IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [11th March]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis

  • March 12, 2016
  • 2
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IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [11th March]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis


1. Do you think increasing excise duty on cigarettes and beedi can truly address the addiction of smoking and it’s associated health hazards? Critically examine.



India has the 2nd largest consumption of tobacco products including beedi, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Tobacco consumption kills one million Indians annually; the global burden is 5.5 million.

Yes, increasing excise duty on cigarettes and beedi acts as one of the single most effective way to decrease consumption and encourage tobacco users to quit, hence, also reduces associated health hazards. (Choose/write 3 points)

  • WHO report ‘mpower’ stated that – when tobacco prices go up, consumption goes down’, as
  • Fewer people use tobacco
  • People who continue to use tobacco, consume less
  • People who have quit are less likely to start again
  • The young are less likely to start using tobacco
  • Tobacco taxes are particularly effective in preventing or reducing tobacco use among the young and the poor. People in these groups are more affected by price increases.
  • Tax increases help the poor to stop using tobacco. This allows tobacco users who quit to reallocate their money to essential goods, including food, shelter, education and health-care.
  • Higher taxes also help poor families improve productivity and wage-earning capacity by decreasing tobacco-related illness and death.

In high-income countries, a 10% increase in tobacco prices will reduce consumption by about 4%. However, in the case of India, as per the current taxation practices, increasing the tax component is quite unlikely to reduce consumption drastically.

Currently, increasing tax/retail prices may only be a small effect

Reasons (Choose/write 3 points)

  • People are addicted and there are no close substitutes.
  • Tobacco companies have remarkable ingenuity and lobbying to make sure their customer base remains intact even when taxes are raised. Tax structure for tobacco products in India has been made complex and provides much leeway for companies to escape the brunt of any tax hike.
  • Taxes have been low for beedis and especially handmade beedis are taxed very minimally (constitute nearly 98 per cent of those sold in India)
  • Beedi manufacturers also enjoy the benefit of not paying any tax if they produce less than two million beedis per year.
  • In the case of cigarettes, unlike the system followed abroad, the taxation in India is based on the length of the cigarette. Cigarettes of various lengths are taxed at different specific rates. Since longer cigarettes attract more tax, consumers shift from longer cigarettes to shorter ones to escape higher taxes.
  • The taxation structure in India is not linked to income growth and inflation and this makes any increase in tax less relevant. As a result, tobacco products become cheaper relative to income affordability.
  • While beedis and cigarettes have ‘specific excise taxes,’ chewing tobacco products are taxed ad valorem (at a percentage rate based on retail price). As the ad valorem system is linked to the retail price, the tax component can be reduced by making the products cheaper.


The way ahead (Choose/write 3 points)

Consumption can be reduced substantially through taxation only if India changes the taxation structure.

  • The first challenge is to ensure that excise duty is “consistent across tobacco products” so as to prevent product substitution.
  • Second, taxation of all tobacco products should be inflation-adjusted and corrected annually. As a rule tobacco products should be taxed higher relative to other goods.
  • Third, is putting in place a “simple and enforceable system to tax and prevent revenue leakage.”
  • Fourth comes removing the differential tax system between handmade and machine-made beedis.
  • Fifth, is to have a long-term plan to remove the tax exemption to those who produce less than two million beedis a year.


Best Answer: Saurabh

India has the 2nd largest consumption of tobacco products including beedi, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Due to its adverse health effects, the government takes various measures to control tobacco consumption. One of these measures is making tobacco products less affordable by increasing taxes

However, these measures may not yield the desired results due to the following reasons:
1) Complex tax structure for beedis: Handmade beedis which is 98% of the total beedi production is taxed less than machine made beedis. Also, producers having less than 2 million beedis per year are tax exempt. Ironically, beedi affects economically weaker section and their families the most.

