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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 31 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:Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1) Ancient Indian science and philosophies had several real achievements. Discuss and thereafter, critically analyze the recently undertaken NCERT textbook review?(250 words) 


Financial express

Indian express

Why this question

The recent changes brought about in NCERT textbooks have put greater emphasis on enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the science and philosophies of ancient India. Ancient Indian science and philosophy was very rich and Weber had said that we would be ignoring Indian school of thought reflects the paucity of the west (albeit in context of political philosophy). In this context, discussion on the contribution made by ancient Indian knowledge and whether or not the move to change syllabus of NCERT books is required.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to initially bring out the major contributions of the philosophy and science of ancient India. We are also expected to discuss whether the textbook changes are justified. For this, we have to first mention the changes and thereafter analyze the causes and the impact behind such changes and whether it is justified.

Directive word

Discuss – Highlight the achievements of the science and philosophies of ancient India.

Critically analyze – Thereafter discuss the changes made, examine the causes behind making those changes, examine whether the changes are required at those levels, whether it is part of propaganda or would enable students to be more appreciative of our ancient history. At the end, it own view on the changes have to be provided

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the reason behind this question. NCERT changes as well as frequent reference to our glorious past, need to learn ehat actually are their achievements.


  • Highlight the advancement made in the field of medical science, astronomy, Mathematics, metaphysical aspects etc
  • In the next part of our answer compare and contrast the above point with the changes made in NCERT textbooks
  • Analyze the benefits that reading about the achievements would have for the students.
  • Present your view on the changes made

Examine – Summarize the latter part of the argument and present your view on NCERT textbook revision.

Background :-

  • Recently NCERT has made roughly 1300 changes, which include additions, correction and data update, in its 182 textbooks. This is the first comprehensive review of NCERT textbooks after the National Curriculum Framework was drafted in 2005. Ancient Indian knowledge, tradition and practices now find more space in the new NCERT textbooks.

Achievements of ancient science and technology:-


  • Mathematics:-
    • Mathematics emerged as the single largest contribution of India to the world of science.
    • Around possibly 500 BC, the Jyotish Vedanga used sophisticated methods of calculation to fix the position of the new and full moon and other astronomical inferences. A group of 16 sutras or word formulae were used widely in Vedic times to solve arithmetic and algebraic problems.
    • Aryabhata I, for instance, had calculated that the earth revolves around the sun about a thousand years before Galileo was persecuted for the same claim. It is well known that the concept of the zero, called the shunya, and the decimal system, originated in India, and reached the West through the Arabs.
    • Brahmagupta (6th century), Mahavira (9th century) and Bhaskara (12th century), made groundbreaking contributions to the development and elaboration of mathematical concepts.
    • Fibonacci numbers and their sequence first appear in Indian mathematics as matrameru mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody.
    • Binary numbers is the basic language in which computer programs are written. Binary basically refers to a set of two numbers, 1 and 0, the combinations of which are called bits and bytes. The binary number system was first described by the Vedic scholar Pingala, in his book chandahsastra.
  • Physics:-
    • Scholars believe that the Indus Valley Civilisation, that flourished 2,500 years before the Christian era, used a system of weights and measures based on an awareness of the decimal system. It is clear too that the cities of this civilisation could not have been built without knowledge of simple geometry..
  • Chemistry:-
    • One of the notable scientists of the ancient India was Kanad who is said to have devised the atomic theory centuries before John Dalton was born. 
  • Technology:-
    • Wootz steelis a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands Produced by the Tamils of the Chera Dynasty, the finest steel of the ancient world was made by heating black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible kept inside a charcoal furnace.
    • India was the first to smelt zinc by the distillation process, an advanced technique derived from a long experience of ancient alchemy.
  • Medicine:-
    • Written by Sushruta in 6th Century BC, Sushruta samhitha is considered to be one of the most comprehensive textbooks on ancient surgery. The text mentions various illnesses, plants, preparations and cures along with complex techniques of plastic surgery. The Sushruta samhitha’s most well-known contribution to plastic surgery is the reconstruction of the nose, known also as rhinoplasty.
    • Charaka authored a foundational text, Charaka samhitha on the ancient science of AyurvedaReferred to as the Father of Indian Medicine, Charaka was was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity in his book. 
  • Defence:-
    • The first iron-cased rockets were developed in the 1780s by Tipu Sultan of Mysore who successfully used these rockets against the larger forces of the British East India Company during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. 
  • Civil engineering & architecture:-
    • The discovery of urban settlements of Mohenjodaro and Harappa indicate existence of civil engineering & architecture, which blossomed to a highly precise science of civil engineering and architecture and found expression in innumerable monuments of ancient India.
  • Shipbuilding& navigation :-
    • Sanskrit and Pali texts have several references to maritime activity by ancient Indians

