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UPSC Key—16th November, 2023: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Indo Pacific Regional Dialogue and World Governance Index | UPSC Current Affairs News

17 min read

Amid strain in ties, Xi and Biden head to summit in San Francisco


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Chinese President Xi Jinping left for the US on Tuesday for a “meeting of great importance” with his American counterpart Joe Biden on Wednesday, amidst frosty ties between the two largest global economies. The Biden-Xi bilateral will take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which the US is hosting in San Francisco from November 11 to 17. It will be their second face-to-face meeting in a year. Biden and Xi last held an in-person meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit on November 14 in Bali, Indonesia.

• What is Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)?

• Origin and Development of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)-Know in details

Festive offer

• Do You Know-APEC is a regional economic forum that was established in 1989. Its stated aim was to “leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific and create greater prosperity for the people of the region through regional economic integration”. Notably, many East Asian countries had recorded increasing growth rates in the ’80s and the decade preceding the formation of the forum.
The 21 members of APEC are termed “economies” (rather than countries or member states) because trade and economic issues are the focus of the grouping. In a reflection of the idea, Taiwan and Hong Kong attend APEC meetings as distinct entities, even though China says they are parts of China and not independent entities.
The APEC economies are Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong (as part of China), the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile – as located geographically around the Pacific Ocean.

• Map Work-APEC Member Countries

• What role has it played over the years?

• Why is India not a part of the APEC grouping?

• Why India has not got membership in APEC?

• Why APEC needs India?

• For Your Information-The grouping has always championed free trade, the lowering of trade tariffs, and economic liberalisation. According to the US State Department, “During its first five years of operation, APEC established its core objectives. In the 1991 Seoul Declaration, APEC member economies proclaimed the creation of a liberalized free trade area around the Pacific Rim as the principle objective of the organization.”
An article by experts at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), noted, “The dynamic growth attributable to APEC initiatives contributed significantly to the development of a growing middle class in the developing Asia-Pacific region. APEC economies’ 2.9 billion citizens make up roughly 60 percent of global GDP. As of 2018, they represented 48 percent of global trade.”
India has expressed interest in joining APEC, and made a formal request in 1991 – the year in which the Union government ushered in economic reforms for liberalisation and globalisation. In 2016, then Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman told Parliament that the request to join was based on India’s geographical location, the potential size of the economy, and degree of trade interaction with the Asia-Pacific.
The response noted that APEC has had an informal moratorium on expanding membership for many years now. This is despite the fact that the US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region issued in 2015 states that “The United States welcomes India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as the Indian economy is a dynamic part of the Asian economy.”

• What is the aim of the APEC summit this year?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:



After states protest, NMC suspends decision on capping MBBS seats


Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

Main Examination: 

• 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 II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Three months after its announcement, the National Medical Commission (NMC), the country’s apex medical education regulator, has suspended its decision to limit the number of MBBS seats to 100 per 10 lakh population in every state — a move that would have otherwise barred all five southern states from increasing their medical seat capacity for the next academic session (2024-25).

• What was ‘MBBS seats to 100 per 10 lakh population in every state’?

• What was the controversial thing in “Guidelines for undergraduate courses under the establishment of new medical institutions, starting new medical courses, increase of seats for existing courses, and assessment and rating Regulation 2023”?

• For Your Information-The regulation — titled “Guidelines for undergraduate courses under the establishment of new medical institutions, starting new medical courses, increase of seats for existing courses, and assessment and rating Regulation 2023” – states that approval for new medical colleges and an increase in the number of MBBS seats from the next academic session would be based on the seats-to-population ratio. It basically caps the number of undergraduate medical seats in a state to 100 per 10 lakh population.
This provision is now in abeyance and will only be implemented for the 2025-26 academic year, after further stakeholder consultations happen, and until consensus can be developed on the matter. According to sources, the Health Ministry asked the NMC to reconsider the move amidst strong opposition from some states.
This is among a slew of decisions the NMC has either put in abeyance or rolled back recently following opposition by stakeholders. Only two-and-a-half months ago, it put on hold its new guidelines that made it mandatory for doctors to prescribe only generic drugs, following backlash from the country’s largest doctors’ body, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), as well as the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), which described the move as “not feasible”.
The prescribed limit of 100 seats per 10 lakh population would have allowed addition of 40,000 more seats, but only in states like Bihar and Jharkhand, where there is over 70% deficiency. This led to a backlash from states that have already exceeded the seats-to-population ratio, including all five southern states.
The rationale behind capping the total seats to 100 per 10 lakh population, according to people in the know, was to ensure equitable distribution of resources, especially faculty members, across the country. This restriction would have allowed the addition of 40,000 more MBBS seats, but only in states such as Bihar and Jharkhand, where there is over 70% deficiency as per the new seats-to-population ratio norm. This is what triggered a backlash from states that have already exceeded this ratio, leaving them ineligible for further expansion.
According to data analysed by The Indian Express, at least 13 states and UTs, including all five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala, have more than 100 seats per 10 lakh population. The new NMC norm would have directly affected them.

