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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 18, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 18, 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: World wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization

1) “The Sykes-Picot Agreement, named for its British and French authors and the map it produced, is now widely considered a low point in colonial efforts to manipulate the West Asian region to fit the interests of outsiders.” Discuss why it’s considered as a low point. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu



  • Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed by diplomats Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot to help Britain and France divide the lands of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire.
  • It was one of the many wartime plans to maintain imperial control over the eastern part of the Arab world (the Machrek), dividing it into two imperial spheres of interest and control; one based in what was to become Iraq and the other in Syria/Lebanon.

Reasons behind considering it as a low point:-

  • No stability:
    • In the past half century, Iraq has passed from decades of Sunni dominance through a war with Iran, a war with the U.S., years of sanctions, another war with the U.S, a Shiʻite-dominated government, a Sunni insurgency and general misrule.
  • Violence:
    • Oil is flowing again offering hope that political progress might finally bring lasting economic gains. But for now, the political dysfunction and violence continue.
  • It has come to stand for a whole Western attempt to divide and control the Middle East by the imposition of illegitimate borders, and then by the establishment of illegitimate states based upon them.
  • Indeed, so great is this evil still perceived to be that it remains powerful enough to be employed to legitimise the efforts to any new group such as the Islamic State group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) to reunite all parts of Machrek into a single political regime.
  • The map prepared by diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot ignored local identities, leaving several ethnic and social contradictions unaddressed
  • From the colonial carve-up to the Iraq war or the fight against the IS, foreign involvement in the region continues, and often exacerbates the crises rather than solving them.

However entirely blaming the agreement is not fair:

  • No definite territorial control because of multi ethnic differences:-
    • Parts of the border between Iraq and Syria have been virtually erased by the Islamic State.
    • Syria itself is divided among multiple groups.
    • Iraq’s government has no control over at least a fourth of its territory.
    • Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region, has demanded freedom from Baghdad.
    • The Syrian Kurdistan region is being run by the Kurds themselves for the first time in several decades.
    • The regional map is fractured in many more ways.
  • The modern map of the region may not bear any great resemblance to the original lines drawn by Sykes and Picot.
  • Failure of West Asian leaders:
    • Equally problematic has been the failure of West Asia’s leaders to live up to the challenges of their respective states.
    • Over the years, they resisted reform and ran largely oppressive systems rooted in social conservatism and patronage.
    • They showed no interest in tackling the problems the Sykes-Picot pact failed to address, such as the Kurdish question.
    • Their authoritarianism simply sharpened the social contradictions in their states, while intra-regional rivalries made peace elusive.
    • The rise of the IS is a result of these external and internal problems.
    • If the Iraq war unleashed sectarian and jihadist demons, they found a battlefield in Syria where President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship triggered a civil war, which was in turn worsened by his regional rivals.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Important aspects of governance

2) Is India an excessively deliberative democracy, where decision making is slow due to its very nature of parliamentary system? Critically comment. (200 Words)


Deliberative democracy/Discursive democracy:

  • It is a form of democracyin which deliberation is central to decision-making.
  • It adopts elements of both consensus decision-makingand majority rule. 
  • Deliberative democracy is compatible with both representative democracyand direct democracy. 

Yes,India has an excessively deliberative democracy:

  • Fate of GST bill:
    • It has been 16 years since the government kick-started this process. 
    • Successive finance ministers have announced a firm date for a nationwide roll-out, only to be proved too premature.
    • Yet no clarity on it.
  • Delay in insurance reforms:
    • In 1993, the Malhotra committee was appointed to examine and recommend reforms in the insurance sector, including the entry of private players.
    • It took another seven years and three governments for the insurance bill to be passed in Parliament.
  • Special Economic Zones:
    • The second example is the idea of special economic zones (SEZ), which were inspired by the success of Chinese ones since the 1980s.
    • This idea had excited our policymakers since the early 1990s but the policy was tabled in Parliament in April 2000, and the SEZ Act itself was passed only in 2005.
    • The first few SEZs started becoming operational just on the eve of the global financial crisis of 2007-08.
    • Ten years later, the SEZs are woefully short of their promise, exports are doing badly, and the SEZs are in danger of losing their tax exemptions and incentives
  • Women’s Reservation bill:-
    • For instance, there is the high drama of the women’s reservation bill, which is a constitutional amendment, first introduced in 1996.
  • Tax treaty:-
    • Maybe the Mauritius clause was necessary back then, when India needed to desperately woo foreign capital.
    • But even then, it should have been withdrawn at least 10 years ago.
    • The same is true for a variety of other policies, such as small scale reservations in industry, middlemen in agriculture marketing, or central grain procurement intervention, to name a few.
    • All of these were relevant at one time, and have now outlived their relevance as deliberative democracy delays their demise.
  • Stalling of bills in the parliament due to excessive deliberation .
  • Coalition politicshad also led to delay in decision making as the governments need to give importance to the interests of its allies.

