Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – August 9, 2018

Upcoming Current Affairs & Essay Test Series


Q.1) Discuss the factors behind poor health of the private Industrial Training Institutes of India? In your opinion what measures should be taken to improve their quality? (GS-2)

Answer: The recent parliamentary report on private ITIs has exposed a scam on the Quality Council of India’s approval for thousands of private ITIs. The number of private ITIs has grown from under 2,000 to over 11,000 in five years. Sharda Prasad committee points to the poor state of skill training going on in these institutes.

Other Problems with private ITIs:

  1. Failure to align with global standards.
  2. Lack of regulation and monitoring to keep a check on the quality of training.
  3. Policy changes make the governmental affiliation mandatory to start operation and ministry often introduces new conditions.
  4. The complex set of rules, regulations and laws governing the sector makes it difficult to setup and run an institute in India.
  5. Huge entry restrictions life working capital requirements.
  6. Poor results in the form of placements of trained candidates. This can be due to lack of industry tie ups and also due to adoption of poor skill standards. Placement in NSDC training has been less than 15%.
  7. Lack of a regulator with teeth, for skill development has led to poor quality affiliation, assessment and certification.
  8. A national survey by the research institute (NILERD) of Planning Commission in 2011 about private ITIs: they offered training in less than five trades; had fewer classrooms and workshops for practice; and their teachers were very poorly paid.
  9. NILERD nationwide survey, 2011 found that ITIs have many internal issues such as staffing and salaries.

Measures for improving the quality of ITIs:

  1. More industry – institute tie ups can be promoted to cater to the skills demanded by industry.
  2. Simplifying red tape to enable private sector participation in the skill development industry.
  3. The Sharada Prasad Committee recommended that the number of SSCs should correspond to the National Industrial (Activity) Classification.
  4. Periodic surveys through National Sample Survey Office, to collect data on skill providers and skill gaps by sector to guide evidence-based policy-making.
  5. We need better oversight, with a national board for all skill development programmes. The core work of accreditation, assessment, certification and course standards cannot be outsourced.
  6. Mandatory rating system for the ITIs can be published periodically. A ranking of ITIs on several parameters such as the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in tertiary education can be replicated.
  7. We need a unified national vocational system where the ITIs, NSDC private vocational trainers work with each other. 12th Five Year Plan recommends a national vocational act that replaces all scattered regulations.
  8. Need to reskill ITI teachers and maintain the student-teacher ratio.
  9. Since technology obsolescence is a continuous challenge, financial support envisaged through NSDC should be extended to the ITIs.
  10. A reimbursable industry contribution (RIC) — a 1-2% payroll tax that will be reimbursed when employers train using public/private infrastructure and provide data. It is implemented in 62 other countries and was recommended in the 12th Plan


Q.2) World has changed and multilateral institutions now have to embed these changes. In the light of the statement, highlight the importance of WTO in the present world order and needs to reform it. (GS- 2)

Answer: There is an increasing threat to multilateral institutions from newly emerging forces of global politics and economy.

Where multilateral institutions need to change?

Reforms in multilateral institutions life UN, WB, IMF and WTO are demanded. These demands arise from the following reasons:

  1. The socio-political-economic reasons behind their formation no longer prevail in the world.
  2. After the fall of USSR, there is a tendency towards unilateralism. With growing developing economies, world is becoming increasingly multilateral.
  3. Lack of adequate representation to countries of the third world. Most of the times powers are concentrated in Europe and North America.

Importance of WTO

  1. It helped developing countries like India and China gain from global trade.
  2. It gives voice to the small and developing countries in trade disputes with the developed nations.
  3. It puts forward a trade agenda that is fair, equitable and rules-based. Thus it reduces scope for tariffs and non tariff barriers that obstruct trade.
  4. WTO’s Most Favoured Nation and national-treatment articles stipulate that each WTO member must grant equal market access to all other members and that both domestic and foreign suppliers must be treated equally.
  5. Rules are designed to help governments resist lobbying efforts by domestic interest groups seeking special favours.
  6. Brings greater certainty and predictability to international markets. It would enhance economic welfare and reduce political tensions.