Recent NCERT review:-

  • The NCERT textbooks for history, geography, science, English and political science from class 6 to 10 have been revised to provide greater space to knowledge and philosophies from ancient India.
  • NCERT will work on giving students a better understanding of Bharat and its “glorious past”.
  • There was an increasing demand for changes due to changing technology trends, new demands of education etc. The updates will take care of old statistics, economic data, etc, while the additions will introduce topics like demonetisation, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Swachhta.

Changes made:-

  • Revised History books include chapters on six schools of India philosophy: Vaishesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Vedanta or Uttara Mimansa. These are believed to have been founded by sages Konada, Gotama, Kapila, Patanjali, Jaimini and Vyasa.
  • It also contains chapters on Ayurveda which includes findings and teachings of Sushrut and Charaka. They include elaborate chapters on ancient surgical procedures and medicine which laid the foundation for the modern surgery.
  • The Geography books include much detailed descriptions on the finding of Aryabhatta, which includes his research on earth’s diameter, solar and lunar eclipse.
  • Lessons on Yoga has been included.
  • Books meant for students of Classes 6 to 10 carry new or additional information on ancient Indian philosophy, ayurveda, yoga, teachings of Upanishads and smritis and scientific achievements of ancient India in areas such as astronomy and metallurgy.

It’s a good move:-

  • Books carry new/additional information on ancient Indian philosophy, ayurveda, yoga, and scientific knowledge believed to have been prevalent in the period. This makes students understand their past better.
  • Studying about different ancient Indian philosophies will no doubt impart a new perspective.


  • It isn’t quite clear how some additions benefit students for instance the class 8 science textbook mentions that “According to ancient mythology the seven sages who form the Saptarshi (the constellation Ursa Major), preserve the eternal knowledge of Vedas and explain it to people in every new age.”
  • The revision is not in sync with the government’s goal of reducing curriculum burden to the students
  • Questions are raised whether students at the primary and secondary levels really need to be taught the history of science in India as part of their science education.
  • Experts criticised that Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, and Maharashtra, tweaked school books in a way that triggered opposition allegations that these governments were trying to saffronise education.

Way forward:-

  • Indian education system needs reforms where the students need to contribute to the development of the nation further and not be separated by intrinsic differences which are more visible these days.

Topic: History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial
revolution, world wars.

2) Napoleon was the child of the Revolution, but in many ways he reversed the aims and principles of the movement from which he sprang. Critically analyze.(250 words)


Key demand of the question

The question makes two basic assertions which have to be analyzed. That Napolean was the child of the revolution meaning that his rise can be attributed to French revolution and that he disregarded the aims and principles of the French revolution. These have to be critically analyzed ie the veracity of these assertions have to be established or unfounded.

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.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the overall significance of Napolean in the history of Europe in general and France in particular.

Body – For the first part of your answer, highlight the political instability in France at the time of the revolution as a result of the French Revolution. This provided an opportunity to Napolean to take charge and declare himself to be the emperor of France. This is how he came to power and could be described as the child of the revolution.

Thereafter, examine the principles of French revolution contained in the constitution of 1789 and how Napolean changed these principles thereafter in his constitution. Examine the changes related to economy, polity, society etc that Napolean made which reversed the progress of French revolution. As an opposite view, one can also write how Napolean helped spread the ideal of French revolution through his wars in Europe which was ultimately corrected through the Vienna Congress.

