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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 05 JUNE 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: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the
present- significant events, personalities, issues.

1) Why did the Soviet Union sign the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany? What did Germany gain from it? Discuss.(250 words) 



Key demand of the question

The question asks us to explain the reason why Soviet union signed the Molotov Ribbentrop pact which took the world by surprise. Discuss what Soviet and Germany gained from the pact. Also discuss, why the pact broke and the overall impact of the pact.

Directive word

Discuss – Here, in your discussion, bring out the aspects mentioned in the discussion above.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Briefly mention the contents of the pact and the overall geopolitical situation when the pact was signed.

Structure of the answer

  • Discuss the content of the deal
  • Explain USSR’s motivation – lack of agreement over collective security deal with UK and France, German threat in eastern Europe and the prospect of facing it alone, the submissiveness of western powers at Munich conference etc
  • Explain Germany’s motivations – secure itself on one front from USSR’s threat
  • Explain what ended the pact and how it helped Russia to prepare it’s army as it got the luxury of time

Conclusion – discuss the overall impact of the pact.


  • Foreign minister of Nazi Germany, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and his Soviet counterpart, Molotov in 1939 signed a non-aggression pact.

Non aggression pact:-

  • The two countries agreed to take no military action against each other for the next 10 years. 
  • The proposal also stipulated that neither country would aid any third party that attacked either signatory.
  • Finally, the proposal contained a secret protocol specifying the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe both parties would accept after Hitler conquered Poland. The Soviet Union would acquire the eastern half of Poland, along with Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
  • The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact fell apart in June 1941, when Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union.

Why Russia signed non aggression pact with Germany:-

  • With Europe on the brink of another major war, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin viewed the pact as a way to keep his nation on peaceful terms with Germany
  • The signing of the pact would also give him time to build up the Soviet military. German chancellor Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) used the pact to make sure Germany was able to invade Poland unopposed.
  • Lack of agreement over collective security deal with UK and France
  • The submissiveness of western powers at Munich conference :-
    • Munich Agreementwas a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation, the “Sudetenland”, was coined.
  • Stalin claimed his pact with Hitler was a necessary measure to bring about the end of capitalism.


  • Germany:-
    • Within days of signing the pacts, now confident that the Soviets would not oppose him, Hitler invaded Poland.
    • Britain and France declared war on Germany, and the war was underway.
    • It allowed Hitler to avoid a two-front war until June 22, 1941.
    • Germans at Hitler’s behest violated the pact by invading the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa.
    • Western Poland, occupied by the Nazis, underwent a racial reorganization.
  • Russia :-
    • The agreement Stalin reached with Hitler was that Stalin would invade the Baltic countries and Poland at the same time Hitler invaded Poland. Stalin invaded Poland and created a buffer state it would control for over forty years.
      • The Red army invaded Poland violating the 1932 Soviet-Polish Non aggression pact and occupied the Polish territory assigned to it by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
    • Germany would control Western Poland and Lithuania and the Soviets would control Eastern Poland, Romania, Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
    • In both zones people such as Jews, Catholic clergymen etc were systematically detained, dispossessed, and killed. Those lucky enough to survive, particularly in the Soviet zone, were subject to deportation that winter.
    • Stalin had designs on the Baltic countries, Finland, and eastern Poland lands that belonged to the Russian Empire in the time of the czars.


General Studies – 2

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

2) There is little reason to celebrate the findings of the recent report from the World Health Organisation about the decreasing incidence of smoking in India. Critically analyze.(250 words)

The hindu


Why this question

A recent report by the World Health Organisation, indicating a sharp decline in the number of tobacco smokers in India, is a welcome news. However, India is also home to 66% of the world’s smokeless-tobacco users. This could offset the gains already made by India and can also lead to a lackadaisical approach on part of the government and policymakers. The question is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

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

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to highlight the key findings of the recent report of World Health Organisation, vis a vis India ( its achievements),  and also bring forth reasons as to why it’s not yet time to celebrate our achievement. We have to form a personal opinion on the overall issue.

Directive word

Critically analyse- here we have to identify all the key aspects of the question and frame our answer accordingly. The key demand here is to highlight India’s achievements in reducing the prevalence of smoking, as per the recent World Health Organisation report; and then discuss as to why India has fewer reasons to celebrate its achievements.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the recently released report of World Health Organisation and briefly discuss India’s achievements as per this report. Mention the reduction of the prevalence of smoking in India and the projected decline by 2025.


  1. Briefly discuss in points the positive effect of India’s achievement. e.g reduce expenditure on a bad habit, reduced health expenditure, reduced mortality, increased productivity etc.
  2. Discuss in points, why it’s not time to celebrate for India. E.g mention the number of smokeless tobacco users in the country, high proportion of adolescents among them, loopholes in the 2011 Food Safety and Standards Regulations- leaves unflavoured items, such as khaini or surthi, out of regulatory purview, mislabelling of smokeless tobacco is common etc.

Conclusion– mention the need to complement the efforts directed at reducing the prevalence of tobacco smoking with the more serious problem of smokeless tobacco in India.

Background :-

  • WHO report released recently suggests that India’s efforts to cut the prevalence of cigarette smoking are paying off. Between 2000 and 2015, this fell from 19.4% to 11.5%. By 2025, the report projected, it could drop to 8.5%, putting India well in line to meeting its 2025 target under a WHO global plan to tackle non-communicable diseases.
  • However the use of smokeless tobacco is still largely prevalent in India.

Positive effect of India’s achievement:-

  • Tobacco causes many health issues. With a favourable report people would spend less on this particular bad habit which leads to reduced out of pocket expenditure for health issues
  • This will also lead to reduced mortality which will ultimately help in increasing productivity etc.

However celebrating too early if of very little use :-

  • No global data available on smokeless tobacco:-
    • Smokeless tobacco is the bigger scourge in the country. The WHO report doesn’t model usage trends in this segment because of the paucity of global data. Other data, however, suggest that India is lagging on this front.
  • Failure of laws:-
    • Even though there is a 2011 government ban on the sale of food items with tobacco or nicotine in them, the consumption of gutkha, khaini and zarda continues to be rampant.
    • The Global Adult Tobacco Survey in 2016, for example, found that 29.6% of Indian men and 12.8% of Indian women were users. Children are victims of this lethal addiction too. 
    • The food safety rules target pre-mixed tobacco products, such as gutkha, which contains lime, sugar and other spices. This leaves unflavoured items, such as khaini or surthi, out of regulatory purview.
  • Productivity of youth lost:-
    • Given that 66% of the world’s smokeless-tobacco users are in India, a sizeable chunk of this number would be Indian teenagers. Against this background, the drop in cigarette smoking rates gives India little cause to celebrate.
  • Huge health impact:-
    • Gutkha and other chewable tobacco items are equally harmful compared to cigarettes. Surveys show that these products are sometimes mixed with carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines.
  • Mislabelling:-
    • Meanwhile, mislabelling of smokeless tobacco is common. Even when a product contains tobacco, it is passed off as being tobacco-free.
    • One of the tactics of the tobacco industry is to use flavours such as cardamom and saffron to attract youngsters, triggering life-long addiction. 
  • Large segment of population affected:-
    • Smokeless tobacco is cheaper source for consumers who are mostly from the low-income segment of society.

Measures needed:-

  • India should consider alternative regulatory measures, which will better achieve the objective of reducing tobacco consumption and be less investment-restrictive as well. One such measure is adopting plain packaging regulation.
  • Another effective measure is to increase taxes on tobacco products.
  • It is important to establish appropriate data management, monitoring, and evaluation systems.
  • In addition, oral cancer control policies should be implemented to change the lifestyle and behavior of high-risk populations.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

3) Declaring Indian ocean a “zone of peace “ would be in the interest of all the stakeholders, including India. Critically Comment.(250 words)

The hindu


Why this question

In 2015 India and Mauritius signed an agreement which gave India the right to build infrastructure on the small Mauritian archipelago of Agaléga. However, many small islands in Indian ocean have been historically exploited as Naval bases and there have been genuine apprehensions about India also building a Naval Base there. There are certain pros/ necessities as well as certain cons associated with the decision. the issue is related to GS2 syllabus under the following heading-

India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to bring forth reasons/ explanation for, why declaring Indian ocean a “zone of peace “ would be in the interest of all the stakeholders. Here we also have to identify the stakeholders in the region. We have to form a balanced opinion, keeping in mind the interest of all those stakeholders.

Directive word

Critically comment – here we have to present our personal thoughts/ opinion on the given statement- Declaring Indian ocean a “zone of peace “. We have to give reasons in support of our answer/ opinion and we also have to look at the other side- hear the complexity personal interests of countries involved.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the economic and strategic importance of Indian Ocean and mention some of the important Islands in the Indian Ocean like Seychelles, Hambantota, Diego Garcia, La Réunion which are also Naval bases of various world powers.


  1. Bring reasons for declaring Indian ocean as a zone of peace. e.g mention the pledge of 1970 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Lusaka, Zambia; humanitarian and environmental issues associated with the militarization of small islands in the Indian Ocean, environmental threats faced by these islands are being total sidelined etc.
  2. Discuss why reaching such an agreement is a difficult task or what are the problems involved. the e.g rivalry between world powers amid huge economic and strategic significance of Indian Ocean, difficult to reverse historical agreements, rising tensions in the region, increasing Chinese naval presence which in turn has evoked India’s similar response.

Conclusion – based on your own opinion suggest the way forward.


  • Indian Ocean is important for many reasons.
    • It enjoys a privileged location at the crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the international economy in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific. 
    • The Indian Ocean is rich in natural resources. Forty per cent of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin
  • Historically there have been efforts to make areas in this region naval bases for instance Chagos archipelago from Mauritian territory by Great Britain, which was handed over to the U.S. On Diego Garcia, the U.S. built a major naval base, La Reunion became the centre of French naval military operations in the Indian Ocean  and now assumption island and Agalega island for India.

Zone of peace :-

  • The idea of Indian ocean as zone of peace (IOZOP) goes back to the days of the 1964 Cairo Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had expressed concern over the efforts of the imperialists to establish bases in the Indian Ocean and declared that the Indian Ocean should not be a battleground for the big powers.
  • The Lusaka Declaration (1970) refined the idea further and it led to the UNGA resolution, which proposed the IOZOP strictly in the context of the raging Cold War at that time.

Why Indian ocean should be declared as a zone of peace :-

  • Proponents of the proposal believe that in the absence of military strength and influence to counter the growing Chinese presence in the region, India should use the multilateral route to create a consensus for preventing the military activity of external powers in the region.
  • There are various Humanitarian and environmental issues associated with the militarization of small islands in the Indian Ocean
    • Due to increased militarization environmental threats faced by these islands like rise in sea level etc are total being sidelined .
  • Military influence too much:-
    • Increasing Chinese presence and the threat of PLA-N bases in the IOR
    • The growing interests of other major powers (US, UK, Russia, France and Japan) in the region, and the many Chinese infrastructure projects in the region create an imperative for India to actively limit the military maritime activity of external powers in the region.
  • Can balance India and China:-
    • With the kind of support China demonstrated in Kathmandu among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, it is possible that the zone of peace idea will turn into a move to counter the U.S. as a foreign presence and to seek some balance between India and China in the Indian Ocean. 

Declaring Indian ocean as Zone of peace is mired with difficulties:-

  • Attempting to limiting military maritime activity through the IOZOP route will ensure that while no military activity is ever practically curtailed, Indian influence and credibility in the region will stand severely eroded.
  • The trouble with the IOZOP proposal is its flawed premise that by simply declaring the region a “Zone of Peace”, foreign military presence and activity can be effectively halted.
  • International focus on India’s naval acquisitions, present and future, may well become counterproductive. 
  • The greatest resistance to the revival of the IOZOP will come from those who will argue that the idea itself is outdated as the Cold War and great power rivalry are non-existent


General Studies – 3

Topic – Effects of liberalization on the economy

4) The experience of India with FTAs have taught us that we should proceed with extreme caution when it comes to RCEP negotiations. Analyze. (250 words)


Economic times

Why this question

As RCEP negotiations with China gather pace, doubts over the efficacy of FTAs for India has been pointed out by several analysts. Moreover, in light of the growing trade deficit with China, RCEP negotiations assume much greater significance.

Key demand of the question

The question demands the answer to the following points incorporated in your answer


  • Examine the experience of India with FTAs. Bring out the positive and the negative impacts that FTAs have had on India’s trade balance, imports and exports.
  • Discuss the critical points of contention in RCEP negotiations both region wise and issue wise
  • Highlight the risks that are there for India in case of a bad decision and thus the need to proceed with caution
  • Discuss how India should approach the RCEP negotiations

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that RCEP negotiations are upcoming which is a regional FTA. India has become a part of many regional and bilateral FTAs which have led to several issues which needs to be discussed before proceeding with RCEP.


  • Highlight the benefits and losses of so many FTAs. In benefits bring out macro points like greater trade volume, price advantages due to duty waiver etc. Thereafter delve deeper into the impact of FTA on India by analysing the results of ASEAN FTA etc , take points from the economic times article
  • Thereafter, focus on bringing out the major points of contention in RCEP negotiations. Discuss the major issues and also discuss specific issues wrt certain countries like China
  • Bring out the risks that a faulty negotiation strategy has for India and this would prove why is it necessary to proceed with caution.
  • Discuss a way forward for india’s negotiation strategy at RCEP

Conclusion – Present your view on FTA in general and RCEP in particular and how should India go ahead with them.




  • RCEP accounts for 28% of world trade and covers nearly half of the world population. The legally binding RCEP covers a wide range of issues including trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition policy, dispute settlement and economic and technical cooperation

Experience of FTA’s for India :-

  • Negatives:-
    • Lack of information on FTAs, low margins of preference, delays and administrative costs associated with rules of origin, non-tariff measures, are major reasons for under-utilisation.
    • When it comes to the India-Asean FTA, there is a deterioration of the quality of trade. Apart from the surge in total trade deficit due to tariff cuts, sector wise trade flows also paint a grim picture.
      • Sectors where trade deficit has worsened account for approximately 75% of India’s exports to Asean.
    • India has been faring poorly with its FTA partners such as South Korea and Japan.
      • They were negotiated with little foresight and haven’t brought in sufficient gains.
    • The poor utilisation rate of the RTAs has only re-enforced India’s belief in the multilateral system led by the WTO, where rules are less complex. It’s the WTO which addresses issues such as anti-dumping and subsidies which are crucial for India. 
  • Positives:-
    • FTAs are instrumental in creating seamless trade blocs that can aid trade and economic growth.
    • It will lead to greater trade volume helping with price advantages due to duty waiver etc.

Why extreme caution is necessary for RCEP negotiations :-

  • With a high rate of poverty, a large rural population consisting mainly of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers, an immature industrial sector, a growing but narrow service sector and vulnerable health and education sectors, India had very rightly maintained a cautious approach in its FTAs on goods, intellectual property rights, and many new issues such as investment, government procurement and competition policy.
  • India’s cautious approach faces a major paradigm-shift given the current negotiations in RCEP. It has the potential to overthrow India’s policies of rural development and industrialisation especially ‘Make in India’, and to provide accessible healthcare and medicines to all. It also threatens the policy flexibility and sovereignty to pursue independent economic, social and environmental policies.
  • Trade deficit issue:-
    • 16-member RCEP free trade agreement (FTA) is mostly held up due to India’s reluctance to substantially open up its market to China as it has an unsustainably high trade deficit of $63 billion in 2017-18 with China.
    • Country needs to rethink joining the RCEP as it will be “disastrous” to provide more market access to China, which is a key player in the grouping
  • Many countries want India to open up its market for 92% of traded goods, while India is only ready to offer market access up to a maximum of 85% items with deviations for countries like China, Australia and New Zealand with whom it does not have an FTA.
  • Services:-
    • India will also seek China’s help to carve out a more ambitious deal in services under RCEP to which most member countries have shown strong resistance. India believes an ambitious services deal will help it provide job opportunities in RCEP member countries for its millions of skilled professionals at home.
  • Agriculture and allied products:-
    • The plantation sector is already reeling from the impact of the India-Asean FTA even with relatively high protection of agriculture and a tariff-coverage of 73-80 per cent.
    • If tariff cuts cover 92-80 per cent of products, the impact will be huge.
    • On the other hand, New Zealand’s export-oriented dairy products will decimate India’s growing dairy sector, which is still largely small-scale.
  • Industrial sector :-
    • If India offers to reduce/eliminate import tariffs on a larger number of industrial products than already committed to Asean, Japan and South Korea, its industrial sector could be under stress. 
    • Further, India is being asked to eliminate export restrictions on minerals and raw material by Japan and South Korea; this may threaten domestic raw material availability for industrialisation and encourage over-mining.
  • E-commerce:-
    • E-commerce commitments, if any, will allow companies such as Alibaba from China to displace Indian manufacturing especially in the SME segment.
  • Medicine:-
    • Agreeing to data exclusivity, extending patent terms and unduly strong enforcement measures will weaken the entire generic medicine sector and take away several health safeguards in India’s Patent Act, notably section 3(d). This will make medicines inaccessible not only for Indian patients but for those in the entire developing world.
  • Intellectual property:-
    • IP chapter in RCEP is at risk of including provisions far stricter than those mandated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Way forward for India:-

  • Before getting into any multilateral trade deal, India should review its existing FTAs in terms of benefits to various stakeholders like industry and consumers, trade complementarities and changing trade patterns in the past decade. Negotiating bilateral FTAs with countries where trade complementarities and margin of preference is high may benefit India in the long run.
  • Also, higher compliance costs nullify the benefits of margin of preference. Thus reducing compliance cost and administrative delays is extremely critical to increase utilisation rate of FTAs.
  • Proper safety and quality standards should be set to avoid dumping of lower quality hazardous goods into the Indian market.
  • Circumvention of rules of origin should be strictly dealt with by the authorities. Well-balanced FTA deals addressing the concerns of all the stakeholders is the need of the hour
  • Developing countries like India which have taken the leadership in instituting and using balanced intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals should not only proudly protect their laws in the RCEP negotiations, they should also encourage other countries to adopt and use similar measures that ensure generic competition.
  • Before going ahead with any of the mega trade deals, India needs to aggressively undertake a few of the pending reforms. These include domestic as well as trade reforms like changes in land and labour laws especially in sectors like textiles and reduction in subsidies are crucial as RCEP would bring in investment in several labour intensive sectors including textile.

Topic -Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

5) What are Bioplastics? Briefly explain the different variants of Bioplastics being used and promoted? Critically examine the impact of Bioplastics on the environment?(250 words)



Why this question

Plastics are being talked about again, thanks to the United Nations Environment Programme’s #beatplasticpollution campaign, backed in turn by a growing chorus worldwide against the material in its many avatars. Bioplastics at this stage are being proposed as a safe alternative to plastics, and examining whether this assertion is true is critical to how we deal with plastics in the future. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question is fairly straightforward in its demands. We just need to mention some alternatives to the use of Bioplastics if we are taking a stand that using Bioplastics is not good for the environment.

Directive word

Critically examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the anti plastic campaign in India which is gaining steam as world environment day approaches. Mention that plastics are one of the most stubborn pollutants and thus several alternatives have come up.


  • Define Bioplastics and also discuss the features of different forms of Bioplastics being used and promoted
  • Thereafter, examine whether Bioplastics provide an environmentally safer alternative to plastics or whether they lead to several other issues which exacerbate the problem
  • Discuss some of the alternatives to the use of Bioplastics like composting, behavioural changes etc

Conclusion – present your view on whether or not the use of Bioplastics should be promoted.




  • Bio-based plastics means they are developed form biomass (plants) such as corn, sugarcane, vegetable oil or wood pulp. Biodegradable plastics are those which possess the characteristics of biodegradability and composability.
  • They can be converted into natural substances like water, carbon dioxide, and compost by the action of micro-organisms in the environment.
  • Bioplastics are biodegradable materials that come from renewable sources and can be used to reduce the problem of contaminating plastic waste that is suffocating the planet and contaminating the environment.
  • As an alternative to plastic , the use of bioplastics is being promoted, consisting in obtaining natural polymers from agricultural, cellulose or potato and corn starch waste.

Types of Bioplastics

  • Bioplastics can be prepared from a variety of materials like starch, sugar, cellulose etc.
  • Cellulose-based plastics are made from wood pulp and they are used for making film based materials such as wrappers.
  • Thermoplastics are starch based plastics. They are used for production of drug capsules as starch has ability to absorb moisture.
  • These represent the most widely used bioplastic, constituting about 50 percent of the bioplastics market
  • Polylactic Acid (PLA) is made from the fermentation of starch from crops. It is used for preparing computer and mobile phone casings, cups, bottles and other packaging.
  • Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is used for making bank notes and car parts etc. 
  • Polyamide 11 (PA 11) prepared from vegetable oils is used for making oil and gas flexible pipes, and electrical anti-termite cable sheathing etc.
  • Photo-degradable plastic which degrades on exposure to light.


  • Positive:-
    • Environment:-
      • Bioplastics are better than petro plastics in terms of fossil-fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
      • Biodegradable plastics are easy to recycle and are non-toxic.
      • They reduce carbon footprint
      • They do not involve the consumption of non-renewable raw materials
      • Their production reduces non-biodegradable waste that contaminates the environment
    • They do not contain additives that are harmful to health, such as phthalates or bisphenol A 
    • They do not change the flavour or scent of the food contained
    • These are degradable, equally resistant and versatile, already used in agriculture, textile industry, medicine and, over all, in the container and packaging market, and biopolymers are already becoming popular in cities throughout Europe and the United States for ecological reason.
  • Negatives:-
    • But in terms of cost and applicability, bioplastics are inferior to petro plastics.
    • Bioplastic production requires almost 80% of the energy required to produce common plastic.
    • In 2009, the Central Pollution Control Board tested 10 bioplastic samples but found only 40% cleared the test for biodegradability.
    • Biggest concern about compostable plastic is it would take around 40 days to compost during which time it would have already been ingested by several small animal forms, with a likely injurious impact.
    • Bioplastic claims biodegradability on exposure to water:-
      • The only standards on this require that within six months, the plastic must have disintegrated into bits smaller than 2 millimetres and that biodegradation must have progressed so that at least 30% of the carbon has been converted by microorganisms (such as bacteria) into carbon dioxide.
      • This leaves the plastic to contaminate the seas for six months and more.
      • And if they touch the bottom of the sea, they may not degrade at all, because it is much colder than the 30 degrees Celsius that is their ideal degradation temperature.
      • According to scientists, such micro-plastics cause extreme damage to marine life.
    • People cannot differentiate  bioplastics from regular plastics in the trash. In India there is hardly any segregation of wet and dry waste so it is unlikely that even the best bioplastics will be pulled out for treatment.
    • Not all bioplastics are biodegradable 


Instead of revolving around plastics its better in to alternative techniques which are more environment friendly like composting and making people aware about the importance of waste management and protecting environment.

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

6) Saddling private sector with the burden of MSP will hurt the interest of both the farmers and the industry. Critically analyze.(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

MSP is controversial as convincing arguments can be made both in favour and against it. Here the focus of the question is the trend seen recently, where, to secure the interest of the farmers, the burden of MSP is thrust on the private sector. The proposed MSP policy in the case of cotton for purchase by mills is exhibit A. Discussing the impacts and justification of this move is important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to emphasize on the following points in our answer

  • The evidences where such a policy is being followed
  • The impact of imposing the burden of MSP on private sector – whether it would help in securing farmer’s income and the effect it would have on the economic viability of the industries. Other impacts that such a policy would have.
  • Discuss the situations where MSP makes sense and where it doesn’t. Suggest alternatives to MSP.
  • Present your view on whether or not it makes sense for the government to impose the burden of MSP on private sector.

Directive word

Critically analyze – You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them. 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 – explain MSP and the rationale behind government’s reliance on it. Thereafter, mention the proposed MSP policy for cotton and the experience of sugar. Mention that the impact of this move needs to be analyzed in depth.


  • Discuss some of the merits of MSP (the usual). Thereafter, highlight the problem of imposing MSP on private sector. Discuss issues like distortion of market prices, post facto decision making tool, impacts the input cost of businesses making them less profitable etc
  • Take the case study of sugar to show that MSP has not served well. One can also examine the case of rice and wheat where the policy despite certain limitations has worked fairly well. However, one should point out the difference in the two situations (PDS – backward linkage) and where MSP makes sense.
  • Discuss other advantages / disadvantages like – issues in procurement, crops being grown which are ill suited to the climatic conditions etc.
  • Present your view on whether the burden of MSP should be imposed on private sector by summarising the arguments made above

Conclusion – Highlight some alternative to MSP as a way forward such as a robust futures market for agricultural commodities.

Background :-

  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.
  • The MSPs served as the floor prices and were fixed by the Government in the nature of a long-term guarantee for investment decisions of producers, with the assurance that prices of their commodities would not be allowed to fall below the level fixed by the Government, even in the case of a bumper crop. 

Issues with MSP:-

  • Imposition of MSP beyond some point is market distorting as it severs the link between prices and demand-supply. This can also be inflationary and out of sync with the physical market dynamics.
  • RBI has highlighted the announcement of higher MSPs as being one of the major risk factors this year for inflation. This is significant as the government has spoken of providing a mark-up of 50% on cost for all products when deciding on the MSPs for FY19

Private sector and MSP:-

  • There have been signals recently that the cotton MSP may become the price at which mills will have to buy the crop. Hence, instead of the government bearing the cost as happens with public procurement of rice and wheat the burden could be transferred to yarn/textile mills.
  • The logic can then be extended to pulses where mills can be made to buy pulses at the MSP in case market prices come down due to surplus production.
  • The same can also hold for oilseeds where the edible oil manufacturers will be forced to buy oilseeds at MSP.

Issues with private sector handling MSP:-

  • Sugar experience:-
    • Price of sugar is determined by the market, and the high production of cane leads to fall in prices. But, farmers have to be paid the SAP or FRP, and mills cannot honour this commitment unless they are able to sell the sugar in the market at price that offsets the SAP/FRP. This is the core problem facing the sugar industry where such mismatch has led to the build-up of large arrears that are due to farmers
    • Mills also have had to borrow to honour these contracts when they are unable to sell sugar at remunerative prices.
  • Many say the concept itself is fraught with dangers and could minimise the role of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in procurement operations.
  • Encouraging private players to procure commodities other than wheat and rice on behalf of the government has its own challenges including storing and transportation.
    • Storage :-
      • For paddy and wheat, FCI has built adequate storage capacity in all the states, except Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the north-eastern states, so procurement of wheat and paddy is possible and storage is not a major problem.
      • However, if other commodities are to be procured at MSP, there will surely be shortage of space in almost all the states as the storage requirement assessed by FCI for each district took into account only the procurement of wheat and paddy.
    • Reimbursement of losses in procurement to private parties:-
      • Private sector won’t procure wheat, rice or any other commodity at MSP for free and if their commission is less than cost, then they won’t come.
      • MSP operations are likely to result in losses and unless the government of India gives and assurance that it will bear the losses, private sector is unlikely to come forward. 
    • Textiles and related products account for around 12% of exports, and artificially higher cotton prices could make them less competitive. Further, to ensure that the MSP is paid, the government will have to necessarily tweak trade policy because the MSP regime will not be effective in case companies import cotton at a lower cost. This will affect the competitiveness of industry, considering that the entire textile chain in an important component of Indian exports.

Way forward:-

  • A better way out is to actually make use of hedging offered via commodity exchanges.
    • To begin with, farmers must be allowed to have the entire array of commodities available on futures trading platforms. 
    • In the case of sugar, if all the mills hedged part of their output on, say, NCDEX where there are active contracts, then the risk of falling prices would have been mitigated. For this to be effective, there is the requirement of long-term contracts in all these products.
  • Creating a solid structure where farmers and companies deal on commodity futures platforms to hedge the price risk is the perfect solution and the effort must be on deepening these markets. This will be a win-win solution and the constant concerns that keep governments worried about whether the farmer is realising remunerative prices and whether the consumer is paying a comfortable price is answered by the markets.


General Studies – 4

Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

7) Values play an important  role in the functioning as well as in determining the performance of an organization. Discuss.(250 words)


Why this question

Values form an integral part of a person’s personality, his convictions and his behaviour. The question is related to GS4 syllabus under the following heading-

Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to write in detail about the role played by different values at play in an organisation, in determining its functioning and its performance/ achievement.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive. It means that we have to write in detail about all the key aspects of the question. Here we have to discuss the nature of values which are present in a workplace and how they affect the functioning and performance of an organisation.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– give a brief definition of a value. e.g Values are desirable states, goals or behaviours on which individuals place a high worth.


  1. Discuss the different types of values existing in a workplace (e.g based on source-individual values vs organisational values; based on content functional vs instrumental organisational values).
  2. Discuss how values affect the functioning add performance of an organisation. Take help of the article attached to the question and feel free to consult other sources/ references.

Conclusion- mention the strategy of providing incentives in various forms in order to strengthen certain values in an organisation.




Values are the enduring beliefs that a specific mode of conduct or end state of existence is personally or socially preferable. These are more difficult to change or alter. As ethical conduct receives more visibility in the workplace, the importance of values is increased as a topic of discussion in management.


Values are general principles to regulate our day-to-day behavior. They not only give direction to our behavior but are also ideals and objectives in themselves. They are the expression of the ultimate ends, goals or purposes of social action.

Types of values in workplace:-

There are four types of values that we find in an organisational setting: individual values, relationship values, organisational values and societal values.

Individual values reflect how you show up in your life and your specific needs-the principles you live by and what you consider important for your self-interest. Individual values include :  enthusiasm ,creativity , humility and personal fulfilment.

Relationship values reflect how you relate to other people in your life, be friends, family or colleagues in your organisation. Relationship values include: openness, trust, generosity and caring.

Organisational values reflect how your organisation shows up and operates in the world. Organisational values include: financial growth, teamwork, productivity and strategic alliances.


The following are values having foremost importance at work place :-

Integrity, Accountability, Diligence, Perseverance and Discipline. Strong organizations are centered on these values. They are invariably successful. Almost always, these core values generate other values in employees.

Every individual and every organisation is involved in making hundreds of decisions every day. The decisions we make are a reflection of our values and beliefs, and they are always directed towards a specific purpose. That purpose is the satisfaction of our individual or collective (organizational) needs.

When we use our values to make decisions, we make a deliberate choice to focus on what is important to us. When values are shared, they build internal cohesion in a group.

Establishing strong core values provides both internal and external advantages to the company:

  • Core values help companies in the decision-making processes. For example, if one of your core values is to stand behind the quality of your products, any products not reaching the satisfactory standard are automatically eliminated.
  • Core values educate clients and potential customers about what the company is about and clarify the identity of the company. Especially in this competitive world, having a set of specific core values that speak to the public is definitely a competitive advantage.
  • Core values are becoming primary recruiting and retention tools. With the ease of researching companies, job seekers are doing their homework on the identities of the companies they are applying for and weighing whether or not these companies hold the values that the job seekers consider as important.