Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – July 20, 2018

Upcoming Current Affairs & Essay Test Series


Q.1) US has recently pulled out of Iran nuclear deal and threatening to impose sanction on Iran. Discuss the global implications of this move and would India be impacted by it? (GS-2)

Answer:  The Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is signed between Iran and P5+1 countries. It prepares a road map for ending Iran nuclear weapons program and the economic sanctions from western countries.

Recently US pulled out of this deal unilaterally. This has huge ramifications on global politics and particularly for India.

Global Impact:

  1. Middle East – This decision will aggravate tensions between Saudi, Israel and Iran. Thus finding solutions to ongoing crisis like Yemen, Iraq may remain a problem.
  2. OPEC – Increase the division within OPEC due to conflicting agendas and strain in economies of countries like Venezuela, Mexico as seen recently.
  3. Crude oil – global crude oil prices are likely to rise due to fall in production. Though this may temporarily benefit countries like Saudi, oil importers will suffer.
  4. China – US – rift between these two will further widen as it is likely that China will not follow the sanctions. Russia also may join China.

For India

  1. Economic impact – rise in oil prices will hurt India as Iran is the 3rd largest oil exporter to India. Also Indian rupee is likely to weaken wrt dollar. There will also be huge fiscal impact due to possible cut in excise duties.
  2. strategic
  3. Iran – Iran extended facility to trade in rupees to India. The history of ties between the two nations where India tended close to Iran in the past sanctions regime brought China closer to Iran. Any withdrawal from India’s commitment may strain the relations further.
  4. China – China’s influence is already increasing in the region due to OBOR. India’s slowdown in relations with Iran may increase China’s influence over Iran. India thus risks losing access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  5. South Asia – Recent announcements shows going closeness between Iran, Pakistan. Also, China and Russia, Pakistan ties are strengthening against India’s close ties with USA. Thus, any actions by India that tends towards USA may strengthen the alliances of its opponents in the region.
  6. US – India: India risks losing hugely if it goes against USA’s stand as it has even set deadlines to follow sanctions for partners alike.

India must pursue strategic autonomy in balancing its interests of energy and geopolitics along with its need for a strong partnership with USA. USA can help through less rigid deadlines, forcing its allies like Saudi for lesser oil prices to help its partners.

Q.2) “It is important to create an environment where citizens are aware of the options and make their energy choices based on the nature of fuel and not because of socio economic constraints”. Explain. (GS-3)

Answer: Energy poses different challenges today, one with respect to energy security and other being pollution and sustainability.

Many times, despite the huge emissions, other factors determine the usage of certain fuels. The reasons for energy choices are:

  1. cost of fuel –fuelwood which is mostly locally available is thus preferred
  2. attitudes –most households continue to use the traditional energy sources despite availability of LPG connections.
  3. access –cleaner fuels like PNG and LPG are very rarely available for access in rural areas.
  4. role of gender- in many households, women do not have the power to make decisions on the fuel choices.

Thus, energy sources like coal, fuelwood are widely used than cleaner fuels like biogas in India. This is despite the high emissions as pointed in the graph below. This is leading to problems related to health, gender inequality, environmental destruction and huge subsidy burden for government.

Thus there is a need to shift to cleaner alternative fuels which are locally sourced. Biogas and PNG are the best alternatives in this regard. They can be promoted through the following steps:

  1. subsidy regime – consumption-based subsidies need to be replaced with a functional subsidy that is provided on the basis of household income levels and local variables. Instead of subsidising LPG which boosts up the import bill further, government can encourage local fuels.
  2. infrastructure – at the local levels for promoting recycling of waste into biogas.
  3. community based policies – that generate awareness on the benefits of local fuels can be taken up. Anna Hazare’s Ralegaon Siddhi is an example for this community movement.
  4. PM UJJWALA yojana – to promote LPG usage is a better alternative before switching over to more sustainable local resources.
  5. To promote biogas in rural and semi-urban areas, adopting the service-based enterprise model with suitable resource availability offers a sustainable approach. The model is being successfully implemented in Hoshiarpur, Punjab
  6. PNG needs to be promoted in urban areas beginning with the densely populated Tier-I and Tier-II/III cities, making LPG just one of the options to choose from rather than it having an edge over others.
  7. Possibility of leakages must also be eliminated by ensuring that subsidies of any kind are provided only through direct benefit transfer.

A comparison of the cost of various fuels, annual life cycle emission per household and extent of in-house air pollution for various cooking fuels suggests that biogas and PNG are the best cooking energy options. Governments must make all efforts to promote their usage.

Q.3) In Pre-independence years, though movements of the tribes of the North-Eastern frontier were different from the mainland tribal revolts in some aspects yet they had many common characteristics. Discuss (GS-1)

Answer: Pre Independence India witnessed many tribal revolts against the British. These revolts were spread across entire country, though they differed widely in their causes.

Differences between movements of NE tribes and mainland tribes:

NE movements Mainland tribes
The tribes here practiced shifting cultivation. Ban on this from government met with resistance in NE India.Here the tribes were majorly hunter gatherers and cattle herders. British created reserved forests to protect the produce and met with resistance.
They were almost always in favour of autonomy, like Naga movement, Ahom revolt.This is not the case with mainland tribes.
They continued for a longer period due to support from Christian missionaries.They were of shorter duration.
British granted them favour like allowing them to practice jhum like in Kukis revolt.The revolts here are mostly not successful.


  1. They rebelled to restore their traditional practices – of grazing, community living etc.,
  2. They protested against intrusion of outsiders.
  3. They had limited reach – geographically and ideologically.
  4. They were most of the time, not opposing the British rule, but just fighting to restore their traditional power positions.

Thus, the tribal revolts, though differing on some aspects have some similarity in causes behind them.

Q. 4) Simmering discontent due to British expansionist policies, economic exploitation and administrative innovations after 1757, burst in the form of a violent storm in 1857 which shook the British empire in India to its very foundations. Discuss. (GS-1)

Answer: The revolt of 1857, also called as the First War of Indian independence has multiple reasons. It could unit Indians from many parts of the country with the military due to the breadth of the reasons.

Expansionist policies of British:

  1. Subsidiary alliance, Doctrine of Lapse were employed by the British to annex many parts of India like Hyderabad, Awadh, Jhansi.
  2. Wars ranging from the Battle of Plassey, Battle of Buxar and the Mysore wars left the kindgoms impoverished and also brought large territorial gains to the British.
  3. Wars with neighbours like Burma, Afghanistan led to many tribal revolts in the region.

Economic exploitation:

  1. commercialisation of agriculture and revenue settlement policies impoverished the peasants and forced them into debt traps.
  2. lack of industrialisation and destruction of local handicrafts and traditional artisanal industry
  3. imperial policy of economy led to import tariffs and duties that worked against Indian exports

Administrative causes:

  1. huge corruption in the company officials
  2. policies like dual Government where Indian officials were allowed to function as before but under the Overall control of the British Governor and British officials. The Indian officials had responsibility but no power while the Company’s officials had power but no responsibility.
  3. measures like the religious disabilities act, 1856 modified Hindu customs
  4. attempts at socio-religious reform like abolition of sati, support to widow remarriage and women’s education were resisted as interference by Indians.

All these, along with the immediate cause of the sepoy mutiny burst out in the form of 1857 revolt.

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