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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 23, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 23, 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;

Topic:- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

1) “Every Congress session used to be memorable but the Karachi Congress of 1931 was to be more than memorable, it was going to be momentous.” In the light of Gandhi-Irwin Pact and Bhagat Singh’s hanging, analyse the statement. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Karachi Congress of 1931 was momentous event in India’s history, because,

It endorsed the Gandhi Irwin Pact, which placed the congress on an equal footing with the Government.

Some of the agreements under the pact had long-term impact on the course of the national movement:

  1. Release of political prisoners not convicted of violence —— Reaffirmed that arrests of political activists was illegal and arbitrary
  2. Remission of all fines, return of all lands —- which exposed the illegality and coerciveness of Government actions and forced them to accept the same through this pact
  3. Right to make salt in coastal villages and right to peaceful and non aggressive picketing — Upheld the right of masses to protest against injustice and restricted the arbitrary interference of the government in the lives of masses.

Moreover, Gandhiji agreed to participate in the next Round table conference which provided an opportunity to speak for the Swaraj (Negotiations with India on an equal basis)

Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed 6 days before session. Bhagat Singh execution led to the Karachi resolution to declare under fundamental rights “There shall not be Capital punishment” and commitment to Every citizen the fight of free expression of opinion, the right to free association and combination and the right to assemble peacefully and without arms.

    Bhagat Singh’s aspiration to establish a society with egalitarian and socialist ideology also found mention in Fundamental rights and National Economic programme (NEP) which seeks to establish India on socialistic lines. Idea of swaraj, declared in the session resonates with the idea of Independent India conceptualized by Bhagat Singh.

            Ideas in NEP, like reduction in rent and revenue, relief from agricultural indebtedness, control of usury and living wages, protection of women workers are in synchronization with the idea of Bhagat Singh’s Independent India with freedom from exploitation by both outsiders (British) and insiders (Landlords, Capitalists, money lenders etc.,).

Hence, even though, unfortunately Bhagat Singh was hanged, his ideas were kept alive by the Karachi session through NEP and FR resolution, which remained the basic political and economic programme of congress in later years.

TopicModern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

2) How did Bhagat Singh’s sense of nationalism differ from other stalwarts of the national movement? And how is it different from today’s sense of nationalism? Critically discuss. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Leaders and their idea of nationalism

  1. Extreme nationalism – belief that violent revolution alone would free India.

Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Surya Sen, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Chandrasekhar Azad, Shiv Verma and Jatin Das.

They exhibited extreme form of Nationalism even at the cost sacrificing their own life for the cause of nation.

  1. Moderate nationalism – These leaders insisted the constitutional methods to achieve the goals, they believed England’s providential mission in India. They exhibited nationalism by raising the issues of Indian plight through prayers, petition and propaganda.

Dada Bhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Surendra Nath Bannerjee

  1. Rabindra Nath Tagore – was a critique of modern nationalism on blind faith and symbolism. He put Humanity and compassion on a higher pedestal than narrow nationalism.

Leaders like Aurobindo, Lala Lajpat Rai aspired for Hindu nation and advocated establishment of Hindu Rashtra – They emphasized Hindu nationalism

Bhagat Singh’s sense of nationalism

Initial stages – Believed in terrorising the British and individual heroic action for meeting the nationalistic objectives even at personal sacrifice

Later stages – Nationalism is the establishment of Nation with egalitarian, socialistic goals.

His concept of nationalism is not restricted to narrow sloganeering. But, extended to effort to liberate the masses from all sorts of exploitation, i.e from foreign rule as well as exploitation of masses by Landlords, capitalists and money lenders.

His Nationalism is consciously secular and believed that religion is a matter of personal belief

How it is different from today’s sense of nationalism

Today, the idea of nationalism mainly attributed to display of symbolic allegiance. Like, importance to National flag, national anthem, cheering for national team and sloganeering like Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai,

But, Bhagat Singh’s nationalism is much broader than this, which seeks to establish egalitarian, secular and exploitation free society through revolution by masses even at the cost of personal sacrifice, not by display of mere symbolic acts of chanting slogans and hoisting flags without much work on the ground.

General Studies – 2

TopicIndia and its neighborhood- relations

3) “Pakistan pursuing its bilateral goals vis-à-vis India has become an obstacle in the path of greater connectivity and interdependence, preventing Saarc from attaining its full potential.” Critically comment. (200 Words)


India and Pakistan rivalry is adversely affecting the SAARC negotiations. Every move by India to strengthen and to forge stronger bond between SAARC countries through trade, communication, transport are obstructed by Pakistan due to fear of India’s hegemony in the region and undermining of its very existence.