No,India is just a deliberative democracy but not excessive:

  • Because of the deliberative democracy many laws have been made which signifies democratic accountability like
  • The 73rd and 74th constitutional Amendment act of Panchayats and Municipalities.
  • Right to education act
  • Forest rights act and others
  • To consider views of all the stakeholders and in the light of public interest proper discussion of the bills in the Parliament is necessary.This is what deliberative democracy is about.
  • Makes everyone feel they are part off decision making process
  • Adjournment motion , no confidence motion put checks on the government to take actions for the benefit of the country.

Topic: Functioning of judiciary

3) The judiciary in India is often called the most powerful among its tribe globally. Do you agree? Justify. (200 Words)


Yes,the judiciary in India is very powerful :-

  • The judiciary can actively encroach on the powers of legislative and executive authorities by judicial activism.
    • Judicial intervention ordering the creation of a National Disaster Mitigation Fund while national and state disaster response funds already exist.
    • The judiciary has appropriated for itself a role far beyond its primary duties of dispensing justice and interpreting laws.
    • Especially after PIL came to existence through several judgements thereafter, the judiciary has unhesitatingly shuffled into the roles of both the legislature and the executive.
    • It assumed wide powers in matters of protection of the environment.
    • The overzealousness of the judiciary and the neglect by the executive helped along a gradual obliteration of the separation of powers between the judiciary, the legislature and the executive.
    • Recently the apex court has doubled the entry tax on trucks entering Delhi. The intention is indeed laudable.This example is ample proof of why the courts which are ill-equipped to weigh the economic, environmental and political costs involved should keep away from such issues.
  • due to the power of judicial review enjoyed by it. There are many examples quoted in the Indian Constitution where cases are supposed to go to Supreme court if some disputes take place.
  • Courts have become the first port of call for all problems For example from problems regarding air-connectivity of Shimla to securing Sushil Kumar’s nomination in the Olympics.
  • No accountability:
    • In America lawyers have to reach out to voters in order to become judges. In India they are appointed much as civil servants are. And are treated as civil servants, with transferrable jobs etc.
    • Judiciary appointing its own judges.
  • Indian Supreme Court, besides being a Federal Court acts as the guardian of the constitution also exercises appellate and advisory powers.
  • It has a unique feature of advising the president of India in some cases which is not present with any judicial system worldwide.
  • Supreme court is the Highest court of appeal
  • The Special leave jurisdiction of Supreme court is unique 
  • The basic structure doctrine permits unelected judges to impose near-permanent checks upon parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.


No,Judiciary has its own problems:

  • moving slow on the appointment of judges and increasing the number of courts and judges.This is in Executive’s hand.
  • Indian Constitution contains checks and balances, which require all the three wings to work harmoniously.
  • Impeachment:
    • Indian Constitution provides for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court or the high court for proved misbehavior or proved incapacity, by what is popularly called the process of impeachment
  • Backlog of cases, huge under trails , judicial announcements overwritten by acts of legislature are other issues.


4) “The democratic accountability argument is a stronger argument for decriminalising defamation than a pure free speech argument.” In the light of recent Supreme Court judgement on defamation, comment on the statement. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


  • 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.
  • Defamation should remain a penal offence in India as the defamer may be too poor to compensate the victim in some cases.
  • Since there is no mechanism to censor the Internet from within, online defamation could only be adequately countered by retaining defamation as a criminal offence.
  • Also, criminalisation of defamation is part of the state’s “compelling interest” to protect the right to dignity and good reputation of its citizens.
  • Unlike in the U. S, defamation in India cannot be treated only as civil liability as there is always a possibility of the defamer being judgment free, i.e., not having the adequate financial capability to compensate the victim.
  • Besides, Sections 499 and 500, framed in 1860, cannot be said to obsolete in a modern democratic polity as there are 10 exceptions to Section 499 of the IPC. These exceptions clearly exclude from its ambit any speech that is truthful, made in good faith and/or is for public good.

