST system in India
4. What are the different types of Goods and Services Tax (GST)?

In India, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is structured into different tax rates based on the nature of the goods and services. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, the GST rates are divided into multiple slabs. It's important to note that tax rates may be subject to changes, and new amendments could have been introduced since then. As of my last update, the GST rates are as follows:

  • Nil Rate:

    • Some goods and services are categorized under the nil rate, meaning they attract a 0% GST. This implies that no tax is levied on the supply of these goods or services.
  • 5% Rate:

    • This is a lower rate, applicable to essential goods such as certain food items, medical supplies, and other basic necessities.
  • 12% Rate:

    • Goods and services falling in this category attract a 12% GST rate. Items such as mobile phones, processed foods, and certain services fall under this slab.
  • 18% Rate:

    • A higher rate of 18% is applicable to goods and services such as electronic items, capital goods, and various services.
  • 28% Rate:

    • The highest GST rate of 28% is applied to luxury items, automobiles, and certain goods and services that are considered non-essential or fall into the luxury category.
  • Compensation Cess:

    • In addition to the above rates, some specific goods attract a compensation cess, which is levied to compensate the states for any revenue loss during the transition to GST. This is often applied to items like tobacco and luxury cars.
  • Zero Rate:

    • Certain categories of goods and services may be specified as "zero-rated," which means they are effectively taxed at 0%. This is different from the nil rate, as it allows businesses to claim input tax credit on inputs, capital goods, and input services.
  • Exempt Supplies:

