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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 March 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 March 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 :  Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) How does Indian monsoon originate? Examine the impact of El Nino and La Nina on monsoons. (200 Words)

Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 16



Monsoon is actually a wind regime operating at a level of 20 km from the earth’s surface. It is characterised by seasonal reversal of wind direction at regular intervals.

Although the monsoon is a global phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors not yet completely understood, the real monsoon rains cover mainly the South Asian region, represented by India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and parts of South East Asia.

Besides the monsoons, the Indian climate is influenced substantially by two more factors. The Himalayas contribute a continental nature to the climate, recognised by land winds, dry air, large diurnal range and scanty rainfall. The Indian Ocean, on the other hand, contributes a tropical character to the Indian climate characterised by uniformity of temperature throughout the year, short diurnal range, damp air, and frequent rainfall.

The monsoon system of the Indian subcontinent differs considerably from that of the rest of Asia. The centres of action, air masses involved, and the mechanism of precipitation of the Indian monsoon are altogether different from other monsoon systems.

Classical Theory or Thermal Concept of Indian Monsoons:

According to this theory, the differential heating of land and sea at the time when the sun makes an apparent northward movement is the main cause of the Indian monsoonal regime.

Two factors are mainly responsible for this very strong development of monsoons:

(i) Vast size of the Indian subcontinent and adjacent seas;

(ii) Very high and extensive mountain systems of the Himalayas in the north, extending in an east-west direction, thus posing a formidable physical barrier between tropical and polar air masses.

The second factor is of great meteorological significance.

The high mountain chains of the Himalayas which border the subcontinent on three sides work as both a break and motor at the same time. During the winter season, they prevent the penetration of the cold polar air masses from Siberia into the subcontinent, while in summer, the Himalayas do not allow the equatorial maritime air masses to cross the Himalayas and force them to curve round the north-west. The mighty Himalayas produce hydro-dynamic effects that determine the type of precipitation in India.

According to the thermal concept, during the period following the Spring Equinox (March 23), the sun starts its apparent northward shift. As a result, the areas lying north of the equator (tropics and sub-tropics)- get a progressive high incidence of solar radiation.

The effect of this phenomenon ‘ on the Indian subcontinent is seen in the form of intense heating of the vast northern plains and the adjoining highlands. As a result, a massive low pressure trough is formed extending from the Punjab plains in the north-west to the Bengal delta in the east.

This low pressure zone attracts wind regimes from the adjoining areas, from short distances in the beginning. But as the level of solar incidence reaches its peak during May-June, the pressure gradient between this low pressure trough and the adjoining seas is so great that it attracts winds from as far as the south of the equator. Accompanying this process and helping this pull of wind regimes is the development of some high pressure centres—in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and over Australia (it being the winter season in Australia).

The wind patterns which are prevalent south of the equator are actually the south-east trade winds which blow from the south-east towards the north-west. These winds, attracted by the low pressure trough over the Indian subcontinent, while moving north of the equator, turn in a clockwise direction (or towards the right), following Farrel’s law. This shift in direction is brought about by the earth’s rotation. Now, the originally south-east trade winds become south-west monsoons blowing towards the north-east.

At this juncture, the Inter- Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) also shifts northwards. The ITCZ is the hypothetical line where the north-east trade winds from the northern hemisphere and the south-east trades from the southern hemisphere meet. The south-west wands now approaching the Indian peninsula have to travel a long distance over the Indian Ocean.

During their long journey, these winds pick up large amounts of moisture and by the time they reach India they are oversaturated. Here, they are known as the south-west monsoons which get divided into the Arabian Sea branch and the Bay of Bengal branch because of the shape of peninsular India. There moisture-laden winds cause heavy rainfall on the windward sides.


