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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 February 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 23 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.

STATIC Syllabus Timetable

General Studies – 1;

Topic:  Salient features of Indian society

1) “The problem of pit emptying must become central to India’s efforts to eliminate open defecation.” Critically discuss importance of pit emptying and measures needed to enforce it to eliminate open defecation. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Problem of pit emptying imbibed in caste discrimination is severely affecting the efforts to reduce open defecation. Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar have emphasized need of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation as one of the way to fight social problems like untouchability and caste discrimination. In spite of these efforts people are reluctant to empty latrine pit and preferring open places for defecation.

Importance of pit emptying-

  • Pit emptying is the integral process for using latrines and toilets for long term thereby ensuring reduction in open defecation.
  • The storage of waste into impermeable pit does not allow contamination of waste with nearby area including water table.
  • It prevents the spreading of communicable diseases (diarrhea, cholera etc) which could be dangerous to children in particular.
  • It helps in maintaining cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.

Problems associated with pit emptying-

Rural Indians do not want to use the latrines promoted by the Indian government because these latrines require periodic manual pit emptying. They are afraid of the problems they will face when the pit fills up. Studies find that many rural Indians associate emptying a latrine pit by hand with manual scavenging, work that Dalits have traditionally been compelled to do. For this reason, people want to use latrines with very large pits or tanks that take decades to fill. Yet, latrines with very large pits are expensive, and hiring someone else to do it is now expensive and complicated, so most rural families cannot afford them.

Measures needed to enforce pit emptying to eliminate open defecation-

  • Though Twin-pit latrine design introduced by government is technological and biological solution to the problems of open defecation and manual scavenging, but it does not address the social consequences associated with pit emptying.
  • Politicians, government officials and respected people of the society must take initiative in emptying pit so that social taboo associated with it is removed. The recent example of secretary of Ministry of Drinking water and sanitation in Kerala who emptied pit publically is laudable.
  • There is need to bring behavioral change among people through awareness campaigns and exerting social pressure and civil society must take initiative in this to supplement government’s efforts.
  • Educational period of students is their formative phase. Thus students in schools and colleges must be educated of this discriminatory practice so that strong force of young minds is readied to defy it.
  • Government should charge those under penal provisions who employ other people often coercively to clean their pit.


Creating awareness regarding emptying pit and bringing behavioral changes among people would be strong step in making India open defecation free and at the same time would end the social evil of caste discrimination and untouchability.

Topic:   Population and associated issues; Salient features of Indian society 

2) What challenges does rapid ageing of population pose to policymakers in India? Social attitudes toward ageing in India and around the world is unfavourable towards aged people. How can this attitude be changed? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


India already has the world’s second largest population of the elderly, defined as those above 60 years of age. It is projected that approximately 20% of Indians will be elderly by 2050, marking a dramatic jump from the current 8%. It will generate enormous socio-economic pressures as the demand for healthcare services and tailored accommodation spikes to historically unprecedented levels.

Problem faced by elderlies in India-

  • Abandonment by their families.
  • Destitution and homelessness.
  • Inability to access quality health care.
  • Low levels of institutional support.
  • Loneliness and depression associated with separation from their families.

According to the National Sample Survey Organisation’s 2004 survey, nearly 3% of persons aged above 60 lived alone. The number of elderly living with their spouses was only 9.3%, and those living with their children accounted for 35.6%.

Challenges posed by rapid ageing population to policymakers in India-

  • As the proportional size of the elderly population expands, there is likely to be a shift in the disease patterns from communicable to non-communicable, which itself calls for re-gearing the health-care system toward “preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative aspects of health”. Policymakers will have to take this factor into account while designing health-care policies for elderly in future.
  • Policymakers will have to delve a healthcare model which would provide affordable, accessible and quality healthcare services to elders. They will also have to focus separately on problems of elderly people in tribal, third gender and differently abled persons.
  • Policymakers have to introduce Universal Health Care (UHC) and health insurance services as early as possible to elderly people. This could also strain state treasury and thus policymakers will also have to increase tax resources of the state. While more mature economies have created multiple models for elder care, such as universal or widely accessible health insurance, networks of nursing homes, and palliative care specializations, it is hard to find such systemic developments in India.
  • Elderly people are increasingly facing violence and discrimination from family members as well as from outsiders. Policymakers will have to provide security against this violence. In this case initiative of Delhi police is unique which launched anapp ‘Delhi Police Senior Citizen’ for aid to the elderly in times of distress or in case of medical emergencies. They will be able to send an SOS through the application that will immediately be transferred to the SHO and beat constable concerned.
  • Health is a state subject. Central government spends only around 1% of GDP on health sector. The medical problems of elderly receive fraction of this amount. Moreover there is uneven distribution of this amount among states. Hence policymakers will have to create a right balance which would reduce the friction between union government and state governments and increase the cooperation between them.
  • Further large numbers of elderly population have desire, potential and capacity to work and to earn money. Unfortunately most of them cannot find employment suitable to their qualification rendering them either unemployed or under-employed.

