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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 09 JULY 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 – Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1)Caste and communal consciousness carry the same essence in the Indian context. Comment in the light of recent mob lynching episodes in India. (250 words)



Why this question

Lynching is an abominable social act and, against the rule of the law. The recent episodes of lynching have highlighted some of the essential aspects of Indian society which need to be assessed and deliberated upon so that the efforts to control such behaviour are well-focussed and effectively targeted.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge and holistic understanding of the issue of mob-lynching in India. We have to bring out the effect of caste and social consciousness behind such episodes and bring out how they are related.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our broad knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an opinion thereupon. However, whatever our opinion, it is essential to support it with substantial and valid facts/ arguments/ explanations/ examples.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few lines about the mob-lynching episodes in India and their growing number of episodes across the india.

Body– Bring out the role of caste and communal consciousness behind the occurrence of such episodes.

E.g If the victim belongs to a minority community, it seems to invoke a complete contempt for the rule of law not only by the members of the dominant community, but, also by the defenders of the law; presence of strong prejudices and insecurity among the masses exacerbated by a tardy and biased judicial process; politicization and communalization of the issues in order to create social rifts and exploit them for nefarious political purposes; role of police in attending to, and investigating such cases and their inherent social and political biases which shape up their response; etc.

Conclusion- based on your own understanding and analytical skills and more importantly based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced opinion on the issue.


  • Mob lynching in India is moving towards becoming the new normal. It has failed to invoke unconditional condemnation from a large section of society.
  • Impulse for lynching is driven by two factors. One is a cultivated prejudice, and the other is a collective sense of insecurity that results from the overall inefficiency of the police and the judiciary. 

Caste and communal consciousness:-

  • Caste and communal factors begin to intersect with the process of shaping the legal consciousness once the social background of the victim and the tormentor is made public.
    • Thus, if the tormentor belongs to a social background other than that of the victim, who might be from the Dalit or mino­rity community, it is likely to invoke either complete indifference or rhetorical support to the rule of law. This was evident in the case of the 2006 Dalit massacre in Khairlanji in Maharashtra.
    • If the victim belongs to a minority community, it seems to invoke a complete contempt for the rule of law not only by the members of the dominant community, but, most shockingly, by the defenders of the law as well in a few cases.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, if the victims happen to be from non-Dalit or non-minority social backgrounds, then the reaction of the non-Dalits and non-minority members of Indian society is to want instant corporal punishment involving flogging and lynching of the suspected culprit.
  • The stronger the caste and communal consciousness, the weaker and more fragile is the influence of the legal consciousness and belief in the law. Conversely, the weaker the influence of caste consciousness, the stronger the legal consciousness is supposed to be among the citizens of India.
  • Politicization and communalization of the issues in order to create social rifts and exploit them for nefarious political purposes.
  • Role of police in attending to, and investigating such cases and their inherent social and political biases which shape up their response are often criticized.


  • In both, the desire as well as the mass action leading to actual lyn­ching seek to radically undermine the need to respect the rule of law and thereby result in jeopardising the very future of democracy.


General Studies – 2

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

2) Technology is reshaping the way government is designing and implementing programmes in India. Discuss. (250 words)

Yojana Magazine, June 2018 issue.

Why this question

Use and adoption of technology has been consistently growing at a very fast pace across all sectors including governance and administration. There have been various initiatives on part of the government to harness technology, in designing and implementing various development programmes, whose success is vital for India to achieve SDGs and become a developed nation.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about all such initiatives of the GoI (and also of state govts. If there are any worth mentioning), which are harnessing technology as a tool to improved governance.  We have to specifically discuss those programmes which are aiding the government in designing and implementation of various development programmes.

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all encompassing directive which mandates us to write at length about the key demand of the question.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few lines about why use of technology in the arena of governance and service delivery is important, what benefits it brings etc.

Body–  Discuss in points about the initiatives of the government, based on technology, in designing and implementing of various developmental programmes in India.

E.g DBT; JAM; PFMS; Government e-marketplace; UPI and BBPS; GST etc.

Here the names of the schemes is not as important as the facts depicting achievements; positive effects on economy, society and their further potential. So try to get as much factual facts from the article and incorporate them in your answer.

Conclusion- Based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced opinion on the issue write in a few lines about the need to expand and adopt technologies like AI, blockchain technology etc.


