Print Friendly, PDF & Email




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:  Salient features of Indian society; 

1) Tolerance is said to be one of the salient features of Indian society. In your opinion, why are Indians more tolerant? Is this tolerance under threat? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Toleration is the acceptance of an action, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with, where one is in a position to disallow it but chooses not to. It has also been defined as “to bear or endure” or “to nourish, sustain or preserve” or as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry” too.

Toleration in India is often linked only with the religious issues but it must be practiced in wide dimensions of thoughts, opinions, rights, living styles etc

Why are Indians more tolerant :-

  • Hinduism way of life of majority people :- Hindutva was not a religion, but a way of life and a state of mind. Unlike many other major religions (this is especially the case for Islam and Christianity), there is no expectation or obligation on the adherents to propagate the faith to new followers or converts. This is a core reason for Hinduism’s inherent tolerance: Hindus usually have no reason to believe that the way proposed by another faith is false. So potentially multiple ways, including those proposed by other faiths, could be legitimate. This too is in sharp contrast to many other major religions, which do mandate a firm adherence  to a strictly laid path (often with a single book, a single founder)  and tend to reject other belief systems. 
  • Historical reasons :- India is a melting pot of civilisations. It was never an aloof country and kept its door wide open for every foreigner right from shaka, Kushana to Islamic invaders like Mohummad Ghori, Mughal dynasty etc.
  • India birthland of many religions :- Many important religion of world like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism were originated in India. All of them taught principles of toleration and mutual respects for each others. Also hundreds of heterodox sects were also originated in India.
  • Geographical factors :- India is surrounded by seas on three side and situated at major trade routes between east and west ex Silk route. Many traders, foreign travellers visited this land like Morco Polo, Al Beruni, Fa Hein, Ibna Batuta since ancient times and introduced different cultural elements which got mingled into Indian society making people tolerant for differences and variations.
  • Diversity :- Hundreds of different religions, languages, sects, dress styles, festivals, cultures, folk traditions makes India a diverse and unique country which also pushes toleration in order to ensure survival of all.
  • National Freedom Movement :- It played very important role in generating the feeling of One Nation on the basis of toleration. Our forefathers ensured that we practice it in our very nerve and vein. They set high examples in it. Gandhiji’s satyagraha was example of toleration even to foreign rule, Nehru carved out his first cabinet out of diverse parties and opinions even with those who were most critical to him. Even our constitution was framed in most possible free manner by incorporating freedom of speech, expression, religion by our constitution makers.

Intolerance stems from an invincible assumption of the infallibility and truth of one’s beliefs, the dogmatic conviction about the rightness of one’s tenets and their superiority over others, and with the passage of time, this leads to forcible imposition of one’s ideology on others, often resulting in violence.

Consider some events they shows that tolerance is under threat in India :-

  • Salman Rushdie is driven out of Mumbai by protests at his presence organised by Samajwadi Party hooligans and extremist Muslim groups.
  • Taslima Nasreen is not only obliged to live in hiding, but the Communist Government of West Bengal claims it is unable to protect her, and a Congress Union Minister from that State, once a byword for liberal culture and intellectual freedom, demands that she apologise “with folded hands” to her tormentors.
  • India’s Picasso, M.F. Husain, a national treasure, spends his 90s in exile in Dubai and London because he cannot stand the harassment of multiple lawsuits that have been filed against him and fears he cannot set foot in his native land without being hauled off to a police lock-up.
  • A not too recent instance was the determined effort to ban the exhibition of the film Ore Oru Gramathiley by a group of persons who regarded its theme and presentation as hostile to the policy of reservation of jobs in public employment and seats in educational institutions in favour of Scheduled Castes and backward classes. There were threats of attacking cinema houses where the film would be shown.
  • There is emerging and aggressive emphasis on culture of ‘ism’ may it be regionalism, linguism, communalism, secessionism and may it be jingoism. They are seen as attacks on the tolerant fabric of nation.

However such incidences can’t be taken as regular norm in society. India is home to second largest Muslim population in world, our constitution and judiciary defend freedom of thought, expression to its greatest extent, support and protest by civil society like recently organised Not in my name campaign shows tolerance is very much alive in India. It can be said the India is a tolerant country with a few intolerant people.

The problem with tolerance is that it’s an independent, individual choice and cannot be forced onto anyone. It is also a deeply patronising value. Its exercise rests on perceptions an individual possesses about another community and its implementation then becomes a matter of individual dispensation and benevolence.

