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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 April 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 April 2017

NOTE: Please remember that following  ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

STATIC Syllabus Timetable

General Studies – 1;

Topic: Salient features of Indian society

1) Critically comment on the nature and purpose of raising vigilantism in Indian society and the role of citizens in fighting it. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Vigilantism is an act of over-zealous policing by an entity often encroaching the rights of others in a bid to promote its implicit or explicit vested interests. The nature of vigilantism and its purpose are as follows

  • Religious Vigilantism: Protection of cows by appealing by appealing to Hindu tradition often with an aim to propagate violence and threaten minority. Also forced conversion programmes are carried out to strengthen one’s community at cost of marginalizing others.
  • Moral Vigilantism: Self-proclaimed moral policing to supposedly curtail western influences by encroaching on individual freedom. Honour killings are a grisly outcome of it.
  • Digital Vigilantism:Dataveillance by collecting the personal data for commercial and governance aspect resulting in breach of personal privacy. Monitoring personal activities on internet as well unnecessary collection of data lead to it.
  • Artistic Vigilantism:Curtailing freedom of expression through censorship in movies, books etc. Aim is to curtail freedom of expression.
  • Educational Vigilantism: Curriculum changes to promote specific narratives, omitting facts, compulsory languages. Also, to promote religious ideologies and curtail pluralism giving way to religious fanaticism.
  • Regional Vigilantism:people from other regions are discriminated in one’s own states. This is particularly true for the people of NE region and some of the southern states.

Role of citizens-

  • In a democratic political community, citizens owe obligations of justice to their fellow citizens. If the basic rights of an individual or a community are systematically violated, there should be pain, there should be empathy and outrage, and a determination to do something about the fundamental infringement of what is owed to human beings: dignity and respect.
  • Public discussions and debates should be promoted especially in schools and colleges to create awareness and sensitization about different vigilantism.
  • People should avoid getting swayed by religious polarisation and cherish and uphold the constitutional value of secularism.
  • Voting is the biggest weapon with the people. Thus, citizens should only those candidates to legislatures who themselves are secular, tolerant and respect the diversity of the nation.
  • While right wing leaders are busy in propagating the communal agenda, citizens should mount the counter-agenda for secular values.


Citizens need to stand and speak against any wrong act by leaders or any political party. To keep silence at such times would amount to death of free speech and expression explicitly guaranteed by our constitution. Thus, it is bounden duty of citizens to protect and preserve the secular values of the nation.


General Studies – 2

Topic:  Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. 

2) On the questions of who will determine which group is a minority and status of minority groups in India, critically examine the opinion of the Supreme Court and measures taken by the government. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Recently a PIL was filed by a Jammu-based advocate in the Supreme Court, alleging that the rights of religious and linguistic minorities in the State are being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily” and the subsequent affidavits by the Central and Jammu and Kashmir governments give a chance to look again into the secularism versus communalism debate.

While Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution guarantee certain rights to minorities for protection of their culture, script, and languages, the Constitution has not defined or identified religious and linguistic minorities.

Opinion of the Supreme Court-

  • The question of who will determine which group is a minority was also left unanswered until the Supreme Court settled this in TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka, wherein it held that the unit for the purpose of determining the definition of minority would be the State, not the whole of India.
  • Further, the SC in Bal Patil v. Union of India had said the National and State Minorities Commissions should direct their activities to maintain the unity and integrity of India by gradually eliminating the minority and majority classes. It said that the Minority Commission should act in a manner so as to prevent generating feelings of aversion towards multiculturalism in various sections of India.

Measures taken by the government-

  • The setting up of a Minorities Commission was envisaged in 1978 to ensure that minorities are able to enjoy the safeguards provided for them in the Constitution and various Central and State laws.
  • The National Commission for Minorities Act was passed in 1992 to give a statutory backing to the Commission. According to Section 1 (ii) of the Act, it extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir, and as per Section 2 (iii), ‘minority’ means a community notified as such by the Central government.
  • Using this power, the Central government through a gazette notification dated October 23, 1993 notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as ‘minorities’ for the purpose of this Act. Jains were declared as a minority later.
  • Ministry of Minority affairs was carved out of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to ensure a more focussed approach on minority affairs.
  • The government has undertaken various schemes like scholarship schemes for elementary education, Maulana Azad National Fellowship for pursuing higher studies, Padho Pradesh for overseas studies, Nai Udaan for civil service preparation. But the efficiency of the implementation of such schemes is not up to the mark.

There are many areas where works need to be done-

  • The areas where the minorities are skilled needs to be identified. Later they need to financed and promoted so as to make it their livelihood and pave the way for economic development.
  • Participation and share of minorities in policy initiatives is also not so efficient which is essential to identify and address their problems.
  • The minority educational institutions are not yet streamlined with the mainstream educational institutions so as to be eligible for competitive examinations.

Minority rights needs not only to be protected but nurtured and developed so as to attain a certain level of economic and social development from where the concept of minority-majority will be overshadowed for larger interest of development.