  • The world is getting digitised at a rapid pace in all aspects. This digitisation at unprecedented levels  is now being termed as the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

Technology is reshaping the way government is designing and implementing programmes:- 

  • The use of technology has brought in better systems, greater efficiency and is beginning to have a profound impact on governance. 
    • The government launched several e-governance and digitisation programmes which were all later brought into the fold of “Digital India” programme. 
    • India has combined the use of biometric identifiers and financial inclusion for effectiveness in social benefits and to reduce the vast number of illegitimate beneficiaries under welfare programmes. 
  • Leading the Way in Financial Inclusion 
    • The JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity has been the single largest factor for expansion of financial inclusion.
    • According to the Global Findex Report 2017 released by World Bank, 55% of all bank accounts created during 2014-17 were opened in India. 
    • Through the Jan Dhan Yojana, which has led to opening of more than 31 crore new bank accounts since 2014, the proportion of Indian adults with bank accounts has increased from 53% in 2014 to 80% in 2017. 
  • Public Finance and Public Procurement going Digital 
    • The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) has led to the creation of a financial management platform for all plan schemes, a database of all recipient agencies, integration with core banking solution of banks, integration of state treasurers and tracking of fund flow to the lowest tier of implementation of plan schemes on real time basis. 
    • PFMS has also led to just-in-time release of funds and efficient management in the use of funds. 
    • In 2016, Government e-Marketplace (GeM) was launched for single window online procurement that enables direct purchase, e-bidding, reverse e-auctions, online registrations facilities for government users, product sellers and service providers and provides a market place for government purchase. 
  • Pioneers in Innovate Consumer Payments 
    • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) have triggered a plethora of private sector-innovated apps, which have significantly eased citizens’ bill payments towards services provided by the government. 
    • Digital payment transactions have now become extremely simple due to Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) UPI. 
    • In 2017-18, India has seen over a billion digital payment transactions in volume and over a trillion rupees in value.
  • Digital Transaction 
    • Digitalisation of collection of direct taxes has led to huge benefits. The income tax received in FY 17-18 saw a growth of 26%. 
    • The rollout of GST has resulted in a 50% increase in unique indirect tax payers leading to a radical formalisation of the economy. 
  • Digital Monitoring 
    • In the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) programme, PM has used technology to cut across departmental silos and geographical boundaries to ensure speedy project implementation. 
    • The Ayushman Bharat Scheme will digitally link primary and community health centres with district hospitals. It will ensure healthcare through a paperless, cashless, portable scheme. 
  • Impact of Frontier Technologies 
    • Analysis by Accenture reveals that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to add 15% of current GVA to India’s economy in 2035. India offers unique challenges that can be solved by application of AI. 
    • NITI Ayog is mandated with the task of developing the National Programme on Artificial Intelligence. This is a qualitative effort to understand the technologies, their utility for the economy and governance, risks they pose and their future development trajectory. 
  • The rapid adoption of digital technology across sectors is making things easy and eliminating all forms of human intervention. This has a major impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of governance.

TopicWelfare 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)Only if women feel protected and secure, can the effectively participate in public life and contribute to the economic growth of the country. Discuss the initiatives taken by the government in this direction.(250 words)

Yojana Magazine, June 2018 issue.


Why this question

Women empowerment as well as protection is an extremely important issue for India. It is essential to make half the potential workforce of the country feel secure and protected, so that they can participate in public life and economic growth of the country.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to highlight the importance of women safety and the imperative to provide a secure and protected atmosphere to them, so that they can effectively participate in public life and economic growth of the country.

Directive word

Discuss – this is an all encompassing directive which mandates us to write at length about the key demand of the question.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few lines about the positive effects of increasing women participation in the economy e.g A McKinsey Global study in 2015 found that India could increase its GDP by 16-60% by 2025 by simply enabling women to participate in the economy at par with men.


  • Discuss the reasons for low participation of women in public ife and the the economy in general. E.g role of entrenched gender norms in our society, the rising incomes of men (which raises family income and makes it easier for women to quit working), and the lack of quality jobs for women; lack of a safe and secure external and internal environment in India’s employment sector etc.
  • Discuss the recent initiatives taken by the government to tackle the issue of lack of security and protection, which hinders women participation. E.g Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme; Gender champions; setting up One Stop Centres under the Nirbhaya fund- offering a single window assistance to women facing violence; women helpline numbers providing emergency and non emergency assistance to women in distress; Trafficking of persons bills, 2018,  which seeks to provide a strong legal framework and dedicated institutions at various levels; new taxi policy guidelines like mandatory GPS; panic buttons; etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.



