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Below are the suggested answers of UPSC Mains Marathon Current Affairs Questions – August 10.

Note: The suggested answers are indicative only, and not exhaustive.


1. Discuss the key features of the National Food Security Act, 2013. Examine the major problems and challenges in implementation of the act.(GS 2)

The Hindu

Key features of national food security act,2013:-

  • Life cycle approach: care of the person taken by the government considering the nutritional requirements throughout the life cycle
  • The paradigm shift from welfare based approach of the government to the right  based approach of the citizens, as this act tends to preserve the basic and fundamental right of every citizen of India to have food.
  • Provision of food for the vulnerable sections in the society
  • Women empowerment :-
    • Decisions like considering eldest women in a family as the head of the family, giving preference to women or their self-help groups for issuing license of new FPS, etc. will help in empowering women of the country.
  • An effort to bring transparency in the operations of the entire PDS.
  • Aiming at universal PDS.
  • States are free to further subsidies the foodgrains or extend the limits of coverage of the population.

Positives:-

  • Such rights have been backed in the Act by an internal grievance redressal mechanism that seeks to foster transparency and accountability in the last mile governance of public delivery structures i.e. 400,000 price shops.
  • The backbone of the Act, of course, is the large scale distribution of food grains to 67% of the country’s population of 1.2 billion

Problems and challenges:-

  • To ensure the sustained availability of food grains with public authorities in wake of the legal right guaranteed to entitled beneficiaries.
  • lack of marketing and procurement infrastructure in these states has been a cause of distress to the small holding farming community.
  • FCI:
    • issue is the efficiency of the food grain procurement, transportation and distribution chain via the Central Pool by the Food corporation of India.
    • Insufficient storage capacity of FCI results in overburdening of the capacity of the state government agencies, higher storage and penalty charges and high wastes of foodgrains due to storage in open.
  • maintaining and moving the buffer stocks is another mammoth task. In fact, additional procurement, storage and distribution by the FCI under NFSA would require rail head connections for all FCI storage points and increase in bulk wagon availability with Indian Railways.
  • eliminate leakage and corruption and ensure stringent monitoring under NFSA at the last mile distribution points (fair price shops) in states.
  • qualitative improvement in food absorption, especially for women and children, by creating synergies between public health, sanitation, education and agricultural interventions.
  • exponentially increasing population
  • The major challenges for effective implementation of NFSA are identification of operational inefficiencies, non-value adding practices and limitations of the existing PDS.
  • Distribution:-
    • From the data of the last few years, it can be seen that due to a wide variation in the allocation and off-take there is a piling up of the stocks of foodgrains in the central pool.
    • distribution of the foodgrains through the existing system lacks the transparency, monitoring and control mechanism, and accountability, which leads to the poor performance of Indian PDS and non-achievements of goal.

Way forward:-

  • One key aspect that needs immediate attention is reform of the FCI apparatus with allowance for public private partnerships in physical movement and storage of grains.
  • Scientific identification of priority households with a target of zero exclusion error, and formation of a task force for identification and coverage of destitute and downtrodden people.
  • End to end computerization of the PDS to impart transparency and effectiveness  in the functioning of entire PDS.
  • Agricultural and biotechnological interventions are essential for sustainable increase in production of foodgrains and for improving quality with advanced post-harvest technology.
  • Standardizing the purchase mechanism of the foodgrains by leveraging the decentralized procurements with the objective of lowering the procurement overhead and incidental expenses.
  • Augmentation of storage capacity by developing silos, cold storage chain and indigenous methods of storage of foodgrains.
  • The national policy for handling, storage and transportation of foodgrains has to be integrated with the training and education on waste reduction programs
  • Promotion of agricultural societies of farmers for production, procurement and storage of the foodgrains, which may lead to self-sufficiency.
  • Modernization of the packaging, processing and distribution process of the foodgrains.
  • Use of food coupons as a substitute for the ration cards using which the beneficiaries can purchase the required foodgrains from the open market at the subsidized prices, and this may reduce pressure on the PDS.

2. Discuss the salient features of the Right To Education Act, 2009. Do you think that scrapping the no-detention policy is a step in the right direction? Critically examine.(GS 2)

LIve MInt | MHRD

Salient features of RTE :-

  • Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education.
  • The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by School Management Committees (SMC). Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children in their schools without any fee.
  • The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.
  • No child shall be held back, expelled or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
  • Proof of age for admission
    • No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack of age proof
  • A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate.
  • Improvement in the quality of education is important.
  • School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job.
  • School infrastructure (where there is a problem) need to be improved in every 3 years, else recognition will be cancelled.
  • Financial burden will be shared between the state and the central government.
  • mandates a high teacher-student ratio
  • enumerates expensive standards for school buildings and infrastructure
  • defines working days and teacher hours

Concerns are:

  • Its heavy focus on inputs while effectively ignoring outputs.
    • The Act doesn’t offer any benchmarks for learning outcomes or link teacher assessment to student performance.
  • debilitating impact on budget private schools which catered to a large number of poor students.
    • Many such schools, have been shuttered since they could no longer afford the RTE requirements.
  • Affected minority-run institutions (both aided and unaided) which stand outside the ambit of the RTE
  • RTE has resulted in shutting down those schools that students wanted to attend while giving preferential treatment to those that they didn’t care for.

