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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 26, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A April 26, 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. 

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Please provide your valuable feedback in the comment section to improve and sustain this initiative successfully. 

General Studies – 1;


Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes. 

1) How can irrigation methods help fight drought as both short term and long term measures? Eamine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Short term:

  • Minor irrigation structures play a significant role in recharging of wells, drought mitigation and flood control.
  • Simple irrigation technique called Alternate wetting and drying can be used to cut down water use by as much as 25%.this model has been very successful in Vietnam and Phillipines .it can also reduce Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Irrigation Scheduling:
    • smart water management is not just about how water is delivered but also when,how often and how much.
    • Tory farms- which uses flood irrigation in their orchards waters at night to slow down evaporation allowing water to seep down into the soil and replenish the water table.
  • In California dry farming is done where farmers rely on soil moisture to produce their crops during the dry season.Special tilling practices are required for this.

Long-term remedial options

  • Increased water conservation and promoting cultivation of less water-intensive crops can go a long way towards coping with the crisis. 
  • The other remedial option could be to adopt drought-resistant crop varieties as has been done in some parts of Odisha for paddy/rice through the help of the International Rice Research Institute. This can maintain productivity and income of the farmers and also ensure price stability to the consumers. 
  • It is important for the government to sustain an increased investment in irrigation but at the same time gear up towards faster completion of the ongoing projects.
  • Efforts need to be made to improve irrigation facilitiesin rural areas and to stop emphasis on dams.
  • Farmers must be encouraged to harvest and use waterin their own areas sustainably and equitably.
  • Local streams, canals in the villages should be identified, deepened and widened to enhance harvesting of water. Rivers should be considered as important units of the village and revived.
  • Micro irrigation system comprising drip and sprinkler irrigation has greater potential to improve water use efficiency in agriculture. Using drip irrigation can save 30-70% of the water used by overhead sprinkler systems.
  • Studies show that micro irrigation system helps save water, reduce cost of cultivation and improve crop yield. Various studies showed that the net return per inch of water supplied through drip irrigation was 60-80 per cent higher than that of conventional irrigation system. 
  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana is a good policy initiative that would accelerate public investment in both micro and macro irrigation. 
  • During the recently organised India Water Week, 2016, India has also partnered with Israel, a water-scarce country, to learn and adopt innovative strategies to harness rainwater. Small vegetable-growing farmers near Solan, Himachal Pradesh, have long adopted Israel’s water-saving technology through the assistance of the Mother Dairy retail chain that procures their fresh produce. It is an opportune time to scale up technology adoption.
  • Finally, the shortage of drinking water can be addressed through promoting conservation and generating awareness among people to use the scarce resource with utmost care.


Government statistics have hardly shown any increase in the total net irrigated area, which has been hovering around 63 million hectares and constitutes only 45 per cent of the total area sown in the country.

General Studies – 2

TopicStructure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

2) “The settling of disputes is central to the duties of a well-governed state and to the prospects of economic growth; India’s sclerotic and dilatory judicial process is not just unjust, but a severe impediment to any other efforts to raise India out of poverty.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

Business Standard

The Hindu

Yes,it has been unjust:

  • The executive has been guilty of neglecting the human and financial resource needs of the judicial branch. Vacancies at the level of the subordinate judiciary amount to almost a quarter of the currently sanctioned posts; and it is even worse at the crucial high court level, where 44 per cent of appointments remain unfilled.
  • Absence of any significant initiative to increase the strength of the subordinate judiciary
  • Even when names have been shortlisted to fill these vacancies, the executive has been slow in confirming the appointments. 
  • Less judges strength:
    • There are 21,000 judges in India when as far back as 1987, the Law Commission had said the number should be 40,000. This means that there are just over 17 judges per million Indians, when there are over 150 judges for every million Americans.
  • Meanwhile, judicial infrastructure remains backward – and yet the Union government allotted, in Budget 2016-17, just Rs 56 crore for judicial infrastructure
  • Adjournments are granted too easily and too often, leading to delays in the administration of justice. For similar reasons, oral arguments could be replaced by written submissions. Perhaps overworked judges are not able to devote as much time to their administrative duties as is necessary.  
  • More than three crore cases are pending in various courts. In the Supreme Court, the current pendency is 60,260 for a Bench consisting of 31 judges
  • As many as 434 posts of High Court judges are vacant, while a docket burden of 38.68 lakh cases is stretching available infrastructure and resources.
  • The lack of empathy for poor litigants and undertrial prisoners, who suffer the most because of judicial delay.