    • Some goods and services may be exempt from GST altogether. This means that they are not subject to any GST, and businesses cannot claim input tax credit on related inputs
5.Central GST (CGST), State GST (SGST), Union territory GST (UTGST) and Integrated GST (IGST)
Subject Central GST (CGST) State GST (SGST) Union Territory GST (UTGST) Integrated GST (IGST)
Levied by Central Government Respective State Governments Union Territory Administrations Central Government (on inter-state transactions)
Applicability On intra-state supplies (within the same state) On intra-state supplies (within the same state) On intra-union territory supplies (within the same union territory) On inter-state supplies (across states or union territories)
Rate Determination Determined by the Central Government Determined by the Respective State Government Determined by the Union Territory Administration IGST rate is a sum of CGST and SGST rates
Revenue Collection Collected by the Central Government Collected by the Respective State Government Collected by the Union Territory Administration Collected by the Central Government (on inter-state transactions)
Utilization of Revenue Shared between Central and State Governments Retained by the Respective State Government Retained by the Union Territory Administration Shared between Central and State Governments
Purpose Part of the dual GST structure, meant to cover central taxes Part of the dual GST structure, meant to cover state taxes Applicable in union territories for intra-territory supplies Applied to regulate and tax inter-state supplies
Input Tax Credit (ITC) ITC available for CGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for SGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for UTGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for both CGST and SGST paid on inputs
Tax Jurisdiction Applies within a particular state Applies within a particular state Applies within a particular union territory Applies to transactions across states and union territories
GSTN Portal for Filing Returns Central GSTN portal State-specific GSTN portals UTGSTN portal Integrated GSTN portal
6.What are the benefits of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India?
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India was implemented with the aim of bringing about significant reforms in the indirect tax structure. Several benefits have been associated with the introduction of GST.
Here are some key advantages:
  • GST replaced multiple indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments, simplifying the tax structure. This streamlined system reduces the complexity of compliance for businesses
  • GST eliminates the cascading effect of taxes, where taxes are levied on top of other taxes. With a seamless credit mechanism, businesses can claim input tax credit on the taxes paid on their purchases, leading to a more transparent and efficient system
  • GST has facilitated the creation of a common national market by harmonizing tax rates and regulations across states. This has reduced trade barriers and promoted the free flow of goods and services throughout the country
  • The GST system has incorporated technology-driven processes, including electronic filing and real-time reporting, making it harder for businesses to evade taxes. This has contributed to increased tax compliance
  • The input tax credit mechanism under GST benefits manufacturers, as they can claim credits for taxes paid on raw materials and input services. This has a positive impact on the cost of production and enhances the competitiveness of Indian goods in the international market
  • GST brings transparency to the taxation system. The online filing of returns and the availability of transaction-level data make it easier for tax authorities to monitor and track transactions, reducing the scope for corruption
  • GST has replaced a complex system of filing multiple tax returns with a more straightforward mechanism. Businesses now need to file fewer returns, reducing the compliance burden
  • The implementation of GST has contributed to an improvement in the ease of doing business in India. The unified tax system has made it simpler for businesses to operate across states and has reduced the paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles associated with tax compliance
  • GST has led to the harmonization of tax rates across states and union territories, minimizing the tax rate disparities that existed earlier. This creates a more predictable tax environment for businesses
7.Goods and Services Tax (GST)-Issues and Challenge
  • Despite the intention to simplify the tax structure, the multi-tiered rate system (0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%) and the inclusion of cess on certain goods have introduced complexity. The classification of goods and services under different tax slabs can be challenging, leading to disputes and confusion
  • The successful implementation of GST relies heavily on technology. Issues such as technical glitches on the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network) portal, especially during the initial phases, have caused difficulties for businesses in filing returns and complying with regulations
  • The compliance requirements for businesses under GST, including multiple returns filing, have been perceived as burdensome. Smaller businesses, in particular, may find it challenging to adapt to the new system and comply with the various provisions
  • The transition from the previous tax regime to GST posed challenges, especially for businesses in terms of understanding the new tax structure, reconfiguring accounting systems, and ensuring a smooth transition of credits from the old tax system to the GST system
  • The classification of certain goods and services into specific tax slabs has been a source of contention. Ambiguities in classification have led to disputes and litigations, with businesses seeking clarity on the applicable tax rates
  • The implementation of GST has increased compliance costs for businesses due to the need for sophisticated IT infrastructure, the hiring of tax professionals, and efforts to ensure accurate reporting and filing
  • Challenges related to availing and matching input tax credits have been reported. Timely matching of credits and resolving discrepancies can be cumbersome, leading to concerns about the seamless flow of credit across the supply chain
  • The anti-profiteering provisions were introduced to ensure that businesses pass on the benefits of reduced tax rates to consumers. However, the implementation of anti-profiteering measures has been criticized for its complexity and potential for disputes
  • The periodic changes in the GST return filing system have created challenges for businesses in adapting their processes. Delays and complexities in return filing can affect working capital management
8.Goods and Services Tax Council (GST Council)
The Goods and Services Tax Council (GST Council) is a constitutional body in India that makes recommendations on the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It was established under the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Act, 2016, which introduced the GST in India

The GST Council consists of the following members:

  • The Union Finance Minister, who is the Chairperson of the Council.
  • The Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or any other Minister of State nominated by the Union Government.
  • One Minister from each state, nominated by the Governor of that state.
  • The Chief Secretary of each state, ex-officio.
  • If the President, on the recommendation of the Council, so directs, one representative of each Union territory which has a legislature, to be nominated by the Lieutenant Governor of that Union territory.
  • Three to seven members (other than Ministers) to be nominated by the Union Government, of whom at least one member shall be from the field of economics and another from the field of chartered accountancy, legal affairs or public finance
9. Way forward
It's important to note that the composition and structure of the GST Council may evolve over time, and there might have been changes since my last update in January 2022. To obtain the latest and most accurate information about the GST Council and its members, it is recommended to refer to official government sources or recent announcements by the relevant authorities


For Prelims: Economic and Social Development and Indian Polity and Governance
For Mains: General Studies II: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

