Inter-State Council


The Inter-State Council, which works to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country, has been reconstituted with PM Modi as Chairman and CMs of all States and six Union Ministers as members.


GS II- Polity and Governance  (Federalism)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Inter-State Council
  2. Aims of the ISC
  3. Composition
  4. Functions of Inter-State Council

About Inter-State Council:

  • Article 263 of the Indian constitution gives provision for the establishment of an Inter-State Council.
  • This will improve collaboration between the Center and the States.
  • It is the most vibrant platform for debating policies, strengthening Centre-State relations, and serving as a bridge between the Center and the States.

Aims of the ISC

  • Decentralisation of powers to the states as much as possible
  • More transfer of financial resources to the states
  • Arrangements for devolution in such a way that the states can fulfil their obligations
  • Advancement of loans to states should be related to as ‘the productive principle’
  • Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in the states either on their request or otherwise


Prime Minister acts as the chairman of the council.

Members of Inter-State Council

  • Union Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Union
  • Council of Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister.  
  • Chief Ministers of all states.
  • Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly
  • Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly.
  • Governors of the states being administered under President’s rule.

Functions of Inter-State Council

  • Inquiring into and providing advice on potential inter-state disputes
  • Investigating and debating topics of common interest to the states of the union.
  • Making recommendations on any such subject for enhanced policy and action coordination on that subject.

Who are ASHA workers?


The World Health Organisation has recognised the country’s 10.4 lakh ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers as ‘Global Health Leaders’ for their efforts in connecting the community to the government’s health programmes.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are ASHA workers?
  2. How many ASHAs are there across the country?
  3. What do ASHA workers do?
  4. How much are ASHA workers paid?

Who are ASHA workers?

  • ASHA workers are volunteers from within the community who are trained to provide information and aid people in accessing benefits of various healthcare schemes of the government.
  • They act as a bridge connecting marginalised communities with facilities such as primary health centres, sub-centres and district hospitals.
  • The role of these community health volunteers under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was first established in 2005.
  • ASHAs are primarily married, widowed, or divorced women between the ages of 25 and 45 years from within the community.
  • They must have good communication and leadership skills; should be literate with formal education up to Class 8, as per the programme guidelines.

How many ASHAs are there across the country?

  • The aim is to have one ASHA for every 1,000 persons or per habitation in hilly, tribal or other sparsely populated areas.
  • There are around 10.4 lakh ASHA workers across the country, with the largest workforces in states with high populations – Uttar Pradesh (1.63 lakh), Bihar (89,437), and Madhya Pradesh (77,531).
  • Goa is the only state with no such workers, as per the latest National Health Mission data available from September 2019.

What do ASHA workers do?

  • They go door-to-door in their designated areas creating awareness about basic nutrition, hygiene practices, and the health services available.
  • They focus primarily on ensuring that women undergo ante-natal check-up, maintain nutrition during pregnancy, deliver at a healthcare facility, and provide post-birth training on breast-feeding and complementary nutrition of children.
  • They also counsel women about contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections.
  • ASHA workers are also tasked with ensuring and motivating children to get immunised.
  • Other than mother and child care, ASHA workers also provide medicines daily to TB patients under directly observed treatment of the national programme.
  • They are also tasked with screening for infections like malaria during the season.
  • They also provide basic medicines and therapies to people under their jurisdiction such as oral rehydration solution, chloroquine for malaria, iron folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia, and contraceptive pills.
  • The health volunteers are also tasked with informing their respective primary health centre about any births or deaths in their designated areas.

How much are ASHA workers paid?

  • Since they are considered “volunteers”, governments are not obligated to pay them a salary. And, most states don’t.
  • Their income depends on incentives under various schemes that are provided when they, for example, ensure an institutional delivery or when they get a child immunised.
    • All this adds up to only between Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 a month.
  • “Her work would be so tailored that it does not interfere with her normal livelihood,” the National Health Mission states.

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)


India has signalled its readiness to be part of a new economic initiative led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) by the US for the region.