Suggestions :

  • The government could also help by reducing appeals of cases that have gone against them – and by settling those disputes between two branches of the government that have gone to the courts.
  • The Centre and the judiciary should collaborate on finding practical solutions: appointing more judges, including retired judges as ad hocjudicial officers, based on periodic needs assessments, increasing their retirement age, and deploying judicial resources efficiently.
  • The situation demands an ambitious infusion of manpower and financial resources, for which even State governments will have to contribute immensely.
  • The Law Commission had pointed to the impracticability of using the number of judges per million population as a criterion to assess the required judicial strength. Instead, it had suggested a ‘rate of disposal’ method by which the number of judges required at each level to dispose of a particular number of cases could be computed based on analysis.
  • Solutions to this problem that have worked elsewhere must be examined. For example, the reorganisation of the British court system that was passed by that country’s parliament in 2005 created a professional Judicial Office reporting to the Lord Chief Justice that was responsible for administrative work.

Topic: Poverty and Hunger

3) Recently few experts have suggested that the Tendulkar Committee’s report should be accepted for poverty estimation but socio-economic indicators should be used to determine entitlement for benefits. Do you see merit in this suggestion? Examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

The Indian Express


  • This is important because while earlier Centrally sponsored schemes have been curtailed, a large number of new schemes have been announced in the Union budget. The Panagariya Panel on poverty has separated the two exercises — entitlement for schemes and poverty estimates, the latter to be used for assessments of economic performance.
  • The Tendulkar report had many advantages.It shifted the emphasis from calories to food demand. 
  • Poverty estimates provide the proportion and size of the poor population and their spread across states and broad regions. But they cannot be used for identification of the individual poor, which is necessary to ensure that the benefits of programmes and schemes reach only the deserving and targeted group.So Socio Economic indicators are needed for determining the entitlement for benefits.
  • The SECC would be important for the identification of beneficiaries of programmes.
    • It helps preparing BPL list and identifying beneficiaries for welfare schemes.
    • Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 ranks the households based on their socio-economic status
    • State Governments can use this database to prepare the list of families living below poverty line (BPL).
    • This database can be utilized for identification of beneficiaries for various socio-economic welfare schemes


  • The Rangarajan expert group had a broader analysis:-
    • has gone back to the idea of separate poverty line baskets for rural and urban areas, unlike the Tendulkar Committee, which took urban poverty as a given and used it as the common basket for rural and urban households. .
    • The methods also include on certain normative levels of adequate nourishment, clothing, house rent, conveyance, education and also behavioral determination of non-food expenses.
    • It also considered average requirements of calories, protein and fats based on ICMR norms differentiated by age and gender.
  • The Tendulkar committee moved the emphasis from calories to food demand. It worked on the concept of inclusive growth where state provides income supplements. But the committees need not go overboard with nutrition norms. Food security can be achieved at lower costs while emphasizing on other social entitlements like education and health. The Tendulkar committee sidesteps this issue. The Panagriya panel will have to take all these arguments into account and work on it
  • Saxena takes on the issue of entitlements head-on, but Tendulkar sidesteps it. Panagariya will have to cope with all this and it is likely that a neat separation of poverty estimation and entitlements won’t be possible
  • Many of these have been skipped in calculation
    • Basic amenities like a telephone ion of poverty lines like connection, motorized two wheeler possession is considered a luxury.
    • For Urban area, Any household that has laptop is excluded.
    • In Tamilnadu, many poor families are given free laptop, TV etc by State Government. Similarly UP Government is also planning to give free laptops. So poor people are afraid they’ll loose rank in deprivation index/BPL list. 
    • SECC’s deprivation parameters donot consider food consumption/calorie intake. So the whole Malnutrition angle (of women and children) is missing. Similarly expenditure on health is also not considered.
  • These poverty lines have been criticised for being too low, and for focussing exclusively on food consumption norms, and ignoring expenditure on health, education and other basic needs.
  • After the release of the SECC estimates, some commented that earlier targeted programmes were designed based on sample surveys and the SECC was an innovation. This is not true. Previously, too, for identification of the poor, BPL (below poverty line) censuses were conducted.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

4) India became the 76th member to ratify the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization. Do you think this will benefit India? Critically examine. (200 Words)


Trade facilitation, which aims to harmonize customs procedures and administration in the developing and least-developed countries with current practices of the developed countries, 


