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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 04, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 04, 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) “Forest fires highlight a larger cycle of threats in the western Himalaya. Increasing the area under broadleaf forests throughout is the only way forward.” What do you understand by broadleaf forests? Why are they absent in the region? How will their growth address forest fires? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Broadleaf forests:

  • Temperate deciduous forests also called “broadleaf forests,” because the tree species that populate them have broad leaves. Trees like Maple, Oak, Beech, Chestnut, Elm, Hickory, ect. have big, broad leaves that are attached to the branch by a special stem called a petiole. Unlike pine needles, these leaves are soft and easily digestible to browsing herbivores.
  • These tall trees form a canopy which blocks most of the sunlight from penetrating through to the plants below. To compensate, the plants that make up the understory and herbaceous layer are shade-tolerant, meaning they can survive with a lower amount of sunlight.
  • Due to the seasonal nature of temperate deciduous forests, many of the plants in this region are perennial
  • The term deciduousrefers to the plant’s ability to lose it’s leaves when times get tough.
  • They are present in both Eastern and western Himalaya but in recent years western Himalayan broadleaf forests are depleting at a faster rate though.

Why are they absent in the region?

  • Broadleaf trees tend to dry up in the wake of regular forest fires. These are rapidly replaced by the fire-resistant chir pine, which has very little to offer in the way of food for wildlife.
  • There is little or no regeneration in broadleaf forests. The extensive area under chir pine led to problems of a different sort – the shedding of pine needles and cones at the beginning of the hot season ensures plenty of fuel for wildfires, as the resin rich humus covers the ground. When this catches fire, broadleaf forest dies out, enabling the chir pine to spread further
  • Clearing the forests for logging and making space for agricultural land
  • Today, forests are being set on fire to kill trees
    • so that timber contractors can stay in business,commercial builders can clear land of trees to negate the difficulty of obtaining felling permission
    • villagers can stock up dead fuelwood for cooking and warming themselves, and various other reasons.
    • The main trigger for this phenomenon was a 1981 governmental ban on the felling of green trees over 1,000 metres above sea-level.

How can their growth address forest fires?

  • Enabling broadleaf forest to re-establish itself, will stabilise underground water resources.
    • The effect will be the rejuvenation of previously perennial upland springs that have become seasonal
    • a reduction in flood fury during the monsoon
  • “dreadlock” forests to grow back without interference would help subsurface water to recharge in the watersheds and headwaters, reducing floods, stabilising perennial flow in the rivers and giving our nation much needed water security.

TopicIndian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times. 

2) Museums play an important role in preserving art, culture and natural history of a nation. It is said that museums in India are facing plethora of problems. Analyse these problems and suggest solutions. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Museums condition is deplorable because of many factors like:-

  • No proper database:
    • An integrated database of existing and stolen artefacts, hardly exist.
    • Providing sufficient information regarding theft cases has been a struggle.
  • CAG Audit:
    • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s Performance Audit of Preservation and Conservation of Monuments and Antiquities in 2013 had scathing remarks about the country’s poor acquisition, documentation and conservation systems.
    • The audit also raised serious concerns about the “discrepancies in the number of antiquities reportedly available in museums” including the National Museum in Delhi.
  • Not enough manpower:
    • Museums and the ASI remain gravely short-staffed with an inadequate number of licensing and registering officers.

No proper Maintenance:

  • Most of our public museums would perform miserably in a fire audit. Like fire, water leakages and flooding can wreak enormous and immediate damage, to museum collections and the public.
  • Inappropriate sewage and drainage systems, unhygienic and offensive garbage disposal arrangements, including heaps of junk and malba that are left to lie around for months and years, mosquito-infested environments, all pose health and safety hazards in government museums.
  • wrong storage, handling and display, the dust, the humidity, the incomplete accessioning of invaluable objects, theft, also plague our public museums
  • Regular fire and safety drills are rare. Even in the best of our public museums, toilets are filthy, galleries damp and dusty, and very often much worse.

