Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 15, 2019


Q.1) Despite the buoyancy in bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years, India remains hyphenated with Pakistan. Comment


Relations of India – Saudi:

a. Although India and Saudi Arabia have not signed a defence cooperation agreement, both countries have conducted joint military exercises
b. India and Saudi Arabia share a common interest is Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia recently played a major role in bringing some sections of the Taliban to the conference table, and facilitated the dialogue between them and the US.
c. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest supplier of crude oil to India.
d. The 2.7 million strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the ‘most preferred community’ act as an agent of soft power diplomacy

Challenges remain:

a. The Pakistan factor has also been an important element of the India-Saudi Arabia relationship. Pakistan’s influence over Saudi Arabia in hindering a stronger Indo-Saudi relationship. Although India’s deepening engagements with Saudi Arabia over the recent past has resulted in building a stronger bilateral relationship
b. Saudi Arabia concerns with respect to India’s engagements in the West Asian region, particularly with reference to India’s engagement with Iran, be it on oil trade or the Chabahar port, and the supply of arms to India from Israel
c. Both the countries have to delicately perform the balancing act (for the Saudis, between India and Pakistan, and for the Indians, between Saudi Arabia and Iran) to explore the benefits
d. Saudi policy of ’Nitaqat’ would potentially upset the large expatriate community of Indian working in the Kingdom.

Q.2) What is the 6th schedule of the Constitution? How is the 6th schedule different from the 5th schedule?

6th schedule:
6th schedule contains special provisions for administration of tribal areas in 4 NE states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The various features in the 6th Schedule are:

1. Tribal areas in these 4 states have been constituted as autonomous districts. But they do not fall outside executive authority of the state concerned.
2. Governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts. He can increase or decrease their areas or change their names or define their boundaries.
3. If there are different tribes in an Autonomous District Governor can divide it into several Autonomous Regions.
4. Each autonomous district has a District Council consisting of 30 members of whom 4 are nominated by Governor and remaining are elected on the basis of adult franchise. Elected members hold office for a term of 5 years(unless council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members hold office during pleasure of Governor. Each autonomous region also has a separate Regional Council.
5. District and Regional Councils administer areas under their jurisdiction. They can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, canal water, shifting cultivation, village administration, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs and so on. But all such laws require the assent of Governor.
6. DCs and RCs can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between tribes(in territorial jurisdictions). They hear appeals from them. Jurisdiction of HC over these suits and cases is specified by Governor.
7. DC can establish, construct or manage primary schools, dispensaries, markets, ferries, fisheries, roads and so on in the district. It can also make regulations for the control of money lending and trading by non-tribals. Such regulations require Governor’s assent.
8. DC and RC are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and impose certain specified taxes.
9. The acts of Parliament or SL do not apply to ADs and ARs (specified modifications and exceptions).
10. Governor can appoint a commission to examine and report on any matter relating to administration of ADs or ARs. He may dissolve a district or regional council on the recommendation of the commission.
6th schedule vs 5th schedule:

The various features of administration contained in the 5th Schedule are as follows:

1. Declaration of Scheduled Areas: President is empowered to declare an area as SA. He can also increase or decrease its area, alter its boundary lines, rescind such designation or make fresh orders for redesignation of an area in consultation with Governor of the state concerned.
2. Executive Power of State and Centre: The executive power of a state extends to SAs in it. Governor has special responsibility of submitting a report to the president regarding administration of such areas, annually or whenever required by the president. Executive power of Centre extends to giving directions to states regarding administration of such areas.
3. Tribes Advisory Council: Each state having SAs has to establish a TAC to advise on welfare and advancement of STs. 3/4th of its members should be representatives of STs in SLA. Similar council can also be established in a state having STs but not SAs if president directs.
4. Law applicable to Scheduled Areas: Governor is empowered to direct that any particular act of Parliament or SL does not apply to a SA or apply with specified modifications and exceptions. He can also make regulations for peace and good government of a SA after consulting the TAC. These regulations may prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of STs, regulate allotment of land to members of STs and regulate business of money-lending in relation to STs. It may repeal or amend any act of Parliament or SL applicable to a SA. All such regulations require assent of the president.