• Why National Medical Commission (NMC) restricted the opening of new medical colleges in many states?

• How are medical college seats currently distributed among states?

• What are the new guidelines by National Medical Commission (NMC)?

• What is the doctor to population ratio in India?

• India’s Health Budget-Know the Statistics

• How does the pandemic affected health services?

• How does the impact of the pandemic on health services put the spotlight on the benefits of digital innovation and technology-enabled solutions?

• How implementation of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) united all stakeholders in the digital healthcare ecosystem?

• Public Health Systems in India-Know the Background

• Current state of India’s health infrastructure- What World Bank data says?

• COVID-19 Pandemic and India’s Healthcare System-Connect the dots

• Steps required to strengthen the existing state of Health infrastructure in India

• What do you understand by Universal Health Coverage (UHC)?

• PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana and Ayushman Bharat Scheme-Key Highlights

• Is there any explicit/implicit recognition of the right to health or healthcare under the Constitution? (Hint: Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the India Constitution provide a basis for the right to health)

• What is Supreme Court of India stand on Right to Health?

• What is National Medical Commission?

• What is the role of National Medical Commission?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍India has a doctor for every 10,189 people, finds WHO survey


Navy Chief flags fragile situation in South China Sea


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The fragile security situation in the South China Sea, in addition to violations of established Codes of Conduct or Confidence Building Measures, poses a clear and present danger to order at sea, Admiral R Hari Kumar said Wednesday.

• What is Indo Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD)?

• What is the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)?

• For Your Information-According to PIB, the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue 2023 (IPRD-2023), the annual apex-level regional strategic dialogue of the Indian Navy. The three-day conference is being conducted from 15 November 2023 to 17 November 2023. The overarching theme of IPRD-2023 is “Geopolitical Impacts upon Indo-Pacific Maritime Trade and Connectivity”. This year’s edition of the IPRD builds upon the previous one, which focussed upon ‘Operationalising the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)’, by specifically addressing the ‘Trade, Connectivity and Maritime Transport’ pillar of the IPOI. Both ‘Trade’ and ‘Maritime Transport’ are, of course, segments of maritime connectivity.
The day’s proceedings commenced with a special address by Admiral Karambir Singh (Retd), Chairman of the National Maritime Foundation, and former Chief of the Naval Staff. In his address, Admiral Singh offered a nuanced perspective of maritime connectivity and elaborated upon its six inter-related aspects. He also prognosticated about the potential advancements in shipping and port-connectivity in his talk. The special address was followed by the release of a report “India-Vietnam Dyadic Approached to Holistic Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific” by Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Naval Staff.
In the course of discussions that ensued in the first session, eminent panellists from Bangladesh, Canada, India, the UK and the USA, lent their expertise in deliberations on specific issues which included the contemporary and future influence of China on maritime ports, shipping, and trade, specifically in respect of island states of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific; the opportunities, challenges, and prognosis of the Chennai-Vladivostok corridor; a comparative analysis of ‘Flags of Convenience’ versus national ownership and flagging; and the challenges of ship-recycling in the Indian Ocean Region and solutions thereof.

• What is the Indo-Pacific Region?

• Map Work-South China Sea

• What is the South China Sea dispute?

• What’s the importance of the South China Sea?

• India’s Significance in Indo-Pacific Region-Brainstorm

• The Term ‘Indo-Pacific’-What does it mean? Define this term in Geopolitical and in geographical context.

• Know the importance of Indo-Pacific region for India

• India’s Indo-Pacific Strategy-Know in Detail

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:


PM launches `24k-cr scheme for vulnerable tribal groups


Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: 

• General Studies I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

• General Studies I: Social empowerment

• General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday launched a Rs 24,000-crore project for vulnerable tribal groups on the birth anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda from Jharkhand’s Khunti district. The PM Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan is meant to ensure last-mile welfare scheme delivery and protection for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

• PM Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan-Know key features

• Visksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra-Know key objective

• Why Janjatiya Gaurav Divas is celebrated?

• Who was Birsa Munda?

• Birsa Munda’s Ulgulan-Know in detail

• Why Munda Rebellion is significant?

