Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – November 22, 2018


Q.1) Critically examine the impact of urbanization on water bodies. What are the various government interventions in tackling loss of urban water bodies in India? Suggest remedial measures.


The one thing that is common to Mumbai, Srinagar and Chennai floods highlights how unfettered urbanisation has led to the depletion of water bodies in urban areas, which has pushed urban floods.

Impact of urbanisation on water bodies:

  1. City planners have willfully neglected and destroyed these water bodies.
  2. Water bodies are encroached for development needs.
  3. Pollution of water bodies as they are dumped with sewage and garbage.
  4. Because of unplanned urbanization, much of the landscape around the lakes has been covered by impervious surfaces. As a result, instead of rainwater, it is the sewage and effluents that are filling up urban water bodies.

Govt interventions:

  1. National lake conservation plan
  2. National Water Mission under National Action Plan on Climate Change
  3. National Water Policy
  4. Policy on Rain Water Harvesting
  5. The water (prevention and control of pollution) rules
  6. The water (prevention and control of pollution) act
  7. The water (prevention and control of pollution) cess act

Remedial measures:

  1. Planned urbanisation
  2. Developing local solutions like rainwater harvesting that involve the communities around water bodies.
  3. Reclamation of water bodies by desilting and periodic dredging.
  4. Strict implementation of environmental regulations.
  5. Developing local waste disposal mechanisms.


Q.2) What are the barriers that currently stop Indian membership to APEC? Discuss the advantages of APEC’s membership for India. What should India do to move towards its aim of APEC membership?


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.

Barriers preventing Indian membership:

  1. Some APEC members do not view India’s politics and policies as supportive of wide regional integration and wider trade options.
  2. They cite India’s record of trade talks in WTO as well as bilateral ones.
  3. India is also seen as not having done enough to gain support of APEC members.
  4. Key elements in the Indian bureaucratic, business, and political spheres resist the further opening of India’s market, which limits the government’s options in trade and bilateral investment negotiations.
  5. India’s large trade deficit has not only blocked progress, it has even led the government to review its current bilateral trade agreements.

Advantages of membership:

  1. It would buttress Indian economic growth and development because of increased access to foreign markets, investment etc.,
  2. APEC mechanisms and best practices will help Indian officials and businesses become more competitive and better prepared for the changing global economy.
  3. Through its processes and guidelines, APEC will facilitate India’s implementation of the economic reforms it needs to compete.
  4. APEC membership would also help India prepare for potential inclusion in emerging trade agreements of the region.

Way ahead for India:

  1. Indian domestic or trade policy initiatives such as GST and bringing other essential land and labor reforms would signal the opening up of the market
  2. There needs to be much more movement towards improving the ease of doing business for both foreign and domestic companies.
  3. There needs to be much more sign of India’s enthusiasm to engage constructively in international negotiations.
  4. India needs to create a support lobby in APEC for its membership bid.


Q.3) What do you mean by Non-Performing Assets? Is it different from stressed assets? What are the adverse effects of India’s bad loan problem on a bank’s revenue stream?


NPA means interest or principal is not repaid by the borrower during a specified time period.

Stressed assets = NPAs + Restructured loans + Written off assets

Restructured assets – Some of the loans are restructured by banks by giving a further opportunity to the borrower if they default.

Written off assets – Written off assets are those the bank or lender doesn’t count the money borrower owes to it.

Impact of bad loans on bank revenues:

  1. Banks depend on the loans/ assets for revenue as they get periodic interest and principal payments. Any problem on repayments affect bank revenues.
  2. Also, as the revenues suffer, the lending capacity of banks is affected. Thus, further revenue generation is stymied.
  3. Banks also suffer lowering of profit margins.
  4. Higher interest rates by the banks to maintain the profit margin also affects borrowing.


Q.4)  Discuss the role of NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda  in reforming various sectors of the economy including agriculture.


NITI Aayog’s 3-Year Action Agenda for the government provides a roadmap for reforming the various sectors of the economy. This is different from the top down imposed model of development planning done by Planning Commission.

Other sectors – Trade, Industry and Services:

  1. creation of high-productivity, high-wage jobs
  2. focus on the global market can potentially result in output worth hundreds of billions of dollars and hence a large number of well-paid jobs
  3. creation of Coastal Employment Zones, which may attract multinational firms in labour-intensive sectors
  4. It provides specific action agendas for key manufacturing and services sectors, including apparel, electronics, gems and jewellery, financial services, tourism and cultural industries and real estate

Recommendations for agriculture:

  1. Reforming the APMC acts so that farmers are empowered to sell their produce to whomsoever they wish.
  2. create aggregators who would collect produce from farmers and sell in competitive marketplaces.
  3. plugging the gaps in eNAM
  4. proposes ‘Price Deficiency Payment’ system wherein subsidy would be provided for targeted produce in case price falls below the MSP threshold
  5. proposes that farmers register their crop and acreage sown with the nearest APMC market. In case of plummeting price, they would be entitled to the difference
  6. shift to high-value farm products
  7. encouraging private sector participation in seed production and distribution
  8. providing insurance coverage for three to five years “so that the coverage extends to both good and bad years”
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