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InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically


Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Five social sector ministries join PM Gati Shakti


GS Paper 3:

1. CAG data on Pension bills for centre and states

2. What’s the effect of the Russian oil price cap, ban?

3. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

4. Digital lending: No clarity say bank and fintech

5. Intergovernmental meeting to end plastic pollution concludes


Facts for Prelims:

1. Essential Commodities

2. National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

3. Social Hostilities Index (SHI)

4. Steam-propelled spacecraft

5. Ransomware

6. International Cheetah Day

7. Mapping



Five social sector ministries join PM Gati Shakti

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Social Justice/ Governance


Source: Financial express

 Context: Five key social sector departments – health, women and child development, rural development and panchayat raj, education, and housing and urban affairs – have joined the PM Gati Shakti Scheme, aimed at cutting India’s logistical costs

  • Implementing agency: DPIIT (Department for promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) of the commerce and industry ministry.


 How Gati Shakti will improve the functioning of these social sector departments:

  • Improved Planning of the projects
  • Improved coordination among departments e.g., concerned departments can upload their GIS data (Geographic Information System) to be shared among other departments.
  • Improved monitoring of projects
  • Improved evaluation of the impact of the projects.


About PM Gati-Shakti National Master Plan

 PM Gati Shakti Master Plan (2021), is a Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’. It aims to ensure the speed (Gati) and Power (Shakti) of infrastructure projects in the next four years, with a focus on expediting works on the ground, saving costs and creating jobs, and bringing down the logistics cost.

 Gati Shakti scheme will give the necessary push to infrastructure development:

  • Boost to infrastructure: A plug-and-play model for industrial parks. It will subsume National Infrastructure Pipeline launched in 2019
  • Helps solve logistical issues: India’s logistics cost burden is 13-14% of GDP, compared to 6-8% in more competitive economies.
  • Curbs red-tapism: g., the Railways has started a ‘Common Drawing Approval System’ on an online platform, so all the approvals can be accessed on one portal.
  • Increased coordination: Gati Shakti will bring together 16 infrastructure-related Ministries.
  • Incorporation of various projects from different ministries: Gati Shakti will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Union ministries and state governments: Bharatmala, Sagarmala, UDAN, inland waterways, dry/land ports, etc.


Insta Curious

 Insta Links

PM GatiShakti — National Master Plan


Mains Links

Q. Gati Shakti will ensure integrated planning and implementation of infrastructure projects in the coming years, with a focus on expediting works on the ground, saving costs and creating jobs. Discuss. (250 Words) (UPSC Mains 2022)

CAG data on Pension bills for centre and states

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Indian Economy


Source: Indian Express

Context: As per the latest data by CAG (titled ‘Union and State Finances at A Glance’ for 2019-20), expenditure on the pension has emerged as one of the major components of the Committed Expenditure of the Centre and states in recent years.


  • Committed expenditure on revenue account mainly consisted of interest payments, expenditure on salaries, pensions and subsidies.
  • If the Committed Expenditure is higher, it means that the government has lesser flexibility to determine the purpose for which revenue expenditure is to be incurred.

What does the report say:

  • Expenditure on the ‘salary and wages’ of the Centre and three states – including Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal – during 2019-20.
  • The Centre’s total Committed Expenditure accounted for 37 per cent of its total revenue expenditure of Rs 26.15 lakh crore in 2019-20
    • 67 per cent on Interest Payment and Servicing of Debt
    • 19 per cent on expenditure on Pensions and Salary
    • 14 per cent Wages
  • Centre’s pension bill was 132 per cent of its expenditure on salary and wages in 2019-20


FRBM Act (2003)

  • Aim: To make the Central government responsible for ensuring inter-generational equityin fiscal management and long-term macroeconomic stability.
  • Fiscal Limits: The Act envisages the setting of limits on the Central and state government’s debt and deficits.
  • The States have since enacted their own respective Financial Responsibility Legislation, which sets the same 3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) cap on their annual budget deficits.
  • The NK Singh committee(set up in 2016) recommendation: The debt to GDP ratio should be 7% for the central government, and 20% for the state governments together by the FY 2022 – 23. Fiscal deficit: By FY 2022 – 23, the fiscal deficit should be 5% of GDP.


