Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – September 7, 2018


Q.1) Medieval period from A.D 800 to 1200 witnessed a new pattern of living. In this context elaborate social and economical changes which took place in the society.

Answer: Social changes during the period:

  1. Proliferation of castes – Increasing pride of birth, characteristic of feudal society, and the accompanying self-sufficient village economy, which prevented both spatial and  occupational mobility, gave rise to thousands of castes in India.
  2. Position of Brahmins – The Brahmins stood at the top of the social hierarchy during and post Gupta period. They had regained their power and were responsible for reinterpreting the regulatory canons of life as laid down by the earlier texts.
  3. Position of Marriage & Women – The knowledge about the traditions prevalent in the institution of marriage in that era comes from two works viz. Smritichandrika and Smrityarthasara. The former says that the inter-caste marriage is forbidden in Kaliyuga. Savarna marriages are necessary for the performance of religious rites, while Asavarna marriages are of an inferior type as being dictated by desire.
  4. Literature and science – During early medieval period, there was a considerable development in the literature. However, the quality of the content in them was not of a high order. It was basically of general imitative and reproductive character.
  5. Development of local cultures – The foundation of various kingdoms and fiefdoms whose people were generally confined to them only led the development of localized culture, making India a diverse geographical area.
  6. Development of Vernacular Languages – Though the Sanskrit continued to be used by the ruling class at the higher administrative levels, this language later become complex, verbose and ornate. The Apabhramsha started to differentiate into proto-Hindi, Proto-Bengali, Proto-Rajasthani proto-Gujarati, Proto-Marathi, Proto-Assamese, Proto-Ordya, Proto-Maithili languages.
  7. In the field of art and architecture, this period ushered in a new age marked by regional styles in sculpture and construction of temples, which became particularly prominent in south India from the eighth century onwards.

Economic changes during the period:

  1. Trade & Commerce – Since the collapse of the Roman Empire with which India had flourishing and profitable trade, and the rise of Islam which led to the collapse of Sassanid (Iranian) Empire, there was a period of stagnation and decline of towns and town life in this region.
  2. Feudalism – Revenue assignments granted by the ruler to his officers and again subletting of the land by latter to their followers may be called feudal society. This class of people are variously called Samanta, Ranak, Rautta (Rajput) etc. This class of people were not only  the officers paid by revenue bearing villages, but defeated rajas, local hereditary chiefs, tribal clan leaders etc.
  3. A feudalistic trend is visible in the early medieval period and this feudal trend shaped the socio economic changes. With the establishment delhi sultanate this feudalistic trend started to collapse and centralisation trend starts becoming visible


Q.2): Concept of Basic structure was not provided in the original text of Indian constitution, it has evolved. Discuss.


In the Kesavananda Bharati case, Supreme Court stated that Parliament is empowered to abridge or take away any of the Fundamental Rights. It laid down the doctrine of ‘basic structure’. It ruled that the constituent power of Parliament under Article 368 does not enable it to alter the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

However Supreme Court is yet to define or clarify as to what constitutes the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. From the various judgements, the following have emerged as ‘basic features’ of the Constitution:

  1. Supremacy of the Constitution
  2. Sovereign, democratic and republican nature of the Indian polity
  3. Secular character of the Constitution
  4. Separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary
  5. Federal character of the Constitution
  6. Unity and integrity of the nation
  7. Welfare state (socio-economic justice)
  8. Judicial review
  9. Freedom and dignity of the individual
  10. Parliamentary system
  11. Rule of law
  12. Harmony and balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
  13. Principle of equality
  14. Free and fair elections
  15. Independence of Judiciary
  16. Limited power of Parliament to amend the Constitution
  17. Effective access to justice
  18. Principle of reasonableness
  19. Powers of the Supreme Court under Articles 32, 136, 141 and 142


Q.3)  Indian Court has recently asked media to avoid using the term Dalit. Critically analyze the rationale behind the court order and provide the significant argument made by National Commission for Scheduled Caste in this context.

Answer: The problem with the term:

  1. Does not find any mention in the Constitution of India or any statute does not find any mention in the Constitution of India or any statute.
  2. The middle-class Dalits have to deal with the stigmatised identities heaped of being inferior beings. They feel it inappropriate to be “lower” when they have reached great heights in their careers.
  3. Dalits, who are constantly seeking to escape their identity but cannot due to their known caste status, want to find ways to move away from this “lowerness”.

Argument by NCSC

National Commission for Scheduled Castes disfavoured the use of ‘Dalit’ as it felt it was unconstitutional. This is because belonging to a ‘Scheduled Caste’ is a legal status. It is conferred on members of castes named in a list notified by the President under Article 341. Therefore, ‘Scheduled Caste’ is the appropriate way to refer to this class of people.

Need for using the term:

  1. Symbolism and expression in rebellion are essential for bringing systemic change in lives of Dalits.
  2. The Dalit literary world has expressed “Dalit” in conjunction with the metaphors that usher in a new life. The idea of “humanism, freedom, rebellion, and equality” is strongly reinforced in the popularisation of the term.
  3. Communities should have the agency to decide what they wish to call themselves.
  4. “Dalit” means many things.

a) It offers a historical grip and a route to the current realities.

b) It keeps an account of the past, which is largely unwritten and unacknowledged.

c) It is a phenomenological opportunity for a self-reliant existence, without being solely the subject of the oppressors’ interpretations.

5. Ambedkar fashioned the term for the Depressed Classes to unite the political categories subsumed under it.


Q.4) Meteorological events may trigger the natural disaster but the main causes are different. In the context of recent Kerala flood disaster, examine the statement and provide suggestions.

Answer: Meteorological causes for the floods:

  1. As pointed by committees on Western Ghats, Kerala is an ecologically vulnerable area.
  2. The 2,086 mm of rainfall is 30% above the annual average. Records from IMD show a 255% departure from the norm in the state’s hotspots.
  3. Recent World Bank report pointed to rising average temperatures throughout Southeast Asia and rainfall growing more erratic.

Other important causes:

  1. The flooding was also due to existence of illegal stone quarries and a large number of unauthorised constructions on river beds.
  2. This quarrying along with deforestation in the region has intensified the landslides witnessed. These quarries cause deforestation and block the natural streams, which help in reducing the intensity of the floods.
  3. Other causes like mining, illegal repurposing of forests, and high-rise building constructions – were man-made.
  4. The river is making its way into the homes of people because the city has encroached river bodies.
  5. The state resorted to urbanisation in areas like Idukki, Trivandrum, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Wayanad which was done without proper drainage system.

Suggestions/ Way ahead:

  1. Structural Measures

a) Embankments – The embankment system in the river restricts the river to its existing course and prevents it from overflowing the banks.

b) Dams, Reservoirs and other Water Storages – Lakes, low lying depressions, tanks, dams and reservoirs store significant proportions of flood water and the stored water can be released subsequently when the flood has receded.

c) Drainage channels – Channel improvement aims at increasing the area of flow or the velocity of flow (or both) to increase its carrying capacity.

2. Non- Structural measures

a) Flood plain zoning – The concept of flood plain zoning is to regulate land use in the floodplains in order to restrict the damage due to floods.

b) Flood proofing – these measures help in the mitigation of distress and provide immediate relief to the population in flood prone areas.

3. Disaster Response Guidelines – NDMA

a) Response System – Management and control of adverse consequences of floods will require coordinated and effective response systems at all levels-national, state, district, local and community

b) Evacuation of human population and livestock is the only prescribed means to save them from the fury of floods.


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