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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 16, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 16, 2016


This is a new feature. As feedback from our side on your answers is missing, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise our synopsis and compare it with your answers. We intend to post synopsis of Secure questions every next day of posting questions on website. 

You must write answers on your own and compare them with these synopses. If you depend on these synopses blindly, be sure of facing disaster in Mains. Until and unless you practice answer writing on your own, you will not improve in speed, content and writing skills. Keep separate notebooks for all GS papers and write your answers in them regularly. Now and then keep posting your answer on website too (Optional).  Some people have the tendency of copying content from others answers and pasting them in a document for each and every question. This might help in revision, but if you do not write on your own,  you can’t write a good answer in real exam. This is our experience at offline classes. We have seen many students who think they were regularly following Secure, yet fail to clear Mains. So, never give up writing. 

Also never give up reviewing others answers. You should review others answers to know different perspectives put forth by them, especially to opinion based questions. This effort by us should not lead to dependency on these synopses. This effort should be treated as complimentary to your ongoing writing practice and answer reviewing process. 

These synopses will be exhaustive – covering all the points demanded by question. We will not stick to word limit. You need to identify most important points and make sure these points are covered in your answer. Please remember that these are not ‘Model Answers’. These are just pointers for you to add extra points and to stick to demand of the question – which you might have missed while answering. 

As you might be aware of, this exercise requires lots of time and energy (10 Hours), that to do it on daily basis! Your cooperation is needed to sustain this feature.

Please provide your valuable feedback in the comment section to improve and sustain this initiative successfully. 

General Studies – 1;


TopicSocial empowerment; Poverty and developmental issues

1) To address agrarian distress, raising farm income is very important. How can it be done? Analyse. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Farm income can be raised and agrarian distress can be avoided by reforming the agriculture sector and its components.

Components of Agriculture like Market, Extension, Technology, Credit, Food processing need to be reformed and to be properly funded with capital, technology and man power to make the farming as a viable profession.

These include,

Technology integration – Sustainable and efficient technologies like Drip irrigation, fertigation, sprinkler irrigation – Saves lot of time, energy and water. More crop per drop.

Mechanization – Use of tractors, harvesting machines – Saves labor cost

Inputs – Use of drought tolerant varieties, pest and disease resistant varieties (to prevent risk of crop loss), high yielding varieties (in irrigated region), low cost high impact inputs like Vermicompost, Neem cake, Pongemia cake as manures will bring farm viability

Proper grading, processing and value addition brings added income and reduces risk.

Market – APMC acts of all the states need to be amended, National e Market system need to be developed. Transparent auctioning, grading, storage and primary processing facilities need to be provided.

Promotion of contract farming, cooperative farming to eliminate middle men and to increase farmgate income

Irrigation – Helps to reduce the risks associated with unpredictable monsoon. Improves yield and productivity, quality of produce – More assured income. Hence, irrigation needs to be expanded

Extension – Educating the farmer about new technologies, farming practices and promoting new innovations in the agriculture field —— Insurance against ignorance, more informed decisions — Reduced risks —-Higher income

Sustainable development – High cost external input based agriculture puts heavy burden on farmers, driving them to indebtness and agrarian distress.

Hence, sustainable, low external input with high out put based systems like Organic farming, permaculture, use of vermicompost, fym, Neem cake and other organic cakes ——- Promotes sustainability and increases farm income

Adoption of integrated farming system – Integration of cattle rearing, Silvipasture system, Goat rearing, fishery in the farm pond on the same land reduces the risk and provides assured income. It also helps in resource recycling.

Food processing and value addition – increases the value of product, reduces wastage and fetches more income to the farmer

Easy, accessible credit facility – to adopt new technologies and to use inputs as specified in package of practices (Reduces the dependence on money lenders)

Crop insurance – to provide safety net and to encourage the farmers to adopt new technologies without hesitation

Use of biotechnology – like virus free tissue culture plants, biofertilizers, bio pesticides to promote sustainable agriculture —– Long term sustainability and assured income


Topic: Role of women; 

2) Critically analyse the nature of feminist movement in India in pre and post Independent India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Feminism in India, going back to the nineteenth century, rather than a single issue, it was associated with other subjects.

