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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 02, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 02, 2016


This is a new feature. As feedback from our side on your answers is missing, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise our synopsis and compare it with your answers. We intend to post synopsis of Secure questions every next day of posting questions on website. 

You must write answers on your own and compare them with these synopses. If you depend on these synopses blindly, be sure of facing disaster in Mains. Until and unless you practice answer writing on your own, you will not improve in speed, content and writing skills. Keep separate notebooks for all GS papers and write your answers in them regularly. Now and then keep posting your answer on website too (Optional).  Some people have the tendency of copying content from others answers and pasting them in a document for each and every question. This might help in revision, but if you do not write on your own,  you can’t write a good answer in real exam. This is our experience at offline classes. We have seen many students who think they were regularly following Secure, yet fail to clear Mains. So, never give up writing. 

Also never give up reviewing others answers. You should review others answers to know different perspectives put forth by them, especially to opinion based questions. This effort by us should not lead to dependency on these synopses. This effort should be treated as complimentary to your ongoing writing practice and answer reviewing process. 

These synopses will be exhaustive – covering all the points demanded by question. We will not stick to word limit. You need to identify most important points and make sure these points are covered in your answer. Please remember that these are not ‘Model Answers’. These are just pointers for you to add extra points and to stick to demand of the question – which you might have missed while answering. 

As you might be aware of, this exercise requires lots of time and energy (10 Hours), that to do it on daily basis! Your cooperation is needed to sustain this feature.

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

General Studies – 1;


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

1) Rejuvenation of lakes and tanks is an important step in recharging groundwater and fighting drought, especially in India. What measures are adopted to rejuvenate them? How will these measures benefit farmers? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

What is rejuvenation?

It is the lowering down of the base level. In lakes and tanks it is usually done by cleaning in case of waste dumping and de-siltation in case of sedimentation in dams, so as to restore its original capacity of holding water.

Measures adopted to rejuvenate lakes and tanks in India:

  1. National lake conservation plan: The objective of the scheme is to restore and conserve the urban and semi-urban lakes and other unique freshwater eco systems of the country that are degraded due to waste water discharge, through an integrated ecosystem approach.
  • In Bidar, the district administration and the zila panchayat are working to clean and dredge around 650 waterbodies, including tanks and lakes, wells and temple kalyanis. Around 4 lakh cubic metres of soil have been removed from the tank-beds
  • Introduction of biological predator (insects, fungi, herbivorous fish) to remove the floating vegetation.
  1. Shahdara lake rejuvenation project:
  • Sewage Water will be treated by the “Phytorid Technology” based on constructed wetland and will be used for Rejuvenating the lake in the Shahadara locality of East Delhi.
  • Telibanda lake, Raipur kot lake Brahmapuri Maharashtra have also used this NEERI’s phytroid tech for rejuvenation
  1. Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) in Bengaluru outclassed more than 200 entries to bag the prestigious ‘Sehar Green Karo’ award for its lake rejuvenation initiative. The restoration work converted a marshy dumpyard back into lake.
  2. Using wetland and spillway which will help mitigate sediment and nutrient flow in the lake from surrounding water sources.
  3. Mission kakatiya is a program of restoring all the tanks and lakes in Telangana State, India.
  4. Implementation of solid waste management rules 2016 also might help in lake rejuvenation
  5. Fixing the boundary of lakes and removal of encroachment.
  6. Diversion of sewerage water entering the lakes.
  7. New bund formation, strengthening of existing bund, waste weir improvement and de-silting to increase water storage
  8. Finally, while lake rejuvenation also involves fixing lake boundaries, fencing, de-weeding, de-silting, beautification, etc., all these are being addressed
  9. NGOs, including Reliance Foundation, and the corporate social responsibility arm of the construction company, Larsen and Toubro, are also excavating and cleaning some water bodies in some villages in Karnataka.

How will these measures benefit farmers?

  • In Bidar, farmers are getting a bountiful supply of tank-bed soil to be used as top soil, as the government has taken up tank cleaning and dredging work. The top soil is good for agriculture as it is rich in organic matter and humus, besides cleaning of tank also increases their water holding capacity.
  • Covering Red soil fields with top soil will help farmers considerably. It will also help improve the water holding capacity of the waterbodies.
  • In the regions like Punjab where groundwater has been exploited rejuvenation of tanks works as a rain harvesting method where water is stored and provides water security.
  • Lakes that were unable to sustain any marine life due to silt, or shallow water levels were developed to support large scale fish farming, as seen in Bidar.

