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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 16, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 16, 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: Distribution of key natural resources; Changes in critical geographical features 

1) What do you understand by ‘One Straw Revolution’ concept? Discuss some of the methods that help in groundwater recharge even in dry regions. (200 Words)

The Hindu

One straw revolution concept:-

  • Inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher
  • He advised against use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides ,decided against ploughing and weeding.
  • the introduction of compatible plants would not only tackle the menace of weeds but add to soil fertility and the symbiotic relationship in nature addresses any imbalance on its own obviating the need for human interference.
  • Gave precedence to natural farming.


Methods that help in groundwater recharge even in dry regions:

  • Recharge Ponds
    • The most common method used, recharge ponds are constructed surface basins that allow water to slowly infiltrate through the soil into the underground aquifer.

injection well

·      Injection Wells

o   A more energy-intensive method that uses high pressure pumps to actively ‘push’ water into aquifers.


  • Afforestration
    • The role of plants in the groundwater recharge is very qualitative and quantitative.
    • plant metabolism makes plant surfaces especially leaves to sink and source areas of chemicals.
    • Plants take transpiration water in humid and semi arid areas from the effective root zone ,in desert areas typically 4 to 6 m b.g.s and most trees are deeper rooted than other forms of vegetation.
    • Hence transpire much more percolation water than shallow rooting plants do.
  • Infiltration:
    • is the process of transition of precipitation or surface water to the subsurface ;hence it describes the process of how infiltration influences the dimensions of fluxes and storage in the percolation zone0
    • .In all topographies lineal and local infiltration triggers a two to three dimensional percolation flow;in contrast aerial infiltration produces in flat areas always and in hilly areas often a one dimensional vertical percolation.
  • Rainwater harvesting via roof tops
  • No excessive tube well irrigation. soak pits around the tube wells so that it will help in ground water recharge
  • Implementation of Aquifer mapping programme by government in which maps would help in proper estimation of the groundwater.

General Studies – 2

Topic: Judiciary – functioning

2) There has been a growing recognition all over the world that criminal defamation is a powerful tool in the hands of politicians and corporations to stifle and suffocate inconvenient speech. But in India, constitutionality of criminal defamation is upheld by the highest court itself. Critically discuss the justifications given to keep this provision intact in statute book. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • British imported their idea of criminal libel into the newly-minted Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Section 499 of the IPC criminalised intentionally defamatory statements. True statements were not exempted, unless they also happened to be made for the “public good”.

Justifications in favour of keeping this provision in the statute book are:

  • Recently the Indian Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 499 of the IPC .The court kept the 1860 provision, with its 17th century roots, entirely intact
  • First, it held that the right to “reputation” was protected under Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees “life and personal liberty”. Now, Article 21 only protects the individual’s life and liberty against interference by the state. the Supreme Court declared that the right to free speech under Article 19(1)(a) had to be “balanced” against the right to “reputation” under Article 21.
  • It held that criminal defamation law protected the feeling of fraternity — or solidarity — between members of a society. 

Justifications to abolish it:

  • In the 400 years after the origin of criminal defamation in England, and the world has moved on. There are no more duels. The United Kingdom abolished criminal defamation altogether.
  • More recently, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe struck it down as an unconstitutional restriction upon the freedom of speech.
  • There has been a growing recognition all over the world that criminal defamation is a powerful tool in the hands of politicians and corporations to stifle and suffocate inconvenient speech.
  • The Indian Supreme court simply asserted that since reputation could not be “crucified” at the altar of free speech, criminal defamation was constitutional which is not a proper explanation.
    • to elevate “reputation” to the level of a fundamental right, and second, to have it prevail over free speech — have no basis in either the text or the structure of the Constitution.
    • it made no mention of the fact that Section 499 does not allow for “honest mistake” as a defence.
  • Article 21 which is a shield to protect the individual against State persecution or indifference, is used as a sword to cut down the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression because of this provision.
    • new doctrine of “death by Article 21” emerged as a serious threat to the future of constitutional rights.
    • Article 21 has now become so vast, that if its use as a sword becomes a regular feature, then it will likely soon swallow up the rest of the fundamental rights chapter.
  • “Constitutional fraternity” is not a part of Article 19(2) of the Constitution, which specifically limits the circumstances under which the state can restrict speech to eight enumerated categories.
    • It is also nowhere in the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution, so the question of “balancing” free speech against constitutional fraternity does not arise.