What is no detention policy:-

  • The objectives of this policy are:-
    • To reduce stress during exam process and save from social stigma attached to lower performance
    • To control the increasing number of suicides by students.
    • To check school drop outs due to poor performance
    • To check corporal punishment and rot learning in schools

Yes, removing this policy is a step in right direction:-

  • The problem with the NDP is that it stands in complete contravention of the premise of quality and fair education.
  • done nothing to improve learning outcomes.
  • NDP has also been found to be faulty by the comptroller and auditor general as well as the Central Advisory Board of Education.
    • More than 20 states and union territories have asked for the policy to be either scrapped or modified.
  • The recent exam fraud and scam that came to light in Bihar is probably the ugly truth in much of India and policies like the ‘no detention’ only increase such things and jeopardise the education, future and idea of India.
  • The use of CCE is far from perfect. That is because effective implementation of CCE requires multiple other things such as a low pupil-teacher ratio, high-capacity teachers and a culture of teacher empowerment.
  • Owing to the policy, teachers, parents and students developed a laidback attitude towards academics.

No detention policy needs to be there:-

  • Detention is punishment to the child for the failings of the education system, so it’s cruel and unjust, along with being completely ineffective.
  • It can erase the fear of studying well absolutely from the minds of students as they may take promotion for granted. Their parents, who to a great extent belong to socially and economically ‘backward’ groups and often cannot find much time to pay much attention to the studies of their children, might also become less concerned.
  • By detaining a child in a grade, you get her to repeat the whole syllabus of that grade. This ignores the educational reality that children learn in a continuum.
  • There is also social stigma associated with “failing”, and this has deeply damaging effects on a child.
  • Supporters of the NDP may argue that this policy has been successfully deployed in countries known for their high-quality education systems, such as Finland and Japan—wasn’t properly implemented in India.
  • The NDP was supposed to be part of the larger continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) effort which replaced the annual examination system.
  • also claim that the objective of the policy was to keep students in school and prevent dropouts and in that, it has succeeded

Way ahead:-

  • There can be many other coherent methods to increase the enrollment rate and contract the drop-out rates. Scholarships, fiscal incentives to the parent, awareness drives are some of the plausible options that the state can choose.
  • The need of remedial classes instead of promoting students blindly.

3. India is likely to get around 100% of its annual monsoon quota, as per India Meteorological Department. How does monsoons originate? Examine the impact of El-Nino on Indian Monsoon.(GS 1)

The Hindu | Link

Origin of Monsoons:-

  • Monsoon is actually a wind regime operating at a level of 20 km from the earth’s surface. It is characterised by seasonal reversal of wind direction at regular intervals.
  • Two factors are mainly responsible for this very strong development of monsoons:
    • Vast size of the Indian subcontinent and adjacent seas
    • Very high and extensive mountain systems of the Himalayas in the north, extending in an east-west direction, thus posing a formidable physical barrier between tropical and polar air masses.
    • The Himalayas work as both a break and motor at the same time.
      • During the winter season, they prevent the penetration of the cold polar air masses from Siberia into the subcontinent
      • While in summer, the Himalayas do not allow the equatorial maritime air masses to cross the Himalayas and force them to curve round the north-west.
      • The mighty Himalayas produce hydro-dynamic effects that determine the type of precipitation in India.
    • During the period following the Spring Equinox (March 23), the sun starts its apparent northward shift. As a result, the areas lying north of the equator (tropics and sub-tropics)- get a progressive high incidence of solar radiation.
    • The effect of this phenomenon ‘ on the Indian subcontinent is seen in the form of intense heating of the vast northern plains and the adjoining highlands.
    • As a result, a massive low pressure trough is formed extending from the Punjab plains in the north-west to the Bengal delta in the east.
    • This low pressure zone attracts wind regimes from the adjoining areas, from short distances in the beginning.
    • But as the level of solar incidence reaches its peak during May-June, the pressure gradient between this low pressure trough and the adjoining seas is so great that it attracts winds from as far as the south of the equator.
    • Accompanying this process and helping this pull of wind regimes is the development of some high pressure centres in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and over Australia (it being the winter season in Australia).
    • The wind patterns which are prevalent south of the equator are actually the south-east trade winds These winds, attracted by the low pressure trough over the Indian subcontinent, while moving north of the equator, turn in a clockwise direction (or towards the right), following Farrel’s law.
    • This shift in direction is brought about by the earth’s rotation. Now, the originally south-east trade winds become south-west monsoons blowing towards the north-east.
    • At this juncture, the Inter- Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) also shifts northwards.
    • The south-west wands now approaching the Indian peninsula have to travel a long distance over the Indian Ocean.
    • During their long journey, these winds pick up large amounts of moisture and by the time they reach India they are oversaturated.
    • Here, they are known as the south-west monsoons which get divided into the Arabian Sea branch and the Bay of Bengal branch because of the shape of peninsular India. There moisture-laden winds cause heavy rainfall on the windward sides.

Impact of el-nino on Indian monsoon:-

  • El Nino is the name given to the warm ocean currents along the Pacific coast of South America that arise every few years at about Christmas time.
  • During normal year, the warm water moves towards Australia, this pool of warm water is called Western Pacific Pool (WPP). From WPP air rises above and moves towards two walker cells
    • Towards Peru coast which affects rainfall in South America.
    • Towards Mascarene High Pressure zone near East Africa which affects Indian monsoon.
  • weak WPP
  • weak trade winds
  • weakening of winds flowing towards Mascarene high
  • weak push to Monsoon winds towards India
  • Less rainfall / weak monsoon.
  • Analysis by the India Meteorological Department shows that, of the 18 El Nino years between 1880 and 2006, twelve coincided with deficient or below-normal rainfall in India.

 

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