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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 27, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 27, 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: Urbanization – problems and remedies

1) How does Census differentiate between rural and urban regions? Discuss the challenges faced in governing rural regions that are contiguous to urban areas and that are affected by urbanization process. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Census differentiation:

  • The Census, treats rural or village population as a residual even as it has different categories of “urban”.
  • If a settlement is under a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or a notified town area committee, it becomes a statutory town and is hence urban.
  • Another definition of urban is linked to demographic characteristics: If in a population size of 5,000, 75 per cent of the male working population is engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and the population density exceeds 400 people per sq km, this becomes a Census town, regardless of whether it is a statutory town or not.
  • There is also the matter of an urban outgrowth, when a village (or hamlet) is physically contiguous to a town and possesses urban features; it is then treated as an urban agglomeration.
  • Therefore, anything other than a statutory town, Census town or urban agglomeration is a village.
  • In that sense, the village is residual, regardless of its population size. The population can be 10,000 people or it can also be 100 people.
  • Fact:
    • As per the 2011 Census, there are 6,40,930 villages in India, of which around 6,00,000 can be regarded as inhabited.

Challenges :

  • Definitional problems :
    • In transitional areas it can be found that one side of a road that is “urban” and an opposite side still “rural”.
    • There is no clarity whether the area comes under urban or village jurisdiction as one will find malls, institutions and hotels and also find a panchayat bhawan.
    • Village:
      • the word “village” is used too loosely across a very heterogeneous category.
      • For Census purposes, there is a revenue village but there may be many clusters of habitations/hamlets within the same revenue village.
      • Inside forest areas, there may be non-surveyed villages. Just as there are habitations as sub-categories of villages, there are also gram panchayats as categories higher than villages.
    • Governance issue:
      • Who ensures those public goods and services – panchayats, municipalities? Or is the village stuck in the interregnum from panchayat to municipality?these questions are left unanswered.
      • the administrative machinery for urban areas seldom exists for such settlements.
    • Sanitation and sewage problems:
      • The sewage systems,solid waste management systems in these areas are not synonymous with the population increase leading to environmental degradation and chaos in the quality of living.
    • Population growth because of migration and rapid urbanization in these areas leads to congestion and new complications related to health might arise as well.
    • Land problem:-Huge tracts of productive land can be done away with to pave the way for the developmental projects.

General Studies – 2

TopicIndia and its neighborhood- relations

2) Do you think the elements of the 2003 New Delhi Declaration between India and Iran are still relevant today? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Background :

  • The New Delhi Declaration provided the strategic underpinning in terms of shared regional and global interests and addressed all aspects of bilateral cooperation — energy, connectivity, education and training, and science and technology with special reference to information technology.
  • Both countries also established a framework for enhancing defence cooperation.

Yes the declaration is still relevant :-

  • All the elements identified in the 2003 New Delhi Declaration remain valid today, especially long-term energy cooperation as well as developing Chabahar port for enhancing connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • With the PM’s visit beginning has been made to release about 20 per cent of the pending payment. This helps in removing an irritant and building up Iranian oil supplies in future from current levels to the pre-sanctions levels of over 500,000 barrels per day..
  • A key development was signing of the Trilateral Transit and Transport Corridor Treaty for .The project involves developing Chabahar port (barely a thousand kilometres from Kandla, Gujarat) with road and rail connectivity linking it to Zaranj, on the Afghan-Iran border, 900 km to the north.
  • Connectivity especially to India bypassing Pakistan is still very significant even today
  • Geopolitical strength and connectivity to Central Asia and Europe 
  • Iran is a key partner for India for strengthening its role in Afghanistan and also in the light of containing the spread of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. 


  • The regional backdrop is more complex today compared to 2003.
  • Developments in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, strains in Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia and rising sectarianism in the Islamic world are exposing new fault lines.


TopicIssues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,

3) Since 2008, concerns have been growing globally about resistance against antibiotics in bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens. How is India affected by antibiotic resistance? What strategy is needed to fight it? Examine. (200 Words)

Business Standard

How is India affected by antibiotic resistance ?

