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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 April 2017


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 April 2017

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: Art and culture; Resources

1) How can India’s cultural heritage be leveraged for economic gain? Discuss the various ways and their merits. (200 Words)



Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity).

Cultural Heritage in India in brief:-

  • Culture and Civilization are used synonymously but there is a difference between the two words. While Culture connotes the beliefs, arts, mores, values, traditions, customs, food habits, religious beliefs and various behavioral traits needed to survive in a given geographical environment. In other words, the the environmental, social, and political forces shape the responses of a group of individual and the sum total of all the responses is defined as culture. On the other hand, Civilization represents the level of materialistic, intellectual and scientific achievements which the people of a given culture have acquired. However, both are interrelated and one leads to other.
  • The soil of India saw the growth of one of the oldest culture in the world – the Harappan Culture. Since then, number of incursion from northwestern part of the land took place. While many of the invaders came as looters and plunderers, others made India their home. All of these historical events had a deep impact on the Indian culture. The present culture of India reflects a collective heritage of the past. Undoubtedly, Indian culture is varied, rich and diversified with its own uniqueness.
  • Behaviour, communication styles, level of importance given to the people etc are in integral part of the culture. These habits, beliefs and behavioural traits are passed from one generation to the other as value system. These value systems remain unchanged for generations to come as they are deeply ingrained in ones cores. One of such Indian values is the treatment given to the guests in India. In Indian culture, guests are treated as gods and are served with great respect and reverence. Even a poor family offers food and drinks available at their home at the cost of passing the night hungry themselves. Similarly, elders especially mother and father are treated with great love and respect. Their presence is considered blessing on the family. And all these respect is not enforced upon the younger generations but culturally ingrained in their hearts and souls. The verses taken from Taitriya Upanishad describes everything about the treatment of guest, parents and elders – : matrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, atithidevo bhava. The literal translation of the verse would bring out the sense that an ideal person should strive to “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.”
  • In Indian culture, every human is respected irrespective of personal or professional relationship. Indians believe in “Jeev hi Shiv” or Life in any form is God.  Indians give and solicit respect equally from elders and youngers. This is not so in western cultures where there is equality in relationships and distinction in economic classes. Indians are known to be sensitive to other people’s problems. They are always eager to extend their helping hands to help to the people in trouble. Probably, this is the reason happiness quotient is higher in India in spite of economic challenges.


  • India has given birth to some of the greatest religions of the world namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. These religions which originated in India are collectively recognized as Indian religions. More than two billion people follow Hinduism and Buddhism and this fact qualify them to hold the position of third- and fourth-largest religions in the world respectively. The other religions like Jainism, Lingayats and Ahmadiyya faith also originated in India.
  • Hinduism is followed by almost 80% of the Indian people. Indian Muslims who practice Islam faith constitute another 13% of the population. This makes India abode of the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan. Some of the religions which originated in India like Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism have truly become world religions in the sense that their followers are widespread across the different countries. The followers of other religions like Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bahá’í Faith are also present in India but their population is small.

The History of India’s Culture

  • The study of ancient history and culture shows how rich and diversified is Indian heritage. The facts about the ancient Indus Valley Civilization leave one awestruck in terms of the logical and rational thinking and scientific outlook of the people. A number of cultural elements have been taken from the ancient culture. Town planning, agricultural farming, cattle rearing and dairy farming, use of burnt bricks, building of check dams, script, paintings and terracotta figurines, dressing and ornaments etc everything could be found in the ancient culture and many of them are in continued use till today. Similarly, religious beliefs, god worship, rituals and dances find their roots in ancient Indian tradition.
  • Indian culture is known for family values, societal bonding and respect for elders. India represents a colorful mosaic of number of people with their own culture, traditions, customs, values, languages, religious beliefs and cuisines. It is a melting pot of different cultures and the concoction produced henceforth is more beautiful than the individual cultural ingredients. This has been made possible because of high level of tolerance among the people which in turn is taught and transferred through Indian culture. Indian value system welcomes cultures from all the direction and gives complete freedom to propagate themselves on the Indian land. Indian cultural ethos believes in influencing other cultures and getting influenced at the same time from different cultures. The present India is a synthesis of all the good elements taken from everywhere which had the capability to influence and appeal to the logical and rational mind for peaceful coexistence. 