  • The trade facilitation measures in the Bali package would add an estimated $68 billion a year to global output, with much of the gain concentrated in poor countries.
  • Trade facilitation could cut global trade costs by more than 10%, by one estimate, raising annual global output by $400 billion, with benefits flowing disproportionately to developing economies
  • trade facilitation would add $1 trillion to the world’s income and 18 million jobs in developing countries

No benefits:

  • Indeed, if the TFA is so beneficial for developing countries, why was it opposed since 1996 when it was first introduced as part of the four Singapore issues (investment, competition policy, government procurement and trade facilitation)
  • Ironically, New Delhi has accepted the TFA without securing cast-iron guarantees for a permanent solution for public stockholding programmes or special safeguard mechanism for its farmers.
  • The agricultural sector in many developing countries is not mature enough to compete in the global market.With India’s outdated farming techniques they are nowhere close to the advanced farming methods of the US or the EU. As trade further opens up, if no measure to protect local agriculture is taken, this set of people will be hit really hard.
  • Once India ratifies the TFA, it will be boundby WTO rules where all issues come within the purview of its Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM). Developing countries have not got much uch leverage here .According to analysts, it’s a classic platform where voices of the developing and least developed countries have increasingly been ignored.
  • The extent of incentives and subsidies the developed world provides to their farming sector in terms of advanced farming methods, export subsidies etc. This will make it hard for Indian farmers to compete when trade barriers are broken down.
    • Fact:India – within the WTO farm subsidies limits– spent $56.1 billion in 2010-11, up from $16.9 billion in 2004-05, mostly for production inputs such as electricity, fertilizers etc., while the US in 2009 alone spent $101 billion.
  • Critics feelthe TFA and the recent deal are actually the triumph of multinational corporations, and don’t represent much of a victory for India or any developing nations.
  • With genetically modified seeds creating the monopoly of multi national companies like Monsanto trade facilitation only makes the exploitation easier.

What needs to be done ?

  • First, developing countries, as part of the agreement, will need to invest in modernizing their trade infrastructure in terms of building up ports, border regions, trade operations to the standard of the West, whose businesses will then have easy access to the markets and the cheap labor prevalent in developing countries.
  • India will have to watch the unfolding of the TFA very cautiously. It would do better to garner a stronger support base among other developing, and perhaps the least developed nations, to exert pressure on the WTO from taking any measures that adversely impact on its farmers.

TopicFunctions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

5) The Union government has mooted the idea of a Centre-State investment agreement to be signed between the Centre and various State governments to ensure effective implementation of BITs or bilateral investment treaties. Examine what this means to cooperative federalism and Centre’s obligations under international law. (200 Words)

The Hindu

BITs protect investments made by an investor of one country into another by regulating the host nation’s treatment of the investment. This will ensure fulfilment of the obligations of the State government under these treaties. States which opt to sign these Agreements will be seen as more attractive destinations by foreign investors. It is believed that the Centre will not make it mandatory for States to sign the agreement, but if any State chooses not to, this will be informed to India’s BIT partner. The motivation behind the proposal is to facilitate ease of doing business for foreign investors and their domestic recipients.


Obligations under international law:-

  • As laid down in Azadi Bachao Andolan v Union of India(2004), a combined reading of Entry 14 of the Union list, which provides for entering into treaties, and Article 73, which extends the power of the Central government to matters in the Union list, shows that the Central government has the power to enter into treaties on behalf of the Indian republic. This includes BITs as well.
  • Once the Central government has acceded to the terms of a treaty on behalf of the republic, the international obligations assumed there under bind the entire country, including its constituent States, at least externally. This is irrespective of whether the Central government has entered into an agreement with the State governments regarding the implementation of the said treaty. 
  • as far as India’s international law obligations are concerned, the Central government cannot justify the non-compliance of its BIT obligations.This is consistent with the unitary conception of a sovereign nation under international law.
  • So even though a state doesn’t sign BIT and investor challenges this as a violation of the BIT under international law,  the Central government, while responding to the claim against the Indian republic, cannot say that it is not liable as this alleged violation is because of a particular State government’s measure.
  • The Centre’s proposal to warn their counter parties about non-compliant States before they make their investment in the State, unless framed as a reservation to the BITs, does not carry much legal significance.

Cooperative federalism

  • The Centre and State governments are often politically non-aligned. In this context, a proposal by the Centre to enter into investment agreements with States as an optional arrangement may further sour fragile Centre-State relations for two reasons. 
    • First, the State governments will not like the shifting of the blame for violation of a BIT from New Delhi to State capitals.
    • Second, the State governments will also not like the Centre informing India’s BIT partner country that a particular State government has not signed the agreement and thus, by implication, is not a safe destination for foreign investment.