  • Female labour force participation is a driver of growth and therefore, participation rates indicate the potential for a country to grow more rapidly. Having equal gender representation is a financial positive to businesses today besides being a social responsibility.
  • India has one of the largest opportunities in the world to boost GDP by increasing women’s participation in the labour participation. The country could add up to $770 billion which is more than 18% to its GDP by 2025, simply by giving equal opportunities to women, according to an April 23 report by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Government initiatives for ensuring women empowerment:-

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojna:
    • It was launched to generate awareness and also improve the efficiency of welfare services meant for girl child. This scheme is to prevent gender-biased sex-selective elimination and ensure the education, survival, and protection of the girl child. It also aims to celebrate the girl child.
  • Mahila E-Haat:
    • To support women and also ‘Make in India’ through online marketing platform this bilingual online portal is a blessing.
    • The Mahila E-Haat is an initiative for meeting needs of women entrepreneurs. It provides a unique and direct marketing platform and also leverages technology for supporting women entrepreneurs, SHGs, and NGOs.
  • One Stop Centre Scheme :-
    • The aim of launching this scheme is to provide support and assistance to women who are affected by violence in public and private spaces. Through this scheme, the women who are facing physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse, irrespective of age, class, caste, education status, marital status, race, and culture will be supported.
  • The safety measures, recommended by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, concerning safety of women commuters availing of cab services have been included in the new Taxi Policy Guidelines.
    • The taxis should be mandatorily fitted with GPS panic devices. 
    • For the safety of women and child passengers, the central locking system in the taxis should not be allowed. 
  • National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyan)
    • National Nutrition Mission was launched as an expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme
    • The main objectives of this scheme are to attain proper nutritional status among children from 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers in a timely manner; reduce stunting, under-nutrition, and anaemia among young children, women, and adolescent girls; and lowering low birth weight by at least 2% per annum.
  • Trafficking of persons bill, 2018 seeks to provide a strong legal framework and dedicated institutions at various levels
  • Women helpline numbers providing emergency and non emergency assistance to women in distress

Despite the initiatives there is low participation of women in public life and the the economy in general because of the following reasons:-

  • Economic:-
    • Because of the current structure of labour laws, dis-incentivizing formal labour markets and hiring, India has an extremely asymmetric and disproportionately informal labour market.So  women are also more likely to be trapped at the lowest levels in the informal labour market.
    • Lacking the social networks that enable upward mobility in the labour market, they are often relegated to the lowest paying, hard physical labour under exploitative conditions by middlemen. 
    • The informal sector leaves women in a poor positionto access the economic growth resulting from market liberalization.
    • Dalit  women record higher work Participation Rate than that of their non-Dalit  counterparts but high wage gap between SC and non-SC/ST women, concentration of Dalit women workers in agricultural sector and elementary  occupations show that most of the Dalit women are deprived of high-salaried positions. So they stay poor.
    • Women earn for their families, but they have no control over their earnings.
    • The rising incomes of men (which raises family income and makes it easier for women to quit working), and the lack of quality jobs for women
    • Lack of a safe and secure external and internal environment in India’s employment sector etc.
  • Social stresses:-
    • Role of entrenched gender norms in our society:
      • The discrimination against the girl child begins from the birth itself. Boys are preferred over girls; hence, female infanticide is a common practice in India. 
    • Caste discrimination:-
      • Dalit women and their children are routinely denied medical care as upper castes refuse to treat them.
    • Violence:-
      • Women are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence at home, in their immediate neighbourhoods, and at the workplace.
    • Health issues:-
      • Low age at marriage and high fertility has a direct impact on the health outcomes. Women record low Body Mass Index (BMI), higher prevalence of anaemia and low access to maternal health care facilities.
      • Mainly husbands and in-laws take decisions regarding their health. 

