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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 29, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 29, 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: Critical changes to geographical features and their effect on flora and fauna, and on society

1) In India it is scientifically proven that groundwater is overexploited and there is an urgent need to conserve it and use it judiciously. Why do you think its exploitation continues? What innovative measures would you suggest to use water judiciously? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Why exploitation is continuing?

  • We are extracting more than can be naturally replenished.
  • Electricity is supplied to farmers free of cost – Increased indiscriminate use of water
  • Poor adoption of water conservation strategies – Rain water harvesting, farm ponds, percolation pits, borewell recharge, raised bunds to stop the rain water are not employed, leading to more extraction than replenishment
  • Unsustainable industrial practices – Water intensive industries like Packaged drinking water, mineral water plant, Tannery, Distillery, brewery, soft drinks, paper and pulp, fertilizer, textile drying, textile printing industries etc. use ground water indiscriminately without adopting water conservation strategies like Recycling, water treatment facilities.
    Regulatory oversight is also poor —- Leading to rapid depletion of water
  • In Urban areas – Concrete roads, encroachment of lakes, unsustainable construction are leading to reduced rain water percolation, at the same time, increased population growth and water requirements —— Over exploitation of ground water
  • Use of water inefficient technologies for irrigation like Flood irrigation, basin irrigation, wet paddy cultivation of instead of Drip and sprinkler irrigation
  • Lack of awareness among the farmers
  • Poor regulation, lack of initiative from government and authorities in enforcing strict legislations

Innovative measures to use water judiciously,


  1. Adoption of drip and sprinkler irrigation system for horticulture crops like Fruits, Vegetables, Plantation crops (PMKSY) – Saves more than 70% water, increases fertilizer use efficiency
  2. In Agriculture crops – SRI method in Rice, Aerobic rice (No need of wetlands) to conserve water. Breeding of water efficient and drought resistant crops – Conserves water
  3. Use of chemicals like Antitransparants, PUSA hydro gel which absorbs water and releases in the lean season may be employed
  4. Use of plastic, organic mulches to conserve moisture and to prevent evaporation
  5. Ground water recharge through soaking pits, borewell recharge, farm ponds, raising bunds to conserve moisture etc.
  6. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyothi Yojana for separation of feeder for Agriculture pumpsets – Replenishment of ground water with judicious use
  7. Use of vermicompost, FYM and other organic manure – Increases the water holding capacity of soil – Reduced need for irrigation, reduced ground water exploitation


  1. Use of sustainable water management practices like Recycling, sewage treatment and water treatment — Reduces the dependence on ground water

Domestic sector

  1. Sewage water treatment plants (STP) in commercial complexes and apartments

General Studies – 2

Topic:Performance of welfare schemes

2) It is now widely accepted that even more than reforms, India needs improved implementation of government schemes. What needs to be done to implement projects efficiently? How can e-governance help in this regard? Illustrate with an example. (200 Words)

The Hindu

What need to be done to implement projects efficiently?

  1. Qualified personnel – Training of personnel to achieve desired result. Eg. For family welfare programmes and awareness generation programmes ASHA, Anganawadi workers, ANM need to be trained as change agents. It is applicable to all the levels from grass root level to the top
  2. Monitoring and evaluation – Monitoring of the scheme and midterm and final evaluation to access the strengths and weaknesses
  3. Robust Transparency and Accountability mechanisms – Accountability mechanisms like Social audit, voluntary disclosure of information, RTI, Citizen charter and transparency mechanisms like real time updates on the progress of the scheme Eg. Jan Dhan accounts, on Electrification of unelectrified villages etc —- Promotes competitiveness
  4. Performance based budgeting and zero base budgeting – to prioritize the resources and to create sense of urgency
  5. Management information system – for effective planning and monitoring
  6. Robust greviance redressal mechanism and responsive institutions like Ombudsman


  1. The Direct Benefit transfer of LPG (DBTL) scheme PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) – Reduced the diversion of cylinders for commercial purposes, eliminated ghost beneficieries.
  2. Jeevan Praman scheme for life certification for Pensioners – Uses Adhaar, eliminated the need for physical presence of senior citizens — Reduced citizen-official interface resulting in reduced corruption and harassment
  3. JAM trinity for Direct benefit transfer – like subsidies, student scholarships – Reduces corruption, weeds out ghost beneficiaries
  4. Time bound service delivery system Eg. Karnataka SAKALA scheme – Online tracking of all applications related to Revenue, Agriculture, Health, Forest Transport etc departments. Very effective since penalty fixed for delayed disposal of applications —- Brings transparency, reduces rent seeking mentality and corruption
  5. PRAGATI: a multi-purpose, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation – aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
  6. National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) to make all government services available to the citizens of India through electronic media – 27 mission mode projects. To make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability —– Improves service delivery, reduces corruption, increases efficiency, ensures accountability


TopicEffect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,

3) At a time when India’s macro strategy of rapid economic development is premised on a climate of neighbourly peace and stability in the region, is it not appropriate that India calls for an end to the nuclear arms race in Asia, and address environmental risks of its covert weapons plants? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Move to call for an end in nuclear arms race will be counterproductive:

Peace and stability in the region cannot be established unilaterally by India alone, it needs support from the other side as well which is lacking both in case of Pakistan and China, both are nuclear powered countries with border disputes and other animosities with India.

