Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 7, 2018


Q.1) What is a dust storm?What are the reasons behind the formation of the dust storm in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Suggest measures to reduce the impact of dust storms in the future.(GS-3)

Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Fine particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another. Dust storms are a common meteorological phenomenon in arid regions, like northern India. In regions that are naturally dry, or have become so due to poor environmental management and unsustainable farming practices, strong winds cause sand and dust to blow into the air, making breathing and seeing difficult, if not dangerous.Dust storms are not just dangerous because of high winds, they are also known to spread disease and urban pollution throughout a region. Damage to the respiratory system from a dust storm can cause asthma, lung cancer, or a unique phenomenon known as dust pneumonia.In case of a dust storm, due to excessive heating, the water from the clouds evaporates before it could land. So soil is dry and the severe winds lift up this soil up to 500 metres above the land.The wind speed can rise up to 100 kmph and in some case it can reach 130 kmph making conditions severe.

Cause and course of the dust storm:

1)Dust storms are an annual weather pattern seen in the region.

2)There were primarily four reasons that lead to the thunderstorm — excessive heating, availability of moisture, instability in atmosphere and a trigger for the storm

3)The northern plains have been witnessing temperatures of over 40 degree Celsius. There were two sources of moisture –a western disturbance over north Pakistan and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir and easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal

4)The cold winds from the western disturbance was making atmosphere unstable.

5)A cyclonic circulation over Haryana was the trigger for the deadly dust storm that swept parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

6)This led to the formation of two cloud patches.One patch moved to north of Delhi, while another patch moved over the Alwar, Agra, and Dholpur belt, which was more deadly.

7)This dust storm was unique in the sense that events occurred over a large geographical area within a very short time.

Damage Caused by the dust storm:

1)A number of houses collapsed killing people who were asleep.

2)Electricity poles and trees were uprooted due to the high velocity winds

3)Livestock were also,destroyed, putting the farmers of the region into a precarious situation. At least 160 animals were found dead

Q.2)India has one of the largest railway network in the world. What are the steps taken so far for the modernisation of Indian railways. Suggest measures to improve the functioning of Indian railways.

Steps taken during the last three years for the modernisation of Indian railways:

1)Linke Hofmann Busch(LHB) coaches have been inducted, which are technologically superior, have better speed potential, aesthetics and safety features. The Production Units of Indian Railways would be producing only LHB coaches from the year 2018-19 onwards.
2)Semi high speed Gatimaan Express between Delhi and Agra has been introduced and is running at a maximum speed of 160 Kmph.
3)For the assistance of visually impaired travelers, Integrated Braille signages, i.e. signages superimposed with Braille scripts, are being provided in the newly manufactured coaches of IR.  Retrofitment of the same in existing coaches has also been taken up in a phased manner.
4)A massive expansion program for provision of lifts and provision has been made for 500 railway stations in Budget(2018-19).
5)A procurement cum Maintenance Agreement(PCMA) has been signed with Madhepura Electric Locomotive Private Limited (MELPL), a Joint Venture Company, for setting up of electric locomotive manufacturing facility at Madhepura, Bihar for manufacturing/supplying 800 High Horsepower.
6)During last three years (2015-18) total number of 91 Railways Electrification projects included in Budget and pace of electrification has been increased.
7)A work for modernisation of signaling system on Ghaziabad-Kanpur section of North Central Railway was undertaken through funding from KFW (Kreditanstalt Fur Wiederaufbau) Bank, Germany.
8)As per  Budget announcement(2015-16) ,Indian Railways shall provide 1000 Megawatt(MW) solar power plants & 200 MW wind power plants by 2020. 9)All  Railway Stations, service buildings & residential quarters are being provided with energy efficient LED fittings replacing the existing inefficient electrical fittings.

Measures to improve the functioning of Railway Stations:

1)Rope in private players on contract basis

2)All stakeholders i.e, railway employees,vendors, passengers etc should be responsible for the cleanliness of the station

3)Allow corporations or companies to adopt railway stations in the line of ‘Adopt a Heritage’

4)Regular audit of Railway stations

5)Ranking of railways stations on the basis of cleanliness and services.

Q.3)Write short notes on:

a) Sunshine Policy

  • The Sunshine Policy refers to the theoretical basis for South Korea’s foreign policy towards North Korea.
  • In 1998 the South Korean President, Kim Dae-jung, described a policy that was meant to soften North Korea’s attitude towards South Korea, naming it after one of Aesop’s fables, ‘The North Wind and the Sun’.
  • The idea is built on the traditional Korean ways of dealing with enemies by giving them gifts to prevent them from causing harm
  • Sunshine Policy was aimed at mitigating this gap in economic power and restoring lost communication between two nations
  • The policy resulted in greater political contact between the two States.
  • The recently held Korean Summit in Panmunjom is also a result of this policy.

b) National Disaster Management Authority.

  • The National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) was formed in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.
  • Earlier after the Bhuj earthquake the government had formed a high powered committee in 1999 but it was inadequate to deal with the a crisis on a larger scale.
  • The NDMA functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to have a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.
  • The major functions of the National Disaster Management Authority are:
  1. Lay down policies on disaster management ;
  2. Approve the National Plan;
  3. Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;
  4. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;
  5. Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;
  6. Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management;
  7. Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary;
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