The traditional arrangements for the elderly in an Indian family revolve around care provided by their children. But in the age of increasing globalization and nuclear families, elderly people find it difficult to sustain without family support. Further in families also elderly people are looked as burden and liability on account of their medical expenses and no earning. Thus social attitude towards elderlies in India and around the world is becoming negative and unfavorable.

How this attitude be changed?

  • The major problem about elderly arises due to their medical expenses. Thus by introducing Universal Health Care and Insurance services by government can reduce the financial burden over families thereby helping in changing their attitude towards elderly.
  • Advocacy and information campaigns may be necessary to redirect social attitudes toward ageing. Also cultural values like respecting and caring elders could be imbibed through awareness campaigns.
  • The media particularly electronic and Cinema can prove strong tools to bring out positive change towards elderly by creating sensitivity towards plight of elderly people.
  • Government and civil society together have to create social places and institutions which would provide counseling, emotional support and care to single and deserted elderly people.
  • Recently the concept ‘Universal Basic Income’ introduced by Economic Survey 2016-17 can be applied to poor elderly people so that they live the life of independence and dignity.
  • The vast professional experience of elderly people should be tapped and be used to spread in younger generation through schemes like Anubhav. It would be most productive way for contribution of elderly towards society and to become asset rather than liability for society.

General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

3) How can accountability and transparency measures ensure better disaster management? Illustrate with suitable examples. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that disturbs the normal functioning of a community or a society involving a widespread human, material, economical and environmental losses and its impacts exceeds the ability of the affected one to cope using its own resources. So it is necessary to have with us, a proper Disaster management framework to tackle them as envisaged in Sendai Framework. Accountability and Transparency aids the whole process of disaster management.


The recent oil spill off the coast of Ennore,T.N. has raised issues of accountability and transparency on part of government authorities and port trust that was responsible for appropriate action. The spill resulted in severe ecological damage for the marine ecology. The agencies, instead of acting immediately to contain the disaster, first denied the occurrence and then have acted immediately to contain the damage to their reputations. The coast guard was informed late.

There is absolutely no disaster-related information, precautions the public needs to take which ought to have been widely disseminated by any responsible administration. Further, in case of any disaster, the authorities should continue damage control until the damage is contained and not stopped at an arbitrary time fixed by the authorities. In this case, the authorities have proudly announced that the efforts have been successfully made while the reality is, the sleek is spreading to other coasts as well.


  • As per CAG report many state lack state disaster management plan – which is prerequisite for any type of disaster response e.g UTTRAKHAND flash flood , Jhelum flood in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Amartya Sen, has argued in Argumentative Indian about the positive correlation between a transparent and accountable Government and disaster management. He has also highlighted, how a transparent and accountable democratic Govt in India has prevented any famine after Independence, though in 1943 famine millions perished.
  • The Cyclone Phailin in Odisha in 2014 is a perfect example where these two helped in effective handling of disaster. While IMD and government took responsibility for prediction of and preparation for the disaster, transparency in available capacity to rehabilitate before and damage assessment during disaster helped in proper management of the disaster.

Accountability and transparency during Disaster Management –

Disaster Management can be termed as an efficient ways of either preventing a disaster to happen or to handle it in best possible way and minimize damage. Role of government to ensure preparedness and strategies to handle disasters is very crucial, adding to that accountability for the mismanagement should be owned by the designated authorities and transparency to disseminate timely information to people is must.


  1. INFORMATION DISSEMINATION -Early and exact knowledge about occurence and possible impacts of disaster and necessary precautions to take by public would reduce the vulnerability of people and resources.
  2. PROMPT AND EFFECTIVE STEPS -This would also prompt the administration to carry out effective steps to reduce the impact. Transparency in the work will indirectly ensure accountability and force proper action. For example, due to dissemination of wider information, the effects of Phailin was contained to a large extent though it was of similar intensity of super cyclone in 1999.
  3. CORRUPTION – in disaster management funds and also diversion in mitigation and rehabilitation packages.Eg- Pilfering of rations meant for affected people during Indian Ocean Tsunami.
  4. ROLE OF PUBLIC IN DM – Transparency facilitates awareness regarding do’s and don’ts to citizens. This mitigates possibility of deepening impact of disaster reducing its management scope. Eg. Lack of transparency during Chennai oil spill, has provided no clarity to volunteers on hazard of manual sludge removal. Fishermen unaware of risks of fishing and eating sea food. This increases ambit of impacted people hence increasing management burden.


