Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 January 2017

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 January 2017

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1;

Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies

1) To rehabilitate slum dwellers, a common approach adopted is to build higher quality, affordable housing for the poor on the city’s periphery. Critically comment on the viability and usefulness of this approach for the urban poor. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Definition of slum:

A Slum, for the purpose of Census, has been defined as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health. 

For the purpose of Census, slums have been categorized and defined as of the following three types:

  1. Notified Slums
  2. Recognized Slums
  3. Identified Slums

india slum

  • Out of 4,041 Statutory Towns in Census 2011 Slums reported from 2,543 Towns (63%)
  • Total Slum Enumeration Blocks (SEBs) in Census 2011 is about 1.08 lakh in the country.
  • Largest number of Slum EBs reported from Maharashtra (21,359)


Today, a majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and the global urban population is on track to double by 2050.In much of the developing world, the first residence for a migrant in the city is in the slum.

The approach for slum dwelling management has been various dimensions. One of the approaches is to shift the slum dwellers from one area to other housing areas having better living conditions. In many schemes the government uses this approach of resettlement such as Pradhan mantri awas yojana. The number of slum dwellers is growing and will continue to increase unless there is serious and concerted action by all relevant stakeholders.

Shifting slum people to city has following advantages:

  • The UN-Habitat report, “The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003”, shows that slum life often entails enduring some of the most intolerable housing conditions, which frequently include sharing toilets with hundreds of people, living in overcrowded and insecure neighborhoods, and constantly facing the threat of eviction.
  • Slum dwellers are also more likely to contract water-borne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid, as well as opportunistic ones that accompany HIV/AIDS.
  • Slum life, therefore, places enormous social and psychological burdens on residents, which often leads to broken homes and social exclusion.
  • Although the common perception is that slums are breeding grounds for crime, the report shows that slum dwellers, in fact, are more often victims than perpetrators of crime.
  • It makes the slum land available to the govt for further infrastructure development.
  • With the future development of smart cities in almost all metropolitans, the city periphery will also receive adequate water and electricity supply.
  • It stems the flow of urbanization and helps in decreasing the burden on resources in the cities.

Report put the vacancy in urban housing built under the PMAY at 23 per cent. This shows the challenges in successful implementation of the slum resettlement schemes.

  • People deny to resettlement due to vicinity and opportunity for livelihood opportunities in urban areas.
  • Lack of emotional and financial support to poor people during life crisis.
  • The standard of living of the people remains almost the same, with no increase in water or quality electricity supply.
  • There is need of moral suasion and awareness campaign for slum dwellers before resettlement.


In-situ slum upgrading is a far more effective solution to improving the lives of slum dwellers than is resettlement. Modified slums build sense of confidence among the poor people in the society. Along with this, small scale industries should be encouraged in such housing establishments, with provision of mandatory procurement from such industries for large scale industries in the city. This will ensure better pull factors for slum dwellers and help in providing adequate living conditions to larger population.


Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

2) Discuss Gandhiji’s approach to politics and relevance of his approach to democracies around the world. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Gandhi’s success as a universal gadfly goes far beyond his national stature as the founding father of modern India. As such, his universal message could be measured by his immense impact on all forms of dissent against unjust regimes. As such, Gandhi has become a part of the moral conscience of humanity. His name and achievements symbolize a sense of revolt against injustice. 

Gandhiji’s approach to politics-

  • Non-violence and Satyagraha- for Gandhiji non-violence was a brave act of dissent. “My non-violence is not merely kindness to all living creatures,” wrote Gandhi in his journal Harijan. “Ahimsa is the highest ideal. It is meant for the brave, never for the cowardly.” Gandhiji’s Satyagraha rested on a philosophical belief that non-violence is a struggle against wickedness and hypocrisy. Moreover, it is the highest form of moral intervention against falsehood and injustice in the public space.
  • Courage: Courage to fight for the right even if it leads to loneliness that leading to taking independent stand against ruler, larger society or leading to sacrifice of one’s own life.
  • Faith in the masses- Mahatma Gandhi had immense faith in the abilities of masses. His political strategy to fight British was mainly centered around the mass movements.
  • Ethical and Moral perspective- Mahatma Gandhi’s political approach revolved around the ethics and morality. Even when British unleashed violence and oppression, he never adopted tit-for-tat approach. He opposed British rule primarily on this basis. The best example was he supported British efforts against NAZI and Fascist coalition in the 2nd
  • Self-determination– He was great upholder of the principle of self-determination. Thus he supported freedom movements outside India also.
  • Decentralized approach- He supported decentralized approach of development where village would be main focus of development.

