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18 April 2017 Question Bank


18th APRIL 2017


(2 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.


1.      Glaciers in Arctic and Antarctica are melting at an unprecedented rate. What are the causes and the consequences?


  • Glaciers cover the terrain in both these regions, which have the only permanent ice sheets that still exist on earth today.
  • The earth has enjoyed a more or less stable temperature for the last 10,000 years. Prior to that there were several ice ages and periods of warmer temperature, also known as inter-glacials. The ice ages are believed to have been caused by small shifts in the earth's orbit, but all the reasons for the temperature fluctuations observed are not yet entirely understood.
  • In recent months,unprecedented rates of glacier meltshave been reported both in the Antarctic and the Arctic.


  • The Antarctic ice sheet is 14 million sq km in area and holds a large amount of frozen fresh water. (In comparison, the area of India's land mass is about 1.3 million sq km.)
  • If all the ice over the Antarctic were to melt, sea levels would rise by about 60 metres.
  • "A massive crack in Antarctica's fourth-biggest ice shelf has surged forward by at least 10 kilometres since early January," saidNaturemagazine in a recent article.
  • Several media reports over the last few months have covered the expanding rift or crack along the Larsen C shelf in the Antarctic, which is expected to break off at any time. Larsen A and B collapsed in 1995 and 2002 respectively.
  • When such large chunks break away from an ice shelf, they speed up the collapse of the entire shelf. Since this is attached to the rest of the glacier, these processes can increase the speed at which the glacier flows into the ocean. Thus, even though the Larsen C collapse by itself, since it is in the water, will not raise sea levels, it will hasten the melting of the glacier it is connected to.


  • In the Arctic, if all the ice in the Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by about 7 metres (or 23 feet).
  • For the last several years, glaciologists have noticed that ice melt in the summer has increased and covers a larger area than previous years.

Feedback mechanisms:

  • Modelling glacier melt is very complex as it is affected by the temperature of the water, ocean currents and other factors still not entirely understood, along with various positive feedback mechanisms that can speed up the melting.
  • Experts have known that there are feedback mechanisms that speed up glacier melt; exactly what these processes are and the rate by which they accelerate the melting remains an area of research.
  • Soot and dust carried by air from various places, bacteria and algal pigments in the meltwater, any other pigments in the glacier can all reduce the reflection of the sunlight, thus increasing the absorption of heat energy by the ice. This consequently increases ice melt, which then absorbs more solar radiation, thus accelerating a feedback process.
  • The meltwater flows into deep shafts, or moulins, that then speed up the flow of the glacier.



2.      The judiciary has passed significant orders to addressing the ‘criminalisation of politics'. Elucidate.


1.      In March 2017, the Supreme Court requested the government's views on a PIL seeking to impose a lifetime ban on contesting elections for those sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years. Currently, the ban extends to six years after the completion of a sentence. The proposed change, which is supported by the Election Commission, would effectively end the electoral career of many prominent political leaders.

The Supreme Court has earlier held that :

2.      citizens are entitled to cast a ‘none of the above' vote,

3.      prisoners are disqualified from standing for election during periods of incarceration,

4.      the concealment of criminal antecedents constitutes a corrupt practice under the law, and

5.      electoral appeals to caste and religion are impermissible.

6.      Early decisions focussed on disclosure and transparent process - ensuring, for instance, that candidates declared assets and liabilities, educational qualifications, and criminal antecedents.


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