  1. CLEAR ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEFINED ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES across different authorities will help in proper co-ordination among the hierarchical structures and put an end to the blame game.

Quicker Admission of the problem: Institutions do not admit of having the problem and it worsens the situations. Eg. : Last year, SC court slammed many state governments for declaring the drought late but on the other hand, TN announced drought earlier.

Despite, repeated terror attack on India, no single agency was held responsible. This augments status-quoism.

  1. PRACTICING THE PRINCIPLE OF “POLLUTER SHOULD PAY” i.e. to punish the man-made causes of disasters as done in the case of alkananda dam for being one of the causes for Uttarakhand floods will act as a deterrent for reckless actions.
  2. HOLDING THE AUTHORITIES ANSWERABLE and define punishments for exhibiting lack of interest will force them to take swift actions and ensure preventive measures. eg: In the recent Oil spill issue on the Tamil Nadu coast there was a huge delay for the local authorities from initiating an action. Clear demarcation of duties should be done among Union, State and local govt. along with effective co-ordination.

It would help in identifying the erring official or regime and fear of sanctions would force them to take appropriate action. In Odisha, after super cyclone there was regime change by people due to inefficiency in containing the effects of disaster.

  1. CONTINGENCY PLAN: Not having plans for disasters should be punitive and such people/institution should be made accountable. Eg : Indian Coast Guard has been asking the states to prepare coastal contingency plans for TN has not prepared any such plans and only working on draft for 3 years.


Transparency and accountability reduces chances of recurrence of disaster by fixing the root cause of incident and served as the long term solution by creating effective resilience. Further, Transparency and accountability build conducive environment for active government-citizen partnership in spirit of humanity and responsibility. It facilitates better governance and disaster management.

Topic: Poverty and developmental issues

4) What does world need today – protectionist measures or free trade  – to eliminate poverty? Substantiate. (200 Words)


In a global trading landscape that is being increasingly influenced by protectionist narratives, the approval of the landmark European Union-Canada trade deal Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) by the European Parliament comes as a breath of fresh air. Trade between the two economies amounts to about $63 billion presently, and reports say Ceta could increase this by 20% to as much as $76 billion.

CONCERN -Foreign competition induced by Ceta was particularly feared to hurt local(Belgium) farmers, who were increasingly facing higher production costs in their region. Such concerns are legitimate and are shared by a host of countries, including the US. But, there are huge welfare gains that accrue to consumers of cheaper imports.

Case study – A report on Analysis of the effects of free trade agreements (FTAs) negotiated by the EU in the past two decades shows that these agreements not only improved the quality of the imports , but also lowered the quality-adjusted price of those imports. In value terms, cheap imports resulted in savings of billions for consumers every year.


Globalization was conceptualized with an aim to increase the quality of life being led by people all across the globe.

Free trade, which is an element of globalization, ensures that people of a country get an access to goods and services from other countries which are supposedly better at producing those. Free trade is based on theory of comparative advantage, with countries focusing on goods/services which they can manufacture competitively.

Protectionism is more inward-looking defensive measure that is used by countries to limit unfair foreign competition.

Protectionism’s effects on poverty reduction –

Positive :
1.Protection Measures like anti-dumping duty and CVD’s- prevent distortion of market by foreign players and help in preventing undue negative effect on domestic industries.
2.Support to core industries -Leads to employment.

Negative :
1.Cartelization by domestic producers may prove detrimental to small firms
2.Decreased savings of poor to procure higher costs of products where country does not enjoy competitive advantage. Eg- Manufacturing in US.

Free trade and poverty reduction –


  1. Efficient economy- Allows countries to maximize their comparative advantage while boosting growth, investments and technological capability and thus improving ‘spread effect’.
  2. Welfare policies – Rise in country’s income due to free trade, may lead to additional income to compensate for losses (unemployment insurance) and improvement in competitiveness of MSME’s (MUDRA, Start-up India).
  • TRADE’S PRO-POOR BIAS –Trade has a pro-poor bias, as the poor tend to gain more through freer trade. This is because tradable goods constitute a large portion of their overall expenditure, and lower import prices of these goods feed into greater savings for them. Any barriers to trade can quickly degenerate into barriers to reducing poverty.