Conclusion – present your view by summarising your arguments and discuss the overall contribution of Napolean.


Background :-

  • Napoleon was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. 

Aims and principles of the movement (French revolution)from which Napoleon sprang :-

  • Liberty, property, equality, fraternity, uniformity, utility, popular sovereignty; these are just some words that best describe the aims and principles of the French Revolution.

How was Napoleon child of the revolution:-

  • Napoleon can be seen as a direct heir to the revolution: here was a general who portrayed himself as a saviour of a France at war, divided, disorderly and weak
  • Napoleon’s rise owed everything to the French Revolution, to its ideals of liberty and equality, the meritocracy that lay at its roots, and the huge institutional changes that it wrought.
  • Without the events of 1789, France would have retained the restrictive legal order of the Old Regime, with its emphasis on privilege and inheritance, its passion for nobility and hierarchy etc.
  • He  used French revolution as a stepping stone to grow and reach his final title of Emperor.

His views were sync with the principles of French revolution:-

  • In an economic sense, Napoleon definitely followed some of the earlier revolutionary principles in his reform of the nation.
    • Napoleon introduced limits on grain exports (due to poor harvests) in 1811 and placed price limits on bread and grain in 1812, much like the revolutionary governments such as ‘The Assembly’ and ‘The Convention’. 
  • Religious equality:-
    • Napoleon allowed for equal rights for Protestants and Jews, these definitely maintain the revolutionary aims.
  • Political accountability:-
    • The Senate and the Legislative body could limit Napoleon’s freedom. This can be seen as something positive as this means that he did not wanted to show himself as a dictator but as an enlightened despot.
    • The code he enshrined many of the achievements of the revolution as it confirmed the abolition of feudalism, equality before the law and freedom of conscience, and gave fixed title to those who had bought church and émigré lands during the 1790s.
  • In terms of military expansion and conquest, Napoleon was very much a child of the Revolution. The French revolutionaries sought to extend the Revolution beyond the boundaries of France to bring the benefits of liberty to the poor, benighted masses of other countries groaning under the lash of monarchical oppression.

How did he reverse the aims of the movement :-

  • Against dissent:-
    • Napoleon relied on public opinion to prevent hostile criticism. In other words, dissent was nearly impossible. Printers and booksellers swore oaths of allegiance and all newspapers fell under state control. So, by repressing liberty, subverting republicanism and restoring absolutism, Napoleon reversed some of the liberal gains of the Revolution.
  • He instituted the CODE NAPOLEON which incorporated the great principles of 1789: equality before the law, careers open to talent, freedom of religion, protection of private property, abolition of serfdom, and the secularization of the state.
    • The Code, however, also had its less-liberal side. Workers were denied collective bargaining, trade unions were outlawed, and a system of labor passports was instituted.
  • Undermined the principles of 1789, the end result was that many of the achievements of the Revolution were made French realities.
  • What started out as a war of liberation soon turned into a war of conquest, and this formed the basis of Napoleon’s inheritance.
  • Napoleon’s constitution was contradictory to what the revolution supported. As Napoleon grew in power and in confidence he became more aggressive. In 1801, he said “We finished with the romance of the Revolution; we must now begin its history”.
  • No equality:-
    • His Legion of Honour, and the awarding of titles and honours was a clearly a contradiction to equality as these could be bought and kept for life.
    • Women were declared to be inferior to men by law, and children had no rights at all.
    • According to Napoleon, courage and talent should be rewarded without distinction of birth but this statement was false as nobility and privileges were bought.
    • The possibility of careers open to talent and promotion persisted on who you knew and where you came from, than on merit.
    • Even taxation, which was a massive issue in the revolution, was not equal in Napoleon’s France. He increased indirect taxation in a large scale.
  • Liberty of action and freedom of speech were strictly restricted.
    • Women lost practically all rights they gained and now were again properties of their husbands or fathers.
  • Dictator:-
    • There are many evidences of this since he came to power as he declares himself first consul and then emperor which certainly gave him a great deal of power within the state.
    • The centralised nature of government and administration also supports the notion of authority from above.
    • Moreover, he did enforce censorship and made great use of propaganda. In addition, his ministry of Police and the use made of spies and informers, special courts and administration imprisonment would support the notion of a police state.
    • Napoleon’s control of the government system was more absolute than that of the monarchy that ruled in France before 1789.
    • He centralized his power and willingly used his army to alter the make up of the governments, which were ideas of the Directory..



  • Napoleon was in fact a creation of the revolution as he rose to power because of the situation France was in, though he did not back up its principles using his own ideals created from a combination of both the Revolution and the Monarchy.
  • To some extent, Napoleon represented a synthesis of the ancient regime and the Revolution. At heart he was a revolutionary, but, in practice, he acted more like a king, culminating in his crowning as Emperor in 1804.

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography.

3) What do you understand by cryosphere. Discuss how it affects the earth’s climate.(250 words)




Why this question

Cryosphere is a large and important component of our earth, which has a profound impact and in turn is hugely impacted by the climate and climate change. The question is related to GS1 syllabus under the following heading-

Salient features of world’s physical geography.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to describe the term cryosphere and then discuss how it affects our climate.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the meaning of the term as well as how it is related to our climate and how they influence each other.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Give a brief definition of the term, Cryosphere.


  1. Describe the term further and mention that it is intricately linked to the global climate.
  2. Discuss in points how the cryosphere affects the climate of the world.

e.g Albedo- cooling of earth, feedback loop- results when ice melts and then this decreases albedo and more ice-melt occurs, storage of carbon in the polar ice etc.

Conclusion- Give a fair and balanced opinion on the importance of cryosphere and mention the efforts of MOES in this direction.


  • With nearly 70% of Earth’s fresh water stored in glaciers and ice caps, more than a billion people around the world rely on the cryosphere as a source of drinking water.


  • There are places on Earth that are so cold that water is frozen solid. These areas of snow or ice, which are subject to temperatures below 32°Ffor at least part of the year, compose the cryosphere.
  • Ice and snow on land are one part of the cryosphere. This includes the largest parts of the cryosphere, the continental ice sheets found in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as ice caps, glaciers, and areas of snow and permafrost. When continental ice flows out from land and to the sea surface, we get shelf ice.
  • The other part of the cryosphere is ice that is found in water. This includes frozen parts of the ocean, such as waters surrounding Antarctica and the Arctic. It also includes frozen rivers and lakes, which mainly occur in polar areas.

Affects earth climate:- 


  • Regulating temperature:-
    • The components of the cryosphere play an important role in the Earth’s climate. Snow and ice reflect heat from the sun, helping to regulate our planet’s temperature.
    • Ice cores drilled from ice sheets and glaciers provide annual records of temperature, precipitation, atmospheric composition, volcanic activity, and wind patterns going back more than 800,000 years. Today, scientists also use satellites to observe the cryosphere and monitor changes. Using these data, they are able to make predictions about what the cryosphere and Earth’s climate might look like many years from now. 
  • Albedo:
    • Snow and ice have high albedo. They reflect much of the insolation, which helps in cooling of the earth. Thus, presence or absence of snow and ice affects the heating and cooling of Earth’s surface. This influences the entire planet’s energy balance. 
  • Feedback Loop:
    • Melting ice reduces the reflective surface. And, the ocean and land are darker in color, they absorb more solar radiation, and then release the heat to the atmosphere. This causes more warming and so more ice melts. This is known as a feedback loop.
    • The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system with important linkages and feedbacksgenerated through its influence on surface energy and moisture fluxes clouds,precipitation,hydrology atmospheric and oceanic circulation.
  • Storage of Carbon:
    • The permafrost of the polar region has trapped tonnes of carbon inside its soil. If ‘feedback loop’ aggravates, this carbon will be released in form of methane- a powerful greenhouse gas- which will catalyze the global warming.
  • At polar regions, sea-water is converted into sea ice. As a result, surrounding water gets saltier. Saltier water has higher density, it sinks and initiates thermohaline circulationpatterns across the oceans of the world. These Ocean currents act like a conveyer belt, transporting warm water from the equator toward the poles and cold water from the poles back to the tropics. Thus, currents regulate global climate. Some of these currents affect rain and drought situation via El-Nino La-Nina effect.
  • Meltingof cryosphere affects the volume of water in oceans. Any changes in the water cycle, affects global energy / heat budget, and thereby global climate.


  • With the rampant climate change, changes in cryosphere need to be studied further and the initiative by ministry of earth sciences towards understanding the cryosphere process is the step in the right direction.


General Studies – 2

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

4) Discuss the challenges that data collection in India faces? Examine whether the draft National Policy on official statistics addresses these challenges?(250 words)

The hindu



Why this question

The draft National Policy on Official Statistics is much required due to the declining truth in the numbers in a post truth world. We need to analyze the provisions of the draft policy to understand it’s hits and misses.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to incorporate the following points in our answer

  • Provisions of the policy – issues faced in data collection correctly
  • It’s hits and misses – how it addresses the challenges
  • The impact this will have
  • Any changes 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 .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the fact that in a post truth world, ensuring that the numbers are beyond doubt is important and thus this policy becomes important too


  • Highlight the issues that the present data collection processes face – lack of interdisciplinary approach, questions not framed properly etc
  • Highlight the provisions of the policy and how it addresses these issues
  • Highlight those areas where the policies fall short
  • Discuss the impact that this policy is likely to have

Conclusion – Your view on the policy along with changes required.



  • With the growing demand for statistics and increasingly challenging data collection environment, the move by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) towards developing a National Policy on Official Statistics is most welcome.

Challenges faced with data collection in India :-

  • Ethics:-
    • Data collection is increasingly being done by contractual employees and for-profit organisations. Supervising them and ensuring their honesty remains challenging.
  • A report in The Guardianin 2017 noted declining trust in official statistics around the world and argued that it damages democracy by jeopardising public knowledge and public argument. 
  • Employment:-
    • Absence of data on district-level employment for decentralised planning, data on circular migrant workers; the working and living conditions of women labour.
  • Official data and post-truth politics
    • According to some political analysts and scholars, post 2014, in the age of post-truth politics there has been instances of manipulating and distorting data by the government. Post truth politics is evoking public emotions and deviation from facts and details of policy.
  • Faulty sampling frames
    • Identifying respondents and sample selection is poor
    • Survey designs, questionnaires are inappropriate in many instances
    • For instance The RBI adopts inflation targeting approach to maintain price level-monetary policy. This approach is based on data on inflations expectations of individuals The reliability and validity of the data is a big question as ASER reports highlights extremely low mathematical skills of Indians.
  • Delay/ Sporadic nature of Release of Data:
    • There is no strict process of monitoring for release of data.
    • Delay in publishing data is a persisting problem. However, there has been improvement in recent years
  • Discrepancy in data:
    • Lack of uniformity in data across government agencies is a major concern
    • For instance there is data contradiction on jobs as recently EPFO estimated that 3.68 million jobs were generated till November of fiscal year 2018- much higher estimation than that of other agencies
  • Quality/ Accuracy of data is another concern
    • In 2011, commerce secretary admitted that India’s export figures for the April–October period were inflated by US$9.4 billion due to a misclassification of certain items and data entry errors.
    • There has also been question over the accuracy of the Index of Industrial Production
    • Allegations that NSS systematically underestimated household consumption
  • Infringement of privacy by the government’s data-collection machinery.

Draft national policy on official statistics:-

  • The United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics was adopted by India in 2016. The government had also committed to bring out a National Policy on Official Statistics(NPOS)
  • To give furtherance to the principles, recently the GOI has placed the Draft National Policy on Official Statistics, 2018 in public domain
  • Key provisions:
    • Dichotomise statistical products in the official statistical system into core statistics ( which are of national importance and critical to the economy)and other official statistics
    • Amendment in the Constitution to bring in censuses on subjects other than population census and statistics declared by Parliament by law to be of national importance in the Union List.
    • Production of official statistics should continue with the Government, whereas the related regulatory and advisory functions should be kept outside the Government
    • Coordination between agencies
    • Registered society under MOSPI to be set up- for all government data collection and analysis
    • Identification of statistical products through committees
    • Quality assurance:
      • Apply National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) to each product of official statistics
      • evolve specific Quality Assurance Framework for the product consistent with NQAF
      • Promote compliance to NQAF through appropriate incentives/ awards
      • conduct statistical audit periodically through independent agencies on all the major statistical products
    • To assure confidentiality:
      • Setting up standards for protecting confidentiality
      • Releasing Official Statistics in accordance with a pre-specified publication calendar
      • Declaring Data Production and Management Policy for each agency responsible for producing official statistics
      • Implementation of the Code of Statistical Practice is made mandatory
    • Publishing details of sharable and non-sharable official statistical datasets from time to time along with reasons
    • Collaboration with other countries and UN and other international agencies on statistical matters
    • It notes increasing data needs, lays down the groundwork for ethical data collection, highlights the importance of data quality and addresses the need for documentation and durable data storage. 


  • It chooses to follow the report of the C. Rangarajan-led National Statistical Commission (NSC) submitted in 2001 and focusses largely on coordination within different ministries at the Centre and between State governments and the Centre. A tendency to centralise authority and decision-making within well-defined structures such as the NSC forms the core of the policy statement.
  • It also recommends that a registered society under the oversight of MOSPI be set up with 2,000 crore endowment that will be tasked with all government data collection and statistical analyses. This tendency towards centralisation may well isolate official statistical systems.
  • The collaboration between academics and the NSS has weakened substantially in recent years. The proposed move would lead to even further alienation of official statistical systems from the academic and research infrastructure of the nation.

Way forward:-

  • Harness diverse energies from academic and research institutions such as the ISI, the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute etc.
  • Include private sector as well:-
    • Smaller, technology-savvy private sector organisations may also make important contributions in technology-driven data collection.
    • Around the world, in diverse countries such as China, South Africa, Brazil, the U.K. and the U.S., statistical ecosystems consist of universities, research institutions and government agencies working synergistically. 
  • Creative thinking about building synergies with diverse communities such as academic and research institutions would strengthen it and reduce the burden on the NSC, leaving it free to devote greater attention to developing quality control parameters and to play an oversight and coordination role.
    • Scholars from different disciplines should be incorporated for framing samples and questionnaires
    • Include takeaways from experiments designed by cognitive anthropologists, and survey design specialists
  • Robust survey management structure to ensure quality and honesty in data collection


  • The draft National Policy on Official Statistics offers a great start for fostering trust in statistics but enhancing its inclusiveness will go a long way towards encouraging competence, reliability and honesty in public statistics.


General Studies – 3

Topic -Environmental degradation and conservation

5) Water crisis in Shimla is a warning sign for  the trying times ahead with respect to water availability in India. Examine the challenges and discuss the role that traditional water storage systems can play in averting this crisis? (250 words)



Why this question

The recent water crisis in Shimla poses several questions related to water management in the country. At a time when several reports have been highlighting the acute paucity of water facing India, it is regrettable that we haven’t moved fast enough in addressing this challenge. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to incorporate the following points in your answer

  • Describe the situation in Shimla
  • Examine the problem facing India in general related to water availability and use
  • Reports of various organisations which have harped on the need for effective water management in the country
  • What are the water related issues we should be wary of
  • Solutions to these issues in brief and the role of transitional water harvesting structures in detail

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 – Detail out the benefits of traditional water harvesting structures.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – take the example of what is happening in Shimla and discuss the issues that it raises.


  • Examine the issues plaguing Shimla – reasons behind non availability of water
  • Examine the challenges that it poses for water management in India – highlight other examples to prove that it is an all India problem
  • Take help of reports like NASA’s, UN world water development report 2018 etc to prove that the challenge ahead is arduous
  • Discuss solutions to these issues in brief
  • Discuss in detail the role that traditional water harvesting system in India would play in averting some water related woes

Conclusion – Highlight the necessity to start acting immediately and the way ahead.



  • India has long undervalued one of its most precious resources, water. The country’s chronic mismanagement of water is staring at it now. Over 600 million Indians rely on the monsoon to replenish their water sources, and the unpredictable nature of rain leaves them vulnerable. 

Water crisis in Shimla:-

  • Over the past three summers, water availability had plunged to 29 or 30 million litres per day (MLD). This year, the supply was only about 20 MLD.
  • Reasons for water crisis can be :-
    • A combination of population explosion, unplanned growth of the city and its expansion to some traditional catchment areas (a region from which rainfall flows into a river, lake, or reservoir) have led to a reduction in the natural flow of water, and large-scale deforestation.
    • Climate change, leading to much lower precipitation during the winter months. As a result, the natural flow and recharge of water in the region has fallen sharply
    • The water demand in Shimla during peak tourist season is very high.

Challenges with respect to water availability in India :-

  • Many Indian cities, including Delhi and Bangalore, face a water crisis, especially that of freshwater.
  • A World Bank study puts the plight of the country in perspective: 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water; 210 million Indians lack access to improved sanitation; 21% of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water.
  • There is no attempt at the central or state levels to manage water quantity and quality
  • A lack of implementation of existing laws and regulations
  • Pervasive corruption
  • Poor adoption rates of technologies such as desalination plants
  • No charges on water usage and huge distribution losses.
  • Deforestation of catchment areas and pollution of water bodies
  • Export of water-intensive crops
  • Excessive dependence on groundwater.
  • There is also a lack of interest in maintaining India’s traditional water harvesting structures.
  • Increase in population, reduced rainfall, encroachment of water bodies, poor handling of industrial waste water, exploitation of natural resources, change in food consumption pattern etc. have all come together to deplete the amount of water available
  • Indian utilities compound the problem by callously losing an estimated 40 to 60 percent of the water produced.
  • India’s rivers are drying and are symptomatic of the dire state of the water crisis.


Traditional water storage systems:-

  • Ancient Indians understood the art of water governance. Most of India’s traditional water management has been at the community level; relying upon diverse, imaginative and effective methods for harvesting, storing, and managing rainfall, runoff and stream flow. 
  • Role in averting water crisis:-
    • Ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin.
    • They continue to remain viable and cost-effective alternatives for replenishing depleted groundwater aquifers. With government support, they could be revived, upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India.
    • The basic concept underlying all these techniques is that rain should be harvested whenever and wherever it falls.
    • Katta:-
      • Katta is a temporary structure made by binding mud and loose stones available locally. Built across small streams and rivers, this stone bund slows the flow of water, and stores a large amount (depending upon its height) during the dry months. The collected water gradually seeps into ground and increase the water level of nearby wells. In coastal areas, they also minimize the flow of fresh water into the sea.
      • It is a cost effective and simple method, used widely in rural areas. Series of stone bunds built one behind the other have proved to be more effective than modern concrete dams in some villages, as these local structures can be easily repaired by farmers themselves.
    • These water soak pits called as Madakas in Karnataka, Pemghara in Odisha and Johads in Rajasthan, are one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge ground water. Water from Johads is still been widely used by farmers to irrigate fields in many parts of India. In fact, the arid state of Rajasthan has seen a drastic improvement in water conservation due to the revival of Johads
    • In Himachal Pradesh, kuhls(surface water channels) have been used since ancient times to carry glacial waters from rivers and streams into valley fields. These kuhls need to be desilted and fortified to prevent them from breaking during torrential rainfall.
    • Another effective traditional water management system is bamboo drip irrigation, practiced in the tribal pockets of the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya. In this, a network of bamboo pipes of varying diameters, lengths and positioning is used to harvest water from hill springs or streams. This can be adopted on a larger scale wherever possible.
    • Nagaland’s Zabo is also a great way of collecting run-off in community tanks/ponds. Rainwater that falls on forested hilltops is led by channels that deposit it in pond-like structures created on the terraced hillsides. The channels also pass through cattle yards, collecting the dung and urine of animals, before ultimately meandering into fields at the foot of the hill.

Way forward:-

  • Urban India needs to focus on recycling and harvesting water, having better testing and purification facilities and increase public awareness on the need to conserve water. 
  • International examples:-
    • Israel has been a role model for the world in matters of water management with its innovation of drip irrigation. The country has also set the template for reusing wastewater in irrigation. It treats 80 percent of its domestic wastewater, which is recycled and constitutes nearly 50 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Israel now saves as candlelight for countries like India.
    • Israel’s drip and micro-irrigation solutions rapidly spread worldwide. Just one recent example of how this method has impacted food supply in foreign countries is Tipa, literally “Drop,” an Israeli-developed kit that has allowed 700 farming families in Senegal to reap crops three times a year instead of just once, even on infertile land.
  • Large catchment areas need to be developed around water bodies so that natural recharge of groundwater takes place. A good example is the Seog catchment area which has been denoted as a wildlife sanctuary and where no construction is allowed.
  • Greywater recycling, a method of recycling wastewater from kitchen sinks, showers and laundry fixtures.
    • Greywater recycling helps reduce household water usage by about 50% .
  • This year’s World Water Development Report makes it clear that nature-based solutions which are also aligned with the principles and aims of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can offer answers to our most pressing water-related challenges. 


General Studies – 4

Topic:Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. 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) Human Behaviour Flows From three Sources: Desire, Emotion, And Knowledge. Comment.(250 words)



Why this question

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

Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. 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 deliberate on the determinants of behaviour of a person and specifically analyse the role and importance of Desire, emotion and knowledge on the behaviour of a person.

Directive word

Comment- We have to form our opinion on the issue and based on our opinion we have to provide necessary arguments/ facts etc in order to bring out the role of the three- desire, emotion and knowledge.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Briefly discuss the human behaviour and mention some of the factors which determine our behaviour.

Body- Discuss in points and individually how Desire, Emotion and knowledge affects our behaviour.

Take the help of the articles attached with the question and also use other material to frame your answer. Also try to bring out a natural order of which factor is the most potent determinant of a man’s behaviour.

Conclusion- Form a fair, balanced and a concise opinion on the issue and mention a few points about how to bring desired change in the behaviour of a person.


Human behavior is the responses of individuals or groups of humans to internal and external stimuli. It refers to the array of every physical action and observable emotion associated with individuals, as well as the human race.


Human behavior is experienced throughout an individual’s entire lifetime. It includes the way they act based on different factors such as genetics, social norms, core faith, and attitude. Behavior is impacted by certain traits each individual has. The traits vary from person to person and can produce different actions or behavior from each person. Social norms also impact behavior. 


While specific traits of one’s personality and temperament may be more consistent, other behaviours will change as one moves from birth through adulthood. In addition to being dictated by age and genetics, behaviour, driven in part by thoughts and feelings, is an insight into individual psyche, revealing among other things attitudes and values.

Our behavior is what we do and how we act. This could include physical things, like running and jumping, verbal behavior, like saying things we regret later, or complicated behaviors like cheating on a test or planning a party.


How desire affects human behaviour :-

Desire is a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen .It is a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment. It is the values in the desire which decide whether desire makes human achieve great heights or destroy their life.

For instance it was the desire to help others made Mother Teresa an icon, the desire to gain fame and money can lead to people’s behaviour considering unethical and illegal ways to achieve their goal.


Emotion and behaviour :-

Emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Passion for desire gives birth of emotion. Key emotions which impacts human behavior are love, joy, sorrow, bitterness, revenge. Aggression is one type of behavior that is tightly linked with our emotions. When a person feels frustration, anger, tension or fear, they are more likely to act aggressively towards others. Emotions like frustration and boredom can lower motivation and, thus, lower the chance that we will act.

Sometimes strong emotion creates desire to achieve one’s goals. For instance it is the emotional situation Abdul Kalam was in drove a desire in him to achieve something through hardwork.


Knowledge and behaviour:-


Knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education. So it is not intrinsic but acquired. Knowledge makes the person analyse and assess his/her options and then take a rational decision. The knowledge driven by both desire and emotion will make a person achieve their aims in life better as there is stronger motivation.

When we align our desires with our emotions and the knowledge that we have into our goals, we then have the strength to fulfill our dream.