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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: Role of women

1) Critically comment on the role of women in agriculture in India, especially in the light of recent farm crisis gripping the country. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Agriculture in India defines familial tradition, social relations and gender roles. Female in the agricultural sector, whether through traditional means or industrial, for subsistence or as an agricultural laborer, represents a momentous demographic group. Agriculture is directly tied to issues such as economic independence, decision-making abilities, agency and access to education and health services and this manner has created externalities such as poverty and marginalization, and compounded issues of gender inequality.

In rural India, the percentage of women who depend on agriculture for their livelihood is as high as 84%. Women make up about 33% of cultivators and about 47% percent of agricultural laborers. These statistics do not account for work in livestock, fisheries and various other ancillary forms of food production in the country. Rural Women form the most important productive work force in the economy India. Rural women often manage complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies. Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, engaging in trade and marketing, caring for family members and maintaining their homes. Many of these activities are not defined as “economically active employment” in national accounts but they are essential to the wellbeing of rural households.

In light of recent Agricultural crisis the various dimensions of woman and her role in Agriculture are:

  • Gender division of labor-

In India, the typical work of the female agricultural laborer or cultivator is limited to less skilled jobs, such as sowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting, that often fit well within the framework of domestic life and child-rearing. Many women also participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labor.

  • Time allocation-

In addition to rigorous agricultural work that is undervalued and underpaid, women are also responsible for the well-being of the household. They care for their children, provide nutrition or usually take part in subsistence agriculture, and do chores around the house.

  • Access to land and resources-

Critical resources such as land are also unevenly distributed by gender. Women seldom enjoy property ownership rights directly in their names. They have little control over decisions made in reference to land. Even with land in their names, they may not have actual decision-making power in terms of cropping patterns, sale, mortgage and the purchase of land

  • Biodiversity loss and its impact on woman-

The loss of biodiversity in India and specifically food crops is a serious concern of food security and sustainability of the agricultural sector in India. The connection between women farmers and environmental health is not simply for subsistence and survival. It also stems from a long existing cultural valuation of India’s agricultural fertility in ritual and practice.

  • Exclusion by agencies-

The traditional systematic denial of women as key producers in India’s agriculture causes them to often be overlooked in the research and study, thus further entrenching the exclusion of women in roles of agency.

  • Impact of Male migration-

Over the last decade, as farming became less and less profitable and small and marginal farmers began migrating to cities, rural jobs for full-time women daily-wage labourers (those who do not own land but work at least 183 days in a year in someone’s farm) in the agricultural sector have shrunk alarmingly.

Measures Taken by the Government for upliftment of Women in Agriculture Sector

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare implements various programmes of farmers including women in agriculture sector. As per directives for the Women Component Plan, the State Governments have been asked to ensure flow of funds to the tune of 30% for the benefit of women farmers.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)

The primary objective of Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) implemented by Ministry of Rural Development is to empower women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also create and sustain agriculture based livelihoods of rural women. Under the Pariyojana, projects are conceived in such a manner that the skill base of the women in agriculture is enhanced to enable them to pursue their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.


General Studies – 2

Topic:   Poverty and hunger

2) Evidence from the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) suggests that the infant mortality rate (IMR), an important summary measure of a country’s health, saw a marked improvement over the past decade. Examine the reasons behind this success. (200 Words)



Details on NFHS:

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India. Three rounds of the survey have been conducted since the first survey in 1992-93. The survey provides state and national information for India on fertility, infant and child mortality, the practice of family planning, maternal and child health, reproductive health, nutrition, anemia, utilization and quality of health and family planning services. Each successive round of the NFHS has had two specific goals: a) to provide essential data on health and family welfare needed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other agencies for policy and programme purposes, and b) to provide information on important emerging health and family welfare issues.


Definition of infant mortality rate (IMR):

Infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age. The rate for a given region is the number of children dying under one year of age, divided by the number of live births during the year, multiplied by 1,000.

Infant mortality rate was an indicator used to monitor progress towards the Fourth Goal of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations for the year 2015. It is now a target in the Sustainable Development Goals for Goal Number 3 (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”).

Improvement in IMR

The infant mortality rate (IMR) saw a marked improvement over the past decade, declining from 57 per 1,000 live births in 2005-06 to 41 per 1,000 live births in 2015-16. The improvement over the past decade has been much faster than in the rest of the post-liberalization era. The IMR declined at a nearly constant pace of 2.5% per annum between 1992-93 and 2005-06. But the pace of decline accelerated over the past 10 years, with the IMR registering an annual decline of 3.24% per annum.


