Current Affair



1. Context
The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday told the Madras High Court that the 2024 Kallakurichi hooch tragedy cannot be considered a sequel to similar incidents in Villupuram and Chengalpattu in 2023, since the source and quantum of methanol were different
2. What is a Hooch?
"Hooch" is a slang term for illicitly produced or illegally distributed alcoholic beverages. The term is often used to describe homemade or bootleg alcohol, which is typically made without government regulation or quality control, and can sometimes be unsafe to drink due to the unregulated production process. The word "hooch" is believed to have originated from "hoochinoo," a term used by indigenous people in Alaska to describe a type of homemade liquor. Over time, the term evolved and became widely used to refer to any illegal or homemade alcoholic drink
3. How is Hooch produced?
  • Preparation:

    • Mixing: Sugar is dissolved in water to create a sugary solution. If fruits or grains are used, they are often mashed or cooked to release their sugars.
    • Sterilization: The mixture is sometimes boiled to kill any unwanted bacteria or wild yeast.
  • Fermentation:

    • Adding Yeast: Once the mixture is at an appropriate temperature, yeast is added.
    • Fermenting: The mixture is left in a sealed container with an airlock to ferment for several days to weeks. During this time, the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Distillation:

    • Initial Product: The fermented liquid, called "wash" or "mash," contains a relatively low concentration of alcohol.
    • Heating: The wash is heated in a still. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so it evaporates first.
    • Condensation: The alcohol vapour is collected and condensed back into liquid form, which is then collected as "hooch."
4. What are the effects of spurious liquor?
Spurious liquor, often referred to as fake or adulterated alcohol, can have severe and sometimes fatal effects on health.
Here are some of the key effects:
  • Methanol Poisoning: Spurious liquor often contains methanol, a toxic substance that can cause:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Headaches
    • Abdominal pain
    • Blurred vision or blindness
    • Seizures
    • Coma or death in severe cases
  • Organ Damage: Chronic consumption of spurious liquor can lead to long-term damage to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart.
  • Neurological Effects: Adulterated alcohol can cause neurological damage, leading to confusion, poor coordination, and cognitive impairment.
  • Respiratory Issues: Acute poisoning can result in respiratory distress or failure.
  • Cardiovascular Problems: Can cause irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues.
Constitution about Spurious Liquor
Intoxicating liquors are listed under List II (State List) of the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution. This means that the regulation and control over intoxicating liquors, including production, distribution, and sale within a state, fall under the jurisdiction and legislative authority of the state governments in India
The prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are harmful to health in India is primarily addressed under Article 47 of the Indian Constitution. This article is located in Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy), which outlines the principles for the state to follow in governance and policy-making. Article 47 specifically directs the state to endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. It emphasizes the state's duty to improve public health and promote the well-being of its citizens by implementing measures to reduce the consumption of harmful substances
5. Advantages and Disadvantages of Liquor ban
Advantages of Alcohol Ban Disadvantages of Alcohol Ban
Public Health Benefits: Economic Impact:
Reduced alcohol-related diseases and disorders. Loss of revenue from alcohol sales and taxes
Decreased incidents of alcohol-related incidents Potential increase in illicit alcohol production
Lower burden on healthcare and emergency services Impact on businesses such as bars and restaurants
Social Benefits:  
Reduction in domestic violence and crime Social Implications:
Improved public safety and security Potential for underground alcohol market
Promotes healthier lifestyles and family stability Cultural and social impact on traditional practices
Psychological Benefits: Limited personal freedom and choice
Reduction in alcohol addiction and dependency Potential for civil unrest or resistance
Better mental health outcomes in communities  
6. Way Forward
Implementing an alcohol ban involves balancing public health and social considerations with potential economic and cultural impacts, which can vary significantly based on local context and enforcement strategies
Source: The Hindu