These measures will provide water security and also have economic incentives in places where silt can be used for farming.

General Studies – 2

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

2) In general, since independence, governments in India have failed to manage droughts effectively. Critically comment on the factors that have hindered effective management of droughts. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu

Factors hindering drought management in India:

  1. Corruption
  • NREGA:
    • The Central government had declared that the provision of work under MGNREGA would be extended from 100 to 150 days in all drought-affected areas. But this has not happened.
    • In 2015-2016, according to the Ministry website, in five of the districts — Aurangabad, Jalna, Nanded, Osmanabad and Hingoli — the average days of work in each of the districts was just 47 days or lower. In Latur it was 72 days, and in Beed, 81.
    • MGNREGA last year was just 70,000 people or fewer in each district. The only exception was in Beed, where 1.19 lakh individual workers got work. This month, when demand is at its peak, the average figure in each district is just 4,000.
    • Central government’s refusal to release adequate funds for NREGA is another problem.
    • Fake and on paper work due to bureaucratic corruption which erodes the investment without any benefit in the area.
  1. Water Mismanagement
  2. Monsoon Dependence

Indian agriculture is still largely dependent on monsoon which is irregular. Failure of the government to gauge this irregularity on time and hence lack of alternate source for dependence. For e.g. Extensive rain water harvesting can be promoted in areas with good rainfall and also in drought prone areas when there is good monsoon. Creating a water bank for the time of crisis would help mitigate the adverse effects of drought.

  1. Inters-state water sharing disputes

States with surplus water do not wish to share water deficit states. For example, dispute over River Beas between Punjab and Haryana.

  1. Stalled Projects of River linking

The river linking project have been in the pipeline for long. There is a need for funding, effective planning and time bound completion of the project.

  1. Wastage of water in surplus area. For example, power subsidy in Punjab has led to extensive wastage of water through irrigation.
  2. Lack of scientific intervention
  3. No integration of Research and development with agriculture and lack of sound scientific practices.
  4. Wrong cropping pattern- for example sugar mafias and political leaders in Maharashtra have led mushrooming of sugar cultivation in an area ill-suited to it. Similarly, growth of eucalyptus tree in eastern U.P is again ill-suited as it is a water parasite and the region is not water sufficient. Cultivation of excessive water intensive crops as a result of green revolution compounded by high minimum support price for these crops.
  5. Low investment in water saving technologies, for example drip irrigation.


  1. Policy Failure
  2. Lack of planning and foresight, and criminal neglect.
  3. No comprehensive drought policy.
  4. It is unfortunate that four decades after the beginning of the green revolution, the country has failed to develop modern grain storage structures on a large scale
  5. Ineffective Food trade policy unlike China where it imports water intensive crops like Soy.
  6. No long term strategy but Temporary solutions like water train to Latur which yields no results.
  7. PDS problems– corruption, no proper targeting because of improper identification of beneficiaries etc.,
  8. Bad drought assessment as two years of consecutive drought government should have taken advanced steps.

Government was successful in formulating some government schemes and strategies like:

  • Also, a semblance of social security system has emerged in rural India, with permanent income support measures such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Public Distribution System (PDS), midday meals and social security pensions.
  • This reduces people’s dependence on special relief measures in drought years.
  • It is arguable that the PDS is even more important than MGNREGS as a tool of drought relief. Monthly food rations under the PDS are more regular and predictable than MGNREGS work. They also cover a much larger fraction of the rural population — 75 per cent under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). A well-managed PDS is a major safeguard against hunger and starvation.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana is a good policy initiative that would accelerate public investment in both micro and macro irrigation.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana 
  • Organic farming is being promoted to reduce fertilizer use.
  • National action plan for climate resilient agriculture is promoting drought resistant crop

Topic: Functioning of judiciary

3) Critically comment on the functioning of the Supreme Court of India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The primary role of the Supreme Court is to clarify substantial questions on law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution or otherwise of general importance. Apart from the disputes between States, and Public Interest Litigations, other cases come in appeal from the High Courts and Tribunals. 

Over a period of time the role of the Supreme court has expanded, however this has led several issues.