The recent political move of going back to the old pension scheme by some of the state governments such as Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh may aggravate the fiscal imbalance of the states.


Insta Links


Prelims Links

Which of the following is/are included in the capital budget of the Government of India? (UPSC 2016)

  1. Expenditure on acquisition of assets like roads, buildings, machinery, etc,
  2. Loans received from foreign governments
  3. Loans and advances granted to the States and Union Territories

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D


With reference to the Fourteenth Finance Commission, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC CSE 2015)

  1. It has increased the share of States in the central divisible pool from 32 per cent to 42 per cent.
  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

Mains Links

Q. Increasing fiscal deficit of states is a cause of worry and there is a considerable need to focus on state government finances. Analyze. (250 words)

What’s the effect of the Russian oil price cap, ban?

GS Paper3/GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Indian Economy/ Internal Relations


Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

Context: Western countries, G7 and European Union have agreed to cap the price of Russia’s oil exports (to $60 per barrel) in an attempt to limit the fossil fuel earnings that support Russia’s budget, its military and the invasion of Ukraine.

What is the price cap?

A price-cap regulation is a form of economic regulation that establishes an upper limit on the prices that a utility provider can charge.

Impact of the price cap:

  • Increase volatility in the Oil market: The price cap could have an uncertain effect on the price of oil as worries over lost supply through the boycott compete with fears about lower demand from a slowing global economy
  • Hurt Russia’s Finance: The price cap is meant to hurt Russia’s finances while avoiding a sharp oil price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly taken off the global market.
  • Insurance companies and other firms needed to ship oil would only be able to deal with Russian crude if the oil is priced at or below the cap.

Impact on India:

  • Buyers in India might not go along with the cap
  • Russia or China or India could try to set up their own insurance providers to replace those barred by U.S., U.K. and Europe.

Counter-measures by Russia:

Experts say a $60 cap will not have much impact on Russia’s finances. Russia (the world’s No. 2 oil producer) has already rerouted much of its supply to India, China and other Asian countries at discounted prices after Western countries shunned it even before the EU ban.

  • Russia has said it will not observe a cap and will halt deliveries to countries that do.
  • Fear of Black Marketing: Russia also could sell oil off the books by using “dark fleet” tankers with obscure ownership


Experts view that the $60 cap is way too high. A $30 cap would “give Russia the financial crisis”. But “$60 is better than not agreeing at all”


Insta Links:

Prelims link:

  1. What is a Price cap?
  2. Balance of Payments
  3. Balance of trade
  4. About Petrodollar System

Mains Link:

Q. Policymakers have little control over the dollar and crude oil. It is impossible to take a call on how these prices will move. Explain.

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

 GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Indian Economy and related issues


Source: IE 

Direction: The article discusses UPI and the latest NPCI rules, which affect both major and small payment apps.


Context: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has extended the deadline for platforms using UPI to meet its 30% market share cap by two years.

Background: The NPCI’s market cap rules limit any single payments app from processing more than 30% of UPI transactions in a month.

About Unified Payments Interface (UPI):

    • UPI is a technology that consolidates various bank accounts into a single mobile app (of any participating bank) –
      • Providing an instant real-time payment system,
      • Allowing users to transfer money across multiple bank accounts without revealing details of one’s bank account to the other party.
    • It was launched by the NPCI in 2016 in conjunction with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks Association (IBA).

Features and benefits of UPI:



Performance of UPI:

    • The UPI transaction value for the month of October (2022) touched a new high at Rs 12.11 lakh crore, with the transaction count touching 7.3 billion.
    • According to the RBI’s Payment Vision 2025, UPI is expected to register an average annualised growth of 50%.


Why this extension? Taking into account the current usage and future potential of UPI, other existing and new participants (banks and non-banks) have adequate time to upscale their consumer outreach for the growth of UPI and achieve overall market equilibrium.


Impact of this move:

    • The 30% limit will deny UPI payment services to millions of Indians, undermining the spectacular development narrative of Indian digital payments.
    • It recognizes that existing and new UPI firms must commit more time, effort, and money to expand their own UPI market share.

Who will benefit and who will suffer from the extension?