Attires in Indian Culture

  • Attires and dressings depend upon the climatic condition of a place and the cultural beliefs on the land. India lies mostly in tropical climatic zone and so the traditional outfits also reflect the dressing well suited to the climatic conditions. Cotton fabric is extensively used in India. They are not only light and soft but also comfortable for most part of the warm and humid climatic condition. Indian muslins are world famous for their lightness and comfort. Of late, cotton fabric is being mixed with others to give extra shine and durability. The fabric made of viscose, terry cotton; polycot and cotton silk are being extensively used in production of fabrics in India. In the temperate zones like the Himalayan region, wool and woolen fabrics are mostly used. A woolen costume called ‘feran’ locally is like blanket wrap worn over the normal dressing. The outfit is loose enough to keep a vessel containing burning charcoal inside it. The other winter wear in the northern hills of India are woolen shawls and cardigans. These are hand-woven in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. 
  • The attire that marks India apart from other cultures are Indian sarees which is the most elegant and versatile form for draping. Regional variation could be found to a great extent in the design, fabric and colors of sari. Bandhi printed sari of Gujarat are very famous for their radiant colors and small prints. In the south India, such prints are called ‘chungari’ sari. In some of the states, designs are made by doing embroidery works.
  • The saris from Kerala have their own unique designs. These sarees have beautiful prints in golden color and cream color and could be used with blouses of various colors. Similarly, navvari sari of Maharashtra is full nine yards in length and is generally based in green-leaf color. The color is symbolizes newlywed bride.  Rajasthan and Punjab are also famous for their gota and zari works which are sewn to saris and dupattas.
  • While saris are the traditional wear of the grown up women, the younger girls wear ghagra-cholis or its variations. In the south India, ghagra-choli are called ‘padavai’. The girls wear them generally with gold jewelry like neck-chains and earrings. The ghagra-cholis have been modified for bridal wear as lehenga-choli-dupatta. These look very beautiful and elegant in the brides and many designers have tried their hands in designing and decorating the attire with their imagination. However, the use of salwar kameez in women is most popular in India. These are not only comfortable but also looks very elegant as it covers whole body of women.

Values in India

  • Indian culture teaches many values which are passed from one generation to other through the process of enculturation. Lessons on human values, family values, societal values and values required for sustainable development is taught through customs, traditions, legends, folk tales, epics and is intricately interwoven in the religion. Some of the values which transcends the regional boundaries are respect for individual, women and elders. There is a value system which teaches to live in an environmentally sustainable condition. Probably it is India only where plants, trees and animals are worshipped. Indian people are god loving and god fearing people. They follow religion but at the same time create space for other religions to penetrate, grow and propagate. The values of tolerance, peace and co-existence make the core of Indian value system.  India has always been open to new ideas, innovations, scientific viewpoint, logics and rationality. Modern India believes in democratic values and equality of mankind.

Family Culture of India

  • In India joint family system is still prevalent especially in villages. A large family with number of relationships resides and eats at one place. The work responsibility is divided among the elders and the young ones in the family. There is an hierarchy in the family and the words of the elders are treated as commands. In return, the elders shower love and blessing to the young ones. However, due to urbanization taking place at a quick pace, the joint family system is gradually giving way to nuclear family where the husband, wife and their children live. However, the values and relationships remain the same in nuclear family also. The bond is maintained howsoever the distance is between the parents and the children.
  • Marriage is considered very important in the Indian family system. The whole family and society participate on the auspicious occasion to give blessing to the newlywed couples. India generally has patriarchal set up and so the bride comes to husband’s place after marriage. The love, affection and respect that she gets soon make her adapt to and adopt the new family. In India marriage does not take place between two individuals but between two families.
  • The festivals in India are a complete family affair. The rituals and customs to be followed are made in such a manner that the whole family participates in the celebration. On every festival praying and offering to god is customary. The family elders are respected and their presence is considered very auspicious for the family.  

Folk Dance and Music in India

  • India has a tradition of music and dance since historical periods. It is no wonder that Indian tradition of music also called Classical music is shaped by different gharanas and styles based on specific place of their birth or the originator of the style. Two of the most important styles of classical music are Carnatic and Hindustani music which has an historical continuity of thousands of years.  The classical music in India is the soul of all the art forms as it not only manifests the cultural heritage but is also spiritually alleviating. The other music forms prevalent in India include various folk songs, pop music, popular songs etc. The modern globalization process has definitely affected the Indian music and today all styles of music, both in vocal and instrumental, could be seen in India.
  • Similarly, Dance forms in India have also an historical root and so it covers a wide range of classical dances which started as temple dances in India. Later, representations in theatres helped in modifying these dance forms to a great extent. The modern interaction with the world has brought to India various other dances styles from different parts of the world.
  • Bharatnatyam is the most renowned dance-form of the South India. This dance had been kept alive by the great endeavours and efforts of gurus and the disciples. This traditional dance is respected as a religion and the followers do a lot of ‘sadhana’ to achieve mastery over it. The particular dance is usually performed with knees bent in a forward direction and uses various facial features to express the nine emotions of human beings or ‘Nav’ Ras. The face makeup and the attire used in the dance-form is very typical of this dance and supports the desired expressions by the artists.
  • Kuchupidi is a another form of dance from the South India. Kathakali of Kerela and Oddissi from Orissa are other very important traditional dance forms in India.
  • Indian music and dances are attached with the religion and the gods and goddesses. For example, Sarswati, the goddess for ‘learning and enlightenment’ is depicted as holding Veena, an Indian music instrument. Similarly, Lord Krishna is believed to be the best player of ‘Baansuri’ or flute. In the Hindu mythologies deities like Shiva and Kali are depicted to dance in utter anger which resulted in the demolition of all the demons. These themes became the basis for the Indian classical dances. Later various life events connected with Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and other gods and goddesses are the themes on which most of the Indian classical dances are based. There are other dance forms also practiced and danced at the local or regional levels. These are called folk dances. A few of the popular folk dances are Bhangra of Punjab, Garba of Gujarat, Ghumar of Rajasthan and Lavani of Maharashtra. In the recent times, the Indian film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, has adopted and modified a variety of global dance forms in India.

