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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 19, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 19, 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: Social empowerment

1) Should there be reservation for transgender people in government jobs and educational institutions? Critically comment.  (200 Words)

Business Standard

Currently, there is no law for transgender people in the country. The 2011 Census was the first time data on the third gender was collected. It put the population of transgender people at nearly 500,000. However, Reports claim the figure could be as much as 2.5 million

In a census conducted this year, the official count of transgenders was pegged at 4.9 lakh, though activists have said that the real number was six times the official number.

Yes,Reservation is needed:-

  • Reservation according to Indian Constitution is needed to uplift socio economic backward classes .This criteria fits perfectly for Transgenders as they are one of the most severely marginalised, impoverished and blatantly exploited communities of the country .
  • Even Supreme court in 2014 created the ‘third gender’ status for transgender people and asked the Centre to treat the community as socially and economically backward. SC said they should be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.
  • Most transgenders, even if they are born in an upper caste, cannot survive for too long in Indian society without grouping with others from the community. There have been several reports of police atrocities, and sexual assault against them. Nothing about their social and political reality makes them any less disenfranchised than a backward caste.
  • According to UNDP report a primary reason (and consequence) of the exclusion is the lack of (or ambiguity in) legal recognition of the gender status of transgender people. It is a key barrier that often prevents them in exercising their civil rights in their desired gender.
    • It is a key barrier that often prevent them in exercising their rights related to marriage with a person of their desired gender, child adoption, inheritance, wills and trusts, employment, and access to public and private health services, and access to and use of social welfare and health insurance scheme.
    • The report links this lack of legal recognition to the escalating incidents of HIV+ among the transgender community as they not only face poverty and have to turn to sex work for survival .
    • Given the stigma around their existence, it’s also equally difficult for them to both afford and avail medial aid.
  • In some instances despite their qualifications, they could not get suitable jobs and were discriminated against and disregarded for the only reasons that they did not come under the group ‘male’ or ‘female’.
  • Most members of the community live in poverty, reservations could economically and socially uplift them.


  • But Government feels it isn’t feasible to group transgenders with OBCs as some of them might already be from backward classes and hence it’s problematic to classify them as OBCs on the basis of their gender identity.
  • Since a lot of the transgenders might have been born to different castes, it is wrong to club them as OBCs.

What can be done ?

  • Establishment of a hijra, intersex and transgender welfare board similar to those in States including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra all over India is welcome.
  • The government’s housing projects should be extended to homeless members of the community. 
  • Need for passage of the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill 2014:
    • provides for the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive national policy to ensure overall development and welfare of transgenders by the State.
    • demanded two percent reservation for transgender people in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • The Centre has to ensure increase of social welfare schemes for the community.
  • Need to introduce issues about the community in school curriculum to sensitise children.

General Studies – 2

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

2) Analyse why stronger ties between Iran and India is in their mutual interest. (200 Words)

The Hindu



  • India can decrease the dependence on Saudi for oil especially in the light of slumping oil prices and Iran oil is comparatively cheap
  • IRAN:
    • Iran has the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas, yet it is not a major exporter.
    • Iran has several challenges to overcome before it can become an energy supplier to Europe and Asia. For one thing, Iran’s energy infrastructure – long neglected as a result of Western sanctions – requires major upgrades to make it capable of sustained energy exports.
    • This will require massive foreign investment and India can tremendously help here.

Chabahar port:

  • Chabahar port, which is a symbol of Indo-Iran economic and strategic cooperation, will give India access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan
  • Chabahar port is also linked to India’s receiving natural gas imports from Iran, as the port would also serve as the point of origin for the proposed Iran-Oman-India pipeline.
    • India’s strategic thinkers also view the port as a strategic counterweight to China’s pursuit of a port in Pakistan’s Gwadar.
  • For India it will give access to the oil and gas resources in Iran and the Central Asian states.
  • The Chabahar port project is Iran’s chance to end its US-sponsored economic isolation and benefit from the resurgent Indian economy. Along with Bandar Abbas, Chabahar is the Iranian entrepot on the North-South corridor.
  • Apparently a tripartite agreement was reached between Iran, Afghanistan and India on developing two berths at Chabahar and giving India a ten-year lease, for which it offered a $150 million loan. India separately offered to supply rail-lines worth $400 million to create rail connectivity between Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad.