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

3) In the light of recent controversies, discuss if provision of Article 110(3) of the Indian Constitution needs insertion of any check and balances. Also examine the Supreme Court’s opinion on this Article. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • Recently, the Aadhaar Bill and the Finance Bill were passed as Money Bills, though they may not have met the strict criteria laid out in the Constitution.
  • This meant that the Rajya Sabha had only a recommendatory role while discussing these Bills.
  • Article 110(3) states that If any question arises whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the House of the People thereon shall be final
  • There was a similar case decided in 2014. The Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed a Bill to amend the Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayuktas Act as a Money Bill and did not send this to the Legislative Council. the Supreme Court decided that the decision of the Speaker “that the Bill in question was a Money Bill is final and the said decision cannot be disputed.

Yes,checks and balances are needed:

  • There are several prior cases in which the Supreme Court has examined the decision of the Speaker or the legislature.
  • One set of cases pertains to the anti-defection law as laid down in the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.Similar wordings are present even in Art 110(3)
  • The Constitution has a system of checks and balances, which includes the Rajya Sabha as a check on the Lok Sabha. While the Speaker has the power to determine whether a Bill fulfils the requirements of a Money Bill, there has to be a check to ensure that this power is not misused.
  • The Supreme Court should examine this issue under its power of judicial review under the principles laid out in theKihoto Hollohan and Raja Ram Pal 
  • Article 122 provides immunity against challenges to proceedings on the grounds of procedural irregularities.A wrong decision taken under article 110(3) is not a procedural irregularity and hence does not grant any immunity.

No,checks and balances are not required:

  • The sole discretion is being used by the ruling parties to whittle away the legislative powers of Rajya sabha and make it a redundant legislative house by sending crucial bills like money bills as Rajya sabha doesn’t have the power over those bills.
    • In the recent controversy of considering aadhar bill as money bill despite the bill not meting the criteria set to be for a money bill shows the provision is being misused.
  • Neither the constitution nor the house rules lay down the procedure with regard to certifying the money bill making speakers decision discretionary.
  • Rajya sabha can’t question as of now the decision of the speaker even when they have a strong case for contesting speakers decision.
  • House of commons in Britain appoint 2 senior members who must be consulted before speaker gives certificate that the bill is a money bill but the ultimate decision is with the speaker itself.
  • Similarly in India a mechanism can be developed where the committee of the secretaries of both the houses ay examine in detail the given bill and submit their views to the speaker before speaker’s decision.

Topic: Transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

4) In an effort to amend RTI, a key allegation made in the Parliament is that the RTI is being widely misused, especially to blackmail public functionaries. It is also argued that government servants are unable to take decisions objectively for fear of the RTI. Are these arguments valid? If valid, should these arguments be used to amend the RTI law? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Yes,the allegations are valid:

  • large number of frivolous and vexatious RTI applications are being filed resulting in a negative impact on the efficiency of the government.
  • Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2015 gave a stay on the state information commission’s order mandating disclosure of details ofPriyanka Gandhi Vadra’s property acquisition in the state. 
    • The answer seeker is exercising his right under the RTI Act which in its current form does not stop one from making an RTI query even if he could have gotten the same information by doing some legwork

No it is not valid:

  • These allegations are however, are not backed by data or evidence.
  • One of the MPs who raised these issues in the Rajya Sabha has reportedly admitted that his statements were based on anecdotal evidence drawn from some isolated cases
  • As part of the assessments, 20,000 RTI applications filed to different public authorities in the country were collected.
    • Less than 1 per cent of the RTI applications analysed pointed towards the misuse of the law in terms of frivolous or vexatious information requests.
    • The majority of applicants sought basic information about decisions and action taken by the government, norms related to the functioning of public authorities and the use of public resources.
    • In fact, the studies showed that close to 70 per cent of the RTI applications sought information that should either have been made public proactively or communicated to the applicant without needing to file an RTI application.
    • The analysis also revealed that a little over 1 per cent applications were voluminous, in terms of requiring a lot of information, which could divert time of public servants.
    • Again, a majority of the voluminous applications were asking for information that should have been disclosed proactively.
  • In any case, how can objective government information, obtained under the RTI, be used to blackmail or harass anyone. On the other hand, if there is some wrongdoing, the RTI applicant would be rendering a service to the society by exposing it.
  • The assertion that the RTI can be used to compromise national security is totally unfounded. Section 8 of the RTI Act spells out the restrictions to peoples’ right to information.