Pakistan’s strategic interests in Afghanistan and its resentment to engagement of Afghanistan with India is undermining every effort of India to interconnect the SAARC region in general and Afghanistan in particular. It’s obstructing trade and transit route to Afghanistan for India on which it has poured billions of dollars, thereby hindering Afghanistan’s growth and development. 

India’s SAARC satellite initiative to support Education, communication, Health, Media and Entertainment across all SAARC countries, immensely increases India’s soft power in the region —— Which is not desired by Pakistan, due to the fear of losing its and its ally China’s edge in their interest, influence and initiatives in South Asia.

Recent move by Pakistan to scuttle the Motor vehicle agreement is also due to same reason.

(Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India signed a motor vehicle agreement for seamless movement of people and cargo among the neighbors)

Pakistan is also pushing for China’s full time membership in the forum to counter India’s influence in the region – This move is against the interest of all the players in the region, especially to India’s geo-political interests. Inviting outside power into the backyard of South Asia — nullifies the objectives of regional forum and it may turn the forum into platform for Indo China rivalry. 

SAFTA has also not achieved much success due to mutual suspicion between the countries in general and non cooperation of Pakistan in particular.

Pakistan is overwhelmed by the promise of assistance by China to promote $ 46 billion Pakistan China economic corridor and may be one of the reasons for lack of interest in promotion of SAARC initiatives for regional development. But, it must also realize that without prosperous neighborhood it cannot aspire for overall development.

TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

4) American President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba is termed as a remarkable moment in global diplomacy. Examine why and also with suitable examples comment on the limitations of diplomacy in normalising relations between two enemy countries. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Remarkable moment in global diplomacy

Removal of Cuba from list of states sponsoring terrorism by USA and reciprocal goodwill of reopening embassy in Washington and subsequent visit of Obama to Cuba is remarkable for global diplomacy,


  1. It has made the cold war rivalry less significant by establishing diplomatic relationship between staunch rivals of Cold war.
  2. Ideological clashes between Capitalism and Communism may no longer be as relevant as we saw during Cold war. Main agenda of welfare, negotiations and diplomacy in place of Sanctions, conflict threats will take centre stage in diplomacy (Obama doctrine?)
  3. Case of North Korea – Good result experienced by reaching out to Cuba may be replicated to North Korea. Success stories may inspire North Korea to come to negotiation with world leaders
  4. Calibrate liberalization of Cuban economy and its dependent success may provide new model for economic growth by combining the best results of both Capitalism and Communism
  5. Motivates other rivals to enter into negotiation rather than following the route of conflict, threat and intimidation —— Israel and Palestine, Sudan and South Sudan, North Korea and South Korea, Russia and Ukraine, United States and Iran, Iran and Saudi Arabia

Limitations diplomacy in normalizing relations among enemy countries

For instance, in US – Cuba diplomacy, contentious issues like,

Request of Cuba to return Guantánamo from US possession for normalizing relations

 US reference to Cuba over treatment of its country’s dissidents.

Need for congress approval for removal of sanctions, which is unlikely due to Republican stand on Cuba and leadership change after Presidential elections in US —– All these factors shows that diplomatic outreach alone cannot normalize the relationship.

On the World stage, examples include,

  1. India and Pakistan – Despite the best efforts by India and elected leaders of Pakistan, relations are strained by the actions of Pakistan army and non state actors through terrorist activities and cover operations
  2. Japan and China – Despite diplomatic relations, mutual FDI and economic interdependence, relations are strained due to conflict over disputed Islands, hegemony and bullying by China
  3. Japan and South Korea – despite diplomatic efforts, World lI, issues related imperial rule of Japan
  4. India and China – despite wide diplomatic outreach normalizing relations is difficult due to border disputes in North and Eastern side, economic rivalry/competition for resources, support to enemy countries (Pakistan) etc.

TopicWelfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

5) Recently the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, with the aim of providing five crore subsidised Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections to women of poor households (Below Poverty Line) in the next three years. Discuss the significance of this initiative and the challenges it faces. (200 Words)

