Mains Question for UPSC Aspirants

Mains Question for UPSC Aspirants

02 Jul 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question : Q. What is mRNA vaccine? How far can it help in strengthening the fight against COVID 19?

Decode the Question:
  • Start with defining mRNA vaccine. 
  • Discuss the working mechanism of mRNA vaccine with a diagram.
  • Discuss the role played by mRNA vaccine in fight against COVID 19 by citing the development of the first mRNA vaccine in India.
  • Provide a suitable conclusion with future prospects of mRNA vaccine.

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Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies. mRNA vaccines contain messenger RNA (mRNA), a single-stranded RNA molecule that complements DNA.
It is created in the nucleus, when DNA is transcribed by RNA polymerase to create pre-mRNA. Pre-mRNA is then spliced into mRNA, which is exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and “read” by ribosomes (the translation machinery of cells). Ribosomes then make proteins.  mRNA vaccines use lab-created mRNA encapsulated within nanoparticles.
Translation of the mRNA results in the development of a protein antigen that triggers an immune response. mRNA vaccines are required to be kept at sub-zero temperatures. mRNA vaccines combine desirable immunological properties with an outstanding safety profile and the unmet flexibility of genetic vaccines.
Based on in situ protein expression, mRNA vaccines are capable of inducing a balanced immune response comprising both cellular and humoral immunity while not subject to MHC haplotype restriction. In addition, mRNA is an intrinsically safe vector as it is a minimal and only transient carrier of information that does not interact with the genome.
Because any protein can be expressed from mRNA without the need to adjust the production process, mRNA vaccines also offer maximum flexibility with respect to development.
 mRNA vaccines and Covid 19:
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread, an mRNA vaccine candidate was the first to enter human trials globally.
The first two vaccines that were made available for use in the US were based on mRNA technology. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna used messenger RNA or mRNA to deliver a message to your immune system. Basically, the technology uses genetically engineered mRNA to instruct cells to make the S-protein found on the surface of the Covid-19 virus.
According to reports from US-based Mayo Clinic, after vaccination, the muscle cells begin making S-protein pieces and displaying them on cell surfaces. This causes the body to create antibodies. mRNA vaccines cannot cause infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses.
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against both symptomatic and severe COVID-19 across age groups and in diverse populations. India’s first home-grown mRNA Covid-19 vaccine — GEMCOVAC-19 — developed at Pune’s Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has got a ‘restricted emergency use’ nod for the 18-and-above age group.
The new vaccine can now be stored at the temperature of a standard medical refrigerator. The approval of the nation’s first mRNA vaccine will pave the way for the development of new-variant specific mRNA vaccines that can be used as future booster doses. 
Until the COVID-19 crisis, oncology had been the major area where nanotechnology based drug carriers had been widely explored. These two mRNA-based vaccine formulations will serve as a stepping stone for future applications of nanomedicine.
These nanocarrier based vaccines highlight the importance of the nanoscale and the ability of nanoscale delivery systems to protect payloads from degradation, provide tailored biodistribution and cellular delivery.

Source: Indian Express

30 Jun 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : Q. What are VPN and Virtual Server? How are they useful and what are major issues regarding virtual server in the Indian scenario?

Decode the Question:
  • Start with explaining VPN and Virtual Server.
  • Discuss the VPN and Virtual Server.
  • Highlight the issues associated with VPN and Virtual Server in India.
  • Conclude by citing new VPN rules.

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VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private network that is virtually created when you surf the Web. It is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network.
The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping on the traffic and allows the user to conduct work remotely. 
VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments. This private network promotes online safety and enhances your overall privacy on the Web.
A virtual server is a simulated server environment built on an actual physical server. It recreates the functionality of a dedicated physical server. The virtual twin functions like a physical server that runs software and uses resources of the physical server. Multiple virtual servers can run on a single physical server.