General Studies III: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

Previous Year Questions
1.Which of the following are true of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in India in recent times? (UGC Paper II 2020)
A. It is a destination tax
B. It benefits producing states more
C. It benefits consuming states more
D. It is a progressive taxation
E. It is an umbrella tax to improve ease of doing business
Choose the most appropriate answer from the options given below:
A.B, D and E only
B.A, C and D only
C.A, D and E only
D.A, C and E only
Answer (D)
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report on allegations that Foxconn, a major manufacturer of Apple devices, “systematically excluded” married women from jobs at its iPhone assembly plant in Sriperumbudur.
2. What is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body established in India in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • It serves as an autonomous public institution tasked with the protection and promotion of human rights across the country.
  • The NHRC investigates complaints of human rights violations, conducts inquiries, and recommends remedial action to the government.
  • It also plays a role in promoting awareness of human rights and providing education on related issues.
  • The commission consists of a chairperson and several members appointed by the President of India, and it operates at both the central and state levels
3. History of NHRC
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established in India on October 12, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • This Act was enacted to fulfill the obligations India undertook by becoming a signatory to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which called for the establishment of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • The NHRC was founded with the aim of addressing human rights violations and promoting awareness and respect for human rights across the country. It operates as an autonomous body, independent of the government, to ensure impartiality and effectiveness in its functioning.
  • Since its inception, the NHRC has played a crucial role in investigating complaints of human rights violations, conducting inquiries, and making recommendations to the government for remedial action. It also engages in advocacy, education, and awareness programs to promote a culture of human rights in India.
  • Over the years, the NHRC has evolved and expanded its scope to address various human rights issues, including those related to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It operates at both the central and state levels, with a chairperson and members appointed by the President of India.
  • The NHRC's history is marked by its efforts to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution and international human rights instruments
4. NHRC Composition 

The composition of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) includes a chairperson and several members appointed by the President of India. According to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the NHRC consists of:

  • Chairperson: The chairperson is appointed by the President of India and must be a retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a serving or retired Judge of the Supreme Court.

  • Members: The NHRC can have up to four members, including a member who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, a member who is or has been the Chief Justice of a High Court, and two other members who have knowledge or practical experience in matters relating to human rights.

These appointments aim to ensure the independence, expertise, and credibility of the NHRC in addressing human rights issues effectively. The members serve fixed terms as specified by the Act, and they collectively contribute to the commission's efforts to protect and promote human rights across the country

5.Appointment of NHRC Members


The appointment of members to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) follows a process outlined in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Here's an overview of the appointment procedure:

  • Selection Committee: A Selection Committee is constituted to recommend candidates for appointment as Chairperson and members of the NHRC. The Selection Committee is chaired by the Prime Minister of India and includes the following members:

    • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) or the Deputy Speaker, in case the Speaker is unable to attend.
    • The Minister in charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Government of India.
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
6.Functions & Powers of NHRC
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is empowered with various functions and powers to protect and promote human rights across the country.
Here are some of its key functions and powers:
  • The NHRC is authorized to inquire into complaints of human rights violations received from individuals or groups. It can investigate violations committed by public servants or by any authority or person acting under the government's authority
  • The Commission has the power to monitor human rights violations, including through suo moto action, where it can initiate an inquiry based on media reports, complaints, or its own knowledge
  • Following investigations or inquiries, the NHRC can make recommendations to the concerned authorities for remedial action, prosecution, or compensation to victims of human rights violations
  • The NHRC engages in activities to raise awareness about human rights issues through seminars, workshops, publications, and other educational programs
  • It advises the government on policies and measures to promote and protect human rights effectively
  • The NHRC can intervene in court proceedings related to human rights violations, either as a party or as amicus curiae (friend of the court)
  • The Commission conducts research and studies on human rights issues to better understand the challenges and formulate appropriate responses
  • Based on its findings and experiences, the NHRC can recommend legislative reforms to strengthen human rights protection in the country
  • The NHRC collaborates with international human rights organizations and participates in international forums to promote human rights globally
  • The NHRC has the authority to visit and monitor places of detention, such as prisons and juvenile homes, to ensure that inmates' human rights are respected
7. Limitations of NHRC 
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India plays a significant role in protecting and promoting human rights, it also faces several limitations, including:
  • The NHRC lacks direct enforcement authority. It can investigate human rights violations, make recommendations, and issue guidelines, but it cannot enforce its decisions or ensure their implementation. Its recommendations are non-binding, and compliance by government agencies or other authorities is voluntary.
  • The process of investigation and resolution of complaints by the NHRC can be lengthy and time-consuming, leading to delays in providing justice to victims of human rights violations. This delay can undermine the effectiveness of the NHRC in addressing urgent and serious violations
  • The NHRC operates with limited resources, including budgetary allocations and staffing. This constraint can affect its capacity to handle a large number of complaints effectively and conduct thorough investigations into human rights violations
  • The NHRC's jurisdiction is limited to investigating human rights violations committed by public servants or authorities acting under the government's authority. It may not have jurisdiction over violations by non-state actors or in certain areas like the armed forces, where separate mechanisms exist
  • There have been instances where political pressures or interference have affected the independence and impartiality of the NHRC. Political influence can hinder its ability to address human rights violations objectively and without bias
  • Many people, especially in rural areas and marginalized communities, may not be aware of the NHRC's existence or how to access its services. This lack of awareness and accessibility can prevent victims of human rights violations from seeking redress through the commission
  • Even when the NHRC makes recommendations for remedial action or compensation, there may be instances where these recommendations are not implemented fully or effectively by the concerned authorities
For Prelims: National Human Rights Commission
For Mains: Emerging Human Rights Challenges, Role and Functions of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Previous Year Questions

