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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 March 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 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:  Poverty and developmental issues

1) Most arguments we hear against inequality are either moral or political. Are there any benefits of inequality itself? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


According to the Human Development Report 2016, India’s Human Development Index score shrank by 27% due to rise in different forms of inequality. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum warned that extreme inequality could throw the future of capitalism into question. And we keep getting periodic updates on how the world’s richest 1% are expanding their assets at the cost of the remaining 99%. However at the same time some sections of people are pondering over benefits of equality. According to this, some of the perceived benefits of inequality are-

  • Flow of wealth- the economic inequality keeps flow of wealth going from rich to poor which also benefits economy as a whole. Without such inequality there would hurdles to this flow.
  • It maintains the double coincidence of wants, where one can pay a lower class member to work under him and ensures active employment of majority of society
  • Inequality in capacity: Inequalities promote competition. An entity with better skills and competence is always ahead of the others and it spurs the others to innovate and adapt. Market principles work well in such cases where there is an inherent inequality of power, resources, skills and innovation.
  • Human inequality: Differences in human skills, education, status, aspirations and resources lead to effective division of labor so that every human contributes to the society from various levels and expects different rewards from the state. This helps in effective allocation of resources and a vibrant economy.
  • The geographical inequality in terms of natural resources, flora and fauna has made regions and nations aware about their wants, need of preserving such resources and need of adopting sustainable growth. This has also made them competitive.

However this does not mean inequality in its all forms is necessary. Inequality whether social, economic, political and gender has emerged as biggest challenge to human society. Inequality breeds poverty, discrimination and other evils in society. For eg Unequal access to vital services of healthcare, education and electricity denies equal opportunity to lead a healthier lifestyle to marginalized and poorer sections of society. Moreover human made inequality has more grave consequences than natural inequality. Hence such artificial inequality should be denounced in any form. That is why bringing true equality has become focal point of constitutions of most of the nations including that of India.


General Studies – 2

Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries

2) Recently, the US deployed its anti-ballistic missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) to South Korea. Comment on its objectives for deploying THAAD and possible consequences of this move for the region. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system which is designed to shoot down shortmedium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed to counter Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The missile carries no warhead, but relies on the kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

The possible objectives of the move could be:-

  • A tool of deterrence against the nuclear sabre rattling of North Korea.
  • To protect the South Korean borders and cities from incoming North Korean missile threats, as South Korea is under the protective umbrella of the USA.
  • To emphasize its role as the protector of the global neo-liberal world order and its stance against powers that threaten it.
  • As a part of USA’s Pivot to Asia strategy and a counter move against Chinese belligerence in South China Sea. And
  • To keep an eye on Chinese military activities in the region using THAAD’s radar sensors.
  • Demonstrating that America’s desire to influence and dominate world politics is alive and coexistent with Trump’s ‘America first’ policy

However this has also lead to some adverse effects on the region:-

  • Deployment is Korean peninsula centric: It Could lead to further tensions between the North and South and along the DMZ (demilitarized zone), May spur the North into a tit-for –tat military build up programme. North Korea’s chances of rapprochement with the world will keep on decreasing. It will lead to increasing tension for neighboring powers as well like Russia and Japan. And, may destabilize further, the already volatile South Korean political situation.
  • This could become yet another theatre in the US’s war arena. Sino-US relations maybe negatively impacted by this deployment. And, there may be retaliatory involvement of Chinese and other powers in other regions like the Middle East, important for the US.


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

3) According to India’s nuclear doctrine, India reserves the right to nuclear retaliation “in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons”. What mechanism exists at international level to stop use of either nuclear or chemical weapons against state or non-state actors by states? Do you think India should retaliate using chemical weapon in the event of ‘major’ attack on Indians? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


India’s nuclear doctrine revolves around the principle of No first use policy.