2) Most of the beedi making is in the unorganized sector, thus escaping the tax net

3) Cigarettes are also taxed according to their length which gives a chance the manufacturers to escape the tax net by shortening the length of cigarettes

4) People have cheaper options like illegal filter cigarettes to resort to

5) Tax on cigarettes and beedis is not inflation linked which makes these products affordable over time

To substantively curb tobacco consumption, following steps need to be taken:

1) Remove the distinction between machine made and hand-made beedis

2) Introduction of constant excise duty across all tobacco products and the distinction between cigarette lengths must be done away with

3) Beedi sector must be closely regulated and the tax must be increased and appropriated properly as it affects the economically weaker

4) Increase a long term plan to remove the exemption on beedi manufacturers producing less than 2 million beedis a year

5) Taxes on tobacco products must be linked to inlflation

6) The warning signs on the cigarette and beedi packets must be increased in size and must cover the whole packet

The above steps can act as a catalyst, however, a behavioral change is what would do away with this health hazard. The government’s intention is certainly towards decreasing consumption by raising taxes, but a comprehensive policy on tobacco products is the need of the hour.

2. Globalization of economy, polity and culture might have it’s dividends but the globalization of terrorism is the undisputed fallout of the global soup bowl of which we are a part of. Comment

  • Intro

Define globalization:

Globalisation refer to interdependence of countries on each other (a) for cross border trade in goods and services (economic globalisation), (b) for transnational state apparatus (political globalisation); and (c) to intensify social relation with transmission of ideas, meanings and values (cultural globalisation)

  • Body

Write briefly about the political, economical and cultural changes that have occurred because of globalization and give examples

  1. Political : emergence of democratic government, Highliting of human rights issues, UNOetc ,which have made citizens more informed than ever.
  2. Economic: global manufacturing and supply chains, FDI, liberalized trade, free movements of capital and labour, eg Indians using apple phones, IMF and WTO have evolved as super economic regulators.
  3. Cultural: spread of western lifestyles, education ,food habits, spiritual, western breakfast becoming popular in India, and yoga becoming popular in western countries
  • How has terrorism spread because of globalization
  1. Political: Because of political instability caused by western countries in the names of promoting democracy eg: Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria
  2. Education: Bolkogaram of Nigeria has declared western education Anti-islamic, same organizations are using internet to learn about making explosives
  3. Attack on religion : terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS ,etc western institutions and ideology as an attack on Islam and resort to violence as means of defending the religion, this is a common thread that connects many terrorist organisations
  4. Social: globalization has led to acute inequality and exploitation, has led to youth unrest in many countries towards arms and violence as a solution to their social and economic problems. How the terrorists are using forces of modernization
  5. Ideology: Modern ICT tools like Dark web (for) ,social media (facebook,twitter,YouTube) are used by these groups to spread their ideology ,and attract sympathizers, to gain legitimacy for their violent actions
  6. Recruitment: ISIS was using social media to indoctrinate youth and persuade them to move to Iraq (eg from France, Britain, and India) ,it currently has recruits from more than 51 countries
  7. Arms : these groups are using advanced weapons which are made in different countries, which is a part of global supply chain ,eg: parts used in making explosives by ISIS were found to be made in India
  8. Finances: the terrorist groups are riding of finances generated from global trade of Drugs, Oil, slaves etc and also by money laundering and hawala ,bit coins have become currency of choice for illegal trade.
  9. Training: training to the new recruits is given my ex-military men from different countries, eg: militants beings trained by Pakistani forces to attack India and ISIS recruits being trained by ex Saddam regime soldiers
  10. Targets: just like recruitment attack targets have also become truly global eg attacks in France, USA, Thailand, India etc lone wolf attacks are on rise, where terrorist are trained in their own country.
  11. Relaxed visa regimes and visa on arrival facilities provided to encourage trade and tourism are misused by terrorists
  12. Cyber terrorism: Use of malware’s and viruses both by state and non-state actors, to sabotage other countries vital infrastructure and installation, eg: stuxnet.
  • Conclusion

Suggest any preventive measures and strategy.

