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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 02 February 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 02 February 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: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

1) Recently researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Banaras Hindu University in Uttar Pradesh have examined how Indus populations in north-west India interacted with their environment. Discuss their findings. (200 Words)




  • TheIndus Valley civilization was an ancient civilization in the Indian subcontinent. It was discovered by archaeologists in the 1920s. It developed along the Indus River and the Ghaggar-Hakra River, in the area of modern Pakistan and north-west India and Afghanistan. It started during the Bronze Age.
  • The height of its development was between 2600 and 1900BC. Including the civilizations directly before and directly afterward, it may have lasted from the 33rd to the 14th century BC. The Indus Valley civilization covered a large area – from Balochistan (Pakistan) to Gujarat (Republic of India).
  • The first city to be discovered by excavation (digging up) wasHarappa and therefore this civilization is also known as ‘Harappan Civilization’.

The ancient population in India used a variety of subsistence practices to cope with diverse environments. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Banaras Hindu University in Uttar Pradesh worked in north-west India between 2007 and 2014. They studied the dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental context :-

  • The climate change factor:- During early Holocene, the Indus Valley Civilization, was located closer to the lake Kotla Dahar (monsoon-filled closed basin).But then the monsoon cycle – which was pivotal to the livelihood – suddenly halted for nearly two centuries which led to decrease in water level of Kotla Dahar lake and thus, leading to de-urbanisation.
  • The improved water management practice:- As society progressed, there was improvement in conservation practices (like covering of drains below streets), and rather than being forced to diversify subsistence practices, in response the Climate Change, a broad uniformity was observed as opposed to earlier thesis of ‘Different subsistence practices for different areas’.
  • Settlement Pattern:- IVC evolved in a particular environment where there was an overlap in the summer and winter rainfall system, and adequate water were available and also played role in evolution of the city’s drainage systems.
  • The cropping pattern:- Use of millet, rice, and tropical pulses in both pre-urban and urban phases, suggested that local people had adapted themselves to vagaries of climate.

The various theories leading to decline of Indus Valley Civilization revolved around the climatic factors mainly. This suggest that people of Indus Valley had to face the enormous climatic conditions:-

  1. Floods:

The massive floods in the Indus must have been a potent cause for the extinction of the Harappan culture. The point is proved by the silt-clay that covers the collapsed houses at Mohenjo-Daro. Repeated floods must have forced the people to flee the inundated places and set up permanent habitat elsewhere. As a consequence came the decline of Harappa.

  1. Earthquakes:

Geographically, the Harappan culture occupied an area that was prone to earthquakes as it came under a seismographic zone. Repeated seismographic vibrations must have led to erosion that brought down the buildings. Earthquakes constitute an important reason for the decline of Harappan culture.

  1. Change of the Course of the Indus:

Some Historians attribute the decline of the Harappan culture to the river Indus changing its course frequently. As such the Indus delta shifted away from Mohenjo-Daro and water became scarce. Water scarcity must have led to the exodus of the Harappan people to other places. Yet, the change of course of the Indus is not reason enough for the decline in Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar etc. because the Mohenjo-Daro situation did not occur in these regions.


General Studies – 2

Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections

2) Critically analyse how does the recent union budget seek to address low income problem of farmers and farm workers. (200 Words)



The condition low income farmers and farm workers is critical in India.The present condition of farmers in India is concerning. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had estimated 12,602 farm suicides for 2015, the latest year under investigation, up by 3% from the previous year. Agriculture has been hit severely by demonetization.

The recent budget initiated many measures:-

1) It delisted the perishables like fruits and vegetables from Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) to enable farmers to realize a better price.
2) Integration of farmers with agro-processing units for better price realization and reduction of post-harvest losses.
3) Mini labs for soil testing will be set up in all 648 Krishi Vigyan Kendras across India which will be run by rural entrepreneurs and will be assisted by the government. It is to promote agricultural entrepreneurship.
4) Dedicated micro-irrigation fund with a corpus of Rs5,000 crore under Nabard which will help the farmer in case of erratic monsoon and draught.
5) To provide farmers with adequate and timely credit, the budget raised the target of agricultural loans to Rs10 trillion in 2017-18, up from a targeted Rs9 trillion in the previous year.
6) An expert committee which will be constituted to study and promote creation of an operational and legal framework to integrate spot market and derivatives market for commodities trading.

But certain issues still remains:-
1) The interest subvention scheme of 3% is provided if the money is paid back in time, and in case monsoonal distress farmer are unable to dot that hence the scheme benefit is availed of by the agri-business companies. Roughly Rs8 trillion out of the Rs10 trillion will eventually go to the agri-business corporations in the name of farmers.
2) Because of climate change and no fixed production output agriculture suffers from income insecurity so less money means less next yr investment.
3) According to the Shanta Kumar Committee, only 6% farmers get the benefit of minimum support price (MSP). The remaining are dependent on the markets and volatility in the market make them more vulnerable.
4) Further agriculture has been hit severely by demonetization, which saw farm incomes plummeting as no cash for fertilizer seeds etc.
5) Skill imparting and more subsidies to mechanize farming has not been adequately addressed.

Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

3) The government plans to launch an Aadhaar-enabled payment system soon. Examine its advantages over other non-cash payment options and benefits. (200 Words)




  • In order to further speed track Financial Inclusion in the country, Two Working Group were constituted by RBI on MicroATM standards and Central Infrastructure & Connectivity for Aadhaar based financial inclusion transactions with members representing RBI, Unique Identification Authority of India, NPCI, Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology and some special invitees representing banks and research institutions.
  • The working group on MicroATM standards & Central Infrastructure & Connectivity has submitted its report to RBI. As a part of the working group it was proposed to conduct a Lab level Proof of concept (PoC), integrating the authentication & encryption standards of UIDAI, to test the efficacy of MicroATM standards and transactions using Aadhaar before they are put to actual use. The PoC was successfully demonstrated at various venues. 
  • AEPS is a bank led model which allows online interoperable financial inclusion transaction at PoS (MicroATM) through the Business correspondent of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication.

The four Aadhaar enabled basic types of banking transactions are as follows:-

  • Balance Enquiry
  • Cash Withdrawal
  • Cash Deposit
  • Aadhaar to Aadhaar Funds Transfer

The only inputs required for a customer to do a transaction under this scenario are:-

  • IIN (Identifying the Bank to which the customer is associated)
  • Aadhaar Number
  • Fingerprint captured during their enrollment


  1. To empower  a bank customer to use  Aadhaar as his/her identity  to access his/ her respective Aadhaar enabled bank account and  perform basic banking transactions like balance enquiry, Cash  deposit, cash withdrawal,  remittances that are intrabank or interbank in nature,  through a Business Correspondent.
  2. To sub-serve the goal of Government of India (GoI) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in furthering Financial Inclusion.
  3. To sub-serve the goal of RBI in electronification of retail payments.
  4. To enable banks to route the Aadhaar initiated interbank transactions through a central switching and clearing agency.
  5. To facilitate disbursements of Government entitlements like NREGA, Social Security pension, Handicapped Old Age Pension etc. of any Central or State Government bodies, using Aadhaar and authentication thereof as supported by UIDAI.
  6. To facilitate inter-operability across banks in a safe and secured manner.
  7. To build the foundation for a full range of Aadhaar enabled Banking services.

Its advantages and benefits over non cash payment options:-

1.Security from theft or counterfeiting of data/card due to the presence of biometric system
2.Wide reach – as per data 1.11 billion people had an Aadhaar number
3.User friendly with ease of transaction 
4.Beneficial for lower strata – specifically for people who do not have debit cards, mobile phone or e-wallets.                                                                                                           

5.Offline payment system will be a win-win situation for both service provider and user considering low level of broadband connectivity in India
6.Low transaction cost:-Unlike PoS machines, which requires credit/ debit card, a comparatively cheaper machine is required for Aadhar enabled payment. The only requirement is the linkage of Aadhar card with the person’s account, which have already been provided to majority of nation through Jan Dhan Yojana. There is no prospect of extra charges to be paid for possession of Aadhar card, unlike credit/ debit cards.
7.It is better than e-wallet mechanism, as the latter can only be used for transaction if both consumer and merchant have the same service provider
8.A UPI enable payment also needs a mobile based app, whereas Aadhar enabled payment can only be done by a biometric signature, with no other equipment needed on part of consumer.
9.Its Environment Friendly It will save paper further the plastic used in cards will be saved and hence with less plastic less environmental degradation

Conclusion:- India is currently at a stage where it is building the road for electronic payments. Aadhaar Pay will be another channel to make payments. It will not only ensure the governments objectives of digital push but will strengthen the payment systems in India.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Economic growth and development; Resource mobilization

4) Examine what has Union Budget 2017 done to revive investments in the country. (200 Words)



The Union Budget 2017 initiated plethora of bold measures in order to revive the sluggish investment scenario in India.

Steps taken:-

1)It phased out Foreign Investment Promotion Board. As the investment is coming mainly through the Automatic Route the scope of FIPB has become limited. It will also result in decreasing the red tapism in country and easing out the FDI flows.

2)It has modified the Indirect Transfer Provisions:- FII/portfolio investors investing under category 1 &2 of Alternative investment fund, would be exempted from purview of ITF under Section 9 of Income Tax Act to eliminate double and triple taxation on same income

3)The limit for Minimum Alternate Tax has been increased to 15 years from current limit of 10 years.

4) It has Streamlined ADR platforms:-Setting up of resolution framework under the arbitration and conciliation act to resolve disputes in public contracts in the infrastructure sector, thus reducing delays and would help in decreasing NPA, this further reviving business lending (Imrpove Ease of doing business)

5) It has provided increased allocation to Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) which will help in incentivizing the electronic manufacturing.

