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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:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

1) Critically comment on India’s present policy on Kashmir and suggest what policy would help address present Kashmir situation. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The dreadful violence and low turnout in a by-election in Kashmir has again raised intense debate in New Delhi. Unfortunately this debate has been mainly abusive rather than productive, and as a result it has masked the real issues.

Escalation in unrest in Kashmir and dissent of people toward present policy framework is vivid from by-poll turnout. Vortex of decade old turmoil is taking unprecedented shape now.

Present policy:

  • Heavy militarization and trying to end violence with violence approach not fruitful at ground
  • Government is in wait of turmoil to end and peace to be stabilized to initiate peace talk with rebels
  • Heavy infrastructural investments such as Channi-Nashri tunnel , Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects
  • Establishment of cultural ,sports and other connection with rest of India
  • Security forces restraining from indulging in conflict with rebels.

Way Ahead:

  • Deradicalization and dialogue must go hand in hand should not wait for peace to be established as it’s a gradual process
  • Communication channels such as Facebook, What’s app, are intensely used by perpetuators of violence and same should be used to eliminate the impact of the same.
  • Along with economic gains employment opportunities must be floated for young Kashmiri’s
  • Anti-India and Pro-Pakistani image must not be accentuated by either media or political parties.
  • Give regional autonomy to all three regions of J&K i.e. Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh. It has to be coupled with proper dialogue with separatists.
  • Rather than removing Article 370; we should implement Article 370 in true letter and spirit.
  • Huge thrust on tourism (tourism has a big multiplier effect and will create a positive impact on local economy)
  • Encourage Kashmiri students, present in other States of India, to participate in important state affairs. The state CMs should set up monthly meetings with Kashmiri students and solve their issues.

Government is trying to ameliorate the situation on ground. A sustainable solution with pragmatic approach soon will come out and peace will prevail in the valley.


General Studies – 2

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

2) Critically examine issues faced by Tamil and Muslim refugees in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka and the steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to address these issues. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- After the civil war, thousands of families displaced for decades top various parts of the island await resettlement and to return to their old homes. After relentless agitations, the govt started the process hesitantly. But the road to effective resettlement is steep and rough.

Some of the critical issues faced by the citizens are

Land Occupied by military:
Several thousand acres of Northern and Eastern Provinces remained with the Sri Lankan armed forces after the war ended in 

2009, severely hampering post-war resettlement in Sri Lanka. Legal procedures are yet to be initiated for release of lands to the owners.

Loss of residence
Most of the old were houses were grazed down during the war. There is no adequate dwelling facilities other than make shift tents.

Economic security
Livelihood of the families is severely affected as majority of farm plots of villages adjoining forests were brought under forest 
conservation act. This affects the diaspora of people solely dependent on those resources for income such as farmers and 

Basic needs 
For those who were resettled in their own place of living, inadequate access to basic facilities like water, electricity plague them.

Steps by Sri Lankan govt
After the grandstanding at UN Human Rights Council and international forums about its commitment to reconciliation, the outcomes were mostly limited to headline housing schemes and vocational training centres not factoring in the social and economic hardship faced by the replaced citizens.

Way Ahead
Need a comprehensive approach and a thoughtful strategy to rebuild a war-battered community which appreciates the link between the lives of people and their lands and livelihood.


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interest

3) Examine which factors are stopping intra-regional trade in the South Asian region and how it’s affecting economies in South Asia. (200 Words)


Introduction :- According to various report of World Bank and world economic forum South Asian region being least integrated have lowest intra regional trade among themselves. It can be attributed to following factor.

Economic factor: 

  • Being one of the poorest region along with sub Saharan for long with low share in external trade. Being underdeveloped almost all have placed high tariff and non tariff barrier.
  • Almost all country for long produced similar goods, resulting inter competition among self e.g. Bangladesh textile, Pakistan Basmati, Sri Lanka shrimp.
  • Fear of India size and rise : most feel their market will suffer from Indian import
  • India chooses bilateral over multilateral treaties, often ignoring present neighbor.

Historical factor: mutual suspicion among countries held hostage economic integration. India reluctance to initiate SAARC and SAFTA poor performance can be attributed to it.

Geographical factor: poor connectivity and nation self interest further inhibiting connectivity e.g. Pak denial to give passage to Afghan, Bhutan denial to join Motor vehicle pact, India suspicion to OBOR.