  • The fear is that the unchecked growth of microbial resistance may hasten the end of the antibiotics era without offering any effective substitute for these wonder drugs.
  • Simply put, even trivial infections may turn deadly for want of curative treatment
  • Economic dimension – incurable infections could sap $100 trillion from the world economy between now and 2050, apart from killing over 10 million people every year by then.
  • The chances of the spread of NDM-1 and similar other bugs too, are relatively higher in India as people are inclined to self-medicate with antibiotics for minor infections.
  • The doctors, too, tend to prescribe these drugs even in cases where these are not indicated, unmindful of the fact that indiscriminate use is the single-most potent factor for soaring antibiotics resistance
  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs, infect about two million people and kill at least 23,000 people in the US each year.There is no comparative data for India, but the country is the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics and has emerged as a leading hotbed of untreatable bacterial infections, their threat doubling over five years.
    • These bugs have also the ability to evolve, adapt and fight back.
  • Healthcare expenditure per capita increases leading to increased out of pocket expenditure so savings are hurt which could have been used for other productive means.
  • The governments have to spend more money in containing the diseases with new strains developing each day.So research and development expenditure has to increase.Social expenditure on poverty alleviation programmes will be affected.Also fiscal consolidation takes a toll with chances of rising fiscal deficit.
  • With rise in drug resistant diseases like TB,Diarrheoa etc,the work force in the country takes a hit as the productivity and efficiency of the people is below par which leads to underutilization of their potential like in India’s case demographic dividend which is supposed to be the largest individual contibutor of workforce in the near future.
  • New innovation of drugs for treating the diseases with antimicrobial resistance like XDR-TB may lead to increased price of drugs.The cost to treat infection caused by MRSA (Methicillin Resistant staphyloccus aureas) is twice that of the sensitive strain i.e MSSA.
  • poor sanitation and open defecation are another problem in the case of India as it makes it even more vulnerable for antimicrobial resistance like NDM-1 enzyme .
  • Foreign investment,tourism and even exports can be adversely effected as the world may be doubtful with the products of the country from the increased microbial resistance.
  • Insurance sector might be adversely affected as it will be under immense stress to provide the claims which go beyond its capacity as many people demand at once.

Solutions :

  • A multi-pronged strategy is urgently needed. Europe has made a beginning in this direction by increasing awareness of this issue among public and health care workers to ensure rational use of antibiotics.
  • Indian policy in 2011- Instructions went out under this policy to stop over-the-counter sale of antibiotics and to bar doctors from suggesting more potent antibiotics than are indicated by the disease.
  • Quantum dot therapy for treating superbugs can be an effective approach to deal with antimicrobiotic resistance
  • India’s red line campaign is also very helpful .
  • Improvement in sanitation is the foremost among the recommended measures, which is highly relevant to developing countries like India where hygiene and cleanliness are at a discount.
  • Besides, higher investments are needed in research and development to invent new antibiotics, vaccines and other drugs to serve as effective alternatives to antibiotics.
  • Equally important is the need to create a surveillance network to monitor the use of antibiotics and the growth of resilience among microbes. 

TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

4) Analyse the factors that have impacted the pace of development of Indo-EU relations and suggest solutions to overcome the habitual pause in their relationship. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Factors affecting indo EU relationship :

  • The proximate causes for the talks being stalled for four years were the Italian marines case and the temporary ban, in 2015, of 700 generic drugs from India.
  • However, a fundamental lack of understanding and a deficit of knowledge regarding the potential gains from the relationship, on both sides, has made the dynamic less productive than it could be and more vulnerable than it ought to be.
  • The complications within the relationship of EU countries like migrant crisis etc do affect India EU relations .
  • Another factor that has impacted the pace of development of Indo-EU relations is the fact that the EU is grappling with how India functions.
    • The EU establishment is road-mapping the interaction between State and Central governments, how and where policy is formed and implemented.
    • It is also learning from its member states that doing business directly with State governments in India is often the way forward. 
  • India’s strong bilateral relationships with the parts, i.e. several EU member states, such as France, Germany and the U.K., have affected the relationship with the whole.
  • The Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement negotiations have remained deadlocked since 2007 over growing differences regarding greater market access sought by both aides for merchandise exports.
  • India has been pushing for opening European markets for its services sector and the movement of people to deliver those services while the EU has been keen on reducing or abolishing tariffs in several sectors, including in the automobile and wine and spirits sectors.
  • issues related to facilitation of greater movement of professionals from one country to another, arising out of the Mode 4 provisions of the 1995 General Agreement on Trade in Services is another point of contention between the two sides.
    • This also involves India’s demands to be classified a data-safe country, which will help Indian information technology and outsourcing companies gain a foothold.
  • IPR issues
    • EU ban on generic drugs from India created a slight friction in pharma sector and banning of alphonso mangoes from india in 2014.
  • EU’s concern over human right violations in India.EU brings up issues of NGO harassment like green peace and the overlooking of rights of marginal groups in development projects in India..


  • The EU should raise awareness among member states of the added value of dialogue with India as a bloc through EU coordination (rather than acting bilaterally) on issues of common concern. 
  • Enhancing public diplomacy:
    • The EU should also increase its visibility and reach out to the Indian public to improve understanding of the EU’s unique nature and potential. EU public diplomacy is mainly financed through the Partnership Instrument. 
  • India’s IPR policy can give impetus for resolving the contentious issues related to patents and other aspects of the intellectual property rights 
  • India’s red line campaign against excessive use of antibiotics has gained international acceptance .This can to some extent clarify the doubts regarding Indian generic drug industry .