Gandhi considered politics as an instrument for the uplift of mankind in social, economic, moral and spiritual spheres.

Relevance of his approach to democracies around the world-

  • His approach of self-determination needed for countries still reeling under the dictator and authoritarian rulers. Further countries engulfed in the civil wars like Syria should be allowed to have sovereign state built on the wishes of the Syrian people.
  • The use of non-violent means to achieve morally endowed ends like demand for justice against irresponsible, unacceptable government e.g. Arab spring, Anna Hazare’s movement etc.
  • The organizations like Islamic State have unleashed the violence in countries like Iran, Syria, Afghanistan etc. In such cases countries around the world should take moral and ethical stand and unite against the wrong by cooperating each other.
  • In many countries even including India, historically oppressed classes and minorities are facing discriminatory treatment. Gandhiji fought his all life for removing these conditions and worked for upliftment of such classes. He even fought against racial biases in South Africa. Thus countries around the world should take inspiration from this great social reformer and should aspire for truly egalitarian society.


After almost 65 years of martyrdom, Gandhi is now more relevant on global level than before. Specially, after 9/11 of 2001, Gandhi is remembered more with reverence than merely casually. He is being recognized as a great leader of action, a Liberator and a Prophet Martyr all over the universe. What is needed at the hour is to implement his deeds, actions and thoughts into practice and thus, his relevance in different fields is unquestionable and unchallengeable.


Topic:Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues,

3) What is Global Gag Rule? Discuss for and against arguments made against this Rule. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Global Gag (GG) Rule-

Global Gag Rule states that U.S. government funding cannot be given to international NGOs, either directly or through U.S. non-governmental partners of these NGOs, unless these foreign NGOs sign an undertaking to not provide abortion services or even information or advocacy on abortion to their clients even in countries in which abortion is legal and even with money that does not come from the United States Agency for International Development’s budget. 

Arguments in favor-

  • Help prevent coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations, which are rampant in India and has resulted in untimely deaths due to negligence of officials
    Eg-> Tribal women being forced to undergo sterilization in Govt. Hospitals, and also help in decreasing instance of Female feticide
  • Conditional abortion – Applies only to the promotion of abortion as a means of family planning, not abortion after a sexual attack or abortion to save the life of a pregnant woman, and also excludes post-abortion care.


Arguments against-

  • Reduce the number of agencies working in areas of reproductive health, and also affect funding for other crucial activities 
    Eg- HIV/AIDS prevention, contraceptive access, maternal and child health as local clinics were forced to reduce services or shut down entirely owing to lack of aid.
  • It would further degrade social condition in 3rd world countries particularly in Africa regions where Govt. does not have enough resources. Also affect poor countries in Latin America, Asia, Middle East regions.
  • Public-Private discrimination – GG Rule however, does not restrict aid to Govts. Whatever their stance on abortion, leading to their increased dominance.
  • GG rule undermines the sovereignty of other countries that seek funding from the U.S since the rule becomes more important as compared to the country’s own legislative laws.
  • Sex education may take a hit, and in India it would result into politicization of the issue with abortion may be left out of birth control list.
  • Curbs the freedom of speech, Right to reproductive health for women in developing countries who wish to have their say on family planning.
  • Has negligible effect – May not reduce abortions but is detrimental to women health due to lack of institutional mechanisms and increased STD levels seen in poor countries
    Eg- In Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, had higher abortion rates after Bush reinstated the gag rule, because it reduced women’s access to contraception and caused more unwanted pregnancies which resulted into more abortions and in many cases deaths due to unsafe abortions


GG Rule has earned an infamous reputation among HR activists as being a cruel and draconian measure , aimed only at appeasing far-right opponents of legal abortion in the United States. Many international family planning programs and reproductive health education initiatives will be hit hard and will have to be shelved.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