Q.3) What is E-Pharmacy? What are the advantages of e-pharmacy? Give some important features of the Draft Pharmaceutical Policy, 2017.


E-pharmacy denotes the buying and selling of medicines and other pharmaceutical items with the support of web portal or any electronic mode. These are online platforms where consumers can purchase medicines without having to visit brick-and-mortar pharmacies.


1. According to The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI), online pharmacy model could account for 5-15% of the total pharma sales in India.
2. E-pharmacy enables consumers to order medicines in a convenient manner, from their mobile or computer.
3. Online platforms can aggregate supplies, making otherwise hard to find medicines available to consumers across India. Further, e-Pharmacies also enable access to rural areas where there is limited presence of retail pharmacy.
4. E-pharmacies have the technology infrastructure to provide value added information to consumers, such as drug interactions, side effects, medicine reminders, and information on cheaper substitutes.
5. E-pharmacy model reduces working capital, overhead costs, and trade margins to the pharmacists. This finally translates into a cost advantage to consumers.
6. E-pharmacies enable efficient tracking of medicines which can help in tracing counterfeit medicines. This can help in making the market more transparent and ensuring that authenticity is strictly maintained.
7. E-Pharmacies can store and analyse large amounts of data on consumers across the country, which can be utilized for planning public health policies.

  1. Definition of E-pharmacy: “business of distribution or sale, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through a web portal or any other electronic mode”
  2. Mandatory Registration: The draft rules make it mandatory for e-pharmacy businesses to register with the Central Licensing Authority
  3. Data Localization: It mandates e-pharmacy portals to be established in India through which they are conducting their business and the data generated has to be kept localised.
  4. Privacy: It states that the details of patient should be kept confidential and not to be disclosed to any third party except the central government or the state government concerned.
  5. Prescriptions: For carrying out sale of prescription drugs (i.e. drugs listed under Schedule H, H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules) a prescription by a Registered Medical Practitioner has to be uploaded by the customer.
  6. Prohibition on sale of certain drugs: Sale of drugs covered by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, tranquilizers and drugs listed under Schedule X has been prohibited.
  7. Prohibition on Advertisement: Advertisement of drugs is prohibited on any media for any purpose by an e-pharmacy.
  8. Compliance with IT Act: E-pharmacies have to comply with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and Rules.
    24*7 helpline: The rules state that complete information on the medicines will have to be provided by the e-pharmacy holders, and a 24/7 helpline should be made available.


Q.4) Though migration is expected to enhance consumption and lift families out of absolute poverty at the origin, it is not free from distress. Comment


Problems with internal migration in India:

1. Greater internal integration has not led to a narrowing of income and consumption gaps across states.
2. Homelessness  – Hyper-commodification of land in cities makes accommodation difficult for migrant labour. Slums are the most prominent site of habitation of the migrant workers in the city. According to the Census data, 1.37 crore households, or 17.4% of urban Indian households lived in a slum in 2011. There is still an outstanding shortage of over 10 million affordable houses.
3. Growing informal labour – studies on the expanding role of child labour and old-age labour in urban economy substantiates this point. Migrants are mostly employed in the following subsectors: construction, domestic work, textile, brick-kilns, transportation, mines, quarries and agriculture. They work for 15-16 hours a day, have no social security.
4. Female labour migrants, especially in the domestic and construction work sectors are often sexually exploited in return for the offer of regular work.
5. Demography of seasonal migrants – Most short-term migrants belong to socioeconomically deprived groups such as SCs or STs, having negligible educational attainment, limited assets and resource deficits. Also, females are more in number than males (30%). Moreover, a significant portion is child migrants.
6. Internal migration has created a demographic divide among states.
7. Unplanned migration and urbanisation is creating serious development challenges for urban areas; it is witnessed in urban poverty, unemployment and homelessness.
8. Conflicts between the migrants and host community have have often turned violent.
9. As the welfare benefits are not transferable, migrant families lose out on essential rations and have to depend on the open market. Not registered as bona fide residents in a city, rural migrant workers are not eligible to access the public distribution system (PDS) for food grains or fuel. This impacts their cost of living and reduces the additional earnings they might hope to remit to their families.
10. Many smart city proposals identify slums as a “threat” to the city in their “SWOT” analysis and fail to account for migrant labour in the schemes.

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