Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – April 4, 2019

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Q.1) Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity Survey of States (ACCESS) report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), has highlighted the gap between a connection and reliable power supply. Why is electricity access not only about the provision of connections? How 24×7 power for all can be ensured?

Answer:

Problems:

  1. While the median hours of supply increased from 12 hours in 2015 to 16 hours a day in 2018, it is still far from the goal of 24×7
  2. while instances of low voltage and voltage surges have reduced in the last three years, about a quarter of rural households still report low voltage issues for at least five days in a month

Way ahead:

  1. real-time monitoring of supply at the end-user level; smart meters should help enable such monitoring
  2. discoms need to focus on improving the quality of supply as well as maintenance services; Adequate demand estimation and respective power procurement will help reducing load shedding (deliberate shutdown of electric power in a part or parts of a power-distribution system, generally to prevent the failure of the entire system when the demand strains the capacity of the system)
  3. Odisha has outsourced infrastructure maintenance in some of its rural areas to franchisees, while Maharashtra has introduced village-level coordinators to address local-level challenge
  4. improvement in customer service, which includes billing, metering and collection. Around 27% of the electrified rural households in the six States were not paying anything for their electricity
  5. Low consumer density along with difficult accessibility mean that conventional approaches involving meter readers and payment collection centres will be unviable for many rural areas. We need radically innovative approaches such as the proposed prepaid smart meters and last-mile rural franchisees to improve customer service and revenue collection
  6. Rural renewable energy enterprises could help

 

Q.2) What is the extent of malnutrition in India? How Niti Aayogs’ National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) proposes to fight against malnutrition?

Answer:

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.

Status of Malnutrition in India:

As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 (2015-16):

  1. 7 per cent children below five years are underweight.
  2. 4 per cent are stunted and 21 per cent are wasted in the country.
  3. About 8% of children are stunted.
  4. About 21% of children under the age of five are wasted according to the National Family Health Survey-4 data.
  5. In the State of Madhya Pradesh 42.8 per cent children below five years are underweight, 42 per cent are stunted and 25.8 per cent are wasted.

Key strategies of National Nutrition Strategy are as follows:

  1. Reduce all forms of malnutrition by 2030, with a focus on the most vulnerable and critical age groups
  2. Assist in achieving the targets identified as part of the Sustainable Development Goals related to nutrition and health
  3. Launch a National Nutrition Mission, similar to the National Health Mission.
  • This is to enable integration of nutrition-related interventions cutting across sectors like women and child development, health, food and public distribution, sanitation, drinking water, and rural development
  • Promotion of a decentralised approach with greater flexibility and decision making at the state, district and local levels.
  • Strengthen the ownership of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies over nutrition initiatives.  
  • This is to enable decentralised planning and local innovation along with accountability for nutrition outcomes.

Launch of interventions with a focus on improving healthcare and nutrition among children:

  • promotion of breastfeeding for the first six months after birth,
  • universal access to infant and young child care (including ICDS and crèches),
  • enhanced care, referrals and management of severely undernourished and sick children,
  • bi-annual vitamin A supplements for children in the age group of 9 months to 5 years, and
  • micro-nutrient supplements and bi-annual de-worming for children

Measures to improve maternal care and nutrition include:

  • supplementary nutritional support during pregnancy and lactation,
  • health and nutrition counselling,
  • adequate consumption of iodised salt and screening of severe anaemia, and
  • institutional childbirth, lactation management and improved post-natal care

Governance reforms envisaged in the Strategy include:

  • convergence of state and district implementation plans for ICDS, NHM and Swachh Bharat,
  • focus on the most vulnerable communities in districts with the highest levels of child malnutrition, and
  • service delivery models based on evidence of impact.

 

Q.3) What is a dust storm? What are the reasons behind the formation of the dust storm? Suggest measures to reduce the impact of dust storms.

Answer:

A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface.

Reasons:

  1. Intense convection during summer months
  2. fronts may be produced by the outflow of rain-cooled air from an intense thunderstorm
  3. strong pressure gradient cause an increase in wind velocity
  4. Wind picks up the sand particles and deposits over far off lands

Measures to reduce:

  1. Wind shelters
  2. Afforestation
  3. Arresting spread of sand dunes with barriers
  4. Covering sand dunes with vegetation/ remains of plants/ specially designed materials

 

Q.4) India has one of the largest railway networks in the world. What are the steps taken so far for the modernisation of Indian railways? Suggest measures to improve the functioning of Indian railways.

Answer:

Steps taken so far:

  1. Linke Hofmann Busch(LHB) coaches have been inducted, which are technologically superior, have better speed potential, aesthetics and safety features
  2. Laying of second, third, and fourth lines on busy routes to enhance network capacity, and bringing in Northeast connectivity through broad-gauge conversion
  3. Railways for the first time opened itself up to borrowing funds from outside
  4. done away with a separate Railway Budget
  5. Railways has built a robust customer-interface ecosystem across social media platforms

Measures to improve:

  1. Rope in private players on contract basis
  2. All stakeholders i.e, railway employees,vendors, passengers etc should be responsible for the cleanliness of the station
  3. Allow corporations or companies to adopt railway stations in the line of ‘Adopt a Heritage’
  4. Regular audit of Railway stations
  5. Ranking of railways stations on the basis of cleanliness and services
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