We wrote an FAQ on the Lok Pal Bill for Rediff.  http://www.rediff.com/news/special/special-parliamentary-committee-cannot-study-lokpal-bill-in-10-days/20110822.htm The Lok Pal Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.  In this FAQ, we explain the process of these Committees. What is the role of such standing committees? The system of departmentally related standing committees was instituted by Parliament in 1993.  Currently, there are 24 such committees, organised on the lines of departments and ministries.  For example, there are committees on finance, on home affairs, on defence etc.  These standing committees examine Bills that are referred to them.  They also examine the expenditure plans of ministries in the Union Budget.  In addition, they may examine the working of the departments and various schemes of the government. How is the membership of these committees decided? Each committee has 31 members: 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.  Parties are allocated seats based on their strength in Parliament.  The final membership is decided based on the MP’s area of interest as well as their party’s decision on allocating the seats. Who chairs the committees? Of the 24 committees, 16 are administered by Lok Sabha and eight by Rajya Sabha.  The Chairperson is from the respective House.  Political parties are allocated the chairs based on their strength in Parliament.  Some committees such as home affairs, finance and external affairs are customarily chaired by a senior member of an opposition party. What will the Standing Committee do with the Lok Pal Bill? The Committee has invited comments and suggestions from the public on the Bill.  Comments can be sent to Mr. KP Singh, Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 201, Second Floor, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi -110001.  These may also be emailed to kpsingh@sansad.nic.in or rs-cpers@sansad.nic.in.  The Committee will examine the written memoranda.  They will also invite some experts and stakeholders for oral evidence.  Based on its examination, the committee will prepare a report with its recommendations on the various provisions of the Bill.  This report will be tabled in Parliament. Is the report decided by voting? No.  The committee tries to form a consensus while preparing the report.  However, if some members do not agree on any point, they may add a dissent note.  For example, the committee on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill had dissent notes written by MPs from the left parties.  The Women’s Reservation Bill also had dissent notes from a couple of members. Are the committee’s recommendations binding? No.  The Committee system was formed recognising that Parliament does not have the time for detailed examination and public feedback on all bills.  Parliament, therefore, delegates this task to the committee which reports back with its recommendations.  It is the role of all MPs in each House of Parliament to examine the recommendations and move suitable amendments.  Following this, Parliament can vote on these amendments, and finalise the Bill. Can you give examples when the Committee’s work has resulted in significant changes? There are many such instances.  For example, the standing committee on science and technology examined the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill.  The committee made several recommendations, some of which increased the potential liability of suppliers of nuclear equipment in case of an accident.  All the recommendations were accepted.  Similarly, the Seeds Bill, which is currently pending in Rajya Sabha has seen several major recommendations by the Committee on Agriculture.  The government has agreed to move amendments that accept many of these recommendations. Are all Bills referred to Standing Committees? Most Bills are referred to such committees but this is not a mandatory requirement before passing a Bill.  In some cases, if a Bill is not referred to a committee and passed by one House, the other House may constitute a select committee for detailed examination.  Some recent examples include such select committees formed by the Rajya Sabha on the Prevention of Torture Bill, the Wakf Amendment Bill, and the Commercial Divisions of High Courts Bill.  There are also some instances when a Bill may be passed without the committee process. Is it a good idea to bypass the committee process? In general, this process provides a platform for various stakeholders to provide their inputs.  In the Lok Pal case, a few influential groups such as the India Against Corruption (IAC) and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) have voiced their views.  However, there may be other points of views of persons who do not have similar access to the media.  The Standing Committee provides equal opportunity to everyone to write in their memoranda.  It also allows parliamentarians to devote a significant amount of time to understand the nuances of a Bill and make suitable modifications.  Thus, the standing committee system is an opportunity to strengthen legislation in an informed and participatory manner. Is it feasible to compress this process within 10 days and get the Lok Pal Bill passed within the current session of Parliament? There should be sufficient time for citizens to provide inputs to the committee.  The committee has to examine the different points of view and find suitable provisions to achieve the final objectives.  For example, there are divergent views on the role of Lok Pal, its constitution, its jurisdiction etc.  The Committee has to understand the implications of the various proposals and then make its recommendations.  It has been given three months to do so.  Typically, most committees ask for an extension and take six to eight months.  It is not practical to expect this process to be over within 10 days. Should civil society demand that the government issue a whip and pass the Jan Lok Pal Bill? Everyone has the right to make any demand.  However, the government is duty bound to follow the Constitution.  Our Constitution has envisaged a Parliamentary system.  Each MP is expected to make up their minds on each proposal based on their perception of national interest and people’s will.  Indeed, one may say that the best way to ensure a representative system is to remove the anti-defection law, minimise the use of whips, and let MPs vote their conscience.  That may give us a more accountable government.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to conduct an off-cycle meeting today to discuss the failure to meet the inflation target under Section 45ZN of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. As per the Reserve Bank of India Act (RBI), 1934, MPC is required to meet at least four times each year, to discuss the macroeconomic issues in the country, and take policy decisions to address those. This is the second time MPC has conducted an off-cycle meeting in 2022-23. The meeting is scheduled in light of inflation being consistently high for nine consecutive months.