India has been a proponent of Nuclear disarmament, for the same reason India has declared self imposed moratorium on Nuclear weapon testing and ‘No first use doctrine’ of nuclear weapons in case of a war or conflict.

India also seeks to extend friendly relations with Pakistan on several occasions despite its covert operations to destabilize and demoralize India through terror means.

            Despite India’s intention of establishing peaceful neighborhood, Pakistan has been engaging in pushing cross border terrorist operation through its ISI/ARMY trained terrorist group, which is evident from Mumbai attack, recent Pathankot attacks and many more. Moreover, Pakistan administration is controlled by its strong military with least regard to democratic government’s authority, in such a situation, it is difficult to hope for stability in relationship.

On the other hand, China frequently engage in cross border incursions and covertly supporting Pakistan to meet its objectives. Moreover, 1962 war shows that Chinese motives cannot be trusted despite its benevolent posture.

Move to call for an end in nuclear arms race will be counterproductive and undermines India’s diplomatic, strategic and security interests, since we cannot assure honest commitment by both Pakistan and China, given their record of breaching trust more than once (Kargil, 1962 war, 1965)

Moreover, Indian is not pursuing Nuclear arms race in its first place, it only using this as a deterrent and to avert any attack from enemies or to prevent diplomatic blackmailing by China or Pakistan with the use Nuclear weapon card.

But, if genuine initiative comes from other side, honest review of the position cannot be ruled out.

Regarding environmental risks of covert nuclear plants (often times doctored by US think tanks to distort facts)

India has a long history of R & D in Nuclear field and Indian scientists are capable of ensuring safety of the Nuclear weapons and nuclear power-plants and installations. Protection of the installation from outsider attacks can be ensured with proper safety measures and robust SOP.

At the outset, India is using Nuclear weapon as a deterrent, and is not engaging in Nuclear arms race in Asia unlike Pakistan, hence, to end the arms race in Asia, we need honest commitment and actions on the ground from our immediate neighbors, without which India cannot aspire to achieve nuclear disarmament in Asia.


General Studies – 3

TopicAchievements of Indians in science & technology

4) International patent applications filed from India dropped to 1,423 last year—as compared to Japan’s 44,235, China’s 29,846 and South Korea’s 14,626 in the same period. Why do you think India lags behind in innovation? Examine. (200 Words)


Why India lags behind in innovation?

Because of several factors,


  1. More importance to applied sciences like IT, BPO, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine etc, rather than Basic sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology etc. due to societal pressure and preconceived notions.

Lack of research in Basic sciences hinders innovation

  1. Status quo mentality, rational thinking not encouraged most of the time since childhood
  2. Low priority by parents towards basic sciences — Children are not encouraged to take Basic sciences and researcher profession

Institutional factors

  1. Poor industry- academia- Research institute collaboration. All the sectors work in silos unlike European countries and USA.
  2. Poor infrastructure facilities in Universities for research barring premium institutes like IISC, IITs, poor collaboration with foreign institutes, lack of incentives to students to pursue Phd and Post doc (poor research allowance) on the one side and the attraction of talented researchers towards greener pastures like USA (H1B visa)
  3. Lack of political commitment – R & D not on political agenda of any party, without political commitment we cannot ensure proper flow of funds to research projects
  4. Education system based on rote learning. Poor encouragement for experimentation, search for new ideas
  5. Poor ranking of Universities, lack of distinguished guest lectures, student exchange programmes with top universities preventing scope for improvement
  6. Interdepartmental, interdisciplinary, interinstitutional collaboration is lacking. To excel in innovation, holistic work encompassing sister disciplines is needed —- Lacking in India
  7. Under developed of incubation centers, venture capital funds to test out new things
  8. Funding issues – R & D requires huge investment on a long term basis without assured returns —– Low on priority by the government, concentrates mainly on poverty alleviation, infrastructure development, skill development to suit industry requirements
  9. Even, innovation by Indians and Indian firms are not listed in Indian names due to outsourcing of services — Eg. For Boeing Dreamlines 787 software development provided by HCL technologies, but, all patents were filed in the name of Boeing, not HCL.