1.Other than the Fundamental Rights, which of the following parts of the Constitution of India reflect/reflects the principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)? (UPSC CSE 2020)

  1. Preamble
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. Fundamental Duties

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Answer: (d)

2.Consider the following: (UPSC CSE 2011)

  1. Right to education
  2. Right to equal access to public service
  3. Right to food.

Which of the above is/are Human Right/Human Rights under “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?

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

Answer: (d)


1.Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analysing theirstructural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures. (UPSC CSE Mains GS 1 2021)

Source: The Hindu


1. Context 

Drawing attention to the grave situation in Alappuzha district arising from the bird flu outbreak, Minister for Animal Husbandry J. Chinchurani on Monday informed the Kerala Assembly that urgent measures were needed to tackle the situation

2. Avian Influenza

  • Avian Influenza, also known as Avian or Bird Flu, is a form of influenza caused by a virus found in birds.
  • Avian Flu is similar to variants found in animals and humans – caused strains of influenza that have adapted to specific hosts.

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.
Image Source: The Hindu

4. Effect on Birds

  • Although avian influenza has different subtypes, H5N1 is a highly pathogenic subtype that causes mortality in birds.
  • Since 2022, the virus has infected over 100 million birds across the globe, resulting in the deaths of over 50 million and the culling of millions of poultry.
  • Unlike previous outbreaks of highly pathogenic subtypes of avian influenza, H5N1 is heavily impacting wild bird species, including many which were on the verge of extinction. 
  • While it is difficult to ascertain how many wild birds have been affected by the virus, a significant impact has been seen in eagles, pelicans, geese, waterfowl, gulls, falcons, and shorebirds, in addition to the highest possible impact on poultry seen till date, at least in the U.S.
  • The impact of H5N1 on wild bird populations has varied depending on several factors, such as the level of exposure, geographical locations, and migratory patterns of the affected species. 
  • High mortality in wild birds due to the virus could lead to significant ecological consequences, including the vulnerability of predators and alterations in species composition in affected ecosystems, and therefore a possible impact on biodiversity not just limited to avian species. 
  • It has raised concerns regarding the spread of the virus among critically endangered avian populations.  

5. Spreading to animals

  • The highly contagious H5N1 virus can also occasionally spill over from birds to animals through direct or indirect contact with infected birds or their droppings. 
  • Worryingly, there have been several reports on the spillover of H5N1 to mammals during the current outbreak from different countries, infecting species such as sea lions, minks, foxes, wild bears, and skunks, apart from domestic animals such as dogs and cats.
  • In 2023 alone, H5N1 caused the deaths of over 3,000 sea lions in Peru. In a recent yet ­to­ be peer ­reviewed study, scientists found that the virus could efficiently spread between ferrets in the laboratory.
  • The only known cases of the virus spreading between mammals were reported in minks that were raised in close confinement on a farm in Spain.
  • The transmission of H5N1 from birds to mammals is rare, but when it does occur, it can be a cause for concern, as the virus could accumulate mutations and acquire the ability to potentially initiate human outbreaks.
  • H5N1 has a high mortality rate of over 60% in humans and is primarily transmitted to humans through close contact with infected birds or animals, either through handling infected poultry or exposure to contaminated environments.