  • Backlog of cases leaves the court little time for its primal functions. 59,468 cases backlog in Feb 2016 
  • Geographical proximity especially for litigants from South India.  For example, of all the cases filed in Supreme Court highest numbers are from high courts of Northern states. Travelling to Delhi for every hearing is not possible, especially for poor, aged and disabled. Supreme Court can increase its sitting in various parts of the country, but it fears loss of supremacy and dilution of powers.
  • Problem of backlog may be a convenient reason for the other organs of the state to seek drastic curtailment of the courts powers.
  • Burden in the form of civil and criminal appeals.
  • Court’s inability to devote itself substantially to the determination of important public questions.
  • A substantial portion of four days of the country’s senior-most judges thus goes in just deciding which cases should join the appeals docket of the Supreme Court.
  • Being tasked with the filtering process is a waste of the time, experience and wisdom of a Supreme Court judge. It prevents full consideration of the substantive cases before these judges
  • It provides no space for wider reading, for pause and reflection.
  • 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 matters of public importance like section 66 A, Suresh Kumar Koushal vs  Naz foundation in the section 377 ban. 
  • Larger Benches bring more judicial thinking to an issue, a balancing of different points of view and greater authority to the ruling of the court.
  • Supreme court using the pliability of its power to grant special leave  to often intervene in mundane disputes
  • Appointment of judges:

o There was not one instance of all the judicial posts being filled. The average vacancy in the Supreme Court, high courts and lower courts is about 10, 30 and 20 per cent, respectively

o One argument for not filling the sanctioned positions that is proffered is that it is not possible to find good judges. If anyone says that 22,000 good and suitable people cannot be found to take up judges’ positions in India, it insults the nation. 

o This is an issue for which both the judiciary and the government must take responsibility. Though there are 462 vacancies for high court judges, only 170 names have been recommended by the collegium. 

  • lack of transparency in the functioning of the system, the absence of a culture of openness and willingness to engage with civil society, academics and other stakeholders, and near absolute lack of quality statistics on the functioning of the system, the judiciary escapes accountability
  • On the other hand, there is a liberal dose of admission of cases without ensuring their disposal. This is mainly because some want to please the Bar. Only when you control the inflow, you can increase the outflow.

 Despite the concerns Supreme court has been tremendously successful as being the harbinger of justice in the eyes of Indian Citizens because of the following judgements:-

  • Golaknath case – 1967:Parliament’s prevented from taking away individual rights.
  • Parliament’s overarching ambitions nipped in the bud (Keshavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala) 1973.
  • Parliament limited by itself (Minerva Mills v Union of India) – 1980:the Supreme Court of India in 1980 strengthened the doctrine of the basic structure which was propounded earlier in the Keshavananda Bharti Case. Two changes which were made earlier by the 42nd Amendment Act were declared as null and void by the Supreme Court in this particular case.
  • Maintenance lawsuit sets precedent (Mohd Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum) – 1985:Shah Bano won the right to get alimony from her husband.Most favoured it as a secular judgment but it also invoked a strong reaction from the Muslim community, which felt that the judgment was an encroachment on Muslim Sharia law 
  •  Power of President’s Rule curtailed (SR Bommai v Union of India) – 1994 :Persecution of state governments stalled.This landmark case had major implications on Center-State relations. Post this case the Supreme Court clearly detailed the limitations within which Article 356 has to function.
  • Expanded the ambit of article 21 
  • Vishaka case: enforced fundamental rights for working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. This resulted in the introduction of Vishaka Guidelines. The judgment of August 1997 also provided basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace and provided guidelines to deal with it.
  •  Priyadarshini Mattoo case ,Jessica lal case:Justice was provided to the victims despite high profile being  accused
  • Vodafone’s name cleared in tax battle (Vodafone-Hutchison tax case) :Landmark decision on taxability of offshore transactions.
  • The Supreme Court rejected a patent plea by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG for cancer drug Glivec, boosting the case for cheaper drugs for life-threatening diseases.
  • NOTA Judgment – 2013:The right to reject candidates formalised.
  • Lily Thomas case effected much needed cleansing of legislative bodies
  • Nirbhaya case -Judiciary spurred into action and laws were strengthened for sex offenders.
  • Third gender acknowledged as citizens with rights.
  • In shreya singhal case Controversial section 66A of the Information Technology Act which allowed arrests for objectionable content posted on the internet was struck down as unconstitutional

 What needs to be done to strengthen Supreme court: –

 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 appeal 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.