Justifications to abolish it:

  • These restrictions have a chilling effect on freedom of speech; they create an anomaly whereby the threshold for criminal prosecution for defamation is now possibly lower than the threshold for civil damages;
  • they provide public remedies for essentially private wrongs
    • The dozens of defamation cases filed in Tamil Nadu to silence journalists show that criminal defamation can fetter democratic accountability.
  • 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 politiciansand corporations to stifle and suffocate inconvenient speech.
  • Investigative journalism can be curtailed and ombudsman would be threatened.
  • 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 whichis 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:India and its neighborhood- relations

5) Do you think India’s unimaginative diplomacy is alienating its neighbours? In your opinion, how should India treat its neighbours? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Unimaginative diplomacy :-

  • Increasing tendency to interfere in the domestic affairs of its smaller neighbours, either citing security implications or to offset the target country’s unfriendly strategic choices.
  • Nepal:
    • New Delhi was deeply upset with the Constitution passed by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly in September last year.
    • the manner in which New Delhi publicly expressed its displeasure with Nepal’s sovereign act of Constitution-drafting; and
    • the manner in which India allegedly abetted the Madhesi blockade of essential supplies to Nepal had large-scale humanitarian impact, is unwarranted coercion against a friendly neighbour.
    • playing even a minor role to topple a democratically elected regime in Nepal is unmistakably reprehensible.
  • Srilanka:
    • India’s ‘subtle interference’ in Sri Lanka in the run-up to the island nation’s elections last year has set a dangerous precedent.
    • Reports suggested India had proactively promoted the coalition to defeat the then Sri Lankan whose anti-Tamil record and pro-China tilt was resented by India.
  • Maldives:
    • has also been resenting the Indian reactions to its domestic political developments. 

To avoid the above kind of situations the following aspects need to be kept in mind:

  • No open public statement of discontent against other nations .
  • While it is true that India’s smaller neighbours do try, from time to time, to play the China card, the response to that is neither arrogance nor regime change, but creative, patient diplomacy.
  • It is also important to recognise that India at present does not have the material capacity to engage in a zero-sum game with China in the region. So it has to use sophisticated forms of diplomacy along with catering to the infrastructural needs of the region in whatever way we can.
  • There has been a sizeable reduction in aid and loans to countries in our immediate neighbourhood such as Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.This aspect has to be looked into.
  • In response India has indeed stepped up its own economic profile in Bhutan. India views Bhutan as a major source of hydropower in the coming years and is seeking greater access for its energy companies. India is hoping to import 10,000 MW hydropower from Bhutan by 2020 and is ramping up its economic aid to Thimpu.
  • Strictly adhere to
  • Engage in regional forums with these countries effectively and try to resolve issues like BIMSTEC,SAARC etc..
  • Promote connectivity of the regions through BIMC etc.

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

6) “The principle of Free and prior informed consent (FPIC) should be incorporated as a central tenet of all development and welfare planning.” Elaborate FPIC principle, its working in India and why it should be made a central tenet of all development and welfare planning. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Free prior and informed consent(FPIC):

  • is the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use.
  • is now a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples.
  • implies informed, non-coercive negotiations between investors, companies or governments and indigenous peoples prior to the development .This principle means that those who wish to use the customary lands belonging to indigenous communities must enter into negotiations with them.
  • enshrined in international agreements for some years, was reiterated most strongly in the recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


FPIC working in India:-

  • India has not yet brought this into its legislative framework, other than in partial forms such as the circular under the Forest Rights Act and the long-forgotten PESA.
  • Poor implementation of forest rights act makes it imperative for this principle to be brought to the forefront
  • The spirit of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution was to move towards more direct deémocracy in villages and cities.The first instances when the power of a community to provide or withhold consent for a development project was recognised was in the case of the Vedanta corporation proposal to mine in the Niyamgiri hills.
  • The Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Odisha Mining Corporation seeking the reconvening of gram sabhas in the Niyamgiri hills to consider a mining proposal that the sabhas had rejected in 2013
  • The National Green Tribunal directed that before clearance can be given the Kashang hydroelectric project the proposal be placed for approval before the Lippa village gram sabha in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The 1,200 residents of Lippa have been waging a seven-year struggle against the project.

