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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 24, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 24, 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: Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society

1) Analyse the causes of Communism’s slide worldwide and in India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Reasons why communism lost its sheen:

  • Capitalism made three major concessions to ward off the communist threat:
    • Decolonization
    • The institution of democracy based on universal adult suffrage
    • State intervention in demand management to maintain high levels of employment:
      • Kept up aggregate demand and employment in advanced capitalist economies,and thereby facilitated high levels of investment,output growth,and labour productivity growth.
      • High productivity growth inturn led to rapid increases in real wages since employment rates were high and trade unions consequently strong.Such intervention underlay in short what has been called the “Golden Age”of capitalism.
    • Emergence of US:
      • It became the unquestioned leader of the capitalist world and a uting of inter imperialist rivalries.
      • In short communism had been superseded because of US rise.
    • It has lost itself on the way:
      • Because the premise upon which it was founded no longer held,the premise of an imminent world revolution
      • As this imminence receded ,communism has to reinvent and restructure itself to come to terms with a post Leninist conjuncture in order to remain viable
      • This was difficult enough it was made more difficult by a common but undesirable tendency among revolutionaries to place moral purity above practical politics and deny the non imminence of revolution.
    • Globalisation:
      • Communism’s incapacity to deal with a post Leninist conjuncture springs above all from its ambivalence towards globalization.This is true of the European Left in general and exhibited most recently by Syriza in Greece.
      • No matter how objectionable it finds the hegemony of finance capital which characterizes globalization,it cannot contemplate shaking off this hegemony through a delinking from globalization,because it sees any such delinking as a revival of nationalism which it abhors.
      • They too lack any concrete strategy of countering globalization
    • Ambivalence towards democracy:
      • Communis’s incapacity to remain viable in post Leninist conjuncture also has roots in an ambivalence it traditionally had towards democracy
      • In any situation of conflict between the proletarian revolution and existing democratic institutions a revolutionary must choose the former ,communism tended to see democratic institutions far stronger in the post war world as being secondary to the revolution that they believed was imminent

However it is not always the case ,communism still plays role:

  • In countries where communists have shed their ambivalence both towards opposing globalization and towards defending democracy,they have remained a formidable force and India is one such country.
  • Even China and Russia are such examples
  • The rise of power of communist parties in Euro Zone after the economic crisis .


Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2) How did Buddhism travel to China and other East Asian countries from India? Write a note on important ancient Buddhist art centres and their forms located in these countries.  (200 Words)

The Hindu

How did Buddhism travel to China and East Asian countries from India?

  • It is not certain when Buddhism reached China, but with the Silk Road opened in the second century BC, missionaries and pilgrims began to travel between China, Central Asia and India.
    • The record described that Chang Ch’ien, on his return from Ta-hsia (Ferghana) in the 2nd century BC, heard of a country named Tien-chu (India) and their Buddhist teaching. This is probably the first time a Chinese heard about Buddhism.
  • A fully sinicized Buddhist religion and art emerged and spread into Korea, and thence into Japan by the end of the sixth century.
  • Buddhism in Burma
    • As early as the time of King Ashoka of India, monks were sent to Thaton to spread the Buddha’s teachings. Thaton was a trading centre of southern Burma. Buddhism was widely accepted by the people in Thaton as more Buddhist missionaries arrived from Indian Buddhist centres. Thaton soon became an important centre for Theravada Buddhism.
  • Buddhism in Cambodia
    • By the end of the fourth century, Indian influence had spread throughout the kingdom of the Cambodians. In the following two centuries, the rulers practised Hinduism but gave some support to the Buddhist communities, which practised mainly Mahayana Buddhism.
    • King Jayavarman VII was a devout Buddhist. Under him Mahayana Buddhism became for a time the dominant religion of the kingdom. He built the new city of Angkor (called Angkor Thom), in the centre of which was a temple called the Bayon
  • Buddhism in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula:
    • It is said that late in the fifth century a Buddhist monk from India landed in the kingdom in central Java and converted the queen to Buddism.She then made Mahayana Buddhism as the official religion.

