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General Studies – 1;

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1) Basavanna is a seminal figure in the Bhakti movement. Discuss his teachings and their relevance today. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Basavanna lived in the 12th century in Kalyana in northern Karnataka. He was a saint, a social reformer, a poet and a political activist; he was minister to Bijjala, a Kalachurya king who succeeded the Chalukyas and ruled from Kalyana.

Teachings and work of Basavanna-

  • He challenged the dominance of Brahminical Hinduism, and especially institutions like the caste system.
  • Under his spiritual leadership, the Veerashaivas, an order of Shiva worshippers that rejected discrimination based on caste and gender, sought to establish an egalitarian social order.
  • The Sharana movement he presided over attracted people from all castes, and like most strands of the Bhakti movement, produced a corpus of literature, the vachanas that unveiled the spiritual universe of the Veerashaiva saints.
  • Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals such as the wearing of sacred thread.
  • Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.
  • Basava emphasized constant personal spiritual development as the path to profound enlightenment. He championed the use of vernacular language, Kannada, in all spiritual discussions so that translation and interpretation by the elite is unnecessary, and everyone can understand the spiritual ideas.
  • Basava advocated that every human being was equal, irrespective of caste, and that all forms of manual labor was equally important.

Relevance in today’s life-

  • The countries and the people are increasingly becoming narrow minded, intolerant and self-centered. Teachings and spiritual Vachanas of Basavanna leads towards the virtues of humanity and compassion which today’s world is in dire need of.
  • The present world is still facing the problems of gender discrimination, social atrocities and exclusion of marginalized. The teachings of Basavanna could help in getting rid of these social evils.
  • Religions of the world are increasingly getting complex and away from the common devotee. The complicated rituals and rites to be performed by priests are dominating the practices in the religions. Basavanna suggested the direct and simple relationship between God and Devotee without interference of any intermediaries. This could purify and free the existing religions of impurity and unnecessary complexities.
  • The ‘Vachana’ literature could act as strong inspiration for present generation poets particularly to women to create secular and socially relevant material.


The egalitarianism of Basavanna’s Sharana movement was too radical for its times. However it paved the way for other Bhakti saints to build on the path laid down Basavanna particularly in efforts towards eliminating social evil. Basavanna was relevant in the medieval age and continues to inspire new generations.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance,

2) It is argued that in India, the institutional weaknesses of public institutions stand in contrast to relatively dynamic private and civil society organizations. What is the cause and consequences of weak institutions? Critically examine. (200 Words)



Over the past quarter century, India has witnessed multiple transformations that have fundamentally reshaped its economy, foreign policy, politics, and society. Nearly a quarter-century after liberalization, the Indian economy is today more market-oriented and integrated with the world economy. However, despite the strides India has made in these domains, its public institutions have not undergone a commensurate transformation. Indeed, India’s multiple transformations are increasingly buffeted by strong headwinds of deep institutional malaise.

Causes of weak public institutions-

  • The major weakness of the public institutions has caused by the lack of competence, both at the policy design and formulation level, and the even larger challenge in effectively implementing these policies.
  • Populism of the day has hampered the efficiency of many public institutions. Politicians are ready to trade the principles and functions of the institutions for vested political interests.
  • Excessive regulations and rigid conformity are turning out to be major issues for low efficiency and ineffectiveness of the public institutions.
  • Rampant corruption, nepotism in the public institutions have crippled its pace of effective functioning and rendered them malfunctioned.
  • No real devolution of power to the local governments took place even after the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Indian constitution.
  • The unique problem with the Indian government is that it is ‘Under-staffed but Over-bureaucratized’. Since independence, the absolute size of the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) dropped by 10%; by 2010, the total strength of the IAS and the Indian Police Service (IPS) was less than 11,000 while the vacancy rate stood at 28%. In foreign affairs, the strength of the Indian diplomatic corps is less than that of Sweden’s.
  • At the same time, well-known indicators compiled by the World Bank that capture the ease of doing business in nearly every country in the world. According to the 2016 edition of the “Doing Business” indicators, India ranks 130th out of 189 countries in the overall ease of doing business, 155th in ease of starting a business, 178th in enforcing contracts, and 183rd in getting a construction permit.

