Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – August 1


1. Describe the objectives of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Discuss the various challenges faced in its implementation.(GS 1)

The Hindu


  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched with an aim to make India clean.
  • The Aim is to provide sanitation facilities to every family, including toilets, solid and liquid waste disposal systems, village cleanliness, and safe and adequate drinking water supply by 2019.

Objectives of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan :-

  • Construction of individual, cluster and community toilets.
  • To eliminate or reduce open defecation.
  • Not only latrine construction, the Swachh Bharat Mission will also make an initiative of establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring latrine use.
  • Public awareness will also be provided about the drawbacks of open defecation and promotion of latrine use.
  • Proper, dedicated ground staff will be recruited to bring about behavioural change and promotion of latrine use.
  • For proper sanitation use, the mission will aim at changing people’s attitudes, mindsets and behaviours.
  • Villages to be kept clean with Solid and Liquid Waste Management.Solid and liquid waste management through gram panchayats.
  • To lay water pipelines in all villages, ensuring water supply to all households by 2019.
  • To make India Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2019, by providing access to toilet facilities to all.
  • To provide toilets, separately for Boys and Girls in all schools
  • To provide toilets to all Anganwadis

Various challenges faced in its implementation are :-

  • According to media reports,the respective administration machineries are counting based on the number of toilets built to calculate open defecation free.
  • Toilet Coverage
    • The states which recorded better toilet coverage also had a lower share of households contributing to open defecation.
  • Usage 
    • 6% of households in India reported open defecation despite having toilets.
  • Access to Water 
    •  It is important in determining toilet use. 63% of the households that defecated in the open reported having toilets without running water
  • Caste-based discrimination in the provision of water also seems to be responsible for low toilet usage
  • spending on the expenditure for behaviour change campaign activities is much less.
    • 61% of rural people resort to open defecation, which is poorer than 37% in sub saharan regions. This shows that it’s more of a behavioural problem than infrastructure.
  • Lack of financial resources and devolution to PRIS:
    • With GST there is abolition of Swaccha Bharat Cess.
  • Use of soak pit toilets:
  • After some months, they get filled and due to absence of motor pumps, emptying them is a big task

However  the last three years have seen an increase from 42 per cent to 65.02 per cent in national sanitation coverage and the programme has had major impact on all sections of the society.

By supporting non-coercive behaviour change, communication programmes, training and deploying field facilitators who can implement CLTS effectively, monitoring the use of toilets and hygiene behaviours, governments can help to make long-lasting change happen that is owned by communities.

2. The Supreme Court has recently  pointed out a lack of clarity on the pollutive impact of explosive substances used in firecrackers. In this context, do you think that banning fireworks infringes upon the religious rights of a certain community? Also, discuss the impact of fireworks on the environment and human health.(GS 3)

The Hindu


  • Recently the SC showed some concern regarding fireworks and bursting of crackers due to their impact on the environment and asked the government machineries to assess the impact.

Yes,it infringes upon the rights of religious communities:-

  • According to SC in past years banning fireworks during Diwali could lead to a “dangerous situation”, because some people could claim that they have a right to burst crackers.
  • The tradition of bursting firecrackers on Diwali has been around for a good 300 years or more, even if it may not have been a part of the festival in ancient times. Incorporating fireworks into the celebrations of Diwali made symbolic sense


  • In Kerala last year 108 people were killed in paravur temple show .It was a safety hazard and that the temple authorities were trying to hide its competitive nature.
  • Article 25 of the Constitution
    • Indians have the freedom to practice religion “subject to public order, morality and health”
    • It is about survival of everyone.when the whole world is affected by climate change measures like not bursting firecrackers would benefit the humanity as a whole .
    • Use of firecrackers do not find a mention in the religious literature of any community.
    • Fundamental duty of citizen to protect environment.
    • There were many religious practices in past which were discontinued due to their consequences on human health and on society as well, so we should show such adaptability and maturity in this case too.



  • Air pollution is one of the most harmful effect of bursting crackers. Air pollution goes up by 50% during Diwali in India
  • Noise pollution is also one of the harmful effects of crackers on health.
  • Crackers cause Global warming  but also in the depletion of Earth’s protective shield “The Ozone Layer”
  • This garbage is chemical garbage that is little effective on people’s health that lives near to the garbage.
  • The pollution thus caused due to crackers also leads to Smog

Human health:-

  • levels of suspended particulate matters (SPM), CO, NOx, hydrocarbons, SO2, increase to an unprecedented levels in air during fireworks displays. Pregnant women, children and those having a chronic asthma are most vulnerable to these exposures.
  • SPM levels can cause throat, nose, eye related problems. It can lead to headaches and reduced mental acuity.
  • It has much more severe effects in people with heart, respiratory or nervous system disorders.
  • Fireworks can be loud and can exceed 140 decibels. Noise at 85 decibels above can damage hearing. Increase in the sound levels can lead to restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbance.
  • Fireworks can also cause respiratory problems such as: chronic or allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, pneumonia and laryngitis.
  • Many firecracker factories and industries in India dont impose security measures and make people work in factories without any safety measures. These chemicals get exposed to their skin, eyes, lungs and increase toxic levels in the body.
  • Effects of crackers on health are adverse and can lead to injuries or even loss of life

What needs to be done?

  • Regulation in the firecrackers manufacturing industry – to not be allowed to manufacture crackers that do not follow guidelines.
  • Awareness among retailers to not buy or sell crackers that cause more pollution than allowed.
  • Awareness among consumers to do their homework before buying crackers and limit the number of crackers burst.

3. India’s relationship with North Korea is a remnant of its non-aligned past. But in recent years, India has highlighted the proliferation problem from North Korea. Discuss critically. (GS 2)

The Hindu


  • India has maintained ties with North Korea since the birth of the nation following the Korean war in the 1950s, and North Korea had been an active member of the Non-Alignment movement during the Cold War.

Yes,india highlighted the proliferation problem:-

  • India voted against North Korea in UN for sanctions about nuclear proliferation in that country.
  • Through an official gazette in April 2017,India prohibited Indian citizens or companies from supplying to Pyongyang arms, any nuclear-related material or technology, or any other material that would enhance its ballistic-missile capabilities.
  • In April, India aligned with United Nations (UN) stipulations by banning all trade with North Korea with the exception of shipments of food and medicine. This decision brought an abrupt end to a decade of growth in India-North Korea trade links.
  • India sees a complex web of sharing of nuclear and missile technology between China, Pakistan and North Korea, something that is well documented.
  • North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear& ballistic missile programmes and proliferation links pose grave threat to international peace.
  • India condemned the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch by North Korea recently as well
  • The Indian MEA also called on all international supporters of North Korea to be held accountable for their actions.


  • Despite the differences with respect to proliferation India and North Korea remain on cordial terms with respect to economy and trade as India is third largest trading partner of North Korea .
    • India’s exports to North Korea is about $110 million and in 2016.
  • Even after the UN issued the first set of nuclear sanctions in 2006, prohibiting member countries from providing technical training to North Korea,India trained North Korean students in centre for space science and technology education in Asia and the pacific

Despite pressure from multiple nations India needs to think with perspective of its foreign policy and international peace.


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