Drama and Theatre

  • Theatre and Drama has been traditionally an integral part of Indian culture. The plays like Abhigyan Shakuntlam and Meghdootam were written thousands of years back by the famous writer, poet and playwriter Kalidasa’s. Kutiyattam of Kerela is credited with oldest remarkable theatre traditions which are still survived in India. Kutiyattam follows the rules of Natya Shastra strictly. The tradition was given a new lease of life by Nātyāchārya Māni Mādhava Chākyār who revived this tradition of drama from the point of extinction. Known to have mastery over Rasa Abhinaya, he also started Kutiyattam with ancient plays written by Kalidasa, Bhasa and Harsha’s like Vikramorvaśīya, Abhijñānaśākuntala, Mālavikāgnimitra, Swapnavāsavadatta, Pancharātra and Nagananda.


  • Rock paintings found in the caves of India from the pre-historic times are the earliest specimens of paintings in India. Some of the finest paintings could be found in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, Bagh and Sittanavasal. Similarly, with the construction of temples to worship their deities, temple paintings also started. The themes of the paintings were mainly the religious beliefs, life events related with their gods, goddesses and deities. The love for nature also was made the basis for the paintings.
  • Similarly, paintings could be found on the walls of the houses, later, when the Indians started practicing agriculture and started a settled life. This could be found in the villages of India even till present times.
  • The continuation and reminiscent of the tradition is the custom of making ‘rangolis’, designs made by applying colored flours. Rangolis are a very common sight during the times of festivals. They are made outside the homes at their doorsteps, especially in South India.
  • Some of the beautiful genres of paintings in India are Madhubani painting of Bihar, Mysore painting, Rajput painting of Rajasthan, Tanjore painting and Mughal painting. Apart from this worli paintings of Gujarat and Orissa has also made its place in the recent times.


  • Probably sculptures discovered from the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization are the earliest sculptures found in India. During the period, a number of figures carved out of stone and bronze haven excavated. With the temple buildings, sculptures got a new impetus and some of the most intricate and beautiful sculptures were made during period. Figures of gods, goddesses and Buddha and Mahavira were sculpted and placed in the temples. During the same period temple carvings were done and huge temples were built with figure and themes carved on them. In some of the shrines like Ellora, the sculpture were not made on blocks and then joint together but were carved out of solid rocks only.
  • The northwestern part of India had a close contact with the Central Asian cultures. In fact, almost all the foreign incursions were made from that direction only and so a number of foreign settlements remained around the place. The settlers influenced the Indian sculptures to a great extent. There was strong presence of blend of Indian and Hellenistic influence. Greco-Roman influence could be seen on the eyes, forehead and the hairstyles of the sculptures produced during the period around the place. It was exactly the same period that Mathura style of sculptures evolved which used pink sandstone as the base material for making sculptures. Gupta period in the Indian history in 4th c. to 6th c. A.D. was the golden period in Indian sculpture making. Some of the finest pieces of sculptures and temples were made during this period.


