IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [17th March]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis

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  • March 18, 2016
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IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [17th March]: UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]: Synopsis


1. Border infrastructure is integral to the internal security ecosystem. However, the current state of critical border infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Discuss.

  • Intro:
  • Write briefly about the types of Indian borders, length topography (1500 km of land border and7000 km coastal borders)
  • Write about threats to the borders. Both from other state and non- state actors.
  • Body:

Borders are the first line of defense of any country as such any threat on the borders will be amplified in the heartland, the current scenario and challenges can be analyzed as follows

  1. Absence of proper well defined international borders: India’s borders with its neighbors are undefined, the LOC with Pakistan along Gujrat to Jammu and AGPL line long Siachen ,and LAC with China are the defacto borders, both the sides are contesting it, also border with Myanmar is also not very well defined, the only progress was made with Bangladesh that too very recently by ratifying the LAND BOUNDARY AGREEMENT. So the first challenge is to settle the boundaries issues
  2. Topography: rugged topography of the north and northeastern region has become major hurdle for movement of troops and supplies. Siachen, aksai chin areas are very difficult to access
  3. Physical Infrastructure: this includes
  4. Fencing: India has fenced its borders along Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar borders, but even then there are many unfenced areas along these borders, along the AGPL and LAC the borders are not fenced because of the topography
  5. Porous borders have responsible for illegal immigration and cattle smuggling along Bangladesh border, and drug trafficking along Punjab border and illegal arms smuggling and terrorist infiltration along the Kashmir border
  • Open borders :open border policy along the Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar borders has led to smuggling of arms, drugs and Human trafficking along with providing escape routes to insurgents from India
  1. Connectivity: effective border maintenance needs constant communication, for which all time connectivity with road, rail and air is a prerequisite. China has spent hugely to construct huge infrastructure along the Indian border both on the eastern and western front, India lacks in this aspect, Out of 73 proposed infrastructure projects only 17 have been completed till date.
  2. Technological infrastructure: Indian borders are severely affected in this aspect, night vision goggles, infra red cameras, cctvs, laser walls, radars and GPS enables surveillance systems are in woefully short supply
  3. Manpower:
  • Indian armed forces are understaffed, and over-burdened , BSF, ITBP and Assam Rifles all are facing severe crunch in terms of jawans and officers, Absence of Mountain Strike Corps is hurting the most along the China border.
  • Understaffed coastguard and marine police staff has weakened the coastal infrastructure.
  • Another issue is of training, no matter how well physically and mentally trained our soldiers are, adverse nature and lack of modern equipment will always keep dragging them back. They are fighting with weights around their ankles
  • What govt has done?
  1. To address the connectivity issue govt has initiated the Bharatmala project to connect all states from Gujrat to Tripura
  2. Govt has decided to increase no of brigades from 7 to 11 along the China border with 80,000 more men
  3. Govt has decided to open 2 Advanced Landing Grounds for the airforce along China border, one in Ladakh and one in NE
  4. It has also decided to have two armored tank brigades along the Chinese border
  5. It has initiated construction of laser walls along the Pakistan border, which needs to be extended to eastern border as well
  6. IRNSS network will be used for effective monitoring of the movements along borders.
  • Conclusion:

Write your opinion and suggestions and conclude


Best answer: SVSR

India’s geographical setting enables her to share land boundary with 7 neighbouring countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh). Besides there are threats from domestic radical and left wind forces, the dangers posed by the outside infiltrations and anti-social activities through these boundaries are grave to our internal security. A closer hindsight into the past threats all major incidents like bomb blasts on Parliament, in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Gaya, Delhi etc., were done by terrorists infiltrated through these porous boundaries. These incidents and other possible threats highlights the necessity of efficient and effective border management and border infrastructure to ensure internal security.

Gaps in border infrastructure and current status:
1) India’s traditional mindset of deploying high security along the border with Pakistan is still in high priority in border management. However, due to geographical limitations of land boundary is still a cause of concern.
> Inadequate and inefficient surveillance beyond J&K – the recent Pathankot incident is one such example.
> Limitations of Coast Guard, SSB – poor base and force management, lack of infrastructure and machinery including patrol vehicles almost provide easy entry for outsiders via coast.

2) Indo-Bangladesh border – though secured and guarded by the BSF – there are reports of high cross border migrations.

> Intelligence reports highlight the existence of rampant corruption in border management, poor infrastructure especially in non-fenced regions.
> High level activity of smuggling, drug trafficking, human trafficking, contraband goods, counterfeit currency.
> Also the similar case with Indo-Nepal border – recent case of Nepalese women trafficked and locked up in the Arab embassy. This shows the level of illegal activity going on.

