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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 MAY 2018


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

TOPICSalient features of world’s physical geography.

1) Discuss the ideal conditions for formation of coral reefs. Also discuss the theories of coral-reef formation.(250 words)




Why this question

In UPSC mains exam, question demanding a direct explanation and importance of a particular geographic entity/ phenomena are commonly asked. The issue is related to GS-1 syllabus under the following heading-

Salient features of world’s physical geography.

Key demand of the question.

the question wants us to describe the ideal environmental conditions for growth of coral reefs and then discuss the overall theories of coral reef formation.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about all the key demand of the question but be concise and illustrative in our approach. Draw diagrams wherever possible.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- give a simple definition of coral reefs and mention their constituents.


A-discuss in points about the ideal conditions for coral reef growth- temperature, quality of water, depth of water etc.

B- discuss the main theories of coral reef formation- Darwin’s and D. Murray’s theories.

Conclusion- briefly mention the importance of coral reefs and threats faced by them.



  • Corals are nothing but calcareous rocks, formed from the skeletons of minute sea animals, called polyps. The polyps extract calcium salts from sea water to form hard skeletons which protect their soft bodies. These skeletons give rise to corals.

Ideal conditions for formation of coral reefs:-

  • Sunlight: 
    • Corals need to grow in shallow water where sunlight can reach them. Corals depend on the zooxanthellae(algae) that grow inside of them for oxygen and other things, and since these algae needs sunlight to survive, corals also need sunlight to survive.
    • Corals rarely develop in water deeper than 165 feet (50 meters).
  • Clear water: 
    • Corals need clear water that lets sunlight through; they don’t thrive well when the water is opaque. Sediment and plankton can cloud water, which decreases the amount of sunlight that reaches the zooxanthellae.
    • Corals in order to grow also need plentiful supply of plankton and enough oxygen. This is important because like any other living organism corals polyps need food and oxygen so as to grow and be able to reproduce
  • Warm water temperature:
    • Reef-building corals require warm water conditions to survive. Different corals living in different regions can withstand various temperature fluctuations. However, corals generally live in water temperatures of 68–90° F or 20–32° C.
  • Clean water: 
    • Corals are sensitive to pollution and sediments. Sediment can create cloudy water and be deposited on corals, blocking out the sun and harming the polyps. Wastewater discharged into the ocean near the reef can contain too many nutrients that cause seaweeds to overgrow the reef.
  • Saltwater: 
    • Corals need saltwater to survive and require a certain balance in the ratio of salt to water. This is why corals don’t live estuaries.
  • Ocean currents and waves are favourable for corals because they bring necessary food supply for the polyps. Corals grow in open seas and oceans but they die in lagoons and small enclosed seas because of lack of supply of food. Currents and waves also determine the shapes of coral reefs.
  • There should be extensive submarine plat­forms for the formation of colonies by the coral polyps. Such platforms should not be more than 50 fathoms (300 feet or 91 m) below sea-level. 


1.Darwin subsidence theory:-

  • Darwin assumes that along a suitable platform, coral polyps flocked together and grew upward towards a low water level. The resulting reef, in this stable condition, would be a fringing reef.
  • But, at the same time, Darwin assumes, the sea floor and the projecting land in coral seas started submerging, and the living corals found themselves in deeper waters. Hence, an urge to grow upward and outward would be balanced by the subsidence of the land.
  • As a result of this, Darwin postulated that the fringing reef, barrier reefs and atolls are only three stages in the evolutionary growth of a reef.As the land subsides, the fringing reef would grow upwards and outwards, resulting in the formation of a shallow lagoon.
  • Further subsidence would convert it into a barrier reef with wide and comparatively deeper lagoon.
  • The theory implies that the barrier reef and atoll can occur only in the areas of submergence, and the great amount of vertical thickness of coral material is primarily due to the subsidence of land and consequent upward growth of coral polyps. There is much evidence of subsidence in coral areas. For example, submerged valleys in the east of Indonesia and the coastal areas of Queensland
  • Only subsidence can explain existence of corals at this depth because, generally, corals cannot grow below 100 metres.
  • Criticism:-
    • Corals have developed in places where there is no evi­dence of subsidence. For instance Timor .
    • Also, the question arises as to why there is uniform subsid­ence in the tropical and sub-tropical areas and not so in other areas. 

