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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 17, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 17, 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: Urbanization – problems and remedies; Indian geography 

1) It is found that the States along the Indo-Gangetic basin are registering higher level of air pollution in India. Discuss the causes, consequences and remedial measures. (200 Words)

The Hindu



  • Scientific studies point to distinct causative factors and atmospheric conditions in this part of the country that lead to very poor air quality
  • The States along the Indo-Gangetic basin register higher levels of particulate matter pollution due to
    • Weather Conditions:-
      • One of the reasons that particulate matter of the fine kind continues to remain in the air of Delhi, is that such particles are present in the air all over North India.
      • Due to better circulation in the summer (more sunshine and windier conditions than the winter) the pollutants are carried away from ground level to higher up in the air or by horizontal movements of air, that is, via breeze or winds.
      • So, rural areas receiving air from Delhi suffer the same effects that Delhi’s residents do—perhaps in a less severe manner.
      • A glance at any satellite image taken during the winter months of 2015 and 2016 will show a brown haze in the northindia.
    • problems with regulation:
      • India’s current command-and-control style of regulating is handicapped on both counts.
      • It mandates that industrial plants purchase expensive pollution abatement equipment and specifies common pollution standards across the board.
      • Because emissions reductions are much more costly for some plants than for others, these standards are excessively onerous for some and fail to compel the most cost-effective reductions.
      • There is a system of infrequent and unreliable monitoring by Regulators .As a result, expensive pollution abatement technologies that plants are mandated to install are not used efficiently.
      • Regualtors are not authorised to impose financial sanctions on the organisation not complying with the standards like  the successful clean air act of USA which enhanced environmental protection agency’s ability to levy large fines on environmental violators. 
      • Lack of awareness:
        • widespread information linking environmental impacts from pollution to health effects is currently lacking in India.
        • Many Delhi residents are unaware of the growing body of scientific evidencethat shows direct links between increasing automobile use and emissions of harmful PM2.5 emissions.
        • Also buying vehicles has become rampant because of increased quality of life everywhere people dont give much importance to public transport. 
        • There is no proper data available in public domain about the emissions released by polluters which trigger particulate matter in the environment even more


  • Health:
    • It is becoming clearer that there is a higher risk of premature death from respiratory and cardiac conditions in several districts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar, where living conditions are already difficult, and there is a large population suffering long-term exposure to PM{-2}{-.}{-5}and PM{-1}{-0}from a variety of sources, including household cooking.
    • It is strongly quantified through research that air pollution increases the risk of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart problems, lung cancer and other chronic ailments.
  • Economic:
    • To adhere to all these diseases huge expenditure is required .
    • In the light of government expenditure on health is hardly 1% of GDP and out of pocket expenditure is maximum household savings will be reduced.
    • Heavy burden on insurance industry.


  • A policy of mitigation should therefore aim to reduce the burning of solid cooking fuels and agricultural biomass, which takes place in the post-monsoon and winter seasons.
  • This requires a coordinated approach involving the Centre and the States, and enlightened welfare policies relating to improved cooking stoves, solar stoves and cooking gas, low-cost heating facilities and affordable shelter.
    • Example: effective implementation of PAHAL
  • One government-funded study by IIT Delhi suggests that if India could meet its target for PM{-2}{-.}{-5}levels of 40 micrograms per cubic metre which is not at all ambitious since the national average is about 37.3 over 44,000 premature deaths could be prevented annually.
  • It is important to curb the use of automotive fossil fuels, and promote public transport and non-motorised alternatives such as cycling and electric vehicles.
  • Urbanisation also needs to become green, with eco-sensitive administrations providing paved surfaces, wetlands, parks and trees.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms

2) Critically assess union government’s PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) scheme. (200 Words)


Positives :

