Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 5, 2018

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Q.1) Withdrawal of Qatar from Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) signals the diminishing relevance of oil bloc. Critically examine.


Qatar has announced its withdrawal from OPEC.

Reduced relevance of the bloc:

  1. Global climate change fight has increased focus on solar and other renewable forms of energy. Also when global oil prices are facing increasing volatility.
  2. The infighting within the bloc has increased after the GCC crisis last year.
  3. It undermines a united front before the meeting to back a supply cut to shore up crude prices.
  4. It highlights the growing dominance over policy making in the oil market of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, the world’s top three oil producers which together account for more than a third of global output.
  5. This hinders GCC unity.

Not diminishing relevance:

  1. Qatar is a small player in the group with minor share in production.
  2. Saudi’s continuing dominance is visible in the way it is dealing neighbors and its unilateral price determining actions.


Q.2) What are problems and challenges faced by the transgender community in India? Discuss the steps taken by the government for their socio-economic empowerment


The estimated population of transgenders in India is around 4.88 lakh.

Challenges faced by the community:

  1. Social stigma – still faces considerable stigma based on over a century of being characterized as mentally ill, socially deviant and sexually predatory.
  2. Poor protection by law of the land against specific crimes committed on people of this community.
  3. Denial of social economic rights due to poor identification and recognition of the gender.
  4. Lack of protection translates into unemployment for transgender people.
  5. Stigma often leads to poor education, denial of health, economic and employment opportunities.
  6. Stringent and cumbersome procedures and requirement of address proof, identity proof, and income certificate hinders even the deserving people from making use of available schemes.

Steps taken:

  1. In 2014, the Supreme Court pronounced a landmark judgement, recognising transgender people as the ‘third gender’.
  2. Supreme Court judgment recently quashed Sec 377 which criminalises homosexuality.
  3. State government of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the Minority Welfare Department to consider ‘Hijras’ as a minority and develop welfare schemes for them.
  4. Department of Social Welfare in the state of Tamil Nadu has recently established ‘Aravanigal/Transgender Women Welfare Board’ to address the social welfare issues of Aravanis/Hijras.
  5. The southern Indian state of Kerala announced this month that it would reserve places for transgender students in the state’s higher education institutions


Q.3 ) What are the challenges in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat scheme? What can be done to improve the healthcare system in India?


Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan (AB-PMJAY) is a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme which is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, Health and wellness Centres and National  Health Protection Scheme.


  1. NHPS, by separating the provisioning and financing increases costs.
  2. An IndiaSpend analysis, citing a study published in Social Science Medicine, had pointed out that the existing insurance programme, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), has not led to any reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure by its 150 million beneficiaries. It also left 40% beneficiaries uncovered.
  3. NHPS is using the health insurance model to provide healthcare even though only 28.7% of the population is covered by state- or private-health insurance, according to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16).
  4. Without proper primary health care, direct hospitalisation is a high-cost solution.
  5. Poor quality of government infrastructure across India and offer better opportunities for the private sector at a right price.
  6. NHPS provides cover for services that southern states are already providing within an average per capita outgo of less than Rs 50,000 despite the ceiling of an assured sum of Rs 2 lakh. Offering a higher ceiling for the same set of services will only help the hospitals game the system.

Improving healthcare:

  1. Partnerships and coalitions with private sector providers. National Health Policy 2017 proposed “strategic purchasing” of services from secondary and tertiary hospitals for a fee.
  2. Upgrading district hospitals to government medical colleges and teaching hospitals will enhance capacities at the district level.
  3. Elimination of catastrophic health expenditures for the consumer can come only if there is sustained effort to modernise and transform the primary care space.
  4. Bringing together all relevant inter-sectoral action linking health and development to universalise the availability of clean drinking water, sanitation, garbage disposal, waste management, food security, nutrition and vector control. The Swachh Bharat programme must be incorporated in the PMJAY.


Q.4) Roots of world war 2 can be traced in the treaty of Versailles. Comment?


The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, was supposed to create peace, but in the end all it created was another disaster.

Treaty of Versailles -> WW2:

  1. The stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles were specifically aimed at making Germany as weak as possible.
  2. Certain parts of the treaty took away German territory and distributed it to other countries or the territory was used to form new countries. Areas like the Saar Basin and Upper Silesia, which were important to the German economy, were given to France and Poland, respectively.
  3. It caused serious economic problems which were only worsened by the depression of the 1930s.
  4. The effects of the Treaty of Versailles weakened Germany’s government and that, along with all of the effects, allowed for the rise of fascism and Hitler in Germany after World War I.
  5. The Treaty of Versailles weakened Germany’s means of transportation. It put Germany’s river system under foreign control.

Marshal Ferdinand Foch, a French General who had been involved in World War I, said of the treaty, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.”

Other reasons for WW2:

  1. The League of Nations was an international organization founded after World War I to prevent future wars. It failed.
  2. Policy of appeasement by Britain and France to contain spread of communism.
  3. Growing fascist ideas in Italy and Japan’s aggression lent fuel to Germany’s plans.
  4. Hitler’s policy of racism and anti-Jew ideology.
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