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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 May 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) India is set to draw on the lessons from the strong public transport system in place in London. Discuss the features of London’s public transport system and what lessons India can learn from this system. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- London has an extensive and developed transport network which includes both private and public services. Journeys made by public transport systems account for 25% of London’s journeys while private services accounted for 41% of journeys. London’s public transport network serves as the central hub for the United Kingdom in rail, air and road transport.

Public transport services are dominated by the executive agency for transport in London: Transport for London (TfL). TfL controls the majority of public transport, including the Underground, Buses, Tramlink , the Docklands Light Railway, London River Services and the London Overground. Other rail services are either franchised to train operating companies by the national Department for Transport (DfT). TfL also controls most major roads in London, but not minor roads. In addition, there are several independent airports operating in London, including Heathrow, the busiest airport in the United Kingdom.

India is set to draw on the lessons from the strong public transport system in place in London — where over 1.3 billion journeys take place every year — under an MoU between Transport for London (TfL) and India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

  • It will involve sharing expertise on the mobility and efficiency of India’s transportation systems, as well as around logistical issues such as planning and delivery.
  • It will also cover TfL’s experience in ticketing, providing information, financing and infrastructure maintenance work, as well as promotion of the use of public transport, delegation members said. Other areas of cooperation in the future were likely to include innovation around buses, including electric buses, and the use of water transport in urban centres.
  • While sometimes a source of disgruntlement for London’s residents, the city’s transport system is considered one of the best equipped in the world, deploying a wide range of options from the Underground train network to an extensive bus network, the Dockland Light Railway, trams, ferries and even a cable car. 
  • Urban transport solutions alongside wider infrastructure development are worth to learn and implement to answer India’s mushrooming urbanisation.
  • Road safety, including for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Britain’s strict and transparent system for issuing drivers’ licenses


General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance,

2) It is said that the NITI Aayog should learn from India’s planning history and given equal importance to both planning process and the strategic plan itself. Do you agree? Discuss. (200 Words)


Introduction :- NITI Aayog or the National Institution for Transforming India (Aayog is Hindi for “commission”) is a Government of India policy think-tank established by the Narendra Modi government to replace the Planning Commission which followed the top-down model. The stated aim for NITI Aayog’s creation is to foster involvement and participation in the economic policy-making process by the State Governments of India. The emphasis is on bottom-up approach and make the country to move towards cooperative federalism .

Indian planning process critical analysis:-

An inappropriate process of formulating a strategic plan can have a number of undesirable effects which adversely affect the quality of the plan and even more so the quality of its implementation.

The national planning experience in India clearly illustrates the dangers of faulty processes, which led to progressive disenchantment with the plan, and eventually culminated in the demise of the Planning Commission in 2014.

There has been a tendency in recent years to treat the development strategy followed by India as an undifferentiated continuum, with little substantive variation from plan to plan.

The national planning experience in India is most instructive in terms of the processes that were employed and their impact on the effectiveness of the plans


