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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 July 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) It is often argued that India needs directly elected and empowered mayors for all its big cities. Do you agree? Comment. (200 Words)



Going towards more Cooperative federalism with real spirit of democratic decentralization, the proposal to have direct elections to the post of Mayor is worth of public discourse. Being with the highest number of woman representatives at local government level, India has marched towards more and more decentralized and inclusive form of governance.


The 74th amendment to the constitution of India, gave the constitutional status to the urban local bodies. The States are allowed to have a flexible design to certain extent in order to enhance the efficiency of the administration and working of democracy at grass root level. Thus the variations occur among the states with respect to type of elections of Mayor Post. The Himachal Pradesh government introduced direct election to the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor.


The Mayor is the head of the Municipal Corporation, but the role is largely ceremonial as executive powers are vested in the Municipal Commissioner. The office of the Mayor combines a functional role of chairing the Corporation meeting as well as ceremonial role associated with being the First Citizen of the city. Per the amended Municipal Corporation Act of 1888, a Deputy Mayor is appointed by the Mayor. The tenure of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor is two and a half years.

Executive Officers monitor the implementation of all the programs related to planning and development of the corporation with the coordination of Mayor and Councilors.

Recent incidence:

Maharashtra cabinet approved a proposal for direct election of the village sarpanch, the head of the gram panchayat. An ordinance to this effect is in the pipeline. Earlier, the sarpanch was elected indirectly, by elected representatives. This step was discussed and thus it has been proposed that the criteria of direct elections should also extend to the municipal corporations that govern larger urban areas.

Existing status:

Currently, the head of the municipal corporation, the mayor, is merely a ceremonial authority and executive decisions are carried out by the municipal commissioner appointed by the state government. A solution can be founded in a private member Bill that was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor in 2016.


Pros of direct elections of Mayor:

  • Accountability:

The directly elected Mayor will be more responsible towards people and thus can be made answerable about work done. As already been suggested elected mayor will enhance the sense of responsibility in overall structure of urban governance. Currently, the head of the municipal corporation, the mayor, is merely a ceremonial authority and executive decisions are carried out by the municipal commissioner appointed by the state government.

  • Decentralisation:

It is general tendency by States to hold maximum power and thus to delegate least possible to local government body. Being directly elected, the Mayor will have public mandate to run local urban governance with all required authority.

  • Complex urban issues:

In order to tackle the rising urban issues the directly elected and responsible leadership is need of an hour. The process of urbanization is at its peak throwing challenge of congestion, slums, Urban sprawl, unplanned urban growth etc. The governing body led by elected representative will help to provide solution to new urban challenges.

  • Financial delegation:

The financial strengths and viability of urban local governance has always been under the critical comments. The major hindrance in the financial delegation is the proper channelization of funds and their effective utilisation of them. Elected mayor must be empowered to make ULBs financially viable.

  • Apart from making the elections direct, it has been also proposed to increase the duration of tenure for the post of Mayor. In many areas it is just two and half year that does not provide enough time to execute the programs effectively.

Urban governance involves a continuous process of negotiation and contestation over the allocation of social and material resources and political power. It is, therefore, profoundly political, influenced by the creation and operation of political institutions, government capacity to make and implement decisions and the extent to which these decisions recognise and respond to the interests of the poor. It encompasses a host of economic and social forces, institutions and relationships. These include labour markets, goods and services; household, kin and social relationships; and basic infrastructure, land, services and public safety. The directly elected accountable political leadership at basic level of urban governance can go long way for genuine responsible governance at grass root level.


General Studies – 2


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

2) Do you think the Chinese geo-economic encirclement of India has already taken place? In the light of recent tensions between India and China, critically examine. (200 Words)



The recent stand-off at Sikkim region between India and China has once again brought the focus on the geo-economical dimensions of the both the countries. If this crisis between the two Asian giants prolongs, it would create serious geopolitical and geo-economical repercussion for both the countries. To determine its impact on India, the geo-economical reach of China should be analyzed.  

Has Chinese geo-economic encirclement has already taken place?

Arguments in favor-

  • Geographical encirclement-

It refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities developed by China in countries falling on the Indian Ocean between the Chinese mainland and Port Sudan.