  • Hurts uncompetitive and small domestic firms exacerbating GINI coefficient.
  • Leads to massive trade deficits, higher debts and offshoring for some leading to loss of employment. Eg- US high deficit with Mexico after NAFTA leading to much high job cuts.
  • Pressure from developed nations as stringent labour and environmental, IPR standards are enforced on poorer nations which impacts growth (leads to neo-colonialism)


Free trade has a pro-poor bias. Free trade hurts uncompetitive businesses and causes unemployment. But as long as the losers are compensated from the aggregate welfare gains resulting from trade, there is a strong case to be made in favor of liberalizing restrictions. This compensation should be in the form of robust safety nets—such as unemployment insurance benefits or income support payments—that are combined with skilling programs to retrain displaced workers for new employment opportunities.


Legitimate argument in favor of imposing anti-dumping or countervailing duties on certain items can be made if the cheap imports are result of market distortions by exporting country.

For example, In its high growth years, China witnessed heavy state-led investments in its steel industry. This led to industrial overcapacity in the subsequent low growth years when domestic demand faded. Consequently, Chinese producers engaged in price discrimination by exporting steel to foreign markets at prices far lower than those prevailing domestically. The importing countries naturally witnessed damage to their domestic steel industries, but not necessarily due to their own inefficiencies or weaknesses. They lost out owing to market distortions or failures induced by their foreign trade partner’s state policy. This could justify appropriate domestic measures.

The problem with such measures is that it is often difficult to distinguish clearly between cheap imports induced by market distortions and those taking place as a result of genuine comparative cost competitiveness of the foreign producers. And the result is a flagrant misuse of anti-dumping measures to thwart even genuine imports and to create collusion and cartelization by domestic producers. Given their potential for misuse, protectionist measures should be avoided or limited to exceptional situations only.


The current global scenario calls for a fair balance between free trade and protectionist measures as a nation cannot solely resort to either of the method. While free trade should be allowed for creation of job opportunities and cater to wide consumer needs, the govt. should protect those loosing from free trade through incentives like unemployment compensation, concession for upgradation of local industries to make them at par with global standards.

The extremes of both the measures would be detrimental to economy in longer term. Hence, a country should try to protect the sensitive sectors in its economy, with minimum required protectionist measures.( Eg- Subsidy flow maintained to support agricultural-competitiveness, while opening of service sector by India).

WTO has an important role to play in this regard to establish balance between Trade Facilitation and Special Safeguard Mechanism customized as per condition of country’s economy.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

5) Critically analyse present status of ISIS operations and  its ability to lure youths from across the world including India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

ISIS is a militant organization that emerged in global picture in 2014 after seizing large part of Syria and Iraq. It seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate and lured Muslims all over the world to join it. The group has been notorious for its brutality, mass killings, suicide attacks, beheadings etc.

Present status of ISIS –

  • Extension of territory of attack: The IS has extended its territory to Europe, Asia & Africa. Brussels bombings, Paris attack & attack on Sufi shrine in Pakistan shows extension of ISIS in Europe and other Asian nations.
  • Sectarian Strife: ISIS has emboldened its strife against followers of non-sunni sects like Shias, Sufis. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar(Sufi Shrine) was the recent example.

Elements favoring them-

  • Social media-they effectively use social media as their propaganda tool which makes their ideology widespread(sometimes recruits from 80 countries present in IS).
  • Oil fields-provide constant supply of money for their devious operations.
  • Political support-covert political support from sunni sectarian countries favors them.

Unfavorable elements –

  • Losing territories in SYRIA and IRAQ -Combined operation of Syrian & Russian army in Syria & NATO forces in Syria and Iraq have made them to lose a large part of their territory. Presently they are losing ground in Mosul which is rich in oil fields, hence loss of revenue.
  • Financial crunch: Curbing terror finance by Syrian government and allies recently making them unable to pay for recruits and weapons.
  • Growing anti-terror wave in the world , Trump’s aggressive stand,etc.

Ability to lure youth –

  • Through radicalization IS has attracted youth from many countries including India who are joining the organization. They use variety of techniques to lure youth-sex,money etc.
  • Depravity is defended under the garb of religion which gives youth the token to commit crime without being a sinner. Hence they feel it attractive.
  • Losing loyalty: Although the organization continues to attract people, it is fast losing their loyalty due to modest wage, failure to pay them due to fund shortage, disillusionment over cause of fighting etc.
  • Deradicalization of youth should be our prime motive to prevent them falling in this trap.Wholehearted and single minded commitment from international community is need of hour to end ISIS.