Consequences of weak public institutions-

  • Weak public institutions results into poor governance thereby hampering the efficiency of public service delivery. For eg Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • It also affects the administrative efficiency and creates the trust-deficit between citizens and administration.
  • The natural resources are poorly and inefficiently used for the socio-economic progress of the country due to weak public institutions. For eg arbitrary coal block allocations in India.
  • Weak institutions also reduce the progress of poverty eradication, fighting illiteracy and diseases which ultimately results into poor health and living standards of the majority of the people
  • Weak institutions also create the hurdles for the progress of the private sector which has potential to cover-up the inadequacies of the government functions.
  • Weak institutions also fail to adequately preserve the rights, liberties of the citizens and provide them timely justice. India’s judicial system presently has a backlog of more than 31 million cases. Government estimates suggest that as many as 10% of all cases have been pending for a decade or more.


Strong public institutions form the base of the strong socio-economic progress of the nation. The corollary of this obviously is that weak public institutions obstruct this pace. Thus India needs strong public institutions at a time when private sector has matured to take half of its burden.  


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

3) Discuss critically the nature and implications of new evolving multilateral order in the world. (200 Words)



As America and parts of Europe contemplate protectionism and globalization and free trade come under threat, the new question is emerging that “Can China emerge as a leader in the new world order?


  • Waning power of USA

The global influence of USA is on the decline with the new American President being inward looking and diverting from the policies of his predecessor. For eg withdrawing of USA from TPP and Paris Climate deal, restriction on immigration etc.

  • Rise of China- China has become 2nd largest economy in the recent years and it is expected to overtake USA in near future. China has challenged the institutions like WB, IMF etc dominated by USA and has established new institutions like AIIB, NDB (BRICS), thus creating its own space in the international arena.

The recently concluded OBOR meet in Beijing could further increase the global footprints of China in Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. This could seriously limit the American influence in these regions.

  • A fragile Europe

Europe is greeted with the problems like Slowing of economies, ageing population, disintegrating tendencies in EU with the withdrawal of Britain and revivalist aggressive Russia (annexation of Crimea) etc. The European order is finding it difficult to revive its old glory and could be subjected to domination either by America or rising China.

  • Revival of Russia-

Russia seems to have found new grounds in the emerging global order to establish itself as a strong geo-political power even if not strong economic power. It has successfully countered USA in Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan. Further, along with China it could form strong anti-USA block to make itself a strong contender in the new global order.

  • Steady rise of India-

Among all this turmoil, India is carving its own niche mostly with its soft power. India continues to maintain good relations with mutually hostile countries like USA and Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel and other Arab countries etc. Also India has created strong ties with the African countries. India’s huge diaspora has helped her immensely to increase its global footprints. However in recent times the relations with the China have strained particularly because of border dispute and China’s proximity with the Pakistan. Further China seems to contain India within South Asia itself by helping Pakistan and other South Asian countries through its funding and infrastructure building.  


  • Western powers cannot limit the rise of emerging countries like China and India. Hence unless and until western powers reform the existing international institution like WB, IMF etc, it could lead to antagonism between them and other emerging powers. Its reflection could be seen in the organizations like BRICS and SCO, institutions like AIIB and NDB.
  • The civil war in Syria, unstable Afghanistan, belligerent North Korea and boiling West Asia are result of the hostility among leading powers of the world. Further this could prove as an indication for what could happen if this mutual hostility is not turned into mutual cooperation.
  • The new global order led by China and India could give more voice to the developing countries at the global platform like WTO, World Bank, IMF etc. This could also help them to resist the domination of industrially developed countries.
  • Newly industrialized nations like South Korea, Malaysia along with China and India are emerging as new powerhouses of export and manufacturing items. These countries also enjoy the young and productive human resource to supplement their economic rise.


As America’s status as the world’s foremost economic power hangs in the balance and clear emergence of multipolar global order could bring the unprecedented changes in the geo-strategic and economic arena of the present world order.


TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

4) Why is India not part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Does India’s absence matter to China? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) and The Belt and Road (B&R), is a development strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China, the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and the oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR). The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs, and the desire to coordinate manufacturing capacity with other countries in areas such as steel manufacturing

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, or BRF was held on May 14–15, 2017 in Beijing, and claimed to draw 29 foreign heads of state and government and representatives from more than 130 countries and 70 international organizations.

silk road

India has stayed away from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit which began in Beijing citing sovereignty, procedural and leadership issues. 

  • India has cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir as the main reason for refusing to participate in the summit. Sovereignty and territorial integrity issues, which tie in with the nationalist nature of prime minister Modi’s government, are clearly top of the agenda.
  • Beijing, did not take Delhi in confidence when it unilaterally decided to introduce and implement projects in many of the South Asian countries. Such projects in their current form not only have the potential to push the countries into financial crisis having direct bearing on India but also have strategic implications for Delhi during times of conflict.
  • The fact that the Chinese have begun to deploy 30,000 “security personnel” to protect the projects along the CPEC route makes it an active player in the politics of the Indian sub-continent. Its not a commercial project only.
  • External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, soon after taking over in May 2014, told her counterpart Wang Yi that India’s “One China” policy must be congruent to China’s “One India” policy, meaning, the Chinese must be sensitive to India’s claims in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. But the Chinese went ahead with the CPEC.
  • More recently, China has been reluctant to proscribe Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council as well as refuse India full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh didn’t go down well in Beijing.
  • Ironically, India is the second largest contributor to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which has allocated $100 billion for BRI and also funds the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. India has over 8 per cent voting rights at AIIB, and remains rightly concerned about the larger strategic issues of the BRI.

Conclusion :- Certainly, the battle for South Asia has been joined. Delhi is clearly worried about China’s expanding presence in its own neighbourhood – which it believed to be part of its own sphere of influence. But China’s maritime understanding with Sri Lanka, its decision to sell eight submarines to Pakistan and enhance the facilities at Gwadar port, prowl the Indian Ocean with its submarines as well as build a base in Djibouti in Africa have enraged New Delhi.


General Studies – 3

Topic:;Awareness in the fields of bio-technology

5) Recently, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, an Environment Ministry body that evaluates genetically modified crops, approved transgenic mustard for environmental release. Discuss the nature of concerns that are expressed regarding cultivation of GM mustard and the role of government in allaying these concerns. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- DMH-11 is a Genetically Modified (GM) mustard hybrid. Hybrids are normally obtained by crossing 2 genetically diverse plants from the same species. The 1st-generation offspring resulting from it has higher yields than what either of the parents is individually capable of giving. But there is no natural hybridization system in mustard, unlike in, say, cotton, maize or tomato. This is because its flowers contain both the female (pistil) and male (stamen) reproductive organs, making the plant naturally self-pollinating.

What scientist has done is to create a viable hybridization system in mustard using GM technology. The resulting GM mustard hybrid, it is claimed, gives 25-30% more yield than the best varieties such as ‘Varuna’ currently grown in the country. 

Scientists at the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) in Delhi University, however, showed that this problem could be addressed by crossing Indian mustard cultivars with juncea lines of East European origin like ‘Early Heera’ and ‘Donskaja’. The combination of the 2 divergent gene pools enhanced the crossing options; the resultant F1 progeny were found to exhibit significant heterosis.

Nature of Concerns regarding GM Mustard:-

  • These crops, in most cases are not tested in the wild, thus, there might be wholesale negative manifestations of these crops. Suppose a defective trait, gets manifested via pollination across the mustard crops, then it might have immense ramifications later on.
  • Smaller Farmers at considerable risk due to players like Mosanto entering into the fray. Industrialization of agriculture might come at the cost of wiping out small agro society all together.
  • Chances of IPR based problems arising with these GM crops are immense. Thus, we instead of giving food security an uplift, might find ourselves brimming in Patent thickets.
  • Bacillus Thuringenesis and its ramifications on human gut was often downplayed by the GM enthusiasts. Playing with GM might be like playing with wild fire, since an outbreak of a carcinogenic pattern related to these crops might not be easily traced. Also with their pollination with the normal agricultural mustard, such traits may be carried forward into these plants too.