  • El Niño and La Niña are mutually opposite phenomena, during which an abnormal warming or cooling of sea surface temperatures is observed in the Pacific Ocean along the equator, off the coast of South America.
  • Together they constitute what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation system, or ENSO for short. The two phenomena impact weather and climate events across the world, including the Indian monsoon.
  • The warming of the Pacific — El Niño — is known to suppress rainfall over India, especially in the northwestern parts; La Niña has been observed to help the monsoon.
  • Generally, El Nino and the Indian Monsoon rains are inversely related. Trade winds coming from South America normally blow westward towards Asia during Southwest Monsoon.
  • Warming of the Pacific Ocean results in weakening of these winds. Therefore, moisture and heat content gets limited and results in reduction and uneven distribution of rainfall across the Indian sub-continent

Does El Nino always lead to droughts in India?

  • The most prominent droughts in India, six of them, since 1871 have been El Nino triggered droughts, including the recent ones that occurred in 2002 and 2009. Nevertheless, it is important to note that all El Nino years do not lead to drought in India.
  • The year 1997-98 is a stark reminder as it was a strong El Nino year but that did not cause drought in India, in fact, rainfall was in excess. On the other hand, a moderate El Nino in 2002 resulted in one of the worst droughts.
  • Going by historical data of 135 years from 1880 to 2014, about 90% of all evolving El Nino years have led to below normal rainfall and 65% of evolving El Nino years have brought droughts.
  • From this fact, one thing is clear that El Nino years adversely affect the weather in India in terms of Monsoon rain, with very few exceptions. During an El Nino year, the rainfall is generally below the normal average, which has its negative bearing on crop production.


Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

2) What are the salient features of savanna climate? Examine the role of fire in creation and maintenance of savanna vegetation. (200 Words)

Goh Cheng Leong, Chapter 17


The savanna or sudan climate is a transitional type of climate found between the equatorial forests and the trade wind hot deserts. It is confined in tropics and best developed in Sudan where dry and wet seasons are most distinct, hence the name Sudan Climate.


Salient Features of Savanna Climate:-

  • Rainfall:- The Sudan climate is characterize by an alternate hot, rainy season and cool and dry season. Innorthen hemisphere the hot, rainy season begins in May and lasts until September as in Kano, Nigeria. The annual precipitation is less than that of tropical monsoon climate. In southern hemisphere the rainy season is from October to March.
  • Temperature:-The monthly temperature hovers between 70 F to 90F.The highest temperature don’t coincides with the period of highest sun.
  • Winds:-The prevailing winds in the regions are trade winds. They are strongest in summer but are relatively dry by the time they reach the continental interiors or western coast of continent.


  • savanna communities are characterized by open understories and dense ground flora comprised of forbs, grasses, and sedges. 
  • Natural grass fires are evidently more important for the ecology of savannahs than even rains. In the absence of natural plant eaters, fires are the only practical means of renewing the grass canopy.
  • The dead grass layer significantly hindered the recruitment of young plants. Fire can break up the old grass layer, thereby creating opportunities for regrowth. By contrast, artificial irrigation and the addition of seeds did not result in higher recruitment of seedlings.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Role of civil services in a democracy.

3) Despite intervention of the Supreme Court, police reforms in India haven’t taken place. Critically discuss challenges involved in bringing police reforms in India. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The need for police reforms in India is long recognised. There has been almost three decades of discussion by government created committees and commissions. Way back in 1979 the National Police Commission (NPC) was set up to report on policing and give recommendations for reform.

It was only a decade later in 2006 that the Court delivered its verdict. In what is popularly referred to as the Prakash Singh case the Supreme Court ordered that reform must take place. The states and union territories were directed to comply with seven binding directives that would kick start reform.


