Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – March 24

Following are the Suggested Answers for Mains Marathon, March 24:

1.What is Human Development Index(HDI)? According to a recent UN Report, India is Ranked at 131 on Human Development Index. Discuss some reasons for India’s low rank. (GS 1)

मानव विकास सूचकांक (एचडीआई) क्या है? हाल ही में एक संयुक्त राष्ट्र रिपोर्ट के अनुसार, मानव विकास सूचकांक पर भारत का स्थान 131 पर है। भारत के निम्न स्थान के कारणों पर चर्चा करें।

LIve Mint | The Hindu 


  • In the recent HDI report,India’s human development index (HDI) value of 0.624 puts it in the “medium human development” category, alongside countries such as Congo, Namibia and Pakistan.

What is HDI:-

  • HDI is a measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and access to a decent standard of living.The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions.
  • The Human Development Index (HDI) was created to emphasize that expanding human choices should be the ultimate criteria for assessing development results. Economic growth is a mean to that process, but is not an end by itself.
  • The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita can end up with different human development outcomes.
  • The HDI simplifies and captures only part of what human development entails. It does not reflect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, etc.

Why India has low rank in HDI:-

  • Education:
    • In a nation of 1.2 billion, only 62 per cent are literate. About 420 million poor live in only eight states.
    • Sadly, 52 per cent of our primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes.
    • The schooling rate is especially low for the girls and that translates into poorly educated mothers who can neither survive long nor can easily raise healthy citizens.
  • Health:
    • Almost 250 million people do not have access to basic medical care. Around 350 million do not have access to safe drinking water.
    • Whopping 53 per cent of our children are under-nourished
  • Lack of proper allocation:
    • Allocation of resources to Health services and Education is less.
    • High out of pocket expenditure with low insurance penetration.
  • Failure of government schemes:
    • Subsidies benefit the rich so the money for social programmes is less.
    • In 2014 the richest 20 percent of India’s population enjoyed subsidies of $16 billion thanks to six commodities and services cooking gas, railways, power, aviation fuel, gold and kerosene and exempt-exempt-exempt tax treatment under the public provident fund.
  • Inequality problem, as there is limited penetration of financial institutions, leading to financial exclusion.
  • Intolerance in the society,gender and caste based tensions are on the rise affecting the development.
  • Increased burden of non communicable diseases in India.

With discussion on universal health coverage going on,schemes like RTE and RSBY,start up India India is moving on the right direction.

2.Examine the observations made by UN’s Water Development Programme’s World Water Development Report (WWDR). Do you agree that Wastewater management receives very less global attention? (GS 1)

संयुक्त राष्ट्र के जल विकास कार्यक्रम के विश्व जल विकास रिपोर्ट (WWDR) द्वारा की गई टिप्पणियों की जांच करें। क्या आप इस बात से सहमत हैं कि अपशिष्ट जल प्रबंधन बहुत कम वैश्विक ध्यान प्राप्त करता है?

The Hindu


  • The WWDR is an annual and thematic report that focuses on different strategic water issues each year and aims to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water resources.


  • The report notes that more than 80% of the world’s wastewater over 95% in some least developed countries  is released into the environment untreated.
  • Untreated wastewater poses a threat to both human health and our aquatic ecosystems.
  • WWDR estimates that for every $1 spent on sanitation, society benefits by an estimated $5.5, and notes that neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable in the context of a circular economy.
  • An average, high-income countries treat about 70% of the municipal and industrial wastewater they generate. That ratio drops to 38% in upper middle-income countries and to 28% in lower middle-income countries. In low-income countries, only 8% undergoes treatment of any kind.

Yes,wastewater treatment receives less attention as seen in the following reasons:

  • In Asia Pacific region as of 2009, an estimated 30% of urban dwellers in the region lived in slums, low-income areas, where wastewater is often discharged into the nearest surface drain or informal drainage channel.
  • Meanwhile, city-based hospitals and small- and medium-sized enterprises dump a slew of medical waste and toxic chemicals into wastewater systems.
  • Wealthier neighbourhoods are usually better served than slum areas, which are more likely to face the risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio due to consuming faeces-contaminated water.
  • Even in countries with improved sanitation coverage, only 26% of urban and 34% of rural sanitation and wastewater services prevent human contact with excreta along the entire sanitation chain.
  • All but the most highly developed countries, the vast majority of wastewater is released directly to the environment without adequate treatment, with detrimental impacts on human health, economic productivity, the quality of ambient freshwater resources, and ecosystems.
  • Continued failure to address wastewater as a major social and environmental problem would compromise other efforts towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The release of untreated wastewater remains common practice, especially in developing countries, due to lacking infrastructure, technical and institutional capacity, and financing.