Role in Afghanistan:

  • Iran-Afghan railway link:
    • India’s involvement in the development of the port of Chabahar is even more significant when you consider that India is currently involved in constructing a 560 mile long railway line linking the Iranian port with the iron ore mines in Hajigak in southern Afghanistan. This endevour is linked to a larger geopolitical and economic strategy.
    • The railway link when completed will potentially afford India some strategic benefits including – 
      • Increasing India’s position and leverage in Afghanistan and the central Asian region. This affords India an easier connection to Afghanistan after avoiding Pakistani blockages.
      • Apart from the impact on security and regional politics this more importantly implies that Indian companies will have opportunities to start exploration over Afghanistan’s mineral wealth which is estimated to be close to $3 trillion. (This alone is over double the size of India’s economy.)
    • Both Iran and India share the goal of a stable government in Kabul free of the Taliban’s influence and not revert to the Taliban-controlled Pakistani client state that it was in the 1990s. To that end, India and Iran must engage each other to strengthen the hand of the government in Kabul.


  • Iran believes that India fulfils a substantial part of Iran’s needs. For example, India is very capable in steel, in aluminium, in mines and metals, railroads, software, IT, technology and so on. There is a lot of demand in these sectors in Iran.
  • One of the biggest advantages in recent times is that Indians are offering a credit line to the Iranians.That’s a very substantial element in the hands of the Indians to offer for different projects to Iranians and this credit, which is in rupees, is beneficial to Indians.According to the financial structure, Indian companies will benefit from it, the rupee will benefit from it.
  • India was waving around $20 billion of investment in various sectors.
  • India is in discussions with Iran to revive the latter’s tea industry, which saw a major decline in the recent past, it may open up a plethora of opportunities for the Indian tea companies to seek joint ventures in Iran.
    • Iran has approached India to modernise its tea industry in Lahijan, the area bordering the Caspian Sea. 
  • Indian fertiliser companies have shortlisted a subsidiary of  Iran’s Bank Pasargadfor jointly setting up a urea manufacturing plant at  Chahbahar in Iran.The plant proposed to use cheap gas supplied by Iran to manufacture crop nutrients for export to India. 
    • It’s cheaper to import urea from Iran than manufacturing it locally in India.India ‘makes’ Urea at $375 when it can very well ‘buy’ at $300 from Iran.


  • Iran would act as a gateway to Central Asia
  • The Iran visit by the PM is an opportunity to restore equilibrium in India’s foreign policy, which, of late, was seen to be skewed towards Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • After Sanctions the significance of Iran geopolitically has increased.
  • In fact, only the Iran route offers India both an alternative to unresolved conflict and tension with Pakistan as well as the opportunity to overcome India’s geographic isolation from energy-rich Central Asian region.
  • Central Asia is going to be the scene of renewed great power rivalry, and India must act, not as a mere spectator, but as a leading player.
  • Notwithstanding Iran’s growing bonhomie with Pakistan and China, India must stay in close contact with Iran and consciously and consistently pursue good diplomatic and economic relations with it. 


  • Globally, New Delhi and Tehran are on the same page in their opposition towards groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
  • Increasing hold of ISIS  is a threat to Iran and with India effective efforts against terrorism India can be a attractive partner 


  • India’s desire to reclaim for India the influence and cultural relations it once enjoyed with the countries of Central Asia before the dawn of colonialism can only be reasonably realized through Iran
  • India has the 2nd largest population of Shiias in the world after Iran some of whom probably also have ancestral ties to Iran. This ties back to a complex political situation in India. Religion and national allegiances play a large part in Indian politics and this is magnified with the upcoming elections.
  • According to a BBCWorld Service Poll conducted at the end of 2005, 71% of Iranians viewed India’s influence positively, with 21% viewing it negatively, the most favourable rating of India for any country in the world.

