Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 31, 2019


Q.1) Highlighting the contemporary challenges being faced by India analyse how Gandhi’s teachings can be used as a panacea in such circumstances.


Some of the major challenges that appear during the 21st century India and that need to be dealt with seriously are as follows:

  1. All pervasive presence of violence and keeping it within limits besides eliminating terrorism.
  2. Ensuring equitable distribution of wealth and natural resource, also to halt and reverse the exploitation and insensitivity shown in preserving balance in nature.
  3. Elimination of poverty and hunger.
  4. Increase in reliance of rulers and politicians on religious fundamentalist elements and by exploiting religious sentiments.
  5. Decline of moral, spiritual and ethical considerations and the expanding influence of consumerism and materialism.

Gandhi’s ideas

  1. Trusteeship: Trusteeship is the means to promote equal distribution of wealth in the society and assures the generation and intelligent use of wealth.
  2. Pity and compassion: According to Gandhi there is a very thin line between pity and compassion. Pity is degrading and oppressive while compassion is uplifting for giver and receiver. When we feel pity we feed someone and when feeding becomes an end in itself it becomes a problem.
  3. Sarvodaya: Sarvodaya implies the rise and well-being of all.
  4. Satyagraha and non-violence: Satyagraha is the method of nonviolent action in search and adherence to ‘truth’. Gandhi proposed a civilized way of opposing rigid and unjust practices of the aggressor and to seek truth, a process which seeks change not through coercion or aggression but through a ‘change of heart’.
  5. Creative resolution of conflict: To Gandhi, cooperation and harmony rather than conflict and struggle constitute the fundamental law of the universe. Conflicts occur more as temporary irregularities in the even and ordered flow of life.


Q.2) Waste to energy plants in India are operated on inefficient and unscientific lines which calls for a re-look on their reliance. Discuss.


There are five municipal WtE plants operational in India with a total capacity to produce 66.4 MW electricity per day.

Challenges posed by WTE plants:

  1. Waste to Energy (WtE) plants are highly dangerous because of the toxic gases and particulates they spew when they burn mixed waste in the process of incineration.
  2. WtE plants in India burn mixed waste.  The presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons like PVC results in the release of dioxins and furans when the waste is burnt at less than 850 degree C.
  3. Appropriate filtering mechanisms need to be installed to control such dangerous emissions.
  4. Dioxins and furans are known to be carcinogenic and can lead to impairment of immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems.
  5. In the past, joint inspections involving the residents have shown that the plant was being operated without the adequate use of activated charcoal to filter out dioxins, furans and mercury from the emissions.
  6. Municipal waste in India has a very high biodegradable (wet) waste content ranging anywhere between 60-70% of the total, compared with 30% in the West. This gives our waste a high moisture content and low calorific value.


Q.3) India is supposed to host G20 summit in 2020. How do you think this opportunity can be used by India to highlight some long pestering domestic and international issues?


G20 is the agenda-setting forum that develops and guides rules of global economic governance.

Issues and Challenges:

  1. India need to have a clear global financial agenda. Geopolitically, India is more internationally engaged but less so geo economically. Its narrow focus is on the World Bank, IMF, WTO and foreign investment issues.
  2. Reconfiguration of global financial regulations is a much needed demand. Today’s global rules in finance are set by the developed nations of the west
  3. A new framework for trade in services is a demand by India which leads globally on providing services.
  4. Digital economy is the new age financial disruption. Global financial flows, new challenges to finances from the internet are the issues India can touch upon.
  5. Cross-border standards for transparency in financial flows is another area. Despite strong frameworks like FATF and other agreements, money laundering, round tripping of financial flows have been persistent issues facing India.


Q.4) Discuss the significance of Saubhagya scheme. What are the challenges in ensuring affordable, reliable and universal household electrification under the scheme?


The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana or Saubhagya Scheme was launched with the aim to achieve universal household electrification by providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all households in rural and urban India.

Challenges in electrification:

  1. Financial Condition of DISCOMS: Despite the implementation of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, the financial condition of DISCOMS remain a serious concern
  2. Metering, billing and collection: Enlarged network and consumer base; particularly new connections in rural India metering, billing and collection is a challenge for DISCOMS
  3. Burden of power bills: A free electricity connection under the Saubhagya Scheme eases the financial burden on the poor to some degree, but does not address the recurring burden of electricity bills. Therefore, only those households who can afford to pay for regular electricity consumption will benefit from the scheme.
  4. Electricity Theft: For many poor households, the high recurring costs of electricity consumption provides an incentive to indulge in electricity theft. The lack of adequate skilled resource to keep theft in check is a concern.
  5. Quality of service: DISCOMS often resort to load-shedding in order to reduce their costs, and in such a scenario, reliable electricity supply is a major concern. The Saubhagya scheme fails to ensure quality of service.
  6. Resorting to other fuels: Due to reliability issues, electricity is generally a substitute and not alternative to fuels such as kerosene. Due to frequent power cuts and erratic electricity supply, households continue to use kerosene, diesel gensets and other fuels to augment their need for energy.
  7. Limited range of appliances: The scheme does not provide access to three-phase electricity and thus the range of appliances that the poor households can use are severely limited. This further hampers economic productivity for poor households.
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