Yes RTI act needs to be amended:

  • There is no reason why the RTI Act, 2005 should allow untrammeled access to information from the comfort of the home of the querist
  • provision of asking for a motive or reason to be asked to the RTI applicants is needed to check frivolous applications
  • Scrutiny of RTI applications:
    • There are instances where RTI information was sought on the same subject pertaining to particular ration card shop as many as 10 times.
    • Even information of people was demanded. There is definitely third party interest involved in such applications. But providing information can’t be denied as activists are smart enough to turn it into a public cause
  • If the authority failed to provide information to the applicant, he can move to first appellate authority and second subsequently. The second authority – state information commissioner – can only levy fine on the information officers, but can’t force them to provide information to the applicant. Of course, the applicants can then knock judiciary’s doors as the last resort which is already burdened.
  • All information commissioners are selected without by any process and most have no predilection for transparency.
  • Besides awareness, lack of uniform rules across India that aid further implementation and an overhaul of the responsibility of the first appellate authority, are some others which needed to be looked into.

No Amendments are not needed:-

  • There is no need to amend the Right to Information Act as the law is perfect according to experts.They appealed to public authorities to set their internal machineries right so that more information is in public domain and there is no need for RTI pleas.

What should be done to strengthen RTI?

  • As per the findings, only 36 per cent in rural and 38 per cent urban areas, have heard of the Act.
  • The report suggested that fictionalise success stories should be popularised and making RTI mandatory in school curriculum.
  • It also stated that 45% public information officers did not received any training, the first appellate authority stage needed an overhaul of sorts.

It recommends that the problems can be solved without curbing rights of the citizens. This is possible by reviewing every three months the kind of information people need and putting it up on website.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Conservation

5) What are the conservation challenges faced by wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India? Suggest solutions to address these challenges. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Conservation challenges:

  • Parks in India carry two prime objectives:
    • first, protection from exploitation of the target species
    • second, long-term preservation in a natural state.
    • Often such frameworks remain inflexible and exclusive to the local stakeholders.
    • Continuous neglect of these dynamics produces an environment of mistrust and exploitation until the park itself becomes a potent and destructive symbol of disempowerment.
  • Conservation has suffered a severe jolt with roadkills in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary accounting for a large number of fatalities over the past six months, mainly owing to lack of strict measures to enforce speed limits on vehicles.
    • Experts found as many as 85 roadkills in the past six months within the sanctuary limits.
  • uncontrolled passage of heavy vehicles during night-time.
    • As per a government order, the speed limits on roads passing through forest areas are restricted to 30 km an hour and passage of heavy vehicles is banned during night-time.
  • Man-animal conflicts:
    • No park exists in isolation, and that fact is becoming increasingly clear as the areas surrounding parks are developed for living space, agriculture, mining, forestry, and more.
    • The iconic species protected inside the parks don’t recognize boundaries and must often move in and out of the parks to feed, mate, or animal conflicts like the leopard case in Bengaluru recently.
  • Invasive species:-
    • National parks are inviting places, especially for non-native species that can cause havoc once they move in.
    • When turned loose with no competition, invasive species can run amok in an ecosystem and send a park’s native residents toward extinction.
    • Invasive species such as water hyacinth and Mimosa are great threats to Kaziranga. Water hyacinth clog water bodies and depletes oxygen in the water. It threatens underwater life and shrinks the size of water bodies.
    • Exotic leguminous species Mimosa was introduced in Tea gardens of Assam. The species have a poisonous amino acid (Mimosin). So, they are harmful for herbivorous
  • Habitat loss:
    • Due to flood and siltation, size of water bodies inside the park are shrinking. Siltation also affects the grazing areas of herbivorous animals.