Buddhist art centres and their forms:


  • By then, the number of Chinese translations of Buddhist texts had increased tremendously, The Buddhists were now faced with the problem of how to study this large number of Buddhist texts and how to put their teachings in to practice. As a result, a number of schools of Buddhism arose, with each school concentrating on certain texts for their study and practice.
    • The Tian-tai School, for instance, developed a system of teaching and practice based on the Lotus Sutra. It also arranged all the Buddhist texts into graded categories to suit the varying aptitudes of the followers.
    • The Chan School emphasised the practice of meditation as the direct way of gaining insight and experiencing Enlightenment in this very life. The Chan school of Buddhism is said to have been introduced to China by Bodhidharma who came from India at the beginning of the sixth century.
    • The Pure Land School centres its practice on the recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha. The practice is based on the sermon, which teaches that people could be reborn in the Western Paradise (Pure Land) of Amitabha Buddha if they recite his name and have sincere faith in him. Once in Pure Land, the Buddhists are said to be able to achieve Enlightenment more easily. Because of the simplicity of its practice, this school became popular especially among the masses throughout China.
    • Central Asian missionary efforts along the Silk Roadwere accompanied by a flux of artistic influences, visible in the development of Serindian art from the 2nd through the 11th century in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang. Serindian art often derives from the Greco-Buddhist art of the Gandhara district of what is now Pakistan, combining Indian, Greek and Roman
    • Art centres:
      • The popularization of Buddhism in China has made the country home to one of the richest collections of Buddhist arts in the world.
      • The Mogao Cavesnear Dunhuang 
      • the Longmen Grottoesnear Luoyang in Henan province
      • the Dazu Rock Carvingsnear Chongqing municipality are among the most important and renowned Buddhist sculptural sites.
      • The Leshan Giant Buddha, carved out of a hillside in the 8th century during the Tang Dynastyand looking down on the confluence of three rivers, is still the largest stone Buddha statue in the world.


In modern times, Japan’s most popular schools of Buddhism are Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Zen. 

Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include:

  • Afghanistan: the Bamiyan Buddhas.
  • Cambodia: Angkor Thom, Silver Pagoda.
  • Tibet: Potala Palace, Mount Kailash, Lake Nam-tso.
  • Indonesia: Borobudur, Mendut, Sewu.
  • Japan: Kyoto, Nara, Shikoku Pilgrimage, Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage

General Studies – 2

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

3) It is argued that water pricing is the only long-term, sustainable solution to promote efficient and equitable use of this precious natural resource. Do you agree? What challenges its implementation would face in India? Comment. (200 Words)


Yes,Water pricing is needed?

  • Without a price on water usage, it is the poor who will suffer the worst consequences of a drought.
  • A 2015 study by the International Monetary Fund concluded that water subsidies provided through public utilities amounted to 0.6% of global gross domestic product in 2012 and are also inequitable, disproportionately benefiting upper-income groups.
  • With 18% of the world population, India has only 4% of the world’s renewable water resources. Moreover, the distribution is geographically skewed and the majority of rainfall occurs over just a few months, leading to reckless consumption in well-endowed geographies and during those months.This can be avoided because of pricing.
  • Inefficient agricultural usage of water and exports of water-intensive crops make India a large virtual exporter of water
  • Low water rates, apart from encouraging the inefficient use of water, result in low revenue collections and contribute to the growing burden of government subsidies
  • OECD studies say that putting the right price on water will encourage people to waste less, pollute less, and invest more in water infrastructure.
  • Government subsidies for agricultural production can encourage wasteful water use and pollution

No need for water pricing:

  • A counter-argument will be that water pricing may erode India’s export advantage
  • More burden of electricity on farmers without government’s help.


  • will be to make a case for water pricing at a time when the most vulnerable to water shortage are already reeling under severe economic hardship
  • The challenge is in the entrenched political economy in different parts of India. The severe water crisis in Latur was in stark contrast to flourishing fields of sugarcane, a water-guzzling crop, sustained with the patronage of politicians in the state of Maharashtra. Then the public procurement policies also promote cultivation of water-intensive crops, sometimes in those very states where the usage is most inefficient.
  • The inherent design problems associated with water pricing. This is because the government does not exercise control over the sources of water as it does over other natural resources

What can be done ?

