Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 28, 2018

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Q.1) Describe  the significance of 73rd Amendment Act in the Constitution of India. Discuss the extension of this amendment to Schedule Areas.

Answer: Panchayati Raj or the system of rural local self-government was constitutionalised through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. It has been established to build democracy at the grass root level. It is entrusted with the task of rural development.

Significance:

  • The act has given a practical shape to Article 40 of the Constitution which recommends the State to take steps to organise village panchayats.
  • The act gives a constitutional status to the panchayati raj institutions. It has brought them under the purview of the justiciable part of the Constitution
  • Neither the formation of panchayats nor the holding of elections at regular intervals depend on the will of the state government any more.
  1. It transfers the representative democracy into participatory democracy. It is a revolutionary concept to build democracy at the grassroot level in the country.

Extension to scheduled areas:

  • The provisions of the constitution relating to Panchayats are not applicable to the Fifth Schedule areas. Parliament may extend these provisions to these areas subject to exceptions and modifications. Parliament has enacted the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, popularly known as the PESA Act.
  • The significant features of PESA Act are as follows:
  1. A state legislation on the Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas shall be in consonance with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources.
  2. Every village shall have a Gram Sabha consisting of persons whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.
  3. Every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
  4. Every Gram Sabha shall—
    1. approve of the plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development before they are taken up for implementation by the Panchayat at the village level; and
    2. be responsible for the identification of beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes.
  5. Every Panchayat at the village level shall be required to obtain from the Gram Sabha a certification of utilisation of funds for the above plans, programmes and projects.
  6. The Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects.
  7. The prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction.

Q.2)  Rajya Sabha is often mentioned as ‘Secondary Chamber’ of the legislature. Comment. Also mention  the powers of Rajya Sabha where it stands equal with Lok Sabha.

Answer: Rajya Sabha is formed as the second chamber of legislature. This idea is often the centre of debates too. It has a special role to play as a revisioning chamber because there is always the possibility of revision as a result of second sober thought.

Equal Status with Lok Sabha

In the following matters, the powers and status of the Rajya Sabha are equal to that of the Lok Sabha:

  1. Introduction and passage of ordinary bills.
  2. Introduction and passage of Constitutional amendment bills.
  3. Introduction and passage of financial bills involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  4. Election and impeachment of the president.
  5. Approval of ordinances issued by the President.
  6. Approval of proclamation of all three types of emergencies by the President.
  7. Selection of ministers including the Prime Minister.
  8. Consideration of the reports of the constitutional bodies like Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, comptroller and auditor general, etc.

Q.3) Give an account of India Post Payment Bank (IPPB). Elaborate on the potential of IPPB in bringing financial inclusion in India.

Answer: IPPB:

  1. India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) is government owned payments bank operating under the Department of Posts.
  2. It aims to utilize all of India’s 155,015 post offices as access points and 300,000 postal service workers to provide house to house banking services.
  3. It won’t give loans. Though, provisions for third-party to provide loans and insurance are available.
  4. It offers savings accounts, money transfer, loans and insurances through third parties, bill and utility payments.

Potential of IPPB:

  1. Rural India is still witness to unscrupulous moneylenders exploiting poor debtors.
  2. Formal banking hasn’t still had much of a penetration in the rural sector.
  3. After the PMJDY, IPPB shall ensure formal banking service to all and every household.
  4. It would enable more than 1.5 lakh post offices to become access points for people to avail banking services.
  5. After Aadhaar linkage to bank accounts, direct benefit transfer (DBT) of various welfare benefits and subsidies will be simple and efficient.
  6. India Post Payment Bank has launched a major campaign for digital literacy.
  7. Direct products like financial remittances, direct benefit transfer (DBT) payment of utility bills will greatly benefit people. Sections like farmers and students will be benefited prominently.
  8. Department of Posts which already operates saving accounts has been allowed to link around 17 crore postal savings bank (PSB) accounts with its accounts.

Q.4) Despite several attempts at reset, Indo-Nepal relationship continues to be a cause of concern. Analyze the causes of strain in the light of China’s influence on Nepal.

Answer: After confirming its participation in the BIMSTEC military exercises, Nepalese Army was made to withdraw its contingent due to a “political decision”; it sent only an observer mission at the last hour.

Causes for concern:

  1. Nepal’s decision to join China for a 12-day Mt Everest Friendship Exercise in Sichuan province, also focussed on anti-terrorism drills.
  2. The increasing volume of Chinese investment in hydropower and infrastructure and transport projects.
  3. Recently, Nepal finalised an ambitious connectivity proposal that will link Kathmandu to Shigatse by rail; this will give Nepali goods access to Chinese sea-ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, and land ports in Lanzhou, Lhasa and Shigatse.
  4. India is still blamed for the 2015 economic blockade against Nepal.
  5. India is also held responsible for attempts to destabilise Mr. Oli’s previous tenure as Prime Minister during 2015-2016.
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