NITI Aayogs expected role in planning and how it can go for it :-

  • The NITI Aayog has been charged with developing a 15-year Vision, a seven-year Strategy and a three-year Implementation framework. Although expectedly the term “plan” is scrupulously avoided, it is quite obvious that planning is back.
  • The first thing that is quite clear from this experience is that no good strategic planning can ever occur in the absence of a challenging and well-articulated vision. A good vision statement must have three critical characteristics:
  • It must capture the imagination of the nation so that all stakeholders feel that it is an end worth working towards.
  • It should be seen to have full political commitment especially at the highest level.
  • It must force the strategic thinkers and technocrats to go beyond mere extrapolations.
  • Devising a strategy to attain the vision is possibly the most difficult part of the planning process. This is particularly so when the vision encompasses multiple, seemingly unrelated, objectives. In a country as large and diverse as India, this has pretty much always been the case.
  • The first step is conceptualising the strategic approach, which is a creative act linking the objectives, the constraints and the instruments in a manner which sub serves the attainment of the vision. The second is to subject the conceptual strategy to tests of internal consistency and feasibility. This is a technical process which quite often requires developing new analytical frameworks.
  • The process of formulating and implementing the strategic plan has to be designed in such a manner that it inculcates a sense of ownership and commitment among the lower tiers of the organisation.
  • There are two other equally compelling reasons why the process is important. The first is information: different tiers of an organisation have information which may not be available in other tiers. The second is accountability: no tier of the organisation should be able to claim that it does not bear some responsibility for failure.
  • There are three dimensions which need to be taken into account while designing an appropriate process of strategic planning and implementation. The first is consultation. It has long been established that a major factor in inculcating ownership is a sense of participation.
  • The second dimension is decentralisation. No matter how well designed the consultation process, it cannot either elicit or utilise the variety of detailed information that exists within the organisation.
  • The third dimension is feedback, which is not so important in actually designing the strategic plan itself, but is crucial to the “learning” and redesigning process.

Conclusion :-

The main learning from this experience is that the NITI Aayog needs to devote as careful thought to the planning process as to formulating the strategic plan itself. This is not a technical exercise, and involves a deep understanding of people and of organisational behaviour. Some of the features of this process can be summarised as:

  • The Prime Minister should articulate the broad vision for the country, and not merely endorse a suggestion put up by the bureaucracy.
  • The NITI Aayog should work out the components of this vision in terms of the objectives and targets, and obtain full support of the Prime Minister. It may also be desirable to place these before the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog for its endorsement.44
  • The broad strategy for attaining the expanded vision should be worked out within the NITI Aayog, keeping in mind the interrelationships and synergies that may exist among the various objectives. This strategic plan should confine itself to strategy and not extend itself to detailed design, which should be left to the lower tiers. This involves laying out the objectives, the targets, the time path and the resources. All else is detail, which is best done by others.
  • In framing the implementation or action plan, the NITI Aayog should clearly specify which interventions should be designed and controlled by the central ministries and which should be left to the state governments with only financial support from the centre.
  • In the course of formulating the strategic plan, there will inevitably be serious differences of opinion between the NITI Aayog and the ministries/state governments. These differences need to be resolved before the strategic plan is finalised. The resolution can only be done at a level higher than that of the Aayog, and this role has to be played by the chief executive officer (CEO).
  • Last, but not the least, the NITI Aayog should consciously guard against developing hubris, which inevitably leads to micro-prescriptions—the bane of the erstwhile Planning Commission.

Extra information:-

Functions of NITI Aayog :-

  • To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in the light of national objectives
  • To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government
  • To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy
  • To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress
  • To design strategic and long term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy. The lessons learnt through monitoring and feedback will be used for making innovative improvements, including necessary mid-course corrections
  • To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  • To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  • To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  • To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders
  • To actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and initiatives, including the identification of the needed resources so as to strengthen the probability of success and scope of delivery
  • To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives
  • To undertake other activities as may be necessary in order to further the execution of the national development agenda, and the objectives mentioned above


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy envisions an overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to foster trade and enter new markets. Examine its features and implications for China and India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) and The Belt and Road (B&R), is a development strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China, the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and the oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR). The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs, and the desire to coordinate manufacturing capacity with other countries in areas such as steel manufacturing

silk route china

What is the Belt and the Road?

The strategy aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa, particularly the developing East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic regions at the other. The Belt refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt which comprises three overland routes: connecting China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe; linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The Road refers to the 21st century Maritime Silk Road designed to push trade from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.

