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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 21, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 21, 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;

TopicPopulation and associated issues

1) “Despite a predominantly young population, a demographic dividend is unlikely to accrue to India unless the northern belt, the youngest region in the country in terms of population age, ramps up its performance on several socio-economic parameters.” Discuss. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Economic theory suggests that when the proportion of young people in a region increases, a significant boost to economic growth should materialise. US after World War II accrued this particular benefit as the baby boomers delivered record productivity. However, even as India’s demographic profile today is similar to that of the US in 1960, contrary to popular belief, a demographic dividend is unlikely to accrue to India anytime soon.

India’s rapid economic progress over the past two decades masks its abysmal performance on social indicators. The imbalance between rapid economic progress and stagnant-cum-awful social metrics is particularly glaring in India’s northern belt . The reasons are :-

  1. India’s gender ratio:
  • Women constitute only 48 per cent of India’s population . This can be largely attributed to the northern belt poor gender ratio as women account for only 43 per cent of India’s female population compared to 57 per cent of the male population.


  • This region is characterised by the youngest population structure in the country – 20 per cent of the population here is aged between 15 and 24. However, owing to lack of skills and education – only 71 per cent of people are literate compared to 80 per cent in south India – it won’t be able to reap the benefits of its youthful demographic structure.


  • Out of every 100 people in the INB, 64 are unemployed (the corresponding number for south India is 36).
  • The southern states’ labour markets are in better shape compared to those in the northern region which suffers from an oversupply of under-skilled labour. 

4.Agriculture, which accounts for 60 per cent of employment here has consistently grown at a slower pace than the industrial and services sectors in the last two decades.

5.Per capita income in south India is $2,000 versus $1,200 in the northern region .

6.Public finances:

  • Southern states’ public finances are better managed and state-level balance sheets characterised by lower levels of debt and superior tax collection abilities.

7.Health parameters like maternal health, infant mortality rate , malnutrition are also high in this region when compared to the south. It is mainly due to the lack of education and lack of Rights for women along with the lack of political will.

  1. Given that India’s competitive advantage in the global export market lies in producing “light industrial products” that are capital-light but knowledge-intensive, the south would be able to produce the same effectively, making the north increasingly less relevant as an economic growth driver in the following decades.
    Consequences :-
  • All the above factors have resulted in higher crime rates in this region
  • has also led to an increase in instances of communal tension in the region. For instance, Uttar Pradesh witnessed the highest number of communal incidents among states in 2010-14.
  • Besides the increase in crime rates, a combination of skewed gender ratio, economic destitution and a large population of unemployed youth has resulted in social unrest and, consequently, explicit economic losses. For instance, Uttar Pradesh lost 416 man-days in CY 2013 due to disturbances such as strikes and lockouts.
  • India could get stuck in a “low-income trap” if its north fails to improve its abysmal standing on socio-economic parameters as unequal societies are unlikely to deliver sustainable growth; and high youth unemployment limits consumption growth.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary

2) “It is unfortunate that the courts have become the arbiter of what constitutes true religion. This situation has arisen because the Indian state is the agent for the reform and management of Hinduism and its institutions.” Critically comment on the role being played by courts in deciding what constitutes true religion in India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Yes, intervention is needed:

  • backed by Article 25(2) — to intervene in religious matters.
  • state can legitimately regulate religious practices when they “run counter to public order, health and morality” and when they are “economic, commercial or political in their character though they are associated with religious practices”.
  • For instance the SC denied the plea of the Gowda Saraswath Brahmins to claim exemption from a law allowing Dalits and lower castes to enter the Shri Venkataramana temple. Here the court gave the reformist thrust of Article 25 precedence over the group rights enshrined in Article 26.
  • Similarly in Shah Bano case and recent case of triple talaq Supreme Court upheld the right of equality of Muslim women.
  • Also Haji Ali Dargah , Sabarimala case and Shani Shingnapur case fall under the above category where a section of community is still not allowed to enter and it is discrimination on the basis of gender and it infringes on a woman’s right to freedom of worship
  • The SC said though religious opinion as fatwas have a laudable object, they cannot be enforced the moment they breach the fundamental rights of a person as seen in the Imrana case judgement.
  • If practices  though religious may have sprung from merely superstitious beliefs and  in that sense be extraneous and unessential accretions to religion itself. Then intervention of Supreme Court is necessary as is seen in the Durga committee case.. The essential practices test of Supreme Court is largely to check this aspect
  • In Shirur Mutt case the SC observed that a religious denomination or organisation enjoys complete autonomy in the matter of deciding as to what rites and ceremonies are essential and no outside authority has any jurisdiction to interfere with their decision.

