Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 February 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 February 2017

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

General Studies – 1;

Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies

1) A new study has found that India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world. In this light, critically examine why India’s air pollution problem is worsening while China, USA and some of the European countries have shown progress in containing pollution. (200 Words)

The Hindu

A report issued jointly by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health effects of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a population health research center in Seattle has revealed some important statistics-

  • About 1.1 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution.
  • India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015.
  • Air pollution has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Although deaths caused by air pollution grew to 4.2 million in 2015 from 3.5 million in 1990, the rate of increase of about 20% was slower than the rate of the population rise during that time. That is because of improved healthcare in many parts of the world, as well as public policy initiatives undertaken in the U.S., Europe and other regions that reduced emissions from industrialization.
  • China also offers an encouraging sign. Premature deaths from particulate matter each year have stabilized at around 1.1 million since 2005, the report said.

Causes of such high air pollution in India-

  • Suspended particles of size PM 2.5 are released particularly from diesel engines, and by industry, thermal power plants as well as from natural sources like dust.
  • Fireworks during the festival of Diwali contribute to hazardous levels of air pollution in urban areas and its major reason of air pollution in the city of Delhi.
  • Smoke from the farm fires of Punjab and Haryana contributes about one quarter of the levels of the most dangerous air pollution in the Indian capital.
  • Fuel wood and biomass burning is the primary reason for near-permanent haze and smokeobserved above rural and urban India, This form of fuel is inefficient source of energy, its burning releases high levels of smoke, PM10 particulate matter, NOxSOxPAHs, polyaromatics, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants.
  • Adulteration of gasoline and diesel with lower-priced fuels is common in India. Some adulterantsincrease emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles, worsening urban air pollution
  • Most of the cities generate thousands of tonnes of municipal solid waste, much of which is eventually burned; adding particulate pollution to the air and galloping urbanization brings massive construction projects to the area adding huge dust particles to the surrounding.

Air pollution is worsening in India particularly because-

  • Weak environmental regulation in India leaves India’s citizens with few alternatives other than to petition the courts to take action to protect the public’s health. But the courts often lack the power or mechanisms to enforce their actions.
  • Rapidly increasing urbanization activities like construction and increase in vehicle density are hampering the efforts of pollution control by government.
  • India is still dependent on thermal power sector for most of its energy requirement causing release of large number of NO2 and SO2 pollutants.
  • Micro, Small and medium enterprises or industries engaged in manufacturing follow little rules and regulation about pollution control.
  • India is yet to move towards Bharat stage norms 5 and 6 which are equivalent to the Euro norms 5 and 6 respectively from BS 4. This is limiting the pollution control efforts in India.

On the other hand countries like USA, Europe and China are showing improvements because adoption of stringent norms like Euro 6 for controlling fine particulate matter, increasing use of electric vehicles, using advanced technologies for solid waste management, moving towards clean energy and following best practices for manufacturing.

Way forward for India-

Government needs to encourage use of clean fuels and renewable energies by incentivizing citizens. Eg. Subsidizing higher technology required for BS 6 and electric vehicles, promoting LPG gas in rural areas etc.

Adopting stringent norms for sugar, brick making and other manufacturing industries to check their pollution at the initial stage itself.

Use of advanced technologies for solid waste management and dust problems of construction sector would enhance the quality of air in urban areas.

National green tribunal and Central pollution control board should be invested with greater regulating powers for effective implementation of its order as courts cannot intervene every time.

Steps like adopting Odd-Even policy, new Air Quality Index are steps in right direction. They increase the citizen awareness of the citizens which are greatest stakeholder in fight against pollution.

General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,

2) In your opinion, what lessons should public servants and citizens should learn from the recent Supreme Court judgement in the State Of Karnataka v. Selvi J.Jayalalithaa & Others case? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Recently supreme court in the case State Of Karnataka v. Selvi J.Jayalalithaa has convicted J Jayalalitha, V K Sasikala and other accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act. V.K. Sasikala must now go to prison for four years, and for six years more she cannot stand for election. 