  • PAHAL is the first actual roll-out of a scheme using the DBT approach for providing subsidies
  • With nearly 150 million registered beneficiaries, it is probably the world’s largest DBT programme ever. 
  • It is potentially a much better alternative compared to the PDS. DBT can cut clean from all the abuses of PDS. It has also proved to be popular with those beneficiaries who have had access to PAHAL.
  • The direct benefit transfer scheme (DBT) for LPG subsidy has resulted in considerable savings for the government. 
  • In the  survey by the Columbia university, as many as 95 per cent of LPG-deprived households cite their inability to pay as a barrier to their adopting LPG. Thus, the scheme is well-targetedto address the crucial impediment of a high upfront cost, which has limited the transition towards LPG use in poorer households for example ,the rural informal markets households who buy biomass via firewood and dung cakes end up paying more than those who rely on LPG.
  • can complement Jan dhan yojana in financial inclusion
  • Switching from 15kg cylinders to 5kg cylinders in rural areas will also help ease the cash-flow constraint for these households by reducing the outlay required for each refill.

Negatives :

  • It relates to the banking network, which is the backbone of the DBT system. In this system, subsidies are transferred to beneficiaries directly through their bank accounts. Hence, the system cannot work if the beneficiary does not have a bank account. Unfortunately, the Jan Dhan Yojana programme notwithstanding, banking penetration among the target beneficiaries is still quite limited, especially in rural areas
  • widely reported that bank staff are reluctant to cooperate in opening accounts, especially unprofitable ‘zero balance’ accounts, for poor customers. 
  • In rural areas, consumers have to fetch the LPG cylinders for long distances, often from delivery outlets located in other villages. This remains a major disincentive for adopting LPG as the cooking fuel of choice
  • The initial outlay required for getting an LPG connection, by way of deposit, cost of a burner, regulator, etc., is another disincentive for low-income households
  • LPG will remain an uncompetitive fuel alternative for about 50% of such households who continue to depend on firewood, cow-dung patties and other biomass that are essentially free. 
  • failure of exhortations to induce rich households to voluntarily surrender their subsidy claims.
    • The CEEW study estimates that the richest 15% of the population account for about 25% of the LPG consumer base. However, despite the much hyped ‘Give It Up’ campaign, only 3.6% of consumers actually gave up their subsidy claim.
  • cylinders continue to be diverted to the commercial market

Suggestions :

  • Union subsidies in turn account for only about a third of total subsidies provided by the Union and state governments taken together. Thus, DBT under PAHAL is just a beginning in using DBT as the medium for providing subsidies.
  • all villages can be served through the new payments banks and banking correspondents.
  • JAM trinity:
    • important step in cracking this problem is the linking of Jan Dhan Yojana with Aadhaar, the unique biometric identification system. 
  • In addition to integration of the Jan Dhan Yojana database with the Aadhaar database, DBT will require an aggressive awareness campaign
    • To overcome this constraint, the Ujjwala Yojana scheme has been initiated to provide free or subsidized connections to some 50 million poor households over the next four years at a total cost of about Rs.8,000 crore

Topic: Functioning of judiciary

3) Do you think that judicial activism or judicial overreach is crossing its limits in India? Critically comment. (200 Words)


Yes,it is crossing its limits:-

  • The Supreme Court’s specific directions not only violate the delicate balance of power enshrined in the Constitution but are also problematic because the judiciary has neither the expertise nor the resources to perform these functions in Delhi air pollution case specific directions it has given really pertain to the domain of the executive or legislature.
  • The court must not embarrass the administrative authorities and must realise that administrative authorities have expertise in the field of administration while the court does not.
  • With the executive, there is recourse. With the courts, there is none. 
  • Similarly, now with its order on the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), the court has ignored constitutional niceties. Tamil Nadu has passed a law that has received presidential assent on its right to conduct its own examinations.
  • 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 legislatureA

No,Judicial activism is needed:

  • The extraordinarily noble act of relieving helpless humans from the yoke of bonded labour might have heralded the era of public interest litigation. Similarly, the justifiable desire to prevent diversion of funds meant for development birthed the right to information.
  • The role of judicial activism in India has been to provide a safeguard to the common man and indigent against an insensitive system.
  • When executive fails to look into the matters needed, then court has to involve as seen with the recent drought plans where the states and even the centres attitude was questioned by many.
  • Avoid Misuse of art 356:There, the court did the honourable thing by countermanding the dishonourable conduct of the Union government.
  • NEET : medical education was getting increasingly commercialised and court had to involve.

