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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 February 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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:  Role of women; Social empowerment

1) Should triple talaq be outlawed? What arguments can be made in favour of outlawing triple talaq? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Triple Talaq is a way of getting divorce by pronouncing Talaq three times. It gives exclusive powers to a muslim husband to end the marriage at his whims without resorting for any conciliatory mechanism.


Supreme Court in Shamim Ara v/s State of UP – Invalidated instant and arbitrary Talaq, and pronounced to follow procedure laid down in Quoran. Afterwards, there are four or five judgments like Dagdu Pathan v. Rahimbi case where the triple talaq provision has been struck down as invalid by S.C..But it has not led to this practice being rooted out from our society.


  • Preamble gives us enough evidence when it mentions about Social Justice, Equality of Status, Fraternity assuring the dignity of people – we can definitely say that it is against the principles of our preamble.
  • Fundamental Rights: It is against Right to Equality where all people should be treated equally irrespective of gender, religion etc.
  • Constitutional obligation upon government under article 14 to provide right to equality and under art-44 Uniform treatment to Muslim women.
  • Muslim women are still subject to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 which is silent on triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy. They need to be brought on a par with Hindu sisters and Christian sisters who have a legal recourse.
  • Unjust practice – one sided utterance without need of any evidence or witness. To make he matter worse, burden is over woman to contest it.
  • Against Koran: Koran contains provision for reconciliation and mediation over period of 90 days involving both sides in order to prevent destitution among women. Hence the practice is against the religion itself.
  • Abolished in Islamic nations: The practice of triple talaq is extensively followed in the Indian subcontinent BUT is a rare phenomenon in other majorly Islamic countries, which poses a question of the legitimacy of the argument that the religion prescribes this method for divorce. In addition to this, the fact that this method of divorce is widely prevalent in poorer and uneducated sections of the people only makes it worrisome.
  • The religion should no doubt be respected but as members of a civilized society, we must strive towards ending social evils. The practice of triple talaq is a social evil which endangers the prospects of a dignified life for all the female members of Islam.
  • The religion should be encouraged to evolve in accordance with the modern society and the practices like triple talaq should be prevented by enforcing the law and outlawing them. An age old practice which is evil in today’s world cannot be continued with the pretext that it existed in the past.
  • Muslim women have no legal recourse for triple talaq, but to comply. They get no compensation, no time for conciliation and even custody of children (if husband wants so).
  • Further, if a muslim woman wants divorce from her husband, its considered taboo and she has to go through all the legalities of Shariyat courts.
  • Immediate effect of triple talaq makes women vulnerable to social vagaries as most of them are not economically empowered.
  • Nikah halala as compromise to dignity – comes into action when divorced husband wants his divorced wife again and that can be done only after that woman’s second marriage.

But some sections of Muslim Community are advocating Triple Talaq because –

  1. Right of personal beliefs and religion: Triple Talaq is inherent to religious practice and people reserve rights to preserve it. The pronouncement of triple talaq is acceptable to all four schools of thought in Islam and though not desirable, it is very much a Koranic injunction.
  2. Koran does not condone talaq, though it has been described as one of the worst options to be exercised only under extenuating circumstances.
  • Speedy Procedure: Triple talaq gives a speedy divorce option for those who don’t want to wait for three months as per other option under Islamic law.
  1. More responsibility of Husband towards his wife and family and hence power of pronouncing Talaq to him only.
  2. Nikahnama :- A agreement during marriage – in which if it not explicitly mentioned about abandoning of Triple Talaq then husband can avail this option.


Muslim personal law needs drastic reforms in accordance with the changing times. These should be in line with recent S.C. rulings upholding the constitutional ideals.

Uniform civil code can be the ultimate solution for eliminating unjust practices of some of the personal laws. Efforts should be made towards making atmosphere ripe for the changes.