Topic:Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

3) Recently, the NITI Aayog released a draft action agenda for the three years till 2019-20. What are its objectives? What’s the role of states in achieving this agenda? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu


NITI Ayog has reformed planning process in India. The 3 years Action plan will be in line with 7 years’ Strategy and 15 years’ Vision. Thus, it will follow a rolling plan. It has replaced the erstwhile 5 years’ plans, which ended with this financial year.
Recently released draft action agenda for 3 years is a step to achieve the vision in long term. This agenda is meant to be the first step towards attaining the envisioned outcomes by 2031-32


  • Providing continuity and filling the hitherto vacuum in policy framework- by making the three years’ agenda a part of a long-term plan.
  • Promoting cooperative federalism: the draft has been prepared through extensive consultation with state governments, and it is meant to serve as a roadmap for the Aayog’s Governing Council (that includes the Prime Minister and all Chief Ministers).
  • Envisioning plans to shift additional revenues to high priority sectors, double farmers’ income (by 2022), create jobs, bring down land prices and expand tax base (through measures such as taxing agricultural income).
  • To achieve SDGs set for India i.e. in field of housing, poverty, health, education, women empowerment etc.
  • Role of state and local bodies in developmental process will be enhanced.
  • To promote sustainable Indian economic growth of 8%.

Role of the states-

States will discuss this draft and give their feedback which will be incorporated in the report. As the nation is moving towards cooperative federalism, State will have

  • To share the responsibility of growth in line with Principle of Subsidiarity, as proposed by 2nd ARC.
  • In line with fiscal discipline, state too have to share finances for infrastructural and human growth.
  • States will have to promote local governance bodies and planning at local level.

However, the draft action agenda and the recent planning approach is lagging on several grounds-

  • The plan is still a top-down approach.
  • Governing council of NITI Ayog does not meet regularly to have a continuity in planning process.
  • 15 years’ vision and 7 years’ strategy is not clearly stated, thus draft action plan’s effectiveness cannot be stated for now.
  • Growth prediction of 8% is tough to achieve consistently.
  • The planning vacuum has created for now, as 12th 5-year plan ended.


NITI Ayog was formed to reform the planning process. The end of 12th 5 years’ plan period will bring new challenges to it. The need is to bring all stakeholder to develop inclusive policies and truly promote the principle of cooperative federalism.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Economics of animal rearing

4) A government committee has recommended unique identification numbers for cows. Discuss the rationale behind this recommendation and how such unique identification can be issued for each cow. (200 Words)



 A government committee has recommended unique identification numbers for cows as one way to prevent their trafficking, according to documents filed by the central government with the Supreme Court.

The rationale behind the decision is

  • Stop Trafficking:Cattle is often trafficked to neighbouring countries especially Bangladesh. It robs India of its vital resource of cattle she has.
  • Record keeping:Unique numbers will help in maintaining the number and type of cows in India
  • Dairy Development: It shall serve as a data mine for dairy development as it contains information on various parameters like breed, sex, region 
  • Resolving claims: Claims on ownership of cattle as well as insurance will be resolved and there shall be a fall in legislation as proper records will be available.

How it is issued?

  • The unique ID will contain details of the cattle’s age, breed, sex, height, body colour, horn type, tail switch and special marks, according to the panel set up by the home ministry. In the case of milch cattle, it will also have the lactation profile. This ID will take the form of a polyurethane tag.
  • Registration proof must be maintained by the owner of the cattle which may be transferred to the next owner in case a legitimate sale/transfer takes place
  • The panel also recommended maintaining state- and national-level registries of cattle and prohibiting livestock markets within a 20km radius of the international border with Bangladesh.
  • The unique identification system for cattle is already put to use by the National Dairy Development Board, organized cattle farms and insurance companies.
  • According to the guidelines issued under the National Dairy Plan, the tags are made from thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer, a material resistant to ultraviolet light and high and low temperatures, and impossible to tamper with once sealed.
  • Tags are placed in both ears of the animal and a unique number is given to each based on its bodily features. It usually costs Rs10-25 per tag and is very accurate
  • Every district should have a shelter home of the capacity of at least 500 animals for abandoned animals. This will help reduce the smuggling of abandoned animals.
  • The committee advocated for setting up a state level databank, which may be linked with national online database for registered cattle.
  • All cattle being transported may have identification tags and no animal transportation may be permitted without ‘fitness to move certificate’ to be issued by registered veterinary officers.

Conclusion :-

The UID for cows will help addressing their illegal smuggling and popular sentiments of protection of cows. However the govt. must at the same time address the rising incidents of self styled cow vigilantes who have taken the law in their hands and are hindering even the legal transfer of cattle in order to contain the rising brawl and commotion in name of cow protection.


Topic: Infrastructure – housing

5) What is the definition of “Houseless Households” as per government? Comment on housing trends between the two Censuses of 2001 and 2011 in India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :-

The government’s definition of “Houseless Households” covers families that do not live in buildings or “Census houses”, but rather in the open — by roadsides, on pavements, in “Hume” pipes, under flyovers and staircases, on railway platforms, and in the open at or near places of worship.

