Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – April 20, 2018


Q.1) Even after a decade negotiations on BTIA, India and EU have failed to reach a common ground.In this context what are the points of contentions between India and EU? What are the reasons for which India does not want to give in to EU’s demands? Suggest a way forward. (GS – 2)


  • Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement is a Free Trade Agreement between India and EU, which was initiated in 2007. Even after a decade of negotiations, India and EU have failed to resolve certain issues which have led to a deadlock.

Points of contention between India and EU:

  • India has not been granted “data secure” status by EU.
  • U.K. visa rules discriminate against Indian technical professionals including because they have hiked visa fees and have numerical caps on visas.
  • EU imposed a ban on sale of 700 pharmaceutical products even though they were clinically tested by GVK Biosciences.
  • India cancelled most bilateral investment agreements with EU member states in 2016 on grounds that they were outdated.
  • Presence of non-tariff barriers on Indian agricultural products in the form of sanitary and phytosanitary measures which are too stringent and enable the EU to bar many Indian agricultural products from entering its markets.

What EU wants?

  • Reduce taxes on liquor (which would benefit France).
  • Reduce taxes on automobiles (which would benefit Germany).
  • More market access with less duty interference.
  • Multilateral pact on investments at the World Trade Organisations will have an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
  • To negotiate the Bilateral Investment Treaty before it starts negotiating the EU-India BTIA
  • Liberalize accountancy and legal services.

Why India does not want to give in to EU’s demands?

  • India is presently trying to set up its own automobile industry which would not be able to match thecompetition from EU automobiles.
  • India does not provide similar privileges to any other country. Subsequently, demands for the same would be raised by others.
  • Tax reduction on wines and spirits is not acceptable as these are regarded as ‘sin goods’ and the states which derive huge revenue from liquor sales would be reluctant to cut taxes.
  • Indians do not want foreign lawyers and accountants to practice in India. There is already a shortage of jobs.

Q.2) What do you mean by ‘neutrinos’. How are they produced and detected? Discuss their possible applications in near future.  (GS – 3)


  • Proton, neutron, and electron are tiny particles that make up atoms.
  • The neutrino is also a tiny elementary particle, but it is not part of the atom.

Salient features:

  • Neutrino has a very tiny mass, no charge and spins half.
  • It interacts very weakly with other matter particles.
  • So weakly that every second trillions of neutrinos fall on us and pass through our bodies unnoticed.
  • Neutrinos come from the sun (solar neutrinos) and other stars, cosmic rays that come from beyond the solar system, and from the Big Bang from which our Universe originated. They can also be produced in the lab.
  • Neutrinos come in three types or “flavours”:
    • electron neutrino,
    • tau neutrino and
    • muon neutrino.

How are atmospheric neutrinos produced in nature?

  • Atmospheric neutrinos are produced from cosmic rays which consist of protons and heavy nuclei.
  • These collide with atmospheric molecules such as Nitrogen to give off pions and muons which further decay to produce neutrinos.

How will the Iron calorimeter detect the neutrinos?

  • The ICAl consists of 150 layers of alternating iron slabs and glass detectors called Resistive plate chambers.
  • The muon neutrino interacts with the iron to produce a muon which is electrically charged.
  • This charge is picked up by sensors in the glass RPCs which set off an electrical pulse, to be measured by the electronics.
  • By piecing together the pulses set off in successive glass plates, the path followed by the muon is tracked.
  • This is used to infer the properties of the neutrino which caused the pulses.

Some immediately possible future applications of neutrino science:

Properties of the sun

  • The neutrinos which also take close to this time to reach us from the sun, known as solar neutrinos, were produced in the core of the sun.
  • Therefore they give us information about the interior of the sun.
  • Studying these neutrinos can help us understand what goes on in the interior of the sun.

The universe:

  • If the properties of neutrinos are understood better, they can be used in astronomy to discover what the universe is made up of.

Probing Early Universe:

  • The extragalactic neutrinos can give a clue about the origin of the universe and the early stages of the infant universe, soon after the Big Bang.

Medical Imaging

  • Apart from direct future uses of neutrinos, there are technological applications of the detectors that will be used to study them.
  • For instance, X-ray machines, PET scans, MRI scans, etc., all came out of research into particle detectors.
  • Hence the INO detectors may have applications in medical imaging.

Q.3) Write short notes on:

a) Sagan effect in Science and Technology (GS – 3)  

  • Sagan effect is a hypothesis which states that the popularity of a scientist among the general public is inversely proportional to his scientific accomplishment.
  • That is, a scientist who spends too much effort making science popular among the masses is believed to be one whose scientific work is not the best.
  • The Sagan effect is named after American astronomer Carl Sagan who popularised science among Americans through the famous 1980 science television series Cosmos.
  • Sagan, a prolific scientist with several scientific papers to his name, suffered various professional setbacks because fellow scientists thought a science populariser cannot be a serious scientist.

b)’Animal spirits’ in Economics (GS – 3)

  • ‘Animal spirits’ is a term that refers to the emotions and instincts that guide the behaviour of investors and consumers in a market economy.
  • It was coined by British economist John Maynard Keynes in his 1936 book The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, to explain the persistence of economic fluctuations under capitalism.
  • Keynes argued that investment and consumption are often based on how people feel about the overall economy rather than on unbiased, rational analysis of facts.
  • Critics have argued that while people are not perfectly rational, they are not completely guided by emotions either; hence, animal spirits cannot sufficiently explain economic cycles.
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