Other projects:

  • India has been vigorously pursuing the Iran–Pakistan–India (IPI) gas pipeline project for the last decade. The operation of the IPI project would be reinforced by the trilateral “Framework Agreement,” in which the three governments would be committed to the provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty
  • With the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline still stuck and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipelineyet to take off,India is very keen to kick-start an undersea pipeline project that would bring Iranian gas to India via the Arabian Sea bypassing Pakistan.
    • This is  a great opportunity for India to transport natural gas from Iran to Porbandar port in Gujarat
  • Zaranj-Delaram Highway is being built with financial support from India.
  • A strategic partnership between India, Iran and Russia is intended to establish a multi-modal transport link connecting Mumbai with St Petersburg, providing Europe and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia access to Asia and vice versa.
  • also provide connectivity to Central Asia and Europe, via the International North South Transport Corridor(INSTC), which is estimated to be 40 percent shorter and 30 percent less expensive than trade via the Red Sea-Suez Canal-Mediterranean route.

Topic😛owers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

3) Even though the Election Commission has succeeded in curbing many malpractices during elections, it has failed to curb the flow of cash in election campaigns. Why it’s a challenge and how it this malpractice can be curbed? Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The Election Commission postponed voting in two Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu where there were allegations of rampant voter bribery and distribution of cash and gifts over the last month, and ordered an inquiry.

But given the situation on the ground,deferring the election in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur by a week is a grossly inadequate response.


Why is it a challenge?

  • There is enough reason to believe that the cash-for-votes phenomenon has taken deep roots in all constituencies.
  • deferment means little in the long run if recovery of cash is not followed up with the implementation of strategies to stamp out this perversion. 
  • The expenditure spent by the political parties is not a transparent information given to the Election Commission (EC) because of the entire amount spent by the parties only 20% of the expenditure is recorded and submitted to the EC and no one is aware about the rest 80% of the money spent in times of elections.
  • EC is not able to locate the actual source of this illegal  That`sthe reason why the EC of India has failed to curb the flow of illegal money during elections.
  • Campaign finance remains anachronistically opaque, and the distortions include not just “money power” at election time, but also corruption in administration and in, say, the use of local area development funds
  • While concerted efforts by the EC have dampened a candidate’s ability to spend freely, a limited focus on candidates without concurrent efforts to limit party expenditure is re-channelling campaign finance through the coffers of political parties and, in effect, leaving intact the primary source of exorbitant spending
    • The Election Commission classifies lawful campaign spending as either candidate or party expenditure. While candidate expenditure is capped at ₹70 lakh in most parliamentary constituencies, party expenditure remains unconstrained
    • The Commission operates with a procedural distinction between candidate and general party canvassing. For instance, even though a candidate may feature prominently on the dais at a public rally, as long as his or her name, constituency and photograph are not mentioned or displayed, the political party absorbs the entire cost of the event
  • While video surveillance prevents a gross under-declaration of expenses incurred through public rallies, it leaves quotidian aspects of campaign finance easily manipulated. For example, spending often begins well before filing nomination papers, which is when the Commission officially begins tallying candidate expenditure
  • Then there’s the matter of print advertisements. Batches printed in the tens of thousands or even lakhs are formally declared as 1,000 or even 500. sometimes even disassembling side-door panels, pockets are often ignored, enabling a single individual to smuggle up to ₹4 lakh in 1,000-rupee notes.
  • Candidates remain one step ahead of the Commission by exploiting lapses in finance regulation. The recent election witnessed an unprecedented level of digital canvassing that go beyond the purview of regulation.Assocham estimates that expenditure on digital media may have exceeded ₹500 crore in the recent election.
  • Expenditure that the Election Commission thinks is electoral expenditure is actually a tiny fraction of the total election expenditure. Publicity material, pamphlets, leaflets now constitute a tiny fraction of the expenditure of parties.” 
  • Rural constituencies, which are vast have little EC staff to monitor spend. Also since a team is managing these activities, in a ‘supporters’ stronghold, nothing much comes to the EC’s notice. Out of a total of 11 million people working in election management, less than 10 cent check on spend.
  • Nothing can be done in cases where money moves through couriers. Experts point out that since a majority of this money is black; the movement is through the hawala channel and not accounted for in the banks. As per industry insiders, angadias (a long existent, unofficial courier channel) from Delhi and Mumbai are charging Rs 3 per Rs 1000 transfer to state capitals and Rs 5 per Rs 1000 transfer to district centres. The usual rate is Rs 1-1.50 per Rs 1000 transfer. Everyday crores worth of cash is being routed through the hawala channel. 
  • Despite the fact that the EC has set up monitoring cells, not a single candidate has been disqualified on grounds of excessive spending. This creates a culture of complacency where everyone knows that nothing will happen.