6) Public sector boost :- Increase in public capital expenditure (railways, rural roads and housing) in the context of sluggish private sector investment and slow global growth, would lead to formation of more PPP thus overcoming the financial crunch.

7) It has provided for higher agricultural credit in the form of higher allocation for irrigation projects, crop insurance schemes and also provided for the expansion in coverage of eNAM to revive agriculture sector which will Increase rural demand and hence the investment in the country.

8)There is an increased focus on public private partnership which will ensure last mile connectivity and also reduced logistical cost.

9) The budget also made it mandatory for investors to pay STT to avail of the benefits of long-term capital gains regime from financial year 2018-19 to prevent abuse of this exemption.


Topic: Agriculture issues

5) The union budget 2017-18 has pitched for more reforms in agriculture marketing and increased funds for insurance and irrigation schemes.  Critically comment on these reforms. (200 Words) 



The union budget of 2017-18 has taken many reforms in agriculture marketing, insurance and irrigation as follows.

1)Agri-market sector:-

Model law on contract farming will be circulated to the state govts.
Dedicate fund to promote dairy processing, under NABARD.                                                                                It urges State Govts to delist perishable products like vegetable and fruit from APMC, so that direct and free selling of such products enhances farmer income.
 e-nam will be more regulated and expanded upto 585 markets.

There is a target of coverage of 40% cropped area under PMFBY; 10 trillion to disburse as credit in under-served areas[special corpus has given to co-operative banks]

3)Irrigation and soil:-
It provided for a long term irrigation fund in which NABARD, again got funding of R20,000.
There is a provision for a dedicated micro irrigation fund under NABARD designed, for emphases to per drop more crop.
The Mini lab testing at will be run by rural entrepreneurs supported by govt at every krishi vigyan kendras. It has also provided 60 day interest waiver for winter crops due to demonetisation.

Critical Aspect:-

1)Agricuiture sector got a total of only 6% increase in the budgetary allocation then how it’s possible to increase the farners income to double by 2022.

2) Despite the increase in Kharif crops no direct profit for farmers can be seen.

3) Demonetisation impact on overall agriculture has not been clearly justified by the government.

4) Allocation for Rashtriya Krishi Viyas Yojna and climate change, declined, which is urgent to continue the fight against meager growth rate of agri.

5) An expert committee which will be constituted to study and promote creation of an operational and legal framework to integrate spot market and derivatives market for commodities trading but who will be panelist is not discussed.

6)There is an Integration of farmers with agro-processing units for better price realization and reduction of post-harvest losses. But how to connect them when digitization is yet to achieve is to think over.

7)Nabard is now tasked with a dairy development fund (Rs8,000 crore) to diversify farm incomes, and a special scheme to bring cooperative banks under the core banking system (Rs1,900 crore) to “ensure seamless flow of credit to small and marginal farmers”.


Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism 

6) What are the differences between landmine and an improvised explosive device? How do naxals get weapons and what has government done to stop them from getting weapons? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu



The naxals have hit several areas of India. Former Prime Minister Manmohan singh once said that Naxalism is the biggest internal security threat to India. Naxalism has spread into many parts of India and they have carried out sophisticated attacks using a variety of weaponry on the Security forces in different parts of India. Their arsenal ranges from hand-made rifles and crude bombs to advance IEDs as well. However, IEDs\Landmines have been the preferred choice for many large-scale attacks on our forces.

An IED or Improvised Explosive Device is a Enhanced Bomb(made of Mortar rounds, shells, grenades, crude bombs) which has a separate trigger mechanism.It can be triggered in many ways. For example, It can be detonated wirelessly using a remote device like a cell phone, or with wires, or using pressure sensors which detect vehicle or human movement. This makes it a good candidate for Guerrilla type attacks.

A Landmine is a bomb often put below few layers of soil on the roads and detonated only when a Heavy object( human or a vehicle) pass over them. The weight pressure completes the circuit and detonates the bomb.

Naxalism have used a wide-variety of sources to get these weapons. Few of them are as below-
1) Weapon trade with Nepal Maoist and North-East Terrorist group.
2) Weapon smuggling from foreign countries like Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
3) Weapon manufacturing by themselves. They also launched a Rocket launcher program which was neutralized by the security forces.
4) Weapon snatching from Police personnel, armories and vehicles.
5) Landmines and Bomb material are also looted from Mining sector Industries.

Government has understood the magnitude of the Naxal problem. has taken below steps to counter the Maoists weapon-acquisition-
1) Establishment of Border fence to tackle cross-border weapon trafficking.
2) Deployment of force in a manner to augment anti-smuggling activity.
3) Electronic surveillance systems to detect movement.
4) Demonetization to break Naxal financing systems.


It should be understood that to solve the Naxal problems, Measures should be taken in both the strategic as well as Political front. The government should listen to the need of the people of these areas and solve their problems which would effectively cut the support base for Naxals.