Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 March 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 March 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 :  Role of women; Social empowerment

1) Do you think maternity benefits alone will be enough to bridge India’s gaping gender gap in the workforce? Critically discuss. (200 Words)



The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organised sector.

The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:

  • Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two childern.
  • 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’.
  • Facilitate’ Work from home’.
  • Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.


  • Maternal care to the Child during early childhood – crucial for growth and development of the child.
  • The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.
  • Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.
  • In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.


  • World Economic Forum’s global gender gap rankings forced India from 108 last year to 87 in 2016.
  • In 2012, which is the most recent data available, only 27% of Indian women worked compared to 55% in OECD countries and 63% in East Asia. This deficit shaves off an estimated 2.5 percentage points from the country’s gross domestic product every year.
  • Worse still, India is one of the few countries where women’s participation in the workforce has actually fallen—the International Labour Organization reported last year that female participation declined from 34.1% in 1999-00 to 27.2% in 2011-12.

The proposed initiatives can be beneficial in bridging the gender-gap in the following ways:
1. It will reduce the number of occasions where women had to give up employment due to unreasonably short maternity leave periods.

2. At the same time, it will ensure better upbringing of the child as the mother can now devote more attention to him/her, in the context of upbringing.
3. Also, these benefits are assumed to boost the morale of women, especially those working in the unorganized sector, even if it is in the form of untied cash transfers, and not formal leave periods.


Considering the gravity of problem its hard to think that only maternity benefit will help in bridging gender gap in India due to following factors like:-

  • Complex interaction of social and economic factors:- adequate number of jobs which could easily absorb women workers especially in the rural areas, has not been created.even if there were jobs available, women didn’t always take them up because household incomes were rising anyway and they had no incentive to step out. There is the long list of barriers that women face in accessing employment opportunities, such as the risk of exploitation particularly in the informal sector, the lack of wage parity, concerns regarding safety and security
  • India’s problem is not just about ensuring women return to the workforce after childbirth but in bringing women into the workforce in the first place.
  • Proposed reforms in maternity leave and others don’t cover unorganized sectors where


Gender gap in Indian Workforce is a multi-dimensional phenomenon.

In order to address it multipronged strategy to bring out legislative reforms like wages parity, enhancing gender budgeting, aggressively engaging grass root level NGOs to encourage women to join workforce is needed.


Topic : changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2) What are the major sources of freshwater and ocean pollution? Discuss the measures needed to be taken to clean oceans. (200 Words)

ICSE Class 9 Environmental Science


Freshwater pollution is the contamination of inland water (not saline) with substances that make it unfit for its natural or intended use. Pollution may be caused by fecal waste, chemicals, pesticides, petroleum, sediment, or even heated discharges. Polluted rivers and lakes are unfit for swimming or fishing; polluted water is unsafe to drink.

Major reasons for fresh water pollution:-

(a) Domestic Waste Water and Sewage:

It includes water-borne wastes derived from household activities such as bathing, laundering, food processing and washing of utensils. Domestic waste contains garbage, soaps, detergents, waste food, paper, cloth, used cosmetics, toiletries and human excreta. This waste water which is known as sewage, is the largest primary source of water pollution.

A major ingredient of detergents is phosphate. When discharged into water, phosphate supports luxuriant growth of algae, called algal blooms. These produce offensive smell and choke the water bodies.

(b) Industrial Waste:

Most of the rivers and fresh water streams which pass near the major cities, townships or other human dwellings are polluted by industrial wastes or effluents. You may spend some time studying Table-ti.1 which lists some of the major Indian rivers and the corresponding industry(ies) polluting them. Some of the common industries are paper industry, textile and sugar mills, distilleries and thermal power plants among others. The kinds of effluents generated by industries are also numerous. The paint and varnish industries produce aromatic long-chained hydrocarbons, textile industries put out various dyestuffs and metal salts which are used as mordants. The other industrial effluents contain a host of pollutants such as oils, greases, plastics, metallic wastes, e.g., copper, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, acids, alkalis, cyanides and chlorides, produced by various industries.

(c) Agricultural Waste:

It includes the following types of waste: manure, and other wastes from farm and poultry houses, slaughterhouse waste, fertilizer runoff from croplands, harvest wastes, pesticides, and salt and silt drained from irrigated or eroded land. These wastes enter waterways as .runoff from agricultural lands. You have read in Unit 8 that if a water body receives fertilizers (phosphates, nitrates) or manures, the water becomes rich in nutrients leading to eutrophication and oxygen depletion.



