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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 09, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 09, 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;

TopicUrbanization – problems and remedies

1) Indian cities are facing the problem of effective management of sewage and septage. Discuss the magnitude of the problem and solutions to tackle this problem. (200 Words)

Down to Earth

Down to Earth

Magnitude of the problem:
  • Only a third of urban houses in India are connected to the sewer system.45% of urban houses depend on the onsite systems.
  • Census data-65% of the indian cities do not have a proper management for safe collection of human excreta forget about disposal
  • Construction quality of septic tanks buried underground in populated areas is often sewage treatment is only partial.
  • No system for disposal of faecal sludge as in most cases emptied into water bodies and municipal sewers.
  • Because of usage of flush lever the volume of sewage has expanded several times as municipalities have to incur huge costs to separate excreta from water.
  • large part of wastewater seeps into soil polluting groundwater
  • India does not even have specific legal provisions related to management of faecal sludge /septage.
  • The excessive practice of manual scavenging despite the fact India has enacted Manual scavengers and construction of dry latrines act 1993 shows the neglect of septage management in India.
  • Removal of sludge only when it is overloaded/choked for instance this happens in Delhi even though Bureau of India Standards suggested to clean it halfyearly/yearly.
  • Most sewage treatment plants are underutilised and are not equipped with septage which is high in content of Biological oxygen demand,chemical oxygen demand,Nitrogen and potassium.
  • According to report of central pollution control board only 66% of actual treatment capacity of 152 sewage treatment plants spread across 15 states in India is utilised.
Solution to the problem:
  • The recommended design of septic tanks by Bureau of Indian standards has to be strictly followed and necessary training is needed for masons for construction of tanks according to the prescribed designs
  • standards are needed on the equipment used to empty septic tanks like vacuum tankers/treatment of sludge in vacuum tanker itself.
  • Regulation of private licenses in the form of PPP would work best as it would destroy the mafia of private cleaners making them accountable and in turn get an experienced workforce from them.
  • Dry sludge can be used as manure for agricultural field .India can learn from the toilet to farm initiative of Bangladesh
  • Decentralised wastewater treatment at home itself.
  • cities can reuse treated faecal sludge as septage is 100% organic.for example in Senegal 1/3rd of sludge is used to produce electricity, 10,800 litres of drinking water from 12.3 cubic metres of sludge .
  • proper septage management sub plan is needed.
  • use of biodigesters-achieve more than 90% decomposition,99% of disease bearing pathogens are inactivated and the cost is also very less.
  • vermifiltration-based on symbiotic relationship between earthworm and microorganism is a more advanced way to handle sewage problem
  • Extraction of biodiesel from faecal matter can be done like in Ghana.

General Studies – 2

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

2) Briefly analyse the findings of NFHS-4 in the areas of maternal healthcare, fertility and family planning and child health. (200 Words)


Maternal health care:-
  • NHFS Study facts:-
    • Expecting mothers who had received full antenatal care services were more in southern states as compared to north and eastern states because of women lack the empowerment to take decisions, including decision to use reproductive health services in the latter.
    • Better access to maternal health care was more in urban areas than rural areas except in rural areas  schemes like Chiranjeevi Scheme in Gujarat ( widespread availability of the private obstetrician-gynaecologist in rural areas and their willingness to collaborate with the Government.)are needed.
    • Institutional delivery-overall improvement but south india fares better because of successful implementation of Janani Suraksha Yojana.
    • Non institutional deliveries with support from skilled health personnel was more in rural areas.
    • C-section high in urban areas and in private facilities as it is quicker than normal delivery but it is not affordable by everyone as it is hospitals need to encourage normal delivery other than complicated cases.
  • Southern states fare better in maternal health because of high political commitment for social sectors, high level of awareness in the community , primarily an urban population, and good infrastructure (roads) leading to high access to public-health services.
  • So long term focus on maternal mortality is needed. 
Fertility and family planning:


    • overall women are now having fewer children.Except bihar ,MPand meghalaya others have achieved or maintained replacement level of fertility-a major achievement in the past decade.
    • nearly 40 per cent of couples who want to use birth control can’t access it. The government can’t keep up with the need, and primary health care centres are not properly stocked.
    • lack of education-illiterate woman in India is bearing 1.2 children more than a literate woman (3.4 against 2.2).
  • NRHM was also bringing family counsellors into birthing centres to encourage women who’d just had a child to consider long-term forms of birth control like IUDs that would help them delay their next.
  • replicating models involving civil society as well like Pathfinder’s PRACHAR programme, which seemed to be highly effective
  • Despite less preference of modern family planning methods more than half of the married women have utilised it.
Child Health:
  • India showed some improvements in child nutriton over last decade  but over one in 3 children is still stunted and over one in 5 underweight
  • Bihar and MadhyaPradesh are the worst in stunting and underweight. absence of sanitation, which leads to rampant spread of diseases, and the low social status of women, which is reflected in low birth weights are the main reasons for malnutrition.
  • Area of child wasting(low weight for height)-states reduced their proportion of wasted children from 48% in the last decade to 22%.
  • Failed to make progress on reducing anaemia-61% in India.
  • In anaemic children haryana tops. eating habits and not necessarily due to economic condition of people. These cultural factors play a crucial role and focusing on a particular type of diet and other nutrients can lead to the deficiency
  • The states where women get married early and the repeated child bearing leads to recurrence in iron loss.The neglect of women’s health complicates the problem further.
  • Malnourished(40/100) and IMR are highest in MP(51/1000)-Fewer children are dying in infancy and early childhood
  • the coverage of full immunisation of children has increased significantly showing the successful implementation of universal immunization scheme and now indradhanush mission is a welcome step.
  • the public distribution system (PDS) for foodgrains or targeted child nutrition programs such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) have still not played a major role in fighting child malnutrition as link between  poverty reduction and improvements in nutrition is at best a weak one. 
  • States with low rates of open defecation seem to have better nutritional outcomes, while states with high rates of open defecation seem to have worse nutritional outcomes,  In the absence of sanitation facilities, children face a hostile environment and frequently fall prey to common infectious diseases which reduce their ability to absorb nutrients and grow.
  • High incidence of low birth weight babies is a reflection of the low social status of women, who do not receive adequate nourishment or care prior to childbirth. It does not appear to be a coincidence that most states with low ratios of low birth weight babies are also states with relatively higher sex ratios.

Topic Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3) Despite recent strengthening of relations between India and Japan, there is a delay in signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement between them. Examine the concerns of Japan in signing this agreement and its importance for India.  (200 Words)


Concerns of Japan:
  • India is not signatory of non proliferation treaty and comprehensive test ban treaty.
  • Demands inclusion of nullification clause stating that if India conducts a nuclear test then japan would terminate nuclear energy cooperation with India immediately.
  • Anti nuclear lobby that got strengthened after the Daichi fukushima disaster in Japan is against giving concessions to India.
  • If India japan sign the nuclear agreement japan will lose their convincing power to dissuade other nations like north korea and Iran.
  • japanese companies liability for nuclear accidents and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel are other concerns
  • Japan wants the following conditions to be met by india which are contentious issues for future talks:
    • continue the supervision of nuclear testing
    • Prohibit the transfer of nuclear technologies to third countries
Importance for India:
  • Energy security:excessive dependence on fossil fuels like coal,increase in oil imports can be restricted with nuclear power 
  • Environment:Nuclear power can control carbon emmissions.
  • About 80% of vital nuclear power plant components are made in Japan i.e.., India is also dependent on Japan for nuclear deals concluded with other countries such as U.S,France etc..,
  • Necessary to counter balancing China’s expansion activities in Indo pacific region.
Extra points:
  • In december 2015 India and Japan signed MoU on civil nuclear energy
Reasons for japan changing its stand from earlier are:
  • China factor-its effciency in engineering nuclear plants reduced Japan’s business of nuclear energy .China has already taken the design of westing houses AP1000 nuclearplant.
  • India-US nuclear deal addressed issue of tracking of imported nuclear material in Indian plant.this cleared a major hurdle in India-Japan relationship.
  • Areva and L&T signed a deal:Now L&T could build sophisticated reactor components in India whcih will bring down the cost and  dependence on Japan will reduce .
  • India-South Korea operationalised their bilateral nuclear deal which will help Indian companies to work with Korean counterparts on R&D and manufacture of spares for nuclear plants.this deal expanded India’s choices.