·      Poor infrastructure:

o   Lack proper infrastructure and manpower for efficient monitoring, management and protection of wildlife.

o   The rangers and frontline staff deployed in many parks and sanctuaries lacks modern weapons, advanced communication systems and efficient means of transportation. There is also lack of proper camps and watch towers.

  • Human interference:
    • Examples of problems that occur due to human interference:
    • Illegal livestock grazing, illegal fishing, unplanned tourism infrastructure, highway traffic, tourism pressure, crop raiding, etc.
    • Due to lack of goodwill of state government, encroachment of land continues in Kaziranga area. The major threat is from the illegal Bangladeshis settling near the park.
    • In recent year, numerous dhabas and so called resorts were established in sensitive zones of Kaziranga.
  • No bottom up approach and involvement of community:
    • The rural masses’ need for basic resources to meet their daily sustenance requirements is the major threat to preserving the integrity of India’s natural landscapes and wildlife habitats.
    • There are several million more people living adjacent to the parks whose source of livelihood has legally been cut off by the creation of the national parks and sanctuaries.
    • Many of these people have traditionally lived off the natural produce of the forest for generations. Over the past 25 years as the forests were turned into parks their traditional rights to use the land were taken away and their lifestyles were criminalized.
    • Furthermore, the Indian Forest Service the agency responsible for managing all government lands including the protected areas has employed a top down approach as its management strategy.
  • Mining, petroleum prospecting, clear-cut lumbering, and other developments are generally prohibited inside parks—but they still pose serious threats to water quality, clean air, and other vital aspects of the park environment.
  • Some parks are already feeling drier these days, as increasing human demand shrinks supplies on which aquatic species depend
  • Poaching:
    • Poaching of wildlife is another cause of worry towards forest conservation. Some animals like tiger, are threatened due to loss forest habitat and poachers find it easy to kill tigers in absence of good forest cover where in tiger could hide earlier.
    • Shrinkage of forest habitat has put many wildlife to come to sub-optimal habitat where there are more danger of being killed than finding means to survive.
    • The poaching of Rhino in kaziranga park .Due to increased demand and high price of rhino horn in illegal markets, incidents of rhino poaching has increased in recent year.
  • Natural disasters and uncertainty due to climate change:
    • Flood is an annual feature of Kaziranga. Though it helps in maintaining a balance in vegetation, there are many side effects of flood.
    • Annual flood leave the entire park in a state of disarray and confusion. It results in various problems including death of wildlife, shortage of fodder, malnutrition, highway accidents, communication interruption, damage to infrastructure, accelerated erosion, siltation etc.


  • WWF-India Eco-development project aims to develop a model programme that can be used all over the country to help resolve this conflict.
  • Involve local communities in decision making like Critical tiger habitats Gram Sabha is given importance similarly the forest rights act
  • Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made .The park contains a wide variety of species and is bisected by a large commercial road called the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH).
  • Implementing the Gadgil committee and K Kasturirangan committee to water down the original recommendations, only to defer implementing even the compromised stipulations
  • Once the animal populations stabilized and the patrolling and monitoring mechanisms were in place, the park authorities could concentrate on habitat management activities.
  • The park area was also doubled to include some of the adjoining forests and riverine areas
  • Primary infrastructure such as all-weather approach roads and bridges to the park were constructed, and anti-poaching camps were reconstructed.
  • Patrolling and wildlife monitoring had to be taken up on a priority basis and scientific studies to ascertain the status of key species have been undertaken with the help of research organizations.
  • Participation of local communities:
    • The participation of local youth has been actively sought for the management of Manas and its buffer regions.
    • These youth were employed as conservation volunteers on a monthly stipend and ration.
    • They assisted the forest department in surveillance and patrolling activities.
    • With the help of national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), some of the youth were also trained to act as nature guides for small ecotourism enterprises
    • The local people now have a stake in protecting the park and a sense of pride in having such a biodiversity-rich area nearby.
    • Indirectly, the recovery of Manas has also generated broad environmental awareness and kept the local, semi-educated population employed