Ocean pollution is caused by numerous industrial and domestic activities, which include oil spills, garbage dumping, sewage and factory-waste disposal and the use of toxic pesticides. These activities pollute the oceans through drains, rivers and direct dumping. According to All Recycling Facts, land-based activities account for more than 80 percent of ocean pollution. 

Following are major causes / sources of marine pollution:

(a) Oil:

It is a sea-based pollutant which is probably worst of the pollutants of the ma­rine environment. Oil in the marine environment comes from a variety of sources. These include natural submarine seepage, natural decay of marine plant and animal life, shore based industries and transport activities, off-shore drilling wrecked oil tankers and other ships, and discharges from ships which pump out cargo and ballast tanks with sea water.

(b) Wastes Disposal:

Wastes are often divided into two major categories, i.e. domestic and industrial wastes Domestic wastes include domestic sewage, wastes from food process­ing detergents and run of from agricultural areas. Industrial wastes include heavy metals, radioactive nuclides, inorganic chemicals and heated water.

Measures for keeping marine water clean:-

  • Regulation of oil spills, through greater safety measures and in-built safeguards for the navigating vessels.
  • Strict rules, and their enforcement, concerning littering on the beaches.
  • Regular clean-up of accumulated stock of non-biodegradable wastes, especially plastics, possibly through international co-operation and collaboration.
  • Strict implementation of Coastal Regulation Zones rules and their periodic upgradation
  • Geo-Tagging of oil containers and Oil ships
  • Implementation of Marpol convention of IMO to demarcate areas as ‘special’ and ’emission control’ and Low suphur content fuels.
  • Polluter pays principle- It could mean that tanker owners should have to take out insurance that covers the cost of oil spill cleanups.
  • Biotic intervention through phytoremediation, mycoremediation and mycofiltration
  • Regulating deep sea mining and strict environmental standards to be maintained .
  • Aggressively involving local communities as part of conservation strategies.


Topic : changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

3) What do you understand by thermal inversion? Examine how it impacts air quality. (200 Words)

ICSE Class 9 Environmental Science

Temperature OR thermal inversion, is a reversal of the normal behavior of temperature in the troposphere, in which a layer of cool air at the surface is overlain by a layer of warmer air. (Under normal conditions, temperature usually decreases with height).


  • Inversions play an important role in determining cloud forms, precipitation, and visibility.
  • An inversion acts as a cap on the upward movement of air from the layers below. As a result, convection produced by the heating of air from below is limited to levels below the inversion. Diffusion of dust, smoke, and other air pollutants is likewise limited.
  • In regions where a pronounced low-level inversion is present, convective clouds cannot grow high enough to produce showers.
  • Visibility may be greatly reduced below the inversion due to the accumulation of dust and smoke particles. Because air near the base of an inversion tends to be cool, fog is frequently present there.
  • Inversions also affect diurnal variations in temperature. Diurnal variations tend to be very small.

Ideal conditions for temperature inversion-

  • Long nights, so that the outgoing radiation is greater than the incoming radiation.
  • Clear skies, which allow unobstructed escape of radiation.
  • Calm and stable air, so that there is no vertical mixing at lower levels.


(1) Temperature Inversion in Intermontane Valley (Air Drainage Type of Inversion) –



  • Sometimes, the temperature in the lower layers of air increases instead of decreasing with elevation. This happens commonly along a sloping surface.
  • Here, the surface radiates heat back to space rapidly and cools down at a faster rate than the upper layers. As a result the lower cold layers get condensed and become heavy.
  • The sloping surface underneath makes them move towards the bottom where the cold layer settles down as a zone of low temperature while the upper layers are relatively warmer.
  • This condition, opposite to normal vertical distribution of temperature, is known as Temperature Inversion.
  • In other words, the vertical temperature gets inverted during temperature inversion.
  • This kind of temperature inversion is very strong in the middle and higher latitudes. It can be strong in regions with high mountains or deep valleys also.

(2) Ground Inversion (Surface Temperature Inversion) –

  • A ground inversion develops when air is cooled by contact with a colder surface until it becomes cooler than the overlying atmosphere; this occurs most often on clear nights, when the ground cools off rapidly by radiation. If the temperature of surface air drops below its dew point, fog may result.
  • This kind of temperature inversion is very common in the higher latitudes.
  • Surface temperature inversion in lower and middle latitudes occurs during cold nights and gets destroyed during daytime.

