Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 5


1.Critically examine the working of various crop insurance schemes. (GS 3)



  • With the rise in droughts and floods due to climate change agriculture has become more vulnerable. It is necessary to protect the farmers from natural calamities and ensure their credit eligibility for the next season. For this purpose, the Government of India introduced many agricultural schemes throughout the country.

Brief information about the schemes:

  • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) was launched in 2016.
    • It envisages a uniform premium of only 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 per cent for Rabi crops.
    • The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 per cent.
    • PMFBY proposes better use of technology to speed up the claim process.
    • Promises to address the issues of high premium, linkage to crop loans and cap on claims.
    • Incorporate technology in agriculture.
    • Lowering premium rates

Older schemes:

  • Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme(CCIS)
    • The Comprehensive Insurance Scheme (CIS) covered 15 states and 2 union territories.
    • Participation in the scheme was voluntary.
    • If the actual yield in any area covered by the scheme fell short of the guaranteed yield, the farmers were entitled to an indemnity on compensation to the extent of the shortfall in yield.

Experimental Crop Insurance

  • An experimental crop insurance scheme was introduced in 1997-98, covering non-loanee small and marginal farmers growing specified crops in selected districts. The premium was subsidized.
  • The Government discontinued the scheme during 1997-98 itself.

Farm Income Insurance Scheme

  • The Central Government formulated the Farm Income Insurance Scheme (FIIS) during 2003-04.
  • The two critical components of a farmer’s income are yield and price. FIIS targeted these two components through a single insurance policy so that the insured farmer could get a guaranteed income

National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS)

  • The Government of India experimented with a comprehensive crop insurance scheme which failed. The Government then introduced in 1999-2000, a new scheme titled “National Agricultural Insurance Scheme” (NAIS) or “Rashtriya Krishi Bima Yojana” (RKBY).
  • NAIS envisages coverage of all food crops (cereals and pulses), oilseeds, horticultural and commercial crops. It covers all farmers, both loanees and non-loanees, under the scheme.


Adverse selection:

  • claims payout has exceeded the premiums collected by a wide margin at the aggregate level. This suggests adverse selection; crop insurance is being availed of only by farmers aware their crops are likely to fail

Implementation problems:

Lack of allocation of funds:

  • Reluctance on the part of governments to allocate adequate funds for providing subsidy required to support cost of insurance

Delays in financial aid :

  • Delays in payment of compensation arising from bureaucratic hurdles in assessment of damage and disbursal of compensation.
  • Inadequacy of the compensation amount in the case of crop failure.

Institutional problems:-

  • The Agricultural Insurance Company of India Limited (AIC), the government-owned implementing agency for the schemes, failed to exercise due diligence in verification of claims by private insurance companies before releasing funds to them.

Lack of awareness:

  • According to study by National Institute of Securities Markets , average awareness about crop insurance country was only 38.8%
  • Formal channels have failed to carry out their mandate of providing adequate funding with due insurance cover to farmers.

Lack of proper maintenance of records 

  • Whether the money reached the beneficiaries cannot be ensured as the database of beneficiaries was not maintained.
  • The intended beneficiaries did not receive the benefits.
  • Small farmers are not effectively covered:
    • Their share in the coverage did not exceed 13.32 per cent under the NAIS scheme.
  • Farmers suicides are still very rampant.
  • One of the main reasons for overall agrarian crisis in India.
  • NAIS and MNAIS had failed to address the issues of high premium.


  • At the state level, its vision is diluted and at the district level, its implementation is seriously compromised
  • Ambiguity over unit of insurance
  • Lack of clarity on who is covered in the scheme
  • Only covers weather risks

Measures needed for the success of these schemes are:

  • Ensure proper Social audits
  • Try to utilise technology further by digital transfer of money
  • Cross checks by various authorities
  • Integration and consolidations of schemes
  • spreading awareness to maximum number of people is required.

2.Discuss the role of embankments in prevention of floods. Suggest measures needed to manage the embankments effectively.(GS 1)

The Hindu


  • A flood embankment is traditionally an earth wall used to shore up flood waters.
  • Most flood embankments are between 1 metre and 3 metres high. A 5 metre high flood embankment is rare.
  • An embankment is an uplifted earthen structure constructed along the river channel to artificially reduce the size of the floodplains by constricting floodwaters to a narrow stretch.
  • The land outside the embankment is supposed to be safe from floods. However, embankment breach resulting in flooding the “safe” areas is routine.

Role of embankments in the prevention of floods:-

  • Restricting the floodwater to a narrow stretch.
  • Markings of the embankments can help in gauging the risk with rise of the river water level
  • It gives enough time to the people living around the embankments to evacuate the place in case the situation looks dangerous.
  • Capacity to store more river during flooding thus minimising it’s effects
  • How it can mend the river to flow along a desired course.
  • Creates fall and velocity of flow of river thereby preventing havoc caused by guzzling river water.