Best answer: SubhashTadala

Globalization being the buzz word in 21st century facilitates borderless movement of goods, services and humans across nations. It transformed whole world into a global village.

The dividends from it are many in :

  1. a) Economy: With globalization many of the country’s GDP increased thereby the per capita income and finally the standard of living. With the coming of MNCs employment opportunities proliferated, Trade improved, Technology development took place. Goods which are not accessible before are at arm’s length.
  2. b) Polity: With the globalization, the political values of equality, liberty, fraternity are being shared across borders. Move towards democracy was initiated. Establishment of international Institutions like UN, WTO, COP took place to take mutually accepted decisions.
  3. c) Culture: Imbibing one culture into another culture was started not only in values but also in language, food habits and dresses. Acceptance of international Yoga Day, Teaching German language in Indian Schools was some examples.

Though the dividends are enriching globalization further, the fallouts of the same are globalizing terrorism in the following way:

  1. a) Move towards Neo-liberal polity in West Asia has caused the rise of Terror Organizations like ISIS .
  2. b) BOKOHARAM-meaning western education is forbidden- group rose against the cultural assimilation brought by western ideals.
  3. c) It is with the globalization dividends that many terror organizations are being funded and armed. Al-Qaeda and Taliban were organizations of that kind.
  4. d) Technology, Internet, Social Media are now the best tools for terrorists. Youth from elsewhere can be easily recruited in terror cadres.

Though terrorism is not the direct result of globalization, it acted as a catalyst. Hence the solution lies in using the same globalization by urging all nations for a co-ordinated action against growing terrorism 

3. What do you understand by gravitational waves? Discuss the importance of LIGO in this regard.


Since, it is a direct question start bang-on with definition.

  • Gravitational waves are distortions or ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity.


  • Since question has just 2 parts once can write more about GW
  • Sources and types of GW.
  • Why study them.
  • How to detect them


LIGO and Significance of LIGO

  • How LIGO detects. Brief working in layman language. No technicalities.
  • Location of LIGOs
  • Significance & India’s role.


  • Indian LIGO approval. 3rd in world completes the Triangle. India benefits as world-wide accepted as Technologically able nation. More institutions inspire from such institutions and hence stop brain drain. In long run another Soft-power ability.


Best Answer: realandroid

Gravitational waves are the ripples or distortions in the space time fabric. They were predicted by the Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1916. According to the theory, whenever some massive objects like black holes or neutron stars orbit around each other, they lose energy by releasing gravitational waves, which leads them to come closer. A final collision generates massive ripples in space time which travels at the speed of light. These ripples are called Gravitational waves (GW). Advantages of observing GW are.

(1) So far we have used only Electromagnetic (EM) waves to observe the universe but GW opened a new way to observe the universe.

(2) Gravitaional waves allow us to observe objects that emit no light or very less EM waves like black holes.

(3) Our universe was opaque to us before the emergence of Electromagnetic waves but GW opened a way to observe what happened prior to the emergence of EM waves.


Since gravity is the weakest force of nature and a highly sensitive detector is required to observe the GW. This is where LIGO comes into play. It is basically a highly sensitive detector which contracts and expands when it encounters GW. By measuring the expansions and contractions we observe GW. We have three such detectors, two in USA and one in Italy. Advantages of LIGO are,

– LIGO played a distinct role in the discovery of GW.

– LIGO is the only way to observe our universe through GW.

– It enhanced our capabilities to build highly precise instruments.

LIGO in India

One single detector is not enough to distinguish the GW from other noises so multiple detectors far away from each other should be used. India is the ideal location for another LIGO detector. Advantages for having a Indian LIGO are.

-It will attract scientists from all over the world.

-India will become a hub for gravitational wave research.

-India will provide infrastructure and commission the project which will enhance India’s capabilities for cutting edge research.

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