Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 2, 2018


Q.1) Describe briefly the doctrine, “res extra commercium”? How will the implementation of the this Roman doctrine affect the tobacco industry of India? (GS–2)


  • The government has asked the Supreme Court to classify tobacco as “res extra commercium”, which means “outside commerce” in Latin.
  • As a result, the Indian tobacco industry could lose its legal right to trade.
  • The government is not discussing  of banning tobacco.

What will be the positive implication of “res extra commercium”?

The positive implication of “res extra commercium” are:

  • The goal of invoking the Roman law doctrine was only to curtail the industry’s legal rights.
  • It would give the authorities more room to impose restrictions and discourage the industryfrom challenging tough new regulations.
  • The government argued that it should have the power to regulate business and to mitigate evils to safeguard public health.
  • Moreover, such a classification will help protect tobacco control measures from being challenged.

What will be the adverse effects of “res extra commercium”?

The adverse effects of “res extra commercium” are:

  • Industry’s legal rights would be severely limited if the court applies the doctrine to tobacco. For example:
  • India’s tobacco labelling rules, which mandate 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface be covered in health warnings, have been a sticking point between the government and the tobacco industry since they were enforced in 2016.
  • That year, the industry briefly shut factories across the country in protest and filed dozens of legal cases challenging the rules.
  • Taking away the industry’s right to trade would imperil millions of Indian farmers who depend on tobacco for their living.
  • The industry estimates 45.7 million people in India depend on tobacco for their living.


  • It is said that no country has applied the “res extra commercium” doctrine to tobacco, but hoped India would set a precedent.

Q.2) NITI Aayog had recently stated that not unemployment but a “severe underemployment” is the main problem facing the country. How is underemployment different from unemployment? What are its major causes and consequences? (GS–1)


  • Underemployment is a measure of employment and labor utilization in the economy that looks at how well the labor force is being utilized in terms of skills, experience and availability to work.
  • Labor that falls under the underemployment classification includes those workers who are highly skilled but working in low paying jobs
  • These workers are highly skilled but working in low skill jobs or as part-time workers who would prefer to work full time.

How is underemployment different from unemployment?


  • Unemployment refers to the economic situation in which an individual who is actively searching for employment is unable to find work
  • Underemployment is a situation where there is a mismatch between the employment opportunities and the skills and education level of the employees.

Intensity of the issue:

  • Underemployment is a more serious problem than unemployment as a job that needs to be done by one person is often performed by two or more workers
  • Contrary to some assertions that India’s growth has been ‘jobless’, the Employment Unemployment Surveys (EUS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) have consistently reported low and stable rates of unemployment over more than three decades.

What are the major factors and consequences of underemployment in India?

The major factors and consequences of underemployment in India are:

Conventional paradigm of the society:

  • In a so-called well established education system of India, we apparently, constrain our self too much into a conventional paradigm of the society, resulting in detachment, passion and determination.
  • Societal pressure also may lead to graduates rushing to get their hands on whatever jobs they get instead of looking for what they may actually be capable of.
  • This leads to many employees working on positions they are overqualified for.

Over population:

  • Underemployment is when there is a low market-place demand for employees as employers are often responded with overwhelming applications leading to hard-hitting competition
  • This allows the employers to raise the bar by raising the academic requirements of many occupations higher than is really necessary to perform the work
  • Technological change also causes underemployment, as many entry level jobs are replaced by machines and technology.
  • This forces many workers to look for alternatives.

Q.3) Write a brief note on natural capital and its importance for any nation’s development. (GS–3)


  • Natural capital is world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things.
  • Natural capital provide for a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible.
  • The most obvious ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel.

How crucial is natural capital for any nation’s development?

The importance of natural capital are as follows:

Vast economic contribution

  • India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries, boasting 11% of the world’s flora and fauna
  • With increasing economic activity, natural capital assets are on the decline affecting
  • The quality of life
  • Potentially giving rise to future inefficiencies in the economy

Earth Overshoot Day

  • A figurative calendar date when total annual resource consumption exceeds the earth’s capacity to regenerate it
  • This year it was observed on August 2

Limits of natural capital stocks

  • Nine earth systems have been identified which mark the safe zones, beyond which there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’.
  • Four of these boundaries have now been crossed
  • Climate change
  • loss of biosphere integrity
  • land system change
  • altered biogeochemical cycles
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