Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – November 27, 2018

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Q.1) Critically discuss economic and environmental cost of farm subsidies in India.


Farm subsidies provide governmental financial to the farmers and agribusinesses to reduce their input expenditures and supplement their income.

Economic cost:

  1. High burden of subsidies on exchequer.
  2. Distorts market prices of agricultural produce.
  3. Affects farmers income because of their lack of productivity and from seeking technologies.
  4. Farm subsidies typically transfer income from consumers and taxpayers to relatively wealthy farmland owners and farm operators. This creates a moral hazard in the economy.
  5. Subsidies discourage farmers from innovating, cutting costs, diversifying their land use, and taking other actions needed to prosper in the competitive economy.

Environmental cost:

  1. Degradation of soil fertility due to the distorted N P K ratios.
  2. Leads to monoculture, thus affects ecological chains.
  3. Water tables are affected as the crops which consume large amounts of water are encouraged through subsidies.
  4. The monoculture in Punjab and Haryana led to multiple cropping and thus stubble burning during winters.
  5. India subsidises the cost of energy to pump water for agriculture, which encourages producers to pump more water than they need.


Q.2) Examine the key features of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and analyse key issues related to this Bill.


Features of the bill:

  1. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
  2. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.  The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to 6 years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.


  1. States like Assam consider the Bill to work against the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people of the State.
  2. There is an opposition to the idea of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion.
  3. Bill is designed to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees persecuted in neighbouring countries. NRC does not distinguish migrants on the basis of religion. If the Bill becomes an Act, the non-Muslims need not go through any such process, thus it will clearly be discriminating against Muslims identified as undocumented immigrants.
  4. States sharing borders with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are likely to be affected.


Q.3) The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is the most significant cleanliness campaign by the Government of India. Do you think Swachh Bharat Abhiyan would achieve its objectives? Give arguments in support of your answer.


Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign was launched to eradicate open defecation by 2019.


  1. A sense of responsibility has been evoked among the people through the Clean India Movement.
  2. Within three years of launch, about 50 million toilets have been constructed in rural India, increasing the coverage from 39% to 69% now.
  3. So far, 248,000 villages have are declared open defecation free. Similarly 203 districts have eradicated open defecation.

Challenges remaining:

  1. Fund allocation – Under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, the allocation was merely ₹2,300 crore. As per 2011 Census, 31.16% of the total population lives in urban areas. Also, the growth of population in urban areas is 32% over a decade and rural is 12%.
  2. In urban areas, huge landfill sites running beyond capacity are the biggest problem.
  3. The components of the problem in urban areas are very different from those in rural areas.
  4. Most of the money allocated is going towards latrine construction, and very little towards information, education, and communication (IEC).
  5. Many rural Indians do not want the kinds of latrines promoted by the government  According to a survey in Delhi NCR and UP most people thought the goal of the SBM was general cleanliness of houses and public spaces. There was little awareness that an important goal of the SBM is to eliminate open defecation.
  6. The mission lacks proper accountability and feedback mechanism to assess its success. “Swachh Survekshan” report released by the ministry of Drinking water and sanitation is the only report available.


Q.4) Critically analyze the role of British policy in creation of Great Famines of Bengal during last decade of 19th century.


The British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines. But the worst hit was Bengal. The first of these was in 1770, followed by severe ones in 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and lastly 1943-44.

  1. Partial failure of crops was quite a regular occurrence in the Indian peasant’s life.
  2. The surplus stock, which remained after paying the tributes, was so important to their livelihood. But with the increased taxation, this surplus deteriorated rapidly. When partial failure of crops came in 1768, this safety net was no longer in place.
  3. Priorly, whenever the possibility of a famine had emerged, the Indian rulers would waive their taxes and see compensatory measures, such as irrigation, instituted to provide as much relief as possible to the stricken farmers. The colonial rulers continued to ignore any warnings that came their way regarding the famine, although starvation had set in from early 1770. The ones who had not yet succumbed to the famine had to pay even greater taxes so as to ensure that the British treasury did not suffer any losses during this travesty.
  4. British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus, farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables were now being forced to cultivate indigo, poppy and other such items that yielded a high market value for them but could be of no relief to a population starved of food. There was no backup of edible crops in case of a famine.
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