(3) Subsidence Inversion (Upper Surface Temperature Inversion) –


  • A subsidence inversion develops when a widespread layer of air descends.
  • The layer is compressed and heated by the resulting increase in atmospheric pressure, and as a result the lapse rate of temperature is reduced.
  • If the air mass sinks low enough, the air at higher altitudes becomes warmer than at lower altitudes, producing a temperature inversion.
  • Subsidence inversions are common over the northern continents in winter (dry atmosphere) and over the subtropical oceans; these regions generally have subsiding air because they are located under large high-pressure centers.
  • This temperature inversion is called upper surface temperature inversion because it takes place in the upper parts of the atmosphere.

(4) Frontal Inversion (Advectional type of Temperature Inversion ) –


  • A frontal inversion occurs when a cold air mass undercuts a warm air mass and lifts it aloft; the front between the two air masses then has warm air above and cold air below.
  • This kind of inversion has considerable slope, whereas other inversions are nearly horizontal. In addition, humidity may be high, and clouds may be present immediately above it.
  • This type of inversion is unstable and is destroyed as the weather changes.

Economic Implications of Temperature Inversion –

  • Sometimes, the temperature of the air at the valley bottom reaches below freezing point, whereas the air at higher altitude remains comparatively warm. As a result, the trees along the lower slopes are bitten by frost, whereas those at higher levels are free from it.
  • Due to inversion of temperature, air pollutants such as dust particles and smoke do not disperse in the valley bottoms. Because of these factors, houses and farms in intermontane valleys are usually situated along the upper slopes, avoiding the cold and foggy valley bottoms. For instance, coffee growers of Brazil and apple growers and hoteliers of mountain states of Himalayas in India avoid lower slopes.
  • Fog lowers visibility affecting vegetation and human settlements.
  • Less rainfall due to stable conditions.


Temperature inversions have a major impact on air pollution and air quality. There are two types of inversions–permanent and surface–each corresponding to a different impact.

Permanent Inversions –

Permanent temperature inversions occur high above the surface of the planet. In regard to air pollution, the most important of these is the stratosphere. The stratosphere sits atop the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere and home to the majority of all weather. The stratosphere’s temperature inversion impacts global, long-term air pollution.

Surface Inversions –

Surface temperature inversions occur directly above the earth’s surface, in the lower troposphere. They’re frequently triggered by rapid surface cooling, caused by the release of radiant energy overnight. These inversions are also frequent during the winter months, when nights are long and the sun, low on the horizon, heats the atmosphere more than the planet’s surface. Surface inversions impact local, short-term air pollution.

Atmospheric Effects –

  • Temperature inversions affect air pollution because they change the dynamics of air movement.
  • Warm air rises in the atmosphere because it’s less dense and, therefore, more buoyant than the cooler air above it. This tendency to rise is what creates the vertical development found in thunderstorms.
  • However, a temperature inversion prevents this vertical movement, also known as convection.
  • Stated differently, inversions function like an atmospheric lid or blanket. This smothering effect traps air pollutants and allows their concentrations to increase.

Air Pollution Effects –

  • Surface inversions are responsible for producing smog, trapping the pollutants produced by vehicles, fires and industrial activities.
  • Furthermore, the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides present in these trapped pollutants are converted into harmful ozone by sunlight, which results in reduced air quality.
  • The stratosphere’s inversion traps pollutants within the stable layer, something that typically occurs when greenhouse gases are injected high into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions. Without the vertical mixing provided by convection, these gases remain suspended within the inversion layer – resulted in a long-term impact on the global climate.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

4) Critically comment on the problems being faced by Indian diaspora in the US. What steps should be taken by Indian community and the Indian government to address problems that are being faced by the diaspora now? (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu


The recent instances of shooting in USA, in which one Indian was injured, and two had to lose their lives, has once again brough to public focus the problems faced by the Indian community in the country.


Indian Diaspora accounts for 1% of America’s population(3 million). US is the 2nd most popular destination for Indians. Indians occupy many important political as well as business positions. However, time and again, they were subject to varied types of racial discrimination. The instances of hate crimes are increased further after election of Trump.