No proper design and structure: 

  • The particular case of the natural history museum, it was housed in a building not designed for it.
  • But even in public museums where buildings have been purpose-built, almost inevitably over time additions and changes are made in completely arbitrary ways, without any reference to original design and function.
  • Circulation, ventilation, light and safety are the usual casualties, as planned features — exit points, staircases, landings, windows, open-to-sky areas — are encroached upon or closed off for space, sometimes “security”, reasons.
  • “Temporary” construction of this type is often with cheap and harmful materials like asbestos, adding further to the risk..
  • Do not follow National Building Code, prepared under the guidance of the Bureau of Indian Standards which lays down the ground rules for correct building practice and maintenance, including detailed guidelines for fire safety.

The problem lies not in the mandatory regime but in the callous ways that rules are bent and flouted in practice at the museum level.


  • Initiate a review of fire safety at the 34 museums
  • One ministry:
    • To bring all public museums under the charge of one ministry, like the ministry of culture, could help if there was domain expertise and scope to standardise and streamline rules and procedures, including safety protocols.
    • The concerned ministry could become an advisory and watchdog body for the adoption and upgrade of museum best practice across all public museums.
  • Autonomy:
    • A museum cannot be run efficiently as a subordinate office of a ministry. 
    • For a museum to achieve standards of excellence, it has to be run with a vision, a long-term plan, and the freedom to hire the best professionals.
    • Audit and accountability are critical, alongside a work ethic that valorises output and makes inaction culpable. 
    • The existing, mangled and stifling management architecture has to be dismantled. This is long overdue. The government must seize the moment and place trust and faith in museums by devolving power
  • PPP:-
    • Government museums are able now to explore public-private partnerships which often work extremely well to raise the quality of output, transparency and accountability, and contribute significantly to the income that a museum is able to generate on its own
  • Experts recommend building larger cadres of art historians, conservators and archaeologists to man important sites and museums to safeguard and maintain heritage.

General Studies – 2

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

3) Critically evaluate the performance of the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). (200 Words)

Business Standard

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) 

  • is National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner


  • The PMJDY has dramatically changed the basic framework of financial inclusion in India. For long, progress in inclusion has been measured by the number of no-frills or basic savings bank accounts and the number of branchless outlets in villages. This has been changed.
  • Now has moved beyond the provision of simple no-frills accounts to meeting overall financial needs of the poor, linking government benefits, overdraft facility and insurance and pension to these savings accounts.
  • PMJDY Mission Directorate has progressed from monitoring only the number of accounts to tracking a number of indicators such as Aadhaar seeding, provision of RuPay cards, usage of overdraft facility, payment of Bank Mitra remuneration, etc, and transaction readiness of Bank Mitras.
  • There is transparency With state- and district-level data available on the PMJDY website and with a geographic information system (GIS) locator available online for banking services, it is much easier for any independent analyst to cross-verify the basic existence of a BC agent.
  • The massive campaign around PMJDY led to a surge in awareness, and for the first time in decades, bank officials, who would pursue people to open accounts to meet their mandated targets, reported being pushed by customers themselves.
  • The scheme entered the Guinness Book of Records by setting a new record for “Highest Number of bank accounts opened in a week”
  • will rescue villagers from the clutches of evil money lenders.
  • Could boost household savings rate similar to Bank Nationalization in 1960s.
  • Direct Benefit transfer (DBT) money will flow into those accounts .Thus savings will turn into capital. Subsidy leakage will decline.
  • Will increase Insurance penetration.
  • Overdraft only after monitoring performance is a win win situation.Rare chances of NPA/defaults.