Political factor: different ideology of countries e.g. democracy has taken roots in many countries recently.

China Factor: Its not only responsible for split among ASEAN countries(SCS issue) but also raising discord among SAARC countries

A robust intra trade can have multi fold impact on economy of region: seamless trade can Lower the cost of business, generate higher employment in all region, stabilize the domestic currency, can check the inflation by removing supple side constraint. Together can become global hub for textile, tourism and agricultural export

Successful example of ASEAN and EU has shown in longer term it results into greater trust, stable relation, peaceful region and overall development. India with its sheer size and economy should take lead like it has taken with MVA, SAARC satellite, MFN accord to neighbour.


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

4) How is China factors affecting India – Sri Lanka relations? In your opinion, how should India engage with Sri Lanka? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- India has been following ” First Neighbourhood Policy” to reach out to its neighbours. However this has been significantly impacted by China’s efforts to increase her clout often to India’s detriment. This is reflected in case of Sri-Lanka in the following ways:

  • Bargaining Chip: China has tremendous potential to invest in countries and has been showing an active interest in Sri Lanka. This often becomes a bargaining chip for Sri-Lankans to tilt terms in their favour while signing agreements with India.
  • Security:China’s attempts to increase its influence in Indian Ocean through string of pearls has Sri Lanka as a strategic location. This runs against India’s influence.

china and india fdi stock

How should India engage with Sri-Lanka?

  • Long Term Vision:India should aim to invest in Sri Lanka with a long term vision. Investment in energy( oil-reserve built is welcome) and infrastructure ( For example- Trincomalee) which are important for development of Sri Lanka
  • Resolving perpetuating problems: Pestering issue of fisherman and human right violation especially those of Tamilians should be aimed to be resolved timely and comprehensively
  • Guiding Light: India has rich experience of drafting a masterpiece of Constitution encompassing the protection of the interest of diverse citizens. India should extend help to Sri-Lanka whenever required, of course in a way that we don’t interfere in the porcess but merely serve as guiding light
  • Hedging China: Sri-Lanka is already embroiled in Balance-of-Payments issue. We should strive to highlight the inherent problems in Sri-Lankan courting China to invest further given the aggressive nature of China. This shall also help us further our interests too.

Geographic, strategic, economic, cultural, citizen-centric international concerns warrant that India should actively engage with Sri-Lanka with a short term targets and long-term vision through stronger diplomacy.


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

5) What’s the difference between bare metal stents (BMS) and drug-eluting stents (DES)? Critically examine how India’s recent decision to cut prices of these stents has affected various stakeholders. (200 Words)

The Hindu 

Introduction :- Stents are medical devices inserted in arteries of person effected with cardio-vascular problem to facilitate blood flow

Difference between BMS and DES:

  • Level of technology: DES are more advanced as they release drugs to check clot formation unlike BMS that merely solved the problem of previous clots
  • Price: DES is costly than BMS

Context: DPCO recently ordered to drastically reduce stent prices sold in India

Effect on various stakeholders:

  • Public :
    Short term: benefitted as the cost of treatment would be reduced, lower indebt ness and out of pocket expenditure and possibility of falling below poverty line
    Long term: possibility of reduced supply, technological improvement in near future
  • Government and economy
    Short term: Strengthen public health, lower procurement costs for hospital, adherence to principles of justice
    long term: lower GDP esp. in quaternary sector that record research and development contribution, negative effect on ease of doing business
  • Pharmaceutical industry and shareholders:
    short term: lowered margins, less dividend to shareholder, impact market sentiment of future investors
    long-term: Future product growth would be negatively effected
  • Stock market: negative effect of lowered index values due to government regulation

Thus, it would have mixed negative and positive impact on all stakeholders. Government shall intervene in such markets only in case of extreme circumstance to ensure that viability of the market is balanced with public health


General Studies – 3

Topic: Infrastructure

6) The much awaited Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act is now in effect. Discuss its merits and demerits. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- The Real Estate bill passed by by India has following features