  • India has a declared nuclearno-first-use policy and is in the process of developing a nuclear doctrine based on “credible minimum deterrence.”
  • In August 1999, the Indian government released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”.
  • The document also maintains that India “will not be the first to initiate a nuclear first strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail” and that decisions to authorize the use of nuclear weapons would be made by the Prime Minister or his ‘designated successor(s)’.
  • According to the NRDC, despite the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan in 2001–2002, India remained committed to its nuclear no-first-use policy.

Mechanisms existing at international level to stop use of either nuclear or chemical weapons against state and non state actors:-

1] Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) – 1963
2] Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) – 1968
3] Treaties between Nuclear Giants – US and Russia – SALT 1 (1968), SALT 2 (1979), START 1 (1991), START 2 (1993) and New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (2010)
4] Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty – 1972
5] Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) – 1972
6] Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) – 1987
7] Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – 1993
8] Chemical Weapon – Australia Group (1985), General Purpose Criterion, Geneva Protocol (1925).
9] International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC) – 2002
10] Arms Trade Treaty – 2013
11] Nuclear Security Summit – Started in 2010

Yes India should Retaliate – Chemical Weapons
1] Retaliation acts as a warning to other nations which might act as a deterrence
2] Its the way to defend once nation when there is heavy damage caused by other side.
3] It shows strategic restraint as a policy is not forever.
4] In a way Chemical weapons are less devastating than Nuclear weapon.

No India Should Not
1] India is party to both CWC and Australia Group.
2] India’s defence weapon system and strategy does not conform to Chemical weapon attack.
3] Tit for Tat will only lead to more Devastating consequences – An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
4] Chemical weapons are equally damaging to man and environment compared to nuclear.
5] It is not ethical on our part to take more lives than already lost.


With escalation brewing everywhere in the world what India needs is to have a sufficient deterrence and retaliatory strategy. But at the same time India is land of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi and  must strive towards non-proliferation, disarmament and Peace through global consensus.


Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

4) Now it has become a common features to blame the electronic voting machine (EVM) for electoral defeat by political parties. Are EVMs reliable? How do they function? Do you think introduction of VVPAT or Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail would make election process more transparent? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Electronic Voting Machines (“EVM”) are being used in Indian General and State Elections to implement electronic voting in part from 1999 elections and recently in 2017 state elections held in five states across India. EVMs have replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India. There were earlier claims regarding EVMs’ tamparability and security which have not been proved. The Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in Indian general election, 2014


  • In 1980, M. B. Haneefa invented the first Indian voting machine, gazetted “Electronically operated vote counting machine”.His original design (using Integrated Circuits) was exhibited to the public in Government Exhibitions held in six cities acrossTamil Nadu.
  • The EVMs were commissioned in 1989 byElection Commission of India in collaboration with Electronics Corporation of India Limited.The Industrial designers of the EVMs were faculty members at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay.
  • The EVMs were first used in 1982 in the by-election toNorth Paravur Assembly Constituency in Kerala for a limited number of polling stations.


  • An EVM consists of two units, control unit and balloting unit. The two units are joined by a five-meter cable. Balloting unit facilitates voting by voter via labelled buttons while control unit controls the ballot units, stores voting counts and displays the results on 7 segment LED displays. The controller used in EVMs has its operating program etched permanently in silicon at the time of manufacturing by the manufacturer. No one (including the manufacturer) can change the program once the controller is manufactured.
  • EVMs are powered by an ordinary 6 volt alkaline batterymanufactured by Bharat Electronics LimitedBangalore and Electronics Corporation of India LimitedHyderabad. This design enables the use of EVMs throughout the country without interruptions because several parts of India do not have power supply and/or erratic power supply and due to the low voltage, there is absolutely no risk of any voter getting an electric shock.
  • An EVM can record a maximum of 3840 votes and can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. There is provision for 16 candidates in a single balloting unit and up to a maximum of 4 units can be connected in parallel. The conventional ballot paper/box method of polling is used if the number of candidates exceeds 64.
  • It is not possible to vote more than once by pressing the button again and again. As soon as a particular button on the balloting unit is pressed, the vote is recorded for that particular candidate and the machine gets locked. Even if one presses that button further or any other button, no further vote will be recorded. This way the EVMs ensure the principle of “one person, one vote”.