4) Recently the Union Cabinet approved the IIM Bill, granting the 20 Indian Institutes of Management more autonomy than they currently enjoy. What are the salient features of this Bill? Examine how does it affect autonomy of IIMs. (200 Words) 

The Indian Express

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill declares 20 existing Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as institutions of national importance and confers on them the power to grant degrees.
  • The Board of Governors will be the executive body of each IIM, comprising up to 19 members.  It will nominate 17 board members including eminent persons, faculty members and alumni.  The remaining two members will be nominees from the central and state governments, respectively.  The Board appoints its own Chairperson.
  • The Board of Governors will appoint the Director of each IIM.  A search committee will recommend names for the post of the Director.  The Director is eligible for variable pay, to be determined by the Board.
  • The Academic Council of each IIM will determine the: (i) academic content; (ii) criteria and process for admission to courses; and (iii) guidelines for conduct of examinations.
  • A coordination forum will be set up, which will include representation from the 20 IIMs.  It will discuss matters of common interest to all IIMs
  • There will be regular review of the performance of the IIMs by independent agencies. The results will be put up in the public domain. The review will take into account the long-term strategy and five-year plan of the IIMs.
  • The annual report of the IIMs will be placed in Parliament and Comptroller and Auditor General will audit their accounts. The report will include steps taken by the institute to fulfil its objects and an outcome-based assessment of the research being undertaken the institutes.
  • There is also a provision of Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body. The forum will facilitate the sharing of experiences, ideas and concerns with a view to enhancing the performance of all institutes.

Effect on autonomy:-

  • Currently, the central government has a role in the functioning of IIMs which includes appointment of the Chairperson of their Boards, their Directors and pay to the Director.  In contrast, the Bill extends greater autonomy to the Board in the performance of these functions.
  • Under the Bill, the autonomy envisaged for IIMs exceeds the autonomy granted to other institutions of higher education such as IITs and AIIMS.  For example, Directors of IITs and AIIMS are appointed by the central government.  Introduction of new courses of study at AIIMS requires approval of the Medical Council of India.
  • It is unclear if there is a plan to extend the enhanced autonomy proposed for IIMs to other higher educational institutions of national importance as well.
  • It will make IIMs first institute of National importance where President has no direct role.
  • Coordination forum will be headed by eminent person shortlisted by search-cum-selection committee instead of HRD minister.
  • Review through independent agencies, more alumni- management expert participation in Board meetings prevents government interference.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

5) What do you understand by ‘Revolving door detention’ – which was in new recently? In Jammu and Kashmir, the Public Safety Act has been criticised for various reasons. Examine why. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Revolving Door Detention (RDD) is the mechanism under which Government re-detains the person which generally has obtained a relief through a judiciary, using arbitrary detention laws (in Kashmir, Public Safety Act 1978) without any intention to charge him or bring him to trial.
Ex Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam has been booked under PSA for 17 consecutive times

Public Safety Act (PSA), initially promulgated in 1978 empowers the JK Govt. to detain a person above 18 years


  • It allows the government to detain a person without trial for a period of three to six months.
  • The Act was first promulgated in 1978 by the Sheikh Abdullah government as an administrative detention aimed at keeping timber smugglers “out of circulation”.
  • Originally, it allowed the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years. Over the past three-and-a-half decades, the government has frequently used the Act against political opponents.
  • The detention order under the PSA is issued by the district magistrate (deputy commissioner) concerned, after police recommendation.
  • Police prepare a case file or ‘dossier’ against the accused and submit it to the deputy commissioner, detailing why a person needs to be detained under the Act.
  • It is up to the deputy commissioner to accept or reject the recommendations, and accordingly, pass an order for detention under the PSA or to return the file.
  • In most cases, district magistrates pass detention orders without questioning the police dossier.


After the protests triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujaihideen militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the state government slapped the PSA against more than 550 persons, the highest number in a year.