  • The scheme was actually intended to encourage the unbanked sector of the country to use bank accounts for cash transactions. This objective has completely failed.
    • Based on the records from PMJDY website, out of 7.5 Crore accounts opened so far around 48 crore accounts have zero balance. This amounts to around 75% of the total accounts opened.
    • Given the fact that banks have to incur costs to maintain accounts, more than 75% inoperative or zero balance accounts are a huge liability for the banks. It will further add up to the already existing problem of dormant accounts. 
    • the drive is being used to gain political advantage by using PSU banks.
    • Regional rural banks have opened around 1.2 crore and private banks have achieved just around 20 lakh accounts. Of the PSUs, SBI has opened 1.2 Crore accounts followed by Bank of Baroda with around 39 Lakh. The irony is that 91% of these accounts are devoid of any cash balance.
  • The banks were pressed to meet the target, thereby making them offer accounts to anyone no matter whether they fulfil the minimum KYC requirements.
  • Most of the features of the scheme are ambiguous. The promised overdraft facility has been left to the decision of the banks concerned.  Banks will avoid getting into this fearing NPAs.
  • Though a lot more remains to be monitored – for example, the number of transactions at the agent and account level, connectivity issues at the BC outlet, customer care and grievance redressal 
  • Multiple accounts to get more insurance
    • Jan Dhan scheme gives Rs. 1 lakh insurance on each account.
    • To get large insurance or overdraft facility, same person might open multiple accounts in multiple banks- one with Aadhar card, one with PAN card, one with voters card.
    • Public sector banks may also overlook nuisance, in order to meet their ‘targets’.
  • Money laundering:
    • Smurfing: Hawala Operators can spilt the whole amount (say 1 crore) into several small units into several JDY accounts.Then send money overseas without coming under the watchful eyes of Income tax or Enforcement directorate.
    • Money mules: individuals with JDY accounts, who facilitate Hawala operators to send money via their account.
  • Insurance problems:
    • Jan Dhan gives you free accident insurance cover worth Rs.1 lakh.
    • But there is a secret condition- you must use RuPay debit card atleast once every 45 days.
    • This is not be possible for poor families in remote tribal areas. So, they’ll lose the benefit due to inactivity.
    • The insurance schemes announced have no any kind of documentation available with the account holders. 
  • Banking Correspondence Agent epic fail:
    • Jan Dhan aims to divide entry country into sub-service areas (SSA)
    • Within those SSA, each household will have a banking outlet within 5 km distance.
    • Since banks cannot open branches everywhere, Government aims to achieve this target via Banking Business Correspondence Agents (BCA) or Bank Mitra.
  • DBT failure:
    • PMJDY aims to make all scheme-subsidy payments directly to Jan-Dhan bank accounts. But this Direct benefit transfer (DBT) itself is a failure because:
      • Aadhaar project is yet to cover all residents.
      • Aadhar project facing court cases, because UIDAI is not a statutory body, backed by any law.
      • AT BCA level, Biometric authentication (finger scan) = showing 25-30% errors. So citizens will have difficulty in withdrawing money even if they’ve Aadhar card.

What is needed?

Systematic and well planned reforms necessary- as recommended by Nachiket Mor Committee- payment banks, wholesale banks, UEBA etc. But Government is in haste to capture media attention.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Mobilization of resources

4) It is said that increases in social sector will cause the fiscal deficit to increase, which is seen as unacceptable in policy circles. To address various problems presently faced in rural regions and by weaker sections, increased spending is suggested. From where does government can mobilize money? If at all it doesn’t have money, where is it going? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

From where does government mobilise money.These are also the sources government looks when it does not have money:

  • To provide the necessary increases in public spending is to increase government revenues, and especially direct tax revenues in particular provide the obvious mechanism.
  • Removing the loopholes in the tax system-tax system provides many tax breaks and incentives to rich individuals and companies, that allow them to avoid paying the full tax rate.
  • By increasing Personal income tax collection is similarly inadequate. The data show that the number of individual tax assessees was only 48.6 million in 2014-15, just 6 per cent of the estimated adult population of around 800 million in that year.
  • Rationalising the subsidy regime will provide revenues for social sector spending.
  • Taking loans from international organizations like Asian Development bank, World bank etc.,
  • Gold monetization scheme
  • When there is an overall budget deficit of the Government, it has to be financed by either
    • borrowing from the market
      • This causes the aggregate demand of the community to rise to a greater extent than the actual amount of deficit financing undertaken through the operation of what Keynes called income multiplier
      • Government borrowing from the market to finance fiscal deficit adds to the public debt and increases burden on future generations on whom heavy taxes have to be imposed for repaying the loans.
    • from the Reserve Bank of India:
      • RBI has the power to create new money, that is, to issue new notes. Thus, to finance its fiscal deficit, the government may borrow from Reserve Bank of India against its own securities.
      • This is only a technical way of creating new money because the government has to pay neither the rate of interest nor the original amount when it borrows from the Reserve Bank of India against its own securities.

Topic: Economic growth; Employment

5) How can India better its job creation for every percentage point of GDP growth, a ratio on which it significantly lags behind most other emerging economies? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • The Labour Bureau has compiled statistics for job creation in labour-intensive sectors in the country each quarter since the 2008 global financial crisis. The latest figures show that 1.35 lakh jobs were created in 2015, the lowest figure by far of any year since then — lower than the 4.9 lakh new jobs in 2014 and 12.5 lakh in 2009
  • A report outlining the NDA’s vision, Transforming India, released by the Department of Administrative Reforms last month, says 175 million new jobs could be created by 2032 if the economy grows by 10 per cent annually; the figure is 115 million if it grows by 7 per cent.

What should be done?

  • To create jobs,the above report proposes tax incentives and interest subsidies for firms creating jobs and some blue-sky interventions to invigorate sectors.
    • For instance, negotiate free trade pacts with major markets such as the European Union and the U.S. to boost textiles, improve regional air connectivity for tourism, and so on.
    • This year’s Budget offers to pay 8.33 per cent of the salary (as contribution for a pension scheme) for new employees getting formal sector jobs
  • Appoint a National Jobs Adviser to the Prime Minister in the PMO:
    • The Adviser would align job growth planning with economic planning; ensure integration of the multiple but job related policies across central ministries, as well as with the states; enable sharing of best practices between states, and provide a liaison between government and the private sector.
    • Most importantly, the Adviser would monitor actual outcomes for quick mid-course policy corrections as needed.
  • Create a vast, integrated, national ecosystem for entrepreneurship education, mentoring and support.
  • Make it easy for startups:
    • To actively contribute to India’s growth trajectory, we need a million startups with growth potential, with many of these outside the tech sector. ‘Startup India’ addresses many but not all the needs of entrepreneurs.
    • Access to a national network of mentors and angel investors; and easy access to government procurement opportunities with simplified rules are essential.
    • Policies that incentivise private investors to provide long-term equity and debt capital to startups are critical.
  • Enable growth in existing Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs):-
    • SMEs are the growth backbone of any nation and primary drivers of job growth. 
    • India’s archaic classifications of micro, small and medium businesses, based on invested capital, need to be scrapped and policies need to encourage every business to grow to become a medium business, or larger, creating a more dynamic economy and more jobs.We need to establish SME ecosystems for high-value manufacturing, for example to support defence and railways. We need to attract long-term investors to invest in SMEs, not just startups.
  • Launch a major Startup & Small Business Innovation Initiative (SSBI):
    • Some 40 years ago, the US launched ‘Small Business Innovation & Research’ initiative wherein various government departments allocate funding for innovation by SMEs, selected through an open, competitive process. This has helped create thousands of new companies and millions of new, quality jobs.
  • Create a technology platform that enables startup and SME growth:
    • This would provide the technology and knowledge infrastructure that powers all of the proposed startup and SME initiatives: enable digital/ mobile delivery of interactive curriculum and content to entrepreneurs, innovators; and connect them to mentors, angel investors and other key ecosystem participants.
    • New business ideas, business plans, innovation grants, market data could all be easily accessed and exchanged on this platform; creating data for research and policy analysis.