Conclusion :- An unmistakable feature of any nation which professes to be democratic is the prevalence of tolerance therein. Tolerance is not merely a goody-goody virtue. It is vital because it promotes the receiving or acknowledging of new ideas and this helps to break the status quo mentality. Tolerance is particularly needed in large and complex societies comprising people with varied beliefs, as in India. This is because readiness to tolerate views other than one’s own facilitates harmonious coexistence.  Let us resolve to promote tolerance in our multi-religious, multi-cultural nation and thereby strengthen and enrich our pluralist democracy which is the pride of our nation.


General Studies – 2


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

2) Critically evaluate role of Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in accelerating the empowerment of SC/STs. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) are two policy instruments that are expressly designed at undoing the baneful hierarchies of the past, accelerate the empowerment of SC/STs and further the vision of an equitable society. Specifically, the SCSP and TSP guidelines of the erstwhile Planning Commission mandate that public resources towards SC/ST welfare must be earmarked in proportion to their share in the total population. Accordingly, the government must allocate at least 16.6 per cent of the plan component of the budget towards the welfare of SCs and 8.6 per cent of the plan component of the budget towards the welfare of STs.

Scheduled Caste Sub Plan :-

Under the Scheduled Castes Development Bureau, the Ministry implements Schedules Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) which is an umbrella strategy to ensure flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from all the general sectors of development for the benefit of Scheduled Castes. Under the strategy, States/UTs are required to formulate and implement Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes as part of their Annual Plans by earmarking resources. At present 27 States/UTs having sizeable SC population are implementing Schedules Caste Sub-Plan.

Objective of the Scheme

  • The main objective is to give a thrust to family oriented schemes of economic development of SCs below the poverty line, by providing resources for filling the critical gaps and for providing missing vital inputs so that the schemes can be more meaningful. Since the schemes / programmes for SCs may be depending upon the local occupational pattern and the economic activities available, the Sates/UTs have been given full flexibility in utilizing SCA with the only condition that it should be utilized in conjunction with SCP and other resources available from other sources like various Corporations, financial institution etc.
  • State Government have been given flexibility in choice of schemes to be implemented out of Special Central Assistance, within the overall frame work of the scheme.

Special Central Assistance

  • Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) is a central scheme under which 100% grant is given to the States/UTs as an additive to their Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP).


Tribal sub plan :-

  • The basic objective of Tribal Sub-Plan is to channelise the flow of outlays and benefits from the general sectors in the Central Ministries/Departments for the development of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes at least in proportion to their population, both in physical and financial terms.
  • The Mid Term Appraisal of the Eleventh Plan has noted that several Central Ministries/Departments have not earmarked adequate funds to TSP, proportionate to the share of STs in the population.
  • The broad objectives of the TSP are as follows:
  • Substantial reduction in poverty and un-employment.
  • Creation of productive assets in favour of Scheduled Tribes to sustain the growth likely to accrue through development efforts.
  • Human resource development of the Scheduled Tribes by providing adequate educational and health services, and Provision of physical and financial security against all types of exploitation and oppression.
  • The Tribal Sub-Plans are integral to the Annual Plans as well as Five Year Plans, making provisions therein non-divertible and non-lapsable, with the clear objective of bridging the gap in socio-economic development of the STs within a specified period

They have played important role in empowerment of SC/ST:-

  • Excusive dedicated funds for these communities ensured reduction in poverty, creation of necessary service delivery to them, creation of assets and welfare schemes for these sections of population
  • It helped in bridging gap between these marginalised communities and other sections of society. It also provided direct benefit to the members of these communities by implementing specifically targeted schemes for their development
  • It ensured a separate unit for proper implementation of the targeted schemes under SCSP and TSP. Every ministry now has to declare their SCSP and STSP compositions, which create an atmosphere of focus towards these sections.

However they are not able to make a visible impact :-

  • These plans don’t enjoy any statutory mandate hence their implementation is half hearted.
  • There is decline in the earmarked expenditure in violation of the guidelines given by the erstwhile Planning Commission. With Central Ministries/departments turning deaf ears to the repeated call for better implementation by the Planning commission
  • Hardly any ministry is showing its SCSP/TSP outlay under a separate budget head
  • There is no definiteness and strictness in the plan that what are the areas where these funds should be used or spent.
  • There is Violation of Jadhav Committee guidelines in identifying the targeted schemes for SC/STs and wrongly mentioning non-targeted schemes under SCSP and TSP.

Conclusion :- Considering the responsibility of the government to ensure welfare of its people, especially marginalized communities, the loopholes need to be addressed at the earliest to facilitate hassle-free implementation of these schemes. Appointing a nodal authority at the Centre to regularly review the implementation of SCSP and TSP, giving it statutory status and annual evaluation of its impact can be a step forward.


