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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 07, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 07, 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;

TopicCritical changes to geographical features

1) What are the short term and long term solutions to fight drought in India? Examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Business Standard

Short term:

  • ways and means to curb misuse of water and non-essential consumption of electricity
  • Local authorities should launch public awareness campaigns on ways to escape heat-related hazards. Medical and paramilitary personnel, too, need to be trained to deal with cases of heat stroke.
  • Setting up temporary ‘day shelters’, on the lines of the ‘night shelters’ in winters, and provision of potable drinking water, can help alleviate human misery.
  • Cloud seeding – a form of intentional weather modification to induce rainfall.
  • Drought monitoring – Continuous observation of rainfall levels and comparisons with current usage levels can help prevent man-made drought.
  • Rainwater harvesting – Collection and storage of rainwater from roofs or other suitable catchments.
  • Recycled water – Former wastewater (sewage) that has been treated and purified for reuse.
  • Planting trees to fight against the effects of deforestration.
  • Water intensive crops like sugarcane especially in drought prone areas like Maharashtra need to be controlled and the crop insurance has to be strengthened
  • Implementation of government schemes like NFSA ,MNREGA so that people are not distressed.


Long term:

  • well-judged measures would be needed to mitigate thermal stress on livestock and human beings.
  • time is ripe for another revolution — this time in water-use efficiency.
  • The Centre must take the lead in shifting the focus from high-cost large irrigation projects towards increased ground water recharge and efficient water use, such as drip irrigation, by constructing check dams and farm ponds.
  • Desalination – of sea water for irrigation or consumption.
  • Carefully planned crop rotation can help to minimize erosion and allow farmers to plant less water-dependent crops in drier years.
  • Transvasement – Building canals or redirecting rivers as massive attempts at irrigation in drought-prone areas.


Research shows that India uses two to four times more water to produce a unit of major food crop than China and Brazil.

General Studies – 2

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

2) Gram sabhas mandated by the landmark Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA), are crucial in implementing FRA act and in preserving forests and livelihood of people living there. Further discuss their significance and the challenges they are facing in different parts of India in their functioning. (200 Words)

The Hindu

“Gram sabha should be as important to the village as lok sabha is for the nation.”

Significance of gram sabha:

  • Gram sabhas mandated by the landmark Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA), give right to Adivasi and forest-dwelling communities to participate in State decision-making around the enclosure and destruction of forests for mining
  • Enhances community participation in the development of villages.For example the Gujarat Government and gram sabha’s efforts of building schools in quake-affected Kutch to restore normalcy.
  • gram sabhas can be a vital mechanism to outline the full costs and gains of mining, and how these get distributed. This could help ameliorate some of the “resource curse” impacts and deep-rooted corruption that plague India’s mining industry
  • gram sabha is very significant because people in villages are the best to identify their development needs including infrastructure, programs and beneficiaries under Government sponsored programs.
  • As a powerful institutional mechanism it can keep a close vigilance on the implementation of development programs , identification of the beneficiaries of various anti-poverty and rural development programmes; and virtually eliminate inefficiencies and misuse of development funds.
  • It can discuss and analyze the likely impact of policy initiatives of elected representatives on the socio-economic development programs affecting rural households and can voice their concern collectively
  • Very significant for ensuring quality of life,hygiene ,nutrition,disaster management,etc.
  • Gram panchayat:
    • discussing the report on socio-economic development programmes implemented by the Gram Panchayat (GP) in the previous financial year
    • examine the annual statement of the accounts and audit report as well as annual report of administration of the GP in the last financial year
    • examine the budget of the GP for the next financial year, scrutinize on-going and completed schemes and works of the GP
    • promotion and unity and harmony among all sections of society in the village.


  • The institution of the GS is very important as it gives an opportunity to each and every voter of the GP at the local level to take part in decision-making of decentralised governance, planning and development.
  • through Gramsabha – most of the issues will be resolved at the village level and within the village itself ; and if Gramsabhas function with the true spirit, then it is inevitable to achieve sustainable development in rural India by ensuring grass-root democracy.

