Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 27, 2018


Q.1) Social stigma and poor state capacity come in the way of tackling mental health problems in India. Discuss.

Answer: A study conducted by WHO in 2015 shows that 1 in 5 Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of these sufferers will seek help.

Social Stigma:

  1. Studies show that respondents used terms associated with stigma wrt mentally ill.
  2. If individuals continue to view mental illness with apprehension and resistance, it will remain difficult for people with mental health concerns to seek the support they require due to the fear of being labelled or judged.
  3. While there exists widespread sympathy towards sufferers, people also exhibit feelings of fear, hatred, and ange towards people with mental illness.
  4. Until last year, suicide was a criminal offence in India, which was a major cause of under-reporting of suicide deaths in NCRB.
  5. The stigma and general lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to mental health disorders prevent timely intervention. Suicide is often preceded by a history of depression, stress, or anxiety.

Poor state capacity:

  1. Lack of patient friendly mental health centres and cooperative staff in clinics.
  2. Country has about 5,000 psychiatrists and less than 2,000 clinical psychologists.
  3. Expenditure on mental health accounts for a tiny fraction of total public health spending.


Q.2) RCEP is the only chance for India,to secure a rules based framework with China. Comment.

Answer: India is sceptical of condition free membership into RCEP because of fears over China’s trade policy.

How RCEP can help India:

  1. India already runs a trade deficit with China. Negotiations have failed to bring any positive change from the side of China. RCEP can help India in better negotiating with China.
  2. Multilateral trading system is most conducive to the interests of a developing country like India.
  3. The ongoing trade war has already created turbulence and uncertainty in global markets. India must look for opportunities to hook into global value chains.
  4. China’s average industrial tariff is 8.5%—by no means low. The preferential tariff framework can give India better access to the Chinese market.
  5. The opaque and discriminatory regulatory framework in China needs to be addressed for which a plurilateral framework, where several others have similar concerns, is better than a bilateral framework.


Q.3) Data is the new oil and a driver of growth and change. Discuss in the context of draft data protection law.

Answer: Need for a data protection law:

  1. In the age where ‘data is the new oil’, individuals are sharing enormous quantity of personal data to private bodies. Like the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica issue, many issues on data with private companies may arise.
  2. India’s current legal framework to protect data is a patchwork. The IT Act,2002 tried to address some challenges while financial regulators such as RBI have dealt with sector specific problems. But we failed to evolve a comprehensive framework.
  3. Values like democracy and individual freedom are at threat due to advanced technologies like data mining and big data processing. Recent debate surrounding US presidential elections showed the potential of social media in politics.
  4. Personal information online can cause discrimination by throwing up old, irrelevant and de-contextualised information about individuals. There is thus a need for right to be forgotten.
  5. Emerging cyber threats like Wanna Cry and growing numbers of cyber crimes pose a threat to information shared online.

Draft Law:

  1. Personal data: A copy of all personal data is required to be stored in India. There are restrictions on transferring personal data outside India.
  2. Sensitive personal data: Passwords, financial data and official identifier are being treated as sensitive personal data. Sensitive personal data has to be only stored in India barring some exceptions. It can only be transferred out of India for provision of health services or emergency services where such transfer is strictly necessary.
  3. Critical personal data: The Government has the power to notify critical personal data which would be required to be processed only in a server in India. Such data needs to be stored as well as processed only in India.
  4. Extra-territorial Application: The applicability of the law will extend to data fiduciaries or data processors not present within the territory of India.
  5. Personal and Sensitive Personal Data of Children: Processing of personal and sensitive personal of children by data fiduciaries should be done in a manner that protects and advances the rights and best interests of the child.
  6. Data Principal Rights: The bill provides the data principal with the (a) right to confirmation and access, (b) correction, (c) data portability and (d) right to be forgotten.


Q.4) Labour rights are too important to leave to trade negotiators alone. To date, labour clauses in trade agreements have remained a fig leaf, neither raising labour standards abroad nor protecting them at home. Critically analyse.

Answer: Importance of labour rights:

  1. There is a need to address asymmetries in the workplace and fundamental human rights.
  2. Core labour standards such as the freedom of association and prohibition of compulsory labour are essential for economic development.
  3. Need to improve working conditions everywhere. There should be equal regard for workers in the domestic economy and those employed in export industries.

Labour rights in trade agreements pose a problem when requirements go beyond core labour rights and make specific wage and other material demands, such as the new US-Mexico agreement which requires that 40-45% of a car be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour.

Problem with trade agreements:

  1. International trade agreements are driven by corporate agendas and pay little attention to the interests of working people.
  2. WTO Agreement mentions the objective of “full employment”, but otherwise, labour standards remain outside the scope of the multilateral trade regime.
  3. Developing countries have resisted inclusion of labour standards in trade agreements for fear that advanced countries will abuse such provisions for protectionist purposes.
  4. Labour rights under these agreements are too restrictive for developing countries. They may remain largely cosmetic, with little practical effect. Charges of labour-rights violations can be brought only by governments, not by trade unions or human rights organizations. Investment disputes can be launched by corporations themselves.
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