  1. Murray’s non subsidence theory:-
  • According to him coral polyps can live upto the depth of 30 fathoms (180 feet). Sea-level and submarine platforms are stable. Several submarine platforms, volcanic peaks, islands are present below sea-level.
  • If the submarine land platforms are above the permissible depth for the survival of coral polyps (180 feet) they are subjected to wave erosion so that their heights are lowered down. 
  • Thus, the continuously outward growing fringing reef is transformed into barrier reef in due course of time. The lagoon is formed between the land and barrier reef because of dissolution of dead corals. Atolls are formed due to outward growth of corals in all directions at the top of submarine platforms. Thus, a ring of coral reef is formed around the solution lagoon
  • Criticism:-
    • Murray’s theory requires the existence of numerous suitable submarine platforms the depth of 180 feet but the existence of such features is not possible.
    • Murray has described two contradictory views of marine erosion and deposition at the depth of 30 fathoms (180 feet) at the same time over different submarine peaks. Such proposition is not possible.
    • A limit of 30 fathoms for deposition and erosion cannot be accepted

3.Daly’s Glacial Control Theory:

  • When the ice age ended, the temperature started rising and the ice sheet melted. The water returned to the sea, which started rising. Due to the rise in temperature and sea level, corals again started growing over the platforms which were lowered due to marine erosion.
  • As the sea level rose, the coral colonies also rose. The coral colonies developed more on the circumference of the platforms because food and other facilities were better available there than anywhere else.
  • Hence, the shape of coral reefs took the form of the edges of submerged platforms.
  • The greatest merit of this hypothesis is that it needs no subsidence of the crust, as is the case with Darwin’s hypothesis. Finally, the sea waves and currents could have easily cut down the islands and converted them into low platforms.
  • Criticism:-
    • Daly could not explain the existences of coral colonies at depths of 100 metre.

4.Davis’ Application of Physiography to the Problem of Origin of Coral Reefs:-

  • Davis reasserted the validity of submergence.
  • Davis has also taken into consideration the facts of changing sea level. According to him, lowered sea level on subsiding islands would also create cliffs and spurs, but most of them would be protected by reefs along the shores from wave attack, hence cliffs would not be seen. Further, subsidence would also drown such cliffs if they were formed.
  • Thus, this theory advocates the old idea of subsidence with renewed application of physiography. It is also comprehensive in its application as it includes the changes of the sea -level as well as the tectonic changes of the landmass.
  • Criticism:-
    • In spite of the above evidence, one fact is left unexplained, the assumed equal depth of the lagoons.



  • Coral reefs protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms. provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms. So protecting them is imperative

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the
present- significant events, personalities, issues.

2)Indian constitution and the laws critical to administration of country borrow heavily from the various British provisions and Acts introduced in 19th and 20th century by the British. Analyse. (250 words)


Key demand of the question

The question asks us to analyze the statement that  indian laws and constitution borrows heavily from British laws and provisions. Thus we need to examine the following points –

  • How the constitution borrows from the various government of India act.
  • Discuss which laws that are “critical to the administration of the country” are borrowed from pre independence.
  • Also analyse whether the laws resemble just the letter of the law or the spirit of the law as well
  • Discuss whether these laws require reforms to keep them in line with the current demand of administration.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention that Indian constitution is called a bag of borrowings – borrows heavily from pre independence laws. Similarly many British laws continued post independence as well.


  • Mention the provisions of the constitution which are borrowed from the government of India act. Division of subjects etc
  • Identify laws which are critical to the administration of the country like Indian police act, nature or judiciary etc
  • Examine whether the letter as well as the spirit of the law have been borrowed from pre independence era.

Conclusion – Mention the need of reforms in Indian police act, sedition act etc to ensure that administration of the country is in line with the present needs.


  • Though 1200 archaic laws were scrapped in bulk, Indians are still following many obsolete laws that have been prevalent from the time of British colonial rule.


Constitutional provisions borrowed :-

  • From Govt. of India Act 1935
    • The majority of the today’s constitution has been drawn from this.
    • It delivers to the establishment of an All India Federation.
    • The previous names transferred and reserved subjects are changed as federal and provincial lists and concurrent list is definitely an addendum.  
    • It Abolished diarchy and introduced provincial autonomy.
    • Established the RBI, federal court, Provincial PSUs and Joint PSUs.
    • The federal structure of government, provincial autonomy, a bicameral central legislature consisting of a federal assembly and a Council of States and the separation of legislative powers between the centre and states are some of the provisions of the Act which are present in the Constitution of India. 
    • Office of Governor
    • Judiciary
    • Emergency

Pre independence laws still used in post Independent India are :-

  • Indian Police Act, 1861:-
    • This act was framed by British after the revolt of 1857. The main aim of the British Government before passing this law was to establish a Police forcewhich can tackle any revolt against the Government. 
    • Post independent police are encouraged to tackle law and order and work towards society. Community policing and police sensitivity are encouraged now.
  • Indian Evidence Act, 1872: 
    • This Act was passed by the British Government in 1872. It is applicable on all the proceedings of the law including  court marshal. Though it is not valid on arbitration. This Act elaborates upon the items that can be used as evidences and to be informed to the court of law in advance. Therefore, this Act is playing an important role in various legislations even after 144 years of its implementation though may be in amended forms.
  • Income Tax Act, 1961: 
    • On the basis of this act, income taxis imposed in India. Though the Government had planned to remove this Act along with the Wealth Tax Act, 1957 by bringing in the Direct Tax Code, however after  the removal of Wealth Tax it is not reverted back.
  • Indian Penal Code, 1860: 
    • Indian Penal Code was prepared based on the recommendations ofthe first law commission of 1860.There have been many changes
    • Criminalisation of homosexuality:-
      • The criminalisation of homosexuality or what is popularly referred to as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dates back to 1860 when the British introduced it as sexual activities against the “order of nature.
      • The Supreme Court overturned the decision of lower court and homosexuality continues to be a criminal offence in India.
    • Blasphemy law:-
      • Controversial for curtailing freedom of speech, Section 295A of the IPC has been time and again imposed for banning publication of several books and other content.
      • The British government introduced the Dramatic Performance Act in 1876, which prohibited dramatic performances of “scandalous” and “defamatory” nature. Performances that would excite feelings among people against the government in power or likely to corrupt persons at the performance were prohibited.
      • Most recently, this so-called “blasphemy law” was used to target Wendy Doniger, the American professor whose book on Hinduism was in effect banned by a single complainant who said he disagreed with its content.
      • Seventy years after independence, the law still exists and post-1947 many states introduced the law and amended it accordingly with the exception of Delhi and West Bengal.
    • Another section, 295a, seeks to protect religious minorities from hate speech, but is often used to intimidate and silence artists, critics and scholars
    • Sedition law:-
      • Colonial-era law intended to suppress the voice of freedom continues in force in India, but Britain itself abolished sedition as a criminal offence in 2009.



  • The spirit for adopting the laws even after post independence has been not for repression as was under the British rule but mainly to provide justice to the citizens of India. More changes are necessary in light of changing needs of the society so reforms with respect to judiciary, police, administrative aspects etc are necessary
  • Despite adopting some of the laws many changes have been made suitable to the needs of changing Indian society like official secrets act 1923 is being amended to make a seamless transition from the secrecy period of the 20th century to a modern and democratic transparency regime

General Studies – 2

Topic – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3)Critically examine whether the provisions of draft national telecom policy resemble a wishlist without addressing the key issues plaguing the telecom sector?(250 words)


Financial express


Why this question

The government has come out with the draft national telecom policy which has several ambitious targets like ‘Connect India’ , ‘Propel India’, ‘Secure India’ which aim to revolutionize the telecom sector in India. However, it remains to be examined whether the provisions of the policy facilitate the easing of concerns like lack of finances, infrastructural bottlenecks etc. Hence this topic becomes important.

Key demand of the question

The question asks us to bring out the aims of the policy and examine whether these aims are merely a bunch of wishes or whether the provisions are sufficient to achieve the aims and address the issues. We are also required to analyze the provisions in the light whether they help in resolving the issues faced by the telecom sector in India.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . In the case of above question on draft telecom policy , you have to examine the issue in line with the key demand of the question.


Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention the status quo of telecom sector in India and the need for coming out with a policy.


  • Mention the aims of the policy. ‘Connect India’ , ‘Propel India’, ‘Secure India’. Discuss whether they are in line with what we need.
  • Discuss the issues faced by the sector. Pricing of spectrum, ensuring profitability, infrastructural improvement
  • Discuss the provisions designed to achieve our vision. Discuss whether they are adequate in light of the issues faced. To support your stand quote from the studies mentioned in the article
  • Mention the changes that should be brought in the policy to make it more effective.

Conclusion – reiterate the importance of a policy and the refining needed in it.


  • Recently the draft of National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 i.e.,National Digital Communications Policy 2018 has been released for public consultations by the government.

Draft telecom policy:-

  • The key strategies in the draft talks of recognizing spectrum as a key natural resource for public benefit to achieve India’s socio-economic goals
  • The policy aims to accomplish some of the strategic objectives by 2022 including:
    1. Provisioning of Broadband for all
    2. Creating four million additional jobs in the digital communications sector
  • Enhancing the contribution of the digital communications sector to eight percent of India’s GDP from around six percent in 2017
  1. Enhancing India’s contribution to global value chains
  2. Ensuring digital sovereignty
  • It has a three point action plan
    1. ‘Connect India’ under which it plans to set up a robust digital communications infrastructure
    2. ‘Propel India’ where the power of emerging digital technologies, including 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet Of Things (IoT) will be harnessed
  • ‘Secure India’ to focus on ensuring individual autonomy and choice, data ownership, privacy and security

Features of the draft policy:-

  • There would be the optimal pricing of the spectrum to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communications
  • Enabling light touch licensing/ de-licensingfor broadband proliferation
  • Promoting the co-use/ secondary use of spectrum
  • It also outlined roadmap for high in demand backhaul spectrum for transmitting signals between mobile towers in E and V band as per international best practices.
  • Constituting a Spectrum Advisory Team (SAT) consisting of experts, industry, and academia to facilitate the identification of new bands, applications and efficiency measures to catalyze innovation and efficient spectrum management
  • It proposes identifying and making available new spectrum bands for access and backhaul segments for timely deployment and growth of 5G networks and making available harmonized and contiguous spectrum required for deployment of next-generation access technologies
  • Setting up National Broadband Mission
    • The draft talks of establishing a ‘National Broadband Mission -Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure universal broadband access for implementation of broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and PPP:
      • BharatNet for providing 1Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps
      • GramNet for connecting all key rural development institutions with 10Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps
      • NagarNet for establishing one- million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas
      • JanWiFi for establishing two-million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas
      • Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take Optical fiber to the home, to enterprises, and to key development institutions in tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters
    • Setting up Telecom Ombudsman
      • It talks about establishing effective institutional mechanisms to protect consumers’ interests including a Telecom Ombudsman and a centralized web-based complaint redressal system
      • The Telecom Commission has already approved setting up of the Telecom Ombudsman and has asked TRAI to take care of it
    • Roadmap for Green Telecom in India
      • The Policy talks of incentivizing the use of renewable energy technologies in the communications sector
      • This includes utilization of small cell fuel batteries, lithium-ion batteries or other similar technologies and promoting research and development of green telecom


  • High spectrum price and related charges have been main concern of telecom services segment which is reeling under a debt of around Rs 7.8 lakh crore. The draft policy also proposes recognising of mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks.
  • The policy recognises the importance of continued improvement in the regulatory framework for attracting investments and ensuring fair competition, to serve the needs of Indian citizens.
  • Given the sector’s capital-intensive nature, the policy aims to attract long-term, high quality and sustainable investments
  • It aims to pursue regulatory reforms to ensure that the regulatory structures and processes remain relevant, transparent, accountable and forward-looking.
    • Policy promises to remove regulatory barriers and reduce the regulatory burden that hampers investments, innovation and consumer interest.
  • Draft of the policy is progressive and the government is keen to deliver widest range of new services and technologies to the Indian consumers at affordable costs.
  • It has placed significant emphasis on building a strong fiber network in India.


  • Government did not do anything about spectrum prices which were increased due to restricted supply.
  • Implementation could be a big challenge in the light of existing licensing regime.
  • Proposals in the draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018 policy have found mention in earlier regulations and vision statements of the telecom regulator or the Department of Telecom.
    • For example ,making broadband access available to every citizen. This was already the stated objective of the Centre when the National Telecom Policy was rolled out in 2012.
    • Restructuring C-DOT as a premier telecom research and development centre:-
      • This was the intent with which C-DOT was set up in 1984
    • Similarly, there is mention of finding synergies between telecom public sector undertakings. This exercise was first started in 2002 but nothing has come of it till date.
  • Woes of telecom industry:-
    • Telecom industry is in the middle of a massive crisis
    • On the one hand operators are under a massive financial strain, with declining profits and growing debt while on the other there is tremendous pressure on them to invest more into building networks to satiate the growing demand for data services.
    • The 2018 policy very emphatically states that it envisions investments of $100 billion in the digital communications sector but the reality is that none of the existing players is in a position to put that money on the table
    • There is no clarity or any roadmap on reduction of the financial stress of the industry.

Way forward:-

  • Government should focus on putting together a roadmap explaining how it will execute these initiatives.
    • For instance, the new policy states that incentivising manufacturing of semiconductor chips is one of the top priority areas. The Centre has already rolled out a policy in this regard which has failed to attract any player so far due to a number of reasons.
    • The new policy should have gone into these reasons and proposed a plan to fix the shortcomings.
  • Need to offer a clear roadmap of how it plans to provide fiscal relief to the industry rather than merely restating that the plan is to rationalise government taxes and levies for the sector in addition to giving critical infrastructure status to the industry.

Topic – India and its bilateral relations

4)India’s China policy is inadequate and suffers from the baggages of history. Analyze and discuss the changes required in our China policy.(250 words)

Financial express

Indian express


Why this question

With the recent conclusion of Wuhan Summit, India China relationship has progressed from the nadir it found itself in the recent past. Going forward, it becomes important to take stock of our existing China policy and examine whether our antagonistic stance is principled or clouded by history.

Key demand of the question

The question asks us to discuss the following issues

  • Evaluation of India’s current China policy and examine whether it is in line with our national interest or whether it is on account of trepidation of history. Here we will have to analyze the policy from all possible angles and evaluate its pros and cons
  • Thereafter, we need to discuss the changes we think are required. Here , if we feel that no change is required, one can justify that stand while explaining why changes would be bad. Similarly in the other case.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of India China relations by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When you are asked to analyze, you have to examine each part of the problem. It is a broader term than ‘Examine’.

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

  • Analysing India’s China policy
    • Geostrategic – power imbalance, border infrastructure etc. Discuss that despite a war in the past, Doklam issue etc India’s border preparedness is low
    • Geopolitical – whether our policy is principled equidistance or whether it wouldn’t make sense to not side with China. Discuss the violation of trust by Chinese in 1962
    • Economic – discuss that trade imbalance issue not addressed
    • Etc
  • Discuss whether India’s China policy ignores present reality because it is clouded by history
  • Discuss what changes are required. Examine what will be the advantages from those changes and the losses of status quo prevails. Eg opposition to BRI. Whether it should change or whether our stance to oppose CPEC is correct. Discuss whether India should use its leverage as a swing state to ensure it is heard by China. Etc


Conclusion – provide a summary of the discussion above

India’s China policy and why changes are needed in it:-

  • Several factors have led to a questioning whether India’s policy is adequate, beginning with the baggage of history a post-1962 policy that focused on placing the territorial dispute at the centre with trade and people-to-people contacts at the periphery. India’s China policy was tactical in intent and may have well-suited the times and climes so far.
  • But, a long-term strategy and vision is needed to guide India’s engagement with China.
  • India’s China policy is no longer adequate to address China’s key power status cemented by its dramatic rise and emergence as the world’s second most important player.
  • Neighbours moving away from India :-
    • Nepal:-
      • The China-Nepal bus service along the 736-km Kodari Highway was started .Recently China- Nepal are considering multiple areas of cooperation be it trade, projects etc.
    • China’s dominance in Pakistan, Srilanka, Maldives is a concern to India.
    • China’s relationship with Pakistan has been a major source of concern in India. Its role in strengthening Pakistan’s conventional, missile and nuclear capabilities is especially highlighted. India also disapproves of China’s assistance to Pakistan in developing projects and infrastructure in area disputed between India and Pakistan.
  • Border infrastructure still abysmal:-
    • China is becoming more aggressive as is already seen in the disputes in the South China Sea. The Doklam crisis only confirmed that but yet Indian approach towards border management has not improved.
  • Differences are not restricted to the boundary dispute. Tibet remains a key source of tension between the two countries though the two countries have found a way to manage their differences on the issue for now.
  • Water is the resource that has become the subject of tension specifically Chinese dam construction on its side of the Brahmaputra River. 
  • Technological:-
    •  Indian companies also privately express concerns about cyber-espionage. Overall, reports of cyber-attacks on Indian  government  and military networks allegedly emanating from China have done nothing to decrease distrust that persists, especially among the public.
  • The lack of trust in China and its intentions:-
    • The legacy of history remains a problem. Every time there is a border incident it reinforces the narrative that has prevailed in many quarters in India since the 1962 China-India war that China cannot be trusted.
    • This problem is made worse by limited connectivity and communications, and little knowledge about the other country even though these have improved.
  • Economic:-
    • There’s much concern about the trade imbalance

India’s china policy has become practical in the recent years:-


  • Based on some reports, India is not inviting Australia to the Malabar naval exercises this year so the next logical step in crystallising the quad process has been stalled for the time being.
  • While India has not changed its stand on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI), the report of a joint India-China development project in Afghanistan does soften the Indian opposition.
  • Both the countries are taking some visible steps to energise their economic and commercial relationship, given the threat of rising protectionism from the US.
  • In the Wuhan consensus joint commitment to maintain peace and tranquillity over the entire India-China border is stated and the direction is given by the leaders to their respective militaries to observe restraint, scrupulously implement Confidence Building Measures and strengthen communication links at all levels.
    • The avoidance of provocative behaviour by both militaries deployed at the border is critical to maintaining the overall relationship on an even keel. This understanding augurs well for the future.
  • There is a reversion to the policy of abjuring any official relationship with Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
  • In spite of the Doklam stand-off, differences over issues like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s continuous blocking of efforts to declare JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN, trade between the two countries went up to reach $84.44 billion USD in 2017 (an 18 per cent rise from the previous year).

What changes are needed:-

  • India-China relations must be managed through a mix of competitive and cooperative policies and regular leadership-level interaction.
  • The only effective instrument for managing India-China relations will be a significant, sustained and rapid development of India’s economic and security capabilities, thus narrowing the power gap between the two Asian giants.
  • The two sides need to build mutual strategic trust based on the fact that their common understanding and shared interests are greater than their divergences.
  • The two countries should realize that they offer each other opportunities without posing any threat, and that peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation are the right choice for them.
  • The two countries should prudently and discreetly deal with sensitive issues, including the border dispute, and should not allow such issues to restrain the further development of bilateral ties.
  • There are several areas, apart from trade and investment, in which the two sides can strengthen cooperation, such as infrastructure construction, urbanization, food security and climate change.
  • The two countries militaries should maintain regular high-level and non-confrontational dialogues, in order to reduce strategic miscalculations and enhance strategic trust.
  • The two sides should also build a communication and coordination mechanism to manage their overseas interests, and organize dialogues at academic, media and cultural levels, as well as exchanges between NGOs as a way to improve bilateral ties.


  • China and India are two bodies, one spirit. So long as the two sides deepen their exchanges and reduce suspicion the strategic value of cooperation would be evident and people would be confident of China-India relations. 

General Studies – 3

TopicConservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management.

5)India must realise that its problems are larger than the WHO estimates, and take the call to action seriously. Examine in the light of the recent WHO report on air pollution. (250 words)

The Hindu



Why this question

the problem of air pollution is not new to Indian cities. However, this is a very serious public-health problem that needs to be addressed at the earnest, especially given that the situation is not better even in rural areas. The question is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment,

Disaster and disaster management.

Key demand of the question

The question simply wants us to give reasons in support of the statement that, Indian air pollution problem is worse than the recent WHO estimates and why there is a dire need to take call to action.

Directive word

Examine- we have to put forward justifications in the form of facts/ examples/ arguments in support of the given statement. we have to bring out the urgency of the problem that warrants immediate action.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– briefly mention some key facts from the recent WHO report on air pollution.

Body– Divide the body into two main parts.

Part A- discuss why the problem of air pollution is more severe in India than apparent state. Justify your stand. e.g very low number of air quality monitoring infrastructure, disparity in their distribution- (rural vs urban, urban vs metros), burning of agricultural residues in rural areas, use of pesticides,mining and other such areas not covered under monitoring  etc.

Part B- discuss the urgency of the problem.

e.g its health effects on vulnerable people, economic effects of prevention and treatment, very bad situation already etc.

Conclusion– present a concise, fair and balanced opinion on the above issue and mention the importance and need of programmes like PM Ujwala Yojana


  • According to a new report of World Health Organization, toxic levels of pollution led to the early annual death of an estimated 7 million people.

WHO report on air pollution:-

  • The report highlights not only how widespread air pollution is in urban India, but also how deficient air quality monitoring is. The report, which summarised 2016 data for 4,300 cities, ranks 14 Indian cities among the 20 most polluted ones globally.
  • Pollution-choked cities have only one PM 2.5 monitoring station each, while Delhi has several.
  • Air pollution is not a problem of large metropolises alone, even though they have traditionally been the focus of mitigation efforts
  • In 2016 alone around 4.2 million people died owing to outdoor air pollution, while 3.8 million people succumbed to dirty cooking fuels such as wood and cow dung. About a third of these deaths occurred in Southeast Asian countries, which include India. 

India’s problems :-

  • Rural India:-
    • As the recently published draft National Clean Air Programme noted, there are currently no air pollution monitoring stations in rural India.
    • This does not mean outdoor air pollution is not a problem here. Studies have shown that ozone levels are higher in rural areas, as is pollution from insecticide use and crop-burning.
  • Lack of monitoring:-
    • Only 303 cities out of 6,166 census cities and towns that is a mere five per cent are monitored for pollution.
    • Of the 303, only 57 cities have continuous real-time monitoring stations.
    • The rest follow manual monitoring that does not allow daily reporting of real-time air quality data.
    • For the manual monitoring stations, there is simply no way of trusting the data as there is no transparency about when that data is collected, whether it is collected daily, et al.
  • Health impact:-
    • 2017 state level Global Disease Burden report shows that air pollution has moved up the ranks as a major killer in nearly all states across India
    • The 35-60 age group is the most vulnerable to non-communicable diseases and has witnessed increased vulnerability to air pollution. 
    • While air pollution is hurting the country’s exchequer, it’s also associated with certain cancers, lower birth weight, premature birth, strokes and respiratory disease. 
  • Lack of policy:-
    • There is little evidence that either the central or Delhi government has any effective policy strategy for air pollution.
    • India’s political inefficiency is making regional air pollution a nearly intractable problem.
  • Lack of coordination:-
    • Although the states of Haryana and Punjab have banned farmers from burning straw, implementation has been minimal.
    • Policy coordination is also weak across states governed by rival political parties.
      • For example, the leaders of Delhi and Haryana have publicly clashed about who is to blame for air pollution. They have also failed to hold discussions about the problem or to find feasible solutions.
    • Level of apathy among the government and general public.
      • In India, public outrage over air pollution is still seasonal and rarely swells beyond social media.
    • Don’t know the sources of air pollution:
      • 2008 was when data on pollution sources was last collected in cities.
      • Study by IIT Kanpur for Delhi revealed that the contribution of each source of pollution vehicles, waste burning, construction dust changes with the seasons, but most cities don’t have this information.
    • Multidimensional issue:-
      • Environmentalists were blaming urbanisation, incessant construction, the rising number of cars and two wheelers, lengthening traffic jams, Diwali firecrackers and the burning of garbage for most of the pollutants that now regularly hang in the Delhi air. 
      • Problem is also with the rice straw and husk left behind after threshing and milling.
        • Punjab harvested a colossal 18 million tonnes of paddy in 2016, but with it came 34 million tonnes of straw and husk. Since rice straw is no longer fed to cattle in Punjab and Haryana, it too is being burned.

Measures needed :-

  • Central government must intervene to coordinate collaborative policy among states and hold officials accountable for inaction.
  • Central government should also reinforce state-level initiatives to minimise burning and promote sustainable farming.
  • Public role:-
    • Landfills are constantly on fire exposing lakhs of people to carcinogenic emissions. This is a common problem in all cities. If people segregated garbage at home, there would be no burning of waste. People can also choose public transport, or pick electric and CNG vehicles.
  • Gasification of rice straws can solve the problem of air pollution.
    • Gasifying the straw and stubble in a two-stage process that yields a fuel gas that can be used for cooking, heating and power generation, and any type of transport fuel
  • WHO praises for India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme, which has provided 37 million women living below the poverty line with LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections. Such schemes will also help cut the indoor air pollution that plagues much of rural India, which is not covered in the WHO analysis
  • Adopt Chinese model:-
    • Chinese government has taken a systematic and coordinated approach to managing air pollution. It has adopted a suite of policies that promote alternative energy and punish regulatory breaches.
    • The country is rapidly scaling back capacity for coal-fired power and steel. China is also soliciting foreign investment in green energy technologies, and has intensified inspections of major polluters.
    • Fines for pollution topped USD$ 28 million in 2015 in Beijing alone
    • To combat vehicle exhaust smoke, an annual quota of 150,000 new cars was established for 2017, with 60,000 allotted only to fuel efficient cars.

General Studies – 4

TOPIC :Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6) What do you understand by open source intelligence(OSI). Discuss the key ethical issues involved in the field of OSI.(250 words)



Why this question

OSI is a comparatively new but rapidly rising field of data collection for the purposes of gathering intelligence to be used further. The field poses certain ethical questions and concerns. The question is related to GS-4 syllabus under the following heading- Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Key demand of the question.

the question wants us to describe the concept of OSI. Then it wants us to discuss the key ethical issues involved in OSI.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to dig deep into the given issue and write in detail about all the key ethical issues involved therein.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Give a simple but complete definition of OSI.


A- discuss the sources from which data is gathered under OSI

B- discuss the key issues involved- lack of knowledge and consent of the person whose data is gathered, prone to misuse, threat to privacy and personal liberty. Also responsibility of netizens to protect their data, role of government etc

Conclusion– present your opinion on the deployment of OSI and what safeguards need to be placed to prevent unethical use of open source data.


This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.




Providing for safety and security is a core task of the state. The rapid development of technology has, in many ways, affected the dynamics of this responsibility. Intelligence- and security agencies and the police increasingly rely on information technology that facilitates the collection of Open Source Information (OSINF).

Open source intelligence :-

  • OSINF forms the basis of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), which is gathered through publicly available sources that are unclassified and include sources ranging from (foreign) newspapers, governmental reports, public data, maps, academic sites to blogs, social networking sites, apps and web-based communities
  • It is information that is not classified nor under any property constraints. It doesn’t matter if the data has been produced for a broad audience or for a selected one.

Open source intelligence is used because:-


  • It also provides extra information which sometimes cannot be gained by other intelligence sources (e.g. human intelligence).
  • In addition, as a result of the wide availability of (local) news coverage throughout the internet, the use of online open sources enables security  and intelligence agencies to be more up-to-date.
  • Simultaneously, online open sources may in times of crisis  g. a war be a more reliable and safe way of acquiring intelligence than by polarized human  intelligence.
  • The large scale usage of (online) open sources has created new contexts and perspectives that assist intelligence and security agencies to better understand the complexity of certain security developments within local or national contexts.
  • It enables intelligence  and security agencies to verify (classified) information with various open media sources and data.

Ethical issues:-

  • Legitimacy of the growing use of OSINF cannot be derived solely from the pursuit of security or safety concerns.
  • Effects for human rights:-
  • Freedom of internet and the rights to privacy and data protection:-
    • Important dilemma with the processing of the information that is collected from the social media relates to the storage of large datasets that contain quantities  of digital personal information.
    • Subsequently, data analysis tools are used to discover previously unknown, valid patterns and relationships.
  • Lack of consent:-
    • Data mining tools in relation to collected information from e.g. social networking sites can be used by  law enforcement and security  and intelligence agencies to develop risk profiles  and label individuals as potential security risks. For most people this profiling takes
      place without the data subject even knowing that he or she is being profiled.
    • This development has led to significant concerns about privacy and data-protection as well as the right to a fair trial
  • Violation of personal liberty and privacy:-
    • Data mining of social  networking sites for security and intelligence purposes is therefore a violation of privacy.
  • Ensuring accountability is more complex if the information is not collected by the security agency itself, but by other public or private entities.


Therefore there is a need to encourage strong  legal frameworks, a global set of standards that can make all organisations in this area of domain accountable.