Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – August 13, 2018


Q.1) Discuss the reasons that Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act 2013 came into being about 25 years ago but manual scavenging continues to be rampant in India. Suggest some measures for the same.(GS-2)

Answer:  Recognising the rights of individuals working as manual scavengers to a rightful, respectful and dignified life, the  Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines. It also seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.

Why Manual Scavenging still continues?

  1. As it is a caste-based profession in Indian society, people belonging to certain castes continue to do it for lack of other skills. Also, people from other castes do not take up such jobs due to the stigma attached to them.
  2. Failure to recognise the people – under the act, government recognised 12,742 manual scavengers in 13 states. According to Census of India 2011, there are 740,078 households across the country where human excreta is removed by a person from a dry latrine(this excludes septic tanks, sewers, railway platforms). Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 said that there are 182,505 families in rural India engaged in manual scavenging.
  3. The idea of manual scavengers is usually the image of a man inside a septic tank. Women in the profession are ignored than their male counterparts.
  4. There’s no government will to break the caste system.
  5. Existence of primitive “insanitary latrines” without water, where the excreta must be physically removed.
  6. According to IndiaSpend, about 12.6% urban households and as many as 55% rural households in India defecate in the open.
  7. The compensation given for rehabilitation is insufficient to pull an individual out of his profession for decades.

Measures to eliminate Manual Scavenging:

  1. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recognised a new survey process to count manual scavengers through self-declaration camps.
  2. Increasing the rehabilitations amount and providing alternative skills and employment opportunities.
  3. Speeding up toilet construction under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and eradicating open defecation.
  4. Stricter law enforcement to penalise for violating the provisions of law.
  5. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Jagadish Hiremani has directed municipal authorities to book contractors who violated the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and officials who failed to enforce it.


Q.2) Discuss the effectiveness of Maintenance & welfare of parents’ senior citizen Act, 2007 in dealing with problems faced by elderlies in India.(GS-2)

Answer: The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 makes it a legal obligation for children to provide for their elderly parents. Senior citizens (over 60 years of age) who cannot maintain themselves from their own earning or out of the property owned by them, are entitled to make an application under the maintenance law.

How the law is beneficial:

  1. Cases of people abandoning their elderly parents have significantly risen in the last few decades.
  2. It provides speedy and inexpensive mechanism for the protection of life and property of the older persons.
  3. It provides certain rights to the parents to demand for their welfare.
  4. The rapid changes in social scenario and the emerging prevalence of nuclear family set-ups in India in recent years made the elderly people exposed to emotional, physical and financial insecurity.

Challenges in the implementation of law:

  1. The system lacks speedy remedial measures to make sure that no one is deprived of their rights.
  2. Parents generally do not raise their voices if they face harassments or neglect from their wards. A very few cases are being reported.
  3. Even the compensation for maintenance of elders is very low.
  4. The guardians appointed for taking care may often end up harming the elders.
  5. Very small no of individuals are aware of the law and the benefits they can avail under its provisions.
  6. The family members, whether close or distant did not approve of approaching the tribunal for redress since it spoils the reputation of the family as well as their children.
  7. Most of the times, the final decision of the tribunal authority is not implemented as they are not responsible for the implementation of the decision.
  8. As the coordination between the departments of revenue, social welfare and police is poor at the ground level, the implementation of the act faced challenges.


Q.3) Citizen’s Charter helps maintaining a healthy work culture. Do you agree? Explain with Examples. (GS-4)

Answer: Citizen’s charters’ main objective is to improve the quality of public services. This is done by letting people know the mandate of the concerned Organisation, how one can get in touch with its officials, what to expect by way of services and how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong.

How they help maintain healthy work culture:

  1. They maintain a clear communication between various employees because they are together answerable to the people.
  2. It enables a clear accountability mechanism for each employee and thus reduces the scope for subjectivity in assessing their performance. For example, an employee who caters to many citizens’ requests can be clearly identified due to clearly specified duties.
  3. It aligns the personal goals of each employee to the organisations goals and thus creates a spirit of service for the organisation.
  4. Citizen charters streamline the processes of the organisation to reduce time lag in service delivery. Hence, employees do not find it burdensome to fulfil their mandated duties. For example, the current physical filing system in time taking and cumbersome. It does not incentivise the employee to speed up his work.
  5. It centers the administration around citizen and makes employees more citizen-friendly.
  6. It improves the efficiency of work by putting to use the available resources wisely.
  7. It encourages fairness of treatment and reduces scope for nepotism, corruption at workplace.


Q.4) Differentiate between dilemma and ethical dilemma with suitable examples. How does conscience act as a source of ethical guidance? (GS-4)

Answer: A dilemma can be regarding any decision man takes in his life. It can be over which dress to choose or which ice cream to eat. Ethical dilemma is more specific. It is a dilemma about which is the “right” way to act. Whether to reach office on time or help a victim in accident is an ethical dilemma as, here, both the choices seem right.

In such cases conscience acts as a clear source for guiding the ethical action of individual. This is how:

  1. Conscience tells a man what is right and wrong. Though it is considered wrong by others or rules, it guides him.
  2. A man feels pleasure when he does something good. He suffers pain on doing bad. Conscience compels a man to pursue pleasure and discard pain. Thus it guides him to act ethically.
  3. Conscience is formed from the learnings, experiences and beliefs of an individual. Even for a bad person, his conscience guides him to do correct as that is what he has learnt over time.
  4. Immanuel Kant expressed the idea of the critical conscience which was rather like a court of law in our minds where the prosecutors or conscience excuse or accuse thoughts and actions.
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