Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – March 13, 2019

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Q.1) The ordinance that overturned the Supreme Court-backed formula for implementing reservations in university jobs has been challenged. Analyse the implications of making the department the unit for quotas different from making the institution the unit?

Answer:

Positives of 13 point formula:

  1. High Court ordered the change of formula in Vivekanand Tiwari Vrs Union of India case. As per High Court, the then system was violating article 14(equality before law) and article 16(equality of opportunity in the matter of employment)
  2. Another reason given by the Court was that it could result in some departments having all reserved positions and some department having no reserved position

Negatives of 13 point formula:

  1. in the full cycle of 14 positions, only five posts — or 35.7% — go to the reserved categories. This number if far below to the mandated reservation of 49.5% After adding the 10% quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) the gap will widen further. As now every 10th reserved seat will be given to EWS group. It makes the reserved seats 6 out of every 14. It means 42.8% reservation when the ceiling is 59.5% (49.5% + 10%)
  2. In case a department is small and strength is 3 teachers/professors only. There will be no reservation because reservation will be provided on 4th eat only. First 3 seats are unreserved. Further if there are only 6 seats in the department then too only 1 seat will be reserved for OBC because SCs will be getting a 7th seat only
  3. The problem of “some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates” exists in the 13-point roster as well

 

Q.2) The success of both the Kaveri and Tejas programmes will transform the aerospace scene, and put India in the front ranks of aeronautical nations, perhaps even ahead of China, if the desired degree of resolve and professional rigour can be brought to the fore. Discuss

Answer:

Benefits:

  1. The two projects form key components of India’s technological aspirations
  2. Plays a key role in indigenisation

Challenges:

  1. Many of the problems the Tejas faced emanate from lack of engine thrust. As the Kaveri has failed to make an appearance, U.S.-made alternatives such as the General Electric F-404 engine, or even the more powerful F-414, do not deliver adequate thrust for the Tejas Mk 1, to meet all its missions.
  2. For the Tejas Mk IA, Mk II, the LCA Navy, and other aircraft programmes such as the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, India will need turbo-jet engines of even greater thrust. Thus, it is vital for India to develop a family of homegrown jet engines to power indigenous combat aircraft as well as re-engine imported ones.
  3. their failure could spell the end of India’s aeronautical industry, or condemn it forever to licensed production.
  4. Over-estimation by the DRDO of its capabilities compounded by a reluctance to seek advice
  5. Inadequate project management and decision-making skills of its scientists
  6. Exclusion of users the military from all aspects of the projects

 

Q.3) Despite many efforts and programs being launched by India, it is world’ second biggest arms importer. Discuss the steps taken by government towards self sufficiency in arms production and the hurdles in its achievement.   

Answer:

Initiatives:

  1. Strategic Partnership Model –  a few private sector firms would be declared as systems integrators based on their proven capability and they would tie up with foreign OEMs with the aim of laying down a strong defence industrial foundation. The firms would make long term investments to develop a base for R&D and production facilities. Initially four segments were chosen, fighter aircrafts, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles.
  2. An initiative of Army in 2016 – it set up the Army Design Bureau as the nodal agency which acts as a repository of technical knowledge and procedures and assist in formulating operational requirement and General Staff Quality Requirement (GSQR).
  3. Ministry of Defence has undertaken a strategic partnership with Tata Power to develop Combat Management System for the indigenous aircraft carrier.
  4. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) was setup under the chairmanship of the Defence Minister. It is geared towards addressing the short-term procurement-related hurdles rather than addressing the concerns of the domestic industry for achieving self-reliance in the long term.
  5. The Ministry of Defence is planning to launch an indigenisation portal to attract more local manufacturers towards defence component manufacturing. The ministry hopes to increase indigenisation from the current 45% to around 70-75% eventually.

Hurdles:

  1. Near monopoly enjoyed by DRDO over defence research and development. Despite having a large pool of scientists/engineers and over 50 labs and establishments, there have been failures and cost and time overruns in the projects undertaken. Also, the lack of R&D in industry and academia has compelled the country to source technology from outside.
  2. DRDO, DPSUs and the Ordnance Factories are yet to become globally competitive. Several efforts have been made in the past to reform these organisations but all have failed due to vested interests and lack of political will.
  3. Private sector – Although the Indian defence industry was opened to the private sector in 2001, it is yet to contribute in any meaningful manner. The biggest hindrance in the private sector’s participation so far has been mistrust. Procedural hurdles come in the way. Single source procurement from the private sector is still considered a taboo, whereas import without competition is greatly admired.
  4. Challenges in defence procurement – India’s bureaucracy and complex procurement procedures are to blame.
  5. Defence budget – The defence budget for 2018⎯19 has shown a marginal `increase to cater for inflation and the revenue portion of the budget. However, capital expenditure has shown a downward trend and the amount allotted was just sufficient to meet the committed expenditure and no new weapon system can be procured.

 

Q.4) Uncertain govt. policies clouded developer sentiment, hit solar capacity addition. Discuss and suggests measure to pace up the solar power capacity addition.

Answer:

Challenges facing solar power:

  1. Import dependency for essential components like solar panels
  2. Inverted duty structure
  3. Lack of awareness on rooftop solar
  4. Challenges like renegotiation of PPAs
  5. Poor credit availability
  6. lack of clarity on several policy issues

Way ahead:

  1. Encouraging mixed power farms including both solar and wind power
  2. Encouraging domestic manufacture of solar panels
  3. Rationalising duty structure
  4. Incentivising adoption of rooftop solar
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