IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [26th February]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis

  • February 27, 2016
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IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [26th February]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis


1. Declining air quality is not only a worry for the health of the masses but also a big cause of concern for the economy. Why? How information technology (IT) can help in improving the quality of life of the people most prone to polluted air? Discuss.


Pollution is one of the many environmental challenges facing the world today, leading to ill health, death and disabilities of millions of people annually. As a result of the health risks and the potential impact on economy, there have been efforts to reduce pollution.

1.      Economic Losses Resulting from the Impact of Air Pollution on Human Health –

  • The main economic impact of air pollution on human health is the rising incidence of respiratory disease among people, resulting in a loss of human capital.
  • Average medical expenses per patient per year increases
  • Economic losses resulting from sickness and hospitalization
  • Labor lost to respiratory illness
  • Increase in public expenditures and subsidies will have huge impact on the GDP of the country

2.      Economic Losses Resulting from the Impact of Air Pollution on Industry –

  • Economic losses that arise due to restrictions on industrial production as a result of polluted air
  • Productivity of its employees decline, thus additional net income and competitiveness also declines
  • Loss of foreign exchange – With decline in air quality, Tourism too will decline, hence result in current account deficit(CAD)

3.      Economic Losses Resulting from the Impact of Air Pollution on Farm Yields

  • Decrease in yields of grain, vegetables and fruits – affects livelihoods of farmers, food security and food inflation increases

4.      Economic Losses Resulting from the Impact of Air Pollution on Livestock and Fisheries –

  • Mortality rate is high (especially silkworm cocoons are more vulnerable to air pollution) – affects farmers and textile industries
  • Affects cattle and livestock industries, reflecting the economic loss for the entire country

5.      Economic Losses Resulting from the Impact of Air Pollution on Materials

  • Air pollution causes damage to materials, increasing the amount of time that must be devoted to household upkeep, laundering, and car washing
  • Due to its corrosive effect, air pollution also shortens the life span of structures, urban facilities, and factory equipment
  • Acid rain is a particularly damaging component of air pollution. The corrosive impact of acid rain on steel shortens its effective life span

Information technology can be boon to improve the quality of air pollution with well developed modern amenities and if used efficiently like:

  1. Real time monitoring of Air quality index and SAFAR (An initiative to provide air quality data) – disseminates data on daily average values and trends of total suspended particles (TSP)and other pollutants.
  2. India has developed a colour coded Air Quality Index under Swachch Bharat mission to communicate the level of pollution. It should be integrated with internet and mobile application to give a real time data on the level of pollution
  3. E-commerce – Development of e-commerce will help to curb the air pollution.
  4. Real time traffic update,GPS enabled vehicles and intelligent engines to minimize consumption of fuel.
  5. Facilitation of virtual workplaces, classrooms and markets
  6. Centralised monitoring of emission level by major factories by the use of remote monitoring and issuance of alert of their level of emission quota, impose subsequent penalties

Judging through the consequences on health and economy, Government should take urgent measures to control air pollution by using both institutional and digital infrastructure.

Best answer: Tanu Singh

Fresh Air is the basic requirement for the survival of living being. Declining air quality will affect each and every living being on the earth directly or indirectly. Some of its major effects on economy are:

1) Health deterioration – 356 million population of India, is between 10-24yr old which is youngest population, hence loss of young human capital, increase in public expenditures for medical expenses will have huge impact on the GDP of the country.

2) Loss of foreign exchange – With decline in air quality, tourism too will decline hence, result in loss of current account deficit (CAD).

3) Inflation – Air quality will affect agriculture productivity which will cause inflation.

4) Real estate value decline – with declining air quality value of a nearby home will decrease with decrease in demand; affect the GPD in long run.

5) Air treatment costs – Government need to invest on air treatment devices at the public places which will increase country’s expenditure.

Information technology can be boon to improve the quality of air pollution with well developed modern amenities and if used efficiently like:

1) Real time monitoring of Air quality index and SAFAR (A initiative to provide air quality data) -Availability of data to the public in map form, accessible all time with continuous update can make public more aware as well as plan accordingly.

2) E-commerce – Development of e-commerce will help to curb the air pollution.

3) Extensive use of social networking sites – Social network sites can be use to make people aware of the increasing air pollution and air quality.

4) GPS enabled vehicles- Provide real time data of air quality in the respected area hence avoiding the route.

Hence, Public awareness combined with government efforts can be successful in restoring declining air quality effectively and efficiently

2. The South Asian countries will soon have the SAARC summit. As a multilateral forum, what potential do you envisage for SAARC? Do you think a lot could have been achieved on the economic and internal security front through meaningful engagement of the participants? If so, why these ends have not been met? Critically analyse.


  1. SAARC represents 8 countries
  2. 21% population of the world and 9% of the global economy.
  3. 19th SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad.

Potential of the organization:

  1. Soft power of the region can be enhanced and asserted on a global scale considering close cultural ties among the countries.
  2. Cooperation to uplift the region as a whole by addressing each other’s socio-economic problems.
  3. Disaster management.
  4. Political authority and diplomacy can be enhanced positively.

Potential to enhance economic ties:

  1. SAFTA
  2. SAPTA
  3. 8 % of global trade in goods and services among SAARC countries can be enhanced.
  4. Cooperation in the field of science and technology, R&D, IT.
  5. Promotion of tourism capacity of the region as a whole.

Potential to enhance internal security:

  1. Collaboration to deal with cross border terrorism.
  2. Cooperation to deal with insurgency, drug trafficking, human trafficking etc. in the region as a whole.
  3. Intelligence sharing.
  4. Joint military and naval exercises and trainings.