6. Enhanced Measures

  • As the current H5N1 outbreak continues unabated with devastating impact on the avian population globally, and with significant ecological and economic consequences, the time has never been better to initiate efforts for preparedness towards building better, more efficient vaccines for avians and humans.
  • Genomic surveillance should be done to map the continued evolution of the virus.
  • Moreover, enhanced biosecurity measures are required to protect both animal and public health.
For Prelims: Avian influenza H5N1, Bird Flu, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA), influenza A viruses, Genomic surveillance, Pathogens, and Viruses.

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

Source: The Hindu



1. Context

Scientists at the world’s largest physics experiment have reported the most precise measurement yet of the most massive subatomic particle we know. The finding sounds esoteric but it wouldn’t be an understatement to say it has implications for the whole universe

2. What is Higgs Boson?

  • The Higgs boson is one of the 17 fundamental particles that constitute the Standard Mode of particle physics, and the best scientific hypothesis on the behavior of the building blocks of the Universe.
  • It is often called the "God Particle" because it is significant in subatomic physics.
  • The Higgs boson is the elementary particle related to the Higgs field that imparts mass to other elementary particles like Quarks and electrons.
  • When a particle is subjected to a force, its mass decides how much it affects its speed or position.
  • All elementary particles do not have mass, such as Photon, which carries electromagnetic energy but lacks mass.
  • A particle's mass is the amount of inertia that defines its presence at any given location.

3. What is a Higgs Field?

  • As proposed by Peter Higgs in 1964, the Higgs field is the field of energy that permeates the universe.
  • The Higgs field is an invisible field where elementary particles gain mass after interacting with it. Diverse Particles, like electrons, quarks, photons, etc., have varying masses because the Higgs field does not affect them equally.
  • The greater a particle's binding strength to the Higgs field, the bigger it's mass.
  • Physicists had a solid theory about electromagnetic and weak nuclear interactions in the early 1960s.
  • However, deep similarities were discovered between the two. Still, a theoretical approach at a higher level demanded that particles be massless, given the reality that particles in nature had mass.
  • In 1964, Peter Higgs presented his original manuscript about the Higgs field (then unnamed) to the journal Physical Review Letters.
  • He revised his paper and added a new prediction that a new elementary particle should be linked to the Higgs field.
  • It belonged to a new class of elementary particles known as bosons, possessing high mass. This particle was later named the Higgs boson.

4. Discovery of Higgs Boson

  • Higgs’ hypothesis proved to be appealing for the masses of all elementary particles. The only way to confirm the theory was to examine a Higgs boson.
  • The Higgs boson was anticipated to be unstable, breaking into numerous particles in a microsecond.
  • By subatomic standards, its enormous mass meant that only extremely high-energy collisions could produce it.
  • Observing the Higgs boson was one of CERN’s primary goals when it built the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.
  • When the LHC started in 2008, scientists only knew of the Higgs Boson because its mass had to be larger than 114 billion electron volts (eV).
  • The LHC stood up to the challenge, with a growing number of observations showing a Higgs-like particle of about 125 billion eV. CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson on July 4, 2012, 50 years after its initial proposal. 
  • Francois Englert and Peter Higgs won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical discovery of the Higgs mechanism, which contributed significantly to the origin of the mass of subatomic particles and confirmed the discovery of the Higgs boson fundamental particle.
  • The discovery was historic because it established the existence of the Higgs field, required for the Standard Model and many other particle physics theories.