However waste water treatment is increasing gaining global attention as seen below:

  • Lessons from the world:
    • Asia pacific:
      • When safely treated, wastewater can be a source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials that is both affordable and sustainable.
      • The extraction of wastewater by-products such as salt, nitrogen and phosphorous has proven lucrative in Asia-Pacific.
    • Singapore
      • It uses NEWater, to serve up to 30% of its needs. While largely used for industrial purposes, the water is potable and demonstrates what can be accomplished through innovative policy approaches.
      • The largely industrial use of NEWater also points to wastewater’s potential benefits for food production and industrial development.
    • Building on the experience of the MDGs, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a more comprehensive goal for water, going beyond the issues of water supply and sanitation

In the face of ever-growing demand, wastewater is gaining momentum as a reliable alternative source of water, shifting the paradigm of wastewater management from ‘treatment and disposal’ to ‘reuse, recycle and resource recovery’. In this sense, wastewater is no longer seen as a problem in need of a solution, rather it is part of the solution to challenges that societies are facing today.

3.Why is electoral fraud dangerous for a democracy? Analyze the impact of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) on the electoral system of India. (GS 2)

चुनावी धोखाधड़ी लोकतंत्र के लिए खतरनाक क्यों है? भारत की चुनावी व्यवस्था पर इलेक्ट्रॉनिक वोटिंग मशीन (ईवीएम) के प्रभाव का विश्लेषण करें।

Indian Express


  • In a democracy it is extremely important to conduct free and fair elections to establish the legitimacy of political leaders. India is by far the largest democracy in the world with more than 800 million voters, and the conduct of free, fair and fast elections is a very challenging and a daunting task.

Why is electoral fraud dangerous for a democracy?

  • The effects of electoral fraud can be especially devastating in democracies since serious fraud is likely to result in instability and an immediate erosion of the new government’s tenuous credibility.
  • It leads to criminalisation of politics and corrupt representatives in the system.
  • People can lose trust in the concept of elections and total chaos can strike like military coup as happen in Nigeria,Kenya etc.
  • The socio economic development of a country might stagnate as elected representatives do not give adhere importance to public interest.

Impact of EVM’s:

In India electronic voting machines (EVMs) were introduced with the objective of reducing incidents of rigging and electoral fraud.After declaration of result of the recently held General Elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, some political parties have raised voice against the credibility of the ECI-EVMs, alleging tampering of EVMs during the said elections. However, the Election Commission has rejected these allegations because of the following reasons:


  • In particular its objective was to minimising incidences of human error, reduce instances of rigging and manipulation, prevent abuse of government power in polls.
  • In addition, the use EVMs were also justified in terms of “commendable” reduction in cost and time involved in the conduct of elections. 
  • Introduction of EVMs led to very significant decline in total number of voters and voter turnout, and this decline was much larger in those states that are more prone to criminality in politics.
  • Voters were less likely to report that they did not cast their vote due to fear of violence, vote capture or were prevented from voting.
  • It also led to a drop in total number of rejected or error-ridden votes.
  • In the case of a breakdown, votes recorded until the machine went out of order remain safe in the memory of the control unit and it’s not necessary to start the poll from the beginning.The rate of failure of voting machines is less than 0.5%
  • Use of voting machines simplified the voting procedure and quickened the process of ascertaining results.
  • Introduction of EVMs led to a significant decline in electoral fraud
  • Ability of vulnerable citizens (illiterates, females, scheduled castes and tribes) to cast their vote improved significantly after the introduction of the EVMs.
  • EVMs in India strengthened electoral process making rigging difficult. Therefore, EVMs may affect political competitiveness reflected in the vote share of the incumbents and their chances of re-election. Overall incumbent party´s vote share decreases by 8.5% after the introduction of EVMs.
  • The software in the ECI-EVM chip is one time programmable (OTP) and burnt into the chip at the time of manufacture. Nothing can be written on the chip after manufacture. Thus the ECI-EVMs are fundamentally different from the voting machines and processes adopted in various foreign countries.


  • With still more than 20% illiterates adapting to EVM might be a concern.
  • Voter privacy is still a concern.

Way forward:-

  • Supreme Court saw merit in the most tangible solution a print record of one’s electronic vote, and asked the EC to explore the possibility of introducing the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) which the Election Commission said will be available at every polling booth by 2019.



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