Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – March 25, 2019

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Q.1) India has always been seeking an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled” peace process and settlement but as international talks with the Taliban leadership gain momentum India soften its stance. What are the reasons for this? Should India negotiate with Taliban. Give your opinion.

Answer:

India has recently sent an informal delegation to the peace talks on Afghanistan.

Reasons for India’s position:

  1. Alienation of India in various summits with Taliban
  2. Huge strategic importance of Afghanistan for India
  3. Growing possibility of a peace settlement that ignores present Afghan govt and gives importance to Taliban
  4. US’ stated position of withdrawal from Afghanistan

India should negotiate with Taliban on the informal level as it is doing now. A formal talk will reduce its moral stand against terrorism. Any talks so far have ignored Afghan government and India should support the government as it enjoys a huge goodwill in Afghanistan.

 

Q.2) Recently, there has been a rise in right-wing politics in several countries of the world. What is right-wing politics? What could be the possible reasons and its possible impact?

Answer:

Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Mostly, they oppose any new changes in society or culture and want to continue with the status quo, however problematic it may be.

In several countries of the world, right wing parties won huge majorities. The debates on immigration, freedoms are witnessing a backward trend due to this.

Reasons for rise of right wing:

  1. Challenges faced by liberals after recession and economic downturn
  2. Growing impact of social media and fake news
  3. Increasing importance to fundamental identities like religion, race, caste etc.,
  4. Political strategies of certain fundamental groups to win elections

Impact:

  1. Rise of hate politics
  2. Unrest in traditional societies
  3. Development takes a back seat
  4. Constitutional freedoms of many sections of the society are deprived eg., minorities in India
  5. A sense of intolerance curtails freedom of speech

 

Q.3) New Hydrocarbon policy along with Open Acreage Licensing Policy can make exploration more attractive for investors. Discuss.

Answer:

Features of the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) are:

  1. uniform license for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbon
  2. an open acreage policy
  3. easy to administer revenue sharing model
  4. marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced

Benefits of the policy:

  1. The uniform licence will enable the contractor to explore conventional as well as unconventional oil and gas resources including CBM, shale gas/oil, tight gas and gas hydrates under a single license
  2. The concept of Open Acreage Policy will enable E&P companies choose the blocks from the designated area
  3. The earlier contracts were based on the concept of profit sharing where profits are shared between Government and the contractor after recovery of cost. Under the profit sharing methodology, it became necessary for the Government to scrutinize cost details of private participants and this led to many delays and disputes. Under the new regime, the Government will not be concerned with the cost incurred and will receive a share of the gross revenue from the sale of oil, gas etc

 

Q.4) Discuss the Constitutional, Statutory and other provisions from where the ECI draws its powers in fulfilling its responsibilities to conduct free and fair elections?

Answer:

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act. It also derives some powers from significant judicial pronouncements.

Art 324:

The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice President held under this Constitution is vested in the ECI.

RPA:

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of such elections.

Judgements:

  1. As per the 2004 judgment of the Jan Chaukidari v Union of India, all those in lawful police or judicial custody, other than those held in preventive detention, will forfeit their right to stand for election.
  2. In Lily Thomas v. the Union of India, the Supreme Court declared Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which allowed legislators a three-month window to appeal against their conviction as unconstitutional.
  3. SC directed the Election Commission to provide the NOTA button in the EVM.
  4. In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs ECI, SC has held that VVPAT is indispensable for free and fair elections
  5. SC held that freebies promised by political parties in their election manifestos shake the roots of free and fair polls, the, and directed the EC to frame guidelines for regulating contents of manifestos
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