Reasons for its criticizing

  • Draconian Law:- Bypasses all the institutions, procedures and human rights safeguards of ordinary criminal justice system in order to secure a long detention term 
  • Use of coercion:-Lack of accountability also has led to using of unlawful torture, coercion by authorities on detainees and also on their families (also has jeopardized the safety and life of a detainee)
  • Abrogation of Rights:-It restricts Freedom of speech and right to peaceful protest (Art 19), and freedom of movement and liberty (Art 21) and also discriminates against guidelines led down in Art. 22 (Prevention against detention in certain cases) and restricts judicial remedy (Art. 32) 
  • Misuse of provisions:-Used against political opponents to gain undue mileage in elections, to further ruling party’s agenda (religious, social) , and in some cases minors have also been illegally detained
  • High Executive discretion:-Inspite of 2011 amendment following protests from HR activists, which reduced the time under detention, a revision clause inserted allows the administration to extend the detention period to 1-2 years
  • Supplements other draconian provisions:-AFSPA (1990) has been misused severely and led to severe HR violations in the area, PSA adds fuel to the fire of people suffering

Measures to consider (extra information)

  • Creation of regulatory body:-With members from both State/Centre/HR agencies. It would overlook at the implementation of law, and also monitor the health, age and background of detainees to prevent its misuse.
  • Strict punishment in case of any HR violation(LT suspension, termination of service/political career of leaders) of detainees, and not putting every protest under garb of being ‘anti-national’
  • Stress on wining trust of localsand encourage ‘community policing’ , and creation of platforms like “Jan-Darbaar” where people can put forward their grievances
  • Repeal of AFSPA subsequently in phases and improving socio-eco condition especially in border areas (BADP, Border-Haats, Skill development etc)

Conclusion:-PSA is also known as ‘Lawless Law’ by multiple HR agencies and activists, the term which was also used by SC to describe preventive detention in multiple cases. Kashmir is a ‘sensitive state’ and stringent laws are required to maintain peace, however it must be ensured that these laws are used only when required. The abhorrence of AFSPA by local leaders while at the same time their love for PSA looks illogical, hence a major revamp is needed if we want to set forward on course to repeal Art.370.


General Studies – 3

Topic:Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

6) An apolitical ethos of the services has been one of the strongest pillars of our democracy. Do you think the selection of Army Commanders must be made only through deep selection based on merit? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The recent Selection of Gen. Bipin Rawat as army chief superseding his 2 seniors has challenged the traditional methods of selection in the armed forces. A step lower in position, Army commanders(AC) have direct bearing in selection of chiefs, as they are elected among these AC’s

Currently one has to satisfy these 2 criteria to be fulfilled to be elevated as Army Commander:
1. 2 years of residual service
2. An excellent command of a corps
And then are nominated as AC in the order of their seniority, while those who don’t satisfy above 2 criteria move to other positions.

AC selection must be based on merit

  • Changing warfare techniques :- Quick strategic thinking, leadership qualities and ability to adapt to any situation depends not only on experience but also on individual capabilities
  • Sensitive position :- An efficient officer is respected by one and all, and also lead to maintain proper command structure in the forces, also merit-based selection would decrease the tussle between different operational commands (total-6) and combat arms (armored corps, artillery etc)
  • Changing nature of war :- Has become wider with rising of new trends- nuclear, information, cyber, space etc so cherry-picking right officials for the job has become important 
  • Increased Transparency :- Selection through ‘Service Boards’ constituted by 3 respective chiefs would improve transparency and also civil govt. can be involved in the process for their recommendation (improving civil-military relations)
  • Other reforms :- Reducing the stipulation of tenancy of 2 years to 18 months is warranted to widen the spectrum of candidates, merit-based selection would also reduce corruption in forces, help in improving of ethical standards (prevent HR violations) etc

Other factors to consider

  • No Proof of credentials required :-Officers to such high level, are considered competent and there was no need to introduce unnecessary competition among them
  • Effective system :- Till now the system of giving greater weight to ‘seniority’ has worked well and in combat situations ‘experience’ plays a greater role and also produced great chiefs
  • Clash of egos :- Commanding of a senior officer by a junior, may affect his ego and motivation level which would affect his performance in major way, and possible rifts created may also endanger the battalion security
  • Increase politicization :- Increasing say of civil government, in such selection committees may result into army officers indulging in appeasement in return of favours which may destroy the independence and integrity of armed forces
  • Experiences on the battlefields are matter of chanceand belonging to which command so without effective rotation policy of officers, merit-based selection may favour few operational commands