• For Your Information-Birsa Munda was a young freedom fighter and a tribal leader, whose spirit of activism in the late nineteenth century, is remembered to be a strong mark of protest against British rule in India. Born and raised in the tribal belt around Bihar and Jharkhand, Birsa Munda’s achievements are known to be even more remarkable by virtue of the fact that he came to acquire them before he was 25. In recognition of his impact on the nationals movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.
Born on November 15, 1875, Birsa spent much of his childhood moving from one village to another with his parents. He belonged to the Munda tribe in the Chhotanagpur Plateau area. He received his early education at Salga under the guidance of his teacher Jaipal Nag. On the recommendation of Jaipal Nag, Birsa converted to Christianity in order to join the German Mission school. He, however, opted out of the school after a few years.
The impact of Christianity was felt in the way he came to relate to religion later. Having gained awareness of the British colonial ruler and the efforts of the missionaries to convert tribals to Christianity, Birsa started the faith of ‘Birsait’. Soon members of the Munda and Oraon community started joining the Birsait sect and it turned into a challenge to British conversion activities.
During the period, 1886 to 1890, Birsa Munda spent a large amount of time in Chaibasa which was close to the centre of the Sardars agitation. The activities of the Sardars had a strong impact on the mind of the young Birsa, who soon became a part of the anti-missionary and anti-government program. By the time he left Chaibasa in 1890, Birsa was strongly entrenched in the movement against the British oppression of the tribal communities.
On March 3, 1900, Birsa Munda was arrested by the British police while he was sleeping with his tribal guerilla army at Jamkopai forest in Chakradharpur. He died in Ranchi jail on June 9, 1900 at a young age of 25. Though he lived a short span of life and the fact that the movement died out soon after his death, Birsa Munda is known to have mobilised the tribal community against the British and had also forced the colonial officials to introduce laws protecting the land rights of the tribals. Birsa’s achievements as a young tribal revolutionary has continued to be celebrated over decades now and he has successfully carved out a space for himself in popular and folk literature, academia, and mass media.

• Who were the other tribal freedom fighters?

• Rs 24,000-crore scheme aimed at holistic development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)-Know the key features of this scheme

• What are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)?

• For Your Information-PVTGs, earlier known as primitive tribal groups, are a sub-classification of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) or a section of STs who are considered more vulnerable than regular STs. The PVTG list was created by the government with the aim to improve on priority the living standards of endangered tribal groups. According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, 75 PVTGs are spread across 15 states and Union Territories.
The mission was first announced during the budget 2023-24 and is being launched ahead of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Both the states have a significant tribal population, with the Census 2011 pegging the ST proportion in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh at 21.1% and 30.6% respectively.
The PVTGs are the more vulnerable groups among tribal communities and they usually have distinctive culture, live in geographical isolation, and are shy of contact with other communities.
The scheme is meant to saturate the scattered, remote and inaccessible habitations of the PVTGs with facilities such as roads, telecom connectivity, electricity, safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
The 75 PVTGs, with a population of about 28 lakh, live in 22,544 villages across 18 states and Union Territories in India.
The norms of certain schemes will be relaxed to cover these remote habitations.
In addition to the 11 interventions, saturation of other government schemes such as PMJAY health insurance scheme, the Sickle Cell Disease Elimination programme, TB Elimination programme, 100% childhood immunisation, PM Surakshit Matrutva to ensure free of cost antenatal care to all women, PM Matru Vandana Yojana for cash benefit to mothers, PM Poshan, and PM Jan Dhan Yojana.

• How many particularly vulnerable tribal groups are there?

• Who declares PVTG in India?

• Dhebar Commission and Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs)-Know in detail

• Highest number Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) are found in which state?

• Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)-Know in detail

• Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups and Schedule Tribes-Compare and Contrast

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍PM to launch Rs 24,000-cr scheme for vulnerable tribal groups tomorrow

📍Budget 2023: What measures have been announced for tribal welfare


Ease of control


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Smith Mehta Writes: After the much-debated and controversial introduction of the IT Rules 2021, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) released the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 on November 10.

• The draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023-Know its key features, highlights and objectives

• The Bill proposes to scrap the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, which regulates the broadcast sector, in favour of unified regulation for “broadcasting, OTT, Digital Media, DTH, IPTV”-Compare the draft bill with the old bill

• What does the new draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, entail?