  1. China has the presence in Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port. The port situated in the Bay of Bengal has given China access to have a commercial Maritime facility which can be used as a military facility at the time of conflict.
  2. China has developed the port of Chittagong which again gives it a station to be used in the heart of the Bay of Bengal. China has invested large resources in Bangladesh and both Bangladesh and Myanmar are important points of OBOR’s sub-project, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM).
  3. Though India has robust relations with Sri Lanka for centuries, China has found its feet in Sri Lankan soil as well. The Chinese company has developed a port Hambantota, in the Southern-eastern side of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government has also allowed the control of it to a Chinese company.
  4. The Gwadar Port developed by China for the purpose of CPEC is just the tip of the iceberg as the political pundits believe that China will not only assist Pakistan Navy through Gwadar port but would also launch offensive using this port in the scenario of a Sino-Indian conflict.
  5. China hasn’t limited itself to lure the countries encircling India, but it has also made its presence felt on the African coast and the Middle East. China is said to have a powerful presence on the African coast of India ocean in Sudan and Kenya while it’s now building a military base in Djibouti to counter the increase American footprint in the Middle-East and IOR.
  6. Above all, China’s One Belt One Road is said to be greatest web of infrastructural projects that could undermine India’s influence in Asia-Pacific region.
  • Economic encirclement-
  1. Chinese capital goods manufacturers have made deep inroads into India, with some critical sectors now highly dependent on Chinese spares and after-sales servicing. For instance, in the boiler-turbine-generator (BTG) segment, many Indian power producers have installed Chinese BTGs. In the 12th Plan alone, close to 30% of generating capacity was sourced from China, with the trend continuing in the 13th Plan as well.
  2. Chinese portfolio investors are the other angle in geo-economic encirclement. Among the list of banks managing the recent Central Depository Services Ltd initial public offering was: Haitong Securities India Pvt Ltd. Haitong, as per its website, is China’s second largest securities firm. Many of the firm’s senior management members hold, or have held in the past, organizational positions in the Communist Party of China.
  3. Chinese handset manufacturer Vivo won rights to cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL). 
  4. India suffers a trade deficit with China which has increased over the years: from $38.7 billion in 2012-13 to $51 billion during 2016-17. One of the reasons for the large deficit is Chinese tariff and non-tariff barriers which constrain Indian exports; for example, Indian pharmaceutical exports have found it difficult to penetrate the Chinese market.
  5. Increased Chinese foreign direct investment was suggested to counter the rising trade deficit. But, there were no discussions on the nature of that investment: whether for manufacturing or for assembly jobs.
  6. The Chinese footprint in the digital economy is also expanding rapidly. Numerous Chinese companies—Alibaba, Tencent, CTrip, Beijing Miteno Communication Technology, Bytedance—have made large investments in the Indian digital ecosystem, a mission-critical segment for present Indian government.

Arguments against-

  • In spite of these explanations, the theory of geographical encirclement (ie String of Pearls theory) of India is disputed among the scholars as American hoax.
  • They argue that most of the Chinese investments in these regions are of the commercial types and pose no security threats to India.
  • The new Sri Lankan government had rejected Chinese request of allowing one of its nuclear submarine dockings at Hambantota.
  • Further Indian government has cordial relations with most of its neighbors like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal etc. Thus it is unlikely that these countries would allow China to use their territory against India.
  • It is also said that without India’s participation in the OBOR initiative, OBOR could not achieve its full potential.


Though there are disputed views about the geographical encirclement, but seems to consensus about the economic penetration of India by Chinese companies. India is heavily dependent on China for manufacturing goods, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), electronic parts etc. In fact, scholars claim that economic penetration of China is of serious nature than geo-political. Indian government needs to bridge its trade and commerce with the China in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with China in geopolitical matters. 


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 

3) Critically analyse the significance of issue where activists are demanding making eco-friendly sanitary pads tax-free and reduce the tax bracket of other napkins from 12-14% to 5%. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Public Health Intervention is the Surveillance that describes and monitors health events through ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data for the purpose of planning, implementing, and evaluating public health related schemes.

Even in present era menstruation is never discussed openly and the silence of it in young girls is keeping them ignorant of this biological function. Proper advice and knowledge often lack among many young girls on their physiological process and hygienic practices that should be followed.

Unfortunately menstruation being taboo in society is preventing all to discuss the needs and problem related to it. Due to this hygiene management is misunderstood and the practices which are ignored sometimes result into an adverse outcome. If menstrual hygiene is not given importance it will raise the risk of reproductive infections and affect health issues. The use of sanitary napkin is at core of these issues and can solve the problem of menstrual health issues to a longer extent.