TopicIssues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health

4) In late 2015, the Government of India banned foreigners from having children through surrogate mothers in India. The government expressed its reluctance to allow commercial surrogacy, while supporting altruistic surrogacy for married infertile Indian couples. Examine the the effects of this ban on the people involved in commercial surrogacy. (200 Words)


Negative effects:
  • reduce the earnings of surrogate mothers as foreign couples pay better than Indian couples
  • Regulation is done from the wrong end as ban will only increase the exploitation of women.
  • takes away the possibility of earning a livelihood taht these women resort to without offering them with any options.
  • seems to show that only reproductive role of women makes her life  true and complete and role of women  is to nurture and caregivers alone.
  • possibility of ban encouraging the growth of hazardous underground surrogacy industry like organ trafficking.
  • pushed the surrogacy industry for homosexual couples to Nepal
  • emergence of unregistered clinics
  • increased involvement of middlemen
  • lostopportunity for India as the world is looking towards it in the light of falling global birth rates.48% couples opting for surrogacy are foreigners.
  • Show a limited understanding of the dynamics involved in surrogacy arrangements
positive effects:
  • to end exploitation of women acting as surrogate mothers
  • To curb women being detained in hostels and used as surrogate mothers without any safeguards for their health and well being.
  • To handle the issue of citizenship of children as many countries do not recognise surrogacy and these babies have no legal standing.

Topic: Functioning of the judiciary

5) “It is undeniable that the Supreme Court’s role as the Constitution’s sheet anchor has been weakened in recent times.” Why has it happened? What are the solutions proposed to restore Supreme Court’s original responsibilities and what are their merits? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The reasons for weakening of supreme court’s role as a constitution sheet anchor are:-
  • enormous burden in the form of civil and criminal appeals.
  • dealing with mundane disputes like quarrels between land lords and tenants which have little bearing on the larger public interest.
  • court’s inability to devote itself substantially to the determination of important public questions
  • number of cases decided by constitutional benches has steadily declined from the time of the court’s inception.From 1950-1954-15% cases were handled by constitutional benches but in 2005-2009 -only 0.12% cases.
  • Two judges benches are vested with enormous power of ruling on significant metters of public importance like section 66 A,suresh kumar koushal vs Naz foundation in the section 377 ban. 
  • Supreme court using the pliability of its power to grant special leave  to often intervene in mundane disputes
  • judicial activism by dealing with PIL’s.
1.Establish national court of appeal:
  • it can act as an intermediate forum between supreme court and various high courts.
  • can relieve supreme court of the weight of hearing regular civil and criminal appeals allowing supreme court to only concentrate on questions of constitutional importance.
  • Also regional branches of national court of appean would allow greater access to litigants from remote areas of the country.
  • But based on india’s constitutional structure there is little scope for establishing this court of appeal.
2.Strengthening lower judiciary:
  • greater vigour needed to choose judges
  • socially conscious and meritorious if selected as judges at lower courts and then High court,supreme court ‘s role as court of appeal can be renounced altogether and reduce the burden to correct simple errors.
3.Atleast two constitutional benches can be designated to hear cases in the week there by solving problems concerning the inability of supreme court to devote itself to its most important duty.
4.lokadalats need to be strengthened
5.creating specialised benches and greater involvement of experts like adhoc appointments of retired judges can be made.
6.To reduce experimental special leave petitions
7.E-court project of supreme court needs to be implemented soon to increase technological advancements for justice dispensation and improve accessibility
8.Transfer petitions which consume lot of court time can be handled over to a single chamber judge as it does not contain substantial question of law.
national judicial data grid data :
  • 1 judge for 73000 people in india which is 7 times worse than in USA.
  • at the present rate of disposal  civil cases would never be disposed of and criminal cases will take more than 30 years.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Conservation; Agri issues