General Studies – 3

Topic: Conservation.

5) The Union environment ministry has recently proposed to overhaul the regulations which identify and protect wetlands under the Environment Protection Act (EPA).  Comment on the contents of this notification. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Background :-

  • The wetland rules 2016 follow the “wise use” philosophy of the Ramsar Convention and accord emphasis on maintaining ecological character and integrity of wetlands in their conservation and use
  • The new notification has suggested the time-bound process set under the regulations of 2010 be done away with, along with the existing central authority, leaving it almost entirely in the hands of state governments.

Contents of this notification :

  • Accordingly, the following activities have been prohibited in wetlands:
    • Reclamation of wetlands and conversion for non-wetland uses;
    • any diversion or impediment to natural water inflows and outflows of the wetland;
    • any activity having or likely to have an adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland:
    • However, any of the above can be bypassed in exceptional cases with prior approval of the Central Government.
  • Wetland authority:
    • The government has now proposed that a state-level authority headed by the chief minister, including the chief secretary and other state officials, with four experts on board, who can also be from the government, identify the wetlands.
    • The recommendations of this CM-headed authority are to be then sent to the state government for approval or rejection.
  • Specific Wetland Authority:-
    • For the purpose of managing wetlands with multiple issues, the state / union territories can also establish a dedicated authority for a wetland.
  • Wetlands within the protected areas of the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries shall be regulated by the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 .
  • The Centre will only be informed of the decision by the state.
  • Only the 26 Ramsar wetland sites will get automatic protection. 


  • This shows a shift from the 2010 regulationswhich created a central authority of government officers and experts to oversee the protection of wetlands.
    • It gave a fixed time for states to identify and demarcate wetlands and the Centre again a fixed time period to notify and protect these, as is now done for environmental and forest clearances.
    • The process of identifying and demarcating the wetlands included recommendations and advice of scientific experts at state levels.
  • The new regulations do away with the elaborate list of activities that are prohibited or restricted.
    • It prohibits reclamation of wetlands, conversion to non-wetlands, diversion or impediment of inflows and outflows from the wetland and ‘any activity having or likely to have adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland’
    • However, the rules then give the Centre powers to allow these activities as well.
  • The above discussion makes it clear that the draft rules have put the onus of wetland protection upon the states. This move is in correct direction because a single template does not work for all wetlands in varied geography of India.
  • The rules have detailed the mandate of the state / UT wetland authority rather lucidly and given adequate thoughts to existing tenurial rights, preparation of integrated wetland plans, protection and conservation etc.
  • There is also major emphasis on identifying the wetlands through multi-mapping process.


  • The new rules have omitted some of the wetlands that were protected in the 2010 rules. For example, the 2010 rules explicitly mentioned the wetlands located in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Western Ghats, high altitude wetlands etc. New rules don’t even mention them.
  • Secondly, under the 2010 rules some activities were mentioned such as solid waste dumping, storing of hazardous waste, setting up of new industries, discharge of untreated water etc. The new rules don’t define these.
  • Thirdly, in the prohibition of reclamation of wetlands, the draft rules mention that only those activities which are likely to have adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland would be prohibited. This is ambiguous and is subject to wrong interpretations.
  • It has diluted regulations and failed to involve stakeholder communities.
  • There is no mention of community involvement and the Central government has delinked itself of the responsibility of conservation and management of wetlands and transferred it to the States without even ensuring a compliance mechanism.
  • Experts feel that the new rules had diluted the prohibited and restricted activities, paving the way for large-scale conversion of wetlands which come in the way of development projects.
  • The confusion of the applicability of both the wetland rules and CRZ norms in some wetlands in the State and the absence of an appellate body and State wetland policy have also led to concern. 
  • The need for the environmental impact assessment before permitting such activities is to be done away with.
  • The earlier regulations allowed appeals against the decisions of the central wetlands authority with the NGT. This, too, is to be done away with, though aggrieved entities could continue to file cases against violations of these rules.

TopicEffects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

6) Should government drop the local sourcing clause in its entirety for all proposals of foreign investment in single-brand retail? Justify. (200 Words)

Business Standard


  • Any foreign investment beyond 51% in single-brand retail requires 30% of the value of goods to be sourced from India , preferably from micro, small and medium enterprises, village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen.
  • It was subsequently decided that the clause would be waived when the foreign company promises to bring in “cutting-edge” and “state-of-the-art” technology to India.
  • Recently FIPB has agreed to the proposal of Apple Inc. to set up its own retail stores in the country but has added the proviso that 30 per cent of the value of its sales should be sourced from the Indian market.
  • This will be a tough challenge for the maker of popular gadgets like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook, since none of these are manufactured domestically. 