General Studies – 2

Topic: Poverty and developmental issues;  Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

2) The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has estimated that approximately 150 million people in India experience one or the other mental health condition. Discuss the nexus between gender, poverty and mental health. Examine if interventions such as unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) could help address mental health problem among poor.  (200 Words)

The Hindu

Mental health is the foundation of human well-being, in the absence of which physical health and other concepts of happiness are meaningless. Despite this, mental health is the most neglected part in our health system and society. The ignorance and associated stigma further deteriorates the already disadvantaged patients of mental illness (Double jeopardy). Hence, along with health pathways, there is a need of innovative non-health solutions to deal with the menace of mental health problems.

Nexus between gender- poverty and mental health:

The gender-poverty-caste-mental health nexus clearly shows the impact of structural barriers on mental ill health.


Due to patriarchal nature of society women, girls gets secondary treatment against their male counterparts characterised by malnourished women and girl children who drop out of school to care for their male siblings or because they are unable to manage their menstruation in schools without toilets or water.

Women, girls get food at last (lesser in quantity and quality many times). These things hinder mental state of females.

The last to access health care when unwell and the first to play caregiver, girls are married off before the legal age , often subject to brutality perpetrated by a patriarchal society, ills of dowry and intimate partner violence.

We fare poorly (130/150) on the gender inequality index, measured by indicators including workforce participation, access to secondary education and control over reproductive rights.

In this situation, depression and anxiety are twice prevalent more among women than men, and inordinately high among the poor.

Cognitive tax: Poverty acts as cognitive tax on mental health as it degrades the thinking ability of poor beyond daily firefighting. World Bank study also substantiated this relation.

Poor cannot get access to mental health care due to financial crunch.

Poverty also takes person into state of severe stress and depression which can lead to extreme steps like suicides in some cases e.g. farmer suicide.


Feminization of poverty: the burden of poverty is borne by women, especially in developing countries. This phenomenon is not only a consequence of lack of income, but is also the result of the deprivation of capabilities and gender biases present in both societies and governments.


Randomised control trial conducted in Kenya by social scientists from Princeton University indicates that UCTs resulted in an increase in earnings and other assets, greater nutritional spend, decrease in domestic violence and increase in mental health gains, qualified by an increase in levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and reduction in stress and depression. There was no adverse impact on alcohol or tobacco spent crime or inflation.


Poverty and resultant discrimination influence trajectories of well-being and mental ill health, especially among families living in poverty (India is home to 30% of all poor children globally). Hence, the non-health measures like UNCONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS will have the following benefits –

  1. PYSCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS: the daily hustle for subsistence can be addressed then and the required energy and effort can be used productively and thus reduce the mental stress due to uncertainties. Experience of autonomy, one’s agency and choice — the allied benefits of UCTs — are imperative to social change. An increase in levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and reduction in stress and depression.
  2. REDUCE POVERTY: the extra money supply can be used to further increase the family incomes and come out of nexus.
  3. HEALTH BENEFITS: greater nutritional spending, access to health care facilities, etc. can deal with the mental and physical health related problems effectively.
  4. SOCIAL BENEFITS: as the women will also be liable to the cash benefit, it would also promote their empowerment, education aspects and thus the increased literacy and improved economic condition can further reduce the violence against them.
  5. NON-UNITARY GAINS: the person who received the transfer also seemed to influence outcomes, so if the woman received the transfer, better outcomes for girl children seemed possible.


It is time to assess whether our fiscal climate would allow UCT. Since direct bank transfers would eliminate middlemen, corruption, subsidy leakages and related administrative costs, the case of UCT looks better placed.

The innovative social interventions like UCT in conjunction with effective health systems, marked by early identification and appropriate care paradigms, could yield ideal results.

However, UCTs cannot operate independent of, or as a substitute for public goods, namely health and education.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Awareness in space; Latest developments in S&T

3) What is ‘Goldilocks’ zone of a star? Recently NASA scientists have discovered Earth-size seven exoplanets which are said to possess habitable conditions. How did scientists discover such planets? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • Inastronomy and astrobiology, the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ), or simply the habitable zone, is the range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given sufficient atmospheric pressure.
  • The bounds of the CHZ are based onEarth‘s position in the Solar System and the amount of radiant energy it receives from the Sun. Due to the importance of liquid water to Earth’s biosphere, the nature of the CHZ and the objects within it may be instrumental in determining the scope and distribution of Earth-like extraterrestrial life and intelligence.
  • The habitable zone is also called theGoldilocks zone, a metaphor of the children’s fairy tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears“, in which a little girl chooses from sets of three items, ignoring the ones that are too extreme (large or small, hot or cold, etc.), and settling on the one in the middle, which is “just right”.