This is because the struggles over women’s wrongs and rights in the Indian context have always been tied to larger issues — to the histories of colonialism and nationalism before Independence and to the meanings of development and right to equality after 1947

Pre Independent India – Feminism

Two phases – 1850 to 1915 and 1915 to present.

In the first phase – Fight against social evils like Sati system, Purdah, Polygamy, prohibition of widow remarriage etc. Supported by reformers like Rajaram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

(But, some of the social evils like Taboo on widow remarriage, child marriage, Polygamy still exist today)

Second Phase –  Gandhiji legitimized and expanded Indian women’s public activities by initiating them into the non-violent civil disobedience movement and several satyagrahas. Women were actively involved in Picketing, Satyagrahas.

(Despite these, majority of women are bound to kitchens and society continued on a patriarchal line with all the evils associated with it like Gender inequality, preference for male child, denial of property to daughters, lack of decision making in family and even personal matters of woman, denial of education)

In 1920s, localized women associations emerged, These associations emphasised women’s education issues, developed livelihood strategies for working-class women, and also organised national level women’s associations such as the All India Women’s Conference. AIWC was closely affiliated with the Indian National Congress.

Post independence – Feminism

During post independence period, Feminism not singly associated with women issues, but, it is connected with developmental issues and the role of women in them

For instance, as a self help group SEWA, the largest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector . Which connected women with developmental issues.

(Even though SHGs provided a means of livelihood to women, they are struggling to upgrade their technologies, improve their business models, scale their operation to industrial level)

The Chipko Movement, led by the women of Garhwal, a form of protest to prevent the cutting of trees by hugging trees. Here the issue of sustainability and livelihood issues, environmentalism are associated with feminism

(These movements were localized, had no national character, still environment degradation continuing despite their efforts. This shows lack of political commitment and insensitivity to women voices)

Later, women movements in rural areas and semi urban areas were associated with eradication of social evils like Alcohol consumption (Picketing by women) etc started.

Later, after 1990s, nature of feminism turned specifically to women issues like Domestic violence, marital rape, equal right in the property, Dowry harassment, workplace women harassment etc.

Now, the trend is to fight for the rights of women in society like Temple entry, entry of Mosque, struggle for implementation of Uniform civil code especially by Muslim women groups (due to various disabilities in Shriat law like Triple talaq, polygamy, purdah etc.) —-Shah bano case is testimony to this.

In Hindu society, equal rights for daughters in property, Temple entry and other issues are taking stage.

Hence, women movements are continually refined throughout the modern history of India.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) What is the Obama Doctrine? What are its elements? Where does India stand in this Doctrine? Critically comment. (200 Words)


The Diplomat

The Obama Doctrine term used to describe one or several principles of the foreign policy of U.S. President Barack Obama. It is still not agreed whether there is an actual Obama Doctrine.

Unlike the Monroe Doctrine, the Obama Doctrine is not a specific foreign policy introduced by the executive, but rather a phrase used to describe Obama’s general style of foreign policy. 

Elements of Obama doctrine if there is one,

  1. Negotiation and Collaboration instead of confrontation with other countries. This can be witnessed from the improved relations of US with Cuba, Iran during his tenure.

(Pivot to Asia, tight security and economic sanctions on Iran and North Korea are negatives)

  1. Doctrine is about ensuring Safety of the people of USA and to destroy any existential threat to the mainland and its interests

(There is no clarity, it can be used to satisfy the vested interests as we witnessed in Iraq invasion, 2003 on the pretext of presence of weapons of mass destruction

  1. Pivot to Asia – Engaging with Central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan to establish security in the region and to reduce threat to US homeland

(Increased tension in the south china sea, may lead to arms race)

  1. Unilateralism in identifying enemies of US and allies
  2. No use of force (military) for humanitarian issues

(Only followed in word, not by deeds)

  1. Importance to Climate change mitigation and adaptation and to push for Green technologies.

(But, not signatory to Kyoto protocol, UNFCCC etc)

  1. United cannot fix all the problems

India’s position in Obama doctrine

            Secondary importance, due to often divergent interest with United States like engaging with Russia, Palestine, Iran etc. Moreover, US is focusing heavily on the rise of China and its hegemony in the south and east China sea.