Reliability factor

  • EVMs are standalone systems and not connected to internet unlike EVM used in other countries like USA.
  • Program which controls the functioning of the control unit isburnt into a micro chip on a “one time programmable basis”. Once burnt it cannot be read, copied out or altered
  • EVM’s use dynamic codingto enhance security of data transmitted from ballot unit to control unit
  • As an additional precautionary measure, the machines prepared for a poll are physically sealed in the presence of candidates or their agents and guarded by CRPF
  • Allegation regarding modification of votes using anexternal chip (not much base found by SC and EC)
  • Two-stage randomization is done, to make sure nobody is able to determine constituency-EVM mapping

However, some experts opine tha election results could be compromised by inserting a ‘dishonest display’ into an EVM control unit before elections by insiders in-charge of devices. But, EVM’s are kept under strict security protocols and mock voting drills are conducted before releasing the EVM to polling stations, which doesn’t provide much base to the theory.


  • On 8 October 2010Election Commission appointed an expert technical committee headed by Prof PV Indiresan (former Director of IIT-M) when at an all-party meeting majority of political parties backed the proposal to have a VVPAT in EVMs to counter the charges of tampering.
  • Thevoter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system which enables EVM to record each vote cast by generating the EVM slip, was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project.
  • VVPAT is is a verification system for voting machines that allows voters to
    Verify whether or not their vote was cast correctly
    b.Detect possible fraud or malfunction
    c. Provide a means to audit the stored electronic results
  • It definitely adds to the security layer, against insecure/faulty voting machines as paper records can’t be changed without human intervention
  • Records printed on thermal papers can however, fade over time


VVPAT has potential to make the election process more transparent but considering the environmental cost for its full implementation its advisable to enhance and ensure security, credibility of EVMs. Being the most populous democracy in world India must move forward in innovation and technological aspects of elections.


Topic:  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary 

5) In the light of different opinions expressed by the judiciary and executive on making Aadhaar mandatory to avail services, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that Aadhaar is statutorily foolproof. In this regard, what issues does government face to make Aadhaar legally foolproof? What should it do to address these issues? Examine. (200 Words)



The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016  intends to provide for targeted delivery of subsidies and services to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers.

Government has made Adhar mandatory for 30 services like Public Distribution Scheme, MGNREGA, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Scheme, National Action Plan for Skill Training of Persons with Disabilities and National Health Mission etc.

Recently the Union Government introduced amendments to the Finance Bill 2017 at the last minute, making Aadhaar mandatory for filing taxes. The amendments state: “Every person who is eligible for an Aadhaar number shall, on or after the 1st day of July 2017, quote Aadhaar number,
(i) in the appli.ation form for allotment of the permanent account number
(ii) in the return of income”

All these moves by government indicates the necessity to make Aadhaar legally foolproof. There are two main issues here. Supreme court stipulated that the Aadhaar scheme must remain voluntary and could not be made mandatory until such time as the matter was finally decided. There is a lack of :-

  • Consensus between judiciary and executive, regarding voluntary or mandatory nature of the Aadhaar card for all welfare schemes of government
  • Concrete cyber protection policy and silo mentality of all departments handling the cyber security measures
  • Proper list where citizens can be informed regarding the services where their Aadhar identity will be used and to what extent
  • Framework of regulations to be drafted for data sharing, if all schemes are to subsumed under the Aadhaar card

Measures government can take to address the issue:-

  • Ensure judiciary regarding phased manner in which Aadhaar will be made mandatory, by introducing it as a pilot initiative in some areas, and then covering all loopholes while expanding it to the whole country.
  • Drafting a strict cyber protection policy with due suggestions of different departments of the executive, which will make the database immune to intrusion from non-state actors.
  • Initiation of a process where the citizen will be informed through mobiles, regarding the schemes where the Aadhaar number is to be used, so as to reduce the lack of trust.
  • Exhaustive drafting of database sharing initiatives which will curb the silo mentality among the different sections of government.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Conservation