1. Context

The Union government reconstituted various important Cabinet committees .Ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Democratic Alliance partners, Janata Dal (U), Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (S), Shiv Sena and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), have found place in the committees

2. What are the various Cabinet committees?
  • After the Union Cabinet is sworn in and ministerial portfolios are assigned, the next step involves establishing the high-profile Cabinet committees.
  • These committees are formed by the Prime Minister and comprise selected Cabinet members who are delegated specific roles. The Prime Minister has the authority to adjust the number of committees and modify their assigned functions as needed.
  • Each committee typically consists of three to eight members, predominantly Cabinet ministers. Occasionally, non-Cabinet ministers may also participate as members or special invitees. When the Prime Minister serves on a committee, he assumes the role of its chairperson.
  • These committees deliberate on issues, develop proposals for Cabinet consideration, and make decisions on matters within their purview. The Cabinet retains the authority to review these decisions.
  • During the Manmohan Singh government, there were up to 12 Cabinet committees in addition to numerous Groups of Ministers (GoMs) and Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs)
How Many Committees are Present right now?
Currently, there are eight Cabinet committees: the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth, Cabinet Committee on Security, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Employment & Skill Development, and Cabinet Committee on Accommodation.
The committees focusing on investment and employment were introduced by the Modi government in 2019. Except for the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation and Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, all committees are chaired by the Prime Minister
3. Significance of Cabinet Committees
  • Led by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) includes the Ministers of Finance, Defence, Home Affairs, and External Affairs as its members.
  • It oversees discussions, appointments within national security bodies, and major decisions concerning national security, defence spending, and related policy matters. In addition to defence issues, the CCS also addresses law and order, internal security, and foreign policy matters related to security, including considerations involving atomic energy.
  • Given its crucial role, there is an expectation that the BJP will resist pressure from allies such as the TDP and JDU to relinquish any of these significant portfolios.
  • With all current CCS members—Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, and S Jaishankar—regularly attending informal meetings at the Prime Minister's residence, there is widespread anticipation of continuity within the CCS in Modi's second term
4. Coalition Government and Cabinet Committees (CCs)
  • In a coalition government, where multiple political parties come together to form a government, the composition and functioning of Cabinet Committees (CCs) can be influenced by the dynamics of coalition politics
  • One notable instance occurred during the transition from Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as Prime Minister to the H D Deve Gowda government in 1996.
  • Deve Gowda, then Chief Minister of Karnataka, assumed office as Prime Minister on June 1. Mulayam Singh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party was appointed Defence Minister, P Chidambaram, who had established the Tamil Maanila Congress earlier that year, took on the role of Finance Minister, and Indrajit Gupta of the CPI became Home Minister.
  • In 2001, during Vajpayee's leadership of the NDA government, George Fernandes, founder of the Samata Party, was appointed Defence Minister and held the position for three years.
  • As Defence Minister during the BJP-led governments of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's second and third terms (1998–2004), Fernandes oversaw significant events such as the Kargil War and the nuclear tests conducted at Pokhra
5. Way Forward
Overall, in a coalition government, Cabinet Committees play a crucial role in managing and balancing the interests of coalition partners while addressing national priorities. Effective coordination and communication among coalition members are essential for the smooth functioning of CCs and the government as a whole
For Prelims: Cabinet Committees, Ethics Committes
For Mains: GSII- Cabinet Committees and thier Significance
Previous Year Questions
1.Read the following statements related to Cabinet Committees and choose the correct option : (CGPSC Civil Service 2020 Official Paper 1)
Statement I : Cabinet Committees are not mentioned in the Constitution
Statement II : Cabinet Committees are set up by the Prime Minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation
Statement III : If Prime Minister is the member of Committee, he may not necessarily be the Chairman of Committee
Statement IV : Parliamentary Affairs Committee is chaired by the Prime Minister
A.All statements are true
B.Statements I, II and III are true, but Statement IV is false
C.Statements II, III and IV are true, but Statement I is false
D.Statements I and II are true, but Statements III and IV are false
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context

Recently, Flight operations at Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Manipur were affected due to the presence of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO). The incident resulted in the diversion of two flights and delays for three departing flights. 

