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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 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:  Geography of India

1) Why is Chumbi valley vital for India? Discuss strategic importance of other regions along the Indo – China border. (200 Words)

The Hindu



Chumbi Valley is a valley in Tibet at the intersection of India (Sikkim), Bhutan and China (Tibet) in the Himalayas. Two main passes between India and China open up here: the Nathu La Pass and Jelep La Pass. The strategic location of Chumbi valley is due to tri junction of three countries in a very small region.

north east india

Importance of Chumbi valley:

  • Chumbi Valley is a narrow corridor difficult for large scale military maneuver. From this Tri Junction point the Siliguri Corridor, connecting India with the NE States is just 50 kms away. This corridor is extremely important to India strategically.
  • Being important strategically, this area is very important to maintain good relations with neighbour such as China, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Chumbi valley region has always been the hotspot of cultural interaction and integration due to the long history of migration from all possible sides over the period of time.
  • The region is environmentally sensitive and thus has crucial role in maintenance of Himalayan ecology in its stable form. This region has some of the endangered and endemic flora and fauna of the Indian subcontinent.
  • The region accommodated one of the deprived sections of the society and thus the provision of social security through the means of territorial security comes on the agenda.
  • There has always been the issue of Chinese invasion and military activities that threatens the internal security of the country. Thus the control of this region holds prime importance for country.

Strategic importance of other areas along the Indo-China border:

  • This region is extremely important for India because it runs its rail and road networks towards the North East through it. This allows it to sustain the armed forces posted in the North East which will form an important security aspect if conflict arises between India and China in the region.
  • The border between China and India has never been officially delimited. China’s position on the eastern part of the border between the two countries is consistent. Not a single Chinese government recognizes the “illegal” McMahon Line. For China the McMahon Line, stands as a symbol of imperialist aggression on the country. The so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” dispute is China’s most intractable border issue. Because the gap between the positions of China and India is wide, it is difficult for both nations to reach consensus.

The way forward-

India needs to look inwards and strengthen its defence preparedness and infrastructure construction plans, in order to counter a plausible Chinese military offensive.

At the bilateral level, focused efforts are needed to engage Bhutan as a strategic partner, thus sensitizing it about Indian concerns. The role of the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) positioned in Haa district in Bhutan becomes important and needs to be given some attention.

India should maximize its soft-power approach, providing an enabling environment in Sikkim for Buddhism to flourish. The commonality between Bhutan and Sikkim should therefore be endorsed in order to facilitate cultural exchanges between them.


Topic: Effects of globalization on Indian society

2) Compare and contrast the nature of the Cuban missile crisis and the North Korean missile crisis. (200 Words)


Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis or the Missile Scare, was a 13- confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey with consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

cuban missile crisis

North Korean missile crisis:

The North’s latest ICBM test has transformed the theater of diplomacy and war in Asia as it implies a level of nuclear risk witnessed only once before, with the Soviet Union in 1962. This is the understanding and threat perception of nuclear missile developed by North Korea that can be used against USA.

north korea missile crisis

With respect to North Korea, the theory of Brinkmanship can be discussed as:

Brinkmanship is the practice of trying to achieve an advantageous outcome by pushing dangerous events to the brink of active conflict. It occurs in international politics, foreign policy, labour relations, and (in contemporary settings) military strategy involving the threat of nuclear weapons, and high-stakes litigation.

This maneuver of pushing a situation with the opponent to the brink succeeds by forcing the opponent to back down and make concessions. This might be achieved through diplomatic maneuvers by creating the impression that one is willing to use extreme methods rather than concede. Brinkmanship is the ostensible escalation of threats to achieve one’s aims.


  • Both crisis were clear manifestation of power struggle between two countries
  • Both had the component of Nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction. This similarity shows the crucial importance of public discourse about these issues.
  • In both the crisis United States of America is involved and its dominance had challenged.
  • Both nations are either backed by or supported by Communist countries–Cuban by Communist USSR and Korean by Communist China.


  • Cuban missile crisis was the part of cold war and thus had multidimensional aspects due to power struggle between two big blocks into which the world got divided.
  • Both differ in temporal scale and the degree of threat differs– Korean crisis is more open and directed. The Cuban crisis was more covert.
  • In Cuban missile crisis, Cuba was acting on behest of USSR and had no role in developing the missile technology. However in North Korean case, it has successfully developed the missile regime and acting on its own behalf.


