Mains Marathon

Answered Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 9

1.Border trade between India and Myanmar has come to a halt due to recurring blockades. In this context, examine the recent progress made in India and Myanmar border trade relations. (GS 2)

भारत और म्यांमार के बीच में सीमा व्यापार की आवर्ती नाकेबंदी की वजह से रुक गयी है। इस संदर्भ में, भारत और म्यांमार सीमा व्यापार संबंधों के हाल की प्रगति की जांच करें।

Suggested Answer:

India and Myanmar share a long history of religious, cultural, ethnic and social ties along with a 398 km long border. Myanmar remains the gateway for India to south east Asia and is the cornerstone to India’s “Act East Policy”. But in-spite of this the relationship between the two countries has not be able to fully break past the threshold. One of the challenges that continues to be responsible for this situation is the recurring blockades in border areas which has hurt the border trade. In 2015, there were 250 days of blockades, strikes and disturbances. Situation did not improve in 2016 due to considerable long period of blockades in Manipur, which led to only 25% of the trade happening in comparison to previous year levels. Trade, worth approximately 300 Million USD, with Myanmar happens through the Moreh – Tamu border point. Due to increasing losses, recently a string of initiatives were taken by the two countries to improve the situation:-

  • As a lot of disruption is caused due to insurgents, Assam Rifles has been given the task of beefing up the security in the border areas. CRPF has been deployed to ease the blockade situation. Fencing of the border areas is also planned.
  • The town of Moreh, which is the crucial link for the trade, is being developed as a smart city.
  • Govt is trying to negotiate peace with groups like NSCN-IM and NSCN-K. Along with it, Naga councils are also being brought on-board.
  • To check illegal smuggling and trafficking 40 items have been enlisted on the trade list.
  • Efforts are on to resolve the Manipur blockade.
  • The barter system has been replaced by conventional trade services and the dealers are permitted to settle their payments in any permitted currency in addition to Asian Clearing Mechanism.(ACU)
  • Various business chambers like ICC are visiting the neighbouring country and mutual participation in exhibition fairs is being increased.
  • Land Custom Stations currently exist at Moreh and Zakhawtar and goods, services and people are transited across them. A proposal is on the table to develop another LCS at Tiahu and government has put a proposal to develop the Rihtidim road for improving connectivity.
  • Establishment of more border haats or rural markets for better access and trade in localised products is proposed.
  • Development of Kaladan Multimodal Waterway upto Indian Border from Sittwe in Myanmar is in full swing and discussion on Mekong Ganga Highway has been reinstated.
  • Myanmar was included as part of BIMSTEC summit for economic and security collaboration and the BIMSTEC countries were invited in the BRICS Goa Summit 2016.

Inspite of the above interventions, some issues which need to be addressed are-

  • Absence of laboratory testing centres for imported food samples in the border.
  • Proper warehousing and storage infrastructure are lacking. This sometimes leads to degradation of goods in case the traders get stranded due to strikes.
  • Third country import without any certificate of origin which harm the bilateral border trade.

Above issues once tackled, will go a long way in increasing the amount of trade taking place between these two countries. This will bring prosperity in the bordering regions and increase people to people contact. This will lead to creation of various linkages and spill over effects which will ultimately bring the two countries closer.

2.Little is being done by the government to stop the ongoing spread of MDR-TB (multidrug-resistant tuberculosis) in India. Critically comment. (GS 3)

भारत में एमडीआर-टीबी के चल रहे प्रसार को रोकने के लिए सरकार द्वारा बहुत कम किया जा रहा है। गंभीर रूप से टिप्पणी करें।

Suggested Answer:

India is the country with the highest burden of TB. The World Health Organisation (WHO) TB statistics for India for 2015 give an estimated incidence figure of 2.2 million cases of TB for India out of a global incidence of 9.6 million. It is estimated that about 40% of the Indian population is infected with TB bacteria, the vast majority of whom have latent TB rather than TB disease. To tackle the growing menace of TB, Government in 1997 initiated a programme named RNTCP (Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme) under which DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short Courses) is operational. It provides for free aid and medicine for people suffering TB. While this programme seems to be working, a new challenge has emerged in terms of MDR-TB (Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis).  MDR-TB is a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to the first line of drugs i.e Isoniazid and Rifampicin. India has reported large number of cases of MDR- TB and is a front-runner in MDR-TB in the world. India has a reported number of 70000 cases of MDR-TB. Key challenges being faced by the government in its quest to restrict the spread of TB are-