Usefulness  of Virtual Server:
  • Reallocating resources: They help in reallocating resources for changing workloads.
  • Efficient use of resources: Converting one physical server into multiple virtual servers allows organisations to use processing power and resources more efficiently by running multiple operating systems and applications on one partitioned server. Running multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical machine reduces cost as it consumes less space and hardware.
  • Cost efficiency: Virtualisation also reduces cost as maintaining a virtual server infrastructure is low compared to physical server infrastructure.
  • High Security: Virtual servers are also said to offer higher security than a physical server infrastructure as the operating system and applications are enclosed in a virtual machine. This helps contain security attacks and malicious behaviour inside the virtual machine.
  • Testing and debugging applications: Virtual servers are also useful in testing and debugging applications in different operating systems and versions without having to manually install and run them in several physical machines. Software developers can create, run, and test new software applications on a virtual server without taking processing power away from other users.
Uses of VPN:
  • Privacy: Without a VPN connection, websites can see your IP address, and use it to accurately identify your identity and location. VPN promotes online safety and enhances your overall privacy on the Web.
  • Safety: A VPN would prevent everyone from the government to cyber criminals to track you easily. Using a VPN can delink your online activity from your IP address. A VPN will also protect your Internet traffic, keeping it encrypted the whole time.
  • Location spoofing: VPNs are used to get around geo-restrictions. 
  • Getting around online censorship: Many countries block access to various websites, which you cannot visit if you’re from those countries. A VPN allows you to bypass such restrictions. Free access to the Web is an important element of the freedom of speech and expression. Journalists and activists often use VPNs to access platforms that would otherwise be inaccessible, and communicate without government restrictions.
Major issues regarding virtual server in Indian scenario:
  • Bypassing cybersecurity walls:  Dark Web and VPNs can bypass cybersecurity walls. 
  • Anonymity : It allows criminals to remain anonymous online. 
  • Fake and wrong Advertising:  VPNs can be easily downloaded and many websites providing such facilities are advertising them.
  • Online Crimes issues: It allows criminals to remain anonymous online. Therefore, Identity theft, internet fraud, cyberbullying, stalking, and other crimes can be easily done by using VPNs.
  • Data Protection and Privacy Issue: For better data management and privacy, VPNs must be regulated.
Recent VPN rules framed by CERT-In mandating Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers to record and keep their customers’ logs for 180 days can be a step in the right direction to regulate and manage virtual servers and VPN .
It also asked these firms to collect and store customer data for up to five years. It further mandated that any cybercrime recorded must be reported to the CERT-In within six hours of the crime. But,  banning technology is not the solution.
VPN suppliers leaving India is not good for its burgeoning IT sector. Taking such radical action that highly impacts the privacy of millions of people in India will most likely be counterproductive and strongly damage the IT sector’s growth in the country.
It estimated that 254.9 million Indians have had their accounts breached since 2004 and raised its concern that collecting excessive amounts of data within Indian jurisdiction without robust protection mechanisms could lead to even more breaches.
References: The Hindu     Indian Express

25 Apr 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question : Write a short note on applications of GIS and Remote Sensing in water resource management.

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
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16 Apr 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : Recently, there was news about the Bullet Train trials to be conducted at 350 kmph in 2026. Describe the functioning of bullet trains.

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
Science & Technology

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12 Mar 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : What is spent fuel in a nuclear power plant and how these are stored? For how long spent fuel rods remain dangerously radioactive?

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
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05 Mar 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : Discuss how the new technology and developments such as the indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) can help the Indian Railways in achieving the goal of ‘Zero Accidents’. 

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
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22 Feb 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : What do you mean by  Synthetic Biology Technologies? What are the potential benefits of this technology for the mankind? Elaborate.

(GS Mains; Paper 3)
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12 Jan 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question : How the recent transplantation of  a heart from a genetically modified pig into a terminally ill human could solve the chronic shortage of organ donations? Elaborate.

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06 Jan 2022 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question : The present day's need is "Integrated Approach in S&T for Sustainable Future".Elaborate.


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22 Dec 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY       
Question : The digital revolution is driven by the relentless engine of semiconductor technology. India already has a well-developed electronics manufacturing ecosystem and a huge, hungry market but the missing piece is semiconductor manufacturing. To fill the gap, GoI’s Rs. 76,000 crore programme aims to transform India into a global hub for electronics manufacturing and build domestic capabilities. At the same time, this scheme has the potential to make India a champion in sunrise areas of growth. How? Elaborate.

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11 Nov 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question : What is Edge Computing? What are the benefits of Edge Computing?

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24 Oct 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY      
Question : Do you think event like ‘Empower India through Power of Internet’ organized by India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) can give big impetus to Digitalization in India?
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16 Oct 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question : What is Bioprinting? How Bioprinting can be the response to worldwide organ shortages?  Elaborate.

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10 Oct 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question : What do you mean by Biofortification? Can Biofortification of staples lead India from food security to nutrition security?  Support your answer.

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06 Oct 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question : The scale of the challenges and opportunities in outer space demand more urgent and sweeping reform. Enumerate India’s efforts in this direction.


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10 Sep 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question : Green Hydrogen, instead of Brown Hydrogen, can play a vital role in reducing India’s carbon footprint.
Critically analyze in the light of recent developments.