The nuclear crisis can lead to very devastating results that may create impacts irreversible in nature. Though the Cuban missile crisis is history now, much can be learned from it on how to avoid the escalation of such standoffs. The rising threat of North Korean missile crisis has threatened the security in Asia Pacific region and thus must be solved amicably.


General Studies – 2


Topic:  Role of civil services in a democracy.

3) Is there a need for lateral entry in civil services? Discuss. (200 Words)




Recently PMO has instructed the department of personnel and training to prepare a proposal for middle-rung lateral entry in ministries dealing with the economy and infrastructure.

Need for lateral entry in civil services-

Arguments in favor-

  • Shortfall in numbers: There is an overall 20% shortfall of IAS cadre officers alone in 24 state cadres. The Baswan Committee (2016) has shown how large states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have a deficit of 75 to over 100 officers and their unwillingness to sponsor officers to go to the Centre on deputation is understandable. Lateral induction is, therefore, a small step towards essential housekeeping in central government staffing and ought to be supported.
  • Target oriented: Outside talent from the private sector is more likely to be target-oriented, which will improve the performance of the government. Also, more competition will encourage career civil servants to develop expertise in areas of their choice.
  • Improved governance: The conventional wisdom on lateral entry is that it infuses fresh energy and thinking into an insular, complacent and often archaic bureaucracy. It enables the entry of right-minded professionals and the adoption of best practices for improving governance.
  • Socioeconomic development has transmuted to the point where the state’s methods of addressing them are coming in for a rethink. And new concerns have arisen, such as the shift from the uniformity of centrally planned economic policy to the diverse demands of competitive federalism. Thus there is need to make way for talent pool outside the government.
  • The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has too recommended an institutionalized, transparent process for lateral entry at both the Central and state levels so that it increases the efficiency and efficacy of the governance.

Arguments against-

  • The civil services have knit the administrative framework of a vast and diverse country into a coherent whole and provided a strong integrating element which the country can ill-afford to tamper with.

They have provided an outstanding link between the cutting edge at the field level and top policymaking positions. This bridge, while crucial to all systems, has been of strategic significance in the Indian context, given the diversity and widespread poverty of the population.

The width and depth of field experience which the civil services provide is difficult to attain for private players or outsiders. There would be inherent difficulties for external talent to bridge the gap between policymaking and ground level implementation better than career civil servants.

  • The proposal for lateral entry at senior decision-making levels, besides increasing the disconnect between policymaking and implementation, will also result in inequitable sharing of the benefits and burdens of government service, with permanent civil servants left to bear the burden of “humble” implementation and lateral entrants getting access to “glamorous” policymaking positions, without having roughed it out in remote and rural India in the rough and tumble of Indian democracy.

While there would certainly be a beeline for lateral entrants to join top policymaking positions, there would be no such great desire to serve the country at the ground level.

  • The best talent can be attracted only if there is reasonable assurance of reaching top level managerial positions. This is true for government service as much as the private sector. Any dilution of the potential horizon for growth would discourage competent and motivated people. By suggesting a contract-based system for positions of joint secretary and above, the signal would be sent out that only mid-career positions would be within reach in about 15-18 years of service and there would be considerable uncertainty about career progression thereafter. Coupled with unattractive salary scales and non-entitlement to defined pension since 2004, this would become a potent trinity to deter talented persons from aspiring to civil service 
  • Large-scale lateral induction would, in fact, amount to a vote of no-confidence in the government personnel management system, rather than in the highly dedicated, motivated and talented officers who have chosen to join the civil services.
  • The difficulty in measuring performance in government is another obstacle to be reckoned with. It is not easy to assess the performance of a secretary to the government, given the sheer complexity and amorphous nature of the job.

The induction of lateral entrants would not by itself suffice for better performance orientation and enhanced accountability. It would be as difficult to measure the performance of lateral entrants as it would of career civil servants.

  • The real challenge before the country is the challenge of implementation. Lateral entry into top-level policymaking positions would have no impact whatsoever on field-level implementation. In that sense, the proposal for lateral entry is a red herring to the fundamental issue of weak implementation.

Way forward-

A good managerial system encourages and nurtures talent from within instead of seeking to induct leadership from outside. Any failure in this matter is primarily a failure of the system to identify and nurture talent at the appropriate stage. For this, the remedy lies not through lateral induction but through more rigorous performance appraisal and improved personnel management.