What needs to be done?

  • The EC cannot wage this battle alone efforts to curb the flow of cash in election campaigns need to be embedded in a wider cleaning up of the account books of political parties
  • Strict media supervision:
    • During election season, media outlets often carry reports of roving flying squads intercepting troves of cash, liquor and gift-for-vote commodities, and travellers routinely encounter mobile checkpoints conducting impromptu stop-and-search procedures along national highways.
  • Election commission role:
    • Monitor discrepancies between declared and actual expenses, the EC has to maintain a near ubiquitous presence on the campaign trail and regularly videotapes public rallies and processions.
    • EC has set up flying squads, risk surveillance teams, video surveillance teams, parallel accounting teams to monitor spending and movement of money. The latest initiative by the EC is that of setting up of a Multi Departmental Committee on election intelligence involving the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Coast Guard, and the Financial Intelligence Unit among other. This has to be strengthened.
  • To stop the flow of illegal money it is necessary for the government to provide election funds to the parties in times of election
    • Such that it can provide at a maximum of 100/Voter such that the entire expenditure spent by the party will be Rs.5500 Crore to the maximum which is much lesser than the expenditure spent when there is crony-capitalism present in the funding.

Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

4) In the light of changing geostrategic dynamics in the Himalayan region, it is said that India would do well to add economics and commerce to its strategic vision of the Himalayan region and change its Himalayan Doctrine. Discuss why. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • The Himalayan doctrine of India has been focussing mainly on geopolitical interests .However with the changing dynamics of the relations of the neighbours India needs to increase its economics and commerce relations with these countries.
  • Recently Nepal signed a free trade agreement with China and committed Nepal to participating actively in China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative
    • Trade through Tianjin, the port closest to Beijing,  pledged $216 million to build an airport at Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city,
    • to build a bridge at Hilsa in the extreme west of the country to connect it by road to Tibet.
    • Karakoram Highway, China Pakistan economic corridor also show that there is increase in trade connections between the Himalayan nations.

Why Should India focus on Economy and commerce?

