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

Mains Test Series


Q.1) Ujjawala scheme is playing a central role in social empowerment, still few bottlenecks arehindering major positive shift at ground level due to this scheme. Explain and suggest somemeasures for improvement.


Under PM UjjwalaYojana, five crore LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.

Ujjawalayojana has helped in social empowerment by following ways:

  1. Health – According to WHO estimates about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels. Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children.
  2. Gender – it is known that women and girl children spend substantial amount of their time in collecting fuel wood, thus hindering employment of women and education of girl child.
  3. Vulnerable groups – as the scheme benefits women from all groups, the marginalised sections like SCs, tribes and minorities will benefit more.
  4. Financial inclusion – as benefits under the scheme are transferred via DBT method, women covered under the scheme open bank accounts, thus are financially included.
  5. Rural employment – It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Still challenges persist in realising the benefits of this scheme. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Identification – Several women don’t necessary prerequisite for getting benefits of the scheme such as Aadhaar card or bank account or ration card.
  2. Attitudes – People’s attitude like they should use the LPG stove minimally to prolong their usage, wood and dung extract is cheap and effective, Using LPG leads to gas problem, are still hindering the LPG usage.
  3. Lack of Awareness – A lot of rural customers have LPG connections to their name which are inactive.  Today, 15 percent of LPG connections are inactive.
  4. Affordability – People are expected to pay Rs 1,500 for one connection. Though most women prefer cooking on LPG but refilling remains a challenge due to affordability issues.
  5. Role of gender – In rural houses where men are sole decision makers and breadwinners, it could be tough to switch to cleaner fuels even if women appreciate the benefits.
  6. Availability – Distribution of LPG in remote villages remains an issue. since the distributors are not willing to go to remote areas, it leaves scope for middlemen who overcharge and exploit.


  1. Government is targeting one lakh LPG Panchayats as peer learning platforms to support behaviour change in Ujjwala beneficiaries.
  2. Village level ASHA workers can be roped in to create awareness about the ill effects of traditional chulhas. This will create a bottom up demand for cleaner fuels.
  3. Strengthening the supply chain – efficient distribution and service.
  4. Initial few refilling should be further subisidised to help the poor families.

Thus, the benefits of PMUY can be further enhanced by addressing the grassroots issues in the scheme.

Q.2) “Despite the temporary setback on the Assumption Island, India should continue to work with the Seychelles in building its capabilities”. In the light of statement, analyze the opportunities and challenges in building strong India-Seychelles relationship.


Assumption Island deal was signed in 2015. The deal included India to invest $550 million in building the base on Assumption Island to help it ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean, as well as permission to station some military personnel on ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by the Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides.

Despite many efforts this deal could not be operationalized yet.

A setback on this front should not affect India-Seychelles bilateral relation because of the following:

Importance of Seychelles to India:

  1. Ocean trade – Indian Ocean constitute a significant part of India’s critical SLOC, be it the oil imports from West Asia or exports to those countries.
  2. China factor – India should be cautious of China’s presence at Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan. China’s “string of pearls” around the Indian peninsula poses a security threat to India.
  3. Indian Ocean dominance – Indian government’s efforts to ensure free, open and inclusive Indian Ocean Region has been recapitulated in its policy of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
  4. Strategic importance – The Assumption Island in Seychelles is strategically important for India. The base will allow the Indian Navy to closely monitor the Mozambique Channel and thwart any piracy attempts, since much international trade transits through this region.
  5. Resources in EEZ – India should cooperate with Indian Ocean littoral states to enhance resource discovery and usage.
  6. Blue Economy – Seychelles is pioneer in advancing the concept of blue economy and India can learn from it.

Challenges in capitalising the relation:

  1. China factor – growing strategic and economic footprint of China in the region is threatening India’s relations with its maritime neighbours. India’s experience in Maldives and Sri Lanka is a reminder of this.
  2. Weak Financial Presence – India unlike China does not have economic leverage to deploy its resources, as been manifested by the latter through its Belt Road Initiative and other interventions witnessed in Africa and South Asian countries.
  3. Assumption Island Deal – The Assumption Island Project has been halted due to local protest over the deal and is being seen as a major setback in relations.
  4. Domestic political concerns – opposition in Seychelles to a possible influx of Indian workers.
  5. Growing Indian presence – in the IOR and also its strategic partnerships like the Quad rise doubts over Indian intentions abroad.