  • water prices have rather negligible effects on income distribution within the farming sector and hence water pricing should be designed in order to promote efficiency, leaving equity consideration to other policy tools.
  • It is important to target irrigation water for pricing purposes because it alone comprises more than 78% of the total water usage in India. Also, irrigation consumption is an area where the scope for increase in efficiency is very high.
  • Several countries including rich ones such as Singapore and poor ones such as Burkina Faso have, within their own constraints, benefited from water pricing India needs to do the same.
  • Innovative Financing Mechanisms for the Water Sectorexamines ways to attract new financial resources to strengthen investment in water and sanitation services. For example, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu improved access to capital markets by small waste utilities by pooling water and sanitation projects into investment packages and combining different sources of capital to fund the packages. This reduces the risk of default, increases financial volume and cuts transaction costs. 

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

4) India’s democratic experiment is largely hailed as a success. To which factors do you attribute this success? What else needs to be done to address some of the problems affecting India’s democratic system? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


  • In 1947 India was 550 independent states with 350 million people speaking more than two dozen languages and practicing a variety of religions. And yet 66 years ago, the country peacefully banded together to form the Union of India after achieving independence from Britain. 
  • Constitution:
    • The significance of India’s progressive constitution, which formed a democracy for such a varied population.
  • Elections:
    • India has never had an issue with transfer of power or had a government collapse. Even with 10 to 15 political parties running the country at any given time India has never had a dispute over election results. 
    • The very fact that proper elections were carried out after independence, in spite of the presence of no other party of a national level stature in the political arena, shows his commitment to establishing a well-functioning democracy
  • Religion:
    • India’s constitution was revolutionary due to its neutral stance on religion.
  • Unity in diversity:
    • The Indian experiment of a representative government of more than 1.1 billion people is one of the most unique in the world. There are very positive opinions about the Indian experience of peaceful coexistence among different ethnic groups.
  • Economy:
    • The recent performance of the Indian economy has signaled a very positive trend and it is never too late to correct the mistakes of the past.
  • is a nation where pluralism and the rights of minorities are respected–at least relative to many other countries (including democracies) in India’s neighborhood. 
  • Judiciary role played a major role in upholding the tenets of the constitution and the democracy.

Negatives :

  • India’s human rights record is far from perfect, and there have been way too many incidents of communal, sectarian and ethnic violence for a successful democracy to live with.
  • There is no doubt that the degeneration of politics in India and the values it has engendered have infected the country’s public institutions. 
  • Contemporary Indian society is still striving to promote social justice, economic progress and widespread political participation by adopting necessary reforms to modernize its social, political and administrative institutions.
  • infamous ‘national emergency’ (1975-77) is seen as the only interlude or rather a blot on our memoirs as a democratic regime as has been chronicled thus far.
  • The current stage of our development as a democratic state also experiences some hiccups mostly undermining our commitment to secularism like the Babri Masjid Demolitionin 1992, or the post-Godhra Riots in 2002
  • The major problems before India were linguistic problems, caste system, poverty and illiteracy. To add to them malnutrition and poor health conditions, poor housing, poor work capability, lack of occupational adaptability and an inadequate level of savings reflected the clear picture of India.
  • Corruption is one of the greatest challenges Indian democracy faces. The fact that it [corruption] has penetrated India’s entire political fabric has troubling implications for any democracy.

How can India strengthen its democratic system?

  • Volunteer for Election Watches: We need people for various activities during election watches, like: data entry, interacting with election officers, etc. 
  • Strengthening media role to avoid yellow Journalism
  • high time that locals participate and build a transparent and healthy democracy,
  • Its democracy requires much improvement — particularly in strengthening government institutions, curtailing repression, and lowering income inequality. 

General Studies – 3

Topic: Indian economy; Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

5) The US economy is driven by consumption and the Chinese economy is driven by production, the Indian economy is driven by trade and services. To which category does Indian start-ups belong to? Discuss their strengths and weaknesses. (200 Words)


As traders and service providers ,India’s strength lies in its aspirational workforce that is hungry to learn new skills ,assimilate new cultures and go beyond national boundaries.A closer observation at the industry would reveal that the Indian Startup scene is mostly about software driven businesses rather driven hardware driven.Ola,Flipkart and uber are all internet or software based firms

Entrepreneurs and investors in tech startups are no exceptions to this rule.Their natural inclination is to import technologies and export products ,import funds and export companies and to become service providers for big foreign firms.