With the single stroke of the pen Supreme Court has restored the faith of common masses into the judiciary and once again made it clear that no person however high in position can twist the thread of justice.

Lessons for public servant-   

  • Professional accountability- The verdict highlights that public servants are accountable to citizens. They have to discharge their duties for the benefit of the society and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  • Integrity- The judgment once again highlights that holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organizations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
  • Openness and Transparency- Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  • The judgment stresses that there is no room for arbitrariness in the decision making by civil servants and all the decisions should be taken objectively and impartially.

Lessons for citizens-

  • Equality before law and Equal protection of law- Judgment signifies that all citizens rich or poor, official or non-official are subjected to same set of law and are liable for same punishment. There is absence of special privileges for any class of citizens.
  • The judgment would encourage citizens to raise their voice against corruption of civil servants and politicians.
  • At present government controls the variety of activities concerning citizens. In the absence mechanism for checks and balance government can become corrupt and authoritarianism. The judgment has increased in the minds of citizens the faith on judiciary that can oversee and check corrupt politicians.
  • The judgement has helped to increase the awareness among people about political activities. It would surely make people to think twice before electing corrupt leaders or politicians.


It is true that judgement has brought justice for Indian democracy, it should be noted that politicians or persons in power can easily exploit the loopholes of the law dragging the case for years and sometimes for decades. Thus there is need to ensure speedy and effective justice by reforming criminal justice system.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

3) Recently, the Commerce Ministry sent a note to the Cabinet proposing a blanket ban on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tobacco sector. How will this move affect tobacco industry and foreign companies in the sector? What other measures should India explore to better achieve the objective of reducing tobacco consumption and be less investment-restrictive as well? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Extent of tobacco problem in India-

  • India has the world’s second-largest population of smokers after China — more than 100 million people — and more than a million tobacco-related deaths each year. In 2011, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare estimated that the economic costattributable to tobacco use had reached $22.4 billion, more than the central and local governments spent on health care that year. Yet in India, unlike in the U.S. and Europe, the number of smokers continues to grow. And fewer than 5 percent of adult smokers in India ever quit.
  • Bidis in 2009 accounted for 85 percent of smoked tobacco in India. Bidis have lower tobacco content than cigarettes, but morenicotine, tar and carbon monoxide making it more deadly.
  • About 20 million children of ages 10–14 are estimated to be tobacco-addicted according to a survey done by the National Sample Survey Organization of the Indian Government. To this astounding figure, about 5500 new users are added every day, making two million new users every year

Probable impact of blanket ban on FDI in tobacco sector-

  • Such a move would make tobacco giants like Philip Morris International (PMI) to challenge blanket ban on FDI under Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT).
  • This would reduce the inflow of foreign capital and investment towards tobacco industry. In the immediate sense it may render people engaged in this sector unemployed.
  • Indian tobacco companies in collaboration with foreign tobacco companies would also suffer financially.
  • This would also hamper any move of tobacco giants to find innovative ways for more refined and less hazardous tobacco for smoking.
  • Such move unintentionally may help thriving of domestic players and Bidi factories which are more dangerous and hazardous for health.

Measure to be adopted by India-

There are no clear evidences that how prohibiting FDI through licensing arrangements, etc. would help reduce tobacco consumption. Domestic players could occupy the market freed up by foreign players. The real reason behind mushrooming tobacco industry is the demand of tobacco products in India. Thus first step to reduce tobacco consumption is to reduce its smokers.

  • Adolescents and children are the prime targets of the tobacco industry when recruiting new smokers. Hence there has to be strict regulation in selling tobacco products around schools and colleges. Regular workshops should be conducted in educational institutions to create awareness about tobacco hazards. The government along with NGO’s and social activist should undertake active drive to de-addict already addicted persons.
  • The plain packaging of cigarettes could prove helpful rather than putting blanket ban on FDI. The WHO’s  Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) does not contain any provision on banning FDI as a means to reduce tobacco consumption, it specifically talks about countries adopting packaging and labeling requirements to create better awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption. Also, banning FDI in tobacco manufacturing in 2010 did not show many improvements. On the other hand, studies from Australia show that smoking rates plunged by 12.2% after plain packaging regulations were introduced.
  • Measures that proved very effective in the developed world, like tax increases on all tobacco products, need to be enforced immediately and the taxes collected should be used to support health promotion and tobacco control programmes.
  • India needs strong political will and policy making decisions to ensure proactive legislation reducing the consumption of tobacco.
  • Also pictorial warnings covering 85% area as ordered by Supreme Court may discourage and desist new smokers.
  • Awareness campaigns through social media, newspapers, TV promoting healthy lifestyles and highlighting hazards of tobacco should be organized.