6) In a recent judgment, the Uttarakhand High Court declared the rivers Yamuna and Ganga as legal or juridical persons, enjoying all the rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. Discuss the logic behind and significance of this judgement. (200 Words)

The Hindu


In a recent judgment, the Uttarakhand High Court declared the rivers Yamuna and Ganga as legal or juridical persons, enjoying all the rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. Indian courts have granted this status to temple deities, religious books, corporations, etc., but it is for the first time that an element of the natural environment has been declared a legal person. And it is not just the two rivers — all their tributaries, streams, every natural water body flowing continuously or intermittently of[f] these rivers will enjoy this status.

Logic behind this judgement-

  • For the court, an ‘extraordinary situation’ had been created which required extraordinary measures for the protection of the Ganga and the Yamuna. From what was a clear breach of statutory duties under the U.P. Reorganization Act, and the regrettable, though scarcely unprecedented, inability of the State to remove encroachments on canal and riverbeds, the case became one concerning the protection of the health and well-being of the two rivers.
  • The court recorded how the rivers provide ‘physical and spiritual sustenance’ to half the Indian population. It found the constitution of the board to be necessary for various purposes including irrigation, water supply, and power generation. And then, curiously, found it expedient to give legal status to the rivers as living persons.
  • The court decides to exercise the ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction to declare the rivers and all their tributaries, etc. as living persons. ‘Parens patriae’ literally ‘parent of the country’, is an inherent power of the sovereign, and not the courts, to provide protection to persons unable to take care of themselves. The Director, Namami Gange, the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been appointed as the persons in loco parentis — persons who will act ‘in the place of parents’ for the two rivers. These officers are now expected to act on behalf of the rivers for their protection and conservation. They are ‘bound to uphold the status’ of the rivers and also to promote their health and well-being.

Significance of the judgement-

  • For the first time that an element of the natural environment has been declared a legal person.
  • This judgement is in confirmation with the art 48A of the Indian constitution entails improvement in environment.
  • Decision is likely to boost the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) Mission launched to clean and revive the river
  • The judgement not only seeks to clean Ganga and Yamuna but also their tributaries and water sources too. This would improve the overall drainage basin for conservation purpose.
  • The Director of Namami Gange progect, chief secretary and Advocate general of Uttarakhand have been appointed as care taker (parens patrie). Thus there is clear cut delineation of responsibilities. This would avoid the overlapping of responsibilities among basin states.
  • This could be an extremely useful tool in fighting actions like dumping of waste in the river, instead of having to show that a given person or persons is harmed because of the consequences of dumping waste in the water. The dumping of waste will now directly constitute harm.
  • Judgement is in tune with International practice. Ecuador is first country to recognize the ‘Rights of Nature’ in its Constitution. New Zealand too has granted legal status to Whanganui river.
  • This would also serve as a reminder to other state governments to take care of rivers in their region.

The judgement has also raised some concerns-

  • In the eyes of the law, living persons such as companies, associations, deities etc have rights and duties. Primary among these are the right to sue and the capacity to be sued. Which of these rights would be entailed to rivers?
  • It also raises questions like

Can they demand minimum ecological flows? A right not to be dammed, dredged, or diverted? If yes, who will sue whom? Can the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand now sue a Municipal Corporation in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar for the discharge of effluents downstream? Or will the Director, Namami Gange, sue the Central government for approving another hydro-power project on the river? Do other riparian State governments now have less of a role in the protection of the rivers as they are not the identified ‘custodians’? And what are rivers’ duties?


The judgement is clearly the result of dismal performance of states in maintaining and preserving the health of rivers. Nonetheless the judgment would compel central and state government to take urgent action towards improving the conditions of rivers.