There is broad separation of powers under the Constitution and each organ of the State i.e. the legislature, the executive and the judiciary must have respect for the others and not encroach into each other’s domain

Of the three organs of the state, only the judiciary has the power to declare the limits of jurisdiction of each. This great power should therefore be exercised by the judiciary with the utmost humility and self-restraint.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests; Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

4) Differentiate between Market Economy and Non-market Economy under WTO. Critically analyse fairness of anti-dumping measures. (200 Words)


Market vs non market economy under WTO:

  • The concept of NME is disconnected from the economic system adopted by a country, and this is reflected by the fact that some NMEs are members of the WTO (Cuba, for example); some Market Economies are still nonmembers of the WTO (Monaco, for example), and some members have not been qualified as either Market Economies or NME, and, therefore, have an unclear legal status (Cattaneo and Braga 2009). The decision remains mostly political. The best example is China: it has NME status with some WTO members and, simultaneously, a MES with others.
  • Within the WTO, transition economies are given Non-Market Economy (NME) status. In the case of China, its Protocol of Accession, signed in December 2001, allowed other country members to consider China as a NME until the end of 2016.
  • NME status made it a lot easier for importing countries to impose special tariffs on Chinese exports, in the form of anti-dumping duties

Fairness of anti dumping measures:


  • other procedural considerations make anti-dumping the preferred route for firms to obtain protection from their foreign rivals when times are tough.
  • The WTO does have a specific “safeguard” mechanism that enables countries to raise tariffs temporarily when imports cause “serious injury” to domestic firms.


  • anti-dumping measures are ill-suited to the task of addressing concerns about unfair trade not because such concerns are ungrounded, but because they go well beyond dumping.
  • Anti-dumping facilitates protectionism of the worst kind, while doing nothing for countries that need legitimate policy space.
  • But the procedural hurdles are higher for safeguards, and countries that use them have to compensate adversely affected exporters.
  • Since the WTO was established in 1995, more than 3,000 anti-dumping duties have been put in place (with India, the US and the EU being the heaviest users). The corresponding number for safeguard measures is a mere 155 (with developing countries being the heaviest users). Clearly, anti-dumping is the trade remedy of choice.

Topic: Functioning of judiciary

5) Recently, the Supreme Court directed parties to an ongoing civil litigation to each pay a fixed sum of money to enable them to have their cases heard, and potentially disposed of, at an early date. Critically comment on the objective and consequences of such a directive. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • Judgement is aimed at thwarting corporates from approaching the court for the settlement of mundane issues of little public consequence.
  • Recently Star India in a dispute concerning the ambit of broadcast and information rights for cricket matches approached the supreme court.



  • to reduce pendency and discourage litigation. 
  • Huge fines would fill the treasury of judiciary 


  • to seek pre-deposits with a view to prioritising a certain kind of case over another, by granting early dates of hearing to those that are capable of paying huge sums of money, is simply staggering.
  • It reinforces a scheme of classism that ought to have no place in any court of law.
  • would serve to deeply burden the ordinary litigant.
  • parties with the deepest pockets alone would have their cases heard on priority.
  • would tantamount to “an imposition of an inequality”, thereby making illusory some of the Constitution’s most cherished promises entrenched in the Preamble, of justice, social, economic and political, and of equality of status and of opportunity.


TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

6) Why does India want to become member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)? What are the hurdles it’s facing in becoming NSG’s member and how it can overcome them? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


  • India had made admission to the 48-member NSG a focus of its international outreach, though membership has been a goal since the India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement was signed in 2008.
  • Several major countries including the U.S., Russia, Germany, the U.K. and Australia have openly backed the bid, despite the fact that India is not a signatory to the NPT, widely considered to be a key criterion for NSG membership.

Why does India want to become member of the Nuclear Suppliers group?