  • Historically, the Himalayan range was never a barrier to commerce, with local societies trading through the river valleys cutting into Tibet. Kathmandu Valley was better linked commercially to Lhasa than to the Gangetic plain, and it was the Tibet trade that contributed to the enormous wealth and cultural achievements of the Valley kingdoms.
  • Strengthens SAARC and the region which will further increase the role of India in the world.
  • Increase the trust of Himalayan nations that India is not just a big brother and they are not the means to counter China.
  • Development of these countries can lead to opportunities in Himalayan States and North Eastern States of India as well.
  • Mutual benefit:
    • Bhutan:
      • India continues to be the largest trade and development partner of Bhutan as over 90 per cent of Bhutan’s trade is with India.
      • The India-Bhutan engagement is multifaceted and covers sectors like hydro power, health, education, human resource development, media, information technology, telecom, etc. India has been helping Bhutan in a big way in generation of hydroelectric power.These are very important for India especially energy .
      • Three major hydroelectric projects have already been commissioned with India’s assistance. These are the Chukha Project (336 MW), the Kurichhu Project (60 MW) and the Tala Project (1020 MW). The fourth and the biggest hydel power project –Punatsangchhu (1200 MW), is also sanctioned.
      • Besides, India is helping Bhutan in developing a knowledge-based economy by way of a Rs. 205 crores ‘Total Solutions Project’ which will provide access to information technology and IT solutions to a significant proportion of Bhutan’s population over the next five years. The project envisages training and establishing ICT enabled schools, computer labs, and computer stations in rural Bhutan.
    • Can prove that it is truly democratic not involving in the internal affairs of the other countries:
      • A turnaround in New Delhi’s Himalayan doctrine would lead to an easier relationship with the sovereign neighbours, helping their evolution into stable democracies.
      • It would also contribute to making India’s own Himalayan hinterland, from the Northeast to Kashmir, more part of the national mainstream.
    • India’s strategic interests in the Himalaya include several other elements, from hydroelectricity generation to the need for storage reservoirs in the deep valleys providing water for irrigation, flood control and urban use by the growing Gangetic middle class. All these push it towards constricting the sovereign manoeuvrability of Nepal and Bhutan.
    • Nepal:
      • There is no need to fear that China will replace India’s pre-eminent role in Nepal’s economy.
      • For example the Chinese mainland and ports are 3,000 km away, as compared to 1,000 km to Kolkata.
      • Meanwhile, the open Nepal-India border is a prize of shared history to be nurtured by both countries.
      • In sociopolitical terms, Kathmandu’s civil society enjoys a comfort zone with India that the taciturn Chinese state cannot match.
    • China:
      • The Chinese challenge is real, but the ground has shifted with advances in the transport, infrastructure and geopolitics of High Asia, enough to demand a policy departure
      • New Delhi will have to calibrate its position between competing with, engaging, and strategically challenging Beijing.
      • In doing so, India will get the advantages of the planned trans-Himalayan infrastructural connections, which will ultimately help India’s economy link to the Chinese mainland.
      • Connectivity is what India’s foreign policy establishment has been championing for the South Asian economies and there is no reason why it should not be extended north by northeast, to Tibet and all the way to the Chinese mainland.
      • Furthermore, the societal and economic transformations introduced by the trans-Himalayan opening may finally help pry open Beijing’s grip on Tibetan society, nothing else having worked over six decades of increasing control and demographic inundation.
      • Kathmandu’s main port of call will remain Haldia in West Bengal as of now, and Visakhapatnam and Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Mongla and Chittagong in Bangladesh in the future
    • Tibet:
      • The arrival of Qingzang Railway from the Chinese mainland to the Tibetan plateau in 2006 has been the game changer, and the line has already been extended to Shigatse town and is ploughing westward and closer to Nepal’s border points.
      • The railway makes the transfer of goods from the mainland economically feasible .It is set to create new commercial dynamics.
      • Nepal and China have agreed to complete the Kyerung Highway starting northwest of Kathmandu, which would allow descent from the Tibetan plateau to the Gangetic plain in less than a day.
      • There is also agreement to build the Kimathanka Highway down the Kosi river valley in eastern Nepal, which would bring the Shigatse/Lhasa railheads close to Bangladeshi and Indian ports.
      • What all this means is that India would do well to add economics and commerce to its strategic vision of the Himalayan region.It can gain economic access to parts which it never contemplated before.


What needs to be done?

  • The New Delhi establishment has to shake off the inertia in its strategic thinking of the Himalayan range.
    • It must simultaneously understand the desires of the Himalayan societies and consider the new-found interdependence of the Indian and Chinese economies
    • consider ways to ensure India’s security beyond the number of boots on the ground along the mountain frontier.
    • Out-of-the-box statecraft would bring dividends in peace of mind, savings and economic growth.
  • Nepal:
    • Leaving Nepal free to develop its international outreach, as a country that can never afford to go against India’s security interests, would be a great way to begin to define the new doctrine.
    • Delhi must first stop treating Nepal as a de-facto protectorate, and help it to complete its transition to full nation-statehood. The first requirement for this is to respect Nepal’s sovereignty, scrupulously respect all treaty obligations and avoid intervening in its internal affairs.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

5) Discuss how diversification and adjustment of cropping patterns can mitigate the impact of droughts on the lives of the rural poor in India. Also examine the role of governments in this regard. (200 Words)


The Indian Express

How diversification and adjustment of cropping patterns can mitigate the impact of drought and rural poor:


  • Diversification and adjustment of cultivated crops is a traditional adaptation practice contributing to minimize the risk of crop failure due to drought.
  • diversification may be achieved by integrating multiple production systems, such as mixing agroforestry management with cropping, livestock, and fallow to create a highly diverse piece of agricultural land
  • Growing two or more crop species and wild varieties within the field,polycultures,Agroforestry,pest suppression, Growing crops and trees together all these are possible because of diversification.
  • Resilient agroecosystem will continue to provide a vital service such as food production if challenged by severe drought or by a large reduction in rainfall. In agricultural systems, crop biodiversity may provide the link between stress and resilience because a diversity of organisms is required for ecosystems to function and provide services 

Cropping patterns:

  • The predominant cropping pattern in India rice-wheat system is a groundwater exploitating system especially in the areas of drought.
  • The introduction of more drought-resistant crops and cropping patterns are important options to help reducing vulnerability to climate change. 
  • Bangladesh case study:
    • The following crop patterns have proved to be the most successful in the context of drought management tested in Northwest Bangladesh between 2008 to 2010:
    • Potato-Maize cropping pattern was accepted as profitable by farmers in areas where minimal irrigation facilities are available, and is therefore to be considered suitable to drought-prone areas.
    • Mustard, chickpea and mung bean are suitable crops for exploitation of residual moisture after rice
    • The pulses and oil seeds in principally mono-cropped areas could increase the nutritional security of the local people.
  • Like states such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka is reeling under severe agrarian distress.Rationalising cropping patterns would avoid this.
    • A lot of the area increase of these crops have actually come at the cost of ragi and jowar and the government is trying to reverse that trend 
  • According to experts, with only 12 percent area under irrigation, opting for sugarcane and soybean has turned out to be a bad idea. Not only does it affect the farmer, but it also affects the fodder availability for cattle as well.
  • Drastic fall in jowarand bajra has hampered the availability of dry and green fodder.
  • digging of borewells for extracting groundwater not only ruins the fertility of the soil but also depletes groundwater level. The groundwater drawn from a single borewell in a farm creates shortage for other farms in the vicinity. 
  • Sugarcane crushing: 
    • The practice, which usually begins in October, requires tremendous amounts of water.
    • According to this report by SANDRP, a factory that can crush about 2,500 tons of cane per day on an average needs 25,00,000 liters of water per day.
    • This problem would not occur because of proper cropping patterns and diversification.

Role of governments:

  • Karnataka-
    • incentive structure put in place to boost crop area of millets like ragi and jowar, which use less water to grow, as well as disincentivise water-guzzling crops like maize.
    • The procurement price for ragi is now 28% more than the central minimum support prices (MSPs) of 1650 (per quintal).
    • The government is also planning to supply more millets through the state’s public distribution system, increasing the existing 30kg for Rs.1 distribution for poor families under a flagship scheme called Anna Bhagya
  • Millet cultivation:
    • Tamilnadu:
      • The government along with civil society is trying to convert fallow lands into millet farms.
    • Andhra Pradesh:
      • In Andhra Pradesh, NGO-led community movements are promoting millet cultivation.
    • In Orissa, the government is taking some steps to increase the area of millet cultivation.
    • In Maharashtra, the government has already announced subsidies for millets,”
    • Maharashtra:
      • The state government is promoting crop patterns suitable to drought-hit Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, and is roping in agriculture research council and universities to provide crops with shorter life-cycle to sustain agriculture in the dry belt.
      • Apart from crops like cotton, sugarcane, jowar and tur dal (pulses), there is emphasis on promoting horticulture and floriculture under controlled water and temperature technology to ensure assured income for farmers.
      • The region-wise crop pattern changes are being modelled, and would be discussed with farmers in the next two months.
      • While the decision to enforce drip irrigation for sugarcane will be mandatory from next season, the campaign to intensify beyond cane cultivation is being pushed in entire Marathwada and parts of Western Maharashtra such as Solapur which is drought prone.
      • Adopting scientific methods would help minimise financial risks in the agro-sector.
      • promoting cultivation of “jerbera” flowers which do not require intense water. There is a move to promote tur dal in the drought belt as it is not a highly water intensive crop. The centre and the state are giving incentives to promote tur dal cultivation and oilseeds in some parts.
    • Recently, the government with the aid of World Bank advocated to establish a company for individual and group of farmers for group farming. Such initiatives will definitely boost the morale of farmers and help in lowering suicide rates
    • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana
    • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana 
    • NDMA drought preparation plan 
    • National Mission on climate resilient agriculture.
    • The short, inter- crop cycle is also being re-looked to promote seasonal vegetables and fruits in small land holding.

