Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 5

  1. NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda forms part of a larger vision document which spans a seven-year strategy and a 15-year vision. Discuss the key points of the agenda.(GS 2)

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  • With an increasingly open and liberalized economy and given the new realities of the global economy, India needed to rethink the tools and approaches to conceptualizing the development process.
  • NITI Aayog released its Three Year Action Agenda document, a comprehensive framework for proposed policy changes to be implemented in the short term in India

Key points are:-

  • The Vision, Strategy and Action Agenda framework will allow India to better align the development strategy with the changed reality of India.
  • The Agenda is wide-ranging:
    • It covers the different sectors of the economy like agriculture, industry and manufacturing and discusses the policies necessary for urban and rural transformation and a range of growth-enabling ingredients such as transport, digital connectivity and entrepreneurship.
    • Agriculture: Doubling Farmers’ Incomes by 2022
      • Reform the Agricultural Produce Marketing to ensure that farmers receive remunerative prices.
      • Raise productivity through enhanced irrigation, faster seed replacement and precision agriculture.
    • Industry and Services: Job Creation
      • Create Coastal Employment Zones to boost exports and generate high-productivity jobs
    • Urban Development
      • Need to bring down land prices to make housing affordable through increased supply of urban land
    • Regional strategies
      • Actions targeted aimed at improving development outcomes in the (i) North Eastern Region, (ii) Coastal Areas & Islands, (iii) North Himalayan states and (iv) Desert and Drought prone states.
    • Transport and Digital Connectivity
      • Strengthen infrastructure in roadways, railways, shipping & ports, inland waterways and civil aviation.
    • Energy
      • Adopt consumer friendly measures such as provision of electricity to all households by 2022, LPG connection to all BPL households, elimination of black carbon by 2022, and extension of the city gas distribution programme to 100 smart cities.
    • Science and technology:-
      • Create a “National Science, Technology & Innovation Foundation” to identify and deliberate national issues, recommend priority interventions in S&T and prepare frameworks for their implementation
    • Governance
      • Re-calibrate the role of the government by shrinking its involvement in activities that do not serve a public purpose and expanding its role in areas that necessarily require public provision
    • Other areas include health, environment,building an inclusive society,education and skill development,rule of law,taxation and regulation.
  • Tentative medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) for the Centre is proposed.
  • Proposes reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19, and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20


  • In just over 200 pages, it manages to inform, reason, and offer a distilled sense of priorities for policy reform.
  • The agenda describes well the fundamental dilemma concerning economic transformation of India:
  • Agenda offers a number of compelling proposals ranging from the use of high-yield seeds to improved irrigation techniques to the removal of the infamous tariff inversion problem In laying out these proposals, it also underscores the critical need to enhance the scale of production in each of the sectors
  • On the issue of scale, a few proposals are especially noteworthy.
    • To deal with small and fragmented landholdings, the document proposes the use of a modern land-leasing law that balances and protects the rights of the tenant and landowners as a potential solution.
  • For manufacturing, the document proposes the development of a few Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) operating under a liberal economic environment and with an abundance of land—much as in China, where large firms, operating in its special economic zones, sometimes each employ hundreds of thousands of workers.
  • The document’s chapters on transport and physical connectivity, as also on digital connectivity, offer a detailed picture of the existing infrastructure framework, with many specific proposals on improving efficiency and closing gaps in coverage.
  • There is considerable unevenness across the country in access to the digital network and in the ability to benefit from such services. The Agenda highlights priorities in this area and offers its thoughts on how these gaps might be bridged.
  • believe that its primary contribution will be in serving as a base of knowledge and analysis to support any future discussions on policy reform

However some concerns need to be noted like  framework document of this scope could run the risk of saying something about everything, while offering nothing specific or actionable about anything.

  1. Do you think that Section 139AA is a “chilling trajectory the state has taken to dilute civil liberties”? Give your opinion.(GS 2)

Link-1 | Link-2

What is section 139AA?

  • In March 2017, in a surprise addendum to the Finance Bill the union government introduced Section 139AA. Section 139AA requires linking the PAN card to an Aadhaar number to file income tax returns (ITRs) and allow the PAN to remain valid.

Yes it does give power to the state:-

  • The Aadhaar Act makes it clear that enrolment is voluntary. Therefore, parliament cannot enact another provision in the form of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act making Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns, as it would be contrary to the Aadhaar Act.
  • Aadhaar is considered as invasion of privacy.
  • Aadhaar contain various sensitive data like fingerprint, iris scan which can be misused hence affecting civil liberty.
  • Continued leak of Aadhaar data. Ex recently 135 million aadhaar data were leaked.
  • As an existing PAN can be declared void if the taxpayer does not link it with Aadhaar within the period that will be notified by the government.

No it doesnt:-

  • Citizens are already submitting various personal data like photograph, signature etc Biometric data is just an addition to the list.
  • Indians do not have fundamental right to privacy as pointed out by various Supreme court’s judgement.
  • Biometric identification system was an essential feature of contemporary society
  • Aadhaar linkage is aimed to stop tax evasion and black money circulation which will benefit the public at large. Slight compromise on privacy to further public good is acceptable restriction.
  • Already many safeguards are placed like restriction on sharing of data, liability for security of data etc.

  1. ISRO’s South Asia satellite not a technological breakthrough, but diplomatically very significant. Give reasons.(GS 3)Indian Express


  • The satellite will provide communication service to SAARC member Nations except Pakistan who boycotted in early 2016.
  • The satellite is similar to previous communication satellites designed and launched by ISRO, and technologically does not constitute a major breakthrough. However, diplomatically, the South Asia satellite is significant for three reasons.

Why diplomatically significant?

  • It showcases India’s growing technological prowess. Along with previous missions such as Chandrayaan and the Mars Orbiter Mission, the South Asia satellite underscores the strength of Indian indigenous technological development.
  • The satellite has been launched without any specific quid pro quo shows that India is willing to use its technological capabilities as a tool of diplomacy.
  • It also serves as a marketing tool for future launches at a time when ISRO is building a strong niche for itself in the international satellite launch market.
  • It reveals both India’s ambition and capability to create what can be termed “technological commons”. By “gifting” this satellite to its neighbours, India has created an open access resource that can be leveraged by the latter to address some of their critical domestic concerns. Building such commons is essential not only to address immediate problems but also spur research, innovation and economic growth in the region.
  • South Asia satellite will boost the regional co-operation among the member countries.
  • It will reinforce the Indian policy of “Neighbourhood First” and help in increasing India’s influence on face of aggressive China.
  • It will open new avenues of engagement between India and member countries thus deepening the economic ties. Also helpful in promoting “Make in India”,
  • Since these countries are situated in disaster prone areas like Nepal and Bhutan in earthquake zone, Bangladesh in flood prone area, Services of this satellite in communication and disaster management will be of immense help.
  • The satellite will assist in the fields of natural resources mapping, telemedicine, education, IT connectivity and fostering people to people contact.
  • The South Asia satellite is emblematic of a more confident and assertive India. India must make a concerted effort to expand the range of technologies it can use as part of its diplomatic arsenal.


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