What needs to be done?

  • One of the objectives of the proposal could be to sensitise State governments about India’s BIT obligations given the fact that many regulations of State governments directly impact foreign investors. 
  • This objective would be better served by institutionalising the involvement of State governments in the process of treaty-makin A forum such as the NITI Aayog could be used to create a Centre-State consultative process on treaty-making.
  • Also, this sensitisation should not be restricted to BITs but also extend to other international agreements like the World Trade Organisation treaty, numerous Free Trade Agreements, and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements.
  • The trade treaties are especially important because they cover many issues such as agriculture, which fall under the State list in our Constitution, and thus directly impact State governments. 
  • Cooperative federalism requires that Centre and States work together, which in turn would ensure better implementation of international treaties.

General Studies – 3

TopicAwareness in IT

6) Discuss the issue of the European Union’s (EU) tussle with tech giant Google and other issues this tussle has given rise to. (200 Words)


The Guardian

Over the last few decades, Europe’s regulators have challenged the practices of some of the titans of American technology, including MicrosoftIntel and now Google. Microsoft paid $3.4 billion in fines to European regulators over a decade


E.U. rules prohibit the “abuse of a dominant position,” a more sweeping standard than the American version of the law. In the E.U., abuse can mean unfair or misleading business practices. So, for example, a claim that a search engine isn’t being honest with its customers about how it manipulates search results could fall under E.U. competition law.

1.The commission’s problem is with Android, Google’s operating system for mobile phones. Although Google makes the software.But tied to Android is a whole suite of Google apps, all linked to Google’s Play app store: Google Search, YouTube, Gmail and more. To be allowed to pre-install the app store, a manufacturer must pre-install all these apps as well – 11 in total. The Google Search box must be placed on the first home screen, as must a folder with those other apps.This is what the EU has a problem with.

  • In its eyes, Google is using its dominance of the market in mobile operating systems to push an advantage in other areas.


2.Google also prevents manufacturers from selling devices running on any non-standard variations of the Android operating system and offers financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile phone networks if they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

This behaviour has an essentially foreclosing effect –

  • it makes it difficult for other firms to compete with Google, and reinforces Google’s dominance in general search – its most profitable business area.
  • It may also harm consumers by denying them access to devices run on competing Android forks, thereby stifling innovation.
  • including the favourable treatment by Google in its general search results of other specialised search services, and concerns with regard to copying of rivals’ web content (known as ‘scraping’), advertising exclusivity and undue restrictions on advertisers.
  • unfairly stifling the growth of home-grown tech start-ups.Google is stifling home-grown competitors, and may well use its dominance to squeeze out rivals.
  • concerns that its compilation of data may violate people’s privacy, They know what are the websites preferred by the user, the time he / she checks the engine
  • The areas of concern include accusations of manipulating the search results to favor Google services such as Google Shoppingfor buying goods and Google Places for advertising local restaurants and businesses;
  • whether Google’s automated advertising marketplace, AdWords, discriminates against advertisers from competing online commerce services like comparison shopping sites and consumer review Web sites
  • Google nudged phone makers towards adopting mobile tech without strict enforcement

Other issues linked with this are:

  • At stake is Google’s user data-based business model, and by extension, those of other tech giants like Facebook. They don’t make money off the services they offer; they make it off advertising—in Google’s case, $11 billion last year via advertising sales through its apps, by some estimates.
  • Targeting users effectively is essential for this. For that, Google must collect data about users’ personal details, browsing habits and preferences via apps, search engines and service sign-ups. If it unbundles its apps from Android as per the EU’s wishes, it will undermine its entire business model.
  • Facebook, under the cosh for years now for alleged violations of user privacy and how it uses user data, is facing similar problems; multiple European countries are investigating its privacy practices.
  • Regulators and lawmakers are reviewing low-tax arrangements granted to Applein Ireland and Amazon in Luxembourg, and privacy watchdogs are looking into how Facebook protects people’s online data.
  • Policy makers are also investigating whether American Internet platforms like Amazon have too much control over how Europeans gain access to online services.
  • Big data is also an anti trust issue -It’s good news when companies use data to cut costs and offer better service, But if just a few companies control the data you need to satisfy customers and cut costs, that could give them the power to drive their rivals out of the market. 