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​Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water molecules and this electrolysis is powered through renewable energy — thus having a minimal carbon footprint. On the other hand, Black or brown hydrogen is the most environmentally damaging as both the CO2 and carbon monoxide generated during the process are not recaptured.
Green hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It is also an explosive and clean-burning gas that contains more energy per unit of weight than fossil fuels.
Green Hydrogen can be used in place of the fossil fuels that currently provide four-fifths of the world’s energy supply and emit the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions. This could aid climate goals because hydrogen only emits water when burned and can be made without releasing CO2.
India has favourable geographic location and abundance of sunlight and wind for the production of green hydrogen. Green hydrogen technologies are being promoted in sectors where direct electrification isn't feasible. Heavy duty, long-range transport, some industrial sectors and long-term storage in the power sector are some of these sectors. Green hydrogen production will also reduce the country’s dependence on imports while also staving off climate change. 
Green hydrogen can be used in a wide range of existing applications such as fertilizers, mobility, power, chemical and shipping. Green hydrogen can be blended up to 10 percent by city gas distribution networks for wider acceptance. Industries such as oil refineries, steel, and oil can reduce their carbon emissions with green hydrogen as a source of energy.
India may become a net exporter of green hydrogen by 2030 due to its cheap renewable energy tariffs, according to the Global Hydrogen Council.
India is making the right decisions despite having a late entry into the green hydrogen race. Bringing down the cost of green hydrogen needs to be encouraged by robust policies, promoting industrial collaboration, increasing public funding, and having specific targets. With cheap solar prices, green hydrogen is the next big opportunity for India. Developing this sector is crucial to achieving the target of Paris Climate Deal. 

31 Aug 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question : What is a Particle Accelerator? What are its uses and how does it help in achieving the sustainable development goals?

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A particle accelerator is a machine that accelerates elementary particles, such as electrons or protons, to very high energies. On a basic level, particle accelerators produce beams of charged particles that can be used for a variety of research purposes.
More than 20,000 particle accelerators operating world-wide are used for commercial applications, either in the medical (radiotherapy treatments) or industrial sectors (materials modification). contributing to the solution of problems of modern society and to increased competitiveness of local economies.

Role of Accelerators in achieving SDGs
SDG-3 aims to ensure health and well-being. This is an area that particle acceleration and detection technologies have been contributing to for decades through applications such as medical scanners and accelerators for hadron therapy.
SDG-4 is about universal access to education. Accelerators play a key role in capacity building, provide education and training both in academia and industry for example, it is an essential instrument study structures in chemistry and biology or to perform sensitive trace element analysis.
SDG-9 promotes innovation. There is huge demand from researchers is for high quality X ray, neutron, and ion beams to engage in cutting-edge research in energy, food and agriculture, environment, biology, medicine, forensics, cultural heritage, materials science, and many other areas.
Culture has a crucial role to play for Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Particle beams are used for non-destructive analysis of works of art and ancient
SDG-17 aims to strengthen the means of implementation of the preceding 16 goals by revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development. The diverse application of accelerators has the potential to expedite the process toward SDGs

17 Aug 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY    
Question :

Electric Vehicles are the future; but a premature transition though government policy is fraught with many problems. Comment.


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Recently government has approved a 10,000 crores programme under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India II for promotion of Electric Mobility in the country. Government also too some other measure like GST reduction for electric vehicles from 12% to 5%, etc., categorization of charging of batteries as a service, which will help charging stations operate without licenses, additional loan for purchase of EV as to foster the transition from Combustion engine to EV. Although the Initiatives are intended to make India EVs manufacturing hub, addressing the issue of environmental pollution and fuel security etc. but premature transition may cause various problems.
Manufacturing of EV motors require sound proof technology, this includes good quality electric materials, better testing infrastructure etc. for durable motors. There are only 250 charging stations in the country and they mostly catering to three-wheelers therefore to make this transition viable, charging infrastructure is a key factor. A longer-term policy priority has to be the setting up of lithium battery production and solar charging infrastructure of a scale that matches the ambition. Lack of any known reserves of lithium and cobalt, which makes government dependent on imports of lithium-ion batteries from Japan and China.
The budgetary measures will have an immediate impact on the pricing of electric vehicles and bring in more models, but it will take a sustained effort by the Centre, in partnership with State governments, to enable a fast rollout of entire ecosystem for the successful transition.

14 Aug 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question :

What do you understand by terms MDR-TB and XDR-TB? What measures government has adopted for its containment and spread in community to make India TB Mukt Bharat (or eliminate TB) by 2025.


