Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 16, 2019

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Q.1) Discuss factors responsible for stressed Natural Gas based Power Plant and suitable measures for its revival to achieve clean energy goal?

Answer:

Thirty one plants, comprising nearly 60 percent of India’s 24.9 gigawatts gas-power capacity, are struggling to repay their debt as fuel shortages affect operations, potentially pushing them into bankruptcy.

Challenges faced by India:

  1. The plants aren’t able to run entirely on imported gas, as higher costs lead to tariffs that are far higher than thermal and renewable power.
  2. Uncompetitive pricing model
  3. Lack of sufficient exploration of potential gas based reserves
  4. Insufficient investments due to continued competition from coal and oil based energy
  5. Leakage: Even though it is lighter than air and can disperse easily, a big danger with natural gas is that since it is colorless, odorless and tasteless, should it start leaking, detection of the leak is very hard.
  6. Storage: Even though natural gas is easier to store and transport, it has one big disadvantage. Its volume happens to be four times that of petrol which makes it more expensive to store since more needs to be spent on additional storage.

To revive natural gas plants:

  1. resume subsidies on imported natural gas
  2. supply the gas at lower than market rates by utilizing funds from the  Power System Development Fund
  3. Clean tax on coal should be used to revive gas power
  4. investing on infrastructure such as storage spaces and pipelines

 

Q.2) Do you think 124th Amendment Act would pass the test on the pedestal of basic structure of the constitution?

Answer:

Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  1. Amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution to give reservation to the economically backward sections among the general/ unreserved category over and above the 49.5% quota in place for SC, ST and OBCs
  2. It seeks 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutes, private institutions whether aided or unaided by the State other than the minority educational institutions referred to in Article 30
  3. It also provides reservation in posts in initial appointment in services under the State.

Challenges:

  1. In 1992, while upholding reservation for OBCs as per the Mandal Commission recommendation, the Supreme Court, in the Indira Sawhney case said that separate reservation for economically poor among forward class was invalid as Article 15(4) provided for only socially and educationally backward classes, and not economically backward classes.
  2. Rajasthan assembly passed bill to provide a 14% quota to the economically backward classes (EBCs) among the forward castes. However, SC held it cannot breach 50% ceiling
  3. The 2016 ordinance promulgated in Gujarat which provided 10% quota for EBCs among upper castes was challenged in the Dayaram Khemkaran Verma case which led to the quashing of the ordinance
  4. The Supreme Court has laid the bar for reservations at 50% — the current proposal will exceed the limit and thus could be legally challenged
  5. The intent of constitutional makers as originally manifested through Article 15 and 16 was to be reviewed after 10 yrs. But it is an irony that instead of restricting the policy of positive discrimination government is pushing it in some or other forms.

 

Q.3) Desalination technology can solve the drinking water scarcity problem of India but has certain detrimental impacts on environment and local economy. Justify.

Answer:

Impact of desalination technologies:

  1. dealing with the chemical-laden leftover brine; For every litre of freshwater output, however, desalination plants produce on average 1.5 litres of brine
  2. major risks to ocean life and marine ecosystems posed by brine greatly raising the salinity of the receiving seawater
  3. polluting the oceans with toxic chemicals used as anti-scalants and anti-foulants in the desalination process; Copper and chlorine are of major concern
  4. Brine underflows deplete dissolved oxygen in the receiving waters
  5. high salinity and reduced dissolved oxygen levels can have profound impacts on benthic organisms, which can translate into ecological effects observable throughout the food chain

 

Q.4) “Suicides are a not just a result of psychological or emotional factors but has social dimensions too”- Discuss in the context of rising student suicides in India

Answer:

Reasons for suicides:

  1. youths are taking their lives due to the fear of failing in examinations, constant flak from teachers, bullying from peers, family pressure and a loss of a sense of a decent future
  2. The instrumental value of education in India is its potential in generating decent job opportunities in the future; but education system has not been successful in generating enough job options
  3. They have failed to learn to enjoy the process of education
  4. With a loss of community and other social bonds, students in schools, colleges and coaching centres end up taking their lives
  5. Poor budgetary allocations for education may lead to cuts in “non-productive” areas of education such as guidance and counselling
  6. educational ecosystem is viewed as a means to fulfil an end, like achieving successful careers
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