GS II- International Relations (Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About IPEF
  2. Other details of IPEF
  3. Reasons for creation of IPEF

About IPEF

  • The alliance, which includes seven out of ten ASEAN nations, all four Quad countries, and New Zealand, accounts for around 40% of world GDP. Trade, supply chain resiliency, sustainable energy and decarbonisation, and taxes and anti-corruption measures are expected to be at the forefront of the IPEF negotiations.
  • Countries would have to sign up to all of the components within a module, but do not have to participate in all modules.
  • The US Trade Representative will lead the “fair and resilient trade” module, which will cover digital, labour, and environmental issues as well as some contractual obligations.
  • The IPEF aims to strengthen economic cooperation among member countries in order to improve the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness.

Other details of IPEF

  • US officials made it clear that the IPEF would not be a “free trade agreement”, nor are countries expected to discuss reducing tariffs or increasing market access.
  • The IPEF will not include market access commitments such as lowering tariff barriers,
  • In that sense, the IPEF would not seek to replace the 11-nation CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that the US quit in 2017, or the RCEP, which China, and all of the other IPEF countries (minus the US) are a part of.
  • Three ASEAN countries considered closer to China — Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos — are not members of the IPEF.

Reasons for creation of IPEF

  • The IPEF is also considered as a way for the US to reclaim its regional credibility following former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Since then, there has been worry about the United States’ lack of a realistic economic and trade plan to offset China’s economic influence in the region.
  • China is a key member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has applied to join its successor pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • It is also a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which has 14 members but does not include the United States (India withdrew from RCEP).
  • IPEF is the new US vehicle for re-engagement with East Asia and South East Asia, according to the Biden Administration.

The cryptocurrency price fall


Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency around, is down more than 50% from an all-time high price of $68,000.


GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are cryptocurrencies?
  2. How are they different from actual currency?
  3. How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?
  4. What’s new about this phase of the cryptocurrency price fall?
  5. What vulnerability was revealed during this crash?

What are cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies are e-currencies that are based on decentralized technology and operate on a distributed public ledger called the blockchain.
  • Blockchain records all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • The technology allows people to make payments and store money digitally without having to use their names or a financial intermediary such as banks.
  • Cryptocurrency units such as Bitcoin are created through a ‘mining’ process which involves using a computer to solve numerical problems that generate coins.
  • Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be launched and was created in 2009.

How are they different from actual currency?

  • The Main difference is that unlike actual currencies cryptocurrencies are not issued by Governments.
  • Actual money is created or printed by the government which has a monopoly in terms of issuing currency. Central banks across the world issue paper notes and therefore create money and assign paper notes their value.
  • Money created through this process derives its value via government fiat, which is why the paper currency is also called fiat currency.
  • In the case of cryptocurrencies, the process of creating the currency is not monopolized as anyone can create it through the mining process.

How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?

  • Any currency has its value if it can be exchanged for goods or services and if it is a store of value (it can maintain purchasing power over time).
  • Cryptocurrencies, in contrast to fiat currencies, derive their value from exchanges.
  • The extent of involvement of the community in terms of demand and supply of cryptocurrencies helps determine their value.

What’s new about this phase of the cryptocurrency price fall?

  • This big sell-off phase has come about at a time when the war in Ukraine and the subsequent disruptions to the global supply chain have resulted in record-high inflation throughout the world.
    • Inflation in the U.K., for instance, is at its highest levels in 40 years.
  • To tackle such conditions, many central banks have gone in for interest rate hikes.
    • Early this month, the U.S. Federal Reserve increased its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest hike in 22 years.
  • Cryptocurrencies, which are perceived amongst the riskier investments, are weighed down in such an environment where investors want safety more than anything else.
  • Cryptocurrencies, interestingly, were promoted as those that could weather these storms.
  •  Vulnerability in the cryptocurrency ecosystem also played its part in the recent price crash.

What vulnerability was revealed during this crash?