  • settles international issues – in other words, a country that matters.
  • Perhaps inclusion in the NSG represents a step towards this dream. India already has a partnership arrangement with the suppliers group, and membership would advance its status as a nuclear weapons state.
  • Moreover, since the group operates on consensus, membership would give India a veto over decision making, including any decision involving Pakistan, which is not being considered for membership.
  • Balance of power-India’s strategic rival China is a member of NSG which gave him an upper hand in manipulating the geopolitics of Asia.The rise of India in this continent needs India to play important role in international platforms.
  • But it also runs the risk of exacerbating the regional nuclear arms race and straining Washington’s relations with Pakistan, given the latter’s natural inclination to respond to Indian gains in defense capabilities.

Hurdles its facing?

  • China’s announcement that it intends to oppose India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group unless it agrees to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).China’s stand is a combination of its fraught relations with India as well as its desire that its “all-weather friend” Pakistan not be disadvantaged in the process. 
  • it also points to failure on the part of Indian diplomats tasked with convincing China that admitting India to the NSG is the logical thing to do.
  • India might have to reckon with the possibility that NSG members could object to an “India-specific” ruling, and that other non-NPT countries, including Pakistan and Israel, may also benefit from any flexibility that is shown in India’s case.
  • There is a possibility that India could receive a “second class” membership, and not be considered a “nuclear weapons state” by the NSG.
  • membership of the NSG, a body set up specifically in response to India’s nuclear test in 1974, will eventually require India to curtail its nuclear weapons programme.
  • Pakistan:
    • If rules can be violated to further Indian interest then surely Pakistan could seek the same treatment.
    • And as far as Pakistan is concerned, bolstering India’s ego on the matter of the NSG or UN Security Council will only sow the seeds for more terrorism in the region.
    • Pakistan’s policy of using proxies to combat Indian influence in Kashmir and Afghanistan could reemerge if the power balance is decided in favor of India, leaving a vulnerable and cash-strapped Pakistan to fend for itself.
  • US role:
    • the Obama administration has been committed to supporting the bid but in contrast to the Bush  administration there is no urgency.
    • The U.S. has urged India to play a more proactive diplomatic role in persuading the hold-outs to support its membership
  • NPT:
    • non signatory countries like Austria,Newzealand etc show unwillingness,as here decisions are taken on the basis of consensus and not majority,so every smaller countries allowance is important.
  • Disagreement within the country-many groups within India is against the use of nuclear technology


  • more persuasive diplomacy is needed to bring around naysayers such as China from blocking New Delhi’s bid, much as was done to bring China on board to get India the NSG waiver in 2008.
  • For this, the government must begin an internal debate to appraise its own position on the NSG membership, and to figure out how far it is willing to go to secure it.
  • If India aims to be part of the elite NSG club, it must have a realistic idea of what the fee for full membership is, added to the diplomatic outreach required to win support from China. A full and transparent cost-benefit analysis is crucial.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights

7) Critically analyse the merits and demerits of India’s new IPR policy (200 Words)

The Hindu

National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy:

  • It will provide the future roadmap for intellectual property in India.
  • The Policy recognises the abundance of creative and innovative energies that flow in India, and the need to tap into and channelise these energies towards a better and brighter future for all.
  • The National IPR Policy is a vision document that aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies.
  • It sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review.
  • It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario.
  • This policy shall weave in the strengths of the Government, research and development organizations, educational institutions, corporate entities including MSMEs, start-ups and other stakeholders in the creation of an innovation-conducive environment, which stimulates creativity and innovation across sectors, as also facilitates a stable, transparent and service-oriented IPR administration in the country.


The Policy lays down the following seven objectives:

  • IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion– To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
  • Generation of IPRs– To stimulate the generation of IPRs.
  • Legal and Legislative Framework– To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest.
  • Administration and Management– To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration.
  • Commercialization of IPRs– Get value for IPRs through commercialization.
  • Enforcement and Adjudication– To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements
  • Human Capital Development– To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.