3) Indo-China border is also one of the highly guarded one. But, our infrastructure in the region is comparatively poor and obsolete to that of China, including outpost administration. The recent opening of Air base in the Ladakh region to deploy heavy aircraft landing is one of the significant steps, but still there is lot more to be done along the sensitive areas like Lahaul – Spiti valley and Arunachal Pradesh region.

4) India-Myanmar border is also highly porous due to no clarity on border line and not yet demarcated properly because of the presence of thick and dense forests. The bordering regions of Myanmar is one of the fertile grounds for militant activity and causing disturbances in the N-E region. Even surveillance has become a challenging task for the forces. Now, it is time to settle this issue with Myanmar as is holding a democratic regime and clearly demarcate and safeguard this sensitive areas.

5) Limitations of Border Roads Organization – low staff, poor funds and work machinery, non-channelised or streamlined work procedures – involvement of multiple agencies etc., – created breaks in our border management.

Keeping in mind the possible future threats, there is an urgent need to overhaul our border management by providing good infrastructure and adopting modern technology like satellite imagery, drone surveillance, thermal camera settings 

2. There is an urgent need of a nutrition revolution in order to usher India into an era of healthy citizenry. Do you agree? Discuss. Also suggest strategies for the same.

Part I: To usher India into an era of healthy citizenry, there is an urgent need of a nutrition revolution

The prominence of health in the Millennium Development Goals (2000-15) and in the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-30), sequentially adopted by the United Nations, arises from the recognition that health is pivotal to equitable and Sustainable development and is closely interconnected to other development sectors.

Disease and malnutrition have close links, in many ways.  According to UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) – “Malnutrition is the largest single contributor to diseases in the world”.

Nutrition that helps make a body and brain fully potential and gives higher prospects of health not only gives individual strength but is seen as a boost for the economy of the nation, under this regard nutrition revolution and its prominence seems mandatory for qualitative demography.

India has the largest population of the nutritionally deprived in the world. Our child malnutrition numbers are the highest in the world (cite some study/repot – NFHS/Lancet etc) and with the diversity of our nation the health care delivery seems difficult to deliver in a geographically scattered, culturally different population.

Part II: Suggestions

  • In countries such as India where nutrition has a cultural significance, certain organizations, provide a good understanding of what people eat and what, therefore, culturally accepted nutritional interventions can be done.
  • Reinvigoration of National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) -The bureau, under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had been critical in informing the government’s poverty alleviation interventions with periodic assessments of nutrient deficiency among tribal communities, pregnant women, adolescents and “at-risk” elderly population in India has been shut which needs to be revived.
  • With the Government at the centre devolving more resources to states for social sector programmes, accountability of states for delivering health care services to people has to be greater.
  • Start-ups in collaboration with Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), can take up the challenge of combating nutritional deficiencies among children and women and develop time-bound strategies for nutritional security by developing nutritive food products.

Strategic Nutritional based health policies needs to be developed to counter the burden of growing communicable and non communicable diseases related to it. As health is at the centre of development discourse and looked at as a cornerstone for economic growth of any nation, action shall be taken in this direction and it shall be the talisman of our success in this new era of development.


Best Answer: Snow White

To abate the problem of malnourishment and increasing death there is obviously an urgent need of a nutrition revolution in order to usher India into an era of healthy citizenship. India aims towards sustainable development goals which include ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030. Despite this, the current levels of underweight and stunted children are abysmally high, women are also part of low nourishment especially at time of pregnancy and geriatric people health is concerned.

Concerns over malnourishment is evident from reports of NHFW, Global Nutrition Report, 2015 and RSOC that show around 30% children underweighted and 40% with stunted growth. NHFW third report states anemia is widespread among adult females and pregnant ladies, even men are either too thin or fat. Malnourishment not only means undernourishment but also relates to obesity. A medical journal lancet stated that India is 3rd most obese country in the world.

Food shortages, poverty, problem in food distribution like PDS system lacunae, poor diet and alcoholism during pregnancy are causes of malnourishment along with poor sanitation. Also, urban lifestyle has led to over nutrition like eating of junk food.

Though Government have tried to undertake various steps to fight the problem of malnourishment by mid day meal scheme, ICDS, food security act, Janani Suraksha Yojana but still more needs to be done.


