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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 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

Topic:  The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors
/contributions from different parts of the country.

1) A real breakthrough in terms of revolutionary ideology and the goals of revolution and the forms of revolutionary struggle was made by Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Critically analyze.(250 words)

India’s struggle for independence Pg 245

Key demand of the question

The question is making an assertion that the revolutionary ideology espoused by Bhagat Singh and his comrades were a break from the past revolutionary ideology. We have to critically analyze this claim by examining how Bhagat Singh made a breakthrough in the ideology. We also have to bring out those aspects of the ideology which were not transformed. Based on this, we have to provide our view on whether Bhagat Singh and his comrades actually made a breakthrough in the revolutionary ideology.

Directive word

Critically 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. You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them. Here focus on the terms goals of revolution and the forms of revolutionary struggle and mould your answer under these two heads.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention details of the new phase of the revolutionary terrorists which is being talked about in the question such as where did it behind, what was the overall objective etc


  • Discuss the changes brought about in the revolutionary ideology by Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Eg talk about the ideas of socialism like ending exploitation of man by man, focus on peasant and labour organisation, lesser emphasis on individual acts of heroism etc
  • Discuss the things that did not change in the ideology. Eg they could not realise that gaining mass support was needed, post the lathi charge etc they again resorted to their tested method of individual acts of heroism etc

Conclusion – Present your view on the assertion based on the arguments made above.


  • Bhagat Singh is one of the only national heroes, perhaps after Gandhi, who is venerated across India. This could be attributed to his appeal as a martyr, which cuts across his and his comrades political ideologies.

Revolutionary ideology and goals of revolution:-

  • Hindustan republican association’s manifesto had been declared in 1925 that it stood for abolition of all systems which make the exploitation of man by man possible. Its founding council had decided to preach social revolutionary and communistic principles.
    • The HRA had also decided to start labour and peasant organizations and to work for an organized and armed revolution.
  • Emphasizing the role of ideas in the making of  revolution, Bhagat Singh declared that the sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting-stone of ideas. This atmosphere of wide reading and deep thinking pervaded the ranks of the HSRA leadership. 
  • Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha :-
    • Singh had turned to Marxism and had come to believe that popular broad-based mass movements alone could lead to a successful revolution.
    • That is why Bhagat Singh helped  establish the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1926 as the open wing of the revolutionaries. 
    • The Sabha was to carry out open political work among the youth, peasants and workers. 
  • Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev also organized the Lahore Students Union for open, legal work  among the students. 
  • Patient intellectual and political work appealed to be too slow and too 
    akin to the Congress style of politics which the revolutionaries wanted to transcend. 
  • Revolution:-
    • Bhagat Singh and his comrades also gave expression to their understanding that revolution meant the development and
      organization of a mass movement of the exploited and
      suppressed sections of society by the revolutionary intelligentsia
    • Bhagat Singh and his comrades also made a major advance in broadening the scope and definition of revolution. Revolution was no longer equated with mere militancy or violence. Its first objective was national liberation the overthrow of imperialism. 
    • But it must go beyond and work for a new socialist social order, it must bend exploitation of man by man.
    • Bhagat Singh understood the danger communalism posed to the nation and the national movement.
    • Bhagat Singh also saw the importance of freeing the people from the mental bondage of religion and superstition.
    • Committed to inquilab (revolution), but not merely a political revolution. He wanted a social revolution to break age-old discriminatory practices such as untouchability, gender discrimination etc.
  • Armed revolution:-
    • Singh believed that something as precious as Independence can only be achieved by a thorough cleansing of the exploitative nature of imperialism.
    • He opined that such change can only be brought forward by means of an armed revolution, in similar lines to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. He introduced the slogan “Inquilab Zindabad” which sort of transformed into the war cry of the Indian Independence movement.


  • Government action gradually decimated the revolutionary terrorist ranks.
  • Politics of the revolutionary terrorists had severe 
    limitations :-
    • Theirs was not the politics of a mass movement
    • They failed to politically activate the masses or move them into political actions
    • They could not even establish contact with the masses.
    • Post the lathi charge during Simon commission they again resorted to their tested method of individual acts of heroism etc.


Bhagat Singh and his comrades  made an abiding contribution to the national freedom movement. Their deep patriotism,courage and determination, and sense of sacrifice stirred the Indian people. They helped spread nationalist consciousness in the land.

General Studies – 2

TopicIndia and its neighborhood- relations.

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

2) Recent strategic decisions indicate a post-normative turn in India’s foreign policy. Critically analyse.(250 words) 

The hindu


Why this question

India’s foreign policy has gone some major changes in the recent years, some of which are in contrast with the norms laid down by our foreign policy in the past. This reshuffle has positive as well as negative repercussions. The issue is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

India and its neighborhood- relations.

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

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to provide an account of the major changes witnessed in India’s foreign policy and then analyse in detail, the pros as well as cons of such change. We have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Directive word

Critically analyze- we have to identify the key demand of the question and present our personal opinion on the issue. Here we have to give an account of, and bring out the pros as well as cons of the recent change in the foreign policy of India. Based on that analysis we have to form ou personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Briefly discuss the key tenets of India’s traditional foreign policy- panchsheel and non-alignment etc.


  • Discuss the changes in India’s foreign policy- e.g US replacing Russia as major defence partner, increased cooperation with Israel along with shift in stance on Israel-Palestine conflict, treatment of Rohingya refugees- in contrast to earlier instances of handling international migration etc.
  • Discuss the pros and necessities of such a change in foreign policy.

E.g change in international order and sturdy growth of Indian economy and interests,  realpolitik, wish to join the league of developed nations etc.

  1. Discuss the cons of such a policy.

E.g Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement gives comparatively less advantage to India, fading appeal of SAARC, presence of a politico-ideological narrative in foreign policy could be counter productive for a diverse country like India etc.

Conclusion– Form a fair and balanced conclusion on the above issue and mention changing national interests and international order which make foreign policy highly dynamic etc.




Background :-

  • There are some core principles of India’s foreign policylike Panchsheel. It in turn consists of 5 principles 
    1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
    2. Mutual non-aggression
    3. Mutual non- interference
    4. Equality and mutual benefit
    5. Peaceful co-existence

Post normative turn in Indian foreign policy :-

  • India’s evolving foreign policy imagination, the pursuit of power and influence seems to eclipse the country’s traditions of normative behaviour and principled positions.

Recent strategic decisions that indicate a post normative turn are :-

  • Rohingya refugee issue:-
    1. India’s response to the Rohingya crisis is in stark contrast to its long tradition of offering refuge to the region’s homeless.
  • India-Israel-Palestine:-
    1. Through the much-publicised celebration of the India-Israel partnership, the government has made it clear that it seeks to pursue a foreign policy guided by realpolitik.
    2. From being ideological opponents to maintaining a relationship in the closet, India and Israel have come a long way. 
    3. Experts feel that India is not paying much heed to accusations of human rights violations against Tel Aviv, its blatant refusal to abide by various UN resolutions, or the manner in which Israel discards the political rights of the Palestinians.
  • Non-alignment :-
    • Once used to be the cornerstone of India’s foreign policy, but now a bit neglected. 
  • Relations with US and Russia :-
    • With the U.S. designating India as a Major Defence Partner, it is one India’s closest strategic partners today. In 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. which gives both sides access to designated military facilities for refuelling and replenishment.
    • In 2014, the U.S. replaced Russia as India’s largest defence supplier, and the Russians started negotiating arms sales with Pakistan that same year.

Pros of this approach :-

  • When free from ideological constraints and legacy dilemmas, states can pursue their self-interest with a free hand. There will be lot more flexibility to determine the demands of national interest
  • India’s post-normative approach to external behaviour also is a recognition of the importance of the pursuit of power in the contemporary international system.
  • In that sense then, the new foreign policy thinking in the country has some merits.

Cons of this approach:-

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)is seemed to be put aside
  • Signing of LEMOA with US is creating insecurity in Russia and China that India is part of US alliance even though India denies it.
  • In 2016, only for the second time ever, India’s Prime Minister was not present at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit. SAARC and NAM, both India-centric institutions, have been sidelined by India’s own conscious efforts .
  • . Choosing to exclusively focus on hard power for foreign policy outcomes sidelines rich soft power attributes
    • New India’s foreign policy choices also indicates the company it wishes to keep in the comity of nations and what it wants from the international system. It seems to neglect fighting towards an equitable international order and the company of developing nations.
  • Post-normative India is also an aggressive India, and non-violence has become less than routine.
    • Indian leaders now are openly threaten neighbours of military strikes, and military leaders display a growing fondness for making domestic political statements.
    • Confrontation seems to have displaced quiet diplomacy as India’s favoured tool for conflict resolution

Way forward :-

  • Pursuit of national interest is a complex affair, and norms, values and soft power should co-exist with the pursuit of hard power.

Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive

3) Grassroot bureaucracy in India suffers from several flaws and merits reform. Examine. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Implementation challenge is indeed a recurrent theme in Indian administration and understanding the reasons behind such challenge becomes critical. This is how  we can suggest related reforms to enable alleviation of these issues. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

Following points are to be detailed out in your answer

  • What do you mean by grassroot bureaucracy
  • What are the flaws in its working and the challenges arising out of these flaws
  • Whether reforms are required and if yes, the details of the reforms required

Directive word

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 . Discuss the issues as highlighted above.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss what grassroot bureaucracy is and why is it important to evaluate their performance by highlighting some of the challenges arising out of their functioning.


  • Discuss the issues plaguing grassroot bureaucracy due to which they face challenges in their functioning
  • Discuss the causes behind these shortcomings in grassroot bureaucracy – take ideas from the article as well as any other relevant point you can think of
  • Analyze the impacts of a less than optimum bureaucracy
  • Comment briefly on whether reforms are required or not
  • Highlight the reforms required based on your reading of 2nd ARC etc

Conclusion – Mention the need for an optimum bureaucracy to ensure that the developmental needs are met and steps that should be taken in this regard.

Grassroots bureaucracy:-

  • The apex unit of field administration is the district
  • The district is governed through three streams.
    1. State government departments have their separate offices at various levels to implement departmental programmes.
    2. The district collector, responsible for the whole district, is the overall administrative authority and coordinator. The collector is appointed by the State government but has close contact with the people and grassroots officials, and consequently responds to pressures from the top as well as below.
    3. Democratically elected local governments are expected to be autonomous and act as per local interests.

Several flaws in grass root bureaucracy:-

  • Structure of administration:-
    • Structure of administration that is created through the relative powers of these three streams of authority promotes fragmentation, centralisation, and non-responsiveness to local needs.
    • The district offices are controlled tightly by the State departments, which stipulate programmes and activities, make most decisions about the personnel, issue detailed directives, and inspect field offices. This promotes centralisation, with orders from the top taking priority over needs from the ground.
  • Role of collector is constrained:-
    • The district collector has some capacity to coordinate. But his/her authority over the district departmental offices is much less than that of the state departments.
    • The collector has limited authority over personnel and little say in programmes for socio-economic development.
    • The collector’s authority varies a great deal across departments.
    • Consequently, at the district level, sustained, coordinated action for socio-economic development is difficult.
  • Coordinated action is very difficult at local level:-
    • Departments have offices at different geographic units, and there is no accepted coordinator at all. This further reduces the capacity of coordinated action and responsiveness to local needs.
  • Lack of proper role and capacity building:-
    • Local elected representatives are usually keenly aware of the needs and problems on the ground, and motivated to address them. But the potential of local governments to address local needs is not realised, as they are disempowered.
    • As per law, local governments are responsible for socio-economic development, but they exercise little actual authority, and State governments keep changing their powers.
    • Role of local governments tends to be unclear, resulting in conflict between political representatives and officials, which leads to further disempowerment.
    • The Indian bureaucracy is structured so that the least skilled and lowest paid personnel actually implement government programmes. However, to deliver on the ground, a very high order of skills is often required. Success is unlikely if the person undertaking this task has poor understanding and skills.
  • Shortage of personnel:-
    • At the field level, there is an acute shortage of personnel. The availability of technical personnel is very patchy.
  • Focus on output and not on outcomes:-
    • Rigid departmental programmes frame all activities and officials define their roles in terms of implementing programmes rather than goals such as reducing malnutrition.
  • Failure of technology:-
    • Technology has also added to centralisation by strengthening links between the State departments and the field offices, rather than links between the field officials and the community.
    • State government officials are able to monitor district officials more closely, but because of the very limited penetration of technologies such as the internet in rural areas, the community-government links have not been enhanced significantly.
    • The basic flaws of excessive centralisation and authoritarianism have only been strengthened.
  • These problems are exacerbated by widespread corruption, which further reduces professionalism.
  • In recent years, several measures have been taken to enhance accountability to the community, such as the Right to Information Act, social audits, and public service guarantee acts in various States. But no significant change in the administrative capacity or ethos has been visible, because structural and capacity constraints and unproductive working processes that bog field-administration remain unaddressed.

Way forward:-

  • Second ARC report recommendation :-
    • There must be a single elected District Council with representatives from all rural and urban
      that will function as a true local government for the entire district. In such a scheme, 

      the District Council should be responsible for all the local functions, including those listed for them in the Eleventh and Twelfth Schedules.
    • The District Collector- cum-the Chief Officer would have dual responsibility and would be fully accountable to the elected District Government on all local matters, and to the State Government on all regulatory matters not delegated to the District Government.”
    • The following steps should be taken to modernize the local level bureuracy:-
      • Management Information System (MIS) should be set-up in the office of the Collector for effective monitoring and evaluation of programmes/ projects under his direct control. 
      • A computerized District Grievance Cell should also be set up in the Collectorate.
    • Social audits need to be strengthened by educating and make people aware.
    • During policy formation and implementation both civil society members should be consulted so that the measures should be taken properly.

General Studies – 3

TOPIC: Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related

4)Improving agriculture productivity entails greater focus on agricultural research and education, along with extension and training (AgRE&XT). Analyse.(250 words) 

Financial express

Why this question

Agriculture is the mainstay of Indian economy and question related to agriculture are often asked in mains. Moreover, agriculture extension is a very important aspect of agriculture on which much focus has not been given by government so far, which means that India’s performance is not up to the mark. Hence understanding the issues in AgRE&ST becomes important.

Key demand of the question

Following points are to be focused upon in your answer

  • Explain in brief why improving productivity is necessary and how agricultural extension services help in improving productivity
  • Examine India’s performance in providing such services to it’s farmers
  • Highlight where all are we falling short
  • Elucidate changes required

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 – explain why improving productivity is critical and thus focus on extension services is required.


  • Explain how agri extension services help in enhancing productivity
  • Analyze India’s performance so far in providing agri services to the farmers
  • Analyze where are we falling short – the causes due to which it’s not picking up. Eg lack of finances , personnel etc
  • Examine what are the changes required and whether improving productivity has some other quick fix.

Conclusion – Summarize the arguments above and mention the way forward .



  • Although agriculture contributes only around 17% to the country’s GDP, nearly half of India’s labour force (47%) works in the agrarian sector. With a predominantly rural backbone of the agrarian economy, efforts to improve agricultural labour productivity are needed to raise the living conditions of the majority of the population.

India’s measures in AgRE&XT:-

  • Soil and Water Testing Laboratories
    • These Testing Labs spreads across the country educate the farmers about various scientific tools for identifying superb soil and water for agricultural purposes. 
  • Agri-Price Support
    • Market intervention scheme involving procurement through a notified agency like Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), and Marketing Research and Information Network (AGMARKNET) etc, can surely be of great help in assuring fair returns to farmers.
  • Education on role of private investment in Agriculture
    • Efforts are being made to create favourable economic conditions to promote participation of the private enterprises in the establishment of Agro-based industries.
  • Education and awareness on credit facilities to farmers
    • To meet local credit needs of farmers, many Rural Credit Banks have been established

Why greater focus on agricultural research and education along with extension and training are needed :-

  • Agricultural productivity:-
    • Agricultural extension agencies provide advice, information, and other support services to farmers to enable them to improve the productivity of their crop and animal production and thereby their farm and non-farm incomes. 
    • Education is important to the improvement of agricultural productivity such that formal education opens the mind of the farmer to knowledge, non-formal education gives the farmer hands-on training and better methods of farming and informal education keeps the farmer abreast with changing innovations and ideas and allows farmer to share experience gained
  • Farmers require ongoing education to stay aware of fast-moving developments in technology, science, business management, and an array of other skills and fields that affect agricultural operations
  • Training helps farmers to incorporate the latest scientific advances and technology tools into their daily operations. The results of enhancing their operations with these tools increases efficiency and can also lead to:
    • Less harm to the environment
    • Reduced food contamination
    • Reduction of the need for water and chemicals for crops
    • Increased profits
  • Lack of funding:-
    • Despite efforts by the government to improve labour productivity, as per 2014-15 levels the total amount spent on AgRE&XT is only 0.7% of the GDP derived from agriculture (GDPA). This is against the minimum level of 2% as proposed by the World Bank. 
    • Eastern states, which are also some of the poorest in the country, spend the least on AgRE.
  • Inefficient use:
    • Of the total amount devoted to AgRE, about 70% is utilised for crop husbandry purposes, and only 10% is used for animal husbandry and dairy development. This is despite the growing importance of animal husbandry and dairy to the Indian masses.
  • No communication:-
    • AgRE&XT sector is plagued by disparate and disjointed entities and players (NGOs, public and private enterprises, and institutional bodies), without any channel of communication or synergy between them.
  • Lack of awareness leading to :-
    • In remote and disadvantaged areas, farmers are rarely contacted by extension agents.
    • Several farmers have committed suicide especially in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra because of indebtedness and repeated crop failures.
  • Though contract farming performed by agri-business companies do provide some kind of integrated support, they don’t focus on farmer organizational development.
  • Research support to better address the needs of small farmers:
    • Finding better ways of reaching the small & marginal farmers and tenant farmers especially those in the rainfed and difficult regions and providing them with integrated technical support would continue to remain as a major challenge for extension.
  • Manpower:-
    • Low manpower resources restrict the reach of KVKs to a limited number of farmers. Many KVKs are constrained by financial, infrastructural, and human resource limitations and unable to reach the farming community of a district
    • Number of extension personnel in India is, however, only one-sixth of that in China. With this meagre number of extension personnel, serving widely dispersed farmers with diversified information needs is a really hard task.
    • Moreover, most of the extension personnel are overburdened with multiple roles.
  • ICAR initiatives failure:-
    • Though ICAR’s extension initiatives have been important to transformations in Indian agriculture, their capacity and reach has always been limited compared to those of first-line extension systems run by State-level departments of agriculture.
    • Further, since agriculture is a State subject, the mode of organisation and operation of public extension systems vary widely across States.
  • The focus of agricultural extension has been on increasing yield with much less attention paid to ecosystem health and natural resource conservation.

Way forward:-

  • India should have to develop a Human Resource Management Plan at the state level to 
    figure out capacity gaps, bringing new expertise and enhancing capacities of existing human resources.
  • Under ATMA, extension to some extent has started expanding its mandate. For instance, it 
    extension has started organizing commodity interest groups. But again the focus remains
    mostly on provision of technical support. Many of these groups need marketing support

    hand holding support to evolve as federations to access new markets and develop new market relationships.
  • Extension still operates in the Research-Extension-Farmer paradigm that restricts its linkages 
    to only research and farmers. Extension needs to embrace systems frameworks such as
    innovation systems framework, which accommodates more number of actors, their interactions, role of institutions and learning to reinvent its future.
  • Economies with a developed agrarian structure, such as the US and China, have recently established private extension services for farmers who produce on a commercially-viable and enduring scale.
    • These involve receiving personally-curated information using technology and consultancy services using real-time data and agricultural inputs.
    • Although privatisation on a similar scale is not viable in India, the synergy present between different stakeholders in these developed agricultural economies can be emulated in India.
  • First priority of the government towards improving the efficiency of AgRE&XT should be creating a common channel of information-sharing and communication between all the stakeholders in the agricultural space.
  • It is recommended that the government improves the quality of formal education, extension services and adult literacy classes in the Municipality. Factors that affect productivity such as transportation, access to input and credit facility to farmers should be improved.
  • Effectively capitalising the global competitive advantage, Indian agricultural institutes have to work out policy with regards to technology, more market access opportunities, and more transparency.

TOPIC: environmental impact assessment

5) Examine the process related to granting environmental clearances in India and bring out the shortcomings in the process?(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The recent office memorandum, as highlighted in the article, talked about introducing certain changes in the process of granting environmental clearances. While the new idea of corporate environment Responsibility is important in itself, the important thing to be discussed is the entire process of EIA

Key demand of the question

The question expects that we detail out the entire process of EIA – both the operational as well as the legal angles. Thereafter, we are required to examine the status of environmental clearances in India and whether there are any shortcomings in the process which need to be eradicated.

Directive word

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 . Discuss the issues as highlighted above.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention about the need for having a sound environmental clearance process to ensure sustainable development.


  • Detail out the entire process including the legal and operational angles.
  • Discuss the current situation in India with regards to the said process to understand how the working of the process is.
  • Examine whether there are any shortcomings in the process which need to be reformed
  • Way forward

Conclusion – Mention that there is a need of paradigm shift in environmental management before the water crosses the bridge.


  • The environmental clearance process is required for many types of projects and covers aspects like screening, scoping and evaluation of the upcoming project.
  • The main purpose is to assess impact of the planned project on the environment and people and to try to abate/minimise the same.

Process related to granting environmental clearances in India :-

  • Environmental clearance is granted by the ministry of environment, and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006.
  • This notification details the process for granting EC.
    • It includes the structure of the EIA report, process of appraisal, and the conditions and safeguards that a company has to implement, including what the environment management plan should be.
  • The appraisal is carried out by the Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs), which largely comprise of ‘professionals and experts’. The appraisal procedure clearly states, ‘in case the project or activity is recommended for grant of EC, then the minutes shall clearly list out the specific environmental safeguards and conditions.
  • EIA Notification 2006 was issued under the sub-rule (3) of Rule 5 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. This rule gives powers to the central government to impose certain restrictions and prohibitions on the location of an industry, or the carrying out of processes and operations in an area, based on their potential environmental impacts..


Shortcomings :-

  • EC process in India involves a lot of paperwork with nothing to show on the ground.
  • Almost every project is cleared by EACs which consist of people not accountable to anyone
  • There is hardly any post-clearance monitoring. Hence, non-compliance of the safeguards and conditions is rampant.
  • Projects are granted EC after they have already come up.
  • Primary goal of the EC process is to ensure that projects are located and constructed in such a manner that they have the least possible impact on the environment. Unfortunately, the governments could not uphold this focus
  • The present clearance process with its sequential hurdles either forces a project proponent to give up the venture, as was reportedly the case with major road projects of late, or burdens the project with time and cost overruns.
  • The mindset underlying the clearance process seems to be two-fold. One, all projects deserve the same degree of examination and the other being, following the “Precautionary Principle”, it is better to err on the safe side and withhold clearance.
  • CAG:-
    • It criticized delays at every step in projects getting environment clearances (ECs) and highlighted that the ministry had not penalized even a single project for violation of EC conditions.

Way forward:-

  • CAG recommendations:-
    • The process of granting ECs by MoEFCC includes grant of ToRs for preparing EIA reports, public consultations before they are considered for granting or rejecting environment clearance.
    • EC letters should clearly mention cost of activities under the Environmental Management Plan along with the timelines for their implementation.
    • The capital and revenue expenditure amount to be spent on CSR cost should be distinctly specified in the EC letter.
    • EC conditions should be more specific for the area to be developed under green belt and species to be planted in consultation with forest/agriculture department along with post EC third party evaluation.
    • While prescribing the conditions of environment clearance, the details about installation of monitoring stations and frequency of monitoring of various environment parameters in respect of air, surface water, ground water noise, etc. are clearly mentioned.
    • It also said that the conditions of environment clearance should be compatible with the nature and type of project in order to avoid non-uniformity in similar kinds of projects.
  • The NCEPC, revived in a form reflecting the times, could be the body entrusted with the preparation of a workable policy document on “Environment and Development”.
    • It could be fashioned on the model of the White House Council on Environmental Quality functioning in the US directly under the President.
    • The Indian version could be under the Prime Minister advising him on matters referred to it by him or taken up by it suo moto for enquiry.
    • The reason for locating the Committee directly under the Prime Minister is that environment being an all-embracing term, the issues it would deal with would often be the concern of more than one ministry and their examination has necessarily to be undertaken with a perspective larger than what any individual department or ministry may have.
    • The revival of the NCEPC need not be at the cost of the MOEF:-
      • While the former would act as a senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister, the latter could continue to look after its present duties and responsibilities

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

6) Examine why majority of Agriculture credit provided by Indian banks under priority sector lending, does not accrue to small and marginal farmers.(250 words)

The hindu



Why this question

As per a report submitted by the RBI to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in response to its queries, only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-17 went to small and marginal farmers. This is a serious issue, given the need for credit by such farmers and, under the present intensity of agricultural stress. The issue is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us give an account of and bring out the reasons for poor disbursal of credit under priority sector lending to small and marginal farmers in India.

Directive word

Examine- we have to write down the key reasons behind the low disbursal/ accrual rates of credit to small and marginal farmers under PSL. We have to look into the details and accordingly frame our answer in alignment with the demand of the question.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Mention the recent RBI report which highlights the percentage of agricultural credit disbursed to small and marginal farmers under PSL.

Body– Discuss in points the main reasons behind the low rates of disbursal. Try to give a balanced answer, keeping in mind the concerns of all stakeholders, including banks.

E.g poor credit rating and worthiness of small and marginal farmers, high concentration of banks in agriculturally developed areas and towns and low concentration in areas where most of the small and marginal farmers live, political pressure to disburse loans to usually big farmers, shortage of staff and time on part of banks etc.

Conclusion– suggest a way forward- e.g Under the priority sector lending the mandate is not to reach a particular type of farmer therefore mandating necessary sub-targeting of small and marginal farmers, nudging private and foreign banks in this direction, motivating bank employees and relaxing quantitative targets while enhancing qualitative ones, using SECC and aadhar for proper targeting etc.



  • As per a report submitted by the RBI to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in response to its queries, only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-17 went to small and marginal farmers
  • The small and marginal farmers are missing out on the bulk of agricultural credit, as per information provided by the Reserve Bank of India, which showed they are receiving only 30-40% of loans meant for the sector.

Priority sector lending:-

  • The RBI’s rules are that 18% of a bank’s Adjusted Net Bank Credit must go to the agricultural sector and within this, 8% must go to small and marginal farmers

Why it does not accrue to small and marginal farmers:-

  • Larger farmers accrue loans:-
    • Some farmers, the larger ones and the ones closer to urban areas, are over-represented in terms of access to credit. Insofar as the priority sector lending mandates are concerned, the mandate is not to reach a particular type of farmer. So, the programme itself is not targeted.”
  • Costs are huge:-
    • While the banking sector has overall met this limit, there is still an inherent targeting problem arising out of the costs of lending to the sector.
    • Banks choose to lend to those areas where the cost of lending is lower, such as those close to urban areas, or to those farmers who are more credit-worthy. That is, the medium and large farmers.
    • The RBI data backs up this assertion, showing that only 34.5% of agricultural credit outstanding as of 2017 has gone to rural farmers.
  • Stress on public sector banks:-
    • Onus of providing agricultural credit is falling on the public sector banks, with 12 out of 23 of the private sector banks for which data is available having failed to meet the 18% lending target for the agricultural sector in 2017.
    • Since the subsidized nature of loans under the directed credit forces the banks to pay lower interest rates on deposits, this makes the deposits a less attractive avenue for the people which ultimately impacts the banks.
  • Agriculture and credit risk:-
    • Problem with priority sector loans is the lack of understanding of the sub-sectoral target groups, especially agriculture and the small and medium sector, as also weaker sections.
    • Further, given the vagaries of the monsoon that agriculture is susceptible to and the undiversified risk portfolios in such rural areas, the credit risks for such banks from such PSL would be extremely high.
    • The guidelines for agricultural credit and lending to weaker sections are extremely complex the commercial banks may not be the best equipped to handle beneficiary identification, credit risk assessment and loan disbursement to these sectors.
  • Recovery in Agriculture PSL sector is difficult:-
    • Because small and marginal farmers use the loan money for other purpose than it is actually taken. They use the loan money for social ceremonies like marriage, functions etc and sometime it is also used for paying old debts.
    • There is also wilful default in Agriculture PSL
  • Overload of work to bank employees:-
    • Due to Agriculture PSL work burden of bank officials also increase because the number of accounts are more and accounts are of small  amount. So pre sanction visit, post sanction visit, instalment reminder, recovery reminders and paper work increase. 
    • In Agriculture PSL there is lot of social, political and target pressure on bank officials. Apart from it due to target pressure of RBI, bank officials categorise non Agriculture PSL loans as Agriculture PSL loans. 
    • The biggest problem in Agriculture PSL is that there is no motivation for increasing such lending. Bank’s official’s performance is not considered for how  many loans they have given, but it is considered on total amount of loans. Bank officials are not given any kind of monetary benefit or reward for increasing such type of loan.

Way forward:-

  • Diversion of loans can be stopped if there will be tight monitoring of the bank officials on the use of loans. 
  • Work burden of bank officials can be reduced if a  separated employee is recruited for this type of loans in all agriculture branches. 
  • Bank managers should be assigned qualitative rather than quantitative targets. 
  • Bank employees can be motivated if: 
    • Despite of considering total amount of loans as a percentage target, it should be on the basis of number of accounts.
    • Incentives should be provided for more Agriculture PSL.
    • Reward should be there for more Agriculture PSL.
  • Creation of a development finance institution that would provide a mix of grants and loans to under-served sectors and geographies.
    • The new institution can raise capital from commercial banks through existing innovative instruments like the PSL certificates, specify minimum sectoral disbursement targets and choose projects based on independent risk assessment and intended outcomes.
    • This will support the policy objectives of increased credit and reduce systemic risk, making PSL work in the long run
  • Similarly, private sector banks may choose to lend housing credit in urban areas, rather than being forced to lend agricultural financeThe government may rely on specialized institutions such as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to fulfil sectoral lendingtargets, while at the same time ensuring structural reforms in these sectors to make lending to them more viable.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections

7) In itself, toleration/ tolerance is not a virtue or value; it can only be a value if backed by the right normative reasons. Comment.(250 words)



Why this question

The question is related to GS 4 syllabus under the following heading-

Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and nonpartisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to deliberate on the value of tolerance and present our opinion on whether it is useful only if backed by right normative reasons.

Directive word

Comment- we have to describe tolerance as a value and then form a personal opinion on the issue- whether tolerance by itself is  a value or does it require normative reasoning to be of any value.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– briefly define and describe the meaning of the value of tolerance.

Body- discuss in points about how tolerance as a value is meaningless when viewed in isolation from normative logic/ reasoning.

E.g mention in points the three paradoxes- paradox of the tolerant racist, paradox of moral tolerance, paradox of drawing the limits. Explain these paradoxes. Take help of the article attached with the question to frame your answer.

Conclusion– Bring out a fair, concise and balanced opinion on the above issue






Tolerance is a prerequisite to exercising the liberties of free speech and freedom of religion. Tolerance preserves the dignity of each person as it accommodates and explores a rich diversity in ideas, cultures, and beliefs through civil discourse and dialogue.

Tolerance promotes learning because, as John Stuart Mill tells that received opinion may be wrong and the heretic right. Adopting an open mind represents a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge through dialogue.


Tolerance is the virtue that makes peace possible:-Tolerance allows people the liberty and personal freedom of self-determination. Toleration promotes the free exchange of ideas, including criticism and debate of public policy in the interest of the people. Despite India being a culturally diverse country multiple religions live harmoniously.

Vigorous deliberation of disagreement and moral evaluation is promoted by tolerance and moves us toward a common understanding of the good .Tolerance does not extend to aggressive intolerance ,the coercive suppression of other points of view.  Tolerance provides the space for a culture of dialogue, where we can all benefit.

Tolerance respects context .For instance If your grandmother makes a racial slur at a family gathering we can tolerate it as a reminder of the progress made during her lifetime. If a politician makes a racial slur at a town hall meeting, it is intolerable.

However for tolerance to be a virtue there need to be normative support . There are two boundaries involved in this interpretation of the concept of toleration

  • The first one lies between the normative realm of those practices and beliefs one agrees with and the realm of the practices and beliefs that one finds wrong but can still tolerate
  • The second boundary lies between this latter realm and the realm of the intolerable that is strictly rejected.

There is the paradox of the tolerant racist. For instance sometimes people argue that someone who believes the members of which do not deserve equal respect should be “more tolerant.” Thus the racist would be called tolerant if he curbed his desire to discriminate against the members of such groups, say, for strategic reasons. Thus if tolerance is considered to be a moral virtue, the paradox arises that an immoral attitude would be turned into part of a virtue. It thus turns an unacceptable prejudice into an ethical judgment.

The paradox of moral tolerance, arises in connection with the acceptance component .If both the reasons for objection and the reasons for acceptance are called “moral,” the paradox arises that it seems to be morally right or even morally required to tolerate what is morally wrong. The solution of this paradox therefore requires a distinction between various kinds of moral reasons, some of which must be reasons of a higher order that ground and limit toleration.


Last there is the paradox of drawing the limits, which concerns the rejection component. This paradox is inherent in the idea that toleration is a matter of reciprocity and that therefore those who are intolerant need not and cannot be tolerated. No toleration of the intolerant is not just vacuous but potentially dangerous, for the characterization of certain groups as intolerant is all too often itself a result of one-sidedness and intolerance


Therefore toleration is a normatively dependent concept. This means that by itself it cannot provide the substantive reasons for objection, acceptance, and rejection. It needs further, independent normative resources in order to have a certain substance, content, and limits and in order to be regarded as something good at all.