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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 13, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 13, 2016


This is a new feature. As feedback from our side on your answers is missing, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise our synopsis and compare it with your answers. We intend to post synopsis of Secure questions every next day of posting questions on website. 

You must write answers on your own and compare them with these synopses. If you depend on these synopses blindly, be sure of facing disaster in Mains. Until and unless you practice answer writing on your own, you will not improve in speed, content and writing skills. Keep separate notebooks for all GS papers and write your answers in them regularly. Now and then keep posting your answer on website too (Optional).  Some people have the tendency of copying content from others answers and pasting them in a document for each and every question. This might help in revision, but if you do not write on your own,  you can’t write a good answer in real exam. This is our experience at offline classes. We have seen many students who think they were regularly following Secure, yet fail to clear Mains. So, never give up writing. 

Also never give up reviewing others answers. You should review others answers to know different perspectives put forth by them, especially to opinion based questions. This effort by us should not lead to dependency on these synopses. This effort should be treated as complimentary to your ongoing writing practice and answer reviewing process. 

These synopses will be exhaustive – covering all the points demanded by question. We will not stick to word limit. You need to identify most important points and make sure these points are covered in your answer. Please remember that these are not ‘Model Answers’. These are just pointers for you to add extra points and to stick to demand of the question – which you might have missed while answering. 

As you might be aware of, this exercise requires lots of time and energy (10 Hours), that to do it on daily basis! Your cooperation is needed to sustain this feature.

Please provide your valuable feedback in the comment section to improve and sustain this initiative successfully. 

General Studies – 1;

Topic: Communalism; Social empowerment

1) According to 2014 NCRB data, Muslims have the highest non-convict to convict prisoner ratio in the country and in most states. Do Muslims in India suffer a bias when it comes to imprisonment and conviction? Analyse. (200 Words)




The share of Muslims in total convicted and undertrial prisoners at the end of 2014 was 16.38% and 21.05%, respectively, higher than their population share of 14.23%

Yes,Muslims suffer a bias:

  • Muslims suffer most in India’s notoriously slow criminal justice system. That is the ratio of non-convicted to convicted prisoners is disproportionate.
  • The high ratio of non-convicted to convicted prisoners among Muslims could be owing to the higher number of terror cases against people from this community,
    • Not only do trials in such cases take a long time, judges are reluctant to release such accused persons on bail.
    • Rules which allow undertrials to be released when they have completed more than half the maximum sentence possible are not applicable in terror cases.
  • Ingrained bias in the police against Muslims, which often leads to their victimization. In a riot in Uttar Pradesh, Muslims were the maximum among those killed as well as arrested
    • Most respondents (Muslim prisoners) stated conflict with the police system as the reason for their being in prison, which led to false implications in cases or mere suspicion leading to arrests.
    • The other point of note is that Muslims from states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar reported greater bias against them, suggesting migrants are more vulnerable to police system
  • Because Muslims are among the most socio-economically backward communities, they might be more vulnerable to the perversities present in our criminal justice system.
    • Increasingly, people have to bank on higher courts for relief due to serious lapses, inefficiency and non-realisation of legal safeguards at the lower level, 
  • The percentage of inmates from three minority communities in India Dalits, Muslims and the adivasis is disproportionately higher than their total population and make up more than half the prison population in the country.
  • According to the 2013 Census, there were 4.2 lakh people in Indian prisons. Almost 20 percent of them were Muslims although according to the Census 2001 percentage share of Muslims in India’s population was merely 13 percent.
  • Usually reeling under social and economic problems, people from these communities hardly have financial capacity to move to courts for bail and are unable to engage good lawyers during trial.
  • The relative backwardness of Muslims on socio-economic indicators might be a cause for their higher share in prisoner population (African-Americans in the US have a similar story).
    • One of the reason is that Muslims are lower in social strata, which is below SC and ST, thus they are more susceptible to crimes.

No :-

  • That does not necessarily mean that Muslims might be a persecuted community in India. The number of prisoners from all three significant religious minority groups (Muslims, Christians and Sikhs) is disproportionate to their population
  • problems related to clogged courts and slow wheels of justice are faced by all people

General Studies – 2

TopicFunctions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

2) Briefly discuss the history of the Supreme Court’s decision in the S.R. Bommai v. Union of India case (1994). In your opinion, how should the President handle matters related to Article 356 of the Indian Constitution? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