  • Architecture in India is the result of both self-expression as well as imbibing of elements from other cultures. Historical developments had the direct impact over the architectural style in India. The settlers from new culture brought their own architectural style with themselves. They mostly mixed their own style with the existing Indian style to give birth to an altogether new style of architecture. And this holds true for all the period. Thus, what is evident in India is the phenomena of continuity and evolution. The earliest architecture is evident in the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization (2600–1900 BC). There was a perfect planning for the town, the streets cutting at an angle of 90 degrees as is followed till today, use of rectangular bricks in making houses and a well developed drainage system. While these elements were continued in the following periods, new ideas regarding planning and building of houses were introduced in the later times.
  • During the Gupata and Mauryan period, the India saw not only the summit of political expansion but also pinnacle of cultural development including art and architecture. During these periods, a number of Buddhist structures like Ajanta and Ellora caves and Sanchi Stupa were built. These architectural monuments are masterpieces of their times. South India also developed their own architectural styles which could be especially seen in the various temples of the time. Belur’s Chennakesava Temple, Halebidu’s Hoysaleswara Temple, and Somanathapura’s Kesava Temple, Thanjavur’s Brihadeeswara Temple, Konark’s Sun Temple, Srirangam’s Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, and Bhattiprolu’s Buddha Stupa are the speaking proofs of the designs, minute carvings on the stones and awesome human endeavour in building expressive of their grand architectural thoughts. The influence of religion and architectural styles on the foreign lands of South East Asia could also be seen in the temples situated at Angkor Wat, Borobudur and other Buddhist and Hindu temples built on their land.
  • The influence of Mughal and British style of architecture was immense in India. While the minarets and dome shaped took over the building structures and new style resultant of combination with the Hindu style gave rise to monumental forts as seen in Rajasthan. Similarly, the forts at Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal of Agra, Gol Gumbaz, Delhi’s Qutub Minar, and Red Fort of Delhi are sculptures of this era reflect the overtowering architectural specimens of the time. With the Britishers came the Indo-Saracenic and European Gothic style. Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial, the Victoria Terminus (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, CST) at Mumbai along with number of buildings in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai examples of British style of architecture.

How it can be leveraged for economic gain?

  • Tourism constitutes majority part of the cultural heritage of India and hence promoting it would result in tremendous economic gains. For ex Forex earning via tourism in 2106 stood at 40000 crore. Following steps can be taken
  • Promoting various types of tourism like:-

1.Religion:The following hold a great scope to promote cultural tourism
A. Buddhist Circuits
B. Sufism
C. Melas like Kumbh Melas

A. Wide variety of temple across India
B. Mughal architecture (Ex. Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri )
C. Caves (ex Ajanta Ellora),other structures like Ashokan Pillar
D. Gothic Architecture 
E. Lutyens architecture

3.Spiritual Tourism
A. Art of Living
B. Isha Foundation
and Other meditation and spiritual centres

4.Health Tourism: 
Appealing to rich Indian tradition of Yoga and AYUSH

Nalanda university as well book fests like Jaipur Lit Festivals which showcase rich legacy of literature in India

6.Civilisational: Archaeological sites of Harrapan and Indus Valley Civilisation like Lothal, Ropar

7.Indian Music: Both Hindustani and Sangam which has rich Indian cultural heritage.

8.Cuisine: The diverse and delicious Indian cuisine that reeks of rich heritage in India

  • Heritage buildings everywhere utilize local materials; the skills to work upon these are in the local communities. Obviously, any conservation effort then has to source locally—creating employment and economic opportunities.“Make in India” objectives will thus be met by any well planned and implemented conservation effort while simultaneously creating an economic asset that continues to pay rich dividends for years to come.
  • Besides being used as hotels or museums or libraries, heritage buildings could also easily be adapted to serve as schools or clinics—lending economic value to local communities.
  • The cultural heritage like lifestyle, folkdances of Gujrat, Rajasthan attracts tourist and giving them real time experience through schemes like Bed and Breakfast will yield further gains
  • Bilateral cultural exchanges like India celebrates Nile river festival and Egypt celebrates ganga river festival, also the same is being done among Indian states like between Andhra Pradesh and Haryana which can promote exhibitions, fairs, exposure etc
  • Promotion and Advertisement in a more persuasive manner, refining Tourism courses like Indian Institute Of Tourism & Travel Managementproviding high quality tourist facilities like hotels, rest rooms  at different cultural heritage sites will help in spreading the word of best Indian services by tourist to attract further more tourist
  • Natural heritage :- India have the 10 Natural UNESCO heritage sites that include the Rhino Site of the Kanziranga and Tiger reserves of the Sundarbans. There are many other such natural sites like Living root bridges of the Meghalaya and Backwaters of the Kerala which have potential to attract millions of tourists.
  • Promoting songs through digital media: availability of traditional and classic songs at digital platform make them in reach of everyone.
  • Online cultural extravagant of Indian paintings and embroidery with real life and 3D experience can boost online tourism
  • Leveraging on Indian strengths like Ayurveda, Yoga providing these facilities in special packages will not only rejuvenate and spread them across world but also benefit India with revenues and Forex.

Merits of such a scheme:

  • MGNREGA: Local labour can be utilized to maintain the art and culture of that area, thus , giving them employment under MGNREGA.
  • Boost in make in india: If local labour is utilized in improving conditions of such sites, then a boost can be given to make in India.
  • Huge economic benefit: Huge benefit would incur in terms of economy by promotion of such schemes.
  • Soft Diplomacy: Festival tourism can actually enhance the image of Indian culture and plays huge role in International relations and diplomacy.
  • Preservation and rejuvenation of traditional Indian cultural heritage like Ayurveda, Yoga etc


Topic:  Urbanization – problems and remedies. 

