Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 9, 2019

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Q.1) Protecting Information Infrastructure is biggest challenge to Nation’s Security. In this context while defining Communication network, analyze measures taken for securing communication network infrastructure?

Answer:

Communication networks are a part of our critical information infrastructure which was defined in the IT Act, 2000 as “the computer resource, the incapacitation or destruction of which, shall have debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health or safety.”

Steps taken:

  1. The government in the National Telecom Policy of 2012 has set a target for domestic production of telecom equipment to meet the Indian telecom sector’s demand to the extent of 60 to 80 per cent by 2020.
  2. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has also repeatedly urged telecom companies to take note of vulnerabilities in their equipment.
  3. Making local certification mandator has been mandated
  4. National cybersecurity policy
  5. National digital communications policy, 2018

 

Q.2) Genetically Modified Crops are most potent solution to India’s Food Security. In this context critically analyze anti-GM reasons and regulatory preparedness for GM crops introduction?

Answer:

Genetically modified crops are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods.

Challenges of GM Crops:

  1. Health impact – studies cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility.
  2. GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool.
  3. Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant”―they deadly weed killer. They increase herbicide tolerance.
  4. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects.
  5. Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments’ superficial regulations and safety assessments.
  6. GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms.

Regulatory preparedness:

  1. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 acts as an umbrella legislation to provide a holistic framework for the protection and improvement to the environment.
  2. Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RDAC): This committee constituted by the DBT takes note of developments in biotechnology at national and international levels.
  3. Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC): It is necessary that each institution intending to carry out research activities involving genetic manipulation of microorganisms, plants or animals should constitute the IBSC.
  4. Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM): The RCGM functions as a body under the DBT to monitor the safety related aspects in respect of on-going research projects and activities involving GE organisms/hazardous microorganisms.
  5. Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC): GEAC is the apex committee functioning in MoEFCC and has representatives from concerned ministries/agencies and experts.

 

Q.3) Nuclear Energy is considered more expensive than many other sources of electricity, including solar and wind power. Is nuclear energy a feasible option to meet India’s rising energy demand?

Answer:

Importance of nuclear energy for India’s needs:

  1. It is a feasible energy source in the background of climate change.
  2. India’s energy poverty remains a gross challenge in its development.
  3. India currently has 21 operating nuclear reactors at six locations across the country, their combined capacity totaling 5.8 GW.
  4. If nuclear energy is installed, there are high possibilities of a near-100 percent renewable energy scenario for India by the middle of the century.
  5. In terms of land area, NPCIL intends to develop Nuclear Energy Parks, each with a capacity for up to eight new-generation reactors of 1 GW, six reactors of 1.6 GW or simply 10 GW at a single location.
  6. Currently India has three operating reprocessing plants based on the Plutonium Uranium Redox Extraction (PUREX) technology at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam. India has also begun construction of an Integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant that could deliver a three-fold rise in the reprocessing capacity by 2020.

Challenges with nuclear energy:

  1. It has a potential to fall in hands of extremist groups and leading to its use for nuclear weapons.
  2. Land requirement stands in the way of building reactors.
  3. Resilience to disasters is in question post Fukushima when the world started shutting down reactors.
  4. Recycling is not fully environmentally safe and the risk of nuclear waste exists.
  5. Alternatives life solar and wind challenge the huge, centralised investments in nuclear energy.

 

Q.4) Critically discuss the Citizenship (Amendment ) Bill, 2016?

Answer:

Features of the bill:

  1. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
  2. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.  The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to 6 years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.

Issues:

  1. States like Assam consider the Bill to work against the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people of the State.
  2. There is an opposition to the idea of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion.
  3. Bill is designed to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees persecuted in neighbouring countries. NRC does not distinguish migrants on the basis of religion. If the Bill becomes an Act, the non-Muslims need not go through any such process, thus it will clearly be discriminating against Muslims identified as undocumented immigrants.
  4. States sharing borders with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are likely to be affected.
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