The Bitcoin value also got impacted by what’s essentially a sub-story in the entire episode — the fate of a stablecoin called TerraUSD.

  • Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that seek to hold their value steady, even if the Bitcoins of the world have a rocky journey. This, they do by pegging to a currency such as the dollar.
  • TerraUSD’s idea was to maintain a value of $1.
  • The way it maintains its peg is through an algorithmic solution, wherein if it drops below $1, a trader is encouraged to receive a ‘sister’ token called Luna at a discounted price in exchange.
  • The TerraUSD, for which Luna was exchanged, then goes out of circulation.
  • The supply falls, and the peg to $1 is achieved again.
  • That’s how it works in theory. What happened in reality is that the peg was lost, and the investors began to pull out, and both the stablecoins had a free fall.

Bitcoin value slide

  • Recently, TerraUSD was trading below seven cents . Luna was trading at $0.0002044, very close to zero.
  • The Luna Foundation Guard, which backs the Terra ecosystem, had tried selling its Bitcoin reserves to keep its cryptocurrency peg intact.
  • That, among other things, could also have played a part in the Bitcoin value slide.



A cave exploration team has discovered an ancient forest at the bottom of a giant karst sinkhole in Leye County in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.


GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Sinkhole in Leye County:
  2. How are sinkholes formed?
  3. Sinkholes in China and around the world

About the Sinkhole in Leye County:

  • The sinkhole measures 306 metres in length, is 150 metres in width and 192 metres in depth, with its volume exceeding 5 million cubic meters.
  • Given these dimensions, the sinkhole can be categorised as a large sinkhole.
  • In Mandarin, giant sinkholes are called Tiankeng or “heavenly pit”.
  • Interestingly, the sinkhole has three big caves in the walls and its bottom has a well-preserved primitive forest with trees nearly 40 metres high.
  • Earlier in November 2019, Xinhua Net had reported the discovery of a giant cluster of sinkholes in the same region.
  • Before this, in 2016, scientists had discovered the world’s largest cluster of sinkholes in northwest China’s Shaanxi province.

How are sinkholes formed?

  • Sinkholes are depressions formed in the ground when layers of the Earth’s surface start collapsing into caverns.
  • They can occur suddenly and without warning, because the land under the surface of the Earth can stay intact for a period of time until the spaces get too big.
  • Sinkholes can be formed due to natural processes or human activity.
  • Typically, sinkholes form in areas of “karst” terrains, where the rock below the surface of the Earth can be easily dissolved by groundwater.
  • Essentially, this means that when rainwater seeps into the ground, the rock below the surface of the Earth starts dissolving, leading to the creation of spaces.
  • This process is a slow and gradual one and can sometimes take hundreds or thousands of years.
  • As per NASA, karst geology covers about 13 per cent of eastern and southeastern Asia.
  • Karst terrain is created from the dissolution of soluble rocks, mostly limestone and dolomite and is characterised by distinctive landforms such as caves, sinkholes and springs.
  • Sinkholes can also be formed due to human activity. According to the British Geological Survey, this can happen due to broken land drains, water mains and sewerage pipes, increased rainfall, storm events, underlying limestone and diverted surface water, among other reasons.

Sinkholes in China and around the world

  • In China, the mining of coal, zinc, lead and iron ore deposits in karst areas have been associated with the formation of sinkholes due to human activity.
  • In January 2020, six people were killed after a bus and some pedestrians were swallowed by a sinkhole in China’s Xining city, the capital of Qinghai province.
  • Sinkholes are not uncommon in other parts of the world.
  • About 20 percent of the US is made up of karst landscapes. In Florida, in an area that is classified as a karst landscape, insurance agencies must provide homeowners coverage against damage that can accrue from ground cover collapse.
  • Elsewhere in the US, sinkholes are also common in Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • The largest sinkhole in the US is called the “Golly Hole”, which collapsed suddenly in 1972 and is over 325 ft long, 300 ft wide and 120 ft deep.
  • Other sinkhole-prone areas around the world include Mexico, parts of Italy and Russia.



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