  • In the last five years the economy has witnessed significant rise in the number of start-up companies, which is still growing. In fact over $6.4 billion has been invested into Indian startups in the first three quarters of last year.
  • This shows immense pool of talent available in India with stupendous entrepreneurial zeal and an innovation attitude.
  • Indian Startups have the ethos of not being afraid to fail.They are smart technologists.They create well built products and India is also a very good test market too.
  • Also, the diverse cultural and sound economic base makes India a great platform for the start-up segment.
  • With regards to liquor industry, India shows immense potential for startups (new companies), as it is one of the fastest growing market, the third largest in the world after Russia and China.
  • The main strengths or the key advantage startups have are mainly, big ideas with a strong vision, low paid up capital, quick growth, competitive pricing, small team that allows for it to be less bureaucratic.
  • With a buoyant vision startups in India has a very prosperous future ahead, with overall growth of the economy this segment is bound to grow.
  • With government’s initiatives incredible support is available for the startups strengthening them further:
    • Start-up India: The government recently launched a ‘Start-up India’ programme giving incentives and relaxing compliance requirements for startup companies. This has demonstrated that the government is realising the need for supporting start-ups and is giving them time and attention.
    • Start-up fund: As part of the ‘Start-up India’ programme, the government has also announced a Rs10000-crore fund for innovation-driven enterprises.
    • Private investment: Start-ups with viable business ideas are doing well with the help of private funding and their leaders’ entrepreneurial spirit, and not with huge incentives from the government.
    • Ease of business: The government’s recent efforts to increase the ease of doing business have helped start-ups as well as other companies.


  • Man power:
    • Scarcity of proper talent is a big problem faced by the entire sector today, which is a big hurdle in the growth of path of any startup.
  • Gestation period for break-in period:
    • Startups work on funding and because of long gestation period it delays the next phase of investments which adds up more worries.
  • Lack of proper infrastructure:
    • Unavailability or lack of proper infra-facility pose a great threat to the growth of this sector.
  • Diverse market and stiff competition:
    • Complexity of the market coupled with stiff competition is a big factor for dissuading the entrepreneurs to close their enterprises.
    • Additionally, particularly in the liquor industry, the absence of any uniform, harmonized excise policies or labelling regulations hinders the growth of start-ups in this segment as it increases the complexity in the trading environment
  • One major issue faced by start-ups in the country is that of funding and guidance in the proper direction. The government can firstly help them in getting streamlined with the introduction of new reforms and laws in their favour.
  • It indeed does lag, there is lack of real innovation.All the current “startups” are in someway or the other just copy of a company already in some other part of the world. Ola example here, it’s almost equivalent to Uber (Uber was founded on 2009, and Ola in 2010), same goes for Flipkart / Amazon
  • The cautiousness about the markets and adapting the products accordingly would be the two issues that the Indian startups face .Another weakness is related to the awareness of the opportunity.
  • Recent trends:
    • first it was Flipkart investors de-valuing their investments.
    • Now Zomato, taking a hit with one of the I-Banks – devaluing its valuation by as much as 50%.
    • Other smaller players have either shut shop or pivoted to new models.
    • the TinyOwl saga or how Pepper Tap fired most of its staff and pivoted to a pure logistics play.
  • Marketing ≠ discounting:
    • Most start-ups are guilty of falling for this trap. Instead of marketing the USPs, convenience factor, problem they are solving – most of the communication is directed and focused towards how cheap the offering is. There are multiple issues with this approach:
      • Customer is being trained to expect a discount every time he books a service/buys a product from you.
      • Internally your employees increasingly get convinced that only way to sell is to discount our offering(s). This also leads of lack of trust in your own employees in your product.
      • Rising discounts leads to higher burn which forces companies to cut corners on the fulfilment side. This becomes a vicious cycle.
    • Be transparent and over communicate:
      • Most start-ups lag in this aspect.
      • Most employees are left to draw their own conclusions through the unofficial channels which does more damage to any start-up than anything else
    • Weak ecosystem:
      • India lags far behind several nations in terms of ecosystem and culture that nurtures startups.
      • Indian laws and policies are not suited to meet  development needs of start-ups, which vary greatly from that of traditional businesses.
      • Also, government, regulatory and compliance authorities have limited understanding of newer business models, resulting in redundant compliance requirements, delays in clearances, etc.
    • Limited influence: 
      • Start-ups are often less influential in representing their interests before relevant authorities, primarily as those are small companies with limited approach in the government and no political connections, linkages or lineages.
    • High failure: Start-ups have a very high failure rate. Many such companies come up with new business models that have no proven track record.

What is needed?

