Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions May 11

  1. Indian science needs hard work and a critically large base of experts, not more management. Do you agree? In this context, discuss about the SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge) Initiative.(GS 3)

The Hindu-1 | The HIndu-2

Yes India needs more experts:-

  • There is a lack of scientific expertise across all levels. India has failed in its educational system to harness the enormous latent talent in the country and build a solid foundation of science.
  • A major challenge in the funding of science by the government was that though scientific departments were headed by scientists, they were frequently not independent to take key decisions, such as filling vacancies and deciding how budgets to various projects within a Ministry ought to be allotted.
  • Many highly qualified young scientists refuse to take up faculty positions in these universities because of the lack of infrastructure, the hostile environment and bureaucracy.
  • This is a disturbing situation. India needs trained, innovative minds to meet its formidable challenges.
  • India is hamstrung by socio-cultural issues which is a herd mentality and a paucity of early-stage mentorship.
  • Science graduates are deprived of meaningful practical training because of poor funding, government interference, inappropriately recruited faculty members and a lack of laboratory facilities in most of these centres of learning.

Better management is needed:-

  • What one needs is a management technique that effectively identifies scientific challenges and links the resulting breakthroughs with national problems
  • Need better governance systems for universities, institutes and research labs. We need more capable academics to provide leadership, nurture young talent and establish a superior research enterprise.
  • Indian universities are mired in bureaucracy. Archaic ordinances and rules set by the University Grants Commission have stifled the spirit of academic excellence and hampered institutions’ flexibility. A lack of passionate leadership coupled with poor funding has blunted their edge.
  • The departments are suffering due to excessive bureaucratization. The CSIR has its own challenges

Spark initiative:-

  • SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge) is a proposed initiative to synergise science activity in India


  • SPARK is a proposed independent S&T authority of India with the following objective
    • Organisation of the expertise of various institutions across states to solve the basic research problem – It will be done through Discovery Arm
    • Working with industry and evolving PPP – through Delivery Arm
    • Providing overarching yet ‘light-touch’ governance
    • Synergising science activity


  • India already have the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Both are two such similar bodies and none of their recommendations resulted in concrete actions. In the end, they have remained what is the need for the third body.
  • The science departments are too different from one another to come under the purview of one “overarching” body like SPARK.
  • The goals of SPARK seem to be most closely attuned with NITI Aayog, and it might well be effective only within this parent organisation, taking inputs from various quarters such as industries, the ministries themselves and NGOs to make proposals, some of which could move forward to become major initiatives.
  • Even if SPARK is constituted, it needs financial independence; given the relationship between the Ministry of Finance and its Department of Expenditure on the one hand and the science departments on the other, this remains a moot point.
  • The government should also create many specialized research centres in the universities (like the CNRS in France). Fixing India’s university system will require a complete overhaul of the UGC, changes in institutional policy and legislation.
  • India’s systems for peer review, grants, publications, jobs, awards and fellowships punish any potential future leaders in not so popular fields. Instead, the country should develop new scientific ethics and etiquette.

What needs to be done?

  • The research community should value, for instance, collaboration with small neighbouring colleges or universities instead of recognizing only international alliances.
  • India should create a new peer-review system, a new ranking of journals and new measures of impact — all tailor-made for our needs, problems, diseases, natural resources and educational system.

  1. Do you think that the Government lacks clarity in healthcare? Discuss the pros and cons of the recent National Health Policy.(GS 2)

Live Mint

Yes,it lacks clarity:-

  • India faces the dual challenges of communicable and non-communicable diseases.Centre and state government healthcare spending has been hovering around the 1.15% of GDP (gross domestic product) mark.
  • Heavy-handed drug price controls under the DPCO in previous years, for instance, have both denuded the domestic sector, leading to a dangerous dependence on imports from China for the active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many common drugs, and encouraged oligopolistic behaviour.
  • 2017 policy aims Public private partnership however recent rise in stent prices and drug pricing under DPCO hinder prvate particpation.

No it doesn’t:-

  • National health policy 2017 featuring universality, equity, access etc point to clear aim.
  • Health schemes for immunization, women and child health care eg ICDP, Janani Suraksha karyakram etc are point on to check IMR and MMR.

National health policy:-


  • It promised to reform medical education and improve hospital bed availability, clean up regulation of the sector.
  • Improve the quality of, and access to, public primary healthcare. The last is particularly important; good primary care reduces the pressure on secondary and tertiary healthcare.
  • The policy also set out the objective of “strategic purchase” of services not only from public facilities and not-for-profit private facilities, but also from for-profit private facilities.
  • It envisages providing a larger packageof assured comprehensive primary healthcare through the ‘Health and Wellness Centers’.
  • It is a comprehensive package that will include care for major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), geriatric healthcare, mental health, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
  • It proposes free diagnostics, free drugs and free emergency and essential healthcare services in all public hospitals in order to provide healthcare access and financial protection.
  • It seeks to establish regular tracking of disability adjusted life years (DALY) Indexas a measure of burden of disease and its major categories trends by 2022.
  • It aims to improve and strengthen the regulatory environment by putting in place systems for setting standards and ensuring quality of healthcare.
  • It also looks at reforms in the existing regulatory systems both for easing drugs and devices manufacturing to promote Make in India and also reforming medical education.
  • It advocates development of mid-level service providers, public health cadre, nurse practitioners to improve availability of appropriate health human resource.
  • Targets:It aims to ensure availability of 2 beds per 1000 population to enable access within golden hour. It proposes to increase life expectancy from 67.5 to 70 years by 2025.
  • It aims to reduce total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.1 at sub-national and national level by 2025.
  • It also aims to reduce mortality rate (MR) of children under 5 years of age to 23 per 1000 by 2025 and maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 100 by 2020.
  • It also aims to reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019 and reduce neo-natal mortality to 16 and still birth rate to ‘single digit’ by 2025.


  • It targeted government healthcare expenditure of 2.5% of GDP lower by far than the global average of 5.4%.
  • Experts have doubted the attainability of targets set by the National Health Policy 2017, as it avoids the task of chalking out a clear path to synergise relationship between public and private players.
  • Health policy has hardly any information regarding how the government plans to partner with the private sector.
  • Comparatively lower public fund as compared to internatioal standard
  • Does not follow right based approach.
  • Right to Health is not a fundamental right.
  • No health cess provision to ensure secure funding.
  • Health data: Focus on this was missing.
  • Universal health insurance coverage is missing.

  1. In any society that is governed by the rule of law, some form of morality is always imposed. Critically discuss.(GS 4)


Yes,morality is imposed on the societies with rule of law:-

  • Societal reform: Laws like untouchability criminalisation(Article 17) aim to reform the society to a moral one
  • Ensure uniformity, check non-conformers: Rule of law ensure no one violate the moral ideals ensuring uniformity of moral values in society.
  • Accelerate the reform process: It ensures that morality is imposed overnight vis-a-vis being slowly adopted

The rule of law is not imposed because:-

  • When there is rule of law the law is clear,The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
  • The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  • Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
  • Representative institutions:
    • Public representative mirror societal demand and thus the moral are adopted and not imposed eg Death penalty for rape after nirbhaya case
  • Constitution:
    • Framed by the people for the people , it provides all basic moral values that are seen in law making and hence moral values are not imposed
  • It can be said that moral values in indian democracy originate among forward looking citizens who inturn influence law makers to impose rule of law on the society.


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