Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 19

1.“The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides.” Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation. (GS 1)
“हिमालय भूस्खलन के प्रति अत्याधिक प्रवण है |” कारणो कि विवेचना कीजिए तथा अल्पीकरण के उपाय सुझाए |

Suggested Answer:

Landslides are mass movement of soil or rocks along the slopes of mountains. The Himalayan region, situated at the confluence of the Indian plate in south and the Eurasian plate in North, lies in the Very High and High Vulnerability Zone for landslides (as per NDMA Zone maps). Major reasons for this vulnerability are-
A. Natural causes-
a. Earthquakes-
Himalayan region is earthquake prone as it lies on the Convergent boundary of Eurasian and Australian plates. Frequent earthquakes lead to movement of the top soil.
b. Rainfall-
Heavy rainfall or a change in rainfall pattern disturbs the glaciers and destabilizes the top soil.
c. Steep slopes-
The steep slopes of the mountain ranges aid the movement of the soil.
d. Snowfall-
Snow adds to the weight of the top soil. This combined with the steep slopes, result in frequent landslides.

B. Anthropogenic causes-
a. Illegal mining and Industrial activities-
Mining and other industrial activities can lead to weakening/movement of the top soil. It might also result in man-made earthquakes (due to blasting of rocks) which in turn could lead to a landslide.
b. Deforestation-
Trees (roots of trees) hold the topmost layers of soil in place. Indiscriminate cutting of trees for either commercial or agricultural purposes weakens the top soil.
Landslides have relatively small and localized area of direct influence. However, they can cause extensive damage to the area in the form of roadblocks, destruction of important infrastructure like railway lines, electricity stations and communication wires, diversion of river courses (leading to flooding) and most importantly, loss of life.
Mitigation measures-
A. For mitigating effects of natural causes-
Natural causes are beyond the control of human beings. However, loss of life and property can be minimized by performing activities like- Landslide Zonation mapping, building walls/meshes along critical infrastructure like roads and railway lines etc.
B. For mitigating effects of anthropogenic causes-
Many steps can be taken to minimize losses due to anthropogenic causes. Prohibition of construction/mining in Landslide prone areas, spreading awareness towards the causes and consequences of landslides, Afforestation drives coupled with minimizing deforestation are some of them.
Landslides affect all the aspects of life of the people living in nearby areas, including economic aspect. Hence, it is important that proper measures be taken not just for preventing landslides but also for rescue and rehabilitation of people affected by them.

2.To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “Temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss the future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity. (GS 2)
भारतीय संविधान का अनुच्छेद 370, जिसके साथ हाशिया नोट “जम्मू- कश्मीर राज्य के सम्बन्ध में अस्थाई उपबंध ” लगा हुआ है , किस सीमा तक अस्थाई है ? भारतीय राज्य- व्यवस्था के सन्दर्भ में इस उपबंध की भावी सम्भावनाओ पर चर्चा कीजिए|

Suggested Answer:

Indian constitution provides for certain special provisions, applicable to certain states, in order to protect the unique socio-cultural identity of the people of that state. Art 370 makes such provisions for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 370 bears a marginal note ”Temporary provision with respect to the state of Jammu and Kashmir”. Although it was incorporated as a temporary provision, Art 370 has come to define the relationship between Union of India and State of Jammu and Kashmir.


Temporary nature-

  • Like other articles, Art 370 can also be amended by the Parliament.
  • The original form of the article, drafted in 1948, has been changed in many ways by Presidential Order of 1950 and Delhi Agreement of 1952.
  • Art 370 can be revoked by the President by a public notification, on the advice of the Constituent Assembly of the state.

Permanent nature-

  • Although the article can be revoked by the President, it has to be on the recommendation of a Constituent Assembly. But since no such constituent assembly exists, unilateral revocation is not possible.
  • The boundaries of the state cannot be changed except on the recommendation of the state legislature, which in turn represents the will of people. And since due to a variety of factors, including protection of their identity, the citizens of the state would not want to amend the state boundaries, Union of India cannot change state’s name or boundary.
  • Due to the continuing conflict in the state, the anti-India feeling within the state, the attachment of the dispensation/people to the Article and lack of political will in the successive ruling governments in the centre, Art 370 has come to acquire a de facto permanent status. This has also been reflected in the recent judgement of Jammu & Kashmir high court that has accorded a “permanent status” to Art 370, terming it indispensible for the sovereignty of the state of Jammu & Kashmir

Article 370 has been a sensitive issue for not just the people of the state of Jammu & Kashmir but for the people of the entire country. Its future is dependent on many factors-