2. What are UFOs?

  • A UFO is an unidentified flying object which is generally considered anomalies that are completely unidentifiable.
  • UFO is an object in the sky that is not identifiable as any known object or even a natural phenomenon.
  • The title of UFO was created in 1953 by the United States Air Force to record and review any instances where a flying object was logged in official reporting.
Image Source: Britannica

3. Global Perspective on UFOs

  • Project Blue Book, a government initiative from 1952 to 1969, compiled over 12,000 reports but ended due to a low percentage of unidentified cases.
  • While the US has been a focal point for UFO sightings, they are reported worldwide.
  • Former President Barack Obama acknowledged the existence of unidentified objects in a 2021 interview, emphasizing the need for investigation.
  • A 2021 government report indicated inconclusive data, with sightings often near US training and testing grounds.
  • The heightened interest in UFOs emerged after World War 2, coinciding with the Cold War, leading to increased government focus on potential threats.
  • The term Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) is now used to avoid the speculative associations linked to UFOs.
  • The Pentagon and NASA employ this term, with NASA commissioning a study team in 2022 to examine UAPs from a scientific perspective. The focus is on identifying and collecting data to enhance scientific understanding.

4. UFO Sightings in India

  • Unlike the US, UFO sightings have not been a significant part of Indian culture.
  • However, with the proliferation of televisions and cameras, claims have increased.
  • Renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray contributed to the depiction of aliens in Indian culture through scripts like "The Alien" and "Bonkubabur Bondhu." played a role in shaping the representation of aliens in Indian culture.
  • Despite not being a significant part of Indian folklore, the accessibility of cameras has led to an increase in UFO claims.
  • A June 2022 report mentioned the need for time, improved data gathering, diagnostic tools, and scientific scrutiny to gain clarity on the surge in UAP reports.
  • National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasized the impact of unexplained aerial phenomena on training ranges, pilot operations, and national security.

5. World UFO Day

  • World UFO Day is observed every year to spread awareness about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).
  • The main aim of celebrating the day is to acknowledge the existence of UFOs. 
  • Earlier, this day was celebrated on two different dates by people, some celebrated it on 24 June, while the others observed it on 2 July. Later, 2 July was officially declared as World UFO Day.

6. Conclusion

The study of UAPs is a relatively new field, and there is still much that we do not know about these phenomena. However, the recent increase in interest and attention to UAPs is likely to lead to new insights and understanding in the years to come.

For Prelims: Unidentified Flying Object, aliens, National Security Council, Project Blue Book, World War 2, Cold War,  Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, NASA, World UFO Day
For Mains: 
1. Explain the concept of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and their significance in the context of national security and scientific inquiry. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2015)
i. Some claim to have seen UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects).
ii. Life on other heavenly bodies is considered to be a possibility.
iii. Voyage to space is now an established fact.
From the above statements, it may be concluded that
A. UFOs are heavenly bodies
B. UFOs are sent from other heavenly bodies
C. Some living species in other heavenly bodies are more intelligent than man
D. Nothing definite can be said about the UFOs
Answer: D

2. ‘Invasive Species Specialist Group’ (that develops Global Invasive Species Database) belongs to which one of the following organizations? (UPSC 2023) 

(a) The International Union for Conservation of Nature

(b) The United Nations Environment Programme

(c) The United Nations World Commission for Environment and Development

(d) The World Wide Fund for Nature

Answer: A

3. In the Constitution of India, promotion of international peace and security is included in the (UPSC 2014) 

(a) Preamble to the Constitution 
(b) Directive Principles of State Policy 
(c) Fundamental Duties 
(d) Ninth Schedule 

Answer: B

 Source: The Indian Express


1. Context
In Gen. Sir John Hackett’s terrifying alternate fiction, The Third World War (1978), which describes a world locked in nuclear conflict, a deliberate provocation against the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) powers in Europe causes WWIII. Though NATO wins the war, it’s a pyrrhic victory
2. Why was NATO established?

