Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 15, 2018


Q.1 India has recently achieved 100% of village electrification. Critically examine. Also mention the benefits of 100% rural electrification.

Centre government has announced that the country has achieved 100% of village electrification. An electrified village is defined as one that has the following:

  • Provision of basic infrastructure such as distribution transformers and lines in the inhabited locality,
  • Provision of electricity in public places like schools, panchayat office, health centers, dispensaries, and community centers, and
  • At least 10% of the total number of households in the village is electrified.
  • Although India has achieved 100% rural electrification, but the goal of universal access to electricity is yet to achieve. Some of the other challenges are:
  • 100% of village electrification does not mean each house hold have access to electricity.
  • There is regional imbalance in electricity access among the states. Seven States viz.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh account for 90% of un-electrified households. There is a clear direct relationship between economic prosperity and access to electricity.
  • A significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply. The government has to ensure that supply of electricity is regular and cheap.
  • Million rural households and urban households are still to be connected to the grid.
  • To overcome the problem of household electrification, the government has recently launched Saubhagya scheme (Pradhan MantriSahajBijliHarGharYojana). To improve the quality of electrification economic survey has suggested reforms of discoms and energizing the development of the renewable sector.
  • Benefits of 100% rural electrifications
  • Access to affordable electricity is critical for increasing agricultural productivity, encouraging economic activity, generating employment and income opportunities. Census 2011 showed that Bihar, which had shown an extraordinary growth in electrification of households, saw a rapid fall in poverty level.
  • It improves the quality of life particularly for women and children.
  • It reduces the dependence on use of kerosene in rural areas. Substituting kerosene use would save import expenditure.

Q.2. Write short notes on the following:

a) Scheduled areas

Article 244 in Part X of the Constitution envisages a special system of administration for certain areas designated as ‘scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas’. The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any state except the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

  • At present, ten states namely Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
  • The president is empowered to declare an area to be a scheduled area. He can also increase or decrease its area, alter its boundary lines.
  • Governor of scheduled areas have to submit an annual report to the President regarding administration of such areas.
  • A tribal advisory council consisting of not more than 20 members should be established in each state having scheduled areas therein for their advancement & welfare.
  • Governor is empowered to direct that any particular act of parliament or state government does not apply to scheduled areas or if applied, then with specific modifications & exceptions.

b) Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OAPL)

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) is a part of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) which replaced the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP).

  • The objective of OALP is to increase India’s indigenous oil and gas production by maximizing the potential of already discovered hydrocarbon resources in the country.
  • OALP gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government. A bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block.  
  • It will enable a faster survey and coverage of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery.
  • The OALP auction will be held under the overhauled exploration licensing policy, allowing pricing and marketing freedom to operators and shifts to a revenue sharing model.

Q.3. ‘US’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal is bound to have serious implications for the international system, and for India’. Discuss

US decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly called the Iran nuclear deal, is bound to have serious implications for the international system and for India.

Global Implications of withdrawal the Iran nuclear deal

  • US sanctions would decrease Iran’s oil exports and increase oil prices.
  • Imposition of ‘secondary sanctions’ by US would hinder international companies to continue working in Iran due to potential consequences for their US business.
  • It impact global non proliferation regime. The inability of the great powers to stick to their commitment will dissuade non-nuclear weapons states from signing or abiding by new or existing agreements, protocols or regimes.
  • Impact global security and governance architecture, and other multilateral arrangements and regimes as US withdrew from global pact unilaterally.
  • Hardliners in Iran may pitch for developing a nuclear weapon capability and more military engagement in the neighbourhood.

Implications on India

  • Oil Prices: Iran is India’s third largest oil supplier. Oil prices are expected to increase after US sanctions on Iran. Any increase in oil prices would increase inflation levels in India and result in fall in the value of rupee.
  • Chabahar Port: India may have to reduce its investments in Chabahar port in order to restrict repercussions from USA. This would hinder India’s strategic access to Afghanistan and Central Asia
  • International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC): Plans for INSTC gained momentum after the JCPOA was signed in 2015 and sanctions on Iran were lifted. Countries along the route or banking and insurance companies dealing with the INSTC plan would be adversely affected by the imposed US sanctions
  • India- West Asia: India shares diplomatic relations with Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The tension in West- Asia will hamper India’s strategic and economic relations with the countries.
  • The potential of conflict in West Asia will have spillover effects in India. It would impact workers working in this region.
  • China might use this opportunity to bring together other countries to counter US’s action. If it does so, India might be cornered in the emerging world order.

Way Forward

  • The international community should ensure the effective implementation of the nuclear deal.
  • International diplomacy should play a proactive role to ease tension between US and Iran.
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