2) Is developing a new city necessarily a better option than expanding and improving existing cities in India? Analyse. (200 Words)



Urbanization in India began to accelerate after independence, due to the country’s adoption of a mixed economy, which gave rise to the development of the private sector. Urbanisation is taking place at a faster rate in India. Population residing in urban areas in India, according to 1901 census, was 11.4%. This count increased to 28.53% according to 2001 census, and crossing 30% as per 2011 census, standing at 31.16%. According to a survey by UN State of the World Population report in 2007, by 2030, 40.76% of country’s population is expected to reside in urban areas. As per World Bank, India, along with ChinaIndonesiaNigeria, and the United States, will lead the world’s urban population surge by 2050

Considering the scale of urbanisation it becomes necessary either to expand existing structure or to built new ones. In an article, Pronab Sen argued that the evidence “suggests that allowing existing urban agglomerations to grow may be a more efficient strategy than creating new urban areas”. On the other hand, in his popular book The Rise And Fall Of Nations: Ten Rules Of Change In The Post-Crisis World, Ruchir Sharma criticized India for its inability to create new cities with million-plus populations. 

1million popn

Expanding existing:-

Over the last three decades, China has converted 19 of its less than a quarter-million cities into boom towns of greater than a million. India has achieved this feat in just two cities and that too with some help from the redrawing of maps.

Creating new:-

Vietnam and Mexico among countries that have been able to create a second-city boom. The second-tier cities improved their infrastructure and tapped into their labour cost advantages to attract manufacturing firms which created a virtuous cycle of further concentration of firms and migration of population. 

Creating new cities comes with some advantages

  • Better planning, financing and resources management.
  • Greater protection of natural environment, non invasive structuring and pollution control can be designed.
  • Easier to incorporate newer technologies like ICT into new cities.
  • Its advantageous to back up green measures, pollution control norms, disaster mitigation strategies into new structures
  • Choices could be made to set up new cities in areas with high agglomeration potential and close to industrial and transport corridors.
  • And, these new cities if built will remove pressures of population, migration and management from existing mega cities and can facilitate their upgradation.


However, with increasing population pressures new cities have a bright future. The way ahead would be for the government to not only develop them in a holistic manner for economic growth and prosperity but to also ensure that the pressure is taken off India’s bigger metropolises so that they too can revamp and revitalise themselves for the 21st century.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

3) What does the Indian constitution and amendments made to it talk about backward commissions? Also examine criticisms made against proposed new backward commission. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are socially and educationally disadvantaged. It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs). The OBCs were found to comprise 52% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, a figure which had shrunk to 41% by 2006 when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place.

Until 1985, the affairs of Backward Classes were looked after by the Backward Classes Cell (BCC) in the Ministry of Home Affairs. With the creation of a separate Ministry of Welfare in 1985 (renamed as Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 25 May 1998) the matters relating to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Minorities were transferred to the new Ministry.

The Backward Classes Division in the ministry looks after the policy, planning and implementation of programmes relating to social and economic empowerment of OBCs. It also looks after matters relating to two institutions set up for the welfare of OBCs: National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

OBC Definition:

What is Other Backward Class: The peoples economically & socially backward other than SC, ST and FC are an Other Backward Class (OBC).

Who are the Other Backward Class: The peoples who belong to Backward Class (BC), Most Backward Class (MBC) and Denotified Community (DCN) category in the respective Indian states government’s criteria are grouped & called as Other Backward Class (OBC).


Backward class people is a collective term, used by the Government of India, for castes which are economically and socially disadvantaged. They typically include the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). According to “The Times of India” on 31 August 2010, even after 17 years, at most 7% of seats have been filled by OBCs, regardless of their 27% reservation. This difference between proportion of different communities in higher educational institutions is mainly because of difference in primary school enrolment. Political parties inIndia have attempted to use these communities as vote banks.

Obligation of the government:

Under Article 340 of the Indian Constitution, it is obligatory for the government to promote the welfare of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Article 340(1) states, ” The president may by order appoint a commission, consisting of such persons as he thinks, fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve ‘their condition and as to the grants that should be made, and the order appointing such commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the commission.”

Article 340(2) states, “A commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.”

