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


Q.1 Discuss the objective behind the formation of Quad group with special reference to China. What are benefits India is looking to accrue from Quad?(GS-2)


  • The ‘Quad’ has formed nearly a decade after the failed first attempt to bring the four countries together – India, Japan, Australia and the United States (U.S).

Major Objectives

  • Key issues of common interest in the “Indo-Pacific region” were discussed, with an eye on China and the aim reaching a common ground on a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.
  • Quad formation will be upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and respect for international law, freedom of navigation and over flight; increases connectivity; coordinate on efforts to address the challenges of countering terrorism and upholding maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Part of the discussions were proliferation threats, “including North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues, against which maximized pressure needs to be applied, ensuring freedom of navigation and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, and countering terrorism and other issues.

Specific concerns related to China

  • The boiling regional tension with China and Beijing’s assertiveness over the South China Sea issue, a statement from the Australian Foreign Ministry informed that freedom of navigation figured at the ‘Quad.’
  • Australia is troubled by China’s growing interest in its land, infrastructure and politics and influence on its universities.
  • Japan suspects Chinese support to North Korea which led to the two missile-launches over its territory. Aforementioned, Japan believed that China has tried to bully it on several territorial issues.
  • China has border disputes with India and the recent Doklam standoff hit bilateral relations. To India’s dislike, China’s closeness with Pakistan, not only blocks its path into the Nuclear Suppliers Group but also work against its interests on the issue of terrorism.
  • Moreover, both India and Japan will have to counter China to balance the power equation in the region.
  • US already annoyed with China, sees this as an opportunity to regain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • China’s continuous addressal of the region as Asia Pacific clearly depicts the change in US strategy which is Washington keeping India at the centre of its game plan in Asia.

Benefits India looking to accrue

  • India would have to work hard to make things work for the ‘Quad’ for the benefit of its own.
  • India will have to actively push the other three countries to work towards creating an environment for free and fair trade in the region.
  • Ensuring peace and stability will be India’s major concern.
  • India by refusing to join OBOR is charting its own strategy to connect Central Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
  • There is a proposal to build a ports-based model with Japan including African countries and Australia might be willing to join the network.
  • It will be in the interest of India as ‘Quad’ will act as an alternative to China globally.
  • There is another proposal to promote free trade and defence cooperation across the Indian Ocean – from South China Sea to Africa, to countervail China’s OBOR.

Q.2 The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 protects the dignity of motherhood at the time when she is not working. In light of the above statement, discuss the provision of Maternity benefit under Indian Constitution and the need of Maternity leave in India. (GS-2)


The Maternity Benefit Act is there to protect the dignity of motherhood and the dignity of a new person’s birth by providing for the full and healthy maintenance of the woman and her child at this important time when she is not working.

Maternity benefit and Indian Constitution

  • Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution empowers the State to make special provisions for women. The main object of Article 15 (3) is based on “protective discrimination” keeping in view the weak physical position of women.
  • The purpose is that a “women’s physical structure and the performance of maternal functions places her at a disadvantaged position in the struggle for subsistence, and her physical well-being becomes an object of public interest. This provision has enabled the State to make special statutory provisions exclusively for the welfare of women.
  • Article 21, Right to Life and Personal Liberty means the right to lead meaningful, complete and dignified life. It does not have restricted meaning. Therefore, the State must guarantee to a pregnant working woman all the facilities and assistance that she requires while protecting her employment as well as her own and her child’s health.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Part IV of the Constitution of India, under Article 41 requires the State to make effective provision for securing the right to work and to education.
  • Article 42 requires that the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Need of Maternity leave benefits

  • Economic dependence of women gives rise to their subordination in society today. Hence to remove such subordination and to lay the foundation of equality women too must be made economically independent. To support such initiative the Government must provide some conditions which are suitable for the needs of women.
  • To curb such problem and protect the economic rights of women there is need for maternity benefits for a female employee.
  • Women are entitled to these benefits as the child bearing process is intensely painful and can cause bodily damage.
  • This may severely affect the future work of the woman as an employee and decrease her productivity so there is a need for maternity benefits for the women worker.
  • To safeguard working women and their rights to remain self-reliant and economically independent, maternity benefits are required.
  • Whatever is needed to facilitate the birth of child to a woman who is in service, the employer has to be considerate and sympathetic towards her and must realize the physical difficulties which a working woman would face in performing her duties at the work place while carrying a baby in the womb or while rearing up the child after birth.
  • To remove the hardship of the women workers, the concept of maternity benefit is needed in order to enable the women workers to carry on the social function of child.

Q.3 India and Canada are taking forward the proposed bilateral trade and investment pacts. In light of the above statement, discuss the importance of Canada – India Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Also discuss the recent bilateral developments between India and Canada. (GS-2)


The agenda includes measures to remove irritants, including those affecting trade in goods, especially ‘high’ tariffs on farm items such as pulses, and services, particularly ‘curbs’ relating to easier movement of skilled workers.

Canada-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

  • In the proposed Canada-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, it is expected to exchange their respective services trade wish list, indicating the areas where they would like to gain from the trade pact.
  • India is focusing on ensuring easier movement of Indian skilled workers to Canada for short-term work.
  • The last round of FTA negotiations saw modalities on goods trade taking shape.
  • The proposed bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) is about to be finalized. India and Canada had concluded the FIPPA talks in June 2007, however, the agreement has not yet been ratified and made operational.
  • India is learnt to have had reservations regarding the inclusion of provisions on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the FIPPA.
  • The ISDS, enables investors to sue governments before international tribunals and seek huge compensation for the economic harms they suffer due to reasons including policy changes.
  • India has been negotiating its investment pacts on the basis of its new Model Bilateral Investment Treaty Text since December 2015.

Recent bilateral developments

Trade in services

  • On trade in services, India will reach for easing norms in Canada, Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program to help Indian skilled workers, especially professionals from the Information Technology field, to take up short-term project work.

Increase in Customs duty

  • India’s recent decision to increase the rate of basic customs duty on peas to 50% from nil duty has upset Canada which is a major pulses exporter to India.
  • The Indian government said that the duty increase was compliant with the World Trade Organization norms, adding that the move was taken due to the bumper harvest of pulses in India.

The Canada-India Technology Summit

  • Three Canadian Ministers will lead a trade mission to India from November 13 to 17, accompanied by a delegation of nearly 200 Canadian business representatives.
  • The Ministers will participate in the Canada-India Technology Summit, where there will be several significant business and innovation announcements involving top-tier Canadian companies.

Increasing bilateral relations

  • Canadian investment into India has increased by nearly $15 billion over the past three years, and the number of Canadian companies active in India stands at over 1000.
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