The Hindu

With the aim of providing 5 crore subsidised liquefied petroleum gas connections to women of poor households below BPL for the next three years and a budget of 8000 crore, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a boon in disguise to the poor.The target of the first year is to provide deposit free LPG connections to 1.5 crore women of BPL families with a budget of 2000 crore.
  • Environmental:
    • Indoor air pollution caused by the traditional cooking methods from the chulha leads to 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year.The programme rightly brings the focus on the developmental issue of enabling clean cooking energy.
    • would check usage of Stubs of crops which are used for preventing soil erosion. 
  • Social:
    • Usually women’s health is poorly neglected in household priorities , the scheme brings to the forefront  the quality of life of poor women.
    • eases stress on women from wasting their energy on cutting wood,gives them opportunity to spend their time on other chores like economic empowerment strategies as cooking is easy and not time consuming because of  LPG .
  • Economic:
    • In the  survey by the Columbia university, as many as 95 per cent of LPG-deprived households cite their inability to pay as a barrier to their adopting LPG. Thus, the scheme is well-targeted to address the crucial impediment of a high upfront cost, which has limited the transition towards LPG use in poorer households for example ,the rural informal markets households who buy biomass via firewood and dung cakes end up paying more than those who rely on LPG.
    • It can provide employment opportunities for the youth especially in the rural areas as they can be part of the supply chain mechanism.
    • can complement Jan dhan yojana in financial inclusion as for increase in  penetration of the ujjwal yojana there is a need for more bank accounts.
  • Once adopting LPG the households have to regularly refill cylinders which can incur high monthly expenditure to them.NSSO data also highlights this fact as 88 per cent of LPG-deprived households in the survey cited it as a barrier and also for the  poor people who adopted LPG there is a low expenditure capacity in having access to LPG.There is a gap between adoption and sustained use of the present scheme.
  • No bank accounts for most of rural households and the distance they have to travel even now despite schemes like jan dhan yojana is a cause of concern as  LPG coverage expands in rural areas, the Direct Benefits Transfer of LPG (DBTL) subsidy programme could create additional barriers for economically weaker households.
  • Awareness and Administrative issues:
    • About 40 per cent of LPG-deprived households in rural areas cite a lack of information about the process of getting a connection as a challenge.
    • For households in urban slums, the absence of residential proof or a lack of interest by urban dealers to serve them also pose a barrier.
    • Government’s scheme of selling 5 kg LPG cylinders at petrol pumps and kirana stores may help, as proof of address is not required. However, its limited penetration and retail pricing still make it challenging for many poor households.
    • Identification of beneficiaries can cause a problem too.
Suggestions (Extra Info):
Innovation solutions like
  • Creating awareness about the actual cost of fuel and its health benefits
  • tackling the issue of cash flow by introducing smaller LPG cylinders (2 to 5 kg) for poor and opening exclusive dealerships for smaller cylinders with specific provisions to serve the urban areas  could be a solution
  • leveraging mobile money for LPG payments.
  • Leveraging rural supply chains, only for the delivery of the regulated commodity
By doing the above India  goes beyond subsidising connections and fuel costs and focusses on issues of cash flow, awareness, availability and administration. Only such a comprehensive approach will help poor households have a better life.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Awareness in IT

6) Shortly, ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, that runs the Internet’s central directory and coordinates its key technical functions will be made an independent organisation, with no external oversight. What will be the consequences of this move? Will this make internet free?  Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the U.S.-based body that runs the Internet’s central directory and coordinates its key technical functions will now be an independent organisation, with no external oversight. This move has global repercussions. 
  • ICANN  is basically a contractor carrying out some tasks, of which the substantive authority vests with the U.S. government. The U.S. government will now be divested of this authority, and ICANN will become an independent body in managing its domain names-related policy work, and the Internet’s root zone file.
  • Icann has not always sided with American corporate interests. Three years ago the retail giant Amazon failed  to take control of the .amazon domain when Brazil and Peru successfully argued that a private company should not acquire a name denoting a geographical area spanning their countries.Making it independent can be advantageous to the global platform.
  •  U.S. control over ICANN:-
    • the numerous judicial, executive and legislative powers held by the U.S. government over ICANN as an American organisation remain unchanged.
    • The U.S. President has various kinds of emergency powers regarding key infrastructure, which is likely to extend to ICANN and the root server.
    • U.S. legislature can make any kind of law affecting any aspect of ICANN and the root server.
    • U.S. judiciary If it strikes down any decision against ICANN, it will immediately unravel ICANN’s pretensions of global legitimacy.  
  • ICANN’s oversight will shift to a somewhat largish group and has a narrow base. It is feared that the concerned industry’s narrow corporate interests will entirely take over with no democracy and equality and no global public interest concerns considered.
  • there is no proper dispute resolution mechanism or for that matter no penalty or any kind of punishment in case there is a breach of freedom.
Making ICANN autonomous itself will not make internet free. Paid traffic prioritization, data blocking and bandwidth throttling, are among the biggest threats to a free and open Internet. These issues must be solved and net neutrality should be ensured. Efforts by Facebook and other big corporates to own and control internet should be stymied by civil societies and governments. Also, basically consumers pay huge charges to access internet even though information on net is free. 
Suggestions (Extra info):
  •  Get ICANN incorporated under international law, with host country immunities for an international organisation.
  • There is a need of external oversight which might not be just through the governments.
  • At the time when internet is made global commons,membership should be made more representative of countries and interests to gain international trust.
With the present system in force making internet free is a distant dream,so with effective accountability measures and making ICANN truly independent may bring the much needed benefits.