After the roll out of Goods and services tax, the distribution of varied items in 4 different slabs is in public discourse. GST slabs are pegged at 5%, 12%, 18% & 28%. The need to reduce the tax on sanitary napkins and to bring them under lower tax slab at 5% will promote its usage mainly in disadvantaged sections of the society. The various aspects linked with this issue are:

  • Increasing affordability:

One of the main reasons of non-usage of sanitary napkins is the cost involved into its usage. Even today many women are not in position to afford monthly expenditure on menstrual health. The adolescent girls are even more vulnerable due to their financial dependency.

  • Doing away with use of non-hygienic materials:

Women don’t just use old cotton clothes, but other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash as well. This leads to severe reproductive hazards and infections. The readily available cheap sanitary napkin can make shift and thus can provide some choice to poor rural woman.

  • Highlighting menstrual health:

By keeping sanitary napkin in lower tax bracket will provide a strong message in the society about the importance of menstrual health in a life of a woman.

  • Right intervention at right stage:

If made available at affordable cost, use of hygienic menstrual products can change the face of woman health issues in India. This small intervention has a potential to avoid many complexities in future linked with child birth.

  • Eradicating the taboo:

There are still many taboos around menstruation in India. Women can’t visit temples or public places, they’re not allowed to cook or touch the water supply – essentially they are considered untouchable. Giving importance to this issue in public policy will be step forward to give a strong positive message on woman reproductive health issues.

Government efforts

Government has been running free sanitary pad programmes in rural areas where a girl student receives a pack of pads on a regular basis. Scheme for promotion of menstrual hygiene has rolled out in 17 states in 1092 blocks through Central supply of ‘Freedays’ sanitary napkins. Till August 2014, over 1.4 crore adolescent girls have been reached and 4.82 crore packs of ‘Freedays’.

Case study

The Sustainable Menstruation Kerala campaign has brought together menstrual rights activists, experts and alternative hygiene products groups together to push for a sustainable menstruation agenda across the State. Campaign aim to work closely with the current policies in manufacture and disposal, access to hygiene products and human rights associated with menstruation and reproductive health of women. The choice and burden of menstrual hygiene related issues transcends gender differences with its complex challenges in health issues and waste management. It supports sustainable menstruation through zero waste and circular economies, for the health and well-being of our women, ecology and society at large.


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

4) The critics claim that the government’s notifications mandating Aadhaar in schemes like the PDS, MGNREGA and mid-day meals have led to denial of benefits to the vulnerable sections of society. Do you agree? Critically examine. (200 Words0

The Indian Express


Some of the recent instances of denial of services in Aadhaar enables system have raised the question over the efficacy of the Aadhaar in service delivery and welfare programs.

Is making Aaddhar mandatory resulting into the denial of services?

Arguments in favor-

  • Failure of biometric authentication- Many a times a biometric mismatch occurs through system failure like machine malfunction that leads to denial of very basic rights of the people like getting their monthly ration or fetching of other financial services like pensions.
  • Misuse by local ration dealers and shop owners- Shop owners or rations dealers can purposefully tweak system to deny the distribution of food-grains to the beneficiaries.
  • Poor internet connectivity- When the ADHAR CARD holder has to be identified by his/her biometric through a large database, poor internet connectivity particularly in rural and hilly areas can obstruct the process.
  • Instances of service denial-
  1. In Rajasthan, the food department website shows that over 25 per cent of ration card holders with Aadhaar seeding have been unable to draw their rations. That amounts to 25 lakh families, or more than a crore of the most vulnerable people.
  2. In Andhra Pradesh, The Andhra Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Corporation found that…nearly one-fifth ration card holders did not buy their ration.” Further, “When the government delved deeper in the issue, it was found that out of the 790 cases interviewed for the study, 400 reported exclusion. Out of the excluded cases, 290 were due to fingerprint mismatch and 93 were because of Aadhaar card mismatch. The remaining 17 cases were due to failure of E-PoS.” 
  3. In Karnataka’s Chitradurga, Rs.100-150 million in wages from 2014-15 were held up for a year. When payments were being processed, their job cards could not be traced in NREGAsoft. Upon enquiry, the district administration learnt field staff had deleted them to achieve ‘100% Aadhaar-seeding’.”