Solutions needed are:-

  • Integrating social and cultural transformation with an economic alternative is critical.
  • Huge investments will be needed in upskilling and educating womenand government needs to create an abundance of new jobs within the formal sector and lowering barriers to job creation
  • Increased availability of stable-wage jobs for women is critical to preventing their socio-economic exploitation
  • With bridging the deep-rooted biases through sustained reconditioning:-
    • It is only possible by promoting the idea of gender equality and uprooting social ideology of male child preferability.
  • They should be given decision-making powers and due position in governance. Thus, the Women Reservation Bill should be passed as soon as possible to increase the effective participation of women in the politics of India.
  • Bridging implementation gaps:
    • Government or community-based bodies must be set up to monitor the programs devised for the welfare of the society.
  • Women need group and gender specific policies and programmes  to address the issue of multiple deprivations.
    • Women require comprehensive policies on health, especially on the maternal and child health
  • Make credit available by pooling the women to form self help groups. The example of Kudumbashree model of Kerala can be emulated.
  • Women safety:-
    • Police vigils should be made mandatory at places. The presence of police should be increased at places like schools, colleges, malls and other places were crowd gathers
    • Authorities should ensure that all the public places are lit properly
    • The authorities should ensure that women travel safely whether it’s the trains, buses or the metro rails.
    • The authorities should ensure the cameras are installed at all key places which will help the manual management of law and order a great deal.
    • The autos which still are a good and cheap source to commute don’t have GPS system installed. Authorities should ensure this.
    • A victim should be able to File  FIR online, but despite recommendations, FIRs are still filed in conventional ways where the victim is made to wait for hours

Topic:Part of static series under the heading “Veto Power”, Also falls under the heading “Comparison of constitutional schemes of various countries”

4) Compare and contrast the veto power of US President vis a vis Indian President?(250 words)


Key demand of the question

The question expects us to examine the similarities and differences between the veto powers of Indian and US president, we may also bring out the macro reasons for the differences.

Directive word

Compare and contrast – Discuss similarities and differences between the Indian and US president.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that while India is a Parliamentary democracy, US is a presidential form of democracy, this it is natural that differences may arise.

Body – First, explain the point of similarities between the two offices. Discuss the relevant constitutional provisions both for Indian and US presidents.  Thereafter highlight the point of differences between the two such as difference with respect to exercise of veto power, use of pocket veto, power with respect to state bille etc. Explain that this is so because the model of federalism, role of president etc varies.

Conclusion – Summarize your answer by mentioning that the similarities, little that they are, are primarily in form not in spirit.


  • The object of arming the Executive with this power is to prevent hasty and ill-considered action by the Legislature. 

US president veto:-

  • Section 1 begins with a vesting clause that confers federal executive power upon the President. Similar clauses are found in Article I and Article III.
  • In the United States, the President’s power of veto has been supported on various grounds, such as
    • To enable the President to protect his own office from aggressive legislation
    • To prevent a particular legislation from being placed on the statue book which the President considers to be unconstitutional
    • To check legislation which he deems to be practically inexpedient or, which he thinks does not represent the will of the American people.

Indian president veto power:-

  • Article111 of the Indian constitution stipulates that the President shall give assent to a bill passed by both houses of the parliament or return the bill as soon as possible for reconsideration with his recommendation.

Veto power of Indian president vs US President:-

  • Bills:-
    • Indian President has comparatively lesser veto power than the President of US. The President of US can veto a bill passed by the Congress. He needs to sign the bill if it is once again passed by two-thirds majorityof both the houses.
    • The Indian President on the other hand can send the bill for reconsideration only once. If the bill is passed again even by a simple majority in the Parliament he is obliged to sign the bill.
  • Advice of ministers:-
    • In the US, the members of the cabinet are not members of the Congress and are not responsible to it. The cabinet members are appointed by the President and they are liable to be dismissed by the President. The American President has the power to determine the policy of his government independently without any external interference.
    • Indian president need to act only on advice of council of ministers.
  • Pocket veto
    • US President can exercise his pocket veto power by not signing the bill for 10 daysif he knows the session of the congress will end within 10 days. In such cases the bill dies.
    • Indian President can keep the bill for indefinite periodas there is no constitutionally prescribed time limit to give his assent. The President can use his pocket veto if the fall of the government appears imminent. However, he has to act as per the advice of the new government and cannot take his own decision if the current government falls.
  • State bills
    • Certain state bills need the previous consent of the president and he possess absolute veto power with respect to some types of state bills. The US President does not have such powers.
  • Qualified veto:-
    • Indian President is vested with three veto powers namely absolute veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto. There is no qualified veto in the case of Indian President. It is possessed by American president.