Between Census 2001 and 2011:

  • Increase in number of houseless households in cities (36%), but, decline in such numbers in rural areas (26%). Overall, the
    number of houseless households remains nearly same in India at 4.5 lakhs.(0.5% increase)
  • Average size of houseless households has gone down in India from 4.34 to 3.9 members from 2001 to 2011. Cities – 4.14 to 3.7
    Villages- 4.48 to 4.3 members.
  • Homeless population has gone down from 19.5 lakhs to 17.75 lakhs.
  • Of the 17.75 lakhs homeless population, 3.75 lakhs are beggars, i.e. 1/5 individuals. Others are homeless migrants or laborers
    who still cannot afford a permanent shelter.


  • Government’s policy to provide shelter is more easily permeable in rural areas than in cities.
  • The cities lack infrastructure to support the growing trends of migration.
  • Failure of revenue from agriculture has led to more migration towards cities.
  • This growing population in cities suffer atrocities from state forces. Anti-Begging Act doesn’t differentiate between beggars and
    homeless destitute, and gives the police discretionary powers to haul them. 
  • The government is lacking far behind its aim to eradicate homelessness by 2022.

Way Ahead:

  • The grassroot panchayats in villages should advice against migration if stable resources are not available in cities.
  • The economically rich civil society should help the destitute with home and employment. Shelter is a basic need for life.
  • Center’s draft bill: Prevention in Destitution (Protection care and intervention) Model Bill might help this population if properly


TopicEnvironmental pollution

6) Why is degrading polyethylene difficult? Examine the ways in which plastic can be recycled and degraded to save environment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :-  Polyethylene (abbreviated PE)or polyethene (IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic. The annual global production is around 80 million tonnes. Its primary use is in packaging (plastic bagsplastic filmsgeomembranes, containers including bottles, etc.). Many kinds of polyethylene are known, with most having the chemical formula (C2H4)n. PE is usually a mixture of similar polymers of ethylene with various values of n .

One of the main problems of polyethylene is that without special treatment it’s not readily biodegradable, and thus accumulates. It’s because the carbon-carbon bonds in polypropylene require too much energy to make, so nature chooses other alternatives for holding together large molecules. It’s easier for organisms to synthesize peptide bonds than carbon-carbon bonds. Peptide bonds, which link carbon to nitrogen, are found in proteins and many other organic molecules.

Ways to recycle plastic:-

  • Thermal depolymerisation: Thermal depolymerization is an industrial process of breaking down various waste materials into crude oil products. The materials are subjected to high temperatures and pressure in the presence of water, thereby initiating hydrous pyrolysis.
  • Heat Compression: heat compression takes unsorted, clean discarded plastic and loads them into large rotating drums that apply heat and mixes the waste converting them into new plastic  
  • Waste plastic pyrolysis:Pyro = heat. Lysis = break down. Plastic Pyrolysis is chemical reaction. This reaction involves molecular breakdown of larger molecules into smaller molecules in presence of heat. Pyrolysis is also known as thermal cracking, cracking, thermolysis, depolymerization, etc. Plastic pyrolysis involves subjecting plastic and tire to high temperature of 400 to 450 degree Celsius, in absence of oxygen. In case of oxygen is present plastic will start burning. During pyrolysis plastic and tire breaks down into smaller molecules of pyrolysis oil, pyrolysis gas and carbon black. 
  • Distributed Recycling: Uses device called recyclebots to convert waste plastic into raw material(filament)for 3D printers
  • Steel Recycling:Plastic is used a source of carbon needed for recycling of Steel
  • Compatibalization:Compatibilization in polymer chemistry is the addition of a substance to an immiscible blend of polymers that will increase their stability. Polymer blends are typically described by coarse, unstable phase morphologies. This results in poor mechanical properties. 
  • Pelletization:Used to convert plastics into pellets that can be used a raw material for other products


Topic:  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life 

7) It is argued that Big Data analytics can fuel the move to the evidence-based policymaking that NITI Aayog is pushing. Elaborate. (200 Words)


Introduction :-

 Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include capturestorageanalysisdata curation,search, sharingtransfervisualizationquerying, updating and information privacy. The term “big data” often refers simply to the use of predictive analyticsuser behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set.

Evidence based policy making is forming policies based on available data and Big data is believed to revolutionize the quality and quantity of data and thereby assisting policymakers to take effective steps. This can be inferred from the possibilities Big Data opens up

  • Health policies:Profiling of regions based on diseases as well as mining the data based on online searches can help in formulating policies based on evidence. 
  • Taxation policies:Digital transaction and online spending become an indicator for tax sleuths to calculate the tax that should be collected and form policies accordingly.
  • Traffic Policies:Data on traffic generated can be mined to formulate transport policies that ensure better traffic management based on collected data.
  • Tourism Policies:The data on domestic and foreign tourism can help in making tourism policies.
  • MNREGA:Geo-tagging in MNREGA can help analyse the effectiveness of the policy geographically and along other heads to make bring in required changes so as to make it more effective based on data.
  • Aadhar:A large mine of data indeed can be feeder to formulate policies.

Conclusion :-

Big data will bring in paradigm shift in how policies are formulated based on evidence. But what also needs to be ensured is effective implementation to achieve the stated goals.