  • It establishes the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority for that particular state as the government body to be approached for redressal of grievances against any builder. This will happen once every state ratifies this Act and establishes a state authority on the lines set up in the law.
  • This law vests authority on the real estate regulator to govern both residential and commercial real estate transactions.
  • This Act obliges the developer to park 70% of the project funds in a dedicated bank account. This will ensure that developers are not able to invest in numerous new projects with the proceeds of the booking money for one project, thus delaying completion and handover to consumers.
  • This law makes it mandatory for developers to post all information on issues such as project plan, layout, government approvals, land title status, sub contractors to the project, schedule for completion with the State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and then in effect pass this information on to the consumers.
  • The current practice of selling on the basis of ambiguous super built-up area for a real estate project will come to a stop as this law makes it illegal. Carpet area has been clearly defined in the law.
  • Currently, if a project is delayed, then the developer does not suffer in any way. Now, the law ensures that any delay in project completion will make the developer liable to pay the same interest as the EMI being paid by the consumer to the bank back to the consumer.
  • The maximum jail term for a developer who violates the order of the appellate tribunal of the RERA is three years with or without a fine.
  • The buyer can contact the developer in writing within one year of taking possession to demand after sales service if any deficiency in the project is noticed.
  • The developer cannot make any changes to the plan that had been sold without the written consent of the buyer. This puts paid to a common and unpopular practice by developers to increase the cost of projects.
  • Lastly, every project measuring more than eight apartments will have to be registered with the RERA.

Advantages of the bill:

  • Timely delivery of flats: Developers often make false promises about the completion date of the project, but hardly ever deliver. As per the bill, strict regulations will be enforced on builders to ensure that construction runs on time and flats are delivered on schedule to the buyer. If the builder is not able to deliver the flats on time, he/she will have to refund the purchaser with interest. 
  • Furnishing of accurate project details: In the construction stage, builders promote their projects defining the various amenities and features that will be part of the project. But not everything goes as per plan, with several features missing. As per this bill, there can’t be any changes to a plan. And if a builder is found guilty of this, he/she will be penalized 10% of the project’s costs or face jail time of up to three years. 
  • Specifying carpet area: Generally, builders sell flats on the basis of built-in area, which includes a common passage area, stairs and other spaces which are 20-30% more than the actual flat’s area. But, not all buyers are aware of the concept of carpet area. With this bill it will become mandatory to declare the actual carpet area. 
  • All clearances are mandatory before beginning a project: Builders often attract buyers with huge discounts and pre-launch offers. And, the buyer, enticed by the offers, does not bother about the clearance. But, due to delays in getting clearance, the buyer does not get the flat on time. This bill ensures that developers get all the clearances before selling flats. 
  • Each project should have a separate bank account: Developers raise funds through pre-launch offers and use them to purchase some other land or invest it in other projects. This bill will make it compulsory that a separate bank account be maintained for each project. Each transaction will have to be recorded, and diversion to another project will not be entertained. 
  • After sales service: As per an interesting clause in the bill, if the buyer finds any structural deficiency in the development of the building, the buyer can contact the builder for after sales service. But, the buyer should approach the builder within a year of purchase to rectify such defects without further charges.

Disadvantages of the bill:

  • Past real estate projects not included in the bill: Only new projects are covered by the bill. Projects that are ongoing, completed or stuck due to clearance or financial issues, don’t come under this. Hence, many buyers will not be benefitted by it. 
  • Delay from government agencies: There can be delays caused by the government, which sometimes takes a lot of time to clear a project. It is up to government bodies to follow strict time frames to approve projects, so that developers can launch, complete and deliver them on time. 
  • No compulsory regulation for projects less than 1000 square meter: Registration with the regulator will not be mandatory for projects less than 1000 square meter. So, small developers will not be bound to register.  
  • New project launches expected to be delayed: Because a project will not be allowed to launch without the requisite clearances from the government (which generally takes two to three years), projects will automatically get delayed.


Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism

7) Examine the causes of rapid and violent rise of the Islamic State (IS). (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Islamic State (IS), and by its Arabic language acronym Daesh is a Salafi jihadist unrecognised proto-state and militant group that follows a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

This group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and many individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has charged the group with ethnic cleansing on a “historic scale” in northern Iraq

islamic states

ISIS has seen an unprecedented rise as a grisly terror group. This is on account of the following reasons:

  • Power Vacuum:With the rise of the Arab spring, there has been lack of political authority to control the region with various geo-political forces participating to full fill their own vested interest. This helped ISIS in conquering large swathes of territories in West Asia.
  • Religious fervour: ISIS has been able to tap into the religious fervour by pandering to the discrimination meted out to Sunnis. This in addition to eulogizing the dream to establish ‘A Caliphate’ served as an important factor in its rise.
  • Use of violent means:Extremely violent means used by ISIS and its propagation through social media played a vital role its rapid and violent rise
  • Technology: Use of technology to indoctrinate youth around the world ( Many a youth in India is a case in point) has been successfully used by ISIS to spread its reach

Recently ISIS has suffered setbacks by losing some of the important sites like (Ex. Palmyra) but it is far from down and out. Countries around the globe need to take cooperative and concentrated efforts to eradicate this terrorist group.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life 

8) What is RNA interference (RNAi) and antisense technology? Discuss their significance for India. (200 Words)


RNA interference (RNAi) and antisense technology-

RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural process that cells use to ‘turn off’ or silence unwanted or harmful genes. The initial discovery of this phenomenon was in 1991, by scientists trying to deepen the colour of petunias. Surprisingly, by introducing a gene for colour, they found that they had turned off the gene.

While RNAi is a gene silencing technology that inhibits protein synthesis in target cells using double-stranded RNA, antisense technology achieves the same result through single-stranded RNA.

Gene silencing by RNAi

These are the stages of the process as it pertains to disease control:

  • Identify the target disease or condition
  • Identify the target protein that is strongly associated with the condition
  • Identify the gene sequence that codes for that protein
  • Make a dsRNA molecule to target a small section of the gene sequence
  • Deliver the dsRNA molecule to the target cell in the target organ.
  • If the level of mRNA and the protein in the cell both decrease by at least 70%, it is likely that a successful gene silencing molecule has been developed. However, delivery to the target cells and organs can be difficult.

Their significance-

  • RNAi has huge significance within the Indian context, considering the deep-seated resistance over the years to Bt cotton and other genetically modified seeds.
  • Recently, genetically modified mustard received regulatory approval from the genetic engineering appraisal committee, only to get stalled later on account of a petition filed before the Supreme Court.
  • While it is imperative that India develops a more scientifically informed approach to regulating genetically modified crops, RNA-reliant solutions could be a viable alternative.
  • In addition, RNAi technologies are now known to formulate drugs capable of reducing cholesterol levels by half. This technology also finds immense importance in treating acute viral infections like acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), perhaps because of the well-studied life cycle and pattern of gene expression of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Antisense technology has shown promising results in producing a variety of tomato with increased shelf-life commonly known as Flavr Savr. The future could potentially be witness to the use of antisense technology to target cancer.

India faces two major challenges hindering progress in RNAi and antisense technologies.

  • First is the lack of efficient and targeted delivery vehicles for these potential RNA molecules. While, the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram, and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, have developed drug delivery vehicles capable of delivering proteins, much less has been done to develop vehicles capable of carrying silencing reagents such as small interfering RNA (siRNA). Though this is one of the objectives of a stand-alone programme on nano-biotechnology under department of biotechnology, research gaps continue to exist.
  • Second, the relatively minimal development of silencing reagents that ensure significant, specific, consistent and lasting knockdown of the target gene. The drug controller general of India (DCGI) has granted its nod to the first-ever clinical trial of siRNA therapy in India developed by Biocon in collaboration with Quark Pharmaceuticals, US, in 2016. The number of such trials is negligible when compared to the total number of clinical trials in our country.

India, in order to deal with the first constraint, needs to develop domestic facilities focusing on nanotechnology-based targeted RNA-delivery product development. Nanotechnology being a multidisciplinary field must evoke cooperation and partnership among government ministries (both at the Central and state level), research organizations, and private sector donors.

At all levels of government, there must be active collaboration with research institutions in the US, Russia, Japan, and other early movers in this space, in terms of the training and development of human resources. Academic institutions and governmental agencies must organize nationwide seminars and symposiums to highlight the importance of nanotechnology in the fourth industrial revolution.

In order to address the second challenge, India must enhance its competence around bioinformatics. Start-ups in the bioinformatics field must work on developing design algorithms for the development of safer, less toxic and more stable silencing reagents. While India has seen some progress in this area, sustainable improvements in bioinformatics research would require an increased number of trained scientists becoming experts in the discipline.