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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:  Art and culture; Salient features of Indian society;Diversity of India


1) Why is cow considered as sacred by some sections of the Indian society? Critically comment how is recent cow politics affecting diversity of India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Cow is the most important animal in the Indian society owing to the ancient importance given to cow, its place in Hindu mythology and rituals. It is considered sacred by some sections of Indian society due to following reasons:-


  • People in the Vedic period were primarily pastoral. They relied on the cows for milk and dung. Cow dung is one of the main fuels in rural India and also served as a fertilizer. Cow dung and cow urine is also thought to be an disinfectant among ancient Indians and used to clean up home. Thus, cow provided the food, fuel, disinfectant and fertilizer for the Vedic people. 
  • Hindu scriptures have always considered milk as among the highest forms of food – Satvic. Cow’s milk is believed to have a great calming effect and improves meditation.
  • A product of cow’s milk – ghee (clarified butter) – is used for Yajna (fire worship). Fire worship is the highest form prayer for Hindus. This adds religious significance to cow’s products.
  • Despite its big size, a cow is a calm animal and non-threatening – you could see cows quietly roaming Indian roads. Hindus have always appreciated the tolerance, patience and calmness of the cow. Thus, cows stood for the goodness of Hindu religion and considered a representative of Dharma. Also, a cow’s affection to its calf is a beautiful thing and Vedas greatly appreciated this bonding.
  • Sustainability: Ancient Indians probably ate meat when they wandered in the grasslands. However, as soon as they settled and the population near Ganges exploded, they saw the issues cropping. The key was water pollution from the slaughterhouses. Both the leather industry and slaughter industry hugely polluting industries and thus taboos quickly came.
  • In some ways, cows for Indians are like the pets in the Western Culture. You don’t see dog meat, cat meat or even horse meat in the US as these are the animals people have in their homes and form a special bonding with. For some Westerners, killing a dog for meat can be as gruesome as killing a human for meat. In the same way, many of us Indians formed a special bonding with our cows.


The cow politics is affecting the Indian diversity in following ways :-

  • Community which consume Beef :- The new cow slaughtering rule is not completely understood and which results in the conflicts.
  • Leather industry :- Animal market one of the important place where Buffalo cow and other animals sold of leather industry where finally they slaughter. The above ban definitely impact such industry.
  • Farmer socioeconomic factor :- Well many farmer sell their animals in order to get some money which might be used to compensate the loss faced in agriculture work.
  • One part considered cow as sacred and other sectors won’t rely on that. In the light of cow politics, we won’t confined it only to cow, an animal. It also expands up to the platform of Hindu nationalism.
  • Hindu Nationalist wants to change pluralist India into a monolithic Hindu nation. This creates a sense of fear among other sects, who are not Hindus.
  • By projecting themselves as Cow vigilante, they try to destroy economic power of minority group, who depend on Cow slaughter.
  • After eliminating their economy, they are force to depend on monolithic religion, which affects India’s multiculturalism.
  • India’s diversity stays alive because of Indian democracy and public questioning. By incorporating religion with cow, they hindered the ability of asking questions from majority hub.


General Studies – 2


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

2) India will be faced with a daunting challenge as the construction and other activities pick up in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the years ahead. In this light, should India reconsider negotiating again with China regarding CPEC? What negotiating terms should India explore? Discuss. (200 Words)


Introduction :- China–Pakistan Economic Corridor  is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan. Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is now worth $ 62 billion. CPEC is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of: modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.


Should India consider negotiating with China :-

India has not participated in recently organized Belt and Road forum summit held in Beijing on bet of sovereignty issue and gave a clear stand to China about her position on BRI and CPEC. But this initial position of India has been seen as short-term tactical requirements and it does not answer what should be India’s long-term strategy on this issue. The following points will throw the light on reconsideration of negotiation with china regarding CPEC.