  1. Relationship between the state and Union of India-
    Citizens of the state see the article as a protector of their unique identity. Also, they see the rising nationalism in the country as a threat to it. Hence, it is very important that this fundamental gap in understanding of the Article (among people on both sides) is bridged. A relationship built on mutual trust and shared values is utmost important and it is the single most important factor that will define the future of Art 370.
  2. Demand for autonomy from other states-
    Some states, particularly those which are facing disturbance, like north east states of Manipur, Nagaland are likely to ask for more autonomy and special status like J&K. These demands also put pressure on the centre to abolish/amend Art 370.
  3. Assimilation of J&K into the union-
    Many sections see Art 370 as the single biggest reason for separation of J&K from Indian federal structure. They are of the view that all states have to be treated equally and equal protection of socio-cultural rights should be accorded to all citizens, irrespective of the state.
    Also, our federal structure is defined by a strong centre and weak states, which may not be possible in this case.
  4. Separatism, communalism and terrorism-
    The biggest problem associated with the state has been the rise of separatism, communalism and terrorism. Many blame Art 370 for these ills. How the state and the central governments deal with these, would have a direct bearing on the future of the article.
  5. Relationship between India and Pakistan-
    A cordial relationship between the two neighbours would help resolve many issues in Jammu and Kashmir, which in turn would directly affect the future of Art 370.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a special case since Independence and so we can’t make “rules of thumb” while dealing with the delicate situation. Art 370 is viewed with awe or disdain, depending upon which side one is. A person is truly a citizen of a country when s/he feels like a citizen of the country, hence it is very important that the wishes of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are respected while dealing with Art 370.

3.In the integrity index of Transparency International, India stands very low. Discuss briefly the legal, political, economic, social and cultural factors that have caused the decline of public morality in India. (GS 3)
“ट्रांसपेरेंसी इंटरनेशनल ” के ईमानदारी सूचकांक में , भारत काफी नीचे के पायदान पर है | संक्षेप में उन विधिक, राजनीतिक , आर्थिक , सामाजिक तथा सांस्कृतिक कारकों पर चर्चा कीजिए, जिनके कारण भारत में सार्वजानिक नैतिकता का ह्रास हुआ है |

Suggested Answer:

Transparency International, a Berlin based anti corruption watchdog, has ranked India 76th (out of 168 countries) in its Corruption Perception Index. This Index ranks countries by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. There are many factors that have led to a decline in morality of India. These include-

  • Legal-
    • Complex laws-
      Cumbersome laws are difficult for a layman to understand. This leads to his/ exploitation by officials. Complex laws also lead to red tapism. E.g. Section 52 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 puts undue pressure on the bureaucracy because of which it is easier for bureaucrats to not take a decision than unduly benefit someone unknowingly by their decision and invite penal provision.
    • High pendency of cases-
      The number of pending cases in Indian courts are rising every year. This leads to inordinate delays in cases. When cases drag on for years, it becomes easy for the accused to manipulate/threaten witnesses and destroy evidence. This in turn leads to his acquittal.
    • Weak laws-
      Although there has been a push in recent years to strengthen anti corruption laws, there are still many loopholes which are exploited by the accused to gain benefit.
  • Political-
    • Weak institutions-
      Majority of law enforcement institutions have become weak. This is due to factors like- political interference in their working (Supreme Court labeled CBI as a “caged parrot”), posting of corrupt and weak officials at the helm, lack of knowledge of laws among the officials, understaffing of agencies etc.
    • Corruption in political arena-
      Section 13A of IT Act makes parties tax exempt. They have repeatedly denied and opposed the applicability of RTI Act to them. They do not have to report contributions below Rs 20000. All these factors render them unaccountable financially. Absence of political reforms breeds corruption in this arena.
  • Economic-
    • Rise of Capitalism-
      A rise in capitalistic tendencies among the population has a direct correlation with a fall in morality. People aim to earn as much as possible (legally or illegally) to satisfy their increasing needs. Ends have become more important than means.
    • Parallel economy-
      Parallel economy escapes scrutiny by law enforcement agencies. Many use this and other routes like Tax evasion to earn Black money.
    • Unemployment and poverty-
      India suffers from chronic poverty. Also, there are not many lucrative jobs/ways to earn money. In a country where survival becomes a struggle for many, ethics take a back seat.
    • Rising inflation-
      Rise in prices reduces purchasing power. This is turn fuels the need to earn more in any way possible.
  • Social and Cultural factors-
    • People have accepted corruption as a way of life and since there is no social boycott of corrupt people, there is no deterrence for indulging in corrupt activities.
    • Various divisions in society based on caste, class and gender have limited the growth opportunities to the oppressed. Thus, they are not averse to using illegal means to earn.
    • Lack of value education in schools and homes.

Integrity and character building are direct effects of our value system that is developed through education, upbringing, experiences and external social atmosphere. An honest and morally upright citizenry is necessary for making India a developed nation.

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