  • Beneficiaries: PhonePe and Google Pay, which currently command a majority (80%) of the UPI market share.
  • Sufferers: Paytm (market – 15%), WhatsApp Pay and other market players.

●        It is an umbrella organisation incorporated in 2008 as a “Not for Profit” Company under the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013).

●        It is an initiative of RBI and IBA under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating infrastructure for the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.

Insta Links:


Mains Links:

Q. What is the Unified Payments Interface (UPI)? What are its advantages over other cashless transaction methods? Why is UPI significant to the Indian economy?


Prelims Links:

Consider the following statements about Unified Payments Interface (UPI):

  1. It is an instant real-time payment system jointly developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  2. It caters to the “Peer to Peer” collection request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.

Which of the given above statements is/are correct?

    1. 1 only
    2. 2 only
    3. Both 1 and 2
    4. Neither 1 nor 2


Ans: (2)



  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India facilitating inter-bank transactions. The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform.
  • It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collection request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.


Refer: After Bhutan adopts India’s Bhim UPI

/ Dec 5 CA, Today's Article

Digital lending: No clarity say bank and fintech

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Indian Economy and related issues


Source: IE

 Direction: The article discusses the current digital lending ecosystem, the need to regulate it, RBI guidelines and confusion regarding it.

 Context: Two months after the RBI issued guidelines on digital lending, Banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and fintech players are still awaiting clarity on many aspects, including the FLDG system.

First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG): It is a lending model between a fintech and a regulated entity in which a third party guarantees to compensate up to a certain percentage of default in a loan portfolio of the regulated entities (REs – banks or NBFCs).

 Digital lending:

  • It involves giving and recovering loans through web platforms or mobile apps by digital lenders.
  • Lending Service Providers (LSPs) are engaged by the REs to carry out some functions of RE in connection with lenders’ functions on digital platforms.
    • These LSPs may be engaged in customer acquisition, underwriting support, recovery of loans, etc.
  • According to the RBI, as many as 600 out of 1100 lending apps currently available are illegal apps and stringent norms for digital lenders, including separate legislation to prevent illegal digital lending activities, are the need of the hour. 

The guidelines on digital lending:

  • The RE will have to
    • Disclose upfront the rate charged to the borrower of a digital loan,
    • Ensure that borrowers are aware of the products and
    • Capture the economic profile of the borrowers before offering the loans.
  • On FLDG, RBI advised the RE to follow directions on securitisation, especially, synthetic securitisation.
    • In synthetic securitisation, a bank buys credit protection on a portfolio of loans from an investor.
    • This means that if a loan in the portfolio defaults, the investor reimburses the bank for losses on loans in the portfolio up to a certain amount, which is the amount invested.
  • The RBI asked regulated entities like banks to ensure that LSP and Digital Lending App (DLA) comply with the guidelines.

 Significance of the guidelines: They aimed at protecting customers from unethical business practices, such as mis-selling, breach of data privacy, unfair business conduct and charging of exorbitant interest rates.

Why is there so much confusion?

  • Guidelines are very stringent as far as the data storage, confidentiality, role and responsibility of digital partners are concerned.
  • For example, REs should ensure that LSPs or DLAs engaged by them do not store the personal information of borrowers except for some basic minimal data.

Insta Links:

RBI: Digital Lending Rules

Intergovernmental meeting to end plastic pollution concludes

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment Conservation


Source: DTE

 Direction: The article highlights some of the effective ways to limit plastic pollution and India’s efforts in this direction.


Context: The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) concluded in Uruguay.



  • The INC-1 was convened and managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • The INC-1 came after a landmark resolution was endorsed at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), calling for the international legally binding instrument to promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics.
  • According to the OECD, global plastic production was 460 million tonnes (Mt) in 2019 (234 Mt in 2000) and during the same period, plastic waste doubled to 353 Mt from 156 Mt.


Extracts from the outcome document titled “Summary of plastic pollution science”:

  • Recognised the links between plastic, human health and environmental health.
  • Endorsed the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)’s position that plastic pollution is rooted in the material’s life cycle – an offshoot of the linear take-make-dispose economy.
  • Current trends need to be replaced by a circular economy (CE) – a model of production and consumption, which involves reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.


