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

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Q.1) ‘India has a share of 1.5% in the world in the total electronic hardware manufacturing’. What are the challenges government facing in promoting electronics manufacturing.  Elaborate on the draft National Policy of Electronics 2018.

Answer: Of the country’s total demand for electronics, between 50-60% of the products and 70-80% of the components are imported. In this context, India’s target of becoming “net zero imports” in electronics by 2020 remains a challenge.

Challenges in electronics manufacturing:

  1. Structural bottlenecks in terms of land acquisition, project approvals, labour issues and adequate financing.
  2. Inverted tax structure for electronic goods – due to a limited base of local component suppliers, manufacturers are dependent on importing parts.
  3. FDI in electronics is less than 1% of the total FDI inflow because of onerous labour laws, delays in land-acquisition and the uncertain tax regime.
  4. The procedures for cross-border trade work against the competitiveness of Indian producers as shown by the Doing Business rankings.
  5. Inefficient supply chain for the required electronic components
  6. Unfair playing field, since companies from competing countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia have access to finance at a much lower cost
  7. Higher cost of infrastructure
  8. Shortage of skilled manpower
  9. Limited support from the government

Draft National Policy of Electronics, 2018:

  1. It aims to create a $400-billion electronics manufacturing industry by 2025. It also aims to double the mobile phone production from 500 million to 1 billion by 2025.
  2. Government plans to end M-SIPS scheme with schemes such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee etc.
  3. Provide support for “significantly” enhancing availability of skilled manpower in the electronics system design and manufacturing industry.
  4. 20 greenfield EMCs and three brownfield EMC projects have been sanctioned.
  5. Push development of core competencies in all the sub-sectors of electronics including electronic components and semiconductors, defence electronics, automotive electronics, industrial electronics, strategic Electronics etc.
  6. It proposes suitable direct tax benefits, including investment-linked deduction under Income Tax Act for electronics manufacturing sector, for setting up of a new manufacturing unit or expansion of an existing unit.

Q.2) Roads accidents data on fatalities and injuries must jolt the government into action. Write the recommendations of Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan Committee on road safety. Discuss road safety initiatives taken by government of India.

Answer: Recommendations of Jt. Radhakrishnan Committee:

  1. Institutional arrangements

a) Formulate State Road Safety Policy

b) Set up a State Road Safety Council and hold its meetings at least twice a year

c) Establish a non-lapsable Road Safety Fund by apportioning certain percentage of fines collected from traffic violations

2. Engineering

a) Set up a protocol for identification, rectification and monitoring of Black Spots and follow it

b) Carry out road safety audits during design, construction and operation of roads

3. Enforcement

a) Review the norms recommended by MHA for police strength and equipment and draw up a timeline for implementing these norms.

b) Ban sale of alcohol on National and State Highways as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

4. Emergency Care

a) Establish adequate number of fully equipped trauma care centres with medical personnel and ambulances equipped with first aid facilities manned by trained para-medical staff

b) Establish a Universal Accident Helpline Number

Initiatives taken so far:

  1. Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 was passed by Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha. It addresses road safety issues by providing for stricter penalties for traffic offences, permitting electronic and IT enabled enforcement, improving fitness, certification and licensing regime, the statutory provision for protection of good Samaritans, etc.
  2. National Road Safety Policy outlines various policy measures pertaining to road safety. These include raising awareness about road safety, creating a road safety information database, promoting safer road infrastructure, encouraging safer vehicles, training and sensitization of drivers, identifying needs of vulnerable road users, enforcing road safety laws, and ensuring medical facilities for road accident victims.
  3. National Road Safety Council has been constituted as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.
  4. High priority has been accorded to identification and rectification of black spots on national highways. More than 700 such black spots have been identified for improvement.

 

Q.3) Evaluate soft balancing movement started by weaker nation states against superpower states during mid-twentieth century and discuss how is it relevant in the present scenario (250 words)

Answer: Soft balancing occurs when weaker states decide that the dominance and influence of a stronger state is unacceptable, but that the military advantage of the stronger state is so overwhelming that traditional balancing is infeasible or even impossible.

Movement in mid-twentieth century:

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and its precursor, the Bandung Afro-Asian conference were examples of soft balancing by weaker states towards great powers engaged in intense rivalry and conflict.

The weaker nations needed the resources supplied by both super powers. But at the same time, they were not ready to join any side as their main focus remained on socio-economic reconstruction after the world wars and freedom struggles. Thus, they remained neutral and tried to gain maximum leverage out of their relation with both the super powers.

Relevance in present scenario:

  1. China, the U.S. and Russia need to be balanced and restrained.
  2. If the present trends continue, a military conflict in the South China Sea is likely and the naval competition will take another decade or so to become intense. China is building artificial islets and military bases in the South China Sea and expanding its naval interests into the Indian Ocean.
  3. Trade is the new front for war between the two leading economies, USA and China. Other developing nations like India are suffering due to the tariffs and duties on various imports.
  4. Wars are now fought in third countries for rivalries between bigger powers. Russia and USA’s conflict is exaggerating the Syrian war despite settling the tensions.

 

Q.4) Justice Giridhar Malviya committee was set up in 2016 to frame a draft for the Ganga act, in a bid to provide stricter action against polluting the river. In this context, describe the provisions of draft Ganga Act.

Answer: Giridhar Malaviya committee:

  1. It recognized the enormous challenges being faced to maintain the wholesomeness of River Ganga.
  2. Over stressed water demand from agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors,  on one hand and realized pressure on account of sustaining the religious faith, historical and social belief  on other hand.
  3. No possible increase in availability of water in river course in comparison to the increasing demands.
  4. Apprehension of decreasing flow owing to climate change affects.

Draft Ganga Act:

The National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Bill, 2017 was submitted by the Giridhar Malaviya panel. Some of its provisions are:

  1. Armed force with the power to arrest those who pollute the river. Armed Ganga Protection Corps (GPC) personnel will have power to arrest those who pollute the river covering offences like obstructing the flow of the river to commercial fishing.
  2. Imprisonment and fine for offences varying from commercial fishing to construction of illegal structures in active flood plains.
  3. Constitution of National Ganga Council and a National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority to enforce the law.
  4. Imprisonment of 2-5 years for offences like commercial fishing, polluting the river and construction of illegal structures in active flood plains.
  5. It listed out a list of offences marked as cognisable. These include construction activities causing obstruction in the river, withdrawal of groundwater for industrial or commercial consumption from the land fronting the river and its tributaries; commercial fishing or aqua culture in the river and its tributaries; discharging untreated or treated sewage into the river.
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