Reasons for making FPIC the central tenet:

  • The right of FPICis necessary to ensure a level playing field between communities and the government or companies and, where it results in negotiated agreements, provides companies with greater security and less risky investments.
  • FPIC also implies careful and participatory impact assessments, project design and benefit-sharing agreements.
  • FPIC has been widely accepted in the ‘corporate social responsibility’ policies of private companies working in sectors such as dam building, extractive industries, forestry, plantations, conservation, bio-prospecting and environmental impact assessment.
  • Beyond FPIC, deeper democratic reforms would help ordinary people get political, economic, and legal powers through grass-roots collectives that enable them to take decisions affecting their lives.
  • Accompanying it would be alternative pathways of human well-being including forms of economic activity that are ecologically sustainable, directly in the control of people rather than the state or corporations, more locally self-reliant and less dependent on fragile global webs of exchange.

It works on the principle of decentralisation of power and bottom up approach of decision making where even the most vulnerable are part of policy making.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Infrastructure – waterways

7) Discuss the challenges that government face in implementing objectives of the National Waterways Act, 2016. (200 Words)

Business Standard


  • Most waterways in the country require constant dredging on account of heavy silting and draft is available only seasonally.
  • Besides, not many entrepreneurs are willing to invest in inland vessels, which have resulted in under utilisation of whatever infrastructure is created, thereby spelling trouble for the development of the sector.
  • Figures:
    • Inland waterways transportation in India, however, is a paltry 3 per cent.
    • The number of vessels carrying cargo that ply on inland waterway systems in China and the EU are 2,00,000 and 11,000, respectively, while there are less than 1,000 vessels estimated to be using the Indian inland waterway systems.
    • The crucial difference being that these countries have maintained and upgraded their river systems on core routes that can support large modern vessel fleets up to 40,000 tonnes of cargo on a single voyage, even as India is struggling to create depth in its river systems for vessels of 1,500 tonnage to go through.
  • Progress on operationalising waterways and keeping them navigable, has been limited.
    • Even after two decades, the waterway development remains incomplete. Targets in terms of fairway capacity, cargo, vessels and IWT operations have only declined,
  • Funding has been one of the biggest constraints. The 101 identified inland waterways alone require an estimated investment of Rs 35,000 crore over the next two years.
  • Neither the number of cargo vessels nor the quantum of cargo movement has shown any improvement except in one case of coal movement in Haldia-Farakka stretch on the Ganga.
    • While the new expansion plans for adding 100-odd waterways is ambitious, the experience so far on the existing waterway projects offers quite a number of red flags.
  • Waterway classification :
    • The problem is that most of the waterways included in the list of 101 new waterways are fresh water rivers, which even dry up completely during post monsoon period.
    • The diversion of water for navigation should not be at the cost of other priority use such as drinking and irrigation
  • Include the point whether the declaration of a national waterway is a legislative function of Parliament. There are question marks over whether the state governments been taken into confidence on the proposal
  • The law’s impact on the already drying rivers, the rights of people and the power of the states to regulate the economy along the banks of these rivers.
  • The environmental and livelihood concerns over running ships and trade on these rivers were temporarily assuaged with the commitment that feasibility and environmental impact studies would be carried out later
  • Issues related to environment, livelihood and corruption, might play a central role in limiting the progress. Most of the hydropower projects that have come up for clearances earlier have secured environment approvals only to face resistance and legal challenges later.


The advantage emanating from the law is simple:

  • transport by shipping is far more cost-efficient than that by road or railways. India lags behind on developing its waterways

What needs to be done?

  • There is a need to estimate quantum of water required on a week/ 10-days basis throughout the year to maintain the minimum depth of water in the proposed river stretches/ canals for navigability in order to ensure that drinking, irrigation and other demands of water do not get impaired
  • technical feasibility may first be established before preparing detailed project reports or undertaking any works in any river or river stretches.
  • Experts point to the need for setting up of Statutory Autonomous Boards with representatives of Central and state governments and technical experts for each national waterway.
  • Unless a very detailed study is done on the balanced use of water, the 101 NW proposals is bound to face opposition from many state governments.

General Studies – 4

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

8) What do you understand by compassionate and palliative care?  Discuss the ethical issues involved in practice of palliative care. (150 Words)

Business Standard