  • Much of the criticism pertains to issues that have not yet been addressed by cyber law.
  • It’s a question that will have ramifications far outside Europe. Android is by far the largest smartphone platform in the world, with an estimated 1.8bn handsets, and its share of the market is even larger in developing nations.
  • In the present internet volatility of cyber security threats ,data privacy are very important and even in India many of them are not aware of the threats because of the Internet makes this an very important issue

Google’s stand:

Google counters that manufacturers are perfectly free to pre-install other apps as well, and that users can delete (or at least deactivate) the Google apps once they turn on the phone. Its business model,keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

7) What do you understand by tri-service command? Defence experts have been arguing that India would benefit from tri-service theatre commanders who report directly to the political leadership, as in the US. Discuss. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Tri service command :

  • Means command that owns assets from the army, navy and air force and is commanded, in turn, by general officers from all three services.
  • Jal Prahar was conducted by the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC), India’s only tri-service command – which it involved a hundred soldiers, a handful of amphibious assault craft mostly borrowed from the navy’s eastern command, and three Jaguar strike aircraft that the Indian Air Force (IAF) kindly made available

Benefits of having a Tri service command:

  • Makes efficient system:
    • Merging 17 army, navy and air force commands into five-six tri-service commands. Creating a CDS/PCCOS to oversee long-range force structuring and to deliver single-point military advice to political leaders would unquestionably make the military leaner and more effective. But creating tri-service theatre commands is crucial for enhancing battlefield performance.
  • Clear focus:
    • Structurally by creating tri-service theatre commanders, who report directly to the political leadership, like in the US,the three service chiefs, with their combat units distributed between the theatre commanders, would be freed from command responsibility and mandated to focus on their respective services’ manpower, equipping and training.
    • These are currently given short shrift, with the chiefs weighed down by time consuming daily responsibilities of operational command.
    • The non-operational commands – such as the three services’ “training commands” and the air force’s “maintenance command” could remain under the service chiefs.
    • Operational commands like the Special Forces command, cyber command and the strategic forces command (the nuclear arsenal) could be hived off like the theatre commands.
  • Proper structure:
    • Outside this command structure, the political leadership could select a five-star CDS, from any service, preferably on merit and trust rather than mere seniority, who would function as a “second opinion” military advisor. In many ways, this would mirror the US system, which has functioned admirably through inter-continental global challenges.
  • To meet the demands of the modern warfare:
    • With operations understandably enjoying precedence, there is little emphasis on long range force structuring, equipment planning and human resource development.
    • The Indian armed forces are structured across 19 Commands, 17 of which are single service commands. The system of individual Service operational Commands is a legacy of the British.
    • Successive governments haven’t brought about changes in the defence management system. Modern warfare demands unified commands.
  • Essential necessity:
    • Should a war break out with China or Pakistan, multiple single Service operational Commands belonging to the Army, Navy and the Air Force will be pressed into service with none of their Command HQ located in the same city.
    • Also, an operational Command of one Service will have overlapping geographical jurisdiction with more than one Command of another Service. And, there will not be a centre-point of tri-Service coordination.  
    • For example in the war with Pakistan 7 commands would be working-none of the seven operational Commands are co-located which resultantly is expected to adversely impact on coordination in intelligence sharing, planning and execution in the fast-paced technology-intensive battlefield environment of the 21st century
    • Be it strategic or tactical doctrines, training, equipment, procurement or logistics, each Service tends to operate almost in isolation.
  • The Kargil Review Committee observed, India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters is outside the apex governmental structure.In contrast to other major countries in the world, where the three Services are coordinated at the top under a CDS or equivalent.
    • Around 70 countries, including major and medium military powers, have a Chief of Defence Staff  or equivalent. India, with the world’s fourth largest armed forces, is the only country of its size that doesn’t have the CDS.
  • According to parliamentary standing committee on defence in 1999 Kargil War it was lack of synergy which caused difficulties to the armed forces.  


  • Opposition to tri-service structures comes not just from bureaucrats and politicians as the generals like to lament, but equally from within the military.
  • Neither the army, navy or air force chiefs want a military boss (CDS) or even another equal (PCCOS). And they certainly do not want to relinquish control over their theatre commands, with these cutting edge units placed under some commander who reports elsewhere.
  • The ANC is the only tri service command and is weak. It still remains dependent on the Eastern Naval Command for vessels and other weapon platforms and systems.  

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethics in governance

8) In what ways lack of ethics in governance damage country? Illustrate with examples. (150 Words)

Business Standard