SYNOPSIS- IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [5th May] – UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]

  • May 6, 2016
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SYNOPSIS- IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [5th May] – UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]


1. Railway freight is losing it’s way to the highways which is neither good from an economy point of view nor sustainable for the environment. Do you agree? Substantiate. Also suggest policy changes which must be brought in to address this anomaly.



The Indian Railways has since its inception been the prime mover of the nation by connecting different parts of the country and transporting people and goods across the country. While the volume of freight transported and the earnings from freight traffic has increased considerably, the IR has been losing out on market share, particularly in retail commodities, which is a major cause for worry. The share of IR in freight traffic has fallen from 88 percent in 1950-51 to approximately 34 percent in 2014-15.

One of the key reasons for the same has been the fact that the Railways has been using hike in freight rates as a tool to cross subsidies the passenger fares, thereby, losing share to other modes of transport (especially Highways).

Impacts on Economy and Environment (should cover the following points)

  • Government’s revenue receipts decreases: as revenue receipts from freight traffic contributes up to 70 percent of the total revenue receipts of the IR.
  • Competitiveness of Indian goods decreases: as per unit cost of transportation of goods through highways increases input costs of manufactured goods. Thus, exports decreases.
  • Fuel consumption increase: Highways mode of freight transport utilize large amount of fuel, thus, is detrimental to our INDC targets, fiscal deficit and CAD targets, and pose environmental as well as health risks.
  • Carbon emission/Global warming increases: More number of vehicles with increased demand in roadways leads to traffic congestion and affects productive time and results in concentration of toxic emissions.
  • Habitat destruction and fragmentation of wildlife: In order to meet the growing demand of highways freight, more linear infrastructure projects like new highways, road widening etc., leads to habitat destruction and fragmentation of wildlife and obstructs ecosystem inputs.

Policy changes (should include some of the following)

  • To woo industries to use freight services of Railway – Government should move away from tariff hikes and rationalise tariffs structures so freight is competitive with other modes.
  • Given the emphasis on rapid expansion of freight business, it is essential to build more dedicated freight corridors for increased traffic with consequent benefits for the economy and environment.
  • National Rail Plan (NRP 2030) for providing integrated rail-road intermodal transport planning – i.e., to integrate the railway network with other modes of transport
  • Setting up an Independent Regulator, the Railways Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI) and periodic audits by a third party for ensuring better quality of services
  • Eradication of ill policies in railways like cross subsidization and introduction of new means like dynamic pricing, privitisation of allied activities like IRCTC etc., would fetch more profits and thus augments efficiency.
  • Opening up the sector to 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • Running time-tabled freight trains “with credible service commitments”
  • Expanding the freight basket, which is highly concentrated
  • Building terminal capacity to improve last mile connectivity

Conclusion: (Add if space exists)

Railways have been the lifeline of the country and have been deeply linked with economy. Bibek Debroy Committee has sought several other recommendations, if implemented rightly will improve the structure and functioning of Railways in India.

Best answer: SVSR

Owing to inefficiencies in Railways and impulse to road sector development projects, freight transport is shifting to highways. The main reasons for these inefficiencies are paralysed governance structures, inadequate funds and infrastructure bottlenecks.

This tendency is neither good for economy nor environmentally sustainable, because:

> Per unit cost of transportation of goods is cheaper by rail rather than road. So, it increases input costs for our manufacturing sector and affects competitive edge in the markets both in domestic and international.

> Fuel consumption for the unit of goods transported is also minimal in railways compared to road ways, thus, it is detrimental to our INDC targets, fiscal deficit and CAD targets, and pose environmental as well as health risks.

> More number of vehicles with increased demand in roadways leads to traffic congestion and affects productive time and results in concentration of toxic emissions.

> In order to meet this demand, more linear infrastructure projects like new highways, road widening etc., leads to habitat destruction and fragmentation of wildlife and obstructs ecosystem inputs.

> Lack of coordination among different government departments and Ministries like MoRTH, Railways, Ports & Shipping etc., promoted competition rather than complimentarily. Thus, for better coordination an umbrella agency may be created.

> Eradication of ill policies in railways like cross subsidization and introduction of new means like dynamic pricing, privatization of allied activities like IRCTC etc., would fetch more profits and thus augments efficiency.