India′s tobacco problem is very complex, with a large use of a variety of smoking forms and an array of smokeless tobacco products. Sustained efforts are needed from the Government to strengthen efforts to wipe out tobacco menace and to give alternative employment to those who may render jobless in fight against tobacco.

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. 

4) In the international context, foreign “aid” has been shown to create a number of adverse effects.  What are these adverse effects? Is ‘aid’ whether from foreign countries or from centre to states, good for India?  Critically examine. (200 Words)


Foreign aid, in theory should improve lives and raise people out of poverty, leading to sustainable growth and development. The unfortunate truth, however, is that foreign aid has often presented more challenges than opportunities to aid recipients.

Adverse effects of the foreign aid-

  • Aid perpetuates resource dependency, in the sense that since revenues are being provided from outside, recipient countries may fail to or have little incentive to develop their own tax bases or their institutions. And it is institutions that have been found to be critical for growth, much more than overall resource availability.
  • Foreign aid could increase the amount of money in the country that could spur inflation and appreciate domestic currency leading to erosion of export profit and reducing import competitiveness. The phenomenon is also called as Dutch disease.
  • Increased corruption- One of the most frequent criticisms of foreign aid is how it fuels rampant corruption in the countries that receive it.
  • Tendency of governments to become anti-democratic- As aid flows in, citizens of the recipient countries effectively become dis-enfranchised as increasingly all their governments need to do to stay in power is to court and cater to foreign donors. Such governments have less of a need to raise taxes, and as long as they pay their army and security apparatus well, they can be relatively relaxed about the views and opinions of their disgruntled people.
  • Increased Bureaucracy- The economic environment that created aid bureaucracies has therefore built unproductive organizations that define their output as money disbursed rather than service delivered, produce many low-return observable outputs like glossy reports and “frameworks” that can be used to justify their spending and put enormous demands on those with scarce administrative skills in poor countries who could otherwise be engaged in doing something useful.

In Indian context-

Role of domestic aid-

Domestic aid is also called as Redistributive Resource Transfers,” (RRT)—as gross devolution adjusted for some benchmark for the normal resources a state can expect to receive, which we define as the state’s share in aggregate gross domestic product (or alternatively as a state’s share in own tax revenues). Thus, RRT are transfers over and above states’ contribution to GDP (or taxes) and serve as a useful, if imperfect, measure of “aid”.

Higher RRT in Indian context seem to be associated with:

  • Lower per capita consumption
  • Lower gross state domestic product (GSDP) growth
  • Lower fiscal effort (defined as the share of own tax revenue in GSDP)
  • Smaller share of manufacturing in GSDP
  • Weaker governance
  • Populist policies by central government for political benefit.

Role of foreign aid-

  • Foreign aid could help in building critical infrastructure required for faster and inclusive growth. Eg Projects financed by World Bank like Uttarakhand health system and development project, Bihar rural roads project. Also projects like dedicated freight corridors are financed by World Bank and Japan.
  • Foreign aid could also help in alleviating large scale poverty and illiteracy in India.
  • In an emerging economy like India where tax payers and tax resources are yet reaching to threshold level, the foreign aid can meet the short term need of the capital which India can repay once her own resources generating capacity rises.      

But at the same time there are adverse effects of foreign aid as mentioned earlier. Thus India needs to be careful in accepting foreign aid and should be judicious in its use.