What needs to be done further?

  • However, diversification can be further strengthened by interactive systematic testing, selection and dissemination of appropriate crops and varieties. This may be accomplished in a participatory way between research institutions and farmers (groups).
  • Watershed management, changing cropping pattern, focussing on agro-forestry, tree-farming and allied sectors like poultry and dairy – to mitigate drought. It is now that the region is facing severe water crisis in years, Maharashtra has actively started implementing measures like Jalyukt Shivar to conserve water
  • The tendency of farmers favouring mono-cropping should be replaced with intercropping. Instead of growing a single cash crop like sugarcane or soybean, farmers should grow jowar along with turin a 4:2 ratio or bajra and tur in 3:3 ratio.
    • This minimises the risk of production. Legumes like pea, cow or chick pea, masoor,beans etc are considered most ideal for this practice,” he said.
  • Water budgeting and changing the water pattern to their cropping pattern. Based on the quantitative assessment like – how much water falls on the land, water percolation rate, how much rainwater is retained – the communities need to be informed about what kind of crops can be grown and livestock to rear. This has to be done through a local channel.
  • Organic farming:
    • improving the fertility of the soil by using crop residues, compost and manure, can be considered as one of the plausible long-term measures..
  • Borewell recharger which enables groundwater recharge. This recharger pulls in diverted stray rainwater from the rooftops and surface with the help of filter beds using percolation tanks, nala bunds, individual open wells and borewells.
  • Protected cultivation:
    • Another strategy gaining popularity in Maharashtra is protected cultivation, which is done with the help of green houses and shade nets.
    • This helps in protecting the crops during hail storms, frosts, heat and cold waves. This is not only a climate resilient strategy but also makes maximum use of water and nutrients.
  • Research and development:
    • Agricultural scientists have been grappling with an acute shortage of manpower.
    • States should also look into strengthening research and development team in agricultural universities which will not only help in bringing together scientists for new ideas and policy formation but also create an action plan for drought management.

Topic: Economic growth and development

6) What are the relative merits and demerits of GDP as a tool to measure the economic performance of a nation? Has it outgrown its utility? What alternatives measures can be used to measure well-being of a nation? Examine.  (200 Words)

The Hindu

Merits of GDP as a tool to measure the economic performance of a nation:

  • GDP consists of consumer spending, Investment expenditure, government spending and net exports hence it portrays an all inclusive picture of an economy because of which it provides an insight to investors which highlights the trend of the economy by comparing GDP levels as an index
  • GDP is used as an indicator for most governments and economic decision-makers for planning and policy formulation
  • In case of GDP, each component is given the weight of its relative price. In market economics it clicks as prices reflect both marginal cost of the producer and marginal utility for the consumer, i.e. people sell at a price that others are willing to pay
  • GDP helps the investors to manage their portfolios by providing them with guidance about the state of the economy
  • Calculation of GDP provides with the general health of the economy. A negative GDP growth portrays bad signals for the economy. Economists analyse GDP to find out whether the economy is in recession, depression or boom
  • GDP growth over time enables central banks and policymakers to evaluate whether the economy is in recession or inflation. In that sense it is still required.
  • Also, GDP has held significance as a universal metric over the years.


  • However, with rapid globalization and technology-oriented integration among countries, this metric has become outdated and does not accurately take into consideration other aspects like the wellbeing of the residents of a country.
  • The most significant weakness of GDP is its exclusion of voluntary market transactions.
  • GDP as a measure of economic growth fails to account for productive non-market activities
    • like a mother taking care of her child
    • a homemaker doing household chores
    • a homeowner doing maintenance of his house
    • leisure (paid vacation, holidays, leave time)
    • improvement in product quality, etc.
  • GDP also ignores important factors like environment, happiness, community, fairness and justice. But these are important aspects of development.