Indian Armed forces though commands respect of highest order, but still some issues remain in their administrative strcture which has resulted into many procurement delays, increased corruption among seniors which affects the motivation levels of the forces on-field. Current method of promotion till AC based on highly subjective Annual Confidentiality reports (ACR) have been marred with favorism and poor accountability. Hence the need for reform in much warranted


Topic: Infrastructure – Railways

7) While sabotage is indeed a factor in some derailments, bad railway performance is responsible for the majority of train accidents. Critically examine causes of recent railway accidents and measures taken by government to ensure railway safety. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Indian Railways which is held for its outreach and service has some to bad light for its accidents. Some of the recent accidents include:



  • Staff failure: The main cause of rail accidents is derelict staff. Errors by the driver like passing signals at danger, excessive speed, mishandling engine, signalman’s error at crossing level, allowing two trains to come at occupied place etc.
  • Asset failure: like track defects such as rail fracture and inadequate maintenance remain the biggest cause of accidents.
  • Carriage and wagon defects: variation in the wheel gauge of two coaches and carriage being run beyond their useful life.
  • Sabotage: according to kakodkar committee on railway safety there has been 10% accidents case because of sabotage by miscreants.
  • Non railway factor responsible for an accident like lever crossing misuse, obstruction on the line because of road vehicles, avalanche, landslide etc

 A High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) under the Chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, was constituted on 16.09.2011 to look into all technical and technology related aspects in connection with safe running of train services in the country.

Measures taken:-

  • Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is a radio communication based system with continuous update of movement authority. This system is aimed at providing capability of preventing train accidents caused due to Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) or non-observance of speed restrictions by train drivers.  Signal aspect is also displayed on DMI (Driver Machine Interface) screen inside the Locomotive in train system.   After successful Proof of Concept trials of TCAS, RDSO has taken up extended field trials of TCAS on a pilot section Lingamapalli-Vikarabad-Wadi-Bidar section of South Central Railway.
  • Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) is a proven Automatic Train Protection System to avoid train accidents on account of human error of Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) or over-speeding. As a pilot project, TPWS has been provided on Chennai-Gummidipundi Suburban Section of Southern Railway, Hazrat Nizamuddin – Agra Section of Northern/North Central Railway and Dum Dum-Kavi Subhash section of Kolkata Metro.
  • Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings through various means – It has been decided to progressively eliminate all unmanned level crossings by (i) closing unmanned crossings having NIL/negligible Train Vehicle Units (TVUs), (ii) merger of unmanned level crossing with nearby unmanned/manned gates or Road Under Bridge or Road Over Bridge or Subway by construction of diversion road, (iii) provision of Subways/Road Under Bridges. The Unmanned Level Crossings which cannot be eliminated by the above means will be progressively manned based on the volume of rail road traffic (TVU) and visibility conditions.
  • A no. of Safety drives at regular intervals are carried out by officers and supervisors to improve awareness among staff to prevent accidents. During the drive officers and supervisors travel extensively during night and day, by engines as well as in guard vans. They meet staff working in the field and explain finer aspects of safety.
  • A no. of Safety seminars are conducted on various safety sensitive subjects to improve awareness among Railway staff as accident prevention measure.
  • In House Safety bulletins are published, in which finer aspects of safety are discussed in detail.
  • Special drives are conducted to counsel, educate and improve awareness among general public regarding prevention of accidents at unmanned level crossings.
  • Printed handbills are distributed among road users near unmanned level crossings, petrol pumps and villages about unmanned level crossings.
  • Advertisements are regularly published in newspapers to educate and improve awareness among public on Rail Safety Issues.
  • Advertisements are also displayed in electronic media as well as in film theatres on Railway Safety Issues


Presently all the 3 vital functions like Rule Making , Operations and Regulations are vested with Railway Board which overburdens it under various responsibility and hampers overall performance. So there is need to revamp management and set up a Independent Statuory Safety Authority as recommended by Bibek Debroy Committee so ensure our vision for “zero tolerance for accidents”.