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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 March 2017

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 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.

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) What are the different biogeographic zones/ regions of India? Examine the ecological problems of these regions. (200 Words)

ICSE Class 9 Environmental Science

The different bio-geographical regions in India are as follows:
1. Trans Himalayan zone.
2. Himalayan zone
3. Desert zone.
4. Semiarid zone.
5. Western ghat zone.
6. Deccan plateau zone.
7. Gangetic plain zone.
8. North east zone.
9. Coastal zone.
10. Islands present near the shore line.

The ecological problems being faced by these various zones are as follows:-

  • Degradation of habitat : The various regions are being continuously subjected to destruction of the natural habitats for the wildlife inhabiting these regions, through man-made activities such as construction, mining, etc.

Rapid deforestation resulting in irreversible and undesired change in hydrological cycle.

Encroachment to flood plains, sand mining and resultant floods and droughts.

Soil salinization and alkalization.
Unsustainable resource exploitation in Himalayan and western ghat belt.

  • Pollution: These regions have been subject to immense pollution, leading to the reduction in the survival rates of many plants and animals, and also interfering with the basic life-processes of the living beings in the region.
  • Submergence: A number of islands have been believed to be on the brink of submergence for quite some time now, owing to the rising sea levels as a result of global warming.
  • Desertification: The continuous expansion of deserts, into the previously semi-arid regions is indeed a serious manifestation of the effects of land degradation and intensive soil erosion that has taken place over the years.
  • Rapid melting of glaciers: The phenomenon of global warming has led to this, which is leading to depletion in the sources of fresh-water for our rivers and streams emerging from the Himalayan ranges.

The different bio-geographic regions of India are indeed a representation of the tremendous ecological diversity that adds to India’s uniqueness. It is our utmost responsibility to protect these ecosystems with all the available resources at our disposal.


Topic : changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2) Examine how population crisis and consumption crisis result in environmental problems and suggest remedies to fight these problems. (200 Words)

ICSE Class 9 Environmental Science

Population crisis refers to the exponential increase in the numbers of living beings beyond the carrying capacity of ecosystem.

Consumption crisis is a situation wherein demand for resources is beyond the natural capacity of ecosystem.

Increasing population leads to increasing consumption. If these two processes are exceeding the capacity of ecosystem then it results in environmental problems.

Some of the environmental problems:
1. Pollution and climate change: The unsustainable increase in population and the tremendous spurt in consumption has led to the proliferation of waste products, formed due to unsustainable rates of production, inefficient use with inadequate facilities for treatment.

Rise in air, water and soil pollution disrupting ecological balance such as coral bleaching (Great Barrier Reef, Australia).

Rise in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, etc.
2.Resource Depletion: It is now a known fact that the vital resources that we have been obtaining from nature, such as wood from the trees, beneficial products from animals, and minerals like coal, are in short supply, and hence are depleting. The natural capacity of the earth to regenerate such resources is exceeded through overuse.

3.Biodiversity loss: Human beings in their bid to satisfy their desires for consumption have so far enabled the extinction of numerous species of plants and animals, with many others now being on the brink of it, upsetting the natural balance.

Land use changes for food, shelter and industry leading to monoculture, biodiversity loss, land degradation and desertification.

Deforestation to meet increasing demand for land, fuel, food and other articles.

However, some of the remedies that can be deployed in this context are as follows:
1.Limiting use , Avoiding wastage: Use the minimum possible amount of resources to satisfy one’s need, and use the various natural products and services, wisely and efficiently. 
2. Non-conventional energy sources: Solar, wind or geo-thermal energies could be utilized, in place of relying on power derived from combustion of traditional fuels such as coal and petroleum.
3. Sanitation and hygiene: A drive towards adopting a culture of cleanliness can go a long way in inculcating the culture of keeping our environment pristine and pure.

4.Promotion of biodiversity conservation: through international and national efforts such as MAB, Biosphere reserves, National parks, etc.