Clearly, the “solution” cannot be to dispense with domestic aid or RRT altogether, since in a federal system the Centre must play a redistributive role because it will always have to redirect resources to under-developed states. Rather, the Centre will need to ensure that the resources it redistributes are used more productively.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Government budgeting; Conservation

5) Critically comment on the budgetary approach to environmental protection in India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction- India has committed to ambitious emission reduction cuts in its INDC’s which demands special allocation of funds towards mitigating environmental issues, and boost alternative energy resources making gradual move towards sustainable development.

Although budget 2017-18 has witnessed 19% rise in funds for environment ministry over the last year, experts are skeptical about effective management of resources.

Positive aspects of provisions-

  • Increase in funds- Increase of about 19% funds in overall allocation to environment ministry.
  • New dimensionsCertain aspects like Solid waste disposal, biodegradable plants at Delhi and Jaipur, improved management of water resources and forestry have been included in the budget.
  • Increased cess- Clean energy cess on coal, peat and lignite has increased to 400 rupees per tonne and it has been renamed as ‘Clean Environment cess’.
  • The Project Elephant, which was also launched to conserve the jumbos across the country, got an increase in its allocation in 2017-18 with Rs 27.50 crore in comparison to last fiscal when it was allotted Rs 25 crore.

Negative aspects of provisions-

  • Lack of cohesive approach- Even as the issues of forest management, resource conservation, pollution control and wildlife protection are manifest to be increasingly interconnected, they are treated in isolation with attention paid only at the macro-level.
  • While there has been an increase in allocation to the MoEFCC but funding for renewable energy forms, solar use in rural areas, etc. has been reduced. The pluses of additional funding have been offset by paltry efforts at consolidating environmental conservation.
  • Budget has “refrained” from stepping up allocations towards meeting India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) commitments on renewable energy, energy efficiency and additional carbon sequestration through the forestry sector.
  • Underutilization of allocated fund in centrally sponsored core scheme (project Tiger and Project Elephant) and other transfers to the State and UT also reflects the flaws in monitoring and regulating spheres.
  • In light of the increasing challenges faced by environment in India, budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Environment under various heads is palpably inadequate. Even as climate change and increasing pollution have been matters of great concern, a measly sum of Rs. 40 crore and Rs. 74.30 crore have been allocated to the Climate Change Action Plan and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), respectively. Similarly, heads of environment and ecology, coastal management, environmental monitoring and governance, National Afforestation Management have received low funds.


Indian environment and wildlife is fraught with the problems like mindless propulsion of industrial growth at the cost of environment, disappearing wildlife, increasing conflicts, deterioration of ecology and habitat destruction. For this, scientific, sustained and intensive measures of conservation are required. A small step in this regard would be to acknowledge the role of the environment in budgetary allocations and ensure rational dedication of funds.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world,

6) What do you understand by human dignity? What is its relationship with rights? Also examine Emmanuel Kant’s views on human dignity. (150 Words)

Class XI NCERT Political Science, Political Theory, Chapter – 5

Human dignity-

It is an idea that propagates human being has an innate right to be valued, respected, and to receive ethical treatment. It has the quality of self-respect that is worthy of esteem.

Eg. Poverty has been greatest violator of human dignity particularly in developing countries like India. Thus providing basic amenities in health and education and employment would serve to maintain the dignity of an individual.

Relationship between Human dignity and rights-

“Human Dignity is the Basis of Fundamental Human Rights. In fact one of the ground on which rights have been claimed is that they represent conditions that we collectively see as source of self-respect and dignity.  Rights denote what we are entitled to as citizens, as individuals and as human beings. It is something that due to us and rest of the society must recognize as being a legitimate claim that must be upheld. Thus if there are no rights or no legal provisions to upheld rights, human dignity is bound to get violated and trampled either by powerful individuals or even by state apparatus. Authoritarian and despotic states care little for people’s dignity. Thus fundamental human rights are included in most of constitutions to preserve human dignity. Hence human rights are the prerequisite of human dignity.

Emmanuel Kant’s views on Human dignity-

“Human beings unlike all other objects possess dignity. They are for this reason valuable in themselves”. This thought had made a deep impact on Kant. For him it meant that every person has dignity and ought to be so treated by virtue of being a human. A person may be uneducated, poor or powerless. He/she may be dishonest or immoral. Yet he/she remains a human being and deserves to be given some minimum dignity.