  • Offered to change the name of CPEC : Renaming of CPEC can dilute the prominence of Pakistan in this project and rerouting can also be negotiated.
  • Extension of CPEC: Extension of CPEC western arm to Afghanistan and an eastern arm to India. If this can be agreed upon, then India can export its goods via the eastern arm both to Afghanistan and to Xinjiang and beyond to Central Asia. We have long desired a land link to Afghanistan and to Central Asia and this would be a major strategic gain for us. If this could be negotiated, it would represent a major strategic gain for us.
  • Tough stand on Indo -Pak border activity: Any uncertain activity along the border which is dangerous for India should be closely watched and take into consideration while building CPEC.
  • Against terrorism activity in the CPEC area: India should exert the pressure to China and Pakistan about terrorism activity along this area.

The following negotiating terms India needs to ensure :-

  • Exploring Economic Benefits: India also stands to gain economically from the CPEC if it wishes to collaborate. The CPEC can help increase India’s access to both the Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. It will also speed up projects like the China-Iran railway project and the India-Iran gas pipeline which has seen resistance from Pakistan. This can be done through an extended CPEC western arm to Afghanistan and one to India which will benefit India immensely.
  • Integrate CPEC with Project Mausam :- India’s Project Mausam in the Indian Ocean is seen a response to China’s expansionist ventures in maritime development. But, China is keen to establish itself in the South Asian belt by integrating Project Mausam with CPEC. India could be open to deliberating more on whether any sort of integration of activities is possible without compromising Indian interests.
  • Consultative process with regards to activities in PoK :-The first negotiation term could be to bring in all disputed parties on board with regards to CPEC activities in GB. While this may seem ambitious, the negotiation should focus on obfuscating Pakistan’s complete control over the disputed regions. This can only be done if India is an economic partner in the CPEC program (which can subsequently be renamed)
  • Mutual interest of china and India :- The India must explore option of expanding CPEC to Afghanistan toward west and east towards India this also solved issue of china’s complete backing for Pakistan and India’s reach to Afghanistan and to Xinjiang and beyond to Central Asia. This would be a major strategic gain.


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

3) Do you think the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations is sustainable in the long run? How ill this rift affect India? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The recent diplomatic rift between Qatar and other Arab states — like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt — has again highlighted the geopolitical significance of the region beyond the oil factor. It emerged as a result of an allegation that the small gas-rich country supports and funds terror through its support of Iran and Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist political group outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The rift between two groups and that too both countries being a part of the Gulf cooperation council(GCC) seen through the prism of Globalisation prove that the rift cannot sustain in the long run.
The following points probe into the finer details exemplifying the above statement-

  • Oil economy of Qatar – 70 % of Qatar’s GDP is made up of petroleum and gas.IT depends on imports for FOOD , machinery , technology from other countries. interestingly Saudi Arabia and UAE feature in the top 10 list of importer countries to Qatar. This dependence can quell the fire raging between Saudi and Qatar or else thousands of people will STARVE.
  • Actual Intent – The actual intent of sanctions are against Iran. Iran is a close aide to Qatar but due to the present deliberation made by countries like Kuwait and the deliberation within the halls of GCC , the sanctions may be lifted without getting prolonged.
  • Growing terrorist attacks – The recent growth in terror attacks in countries like UK, France ,Germany etc will prompt these countries to take a tougher action against terrorism(ISIS) by using the NATO alliance strength. The United States has its largest army base in Qatar which is very crucial in its attacks against ISIS , so without Qatar in the ship , the ship may fail to reach its destination.(Destination – i.e to fight ISIS)
  • FIFA – football is the most watched sport in this planet. The FIFA 2022 is scheduled to be held in Qatar. Under the present sanctions Qatar may not be able to build the required infrastructure to conduct FIFA. Major European powers like France, Germany , England who are die hard fans of football may play an important role in the lifting of the sanctions.