The above image shows the newly discovered 7 exoplanet system.

  • Since the initial discovery of three planets was made using the Chile-based Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, the exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1.
  • The closest planet in the TRAPPIST-1 system takes just 1.5 days to complete an orbit and the farthest one takes 20 days; the orbital period of the planets is also similar to the Galilean moons.
  • This is by far the largest collection of Earth-like planets in the habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone of a star — neither too close nor too far from a star, which raises the possibility of liquid water being present on the surface.



Methods used by Scientists to discover
1.Ground-based observatories :- Detected using several telescopes – Liverpool Telescope; La Silla, Chile (Trappist robotic telescope, hence the name)
2.Space Observatory :- Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope used infra-red technology, and recording of other waves blocked by Earth’s atmosphere (cosmic microwaves, long wavelength infra-red)
3.Monitoring of star’s light :- Red dwarfs are cooler than our Sun, and dimming of light each time a planet passes before the star could be recorded from Earth
4.Transit method :-Calculation of distance from star through tracking of how fast each of the planets crossed TRAPPIST-1 and completed an orbit;
5. Composition/Mass :- Tidal synchronization of planet’s orbits and gravity influence on others helped in determining terrain.

Topic: Indian economy growth and development

4) Most states achieved and maintained the target fiscal deficit level (3 percent of GSDP) and eliminated the revenue deficit soon after the introduction of their Fiscal Responsibility Legislation (FRL). Was FRL sole reason behind states’ good fiscal performance? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Economic Survey 2016-2017, Chapter 6


  • TheFiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA) is an Act of the Parliament of India to institutionalize financial discipline, reduce India’s fiscal deficit, improve macroeconomic management and the overall management of the public funds by moving towards a balanced budget.
  • The main purpose was to eliminate revenue deficit of the country (building revenue surplus thereafter) and bring down thefiscal deficit to a manageable 3% of the GDP by March 2008. However, due to the 2007 international financial crisis, the deadlines for the implementation of the targets in the act was initially postponed and subsequently suspended in 2009.


  • Firstly, the bill highlighted the terrible state of government finances in India both at the Union and the state levels under the statement of objects and reasons.
  • Secondly, it sought to introduce the fundamentals of fiscal discipline at the various levels of the government. The FRBM bill was introduced with the broad objectives of eliminating revenue deficit by 31 Mar 2006, prohibiting government borrowings from theReserve Bank of India three years after enactment of the bill, and reducing the fiscal deficit to 2% of GDP (also by 31 Mar 2006). Further, the bill proposed for the government to reduce liabilities to 50% of the estimated GDP by year 2011.


  1. to introduce transparent fiscal management systems in the country
  2. to introduce a more equitable and manageable distribution of the country’s debts over the years
  3. to aim for fiscal stability for India in the long run


Since the act was primarily for the management of the governments’ behaviour, it provided for certain documents to be tabled in the Parliament annually with regards to the country’s fiscal policy.[8] This included the following along with the Annual Financial Statement and demands for grants:

  1. a document titled Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement– This report was to present a three-year rolling target for the fiscal indicators  with any assumptions, if applicable. This statement was to further include an assessment of sustainability with regards to revenue deficit and the use of capital receipts of the Government (including market borrowings) for generating productive assets.
  2. a document titled Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement– This was a tactical report enumerating strategies and policies for the upcoming Financial Year including strategic fiscal priorities, taxation policies, key fiscal measures and an evaluation of how the proposed policies of the Central Government conform to the ‘Fiscal Management Principles’ of this act.
  3. a document titled Macro-economic Framework Statement– This report was to contain forecasts enumerating the growth prospects of the country. GDP growth, revenue balance, gross fiscal balance and external account balance of the balance of payments were some of the key indicators to be included in this report.