  • In this context, the government could contemplate hiring outside talent to head certain pre-identified mission-mode projects and public-sector entities where private-sector expertise could be invaluable — like in the case of Nandan Nilekani and Aadhaar. Similarly, leadership positions in large infrastructure projects could be filled through open competition between civil servants and market talent.
  • The recruitment and service rules for such posts have to be clearly defined and made incentive-compatible, and the processes managed transparently. A credible statutory agency like the Union Public Service Commission or an autonomous agency like the Bank Board Bureau, established to hire heads of public-sector banks, should be entrusted with the responsibility of recruitment.
  • All this, coupled with competition among both serving bureaucrats and market participants, would help avoid many of the aforementioned pitfalls associated with general lateral entry. Further, this would be in line with the lateral entry strategy adopted by more developed parliamentary democracies like the UK.
  • Such an approach would have to be complemented with liberalised norms that allow civil servants to work outside government — with multilateral agencies, nonprofits and corporations — for short periods. By enabling exposure to market practices and fresh ideas, this, as much as infusing outside talent into government, is likely to help achieve the objectives of lateral entry itself.


Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,

4) It is said that Australia and India share converging interests and similar outlooks on the strategic changes taking place in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. Discuss these converging interests and similar outlooks and their significance for bilateral relations. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The ties between India and Australia have been historic and geographic with close proximity of Indian plate with Australian plate millions of years ago. In the changing global dynamics, especially with Indo Pacific region gaining prominence, both countries share converging interests in many ways –


  • Both the countries are having borders with Indian ocean and support freedom of navigation in international waters. The joint naval exercise between the two nations named AUSINDEX is being organised since 2015 to strengthen this objective.
  • Both recognise their responsibility for furtherance of stability and security of Indo Pacific region.

Trade and commerce:

  • The Indo Pacific nations have huge growth potential and capacity to contribute for world economy. Recognising this both nations are opening up their economies.
  • Bilateral trade is 15 billion dollars and India is the 9th largest trading partner of Australia.
  • To strengthen the economic relation both nations are working to conclude comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.
  • Australia has signed civil nuclear agreement with India despite India being non-signatory to NPT.
  • Both the nations are founding members of AIIB that will fund the infrastructure projects.

Research and Development:

  • Australia provides an ideal destination to Indian students and academicians and greater cooperation in research can be helpful to both the countries.
  • Nuclear and Space Technology- Australia has one of the largest reserves of Uranium. This can come to India’s use for strengthening its nuclear power and becoming energy-sufficient. In return, India can provide launching facilities to Australian satellites.

Global concerns:

  • Both nations support strengthening and democratisation of global institutions like IMF, UNSC etc. Australia supports India’s bid for membership in expanded UNSC.
  • The two nations are supporting each other in their fight against global terrorism.
  • Both are member of various multilateral organisations like East Asia summit, ASEAN regional forum, IOR-ARC, Asia Pacific partnership for climate and clean development etc. Recently Australia got observer status in SAARC.

Some lacunae still remain to fill:

  • India’s reservation on Australia joining the Malabar exercise to avoid alienating China is a disappointment to Australia.
  • Australia’s recent tightening of the Visa rules have negative ramifications for Indian students studying in Australia.

Way forward:

While less developed than the extensive regional architecture in Southeast and East Asia, the regional architecture of the Indian Ocean is increasingly promoting coordinated approaches with South Asia, in response to shared interests and emerging challenges. India and Australia need to increase our bilateral cooperation and our collective efforts with other like-minded countries. Together we can shape a future region in which strong and effective rules and open markets deliver lasting peace and prosperity — free markets and free people. Australia with its strategic location, nuclear resources and its huge Indian origin population should be a vital partner in India’s foreign relations.


Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

5) Despite the most stringent penal provisions in the law against manual scavenging, it continues in parts of India. Do you think this reflects failure of governance in the country? What measures are needed to end this practice? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Background –

Despite the most stringent penal provisions in the law against manual scavenging, it continues in parts of India. The recent order of the Madras High Court asking the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the strict enforcement of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, in the wake of the death of 30 people engaged in the activity in the State in recent years, points to the malaise. Evidently, the vigorous national campaign for the rehabilitation of those engaged to manually clean insanitary latrines, and urban structures into which human excreta flows without sewerage, has been unable to break governmental indifference and social prejudice.