Arguments against-

  • The Aadhaar Act mandates that not even one person be denied benefits because of the lack of Aadhaar. Regulation 12 of the Aadhaar (Enrollment and Update) Regulations enjoins the agency requiring Aadhaar to enroll its beneficiary and provide him/her benefits till he/she has Aadhaar.
  • The Aadhaar Act also provides statutory protection to those who are unable to authenticate fingerprints because their fingers have worn with age or other reasons such as technical faults and connectivity failures. Section Seven of the Aadhaar Act mandates “delivery of benefits through Aadhaar authentication or furnishing proof of possession of Aadhaar number”.
  • In case a person has difficulty in getting his fingerprints authenticated on a machine, he/she can provide a copy of his Aadhaar card and receive the benefits till the system is rectified.
  • The field agencies have been instructed accordingly through notifications issued by the government. In spite of this, if a person is denied because he/she does not have Aadhaar or he/she is unable to biometrically authenticate the information, it is a violation of the government’s instructions. Such violators are liable for punishment.
  • World Bank’s Digital Dividend Report 2016 has estimated that Aadhaar could annually save the central government US $11 billion if used in all welfare programmes.


Both the supporters and opponents of the Aadhaar have cited numerous evidences and provisions of the law to prove their arguments. However it should be noted that Aadhar is not magic bullet that would bring overnight changes in the public distribution system of India. When huge amount of taxpayers’ money was resulting into leakages and corruption and in turn no improvement in the lives of poor people, government had to bring strict provisions to ensure the efficacy of different welfare programs. At the same time its government’s responsibility that provisions in the Aadhaar act that ensure the protection of the rights of the poor people must be strictly followed and implement to realize benefits of Aadhaar.  


Topic: Poverty and hunger

5) Do you think serving ready-to-eat fortified meals would tackle malnutrition among children in the country? What are the other solutions that are worth considering? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Close to 1.3 million children die every year in India because of malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Food fortification or enrichment which is considered as an important tool to tackle malnutrition, is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food. It may be a purely commercial choice to provide extra nutrients in a food, while other times it is a public health policy which aims to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within a population.

Fortified food contains following essential micronutrients which plays major role in tacking malnutrition:-

  • Iron, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12 help prevent nutritional anaemia which improves productivity, maternal health, and cognitive development.
  • Folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects
  • Zinc helps children develop, strengthens immune systems, and lessens complications from diarrhoea.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) prevents the skin disease known as pellagra.
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps with metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) prevents the nervous system disease called beriberi.
  • Vitamin B12 maintains functions of the brain and nervous system.
  • Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium which improves bone health.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness. It also diminishes an individual’s ability to fight infections. Vitamin A can be added to wheat or maize flour, but it is often added to rice, cooking oils, margarine, or sugar instead.


Ready to eat fortified food is being served to school children in India. Fortified food has following advantages

  • If consumed on a regular and frequent basis, fortified foods will maintain body stores of nutrients more efficiently and more effectively than will intermittent supplements. Fortified foods are also better at lowering the risk of the multiple deficiencies that can result from seasonal deficits in the food supply or a poor quality diet. This is an important advantage to growing children who need a sustained supply of micronutrients for growth and development, and to women of fertile age who need to enter periods of pregnancy and lactation with adequate nutrient stores. Fortification can be an excellent way of increasing the content of vitamins in breast milk and thus reducing the need for supplementation in postpartum women and infants.
  • Fortification generally aims to supply micronutrients in amounts that approximate to those provided by a good, well-balanced diet. Consequently, fortified staple foods will contain “natural” or near natural levels of micronutrients, which may not necessarily be the case with supplements.
  • Fortification of widely distributed and widely consumed foods has the potential to improve the nutritional status of a large proportion of the population, both poor and wealthy.
  • Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns – which are notoriously difficult to achieve, especially in the short-term – nor individual compliance.
  • In most settings, the delivery system for fortified foods is already in place, generally through the private sector. The global tendency towards urbanization means that an ever increasing proportion of the population, including that in developing countries is consuming industry-processed, rather than locally-produced, foods. This affords many countries the opportunity to develop effective strategies to combat MNM based on the fortification of centrally-processed dietary staples that once would have reached only a very small proportion of the population.
  • Multiple micronutrient deficiencies often coexist in a population that has a poor diet. It follows that multiple micronutrient fortification is frequently desirable. In most cases, it is feasible to fortify foods with several micronutrients simultaneously.
  • It is usually possible to add one or several micronutrients without adding substantially to the total cost of the food product at the point of manufacture.
  • When properly regulated, fortification carries a minimal risk of chronic toxicity.
  • Fortification is often more cost-effective than other strategies, especially if the technology already exists and if an appropriate food distribution system is in place.