No intervention is not needed:-

  • The judicial arbitration of Hinduism’s intrinsic principles reduces an entire religion to a monotheism and ignores the multiple layers of consciousness that form its spiritual temperament. 
  • The Supreme Court, in adjudicating on matters it has no religious punditry over, and in doing so under the protection of the law, and the Constitution of India reduces Hinduism to a bunch of meaningless myths.
  • Can lead to Judicial overreach 
  • Supreme Court already has huge pending cases in front of it , these add an increase in delays of justice.

Uniform civil code is the best solution to deal with the present situation where it can unburden the Supreme Court from religious incidents and upheld equality of law for all communities.

In India until all communities begin to accept that the arc of moral and social demands bends towards individual freedom, non-discrimination and equality, particularly on the issue of gender, India is likely to see religious issues being repeatedly taken to court.

Topic:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3) If hotter, longer and deadlier summers are to be the new normal under a changing climate, proactive adaptation measures are required. This implies policy intervention and coordination across three sectors — health, water and power. Examine these policy interventions. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Adverse health outcomes are a complex interaction of frequency, duration and intensity of a heat wave and population-level factors, which include acclimatisation to the temperature profile of certain geography, poverty, lack of shelter, pre-existing disease, age and access to health facilities. In addition to heat stroke, extreme temperatures can exacerbate pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory illness.

So significant policy interventions are very necessary like:-

1.Scale up heat-health warning systems (HHWS):

  • such warning systems include providing weather forecasts in advance
  • issuing warnings to people, providing readiness of emergency response systems, and preparing doctors and health facilities to handle a sudden influx of patients.
  • Warnings facilitate people in taking appropriate actions against heat-related harm.
  • Though the IMD does issue heat warnings, often the coordination with emergency response systems and health facilities is missing.
  • Globally, studies show that implementing HHWS results in fewer deaths. The most quoted example is that of France where 4,400 deaths were avoided due to HHWS during the 2006 heatwave.
  • Closer home, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Odisha have made pioneering efforts in this direction. These systems need to be expanded to other cities across the country.

2.Expedite the rollout of the National Action Plan on Climate Change and Health that was launched last year. Preventing temperature-related morbidity and mortality could be a key programme under this mission.

3.Ensure an adequate supply of water:-

  • Dehydration is a key outcome of heat exposure which can cascade into life-threatening conditions and ultimately death.
  • Timely access to drinking water can help mitigate this escalation. In areas where heat extremes coincide with water scarcity, the risk of heat-related illness remains highest.
  • Areas like Latur, Osmanabad and Beed, which are already experiencing acute water shortages, could face large casualties if hit by heatwaves.
  • Water is also required for electricity production that helps provide access to cooler environments through use of fans and air conditioners.
  • Therefore, strategic planning in the water sector is of paramount importance to protect human lives.

4.provide reliable electricity for adequate duration:-

  • Access to cool environments remains the mainstay of preventing heat stress. Use of fans, air conditioners or functioning of medical centres is contingent upon electricity supply.
  • Further, many communities depend on electricity to draw groundwater for drinking.
  • This requires planning to meet peak loads in summer, when power outages are most common.
  • In rural areas, where electricity access is a challenge, supplementing power supply of primary health centres with solar-based systems should be undertaken. Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tripura have already deployed such systems.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Disaster management

4) Why some regions in India are prone to frequent earthquakes? Examine the threats that earthquakes pose to these regions and the nature of preparedness needed to deal with these threats. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Reasons why some regions are prone to Earthquakes in India:-

Fact: Nearly 59 per cent of India is perpetually prone to earthquakes.

North east:

  • The geological stress in the Northeast’s hills, due partly to frequent tremor-driven weakening of the Himalayas, and the colliding of the Himalayan plate with the Indo-Burmese plate, has put the entire region on high alert.
  • Most earthquakes occurring in the region are related to subduction of the India-Burma tectonic plate under the Java-Sumatra tectonic plate.

North India:

  • North India  is located near boundary between the Eurasian and Indo-Australian plate tectonics. Obviously, there’s immense pressure where these two plates meet. Every once in a while, the stress releases in the form of vibrations.
  • Besides, seismologists feel that the tectonic plates west of the epicentre of the recent Nepal earthquake are still locked, indicating that another trigger is about to go off.