6) Agriculture is said to be a major driver of climate change. Examine why. Also examine how reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change. (200 Words)

Down to Earth


Agriculture driver of climate change:-
  • In high income countries post-production — including storage and transport — contributes a large proportion of the food system’s greenhouse-gas emissions, whereas in China, for example, fertilizer manufacture has the biggest role
  • CO2 emissions linked to deforestation in temperate regions: where forests and woodlands are cleared to make room for fields and pastures.
  • Industrial agriculture — the practice currently employed by the majority of the developed world — has a hugely negative impact on global warming.
  • manufacture and use of pesticides and fertilizers, fuel and oil for tractors, equipment, trucking and shipping, electricity for lighting, cooling, and heating, and emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other green house gases bumps the impact up to between 25 and 30 percent of the U.S.’s collective carbon footprint.
  • effect of land use conversion on rising surface temps is an underestimated component of global warming
  •  Most of the methane in the atmosphere comes from domestic ruminants, forest fires, wetland rice cultivation and waste products, while conventional tillage and fertilizer use account for 70% of the nitrous oxides.
  • Intensive agricultural methods are reported to have detrimental effects on the environment.
  • agricultural processes comprise 54% of methane emissions, roughly 80% of nitrous oxide emissions, and virtually all carbon dioxide emissions tied to land use. 
  • Enormous amounts of fossil fuel are used in animal agriculture, generated by everything from the production of feeds, to the transport of animals to slaughter, then processing them into meat products and transporting those by land, sea and air. Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide.  
 How reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change:
  • Reducing food losses and wastage can help reduce the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas emission
  • greenhouse-gas emissions associated with food waste could increase tremendously from today 0.5 to 1.9-2.5 Gigatons of CO2 equivalents per year by 2050
  • As many emerging economies like China or India are projected to rapidly increase their food waste as a consequence of changing lifestyle, increasing welfare and dietary habits towards a larger share of animal-based products, this could over proportionally increase greenhouse-gas emissions associated with food waste – at the same time undermining efforts for an ambitious climate protection.
  • About a tenth of overall global greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture could be traced back to food waste by mid-century, a new study shows
  • agriculture is a major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20 Percent of overall global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2010.
  • emissions from agriculture alone are expected to rise by up to 18 Gigatons of CO2 equivalents by 2050

TopicEnvironmental pollution; Conservation

7) What do you understand by biomethanation? Examine its importance in urban waste management. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Biomethanation is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas.  Microorganisms degrade organic matter via cascades of biochemical conversions to methane and carbon dioxide. 
1. Organic, biodegradable waste, or feedstock (pressmud), enters the system for digestion where an anaerobic process using bacteria ferments the wastes and produces biogas as a gaseous bi-product. Several times a day, waste, fresh water and recycled water (over 30% water is reused during plant operations) is fed into digesters, which serve to treat the feedstock, eventually turning it into biogas consisting of mostly methane, as well as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide
2.  This biogas produced is further processed so that the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide gases are removed. The result is a gas consisting of mostly methane. 
3. By using compressors in bottling plant, the methane and carbon dioxide gases will be stored under high pressures in cylinders. These gases can then be utilized in industrial applications, for fuel in vehicles, electrical power generators and for other heating purposes.
Importance in urban waste management:
  • It would lead to decentralisation of waste treatment at site itself.
  • The new solid waste management rules 2016 call for biomethanation to be conducted at hotels.This can lead to proper segregation of waste.
  • leads to reduction in land requirement for disposing of the waste in landfills and thus not contaminating soil
  • The recycled waste can be used as a organic manure for crops or can be used to make biogas leading to cleaner environment without greenhouse gas emissions.
  • dependency on the administrative mechanism decreases for households and community participation will increase as collection centres(like hotels etc)can be used to dispose waste.
  • Makes it easy for the rag pickers to be part of the formal waste management process.

General Studies – 4

Topic:Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

8) Differentiate between a teacher, leader and reformer. Give an example for each who’s a role model for you and discuss the human values that you have learned from each one of them. (150 Words)