  • The aim was to create awarenessabout the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
  • The policy has been designed to lay stress on the need to facilitate entrepreneurship and enhance socio-economic and cultural development while also prioritising the need for better access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
  • The Policy recognizes that India has a well-established TRIPS-compliant legislative, administrative and judicial framework to safeguard IPRs,which meets its international obligations while utilizing the flexibilities provided in the international regime to address its developmental concerns.  It reiterates India’s commitment to the Doha Development Agenda and the TRIPS agreement.
  • These flexibilities include the sovereign right of countries to use provisions such as Section 3(d) and CLs for ensuring the availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.
  • An all-encompassing IP Policy will promote a holistic and conducive ecosystem to catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s economic growth and socio-cultural development.Such a Policy will nurture the IP cultureand address all facets of the IP system including legal, administrative and enforcement infrastructure, human resources, institutional support system and international dimensions
  • It lends strong words against theft and misappropriation of IP rights.
  • It offers an explanation of the decisions by courts and tribunals that might be seen as detrimental to foreign interests.
  • The new policy will try to safeguard the interests of rights owners with the wider public interest, while combating infringements of intellectual property rights.
  • By 2017, the window for trademark registration will be brought down to one month. This will help in clearing over 237,000 pending applications in India’s four patent offices.
  • It also seeks to promote R&D through tax benefits available under various laws and simplification of procedures for availing of direct and indirect tax benefits.
  • Unlike earlier where copyright was accorded to only books and publications, the recast regime will cover films, music and industrial drawings. A host of laws will also be streamlined — on semi-conductors, designs, geographical indications, trademarks and patents.
  • The policy also puts a premium on enhancing access to healthcare, food security and environmental protection.
  • Policy will provide both domestic and foreign investors a stable IPR framework in the country. This will promote a holistic and conducive ecosystem to catalyse the full potential of intellectual property for India’s growth and socio-cultural development while protecting public interest.
  • It is expected to lay the future roadmap for intellectual property in India, besides putting in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review. The idea is to incorporate global best practices in the Indian context and adapt to the same.


  • The IPR policy is driven by the agenda of IP maximalism, where IP owners’ rights will be maximised at the cost of public interest. This (policy) will influence courts and judges.
  • The policy represents an extreme excess in terms of its one-sided view of IP as an end in itself. And therein lies the greatest flaw. The policy fails to situate IP within the larger context of the innovation ecosystem, refusing to acknowledge that while IP could accelerate innovation in certain technology sectors, it impedes innovation in others.
  • It advocates that publicly funded scientists and professors must compulsorily convert all of their discoveries into IP assets, much before they have even written this up and published it in reputed science journals
    • their promotions be predicated on the number of IP applications made.
    • Benjamin Franklin ,J.C. Bose shunned patents owing to their potential to curb the free flow of knowledge.
  • The policy needs to be commended for taking note of our “informal” (rural) economy and the need to encourage the prolific creativity found within. Unfortunately, far from understanding the drivers of creativity and the modes of appropriation/sharing in this “shadow” economy, the policy leans towards the superimposition of a formal IP framework on this marginalised sector.
  • Lastly, much in line with its powerful IP rights-centric approach, the policy recommends that the unauthorised copying of movies be criminalised. No doubt Bollywood requires some protection from pirates, but criminalising what is essentially a civil wrong is too much not to mention the potential for abuse at the hands of our police.
  • Granted, India is lagging on several counts. When compared with its glorious past boasting pioneering innovations from the likes of Sushruta (the father of modern surgery) and Nagarjuna (metallurgy), India has hardly had any noticeable technological marvels in its recent history.

What can be done?

India must encourage a plurality of approaches when it comes to IP and innovation; Indian scientists should be free to take this call on whether or not they wish to register IP. Doing so for the mere sake of it is not fair and quite apart from the fact that on an empirical cost-benefit analysis, most U.S. universities lose more money on IP registrations than they make through IP royalties.


General Studies – 4

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship,

8) In your opinion, what does a non-partisan public service look like? Discuss. (200 Words)