Peninsular India:

  • The general understanding of earthquakes in Peninsular India is that the Precambrian terrain  is heterogeneous in strength, criss-crossed with rifts, shear zones and old orogenic belts and these ancient zones of weak crust get reactivated from time to time and rupture.
  • When Indian and Eurasian plates collided because of intense pressure the peninsula has up warped in many places. The ancient rifts that had crisscrossed the nations subsurface strata are suddenly being activated.

Threats caused by earthquakes:

1.quakes do not kill people; collapsing buildings do:

  • Poor people dwelling in multi-storied tenements built on weak foundations and without any quake-proofing – as is the case with most slum areas in small and big towns, including Delhi – are the most at risk during earthquakes
  1. Casualties: loss of life and injury.

3.Loss of housing.

  1. Damage to infrastructure.
  2. Disruption of transport and communications.

6.Panic and Looting.

  1. Breakdown of social order.

8.Loss of industrial output.

9.Loss of business.

10.Disruption of marketing systems.


Nature of preparedness needed:

1.Structural safety of buildings: 

  • The whole country has been divided into different seismic zones, and standards have been set for buildings constructed in these areas.
  • For instance, the Imphal Municipal Corporation has notified building bylaws that specify standards for earthquake resistant design for construction of buildings and guidelines for repair and seismic strengthening of buildings.
  • The key to tremor-resistant buildings is strong foundation and construction based on interlocked concrete pillars.
  • Researchers have come out with numerous cost-effective designs and construction materials, such as concrete or mud houses reinforced with bamboo, for building houses for the poor. These need to be promoted in risk-prone areas to safeguard precious lives, property and vital infrastructure during earthquakes
  • Better urban regulation and facilities are needed. Even existing endangered and unsafe houses should be repaired and suitably restructured and reinforced, even with government assistance, if need be.
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards has put together a large number of building codes for different situations, most of which are effective against earthquakes. The awareness of these codes is woefully poor, 
  1. Securing lifeline buildings:

 Successive disasters have shown that lifeline buildings – hospitals, government buildings, schools – in our cities are not secured. The World Health Organisation has been coaxing governments to retrofit hospitals and make them fit enough to withstand disaster impacts, but very little has been done. Simple steps like not locating key facilities in basement and ground floor can help save lives.

  1. Emergency response system:

Every state is supposed to have a functional emergency response system in place, starting from disaster warning agencies like the met department to villages. It exists on paper in every state, but in practice there are gaping holes in the system. The cyclone warning system in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is a good example of how timely communication of warnings and measures like evacuation can save lives.

  1. Disaster risk reduction awareness:

It is the people who will have to implement and make success an emergency system. Therefore, massive disaster risk reduction awareness campaigns have to be run round the year, not just for awareness but also training people and communities for emergencies. Such exercise, wherever carried out, have paid rich dividends.

  1. Strengthening warning systems:

In the past one decade, India has made tremendous progress in cyclone warning and its communication to people, through large scale investment and modernisation. The same should be extended to warning about droughts, floods and landslides and even earthquakes. It is only through combination of these steps that we will be able to reduce risk from disasters in future, save lives and protect property.

Topic: Conservation

5) Shortly, India will be signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. Enumerate the important objectives and provisions of this Agreement. (200 Words)

Business Standard


The Paris Agreement on climate change is a milestone in global climate cooperation:

1.The deal unites all the world’s nations in a single agreement  known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) on tackling climate change for the first time in history.It marks the emergence of a new form of multilaterism where state and non state actors together support a global transformation.

  1. It is meant to enhance the implementation of UNFCCC and recognises the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.
  2. It acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries and their right to development.

4.It also recognises the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead and notes the importance of “climate justice”, which was raised by India, in its preamble.

5.The objective of the agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.

Provisions of the agreement:

  • Achieving the target of zero emission levelsespecially by US and European union.
  • holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Action by fossil-fuel industrynot to exhaust the fossil fuel reserves of coal, oil and gas and their ability to adapt renewable energy platforms.
  • all countries are required to submit updated plansthat would ratchet up the stringency of emissions by 2020 and every five years thereafter and  a global “stocktake” — an overall assessment of how countries are doing in cutting their emissions compared to their national plans – starting in 2023, every five years.
  • The agreement requires rich nations to maintain a $100bn a year funding pledge beyond 2020, and to use that figure as a “floor” for further support agreed by 2025.
  • focus on carbon budgeting.
  • How China,India and other developing countries define their urban future

The agreement, when it filters down to national policies in the years to come, can force the creation of better, cleaner energy technology, as well as behavioral adaptation to increase efficiency, decrease waste, and encourage less overall consumption. This is where the substance will take place.