Challenges faced by gram sabha:-

  • The institution of gram sabha is dysfunctional due to the lack of leverage of local leaders to initiate meaningful participation in the sabha and their in capability to persuade people to support local initiatives.
  • Lack of awareness among the Gramsabha members often contributes to limited presence and participation.
  • In Bihar a study found that out of 800 households only 23.88per cent reported that they regularly participate in gram sabha meetings whereas 33.00per cent responded that they seldom attended the meetings. Remaining 43.12per cent household pointed out that they never participated in the meeting.
  • There is no binding on the part of the Gram Panchayat to implement its directions and decisions of the GS.
  • Across mineral-rich, forested Adivasi landscapes, governments are hollowing out the gram sabha FRA to favour miners.In Jharkhand’s Chatra district, the Oraon village of Jala has had to move the High Court to challenge the denial of their community forest rights (CFR) claim, and forged gram sabha consent submitted towards clearance for a coal mine
  • The MoEFCC’s conduct also causes concern. it has instead concentrated great energy on how to hasten their felling (through the forest clearances it awards). It tried to check how meaningful community participation can be eliminated from the clearance process.
  • Uneven success of gram sabha in different parts of the country.southern states especially kerala perform better than the other states.
  • It has been noticed that meetings of the GS end in a mere formality. Decisions which were supposed to be taken by the GS were taken by the local elite, thereby rendering this body redundant.
  • The absence of women and weaker sections of rural society was another feature of the GS. Hence, the entire exercise could not deliver the expected results.
  • As no meaningful results come out from the Gram sabha,The people, particularly the poor, did not want to lose their daily wages for the sake of attending the GS meetings.
  • No clarification on powers as they have been left to the discretion of the state legislatures. In some states it has been made a discussing body, in some a recommendatory body and in some other an approving body of the schemes and programmes taken up panchayats.
  • As elections to the panchayats were not held regularly, the legal provisions made by some states regarding the Gram Sabha have remained on paper.
  • These institutions operate in a complex social environment where the issues of caste, class, gender and religion can be seen openly.
  • GS is not endowed with the power to implement schemes as stated under PESA act 1996.

Topic e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

3) The Digital India programme is ambitious in its scale. Discuss the challenges that the programme faces to become successful. How these challenges can be addressed? (200 Words)

Business Standard


  • Electronics manufacturing:
    • The electronics industry is expected to touch $400 billion by 2020. However, local production and services is estimated at only $100 billion. This implies a demand-supply gap of $300 billion.
    • If domestic manufacturers do not source electronics locally – one of the stated targets of the programme to achieve ‘net zero imports by 2020’is very difficult to achieve.
    • the government has removed the 11.5 percent excise duty concession. As a result, even those importing mobile phones into the country will end up paying the same duty as those manufacturing domestically.This essentially is a duty anomaly that has the potential to put off global majors from investing in e-manufacturing here
  • Private sector:
    • The initial budget for NOFN was around Rs 20,000 crore. Today, it would cost Rs 70,000 crore because of a new architecture recommended by the expert committee.
    • So with escalating costs the private sector may not be interested in a public private partnership (PPP) – projects in the villages may not be commercially viable.
    • there will be a problem even in funding the infrastructure to connect the villages.
    • about Rs5,000 crore in contract payments to technology companies are still stuck with the government from previous projects.
  • Structural issues:
    • The government may not have the institutional capacity to execute a programme of such massive scale.
    • lack of a stand on net neutrality, no mention of The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill, 2011 ,lack of clarity on privacy, cyber security, and limited human resources capacity in the government.
    • NIC (National Informatics Centre) – not equipped for a fraction of this task”; “DeitY – needs programme managers – at least four more officers at senior levels”; “Ministries – Need a Chief Information Officer or Chief Techno-logy Officer”.
    • India’s ease of doing business is at abysmal 130.
  • Spectrum crunch:
    • Digital India initiative will give a big push to mobile commerce but spectrum is a scarce resource. A further mobile push is likely to make the situation worse.
    • A spectrum crunch would result in traffic congestion and call drops
    • Further more, the shortfall raises the demand and prices.
    • If price of spectrum increases, companies will not be able to provide internet at affordable internet. This will defeat the very purpose of Digital India initiative.
  • No holds barred democratisation:
    • The prime minister’s communications have essentially been one way .Such an approach kills the very purpose of using digital and social media.In this context the question that how far can the government really democratise information flow and governance is a valid one.
  • NOFN Infrastructure Setup:
    • The effort to connect about 250,000 villages through an optical fibre network has seen significant delays in  the past. Just about 1% of those villages are connected to the internet through NOFN. Providing last-mile connectivity would be a challenge in the future since it is unaffordable for most Indians.
    • laying cables doesn’t ensure they will be used.After years of broadband and nationwide fibre-optic infrastructure targets, India remains stuck at a total of 15 million wire line broadband users.
  • Adoption of Internet:
    • adoption of the internet remains a concern. Internet penetration has remained close to 15% in India while in China it is nearly 46%.
    • Moreover, people in poor areas would find it difficult to afford internet through broadband or mobile.
    • Low literacy level, lack of content with regional relevance, lack of appropriate access devices would also hinder the adoption.
  • Data Speed
    • Data speed is another area where India faces a big  hurdle. India is ranked 20th in mobile data speeds, with an average speed of 0.099 mbps.
  • Security
    • With cybercrime on the rise, the idea of putting information of about a billion citizens online seems like a risky move.
  • Manpower
    • Skilled manpower is, perhaps, the biggest challenge  of all.
    • The technology sector increasingly finds that the dwindling manpower resources available for its jobs are under-trained and mismatched to its needs.
  • Complete integration, that is integration of technology and language, is one of the main challenges the mission would face in its implementation.
  • There are different internet protocols in different states depending on what kind of hardware and software they implement and chances are that this might lead to connectivity glitches.
  • daunting task for Digital India will be to take successful pilot projects, replicate and scale them up.