Employing biotechnology for gene preservation, tissue culture, seed preservation (Svalbard global seed bank, Norway)

The environment has been subjected to immense stresses and strains through human activities, with population increase and increased consumption drives exacerbating the trend. But, we as human beings can prove to be agents of change, and prevent the continuous onslaught, that is presently taking place.


Topic : changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

3) What do you understand by sustainability? Critically comment on the efforts being made to make societies and environment sustainable. (200 Words)

ICSE Class 9 Environmental Science


In ecology, sustainability is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal.

Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national lawurban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (e.g., ecovillageseco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculturegreen buildingsustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologiesrenewable energy and sustainable fission and fusion power), or designing systems in a flexible and reversible manner, and adjusting individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.


Three pillars of sustainability-

The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified sustainable development goals, such as economic development, social development and environmental protection. This view has been expressed as an illustration using three overlapping ellipses indicating that the three pillars of sustainability viz Society, Economy and Environment are not mutually exclusive and can be mutually reinforcing. In fact, the three pillars are interdependent, and in the long run none can exist without the others. The three pillars have served as a common ground for numerous sustainability standards and certification systems in recent years, in particular in the food industry.

diagram indicating the relationship between the “three pillars of sustainability”, in which both economy and society are constrained by environmental limits.

In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.

Sustainable development is a dynamic process which enables people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earth’s life support systems”

According to Brundtland report sustainable development is defined as-

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

This definition of sustainable development means:

  • Development is required to meet our current needs.
  • In this process of development we should use the natural resources in a such way that future generations would have enough resources to meet their needs.
  • This kind of sustainable development is possible.


Venn diagram of sustainable development:
at the confluence of three constituent parts


Efforts towards making society and environment sustainable-

  • Multilateral agreements and summits among countries like Montreal protocol, Stockholm convention, Earth summit, agenda 21, INDC declaration, Kigali agreement etc.
  • Formation of climate fund such as Global Environment Fund, Global climate fund, carbon fund etc. to boost green technology, disaster adaptation and mitigation.
  • Formation of global alliances to boost development and use green technology. Eg International Solar alliance to promote solar energy.
  • International organizations such as IUCN, WWF, and Conservation International have been established to promote environment conservation.
  • Economic resources eg land, fishing, mining are being promoted to be used in a sustainable manner. Effort like National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture have focused on soil quality, water conservation etc.
  • Sustainable initiatives like Climate Smart Agriculture, Organic Farming, Intelligent Transport, Less Energy Intensive Technologies, Carbon Tax, Green Bonds, Heritage Sites etc are being promoted by nations to ensure sustainable development.
  • Nations of the world have committed themselves to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals to fight with poverty, health, gender equality, clean energy etc.
  • Civil Societies and NGO’s plays very important role in the society by becoming the voice of the vulnerable. They provide criticism and raise their voice whenever and whenever there is damage or harm any issue associated with polices and schemes of the government.
  • NGOs like Narmada Bachao Aandolan have brought conservation to the forefront and highlighted adverse impacts of development projects like submergence of cultivatable land, mass displacement, deprivation, land alienation, poverty etc.

Despite such wide efforts across, nations have failed to arrest environmental degradation. Environmental threats like climate change, global warming and unpredictability of weather are looming over the existence of human beings. Even at the hour of crisis, nations are reluctant to come together. The implementation of existing efforts like Kyoto protocol, Montreal protocol, Intended Nationally Determined Reduction (INDC) etc are not taking place as per decided plans.


Despite the increased popularity of the use of the term “sustainability”, the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of environmental degradationclimate changeoverconsumption, population growth and societies’ pursuit of unlimited economic growth in a closed system.


General Studies – 2

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interest

4) The functioning of the global economy has affected the economic and political relationship between the large and small economies, reducing and increasing the leverage exercised by the U.S. and China, respectively. In this scenario, how should India conduct its diplomacy? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Recent changes in the global economy and rise of China-

In the last 20 years, incomes of 80% of the population in the West stagnated while per capita income in China quadrupled, and India’s more than doubled. Society is ageing; technology is disrupting labour markets and business models. The digital economy is expected to provide one-quarter of global productivity by 2025 and will have the U.S., China and India reinforcing the multipolar order.

