Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 19, 2018


Q.1) What challenges do rapidly increasing e-waste pose to environment and human health? Highlight the existing e-waste management practices in India.

Answer:  Electronic waste or e-waste describes discarded electrical or electronic devices.

Challenges to environment:

  1. Effects on air – eg.,burning wires to get the copper in them by open air burning can release hydrocarbons into the air.
  2. Effects on water – When electronics containing heavy metals such as lead, barium, mercury, lithium are improperly disposed, these heavy metals leach through the soil to reach groundwater channels which eventually run to the surface as streams or small ponds of water.
  3. Effects on soil – toxic heavy metals and chemicals from e-waste enter the “soil-crop-food pathway.

Challenges to health

  1. Dangers posed by improper disposal on the environment ultimately have impacts on human beings -human cost.
  2. Health effects of these toxins on humans include birth defects, brain, heart, liver, kidney and skeletal system damage.
  3. They  also significantly affect the nervous and reproductive systems of the human body.
  4. When computer monitors and other electronics are burned, they create cancer-producing dioxins which are released into the air we breathe.
  5. If electronics are thrown in landfills, these toxins may leach into groundwater and affect local resources.

Thus improper disposal of e-waste not only has effects on the environment, it indirectly and ultimately poses grave dangers to humans and livestock.

E-waste management practices:

  1. E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016:
  2. Over 21 products (Schedule-I) were included under the purview of the rule.
  3. Purview is extended to components of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), along with their products.
  4. Strengthened the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
  5. Producer Responsibility Organisation has been introduced to strengthen EPR. PRO is a professional organisation authorised by producers to share the responsibility for collection and channelisation of e-waste generated from the ‘end-of-life’ products to ensure environmentally sound management of such e-waste.
  6. Every producer shall provide detailed information on the constituents of the equipment and their components along with a declaration of conformance to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) provisions.
  7. CPCB shall conduct random sampling of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market to monitor and verify the compliance of RoHS provisions.
  8. General public is encouraged to participate in ‘Swachh Digital Bharat’, by giving their e-waste to authorised recyclers only.


Q.2)  Analyse the Law Commision report’s recommendation that Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor necessary at this stage.

Answer: UCC refers to a set of laws to govern personal matters of all citizens irrespective of their religion.

Not feasible:

  1. The potential repercussions of the UCC are unknown in India with its vast diversity.
  2. Due to absence of consensus on UCC, work on ending discrimination.
  3. Family law reform should not be approached as a policy that is against the religious sensibilities of individuals. It should one promote harmony between religion and constitutionalism where no citizen is left disadvantaged on account of their religion and at the same time every citizens right to freedom of religion is equally protected

Neither necessary:

  1. Cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity becomes a reason for threat to territorial integrity of the nation.
  2. A unified nation need not necessarily have “uniformity”.
  3. Difference did not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy.
  4. Need to first consider equality between communities than between various communities.
  5. Address the lacunae in various family laws.


Q.3)  Recently, the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) reported that there are many critically polluted rivers in India. Comment on the various initiatives taken by the government for river conservation. Also mention the achievements of Namami Gange Mission.

Answer:  The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago, and the number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34, according to CPCB.

Initiatives for river conservation:

  1. CPCB has a programme to monitor the quality of rivers by measuring BOD, which is a proxy for organic pollution.
  2. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change announced a new strategy for river conservation that will look at the river basin as a whole, rather than merely tackling pollution.
  3. River basin rejuvenation and management plans will be made for nine selected riverine stretches in the country.
  4. National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) for conserving 30 major rivers across the country.

Achievements of Namami Gange:

  1. New sewage treatment plants are proposed and constructed.
  2. Laying of sewer network for abatement of pollution in Ganga and Yamuna.
  3. Sewage infrastructure projects are being constructed.
  4. Water quality monitoring stations are operational in several states.
  5. BOD has dropped at several stretches along Ganga.
  6. Decentralization: Unlike the top-down approach of the GAP, the State governments and the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) have been accorded a prominent role in the planning and execution of the projects under the Namami Gange Programme.


Q.4) What are tropical cyclones? Why do they have a propensity to occur in certain geographical locations?

Answer: A tropical cyclone is a rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds producing heavy rain.

Why they occur in certain locations/ Factors for tropical cyclones:

  1. Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C,
  2. Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex,
  3. Small variations in the vertical wind speed,
  4. A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation,
  5. Upper divergence above the sea level system

Thus they mostly occur in the following regions:

  1. South-east Caribbean region – called hurricanes.
  2. Philippines islands, eastern China and Japan – called typhoons.
  3. Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea – called cyclones.
  4. Around south-east African coast and Madagascar-Mauritius islands.
  5. North-west Australia.
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