Moreover, maintenance of strategic distance with US in issues related to joint patrol in South and East China sea, forming alliance with Japan, Australia and US to counter China and its credential as the leader of NAM ——- All these lead to India’s reduced importance to US obama’s doctrine 

In South Asia, Pakistan has strategic relationship with US, one step higher than India. But, emerging India, geopolitical issues of pacific ocean, increased business, commercial and trade interests will forge closer relations with India in strategic areas also.


Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources

4) Do you think recent budgetary allocations for higher education and related schemes is in line with India’s aspirations to become “human resource capital of the world”? Critically discuss. (200 Words)


Government, for the year 2016-17, has earmarked Rs.28,840 crore for the department of higher education as against Rs.26,855 crore in 2015-16, registering an increase of 7.4% over the previous year.

The gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education has doubled from around 11.6% in 2005-06 to 23.6% in 2014-15, But it lags much behind the global average of 30%. 

The increase in enrolment calls for improvement in the quality of education, which is in very bad state.

Hence, higher education and other related schemes needed more budgetary allocation to improve the quality of higher education and to cater to increased enrollment and to meet the aspiration of the country to become HR capital

India’s aspiration to become Human resource capital of the world can be realized only when we make concerted effort to improve quality and to democratize the higher education through increased enrollment

This can be achieved by following measures,

  1. Industry – University collaboration for research projects – Exposure to students, new learning skills, sharpening of skills to meet the global demands

(We need investment to provide better infrastructure)

  1. Quality infrastructure with well equipped laboratory, workshops, integrated libraries needs investments not in incremental steps, but in quantum jump.
  2. The proposed Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), with an initial capital base of Rs.1,000 crore – To improe infrastructure in Universities

(1000 crore is not sufficient to upgrade all the infrastructure in a country of India’s scale)

  1. The Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching aims to look at teacher education in a holistic manner

(We not only need better teacher training facilities, but also qualified teachers with high academic caliber in the first place. Hence, to attract the talented persons, generous monetary allocation was needed)

  1. Separate ministry for skill development and separate budget allocation is a welcome step

(But, allocation need to b increased, majority of youth are unskilled or do not meet the industrial standards, and existence of poor vocational training institutions)

Hence, we need heavy, path breaking investment to transform higher education of India to meet the global standards and serve as Human resource capital of the world, since, we have a narrow window of demographic dividend which must be accomplished by educating and skilling the youth.


TopicIndia and neighbourhood relations

5) Write a critical note on the nature of Sir Creek dispute between India and Pakistan, and why it’s still unresolved. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Sir Creek dispute between India and Pakistan,  is now turning out be more than just an unresolved border. The 96-km estuary between India and Pakistan, cutting through where Gujarat State and Sindh province meet, has had a dramatic impact on Indian security, though it’s always been seen to be relatively simple to resolve.
Sir Creek stand-off’s lingering legacy is turning out to be one of India’s biggest security headaches, with policymakers yet to come up with a nuanced response to it.
Nature of the dispute and reasons behind non – resolution:-
  • both countries are  unable to agree on the exact boundary so the differences flow into the Arabian Sea creating a vast stretch of disputed water, where fishermen’s misery, terrorist designs and global drug syndicate interests are all converging.
  • Pakistan claims the entire Sir Creek based on a 1914 agreement signed between the government of Sindh and rulers of Kutch. India claims that the boundary lies mid-channel, as was depicted in a map in 1925 and implemented with pillars placed to mark the boundary.
  • Over the years, the creek has also changed its course considerably. If one country agrees to the other’s traditional position, then the former will end up losing a vast amount of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rich with gas and mineral deposits and exploration via deep sea mining, in which there have been exciting new breakthroughs.
  • It is also a great fishing destination for hundreds of fishermen from both India and Pakistan. In the desperation for a great catch, many of their boats stray across the perceived boundaries, and they end up being arrested by the other side.
  • the disputed nature of the sea off the area was one of the reasons why the terroristsdecided to capture the boat in sir creek before attack on Mumbai on 26/11.
  • many developments in the disputed waters are not known at all this worries policymakers even more.
  • Drug cartels make it a point to transact their business in the disputed waters, so that they are beyond the reach of both Indian and Pakistani agencies. this area could be among the world’s most active for trading centres.
  • POLITICAL DISPUTES: In 1999, the Indian government shot down a Pakistani Surveillance aircraft. Also the terrorism and drug activites do not bode well for India-Pakistan relations.
What needs to be done?
  • dispute can be resolved by the “Thalweg Doctrine” which calls for mid channel division, but the Pakistan government rejects it because it stands to lose a lot of area.
  • A “Maritime Park” may also be set up where both sides of farmers can fish without fears of arrest but there are security issues.
  • It can also be declared a Sensitive maritime area

