Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 1, 2019

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Q.1) The trade war between US on one side and China and Russia on the other side are signaling the beginning of a new Cold War. comment.

Answer:

A trade war is a situation in which countries try to damage each other’s trade, typically by the imposition of tariffs or quota restrictions.

US started the trade wat unilaterally and this is bound to have impacts not only on the target nations, but also globally as seen in the case of cold war.

Impact:

  1. According to IMF estimates, the unilateral trade actions could cost the world $430 billion by 2020.
  2. Taxing foreign steel and aluminium is to make US companies buy local steel instead. But this may push up steel and aluminium prices in the US thus rising manufacturing costs for local industry depending on steel.
  3. The tariffs cast a shadow over Beijing’s rise and the image that the world had no choice but to accept and accommodate China’s rise.
  4. Threat to WTO’s rule-based trading order. It indirectly hurts many small and developing nations engaged in trade as they cannot afford an ad hoc trade regime.

With Russia, US is entering a dangerous arms race by threatening to pull out of the  1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Problems:

  1. fears of a new nuclear arms race in Europe and Asia.
  2. The treaty has been a central element of Europe’s security strategy for more than three decades and its signing was considered a crucial moment in Cold War arms control
  3. opens the door to the deployment of American intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia, potentially increasing the tension in a standoff with Russia and China

 

Q.2) Discuss the impact of livestock farming on climate change. suggest measures to mitigate the same.

Answer:

Livestock is used for meat, dairy products, eggs, fibre and leather, transport, and for manure to fertilize crops and for fuel. However, it is also a major driver of climate change through the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, CH4, and nitrous oxide.

On climate change:

  1. Globally, the livestock sector contributes 14.5 % (7.1 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent) of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. (FAO)
  2. Cattle is responsible for the most emissions, representing about 65% of the livestock sector emissions.
  3. In terms of activities, feed production and processing (45%) and enteric fermentation from ruminants (39%) are the two main sources of emissions
  4. About 44% of livestock emissions are in the form of methane (CH4). Nitrous Oxide accounts for 29% and Carbon Dioxide 27%
  5. According to a recent study by International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), cow urine may also contribute to global warming

Measures to address:

  1. Improving Feed Quality and Digestibility : better grassland management, improved pasture species, changing forage mix and greater use of feed supplements. These can improve nutrient uptake, increase animal productivity and fertility, and thus lower emissions per unit of product.
  2. Improving animal health and husbandry: There is a direct link between greenhouse gas emission intensities and animal efficiency- more productive the animal; lesser the environmental impact.
  3. Agroforestry: Agroforestry should be practiced to help maintain the balance between livestock production, environmental protection and carbon sequestration to offset emissions from the sector.
  4. Manure management: It is important to adopt sound manure management to mitigate GHG emissions, reduce nutrient losses from livestock production systems and reduce other detrimental environmental impacts of livestock production such as air and water pollution
  5. Grassland management: It is important to improve grazing and grassland management to increase feed quality and carbon sequestration.
  6. Dietary Shifts: Shifting dietary trends in high income regions, -reduction in meat consumption and food waste would help negate the detrimental impacts of livestock farming to a large extent.
  7. Fiscal Measures: It is important to adopt fiscal measures such as polluter’s pay mechanism to control emissions from livestock farms. Further, fiscal incentives should be provide to facilitate adoption of mitigation/ adaptation strategies by farmers.

 

Q.3) Discuss the reasons for non-participation of India in e-commerce rules negotiation at WTO forums.

Answer:

E-commerce, or online trade in goods and services, has become a huge component of the global economy. A WTO report put the total value of e-commerce in 2016 at $27.7 trillion, of which nearly $24 trillion was business-to-business transactions.

Impatient with the lack of World Trade Organization rules to cover the explosive growth of e-commerce, 76 countries and regions agreed to start negotiating this year on a set of open and predictable regulations.

Why India is not participating:

  1. insist that Doha-round development issues must be dealt with before new issues can be tackled
  2. it should also take into account the needs of developing countries
  3. India wants a 1998 agenda to be the basis of any conversation about e-commerce
  4. Developed countries are demanding a ‘permanent moratorium’ on imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions. India feels that such a move could reduce the negotiating leverage for developing countries to seek a ‘permanent moratorium’ on NVC(Non Violation Complaints) under TRIPS.
  5. India is also insisting on its proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement which aims to liberalize rules on movement of professionals and skilled workers across borders for temporary work/projects

 

Q.4) Farmers’ and dalit issues which kept the nation on the edge need focused attention of the government. Comment

Answer:

Farmers’ issues:

Farm distress is acute in the country. This is witnessed in the massive rallies of farmers and rising demands for loan waivers. This needs to be addressed in the following ways:

  1. raising productivity of farms
  2. reduce costs of cultivation by providing quality inputs at subsidised rates
  3. provide remunerative prices following the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission
  4. ensure assured procurement of output
  5. expand access to institutional credit
  6. enhance public investment for infrastructural development
  7. institute effective crop insurance systems
  8. establish affordable scientific storage facilities and agro-processing industries for value addition

Dalit issues:

Along with the prevailing atrocities, marginalisation and discrimination against the Dalits in the country, recent Supreme Court’s decisions on the ‘dilution’ of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act; then the judgment on SC/ST promotions; and the recent verdict on university faculty reservations for SC, ST and OBCs have caused much turmoil among Dalits.

Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued an advisory to the media saying they “may” refrain from using the term ‘Dalit’ while referring to members of Scheduled Castes

Two of the most important issues for Dalits have been impacted by these judgments: protection from social oppression and atrocities and adequate representation.

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