Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 10

1.What is the difference between Hindustani and Carnatic styles of music? Explain briefly. (GS 1)

हिंदुस्तानी और कर्नाटिक संगीत की शैलियों के बीच क्या अंतर है? संक्षेप में बताएं।

Suggested Answer:Indian music styles owe their origin to Bharata’s Natya Shastra, written around 3rd century CE. Divergence into two distinct styles began sometime around 14th century.
The major differences between Hindustani and Carnatic styles of music are:

  1. Region: Hindustani classical music developed in North India and Carnatic in south India.
    2. Influence: Hindustani music has Arab, Persian and Afghan influences while Carnatic is completely indigenous.
    3. Freedom: Artists given freedom to improvise in Hindustani music. Hence the presence of numerous variations. Carnatic music, on the other hand, has no such freedom.
    4. Substyles: There are substyles which evolved in differently kingdoms over time. This is the ‘gharana’ system of Hindustani music. Carnatic music has only one prescribed style of singing.
    5. Instruments: Instruments have a role equally important to vocals in Hindustani style while there is more emphasis on vocal music in Carnatic music.
    Tabla, sarangi, sitar and santoor are essential to Hindustani classical while veena, mridangam and mandolin are essential to Carnatic music. Flute and violin are common to both.
    6. Type: Hindustani music is emotional while Carnatic music is intellectual and spiritual.
    7. Ragas: Six principle ragas and 10 thaats in Hindustani music, while Carnatic music has 72 raga- melakartas and 19 thaats.
    8. Time: Hindustani music has specific ragas for specific time while Carnatic music does not adhere to such specifications.

Both styles, though varied in many aspects, preserve the basic characteristics of Indian music sargam that is based on seven distinct notes (sa re ga ma pa dha ni). They also have centuries old tradition of guru-shishya parampara which is followed till this day. They represent a rich, Indian heritage that is known and respected the world over.

2.RBI is emphasizing on bringing down the inflation target to 4% and focus on economic stability. What steps have been taken by RBI in this direction? (GS 3)

भारतीय रिजर्व बैंक 4% के मुद्रास्फीति लक्ष्य और आर्थिक स्थिरता पर ध्यान केंद्रित कर रहा है। इस दिशा में भारतीय रिजर्व बैंक क्या कदम उठा रहा है?

Suggested Answer:

RBI is responsible for managing the monetary policy of India, and for achieving the trinity of stable economic growth, controlled inflation and near-zero unemployment.
For achieving the 4% inflation target and focusing on economic stability, RBI has taken several steps:

  1. Adopted inflation targeting as its monetary policy anchor according to recommendations of the Urjit Patel committee.
  2. Signed a monetary policy agreement with the government and instituted a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which will bring transparency, accountability as well as data-driven decision making in the realm of monetary policy. The inflation target is that of 4% +/-2% for the next 5 years.
  3. Resorted to Open Market Operations in order to manage liquidity in the market.
  4. Gave concurrence to the government’s move of demonetizing high value currency notes, which form a substantial portion of the black economy. Black economy, estimated at nearly a fourth of India’s economy, makes inflation predictions difficult, and thus hampers monetary policy.
  5. Issued Market Stabilization Scheme bonds in order to absorb the excess liquidity that entered the system post-demonetization. It also increased the CRR to 100% for the money deposited in banks after demonetization, to prevent a rapid decline in bank lending rates which would’ve happened due to this excess liquidity.
  6. Adopted a cautious approach in reducing the benchmark lending rates (repo and reverse repo), so as to contain inflation.
  7. In the most recent meeting of the MPC, the committee decided to adopt a neutral tone and wait for the effects of monsoon as well as uptick in global crude prices to manifest before taking further action on reducing the rates. It also wanted to adjudge the inflationary impact of 7th CPC payout.
  8. Approved and tried to implement various schemes such as Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR), Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR), Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A), 5:25 scheme (longer tenor loans for infra projects) to bring about a quick Resolution to the Twin Balance Sheet problem and thus maintain economic stability.
  9. 9. Directed the banks to Recognize the bad assets (NPAs) and set aside adequate provisions for them, so as to enable the RBI and the government to visualize the magnitude of the problem.

RBI is cognizant of the problems being faced by the citizens due to inflation, and the country’s economy due to instability. Therefore, it is taking adequate steps to alleviate the turmoil and shocks that Indian economy is faced with periodically. However, it is essential to ensure that the autonomy of RBI is maintained in order to let it function properly and respond adequately to crises situations.

3.Write a critical note on Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojana. (GS 2)

प्रधानमंत्री फसल बीमा योजना पर टिप्पणी दें।

Suggested Answer:

Nearly 3 lakh farmers committed suicides between 1993 and 2003. This shows the severity of agricultural distress. PM Fasal Bima Yojana was launched in order to alleviate this distress once and for all, by providing a comprehensive insurance scheme that would extend to the entire length and breadth of India – “One nation one scheme”.

The features of this scheme are:

1) Lowest-ever premium – 1.5% for Rabi crops, 2% for Kharif crops and 5% for horticultural crops.

2) No upper cap on govt subsidy. Government will pay the balance premium whatever the remaining amount.

3) Mandatory usage of technology like drones, remote sensing, smart-phones etc. to hasten loss surveys and quicken the claim process.

4) Scope of Risk coverage is increased – covers post-harvest losses and localised risks such as hailstorm, landslides, inundation etc.

5) As this comes under Green box subsidies of WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture, Indian farmers can avail income support during crop loss without it being distortive to global trade.

  1. One state one insurer policy which will help increase the efficiency and synergy of operations, since both the government as well as the farmers have to approach only one insurance company for all procedures.
  2. Compensations will be directly paid into the bank accounts of the farmers within a designated time frame. This will alleviate farmer misery and lead to cessation of farmer suicides, which are a rising phenomenon.
    It must be ensured that the compensation is paid into the farmer’s savings account and not the loan account, which the bank can use to recover loans from. Otherwise the scheme will become a “loan insurance for banks” rather than crop insurance.

However, the scheme also has some drawbacks:

1) Moral Hazard: May encourage farmers to go for water hungry crops like paddy which further create environmental and sustainability issues.

2) Losses incurred in cold storages, man-made calamities, wild animal attacks, pest attacks, price fluctuations etc are not covered.

3) PMFBY target is to cover 50% of net cropped area. Earlier schemes could cover only 23%. Reaching 50% is a challenge.

4) Generally insurance and bank officials collude to siphon off funds. This happens since the insurance companies operate through bank branches in rural areas. This needs to be addressed by asking the insurers to open rural branches and dealing with the farmers directly.

  1. Present assessments of loss are done via Crop-Cutting-Experiments (CCE). Scientists are unclear on how the drones will be used to accurately assess losses.
  2. The scheme does not address the woes of tenant farmers – who bear crop losses but are not entitled for compensation and insurance payments.
  3. The unit of assessment remains unaddressed in the new scheme. It should be reduced to village level or the individual farm level.

50% of Indian population is dependent on agriculture. Moreover, nearly 50% of India’s agricultural area is rain-fed and dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon. In this situation, the new scheme can be a game-changer as far as farmer welfare is concerned. However, the aforementioned drawbacks must be addressed to make the scheme better accessible as well as more responsive to farmer needs.


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