• For Your Information-The Bill essentially provides regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework. It seeks to replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 and other policy guidelines currently governing the broadcasting sector in India.
Moreover, the Bill extends its regulatory purview to encompass broadcasting OTT content, digital news and current affairs currently regulated through the IT Act, 2000. It also includes provisions for emerging broadcasting technologies, according to a government source.
Consisting of six chapters, 48 sections and three Schedules, the Bill provides comprehensive definitions for contemporary broadcasting terms along with other important technical terms to be defined in the statute for the first time.
It introduces ‘Content evaluation committees’ for self-regulation and ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’ to “advise the central government on programme code and advertisement code violations,” the source said.
The Bill provides statutory penalties like advisory, warning, censure, or monetary penalties, for operators and broadcasters. Provision for imprisonment and/or fines is also there, but only for very serious offences, such as obtaining registration with a false affidavit.
“Monetary penalties and fines are linked to the financial capacity of the entity, taking into account their investment and turnover to ensure fairness and equity,” according to the source.
The Bill aims to make broadcasting more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. It promotes the use of subtitles, audio descriptors, and sign language. The Bill has a provision for appointing a “Disability Grievance officer”, the source added.
It also has provisions for infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and carriage of platform services. The Bill “streamlines the ‘Right of Way’ section to address relocation and alterations more efficiently, and establishes a structured dispute resolution mechanism”.

• “The proposed Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill could amplify the erasure or the selective representation of Indian minority communities from the popular imagination and normalise a universal Hindu identity of India”-How far you agree with the given statement?

• Why draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 is important?

• What are the issues and challenges with draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023?

• What were the government policies with respect to Broadcasting Regulation?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Proposed OTT law: Careful, for content’s sake


Need for World Bank’s governance indicators to be transparent: CEA


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Raising concerns over the use of World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators in ratings assessment by credit ratings agencies, especially for emerging economies, Chief Economic Adviser V Anantha Nageswaran on Wednesday said there is a need for the World Governance Index to be more transparent and less subjective.

• What is World Governance Index?

• Who published World Governance Index?

• What are the six Worldwide Governance Indicators?

• “There is a need for the World Governance Index to be more transparent and less subjective”-Discuss

• For Your Information-According to Chief Economic Adviser V Anantha Nageswaran, “The World Bank….has something called the World Governance Index, which unfortunately or fortunately plays a very significant part in opaque and non-transparent ways in the credit rating assessment deployed by the three credit rating agencies in assigning letter-grades to credit rating of member countries, particularly emerging markets. This World Governance Index itself is a composite of several sub-indices, which are purely based on the subjective opinions of some so-called expert institutions which do not have presence on the ground nor do they understand whether the context in which they are making these judgements is appropriate or apt for the member countries. But these indices become an important part of the assessment methodology of the credit rating agencies and they do not reveal the extent to which these indices are implanted in their assessment process, the weights they carry, because there seems to be qualitative overlays on top of qualitative assessments,” Nageswaran said at a seminar on ‘Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century’ organised by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
“So, in other words the easiest way in which multilateral development banking system can help their member countries to access capital for global challenges and development needs is to ensure that their World Governance Index is transparent, less subjective and less arbitrary, more suited to the context, involves participation of developing countries, and also make sure that it’s limitations are very well understood by the credit rating agencies,” he added.

• “Serious” methodology problems plaguing the computation of perception-based indices – such as Freedom in the World Index and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index – that feed into sovereign ratings via the World
Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators”-Elaborate

• Do You Know-The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators provide a ranking of 215 countries territories based on six dimensions of governance: ‘Voice and Accountability’; ‘Political Stability and Absence of Violence’; ‘Government Effectiveness’; ‘Regulatory Quality’; ‘Rule of Law’ and ‘Control of Corruption.’

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Govt flagged low score in World Bank’s governance indicators


To build tunnel, rock must be thoroughly examined…, more time spent on studies


Preliminary Examination: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.

Mains Examination: General Studies III: Disaster and disaster management.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-An under-construction tunnel on the Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district collapsed at dawn on Sunday, trapping 40 workers inside.

• What could have caused a part of the tunnel to cave in?

• For Your Information-The failure (the section that has collapsed) is located around 200-300 metres from the mouth of the tunnel. It could have happened due to a loose patch (of rock), which wasn’t visible during the construction. The patch might have consisted of fractured or fragile rock, that is, rock with a lot of joints that may have made it weak.
Another reason could be the seepage of water through a loose patch. Water erodes loose rock particles over time, creating a void on the top of the tunnel, which can’t be seen. However, these are only general principles, and we must wait for the results of a comprehensive investigation in this case.

• What are the ways in which tunnels are excavated in rock?

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• Does the method of excavation depend on the type of terrain?

• Is the Himalayan region too fragile to tunnel through?

• What is the key aspect of building a tunnel?

• What does it take to construct a stable tunnel?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍The 360° UPSC Debate| Himalayan States: Environmental concerns vs development

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