Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 22

1.East coast of India is highly vulnerable to cyclones. Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation.

भारत का पूर्वी तट चक्रवात से अत्यधिक संवेदनशील है। इसके कारणों पर चर्चा करें और शमन का उपयुक्त उपाय सुझाएँ।

Suggested Answer:

The cyclones that occur between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are known as Tropical Cyclones. Tropical cyclones are weather systems in which winds equal or exceed gale force (minimum of 34 knot, i.e., 62 kmph). It is estimated that on an average, annually 370 million people are exposed to cyclones in India. The Eastern Coast is highly vulnerable to cyclones (even more than Western Coast) as-

  • Eastern coast shares a long boundary with Bay of Bengal. This makes it highly vulnerable as-
    • Majority of the cyclones that hit the Indian subcontinent arise in Bay of Bengal (from 1891-2000, 308 cyclones have occurred in Bay of Bengal). It provides a conducive environment for cyclone formation due to reasons like optimum temperature and salinity, low vertical wind shear, regular crossing over of cyclones from South China Sea etc.
    • The Easterlies carry the cyclone towards the coast, unlike the west coast where the wind direction carries cyclones away from the coast.
  • Unlike the west coast, there are no strong, continuous mountain ranges to block the cyclones from reaching the populated areas.
  • Loss of mangrove forests has also left the Eastern coast more vulnerable.
  • Increasing industrialization and global warming had led to an increase in coastal temperatures, which lead to more cyclones in the area.

To prevent/minimise loss of life and property, it is necessary to take mitigation measures, like-

  • Mangrove forests near the coastline should be conserved as they act as the first line of defence against cyclones.
  • Preventing construction (legal and illegal), sand mining and industrial activities in vulnerable areas.
  • Early warning systems should be made more robust to provide real time, error free data. The system can also be integrated with warning systems of other countries in the region
  • Implementing National Cyclone Risk Management Project.
  • Multi-purpose cyclone shelters should be constructed to cater to the needs of coastal village communities in event of storm surges and floods.
  • There should be provision of temporary setup for power in order to carry on emergency operations. Renewable energy (like solar and wind) could be used for providing emergency power.
  • Focus on local capacity building

Cyclones account for large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure, thus seriously reversing the developmental gains at regular intervals. Hence, it is necessary that we take appropriate mitigation measures to minimize the damage from this natural calamity.

3.What is big data analytics? How can it be useful in dealing with the social issues faced by India?

‘बीग डेटा’ विश्लेषण क्या है? यह कैसे भारत के सामाजिक मुद्दों से निपटने में उपयोगी हो सकता है?

Suggested Answer:

Big data analytics is the identification of hidden patterns, correlations, trends and other insights by leveraging a very large set of data of different data types. The following three Vs constitute the key features of big data analytics- Volume, Velocity and Variety. Big Data analytics is being widely used for business and scientific data but it can also be effectively employed to confront social issues in the following ways-

  • Welfare schemes:
    It can be used to leverage the potential of biometric-demographic data for targeted delivery of welfare schemes. For example, the demographic and biometric data being collected for Aadhar cards is also being used for financial inclusion using mobile, Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM), and enabling direct benefit transfer for LPG. It can further be used for linking Electoral ID card (to prevent impersonation).
  • Health:
    e-Health data repository can be effectively utilised to follow the trends of communicable diseases through spatial analysis and perform predictive analysis to combat them. For example, with the establishment of National e-Health Authority (tasked with overseeing the digitisation of health information), Big Data could prove very helpful.
    Also, using Big Data patient’s medical history along with location & gender can be analysed to discover any pattern or correlation.
  • Education:
    Big Data analytics can help in analysing performance of students state/district/block wise, which in turn could help in formulating different policies for different regions.
  • Preventing and controlling crime:
    Big Data analytics could help in recognising crime patterns in urban and rural areas. It can help in predicting future crime sequences, methods etc which would help law enforcement agencies.
  • Urban planning-
    Big data could help in analysis like vehicular traffic and human migration patterns. Smart city planning for retrofitting could use Citizen science project to identify the issues of public and plan accordingly.
  • Agriculture:
    Big data can not only provide information like prediction of weather patterns, fertilizer usage, yields etc but can also help in plugging leakages and better targeting of subsidies.
  • Environment and disaster management-
    Monitoring of air quality, forest cover management, prediction of pollution in rivers, predicting carbon footprint of industries can be done using Big Data. It can also help in predicting natural calamities and identifying vulnerable areas and areas worst affected by the calamity.