Topic: Economic growth; Resource mobilization; Employment; Industrial policies

6) Write a note on recent growth trends and the importance of services sector to Indian economy. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Growth trends:-

  • India’s services sector contributed about 61 per cent to India’s Gross Domestic Product, growing strongly at approximately 10 per cent per annum in 2015-16, 
  • India is currently the second fastest growing services economy in the world. 
  • India’s share in global services exports was 3.2 per cent in 2014-15, double that of its merchandise exports in global merchandise exports at 1.7 per cent placing India in the eighth place currently amongst the top ten exporters of service in the world.

Importance of Service sector to Indian Economy:

  • Contributes 53 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, 51 per cent of foreign direct investment and 28 per cent of employment.
  • The government had earlier stated that almost 50 per cent of its current account deficit was met from exports in services.
  • Information technology, in which the country is a global leader, accounted for $ 108 billion worth of services exports in the last financial year, exporting primarily to the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.
  • The sector is also the largest private sector employer in India, employing more than 3.7 million people. It added the industry is projected to grow at 8.5 per cent in FY2016, from $132 billion in FY2015 to $143 billion. This excluded e-commerce.
  • They provide support to agriculture and industries by providing number of services in the form of financial services, storage services, transport services, distributive services and so on.No sector can perform and prosper in absence of network of various financial and other services.
  • IT can be taken to rural areas as well . This has been done in Andhra Pradesh, where the people have been educated through TV and IT with resulting reductions in infant mortality, poverty and fertility rates

It is important to design and implement a services-driven development strategy within a coherent and comprehensive policy framework to ensure linkages with key policy areas and overall national objectives.

Topic:  Conservation

7) Examine the significance of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 and the recent amendments approved by the Cabinet to this Bill. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Compensatory afforestation is defined as afforestation done in lieu of diversion of forest land for non forest use under forest conservation act 1980.


1.States getting more share is a symbol of Cooperative Federalism:-

  • Since under existing dispensation the states got only a small percentage of the amount, several states were opposed to it. The subject of forestlands and their administrative authority rests with respective states.
  • The proposed law will set up authorities at the national level as well as the state level to use these funds. As soon as that happens, 90 per cent of the total funds collected so far will be transferred to the states, instead of locking it in funds managed only by the Union government.
  • provisions providing for prior consultation with state Governments are also there

2.Doing away with Ad-hoc authority:

  • An ad-hoc authority was created earlier which is currently managing the huge amount, languishing in different nationalized banks, lying largely unspent.Now it is being replaced by National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the national and state funds. 
  • The funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.

3.Broader outlook:

The governing body of the National Authority which earlier consisted of the Environment Minister and Secretaries from the ministries of Environment, Finance, Rural Development, Agriculture, Panchayati Raj will also have those from the ministries of Space and Earth Sciences as well. 

4.Importance to Expert advice:

The number of expert members on the panel has also been increased from two to five.

5.Giving importance to local communities:

  • including an expert on tribal matters or representative of tribal community as a member in both steering committee and executive committee of a State Authority, show the government reaching out to the various stakeholders in the process.

6.Polluter pays principle:

  • Based on Supreme court order promoters will have to pay for diversion of forest lands


  • deleting some of environmental services for which credible model to assess their monetary value does not exist while it also provides for prior consultation with states for making a rule under it shows the governments participatory approach of decision making.
  • Also, they provide for use of monies realised from the user agencies in lieu for forest land diverted in protected areas for voluntary relocation from protected areas.

However there are concerns with the bill.They are:

  • A 2013 CAG Report noted that state forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.With the share of funds transferred to states increasing from 10% to 90% the capacity of these departments becomes very important.
  • Procuring land for compensatory afforestation is difficult as land is limited resource and is required for multiple purposes such as agriculture,industry etc..,This is compounded by unclear land titles and difficulties in complying with procedures for land use.
  • A High Level Committee on Environment laws observed that quality of forest cover has declined between 1951 and 2014 with poor quality of compensatory afforestation plantations being one of the reasons behind the decline.
  • The Bill delegates the determination of Net present value of forest (value of loss of forest ecosystem)to an expert committee constituted by the central government.As NPV constitutes about half of the total funds collected,its computation methodology would be important.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Challenges of corruption

8) “Tackling graft is the linchpin to fixing income inequality, environmental problems and creaking education and pension systems, and to appeasing growing public anger. ” Discuss. (150 Words)