5. Results of the study

  • According to quantum field theory, which is the theory physicists use to study these interactions, space at the subatomic level is not empty.
  • It is filled with virtual particles, which are particles that quickly pop in and out of existence. They can’t be detected directly, but according to physicists their effects sometimes linger.
  • The LHC creates a Higgs boson by accelerating billions of highly energetic protons into a head­on collision, releasing a tremendous amount of energy that condenses into different particles.
  • As it is a heavy particle, the Higgs boson is unstable and decays into lighter particles.
  • We can’t always say which combination of particles it will decay into.
  • But, the theory that describes the properties of fundamental particles has predicted the probability that it will take a given path.
  • For example, this theory called the Standard Model, says that a Higgs boson will decay to a Z boson and a photon 0.1% of the time.
  • This means the LHC needed to have created at least 1,000 Higgs bosons to have been able to spot one of them decaying to a Z boson and a photon.
  • As it happens, the Z boson is also unstable.  According to Martin Bauer, an associate professor at the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology, Durham University, Z bosons decay to two muons some 3% of the time. 

6. Implications

  • The two detectors that announced the new measurement, called ATLAS and CMS had looked for and found the decay before as well (in 2018 and 2020).
  • On this occasion, the two teams combined their data, collected “between 2015 and 2018”, and as a result “significantly increased the statistical precision and reach of their searches,” according to a CERN statement.
  • This significance is even now not high enough for the teams to claim that a Higgs boson decays to a Z boson and a photon with 100% certainty, reflecting the rarity of the decay pathway.
  • The Standard Model has made many. The Standard Model has made many accurate predictions but it can’t explain what dark matter is or why the Higgs boson is so heavy.
  • Testing its predictions as precisely as possible is a way for physicists to find whether there are any cracks in the Model cracks through which they can validate new theories of physics. 
  • For example, some theories predict a higher rate of decay through this pathway; if the LHC and its detectors find experimental proof of that, the new theories could open a new realm of science. 

7. Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

  • LHC was constructed to determine what is the Higgs field, how it operates, and whether it is elementary or composite.
  • The LHC was designed to accomplish much more than identify the Higgs Boson. In Switzerland and France, scientists built the world’s most powerful and largest particle accelerator in an underground tunnel of 100m.
  • They propelled protons around the LHC’s 17-mile ring of superconducting magnets with an energy of up to 7 TeV.
  • Scientists examined the speeding particles after slamming them together for signs of a degraded Higgs.
  • The discovery of the Higgs boson was announced after two years of operation and over 300 trillion unique collisions.
For Prelims: Large Hadron Collider, Higgs Boson, Higgs field, electron volts (eV), Z boson, Quarks, and electrons.
 Previous year Question
1. The efforts to detect the existence of Higgs boson particles have become frequent news in the recent past. What is/are the importance/importance of discovering this particle? (UPSC  2013)
1. It will enable us to understand as to why elementary particles have mass.
2. It will enable us in the near future to develop the technology of transferring matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them.
3. It will enable us to create better fuels for nuclear fission.
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
2. Recently scientists observed the merger of giant 'black holes' billions of light years away from the Earth. What is the significance of this observation? (UPSC 2019)
A. 'Higgs boson particles' were detected
B. 'Gravitational waves' were detected.
C. Possibility of inter-galactic space travel through a 'wormhole' was confirmed.
D. It enabled the scientists to understand 'singularity'.
Answer: B
Source: The Hindu 


1. Context

The 16th Finance Commission (FC) has begun its work, established under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution, primarily focusing on the devolution of the consolidated fund. Since the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, local bodies have gained significant recognition within the federal system. These amendments introduced sub-clauses 280 (3) (bb) and (c), which mandate the FC to recommend measures to augment State consolidated funds for supporting panchayats and municipalities.

2. Finance Commission

  • The Finance Commission is a crucial constitutional body in India responsible for the distribution of financial resources between the central government and the state governments.
  • It plays a vital role in maintaining fiscal federalism by ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of financial revenues and grants-in-aid among the various tiers of government.
  • The Finance Commission is set up every five years, or at such earlier intervals as the President of India may decide, as per Article 280 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It consists of a Chairman and four other members, each appointed by the President. These members are experts in the fields of economics, finance, and public administration.