Problems being faced by diaspora-

  • Social – Xenophobic attitude of certain sections of population, hate-crimes against Indians leading to deaths of many innocent Indians, inability to adjust by some Indians (Cultural Shock).
  • Economic – Tough immigration policies have led to home-coming of many Indians, fear of losing jobs (due to policy of Protectionism).
  • Mistaken Identity – Indian – Muslims and Sikhs, are often confused for Iranian/Arabs by locals and are unduly targeted.

Steps to be taken –


  • Integration, Mainstreaming – Increase participation in civic organizations, and raise/fight for local issues that affect all citizens to further harmony with local population.
  • Stop discriminating among themselves and other ethnic diaspora (Eg- Hindus for Trump org.), instead fight in unity against racial discrimination.
  • Awareness and protective measures under sensitive conditions and localities.


  • Bargain for relaxation of H1B visa norms (Merit-based recently), and job security of Indians currently working in US while emphasizing contribution of diaspora to US economy.
  • Request US to strengthen anti-discrimination laws as embodied in Bill of Rights, and make strategic diaspora evacuation policy from conflict areas in emergency conditions.
  • Opportunities at home – the availability of world-class education and employment opportunities to all strata of society within our country itself, will lessen pressure to seek jobs abroad.
  • Allowing flexible norms for US universities to open their campuses in India, higher collaboration with US in sectors like higher education, IT services.


The ‘Land of Immigrants’ needs its varied diaspora which has facilitated it to become one of the most powerful nations of the world. Demagoguery played by local leaders have instigated hatred again and again. Indians should stop being ‘silent sufferers’ and become more proactive in socio-political sphere.


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

5) What are the salient features of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Recently the draft rules of this new law were made available to the public for comments. Critically comment on these rules. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Disability is more of the mental construct than the physical impairment. The varied nature of differently abled people should be taken as a human diversity and accepted as a just another dimension of human nature. This kind of understanding and its right implementation will lead to true egalitarian society.

The 2011 Census put the number of disabled in India at 2.68 crore, or 2.21% of the population. This gross underestimation, especially in the light of the proposed amendments has greatly widened the current Census definition of disability.

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016:

  • The Bill makes a larger number of people eligible for rights on the grounds of their disability. The rights include reservations in government jobs and welfare schemed among others.
  • The revision to the Disability Bill recognizes acid attacks and Parkinson’s disease as disabilities.
  • The amendments to the Disability Bill also make a particular mention of the requirements of women and children with disabilities. It also makes sure that the people with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 promises 5 per cent reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities.
  • Bill is expected to eliminate any kind of discrimination against people with disabilities. It defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction on the basis of disability damaging the exercise on an equal basis of rights in the political, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

The Act has categorized Persons with Disabilities into three categories:

  • Person with disability
  • Person with benchmark disability
  • Person with disability having high support needs

While “person with disability” is defined as “a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with barriers, hinders his full and effective participation in society equally with others”; “person with benchmark disability” means “a person with not less than forty per cent of a specified disability where specified disability has not been defined in measurable terms.

Special Courts will be designated in each district for providing speedy trial.

Salient features of the bill are:

  • The bill is gender sensitive and thus put forth the principle of equality and justice.
  • The Bill makes a larger number of people eligible for rights and entitlements by reason of their disability, and for welfare schemes and reservations in government jobs and education.
  • Bill lays down specific provisions on the guardianship of mentally ill persons.
  • The amendments include private firms in the definition of ‘establishments’, which previously referred to only government bodies. All such establishments have to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with barrier-free access in buildings, transport systems and all kinds of public infrastructure, and are not discriminated against in matters of employment.
  • The Bill also allowed the central government to notify any other condition as a disability.
  • Bill proposes for a “universal identity card for the disabled”, similar to an Aadhar card to mitigate inter-state disparity in disability entitlements.
  • Provisions supplement  the ongoing ”Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan” of the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities

Lacunae in the rules of this law:

  • The act do not provides for the time limit to obtain disability certificate from government authority.
  • The proposed amendments do away with the provision in the 2014 Bill for strong National and State Commissions for Persons with Disabilities, with powers on a par with a civil court. They instead continue with the status quo of having only a Chief Commissioner with far fewer powers.
  • 2014 version made violation of any provision of the Act punishable with a jail term of up to 6 months, and/or a fine of Rs 10,000. Subsequent violations could attract a jail term of up to 2 years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh. The amended Bill, however, proposes to remove the jail term entirely, and only keep fines for breaking the law or discriminating against persons with disabilities.
  • The amendments, if passed in their present form, will dilute safeguards provided in the originally proposed Bill. The 1995 law had 3% reservation for the disabled in higher education institutions and government jobs — 1% each for physically, hearing and visually impaired persons. The 2014 Bill raised the ceiling to 5%, adding 1% each for mental illnesses and multiple disabilities. The proposed amendments cut the quota to 4%.
  • Sensitizing people to the needs of the pwd is also equally important to affect a social change. Adequate funds need to be allocated to ensure broad social acceptance.
  • It’s ironic that the rules, a public document on the department’s website, are not published in an accessible format for differently abled people.
  • Disability welfare is under state list, so efficacy of the implementation can be done effectively when states are enabled for it.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

6) Examine why government’s many policy initiatives to improve pulses production have failed. Suggest solutions to improve pulses production. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Pulses occupy a unique place in India’s nutritional food security as they are major sources of proteins for common masses. Pulses contain 22%-24% protein, almost twice the amount of protein available in wheat and thrice that of rice. Pulses supplement the staple cereals in the diets with health-sustaining ingredients viz. proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. 

For agriculture too, it has several unique features viz.

  • Pulses grow on a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. They are better suited in different farming systems, such as crop-rotation, mixed and inter-cropping system. Being legumes help fixing atmospheric nitrogen into soil and release soil-bound phosphorus.
  • Most pulse crops are of short duration which facilitate growing second crop on the same land in a year.
  • Pulses as industrial crops provide raw material to industries, such as  dal industry, roasted grain industry, papad industry etc.
  • They serve as rich source of nutritious fodder for cattle.
  • More importantly, pulses have low carbon emission and low water needs which make them ideally suited in India’s farming system.
  • Despite having such high suitability for both consumers and agriculture, performance of pulses in Indian agriculture has been abysmal.

Reasons for failure of governments policy initiatives to improve pulses production-

  • Farmers have not been incentivized sufficiently to grow more pulses, and on a larger irrigated area. The minimum support price (MSP) has been woefully low compared to wheat and rice which discouraged farmers from growing pulses. The Shanta Kumar Committee Report on the subject had focused on why the government needs to revisit its MSP policy. It had said MSP is announced for 23 commodities but effectively price support operates primarily in wheat and rice and that too in selected states. This creates highly skewed incentive structures in favour of wheat and rice.
  • Exports in pulses are restricted by government which has hampered profitability of farmers.
  • Low or no import duties on pulses have made Indian farmers to face international competition in pulses.
  • Most of the schemes like National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Accelerated Pulses Production Programme (A3P), 60000 Pulses and Oilseeds villages, enhancing Breeder Seed Production are fraught with the problems like lack of sufficient funding, absence of proper implementation mechanisms, lack of farmer’s participation etc.
  • Government could not provide sufficient irrigation facilities to farmers across the country. Only about a sixth of the total cultivated land under pulses has irrigation facilities and the Kharif pulse crop is mostly rainfed.

Measures to provide pulses production-

  • Government can give farmers a level playing field by removing restrictions on the functioning of free markets. Abolishing bans or restrictions on exports of all pulses is one way. If farmers can get a better price by exporting, they should be permitted do so, especially when the system cannot even guarantee them MSP and imports are open.
  • Introducing all pulses in futures trading. This way, farmers will get price signals well in advance. They should take planting decisions based on likely future prices, not last year’s market prices. They should be forward-looking, not backward-looking. This will be in sync with markets and can reduce the risk of planting decisions.
  • Stepping up government procurement at MSP by engaging even private agencies, to build a buffer stock of at least 2 MMT.
  • Imposing an import duty of 5-10 per cent to give a cover to farmers in post-harvest months.
  • Pulses production is not prioritized. Instead of an endless cycle of wheat and rice cultivation, farmers should be encouraged to do crop rotation – pulses also bring benefits to soil besides helping the alarming depletion of the water table in these states.
  • The government needs to take more steps to curb hoarding of this scarce commodity, which is the easiest source of vegetarian protein to large swathes of Indians, specially the poor.
  • Research on improving quality and productivity should be encouraged in agricultural institution.
  • Initiatives like E-NAM (Electronic National Agriculture Market) should be strengthened and promoted for the better price for farmers.


Pulses form the important part of the diet of large sections of population. Without increase in production and productivity of pulses there could be no real national food security. Thus self-sufficiency in pulses should be top priority for the government of India.