History of S.R.Bommai vs Union of India case (1994):-

  • The Karnataka government of Bommai had elapsed when large-scale defections from the Janata Party seemed to have cost him his majority. The Governor of the day promptly reported a breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the State without even considering a floor test to the President of India. And he recommended President’s Rule which President accepted that led to the dismissal of Bommai’s government
  • Bommai challenged the proclamation in the Supreme Court where, after nearly five years of his dismissal gave the famous Bommai judgement.
  • The Supreme Court came down heavily on the misuse of Article 356 to impose Central rule on States.
  • It made clear that Article 356 gave the President conditioned, not absolute power, that the Supreme Court could review the materials, i.e. the facts and the reasoning behind the cabinet’s advice, and if found to be improper or mala fide, the court would provide remedy.
  • It also drew a distinction between the breakdown of constitutional as different from administrative machinery.
  • It made the test of majority strength in the Assembly by a clear vote in the Assembly the rule.
  • Presidents of the day invoked Article 356 not less than 90 times before Bommai in most cases with doubtful constitutional validity. Bommai changed all that.
  • Assessments by Governors of a Chief Minister’s majority were disbarred. The temptation of the Centre using its appointee in the Raj Bhavan to undo a State government of another political hue was put on hold.

How should president handle matters ?

  • Without prejudice to the constitutional voltage of cabinet advice, if the President receives a palpably vulnerable or politically coloured recommendation, he must return it to the cabinet for reconsideration.
    • In the past instances of Uttarpradesh and Bihar President Narayanan cited Bommai in support of his decision .Narayanan’s returning of President’s Rule recommendations upheld federalism and the democratic rights of elected governments.
  • during the interregnum, consult the Attorney General and also senior counsel.
  • What the President can do if the cabinet reiterates the advice depends on the weakness of the recommendation and the strength of his conviction and, above all, on the President’s stature. The chances are that the cabinet will not treat a presidential misgiving lightly.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources. 

3) Direct intervention in schools by ensuring that children have access to safe, hygienic and regularly maintained toilets is said to increase their attendance and engagement. How it can be done? What are other benefits of such interventions? Discuss. (200 Words)

Business Standard

How to increase direct intervention in schools and the benefits there of:

  • Globally, 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. Just provision of basic sanitation affects people’s dignity and reduces the spread of life-threatening diseases that can be fatal to children and their families.
    • Governmental bodies and world leaders have increasingly called attention to the sanitation crisis by organising events such as World Toilet Day and more recently, by including “access to water and sanitation for all” in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
    • In India, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has galvanised strong support from all stakeholders. the construction of 10 million new toilets, with toilet facilities in 90 per cent of schools in one year is a right step in this direction
    • Access to safe and hygienic toilets can increase their attendance by up to 11 per cent.
    • There is also enough evidence that inculcating toilet habits in children translates into toilet habits for the entire family, thus helping reduce the incidence of open defecation in communities.
  • Making local bodies accountable:
    • The panchayats have to ensure the schools run properly along with checking teacher attendance.
    • Financial devolution of powers to panchayats will help in taking care of school infrastructure at the local level itself
  • Parents need to be made aware of the importance of education rather than making them child labourers.Programmes like Dhanalakshmi can ensure this happening.
  • District administration can actively have sudden visits and test the quality of the schools.
  • Because of all these the basic problem of quality in Indian education system can be checked from the elementary level itself along with a sense of life and dignity.

Problems arising :

  • However, reports suggest that four out of every 10 of the school toilets in India are non-usable or dysfunctional due to lack of regular maintenance. In rural India, one out of every two toilets in schools is unusable, leading to continued open defecation. India reports the highest number of diarrhoea deaths among children under five, open defecation being the main reason. 
  • Panchayats don’t have necessary finances
  • Corruption in implementing government programmes
  • Illiteracy is very high.

What is needed ? 

  • identifying specific issues school by school, engaging key influencers and school authorities, deploying resources for specific repairs or renovation and setting up hygiene clubs to inculcate good toilet habits among children.
  • industry needs to complement the government’s focus on building new toilets with sustainable interventions in areas of repair, maintenance, education and change of behaviour.
  • sanitation experts and non-profit organisations, we are also partnering with sanitation social entrepreneurs Svadha and eKutir in Odisha, to build a market-driven sanitation model. 

General Studies – 3

Topic: Disaster management

4) Examine how the Disaster Management Act, 2005 can be useful in drought mitigation as well as in assessment, planning and relief in drought hit regions. Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to formulate a National Plan on mitigation and crisis management, and standardise the methodology for declaring a drought. Do you think it’s an act of judicial overreach? Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

How disaster management act can be used in drought mitigation?

