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This question was asked in a famous (more than a million candidates appear) civil services exam of India. Interpretation of the word "steadily" has caused so much confusion. Following is the question :

Q. Consider the following statements :

  1. Tax revenue as a percent of GDP of India has steadily increased in the last decade.
  2. Fiscal deficit as a percent of GDP of India has steadily increased in the last decade.

Which of the statements given- above is/are correct ?

(a) 1 only (b) 2 only (c) Both 1 and 2 (d) Neither 1 nor 2

Statement 2 is wrong so no confusion there. As fiscal deficit decreased in recent years.

Confusion arises for statement 1, since Tax revenue as a percentage of GDP though largely increased in the last decade, but there was a slight dip in 2008-09 (Global Crisis being one of major reason). Now should this statement be right or wrong?

What would be the best interpretation of the word "steadily" here?

So much on stake of this word here. (around 50000 people will fail to make next round due to this answer)

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    Is this question intended to test knowledge of the English language or of Indian economics? – John TerMaat Jun 22 '17 at 18:21
  • Obviously knowledge of English word. Why do you think otherwise? Did you read whole question? Particularly second last line? edit: Sorry, if you are genuinely curious, this was asked to check Indian economics. But I asked here to know what is correct interpretation. Isn't it right platform? I thought it would be best to ask here to settle the debate. – Maverick33 Jun 22 '17 at 18:27
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    I did read the whole question and intended no offense, I simply thought the correct answer might depend on which they were testing for, especially since you mentioned that the reason statement 2 is wrong is because the fiscal deficit has decreased, which seems unrelated to the word "steadily." – John TerMaat Jun 22 '17 at 18:31
  • Also, feel free to roll back my edit. I simply adjusted the formatting a bit and changed "either" to "neither" because it seems that choice (d) implies that both options are incorrect. If I was wrong in that assumption, it can be changed back. – John TerMaat Jun 22 '17 at 18:32
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    @RaceYouAnytime Quite correct. The question really needs clarification to isolate the language problem involved from the economics one. // The only question pertinent to ELU is Can the word 'steadily' still be used if there are minor deviations from uniformity? The title question encompasses this. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 '17 at 20:52
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Do you have a typo? (d) Either 1 nor 2 is not correct. The following makes more sense:

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Steadily - 1. In a regular and even manner. 3. In a controlled or unwavering manner. ODO

So if there was a year within the the last ten where tax revenue declined then it wavered.

In mathematics, a series where two consecutive values were equal but the series otherwise increased can be said to be increasing.

Strictly or monotonically increasing says that each successive value in the series must be greater than the previous. MSE

  • Thanks. So it makes statement 1 also wrong. Don't you think, they could have used better word. Even after knowing the answer many candidates got it wrong then. – Maverick33 Jun 22 '17 at 18:39
  • I would lodge a formal complaint. – MikeJRamsey56 Jun 22 '17 at 18:43
  • Are you serious? :O I mean, would such confusing question in your country will have this much consequence? By the way, I'm talking about this exam : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Services_Examination#Process Usually ~1 Million students appear. – Maverick33 Jun 22 '17 at 18:54
  • But different dictionaries better reflect the pragmatics of the situation. Most people would be prepared to accept that the sequence 1,2,3,4,4,5,6,8,9 increases 'steadily', and even that a bank balance of $300, 320, 350, 382, 410, 408, 450, 490 is 'increasing steadily'. This is reflected and licensed by AHD's << steady ... 3. Free or almost free from change, variation, or fluctuation; uniform: a steady increase in value; a steady breeze. >> (bolding mine) So 'steadily' is less well-defined than 'monotonically'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 22 '17 at 20:43
  • @EdwinAshworth I think that we are in violent agreement. :-) – MikeJRamsey56 Jun 22 '17 at 20:47

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