Causes of existence of manual scavenging

  • Existence of insanitary latrines.
  • Community mindset – Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house, and even the less conservative are ready to accept only large, expensive and unscientific structures much bigger than those recommended by the WHO. 
  • No alternate employment available.
  • Caste barriers with manual scavengers as people consider it legitimate to clean toilets by scavengers who are mostly lower castes (Dalits).

It reflects failure of governance on the following basis:

  • Enforcement of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (MS) Act, 2013 has been lax as evident from rampant practice of the same going on in several parts of the country.
  • It goes against the spirit of articles 15, 21, 38 and 42 of the constitution.
  • Budgetary allocations for the same have reduced by multiple folds, although even with high allocation, the resources went underutilized.
  • Infrastructure to convert dry toilets is not sufficient.

But the status quo can’t be blamed on the government alone as:

  • There has been poor response under Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, showing either reluctance or lack of confidence among them.
  • It is strongly connected to the caste system in which few people assume themselves superior by virtue of their birth and consider few as inferiors compelling them towards such jobs.

Measures needed to end this practice:

  • Changing social mindset – with active campaigning, enlightening the young ones before their minds are corrupted and reinvigorating the ‘self respect’ among the underprivileged lower caste people.
  • Putting up proper infrastructure, providing safe equipment and sufficient resources to convert latrines into sanitary ones.
  • Strong enforcement of the MS Act and imposing fines in case of laxity. Govt. efforts such as Swachch Bharat mission is right step to eradicate this practice of manual scavenging.
  • SECC-survey shows that there are nearly 1.82lakh households in rural, who are dependent on manual scavenging for income. Proper rehabilitation and adequate employment opportunities to manual scavengers and scholarship to their children and Empower manual scavengers by imparting skills for other employments. 
  • Effective implementation of the law requires willingness of the courts to fix responsibility on State governments, and order an accurate survey of the practice especially in those States that claim to have no insanitary latrines or manual scavenging.

Conclusion –

Gandhi and Ambedkar were both the propounders of elimination of this evil practice and sensitization of other sections of society. Govt too should focus more on the root level causes and with strong political will she can shape its policies into fruitful reality.


General Studies – 3


Topic: Conservation

6) Critically analyse government’s conservation policies and discuss the role of science and research in conservation. (200 Words)

The Hindu


There has been increasing awareness about the conservation practices in the civil society and efforts are being made at both governmental and non-governmental level for the better outcomes. In India too, various policies and strategies are at work to preserve its diverse wildlife and to add element of sustainable to it.

Critical analysis of Government’s conservation policies-

  • Project tiger- One of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures ‘Project Tiger’which was initiated way back in 1972, has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem. About 47 tiger reserves situated in more than 17 regions of the country. Project Tiger has seen significant success in recovery of the habitat and increase in the population of the tigers in the reserve areas, from a scanty 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to above 1000 in 28 reserves in 2006 to 2000+ tigers in 2016.
  • Project elephant- Initiated in 1992 by the Government of India Project Elephantaims at conserving elephants and their habitat and of migratory routes by developing scientific and planned management measures. Under the project welfare of the domestic elephants is also considered, issues like mitigation of human-elephant conflict are also taken care of. The project’s endeavour is to strengthen the measures for protection of elephants against poachers and unnatural death.
  • Crocodile conservation project- This project is yet another successful venture by Government of India to conserve the Indian Crocodiles, whose species were on the verge of extinction once. The project also contributes towards the conservation in a plethora of related fields. It is worth noticing that with the initiation of Crocodile Conservation Project, 4000 gharial/aligator, 1800 mugger/crocodile and 1500 saltwater crocodiles could be restocked.
  • UNDP Sea Turtle project- With an objective to conserve the Olive Ridley Turtles, the UNDP Sea Turtle Project was initiated by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun as the Implementing Agency in November 1999. The project is for 10 coastal state in India especially Odisha. The project also helped in the development of guidelines to safeguard the turtle mortality rate and for tourism in sea turtle areas. Amongst the major achievements of the project is the demonstration of use of Satellite Telemetry to locate the migratory route of sea turtles in the sea.
  • Along with above specified conservation projects of the wild animals, GOI has also initiated few schemes that are worked upon to protect the biodiversity and minimize the mortality of critically endangered, endangered and threatened animals. Here are few important steps that Government of India has taken for the wildlife protection:
  1. In the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, GOI created Protected Areas like National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves for the wildlife and imposed punishments on those indulged in illegal act of hunting.
  2. Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 have been drafted to protect of wetlands in India. The Central Government has also initiated the scheme, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System that lends assistance to the states for the sound management of all wetlands.
  3. In order to curb the illegal trade of wildlife and that of endangered species, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established.
  4. Special organizations like Wildlife Institute of India, Bombay Natural History society and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History are formed to conduct research on conservation of wildlife.
  5. To check the dwindling population of Gyps vulture in India, Government of India has banned the veterinary use of diclofenac drug.
  6. A Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has also been constituted and is deployed in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha.
  7. E-Surveillance has been started in Kaziranga National Park in Assam and borders of Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

Some shortcomings-

  • Despite elaborate legal and procedural arrangements, poaching (particularly of tigers, rhinos, turtles etc) is rampant in reserved as well protected areas of the forests.
  • Important rivers like Ganga, Yamuna etc remain most polluted even after spending millions of rupees in the conservation efforts.
  • Government is consistently failing short of increasing forest covers to the expected level of 33% of the total geographical areas of the country.
  • Illegal cutting of valuable timber along with precious tress like sandalwood has been cause of concern for government’s conservation policies.
  • Despite efforts, government is failing to reduce the human-animal conflicts in the peripheral areas of the protected areas which are resulting into killing of wild animals.

Role of science and research in conservation-

  • Smart Collars- It is one of the more curious methods used to track animals. These collars send out text messages to researchers, notifying them of their movements, diet and other important information. They could even potentially warn farmers of the proximity of elephants to reduce human-animal conflicts.
  • Remote Monitoring of Wildlife Sounds: Researchers have created a new computer technology that can listen to multiple bird soundsat one time, and identify which species are present and how they may be changing, due to habitat loss or climate change. This system could provide an automated approach to monitoring bird species, instead of having a field researcher doing direct observation. The researchers believe the technology can work not only for birds, but for many forest sounds, including species like insects and frogs, and perhaps even marine mammals.
  • Gene sequencing- When endangered species are threatened by disease, being able to isolate the unaffected individuals for breeding is now getting an additional technological boost. Scientists are now using high-tech gene sequencing machinesin a desperate attempt to save the Tasmanian devil from an infectious cancer called devil facial tumor disease that is threatening to wipe out the species.
  • Camera Traps– This technology has been used for decades. With the advent of long life batteries and smaller cameras they are rapidly increasing in use. Camera traps are also known as trail cams. These camouflaged cameras take pictures or short clips of video when an animal triggers an infrared beam. This technology is used to monitor location, populations, species mix and other observational needs. They are particularly useful as they can continually monitor an area once the researcher has gone.
  • Remote sensing and drone techniques can also be used for detecting illegal cutting of forest trees in the forest and to take precautionary steps. These techniques can also be used in minimizing the pollution of the rivers.


Despite successes of various governmental and non-governmental initiatives, there have been increasing concerns for the wildlife conservation. In such scenario, technology can be used effectively for the better outcomes and better preservation practices.


General Studies – 4



TopicEthics in personal and professional relations

7) Discuss the values highlighted in the Gandhiji’s Talisman. (150 Words)



 Gandhiji’s Talisman is a message which can be quoted as “I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your-self melt away”.

It highlights following values:-

  • Compassion, care, love and affection: It’s important to have them in order to think about the needy, downtrodden people, to be passionate to work for their upliftment and betterment.
  • Service, devotion, sincerity: These are the utmost values which make a person to rise above him/herself and to go an extra mile to work for marginalized people in society.
  • Humanitarianism, benevolence, generosity, magnanimity, chivalry and selflessness: They play an important role in making people to think and work for others. People, if posses these values can make the world a better place to live.
  • Sympathy, empathy, tenderness, sensitivity: They play important role in making people more humane. It helps in building loving society.

In today’s world where the powerful people in position of power, the rich who enjoy privileges and the one who are better than the destitute, oppressed, needy and distressed are forgetting their bigger role in society Gandhiji’s Talisman acts like a guiding light. It also plays important role in making an individual realise his/her duty. When country faces challenges of corruption, riots, communal hatreds, turmoil, regionalism, radicalisation, terrorism, environmental degradation Gandhiji’s Talisman if followed by all will bring prosperity, happiness, peace and justice.