However only emphasising fortification is not sufficient to address the problem of malnutrition as it stems from multiple other factors as well. Following measures can be taken :-

1) Ensure better coordination among various ministries

To tackle malnutrition, it’s imperative that the following ministries work together:

  • Rural Development
  • Public Distribution and Civil Supplies
  • Health and Family Welfare
  • Women and Child Development
  • Drinking Water and Sanitation
  • Agriculture
  • Tribal Affairs
  • Minority Affairs

By coordinating their efforts, these ministries will ensure that essential nutrition services reach the most deprived communities and children.The finance ministry and the planning departments can play an overarching role by ensuring such programmes get sufficient budgets, resources and a policy framework.

2) Improve data collection on stunting and obesity

Although the practice of measuring malnutrition, through the ICDS, on the “underweight criterion” – weight for age – is expedient at the village level, it doesn’t count stunted and wasted children with the same frequency.

3) Invest heavily in social welfare programmes

We can learn from Kerala and Tamil Nadu who has better nutritional indicators. They adopted:-

  • a major expansion of elementary education.
  • the constructive role of the state in extending a wide range of essential services and facilities, from healthcare and clean water to social security and basic infrastructure.
  • active social policies that enabled disadvantaged groups to have a voice in the democratic process, and in turn led to broad-based support for social development across political parties.
  • Tamil Nadu, for instance, recently launched potentially pioneering schemes of maternity entitlements, community kitchens and even nursing rooms at bus stands.
  • The district administration can enrol mothers, who keep a watch on what their children were fed in mid-day meals at school. Already shown some success in Bihar’s Bettiah district, and Thane District of Pune.

4 ) Make welfare delivery mechanisms more accountable

The lack of accountability of government officials in remote and sometimes inaccessible regions for the poor delivery of state programmes to rural and tribal children is also major cause.

A study conducted by UNICEF in 2014 confirmed loss of their land and displacement without adequate rehabilitation as the key causes for tribal impoverishment, alienation, malnutrition and backwardness. Apart from poor utilisation of funds, the tribals and rural population have suffered due to poor quality of governance.

5) Allow panchayats a bigger say in running welfare schemes

The ICDS Anganwadi programme is plagued by massive systemic corruption. A key reason for this is that accounting, budgeting, clearing bills, auditing and all such functions are centralised. Delegating powers to gram panchayats or local elected bodies to clear bills and make payments to the food suppliers would go a long way in addressing problems like malnutrition.

6) Diversify the Public Distribution System

Making only rice and wheat available through the subsidised PDS has adversely affected the consumption pattern of poor people we must put the focus back on millets, pulses and supplementary foods.

7) Strengthen and expand on nutrition schemes for adolescent girls

Undernutrition among adolescent girls requires immediate attention. More than 44% of India’s adolescent girls are underweight, that’s they have a body mass index of less than 18.5. In most states, the proportion of adolescent girls with anaemia is alarmingly high, ranging between 76% and 92.9%.The nexus between gender discrimination and nutrition cannot be ignored. Malnourished girls become malnourished adolescents who marry early and have children who become malnourished, and so the cycle continues. The schemes like Kishori Shakti Yojana, Sabla  need to be implementaed on wider scale.

General Studies – 3

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

6) The textile sector is undergoing a huge churn due to automation, digital printing and the relentless rise of e-commerce. Do you think textile sector needs a national textile policy document, an articulation much like the national telecom policy of 1999? Discuss. (200 Words)


Introduction :- India’s textiles sector is one of the oldest industries in Indian economy dating back several centuries. Even today, textiles sector is one of the largest contributors to India’s exports with approximately 11 per cent of total exports. The textiles industry is also labour intensive and is one of the largest employers. The textile industry has two broad segments. First, the unorganised sector consists of handloom, handicrafts and sericulture, which are operated on a small scale and through traditional tools and methods. The second is the organised sector consisting of spinning, apparel and garments segment which apply modern machinery and techniques such as economies of scale.

The textile industry employs about 40 million workers and 60 million indirectly. India’s overall textile exports during FY 2015-16 stood at US$ 40 billion.