Also India should convey its intentions behind the project clearly and pursue its aims through soft diplomacy. India – Seychelles bilateral relation cannot solely be defined by the success of joint military base at Assumption Island.

 Q.3) Although 18th century India failed to make progress economically, socially or culturally, but life of Indian masses was, by and large better than it was after 100 years of British rule. Discuss.


18th century India was politically fragmented, economically and socially backward. However, if we compare the state of masses with India under British rule, it seems much better.

Limitations of 18th century India:


  • Increasing revenue demands of state and greed of revenue-farmers
  • Exploitation by officials
  • Huge economic inequalities between ordinary people and nobles
  • Agriculture was technically stagnant and backward
  • Trade routes were infested with organised bands of robbers, and traders and their caravans were regularly looted.


  • Power feuds between kings, kings – nobles
  • Immense no of wars fought between various kingdoms eg., marathas – mughals

Socially and culturally:

  • Caste and gender inequalities were severe
  • Education was backward looking and not progressive
  • Rulers did not have the wealth to fund artisans and architecture as seen in ancient and medieval India

Why 18th century India was still better?

  • British colonialism almost destroyed Indian handicraft and textile industry.
  • India became a finished goods importer from a self-sufficient and exporting country.
  • Indian agriculture became more commercialized as per the needs of British.
  • Various revenue systems reduced the profitability of Indian farmers to such a low level that they could hardly survive.
  • British discouraged the traditional form of education and gradually formalized the English education, which transformed Indians into slaves for their administrative needs.
  • British used already divided Indian society of 18th century on the line of caste, religion and gender, for their own benefits.
  • Regular recurrence of famines became a common feature of daily existence in India. Between 1850 and 1900, about 2.8 crore people died in famines.

Q.4) During British Expansion India was not devoid of able and powerful rulers still they were no match for British might. Discuss the factors that ascertained the British success in establishing an empire in India.


In the beginning when British started setting up themselves as a power in India, many powerful rulers existed in India like Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan, Chin Kulich Khan, MadhuRao
Sindhia, and JaswantRaoHolkar, but still they could not defeat the British, there were many factors that contributed to their success.

Factors that led to British success in India:

  • Superior Arms, Military and Strategy: The firearms used by the English, which included muskets and cannons, were better than the Indian arms both in speed of firing and in range.
  • Better Military Discipline and Regular Salary: A regular system of payment of salaries and a strict regime of discipline were the means by which the English Company ensured that the officers and the troops were loyal. On their part, most of the Indian rulers did not have enough money to pay salaries regularly.
  • Civil Discipline and Fair Selection System: The Company officers and troops were given charge on the basis of their reliability and skill and not on hereditary or caste and clan ties. In contrast, the Indian administrators and military officers were appointed on the basis of caste and personal relations, often disregarding merit and ability.
  • Brilliant Leadership and Support of Second Line Leaders: The English also had the advantage of a long list of secondary leaders who fought not for the leader but for the cause and the glory of their country. The Indian side too had brilliant leaders but they often lacked a team of second line trained personnel.
  • Strong Financial Backup: The income of the Company was adequate enough to pay its shareholders handsome dividends as also to finance the English wars in India.
  • Nationalist Pride: An economically thriving British people believed in material advancement and proud of their national glory. While Indians were lacking the vision of material advancement and were devoid of any national glory.
  • after the fall of Mughal empire, no single powerful kingdom emerged to unite the country against a common enemy, on the other hand invasions by foreigners like Nadir Shah and Abdali weakened the country further to a much dangerous enemy like the British.

Thus, on the whole, despite having many powerful kingdoms, lack of a combined power led to the failure in preventing British occupation in India.

Print Friendly and PDF