Nevertheless, given its innovative strategy of carrying out lone-wolf attacks far from personality-based organization, it still comes across as a menace. This calls for closer global cooperation, especially between US and Russia to root them out. Youth should be prevented from joining through de-radicalization measures and robust intelligence systems.

Topic: Indian economy growth and development

6) What do you understand by twin balance sheet (TBS) problem? How and why is India affected by TBS? What’s the solution to fight this problem? Examine. (200 Words)

The Economic Survey 2016-2017, Chapter 5

Economic survey 2016-17 has paid much attention to TBS problem – i.e.  distressed corporate companies, and the rising NPAs in PSB balance sheets.  India has developed its own unique version of TBS, what Eco. Survey has classified as ‘Balance Sheet Syndrome with Indian Characteristics.

Why India affected by TBS:

  1. Post 2000s India started towards double digit growth. Hence firms expanded and the investment financed by astonishing credit boom from India and abroad.
    Global Financial crisis : difficulties in securing land and environmental clearance all lead to soaring of costs far above budgeted levels.
    3. RBI increased interest rates to quell inflation hence domestic borrowers suffered. Those borrowed abroad suffered depreciation in rupee rates as compared to dollar.

How India affected:

  1. Higher costs, lower revenues, greater financing costs all squeezed corporate cash flow, quickly leading to debt servicing problem.
    Many companies owed interest coverage ratio less than one. Huge losses to Indian steel industry and MSME.

Effect on economy –

1.Low growth – Holding up private investment has restricted growth in multiple core sectors
2.Less lending – Though demonetization has spurred ST lending, but increase in provisions has led to less amount for lending activities
3.Decrease attractiveness – Impacted credit rating, Ease of Doing Business and subsequently FDI, FII in the economy

Measures taken by government: mainly Indradhanush mission-

  1. Asset Quality Review to recognize the true state of balance sheet.
    2. S4A provides strategic debt reduction in order to restore financial viability.
    3. Capital infusion (70k crores) by government. These measures are proving to be inadequate.

Way forward –

1.Formation of PARA – Public Sector Asset Reconstruction Company (PARA) to buy and dispose-off the complex NPA, freeing up the bank capitals as private ARC’s have been ineffective.
2. Creation of markets for stressed assets buyers by restarting of stuck projects (Effective land acquisition, rehabilitation policy needed)
3. Limit debt capacity/company – Stressed debt is heavily concentrated in large companies, so banks need to be careful regarding ever greening of loans (Debt of Top 10 companies = Rs7.5bn)
4.Curb delays – Average duration for insolvency resolution in India is 4.3 yrs, and though Bankruptcy code is created, but effective implementation is needed to resolve the ‘Chakravyuh problem’
5.Overhaul in bank structure – Split CMD posts for PSB (Nayak Committee), more autonomy and effective working of Bank Board Bureau, strategic divestment of Govt. holding, Diversification of funds ).
6. Macro policies – Loosening of monetary policy is needed to bit to spur economic activity, reinvigoration of Corporate Bond markets needed.


In hindsight, India’s way to TBS has resembled closely to that of China though on a very short scale (1/7th of amount of China). Eco-survey has stressed on fact that solution would require 4 R’s: Reform, Recognition, Recapitalization, and Resolution, and currently much scope is there to improve on all fronts.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

7) With reference to the issue of the government’s excess capital in the RBI, is it good for economy? Should RBI hold excess capital? Should government use this excess capital? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Economic Survey 2016-2017, Chapter 5

As per the economic survey ,RBI is one of the highly capitalized central banks of the world, and there should be diversion of this capital for other more profitable ventures. RBI is currently holding excess of 5 lakh crore with itself in its balance sheet in cash and other liquid assets for various purposes.

Pros of holding cash –

  • Stability in controlling monetary policy by holding huge cash reserves and releasing when needed
    2) Acting as lender of last resort.
    3) Controlling inflation because of excess cash with public.

Cons of holding cash –

1) Opportunity Cost of investing the funds in other viable projects
2) Diversion of money from social projects
3) Using funds to revive economy or use in PARA as mooted by Survey

Therefore it may not be good for the economy from the opportunity cost point of view. However, some amount of cash should be maintained for stability and security for monetary policy intervention. Important example is of US Fed pumping billion in the system in 2007-08 during financial crisis for quantitative easing. Therefore RBI should hold cash appropriate to the level needed. Excess cash is also cost to exchequer.

Government should use this cash in sustainable and viable projects in the current banking and economic system suffering because of the ongoing distress. Government can use this fund through

  • PARA/ Bad Bank concept to buy NPA from banks and restructure and sell them
  • Viable infra projects through NIIF

3) Other investment opportunities like REITs for assured and higher return.