Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – November 30, 2018

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Q.1) Why India is the only Bt cotton-growing country facing the problem of pink bollworm infestation? What possible options do India have to root-out this problem?

Answer:

BT Cotton is a genetically modified Cotton capable of resisting pest infestation and giving higher yields compared to traditional varieties.

Even though Monsanto’s Bollgard 2, or BG-2 insecticidal technology for cotton was supposed to protect crops against the pink bollworm, the pest has grown resistant to the toxins produced by this trait.

Reasons for the same:

  1. India restricted itself to cultivating long-duration hybrids since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002.
  2. India is the only country whose intellectual property laws have never prevented its farmers from either saving or selling seeds. Without such protections, several seed companies in India prefer hybrids because unlike open-pollinated varieties, hybrids lose their genetic stability when their seeds are planted.
  3. Because there was no open-pollinated Bt option, they were also forced to shift en masse to hybrids. Not only are hybrids expensive, they are also bigger and bushier, forcing farmers to cultivate them at low densities.
  4. Introduction of the Bt gene into only one parent of Indian hybrids is itself a problem. The resulting hybrids are hemizygous; they express only one copy of the Bt gene. So, they produce cotton bolls that have some seeds toxic to the pink bollworm and some that are not.
  5. Small farmlands means low density of cotton grown forcing farmers to prolong the growing period. This gives pink bollworm enough time to become resistant to the BT Cotton.

Ways to address the problem:

  1. Move swiftly to short-duration varieties; National Seed Association of India suggests the government to encourage a move back to Bollgard, the first iteration of Bt cotton.
  2. Government should ban the production of bollworm resistant variety of seeds.
  3. Gradually shifting to BG 3

 

Q.2) Availability of safe water is becoming a major challenge, highlight the major reasons for water scarcity in India. What steps government has initiated in order to control this situation? Suggest some measures in order to tackle the problem of water crisis in India. (GS 3)

Answer:

Water scarcity involves water stress, shortage or deficits and problem of water pollution.

Reasons for water scarcity:

  1. Inefficient use of water for agriculture. Traditional techniques of irrigation causes maximum water loss due to evaporation, drainage, percolation, water conveyance, and excess use of groundwater.
  2. Reduction in traditional water recharging areas. Rapid construction is ignoring traditional water bodies that have also acted as ground water recharging mechanism.
  3. Sewage and wastewater drainage into traditional water bodies.
  4. Release of chemicals and effluents into rivers, streams and ponds.
  5. Lack of on-time desilting operations in large water bodies that can enhance water storage capacity during monsoon.
  6. Lack of efficient water management and distribution of water between urban consumers, the agriculture sector and industry.

Steps taken by government:

  1. The National Water Policy
  2. National Water Mission
  3. National Mission for clean Ganga
  4. Per drop more crop
  5. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana to promote organic farming
  6. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
  7. National Hydrology Project
  8. National River Conservation Plan is implemented under umbrella scheme of Namami Gange

Measures to deal with the problem:

  1. Rain water harvesting facility at the level of individual houses and colonies.
  2. Waste water treatment and recycling for non-drinking purposes. Several low cost technologies are available that can be implemented in group housing areas.
  3. Government intervention at the source to tackle wastewater and drainage problems.
  4. Strict monitoring and implementation of laws by the government, NGOs and social activists is required to prevent release of harmful chemicals and effluents into water bodies.
  5. Investment in technology and including all stakeholders at the planning level to ensure optimization of existing resources.
  6. Extensive use of micro-irrigation techniques such as drip and sprinkler irrigation.

 

Q.3) In the Indian circumstances, do you think that legalizing gambling can be morally correct and prove to a profitable affair for Indian economy? Justify. (GS-1)

Answer:

Gambling is referred to as card games where high stakes are involved.

Why gambling should be legalized?

  1. Concerns revolving around gambling are unfounded
  2. It will help curtail an important source of black money that is used by criminal syndicates
  3. It will bring massive revenue to the state exchequer which can be used for various constructive social schemes. According to a conservative estimate, government could earn 10,000 crores as tax revenue by legalizing sports betting
  4. It will help in creating large-scale employment opportunities. The US gambling industry in the U.S. employs over 2.5 lakh people
  5. Complete ban of gambling may in fact increase underground illegal betting and gambling activities

Challenges involved:

  1. It leads to moral and monetary bankruptcy
  2. Online gaming cannot be curbed by merely amending the Information Technology Act
  3. There is no guarantee that legalising betting will generate revenue as projected

 

Q.4) Do you think that the social media has an influence on electoral outcomes in india? Substantiate with examples. Also suggest measures to reduce the negative impact of social media on elections. (GS – 2)

Answer:

Growing usage of internet, access to smartphones and large number of Indians being active on several social media websites increases the role of social media in politics.

It is said that 2014 elections in India is fought on these websites. The recent revelations of Cambridge Analytica highlight that social media sites are used to target user behavior. Moreover, many studies point that that participation of youth in politics has become more via social media websites.

However, there could be negative repercussions such as:

  1. Targeted behavioral campaigns by AI-led technologies
  2. Simplifying the division of electorate on caste, region and religious lines
  3. the present state of online advertising and marketing faces a huge threat due to fake news and tailored content to sway voters

Measures to reduce negative impact of social media:

  1. Disclosures agreements between technology companies and Election Commission wherein the companies provide details of the payments made for political advertisements
  2. Curbing fake news
  3. Data protection laws to prevent abuse of users’ personal data for political agenda of companies
  4. Political awareness of citizens
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