  1. Zonal courts:
  • To create intermediate courts of appeal where senior judges can deal with these cases, giving them the time and consideration they deserve. 
  • These need to be located at different parts of the country, to handle appeals coming from courts in the four compass areas. 
  • They can be manned by senior judges retiring from the High Courts at 62 years. These courts of appeal will signal the full stop to civil and criminal litigation at large.
  1. According to 229 the law commission report establishment of cassation benches of Supreme Court in 4 regions at New Delhi, Chennai/ Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. This model has worked very successfully in countries such as Italy, U.S, Denmark etc.


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.

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

4) Examine the objectives, merits and demerits of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. (200 Words)

Business Standard

The Hindu


  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in Below Poverty Line (BPL) households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore.
  • The scheme is to be partially funded from the savings accruing to the government from LPG users who gave up their subsidy as part of the Give It Up program.



  • Indoor air pollution caused by the use of traditional cooking methods for example, Chulha. Research shows that use of chulha`s in homes lead to 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year. The program rightly brings the focus on the developmental issue of enabling clean cooking energy.
  • Would check use of stubs of crops for cooking, which can then be used for preventing soil erosion. 


  • Usually women’s health is poorly neglected in household priorities, the scheme brings to the forefront the quality of life of poor women.
  • Women will be released from the stressful and energy intensive work of cutting wood. It will also give them opportunity to spend their time on other chores like economic empowerment, skill development and productive work to support their family.
  • Free LPG connections would be provided in the name of women members of Below Poverty Line households.



  • In a survey by the Columbia university, as many as 95 per cent of LPG-deprived households cite their inability to pay as a barrier to their adopting LPG. Thus, the scheme is well-targeted to address the crucial impediment of a high cost in using LPG. which has limited the transition towards LPG use in poorer households for example, the rural informal markets households who buy biomass via firewood and dung cakes end up paying more than those who rely on LPG.
  • It can provide employment opportunities for the youth especially in the rural areas as they can be part of the supply chain mechanism.
  • Can complement Jan dhan yojana in financial inclusion as for increase in penetration of the ujjwal yojana there is a need for more bank accounts.
  • The new users who receive LPG connections under the scheme will not have to pay the security deposit, while the Rs. 1,600 administrative costs, cost of pressure regulator booklet and safety hose will be borne by the government.
  • Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.


  • Selection of beneficiaries is using the socio-economic and caste census data which is a laborious task and would delay proper identification of beneficiaries.
  • Burden on the exchequer, corruption, remoteness/delivery difficulties esp in LWE areas; LPG may be sold to rich for money draining the entire effort of government.
  • No focus given towards awareness and administrative issues as 40 % of LPG deprived households cite lack of information on the process of getting a LPG connection.
  • LPG demand is expected to see double digit growth over coming years hence leading to increase in imports and would cause stress on LPG resources.


  • Once adopting LPG, the households have to regularly refill cylinders which can incur high monthly expenditure to them. NSSO data also highlights this fact as 88 per cent of LPG-deprived households in the survey cited it as a barrier and also for the poor people who adopted LPG there is a low expenditure capacity in having access to LPG. There is a gap between adoption and sustained use of the present scheme.
  • Lack of financial literacy and bank accounts for most of rural households. The distance they have to travel to access the account even after schemes like jan dhan yojana is a cause of concern as LPG coverage expands in rural areas, the Direct Benefits Transfer of LPG (DBTL) subsidy program could create additional barriers for economically weaker households.
  • Awareness and Administrative issues:
    • About 40 per cent of LPG-deprived households in rural areas cite a lack of information about the process of getting a connection as a challenge.
    • For households in urban slums, the absence of residential proofor a lack of interest by urban dealers to serve them also pose a barrier.
    • Government’s scheme of selling 5 kg LPG cylinders at petrol pumps and kirana stores may help, as proof of address is not required. However, its limited penetration and retail pricing still make it challenging for many poor households.
    • Identification of beneficiaries can cause a problem too.


