Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – August 17, 2018

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Q.1) Invasive species have contributed to 40% of all animal extinctions since the 17th century, discuss the implications of the invasive species on the local environment and economy. What international mechanisms are available to deal with them?

Answer:  An invasive species can be any kind of living organism that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm. They can harm the environment, the economy, or even human health.

Implications on local environment:

  1. Widespread loss of habitat
  2. Some invaders can physically alter the habitat. Eg., change in the nature of trees that survive depending on the new species
  3. Invading species destroy endemic species diversity as, often, they do not have any predators.

Impact on the economy:

  1. Invasive species can also impact human health. Sometimes, invasive animals can also be vectors for disease.
  2. As they impact the local habitat, they affect the livelihoods of people depending on local resources life trees, ponds, fishes etc., In Tamil Nadu the Seemai karuvelam tree was blamed for affecting groundwater resources.
  3. The introduction and spread of an invasive species can have major trade implications. There is the prospect of losing a competitive advantage in exports because unaffected countries will either prohibit import of goods from affected countries or establish costly precautionary measures

Mechanisms to deal them:

  1. IUCN has formulated guidelines for managing invasives specifically in islands. The mechanism involves data collection, community engagement, policy measures and management plans.
  2. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Article 8(h) of the CBD states that parties shall prevent the introduction of alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.
  3. Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures – It provides an international legal basis for all sanitary and phytosanitary measures that affect international trade.
  4. CITES – The aim of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  5. Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention)  – it aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species.
  6. Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) – COP 7 resolution addresses threats of invasive species to wetland ecosystems.
  7. International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments – Not yet in force. It provides guidance and strategies to minimize and eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens from ballast water and sediments.
  8. International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) – it aims to prevent introduction of pests of plants and plant products in international trade.
  9. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – States are required to protect and preserve the marine environment from intentional or unintentional introduction of alien species.
  10. World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Agreement – to guarantee the safety of international trade in animals and animal products and to control animal diseases and zoonoses worldwide while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers.


Q.2) Critically analyze the reasons for which union government has recently banned the import of oxytocin and also discuss the legal provisions governing drugs ban in India.

Answer: Recently the Union Health Ministry imposed a ban on the retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin. Government also asked customs officials to step up vigilance against those likely to smuggle oxytocin into India.

Why it was banned:

  1. Misuse in the dairy and poultry industry – Because oxytocin stimulates lactation in cattle, dairy farmers inject the drug indiscriminately to increase milk production. This has spawned several unlicensed facilities that manufacture the drug for veterinary use. As it is also a growth hormone, it is introduced into the poultry for quick fertility and increased production.
  2. Harm to cattle farming – Overuse of the hormone oxytocin leads to infertility in dairy animals. Activists also say that it causes hormonal imbalances and shortens the lives of milch animals and makes them barren sooner. It has also been linked to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder of the animals.
  3. Impact on human beings – Milk consumers worry about exposure to diseases life Mastitis through dairy products. There are also concerns that oxytocin can enter the food chain through milk that can be harmful for human consumption(though it was not established).
  4. To promote use of genuine product. Govt orders that the sole PSU producing it to supply it directly to registered private and public hospitals.
  5. There is large-scale clandestine manufacture and sale of the drug leading to its grave misuse, which is harmful to animals and humans.

Provisions governing drug ban:

  1. Drug Technical Advisory Board can recommend the prohibitions under section 10 of the drugs and cosmetics act 1940. In case of Oxytocin, DTAB agreed to prohibit the import of oxytocin and its formulations.
  2. Under Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule, 1954, a drug can be distributed by prescription and only by a registered medical practitioner.
  3. Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules
  4. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act  – finance ministry regulates certain sections of the NDPS Act like categorisation of pharma drugs as narcotic substances.


Q.3) The rule of equality before law is not absolute and there are constitutional and other exceptions to it. Discuss and also highlight the differences between ‘equality before law’ and ‘equal protection of laws’.

Answer: Equality before law connotes: 1. the absence of any special privileges in favour of any person 2. the equal subjection of all persons to the ordinary law of the land administered by ordinary law courts, and 3. no person is above the law.

Exceptions to Equality before law:

  1. The President of India and the Governor of States enjoy immunities under Art 361. These make them immune from prosecution to civil or criminal proceedings during office.
  2. No person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in any court in respect of the publication in a newspaper of a substantially true report of any proceedings Legislature.
  3. Article 105/194 guarantee that No member of Parliament(SL) shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof.
  4. Article 31-C provides that the laws made by the state for implementing the DPSP contained in clause (b) or clause (c) of Article 39 cannot be challenged on the ground that they are violative of Article 14. SC – “where Article 31-C comes in, Article 14 goes out”.
  5. The foreign sovereigns, ambassadors and diplomats enjoy immunity from criminal and civil proceedings. The UNO and its agencies enjoy the diplomatic immunity.

Differences between equality before law and equal protection of laws:

  1. The concept of ‘equality before law’ is of British origin while the concept of ‘equal protection of laws’ has been taken from the American Constitution.
  2. Equal protection of laws connotes: 1. equality of treatment under equal circumstances 2. similar application of same laws to all persons who are similarly situated, and 3. like should be treated alike without any discrimination.
  3. Equality before Law is a negative concept while the Equal protection of laws is a positive concept.


Q.4) Why the article 32 has been called as ‘an Article without which constitution would be a nullity? Discuss how writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court differs from that of a high court.

Answer:  Art 32 provides the fundamental right to constitutional remedies. It provides the right to move the Supreme Court or High Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights is guaranteed.

Importance of Art.32: A mere declaration of fundamental rights in the Constitution is meaningless, useless and worthless without providing an effective machinery for their enforcement, if and when they are violated. Hence, Article 32 confers the right to remedies for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of an aggrieved citizen. That is why Dr Ambedkar called Article 32 as the most important article of the Constitution—‘an Article without which this constitution would be a nullity.

Differences in writ jurisdiction between SC and HC:

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