Implications for China

  • China is obviously going to benefit from the “Belt and Road Initiative,” but what is unclear is to what extent. Critics said that Beijing is going for a bigger role as a global superpower. With this in mind, having a direct link to major countries may not only boost its economic power, but also its political clout in both the Western and Eastern hemisphere.
  • Also, many of China’s production sectors have been facing overcapacity since 2006. The Chinese leadership hopes to solve the problem of overproduction by exploring new markets in neighbouring countries through OBOR. The OBOR initiative will provide more opportunities for the development of China’s less developed border regions.
  • China also intends to explore new investment options that preserve and increase the value of the capital accumulated in the last few decades. OBOR has the potential to grow into a model for an alternative rule-maker of international politics and could serve as a vehicle for creating a new global economic and political order.
  • China has cash and deposits in Renminbi equivalent to USD 21 trillion, or two times its GDP, and expects that the massive overseas investment in the OROB will speed-up the internationalization of the Renminbi.
  • OBOR is also seen as a strategic response to the military ‘re-balancing’ of the United States to Asia.
  • China can also benefit from the New Silk Road project through other means like the easing up of growth of state-owned enterprises as well as an increase in the Chinese people’s income.  

Implications on India :-

  • From Indian perspective the entire proposal has to be seen in the context of broader geo strategic implications for India particularly in the Indian Ocean.
  • The strategic objectives of MSR raise questions of Chinese real intentions. China has steadily expanded its influence in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea by building ports in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and helping build Sandia Deep Sea port in Bangladesh apart from other Indian Ocean littoral engagements through a strategy generally referred to as String of Pearls.
  • Scenario is accentuated by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka pledging support to President Xi Jinping’s MSR initiative as part of the overall Asian Security Plan.
  • Given the emerging scenario, concerns in New Delhi are that countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could be further drawn into the Chinese orbit. One of the reasons for the regional outreach of the Modi government is to prevent such a potentially disturbing development by restabilising Indian credibility with its neighbours.
  • Indian Ocean is largely seen by Indian political and strategic establishment as an area of Indian domination and influence. Just like the Chinese, India needs to protect its core areas of interests such as trade, economy and resources driving the outreach of India’s maritime interests.

However there are some positive implications for Indians as well :-

  • Chinese railways, highways, ports and other capacities can serve as catalysts and platforms for sustained Indian double-digit growth. Simultaneously, India can focus on developing last-mile connectivity in its own backyard linking to the OBOR — the slip roads to the highways, the side tracks to the Iron Silk Roads.
  • Currently, India has neither the resources nor the political and economic weight to put in place competitive and alternative connectivity networks on a global scale. Therefore, for the time being, it may be worthwhile to carefully evaluate those components of the OBOR which may, in fact, improve India’s own connectivity to major markets and resource supplies and become participants in them just as we have chosen to do with the AIIB and the NDB.  


General Studies – 3

Topic:  Indigenization of technology and developing new technology

4) As India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, is in its final stage of construction at the Cochin Shipyard. Discuss its significance for India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

About INS Vikrant-

  • INS Vikrant (IAC-I) is the first aircraft carrier built in India and the first Vikrant-class aircraft carrier built by Cochin Shipyard (CSL) in Kochi, Kerala for the Indian Navy. The motto of the ship is Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah which is taken from Rig Veda and is translated as “I defeat those who fight against me”.
  • The carrier is 262 m long, 62 m at the widest part and with a depth of 30 m minus the superstructure. There are 14 decks in all, including five in the superstructure.
  • It features a Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery(STOBAR) configuration with a ski-jump. The deck is designed to enable aircraft such as the MiG-29K to operate from the carrier. It is expected to carry an air group of up to thirty aircraft, which will include up to 24–26 fixed-wing combat aircraft, primarily the Mikoyan MiG-29K .
  • The naval variant of the HAL Tejas was rejected by the navy on Dec 2, 2016 for being overweight. Besides carrying 10 Kamov Ka-31 or Westland Sea King The Ka-31 will fulfill the airborne early warning (AEW) role and the Sea King will provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.
  • Vikrant is powered by four General Electric LM2500+gas turbines on two shafts, generating over 80 megawatts (110,000 hp) of power. The gearboxes for the carriers were designed and supplied by Elecon Engineering.
  • Once operational, Vikrant is going to sport a gender-sensitive living environment and infrastructure, with provision to accommodate eight women officers. The ship will then accommodate 1,645 personnel in all, including 196 officers.
  • For now the Navy has only one carrier, INS Vikramaditya , contracted from Russia under a $2.3-billion deal and inducted into service in November 2013.INS Viraat was recently retired from service after cumulatively serving the British and Indian Navies for over 50 years. In that line, when the new INS Vikrant joins the Navy sometime after 2020, it would be the fourth aircraft carrier to defend India’s shores. Each of these carriers has grown in size, capability and sophistication adding more teeth to Navy’s power projection.
  • The first Vikrant displaced 20,000 tonnes and operated a mix of Westland Sea Kings, HAL Chetak and Sea Harrier jets. Viraat displaced 28,500 tonnes andVikramaditya displaces 45,400 tonnes. The new Vikrant will displace 40,000 tonnes.