 The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which former U.S. President Barack Obama failed to weaken, and the New Development Bank of the BRICS could provide the required $8-15 trillion, marginalizing the World Bank. China is projecting the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative as a replacement for the U.S.-led post-1950 multilateral institutions.

How should India conduct its diplomacy in such scenario?

  • India has become leading power of the world even if not superpower. Thus India needs to engage actively and confidently with the other leading powers in today’s world.
  1. USA- ‘America First’ policy of the new president of America has caused concern in Indian IT market. Policies like restricting H1B visa may prove detrimental to Indian workers in America. Thus Indian government should ensure harmonization of relation between the two through bilateral treaties and agreement as the new president of America is apparently questioning the role of global institutions.
  2. China- India is wary of China-Pakistan Economic corridor and also the border issues between the two are brewing due to neglect from both sides. Also China recently blocked India’s entry into NSG leading to rise in tension between the two. Bringing all the issues to the table at the same time to negotiate would stifle the diplomatic advance. Thus India needs to follow policy of cooperation and competition selectively. On the issues where interests of the both converge like bringing stability in Afghanistan, reducing the domination of the west on global institutions, India should cooperate with China. While issues like capturing market in Africa and Latin America, Space technologies, Infrastructure building etc India should compete with China.
  3. Russia- for India, Russia stands as all-weather partner. However, while moving closer to USA, India should not antagonize Russia. Russia recently conducted military exercise with Pakistan which did not go well with Indian government. Thus India needs to strengthen its ties with Russia by enlarging the scope of research and development, resource exploration etc.
  4. Neighborhood- India’s track record for maintaining ties with the neighbors is not good. India is seen as ‘Big brother’ rather than ‘Elder brother’. The recent initiative ‘Neighborhood First’ of current government is in line with promoting the interest of the neighboring countries. Further India, the largest and stable democracy should help in nourishing the democracy in its neighborhood including Pakistan.
  • New markets- with rise in protectionist tendencies around the world particularly among developed nations India needs to explore new markets in Africa and Latin America.
  • Clever use of new Institutions- the existing global institutions like World Bank, IMF being under the strong influence of western nations, India will have to make wise use of new institutions like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank where India has greater voice.
  • Leadership of developing countries- India has provided leadership to the third world countries at institutions like UNO, WTO etc. China with its huge capital and technological advancement is aggressively entering into Africa and west and south Asia disturbing India’s position. India needs to rework its priorities and should work actively with developing countries providing its human resource and technological advancement.
  • Use of soft power- India’s culture and its diversity stands as strong factors in spreading India’s influence outside and bringing different countries together. India scores better than China in this parameter and should strengthen this as Indian Diaspora is spread all over the world. Indian diplomacy should be centered on this factor in longer run.
  • Digital India to Digital Asia- The nature of conflict is changing from direct clashes to disruption of critical infrastructure through remote attacks. With world-class cyber-space-biotech capability, India should reconsider large-scale purchases from abroad for massive investment in cyber-security and the related digital economy that will make the ‘Digital India’ initiative into a ‘Digital Asia’ one.


India is poised to take lead at global platform along with China. India’s policies should be in line of this transformation. While China is trying to contain India in South Asia itself, India with its superior diplomacy and huge economic potential could shatter China’s ambitions.     


Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

5) In the light of recent tussle between cab aggregators and their drivers in India, do you think government should intervene? Comment.  Also examine the causes of tussle between cab aggregators and their drivers. (200 Words)

The Hindu


 The ongoing strike by the driver unions across the nation has caused enough ripples but not enough solutions to change their plight. The driver unions have decided to carry on with the strike till their demands have been met by popular cab aggregators.
The major causes are:
1)Reduced incentives: In the beginning, when the taxi-app trend was setting in, cab aggregators paid out more than double of the actual earnings, for example, if a driver completed trips worth Rs 1,500, the companies paid out Rs 3,000 from their own pockets. These incentives leading to a high number of drivers. This led to our second problem
2) Bigger cut: The need to show a profit generating model also requires a bigger cut from the earning of the drivers. This cut is currently set around twenty percent for both, which according to the drivers is an exorbitant amount for them to pay
3) Mismatch between demand and supply: Once the aggregators attached a decent number of drivers to their network, they reduced the incentives. So much so, that the drivers have to compensate with extra hours, reducing drivers’ quality of life and ultimately endangering the rider’s safety as well. This in turn threatens their mental and physical health.
4) The drivers also want aggregators to fork out for health insurance and help stop harassment from law enforcement over enthusiastic to enforce local transport norms. 
5) Drivers may not be informed enough that the terms of business constantly change.

Govt. should intervene:
1)To balance the demand and supply mismatch to benefit the customers in time of strike
2)To enforce Rule of Law as Cab aggregators regularly change the terms of agreement without informing Drivers
3)Should intervene before it gets violent
4)To secure the livelihood options of drivers as granted by our constitution without distorting the market rules.

Government should not intervene:
1)Business partnership: The cab aggregators and drivers are in an agreement under accepted clauses and government intervention would affect business principles.
2) Choice of aggregators and drivers: If either of the aggregators or drivers are unhappy with each other they have the options to withdraw or switch to another, which makes government intervention unnecessary.
3) Business: work culture and practices are different which involves profit , making it difficult for the government to understand the nuances.


In the era of liberalisation such kind of cases may create disturbance in the market if not handled by the Govt. So, Govt. should try to find out the Middle Path by involving both the parties. On the other hand In this liberalised economy, involvement of government in regulation would restrict, the free hands of market which helps in providing reasonable prices to consumers. And therefore it becomes necessary for government to remain only as a watch dog and bite only when breach of law occurs.


General Studies – 3

Topic:  S&T

6) What is immunotherapy? Examine recent advances made in the AIDS treatment research using immunotherapy. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Immunotheropy literally means the prevention or treatment of disease with substances that stimulate the immune response. In medical terms Immunotherapy or biological therapy refers to the treatment of diseases by altering the immunological response. There are two types of immunotherapies:

  1. Activation Immunotherapy (AI) which operate by enhancing immunological response. Eg. Cancer treatment, vaccination etc.
    2. Suppression Immunotherapy (SI) which operate by reducing immunological response. Eg. Treatments of type 1 diabetes, asthma etc.

It is specifically used for treatment of cancer:-

Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Immunotherapy may work in the following ways:

  • Stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells
  • Stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
  • Helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells

There are several types of immunotherapy, including:

  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Non-specific immunotherapies
  • Oncolytic virus therapy
  • T-cell therapy
  • Cancer vaccines

Its use in treatment of AIDS has been discovered as follows:-

Immunotherapy has made some interesting recent advancements in treatment of Aquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) – 
In a paper in Nature magazine, researchers from the National Institutes of Health and other institutes conducted study on the immune system of macaques monkeys infected by a HIV-like virus (Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus or SHIV). They found macaques’ immune system capable of controlling SHIV when treatment with a combination of two anti-HIV antibodies was started few days after infection. The immune system of the animals was found to control the virus even after the anti-HIV antibodies were no longer present in the monkeys. On the basis of the study, researchers suggested that immunotherapy should be explored to control the spread of virus.


  1. SHIV infection in macaque monkeys differs from HIV-1 infection in humans
    2. Immunotherapy is not free from unwanted side effects
    3. Studies on Immunotherapy need further research support


Thus, Immunotherapy has a huge potential for disease control and overall socio-economic and human development. However, requisite, unbiased and thorough research must be ensured to safeguard people from unwanted and dangerous side-effects.