Thus, there is a need for alternative measures which can take into consideration other key factors like hunger and malnutrition, safety parameters, literacy rate and tolerance.


  • Some of the recent approaches have tried to go beyond GDP and incorporate most of these factors into the measurement of the well-being within the society.
  • GINI coefficient:
    • measures the income inequality among a country’s citizens — but it fails to measure social benefits or interventions that reduce the gap or inequality between rich and poor.
  • HDI (Human Development Index)
    • overcomes most of the shortcomings of the Gini coefficient and GNH.
    • However, HDI, as a measure, falls short in its capture of the unequal distribution of wealth within the country and the level of infrastructural development.
    • Many prospects of a healthy society, such as environmental sustainability and personal rights, are not included in HDI.
    • It is not successful in tracking the apparent progress of countries, nor is it sufficiently factorised into primary level parameters to indicate many important areas of policy.
  • GNH (Gross National Happiness):
    • measures the happiness levels of the citizens in a country while it ignores other important elements like gender equality, quality education and good infrastructure.
  • After this, Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals were also built along various dimensions based on the work done in understanding human development.
  • SPI as complementary index
    • It goes beyond the traditional measure of GDP and has most parameters that are required to fulfil SDGs.
    • SPI is based on three fundamental pillars:
      • basic needs for survival
      • access to the building blocks to improve living conditions
      • access to opportunity to pursue goals and ambitions.
    • One significant difference between GDP and SPI is that SPI focusses on outcomes rather than inputs that are used in GDP. For example, the quality of life and longevity are measured instead of spending on health care, and people’s experience of discrimination is looked at instead of focussing on whether there is a law against discrimination.
    • SPI also reframes the fundamentals about development by taking into consideration not just GDP but also inclusive, sustainable growth that will lead to a significant improvement in people’s lives.
    • SPI can best be described as a complementary index to GDP and can be used along with GDP to achieve social progress.
    • With the move to getting it introduced at a sub-national level, the index is expected to help development practitioners and other stakeholders in analysing well-being in a better manner.

Topic: Economic growth, planning

7) In 2011, an experts’ committee headed by C Rangarajan had proposed that the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure be abolished for both the Centre and the states. Examine the rationale behind such a proposal. (200 Words)

Business Standard


The government is likely to bring out a framework to remove the existing Plan and non-Plan expenditure classifications from future Budgets, switching to a more globally relevant system of classifying spending as revenue expenditure and capital expenditure.

The proposal is rational and benefits :

  • In the backdrop of the abolition of the Planning Commission and setting up of the NITI Aayog, the classification of expenditure as Plan and non-Plan is in the way of losing its relevance.
  • government wants to remove the distinction as it has become dysfunctional and an obstacle in outcome-based budgeting.The move will link government spending to its eventual outcome more effectively.
  • The distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure has caused many more problems than mere segmentation of expenditure into the arbitrary plan and non-plan’classifications, fostering a rather limited and fragmented view of resource allocation.
  • Such classification has given rise to an inherent bias in favour of plan expenditure and against non-plan and enforced a notion that plan expenditure was good and non-plan expenditure was bad.
    • This has led to a situation where the non-plan expenditure essential for the maintenance of valuable assets like roads, project assets, buildings and assets for delivery of public goods and services created under the various plan schemes have systematically been neglected over the years, leading to progressive deterioration in the quality of public services.
  • Removing the plan non-plan distinction and realigning the budget and accounting classification would be the first step towards restoring sanity in India’s public financial system
  • Once this distinction is removed, many things will automatically fall in place, and some others will have to be corrected, like rationalisation of the endless mechanisms devised to finance the plethora of our plan projects

General Studies – 4

Topic:Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions;

8) Discuss ethical and legal issues surrounding the proposed Medical Treatment of Terminally-Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill. (200 Words)