  • Various government departments such as DeitY, DoT, Law, Finance, etc. would be involved in creating systems and operational standards for a seamless integration. Such involvement would require significant levels of coordination to ensure proper flow of information.
  • opening up multiple information and communication channels for the masses like MyGov, an innovative platform to build partnership between citizens and government with the help of technology for growth and development of India.
  • government could consider introducing emerging technologies such as cognitive radio that could allow spectrum to be used more efficiently.
    • The key advantage of CR, also known as dynamic spectrum access, is that it can sense an unused channel and switch to it. The US government is currently using this technology to improve the efficiency of spectrum use.
  • the government needs to create an enabling policy ecosystem to ensure that legislation and regulations bolster e-innovation and the design of Indian applications. This can only happen if the Internet is neutral — ie, open, fair, accessible and has no gatekeepers.To this extent, the government’s official policy on Net Neutrality shall be crucial.
  • Deploy W-Fi Centers & Hotspot:
    • BSNL’s (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) mass deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. If the government pushes BSNL to ensure at least one hotspot per village especially tribals, backward castes, minorities and geographically difficult areas, then the impact can bring a new era in our country.
  • Improve IT Literacy:
    • Improving IT literacy is very important because the entire mass who is using internet should know how to secure his/her online data. Providing proper usability guidance of Anti-Virus software and its role in securing the records should happen simultaneously.
  • Create a space for start-ups and innovators to thrive.
  • correction of duty structure is crucial to increasing electronics manufacturing in the country.
  • Spectrum crunch:Sharing networks between operators, and Using spectrum unused for broadcasting, and Wi-Fi, to offer TV and broadband through a single device to reduce costs.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

4) Write a critical note on the outcome of the recent Fourth Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

The just-concluded fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit saw some serious progress, but also some missed opportunities.

On the progress side:

  • Enough states ratified the 2005 amendment to the physical protection convention to finally bring the amendment into force. That will provide a somewhat stronger legal foundation for nuclear security efforts..
  • China joined in the strengthening nuclear security implementation initiative, thereby committing to achieve the objectives of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear security recommendations and accept peer reviews of its nuclear security arrangements. Just after the summit ended  India  announced  that it too is joining.
  • Japan and the United States removed hundreds of kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) from theFast critical assembly in Japan, as promised at the last summit.  Japan also committed to eliminate the HEU at the critical assembly at Kyoto University.
  • India also announced a $1-million grant for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in addition to the $1 million it had contributed in 2013.
  • India told about its efforts for nuclear security like
  • the setting up of an institutional mechanism, called a Counter Nuclear Smuggling Team, to devise a coordinated multi-agency approach to deal with the threat of individuals or a group of individuals acquiring nuclear or radioactive material for malicious purposes.
  • States agreed to 18 new group commitments or gift baskets on topics ranging from protecting against insider threats to replacing radiological sources with less dangerous technologies .the most important of these was the commitment to create a“Nuclear Security Contact Group-a set of senior officials who will keep meeting on the margins of the IAEA General Conference, to keep at least moderately high-level attention focused on nuclear security. 
  • For the first time, the assembled world leaders were to participate in a simulation exercise at the summit to test how they might respond to a potential nuclear terrorist threat.