There are some similarities as well:-

  • Both the American and Indian Presidents can only be removed from the office through In India either house can initiate impeachment proceedings against the president and with the concurrence of the other house can impeach the President. In US the power to impeach solely lies with the Senate (upper house).

General Studies – 3

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

5) There are gainers and losers from the growing formalisation of retail sector in India. Critically examine the statement in the light of the recent  Flipkart-Walmart deal.(250 words)




Why this question

The recent acquisition of 77% stake in Flipkart, by the US retail giant Walmart has been often in news lately. There are however some inapparent but interrelated issues highlighted by the deal. These issues have a bearing on India’s rural as well as urban sectors as can be gauged from the fact that Indian retail sector is the second largest employment provider in India.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the question and bring out the causes of growing formalization of Indian retail market and the implications of the same. Our answer should have a special, but not an absolute focus on the Flipkart-Walmart deal, which is just a small albeit important part of the growing formalization process.

Directive word

Critically examine- Here we have to dig deep into the given deal and growing formalization of retail sector in India and bring out the causes of the same as well as its implications for Indian economy and society at large.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the recent Flipkart-Walmart deal and the growing formalization of the retail sector in India, which is the second largest employment provider in India after agriculture.


  • Discuss the causes of the growing formalization of retail sector in India. E.g  urbanization and sustained economic growth; GST and the inherent structure thereunder which favours formalization of the economy; entry of big national and multinational players in the retail sector e.g reliance, tata; entry of FDI in retail sector etc.
  • Discuss the implications of increasing formalization of retail sector in India. Discuss the positive as well as negative effects.

Negative effects- effect on employment and economic equity; entry of multinational players will benefit the urban consumers with cheaper products but the agriculture sector could see a sharp increase in prices which will hurt badly the majority of the rural and urban poor etc.

Positive effects- bringing in state of the art technology and increased warehouse and cold storage facilities; reduction of waste and economics of scale; wider choice of products and lesser prices; infusing innovation and competition in the economy etc.

Conclusion- Based on your discussion and understanding, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue. Also write a few lines about  the wayforward- e.g provide training and skills to small retailers so that they can be gainfully employed in the emerging big retail outlets; any tendency of rising food prices, especially in the rural areas, due to procurement by giant retailers has to be handled either by subsidising the poor or by making them a part of the supply chain, which delivers the procured food items.



  • The Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries due to the entry of several new players. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8 per cent of the employment. India is the world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space.
  • Indian Retail Industry has immense potential as India has the second largest population with affluent middle class, rapid urbanisation and solid growth of internet.

Formalisation of retail sector:-

  • Formalisation of retail, like formalisation of any other sector of the economy, is an essential part of development and should not be resisted.
  • GST and the inherent structure thereunder which favours formalization of the economy
  • With the rising need for consumer goods in different sectors including consumer electronics and home appliances, many companies have invested in the Indian retail 
  • Government of India has allowed 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in online retail of goods and services through the automatic route, thereby providing clarity on the existing businesses of e-commerce companies operating in India.


  • Walmart, the United States (US) retail titan, has picked up a 77% stake in Flipkart, the largest online retailer in India.Recent acquisition of Flipkart by giant retailer Walmart is an important event for the Indian economic scenario for at least two reasons.
    • It suggests a possible change in the structure of retail business in India, which, according to a Parliamentary Committee Report of 2009, constitutes 10% of the Indian national income.
    • Entry of Walmart to e-commerce is likely to have an effect on retail trade through the net, a practice becoming increasingly popular among Indian consumers.
  • There are several advantages of Walmart entering the Indian online retail market.
    • It will provide state-of-the art storage technology and the capital to build big warehouses.
    • Armed with this infrastructure, it can procure fruits, vegetables and foodgrains from village markets, which will reduce waste and provide good prices to the sellers.
    • Producers:-
      • Large producers and traders are more likely beneficiaries but medium farmers can also take advantage of the new opportunities by forming guilds and associations to become a part of the supply chain.
      • Again for other consumer goods, especially low-cost apparels, toys and footwear, there are numerous small producers all over the country. Entry of a giant retailer like Walmart will open up the world market to these small entities.
    • Consumers:-
      • On the demand side, consumers of online retail will benefit from a wider menu and lower prices. 
    • Some of the users live in remote areas that lie outside the outreach of the delivery chain of online retail. But, a significant proportion lies inside and all of them are potential consumers of e-commerce.
    • Wider choice of products and lesser prices
    • Infuses innovation and competition in the economy etc