Need to reform WTO

  1. U.S. has systematically blocked the appointment of new Appellate Body members and de facto impeded the work of WTO appeal mechanism.
  2. Concerns over the politicisation of the Body appointment and reappointment process; and the quasi-attribution of permanent Appellate Body seats to the U.S. and European Union (EU).
  3. The dispute settlement process favours the powerful nation in reality. As the small and developing countries cannot impose sanctions after failure of all opportunities at dispute settlement, they end up taking the loss.
  4. The Doha Development Agenda is stalled by the attempts of developed countries to push their own agenda. This is against the interest of developing nations.
  5. WTO has played a very limited role in helping address other global issues related to trade, such as food security, climate change and global trade imbalances.
  6. In the light of growing protectionism and emerging Regional Trading groups, WTO should reinvent itself and be a true representative of all the trading nations.


Q.3) While safeguard duty on solar panels from China, Malaysia may benefit domestic manufacturers, it will do a lot of damage to existing solar projects. Explain. And discuss the other factors that are hurting the development of solar power in India. (GS-3)

Answer:  The government implemented a 25% safeguard duty on solar cell imports from China and Malaysia for the period between July 30, 2018 and July 29, 2019. This import duty has been placed in order to encourage local solar panel manufacturers in the country in a push to the ‘Make in India’ effort. Thus it may encourage local manufacturers of solar panels.

How it damages existing solar projects?

  1. Majority of top solar projects are using these imported panels especially from China.
  2. More than 10,000 MW capacity of solar panels are imported annually from China and Malaysia and this duty would adversely impact the commercial viability of some solar power projects
  3. The increased tariffs will be ultimately passed on to the customers, hampering the adoption of clean energy.
  4. The duty does not provide any relief to developers in SEZs.
  5. It would increase cost of solar power and make it less attractive to buying utilities. Thus it could jeopardise the pace of growth of development of solar power. Tariffs are likely to rise 30-35 paise per unit due to the duty.
  6. There could also be short term delays in project completion.

Factors hurting development of solar power in India:

  1. Solar projects require land and lack of availability of land is a challenge.
  2. Lack of grid connectivity to sites of solar power production.
  3. Huge dependence on imports of solar panels make the production expensive if there are any changes in international market.
  4. During daytime, the weather may be cloudy or rainy, with little or no sun radiation. Hence, this makes solar energy panels less reliable as a solution.
  5. Solar panels also require inverts and storage batteries to convert direct electricity to alternating electricity so as to generate electricity. While installing a solar panel is quite cheap, installing other equipment becomes expensive.
  6. Energy production is quite low compared to other forms of energy.
  7. The renegotiation of existing Power Purchase Agreements(PPA) in the light of falling solar prices is a trouble for the producers.


Q.4) What was the Cuban missile crisis and what were the reasons behind it? What were its major consequences? (GS- 1)

Answer:  Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is a major confrontation that brought the United States and Soviet Union close to war over the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba.

Reasons behind it:

  1. Prevailing Cold War between US and the USSR is the major factor.
  2. As US placed missiles in Europe, USSR placed them in Cuba. The lack of trust on one another led to fears over a potential conflict.
  3. Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and nationalised American companies in Cuba. In retaliation, the Americans stopped all aid to Cuba, and all imports of Cuban sugar. He looked up to  USSR for help and USSR signed an agreement to buy 1 million tonnes of Cuban sugar every year. This fuel led tensions. After this, Castro favours Communism.
  4. After the Bay of Pigs invasion, Russia publicly promised – weapons to defend Cuba against America. This put America at a threat.
  5. The arms race-caused fear and suspicion.
  6. Creation of NATO-Berlin Blockade


  1. Both sides were scared to escalate the crisis. This led to establishment of direct communications and somewhat less aggressive behavior to avoid any future conflict.
  2. The LIMITED TEST BAN TREATY: In August 1963, the USA and USSR agreed to ban the testing of all nuclear weapons in space, in the sea and above ground. Underground tests were still permitted.
  3. The leaders of the Soviet Union were determined never again to be pushed around by America. Therefore, the Soviet government made every effort to catch up in the Arms Race. By 1965, America and the USSR were on equal footing in terms of their nuclear capability. This created greater stability in the relationship between the two superpowers. American and Russian leaders realised that any nuclear war was going to destroy both countries and therefore this was known as the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), giving both countries excellent reason to avoid war.
  4. France decided to leave the NATO. In the event of a nuclear war between the USA and USSR, the members of the NATO would be obliged to fight alongside America. France feared that it would be destroyed by this. In 1966, France ended its military alliance with America and began to develop its own nuclear missiles.
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