Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 19, 2018

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Q.1) In India cases of depression are rising among private sector employees, as per a recent report. Analyse the reasons behind this trend and evaluate how Mental Healthcare Act would be helpful in addressing this challenge.

Answer:

Depression is commonly defined as a state of mind when people experience grief, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, an all-pervading sense of futility and incompetence, and even suicidal thoughts.

A study conducted by Assocham last year showed that 42.5% of employees in the Indian private sector are afflicted with general anxiety disorder or depression, as compared to government employees.

Reasons:

  1. The more our society gets caught up in today’s rat-race – an unending yet unyielding tryst for more money, fame and recognition – the more it inches towards drowning in a ditch of depression.
  2. Less pay and more working hours which contribute to an atmosphere of constant fatigue.
  3. India has become the hub of ‘cheap labour’ for most of the employers across the globe.
  4. A private sector employee in India works for a minimum of 48-50 hours a week when compared to 33 hours a week in UK and 40 hours a week in US. Also the pay scale in India, a ‘developing country’, is meagre when compared to these ‘developed countries’ which pay almost six times more even after deducting the indexing prices and cost of living.
  5. Most of these employees are sleep deprived and hardly ever get to sleep peacefully even for six hours. According to an Assocham study, clinical depression has risen by around 50% in the last eight years.

Mental healthcare act:

  1. It recognises that every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
  2. A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code.
  3. The Mental Health Review Commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will periodically review the use of and the procedure for making advance directives and advise the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons.
  4. The Bill also specifies the process and procedure to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals.

 

Q.2) The Niti Ayog has not been able to live up to its expectation of realizing the goal of cooperative federalism. Discuss.

Answer:

After dismantling Planning Commission, NITI Aayog was created with the following agenda:

  1. foster cooperative federalism
  2. evolve a national consensus on developmental goals
  3. redefine the reforms agenda
  4. act as a platform for resolution of cross-sectoral issues between Center and State Governments
  5. capacity building
  6. act as a Knowledge and Innovation hub

Challenges in realising its goals:

  1. Niti Aayog will oversee a greater centralisation of powers in the central government.
  2. With the abolition of National Development Council and its replacement by regional councils, the limited say states had on policies and the flow of funds stands further eroded.
  3. The erstwhile plan transfers are now granted through finance ministry. This may result in a possible reduction in the total magnitude of transfers and increase in the centre’s control over states’ plans.
  4. NITI Aayog is supposed to be a think tank. It should maintain an intellectual distance from the government of the day. We see only uncritical praise of government-sponsored, schemes.
  5. NITI Aayog lacks the ability to transform a deeply unequal society into a modern economy as it has no role in influencing policy making with long-term consequences.

 

Q.3) GST has the potential to turn around the Indian economy from the state of mess it finds itself. In the light of this statement, examine how GST can prove to be a game changer for Indian agriculture.

Answer:

The Goods and Services Tax: GST is a destination-based tax and is levied at the final consumption point. The policy aims to streamline the taxation structure in the country by doing away with various taxes imposed by states and Centre and introducing a unified tax system.

GST benefits agriculture:

  1. GST is essential to improve the transparency, reliability, timeline of supply chain mechanism. A better supply chain mechanism would ensure a reduction in wastage and cost for the farmers/retailers.
  2. ST would also help in reducing the cost of heavy machinery required for producing agricultural commodities.
  3. Waiver on the manufacture of Tractors is removed and GST of 12% has been imposed. This is beneficial as now the manufacturers will be able to claim Input Tax Credit.
  4. Goods which previously used to enter the value chain undeclared are now being traded legitimately. Agriculture markets are already witnessing a reduction in dodgy cash transactions.
  5. As plastic pipes are going to be expensive, irrigation by borewells is going to be costly.
  6. Most raw agri-commodities ranging from rice, wheat, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, are in the zero tax slab, rightly so, as they are consumed by the masses.

From the inputs side that the cost of cultivation for farmers may increase marginally, which in turn may put a mild pressure on agri-prices. But in the long term perspective, agriculture as a sector is going to benefit from sustainable growth due to reduced market imperfections.

 

Q.4) What do you understand by ethical egoism? Compare and contrast its utility vis-à-vis ethical altruism.

Answer:

Ethical egoism guides people to do what is in their own self-interest. It is guided by the idea that man by nature is selfish. Nietzsche and Ayn Rand propagated this idea.

Ethical altruism believes that man ought to do what is good for others, irrespective of consequences for himself.

Many people argue that actions can only be moral if they are done for the sake of helping others rather than yourself. It is often thought that we have a natural inclination to be selfish, so that learning to think of others is an admirable thing to do. Mother Teresa is often seen as an example of altruism.

There is a common assumption that you are either selfish in your actions, or selfless. This is perhaps too simplistic, for most of us probably have a complicated mixture of selfish desires and selfless desires. Many philosophers argue that egoism and altruism do not totally exclude each other, you do not have to lose all care for yourself in order to care properly about other people. Jesus said “love thy neighbour as thyself” which is clearly demonstrating a balance between your own needs and those of others – yes you should care about and look after yourself, but you should also recognise the humanity in other people and care about them too: you should not hurt them and where possible you should help them.

Ethical Egoism does not deny the possibility of altruism: Ethical Egoists would admit that it is perfectly possible to care about other people. However, according to the Ethical Egoist, one need not care about the needs or welfare of others, you should only care about and act on your own needs and interests.

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