Significance for India-

An aircraft carrier is a command platform epitomising ‘dominance’ over a large area, ‘control’ over vast expanses of the ocean and all aspects of maritime strength. It makes India only the fifth country after the US, Russia, Britain and France to have such capabilities of developing indigenous aircraft carrier.

  • In support of Land Battles-

During the 1971 operations for liberation of Bangladesh, the aircraft onboard INS Vikrant was employed very successfully to strike strategic targets deep inside the erstwhile East Pakistan. It is important to note that as long as much of India’s land boundary (stretching from north-west to north-east) remains disputed, the potential of a border conflict, and thereby the likelihood of such a need, will persist. Thus the new Aircraft carrier would give strategic advantage to India in case of future conflicts.

  • Security of Sea-Lines of Communication

In the event of a military conflict, a carrier is the only naval asset that can provide a comprehensive protection to merchant shipping carrying strategic commodities to India. The Indian naval chief recently expressed apprehensions on the future vulnerability of energy imports through the Strait of Hormuz due to China’s strategic “foothold” in Pakistan’s Gwadar port. 

Like Gwadar, many other locations (“pearls”) in the Indian Ocean littoral dispersed along the arterial shipping routes bear a similar potential. Owing to the ongoing diversification of energy sources away from the Persian Gulf area, these distant Security of Sea-Lines of Communication (SLOCs) and thereby Aircraft carriers are also assuming strategic significance for India.

  • Maintaining Influence in IOR:

India’s security is directly linked to and closely enmeshed with that of the Indian Ocean and the adjoining littoral region (IOR)—the area of its primary strategic interest. The Chinese “pearls” in the Indian Ocean, besides addressing Beijing’s strategic vulnerability in terms of its energy imports is likely to be aimed at “displacing” India’s influence in the IOR.

A possible Chinese politico-military intervention in the region will seriously impinge on India’s security. In that sense, a aircraft carrier like Vikrant can best bestow on India a capability to maintain its influence in these waters and achieve a strategic “dissuasion” against any inimical extra-regional power.

  • Safeguarding Vital Interests Overseas:

Carrier aviation will enable India to safeguard its strategic interests overseas, not only in the IOR but also beyond. India’s economic/strategic stakes are conspicuously increasing in Afro-Asian states, many of which are plagued by political, socio-economic and ethnic instabilities.

Besides, many Indian citizens are working in these countries, and past events have amply demonstrated how their lives and property can be jeopardised. New Delhi will need to safeguard these interests in conjunction with the host nations. When the operational situation so warrants, it may be preferable to carry out precision air-strikes to “soften” the target before inserting ground forces, since to do otherwise may lead to avoidable casualties.

  • Security of Island Territories:

Integral naval aviation is essential for defence of India’s far-flung island territories, particularly the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N) that lie more than 1,000 km from the Indian mainland. These islands are also extremely vulnerable due to their geographical spread, and the fact that most of these are uninhabited.