3. Mandate and Functions

  • The primary objective of the Finance Commission is to make recommendations to the President regarding the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the Union (central government) and the states, and the allocation of resources among the states.
  • It also suggests measures to improve the financial position of the states, if necessary. The Commission's recommendations are aimed at addressing regional imbalances and ensuring the overall economic development of the country.

4. The specific functions of the Finance Commission include

  • Tax Revenue Sharing: The Commission reviews the trends in revenue collections and recommends the percentage of the divisible pool of taxes that should be shared with the states. The divisible pool includes taxes like income tax, corporate tax, and excise duty.
  • Grants-in-Aid: Besides the devolution of taxes, the Finance Commission also suggests grants-in-aid to states to support their financial requirements for various developmental projects and schemes.
  • Debt Relief: The Commission may recommend measures to provide relief to states facing a high burden of debt, thereby promoting fiscal discipline.
  • Macro-Fiscal Management: It examines the overall financial situation of the country and suggests measures to maintain macroeconomic stability.
  • Any Other Matter: The President may also refer specific matters to the Commission for examination and recommendations.

5. Process of Working

  • The Finance Commission follows a consultative process while formulating its recommendations.
  • It seeks input from various stakeholders, including the central and state governments, local bodies, financial experts, and economists.
  • The Commission examines historical data, financial indicators, and the needs of states to arrive at a comprehensive and objective assessment.
  • After conducting detailed studies and consultations, the Commission submits its report to the President.
  • The recommendations of the Finance Commission are ordinarily binding in nature, and both the central and state governments are expected to implement them. However, their acceptance depends on the discretion of the central government.

6. Importance

  • The Finance Commission is crucial in maintaining the federal structure of India and ensuring that all states receive adequate financial support for their development.
  • By promoting equitable distribution of resources, helps in reducing regional disparities and fostering balanced economic growth across the country.
  • The Commission's recommendations also play a vital role in shaping the fiscal policies of both the central and state governments.

7. Recommendations of the Previous Finance Commission

13th Finance Commission Recommendations:

  • Increase the number of court working hours using existing infrastructure.
  • Enhance support to Lok Adalats.
  • Provide additional funding to State Legal Services Authorities to enhance legal aid for the marginalized.
  • Promote the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.
  • Enhance the capacity of judicial officers and public prosecutors through training programs.
  • Support the creation of a judicial academy in every state for training purposes.
  • Allocate funds for the setting up of specialized courts.
14th Finance Commission's Recommendations:
  • Raised states' share in the divisible pool of central taxes to 42%
  • Revised to 41% after the number of states reduced to 28
  • The withdrawal of Planning Commission grants helped manage the situation

15th Finance Commission Recommendations:

  • Gather quantifiable data on the level of various services available in different states.
  • Collect corresponding unit cost data to estimate cost disabilities among states.
  • Fill gaps in statistical data through the efforts of the Ministry of Statistics.

8. Need for realistic expectations regarding  the following 16th Finance Commission

  • Acknowledging Implementation Challenges: Recognize the challenges and complexities involved in implementing Finance Commission recommendations, such as coordination issues, administrative capacity, and resistance to change. This understanding will help shape realistic expectations and strategies for addressing these challenges.
  • Strengthening Implementation Mechanisms: Focus on improving the implementation mechanisms and processes. This includes enhancing coordination and cooperation between the Union and state governments, strengthening administrative capacity at all levels, and streamlining the implementation of conditionalities to facilitate smoother execution.
  • Robust Monitoring and Evaluation: Establish effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track the progress and outcomes of implemented reforms. Regular assessment will help identify implementation gaps and provide opportunities for course correction and improvement.
For Prelims: Finance Commission, Article 280, Fiscal Consolidation, Fiscal Federalism, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
For Mains: 1. Discuss the Role and Challenges of the Finance Commission in Promoting Fiscal Federalism and Ensuring Equitable Resource Distribution in India. (250 words).