The Act further required the government to develop measures to promote fiscal transparency and reduce secrecy in the preparation of the Government financial documents including the Union Budget.


The Economic Survey has highlighted the need for fiscal prudence both by the Centre as well as the States in order to maintain overall fiscal health of the economy.

  • The Economic Survey states that the Centre’s Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, was mirrored by Fiscal Responsibility Legislations (FRL) adopted in the States.
  • As per the Economic Survey, there has been an improvement in the financial position of the States over the last few years. The average revenue deficit has been eliminated, while the average fiscal deficit was curbed to less than 3% of GSDP. The average debt to GSDP ratio has also fallen.
  • Economic Survey elaborates that as the fiscal challenges mount for the states because of the Pay Commission recommendations, and mounting payments from the UDAY bonds, there is a need to review how fiscal performance can be kept on track.
  • Greater reliance will need to be placed on incentivizing good fiscal performance, not least because states are gradually repaying their obligations to the Centre, removing its ability to impose a hard budget constraint on them says the Economic Survey.
  • Above all, however, incentivizing good performance by the States will require the Centre to be an exemplar of sound fiscal management itself.



The fiscal deficit targets and annual borrowing limits for the States during our award period are enunciated as follows:

  1. Fiscal deficit of all States will be anchored to an annual limit of 3 per cent of GSDP.The States will be eligible for flexibility of 0.25 per cent over and above this for any given year for which the borrowing limits are to be fixed if their debt-GSDP ratio is less than or equal to 25 per cent in the preceding year.
  2. States will be further eligible for an additional borrowing limit of 0.25 per cent of GSDP in a given year for which the borrowing limits are to be fixed if the interest payments are less than or equal to 10 per cent of the revenue receipts in the preceding year.

iii. The two options under these flexibility provisions can be availed of by a State either separately, if any of the above criteria is fulfilled, or simultaneously if both the above stated criteria are fulfilled. Thus, a State can have a maximum fiscal deficit-GSDP limit of 3.5 per cent in any given year.

  1. The flexibility in availing the additional limit under either of the two options or both will be available to a State only if there is no revenue deficit in the year in which borrowing limits are to be fixed and the immediately preceding year. If a State is not able to fully utilise its sanctioned borrowing limit of 3 per cent of GSDP in any particular year during the first four years of our award period (2015-16 to 2018-19), it will have the option of availing this un-utilised borrowing amount (calculated in rupees) only in the following year but within our award period.

Though FRL played a crucial role in states fiscal consolidation there are many other factors which helped:-
1) Increased devolution – to state funds due to acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission Report has increased their capability to clear of debt
2) Index Rankings- like Ease of Doing Business today take cognizance of existing deficit levels has forced states to take appropriate actions against deficit levels
3) Capability for further lending – As per guidelines further capital investment loans to made for state governments with controlled fiscal deficit and 0 revenue deficit
4) State Competitiveness and fedaral competition amongst states is also a big promoter for reducing deficit levels
5) Better tax collections (VAT revenue) and improved jurisdiction
6) Investing in technology driven schemes and using JAM are building a more secure and leakage free PDS and fiscal management

7) Acceleration of GDP growth

8) increased transfers from the Centre

9) decline in interest payments

10) increased central CSS expenditure contributed significantly to such consolidation.

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

5) The latest economic survey of India argues that apparel and leather sectors meet many desirable attributes for creating jobs, especially for women, and provides opportunities for exports and growth. Discuss why. (200 Words)

The Economic Survey 2016-2017, Chapter 7

“Since the industrial revolution, no country has become a major economy without becoming an industrial power”       -Lee Kuan Yew

In today’s economic context the priority for India is to keep high economic growth rate along with the generation of quality jobs that lead to robust export. All these criteria for growth rate, employment and exports can be well satisfied by apparel and leather industry.

The economic survey of India gives following point of observation about apparel and leather industry.

