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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 12 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

TopicImportant Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1) What do you understand by, Decade Volcanoes. Discuss the aim and,importance of the Decade Volcano project. (250 words) 



Why this question

The issue has become more important in the wake of several volcanic eruptions and associated loss of life and property. The issue related to GS 1 syllabus under the following heading-

Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to simply describe in detail the meaning of  Decade volcanoes. It also wants us to discuss the aim and importance of the Decade Volcano project.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the meaning of the term, aim and role of the project.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Mention the formation of the Project as a part of  United Nations-sponsored International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.


  • Describe the meaning of the term, Decade Volcanoes.
  • Discuss the aims of the Decade Volcanoes project. Read the articles properly before writing about the aims.
  • Discuss the role of the project. E.g it has provided us with rich and deep insights into the geomorphic process of volcanism, it has helped in taking necessary precautions etc.

Conclusion– Mention the need to revise the list and further strengthen the organization etc.

Decade volcanoes :-

  • The Decade Volcanoesare 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. 
  • They are named Decade Volcanoes because the project was initiated as part of the United Nations-sponsored International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, in the 1990s.
  • The following characteristics can be attributed to designate a Decade Volcano:-
    • If it exhibits more than one volcanic hazard (people living near the Decade Volcanoes may experience tephra fall, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, lahars, volcanic edifice instability and lava dome collapse)
    • It shows recent geological activity
    • Is located in a populated area (eruptions at any of the Decade Volcanoes may threaten tens or hundreds of thousands of people, and therefore mitigating eruption hazards at these volcanoes is crucial)
    • Is politically and physically accessible for study
    • There is local support for the work.

Decade volcano project :-

  • Despite the challenges scientists face in predicting volcanic eruptions, the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) Decade Volcano Programme has identified the volcanoes which pose the greatest threat.
  • Their list is based not simply on which volcanoes are most likely to erupt, but rather on which volcanoes are located within highly populated regions and also capable of producing lethal volcanic eruptions including lava flows, pyroclastic flows, lahars and ash falls.
  • 16 volcanoes are covered under this project and some of them are 
    • Mount Rainier, in Washington, United States
    • Mount Vesuvius in Italy
    • Mount Etna
    • Mount Merapi
  • Aim is:-
    • To direct attention to a small number of selected, active volcanoes world-wide and to encourage the establishment of a range of research and public-awareness activities aimed at enhancing an understanding of the volcanoes and the hazards posed by them.
  • Importance:-
    • The Decade Volcanoes project encourages studies and public-awareness activities at these volcanoes, with the aim of achieving a better understanding of the volcanoes and the dangers they present, and thus being able to reduce the severity of natural disasters.
    • The general approach of Decade Volcano projects has been to convene a planning workshop, identify the major strengths and weaknesses of risk mitigation at each volcano, and to plan how to address the weaknesses identified.
    • One of the difficulties faced in mitigating hazards at volcanoes is ensuring that geoscientists and those who will enact the mitigation measures communicate adequately with each other, and the Decade Volcano program has attempted to ensure this by making sure both groups are well represented at Decade Volcano workshops.
    • The Decade Volcano program has achieved a number of successes in predicting volcanic events and mitigating disasters. One of the most notable was the successful diversion of a lava flow and blanket at Mount Etna in 1992. 
    • The eruptive history of Galerasvolcano is now much better established than previously, and at Taal Volcano the importance of water in driving its explosive eruptions has come to light.
    • Studies at many volcanoes have led to a clear reduction in the risk faced by nearby settlements.
    • It has been a success that has furthered the science of volcanology greatly.
      • Due to the Decade Volcano Program scientists now know a lot more about how to mitigate volcanoes, and they also know much more about how volcanoes operate. Due to all of the studies done scientists now know so much that they can point the finger against other and more dangerous volcanoes.
    • Problems with this project:-
      • Predictions failed:-
        • Eruptions at Mount Unzenwhich began shortly before it was designated a Decade Volcano were heavily monitored, but despite this, a large pyroclastic flow killed 43 people, including three volcanologists.
      • Civil unrest in the vicinity of several volcanoes.
      • Funding issue:-
        • Scarce resources for volcano studies have led to programs competing for limited funding.

Way forward:-

  • Good Decade Volcano Program should, if possible, support countries that need added scientific help and resources. There is an added bonus of studying volcanoes that are understudied today and needs to be the next focus.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

2) Critically analyze the  benefits offered by the open-data policy and data- driven governance, in the context of India.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Huge amount of data is generated in an economy, related to its natural resources, human resources, interventions made for any specific cause, result of those interventions etc. This data, collected and stored could be shared with the public as open data and such type of governance will accelerate the whole economy and bring necessary reforms in governance also. The issue is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to deliberate on the benefits of open data policy and open data governance. It also wants us to dig deep into the issue and highlight the challenges involved in this regard.

Directive word

Critically analyze- we have to dig deep into the issue, identify the main aspects related to the key demand of the question. Here we not only have to discuss the benefits of open data policy and governance but also discuss the challenge involved inform our personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– highlight the huge amount of data collected by public authorities in India and bring out a brief description of open data policy and open data governance.


  1. Discuss in points, the benefits of open data policy. E.g such data collected by governments are for citizen welfare; hence they have an implicit right to benefit from the information; this will make governance more transparent and accountable; it will spur innovative solutions for our social and economic problems etc.
  2. Mention that Indian government already shares some data with the public and bring out that these efforts need to be further built upon (highlight the deficiencies like limited data sets, lack of obligation to do so etc.) in order to reap the full benefits of open data policy and governance.

Conclusion- briefly describe and feel free to further modify the 5C framework, as discussed in the article, attached to the question.


  • Currently, information is being collected by different government departments right from the panchayat to the state level. Although, most of it remains restricted within departments and is used largely to cull out reports or monitor performance.
  • There are issues in timely collection of information while in some areas the quality of data collected is questionable, thereby delaying analysis.

Open government data:-

  • Open government data means publishing information collected by the government in its entirety, such as government budgets, spending records, health-care measures, climate records, and farming and agricultural produce statistics.
  • Open government data is a silent but powerful movement unfolding globally. Over 100 governments have already signed a charter to proactively share data collected by various government departments, for public consumption. 
  • With choice and information-sharing now redefining consumer behaviour, every company is looking to embrace or at least look like it is embracing the new paradigm of data-driven innovation.

Benefits with open data policy and data driven governance:-

  • Citizen welfare at large:-
    • Such data collected by governments are for citizen welfare hence they have an implicit right to benefit from the information.
    • Data driven governance aims to improve the last-mile linkage of individuals to schemes and empower communities and service providers through data collection, analysis, and improvisation. The Digital India and Smart Cities initiatives of the government also include efforts to utilise data to design, plan, implement, manage, and govern programmes.
    • Data sets such as government budget usage, welfare schemes and subsidies increase transparency and thereby build trust.
    • It will help citizens, and the variety of civil society organizations in India currently working, despite difficulties, with government data everything from electoral candidate data and legislations to municipal body phone numbers and public transport route information can be found out.
    • Most importantly OGD can be seen as a step in delivering the promises of the Right to Information Act, and a step towards greater transparency and importantly, accountability.
  • Technology:-
    • It paves the way to develop technology-led innovations which can unlock massive economic value, thereby benefitting even the poorest of poor, the under-represented and the marginalised.
    • Commitment to use information technology, open source data, and proper governance will play an important role in determining the improvement in human development indices. Requisite investments in technology, capacity building, a centralised mandate, and structures to facilitate data sharing can help to bring plans and participation closer to reality.
  • Crop insurance:-
    • Availability of data on yearly produce of crops, soil data health cards and meteorological data sets can help companies develop customised crop insurance solutions with specific risk-based pricing.
  • Education:-
    • Data points around progress in literacy rates, demographic data and density of educators can help develop customised solutions for villages.
  • Health:-
    • Similarly, information on availability of facilities in public hospitals, current occupancy rates, hospital and demographic data can pave the way for curated health-care applications. 
  • Economical:-
    • Research by PwC in Australia estimated that open data can add an additional 1.5% to the country’s GDP. In the Indian context, this could conservatively translate to about $22 billion.
    • A case in point here is Transport for London which has digitised and shared only about 80 data sets, yet this has led to the creation of multiple technology applications for city transport and maps, unlocking estimated economic benefits and savings for the city to the tune of £130 million.
  • Open government data can create political accountability, generate economic value, and improve the quality of federal initiatives. Many experts believe that government reforms must aim to work with data to assess the impact of services, make informed decisions, improve monitoring programmes, and improve systemic efficiencies.
  • When data is opened up to the public, citizens have the chance to reclaim their decision-making role. 
  • Help government itself:-
    • It will benefit government itself, by reducing  the burden of locating information both for internal use, as well as for responding to RTIs and streamlining its own information gathering and processing procedures. 
    • It will expose incorrect and outdated data, which the government itself is often not in an easy  position to detect.  
  • Inconsistencies in data will be made easier to spot if the information is made available freely, for many people to inspect

Measures taken:-

  • Government of India is working towards an Open Data Policy, under the Department of Information and Technology (DIT) to encourage sharing information between departments and across ministries. 
  • India currently houses more than 1.6 lakh data resources and has published over 4,015 application programme interfaces (APIs) from across 100-plus departments. As a result, India’s global ranking by the Global Open Data Barometer has improved.
  • City Data for India Initiative was launched by Tata Trusts in association with World Council on City Data (WCCD) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers(PwC), India in 2016 with an objective of creating a culture of data driven decision making in Indian cities


  • Execution issues:-
    • A closer analysis of the Open Data project shows good intent but sporadic execution. Hence, while India publishes data points, very little of it is getting utilised by data consumers, scientists and corporates. The socio-economic impact is limited.
  • Privacy issues:-
    • Datafication of businesses has also brought to the fore the criticality of developing data management, storage and privacy laws. The European Union with its General Data Protection Regulation has been a front-runner and other countries, including India, have also adopted a collaborative model to develop privacy laws, which includes deliberations with creators of data (the consumer) and users (corporates).
  • There are many challenges that  must be addressed while moving towards opening up of 

governmental data. 

  • Currently the entire infrastructure of information gathering, processing, sharing is to be found wanting.
  • There is insufficient standardization.
  • Issues of privacy are importantly implicated, especially since there is no written law on privacy in India, and data anonymization is seldom practiced.
  • Even with anonymization, privacy is still an issue because of community level  concerns (e.g., showing in which villages HIVpositive people are concentrated, 

even if individuals are not mentioned) which might not matter as much in a more individualistic society.   

Way forward:-

  • The first step is to ensure completeness of data stacks opened for use either through machine-readable formats
    • Completeness would imply a data set. For example, soil data cards will have data on all relevant aspects as well as current emerging technologies such as Blockchain and the Internet of Things to provide the opportunity to automate data collection.
  • Comprehensiveness of a data stack or various data sets is essential.
    • For example, a comprehensive agri-data set would have digitised data sets on soil data, rainfall, crop production as well as market rates. Currently, data sets shared in India are somewhat disjointed and not comprehensive.
  • Clustering of relevant data sets and APIs would be the next step. This would mean combining data sets which can lead to the creation of applications such as farm insurance from weather, soil and crop cycle/sale data.
  • Building anchor cases or use-cases to encourage data usage. Taking the Aadhaar case further, its API has led to the development of market applications, an Aadhaar-enabled payment system, and direct benefit transfers among others which are clearly pushing the financial inclusion drive.
  • The final step would be setting up a comprehensive governance framework which includes an open data council with cross-sector representation to monitor, regulate and build usage after proportionate oversight.
    • Actively engaging policy makers and researchers with the processed data is crucial to bring in cross-sectoral transformation. In many states, municipal commissioners are partnering with external agencies to collate standardised city data. This can help Indian cities understand how they rank vis-à-vis other cities around the world.
  • Technological companies and start-ups, which can offer solutions in data cleaning and analytics as well as statistical agencies and can manage massive, complex data, need to be encouraged.

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

3)Recognition of tribal rights over non-timber forest products (NTFPs) would accelerate empowerment of the poor and marginalised. Comment.   (150 words)

Indian express

Why this question

Forest dwellers are one of the most marginalized sections of Indian society. The Forest Rights Act vests a number of rights with forest-dwelling communities and one of them is access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce. NTFPs have been shown to very effective agents of bringing socioeconomic development.  The issue is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions, and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to express our understanding of the issue of access of forest dwellers to the NTFPs, the potential of NTFPs in bringing the socioeconomic transformation of the forest dwellers.

Directive word

Comment- We have to express our personal opinion on the issue, based on our understanding and knowledge. We have to support our opinion with proper arguments/facts etc.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the forest rights act, which gives the forest dwellers certain rights including rights over minor forest produce. Also, mention facts like almost 275 million people depend on NTFPs with a turnover of at least Rs 6,000 crore per annum.


  1. Discuss the benefits of providing ownership of NTFPs to forest dwellers. E.g increase in income, supplement in income, providing critical subsistence during the lean seasons, reducing migration from the villages, economic empowerment etc.
  2. Briefly discuss the issue of lack of proper access to NTFPs.

Conclusion– Mention the need to implement the forest rights act properly and with full fervour and enthusiasm  in order to bring socioeconomic development to the forest dwellers and correct the historical injustices meted out to them.


  • During the colonial and post-colonial periods, forest management and access to forest resources like non-timber forest products (NTFPs) was largely driven by the principles of centralisation, exclusion and exploitation. 
  • Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) constitute an important source of livelihood for millions of people from forest fringe communities across the world. In India, NTFPs are associated with socio-economic and cultural life of forest dependent communities inhabiting in wide ecological and geo-climatic conditions throughout the country. 

Non timber forest products:-

  • Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are goods of biological origin other than timber from natural, modified or managed forested landscapes. They include fruits and nuts, vegetables, medicinal plants, gum and resins, essences, bamboo, rattans and palms; fibres and flosses, grasses, leaves, seeds, mushrooms, honey and lac etc.
  • The NTFPs can also be referred to as all the resources or products that may be extracted from forest ecosystem and are utilized within the household or are marketed or have social, cultural or religious significance.
  • NTFPs constitute one of the largest unorganised sectors in India. Almost 275 million people depend on NTFPs with a turnover of at least Rs 6,000 crore per annum. 

Tribal rights over non timber  forest products:-

  • The Forest rights act envisages to change this and ensure that the economic benefits of NTFPs accrue to tribal people.
    • NTFPs potential as a source of development and poverty alleviation has been deeply neglected. Prior to the enactment of the FRA in 2006, forest laws nationalised non-timber forest produce and regulated the market process, creating severe inefficiencies.

Recognition of tribal rights over NTFP would lead to empowerment :-

  • Economic :-
    • NTFPs contribute an income equivalent to US$ 2.7 billion per year and absorb 55% of the total employment in forestry sector. Moreover, 50% of forest revenues and 70% of forest based export income come from such resources. They provide 50% of the household income for approximately one third of India’s rural population. 
    • NTFPs constitute about 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the annual income of forest dwellers. It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for tribal groups such as hunter-gatherers, and the landless.
    • The NTFPs also serve as a vital livelihood safety net in times of hardship. Furthermore, the NTFP extraction has multiplier effects in the economy by generating employment and income in downstream processing and trading activities. 
    • It has been proposed that long-term economic benefits from sustainable NTFP extraction might be significant enough to prevent forests from being put to more destructive land uses such as logging, mining or ranching and help lower rates of tropical deforestation.
    • It is now believed that the promotion of sustainable use of NTFPs could lead to a win-win situation for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, NTFPs can be harvested with relatively little impact on the forest environment.
  • States data shows the empowerment:-
    • In Manipur alone, nearly 90% of the population depends on forest products as a major source and some 250000 women are employed in collecting forest products.
    • In Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, about 75% of forest dependent people supplement their food by tubers, flowers and fruits all the year round.
    • NTFPs provide substantial inputs to the livelihoods of forest dependent population, many of whom have limited non agricultural income opportunities.
    • Information from 247 villages from vidharbha region, reveals how ownership over minor forest produce, specially tendu leaves and bamboo, has improved the economic condition of forest dwellers reducing migration, dependence on middlemen for loans. All the investment in education and health by the villagers has increased.
      • The improvement in their economic condition has empowered the poor, marginalised tribal and forest dweller to be more assertive in the decision-making process at the gram sabha and panchayat level.
      • The recognition of community rights over forest resources and land has led to dramatic reduction in incidence of forest fires. The forest cover regeneration has improved and indiscriminate felling and diversion of forests has been contested.
      • These villages earned a total of nearly Rs 35 crore in 2017 by selling NTFPs.
    • Women empowerment:-
      • Given that most of the NTFPs are collected, used and sold by women, it would also lead to financial and social empowerment for millions of women.
    • Nutrition:-
      • They contribute to improving nutrition either as part of the family diet or as a means to achieve household food security. It has been established that a significant number of rural, tribal and overall forest dependent communities derive a significant part of their food, nutrition, healthcare needs and income from NTFPs.

Issues :-

  • Policy vacuum, non-destructive harvesting, destruction of natural habitats, bushfires, population growth and high demand, are hindering the use and development of NTFPs.
  • Only some regions benefitted :-
    • Such positive developments have been largely confined to Vidarbha, a few villages in Kalahandi district of Odisha and Gujarat’s Narmada and Dangs districts.
    • In the rest of the country, state governments continue to resist and create hurdles in the implementation of community rights over NTFPs and forests.
  • Despite several orders from the nodal agency, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the implementation of the provision of collective rights over NTFPs under the FRA has been weak and ineffective.
  • Depletion of NTFPs resources on account of indiscriminate exploitation, deforestation and forest degradation have become a major issue of concern that may affect the NTFP based livelihood and economics. 
  • Tenure security, lack of processing skills and narrow market access are the limiting factors restraining the generation of greater benefits from these resources

Way forward:-

  • There is also the greatest lack of clarity as to who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing rules about harvesting and marketing of NTFPs:-
    • There is urgent need for development of effective and locally appropriate participatory monitoring mechanism.
    • Adoptive monitoring mechanism with the active involvement of people needs to be developed. Sometimes third party monitoring can also be done.
  • Post-harvest technologies: Post harvesting practices e.g., drying, processing, storage and packaging can make a major difference to price and quality of produce.
  • Value addition:-
    • The activity of value addition is largely performed by market intermediaries and manufacturers and there is little value addition at the primary collector’s level. 
    • Some value addition such as drying, chopping or cleaning at collector level will increase the value and quality of the produce.
  • Diversifying :-
    • As many NTFPs are seasonal, the opportunities for diversifying need to be explored. 
  • Marketing system :-
    • The NTFPs value chains are complex, with multiple stages and actors involved in the process of getting a product from forest to consumer. They are also dynamic and change over time. Therefore, information about the quantity and quality of the product, price and their market is very important.
  • Facilities pertaining to storage, grading, processing and value addition through convergence of existing schemes and programs in private and public sectors should be promoted and created. Communities should be empowered with information about the market, policy and products to enable them strategizing and accessing better returns from NTFPs.

Topic:Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

4) Discuss the structure, mandate and functions performed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.(250 words)



Why this question

With increasing migration and displacement of people due to conflicts world over, the role of UNHCR has been recently criticized. The question is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Key demand of the question.

The question is straightforward. It simply wants us to discuss in detail about the structure of UNHCR, what is it’s mandate, what functions it performs.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to be exhaustive and write in detail about the key demand of the question- structure, mandate and functions.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Give an account of the formation of UNHCR after world war 2.



  • Discuss the structure of UNHCR- e.g The UN General Assembly elects High Commissioner every five years. High Commissioner is supported by the ‘Executive Committee to the High Commissioner’s Programme’ and he or she has to make annual reports to the UN General Assembly and needs to follow their directives.


  • Mandate-discuss the concept of, persons of concern and elaborate it to cover the mandate of the organization.
  • Functions- mention all the functions performed by UNHCR-.



Conclusion– Mention the need for greater support, enhanced mandate and more accountability for making UNHCR more effective as an organization.


  • The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. 


  • UNHCR’s operational structure consists of the Division of International Protection, the Division of Programme Support and Management, the Division of External Relations, the Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications, the Division of Financial and Administrative Management, and the Division of Human Resources Management.
  • Operations comprise Europe; the Americas; Africa; Asia and the Pacific; and the Middle East and North Africa.
  • UNHCR now has more than 10,966 members of staff. We work in a total of 130 countries and our budget, which in its first year was USD $300,000, grew to USD $6.54 billion in 2016.
  • The UN General Assembly elects High Commissioner every five years.
  • High Commissioner is supported by the ‘Executive Committee to the High Commissioner’s Programme’ and he or she has to make annual reports to the UN General Assembly and needs to follow their directives


  • UNHCRthe UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nationsprogramme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
  • Its mandate is to provide, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, international protection to refugees and to seek permanent solutions for them.


  • The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
  • It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylumand find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
  • Protection responsibilities have remained at the core of UNHCR’s work over the years:-
    • These include continuing efforts to promote and extend the international legal framework, to develop and strengthen asylum systems, to improve protection standards, to seek durable solutions, and many other activities designed to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees. 
  • Returnees:-
    • The Executive Committee has endorsed UNHCR’s activities to provide protection and assistance to returning refugees. UNHCR cares for “returnees” by monitoring their return and providing them with protection and assistance in their country of origin.
  • International Protection :-
    • The General Assembly and Executive Committee have over the years consistently reiterated that international protection is the main function of UNHCR. The General Assembly has also reaffirmed the humanitarian, nonpolitical character of the Office and has encouraged States and other partners to cooperate fully with the Office in carrying out this function.
  • Assistance:-
    • UNHCR has been called upon by the General Assembly to become the principal organization in coordinating assistance to refugees and other persons of concern. The Office has been encouraged to carry out this role in cooperation with a number of other relevant actors.
  • Durable Solutions
    • Promoting durable solutions for refugees goes hand-in-hand with providing international protection. Seeking permanent solutions is explicitly referred to in UNHCR’s Statute .
  • Coordination:-
    • According to UNHCR’s Statute, the Office has a role in coordinating with States and “private organizations concerned with the welfare of refugees”. Over time UNHCR’s role as a coordinator has changed and come to involve more than just organizations who have a direct concern for refugees. The Office has been asked to coordinate with a multitude of different actors that can help achieve the goals of the Office.
  • Development:-
    • As a humanitarian organization, UNHCR is not specifically tasked to engage in development activities. However, because UNHCR has been given a primary role in promoting durable solutions for refugees, the Office has been asked to be a catalyst in promoting development, predominantly in areas to which refugees return
  • Non- refoulement :-
    • The 1951 Refugee Convention also clearly establishes the principle of non- 
      refoulement, according to which no person may be returned against his or her will 
      to a territory where he or she may be exposed to persecution.
    • It means, when a person is compelled to leave his country of origin or nationality what is of immediate concern to him is that he should be admitted at the frontier and should not be sent back, nor be punished if he has crossed the frontier illegally.
  • Asylum 
    • The principle of non-refoulement constitutes the very basis of the institution of asylum


  • In 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution, 200,000 fled to neighbouring Austria. Recognising the Hungarians as ‘prima facie’ refugees, UNHCR led efforts to resettle them. This uprising and its aftermath shaped the way humanitarian organisations would deal with refugee crises in the future.
  • During the 1960s, the decolonisation of Africaproduced the first of that continent’s numerous refugee crises. UNHCR also helped uprooted people in Asia and Latin America over the following two decades.
  • The start of the 21st century has seen UNHCR help with major refugee crises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.UNHCR has also been asked to use our expertise to help many internally displaced by conflict and expanded our role in helping stateless people.
  • During its lifetime, UNHCR has helped well over 50 million refugees to successfully restart their lives.
  • UNHCR has contributed to major international relief operations to help victims of natural disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, China’s 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the 2013 Philippines typhoon.
  • Some examples of UNHCR’s engagement with the private sector include:
  • In 2008 Microsoft provided key support for UNHCR’s initiatives to increase the use of information communication technology (ICT) in operations and in refugee settings.


  • UNHCR has encouraged states to improve their data on naturalized refugees, 
    but statistics are still only partial.
  • Refugee agency should have been more assertive in opening doors in Europe in the immigration crisis recently , as it has done in past crises, such as the exodus from Hungary in 1956 and the plight of Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The majority of the UN’s humanitarian work is funded entirely by voluntary donations from individual governments and private donors, with agencies such as the UNHCR and Unicef receiving none of the regular budget that member states pay into the UN’s central coffers
  • Another major crisis for the UN is feeding refugees, not only those recently displaced but people who are still unable to return home years after leaving.
  • The UN’s humanitarian agencies are on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to meet the basic needs of millions of people because of the size of the refugee crisis in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.


General Studies – 3

Topic – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.  Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

5) What do you understand by Personally Identifiable Information as per GDPR of EU. How do you think businesses will be impacted by the new regulations. Comment.(250 words)



Why this question

With increasing digitization and growing online presence, coupled with the unfolding of various scandals like Cambridge Analytica, interference in US elections, the issue of privacy has taken the front seat. In this regard, the European Union has taken a much deserved and desired initiative in the form of GDPR. However, there are certain issues involved. Question is related to GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

and to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to describe the meaning and scope of the term, Personally Identifiable Information, as per the recently implemented GDPR of EU. It also wants us to express our opinion on how businesses will be affected by GDPR.

Directive word

Comment- the second part of the question directs us to form of personal opinion on how businesses will be affected by GDPR. We have to substantiate our opinion with proper related arguments/ facts/  examples etc.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- briefly define the term personally identifiable information. Also mention what sort of information qualifies as personally identifiable information, as per GDPR of EU.


  1. Discuss the positive impact of GDPR on businesses. E.g Improved consumer confidence, Better data security, Reduced maintenance costs, Better alignment with evolving technology, Greater decision-making etc.
  2. Discuss the negative impact of GDPR on businesses. E.g similar but not same legislation may be made in other countries, creating confusion for businesses; compiles cost may be high especially for small and medium players, the business may not be enough prepared to follow the legislation.

Conclusion- form a concise, fair and a balanced opinion on the issue.

Personally identifiable information:-

  • GDPR largely focuses on protecting personally identifiable information (PII). This includes basic contact information, web data, health and biometric data, and other social data which can be used to identify any specific individual.

New regulations:-

  • GDPR regulations aim to drastically increase the transparency in the data processing methods of any worldwide business that handles the data of EU citizens. As ‘data subjects’, EU citizens will be handed greater control of their own data, deciding who gets to use it and how those businesses can use it.
  • Its aim is to protect the personal data and privacy of all citizens in the EU, and limit its export. GDPR could be the first law to hold companies of any size, accountable for the data that they collect, store, analyse, and use.
  • GDPR prescribes how companies that deal with data of EU citizens could handle and store it with third parties.
  • The Regulation confers protection to data subject as a matter of right.
  • The three objectives mentioned in the GDPR are:-
    • Protection of natural persons when their data is processed
    • Protection of their fundamental rights and freedoms with respect to 
      data protection
    • Freedom of movement of personal data for processing purpose.

How will GDPR affect businesses adversely?

  • GDPR requires all data handling entities to obtain explicit, oral, written and specific consent for every instance of data captured. The consent must be taken with an affirmative act. During data collection, the companies are expected to explain how and why the data is obtained. They must also reobtain consent, if the methods or the usage of data changes. If the companies do not obtain consent or if it is not verifiable, then they are at risk of non-compliance.
  • As per Article 13 of the regulation, these companies are also required to provide information to the relevant customers about the data controller, data processing involved, length of retention of data, protection measures, and ways to exercise the customer rights that GDPR provides.
  • To adhere to Article 22, the companies must restrict the use of intelligent algorithms in decision making and profiling of individuals. The algorithms used for analytics may have a significant effect on data capture.
  • Heavy penalties:-
    • If any of these specifications are not met, then the company can face penalties as high as €20 million or 4 per cent of their annual turnover, whichever amounts to a higher value
  • Compliance process is expensive, as companies will need to spend heavily on upgrading technology, introducing data encryption modules, and incurring legal and compliance costs.
  • Smaller units could face a challenge in terms of increased costs.
  • The “right to erasure” will allow data subjects to request that their own personal data is permanently deleted by organisations that they do not wish to be in possession of it. Businesses that fail to comply with the requests to be removed will face immense financial consequences, as will businesses that experience leaks and data breaches.
  • GDPR won’t just affect companies based in the EU, despite the fact it concerns the data of EU citizens. Any business handling the data of EU citizens whether customers, employees or other stakeholders must comply, no matter where the business is located. 
  • There is no single authority to certify the level of compliance. This leaves a lot of subjectivity and hence can cause confusion amongst smaller companies that may not have easy access to the right legal entities.
  • 65% of organizations are still not confident that their GDPR data will stay within the EU.
  • Recently UK government report found that less than half of businesses are aware of the upcoming GDPR laws.
  • Confusion still reigns over the GDPR’s right to be forgotten.
  • Indian businesses:-
    • While most companies are still in the initial phase to set up compliance frameworks, it is worrying to see that a majority are not really concerned about the law.
    • Europe is an important market for start-ups operating in the business-to-business (B2B) segment and mobile gaming. Hefty fines and strict regulations could hinder a firm’s operations or lead to a complete shutdown, especially of start-ups.
    • GDPR is enforceable even if companies do not have an office in the EU or do not operate in the EU, but handle private data of EU citizens. 
    • Due to the differences in regulatory practices, the legal parameters have been ambiguous which make compliance more complex and difficult to achieve. The Indian government has concerns with regard to the following issues:
      • The Indian IT/BPO industry requires an increased free flow of data to be transferred from the EU
      • The regulation will limit EU companies outsourcing options which will result in obvious opportunity losses for businesses in India
      • India’s relatively weak data protection laws make India less competitive as outsourcing markets in this space when other economies are updating their regulatory practices to ensure seamless inter-state operability
      • Largely inflexible, GDPR reduces the extent to which businesses can assess risks and make decisions when it comes to transferring data outside the EU
      • The regulations target service providers directly who will have to face high costs such as investing “cyber insurance” whilst adopting new technology. Non-compliance will result in severe penalties.

There are some positives too for the companies:-

  • Improved consumer confidence
    • GDPR compliance will prove to customers that your organisation is a good custodian of data. This new legislation mandates that each organisation have a data protection officer (DPO), along with regular audits of data processing activities.
    • The GDPR’s proposed security practices will bolster your brand’s reputation, showing customers that you have a robust data governance system in place.
  • Having a GDPR-compliant framework in place will extend your cyber security practices.
    • The GDPR mandates using privileged and identity access managementto give only a few professionals access to critical data in your organisation, thereby ensuring that data does not fall into the wrong hands. 
  • Reduced maintenance costs
    • Complying with the GDPR can help companies cut costs by prompting them to retire any data inventory software and legacy applications that are no longer relevant to business.
    • By following the GDPR’s mandate to keep your data inventory up-to-date, companies can significantly reduce the cost of storing data by consolidating information that is present in silos or stored in inconsistent formats.
    • Another cost benefit of the GDPR is that your organisation will be able to more effectively engage with customers. The communication will be more personalised because of the granularity of the information collected, thus saving you the sunk cost of pursuing uninterested consumers
  • Better alignment with evolving technology:-
    • As an extension of GDPR compliance, companies will have to move towards improving its network, endpoint and application security.
    • Migrating towards the latest technologies like virtualisation, cloud computing, BYOD and The Internet of Things (IoT) can give the businesses a way to more effectively manage the growing demand for data and also allows them to offer end users augmented products, services and processes.
  • With third-party management tools, businesses can constantly monitor its new environment for any data breach
  • Organisation’s data will become more consolidated, ensuring that its data is easier to use, and it has a greater understanding of its underlying value.
  • By using customer information effectively,  organisation will be able to make better decisions and consequently get a better return on its investments.
  • Opportunities for Indian businesses:-
    • Indian companies that have operations in EU are looking to revise contracts with their vendors and customers to include GDPR.
    • By drawing upon the regulatory practices of GDPR, India could develop an over-arching data protection regime that would extend to all government and business practices as this will only boost growth in the long run.
    • GDPR is an excellent opportunity for India to update its regulatory practices and effectively implement the fundamental right to privacy.  The IT/BPO sector should use this as a stepping stone to move up the value chain by strengthening its automation portfolio and make the industry more competitive in the global market.

 Way forward:-

  • India could draw on an over-arching data protection regime by building on GDPR. GDPR will strengthen data protection measures of enterprises and empower them and their customers, if followed in the right word and spirit. 
  • risk-based approach to data privacycan significantly reduce the potential of non-compliance violations or a breach.
  • Adoption of smart cost-efficient ways to address cyber security
  • Professional training for employeesto acquire specific skill sets to develop a stronger data protection regime

General Studies – 4

TOPIC:Case Studies

6) You are a trainee accountant in your second year of training within a small practice. A more senior trainee has been on sick leave, and you are due to go on study leave. You have been told by your manager that, before you go on leave, you must complete some complicated reconciliation work. The deadline suggested appears unrealistic, given the complexity of the work. You feel that you are not sufficiently experienced to complete the work alone. You would need additional supervision to complete it to the required standard, and your manager appears unable to offer the necessary support. If you try to complete the work within the proposed timeframe but fail to meet the expected quality, you could face repercussions on your return from study leave. You feel slightly intimidated by your manager, and also feel pressure to do what you can for the practice in what are challenging times.


  • Discuss the key ethical issues involved here.



  • Discuss your future course of action along with the justification.


(300 words)


Why this question

The question is related to GS4 syllabus ( Case studies )

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to discuss in length the key issues involved and what should be done in this regard.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about the key ethical issues involved and what should be done to solve the given dilemma and why so should be done.

Structure of the answer


  • Key issues involved.


  Simply highlight and briefly describe the key issues involved.  

  1. What should be done.

Chart out a strategy to handle the given situation and justify your stand with proper reasoning.


Take the help of the reference attached to the question to form your answer.



The Key ethical issues involved here with multiple stakeholders like myself, client, the manager the organisation and  its other employees etc deals around the issue of professional competence, integrity , accepting responsibility, lack of empathy from manager’s side, professional behaviour etc.

Integrity:- In this particular case study when me as an accountant know that I am not well experienced to complete the work without adequate supervision but still if I go ahead with it is lying to myself and doing injustice to the job.

Accepting responsibility:-At the same time without trying and trusting my abilities with the job I cannot just give it up. In a professional situation new challenges emerge and I need to be up for the task rather than quitting.

Competence :-In this case study the ability to assess the job by myself in an objective way is needed.

Professional behaviour :- My behaviour should be in sync with the needs of the organization . The complicated situation will test my mental strength.

Lack of coordination between manager and accountant:- Employees need to work towards organizational goals first but the relationship between these two seems to be in contradiction as the work is being compromised or employee is facing stress and is not receiving any help.

Future course of action:-

In the first instance I would like to resolve the issue with the manager  by explaining to him/her that I need additional time and experience to complete the work satisfactorily .So I will try to get adequate supervision or manpower by advising the manager to provide with some new trainees to help me complete work. This can ease my job and I can start without apprehension after my study leave but this might create my image as incompetent  in the organization and lack of responsibility.

Then I would try to convince manager to engage with the client regarding the extension of time limit so that the senior trainee comes back from leave and finish the work with good quality. This is an option with no predictability and takes more time as I will be left in lurch till the decision is arrived by manager and client.

Even though manager appears unsympathetic its better I tell the reality for the benefit of the organization. I can be clear that there is a need for experienced help and I cannot do it alone. I will also make it clear that I don’t want my work to be completed on time but with below par standard. This is a feasible option as the manager is also answerable to the superiors and he would ultimately want to satisfy the client. Even though I might be criticized initially but being a trainee the organization would understand the risk I have taken in upholding the organisation’s reputation.