  • According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths occur in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels. Experts say having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
  • Currently, India has 16.64 crore active LPG consumers with a requirement of about 21 million tonnes per annum.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Resource mobilization

5) “In India, too few people pay taxes to fund an effective state that protects national security, administers justice, builds infrastructure and funds a social security net to protect people against sudden shocks to their income.” Why only handful are paying taxes? Why is it a matter of concern and what needs to be done to widen the tax net? Discuss. (200 Words)


The Hindu


  • Around 48 million people filed income tax returns in fiscal year 2015 .The effective number is perhaps even less given the fact that many of them had zero tax liabilities. Now, compare the number of taxpayers with the 814 million people eligible to vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. This means that there is one taxpayer for every 16 voters—an asymmetry that has profound consequences for national policy.
  • Barely a million Indians admitted to having an annual income of more than Rs.10 lakh a year—a transparently incorrect number. There is massive domestic tax evasion 
  • Only 2.9 crore Indians filed personal income tax returns for the assessment year 2012-13 — that is less than 4 per cent of the 760 million adults enumerated in the 2011 Census. More than half these 2.9 crore individuals paid no tax at all. 


Why only handful of Indians pay taxes?

  • The Tax Administrative Reforms Commission reported
    • The complete absence of economic, statistical, behavioral, or operations research-based analysis of policy or of taxpayers prior to making major or minor legislative or subordinate legislation-based (rule-based) decisions
    • Administrative decisions and tax policy making are both based on nil analysis by international standards.
    • No ‘impact assessment’ is carried out before introducing major legislative changes.
    • Even changes in rules that Boards announce have no reference to what background analysis has preceded the decision.
  • Lack of Government efforts on widening tax base as it concentrated more on increasing tax money. The social contract between the Indian people and the Indian state is seriously flawed.
  • Most of the Indians still dependent on agriculture which makes most of them out of the purview of tax slabs 
  • India has around 90 % in to informal and unorganised sector which are outside the tax administration.
  • Domestic Tax evasion is on rise as tax evaders do not get punishment because of governments inadequacy in tapping them and honest taxpayers get demoralized because of it.
  • Lack of proper tax administration to identify the tax payers 
  • People get confused with the complexity of the tax system 
  • Lack of comprehensive tax system
  • Behavioral problem – There are so many taxes to pay that people think it is better not to pay anything
  • India is not under-taxed, given the fact that a quarter of its people live on the brink of absolute poverty.

Why should that be a concern?

  • The very same middle class that is either calling for a strong state that can deal with threats to national security or for a redistributionist state that will fund social security programs, gives little thought to the very practical issue of where this money is going to come from. 
  • Dependency on indirect taxes:
    • The paucity of direct taxes means there is a dependence on indirect taxes that are considered to be regressive rather than progressive. They put a higher burden on the poor.  
    • In 2015-16, direct taxes contributed only 51 per cent of the tax revenue, lower than in recent years (and even the government’s expectations) and the lowest since 2007-08.,
    • given that the poor generally spend a greater fraction of their income on essentials than the rich do, with wider indirect taxation, they end up paying a higher individual tax rate than people considerably wealthier. 
  • The Indian state will be fiscally constrained with inadequate direct tax collections
  • An uncomfortable position for an economy steadfastly trying to scale up social and infrastructure investments while maintaining a semblance of fiscal discipline. Maintaining fiscal discipline hinders public investment 

What needs to be done to increase the tax net?

  • Reform like taxing large farm incomes and rationalising bounties enjoyed by the well-off, to widen the base.
  • Introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) is also expected to widen the tax base, lower tax rates, increase the compliance level and generate more revenues.
  • Recognising and rewarding honest tax payers:
    • A few benefits, such as priority in getting or renewing passports, driving licences or extra facilities at airports, should be offered to those paying taxes beyond a certain limit.
    • Some other benefits like getting additional points during admission of their children to schools and colleges, or other government institutes or engineering colleges, etc., will also work well in creating an environment for increasing the compliance behaviour,
  • GAAR and direct tax code need to be passed soon
  • Proper tax governance by implementing  the recommendation of Shome panel for merging CBEC and CBDT
  • TAX method:
    • The banks can be instructed to freeze 10% of all remittances in the accounts of every individual and at the end of the year, based on the public profile of the individual
    • the income tax payable can be assessed and deducted from the frozen amount and the balance either released or collected depending on whether the tax is less or more.
    • This process removes many hassles such as mismatch between taxes due and deducted, cost of compliance by third parties in respect of tax liability of the individual, payment of advance tax and payment of interest on tax due or refunded. 
    • If the process of easy collection of taxes is to be outsourced it is better to use the banking system
  • Curbing black money, by increasing the use of electronic money so that there is transparency in money transactions.
  • People have to be educated that keeping their money in the bank is itself a great service to the nation.     
  • The Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) need to be implemented
  • The way ahead has to be based on further tax reforms combined with better tax administration, so that more Indians pay income tax.