  • The main concern is for small domestic retailers.
    • It is feared that these small agents are defenceless against competition from big retail outlets and are likely to lose their livelihood if giant multinationals enter the market.
  • Organised retail is slowly crowding out small and informal kirana shops, street-side vendors, pushcart vegetable sellers, makeshift bazaars and the like. The fear of losing employment seems to be real. More so, after the Flipkart–Walmart tie-up.
  • Rise in prices:-
    • When a big retailer enters this market to procure, the price goes up and this can become extremely distressing for the rural poor. There will be adverse effect of FDI in multi-brand retail on income distribution and poverty. 
  • Basically benefits urban consumers who are relatively affluent. In other words, natural comparative advantage will prompt the giant retailer to sell manufactured goods in India, and buy fruits, vegetables, and cereals from India.
    • This has the effect of a redistribution in favour of the already affluent urban consumers and against poor rural consumers. The redistribution could become particularly painful for the poor who are helpless against the increases in food prices.

Way forward:-

  • The government should come up with specific rehabilitation strategies for job losers. The aim should be to provide training and skills to small retailers or their next generation so that they can be gainfully employed in the emerging big retail outlets as well as elsewhere.
  • Similarly, any tendency of rising food prices, especially in the rural areas, due to procurement by giant retailers has to be handled either by subsidising the poor or by making them a part of the supply chain, which delivers the procured food items.


Topic– Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

6) Critically analyze the issue of mandatory fortification of Mid day Meal programme of India.(250 words)

Yojana Magazine, June 2018 issue

Why this question

MDM programme is one the most important programmes of India, directed towards reducing malnourishment among Indian children. The programme has received consideration and attention from the media as well as other stakeholders given its immense potential as well as the dire need to deliver.

Any initiative aimed at improving the effectiveness of the programme needs to be deliberated upon and hence is important for mains examination.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue of mandatory fortification of MDM programme and why there is such a need and implications of such an act.

Directive word

Critically analyze- here we have to identify all the important aspects of the question and bring out a detailed discussion on these key aspects and at the end we have to relate these aspects and present a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the meaning of the term fortification and discuss the recently mooted decision of mandatory fortification of MDM.


  • Discuss why there is such a need at the first place. E.g discuss the status of malnourishment in India and present some relevant facts; discuss the low nutritive value of normal ration of a poor family as well as the MDM; low vegetables and fruits in the MDM- children don’t get holistic food; easy to fortify the MDM and negligible logistical constraints in the same etc.
  • Discuss the benefits as well as the negative implications of the move. E.g Benefits- holistic growth and proper development of the child etc. Negative implications- no regard to food diversity; shortcut solution lacking natural components of food; issue of centralization of the process, entry of profit driven private sector; loss of local control and lack of local participation etc.

Conclusion– form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue and read the article carefully in order to bring out a way forward.


  • Food procurement under the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM), the world’s largest school food programme that provided cooked meals to over 97 million children in 2016-17, is gradually becoming centralised. 
  • Recently government had announced that MDM should use fortified varieties of salt, wheat flour, edible oil, delivered through the public distribution system.


  • As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fortificationrefers to the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, ie. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food irrespective of whether the nutrients were originally in the food before processing or not, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health

Why mandatory foritifcation is needed?