  1. Open milk feeding centers to provide milk to those children who cant get mother milk at the time he is born example. some opened in Kolkata, Rajasthan.
  2. Promote health care fairs at rural areas to reach pregnant ladies and educate them about proper diet. In urban areas, education about risk of smoking and alcohol taking during pregnancy shall be promoted and educate about junk food risks and problems.
  3. Care of sanitation by building toilets in rural areas as seen in total sanitation program.
  4. 4.PDS system shall be improved, use technology to prevent leakage. Aadhaar scheme linked with PDS will help.
  5. Small bus or van can run in rural areas for diagnosis of malnourishment , giving them small meals especially to pregnant ladies.
  6. Old age home shall be taken care off and provide meal to them.
  7. Salt distribution free of cost containing Iodine specially to poor to prevent goiter.

3. Riverbeds perform critical ecosystem services. However, rampant sand mining has severely depleted the ability of the rivers to perform these services. Identify thses services performed by the rivers and also enumerate the factors causing their deterioration.


  1. Rivers are an inevitable part of ecosystem which are essentially needed to fulfil life processes & maintain healthy balance between components of landscape.
  2. Meaning of riverbeds can be given in a single line.

Services by riverbeds:

  1. The river flow and its direction impart oxygen for the survival of aquatic species
  2. Breeding ground for many phytoplankton which are necessary for the food chain.
  3. Natural habitat to many species of flora and fauna.
  4. these riverbeds zones are the richest source of minerals and productive species which are carried along the river channel to be spread forming flood plains.
  5. Fresh drinking water which is processed and made fit to drink.
  6. Irrigation requirements of rain deficit region.
  7. Transportation by inland waterways.
  8. Fishing activities.
  9. Create alluvial soils which are excellent for food production.
  10. Create basins & catchment areas which are highly productive.


Deterioration caused by:

  • Dumping of industrial effluents without processing.
  • Natural dumping ground of masses who consider it safest dustbin.
  • Excessive sand mining & illegal mining in river beds to mine out minerals.
  • Construction of bridges & dams disrupt natural flow of river.
  • Improper town planning has changed the natural course of river & harmed river ecosystem.

Sand mining:

The rampant sand extraction and illegal sand mining poses a threat to the ecological services. It also affects the flow of river stream which can cause problems.

  • Both ground and surface water become pollutant.
  • The percolation power of soils will decrease.
  • The course of river may change.
  • It will impact on sensitive river ecosystem.


  1. Recent events can be mentioned like art of living etc.
  2. Projects to revive polluted rivers can be written.
  3. 2-3 lines on what should be done to be written.


Best answer: Gaurav

Riverbeds are linear troughs which hold the river in channels and are morphologicaly shaped by fluvial dynamics. By containing the river within them, riverbeds form the integral part of river system and conducts following ecosystem services:

  1. Hyporheic Zones: Channels acts as natural water aquifers through which water percolates downwards and gets stored as water table which can be used later on.
  2. Purifiers: since riverbeds contain assorted conglomeration of stones, pebbles, sand and clayey, during percolation water gets purified of physical contaminants. Besides studies have shown that beds are host to many microbes which aids the chemical purification as well
  3. Ecological Flow: Riverbeds are also known as water reservoirs which release water slowly during lean seasons and hence helps in maintaining minimum ecological flow in the river which ensures that fluvial systems sustains and thrives
  4. Incubator: riverbeds are also the ‘natural incubators’ in whose lap thrives the richest of biodiversity found in the world
  5. Natural Dams: riverbeds respond to channel dynamics and alters morphologicaly to the flow of river. This reduces the untimely flooding activity of river and protects the river beds.

Effect of Mining

In order to boost construction and infra sector, it has been observed that river beds have been quarried and mined haphazardly and rampantly with least concern for riverine ecosystem, for e.g in Periyar, Yamuna, Ganga rivers. This thoughtless extraction of sand and gravels from river beds has created many issues:

  1. It has eroded flood plains and beds
  2. Altered channel gradient
  3. Impacted water carrying capacity and hence lead to intense flooding and frequent spilage over the banks
  4. Water tables have reduced which not only impacts river flow but the local community of farmers
  5. Effected aquatic biodiversity both at the place of minining and downstream as well

Other Factors

Besides mining and quarrying river ecosystem is also deteriorated by following activities:

  1. Untreated affluent discharge from industries and municipal waste
  2. Encroachment on river beds and concretization
  3. Siltation of rivers by dams, deforestation, soil ersoion and land use change
  4. Leaching of pollutants and nito-phosporpus nutrients from non point sources like farm discharge, land pits
  5. Litter and plastic garbage dumping

Rivers have always been known to accompany civilizations. History is full of examples that man neglects nature only to his detrimental. Skewed focus on economic development without bringing in sustainability will not work at long term. Science and Technology has already given many alternatives, e.g use of M-sands instead of river sand, the only need is political will and social participation. The choice is ours!

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