On the concern side:

  • no progress toward building a global commitment that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear materials, need to be secured against the full spectrum of plausible adversary threats.
  • offers no firm new commitments More disappointing, the “action plans” for five international institutions offer few steps beyond what those institutions are already doing
  • Many of the gift baskets have few specifics or deadlines; how much they will actually do to accelerate progress toward their objectives remains unknown.
  • Many key countries – including Pakistan, Russia, and others – are still not participating in the initiative on strengthening nuclear security implementation that China and India joined. 
  • key fact is that no steps are being taken towards the elimination of nuclear weapons despite the surge of international support for the ‘Humanitarian Pledge” and a Nuclear Weapon Convention.

What needs to be done?

  • a shared global database of real nuclear security incidents and lessons learned about how to prevent similar incidents in the future, and expanded use of realistic nuclear security performance tests needs to be done.
  • sustaining high-level political momentum, developing concrete recommendations on the nexus between nuclear terrorism and cyber security, and for the international community to bridge the gap on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is needed.
  • In a world grappling with threats from the Islamic State and terrorist groups, it is essential that the US and Russia with the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles and the world’s greatest stores of experience in nuclear security find ways to work together to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of terrorist hands.

TopicEmployment; Linkages between development and spread of extremism

5) What are the reasons for young people taking up arms in India’s impoverished regions? It is said that India is facing ever-mounting employment crisis, especially in private sector. What solutions are there to fix this problem? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Reasons behind taking up arms:

  • Unaddressed is the profound agrarian crisis, caused by abysmally low public investments in dry-land agriculture and farmer income protection leading to poverty and disguised employment.
  • failures of land reforms and skewed distribution of land and economic growth promotion of unsustainable, high-cost, risky agricultural technologies,
  • the ecological degradation of the countryside, decline and dispossession from forests, contraction of rural credit, and many other causes.
  • In tribal areas, the penetration of large corporations ,encroachment of forest lands,entry of mining corporations and huge displacement there by.
  • Lack of access to basic education,health and other public services.
  • Multi ethnic and multi tribal conflicts especially in north eastern areas.
  • Corruption,lack of representation in the power structure alienate youth which makes them easy targets by terrorist groups like ISIS .


  • Every month, a million new persons are joining India’s workforce and there are hardly any jobs for them in either the public or private sector.
  • the total number of government staff, including Central and state governments, PSUs and local bodies, is less than 1.4 per cent of the population, against the global average of over 3 per cent.
  • Between 2005 and 2012, India’s GDP growth was 54% but its net job growth was only 3%. There were only about 15 million net new jobs.

Solutions for fixing the unemployment problem in private sector are:

  • Massive public investments in agriculture and rural job creation would help create enormous local markets that could spur jobs and demands from below.
  • Huge expansions in the broken school, higher and technical education, and health and child care services would not just generate jobs, but also render youth entering work more productive and equipped with marketable skills
  • Vocational training and skill development through skill india are needed.
  • Government should encourage and develop the agriculture based industries in rural areas so that the rural candidates don’t migrate to the urban areas.
  • Making special efforts to bring youth from backward and troubled regions into the mainstream like Udaan,Nai Manzil etc.
  • Make it easy for startups:
    • ‘Startup India’ addresses many but not all the needs of entrepreneurs. Access to a national network of mentors and angel investors; and easy access to government procurement opportunities with simplified rules are essential.
    • Policies that incentivise private investors to provide long-term equity and debt capital to startups are critical.
  • Enable growth in existing Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs):
    • SMEs are the growth backbone of any nation and primary drivers of job growth. In India, 70% of the job growth during 2005-12 came from SMEs with 6 plus employees. Yet India’s policies favour micro-enterprises(1-6 employees).
    • India’s archaic classifications of micro, small and medium businesses, based on invested capital, need to be scrapped and policies reimagined to encourage every business to grow to become a medium business, or larger, creating a more dynamic economy and more jobs.
  • Launch a major Startup & Small Business Innovation Initiative (SSBI):
    • India needs to adapt the strategy based on the US model of the ‘Small Business Innovation & Research’ initiative( wherein various government departments allocate fund for innovation by SMEs, selected through an open, competitive process)that has helped create thousands of new companies and millions of new, quality jobs

Topic: Infrastructure

6) Better logistics is a prime requirement of a modern economy with a complex supply chain. India has one of the least efficient logistics in the world. How to improve logistics in India? Discuss. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Logistics covers all that takes place between producers of various components and producer of the final product and between the latter and the final consumer. It is more than just transportation, but road transportation is perhaps the most important component of the logistics sector in India.