Measures needed to manage embankments effectively:-

  • It is important to involve the community that is close to the embankment in its management.
  • Embankment management committees should be empowered:-
    • The community-based organisations (embankment management committees) should be empowered to earn revenue from the embankments through levying tolls
    • Undertake plantation activities
    • In areas where villages exist both inside and outside the embankment, their interests conflict. In such cases, efforts could be made to ensure that the former has a greater share of the revenue. This will dissuade them from causing a breach.
    • While the irrigation or flood-control departments might issue tenders for periodic maintenance activity, the committees could act as a partner to partly implement the same, or act as a monitoring agency.
  • Use of technology such as drones frequently to determine the condition of Embankments


  • If India has to shift from reactive flood protection to year-round flood governance, it must design ways of embankment management in flood-prone areas. Participatory embankment management could be the way forward.

3.Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socio-economic development?(GS 3)

(UPSC Previous Year Question Paper)

PIB Business Standard


  • India is one of the front runners in space technology .With the multi dimensional applications space technology ensures, India is moving in the right direction.

India’s achievements in space science and technology:

  • Recently PSLV launched 104 satellites in to space in one launch.This is the first for any space agency.

Mangalyaan, 2014:

  • India joined an exclusive global club when it successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission on a shoestring budget that was at least 10 times lower than a similar project by the US.

Chandrayaan, 2008:

  • India’s first unmanned lunar probe was launched almost a decade ago and was a landmark in India’s space mission.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, 2016:

  • The seven-satellite system created India’s very own satellite navigation system e terrestrial and will provide services in marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, and navigation aide for drivers.

Reusable Launch Vehicle, 2016:

  • In May 2016, India successfully tested the Reusable Launch Vehicle.
  • Successful launch of GSLV with Indigenous Cryogenic Stage
  • Development of Next Generation Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III

GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation):

  • It is primarily being used in aviation sector for precise position information services.
  • With this, India becomes the third country in the world, after USA and European Union, to offer Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) based precision approach services to civil aviation sector.

Application of space technology in socio-economic development :-



  • Remote sensing satellites provide key data for monitoring soil,snow cover,drought and crop development.
  • Rainfall assessments from satellites,for example, help farmers plan the timing and amount of irrigation they will need for their crops.
  • Accurate information and analysis can also help predict a region’s agricultural output well in advance and can be critical in anticipating and mitigating the effects of food shortages and famines.
  • Acreage and production estimates for the principal crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum, cotton, mustard, and groundnut using Forecasting Agriculture Output using Space Agrometeorology and land based observations (FASAL).
  • Precision farming using IRNSS.
  • Identification of diseases of crops through hyper spectral method.
  • Wasteland mapping, watershed development and monitoring as well as help in fisheries sector for augmentation of income.
  • Agro Metrological (AGROMET) Towers to measure soil temperature, soil moisture, soil heat and net radiation, wind speed, wind direction, pressure and humidity; Flux Tower for multi-level micrometeorological observation as well as subsurface observations on soil temperature and moisture over the vegetative surfaces.
  • A number of academic and research institutions as well as industries participate in the Indian space Programme.Several Indian industries have the expertise to undertake sophisticated jobs required for space systems.


  • The other major application of space technology is the use of earth observation satellites for resources survey.


  • Space science always puts high demands on technology and these technologies could be n important investment for sophisticating future application missions to bring increased benefits to society.
  • The successful conduct of planetary missions like Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan puts India in an exclusive club and this in turn gives the right credentials for international collaboration and cooperation on an equal partnership basis.This will develop both scientific and space manufacturing industry in India
  • Foreign Exchange source through revenue.
  • Commercialization of space launching technologies by ANTRIX has resulted into economic gain.
  • The data is used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban development , mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, drought and flood forecasting, ocean resources and disaster management.


Disaster management:

  • It plays a vital role in delivering cyclone warnings and is used in search and rescue operations
  • Use of INSAT for e-governance and developmental communication applications is also fast expanding.
  • Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) to monitor severe weather events such as cyclone and heavy rainfall.

Satellite communication:

  • Another application of satellite communication is Satellite Aided Search and Rescue (SAS&R), as a part of India’s commitment to the International COSPAS- SARSAT programme for providing alerts and position location services for aircraft and ships in distress.

Scientific Temper :

  • ISRO through it’s achievements can attract millions of young minds towards science and further ISRO can ignite these young minds through collaborations with various colleges, schools and universities like NASA.
  • Finding prospective groundwater zones to provide drinking water in villages, providing land and water resources development plans at watershed level using IRS.


  • VRCs located at coastal tracts are being provided with near real time information on satellite derived Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ). Information pertaining to inland fisheries, aquaculture, etc., is also provided through VRCs as relevant.


  • Introducing telemedicine via satellite for making speciality treatment accessible to people in remote areas of India.Places around Bangalore,Kolkata and Tripura are networked with a hub using VSAT terminals.

Biodiversity information system:

  • Use of space technological tools for characterization of biodiversity at a landscape level.



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