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

6) Write a note on India’s Ballistic Missile Defence system and the progress made in establishing it. (200 Words)

The Hindu



  • India’s BMD programme is a DRDO initiative to develop and deploy a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system which has been in the making since 1999.
  • India’s home-made BMD programme encompasses a double-tiered system consisting of two interceptor missiles – Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile for high altitude interception, and the Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile for interception at lower altitudes.
  • Since the PAD was an air defence version of the already proven Prithvi surface-to-surface strike missile, it was the first of the two to be test-fired in 2006.
  • The AAD which had to be developed almost ab initio was test-fired for the first time in 2007.
  • But after the first firing the AAD segment of the BMD programme took off, overtaking the PAD and claiming five successes out of the six endo-atmospheric test firings done till now.
  • On the exo-atmospheric front, to achieve the aim of intercepting enemy missiles launched from as far away as 2,000 km and for ensuring minimum fall of debris on the ground, it was necessary to modify the existing PAD missile (with an intercept ceiling of only 80 km) to enable interceptions at much higher altitudes.
  • With the test of the PAD missile, India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an Anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia, Israel

Phase 1:-

·      The Phase-I of Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme  have been completed and now India is running through the Phase II of its Ballistic Missile Programme that would be completed by 2016 to protect against missiles having range up to 5000 km.

o   Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) / Pradyumna Ballistic Missile Interceptor:

§  The Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is an anti-ballistic missile developed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere (exo-atmospheric).

§  Based on the Prithvi missile, PAD is a two-stage missile with a maximum interception altitude of 80 km (50 mi).

§  The first stage is a Solid fuelled motor while the second stage is Liquid fuelled.

§  PAD has capability to engage the 300 to 2,000 km class of ballistic missiles

o   Prithvi Air Defence Exercise:

§  The PADE (Prithvi Air Defence Exercise) was conducted on November 2006 in which a PAD missile successfully intercepted a modified Prithvi-II Missile at an altitude of 50 km (31 mi).

§  The Prithvi-II ballistic missile was modified successfully to mimic the trajectory of M-11 missiles.

o   Advanced Air Defence (AAD)/Ashwin Ballistic Missile Interceptor

§  Advanced Air Defence (AAD) is an anti-ballistic missile designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the endo-atmosphere at an altitude of 30 km.

§  AAD is a single-stage, solid-fuelled missile. Guidance is similar to that of PAD.

§  Despite setback initially AAD intercepted and destroyed a Prithvi ballistic missile fired from a ship recently.

  • Swordfish is the target acquisition and fire control radar for the BMD system

Phase 2:-

  • Two new anti ballistic missiles that can intercept IRBMs are being developed.
  • These high speed missiles (AD-1 and AD-2) are being developed to intercept ballistic missiles with a range of around 5,000 km.
  • The test trials of these two systems are expected to take place in 2011. The new missile will be similar to the THAAD missile deployed by the US. 
  • India is also planning to develop a laser based weapon system as part of its defence to intercept and destroy missiles soon after they are launched towards the country.
  • PDV:-
    • In 2009, reports emerged of a new missile named the PDV.
    • The DRDO is developing a new Prithvi interceptor missile codenamed PDV.
    • It will be a two-stage missile and both the stages will be powered by solid propellants. It will have an innovative system for controlling the vehicle at an altitude of more than 150 km
    • The PDV is intended to replace the existing PAD in the PAD/AAD combination
    • The PDV is designed to take out the target missile at altitudes above 150 km (93 mi).The first PDV was successfully test fired in 2014.
  • In order to ward off the threats of nuke-tipped cruise missile attack India has a new missile defence programme which will be focused solely on intercepting cruise missiles. The technological breakthrough has been created with an Advanced Air Defence missile (AAD)
  • India is acquiring airborne radars like AWACS to ensure detection of cruise missiles in order to stay on top of the threat.
  • Barak-8is a long-range anti-air and anti-missile naval defence system being developed jointly by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India. 
  • Recently developed, India’sAkash missile defence system also has the capability to “neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles”.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Challenges of corruption

7) Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a staff paper that explains why corruption is bad for economies and suggests ways to eradicate it. Examine if its suggestions hold good for developing economies such as India. (200 Words)