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Multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a strain of TB that cannot be treated with the two most powerful first-line treatment anti-TB drugs. Extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that are resistant to several of the most effective anti-TB drugs. XDR-TB strains arose after the mismanagement of individuals with MDR-TB. Government launched the TB-Mukt Bharat to take the activities under the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination in a mission mode for ending the epidemic by 2025.
The NSP for TB elimination 2017–25 is a framework to guide the activities of all stakeholders including the national and state governments, development partners, civil society organizations, international agencies, research institutions, private sector, and many others whose work is relevant to TB elimination in India. It aims to direct the attention of all stakeholders on the most important interventions or activities that the RNTCP believes will bring about significant changes in the incidence, prevalence and mortality of TB.
Government is making efforts are also being made to make health systems more accessible and reliable and wants to ensure that those seeking care trust us and get the appropriate care for completing treatment. It is striving to create more labs, point of care tests, an assured drug pipeline, access to new drugs and, most importantly, provide counselling and support for those affected by engagement with Private sector 
The government machinery at the field level is working with communities and provide free diagnosis and treatment to every affected individual. Recognizing that medicines are not enough, it  launched the Nikshay Poshan Yojana under which TB patients receive Rs 500 every month while on treatment to ensure that the patients have economic support and nutrition during the required period.,  
Every death from this preventable and treatable disease implies failure in the duties as citizens, doctors, administrators and public health professionals. There is need to join hands to ensure a TB-free India. 

05 Aug 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
Question :

Usage of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (NavIC system) has increased in sectors like transportation and personal mobility. Discuss

(GS Mains Paper 3)

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Question : India's anti drone capability is in the earliest stages of development.
Critically analyse the statement in the light of recent twin blasts inside the Air Force Station.
[GS Paper III]

Hint: The Tribune
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Question : India's Africa policy needs a major revamping. Comment [GS Mains Paper II]

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Question :
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The new information technology rules are empowering and protecting users. It will ensure a safer and more responsible social media ecosystem in India. The Rules prescribe a framework for the regulation of content by online publishers of news and current affairs content, and curated audio-visual content.
The guidelines mandate social media companies to establish a grievance redressal mechanism It mandates the appointment of chief compliance officer, a Nodal Contact Person and a resident grievance officer for big and significant social media. It also ensures speedy resolution, prioritizing the issue involving women.
Although the new IT rules have the potential to eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imagery, videos, hate speeches and videos which incite mob but its has some issue associated with it. For example, Traceability of content is the very opposite of end-to-end encryption which violate the Right to Privacy. 
These rules lead to an erosion of the ‘safe harbour’ protection given to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act. There is not data protection law yet in order to secure the right of privacy of the citizens
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has challenged the new IT rules for social media intermediaries requiring the messaging app to trace chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of information, saying they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.
WhatsApp further alleged the requirement of intermediaries enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits 'at risk’. To overcome the challenges, more consultations required involving all the stakeholders. The Government need the pass the Protection of Data Bill, 2019. 
The present IT rules do have challenges but there is a strong need to have a law & order in place to curb the falsehoods of the information which also ensure that the privacy of the citizens is not compromised.

16 Jun 2021 gs-mains-paper-3 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY     
Question :

“Across the world, there are more men who are active in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) than women”. Suggest some steps to address root cause of gender disparity in science and technology in India.


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The landscape of gender in education and the workforce has shifted over the past decades: women have made gains in representation, equitable pay, and recognition through awards, grants, and publications. Despite overall change, differences persist in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 
Girls have generally outperformed boys in academics, but when it comes to those who take up research in later life, the number of women becomes minuscule. As per the report of National Task Force for Women in Science, only 15 per cent of the Indian research and development workforce are women, while the global average is 30 per cent. The imbalance is biggest in fields such as computer science and physics, and smallest in life sciences and medicine.
The problem needs to be addressed at two levels – at societal level which requires long term effort and the policy and institutional level, which can be started with immediate effect.
At Societal level, there is need to change the patriarchal attitude when it comes to hiring by promoting the women for awarding fellowships and grants etc. Family need to be support their Daughter, daughter in law to avoid break in career due to family dues. Schools need to break the ‘gendered notions of intelligence’ and encourage girls not only to take science at secondary and higher secondary level but also to pursue their career in STEM. This would help not only in women being able to chase their dreams but science itself would be benefitted from other points of view. STEM fields are often viewed as masculine, and teachers and parents often underestimate girls’ math abilities start as early as preschool. Institutional framework required to reformation of it. Roles of teachers, Mentors is crucial to remove the math anxiety among the girl students and encourage them to opt for it. Promoting the Girl role model is also important for the same 
For Policy Makers
There is an immediate need to invest on supporting infrastructure, incentivizing institutions to promote gender equity, transparency in decision making etc. to bridge the persisting gender imbalance in STEM major. There are a number of schemes, mostly in the form of scholarships, introduced by government.   In Science and Technology Policy of the Govt. of India, 2003. Government need to refresh those schemes with a new version along with the implementation suggestions and recommendations made by scientists at various panels and task forces.