General Studies – 3

Topic: Infrastructure – energy;

6) The new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy, or HELP, is said to signal one of the most important market-oriented sectoral reforms of the past two decades. Examine why. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

New policy’s overarching theme is plainly to reduce government intervention at every stage of the upstream industry, from securing blocks to licensing to marketing. It is a step towards casting the government in the role of an enabler.The earlier process of a yearly auction of a cluster of blocks, on the other hand, saw it operate more as a heavy-handed gatekeeper. So it is one of the most important market oriented sectoral reforms.
  • In the earlier method contracts based on  production sharing after cost recovery between the Government and the private sector contractor were difficult to monitor and led to disputes.Operators had an incentive to exaggerate their costs and reduce the amount provided to the government.It has been replaced by revenue sharing formula which is easy to administer.
  • It put in place a transparent single licence and policy framework for oil, gas and coal-bed methane exploration in the country. earlier there was different policy for different hydrocarbons.
  • new contractual regime for energy exploration is in line with the principle of “minimum government and maximum governance”. This is because until now, at every stage, the government has had to sign off on the costs claimed by the developer. This often triggered disputes and delay in the project.The revenue-sharing formula may help prevent future disputes over pricing and cost recovery of the kind the government has been embroiled in with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
  • The new hydrocarbon licensing regime allows pricing and marketing freedom for all forms of hydrocarbons to be produced from a field and for earnings to be shared with the government under an upfront revenue sharing formula.This replaces the current system of allowing producers to first recover most of their costs and then start sharing revenues with the government.In the future, blocks will be licensed out to explorers on the basis of who offers the highest share of upfront revenue to the government
  • The government also freed gas pricing from the new blocks and existing discoveries which are yet to commence production. However, to protect user industries from any unexpected spikes in gas prices, the government is imposing a price cap linked to the opportunity cost of imported fuels.
  • simplifies the exploration process for future auctions of blocks, the new pricing formula for difficult-to-extract gas will benefit companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, RIL and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation that have deep sea discoveries in already licensed blocks which are yet to be brought into production.The new formula will encourage them to develop their deep sea discoveries and realize a price higher than what gas from other fields fetches now ($3.8 per unit).The decision to deregulate gas prices could unlock production from new developments in deep, ultra-deep water and high-pressure, high-temperature areas.
  • It will also lead to the development of a competitive gas market in the country.the decision paves the way for a level-playing field between domestic and imported gas.
  • under the new regime, there will not be yearly auction of a cluster of identified blocks.”Open acreage” is also promised, so that companies can bid to explore certain blocks and then the hydrocarbons regulator will subsequently examine their geological findings.This will improve ease of doing business in India.
  • Consumer Consumption : Increase in the gas prices, which are hitherto capped artificially low, would affect consumer expenditure adversely resulting in low domestic demand
  • Fertiliser Industry : Rise in prices of gas would affect the Fertiliser industry disproportionately as gas is the major raw material used in th Industry (almost 60%).
  • this regime will be applicable only when previous legal proceedings are settled and withdrawn as it may lead to delays of the projects or in attempt to settle the scores grave injustices may be committed. However,the move is justified on the grounds of making the process more feasible.
  • more risk for investors: as cost recovery will take longer and explorers will require higher capex
  • Since royalty rates over land is uniform, regions like NE may be ignored by companies
  • Since the government would have to be paid royalty irrespective of costs, oil companies may incur heavy losses if gas prices crash due to innovations in renewable energy
  • Since companies would be allowed to bid at their convenience instead of on an annual basis competition may be lowered
It is too early to judge anything regarding this policy.But experts suggest that it has covered the long pending issues hounding the oil and gas exploration and is a welcome step for energy security in India.