  • preparation of Drought Management Plans at various levels. Such plans will indicate the detailed work plan and milestone with recommended time-frame and suitable indicators to enable monitoring and review of actual progress made.
  • Separate Drought Monitoring Cells (DMCs) will be created at the state level with adequate staff under the control of State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA’s). State level monitoring cells will have requisite Administrative, Technical and data maintenance staff.
  • State DMCs will undertake on a priority basis, the preparation of vulnerability maps for their respective States.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) For the purpose of specialised response to a threatening disaster situation or disasters both natural and man-made, the DM Act, 2005 has mandated the creation of a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
  • The National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM), which functions within the framework of the broad policy and guidelines laid down by the NDMA, has capacity development as one of its major responsibilities, along with training, research, documentation and the development of a national level information database.
    • It will network with other knowledge-based institutions and assist in imparting training to trainers, DM officials, etc. It will also be responsible for synergizing research activities and will be geared to emerge as a ‘centre of excellence’ at the national and international levels.
  • Assessment of damage expected will include agricultural production, depletion of water resources, livestock population, land degradation and deforestation as well as human health.
  • Prevention and mitigation:
    • Drought Prone Area Delineation
    • Gradation of Drought Prone Areas (High, Moderate, Low) 
    • Automatic weather stations and raingauges will be put in place at appropriate places to enable micro level analysis and forecasting.
    • State DMCs will harmonize the current/ ongoing efforts by various knowledge centres at the national and international levels.

Analysis about The Supreme Court directing the Centre to formulate a National Plan on mitigation and crisis management:

No its not judicial overreach because of the following reasons:

  • The supreme court had to take because of failure of centre and states action
    • to call out the reluctance of some States to declare a drought while simultaneously decrying the Centre’s recourse to “federalism” as an excuse to avoid taking up the matter with these States.
    • Bihar and Haryana had been remiss in not officially declaring a drought despite clear indications of water scarcity
    • also that Gujarat was late in its declaration made in April 2016.
    • The governments of Bihar and Haryana had argued that a declaration of drought was not necessary as rainfall deficits had eased in many districts by July 2015. But the Supreme Court has pointed out that many districts in these States have since progressively suffered rainfall deficits till as late as October 2015.
    • The court also said that steps taken by State governments for irrigation and foodgrain production, or the presence of perennial rivers (which the Bihar government has submitted as a factor), alone cannot determine whether there is a drought-like situation or not. So It has directed the Centre to take proactive steps in drought mitigation .
    • By laying down a broad framework for dealing with such situations and firmly emphasising that the government cannot absolve itself from acting decisively Supreme court reminded the governments of their mandate.

Yes it is judicial overreach:

  • Step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of India’s legislature is being destroyed
  • Increasing interference in budget making :
    • India already has the National Disaster Response Fund and the State Disaster Response Fund and now SC asked centre to create a third fund. The appropriation bill is being passed. So India’s budget-making is being subject to judicial review.
  • With over 4.4 crore cases pending in courts, the Supreme Court should be the last one taking on a high moral tone while admonishing state and central governments for their lapses.
  • Experts showed deep concern over the increasing tendency of the judiciary to make laws and impose directions that are solely within the domain of the executive or the legislature
    • The judiciary has delved into several aspects of governance, including spectrum auctions, coal block allocations, right to information and powers of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
  • judiciary is breaching constitutional provisions that give the legislature, the judiciary and the executive their own exclusive domains. judiciary need to stay within the bounds imposed on it by the constitution, and not transgress into areas reserved for the executive or the legislature

Topic: Environmental pollution; Infrastructure

5) India has committed to “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to limit or reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. What are the challenges it faces in achieving INDCs? Does opting only for renewable sources help achieve this goal? Examine. (200 Words)


Challenges India faces in achieving INDC:

  • There is a real risk that the Kyoto Protocol drama may be repeated with the U.S. Congress rejecting an agreement that the U.S. administration has signed. Other countries may withhold ratification since the U.S. is the second largest emitter of GHGs after China will not happen.India should not be in a hurry to ratify the Agreement until there is clarity on the U.S. position.
  • Several major concepts and provisions were deliberately left ambiguous and opento differing interpretations in order to reach consensus. Further negotiations are necessary to reach a common understanding to enable implementation.
    • For example, take the concept of “transparency”.
      • Developed countries claim that transparency requires a “common and unified system” to compare climate action undertaken as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) by Parties.
      • Developing countries, on the other hand, point to the “flexibilities” available to them in recognition of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” (the well-known CBDR principle) and insist that this should be reflected in the application of the transparency provision.
    • Perhaps the biggest impact from a Paris agreement will come from the single outcome with the greatest remaining uncertainty, which is whether the agreement will have a long-term goal to decarbonise the global economyby the end of the century. 
    • No clarity on many issues:
      • The Paris Agreement provides for a five-yearly “stocktake” which would enable an estimation of how much progress is being made in the implementation of the various contributions pledged by Parties in respect not only of mitigation but also adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
      • How each of these contributions will be measured and evaluated still needs to be worked out. This will be both a political and technical challenge.
      • Finance:
        • Onfinance there has been backsliding. In Paris, it was agreed that no increase will be expected over $100 billion figure until 2025, five years into the implementation of the agreement.
        • When the agreement talks of “financial flows” rather than public resources in the form of official transfers, it is not clear what would be the constituents of these flows and the value assigned to each.
      • Technology:
        • On technology transfer, there is already an offensive by the U.S. corporate sector to ensure that in the post-Paris negotiations there is no concession on intellectual property (IP) issues.
        • The U.S. lobby has objected to the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which is considering how the IP issue may be dealt with, balancing the interests of different stakeholders to ensure equitable access to medicines, in particular for the poor and deprived.
      • Developed countries want to make the mitigation aspect specific and measurable while keeping other aspects such as finance and technology transfer to developing countries as indeterminate as possible so asnot to be held accountable for what they have pledged in these areas.
        • For example, the UNFCCC Secretariat has already opened what it calls a “public registry” for NDCs ahead of negotiations which may, by default, create a common reporting framework, pre-empting negotiations among Parties.
        • Developing countries should question the rationale for such a registry ahead of a negotiated outcome on this issue.
          • Pressure on developing economies:
            • At the insistence of the European Union, it was agreed at Paris that there would be a “Facilitation Dialogue” among Parties in 2018 focussed on the adequacy of aggregate NDCs with respect to the 2° Celsius global temperature limit and, even more ambitiously, the 1.5° Celsius limit favoured by the small island developing states. Such a review will inevitably and rightly come to the conclusion that the aggregate mitigation pledges made so far fall far short of the above temperature limits.
            • There will be pressure on major emerging economies, including India, to take on more ambitious mitigation commitmentssince the developed economies, though major emitters, are progressively reducing their emissions while the developing countries are still on a rising though diminishing trajectory.
          • Only current emissions are going to be considered:
            • With the concept of carbon budget out of the way, it is current emissions alone which will become the focus in the new climate change regime and create inevitable pressures on India for enhanced mitigation pledges .
            • India, for its energy security, will continue to rely on coal to generate power for its growing economy for the foreseeable future. This is already being projected as being contrary to the spirit of the Paris Agreement irrespective of the fact that several developed countries including the U.S. and Japan and among emerging economies, China, already use far more coal than India for their power generation. 
          • Other issues related to India:
            • On the loss side, India’s long-standing objective in climate talksis to avoid undue limits on energy options.This dint go in India’s favour.
            • massive acceleration of national efforts needed- Over the past decade, energy productivity has grown by only 0.7% annually, and the share of zero-carbon energy rose by only 0.1 percentage point per year. Moreover, even if the INDCs were fully implemented, these annual growth rates would reach only 1.8% and 0.4 percentage points, respectively.
            • The country estimates it will need $206 billion for the period 2015-2030, with additional investments needed for disaster management
            • It does not include any “meaningful” targets and has discharged developed nations from their historical responsibility of Green house gas emissions
            • Paris agreement says all parties — including developing nations — must take action to cut emissions. This means makes developing nations must take on additional obligations..
            • In terms of loss and damage, the text says these will not be seen in terms for liability and compensation, so developed countries will not have no real obligation.
            • Oil and gas companies such as RIL, IOC, HPCL,BPCL, Cairn India may have to investheavily on low emission technology
            • Conglomerates like Tatas, Aditya BirlaGroup, Reliance Industries, etc would have to source more renewable power as government may enforce stricter renewable purchase obligation
            • Manufacturers may see cost pressure if concessional funds are not available to implement energy effi cient solutions
            • NTPC, Adani Power and Jindal Steel and Power, among others may have to revisit growth plans as pressure mounts on India to cut use of thermal coal
            • Tata Motors, Maruti and M&M would be under pressure to invest more on low emission technology
            • While India’s INDC lays out its existing climate measures in detail, it falls short on a number of the elements of transparency mentioned in a decision madeat the Lima climate talks last December . These include a lack of clarity on emissions intensity in the base year (2005) and target year (2030), as well as the scope and coverage of the intensity target and the methodologies for measuring it

Yes India benefits:

  • 5 yr review update and ratchet mechanism is essential; it is designed to stimulate a virtuous cycle of more ambitious pledges, greater investment in low emissions options, and lower costs and barriers to implementation of those options, leading to yet more ambitious pledges. If this works, and it does result in enhanced collective action to limit climate change, then India will be a substantial gainer
    • the Agreement preserves space for greater energy use, And, the Paris Agreement offers the not trivial benefit of inducing India to establish a more robust domestic process for energy planning and policy.
  • Managed to put back the important principle of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities” in text, which India has been pushing for. The US and developed nations wanted to dilute this plank.
  • Though developed countries use fossil fuel — coal and gas — they wanted developing countries to cut emissions. It is still not clear if the developed nations will be forthcoming with funds and technology for clean energy or the modalities if they do.  
  • The big challenge met was ensuring the agreement established the idea of climate justice– acknowledging that industrialised nations have been the major emitters since 1850.
  • India also wanted a mention of sustainable lifestyle and consumption, which is there in the text.
  • Green energy generators to benefit as concessional funds may help build transmission infrastructure
  • Solar equipment makers like Jain Irrigation, Schneider Electric India, ABB India, Siemens India may benefit
  • Automobile and component companies like Bosch India, Mahindra Reva and Hero Electric, which work on green technology will benefit
  • Energy efficiency solutions providers like the Indian arm of ABB, Alstom, Siemens, and L&T may gain from industrial demand
  • Renewable energy project companies like Suzlon and other private equity-backed green energy companies like ReNew Power may gain

What needs to be done ?

  • ensure that India’s vital interests are safeguarded and the principle of equity and equitable burden-sharing is reflected across this architecture. 
  • India should make sure the ratchet mechanism sustains pressure on developed countries to ramp up their efforts.This will require and upgrading our ability to analyse other country contributions and actively shaping the fine print of implementing language for the Paris Agreement in the coming years.
  • India has to build a robust and ongoing national process to examine our energy and climate future, to replace India’s current ad hoc, disconnected, process of energy planning and policy.
    • This requires a more cogent system of energy information gathering and analysis.
    • It also requires exploring actions that bring synergies across development and climate outcomes (such as energy efficiency and public transport) and those that come with direct costs to the economy.
    • also need answers to longer-term questions salient to future pledges, such as: how much additional coal energy do we anticipate needing and, to what extent can we urbanise while limiting high carbon lock-in.


 India had in October committed to cut the rate of emissions relative to GDP by 33-35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels. The country is planning to boost its energy production from renewable sources to 40 percent of total by 2030. In order to achieve this target, the government has set five-fold increase in renewable energy capacity in the next five years to 175 giga watts.

Topic: Infrastructure – telecommunications

6) Recently, the Supreme Court struck down the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s decision asking service providers to compensate subscribers for dropped calls. Why penalty is regarded as not a solution to the call-drop problem? Examine. (200 Words)

Business Standard

Penalty is not regarded a solution because :

  • It is arbitrary, ultra vires, unreasonable and not transparent.
  • TRAI in its eagerness to be seen as strict on service providers, it overlooked some basic factors.
    • the licence conditions allow up to two per cent of calls to be dropped. But Trai, in its directive, said that service providers would have to pay consumers for all dropped calls: Re 1 per call, subject to a maximum of three rupees a day. This was a violation of the licence conditions
    • there exists no mechanism in the world to tell a dropped call from voluntary disconnection. The Trai penalty was open to abuse. It would be perfectly possible for a rogue customer to disconnect a call and then claim compensation.
    • What also contributed to the problem of dropped calls was spectrum migration. The first lot of spectrum was issued for 20 years, after which service providers had to buy it afresh. Many bought spectrum in a different frequency subsequently. This led to customers migrating from one band to another, causing unavoidable technical glitches. It takes up to a year to sort this out. Trai jumped the gun in imposing the penalty.
  • The dropped-call penalty would have raised the cost of doing business for the service providers. Not only would they have to pay compensation, they would also have to set up call centres to handle compensation claims
  • This case was being eagerly watched by other sectors as well which were worried that they could be penalised for faulty service delivery, even if that is partly caused by circumstances beyond their control
  • The lesson to be learnt by regulators as well as the government is that the quality of any service can improve only when the right inputs are available — a penalty cannot always solve the problem. Similarly, the issue of clogged telecom networks can be addressed through additional spectrum. 

Penalty is right because :

  • Trai cannot be faulted for its intent: as the regulator, it should indeed worry about the quality of telecom services. 
  • One of the justifications for the penalty was that the service providers had under-invested in equipment and the penalty would bring them to book.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface

7) “The health ministry’s draft Bill permitting passive euthanasia, or withholding medical treatment or a life support system required to keep a terminally ill patient alive, should be broadly welcomed.” Discuss why, especially on what ethical and moral grounds. (150 Words)

 Business Standard