NATO, established on April 4, 1949, is a Western security alliance comprising 12 original members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The alliance was formed by signing the Washington Treaty, deriving its authority from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which upholds the inherent right of independent states to individual or collective defense.

Central to NATO is the principle of "collective security," where an attack on any member nation is viewed as an attack on all, necessitating collective response. This principle emerged from the Cold War context of the late 1940s, amid the rivalry between the USSR and the US over ideological and economic dominance. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, addressing collective security, was introduced to counter the perceived threat of Soviet expansionism beyond Eastern Europe. In response, the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955, uniting socialist countries as allies.

However, invoking Article 5 does not mandate uniform military action by all member states. The extent of intervention is determined by each country "as it deems necessary." To date, the only instance of Article 5 being activated was in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, leading to NATO's deployment in Afghanistan for nearly two decades


3. Who are NATO’s members today?

In addition to the initial 12 members, subsequent additions to NATO's membership include Greece and Turkey in 1952, West Germany in 1955 (later recognized as Germany), Spain in 1982, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999, followed by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009, Montenegro in 2017, North Macedonia in 2020, Finland in 2023, and Sweden in 2024.

A surge of new members joined in 1999, a few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, prompting concerns about the alliance's potential obsolescence due to the absence of its original purpose

4.What challenges does NATO face today?


  • During the 2019 commemoration of NATO's 70th anniversary, notable tensions arose among member nations.
  • President Donald Trump of the United States emphasized the necessity for countries to increase their military expenditures.
  • This call stemmed from a 2014 agreement among NATO members to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defense spending, a commitment made following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
  • However, only a handful of nations met this threshold, prompting criticism from President Trump who deemed it unfair, particularly to countries such as the US that were fulfilling their spending obligations. By 2023, among the 30 member countries at the time, only 11 exceeded the stipulated limit.
  • One significant catalyst for increased defense spending was the Russian invasion of Ukraine the preceding year. Even traditionally neutral countries in foreign policy, such as Finland and Sweden, found appeal in the concept of collective security in response to Russia's assertive actions.
  • Despite NATO's "open door" policy toward membership, the admission of new applicants requires unanimous approval from all member states. Turkey hesitated to support the applications of Sweden and Finland due to past criticisms from their politicians regarding Turkey's human rights record. Turkey also accused these nations of harboring "terrorists"
5. Way Forward
Although the Ukraine-Russia war seems to have given NATO a new focus area to converge at, funding the war has again become a source of disagreements among members, much to Ukraine’s displeasure. Just this year, Secretary-General Stoltenberg said a plan was being formulated so that 18 NATO would meet the 2 per cent limit by the end of 2024
Source: Indianexpress



1. Context
Revenues of India’s top 18 States are likely to grow by 8%-10% this fiscal year to about ₹38 lakh crore, accelerating from a 7.5% uptick in 2023-24, largely aided by a rise in collections from the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
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 

On June 28 2024, Iran held the first round of voting to elect a new President, necessitated by the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in May. Since neither of the top two candidates — 69-year-old cardiac surgeon Masoud Pezeshkian, a reformist, and 58-year-old hardliner Saeed Jalili — won more than 50% of votes, they will face off in a run-off election on July 5

2. A Timeline of US-Iran Relations

2.1. Overthrow of Mossadeq

  • In 1953, The US and British intelligence agencies orchestrate a coup to topple Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq.
  • Mossadeq's push for nationalizing Iran's oil industry clashes with American capitalist interests.

2.2. Iranian Revolution

  • The US-supported Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, flees the country in 1979 following widespread demonstrations and opposition.
  • Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile, and Iran declared an Islamic Republic in April 1979.