National Commission on Backward Classes:-

  • National Commission for Backward Classesis an Indian statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment established on 14 August 1993. It was constituted pursuant to the provisions of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993. In 2017, a bill seeking to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes is scheduled to be passed in Parliament. Lok Sabha has already passed it.
  • The commission was the outcome of Indra Sawhney & Ors. Vs. Union of India. The Supreme Courtof India in its Judgement dated 16.11.1992 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 930 of 1990 – Indra Sawhney & Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors., reported in (1992) Supp. 3 SCC 217 directed the Government of India, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to constitute a permanent body in the nature of a Commission or Tribunal for entertaining, examining and recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of OBCs. The Supreme Court held that the Constitution recognised only social and educational — and not economic — backwardness.
  • The number of backward castes in Central list of OBCs has now increased to 5,013 (without the figures for most of the Union Territories) in 2006 as per National Commission for Backward Classes. In October 2015, National Commission for Backward Classes proposed that a person belonging to OBC with an annual family income of up to ₹15 lakhs should be considered as minimum ceiling for OBC.
  • NCBC also recommended sub-division of OBCs into ‘backward’, ‘more backward’ and ‘extremely backward’ blocs and divide 27% quota amongst them in proportion to their population, to ensure that stronger OBCs don’t corner the quota benefits.
  • The NCBC Bill, passed by Lok Sabha in 2017, will insert Article 338B into the Constitution after Articles 338 and 338A which deal with theNational Commission for Scheduled Castes (SC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (ST) respectively.

Recent steps by government :-

  • Lok Sabha passed the 123rd amendment to the Constitution which will, when it becomes law, bring into being a ‘constitutional’ National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). The current NCBC was created under an Act of Parliament in 1993.
  • The new insertion into the Constitution (Article 338B) is identical to the Articles 338 and 338A that respectively created the national commission for SCs and another for STs. (The amendment also brings about changes to Articles 342 and 366.) Like the NCBC, the new body too will comprise of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
  • The previous commission had powers to examine requests for inclusion of any community in the list of backward classes and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion, following which it advises the Union government. In its new form, the constitutional authority could give it more teeth.


  • Union government has in one stroke brought BCs in league with the SC/STs as victims of discrimination, exclusion and violence. Though Article 338B keeps the socially and educationally backward classes as its subject matter, in practice the proposed system will treat the developmental issues related to BCs on a par with caste discrimination and untouchability suffered by SCs and even by STs It not only is illogical and lacks historical justification, but is fraught with several challenges
  • It places the NCSEBC on par with the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes (NCST). This effects two major changes: First, it shifts responsibility for amending the list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from the government to Parliament; second, it effectively takes away the power that the states currently have to determine their own OBC lists.
  • The 123rd amendment delinks the whole folio of backward classes from Article 340 and brings it closer to provisions related to SC/STs. The government initially proposed to set up the “National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes” which is — in nomenclature, at least — closer to Article 340. By retaining the old generic name of NCBC and delinking the body from its soul (Article 340), the government set the stage for the whole scheme of special protections under the Constitution to crumble.
  • Once the 123rd amendment becomes law, Article 340 will be dead without being accorded the dignity of a repeal. It will be a pity. The article reflects the Constituent Assembly’s understanding on the matter which is relevant even today: there are classes, not castes, which suffer from social and educational backwardness, and the state has the burden of allocating adequate funds to ameliorate their conditions.

Way Forward:-

The mandate of NCSEBC should be

  • Along with its previous functions of recommending BC inclusion in list must address the grievances of the SEBC communities.
  • It is advised to bifurcate the communities as “backward”, “more backward”, “most backward”, and “extremely backward” with the sub quotas to ensure that benefits reaches the most deserving rather than blanket reservation under one quota. This will also stop instances like Jat agitation, Patels agitation etc.
  • Greater transparency in functioning by introducing parliamentary concurrence for changes in BC list than just executive order.
  • It must have vision and agenda to not only include or exclude BC from list but to ensure overall development of each community which helps in bringing equality among all.
  • Must advice and guide Centre in policy formulation, monitor their effectiveness and progress of SEBC.
  • The members of the commission must be persons of repute earned through long and sincere service for backward classes and knowledge and experience of society, social backwardness and developmental processes relevant to advancement of SEBCs. They should not have any political affiliation.
  • Must instil confidence in the SEBC community through better representation of SEBC in the Commission.
  • Any inclusion or exclusion must be backed by objective data with overlying parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Must check any attempt by Advanced Communities to get listed as SEBC.
  • It should include a grievance redressal mechanism in its framework, which is absent in the present setup. This will establish a positive feedback system for the govt, where they can receive suggestions for better performance.


Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

4) It is said that judges need to understand the complex linkages between various areas of governance and economic and legal activity today. Illustrate why. (200 Words)



Judiciary has often resorted to judicial activism to perform its duty as the ultimate protector of rights. However such decision manifests judicial prudence, it is often bereft of governance and economic prudence. It can be seen from the following cases

  • Liquor ban on SHs and NHs: Lack of analysis on
    Economic: Significant impact on employment, revenues of hotel, owner bar tender
    B. Governance: Increase in additional administration required as well the effect on state exchequer due fall in revenues
  • Thwarting making Aadhaar Card mandatory
    Economic: Savings due to biometric identification is not duly considered
    B. Governance: Increase in target delivery as well as extent of curb on corruption not factored in
  • Ban on BS 3 vehicles
    Economic: The economic implication of currently manufactured vehicles
    B. Governance: The beating goverment’s EODB shall take. Moreover it will result in corruption due to urgency to sell existing stock.
  • Coal allocation cancellation
    Economic: Delay in the supply of coal having far-reaching consequences for socio-economic conditions in India
    B. Governance: Widened the chasm between bureaucracy and corporates. The enormous bureaucratic effort in arranging the auction went down the drain.
  • Demanding disclosure of defaulters:
    Economic: Blatantly asking RBI to disclose the name of defaulters, of which some were genuine cases could have hurt their economic prospects by denting their image.
    B. Governance: Trust deficit between bureaucracy and corporate sector would have stalled the active participation on private sector, which is a key aspect to achieve some of agendas where bureaucracy fall short
  • BCCI controversy
    Economic: In a bid to bring about drastic changes in a short time, it freezed the transfer of funds to State Cricket Boards which could have had an economic impact.
    B. Governance: Non-comprehensive understanding .Made 1 vote for 1 state which leaves doors for stronger states “to buy” the votes of weaker states to tilt decisions in their favor.

Justice is not just about legal uprightness but in its true sense also encompasses economic and governance aspect too. Judiciary should take stock of this.


Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human resources

5) Is teacher absenteeism one of the main reasons for low learning outcomes in schools? What are the other reasons? Discuss. (200 Words)


Introduction :-

The dismal status of education in India have time and again been pointed out the poor outcomes highlighted by ASER ( Annual Status of Education Reports), with inability of class 5 students in reading lower level texts and solving very elementary math problems.

While teacher absentees has been one of strong reasons for it, it is not the sole reason. Other reasons are as follows:

  • Lack of qualified teachers: Teachers lack competency both in terms of academic knowledge and effective pedagogy.
  • Pedagogy: The focus is on rote learning and reproducing rather than imbibing critical and original thinking
  • Parental involvement: Busy parents are often unable to keep track of their child’s academic progress
  • Pressure: Undue pressure by unreasonably high expectataions without evaluating the capabilities and interests of the child.
  • No Detention Policy (NDP) leaves no motivation for teachers to put their best foot forward. Even if a student performs badly but still, he’ll be promoted to next level.
    For this Subramaniam Committee recommendation of making NDP limited to 5th class will provide some help.
  • Lack of infrastructure in schools like basic toilet facilities, classroom, desks, etc. gives no enthusiasm to students to learn and strive for more. For this, we need to increase expenditure on education to 6% of our GDP as recommended by Subramaniam Committee.
  • India is a developing country where a huge population is involved in agriculture and family enterprises. Children in such family oriented businesses are considered as ‘human capital’ rather than just a child. Therefore, children studies are sacrificed as they’ve to help their parents in their respective businesses.

We need to ensure the following to overhaul the above issues

  • Quality teachers: Comprehensive selection of teachers, raising societal status of their profession coupled with lucrative remuneration.
  • Pedagogy:That which promotes critical thinking and not mere focuses on outcomes
  • Involvement: All the stakeholders i.e. teachers, administration and parents should be actively involve with children and synergies their efforts
  • Interests: Proactive steps to unearth the predisposition of the child in particular vocation.
  • For infrastructural developments we need to increase expenditure on education to 6% of our GDP as recommended by Subramaniam Committee.
  • Strict implementation of acts like Child Labour Act and Right to education Act is need of hour.

Thus teacher abseentism in addition to above mentioned parameters plagues education system in India. Systemic measures to overhaul are overdue to ensure that the demography becomes a dividend rather than a disaster.


Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. 

6) “Changes in the United States’ attitude to Iran could be very serious for India.” Critically analyse. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :-

The Trump administration is openly and consistently confrontational towards Iran, where President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama was firm but constructive.

It can be seen in following actions:-

  • On April 18, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote to Congress — in the quarterly review Congress requires of the July 2015 international nuclear deal — that Iran continues to comply with the deal, but in the same letter he called Iran “a leading state sponsor of terror”.
  • A day later, the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who has long been very hostile to Iran, accused it of attempting to “destabilise yet another country”, meaning Yemen.
  • Two months earlier, on February 4, Mr. Mattis had responded to Iran’s late-January test of a ballistic missile by calling it the world’s “single biggest state sponsor of terrorism”.
  • On April 12, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in a Security Council briefing on Syria, “Iran is [Bashar al-]Assad’s chief accomplice in the regime’s horrific acts.”