4 strategic goals that can guide the transition to a circular economy:

  • Reduce the size of the problem by eliminating and substituting plastic items.
  • Ensure that plastic products are designed to be circular.
  • Close the loop of plastics in the economy.
  • Manage plastics that cannot be reused or recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.


Plastic Waste in India:

  • The majority of plastic used in India today is for packaging and its production (the majority of which is single-use that may or may not be recyclable) is increasing each year.
  • According to the Union Minister of Environment, over 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in India in 2019-20, which has doubled in the last 5 years.
  • As a result, the government has notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, which for the first time provided for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
    • Under this, producers, importers and brand owners have been made responsible for collecting waste generated by their products.
  • What more needs to be done to tackle plastic pollution in the country?
    • Strengthening India’s plastic waste production, consumption and recycling inventory;
    • Making brands disclose the number of plastics produced, collected, recycled and burnt each year;
    • Integrating the informal sector into the formal value chain for plastic management;
    • Designing product packaging with the ‘end-of-life’ stage in mind.


Insta Links:

 Beating plastic pollution

Effects of plastics on the environment


Mains Links:

Q. We need to slow the flow of plastic at its source, but we also need to improve the way we manage our plastic waste. Examine.


Facts for Prelims

Essential Commodities

Context: States to set up district-wise price monitoring centres for essential items.

  • Essential commodities are the products, the supply of which, if obstructed due to hoarding or black marketing, would affect the normal life of the people.


The Department of Consumer Affairs ( under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public distribution) has a system of collecting prices of 22 essential food commodities in the country.

  • All states should set up price monitoring centres for critical goods in all districts.
  • The Center is providing financial support to create 750 price monitoring centres.

Essential commodities are regulated under the Essential Commodities Act, of 1955

  • It aims to regulate the production, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce in, certain commodities, in the interest of the general public.
  • The central government may add or remove an essential commodity from the list through a notification.


Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS): BIS is the National Standard Body of India under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution. It was established under the BIS Act 2016.

  • Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution is the ex-officio President.
  • The main activities are standardization, marking and quality certification of goods.
  • BIS is responsible for developing Indian Standards, implementing voluntary and mandatory standards, such as Quality Control Orders, and providing quality assurance to consumers.


National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)

Context: Hansraj Ahir assumes charge as NCBC chairperson.

Following the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018, NCBC became a constitutional body, established under Article 338B of the Indian Constitution.

  • The commission was the outcome of the Indra Sawhney case (1992) and was a statutory body.

About NCBC

  • The Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President
  • The conditions of service and tenure of office shall be decided by President.
  • The Commission shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.
  • The commission considers inclusions and exclusions from the lists of communities.
  • The commission has the same powers as a Civil Court


Social Hostilities Index (SHI)

Context: India tops the index on social hostilities relating to religion.

  • The report was released by the Washington-based think tank Pew Research Centre
  • The SHI measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups. The index comprises 13 metrics, including religion-related armed conflict or terrorism and mob or sectarian violence.


  • At 9.4 out of a maximum possible score of 10, India’s Social Hostilities Index (SHI) in 2020 was worse than neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The study has recorded the targeting of minorities in India during the pandemic.


Steam-propelled spacecraft

Context: ‘World’s first steam-propelled spacecraft heads to the moon and beyond.

  • EQUULEUS Spacecraft is a water-powered CubeSat spacecraft.

It was developed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

  • Launched from NASA’s Orion spacecraft


The space mission will carry out a number of investigations, including testing of the radiation environment to help determine what precautions future astronauts would have to take out in the deep space location.

Its planned orbital path will be the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point (EML2).



Context: Investigators search for the source of a ransomware attack on AIIMS servers

Ransomware is a malware designed to deny a user or organization access to files on their computer.


  • The malware first gains access to the device.
  • Depending on the type of ransomware, either the entire operating system or individual files are encrypted.
  • A ransom is then demanded from the victim.

Past attacks: WannaCry and Petya.


International Cheetah Day

Context: Social media fuels illegal trade in the species

International Cheetah Day is celebrated on December 4 to raise awareness about the need for helping cheetahs fight extinction.

Social media has significantly increased dealers’ ability to expand their audiences.

  • They also provide exotic pet owners with a platform to showcase their illegal purchases.



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