2.3. US Embassy Hostage Crisis

  • Protesters seize the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979, resulting in 444 days of captivity for American hostages.
  • The remaining hostages are released on the day of President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in January 1981.

2.4. Nuclear Concerns and Imposed Sanctions

  • In 2002, revelations by an Iranian opposition group unveil Iran's nuclear facilities development, including uranium enrichment.
  • This prompts the imposition of sanctions by the UN, US, and EU against Iran.
  • President George Bush labels Iran as part of an "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and North Korea, leading to a significant depreciation of Iran's currency.

2.5. Closer Ties and the Nuclear Deal

  • September 2013 witnessed Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani assuming office.
  • In 2015, after intensive diplomatic efforts, Iran strikes a comprehensive nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5+1 group - the US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany.
  • Under the agreement, Iran commits to curtailing its sensitive nuclear activities and granting international inspectors access, while economic sanctions are lifted.
Image Source: aljazeera

3. International Transfer of Sentenced Persons

The international transfer of sentenced persons is a process by which a person who has been convicted of a crime in one country is transferred to another country to serve their sentence. This can be done for several reasons, such as to allow the person to serve their sentence closer to their family and friends, or to take advantage of better prison conditions in the receiving country.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) plays an active role in facilitating the international transfer of sentenced persons. The UNODC provides technical assistance to states that are considering transferring sentenced persons, and it also maintains a database of bilateral and multilateral agreements on the transfer of sentenced persons.

The decision of whether or not to transfer a sentenced person is ultimately up to the sentencing country. However, the UNODC has developed several guidelines that countries should consider when making this decision. These guidelines include:

  1. The sentenced person should consent to the transfer.
  2. The receiving country should have a prison system that is capable of adequately managing the sentenced person.
  3. The receiving country should have laws that are compatible with the sentenced person's human rights.
  4. The transfer should not be used to circumvent the sentencing country's laws.

4. The history behind the deal

  • The tentative deal between the U.S. and Iran has been in the making for months.
  • In February 2023, media outlets reported that the two countries were holding indirect talks for a possible prisoner swap.
  • In March 2023, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the country's State television service that an agreement for a prisoner swap has been reached with the U.S., however, dismissed his comment at the time, calling it a "cruel lie".

5. Qatar's role

  • Qatar has acted as a mediator between the U.S. and Iran in the past and is likely to play a role in the implementation of the prisoner swap deal.
  • The frozen funds will be transferred to the central bank in Qatar, which will regulate the account to ensure that the funds are used for humanitarian purposes.

6. Way Forward

  • The deal is a positive step towards resolving the US-Iran conflict. It is a sign that both countries are willing to compromise and that they are open to dialogue.
  • The deal could pave the way for further negotiations between the US and Iran on other issues, such as the nuclear program. 
  • However, it is a significant development that could lead to the release of the five Iranian Americans and a thaw in relations between the US and Iran.
For Prelims: US- Iran relations, Iranian Revolution, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Qatar, 
For Mains: 
1. Discuss the key points and implications of the recent tentative US-Iran prisoner swap deal. How does the transfer of frozen funds fit into the broader context of international relations and sanctions? (250 Words)
2. Critically analyze the challenges and ethical considerations associated with the international transfer of sentenced persons. How can the UNODC's guidelines contribute to ensuring fairness and human rights in such processes? (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Recently Iran has clinched a deal with six world powers to curb nuclear activities. Which one among the following is not a party to it? (UPSC CAPF 2014)
A. USA           B. France         C.  Russia             D. Japan
Answer: D
2. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) has a 'Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
2. The UNCAC is the ever-first legally binding global anti-corruption instrument.
3. A highlight of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) is the inclusion of a specific chapter aimed at returning assets to their rightful owners from whom they had been taken illicitly.
4. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated by its member states to assist in the implementation of both UNCAC AND UNTOC.
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: C
Source: The Hindu