India needs a holistic action plan that covers every base — one that includes a skilling and re-skilling programme to increase employability and productivity, incentives for smaller enterprises that absorb a greater number of workers, and the embedding of job generation in the massive infrastructure upgrade that India requires. Jobs must be the pivot for social and economic policy.

Topic: Infrastructure – Ports

6) The Indian port sector plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. What are the problems faced by ports sector in India? What measures have been taken to address them? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Problems faced by port sector in India :-

  • A recent study by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF) titled ‘Bridging Infrastructural Deficits at Select Trade Ports in India’ observed that seaports displayed specific patterns of issues based on differences in geography, infrastructural capacity, operational aspects, contractual arrangements, and so on.
  • For instance, the Haldia Dock Complex in Haldia, West Bengal, being a riverine port, faces the natural challenge of heavy siltation and inadequate dredging capacities.
  • The issue of semi-mechanisation and manual handling of critical processes having a cascading effect on overall operational efficiency is evident at another eastern port — the Paradip Port in Odisha.
    • The process of unloading from ships to evacuation through rakes entails the use of outdated equipment cranes and grabs with low-evacuation capacity and is impeded with operational glitches such as the process of manual loading of cargo on rakes.
  • Congestion at the approach roads is a common problem observed at quite a few Indian port like the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra.
    • The study findings report heavy congestion en route to the port as well as inside the port, leaving trucks stranded for days — with queues extending to as long as 12 km — thereby leading to inordinate delays and increased transaction costs.
  • Some of the ports provide insights into certain regulatory and policy aspects that deserve attention.
    • For example, the royalty/revenue share issue at the V.O. Chidambaranar Port (VOCPT) can be seen as a classic example providing incisive details as the country takes forward its port privatisation programme in the years to come.
    • The prolonged tryst between the terminal operator and the port authorities over royalty coupled with contractual ambiguities has continually marred infrastructural utilisation, restructuring and modernisation as well as operational improvements at the terminal.
  • Underutilisation of physical infrastructure in particular though is extremely prevalent at another private terminal — the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal — at the Cochin Port. 
    • The major issue faced at the port, however, is its tariff structure. The tariff determined for the port by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) was reported to be almost three times that of other major ports, which renders the port uncompetitive

Measures taken so far :-

  • Sagarmala programme-leads to port led development ,improve coastal economy,modernize ports and integrate them with reduces the logistic costs of shipping
  • Industrial clusters are being created along the coast.
  • Port rail connectivity corporation has been created with the responsibility of connecting industrial hubs to various ports by trains.
  • Make in India gives impetus to the ship building industry
  • Port mechanization and modernization programme in order to enhance port infrastructure.
  • Recognising the important role port-led development can play in India, the Central government has undertaken several initiatives such as development of new ports, modernisation and mechanisation of the existing ones, and reduction of logistics costs through the implementation of increased waterways transport. These are also in line with the vision of initiatives such as ‘Make in India’.

Measures needed:-

  • In terms of infrastructure, it is important to maintain draft to serve bigger vessels, ensure mechanisation of ports through introduction of new equipment and procedures, build new facilities, upgrade existing facilities and automate systems/procedures.
  • In terms of policy and regulatory reforms, it is important to streamline tariff determination by TAMP along with a provision for periodic revisions
  • ensure transparent and effective contractual arrangements in PPPs
  • implement strengthened communication platforms for seamless information flow among stakeholders
  • strengthen system integration, ensure paperless clearance of procedures and transactions, develop user information portals, and so on.

Apart from reviving the ports currently operational, these measures, if duly incorporated, promise to sufficiently bolster prospective ventures as the country moves towards an optimistic maritime trade regime.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethical issues in international relations

7) “Ever since China’s decision to block UN sanctions against Masood Azhar, many Indians have concluded their superpower neighbour’s policies are driven by moral blindness, even malice.” What ethical issues does China’s action gives rise to? Will it be ethical if India does the same to China? Critically comment. (150 Words)

 The Indian Express