Growing India Iran relations :-

  • In October 2016, Iran was India’s largest supplier of crude oil, with its exports to India exceeding the overall largest supplier Saudi Arabia’s exports of 697,000 barrels per day (bpd) by over 10%.
  • As the U.S. federal body Energy Information Administration notes, India is also funnelling Iranian oil into its expanding strategic petroleum reserves (SPR), with a view to holding 90 days’ supply against contingencies. Crucially, Tehran has consistently offered New Delhi very favourable terms, including non-dollar oil sales and other commercial attractions.
  • Oil is of course only one commodity in a long-standing Indo-Iranian trade relationship; Iran buys basmati rice and sugar from India, as well as various agrochemicals and petroleum products. Substantial expansions in the volume of business are also likely, despite earlier tensions over delayed Indian payments for oil.
  • The Indian government has, furthermore, taken steps to reassure Indian insurers in the public and private sectors, as well as banks, over the risks they might take in handling Iranian money while the U.S. sanctions regime remains in force.
  • In addition, India and Iran have reached agreement on the expansion of several industrial facilities at the port of Chabahar; the work is to be undertaken mainly by Indian entities. Another substantial deal is the one under preparation for India to have operating rights in the Farzad B gas field, which lies within Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

The historic US-Iran nuclear deal signed during Obama era has seen reversal in Trump’s administration and this has changed the way US is treating Iran. This has a significant bearing on India because of the following

  • Energy security:
    Iran is second largest oil supplier to India. The deterioration in US-Iran relation could be jeopardize India’s oil imports as was during the pre agreement days.
    B. A similar case can be made for Farzaad B gas field.
  • Chabahar Port:India has great stakes in the Chabahar port which could be affected.
  • Afghanistan Issue:Deterioration in Iran relation could increase the importance of Pakistan to protect the American interest in Afghanistan which can be detrimental to India.

However, we should also note the following

  • Diversification of energy basket:India has been successful in diversifying its energy security vis a vis earlier days. Ex. Nigeria in Africa for Oil, Phu-kahn basin in Vietnam. Hence this will help mitigate the impact of lull in US-Iran relation.
  • Closer ties with US: India relation with US has been steadfastly improving. With proactive diplomacy it should be able to safeguard areas where she is affected by US action against Iran
  • Trump’s Unpredictability: It’s been only 100 days, too short a time to evaluate a policy and given the unpredictability of Trump, it would not be sagacious to judge his stance as completely anti-Iran (Ex. moderation in Trump’s stance given the American interests in Boeing supply contract)


India enjoys a sweet spot in today’s slowdown-afflicted world, couple this with India’s vibrant foreign policy, she should be able to successfully navigate the troubled waters due to a dent in US-Iran relation


General Studies – 3

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

7) In the light of recent killings of CRPF jawans by naxals, do you think it’s time for India to look for alternatives to militarised counter-insurgencies? Discuss critically. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :-

In April, 2010, 76 CRPF personnel were killed in a single ambush, while wandering aimlessly in a forest patrol. How this came about, though, has as much to do with serious errors in conception. The Bastar division of Chhattisgarh sprawls across 40,000 square kilometres, an area larger than the Kashmir Valley. New Delhi pumped in 14 battalions of the CRPF — each of 1,000 men — and five of the Border Security Force. That means each battalion of security forces were expected to engage with insurgents in areas larger than 2,000 square kilometres, thinly covered by road.

Fatalities in 2009 were, unsurprisingly, higher, at 941, than in 2008, which saw 648. The higher fatalities in 2009 included a sharp rise in security force losses, from 214 to 312, and civilians, from 220 to 391. Indeed, fatalities in 2007 and 2008 were lower than in 2009. Thus, “Green Hunt operation” had the proximate consequence of making the region less secure — not more.

All the above analysis shows that We have been unsuccessful in curbing bloodshed in tackling Naxalism right from its inception, to its peak in mid 2000s, to the latest attack in Sukhma districts. 
This begets the need to look for options beyond counter-insurgency because

  • Terrain: Naxalites are well versed with terrain which gives them a substantial upper hand in armed struggle. Hence we should look for other alternatives.
  • Psychological:We should aim at generating groundswell support from people in a way that they are aligned with our efforts which shall go a long way in addressing the issue rather than counter insurgency
  • Developmental efforts:Infrastructure, employment and a better standard of living will result in better outcomes compared to insurgency

Conclusion :-

A multi-pronged approach- one that includes not only dialogues, better intelligence-gathering, and modernizing equipment, but also rehabilitating and resettling affected locals, preventing environmental degradation, checking contractor-political nexus, passing on the benefits earned through resource exploitation to the tribes, generating employment opportunities for the impoverished, and providing incentives and support system for those who surrender will help in long run to curb the menace of Naxalism.