  • Apparels are 80 folds more labor intensive than autos and 2440 folds more jobs than steel.
  • Low wage cost in India can be utilized to increase the production in short duration of time. India has competitive edge over china in terms of low wage rates.
  • There is existence of traditional knowledge and skill pool that can be utilized for creating a quality production of products. This is a big opportunity to bring informal sector of economy into a formal network.
  • 55% of workforce in industry is below 35 years, with appetite for creating 1.5m jobs annually and is much attractive in terms of jobs created relative to investment
  • Opportunities in post GST era are huge as it will bring the rationalization in domestic indirect taxes so that the discrimination on non-leather footwear and man-made fibers can be removed.
  • India has largest bovine population in the world and has one of the highest populations of sheep in the world. This provides a wide base of raw material availability.
  • In a welfare state of India, efforts are already going on for the economic independence and empowerment of women. Sector like apparel are largely occupied by women and further expansion of this sector would include more women’s in labor force leading to healthy Total fertility rate, education as evident in case of Bangladesh.
  • The boost to apparel and leather industry will also give boost to the Micro small and medium enterprises
  • The increased production in this sector will bring more forex into Indian economy. With new FTA’s with UK and EU India can gain competitive advantage to grow faster.
  • As mentioned in economic survey 2015-16 apparel sector give an opportunity of basing out production units in semi urban areas hence the supply side of job is near for farm less families. Also in these areas the cost of living is low and hence the job adds in higher disposable income.

Challenges are:

Labor regulations: Min Wages, PF contribution lower disposable income are some of the labor related challenges. One symptom of Labour market is that Indian apparel and leather firms are smaller compared to firms in say China, Bangladesh and Vietnam. An estimated 78 per cent of firms in India employ less than 50 workers with 10 per cent employing more than 500. In China, the comparable numbers are about 15 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.

Tax & tariff policy: high tariffs on yarn and fiber increase the cost of producing clothing. India imposes a 10 percent tariff on man-made fibers vis a vis 6 percent on cotton fibers. Domestic taxes also favor cotton-based production rather than production based on man-made fibers with 7.5 per cent tax on the former and 8.4 per cent on the latter. Footwear production with taxes of 20.5 per cent on leather and 27 per cent on non-leather footwear.

On logistics, India is handicapped relative to competitors in a number of ways. Ports need to be made more competitive. Trade barriers within state delay the transport process.

The government should take action to exploit the opportunity created by rising labor costs in China before our competitors take advantage of it by reforming labor laws, signing FTAs with major market nations and subsidies to firms.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethical issues in international relations and funding;

6) It is said that in a post-Trump world, India can be an example of plural values. Do you agree? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

The recent tide of extreme nationalism in USA and thereby attacks on Africans and Asian is vocal example of destroying cultural diversity in USA. Moreover Europe is too apprehensive of increasing Islamic radicalization and witnessed terror attacks in Paris, Brussels etc. These have led to rise of right wing leaders and ideologies in both USA and Europe. These leaders are preaching against diversity and immigration from other countries to maintain homogeneity. These tendencies will gain nothing but instead would end up alienating minority communities in those countries.

While USA and Europe are grappling with anti-diversity and anti-minority views, India stands apart from these communities and has maintained its diversity and plurality with Pride. Indian union has received the long legacy of cultural values like toleration, non-violence, respect, humanity, service from great kings like Ashoka to Akbar; saints like Buddha to Kabir and movements from Bhakti and Sufi. Indian nation is full of diversity in languages, religions, regions, races and ethnicity.

Although it is true that there have been certain attacks on the diversity from within and from outside, Indian state and people have succeeded in preserving its true strength, the plurality. Even when most of the parts of the world are witnessing increasing radicalization on account of rise of ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism, the Indian state has hardly witnessed such tendencies despite having 2nd largest Muslim population in the world. Further Indian Constitution has itself accorded political, religious and cultural rights to all its linguistic and religious minorities.

However India cannot take plurality for granted and stay complacent. There will always be certain elements who would try to bend this strength. The recent cases of preaching religious intolerance and hatred by politicians for vote banks, violence in college campuses, online propaganda of radicalization, left-wing extremism and separatist movements could create serious problems in future.

Hence both civil society and State have moral, social and constitutional responsibility to protect, preserve and strengthen Indian diversity and plurality to and truly become welfare oriented and progressive nation.