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

6) “The launch of a satellite for India’s own GPS shows Isro’s innovations are clearly the best Make in India products and, at the same, the most cost-effective space programme in the world.” Elaborate the statement and examine what qualities can other public sector undertakings can learn from ISRO to innovate and contribute productively to make in India mission. (200 Words)


The Hindu

India successfully launched a satellite IRNSS-1G NAVIC which finally established the country’s own satellite navigation system—only four others, the US, Russia, China and the European Union, possess this capability in the world—or more familiarly, a global positioning system (GPS) of its own. And once again it did so on a shoe-string budget.

Earlier MARS mission-ISRO managed to do so at one-ninth of the $670 million spent by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on its own mission to Mars.

What qualities ISRO exhibited that other PSU’s can learn for pushing Make in India to a success:

  • It exhibits the ability to do with minimal resources and also within low budgets.
  • Positive attitude despite some failures:
    • Indian companies should also take a cue from ISRO’s perseverance and sense of commitment in the face of hurdles like the GSLV was causing troubles but ultimately ISRO launched it successfully.
    • Many companies are hesitant to spend money on R&D if they face a few failures, 
  • Autonomy:
    • While operating within the framework of government rules (ISRO is part of department of space similar to any other in government), the Space Commission is a fully empowered body. It has the authority to make all financial and administrative decisions, barring those that are exceptional or of very high financial value
    • This autonomy coupled with the fact that the PM is the minister of space, ensures there is no interference from politicians or other vested interests.
    • ISRO works directly under the supervision of the Prime Minister as part of the Department of Space and is managed by  specialized technocrats rather than generalist bureaucrats.
    • Contrast this with the ad-hoc manner in which Ministry of Defence operates and the arms length distance it keeps from the end users of defence products, i.e. the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy.
    • The Ministry of Defence completely lacks a strategic intent and has failed to create a Defence Commission on the lines of Space Commission to formulate policies and oversee implementation.
  • No bureaucratic apathy:
    • ISRO is managed by professionals, with all functional decisions being made by them.
    • The few bureaucrats within ISRO and department of space play an important, but supportive and service role, as opposed to a control function. The fact that the secretary is a space professional is an important element of this.
  • Collaboration
    • Internal collaboration among various groups and centres within ISRO is essential in developing any complex system or programme.
    • The culture of collaboration is nurtured and ensured by structural arrangements, including a matrix management structure.
    • This deepens domain expertise by ensuring that individuals work in and are guided by senior experts in their specialised area.
    • Equally special is the external collaboration with other government entities (especially for programmes of applications of space technology) and with industry.
    • The long-standing and extremely fruitful interface with corporates — many of which are partners, rather than mere vendors — bodes well for commercial exploitation of India’s space capabilities.
  • Accountability and transparency in ISRO’s work culture:
    • Individuals are also accountable to a project manager/director who integrates work across different domains to deliver a project
    • The openness and freedom of speech that is particularly manifest during design reviews, where everyone is equal and young junior engineers are free (and actually encouraged) to argue with their seniors and pick holes in their work.
    • undoubtedly owes a great deal to its rigorous and frank design reviews.
    • secret clause enables DRDO to prevent a CAG audit into its projects shows the lack of transparency.
  • Vision, motivation and cutting-edge work
    • DRDO’s cost and time frame projected for indigenous projects are unrealistic, to the extent of being unprofessional in a few cases. Herein lies the major problem. that there was a lack of clear vision and a set of objectives. This is the case with other public sector organizations as well
  • Exceptional leadership and Management:
    • DRDO’s unsatisfactory success rate is result of poor leadership and  management which is not the case with ISRO
  • It is important to celebrate even relatively small successes, especially in areas of science and technology, so as to motivate and inspire younger people to take up careers in such areas. 