TopicPublic Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping;

7) Chhattisgarh and Odisha have shown extraordinary success in making public distribution system work efficiently and equitably. Explain the model followed by these states, and examine how can digitization, computerization and automation be implemented in PDS to make it efficient in all states. (200 Words)


Public distribution system  in India has been very successful in rescuing the poor from hunger.With 5,oo,ooo fair price shops almost double the number of villages the system should have been very efficient but that is not the case.Barring a few states like chattisgarh,orissa,tamilnadu and some others the system had its fair share of malpractices.
Model of Chattisgarh and Orissa:-
  • have showed a remarkable reduction in plugging leakages. For Chhattisgarh, the extent of leakage is negligible and Orissa managed to reduce it from 25% in 2009-10 to just 15% in 2011-12.
  • digitization and automation with appropriate intervention of information and communications technology and software applications have played a critical role in making FPS deliver to maximum number of eligible people. Smart cards were issued .
  • To avoid black marketing, banners were posted on PDS-grain bearing trucks,messages were sent to the ration shop once the truck has left the godown and proper tracking of trucks using GPS was done . Also distribution and transportation systems were separated.
  • Stringent quality norms have been imposed on food grain suppliers ,Strict monitoring with review of the progress frequently,fear of compliance with law was put in the minds of the people who can misuse the system.
  • Strong political will from the governments.
  • community participation in maintaining fair price shops with regular social audits.In odisha,majority of PDS outlets are now managed by gram panchayats and local bodies .
  • Maximum coverage by PDS was done with lower prices.
  • Digitisation and JAM trinity will ensure better targeting of beneficiaries,deal with problem of ghost beneficiaries and proper direct benefit transfer.
  • can be used for coordinating different stages in PDS system with minor human errors.
  • Maintaining an online database will plug distributional leakages and ensure equitable distribution.
  • linkage with other programmes for better targeting like with Antyodaya scheme.
  • better monitoring of distribution to prevent corruption
  • using CCTv’s in fair price shops to have proper monitoring.
  • Digital literacy need to be enhanced to have proper use of digitisation process at local levels.For example, out of the 2,50,000 panchayats, more than 50,000 have been provided computers and connectivity but these facilities are almost never used.Electronic weighing machines and automation of warehouses can only bring further benefits too.
Therefore with just strides in technology efficient organisation of PDS can’t be done,there needs to be mechanism put forward on how to use digitisation as well.

General Studies – 4

Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

8) Your close friend, who is very poor, is caught by railway ticket checker (TC) while travelling ticketless. When asked to pay fine, he is arguing with TC that the government is going soft on affluent wilful defaulters whereas it’s harassing a common man like him who is poor and unemployed. He says that he doesn’t have any money and TC is free to hand him over to police.  TC takes him to railway police and then he is taken to court where he is punished with seven days of jail sentence.

Is your friend right in his argument? If you were TC, would you let him go? Justify. (200 Words)

The Hindu

This case study highlights the problem of unethical rationalization by my friend to justify his illegal act and ethical dilemma faced by TC in punishing a poor unemployed youth for traveling ticketless. There is also the problem of the youth pricking the conscience of TC by making him/her realize the fact that certain influential individuals are allowed to avoid punishment by tacit support of the government.

My friend travelling ticketless can not be termed unethical as compliance of law is not same as ethics. Even unethical person will comply laws fearing the punishment; whereas circumstances and individual will can push ethical individuals to break certain laws.

He is, however, displaying cognitive dissonance – one one hand he is citing the wrongs done by rich people and government to justify his wrongdoing and he is also ready to face jail punishment.

However, his argument that wilful defaulters are roaming scot free, hence he should be let go is unethical and wrong as he is trying to establish a precedent where others too would start giving same excuses to commit variety of crimes. The justice system, even though fair, is slow owing to many reasons; but even if delayed, in most cases justice is never denied in democratic system like India. Moreover, he is wrong as his behaviour is not encouraging ethical behaviour in others. His denial to pay fine will have bearing on services provided by Railways. His arguments or actions are neither doing good to himself or to anyone; nor is his fundamental right to not to pay fine because he is poor.

If I were TC, I would not let him go without fining him or punishing him as per the rules.  However, I will express my empathy for him and also let him know that I am bound by my professional ethical code of conduct to punish him as per rules.  If I let him go, I will be encouraging more such people to travel ticketless and cause revenue loss to my organisation. I will hand him over to police because it is the right thing to do. My accountability is to my organization and to my conscience, thus allowing him to go free will be immoral as it violates this accountability. Moreover it is also dereliction of my duty.

(As the question is Not asking you to ‘what will you do?’, hence no need of listing out various Options. Instead justify whether you are going to allow him go free or not)