This positive trend has following reasons behind its success:

  • Increased public spending on health:

The percentage of total amount spend on the Health expenditure has increase in total GDP in recent years. This has resulted into reduced Infant mortality rate.

  • Increased literacy level:

As inferred from the empirical analysis of the data, it is evident that female literacy has sificant impact on Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). The analysis also points out that male literacy also plays a positive role particularly in the households where the nursing mother is illiterate.

  • Availability of health facilities:

The other major variable which plays a major role in reducing Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is availability of health facilities. It has to be taken into thoughtful consideration that the availability of health institutions and quality of service are major factors that have significant impact.

  • Employment opportunities:

Improvements in male employment and reductions in poverty also reduce infant mortality, but their quantitative impact is weak in comparison to the improvement in the women’s characteristics like literacy, workforce participation etc.

  • Technological interventions:

Technology has played very crucial role in the reduction of infant deaths. The use of technology to detect female feticide has shown good results as well. In general medical usages as well the technology has made improvements that have saved many lives.

  • Governments schemes:

Under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) the following programmes/schemes and awareness campaign is launched by the Government to reduce infant mortality rate:

  1. Establishment of Sick New Born Care Units at District Hospitals, newborn stabilization Units at Community Health Centres (CHCs) and New Born Care corners at 24×7 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) to provide new born and child care services.
  2. Navjaat Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (NSSK), a programme for training health care providers on essential newborn care and resuscitation.
  • Home Based New Born Care (HBNC) through ASHAs with series of home visits.
  1. Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) and Facility Based Integrate Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (F-IMNCI).


Topic:  Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

3) Critically comment on the changing role of Indian philanthropists in development. Suggest how design and impact of philanthropy in India can be improved. (200 Words)



Philanthropy means the love of humanity, in the sense of caring and nourishing; it involves both the benefactor in their identifying and exercising their values, and the beneficiary in their receipt and benefit from the service or goods provided. A conventional modern definition is “private initiatives, for the public good, are focusing on quality of life,” which combines an original humanistic tradition with a social scientific aspect developed in the 20th century.

Philanthropy has distinguishing characteristics charity; not all charity is philanthropy, or vice versa, though there is a recognized degree of overlap in practice. A difference commonly cited is that charity aims to relieve the pain of a particular social problem, whereas philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem

Indian Philanthropy A changing role:

Indian philanthropy, especially individual philanthropy, is at a critical point. India’s philanthropy market has matured considerably, particularly when it comes to contributions from individual philanthropists. Indeed, that the amount of funds coming from individual philanthropists has grown six fold in the past five years, from Rs6,000 crore in 2011 to Rs36,000 crore in 2016. Contributions from individual philanthropists have also grown faster than those coming from any other source, such as foreign aid, or from corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

3 Ps

Following aspects must be taken into design of philanthropic activities in order to create maximum positive impact

  • Differentiating in Direct and indirect intervention: Direct interventions have deeper impact in the short term and can be easily measured, indirect interventions usually offer more scope to scale up and provide sustainable solutions for the long term. The entire breadth of interventions are needed, though donors almost always start with direct interventions and then move on to indirect interventions as they become familiar with the lay of the land.
  • Right decision on areas for activities: Potential donor needs to decide where he wants his money to be spent, such as education, health, urban development etc. Once the areas gets decided, further micro planning is very crucial in order to get maximum benefits from money spent by philanthropist.
  • Focus on treating root cause of problem: Indian philanthropists have had the tendency of only spending insofar as the symptoms get treated. The culture need to be developed so that more and more money gets diverted towards eradicating root cause of particular problem.
  • Establishing proper feedback channel: The philanthropist should be given a proper feedback assuring him that his money is wells-spent. This shall help us shed the image of the development sector as inefficient, corrupt and full of unreasonable bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Ensuring transparency and accountability: The government needs to work on ensuring transparency and accountability. Dalberg study found that India has been unable to leverage the philanthropic potential of its diaspora, because the latter perceives the development sector to be corrupt and inefficient, and is overwhelmed by regulatory constraints and unfavorable tax policies.
  • Promoting role of NGOs: Along with individual brand philanthropy, it would be better if substantial funds are utilised through quality NGOs as well. This would encourage good performance provide credibility and also attract donations from ordinary individuals.

Socioeconomic context has changed, so have the demands of effective philanthropy as well. The new demands and multi stakeholder model of the philanthropy needs to be developed with proper integration of Indian requirements.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Awareness in space

4) Critically analyse features and feasibility of Tesla founder Elon Musk’s specific plans for the colonization of Mars. (200 Words)


Introduction :- Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has released new details of his vision to colonise parts of the solar system, including Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. His gung ho plans – designed to make humans a multi-planetary species in case civilisation collapses – include launching flights to Mars as early as 2023.