TopicResource mobilization

5) Analyse the flaws in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act) 2003 and suggest improvements. (200 Words)


The objective of the FRBM Act is to ensure inter-generational equity in fiscal management, long run macroeconomic stability, better coordination between fiscal and monetary policy, and transparency in fiscal operation of the Government.However there were many loopholes in its implementation.
  • There was no rational criteria in deciding 3% fiscal deficit as it adopted the ready-made EU limit which themselves decided the target as a matter of compromise but not with an objective criteria.Also  the 3 per cent limit in FRBM law has no rational nexus with either the causes or the consequences of deficit financing. corporates are not able to absorb credit and push money down into the economy.
  • In a cyclical downturn,adhering to a fixed target means cutting expenditures or raising taxes. Instead, deficit should be allowed to exceed the target as a contra-cyclical measure
  • With the FRBM law virtually banning the government from creating money, the government only borrows money from the financial system and meets the fiscal deficit.Government cannot borrow more than 3 per cent of GDP — even if banks do have money and even if the economy needs it for growth. The money may lie idle in banks, and yet the law will not allow the government to borrow.
  •  each state can borrow up to 1% of its gross state domestic product (GSDP).but it is argued that the states with high debt ratios should borrow less and states with a low growth potential should also borrow less. This may seem unfair.
  • FRBM Act is also deeply flawed because it makes no allowance for the flexibility in the fiscal deficit target to respond to short-term considerations..
  •  It has disciplined the states as they cannot borrow without the permission of the centre but is ineffective in disciplining the centre. 
  • But with regard to the larger objective of ensuring macro-economic stability, the record has been less than ideal. Both headline consumer price inflation and the debt-servicing costs for the Central government were, at different points in the post-FRBM era, at divergence with the performance of fiscal deficit, raising questions about the over-emphasis on a cast-in-stone target number.
  •  the law has not allowed the government the elbow room needed to use all the fiscal tools at its command to ensure that the growth momentum is maintained, as either inflation fueled  or spending on vital and socio-economically relevant development programmes was curtailed 
  • Fourteenth Finance Commission recommended the establishment of an autonomous body to review fiscal performance under the FRBM Act.A Fiscal Council, with technical expertise, would help
    • generate better understanding of the consistency of fiscal stance of each budget with the longer-term fiscal trajectory envisaged under the FRBM Act.
    • It would certainly improve the quality of Parliamentary oversight and
    • also contribute to a more informed public debate.
    • The Council would actually strengthen the hands of the finance ministry in handling the deficit issue
  • The rationale for the fiscal deficit target must come from an explicit targeting of the debt to GDP ratio, which is what financial markets worry about when they assess macroeconomic health.


Topic: Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

6) Examine the components of Bharat Stage VI (BS VI)  norms and discuss the implications of shifting from BS IV to BS VI stage on innovation in the automotive sector. (200 Words)


Automobiles are major contributors to environmental pollution is hardly new, highly visible signs of pollution, such as smog, low visibility and respiratory ailments, have given a sense of urgency to the need to control vehicular emissions. Government’s recent announcement of a  jump from Bharat Stage IV (BS IV) to BS VI norms is the step taken in the light of this concern.
Components of Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) norms :-
  • As Nitrogen oxides,Sulphur and Particulates are the ones contributing to pollution there is a rightful shift from earlier norms to these.
  • To run with BS VI fuel new engines have to be developed.
  • Simulation technique will be used in Labs to measure pollution levels by New developed engines & fuels.
  • It helps in measuring pollution caused by the vehicle accurately as  the test will be carried out in real environment than in the lab.
  • Innovation with respect to serviceability is needed for making newer engines more compatible.
Implications of Shifting towards new norms
  • urgency in the Need for better refining and upgradation of refineries as shifting to BS-VI norms implies reducing the sulphur content to further 10 mg/kg and reducing the lead content to Nil.   Also better PM2.5 standards and NOx standards must be adhered,innovations in the quality of the fuel by the oil companies is needed so that fuel economy is maintained.
  • Vehicle costs may be increased by the manufactures as there have been discussions on inbuilt chemical engine to reduce the pollutants from the engine.
  • It will give a boost to Swacch Bharat Abhiyan in adherence to pollution reduction measures. 
  • The new norms may also be complemented with enough inspections and audits for adequate adherence especially in the backdrop of Volkswagon controversy.Also manufacturers have to better the designs to reduce pollution with great efficiency though.
  • More innovation in R&D to develop engines that will run on alternate fuels like Bio diesel , Bio gas , Methanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen need to be promoted.Development of LPG and Hybrid Electric Vehicles is the key.
In order to have a sustainable environment the move to BS VI norms is the step in the right direction.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service

7) Why having good leadership qualities is important for public servants? In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good leader? Discuss. (150 Words)


Will be posted Later