Impact on India :-

  • India would hope that differences between Qatar and Gulf countries, which are home to 8 million Indians and vital to India’s energy supply, are amicably sorted out as soon as possible.
  • Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar, the same way they are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the two key countries who are in the opposite camp. And, the immediate worry is the trouble Indians would face as measures to isolate Qatar would hit them there in terms of their travel.
  • India also has robust defence and energy ties with Qatar. India is the third largest export destination for Qatar (behind Japan and South Korea) and ranks at 10th position for Qatar’s imports.
  • As regards the impact of sanctions on India, it depends on Qatar for 90% of its natural gas requirements and hence is likely to maintain its good relationship with the monarchy. The Qatar Airways flights between India and Doha will be affected as following the UAE’s decision to not allow its air space to be used, the flights will now have to get routed through Iran.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Agriculture

4) Discuss what alternative solutions should state and union governments explore other than waiver of farm loans to address farm crisis. (200 Words)


Introduction :- As demands for farm-loan waivers grow across Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka–after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra wrote off loans worth Rs. 36,359 crore and Rs 30,000 crore respectively–India faces a cumulative loan waiver of Rs 3.1 lakh crore ($49.1 billion), or 2.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016-17.

Loan waivers might help the government buy peace with farmers in the short run, but they are unlikely to change much on the ground. Loan waivers can also affect the flow of credit as bank lending tends to move away from areas with greater exposure to such schemes. It creates distortions in the credit market, as repeated waivers incentivise default, which can affect the flow of credit to the sector in the medium to long run. Moreover, loan waivers have fiscal costs. They can not only increase the deficit and interest burden, but also limit the ability of the government to undertake capital expenditure. Lower capital expenditure affects longer-term growth prospects, including that of the agriculture sector.

farm loan waiver

Addressing the problems in the agriculture sector means solutions that go beyond loan waivers.

  • Increase farmers income: Major cause of distress among farmers is because less income from agriculture. Govt should mobilized its efforts in the direction of increasing farmers income like promotion of Horticulture, drought resistant crops or vegetables or fruits as it has aim of doubling farmers income by 2022.
  • Better Credit Facilities: By falling in the trap of local money lenders, farmers start a vicious cycle of debt. Both govt should ensure better availability credits at lower rates.
  • Infrastructure: Major loss to the produce is the post harvesting due to unavailability of adequate infrastructure like lack of cold storage houses for perishables items. In this direction Union govt has taken important step by establishing Agriculture Irradiation Centres with the help of Russia to mitigate post harvest losses. State government can help by giving easy access of land to these establishments as land is state subject.
  • Irrigation: Under schemes like per drop more crop or “Har Khet Ko Pani” , govt ensured better irrigation facilities but its effective implementation wont be possible without help of state govt.
  • Diversification of Crops under MSP: More crops should be covered under MSP. State govt should organize awareness programme to educate farmers about MSP as 40% farmers are unaware of its existence.
  • Increasing ambit of MSP: Currently the MSP Is announced only for some crops. This should be increased to cover other crops as well.
  • Increased cold storage facility: This would ensure that in case of bumper produce farmers can store their produce and sell it when the rates procured by the in the market are good.
  • Increased jobs in manufacturing: This will take the burden from farming out by promoting people presently in the agricultural sector to take up jobs in the manufacturing sector.
  • Land leasing: This would enable those farmers who don’t want to till their farms to give them on lease leading to consolidation of land as well.
  • Price deficiency payment: When the price of a crop falls below the MSP, the reduced amount can be paid by the government to the farmer to ensure his income.
  • Flow of more funds: If more funds will flow into agricultural sector, then more investment can be done in irrigation, HYV’s etc.


Topic:  Resource mobilization

5) According to recent reports, the government is planning to provide operational flexibility to central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) to take over stressed assets and turn them around. How will this step help banking and public sectors? Critically examine. (200 Words)



Stressed assets on the books of Indian banks are now higher than the net worth of the entire banking sector, according to a recently released McKinsey & Co. report, “Mastering New Realities: A Blueprint To Transform Indian Banking”.

One of the contributing factors in this crisis is the inability of private asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) to play a meaningful role, in spite of enabling regulations and support from the central bank. 

How operational flexibility to CPSEs help banking and public sectors?