Previous year Question

1. With reference to the Finance Commission of India, which of the following statements is correct? (UPSC 2011)
A. It encourages the inflow of foreign capital for infrastructure development.
B. It facilitates the proper distribution of finances among the Public Sector Undertaking.
C. It ensures transparency in financial administration.
D. None of the statements (a), (b), and (c) given above is correct in this context.
Answer: D
2. With reference to the Fourteenth Finance Commission, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC 2015)
1. It has increased the share of States in the central divisible pool from 32 percent to 42 percent.
2. It has made recommendations concerning sector-specific grants.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A
3. Which of the following is/are among the noticeable features of the recommendations of the Thirteenth Finance Commission? (UPSC 2012)
1. A design for the Goods and Services Tax, and a compensation package linked to adherence to the proposed design.
2. A design for the creation of lakhs of jobs in the next ten years in consonance with India's demographic dividend.
3. Devolution of a specified share of central taxes to local bodies as grants
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: C
 Source: The Hindu


1. Context
Manufacturing activity rebounded in June, with an uptick in new orders, output and input purchases, even as producers raised goods’ prices by the greatest extent in more than two years, and scaled up hiring to the highest level in at least 19 years, as per a survey-based index
2. What is the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)?
The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is an economic indicator that provides insights into the health of a country's manufacturing or services sector.
PMI is widely used by businesses, economists, and policymakers to gauge the economic performance and future trends in these sectors.
It is usually expressed as a numerical value that reflects the prevailing business conditions.
2.1. Key Aspects of PMI
  • PMI is typically calculated through surveys of purchasing managers in various industries. These managers are asked about their perception of different aspects of business activity, including new orders, production levels, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories.
  • PMI is usually reported as a number between 0 and 100.
  • A PMI value above 50 generally indicates expansion in the sector, while a value below 50 suggests contraction. The farther the PMI is from 50, the stronger the perceived expansion or contraction.
  • PMI is considered a leading indicator because it provides insights into economic conditions before official economic data, such as GDP growth or employment figures, are released. It can be used to anticipate changes in economic activity.
  • PMIs are calculated separately for manufacturing and services sectors. A Manufacturing PMI focuses on the manufacturing sector, while a Services PMI provides insights into the services sector. These sector-specific PMIs can give a more detailed view of the economy.

Components: PMI is composed of several components, including:

  • New Orders: This component measures the number of new orders received by businesses. An increase in new orders often signals growing demand and economic expansion.
  • Production: This component reflects changes in production levels. An increase suggests increased economic activity.
  • Employment: The employment component indicates changes in the level of employment within the sector. An increase typically means job growth.
  • Supplier Deliveries: This measures the speed at which suppliers can deliver materials. Slower deliveries may indicate supply chain issues or increased demand.
  • Inventories: Inventory levels can be an indicator of expected demand. A decrease in inventories might suggest an expectation of rising demand.
3. Significance of PMI
  • The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is a significant economic indicator with several important implications and uses
  • PMI serves as a barometer of the economic health of a country or region. A PMI above 50 generally indicates economic expansion, while a PMI below 50 suggests contraction.
  • This provides a quick and easily understandable snapshot of the direction of economic activity, making it a valuable tool for assessing the overall economic climate.
  • PMI is a leading indicator, meaning it often provides insights into economic conditions ahead of other official economic data, such as GDP growth or employment figures. As such, it is used by businesses, investors, and policymakers to anticipate changes in economic activity and make informed decisions
4. Way forward
Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is a valuable economic indicator that helps gauge the economic health and trends in the manufacturing and services sectors. It provides timely insights into business activity and is widely used by businesses and policymakers for decision-making and economic forecasting


Previous Year Questions

1.What does S & P 500 relate to? (UPSC CSE 2008)

(a) Supercomputer
(b) A new technique in e-business
(c) A new technique in bridge building
(d) An index of stocks of large companies

Answer: (d)

Source: The Hindu

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