In this blog, we discuss what the inflation targeting framework is, examine retail and wholesale prices, and the divergence between them.   

What is the inflation targeting framework, and what happens if inflation is persistently high?

In 2016, Parliament amended the RBI Act, 1934 to change the monetary policy, and introduce an inflation targeting framework. This framework prioritises price stability to achieve sustainable GDP growth. Price stability allows investors to confidently invest their money for productive activities, without worrying about it losing value. Price stability also maintains the purchasing power of consumers, i.e., the ability to purchase a good (or service) with a given amount of money.

As per the new framework, the central government, in consultation with RBI sets: (i) an inflation target, and (ii) an upper and lower tolerance level for retail inflation. The target has been set at 4%, with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower tolerance limit of 2%. The upper and lower limits indicate that although it is desirable for inflation to be close to 4%, deviation between these limits is acceptable. The target and bands are revised every five years. In March 2021, the existing targets were carried forward.  

Retail inflation has been above 6% for the past nine months, and it has been above 4% from October 2019 onwards (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Consumer price index (year-on-year; in percentage)


Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.

If inflation is above or below the prescribed limits for three quarters, RBI must submit a report to the central government explaining why prices have been rising (or falling) persistently, what will be done to correct that, and an estimate as to when the target will be achieved.   

The MPC uses tools such as interest rates to control the level of inflation in the economy. One such rate is the policy repo rate, which is the rate at which RBI lends money to banks. An increase in the policy repo rate makes borrowing money more costly, and hence is expected to control inflation by reducing the money supply. MPC increased this rate from 4% in April 2022 to 4.4% in May 2022, to 4.9% in June 2022, to 5.4% in August 2022, and to 5.9% in September 2022.

Breaking down the Consumer Price Index and the Wholesale Price Index

Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the general prices of goods and services such as food, clothing, and fuel over time. Retail inflation is calculated as the change in the CPI over a period of time. Goods and services such as petrol, food products, health, and education are considered for its calculation, which are assigned different weights (See Table 1). Between February 2022 and August 2022, the average annual inflation was 6.9%. The rise in prices of subcomponents of the CPI during this period is indicated in Table 2.

Table 1: Assigned weights for the calculation of CPI



Food and beverages


Miscellaneous (including petrol and diesel, health, and education)




Clothing and footwear


Fuel and light


Pan, tobacco, and intoxications




Sources: MOSPI; PRS.

Table 2: Average inflation of some CPI components
between February 2022 to August 2022 (in percentage)

Subcategory of CPI

Average inflation



Oils and fats




Fuel and Light


Transport and communication


Cereals and products


Sources: Database on Indian Economy, RBI; PRS.

CPI is not the only index that measures inflation in an economy. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the wholesale prices of goods. A change in wholesale prices reflects wholesale inflation. Table 3 indicates the weights assigned to goods for calculating the WPI. Manufactured goods include metals, chemicals, food products, and textiles.   

Primary articles (23%) include food articles, and crude petroleum and natural gas. Fuel and power (12%) include mineral oils, electricity, and coal.  WPI has remained above 10% from April 2021 onwards. It reached an all-time high of 17% in May 2022. This was driven by the inflation in metals, kerosene and petroleum coke, fruits and vegetables, and palm oil.

Table 3:Assigned weights for the
calculation of WPI (in percentage)



Manufactured products


Primary articles


Fuel and power


All commodities


Sources: Ministry of Commerce and Industry; PRS.

Why has WPI inflation been consistently above CPI inflation?

Movements in the WPI have an impact on the CPI.  For almost a year and half, CPI inflation has remained below WPI inflation.  However, as per the design of the indices, it is expected that CPI would remain above WPI, and that any increase in WPI would reflect in the CPI after a time lag.  This is because retail prices include taxes (as a percentage of price), while wholesale prices do not.  Additionally, some of the goods in WPI act as inputs in the goods considered in CPI.  An increase in input prices would lead to higher retail prices after a time lag.

We discuss possible reasons for why CPI has remained below WPI for a year and a half.

Figure 2: Consumer Price Index and Wholesale Price Index


Sources: Database on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India; PRS.

Composition of indices

As indicated in Table 2 and 3, the composition of the two indices varies. For instance, prices of manufacture of basic metals, chemicals, and machinery grew at an average rate of 13% between February 2021 and September 2022.  They contribute 7% to the WPI. These are input goods for producing final goods and services such as automobiles, which are included in the CPI. The rise in prices of transport vehicles, communication devices, fuel for transport, and housing (CPI components) rose by 6% during this period.

The Ministry of Finance has observed that wholesale prices did not feed into retail prices (from March 2021 onwards) as wholesalers absorbed the rising input costs and did not pass them on to retailers. In August 2022, it noted that as retail prices are rising now, the pass-through may occur.