For Kant to treat people with dignity was to treat them morally. This idea became a rallying point for those struggling against social hierarchies and for human rights.

Kant’s views represent what is called the moral conception of rights. This position rests upon two arguments. First we should be treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Second we should make sure that we don’t treat the other person as means to our ends. We should not treat people as we treat a pen, a car or a horse. This is we should respect people not because they are useful to us but because they are after all human beings.

Topic:Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

7) Migration of people to different regions within the country is often resisted by the local inhabitants. In the light of recent events in the United States, critically examine on what ethical and legal basis such policies against immigrants could be proven as discriminatory and unethical. (150 Words)

Class XI NCERT Political Science, Political Theory, Chapter – 6

The huge territorial extent, diversity and employment opportunities in United States of America provide impetus for global and regional migration. However local people often resist the migration of people on basis that it would hamper their own growth, opportunity and culture. In India too such kinds of tendencies have been witnessed in the past and can prove harmful for its future.

Ethical basis-

  • Different region and urban areas like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru etc provides outlets for potential of citizens. Thus by placing restriction on internal migration would deprive citizens from exploring their talent and capabilities.
  • Migration provides for intermingling of cultures which further increases tolerance among people for other’s culture. This also makes people to respect different cultures and promotes peace and harmony. The restriction may fuel the local nationalism and may create divide between different regions.
  • Discrimination on the basis of region, language or religion may encourage hatred among citizens.

Legal basis-

  • Constitution of India provides explicit provisions for migration as a fundamental right. Thus placing unnecessary restrictions on regional migration would violate these provisions.
  • Immigrants bringing skills and talent enrich the existing resources of the region. They also pay taxes and follow laws which entitle them security from state.


 The migration of people from one region to another has been one of the main reasons behind the economic and technological advancement of any region in the world. Thus we have to devise a policy which would promote interests locals and satisfy aspirations of migrants.

Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world,

8) Differentiate between nationalism and pluralism. Discuss Tagore’s critique of nationalism and its relevance today. (150 Words)

Class XI NCERT Political Science, Political Theory, Chapter – 7

Nationalism is a complex, multidimensional concept involving a shared communal identification with one’s nation. It is oriented towards gaining and maintaining self-governance, or full sovereignty, over a territory of historical significance to the group. Nationalism is further oriented towards developing and maintaining a national identity based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals and/or a belief in a common ancestry. Nationalism therefore seeks to preserve the nation’s culture and often involves a sense of pride in the nation’s achievements. In these terms, nationalism can be positive or negative. Sometimes under nationalistic zeal attempts are made towards imposing uniformity and sameness. In such conditions nationalism can prove antithetical of pluralism.

Pluralism is the recognition and affirmation of diversity within political boundaries, which permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions and lifestyles. Pluralism is connected with the hope that this process of conflict and dialogue will result in a quasi-common good. This common good is not an abstract value or set in stone, however, but an attempt at balancing competing social interests.

Hence Democratic nations should strive towards integrating both nationalism and pluralism into the society. No nation can survive if it to follow one-culture one-state policy under the name of nationalism. Thus national identity has to be defined in an inclusive manner which can recognize the importance unique contribution of all cultural communities within the state.

Ravindranath Tagore’s critique of nationalism and its relevance today-

“Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamond and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live” – Ravindranath Tagore.

He was very critical of the narrow expressions of nationalism that he found at work in parts of our independence movement. In particular he was afraid that the rejection of the west in favor of what looked like Indian traditions was not only limiting in itself but it could easily turn into hostility to other influences from abroad, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam which have been present in our country. 

Tagore’s criticism is very relevant today due to the new paradigm of emerging hyper nationalism and protectionism. This can be seen in the recent Brexit, US protests against Trump and other right wing movements which are against the broader ideals of humanity and brotherhood.

(Above THREE questions are part of our New Initiative, for Details and Timetable, Click Here)