Critical analysis :-


  • In reality, the temperature on Mars drops from about 0°C during the day to nearly -120°C at night. Operating in such low temperatures is already extremely difficult for small landers and rovers. In fact, it is an issue that has been solved with heaters in the design for the 300kg Exo Mars 2020 rover – but the amount of power required would likely be a show-stopper for a “self-sustaining city”.
  • Musk doesn’t give any details for how to warm the planet up or compress the atmosphere – each of which are enormous engineering challenges. Previously, science fiction writers have suggested “terraforming” – possibly involving melting its icecaps. This is not only changing the environment forever but would also be challenging in that there is no magnetic field on Mars to help retain the new atmosphere that such manipulation would create. Mars has been losing its atmosphere gradually for 3.8 billion years – which means it would be hard to keep any such warmed-up atmosphere from escaping into space.
  • The final major problem is that there is no mention of radiation beyond Earth’s magnetic cocoon. The journey to and life on Mars would be vulnerable to potentially fatal cosmic rays from our galaxy and from solar flares. Forecasting for solar flares is in its infancy. With current shielding technology, just a round-trip manned mission to Mars would expose the astronauts to up to four times the advised career limits for astronauts of radiation. It could also harm unmanned spacecraft. Work is underway on predicting space weather and developing better shielding.
  • Making fuel on Mars and stations beyond it is something he also proposes, to make the costs feasible. Experiments towards this are underway, demonstrating that choosing the right propellant is key.
  • The Moxie experiment on the Nasa2020 rover will investigate whether we can produce oxygen from atmospheric CO2 on Mars. This may be possible. But Musk would like to make methane as well – it would be cheaper and more reusable. This is a tricky reaction which requires a lot of energy.
  • Yet, so far, it’s all fairly doable. But the plans then get more and more incredible. Musk wants to launch enormous spaceships into orbit around Earth where they will be refuelled several times using boosters launched from the ground while waiting to head to Mars. Each will be designed to take 100 people and Musk wants to launch 1,000 such ships in the space of 40 to 100 years, enabling a million people to leave Earth.
  • Musk doesn’t give any details for how to warm the planet up or compress the atmosphere – each of which are enormous engineering challenges. Previously, science fiction writers have suggested “terraforming” – possibly involving melting its icecaps. 
  • The final major problem is that there is no mention of radiation beyond Earth’s magnetic cocoon. The journey to and life on Mars would be vulnerable to potentially fatal cosmic rays from our galaxy and from solar flares. 
  • The final major problem is that there is no mention of radiation beyond Earth’s magnetic cocoon. The journey to and life on Mars would be vulnerable to potentially fatal cosmic rays from our galaxy and from solar flares. 


Topic: Awareness in biotechnology

5) The question of whether India should allow commercial production of GM crops has been one of the more enduring public policy debates over the last decade-and-a-half. In your opinion, how should promoters of GM foods convince general public and those who are opposing GM crops? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.




The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has recently given a green signal for further trials of genetically modified  mustard before making a final decision about the commercial cultivation of the crop. Unlike Bt brinjal, which had its roots in a gene developed by American multinational Monsanto, the GM mustard variety, technically called “ DMH 11”, has been developed by Delhi University ’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, led by Prof Deepak Pental.

The country has yet to approve commercial cultivation of a GM food crop. The only genetically modified cash crop under commercial cultivation in India is cotton.

  • Bt Cotton – For the time being, the only genetically modified crop that is under cultivation in India is Bt cotton which is grown over 10.8 million hectares. Bt cotton was first used in India in 2002.
  • Bt Brinjal – The GEAC  in 2007, recommended the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, which was developed by Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company) in collaboration with the Dharward University of Agricultural sciences and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. But the initiative was blocked in 2010.
  • GM Mustard – GEAC has recently given a go ahead for tests of GM mustard before taking a decision on commercialization.

Promoters of GM crop should convince people based on following arguments:-

The proponents, argue that the GM technologies have been around for about 15 years and they have been in use across the world including in countries such as Brazil and China. During a visit to India in March 2005, Norman Borlaug – widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution – supported producing genetically modified (GM) food to eradicate hunger from the world. “It is better to die eating GM food instead of dying of hunger,” said the Nobel laureate, who passed away in 2009.