  • There is no initial categorization of patients. The Category of TB that a patient is suffering from is not checked in the beginning and the first line treatment is given which is useless for MDR cases thereby worsening the situation.
  • TB treatment should be on a daily basis however alternate day treatment leaves the programme ineffective.
  • There is poor monitoring of the fact whether the patient is regularly taking the doses or not. This is often wrongly reported.
  • Actual number of cases reported in National Register for TB is far less than the number of patients actually affected and hence the disease, being contagious, keeps on spreading.
  • Demand and supply gap of the drugs is quite wide. Specific drugs are rather expensive especially for the rural masses. There is lack of research and research related funding towards patient specific drugs.
  • There is a poor sense of awareness and responsibility on the patient’s part to complete the TB course.
  • The use of super drug Bedaquilline is highly restrictive. While the concerns of government that over-use of this drug will further increase the drug-resistivity are well founded, the delay in administering the drug only worsens the severity and increases the chances of spreading of TB to other patients.

But the gravity of the situation is not lost on the government. Government is taking steps to ramp up its programmes. A  Revised National TB control Programme focusing mainly on MDR TB has been put in place. Many awareness generation programmes have been started through TV, newspapers, posters etc. It is now necessary for all public and private health care centres to provide timely information about number of patients (in patients, out patients) to competent authority. Abundance and free availability of DOTS (a TB drug) while already in place, is being ensured by govt.

Government of India in its 2017 Budget has set up the ambitious target of making India TB free by 2025, that is, the number of notified TB cases should fall to 10 per one lakh population. In 2015, India had 217 notified cases per one lakh population. As the gap is large, addressing the TB challenge will need a collaborative approach on the part of the Government and community efforts. Tackling drug resistant strains of contagious diseases like TB needs to be addressed immediately and the past examples of eradicating diseases like Polio can be taken as inspiration towards the same.

3.Ethics are more important than laws. Critically examine this statement. (GS 4)

नीति कानून की तुलना में अधिक महत्वपूर्ण है। गंभीर रूप से इस बयान की जांच करें।

Suggested Answer:

Ethics is a set of standards or a code which is used to judge human actions as right or wrong, good or evil. Ethics are arrived at by human reason and experience. Ethics are socially acceptable and act as guidelines for ideal human conduct. Laws on the other hand, are prescribed behaviour or a code of conduct which is enforced by an authority.
Ethics have always encouraged us to behave in the most righteous manner while laws often prescribe the bare minimum level of righteousness. While ethics are mostly positive in nature i.e. they ask us to behave in a particular manner, laws more often than not tell us what not to do. Ethics have provided a broad framework to formulate laws in human societies since time immemorial. Whether it was abolition of slavery or granting voting rights to women and blacks, the fight always started by appealing to people’s conscience and their sense of right or wrong on moral grounds and culminated in formulation of laws.
Ethics are important for framing just laws. For example Rights based Acts like Forest Rights Act. Along with this, Ethics help in successful implementation of laws.

Hence it is quite easy to believe that ethics are more important than laws.
But it is also important to recall that sometimes forward-looking laws have challenged the ethics for good. For example, there was a time in this country when the inhuman practice of Sati was socially acceptable and widow remarriage was considered immoral. In such times humane laws were formulated and they ultimately compelled the society to examine these practices more closely. The ongoing debate on Triple Talaq is also an attempt in formulating a law that will challenge the established norms and pave a path for gender parity.
Another aspect of superiority of laws is that while non conformity with the law is punishable, there is no such repercussion in case of ethics, except for some societal criticism or guilt stemming from human conscience. Consequently, laws are necessary for establishing an order in society as not everything could be left to the societal ethics.

Thus ethics and laws are collaborative in nature. They both act as guiding lights for each other. Sometimes ethics temper the laws and sometimes laws lead the change in ethics with no clear cut superiority of one over the other. They are both necessary for the functioning of the society.



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