Problems with logistics in india: (extra)

1.Poor Quality Infrastructure

  • Poor road coverage, expensive air freight charges, huge turnaround times at sea ports .
  • Due to lack of infrastructure in tier-3 cities and rural towns, the penetration of the system and processes is restricted to a bunch of stations.
  • Due to the infrastructural bottlenecks costs per transaction in Indian logistics sector is very much high compared to those in the developed market

2.Road transportation:

  • Almost 57 per cent of freight in India still moves on the road network
  • poor road conditions and old vehicle fleets are important reasons.
  • delays at toll booths and checkpoints also contribute a significant part.
  • Physical verification of road permits and waybills at checkpoints, administrative delays due to paperwork and entry barriers at multiple locations including across states and into various locations are major sources of inefficiency of the road transportation sector.
  • bad road conditions, poor connectivity, inadequate air and sea port capacities and lack of development of modes of transports like railways and alternates like inland water transport and domestic aviation have been constant irritants. s

3.Low Technology Adoption

  • problem of unskilled manpower and traditional business methods made the the industry used to undemanding and quality-neutral client who is used to a non-standard product and service. Due to this, logistic suppliers do not bother to invest into providing quality solutions.
  1. the customer base is diverse and widely distributed.

5.The other key challenge is volatile demand, needs and preferences consumers, and customers are changing rapidly, hence creating uncertainty in the demand patterns.

6.Lack of Training:

  • This is a twofold problem, on one side there isn’t enough trained manpower in both the third party logistics sector and the manufacturing and retailing sector. The other side that is responsible for making this sector deficient is the lack of adequate training institutions which has led to a deficit in skilled management and service professionals.

7.Fragmented and Unorganized:

  • India at present spends around 12 per cent of its GDP on logistics, despite the huge scale the industry is extremely fragmented and unorganized.

8.Poor Warehousing :

  • There is a genuine scarcity for ‘Special Types of Equipment,’ like tech-driven refrigerated storage solutions, etc. poor facilities and management account to high levels of damage, loss and deterioration of stock especially with perishable items.

9.Lack of research and development:

  • The field of research in the sector is highly under penetrated.

10.Challenges faced by Air Transport:

  • Rising Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices
  • Ever growing congestion at Airports
  • Delay in cargo handling and clearances

11.Issues faced by Port Sector in India: 

  • High turnaround times
  • Inadequate depth at ports
  • Coastal shipping is yet to take off in India

Suggestions to improve logistics in India:

1.Road transportation:-

  • Better alignment of policies across states and between the states and the Centre and institutions, plus the innovative use of technology can cut down these delays significantly.
  • Imperative to remove the serious problem of congestion and delays at toll plazas by the introducing the readily available technology of electronic toll collection (ETC) as Nandan Nilekani committee recommended.
  • with a move from origin-based value-added tax (VAT) to destination-based goods and services tax (GST), states can consider relaxing the requirement of road permits for outward transportation.
  • ‘Setu Bharatam’ project aims to make all national highways free from railway level crossing by 2019 to ensure road safety.


  • Rise of e-commerce has led to a shift in the way logistics was perceived in India with emphasis not only on shorter delivery times but also online tracking of deliveries. This has compelled logistics industries to look at investing in quality-driven solutions.This needs a further expansion.

3.Transports Internationaux Routiers:

  • There appears to be a lot of merit in India joining the Convention with some reservations, if necessary. In any case, lot can be gained by Indian states having their own TIR Convention.


  • The development of world class infrastructure like modern integrated logistics cum transport hubs and freight corridors at major locations across the country will facilitate more efficient logistics operations.
  • several promising infrastructure improvements are underway- the Golden Quadrilateral, North-South Corridor and East-West Corridor (roadways); Pipavav, Mundra and Hamra ports; and upgradation of airports.
  • logistics park with domestic- and foreign-trading activities, value-added services such as warehousing, cold storage, multi-modal transport facilities, and the presence of an inland container depot and a container freight station need to be encouraged.

5.Enabling startups:

  • a considerable attention by a flurry of venture capital investors and dynamic logistics startups but in spite of its growing potential the sector has not kept up with its rapidly growing economy. Startups can expect a great future in this industry.

6.Destressing road networks:

  • Inland waterways need to be emphasized more as they are also environmental friendly.
  • Infrastructure and safety in railways need to be taken care of

7.Expand distribution channels and increase consumer reach


With an average speed of 20 to 25 km per hour, a vehicle on Indian roads covers 250 to 400 km in a day. In developed countries, the distance covered could be significantly higher – about 700 to 800 km in a day. 

General Studies – 4

Topic: Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance

7) Tax avoidance and tax evasion has become a huge problem around the world. Why is it considered unethical and immoral to evade or avoid tax?

The Hindu