  • Directive One Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to: (i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police (ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and (iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police
  • Directive Two Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years
  • Directive Three Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years
  • Directive Four Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police
  • Directive Five Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police
  • Directive Six Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct
  • Directive Seven Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.
  • But there are some challenges in realizing this goal, which include:
    Historical – The colonial and archaic laws that govern the police.
  • Police is State subject: Since it is a state subject, any intervention form centre or SC would require multiple consultation which is time consuming.
  • Lack of political will: The police – politician nexus is so much deep-rooted that states are reluctant to implement any of the directions. The reforms have been resisted not only by politicians but also some officers.
  • No Public Pressure: Police reforms have been unappealing to general public on pretext of callousness by police towards common man’s simple & legitimate requests.
  • Cold Response from Centre: Instead of directing the states to comply to SC directions, the Centre directed states to implement some recommendations of 2nd ARC.
  • Technological problems : Lack of Technology and absence of modern weaponry.
  • Numbers: The global average ratio of police-population is 270 to 100,000, where it’s 120 in India. With far less police – ill trained, ill-equipped and most of them are posted to protect the politicians, people of India are the least secure (most vulnerable) people in the world.


Thus, Implementing the SC directive would help to bring in much needed Police reforms. Also, PM, at the Guwahati Conference of the Directors General of Police on November 30, 2014, enunciated the concept of SMART Police – a police which should be sensitive, mobile, alert, reliable and techno-savvy in this Contemporary World.


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

4) “Sustainable use of marine resources is at the heart of the India-Sri Lanka fishing problem.” Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu 

The problem of regular violations of maritime boundaries by fishermen of both India and Sri Lanka, is a long standing one. Although they are unintentional in nature, but the respective countries do not fail to imprison such fishermen, fire at them and confiscate their boats, etc.

Bordering states of India and Sri Lanka are mostly have fishing economy resources for their locals. Also, due to the common water bodies between both the nations ( Palk strait), it becomes zone of conflict for marine resources.


  1. A) Since tropical waters are not much known for fishing grounds due to high temperature, presence of pycnocline and warm current. Thus limited resources available.
  2. B) Also being middle income economy with large population undernourished, food rich in nutrition are highly required for both the nations. 
  3. C) UNCLOS – Maritime borders between India and Sri Lanka are often crossed by fishermen in search of rich catch in absence of any alert mechanism , also Allegation that bottom trawling by Indians leads to over exploitation of fishing, contribute to the conflicts.

The fishermen of two countries cross territorial waters to catch fish and other marine resources because of unavailability of fish and other marine resources in their area. So, if sustainable use is encouraged ,then there will be no need to cross borders and no more conflicts.

Such problem can be solved only by sustainable use of marine resources by both countries, which can be done as follows:

  1. Fishermen should be encouraged for deep sea fishing, which is unexploited. The problem is we don’t have technology. So, technology innovation or import is necessary.
  2. More inland water fishing could be encouraged. Increasing mangrove cover near the coastal areas which could increase the number of fishes near the coast itself. So fishermen need not go to the far waters.
  3. Meena Kumari committee recommendations must be followed: For fish, breeding ground is very important. Over-exploitation of resources hampering them. Important for sustainable fisheries.
  1. Usage of deep water long line fishing, instead of bottom trawlers, will considerably reduce the adverse effect on marine ecosystem.
  2. Usage of semi-pelagic trawl system, as it is designed to operate at some distance above the bottom, the bottom impact of semi-pelagic trawl is significantly lower, making it an ecologically friendly gear, compared to bottom trawls.

 Alongwith such measures, short term measures like continuance of Joint Working Group (JWG) to resolve the present disputes and release of captured fishermen. Also, all fishermen should be provided with GPS devices,(ex. GPS based border alert system called MUKHOTA) so as to make them aware of the international maritime boundaries and avoid any unintentional maritime boundary violations in the future.
The coast guards of both countries should establish a hotline for easier communication in times of such incidents and also meet regularly, to draft a protocol, which can be followed by both countries, which may help in expeditious resolution of all such disputes.


The short-term measures lose their efficacy in the absence of any forward movement toward long-term solutions. Without arriving at a settlement on sustainable exploitation of the marine resources that would end the use of bottom trawlers from Tamil Nadu, India and Sri Lanka will not be able to ensure incident-free fishing in the strait.


Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

5) The more power China has accumulated, the greater has been its difficulty in gaining allies. Examine why China is failing to make more allies, especially in its vicinity. Also comment implications of its isolation for India and the world. (200 Words)


The Chinese economy valued at $11 trn (GDP) has been at centre of firestorm from past couple of decades on all fronts– geopolitical, economic and social which has led to its phenomenal rise while some of its policies has also attracted animosity from other countries.


  1. Fallout with US & its allies – Non-adherence to international laws (UNCLOS – SC debacle), Human rights (Xinjiang, Tibet province), aggressive expansionist policies (territorial disputes in South China sea, North Korea, Japan), forced One-China Policy has eroded the trust factor.
  2. Resource exploitation and Nationalism – neighbours and Traditional allies like Myanmar, North Korea, LatAM, Africa,MENA have started to distance themselves, owing to big-brother attitude by China and its development at cost of resource-exploitation in these nations .

       3.Trade control – China’s unethical embargo on other nations (banana exports from Philippines), dumping of goods in ASEAN, exploitation of FTAs, forced depreciation of Yuan to make Chinese exports cheaper hurted other nation’s domestic industries.

  1. interference – Indirect Interference into other sovereign nation’s issues with each other

(Eg – Indo-Pak, Nepal, SL, Africa) 

1.Support to weak state like Pakistan via aids, economic projects (CPEC) while trying to isolate india (String of Pearls, NSG blockade) has led to increased animosity 
2.Opportunity for India to increase its trade balance, relations with ASEAN, Africa, LatAM and fill the vacuum left by US-China

3.Decreased effectiveness of SCO, BRICS and create financial crunch in infra and other sectors

 4.However, some economists do believe that Relatively isolated China may push for higher cooperation with India, which may be beneficial for both.

1.US-Russia ties, and international pressure may lead to more aggressiveness by China, which may flare up tensions (There are clear reports that isolation of china by world countries was one of the reason for china attacking on India in 1962 war)
2.Improvement of domestic economies in Third World Countries via mitigation of Chinese hegemony.

 3.Loss of bargaining power against North Korea, if China is also distanced.



Great wall of self-isolation raised by China in-fact would cause more harm than good. China, is just too big and strong to ignore, hence efforts must be made for resolution of disputes cordially via international cooperation.


General Studies – 3

Topic:  Conservation

6) Critically discuss the role of forest guards and the challenges they face in conserving wildlife and forests in India. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Forest guard force is the key component in the task of forest protection and development as they form the basic unit of ground force. Being the first responsible person for any forest related activity, forest guards holds a very crucial position in beaurocratic hierarchy of forest department.

Role of Forest Guards:

  • Forest guards are the first line force who actually works in the fields and protect the forest from encroachment, deforestation, poaching and illicit felling etc.
  • Forest guards are trained personnel who take care of wildlife. These people play vital role in the reintroduction, relocation, medicinal treatment of animals and understand the habitat requirement of wild animals.
  • Guards work in various other forest related departments such as social forestry, urban forestry, zoo management, rapid action task force and nursery management.
  • Guards are the best people who understand the forest in real sense. They are the intelligence gatherers and holds valuable information about the flora and fauna of the forest. This information helps a lot in formulation of management plans of divisional forest work.
  • Forest guards accompanied by foresters protect the forest from eminent danger of forest fire.
  • Apart from various field level activities, forest guards works in offices as well for different clerical works.