TopicInfrastructure – Roads, Railways

7) In India, the aggregate ratio of goods transported by road as compared to rail is now at 70:30. Is it a good sign for the economy? If not, discuss what needs to be done and why. (200 Words)


Transportation is an integral part of economic development.It rises the income,connectivity,employment opportunities in the country.However the skewed nature rail and road network in the ratio of 30:70 is a different phenomena.
Reasons why rail network needs to be promoted further:
  • The aggregate ratio of goods transported by road as compared to rail is now at 70:30. This ratio is the reverse of what it should be. Worldwide, more goods travel by rail than road.
  • It is less costly, more efficient and environmentally cleaner to use rail.
  • increase congestion on roads leads to slow moving traffic so there is loss of man hours
  • more fuel gets consumed in roadways thus more pollution leading to more health problems which would lead to more spending on health
  • in case of rise in international fuel prices there will be inflation as bulk of goods are transported via road transport
  • problem of CAD
Problems with the rail road skewed ratio:
  • In India, however, the growth of cargo carried by rail has fallen far behind that by road. This has been due to decades of neglect in terms of capital spending on rail infrastructure.
  • The irony is that the highly successful national roadway programme was funded by a one-rupee fuel cess on diesel, to which the major contributor was the Indian Railways. So, the railways was paying for the success of its rival.
  • Road cargo services offer convenience, flexibility, better tracking and door-to-door services. Unless the railways can match this, they will keep losing cargo business to roadways.
  • This skew has led to higher logistics costs for the nation. Apart from its inherent fuel inefficiency, road transport is also subject to arbitrary entry and toll taxes. India’s logistics costs can be as high as 15-17% of total delivered cost of the industrial product which makes Indian industry highly uncompetitive and is perhaps a great impediment to Make in India.
What needs to be done?
  •  National goal of reversing the road-to-rail ratio to at least 50:50 in the next 10 years  should be well defined goal,time bound and it should be able to put india’s rank in ease of doing business in the top 50.
  • 2016-17 budgetary support of almost Rs.2.2 trillion to road and rail infrastructure was provided.More will be spent using off-budget funds.This has to be efficiently implemented.
  • As interstate multi-lane highways get built around the country,on the median section elevated rail tracks on thin pillars and modular, containerized cargo system can be built. For this, there is no additional cost or complication of additional land acquisition.
  • It is then possible to develop a continuous throughput of goods transport with automatic switching and use of modern technology such as global positioning system and driverless trains. Such a system will be characterized by high utilization and safety, even at moderate speeds, and a high convenience factor
  • CROSS SUBSIDISING, i.e. making passenger fares cheaper at the expense of cargo fares must be reduced. The burden on cargo must be reduced in order to promote more goods transport through rail.
  • DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDORS( ludhiana -dankuni and JNPT to rewari) needs to be developed effectively
  •  implementing BIBEK DEBROY AND KAKODAR COMMITTEE recommendations (Mention 2-3 recommendations in your answer if word limit permits)

General Studies – 4

Topic:Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

8) “The diamond mine falls in a tiger corridor connecting two protected parks and has been identified by the government as an inviolate area — a forest too dense and valuable to be mined. At least one village in the region has also rejected the proposal to mine their traditional forestlands falling in the mine area under the Forest Rights Act.

The Bunder Diamond mining project requires 971 hectares of forest land in Chhattarpur forest division of Madhya Pradesh. The estimated deposit of kimberlitic ore at the site, the environment ministry records say is 53.7 million ton and that of diamond is 34.2 million carat. The mineral value is estimated to be Rs 20,520 crore. The royalty and taxes to be generated to state exchequer are estimated at Rs 2,052 crore and Rs 208 crore respectively.’

Looking at the above scenario, do you think mining permission should be granted? Justify on ethical grounds. (200 Words)

Business Standard


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