  1. Lack of trust and conflict among the countries.
  2. Lack of political will.
  3. Overwhelming presence of India is pursued as a threat by others.
  4. Promotion of anti-national organizations against each other.
  5. Border disputes.


  1. Give your stand.
  2. Mention some achievements of SAARC.
  3. Give suggestive measures.


Best answer: PK

The SAARC is a representation of 1/5th the World’s humanity bound together by shared history, common geography and very close culture. It therefore has tremendous potential in

  1. Improvement of Human Development Index – poverty eradication, health and education
    2. leverage to be Economic powerhouse – both inter and intra regional; facilitated by cheap labor, tremendous natural resource, long coast line, agriculture, terrestrial connection to Middle East Asia, central Asia as well as SE Asia
    3. Environment mitigation & Disaster Management – natural’ ally to tackle issues of weather, global warming, pollution, wetlands, marine ecosystem and any calamity.
    4. Peace, counter terrorism, intelligence sharing – the reason can together fight terrorism, extremism, smuggling, poaching and piracy. It is also guard to world’s busiest oil routes.
    5. Political & Diplomatic – as a singular bloc it can represent and defend its regional interests internationally.

This regional grouping had been able to establish SAU (South Asian University) and ratify SAFTA and SAPTA (South Asia Preferential Trading Agreement) for inter member trading. However, the former is confined to goods and excludes services and the later which could have offset any trading imbalance has not yet been operationalised. On the internal security front, there has been no considerable progress in countering terrorism, smuggling or poaching. The Countries have gone to outright wars and the peace efforts in Afghanistan are now being facilitated by China are clear pointer to failure of SAARC’s abilities. Insurgencies in India, Bangladesh, Nepal etc could have been controlled has there been robust intelligence and military dependence .The little progresses made on these fronts have largely been bilateral than being multilateral.

Some primary reasons for SAARC not evolving to its potential are-

  1. Mistrust due to Historical burden of partition and political instability
    2. Fear of Indian hegemony
    3. Non-existent infrastructure coupled with Lack of financial commitment.
    4. Exclusion of bilateral and contentious issues in SAARC charter.
    5. Global trend of prominence to bilateral engagements.
    6. Increasing Chinese influence in the region.


3. Caste biases and communal prejudices seem to have returned to the University campuses. Do you agree? Is is that the perception is being built by highlighting the actions of few fringe elements which eventually snowballs into nationwide unrest? Critically examine. (Note: As an extension to this question, you can also think over the options available to the administration of the universities. Such cases can be asked in Paper IV)

  • Caste biases are a major feature of Indian society and universities being a part of it cannot remain immune
  • Education in India has been traditionally reserved for the upper caste and its only been a few decades that lower castes have also started getting education on a large scale,As such bias, prejudice and discrimination are bound to happen
  • Recent death of Rohit vemula, Ambedkar forum of IIT-M case and numerous examples are evidences of that, but recently these cases are being increasingly reported
  • Because of role of media, social media have helped in increased reporting
  • The state of flux in the universities causes preferential treatment for a particular caste or community. Students of lower classes have felt isolation, rejection and redicule in the institutions,they are not provided guides, their scholarships are irregular and delayed by years
  • The rise of student wing of different parties has led to politicization of campuses. University elections are fought on caste lines and not on academic issues.
  • Political parties have tried to capitalize on every minor thing that goes on in university


Steps need to be taken by university

  • Convening a board or committee on a permanent basis with members from all castes to continuously work on cases of discrimination
  • University faculty and teachers should shed their caste preference and teach universal values
  • Students should be actively engaged to work in tandem with the university for full development of theirs faculties
  • University elections should be free an fair and strict action should be taken on those who appeal from caste basis
  • Political interference in universities must be minimal as university must be a melting pot of ideas
  • Placements and career counseling must be impartial and fair


Best answer: CSE2016 aspirant

India has been experiencing social ill of casteism and communalism from centuries. This trend has greatly impeded the social and economic growth of India which is observed from huge gender and caste divides in various fields like education, health and jobs.

Recent suicide of a dalit student in UoH has further fanned the fire on the issue – ‘ Whether caste biases and communal prejudices have returned to university campuses’.

(1) REGIONALISM : Faculty displays preferential treatment to the students belonging to their community.

(2) POLITICAL GROUPS : Many political groups based on caste are active in universities.

(3) SEPARATE FACILITIES : Separate dining places and utensils for lower and upper class students are present in many campuses. Recently, a dalit student was severely beaten by teacher, when he tried to use the utensils made from upper class during Mid Day Meal.

(4) PROTESTS : Protests by lower caste students and faculty for fair treatment are common in university campuses.

However, the activities of few fringe elements make the situation worse. False image of widespread disparity is shown.

(1) ‘DIVIDE and RULE’ POLITICS : Reports of discrimination are exaggerated / falsely presented to gain political mileague.

(2) PERSONAL AMBITIONS : Few people project the differences just to gain benefits for their caste / community. Eg. – To get reservation in jobs.

(3) RESERVATION POLICY : It has led to students from different castes stay and study together in the campuses. This has minimised the differences.

(4) DALITS at the Front : Management in many universities have member from Dalit background. Also, dalits serve as leaders in student unions of universities.

(5) CHANGE in IDENTITY : In modern globalised times, identity is based on one’s occupation, not on one’s caste/community.

Hence, caste and communal prejudices exist in the country. But, Caste politics played by few fringe elements in universities is making the condition worse instead of solving this problem.

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