Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 13, 2018


Q.1) Hunger has been on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago according to recently released UN report. Analyse the reasons for this trend. Also discuss how this trend can be reversed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger.

Answer: Reasons for rising hunger:

  1. Rising inequalities leading to extreme forms of poverty.
  2. Lack of investment in agriculture – Too many developing countries lack the roads, warehouses and irrigation systems that would help them overcome hunger.
  3. Climate and weather – Natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought are on the increase — with calamitous consequences for the hungry poor in developing countries.
  4. War and displacement – Across the globe, conflicts consistently disrupt farming and food production.
  5. Unstable markets – Rising food prices make it difficult for the poorest people to get nutritious food consistently – which is exactly what they need to do.
  6. Food wastage – One third of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is never consumed. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security in a world where 1 in 8 is hungry.

How to reverse the problem:

  1. Increase food production through better agricultural technologies.
  2. Designing better public distribution systems.
  3. Fortification of foods.
  4. Addressing poverty through better socio economic policies.


Q.2) What do you understand by the term data localization? Discuss the arguments for and against data localization in the light of increasing popularity to localise data to avoid cyber threats and reduce crime.

Answer: Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated.

Arguments for:

  1. Access to data stored by system providers and third-party vendors in the payments ecosystem will ensure better monitoring.
  2. Recently, Justice Srikrishna committee has recommended a Data Protection policy which mandates data localisation.
  3. Localization might aid the growth of the data centre and the cloud computing industry in India.
  4. It will lead to enhancement of data privacy, sovereignty and security.
  5. The extensive data collection by technology companies, due to their unfettered access and control of user data, has allowed them to freely process and monetise Indian users’ data outside the country.
  6. Minimal and deregulated governance on critical data, due to absence of localisation requirements, could be detrimental to India’s national security as data would be outside the purview of existing data protection legislation.
  7. The ineffectiveness of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) in this realm aggravates such government fears.

Arguments against:

  1. It will drive up the infrastructure costs for Indian technology start-ups and SMEs.
  2. Mandating localization is less of a solution for data protection and might be less relevant to promote e-commerce.
  3. The $167bn Indian IT industry is export-driven and deals with data of citizens and companies in the US, the EU and other parts of the world. Given the comparative trade advantages enjoyed by Indian industry, mandating a strict data localization regime could be perceived as a restrictive trade barrier and spur retaliatory measures.
  4. It may also encourage a trend where the world starts moving towards data silos. A McKinsey study has estimated that cross-border data flows have resulted in the world GDP getting a boost by as much as 10%.


Q.3) The artistic and visual aesthetics, in both architecture and sculpture, is believed to have arisen mainly from the requirements of Buddhism. Discuss.


Architecture and Sculpture

  1. The great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka caused the erection of monolithic pillars of sandstone crowned by animal figures like the bull, lion and elephant, and had them inscribed with the Buddhist concepts of morality, humanity and piety, which he wished his people to follow. Famous Ashokan pillars are from Lauriya Nandangarh in Bihar, Sanchi and Sarnath.
  2. Relevance of Monastery (Stupas, Vihara and Chaitya) The Buddhist monks and nuns stayed in these specially built monasteries.
  3. Buddhist themes first make their appearance in the art during Mauryan Era. Such as Monolithic pillars surmounted with animal capitals aiming at invoking man’s reverence for all creatures which was the prime thrust of Buddhism.
  4. Emergence of school of Art: Form of worshipped changed from non-visible to visible form.
  • Amravati and Gandhara school of art were mainly Buddhist. They produced images of Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
  • Matura school was influenced by all the religion of the period. It produced figure of Buddha with larger hallow around head.
  1. Paintings at Ajanta and Ellora were flourished with the purpose of depicting Buddha’s life.
  2. Coinage System: Due to introduction of Iron Ploughshare, the trade in agriculture flourished and it demanded large amount of coins made up of metal which appears first in this age.


Q.4) Art of Gandhara reflected a predominantly Buddhist patronage, although other deities and themes were not ignored. Elucidate.

Answer: Gandhara art is a style of Buddhist visual art that developed in northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE.

Buddhist themes:

  1. Buddha who was hitherto designated only by a symbol, was conceived in human form.
  2. His person was given some of the 32 suspicious bodily signs associated with the Mahapurushalakshana, such as the protuberance of the skull, the hair-knot, bindi between the eyebrows and elongated ears.
  3. Buddhist practice incorporated some aspects of popular religion, evident from stupas and female figures at stupas.

Other themes:

  1. The mother of Buddha resembled an Athenian matron and Apollo like face went into making of Buddha’s portraits.
  2. Greek gods were depicted paying obeisance to Buddha.
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