  • One of the key strategies to address micronutrient malnutrition is food fortification a process of increasing the content of micronutrients in food so as to improve its nutritional quality. 
  • Deficiencies in India :-
    • According to the National Institute of Nutrition, almost 50-90 per cent of the Indian population, across all socio-economic groups, suffer from vitamins A and D deficiencies. 
    • One of the key reasons for malnutrition is deficiency of micronutrients. According to government data, about 70% pre-school children suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and 57% pre- chool children have sub-clinical Vitamin A deficiency.
    • Iodine deficiency is endemic in 85% of districts, besides Neutral Tube Defects which is the most common congenital malformation in India. It is estimated that 50-70% of these birth defects are preventable so mandatory food fortification is necessary.
  • In a country with adequate poor people the quality of the ration of a poor family is poor nutrition which is similar in the case of MDM.
  • Children don’t get necessary micronutrients through MDM alone ad fruits and vegetables distribution is low in the scheme.
  • Lessons from states:-
    • A few states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are already using some of the fortified products. According to FSSAI, 84 countries worldwide have been using fortified products to fight malnutrition.
  • Benefits of mandatory food fortification:-
    • Fortification has a great potential of enriching the nutritional quality of food and in turn, enriching the life of millions of children by giving them a healthy start to life which they rightly deserve contributing to the holistic growth and proper development of the child etc.
    • Earlier the Government has issued guidelines to ensure mandatory fortification of edible oil through the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme with immediate effect. Certain features make edible oil much easier and cost-effective to fortify than other food items and a suitable vehicle for vitamins A and D.
    • Each state can make its own mash with local ingredients. These can be in powdered form and mixed with regular meals. This will be a good initiative
    • Energy dense foods are already commonly used in Africawhere the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supports community-based provision of RUTF.
      • A small scale study in Mumbai put RUTF’s efficacy at 65-70 per cent.
      • In 2013, a UNICEF report observed that if properly used, RUTF is safe, cost-effective, and has saved hundreds of thousands of children’s lives.


  • Mandatory fortification promotes centralised procurement reducing sensitivity towards local food culture, biodiversity and local livelihood
  • Fortified, ready-to-eat mixes or packaged foods take away from traditional, time tested meals
  • Fortification also opens up MDM to the private players who have been lobbying to enter the scheme.
    • Informal proposals of introducing pre-packaged foods or ready to eat foods in the name of fortification and addition of supplements are a huge concern.
  • Expensive:-
    • Centralised procurement sets aside cheaper, more appropriate and locally produced foods, and imposes an expensive form of packaged nutrition on children.
    • Adding micronutrients in food grains or other food items increases cost. FSSAI, however, has said the cost implication will not be high.
  • Problems with energy dense foods:-
    • Use of RUTF(ready to use therapeutic food) may replace family foods that children should normally be eating.
    • Enough evidence is not available for the use of RUTF vis-à-vis other interventions for the management of Severe acute malnutrition
    • Caretakers thought that their job was done by giving children RUTF, and hence children were not cared for properly
    • RUTF may not benefit the common household in developing appropriate food habits for children as against home augmented food.
  • Corruption:-
    • Such centralised commercial production and distribution is prone to corruption and poor quality.
  • Local awareness :-
    • It provides the opportunity to create employment for local women as well as demand for local product such as vegetables, eggs, etc. All of this is possible only when the food is produced and distributed in a decentralised manner which is not possible in this scenario
  • Intervention to replace locally made food compromises decentralised autonomy and community control. They also detract from local livelihoods and take away the option of using local foods and recipes many of which have good nutritional value.

Way forward:-

  • Centre should focus on localised procurement of food items, which will strengthen decentralised decision-making.
    • Local sourcing of vegetables and grains for schoolchildren will not only increase community participation and ownership and favourably influence the quality and safety of food served, but would also benefit movements of self-help groups and kitchen gardens. Importantly, it would help livelihood and environment.
  • Experts say going local will introduce coarse grains such as millets under the scheme. While Mid Day Meal Rules, 2015 allows the use of coarse grains that have ecological and health benefits, only wheat and rice are currently being supplied. 
  • Centre should also explore the possibility of introducing organic food under MDM. This can be done by procuring foodgrains from local organic farmers certified under the Centre’s Param-paragat Krishi Vikas Yojana. The 0.25 million farmers already under the scheme are struggling to find assured markets, which MDM can provide. 
  • The civil society groups also called for a system that provides training and support to local groups to deliver nutritious and hygienic food.

Topic – Indian Economy – issues

7) India is faced with a deluge of macroeconomic threats. Examine why and give suggestions to improve it?(250 words)


Why this question

The article talks about the several macroeconomic challenges that India is faced with , which is necessary to understand from mains perspective.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the macroeconomic challenges facing India, reasons behind the same and policy steps needed to address such challenges.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that India was passing through the Goldilocks zone, a situation in sharp contrast from now.