  • Operational flexibility to central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) would allow them to take over stressed assets and turn them around and to facilitate the takeover of stalled projects.
  • The cabinet secretariat will coordinate between various CPSEs under different administrative ministries and banks. This will improve the coordination between different organizations to tackle the common problem.
  • This would help unburden the banking sector quickly and allow banks to focus on core banking operations that give impetus to the growth.
  • Better competence: PSU’s will be able to take better stand in the Indian as well as foreign markets by able to perform better with better operational capability.

However there are some concerns-

  • Between 2009 and 2016, the market value of the Maharatna companies the “crown jewels” of the public sector declined by 33% at a time when the Nifty index grew by 9%. Between 2010 and 2014, the market value of private sector banks rose by about $30 billion, while the market value of public sector banks (PSBs) fell by about $30 billion. According to the latest Public Enterprises Survey, the market value of 46 CPSEs decreased by 16.6% in the financial year 2015-16. Thus, any initiative which proposes to increase the size of India’s public sector should be discouraged.
  • Government has promised to take steps for deregulation that would reduce the government’s excessive control over businesses. The proposed solution will achieve exactly the opposite. Transferring stressed assets from PSBs to CPSEs will neither be efficient nor effective, since the burden will remain on the government and taxpayers.
  • Also, the turnaround of stressed assets will be attempted by CPSE managers instead of turnaround specialists from the private sector.


The government could also explore the option to revisit the idea of setting up a bad bank, transferring stressed assets to its balance sheet at fair valuations and then securitizing the assets to distribute risk among a diverse group of investors.

The bad banks have succeeded fairly well in the China. In 1999, China set up four centrally controlled asset management companies, or bad banks, to swallow toxic assets from banks. Today, China’s bad banks are “thriving as alternative lenders, evolving from bad-debt managers into some of the country’s largest financial conglomerates”, according to the Financial Times.


Topic:  Environmental pollution; S&T; Agriculture

6) Burning of biomass and crop residue is one of the leading factors contributing to air pollution in India. What prompts farmers to burn crop residue and biomass? What measures can government take to discourage this practice? Examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


The burning of crop residue has become a severe problem in North India, particularly in the Delhi and NCR. Despite the various orders by Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal, problems is persisting and posing huge threat to the lives of millions of people.

Why farmers burn crop residue and biomass?

  • Agriculture is getting transformed, with irrigation and multiple cropping, plus more cultivation of wheat. This squeezes the time available for manually taking out stubble, perhaps more serious in November-December, relatively less in April-May. In general, there is a window of 10-15 days between crops, not two months. Mechanization, not manual extraction, becomes the answer. Labour has become expensive and is often not available. Combine harvesters have become easier to buy or rent. Therefore, the use of combine harvesters for reaping, threshing, winnowing is increasing.
  • But combine harvesters leave stubble. That stubble has value as fodder, more for wheat, less for rice. Even for rice, it is possible to think of power from biomass and other uses. However, right now, this isn’t viable because of assorted reasons, including the expenses of decentralised collection and aggregation. One has to deal with fodder in the field in various ways — use rotavators to mulch crop residue into the soil, introduce stubble distributors or straw management systems in combine harvesters or use happy seeders to plant through the residue. Despite such possibilities, the economics is still loaded in favour of burning.

Measures to be taken by government to discourage this practice-

  • Satellite-based monitoring mechanisms should be adopted by the states through the State Remote Sensing Agency for acting against stubble burning in open fields, and weeds and top soil biomass burning along roads, highways and canals.
  • Establishment of ambient air monitoring stations in the states to capture and build a database on stubble burning and crop residue burning under the National Air Monitoring Programme.
  • Putting agricultural residue to alternative uses like energy generation, and for producing ethanol, paper and packaging material, to benefit the farmers and also to protect the environment.
  • Implementation of the National Policy for Management of Crop Residue. The states should take steps to educate and advise farmers through the media, gram panchayats and corporations about how crop residue burning is injurious to health and can cause serious air pollution.
  • States should also tell farmers that it is now banned or prohibited by law, and make farmers aware of how agricultural residue can be extracted and utilised for various purposes, including manufacturing of boards, fodder, rough paper manufacturing and as a raw material for power generation.
  • Though one of the options could be legislation banning the burning of crop residue, it would be difficult to implement and fines may not deter the farmers from doing so. Thus government needs to incentivize the farmers so that they don’t burn the residue. Recently National Green Tribunal issued the order in this direction.
  • NGT stated that every State will provide machines, mechanisms and equipment or its cost to the farmers to ensure that agricultural residue in the field in these states are removed, collected and stored at appropriate identified sites. Such equipment like happy seeders would be provided to small farmers having land area less than 2 acres free of cost to put the straws back into soil to improve its nutrients. Government could charge the rich and medium level farmers for the same.
  • The removed straw should be taken to the biomass energy plants by state governments. This would also require separate markets in which the straw would be purchased from the farmers and then used for generating electricity