Challenges faced by Forest Guards in India:

  • Forest is the concurrent list subject. The department has immediate control of state government. There are huge challenges faced by forest guards in state border areas due to varied laws and practices. Lack of interstate cooperation for forest protection is big challenge for the forest guard.
  • Forest guard cost their lives for purpose of forest protection. Wood smugglers and poachers are well trained and equipped people who mainly target forest guards during illegal activities in forest.
  • Forests are the cusp of extremist activities by groups like the maoists and naxalities. Tackling such extremist groups is a huge challenge for forest guards. An even more challenging task is tackling organized gangs of poachers and their families who usually liaise with the militant organization, thereby exacerbating the challenge.
  • Structural and infrastructural challenges reduce the working efficiency of forest force. These include poor infrastructure, lack of modernized weaponry (as against the highly sophisticated weapons used by poachers) and sophisticated upgraded machinery (to douse forest fires) etc.
  • Professional distress is main psychological barrier in case of guards. They live in remotest areas of the forest and hardy get any recognition for their work. The state forest policies do not promote timely promotions and performance based incentives to lower staff of the forest department.
  • Forest guards face toughest conditions with the poorest level of training provided by various state forest departments. Weapon training, GPS training and Cartography are the areas which are highly neglected due to lack of financial capabilities of state forest departments.


The forest guards have indeed performed a very silent, yet effective role in protecting our forests, and the wildlife that inhabits them. It is time that we learn to acknowledge their contributions, and respect the sacrifices that they have been making so far, in an isolated manner.


Topic; Environmental pollution; S&T

7) India has launched the second phase of the programme to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) as part of its commitment under the Montreal Protocol. Examine the challenges involved in eliminating HCFCs and measures needed to be taken to make air-conditioning and refrigeration energy-efficient and eco-friendly. (200 Words)

The Hindu


India has launched the second phase of the programme to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) as part of its commitment under the Montreal Protocol, which requires the complete removal of chemicals that result in ozone depletion and aid global warming. These are used mainly in the air-conditioning, refrigeration, polyurethane foam manufacturing and cold chain sectors, and must be replaced with better alternatives. 


  • Systemic and overhauling change requires the active participation of State governments, which can enact and enforce new building codes and purchase regulations that are envisaged in the current phase.
  • At present few companies have monopoly over the new refrigerant. Thus government would have to invest in research and development on chemicals having greater energy reduction capacity and contributing very low to global warming. 
  • Rapid urbanization and industrialization are increasing the demand of refrigeration and air condition which need cheaper solution. Higher cost of new technology may deter producers and consumers away from embracing it.
  • The overhauling of HCFC and building new ecosystem of refrigeration and air conditioning would require trained and skilled human resource acquainted with new technology.
  • It is important to make consumers aware of green options among products in terms of the underlying technologies, and incentivize adoption through tax structures.
  • Government buildings and infrastructures are fraught with poor and low efficiency systems with respect to air conditioning and heating resulting into loss of energy.

Measures needed-

  • Modernizing the technology used by around 400 industrial units, many of them small and medium enterprises, by 2023 has to be complemented by policy changes that encourage adoption by consumers.
  • The Environment Ministry’s proposal to prescribe energy-efficient temperature limits for air-conditioning units in public facilities is promising. Such measures be implemented quickly.
  • Government should conduct audit of public buildings to determine whether they are suitably designed, as climate control relies as much on passive influences such as insulation, green roofing and the nature of materials used in construction.  It is possible, for instance, to adopt the Paris idea and ask all major buildings to incorporate solar panel roofing or suitable green cover.
  • India should collaborate and cooperate with advance countries having proficiency in new technology to adopt them in Indian conditions.
  • India needs to use funds under Montreal protocol judiciously towards bringing systemic changes and also needs to invest in research and development.
  • Government should promote and incentivize the construction of green buildings and adoption of green technologies in private sector too.


The continued success of the Montreal Protocol in its goal to eliminate HCFCs by 2030 will depend on reducing the acquisition costs of cleaner technologies. The greater affordability of solar photovoltaic power and its rapid adoption at various scales is a clear pointer. More people will have access to air-conditioning and refrigeration in coming years, and the focus of government policy must be to make them energy-efficient and eco-friendly.