Over the years in the face of disruptive technologies the sector is undergoing a huge churn due to automation, digital printing and the relentless rise of e-commerce. All these three developments threaten to completely change the face of textile industry. The last official national textile policy is from 17 years ago. Hence we need a imaginative, bold and futuristic national policy document to keep this sector updated.

Advantages of such policy :-

  • It will revitalise the Indian textile sector and put it on par with other countries racing ahead. Bangladesh’s garment exports exceeded India’s in absolute terms back in 2003. Today it exports more than $35 billion worth of garments, twice that of India. Vietnam overtook India in 2011, and now exports garments worth $32 billion. In overall textile trade globally, India has a share of merely 5%, against China’s 39%.
  • It will take care of diversification of textile industry. While India has a rich mix of synthetic and natural fibres and yarns, including cotton, jute, silk, polyester and viscose, it remains a cotton-focused country. Only 30% is from synthetics and man-made fibres. The global trend is exactly the obverse, i.e. 70% consists of man-made fibres. So India’s domestic and export mix is the opposite of global fashion and demand trends.
  • There is an urgent need to address challenges faced by sector through a comprehensive policy. The changing consumer and fashion trends, a significant demand for investment and modernization of machinery, massive skill upgradation, meaningful export incentives, a fibre-neutral tax policy, a big digital push in design and automation, and lastly, meeting the needs of the e-commerce phenomenon. 


Topic: Conservation

7) According to a recent research, a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared. Discuss the magnitude, causes and remedial measures needed to halt the extinction. (200 Words)

The Guardian

Introduction :- An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of multicellular organisms. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Because most diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life.


Earth has witnessed five major extinction events. The “Big Five” cannot be so clearly defined, but rather appear to represent the largest (or some of the largest) of a relatively smooth continuum of extinction events.

  • Ordovician–Silurian extinction events(End Ordovician or O-S): Two events occurred that killed off 27% of all families, 57% of all genera and 60% to 70% of all species. Together they are ranked by many scientists as the second largest of the five major extinctions in Earth’s history in terms of percentage of genera that became extinct.
  • Late Devonian extinction: At the end of the Frasnian Agein the later part(s) of the Devonian Period, a prolonged series of extinctions eliminated about 19% of all families, 50% of all genera  and at least 70% of all species. This extinction event lasted perhaps as long as 20 million years, and there is evidence for a series of extinction pulses within this period.
  • Permian–Triassic extinction event(End Permian): Earth’s largest extinction killed 57% of all families, 83% of all genera and 90% to 96% of all species. The highly successful marine arthropod, the trilobite became extinct. The evidence regarding plants is less clear, but new taxa became dominant after the extinction. The “Great Dying” had enormous evolutionary significance: on land, it ended the primacy of mammal-like reptiles.
  • Triassic–Jurassic extinction event(End Triassic): 3 Ma at the Triassic-Jurassic transition. About 23% of all families, 48% of all genera (20% of marine families and 55% of marine genera) and 70% to 75% of all species became extinct.  
  • Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event(End Cretaceous):- The event formerly called the Cretaceous-Tertiary. About 17% of all families, 50% of all genera and 75% of all species became extinct. In the seas all the ammonites, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs disappeared and the percentage of sessile animals (those unable to move about) was reduced to about 33%. All non-avian dinosaurs became extinct during that time.

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared.

Magnitude :-

species percentage

  • Species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than for millions of years before. Nearly half of the 177 mammal species surveyed lost more than 80% of their distribution between 1900 and 2015.
  • Data on 27,500 species of land vertebrates from the IUCN and found the ranges of a third have shrunk in recent decades.
  • The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
  • Experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
  • If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true – i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.


Case Study :- The lion was historically distributed over most of Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to north western India. [Now] the vast majority of lion populations are gone.

historic range

Causes of extinction :-

  • Wildlife is dying out due to habitat destruction, overhunting, toxic pollution, invasion by alien species and climate change.
  • Humans can cause extinction of a species through overharvesting, pollution, habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species(such as new predators and food competitors), overhunting, and other influences. Explosive, unsustainable human population growth is an essential cause of the extinction crisis.

What can be done to stop it ?