Stating that the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, set up by the Supreme Court, and the NGT have both called upon the governments to put up sufficient infrastructure and collection points to bring the straw together for power generation. The process has started but the scale of implementation is still limited. Thus government should increase the scale of the operations by investing in new technologies and equipments.


Topic: Economics of animal rearing

7) Critically analyse soundness of laws and rules regulating animal livestock markets in India. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Recently Parliament enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Section 38 whereof empowers the Central Government alone to make rules. The Government notified the Rules for constituting and regulating animal markets for transacting sale and purchase of animals without subjecting them to cruelty. Rule 22, which has attracted the most controversy, requires certain measures for ensuring that in animal markets, cattle are transacted for agricultural purposes only, and not for slaughter. The other provisions in these rules constitute Animal Market Committees and lay down several measures for preventing cruelty to animals.

Soundness of the laws and rules regulating animal livestock markets in India-

  • The primary objection against these rules is that they violate the right of butchers to practise their trade and occupation freely [Article 19(1)(g)]. It is now an established position that even though Directive Principles are themselves not enforceable by courts, yet Fundamental Rights are to be read in such a manner that the Directive Principles do not remain mere empty declarations. One of the Gandhian DPSP prohibits the slaughter of the cow and other milch animals which is in confrontation with the right to practice and trade feely.

Judicial pronouncements-

  1. The question of whether slaughter of milch cattle could be prohibited in its entirety, took nearly half a century to be settled.
  2. While in 1958, the Supreme Court in Mohd. Hanif Qureshi v. State of Bihar rejected the argument that religious freedom was hindered on account of such prohibition, although it did hold that the prohibition to slaughter even those animals ceasing to be capable of yielding milk or of breeding or working as draught animals, was unjustified as it run foul of the butcher’s right to freedom of trade and occupation under Article 19(1)(g).
  3. A larger seven-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court revisited this reasoning and overruling it, held in State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi (2005) that bovine animals did not become useless on their ceasing to be capable of yielding milk or of breeding or working as draught animals. Relying on Directive Principles to hold these restrictions as being reasonable and in public interest, thus saved by Article 19(6), the Court further held that economically, bovine animals can never be useless on account of the value and utility of their dung and urine. Finally, the Court struck a chord of compassion towards animals and reasoned that cruelty to any living creature must be curbed and desisted.

The contention based on the fundamental right to religion under Article 25 even in respect of cow protection laws has been categorically rejected throughout in all these judgments. It is thus specious to say that the 2017 Rules are violative of any fundamental rights.

  • The law under which the rules have been notified is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, is a Central law and falls squarely within the Concurrent List entry of ‘prevention of cruelty to animals’ [Entry 17, List III]. The argument breaching federalism is clearly fallacious as List II of Schedule VII reveals that no entry can be connected with prohibition of animal slaughter so as to vest exclusive power in the State legislature or executive.

For instance, Entry 15 of the State List provides “preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal disease; veterinary training and practice”, but that is neither the purpose of the Act nor of the rules – the purpose being to prevent cruelty to animals, and not to improve animal stock or prevent animal disease.


It is thus difficult to say that the 2017 Rules do not meet constitutional muster. The hue and cry on the validity of these rules is on account of the conflation of desirability and legality. Rule of law requires that the legal examination of these rules, albeit challenging, insulate itself from the din of propriety and desirability surrounding these rules.