Globally, stakeholders are making efforts to use open data and big data to develop solutions to social problems in innovative and collaborative ways. Despite challenges like data security, interoperability of datasets, lack of knowledge among officials etc, India needs to harness the power of big data to fight against social evils of all kind.

3.With a brief overview of Challenges faced by port sector of India, introduce the objectives and features of Sagar Mala project.

भारत के बंदरगाह क्षेत्र द्वारा सामना किये गए चुनौतियों के अवलोकन के साथ, उद्देश्यों और सागर माला परियोजना की सुविधाओं पर प्रकाश डालें।

Suggested Answer:

Indian Ocean is going to witness ever increasing trade in 21st century and if India wants to capitalize on this golden opportunity then it will have to upgrade its port infrastructure to world class level. Even from domestic perspective, 90% trade by volume and 77% trade by value is handled by ports, it is imperative that our ports are well equipped to handle ever increasing trade volumes. No wonder, a report by Ministry of Shipping sets the estimated requirement of cargo-handling at 313 billion tonnes by 2020, thrice of 2015 levels.


The targets are ambitious and achievable but certain challenges are a serious roadblock in their realisation. The most critical among them are-

  • Operational
    Congestion is the biggest challenge faced by Indian ports. There is lack of modern equipments like the facility of night navigation, inefficient and non-optimal deployment of port equipments and poor container handling facilities,
  • Geographical

Indian coasts are not easily suitable for construction of deep sea ports which are crucial for handling massive cargo ships. It requires massive investment. Also, almost all the major ports are affected by silting and require frequent dredging.

  • Infrastructure

Ports cannot exist in isolation and are of no use if they are not connected with secondary modes of transport like roads and railways to ensure speedy movement of cargo. Unfortunately, Indian ports lag behind on this front.

  • Regulatory

Custom procedures and regulations in Indian ports are too rigid and marred with red-tapism, leading to a turn over time of 19 days in comparison to 4 days in Singapore.

  • Labour Issues

Even today the labour federations yield considerable power in these ports and are capable of calling strikes which can effectively bring the ports to a standstill. The infamous JNPT labour strike is case in point.


Sagarmala project aims at turning around this dismal state of Indian ports and ushering in the “blue revolution” by realizing the full potential of 7500 km long coastline of the country. The following are the main objectives of this path-breaking initiative-

  • Port Modernisation and New Port Development
  • Enhancing port connectivity to the hinterland
  • Port led industrialisation
  • Coastal Community Development

In order to achieve these objectives, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) has been created, which envisages the following plan of action-

  • Enabling port led development through appropriate policy intervention.

NPP proposes creation of 14 Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) to ensure better, smooth and speedy functioning.

  • Enhancement of Post Infrastructure,

In order to fulfill India’s obligation under Trade Felicitation Agreement, it is imperative that the Port infrastructure be modernized with stress on automation of cargo handling.

  • Setting up of Logistic hubs and establishment of industries and manufacturing hubs served by ports
  • Simplification of procedure used at ports for cargo movement

The NPP envisages a paperless custom clearance regime, which will drastically reduce the turn over time of cargo containers. It also proposes use of ICT channels for quick information exchange, which will lead to seamless cargo movement.

  • It places maximum premium on synergy and integration of ports with existing and planned secondary transport networks like Dedicated freight corridors, National Highways etc.
  • Sustainable development of coastal communities is an essential part of Sagarmala project. As these communities are critical stakeholders in the success of this program, various interventions like upgradation of skills of fishing communities, development of fish processing centres etc have been designed to ensure that no loss of livelihood occurs for these communities.

Sagarmala project is a long term project and its success will depend on the regular monitoring of its functioning. Feedback from all the stakeholders including central and state government, import and export bodies, coastal communities etc should be incorporated for further fine-tuning of the program. If implemented effectively, this project has the potential of becoming a game changer for Indian ports and can tap their unrealized potential.


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