Protecting Areas
Creating protected areas where human activity is limited is the best way to prevent deforestation and exploitation of organisms and the resources they need to survive. In order to truly make a difference, much planning needs to go into the creation of a protected area. It needs to consider all elements of the ecosystem it is trying to protect, so that it isn’t too small. It needs to include all resources that are utilized by its inhabitants; for example, leaving out a stream where half of the mammals go to drink would not make a protected area very effective.
Preventing Species Introductions
It is often much easier and less expensive to prevent a problem from developing in the first place than to try to fix it once it occurs. This is the case with invasive species, which can wreak havoc when introduced to ecosystems that aren’t prepared to deal with them. Many governments prohibit bringing foreign plants and animals into their countries without authorization; some even go so far as to disinfect landing planes and the shoe-bottoms of people on them.
Informing / Educating
Education is a powerful tool, and the more people know about biodiversity loss, the more they will be prepared to help slow it. Spreading the word about detrimental human effects on plants and animals can encourage people to change their ways and effect changes to preserve biodiversity.
Slowing Climate Change
Climate change is the documented cause of several extinctions that we know about, and has likely caused hundreds of species to go extinct about which we may never know. Any efforts as individuals, organizations, or governments, to slow current human-caused global warming is a step towards slowing biodiversity loss.
Promoting Sustainability
Sustainable agriculture is much better for the environment than grazing and cropping that rely on clearing swathes of forest or field.


General Studies – 4



TopicEthics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions

8) Define the following (in 40-50 words each):

  1. a) Morality
  2. b) Free will
  3. c) Materialism
  4. d) Humanism
  5. e) Humanitarianism
  6. f) Scholasticism
  7. g) Stoicism

Introduction :-

  1. a) Morality :- Morality is the distinction between right and wrong. It is the determination of what should be done and what should not be done. Morals deal with behaviours as well as motives. There are morals that are relative, i.e., dependent upon situations and context. For example, people drive on different sides of the street in different countries. Bowing is morally acceptable in one culture, and kissing the cheek is in another. But there are other morals which seem to be universally true. For example, it is morally wrong to murder. It is morally wrong to torture babies merely for your personal pleasure.
  2. b) Free will :- Free willis the ability to choose between different possible courses of action It is closely linked to the concepts of responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, and other judgments which apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected with the concepts of advice, persuasion, deliberation, and prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are seen as deserving credit or blame.
  3. c) Materialism :- Materialism can refer either to the simple preoccupation with the material world, as opposed to intellectual or spiritual concepts, or to the theory that physical matter is all there is. This theory is far more than a simple focus on material possessions. It states that everything in the universe is matter, without any true spiritual or intellectual existence. Materialism can also refer to a doctrine that material success and progress are the highest values in life. This doctrine appears to be prevalent in western society today. 
  4. d) Humanism :- Humanismis a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition.
  5. e) Humanitarianism:- Humanitarianismis an active belief in the value of human life, whereby humans practice benevolent treatment and provide assistance to other humans, in order to better humanity for both moral and logical reasons. It is the philosophical belief in movement toward the improvement of the human race in a variety of areas, used to describe a wide number of activities relating specifically to human welfare. A practitioner is known as a humanitarian.
  6. f) Scholasticism :- Scholasticismis a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian monastic schools at the earliest European universities. Scholasticism is not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning, as it places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference and to resolve contradictions. The Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions.
  7. g) Stoicism :- Stoicismis a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics which is informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting that which we have been given in life, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.


TopicEthics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions

9) Write a note on moral rationalism as propounded by Immanuel Kant. (150 Words)

Reference (Page 66)

Introduction :- Moral rationalism, also called ethical rationalism, is a view in meta-ethics (specifically the epistemology of ethics) according to which moral truths (or at least general moral principles) are knowable a priori, by reason alone. It is a deontological theory.

  • Kant claimed that no action is moral if it is done for pleasure or any other motive than duty or respect for the law.
  • In practical reason in human beings have among the twelve a priori gates what Kant called the Categorical Imperative.
  • This Categorical Imperative orders a person to do good and avoid evil.
  • Acts are good or bad as out of respect for the Categorical Imperative or not. An act is good according to the motive of the actor; the only motive that makes an act good is respect for duty or law.
  • Acts are good, according to Kant, if they can be universalized—that is, we should act in the way everybody else in the same circumstances would act.
  • The essential element in determining morality is human reason Thus, the ultimate test of goodness or badness of human actions is the Categorical Imperative of practical reason.

Example:- In simple terms One needs to follow traffic rule. Its universalisation of what behaviour is needed on road. If one can break rule and jump signal everyone else can. It would lead to chaos hence following traffic rule is categorical imperative.