Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 16, 2018


Q.1)The UDAI, which is facing criticism in the light of alleged data breaches, recently announced a new method of identification called Virtual Identity. In this context, discuss the meaning of Virtual ID.  What is the rationale behind this decision? (GS-3)

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), recently announced a new method of identification called “Virtual Identity”.

Virtual Identity:

Virtual ID is the 16-digit randomlygenerated number that people can share instead of their Aadhaar number. Virtual ID can be used for authentication of individuals’ identity.

Some of the features of Virtual ID are given below:

  • It is an extra layer of security to protect privacy of people and does not imply there were gaps in the existing security architecture.
  • Virtual ID can be changed any number of times.
  • No documents or proof will be needed to generate a VID. But an Aadhaar numbr will be essential.

Rationale behind this move:

This move of government is a well thought out one, following are some of the benefits that government intend to derive out of it:-

  • To address security concerns over Aadhaar database.
  • The new VID system will hide the Aadhaar number from the authenticating agency, while still confirming the identity of the user.
  • These steps will ensure greater privacy and limit access to its database
  • Prevent profiling of people by combining dozens of databases linked to Aadhaar in the country.
  • Virtual ID would address this concern by giving people the option to generate a random number from a mobile application or the Unique Identification Authority’s website.
  •   It will enable users to undergo Aadhaar authentication without having to furnish their 12-digit Unique Identity Number (UID), also known as Aadhaar number.
  •  VID will be a temporary number that will be automatically revoked once the Aadhaar holder generates a new VID or after the validity of the current VID lapses
  •  Only the Aadhaar holder would be able to generate a VID.
  • The new VID system will hide the Aadhaar number from the authenticating agency, while still confirming the identity of the user.
  • It also introduced what it described as a system of “Limited KYC” (Know Your Customer) to reduce the storage of Aadhaar numbers with the Authentication User Agencies (AUAs).

Q.2) India is facing very big challenge in gender justice. In this context discuss the reasons behind gender inequality in India. What are the legal and constitutional safeguards against gender inequality? (GS-1)

Despite rising education levels and declining fertility rate Indian women’s labour force participation is ranked 170 out of the world 188 economies. The reason for low women’s labour force participation is gender inequality in India.

Main reasons for gender inequality in India:

1-      Cultural institutions:

  • Cultural institutions in India, particularly those of patrilineality (inheritance through male descendants) and patrilocality (married couples living with or near the husband’s parents), play a crucial role in perpetuating gender inequality.

2-      Preference for sons:

  • A culturally ingrained parental preference for sons – emanating from their importance as caregivers for parents in old age – is linked to poorer consequences for daughters.

3-      Dowry system:

  • The dowry system, involving a cash or in-kind payment from the bride’s family to the groom’s at the time of marriage, is another institution that disempowers women.
  • The incidence of dowry has been steadily rising over time across all region and socioeconomic classes.

4-      Patriarchal mindset:

  • Patriarchy is a social system of privilege in which men are the primary authority figures, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, control of prosperity and authority over women and children.

5-      Poverty and lack of education:

  • Extreme poverty and lack of education are also some of the reasons for women’s low status in society.
  • Poverty and lack of education derives countless women to work in low paying domestic service, organized prostitution or as migrant laborers.

Legal and constitutional safeguards against gender inequality:

1- Constitutional safeguards:

  • Indian Constitution provides for positive efforts to eliminate gender inequality.
  • The Preamble to the Constitution talks about goals of achieving social, economic and political justice to everyone and to provide equality of status and of opportunity to all its citizens.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution provides for prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex also apart from other grounds such as religion, race, caste or place of birth.
  • Article 15(3) authorizes the State to make any special provision for women and children.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy also provides various provisions which are for the benefit of women and provides safeguards against discrimination.

2- Legal safeguards:

Various protective Legislations have also been passed by the Parliament to eliminate exploitation of women and to give them equal status in society.

  • The Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 was enacted to abolish and make punishable the inhuman custom of Sati.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 to eliminate the practice of dowry.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 to give rightful status to married couples who marry inter-caste or inter-religion.
  • Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Bill (introduced in Parliament in 1991, passed in 1994 to stop female infanticide and many more such Acts.
  • Section 304-B was added to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 to make dowry-death or bride-burning a specific offence punishable with maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

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

A) Urban heat island effect (GS-3)

B) Model Code of Conduct (GS-2)

C) Chandrayaan-2 (GS-3)

A) Urban heat island effect:

  • The urban heat island is a phenomenon when the heat gets trapped near the earth’s surface as a result of a decline in green cover, rapid urbanisation, energy-intensive activities, and concrete structures.
  • Urban heat islands can have worse air and water quality than their rural neighbours.
  • UHIs often have lower air quality because there are more pollutants (being pumped into the air.
  • These pollutants are blocked from scattering and becoming less toxic by the urban landscape: buildings, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots.
  • Water quality also suffers.
  • When warm water from the UHI ends up flowing into local streams, it stresses the native species that have adapted to life in a cooler aquatic environment.

B) Model code of Conduct:

  • These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
  • The objective of Model Code of Conduct is to ensure free and fair elections.
  • The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971.
  • This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
  • The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.

C) Chandrayaan-2

  • To prepare for landing on the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation is planning to conduct landing simulation tests for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft at Mahendragiri in coming weeks.
  • Chandrayaan-2 includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface.
  • It is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission.
  • It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.
  • The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.
  • It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.


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