Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 17, 2018

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Q.1) Discuss the problems being faced by sugar industry in the country, along with probable remedial measures and government initiatives being employed to help the industry.

Answer: Challenges faced by sugar industry:

  1. Low Yield of Sugarcane: Although India has the largest area under sugarcane cultivation, the yield per hectare is extremely low as compared to some of the major sugarcane producing countries of the world.
  2. Short crushing season: Manufacturing of sugar is a seasonal phenomena with a short crushing season varying normally from 4 to 7 months in a year.
  3. Fluctuating Production Trends: Sugarcane has to compete with several other food and cash crops like cotton, oil seeds, rice, etc. Consequently, the land available to sugarcane cultivation is not the same and the total production of sugarcane fluctuates.
  4. Low rate of recovery: The average rate of recovery in India is less than 10% which is quite low as compared to other major sugar producing countries.
  5. High cost of Production: High cost of sugarcane, inefficient technology, uneconomic process of production and heavy excise duty result in high cost of manufacturing.
  6. Small and uneconomic size of mills: Most of the sugar mills in India are of small size with a capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 tonnes per day.
  7. Old and obsolete machinery: Most of the machinery used in Indian sugar mills, particularly those of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is old and obsolete, being 50-60 years old and needs rehabilitation.
  8. Regional imbalances in distribution: Over half of sugar mills are located in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and about 60% of the production comes from these two states.

Govt initiatives:

  1. Cane Reservation Area: The government has specified a cane reservation area under which farmers have to sell their produce to particular sugar mill and mill owner has to buy sugarcane from these farmers only.
  2. Min Distance Criterion: To ensure decent supply of sugarcane to each sugar mill, the central government has prescribed a minimum radial distance of 15 km b/w any two sugar mills.
  3. Price of Sugarcane: The central government declares a min price of sugarcane that called Fair Remunerative Price (FRP) and state governments have also right to declare their own price which is called State Advisory Price (SAP). Generally SAP is more than FRP which pose the conflict that which is fair price for both farmers and mills.
  4. Levy Sugar Obligation: Every sugar mill have to sell 10% of total produce to central government at price lower than market price which is known as levy sugar.

Most of these initiatives worked against the industry than helping it. Solutions can lie in the following remedies:

  1. States should encourage development of market-based long-term contractual arrangements, and phase out cane reservation area and bonding.
  2. In order to increase competition and ensure a better price for farmers, the minimum distance norm should be reviewed. Removing the regulation will ensure better prices for farmers and force existing mills to pay them the cane price on time.
  3. States shall not declare their own SAP. The pricing shall be done on basis of scientific and economically viable principles.
  4. The condition of levy sugar shall be abolished as it act as a burden on mill owner and reduce their viability. The government shall buy sugar directly from market for the purpose of PDS.
  5. Removing the regulations on release of non-levy sugar will improve the financial health of the sugar mills. It will lead to timely payments to farmers and a reduction in cane arrears.

 

Q.2) With the rise in per capita income,women workforce population is declining in India. Discuss.

Answer: Today, just one in five urban Indian females are in the labor force. The bigger picture is this trend will diminish the boost India’s economy receives from its vast young population

Reasons for declining women workforce:

  1. In socially conservative India, well-off families don’t send their women out to work, only those that can’t make ends meet from just a man’s salary do so.
  2. Only fewer women are now entering the labor force.
  3. Employment opportunities have declined, particularly in urban areas and outside of agriculture in rural areas
  4. Rural jobs have been decreasing and not enough rural women have been able to make the transition to working in urban areas. This makes the need for greater public safety and safe transport more significant.
  5. Even women that have completed skills programs and get jobs tend to drop out in response to family pressures. Changing social norms around marriage, work and household duties will have to be part of the agenda.

 

Q.3) Suicides in India have increased by 23% from 2000 to 2015 according to data released by the National Health Profile, 2018. What are the causes of suicide in India? Also mention the steps to be taken to prevent it.

Answer: Causes for suicides in India:

  1. India is home to around 57mn people suffering from depression. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the country.
  2. One leading cause of suicide amongst women in India could be attributed to marriage. The study stated that married women account for high proportion of suicide deaths in India. Marriage is known to be less protective against suicide for women because of arranged and early marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence.
  3. High suicide-related death rate among men in India has not improved over time and needs immediate attention. Personal and social reasons, financial problems, poor health are known as major reasons of suicide.
  4. Suicide death rate is increasing in the elderly, especially among those above the age of 80 years. Social isolation, depression, functional disability, and the feeling of being a burden on their family have been cited as reasons for suicides in elderly.
  5. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in the country, due to pressures in education and new influences from technology.

Steps to prevent it:

  1. Strengthening mental health infrastructure in the country -through a policy, better doctors and mental health facilities.
  2. Awareness generation in the public about the causes for depression and campaigns to prevent suicides.
  3. Technology solutions like hotline numbers for people who want to talk.
  4. Strengthening legal machinery against mental abuse of any kind at home or workplace.

 

Q.4) “Traditional bureaucratic structure and culture have hampered the process of socio-economic development in India.” Comment.

Answer: The bureaucratic structure created by the British with the intent of maintaining law and order and collecting revenues is referred to as the traditional bureaucratic structure.

It is often based on distance from the people, heavily bent towards written orders, file keeping and maintaining hierarchy. This culture is least suited to the development needs of our economy.

Hampered s-e development:

  1. Delays in decision making due to lack of risk taking. This led to policy paralysis.
  2. Over centralising tendency led to isolation of people in the implementation of development policies and schemes.
  3. Rule oriented policy implementation ignored the welfare dimensions needed in India.
  4. Often the bureaucracy is accused of colluding with the political masters and leading to corruption in implementation of schemes.
  5. Indian bureaucracy is generalist in nature. This is a reason behind lack of adoption of new technologies and techniques in cutting edge fields of governance.
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