> Development of dedicated freight corridors, industrial corridors, PPP in bullet train projects – beneficial not only for railways but also the economy.

> Increasing last mile connectivity, inter-transport connectivity, laying more number of rails, more budget allocations etc., would also drive out inefficiencies in the system.

2. Identify various silk types which are reared in India along with their areas. Isn’t silk rearing facing stiff competition from synthetic fibres? Can you suggest some ways to enhance the competitiveness and popularity of silk? Also discuss the potential of silk for exports.



Standing at second position in terms of silk producing states in the world, India is an also a consumer next only to US, Italy and Japan. In the long Indian history silk industry has passed through periods of great prosperity as well decline. Indian silks are known for their finery and artistic designs and distinct colours. .

Types of silk:

  1. Mulberry silk – accounts for 90% of silk reared that comes from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal.
  2. Oak Tussar – Sub-Himalayan belt in J&K, Himachal Pradesh.
  3. Tropical Tussar – Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh.
  4. Muga silk – Assam.
  5. Eri silk – North eastern states mainly Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.

Stiff competition reasons:

  1. Artificial silk and synthetic fibres and cheaper with low cost of maintenance.
  2. Synthetic fibres also possess great durability, dye ability, workability and are resistant to shrinkage.
  3. Pure silk is still quite a luxury to afford for middle class and the poor.

Boost popularity and competitiveness:

  1. Increase in quantity of production i.e. Economy of scale via setting up cooperatives, subsidies for buying silkworms; Better techniques for extraction and cloth weaving.
  2. Reducing middle-men and marketing online or via silk board.
  3. Geographical Indicator to reduce imitations.
  4. There is a need to make domestic as well as foreigners aware of our cultural heritage in silk.
  5. Use of “Mann ki baat” by prime-minister on lines of Khadi promotion.
  6. Conducting Silk fairs, promotional events, roping in bollywood actor and actresses.
  7. Imposing anti-dumping duty on products obtained from China.
  8. Encouraging silk production through MSME’s and entrepreneurship.
  9. Integrating silk marketing with tourism as India is actively doing with HRIDAY and PRASAD.


Potential for export:

  1. Highly valued in European countries and N.America. Cost effectiveness and e commerce can boost exports.
  2. India’s recent Adopted Technology Fund Scheme could provide stimulus for technology up gradation to boost exports and livelihood of Indians in silk industry.
  3. Silk rearing is most effective in tropical countries & India belonging to the category will have advantages.
  4. The Indian Silk Promotion Council (ISEPC) has initiated programs for growth and development of the silk industry.
  5. India is the unique country in the world where all the four varieties of silk namely Mulberry, Tussar, Eri and Muga are produced, which provides it’s an edge over all countries.
  6. Integrating silk industry to the design institutes like NIFT and NID and to the thriving fashion sector of India.


India’s currently holds 18% of total produce in silk of the world, but is largely behind China which has become world leaders. Owing to such potential & advantages India should start adapting modern techniques to compete better in world markets.

Best answer: MDA

India has the distinction of being the only country in the world producing all Five major types of silk broadly divided into two categories:
# Mulberry silk: mainly in Karnataka
# Non-mulberry Silk: Temperate tussar silk in Maharashtra,WB, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh; Tropical tussar silk in sub –himalayan belt( Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya,etc); Muga Silk in Assam and Eri silk in Assam, Odisha, Bihar
Synthetic Fibre Vs Silk
Synthetic fibres look and feel like silk but are easier to handle ,cheaper and easily available. Thus, Viscose and polyester have taken some of silk’s market share. However, silk retains its image as a luxury item with a high demand in EU, US and even on its home turf-India.
Silk’s Competitiveness can be improved by improving quality , blending with comfortable fabrics like linen, etc and using auto looms; increasing production(more acreage, modern infrastructure ,quality feeds ,etc) and raising awareness of GoI schemes (subsidized yarns, loan , electricity, procurement of finished products at remunerative prices). Additionally, silk industry can be corporatized and authenticity can be guaranteed through silk mark.
Silk Can Be POPULARISED as an eco- friendly luxury material through a silk promotion campaign like EU’s campaign to promote linen as fashionable. Product categories like interior decoration, etc can be included. Knitted silk products can cater to the market demand for comfort, especially in EU, US.