Topic: Disaster management

7) What are the causes of forest fires? How forest fire disaster should be managed? Examine. (200 Words)





Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man made causes 

  • Natural causes-
    • such as lightning which set trees on fire.
  • largely related to climatic conditions such as temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells.
  • Other natural causes are friction between bamboos swaying due to high wind velocity and rolling stones that result in sparks setting off fires in highly inflammable leaf litter on the forest floor.
  • Dry forests are prone to fire in summers, e.g. Australian forests
  • The coniferous forest in the Himalayan region comprising of fir (Albies spp), spruce (Picea smithiana), Cedrus deodra, Pinus roxburgii and P. Wallichiana etc. is very prone to fire.
  • The most vulnerable stretches of the world to forest fire are the youngest mountain ranges of Himalayas. With large scale expansion of chir forests in Himalayan mountains, the frequency and intensity of forest fires have increased alarmingly.  
  • The recent forest fire in Uttarakhand is because of high temperatures with no atmospheric moisture and lack of rainfall
  • Man made causes-
    • Fire is caused when a source of fire like naked flame, cigarette or bidi, electric spark or any source of ignition comes into contact with inflammable material
    • As well as methods of forest management. 
    • Grazers and gatherers of various forest products starting small fires to obtain good grazing grass as well as to facilitate gathering of minor forest produce like flowers of Madhuca indica and leaves of Diospyros melanoxylon
    • Shifting cultivation (especially in the North-Eastern region of India and imparts of the States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh).
    • The use of fires by villagers to ward off wild animals
    • Fires lit intentionally by people living around forests for recreation
    • It has been estimated that 90% of forest fires in India are man-made

Forest fire Management:

1.Strengthening of organizational framework:

  • Through appropriate modification and alteration in State Forest Departments’ structural framework and providing sufficient human power.
  • Financial support to States– Provision of Aids/Loans from GOI to States/UT’s according to their action plan for Systematic Forest Fire Management.
  • Inclusion of Forest fire management in National Forestry Action Plan– Sufficient mention of strategic Forest Fire Management in the document of NAFP
  • Revision of Indian Forest Act– The relevant section of the Indian Forest Act needs to be revised to give due importance to legal protection against man-made forest fire.
  • Creation of a national forest fire control board– With the task of supervising the control of devastating forest fire in exigencies in fragile areas like Himalayan zone, Western Ghats etc
  • Implementation of National Master Plan for Forest Fire Control: This plan proposes to introduce a well-coordinated and integrated fire-management programme that includes the following components:
    • Prevention of human-caused fires through education and environmental modification. It will include silvicultural activities, engineering works, people participation, and education and enforcement.
    • It is proposed that more emphasis be given to people participation through Joint Forest Fire Management for fire prevention. 
    • Prompt detection of fires through a well coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks.
    • Remote sensing technology is to be given due importance in fire detection. For successful fire management and administration, a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System are to be developed in the country. 
    • Fast initial attack measures. 
    • Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points. 
  • Also designing and installing a network of fire forecasting at National and State levels in collaboration with the Meteorological Department.
  1. International coordination:
  • The FAO has run a special TCP project program in the country under which main emphasis was given to human resource development in forest fire management.
  • Organising seminars, training programs, conferences, and study tours in different countries leading in Forest Fire Management, e.g., U.S.A., Australia, U.K., Spain, France, etc.


  • In addition to the ongoing schemes for forest fire management, the Government is also considering for setting up of a National Institute of Forest Fire Management with satellite centres in different parts of India with an objective to bring the latest forest fire fighting technologies to India through proper research, training of personnel
  • Effective fire fighting tools and machinery- Provision of modern and effective tools and machinery e.g. Fire Beater, Forest Fire Showel, Pulaskis Tool, Fire Rake, McLeod Tools, Brush Tools, Power Blowers, Back-Pack Pump Sets, Fire Tenders etc

4.Training and education:

  • Designing syllabus for planning, management, ground level firefighting courses in Forestry Institutions.


  • India is working on a new system of issuing pre-fire alerts to prevent such incidents.

6.Research and development:

  • by strengthening the existing and introducing new R&D institutions dealing with forest fire management.

7.Institution of National Awards:

  • Institution of Gallantry Awards for exemplary works in forest fire prevention, protection, and suppression.

8.Promotion of people’s participation:

  • Through involvement of NGOs, Voluntary Organisations, Village Forest Committees (VFCs) etc.

Fact :

  • According to environment ministry data, a total of 18,451 incidents of forest fires were reported from across the country in 2013, compared with 19,054 in 2014 and 15,937 in 2015. This year has seen a jump in such instances, with at least 20,667 fires already reported as on 21 April.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Challenges of corruption

8) It is known that corruption is commonplace even in institutions of national importance such as CBI. How will this corruption affect common man? How can corruption be curbed in such institutions? Comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express