The possibility of foreign military occupation or claim may be unlikely in the foreseeable future, but cannot be ruled out altogether. The take-over of the Falklands Islands by Argentina was also considered a remote possibility until it actually occurred in 1982. By all indicators, high-value naval/air assets are unlikely to be based in the A&N Islands. This makes the aircraft carrier indispensable, even as a deterrent.

  • Non-military Missions:

 Although the concept of a carrier is essentially centred on its military role, such a platform would substantially increase India’s operational options to respond to a natural disaster in the regional seas or littoral. While it has begun inducting large sealift platforms with integral helicopters like the INS Jalashwa Landing Platform Dock (LPD), a disaster of a large magnitude may necessitate the employment of a carrier.

Akin to a floating city, a carrier like Vikrant can provide virtually unlimited sealift, substantial airlift and all conceivable essential services ranging from freshwater to electric supply, and medical to engineering expertise. There is an effort to further enhance the usefulness of a carrier for such roles, such as by incorporating a modular concept. It incorporates modular spaces/containers carrying specialised personnel, engineering equipment, medical facilities, etc., which can be rapidly deployed for specific missions.


Not the least important is the employment of a carrier like Vikrant to fulfill the politico-diplomatic role of the navy. The large platform is an awesome symbol of national power. Its overseas missions and port-calls, when used with prudence and in a non-threatening pose, can yield intangible, but substantial, dividends to the country.


Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

5) Discuss critically the arguments made against government’s war on naxalism. (200 Words)



Left-wing extremism or Naxalism has emerged as most pressing problem for internal security of India. The movement which begun from the Naxalbari village of the West Bengal and engulfed more than 8 states in India. While casualties are high on both side of the warring factions, the inadequate attention has been provided to the true nature of the Naxal issue and government’s response to it.

Arguments made against the government’s war on Naxalism-

  • The government claims that it is fighting the “left-wing extremists” to extend the rule of law and constitutional order in the areas of left-extremist influence. But the official refrain is replete with words and phrases like “war-like” situation, “military operations,” “area domination” and “road opening party.” The police have been hounding lawyers, reporters, and social and political activists who have come to aid and assist the local Adivasis accused of “Naxal offence” and dumped in Bastar’s overcrowded jails.
  • The government forces in the Bastar region number around 80,000 whereas the Maoist guerrillas, men and women, are a mere 4,000, outnumbered in the ratio of 1:20. What is happening in Bastar is a “sub-conventional war,” being fought between the forces of the Indian state and the Maoist-led guerrillas, with the former not only fighting the latter, but also targeting civilian Adivasis as well as anyone who comes to their aid. So the reality is that the government is fighting a war against a section of its own people wherein the rules of war do not apply and the rule of law does not prevail.
  • If we ask what are the respective politics of the Maoists and the government in pursuit of which this war is being prosecuted? The official answer is that the government is trying to bring “development” and the Maoists are bent on obstructing it. By “development” the government means building roads through the forests, providing schools and health facilities, etc.
  • But there is no evidence that Maoists oppose anything other than roads, because roads ease the movement of government troops. Also present government has also brushed aside the community forest rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 by allowing private corporations to violate those rights in the course of their coal-mining operations in northern Chhattisgarh.
  • Besides, unfettered road construction through the forests has led to their degradation and an erosion of the forest cover, as in the Saranda forests in Pashchimi Singhbhum where the CRPF set up 17 paramilitary camps followed by the entry of mining corporations for the conduct of open-cast iron-ore mining.


Surely, most of us would want this war to end, but for this to begin to happen, we must probe the reason for the anger of the Adivasis of Bastar and elsewhere. We also need to understand why these Adivasis have placed their trust and confidence in the Maoists to lead the resistance to the grabbing of their lands and forests? Perhaps, the proposal for a 10-year moratorium on mining and industry in Scheduled Areas, mooted by former Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh in 2013, could be a good way to begin to address the reality which the government has determinedly been evading.