Role of Government in allaying these concerns:

  • Set up World Class testing facilities to test a GM crop. Also, introduce it firstly in a pilot project. If successful, introduce elsewhere.
  • Allay the fears of small farmers by allowing progressive participation of the private sector. In India, contract farming, backward and forward linkages, supply chain management have been insidious problems. So, we need to look into the better management of agriculture. e-NAM and such endeavours must be promoted.
  • Low cost seed availability to small and marginal farmers might be at risk. Government might be required to provide some sort of DBT facility with regards to GM crops so that small farmers can avail the facility too.
  • Greater stress on Skill India and Make in India, to get rid of the disguised unemployment that will be caused with the entry of these players. This will help in the small farmers and marginal labourers attaining skill and moving to low skill manufacturing sectors.
  • Changes in the Patenting Regime. But also look into the fact that the insidious histories of Novartis and Bayer pharma (Nexvar) do not repeat itself. Already we are in the priority watch list of special 301. So unless clear policies are undertaken, we might find ourselves at a greater disadvantage in the eyes of the corporate society.


Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

6) Write a critical note on changing perception of police on the matters of public safety and lessons they could learn from foreign experiences to improve their role in ensuring public safety. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The creation in 1829 of the Metropolitan Police in London and the setting up of a similar organisation in New York and other large cities in the U.S. paved the way for organising the police in many western democracies and for our own police forces set up by the British in the early 1900s. The focus of law enforcement was initially on disciplining unruly elements disturbing public peace rather than on hunting for criminals depriving others of their life and property. Crime was petty in those days, not requiring any sophisticated methods of investigation and detection. Now, it is not only widespread and violent but also sophisticated with the abundant use of technology.

There are at least two features which offer a glimmer of hope for community safety in India.

  • The first is the availability of a corps of leadership in the form of technically savvy young Indian Police Service officers who have a stake in working closely with the community to carry out experiments in the field to upgrade safety at minimum cost to the government. They can borrow from several studies under the rubric of ‘evidence-based policing’.
  • The second is the spread of Internet use at all levels of the police. An offshoot is the use of social media in day-to-day policing. Information on crime incidents and criminals is as a matter of course conveyed to the public in many urban centres with encouraging results. Citizens are also encouraged to report crime through email or over social media. This practice gives no option for the police but to act without fail and swiftly. The participation of the print and visual media in this dialogue gives further fillip to the exercise of sensitising the police to the community demand for safety through police processes.

Indian Police can learn from foreign experiences:-

  • Numerical Strength :- With the phenomenal expansion of the geographic area to be policed and the mind-boggling increase in the number of lives to be guarded, the Indian police, more than in many western democracies, have been stretched and outnumbered. There are only about 140 policemen per 100,000 people, a very poor ratio when compared to other modern democracies.
  • New York Police Department :- NYPD instituted a COMPSTAT (short for COMPuter STATistics) programme, that analysed crime with the help of computers, identified crime hotspots and took preventive action, such as intensified patrolling. Police commanders in New York were made to report to the commissioner each week explaining how they were tackling crime in their jurisdictions. This mechanism not only brought about greater attention to crime in the field but also enhanced police accountability at the grass-root level.The NYPD has recently gone beyond COMPSTAT by hiring a reputed private agency to survey public opinion on police performance. Focussed questions over mobile phones and the responses obtained look at how to fill visible gaps in policing. The effectiveness of this unique tool will depend on how forthcoming and honest the respondents are. Variants of this have indeed been tried in a few of our cities by some smart police leaders. We have not heard enough about their outcome to comment on their utility.
  • London Police :-London is now a high-crime city. There is not only public concern over looming terrorist threats but also over youth crime. There are at least three or more stabbings a day carried out by teenagers. Although guns have made a recent entry, it is crime using sharp and small knives that is fuelling anxiety. The Met has launched a major campaign against street crime that involves frisking and seizure of knives — a visible, street-level operation that has enhanced security perceptions. The use of large manpower has been the hallmark of this operation. Physical checks of youth in the streets has added an element of deterrence. This is analogous to the ‘stop and frisk’ practice of the NYPD, whose focus on the non-white population has often drawn flak, especially from African-Americans.