Yes,local sourcing clause is required:

  • officials defended the policy saying some amount of discretion is inevitable in interpreting ‘cutting edge’  technology .
  • The clause that 30% of the value of goods be sourced from India, preferably from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), village and cottage industries and artisans so that it would provide employment opportunities and enhance their quality as well.
    • Developing local sourcing is critical, but can take decades to develop quality suppliers, especially for firms that, like Apple, have very high standards for quality. 

No,the clause needs to be removed:-

  • This instance once again demonstrates that the condition for the waiver is subjective, which leads to bureaucratic or even political discretion
  • cutting edge’ needs to be defined clearly, otherwise the clause would be open to discretion and charges of corruption
  • If the government is serious about improving the ease of doing business in India, such discretionary powers need to be removed. Or else, efforts to make the country an attractive destination for foreign companies are likely to fail
  • The government may close down the FIPB in the future, and leave it to the sector regulators to ensure that all foreign investment guidelines are met by the investors.This is a welcome move
  • It is a business decision that the company has to make, and the government should not force this decision by putting up hurdles for the company’s plans to retail its products in India. Its presence, and that of its competitors, will only add to the consumer’s choice, which should be encouraged
  • With Apple’s proposal being turned down, the future of similar such applications by Chinese handset makers Xiaomi and LeEco is also uncertain now. 
  • This creates a lack of policy clarity for many companies, with their applications having got stuck at DIPP for months. 
  • Provision that is viewed as restrictive by premium and luxury brands seeking to enter the Indian market.

Topic: Biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

7) Should GM seed prices be controlled by the government? Critically comment. (200 Words)


Background :-

This issue propped up in the light of the announcement of the notification that sought to regulate

(a) the price of Bt cotton seeds

(b) the “trait value”, which is the fee or royalty per packet of seeds sold which goes to the technology owner and

(c) the terms of licensing of the technology to anyone interested in producing the seed

Yes,GM seed prices need to be controlled:-

  • Price control will reduce the price to the consumer
  • Seed producers may welcome the proposed change today because it reduces the fee they pay.
  • Prices varied across seed producers and it was desirable to have a uniform price.
  • Presently technology companies are forcing seed companies into one-sided contracts without any legal backing. Seed companies are not even allowed to test a new technology from another company.To avoid this regulation is needed.
  • In the past, companies like Monsanto earned royalties even on expired patents (for Bollgard I Bt cotton technology) and the latest order will protect farmers’ interest. Farmers will have a wider choice and existing monopolistic practices of technology providers will go for good
  • order was fair and transparent and will encourage more domestic seed companies to enter the market.
  • It is fair for the government to dictate what royalty the holder of a proprietary product or technology should charge for licensing it to other companies for commercial use

No,the prices should not be controlled :-

  • Controlling prices will also affect the incentive to develop and supply good seeds in future, especially in the private sector which is now an important source of supply.
  • Economic Survey for 2015-16 specifically criticized the decision to control the price of Bt cotton seeds, arguing that the objective of achieving adequate availability of good quality seeds is best left to the market. 
  • Ministry’s actions lowered the price of Bt cotton seeds by about 4%, but lowered the trait value payment by 74%. In effect, all the reduction in the seed price was at the expense of a reduction in the trait value.
  • The current Bt cotton variety Bollgard II is expected to run out of vitality in a few years, when it would need to be replaced by a new variety, Bollgard III. The new price control regime could discourage the technology holder from introducing the new variety
  • The development of new seeds is expensive, and especially so with GM technology, where prolonged safety testing is involved. Profitability may not be the key consideration for public sector seed producers but India cannot rely exclusively on the public sector to provide seeds.
    • Experience thus far shows that the private sector has done a good job in seed production and it could do more. 
  • Monsanto alone has a research and development budget which is twice that of the total budget of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. This justifies encouraging private sector companies, including multinationals, to get actively involved and even partner with public sector institutions such as the agricultural universities. 
  • The new order a “huge blow to the innovators in agri-biotech industry”.


  • This problem needs to be handled by strengthening the procedures that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee follows for GM seeds.
    • Once new varieties have received approval there should be assurance that the technology holder will get a reasonable return for their investment.
  • need to create an environment that encourages research in developing new seeds and innovation. The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, outlines what is needed to encourage innovation.
  • promote competition by allowing development of such seeds by more private and public sector bodies.
  • But the government’s present policies governing GM crops are far from conducive to the emergence of such competition. Well-advised changes in these policies are, therefore, urgently called for.
    • That will let more gene-tweaked seeds to come up not only for cotton but also for various other crops for which such seeds are in various stages of development.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values

8) Love marriage in India is seen as taboo and sections of India society punishes such individuals for their adventurism. In your opinion, does love marriage violate values ? How should Indian society conduct itself in this matter? Critically comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu