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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 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: World History

1) Discuss the aims of the establishment of the Arab League and assess its role in safeguarding the interests of the Arab nations.(250 words) 


Key demand of the question

The question focuses on the objectives of establishment of Arab League and the role they played in safeguarding and promoting the interests of Arab Nations.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what is Arab League, when was it formed etc

Body – Discuss the broad objectives of formation of Arab League such as strengthen ties between member states and safeguard their independence and sovereignty; and a general concern with the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.

Thereafter, analyze how Arab League has worked to safeguard and promote the interests of Arab nations such as it’s role in Israel Palestine conflict, Arab unity etc.

Discuss the impact that the working of the league has had on the polity, economy etc of Arab nations

Conclusion – Give an overview of the role of Arab League, how it can be better leveraged to deal with the issues in Gulf countries.


Arab league:-

  • The idea of the Arab League was mooted in 1942 by the British, who wanted to rally Arab countries against the Axis powers. However, the league did not take off until March 1945, just before the end of the Second World War.
  • The League of Arab States, or Arab League, is a voluntary association of countries whose peoples are mainly Arabic speaking or where Arabic is an official language.
  • It has 22 members including Palestine, which the League regards as an independent state.

Aims of the establishment of Arab league :-

  • Its stated aims are to strengthen ties among member states, coordinate their policies and direct them towards a common good.
  • The issues that dominated the league’s agenda were freeing those Arab countries still under colonial rule, and preventing the Jewish community in Palestine from creating a Jewish state.
  • Facilitate economic, cultural and scientific programs to promote interests of the Arab world.
  • According to its charter, the founding members of the Arab League agreed to seek close cooperation on matters of economics, communication, culture, nationality, social welfare, and health.
  • They renounced violence for the settlement of conflicts between members and empowered League offices to mediate in such disputes, as well as in those with non-members.
  • Signatories agreed to collaborate in military affairs; this accord was strengthened with a 1950 pact committing members to treat acts of aggression on any member state as an act against all.

Performance of Arab league:-


  • Israel:-
    • Economic boycott of Israel
    • Support to the oil boycott against the countries that supported Israel in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war which was initiated by the Arab oil-producing nation members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria.
    • It has tried to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict by taking steps such as formation of PLA in 1964 and Arab peace initiative 2002.
  • Arab spring:-
    • More recently the League has shown a greater sense of purpose since the “Arab spring” uprisings in early 2011. It backed UN action against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.
    • Supported a no-fly zone and the ouster of Muammar al-Qaddafi
  • Syria:-
    • In Syria, it orchestrated a fact-finding mission to observe the conflict and called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down after months of deadly clashes with protesters.
    • It also suspended Syria over it’s repressions of nationwide protests.
  • The Arab League has created a few regional organizations to promote its aims, such as the Arab Telecommunications Union in 1953, the Arab Postal Union in 1954, the Arab Development Bank (later known as the Arab Financial Organization) in 1959, the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization in 1964, and the Arab Common Market in 1965
  • Arab League has been a little more effective at lower levels, such as shaping school curricula, preserving manuscripts and translating modern technical terminology. It has helped to create a regional telecommunications union.
  • Enhanced economic integration among members by formation of documents like Joint Arab Economic Charter.
  • Launched ARABSAT satellites to improve communication within Arab World.


  • The organization’s inability to define terrorism in a way that is compatible with the generally understood definition of this term.
  • Division among members is a big issue
    • The Arab League’s effectiveness has been severely hampered by divisions among member states.
    • For example, during the Cold War some members were Soviet-oriented while others fell within the Western camp. There has been rivalry over leadership, notably between Egypt and Iraq.
    • Then there have been the hostilities between traditional monarchies – such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco – and new republics, or “revolutionary” states such as Egypt Baathist Syria and Iraq, and Libya
    • Iraq:-
      • The league was severely tested by the US-led attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with some backing the war, some opposing it and others standing on the sidelines
    • Strategic implications of Mideast oil, and a U.S. policy of Soviet containment provided ample seeds of conflict for the newly formed League
    • Tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims, exacerbated by wars in Syria and Iraq, are creating new fissures among Arabs. 
  • Organisational issues:-
    • Because decisions made by the Arab League are binding only on members who voted for them, these divisions have in effect crippled the league in the sphere of “high politics”.
    • The Arab League has no mechanism to compel members compliance with its resolutions, a void that has led critics like  to describe the organization as a glorified debating society. The charter states that decisions reached by a majority shall bind only those states that accept them, which places a premium on national sovereignty and limits the League’s ability to take collective action.
    • While some actions are taken under the aegis of the Arab League, they are executed only by a small faction. For instance during the Lebanese civil war, the Arab League had limited success trying to help negotiate a peace, but in the end it was the individual powers, in this case Syria and Saudi Arabia, that helped end the conflict by convening the Taif Agreement.
    • Thus it failed to coordinate foreign, defence or economic policies, rendering core league documents such as the Treaty of Joint Defence and Economic Cooperation and key bodies such as the Joint Defence Council completely ineffectual.
    • Weak organizational structure, lack of independence from individual Arab governments, institutional lethargy, or a malaise of noncooperation.
  • Palestine:-
    • Where members do agree on a common position, such as support for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, this rarely ever goes beyond the issuing of declarations.
    • The Arab League’s main failure since its establishment has been to find the right formula and strategy to address the Palestinian question, which at present is quickly moving toward an Israeli-imposed solution at the expense of the Palestinian people.
  • League has failed to be a decisive actor in Yemen and post-transition Libya

Way forward:-

  • Until democracy is the mainstay of the Arab world, the League will continue to struggle with issues of legitimacy.
  • Charter of the Arab League already provides for a Joint Defense Council, and it may be high time that a collective Arab force becomes a reality instead of remaining possible only in principle.
  • Arab leaders have decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force. With this they might play a greater role in international politics and try to yield greater influence than OPEC and GCC.


General Studies – 2

TopicConservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

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

2) Discuss the aims and strategy envisaged by Charlevoix Blueprint For Healthy Oceans, Seas And Resilient Coastal Communities.(250 words)



Why this question

Oceans and seas, are facing many challenges- acidification, marine pollution, overexploitation of fish stock etc. In this direction, recently, G7 countries, agreed to the  Charlevoix Blueprint For Healthy Oceans, Seas And Resilient Coastal Communities. The question is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

And also to the GS 2 syllabus under the following heading-

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

Key demand of the question.

The question simply wants us to mention and describe the aims/ commitments and also discuss how the blueprint wants to achieve those aims- what is the strategy envisaged.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question- aims and the strategy envisaged by the Charlevoix Blueprint For Healthy Oceans, Seas And Resilient Coastal Communities.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that recently G7 countries agreed to the Charlevoix Blueprint For Healthy Oceans, Seas And Resilient Coastal Communities.


  • Discuss in points the aims/ targets/ commitments of the Charlevoix Blueprint.
  • E.g pursuing global efforts towards a sustainable and climate-resilient future, in particular reducing emissions while stimulating innovation and economic growth, enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change while ensuring a just transition to the broad participation of women and girls, both at home and in our commitment to support developing countries.
  • Discuss the strategy envisaged by the Blueprint.

E.g Support better adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery; Support innovative financing for coastal resilience; Increase the availability and sharing of science and data; Address IUU fishing and other drivers of overexploitation of fish stocks etc.

Conclusion – Form a fair, balanced and a concise opinion on the above issue and suggest a way forward- e.g need of all the developed and developing countries together to address the issue holistically.


  • Healthy oceans and seas directly support the livelihoods, food security and economic prosperity of billions of people. But oceans are riddled with ecological threats like plastic pollution, acidification, overexploitation of fish stocks  etc .So Charlevoix Blueprint was necessary.

Charlevoix Blueprint For Healthy Oceans, Seas And Resilient Coastal Communities:-

  • This was launched to protect the health of marine environments and ensure a sustainable use of marine resources as part of a renewed agenda to increase global biodiversity protection. 
  • Aims:-
  • Pursuing global efforts towards a sustainable and climate-resilient future especially particular reducing emissions while stimulating innovation and economic growth, enhancing adaptive capacity
  • strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change while ensuring a just transition to the broad participation of women and girls


  • Resilient Coasts and Coastal Communities
    • Support better adaptation planning, emergency preparedness and recovery:
      • Encourage the development of coastal management strategies to help plan and build back better
      • Efforts will support resilient and quality infrastructure in coasts and coastal communities. This will include advancing the development and deployment of clean and resilient energy systems, including from renewable sources.
      • Advocate for and support nature-based solutions, such as the protection and rehabilitation of wetlands, mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs.
      • Increase the capacity of these communities, to generate and communicate effective early warnings of extreme weather and other geo-hazard related risks.
      • Support early warning systems, including through efforts such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative
      • Develop gender-sensitive planning strategies that integrate economic growth, adaptation, sustainable development, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and disaster risk reduction.
    • Support innovative financing for coastal resilience: 
      • Mobilize greater support for increasing financial resources available to build coastal resilience, particularly in developing countries, and exploring new and innovative financing with national and international public and private sector partners.
      • Explore broadening disaster risk insurance coverage, including through global and regional facilities, such as the InsuResilience Global Partnership, to extend high quality insurance coverage to vulnerable developing countries
      • Launch a joint G7 initiative to deploy Earth observation technologies and related applications to scale up capacities for the integrated management of coastal zones
    • Ocean Knowledge: Science and Data
      • Increase the availability and sharing of science and data: 
        • Recognizing the value of ocean science, observation and seabed mapping, global observation and tracking efforts will be expanded.
        • Through enhanced global monitoring of oceans, and coordinating access to ocean science information, the availability of data will be improved.
        • Encourage the collection, analysis, dissemination and use of gender-sensitive data to bridge gaps in understanding the way women and girls are impacted by risks and catastrophic events
      • Sustainable Oceans and Fisheries
        • Address IUU fishing and other drivers of overexploitation of fish stocks: 
          • Work globally to build stronger public-private partnerships with key countries and technology providers to deploy innovative platforms and technology to identify vessels that engage in IUU fishing. 
        • Strengthen existing regional fisheries networks
          • Encouraging participation of women in developing strategies for marine conservation through inclusive planning and implementation, capacity building and improved access to information for women.
          • Prohibiting harmful fish subsidies that contribute to overfishing
          • Will also support the implementation of the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels, and Supply Vessels by providing our Phase 1 vessel data as soon as possible.
        • Support strategies to effectively protect and manage vulnerable areas of oceans and resources:
          • Will advance efforts beyond the current 2020 Aichi targets including the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs)
          • Will further advocate for the creation and implementation of effective and science-based MPAs and area-based conservation measures, in close alignment with relevant international frameworks, including in the high seas.
        • Ocean Plastic Waste and Marine Litter
          • Recognise the urgency of the threat of ocean plastic waste and marine litter to ecosystems and the lost value of plastics in the waste stream.
          • Commit moving towards a more resource efficient and sustainable management of plastics.
          • Promote the harmonization of monitoring methodologies for marine litter and collaboration on research on its impacts, in cooperation, for example with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to facilitate this work.


  • This will help  improve oceans knowledge, promote sustainable oceans and fisheries, support resilient coasts and coastal communities and address ocean plastic waste and marine litter.
  • Oceans and seas play a fundamental role in the global climate system and in supporting communities, jobs and livelihoods, food security, human health, biodiversity, economic prosperity and way of life. So preserving them is important.
  • To deal with the following challenges:-
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and overexploitation of fish stocks threaten entire species and food security.
  • Marine pollution, including from plastic litter, is compounding the threats facing already degraded marine ecosystems.
  • Ocean warming, acidification and sea-level rise, together with extreme weather events, are affecting communities globally.
  • Arctic and low-lying coastal communities, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), are among the most vulnerable.
  • This Blueprint underscores the importance of engaging and supporting all levels of government to develop and implement effective and innovative solutions


General Studies – 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

3) Discuss the importance of private sector participation in resource mobilization for India’s infrastructure needs. Also, discuss various measures undertaken by the government to attract private investment.(250 words)


Why this question

India has huge infrastructure needs. Approximately 200 billion rupees are required to be invested in infrastructure every year. However, raising investment is not an easy task and government has tried to rope in private investment for this purpose. The issue is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write at length about the key demand of the question- importance of private sector participation in resource mobilization for India’s infrastructure needs and measures undertaken by the government to attract private investment.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- mention the corpus of investment required and investment raised, vis a vi’s infrastructure needs of the country.


  • Discuss why private sector participation is needed in resource mobilization for infrastructure needs. E.g government revenue is limited, private investment spurs growth and brings technology and innovation ( in ideal situation) etc.
  • Discuss the steps taken by the government to increase private sector participation in resource mobilization for the country’s infrastructure needs. E.g  BAMII, NIIF, Credit Enhancement Fund for raising bond ratings issued by infra companies, the New Credit Rating scale for infrastructure projects, InvITS, BOT etc.

Conclusion- Form a balanced and concise conclusion based on your discussion and suggest a way forward.

Importance of private sector participation in resource mobilization:

  • Developing at an extremely fast pace, India’s Infrastructure Sector has received an investment of about $1 trillion in the period from 2007 to 2017, of which, more than a third of this capital was contributed by the private sector.
  • India needs around $4.5 Trillion investments in the Infrastructure sector by 2040.Government cannot invest so much so private investment is necessary.
  • Private sector-led industrial development plays a significant role in bringing about the much needed structural changes that can set the economies of poor countries on a path of sustained economic growth.
  • Industry provides an ecosystem for entrepreneurship, promotes business investment, fosters technological upgrading and dynamism, improves human skills and creates skilled jobs, and through inter-sectoral linkages establishes the foundation for both agriculture and services to expand.
  • Industry, by providing decent jobs and expanding the fiscal revenues needed for social investments, can boost capacity for inclusive development, creating decent work for all, improving health and education systems and living standards, thus alleviating poverty, socio-political tensions and tackling the root causes of migration.
  • Businesses will be essential contributors to the establishment of a circular economy, through more resource efficiency and effectiveness, cleaner production and better waste management, and to the fight against climate change through more energy efficiency and renewable energies.
  • Private participation inculcates the habit of saving and investment from the grassroot level itself. It gives opportunity for normal public to invest in projects through InvITS, REITs, Mutual Funds and so on. 
  • Private investment brings with itself best of technology and innovation.

Measures taken:-

  • Government has taken several steps to encourage investment by private sector for development of infrastructure like
  • Launching of innovative financial vehicles such as Infrastructure Debt Funds, Infrastructure Investment Trusts/Real Estate Investment Trusts
  • Laying down a framework for issuance of municipal bonds
  • Relaxation in External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) norms
  • Mainstreaming of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) across infrastructure sectors
  • Periodical review of Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors
  • Establishment of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
  • Relaxation of norms for Employees’ Provident Funds Organization (EPFO)/pension funds for infrastructure sector
  • Bringing in 5/25 scheme to extend long tenor loans to infrastructure projects, take-out finance and flexible structuring
  • Schemes such as the Brownfield Asset Mobilization for Infra Investments (BAMII)
  • Credit Enhancement Fund for raising bond ratings issued by infrastructure companies
  • New Credit Rating scale for infrastructure projects creates opportunities for private investors, thereby promoting a steady flow of financial resources into this sector
  • Launched the ‘Make in India’ programme in 2014 to boost investments in the manufacturing sector. Subsequently, it took steps like FDI reforms, initiatives for quick approvals and clearances, bringing insolvency and bankruptcy code and the Goods and Services Tax to push private investment, particularly in manufacturing. 
  • Crisil Limited launched India’s first ‘investability’ index so that it would become a credible national benchmark something that would help spur private investment in the sector.


  • Investments in the corporate sector also witnessed a fall from 16% in 2008 to around 10% in 2016, due to debt burdens, slowdown in private credit and twin balance sheets problems in the banking and corporate sectors.
  • Stalled projects weakened the balance sheets of corporations and public sector banks and, in turn, limited private investment and banks capability to lend.
  • New investment realisation rate in transport infrastructure sector is falling since 2008 mostly due to issues like land acquisition, environmental clearances and other market conditions.
  • Lot of time is taken to analyse and deal with sector specific problems particularly in labour intensive sectors like construction, real estate, steel, power etc.

Way forward

  • Problem of stressed assets in banking and the over-leveraged balance sheets of promoters needs expeditious resolution
  • The bond markets need to be deepened to reduce dependence on traditional banking, while, importantly, the public-private partnership (PPP) model needs to be revived. 

Topic – Indian Economy – Issues

4) Examine the various levels of shareholding under Companies Act. Analyze whether public listing of Air India will address its woes?(250 words)

Financial express



Why this question

Now that the idea of privatization of Air India has come a cropper, the focus has shifted to alternate solutions which will address the troubles plaguing the airlines. In this backdrop, the suggestion by NITI Ayog has to be analyzed in depth.

Key demand of the question

The question first focuses on the theory of various levels of shareholding such as 25%, 51% etc and the impact it has on shareholders rights. Thereafter, the suggestion that public listing of AI will address its issues needs to be analyzed in depth. The pros and cons of the move has to be brought out along with the way forward.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

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. When you are asked to analyze, you have to examine each part of the problem. It is a broader term than ‘Examine’.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that the recent attempt at privatization of AI saw no interested parties coming forward and thus, alternatives are being looked into.

Body – First bring out the various levels of shareholding under Companies Act and the impact it will have on shareholder’s rights.

Thereafter, explain the suggestion by NITI Ayog regarding public listing of AI. Highlight in brief the woes of AI that needs course correction. Analyze whether listing of AI which will grant autonomy to the board will help in improving the Balance Sheet of AI. Bring out the pros and cons

Conclusion – Present a fair and balanced view and the way forward.


  • Important issue in an merger and acquisition deal for acquisition of shares is the level of shareholding a shareholder must have and the related rights that come along with it.

 Various levels of shareholding under companies act :-

  • Under the Companies Act, 2013 there are different levels of shareholding.
  • Under the Act, a shareholder holding even a single share has a right to attend the shareholders’ meeting, right to be counted towards quorum, right to speak at the general meeting, right to vote, right to get dividend when declared by the company and all other shareholders’ right up to her entitlement of shareholding. For example, entitlement to bonus shares or rights shares issued by the company
  • The real rights to a shareholder are not given until the shareholding touches 10%.This is because with 10% or more shareholding, the shareholders either singly or in a group are eligible to file for oppression and mismanagement against the majority and the management of the company, should the shareholders feel the need to file such a case looking at company’s operations. They can also initiate class action as provided under Section 245 of the Act
  • Right to stop or block a resolution comes only a shareholder holds more than 25% shareholding (it could even be 25% plus one share). With such shareholding, the shareholder can block special resolutions. 
  • Shareholding of over 50% (it could even be 50% plus one share):-
    • With this, the shareholders gets an ability to manage most of the affairs of the company. This is because it is in a position to pass ordinary resolution However, the shareholder will still not be able to pass any special resolution on its own. That will only be possible if the shareholder holds at least 75%. 

Public Listing of airindia:-

  • Recently NITI Aayog vice-chairman has suggested that government list Air India

Why public listing is necessary:-

  • Once there is a wide shareholding Air India will become truly autonomous and could get a private corporate board
  • Once the government’s shareholding in Air India is below 51% the usual shackles on its functioning like having to tender for everything will be removed;
  • If it has a top-class autonomous board, the airline will find it easier to turn around


  • Questions whether the government will let a board be autonomous:-
    • Experts opinion is that that the oil marketing companies put their petrol/diesel hikes on hold for the state elections and then HPCL are recent examples of how the government and independent boards do not quite go together and all these firms have supposedly independent boards.
  • Air India’s biggest problem right now seems to be its inefficient and bloated work force.
    • Kotak Institutional Equities estimates that, in FY17, Air India’s staff costs were 1.3 times those of Indigo and other expenses were 2.4 times.
  • In any company, listed or unlisted, it is the duty of the shareholders to inject the equity required to keep it afloat. Air India needed Rs 4,000-5,000 crore a year of cash infusions when oil prices were low, so the number is likely to have risen significantly by now. So  it is unlikely that private investors will buy a stake in Air India.

Way forward:-

  • Government need to completely exit the airline
  • Finding a solution, through a government-funded VRS, to the airline’s large and inefficient work force

Topic– Indian economy – issues

5) Discuss the key challenges to maintenance of fiscal discipline by the states. Examine the provisions of FRBM act that seeks to maintain fiscal discipline of the states. Also suggest alternatives to this end.(250 words) 

Financial express

Why this question

The maintenance of Fiscal discipline by the states is critical for stability of the economy. Economic survey last year had discussed this issue in depth. The tools at our disposal towards this end needs to be understood and analyzed.

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to first explain the key challenges which impact the ability of the state government to maintain their fiscal discipline. Next, we have to discuss in detail the provisions of the FRBM Act which tries to bring in fiscal discipline among the states and the effectiveness of those provisions. Finally, if any alternative is available which will help us achieve this end in a better way, is to be brought out.

Directive word

Discuss – The various issues faced by the states in maintaining fiscal discipline needs to be brought out.

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Briefly explain why maintaining fiscal discipline by the states is necessary.

Body -Bring out the position with respect to Fiscal Deficit of the various states and whether or not states are maintaining fiscal discipline.  Discuss the challenges in maintaining fiscal discipline by the states. The provisions of the FRBM Act such as checks on fiscal deficit of the states, their ability to borrow etc. Examine whether these provisions have worked. Finally, suggest some alternative – such as utilizing market forces to push states towards fiscal discipline by linking their ability to mobilize resources from the market by linking it to adherence to fiscal standards.

Conclusion – Present your view and the way forward.



  • Fiscal discipline is essential to improve and sustain economic performance, maintain macroeconomic stability, and reduce vulnerabilities. Discipline is especially important if countries, industrial as well as developing, are to successfully meet the challenges, and reap the benefits, of economic and financial globalization. 

Key challenges to maintenance of fiscal discipline by the states :-

  • Revenue surplus target is seldom met even while the budgeted numbers make this assumption.
  • Fiscal deficit slippages are common for some of the states and while some keep a margin when budgeting, others run the exercise at the threshold level, which forces them to cut discretionary expenditure to ensure that the targets are met.
  • Decisions taken at the political level, like loan waivers, can jeopardise deficits.
    • Populist schemes could be introduced during election time that could upset the revenue budget.
  • Some ongoing pressures would come from periodic salary revisions that are a part of the system.
  • The flow of funds from the Centre is important as, with GST now in place, it is difficult to raise tax rates in areas that were within their purview earlier. Absence of alternative streams of revenue is a challenge for the states in the new GST setup.
  • States may have to cut down on discretionary spending to meet targets. This is often done to ensure that the FRBM norms are being adhered to.
  • The guarantees given to state PSEs will have to end, or they will put pressure on state finances. This will require some stern action. The UDAY loans have already added to the debt of state governments and most PSUs making losses.
  • The pressures from pensions that get revised at the central level, and then get replicated by state finance commissions, can put more pressure on their ability to maintain their fiscal propriety.

Provisions of the FRBM Act which tries to bring in fiscal discipline among the states :-

  • The Government notified FRBM rules in 2004 to specify the annual reduction targets for fiscal indicators.
  • The FRBM rule specifies reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2008-09 with annual reduction target of 0.3% of GDP per year by the Central government.
  • Similarly, revenue deficit has to be reduced by 0.5% of the GDP per year with complete elimination to be achieved by 2008-09. It is the responsibility of the government to adhere to these targets. 
  • The Central Government should not provide guarantees in excess of 0.5% of GDP in any financial year, beginning with 2004-05
  • The Central Government should not assume additional liabilities in excess of 9% of GDP for financial year 2004-05 and progressive reduction of this limit by at least 1 % point of GDP in each subsequent year.


  • The implementation of FRBM Act/FRLs improved the fiscal performance of both centre and states.
  • The States have achieved the targets much ahead the prescribed timeline.
  • Government of India was on the path of achieving this objective right in time. However, due to the global financial crisis, this was suspended and the fiscal consolidation as mandated in the FRBM Act was put on hold in 2007-08.
  • FRBM act has been violated more than adhered to since its enactment. The target fiscal deficit to GDP ratio of 3% for the Union government was achieved only once, in 2007-08, when it was 2.5%. That achievement has yet to be emulated again.
  • The FRBM Act was amended twice, in 2012 and 2015. The revisions in 2015 shifted the date for achieving the 3% target to 2017-18. By this year, the amended revenue deficit target was put at 2% of GDP.
  • Budget 2018-19 has proposed amending the FRBM Act again, which will shift the target of 3% fiscal deficit-GDP ratio to end-March 2021. No target has been set for revenue deficit.
  • Recently NK singh committee

Towards fiscal discipline, the government may carry out the following steps to improve fiscal consolidation:

  • Improving tax realisation by reducing tax avoidance, eliminating tax evasion, enhancing tax compliance etc.
  • Enhancing tax GDP ratio by widening the tax base and minimizing tax concessions.
  • Extending Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for more subsidies and better targeting of government subsidies.
  • The possibility of adopting a target range rather than a specific number which would give the necessary policy space to deal with dynamic and volatile situations such as the one India currently faces
  • The NK Singh committee suggested a  draft Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2017to replace the earlier Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBM Act). The most notable recommendations are as follows:
    • The committee asks the governments to continue on the fiscal and revenue deficit targets but they should use debt as primary target to fiscal policy instead of deficits. The government should target 60% debt-GDP target with a 40% limit for the centre and 20% limit for states to be achieved by 2023.
    • The government should create an autonomous Fiscal Council with a chairperson and 2 members appointed by central government for four year term. The functions of the fiscal council would be to prepare multi-year fiscal forecasts, recommend changes in fiscal strategy, improve quality of fiscal data and advising the government if it needs to deviate from fiscal targets.
    • The government can also deviate from the path on advice of Fiscal Council in cases of national security, war, calamities and collapse of agriculture etc.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

6) There is a need for a multipronged approach to reduce and ultimately phase out the consumption of plastics. Critically comment, in the light of the failure of the Plastic Waste Management Rules, to address the issue.(250 words)

The hindu


Why this question

Plastics have become ubiquitous not only in their usage but unfortunately due to their indiscriminate usage, in the environment as well. They pose significant health and environmental problems which demands reduction in the usage and ultimately phasing out plastics. In case of India, although we have Plastic Waste Management Rules in place, the usage of plastic has not come down and their recycle and reuse has not increased upto the expected levels. The issue is related to GS 3 syllabus under the following heading-

Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to bring out the need (and key principles governing such approach) to reduce and ultimately phase out the use of plastics in India. We also have to shed light on why the Plastic Waste Management Rules already in place have not been able to address the issue.

Directive word

Critically Comment- We have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and based upon our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the overall issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that India generates an estimated 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. Also mention that this plastics poses several environmental and health concerns for all the living species on earth.


  • Mention the key provisions of Plastic Waste Management Rules.
  • Discuss in points the key provisions of the Plastic Waste Management Rules. E.g only multilayered plastics (MLP) allowed ( which was however amended by the recent amendment to the rules and now the use is restricted to those plastics which have an alternate use and are energy recoverable); Burning of MLPs ( energy conversion or alternate use) even though scientific procedures is not advisable as it omits harmful toxins, that affects environment and public health;
  • Discuss in points why these rules have not been effective in achieving the desired goals. E.g lack of awareness, slack implementation, lack of support from civil society and people in general, lack of access to alternatives of plastic etc.
  • Discuss how the issue should be handled. E.g decrease use and then phase out, involve the people and the civil society in the awareness and behavioural change process, more research on the quantity of plastics produced in the country, their effects on environment, plant and animal life and on the environment, strict enforcement of the rules etc

Conclusion– form a fair, balanced and a concise opinion on the overall issue. Mention the ocean charter recently agreed to by G7 minus 2.



  • India generates an estimated 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. If sold at the global average rate of 50 cents a kg, it can generate a revenue of Rs.5,600 crore a year.
  • Plastic waste continues to accumulate in the oceans. Almost 800 animal species are affected by marine debris, marine animals keep dying as a direct result of plastic, and microplastics have spread to the world’s most remote areas. 
  • Up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, amounting to almost 10 million plastic bags per minute , a recent report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) indicated.

Plastic Waste Management Rules,2016:-

  • The 2011 rules were succeeded by the PWM Rules 2016, which tighten the rules (for example, banning plastic bags of less than 50 microns thickness), and also lay the foundation for accountability across the value-chain.
  • The new rules require producers and brand-owners to devise a plan in consultation with the local bodies to introduce a collect-back system.
  • The extended producers responsibility (EPR), would assist the municipalities in tackling the plastic waste issue.
  • The rules also state that the manufacture and use of multi-layered plastics that are hard to recycle must be phased out.
  • Increase minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 microns and stipulate minimum thickness of 50 micron for  plastic sheets also to facilitate collection and recycle of plastic waste,
  • Expand the jurisdiction of applicability from the municipal area to rural areas
  • To bring in the responsibilities of producers and generators, both in plastic waste management system and to introduce collect back system of plastic waste by the producers/brand owners, as per extended producers responsibility
  • To introduce collection of plastic waste management fee through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same for establishing the waste management system;
  • To promote use of plastic waste for road construction as per Indian Road Congress guidelines or energy recovery, or waste to oil etc. for gainful utilization of waste and also address the waste disposal issue
  • To entrust more responsibility on waste generators, namely payment of user charge as prescribed by local authority, collection and handing over of waste by the institutional generator, event organizers.
  • The local bodies shall be responsible for setting up, operationalisation and co-ordination of the waste management system and for performing associated functions.
  • Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, waste has to be segregated separately at source. This includes separation of dry (plastic, paper, metal, glass) and wet (kitchen and garden) waste at source.
  • Companies should have already submitted plans, by September 2016, for waste collection systems based on extended producer responsibility (EPR) either through their own distribution channels or with the local body concerned.

Outcome from the new rules includes:

  • Increasing the thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 to 50 micron and stipulation of 50 micron thickness for plastic sheets is likely to increase the cost by about 20 %. Hence, the tendency to provide free carry bags will come down and collection by the waste-pickers also increase to some extent.
    • More than 20 Indian States have announced a ban on plastic bags. Cities such as Bengaluru announced a complete ban (gazette notification), in 2016, on the manufacture, supply, sale and use of thermocol and plastic items irrespective of thickness.
  • Collect back system
    • The introduction of the collect back system of waste generated from various products by the producers/brand owners of those products will improve the collection of plastic waste,its reuse/ recycle.
  • Phasing out of manufacture and use of non- recyclable multilayered plastic
  • Responsibility of waste generator
    • All institutional generators of plastic waste, shall segregate and store the waste generated by them in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, and handover segregated wastes to authorized waste processing or disposal facilities or deposition centers, either on its own or through the authorized waste collection agency.
  • Land for waste management facility
    • The responsibility to provide land for establishing waste management facility has been made to the Department with business allocation of land allotment in the State Government.  This would eliminate the issue of getting land for the waste management facility.


  • Implementation of the rules has been poor in all aspects and the amendment says nothing to strengthen it.:-
    • The status of plastic waste management in the country is grim even after the rules gave emphasis on banning plastics below 50 microns, phasing out use of multilayered packaging and introducing extended producer responsibility (EPR) for producers, importers and brand owners to ensure environmentally sound management of plastic products until the end of their lives.
  • The idea of extended producer responsibility (EPR), which was introduced in the rules of 2016, still remains nowhereclose to being implemented even after two years.
    • EPR targets have to be accounted for at the national level, irrespective of which state the products are sold or consumed in. The amendment does not address these issues. Moreover, no example of deposit refund scheme system has been implemented in any state.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure for segregation and collectionis the key reason for inefficient plastic waste disposal.
    • Most municipal corporations still do not have a proper system of collection and segregation, given their lack of access to technology and infrastructure, which are needed to dispose of plastic waste in a cost- and resource-efficient way.
  • The Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, mandate ULBs to set up facilities for processing sorted dry waste. However, the implementation has been rather bleak, owing to available land/space concerns.
  • Source separation of waste, coupled with segregated collection and transportation, have been weak links in the waste supply
  • Imposing penalties or fines is easier said than done in a democratic setup. 
  • Companies say that plastic waste is too complex or pretend to be completely unaware of these rules.

Way forward:-

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report has said that ban is barely effective
  • Citizens need to be aware of these rules, governments need to work with citizens to collect fines and companies need to be held accountable in terms of their environmental and social responsibilities.
  • Additionally, there should be research on ways to implement these rules, waste generation quantities and trends and find innovative alternatives to plastic.
  • ULBs could a take cue from cities like Bangalore where dry waste collection centres have not only been established but also have a self-sustainable business model.
    • Municipalities must develop waste collection plans, coupled with outreach activities, to sensitise citizens on waste segregation.
  • It is imperative to develop a phase-wise implementation of the EPR programme with yearly targets and a system of nationwide offsets and credit to ensure effective implementation of the rules.
  • International examples:-
    • The success of imposing a plastic bag fee has also been established in cities like Chicago and Washington, showing that such interventions could be effective in shaping behaviour change.
    • The European Union is mulling new laws to ban some everyday single-use plastic products including straws, cutlery and plates citing plastic litter in oceans as the concern prompting the action.
    • Encouraging plogging:-
      • Picking up litter while jogging or strolling was kick-started on a small scale in a small part of Stockholm about an year ago, it has spread across the globe and India can adopt this as well.
    • Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands have already put in place regulations to stop the use of microbeads in personal-care products. The sooner India adopts such regulations, the better
  • Recycling has to ensure that wastes are converted into products of the same quality, if not better, compared to the original product. 
  • Stop using single use plastic:-
    • The Government of the state of Maharashtra has announced an ambitious ban of plastic bags, water bottles and other disposable plastic items in the state after the state civic bodies started facing serious problems on garbage disposing and its management.
    • Fine for violating the ban will be Rs 5,000 for the first offence, Rs 10,000 for the second and Rs 25,000 for the third offence or a three-month jail term or both.
  • With a worldwide crisis due to plastic waste, India has to involve all the stakeholders take the responsibility of ensuring minimisation, reuse and recycling of plastic to the maximum.
    • Sensitise people to stop littering and segregate their waste. Nowadays the most popular eco-conscious effort is participating in beach cleanups.
  • Sanitary napkins made from biodegradable material, menstrual cups should be promoted. 
  • Monetise plastic waste:-
    • Canadian company monetises plastic waste in novel ways. It has one of the largest chains of waste plastic collection centres, where waste can be exchanged for anything (from cash to medical insurance to cooking fuel).
    • Through this, multinational corporations have invested in recycling infrastructure and in providing a steady and increased rate for waste plastic to incentivise collection in poor countries.
    • Such collection centres, like the ones operated by informal aggregators in India, can be very low-cost investments (a storage facility with a weighing scale and a smart phone).


General Studies – 4

TOPIC: case studies

7) Dibyalok Kumar knew he was smart. His classmates always turned to him for help on assignments and he always knew the answers to the questions his teachers asked in class. Dibyalok just didn’t study for tests so his grades were often mediocre. He knew he could do better in school, it was just that school was so… well, boring.

School was coming to an end for the year and Dibyalok needed to get a good job this summer, after all this was the end of his junior year. He desperately wanted to work at the famous Research Institute. Dibyalok felt that if he got a job there as a summer intern, it would really boost his chances of getting admitted to the graduate engineering program of his choice. He knew the institute hired very few summer interns and generally these were students from private schools who had excellent academic records and high standardized test scores. So, Dibyalok decided to “tweak” his resume. He rounded his GPA up from 3.0 to a more respectable 3.5 and listed his SAT scores as 700 verbal and 820 math (in reality they were 600 verbal and 720 math). Dibyalok reasoned that these changes really didn’t matter because he would show them who he really was through the quality of the work he did for the Institute once he was hired…


Discuss the various ethical issues raised by the action of Manish.

(250 words) 


Why this question

The question is related to GS 4 syllabus ( case studies part).

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to write in detail about the various ethical issues involved in the above case study.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to be exhaustive in our approach and write in detail about various ethical issues involved in the above case study.

Structure of the answer ( Approach)

Refer to the article attached with the question in order to get an idea about the ethical questions raised under  the given situation. However, you should not restrict yourself to the issues raised in the article only. You should think harder and add a few more issues, in order to increase your analytical skills.

Frame your answer in points and discuss each issue separately.

Conclusion– You can add your viewpoint on what Dibyalok should do in this situation.


Answer :-


The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values which seems to be neglected in the given case study. In a competitive world students resort to unethical means to gain marks in the examinations which was even visible in the recent CBSE question paper leaks. There are many ethical issue in the given case study:-


Dibyalok resorted to false data in his resume .This shows the lack of honesty and integrity in his approach where he does not value the importance of truthful data to be mentioned in such instances.


Despite being an intelligent person the action he has taken shows the lack of responsibility and hardwork  and overconfidence .This complacent attitude can lead to big sins later leading to him being corrupt .


He is setting a wrong example to others as they can also resort to such unethical means. He is unaware that means are more important than the ends.


His approach is also unfair to other candidates who have worked hard to get those grades and get admission in the institute. His approach can affect his family adversely as well.


Dibyalok need to understand that achieving the goal with the rightful means ensures greater satisfaction than winning by any other means. He needs to work hard to improve his marks and get in to the institute. Even if he does not get into it it is not the end of the world he can still work hard and gain knowledge which will ensure success to him ultimately.