Body – Mention the macroeconomic challenges such as high CAD, lower inflation, high oil prices etc. Mention other problems like private investment not picking up etc. Explain the broad reasons for these issues and discuss the impact on growth of Indian economy going forward. Suggest steps through which the situation can be improved ( take ideas from the article and also elsewhere).

Conclusion – Emphasize on the need to tackle this to ensure stability of Indian economy.



  • Even after registering a growth rate of over 6.7 per cent last year and being pegged as the fastest-growing economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Indian capital markets are still facing turbulence.

Macroeconomic threats:-

  • The Rupee depreciated to one of its lowest values at about 67 rupees to a dollar.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to run down its forex reserves by $11 billion last month to stem the rupee volatility.
  • Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) withdrew about Rs 48,000 crore in the first six months of 2018 – the highest in a decade.
  • The Sensex, Nifty and other stock markets have seen their bullish runs coming to an end.
  • The money sunk into ailing banks, a slowdown in public investment, rising petroleum prices, slowdown in remittances from Indian workers abroad, and the sharp rise in stock prices and the fear of their equally rapid fall with foreign investors pulling out
  • Private investment continuous decrease in a decade(36%to 26%).

Why is this happening?

  • External factors:-
    • Rising crude oil prices is putting pressure on Current Account Deficit (CAD), forcing the economy to borrow more to bridge the rising CAD. It affects major economic indicators like exchange rate, fiscal deficit etc.
    • Sanctions:-
      • India used to get oil from Iran at relatively cheaper rates, while a large part of defence imports come from Russia. But the US sanctions on these two countries are likely to make it difficult for India to continue with the same volume of trade with them
    • US economy:-
      • The relatively stable and safe US economy is showing robust growth while the Fed is likely to raise interest rates further. These two factors incentivise investors to park their funds in the US.
    • S.’s initiatives in terms of protectionism:-
      • The U.S. has lowered the corporate tax rate sharply so that capital inflows will slow down.
    • Tariff wars between India and US can have adverse impacts.
    • The underlying reason for higher oil prices and US bond yields is that the global economy is in the midst of its best synchronized expansion since 2011.WTO is riddled with domination of western powers and lacks collective consensus.
  • Domestic factors:-
    • Rising inflation and government bond yields are two domestic factors that are also making an impact.
    • On the agricultural front, while the increasing input costs have to be borne by the farmers, when it comes to reaping the benefits of market prices for agricultural produce or rise in minimum support prices (MSP), they are deprived as they do not have direct access to the market. 
    • Unemployment
      • The unorganised sector employs 94% of the Indian workforce. A decline in this component impacts employment. The rise in demand under the MGNREGS is an indication of unemployment.
      • Despite rapid economic growth, unemployment is still an issue in both rural and urban areas. 
    • Poor tax collection rates.
      • According to the Economist, India has one of the poorest tax to GDP rates in the whole world. India’s tax revenue as a % of GDP is just 12%. Compared to an EU average of 45%. This poor tax collection rate reflects widespread corruption, tax avoidance and complicated tax rates
    • Bank credit growth hit a 20 year low in 2016-17 with Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) at 9.9%. India has been ranked fifth on the list of countries with highest NPAs. 
    • The infrastructure deficit is a major concern and infrastructure investment needs to be stepped up as currently it is not in par with the needs of the economy.
    • Other challenges for the economy include addressing infrastructural bottlenecks in the agricultural sector, investment in human resources to leverage the demographic dividend, increasing expenditure on education and healthcare sectors, and social security provision for the unorganized sector.
    • Shift from industry to services but lack of skills suitable for new services.


Suggestions to improve:-

  • The government needs to continue on its path of fiscal consolidation, both in terms of quantity and quality.
    • Government expenditure should be focused on areas where the returns are the highest – like health, education, increasing export competitiveness, logistics efficiency and infrastructure creation.
  • India needs to diversify its oil import basket.
    • Many countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE are willing to step in if Iranian imports stop. India needs to negotiate this further and also deal with the US on the issue of sanctions waiver.
  • Rising inflationary expectations need to be kept under control. 
  • Long-term systemic reform of agriculture needs to continue by making procurement system stronger
  • Strengthening WTO and adhering to rules based trading order is the necessity.
  • Strengthening Banking sector:-
    • There is a need to creation of bad bank ,asset management company, asset reconstruction company to take care of huge NPA