1. Context

Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh is set to be the second home for cheetahs in India. An assessment of the carrying capacity of Kuno National Park has revealed that the animal’s current habitat in the country has exceeded its carrying capacity

2. Why was Project Cheetah launched?

  • India's cheetah relocation program is perhaps among the most ambitious of its kind in the world.
  • The attempt is to, over the next decade, bring in five to 10 animals every year until a self-sustaining population of about 35 is established.
  • Unlike, cheetahs in South Africa and Namibia, which live in fenced reserves, India's plan is to have them grown in natural, unfenced, wild conditions.
  • At Kuno, only six of the 17 adults are in the wild with the rest lodged in large, specially designed enclosures to help the animals acclimatize to Indian conditions.
  • The plan is to release all the animals into the open by the yearend. The animals are radio-collared and tracked 24/7. 

3. How do cheetahs die?

  • The South African study also documented the causes of mortality, where it could be established, for 293 cheetah deaths.
  • It found that holding camps caused 6.5% of cheetah deaths, immobilization/ transit caused 7.5% of deaths, and another 0.7% were caused by tracking devices. This added up to almost 15%  so, one in every seven cheetah deaths was attributed to handling and management.
  • Predation turned out to be the biggest killer in the study, accounting for 53.2% of cheetah mortality. Lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals were primarily responsible. Several other wildlife including warthogs, baboons, snakes, elephants, crocodiles, vultures, zebras, and even ostriches killed cheetahs.
  • It is well documented that cheetahs suffer very high cub mortality up to 90% in protected areas mainly due to predation. Consequently, nearly 80% of all cheetahs throughout their range in Africa are found living outside of protected parks and reserves.

4. Were these unfortunate cheetah deaths unexpected?

  • The Cheetah Project did anticipate high mortality. The criteria for the project’s short-term success was only “50% survival of the introduced cheetah for the first year”. That would be 10 out of 20.
  • As a result, the Madhya Pradesh government set a six-month deadline for readying Gandhisagar in the Chambal river valley in Mandsaur and Nimach districts for the cheetahs. There is also talk about moving a few animals from Kuno to the safety of an 80-sq-km fenced area in Rajasthan’s Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve.
  • The focus, therefore, is shifting from the project’s stated purpose that of establishing the cheetah in an open landscape as a free-roaming and self-sustaining population occupying thousands of square miles to managing the African imports as a few pocket populations in fenced-in or restricted areas.

5. How successful has Project Cheetah been so far?

  • In September 2023, it will be one year since a batch of eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India.
  • They were followed by 12 others from South Africa in February 2023. The official Cheetah Action Plan, the guiding document behind the project, observes that even half the cheetahs surviving the first year would be “an indicator of success”.
  • Independent critics have, however, argued that there are some basic flaws in the project. For one, it is a mistake to have had all 20 cheetahs at Kuno as there is too little space and prey, given that the animal is a courser and needs larger fields of play.
  • Some animals should have gone to the Mukundara reserve in Rajasthan. Forest officials in Madhya Pradesh have also admitted that they are stretched.
  • However, the officials in the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the nodal agency of the Environment Ministry tasked with coordinating the project, say that Kuno is capable of hosting the first lot of animals and future batches will be sent to other reserves.
  • The experience of raising cheetahs in fenced reserves in Africa can’t be replicated in India, say, experts, because India’s cultural values promote coexistence with beasts, and that underpinned the success of tiger, lion, and leopard conservation programs.
For Prelims: Kuno National Park, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Project Cheetah, Chambal river valley, and South Africa.

Previous year Question

1. Recently there was a proposal to translocate some of the lions from their natural habitat in Gujarat to which one of the following sites? (UPSC 2017)
A. Corbett National Park
B. Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary
C. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
D. Sariska National Park
Answer: B
Source: The Hindu

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