Potential of Silk Exports: As silk production in China decreases, Asian and EU markets will continue to be consumers of silk .Plus, the shifting focus on climate makes silk an eco- friendly option. World Bank is already rehabilitating silk production in Bangladesh and India. Thus, silk export can earn India valuable foreign exchange abroad and employment within.

The Central silk board of India has been undertaking schemes like MKSP project for Tasar, NER textile promotion, MNREGA with CDP, etc to promote and protect sericulture. Way ahead lies in grading, R&Dand organizing the weaving sector (eliminating middle men)

3. Climate change is already having profound impact on the lives of rural poor in India. Unless a mitigation strategy is inbuilt in the farming and related activities, food and livelihood security of the rural poor can’t be ensured. Analyze.

  • Intro:

Write a brief introduction.

  • Body:
  • Current problems because of climate change:
  1. Temperature: because of short winters and extended summers, Rabi crops are lost which adversely affects small and marginal farmers and the landless laborers as there’s no harvest.
  2. Rainfall and floods: excessive rainfall and floods cause loss of houses, animals and crops
  3. Draughts: draught conditions are severe than floods as the onset is slow and the effects are felt for a longer time. Two successive draughts like the current ones will be devastating for the livelihood of rural poor.
  • Mitigation strategies:
  • Agriculture:
  1. Adoption of climate resilient agricultural practices like drought and pest resistant crops, modern water efficient irrigation practices like drip irrigation, organic farming, artificial/natural mulching (for greater soil moisture retention) etc.
  2. Providing alternative employment during lean years and undertaking farm related works like lakes and tanks rejuvenation, building irrigation channels under MGNREGA.
  3. Sound crop insurance (PMFBY), Organic Farming (PMKVY), better irrigation (PMKSY), water efficient irrigation practices, adoption of modern technologies etc., makes agriculture more productive.
  4. Increased R&D in climate resilient crops, and cattle breeding techniques. Pest control etc.
  • Livelihood protection:
  1. Insurance and credit facility for poor through National livestock policy, etc
  2. Increasing the number of man-days under MGNREGA to provide income and to create draught and flood-proof infrastructure respectively.
  3. Agro forestry (National agro forestry policy) to supplement income and maintain the ecological balance.
  • Health and nutrition:
  1. Increasing the coverage of MDM to include students till 12th standard for the rural areas.
  2. Providing food and supplements to mothers of poor families.
  3. Providing clean and cheap cooking fuel, such as LPG in place of more polluting wood and dung.
  4. Expansion of PDS and plugging the leakages so that the intended poor are actually benefited.
  • Conclusion:

Write a brief conclusion.

Best answer: Shubhangi

Climate change is global phenomenon, due to which increase in global temperature, rainfall variation etc. is observed. In India, about 50% of population is still dependent on agriculture and its allied activities for livelihood. Agriculture provides raw material for other industries and is also important for food security of our country. 55% of our net sown area is rain fed. Frequent change in rainfall pattern, flood, drought is adversely affecting agriculture produce every year which in turn affects village economy.
There is an urgent need for mitigation strategy to minimize affect of climate vagaries on rural poor.
1. Increase in temperature
Shorter winter period which gives less time for winter crops to mature. eg wheat. This leads to inferior produce and hence loss to farmers.
Mitigation strategy:
Investment in R&D to develop seeds which have short maturing period.
Farmers should be informed about right time to sow and harvest crops through Kisan TV programs, radio, NGOs.
2. Floods and Droughts
Excess water or deficient water, both are harmful for crops.
#Watershed management:
It is useful to control both floods and droughts. In this, small check dams maintain adequate water level in rivers, afforestation along river banks control flood and soil erosion, recharge ground water. Since, its a community program, it brings awareness among people to use water judiciously.
# Development of drought and flood resistant crops.
# Micro irrigation facilities.
Other mitigation strategies:
1. Alternate Income:
Apart from farming, farmers should also engage in
# Animal Husbandry- Dairy, meat, poultry, fishery, bee keeping, animal products, sericulture etc.
# Agro Forestry
These will provide additional income to farmers and will save them from distress in case of crop failure.
2. Financial inclusion: Crop insurance facility. New crop insurance scheme of government is a step in right direction.
3. Employment opportunity in lean period like MGNREGA which will provide income and reduce distress migration

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