  • Easy entry:
    • Government must make efforts towards creating a single window for all taxes, compliances and registrations, so that the startup companies can put more time and effort in attending to business concerns rather than on administrative matters.
  • Easy exit:
    • Government must create policies that help winding down companies in organised manner with safe exit to the promoters, so that people are not discouraged from taking up entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Fund of Funds:
    • The details of the recently-announced Rs-10000-crore fund are keenly awaited. The detailed policy must ensure seamless implementation of this funding process.
  • Tax sops to supporting ecosystem: 
    • Since the startups do not benefit from the initial tax sops due to losses in their early years, the government must help by providing tax breaks to the supporting ecosystem, such as Incubators and Accelerators, Angel Investors, and organisations providing skilled manpower.
  • Smart infrastructure:

 Good infrastructure is as important for the startups as for other organisations or people. The government must focus on developing smart cities, providing internet, data connectivity, and enabling incubator facilities, apart from the traditional facilities such as logistics, roads and ports connectivity, etc.

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

6) Recently India successfully tested a reusable launch vehicle. Examine its significance for India’s space commerce. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


The Hindu


  • The ISRO successfully tested the country’s first winged body aerospace vehicle and steps towards developing a reusable launch vehicle capable of sending spacecraft into orbit and returning to the earth’s surface
  • The technology when developed completely would launch spacecraft including satellites into space and re enter the earth’s atmosphere withstanding extreme pressure and heat conditions and land in an intended spot helping to cut costs on launch vehicles substantially.
  • Three objectives were met:
    • To test the characterization of the aero thermo dynamics of hypersonic flights
    • To test the autonomous mission management of hypersonic vehicles
    • To test necessary re entry technology for the vehicles
  • With this the ISRO joined the race to develop a space vehicle that can fly numerous times into space like aeroplanes by successfully conducting the maiden test flight of a reusable Launch Vehicle technology.The organization will be testing its first ever indigenous space shuttle which will add it to the list of the few nations that have achieved such a feat.
  • In this flight critical technologies such as autonomous navigation,guidance and control,reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated.
  • The RLV-TD that ISRO flew is the first step in an Indian effort to develop a Two stage To orbit (TSTO)fully reusable vehicle.The hypersonic flight experiment (HEX)will be followed by a landing experiment (LEX),a return flight experiment (REX) and a scramjet propulsion experiment(SPEX)in the coming days
  • Though manned space flight is the ultimate goal of RLVs the major advantage of development of an RLV is the reduction in the cost of space launches and space travel itself
  • And other ways being considered are cheaper steel and reusable boosters on the GSLV.

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

7) Recently in India, Quercetin, a naturally occurring compound in several fruits and vegetables was in news. Write a note on the application and significance of the compound for health sector. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Application and significance:

  • Anti cancer:
    • Quercetin known to cause anti cancer and anti inflammatory activity reportedly induces apoptosis ,a process by which cells commit suicide in a controlled manner
    • The compound also prevents multiplication of cancerous cells by blocking the process of cell division.It can even kill the highly aggressive leukaemia cell line K562,which is resistant to most anti cancerous drugs
    • Quercetin treatment significantly reduced the size of the cancerous tumour in the experimental animals
    • Quercetin was found to have no adverse effects on the non cancerous cells even while killing the cancerous ones ,including in the experimental animals
  • Supports Normal Respiratory Health:
    • When respiratory system is irritated redness and swelling can result from the release of histamines and Quercetin has been reported to have an antihistamine effect
  • Supports cardiovascular health:
    • Studies have shown that the consumption of flavanoids specifically Quercetin offer a two fold benefit in promoting overall cardiovascular health
    • First it encourages blood flow.
    • Secondly researchers have observed that Quercetin’s antioxidant action protects against LDL cholesterol oxidation
  • Promotes balanced blood pressure
    • In addition to supporting cardiovascular health Quercetin naturally promotes balanced blood pressure.
  • Offers protection against stress:
    • When body is stressed,it produces cortisol.
    • When stress levels are high and ongoing,cortisol can daage uscle tissue leading to protein breakdown in the body.
    • Quercetin can fight these effects during times of extended stress as it suppresses the enzyme necessary for cortisol release.
  • Offers nutritional support for overall health
  • Quercetin has antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects which might help reduce prostate inflammation.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Moral thinkers

8) “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Discuss the relevance of quote  to present Indian society. (150 Words)