  • Former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, saw biotechnology as key to food security and warned against succumbing to “unscientific prejudices”.
  • “The concerns over their (GM crops) perceived risks should be addressed by following internationally accepted procedures for assessing safety parameters. ICAR, which is involved in developing useful products and technologies in this field, must contribute to the public discourse and provide clarity on this sensitive issue,” – President Pranab Mukerjee.
  • Indian intelligence agency names anti-GM groups such as Greenpeace India and Gene Campaign as one of the many “anti-national” foreign-funded NGOs hampering India’s economic progress.
  • Agriculture scientists from research institutions including IARI, ICAR and various Universities demanding “field trials” for GM crops, arguing that “confined field trials are essential for the evaluation of productivity performance as well as food and environmental safety assessment”.
  • A group of prominent scientists had met under ‘father of green revolution’ MS Swaminathan at National Academy of Agricultural Sciences ( NASA) and issued a 15-point resolution in favour of GM crops.
  • “A brinjal crop normally requires up to 30 sprays of insecticides. This goes into the human consumption indirectly. If we grow and consume Bt brinjal, we will consume some of the genes that have been built into the seeds to make the crop pest- and herbicide-resistant. Ultimately, we have to see which of the two is less harmful for consumption” – S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, Punjab Agriculture University.


Following are the advantages of GM crops :-

  • Better Pest and Disease Resistance – Genetic modification of crops can produce varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases, reducing losses and lessening the dependence on pesticides. For example, a gene that gives resistance to a fungal infection in a wild plant can be inserted into a food plant that lacks this protection. The crop is then less susceptible to this disease.
  • Improved Stress Tolerance – Genes that give greater tolerance of stress, such as drought, low temperatures or salt in the soil, can also be inserted into crops. This can extend their range and open up new areas for food production.
  • Faster Growth – Crops can be altered to make them grow faster, so that they can be cultivated and harvested in areas with shorter growing seasons. This again can extend the range of a food crop into new areas or perhaps allow two harvests in areas where only one is currently practical.
  • More Nutritious Crops – Plants and animals can be engineered to produce larger amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, helping to solve nutrition problems in some parts of the world. They can also be altered to change the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and saturated and unsaturated fats that they contain. This could lead to the production of foods designed specifically for a healthy diet for all consumers.
  • Production of Medicines and Vaccines by Crops – It may be possible to have plants and animals produce useful medicines and even vaccines, so that prevention and treatment of human diseases in some places can be achieved cheaply and efficiently through the diet.
  • Resistance to Herbicides – Crops can be modified to be resistant to specific herbicides, making it much easier to control troublesome weeds. Farmers can simply apply the weed killer to a crop field, killing the unwanted plants and leaving the food crop unaffected. For example, GM oilseed rapeseed – the source of canola oil – is resistant to one chemical that’s widely used to control weeds.
  • Better Tasting Foods – Foods can be engineered to taste better, which could encourage people to eat more healthy foods that are currently not popular because of their taste, such as broccoli and spinach. It may be possible to insert genes that produce more or different flavours as well.


Topic:  Indian economy 

6) Why are companies giving huge offers on products and scrambling to clear old stock ahead of GST implementation? Examine. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Ever since the Goods and Services Tax Council began releasing the rates on various items in May, companies ranging from e-commerce platforms and car manufacturers to apparel retailers and phone manufacturers have been bombarding registered customers and other recipients with messages, emails, and phone calls, offering attractive discounts valid till June 30, a day before the GST kicks in.

Reasons behind these things :-

  • In short these factors include- expectations of change in future prices, stringency of government laws and tax complexity.
  • For instance- if companies, like luxury car makers for example, feel that the prices of their products will go down in the new tax regime, then they have two reasons to get rid of their current stock.
  • Discount will be crafted in such a way that even the discounted price is higher than the likely price of the car post-July 1. Now most experts feel that the cost of a luxury car — to be taxed at 28% plus a 15% cess — will come down by about 1.5-4.5% under the GST. That works out to Rs. 75,000-Rs. 2, 25,000 on a Rs. 50 lakhs car.
  • Companies are quite sceptic about the Governmental action against ‘Profiteering’, meaning benefiting from a reduction in tax rates that have not been passed on to customers. The penalties are strict, including a fine and a possible cancellation of the company’s registration.
  • Again another important factor is, during GST regime costs of some commodities will go high and people will be in search of substitute goods. So demand will fall and thus supply will also be diminished and the economic fate of the respective company will get affected.
  • The stock clearance sale could also have been prompted by a lack of clarity on what will happen to the old stock — products that were bought before the GST but need to be sold after its implementation. The government rules that this complexity will be settled down by considering the following key factors that- whether the company was a registered tax payer before the GST, whether it is a first/second stage dealer or an importer.

To avoid these hassles-suspense-ambiguities, the companies have become more inclined towards ‘June Rush’.