Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 7, 2018


Q.1) Stunting among children is common in developing countries with poor sanitation. In this context discuss how poor sanitation leads to stunting in India. Suggest some measures to tackle the menace of stunting in India.(GS-1)

India has the highest number of stunted children worldwide. Stunting is a serious form of malnutrition or chronic undernutrition during the most critical periods of growth and development of children. It is characterised by low height for age and is caused mainly due to insufficient nutritional intake often triggered by recurrent infections such as diarrhoea.

Stunting among children or low height for age, is common in developing countries with poor sanitation, as per the recent research finding by the Lancet Global Health research findings.

The link between poor sanitation and stunting

  • Poor sanitation, lack of availability of clean water and hygiene practices is one of the major reasons for stunting in India.
  • Household water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices play a huge role in stunting in India.
  • Open defecation is an important factor influencing stunting among children in different districts, preceding factors such as maternal education, calorie intake, socio-economic status, etc. More than 650 million people in this nation practice open defecation.
  • Poor nutrition and exposure to faecal contamination are associated with diarrhoea and growth faltering, both of which have long-term consequences for child health.
  • Poor quality and availability of water can have a significant impact on sanitation and hygiene behaviour in populations, affecting handwashing practices and toilet use.
  • Although the coverage of safe drinking water has increased according to government figures, only 43.5 percent of this is tap water of which only 32 percent is treated, according to the Census 2011 figures.
  • India is the worst performer in terms of sanitation coverage as compared to other countries with almost half of the households in the country not having access to toilets.
  • At 49.8 percent, India has the highest number of people practising open defecation in the world according to Census 2011 figures.
  • In sanitation, India lags behind South Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have not progressed as much in economic terms.
  • Poor sanitation leading to open defecation practices in increasing the risk of frequent infections and poor growth among children in low-income settings.


  • WASH interventions may need to be very widespread to make a difference.
  • There is need to look beyond toilet numbers to deal with stunting
  • Not just toilet numbers but poor toilet use and hygiene behaviour too need urgent redressal at the policy level to reduce stunting.
  •   Improved conditions of sanitation and hygiene such as access to toilets and hygiene behaviour such as handwashing practices after defecation will help in reduction of stunting among children in India.


India has identified sanitation as one of its important priorities in recent years. The Swachh Bharat Mission is a good step in this direction. However putting all the responsibility for poor sanitation on people’s behaviour will not help unless broader poverty and infrastructure-related issues like access to water, poor sewage disposal mechanisms, and availability of user-friendly and appropriate technologies are dealt with while addressing poor sanitation outcomes in the country.”

Q.2) A crime in the name of ‘honour’ is one of a range of violent or abusive acts. In this context discuss the factors that are responsible for honour killings in India. Suggest some measures to curb the menace. (GS-1)

India registered 251 honour killings in 2015, recording a big spike in murders carried out by people professing to be acting in defence of their family’s reputation.

Recently in its verdict against honour killings in India, the Supreme Court said that “Two adults are free to marry and “no third party” has a right to harass or cause harm to them”. The apex court highlighted that “when two people get into wedlock, no one should interfere. Neither parents, society, khap or panchayat… no one at all,”

Honour killing:

  • Honour killing is defined as the killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family.
  • Honour killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as a result of people marrying without their family’s acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion.
  • Honour killings are also widespread in South India and the western Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Factors responsible for honour killing in India:

  • Continued rigidity of the caste system: Hence in the fear of losing the caste status, which they gain many benefits, makes them commit this heinous crime.
  • Same gotra or outside marriages: The mentality of the people till now such that they will not be ready to accept the marriages which have taken place in the same gotra or outside. The society still negatives the right of choice in marriage.
  • Lack of formal governance:The root of the cause for the increase of it is because the formal governance has not been able to reach the rural areas.
  • Khap Panchayat: The absence of the formal institutions as panchayat Smiti or a constitution gathering leads to the brutal governance of the illegal and extra-constitutionalized panchayat.
  • Difference in  Sex ratio: The increase in the difference in sex ratio is reason to it. Honour killing are happening in the area where the sex ratio is low and girls are being bought for marriages.
  • Illiteracy and unawareness about the rights: Large section of the society unknown about the  rights which are made to protect them in our constitution incapacity due to lack in education. The honour crime violates Article 14, 15 (1) & (3) 19, 21 and 39 (f) of the Constitution of India.
  • Danger of losing Prestige and Status in society: A person’s ascribed status is more important than the achieved status.
  • Another characteristic of honour killings is that the perpetrators often do not face negative stigma within their communities, because their behaviour is seen as justified.


  • Media play a more crucial role in  expressing their views in the front of whole of society, without any fear, even there is a right of freedom to express is also given in our Constitution.
  • It is necessary to improve sex ratio in the areas where females low in number and still practicing the female foeticide like Haryana, UP, and Punjab.
  • Literacy is used as arm that has a potential to curb this menace.
  • The laws should be clear and issues related to the validity of the Khap Panchayat should be clear to people.
  • There should be a provision of one or two women sitting in the Khap Panchayats so that equality right also follows.
  •  It is imperative for the state to focus on such programmes and projects which help in gender equity.


  • A woman can never be considered as property of man or family in a civilized society and has free will to choose her life the way she wants to live. Human dignity and autonomy are absolute values and shall never be violated at any cost. It is context it is expected from the government  to focus on such programmes and projects which help in gender equity.

Q.3) Write a short note on any two of the following :

a) Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy (GS-3)

b) Long-term capital gains(LTCG)(GS-3):

c)  KUSUM scheme(GS-3)

Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy

  • In the recent Budget 2018-19 the government proposed Outward Direct Investment (ODI) policy may contain provisions to make it easy for many Indian firms, envisioning ambitious plans to transform themselves into multi-national companies (MNC), to go global and expand.
  • ODI policy also expected to tighten regulations to prevent round-tripping structures.

Top ten ODI destination

  • Top ten ODI destination countries in FY’15, FY’16 and FY’17 included Mauritius, Singapore, the U.S., the UAE, the Netherlands, the U.K, Switzerland, Russia, Jersey and British Virgin Islands.
  • Cumulatively, these nations were the beneficiaries of 84% or more of India’s ODI during each of those financial years.

What is LTCG?

  • LTCG or long-term capital gains refer to the gains made on any class of asset held for a particular period of time.
  • In case of equity shares, it refers to the gains made on stocks held for more than one year.
  • In other words, if the shares are bought and held for more than a year before selling, then the gains, if any, on the said sale are referred to as long term capital gains or LTCG.

Why is LTCG tax in the news?

  • It is in the news as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley re-introduced LTCG tax on equity shares.
  • Investors have to pay 10% LTCG tax on gains exceeding one lakh on the sale of shares or equity mutual funds held for more than one year without the benefit of indexation (adjusting the profit against inflation to compute the real taxable gains).
  • Previously, short-term capital gains (STCG) tax of 15% was levied.

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan or KUSUM scheme

The components of the scheme include

  • Building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands
  • Providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced
  • Solarising’ existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with a capacity of 8250 MW
  • Distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps

Share of subsidy

  • The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the State
  • 30% would be provided through bank loan
  • 10% will be borne by the farmers

Expected benefits

  • Scheme would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands
  • Help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS
  • Promotion of decentralised solar power production
  • Reduction of transmission losses
  • Providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector
  • The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers


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