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

3) Under the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890, the Sikkim-Tibet border was agreed upon and in 1895 it was jointly demarcated on the ground. Why should there be any dispute and why should this lead to a stand-off between the armed forces of the two countries, as seen today? Critically examine. (200 Words)


Introduction :- Of the entire 3,488km Sino-Indian border, the only section on which both countries agree that there is no dispute is the 220km Sikkim-Tibet section of the boundary. This is because under the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1890, the Sikkim-Tibet border was agreed upon and in 1895 it was jointly demarcated on the ground.


History would thus indicate that the present stand-off between India and China over the Sikkim-Tibet boundary is nothing new. The latest episode started on 16 June when a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) road construction party entered Doklam area, despite Bhutanese attempts to dissuade them. 

Reasons for new standoff :-

  • The Chinese decision to cancel the Kailash Mansarovar yatrathrough Nathu La is a piece of theatrics by which they hope to keep the issue alive in the public domain. Nothing more. The timeline of initiating this incident indicates a high level of pre-planning, possibly at senior levels of the PLA as well as the Chinese government. 
  • The Chinese are probably hoping to drive a wedge between Bhutan and India and to break the steadfast support that each gives to the other. To recall, Bhutan was the only South Asian state that did not participate at the 14-15 May Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, along with India.
  • To seek an Indian withdrawal as a pre-condition for talks indicates the desire to “puncture” the strong and decisive image of the Indian leadership.
  • The Chinese also wish to demonstrate that, unlike in the past, no other great power will come to the aid of India and therefore no matter how much bonhomie is shown in Washington, India will have to deal with China on its own.

Conclusion :- There is no question of India bending to Chinese “demands”, for like in 1967, it must stand its ground firmly. That would be a sufficient lesson for the Chinese that the Indian Army is no pushover and this is perhaps the only way to deal with a China that likes to flaunt its economic and military prowess.


General Studies – 3

Topic:  Effects of liberalization on the economy

4) Does privatisation serve the public interest? In the light of recent decision of the union government to privatise Air India, critically comment. (200 Words)


The Indian Express

Introduction :- Privatization is a broad concept and its meaning goes slightly different in different countries. Privatization generally refers to inducing private sector participation in the management and ownership of Public Sector Enterprises.

In a narrow sense, privatization implies induction of private ownership in state owned enterprises. It is the process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency, public service or public property from the public sector (a government) to the private sector, which usually operates for a profit.

Privatization in the global context

Privatization was a global trend in the late 1980s and early 1990s to reform the loss making and inefficient public sector enterprises. In countries with many state-owned enterprises, including developing countries, post-socialist countries, and countries of Western Europe, privatization is the transfer of enterprise ownership in whole or in part from the state to private hands. This is often referred as denationalization and “destatization.

Why there is the need for privatization?

One of the main arguments for the privatization of publicly owned operations is the estimated increases in efficiency that can result from private ownership and business practices. The increased efficiency is thought to come from the greater importance that the private firms make on profit maximization.

Privatization in India

India is a mixed economy with both the private sector and the public sector performing various activities in accordance with regulations. But the public sector was affected by inefficiencies and incompetence in a non-sustainable manner by 1991. The New Industrial Policy of 1991 contained several reform measures for the public sector. Some of them are selling of loss making units to the private sector, inviting private participation in PSEs, and strategic sale. Some of these reform measures included privatization in a low degree.

In India, hence privatization was in a unique form in accordance with the priorities of our mixed economy and as well as by considering operational aspects of the PSUs. Privatization in the country was launched mainly to enhance the efficiency of the public sector enterprises as well as to concentrate the operation of the public sector in priority areas.

The degree of privatisation in India 

Following the industrial policy of 1991, the government has adopted disinvestment, strategic sale of minority shares to private partners and selling of loss making units to the private sector.  Some of the chronically loss making units were either sold –off, or closed after all workers got their legitimate dues and compensation. Selling of loss making units and strategic sale imply full privatization as the company’s ownership is transferred to a private entity. But the main form of inviting private participation was disinvestment which results in transfer of minority shareholding to the general public, at the same time the government maintaining 51% share. The sale of minority stake to private sector has enabled the government to inject competitive and efficient private sector business practices in government enterprises.

Case of Air India :-

What is the gravest charge against Air India – that it is not profitable and it is being crushed under a mountain of debt to the tune of Rs.52, 000 crores? Air India made an operating profit of Rs 105 crore and a net loss after tax of Rs 3,836.77 crore in the 2015-16 fiscal. In the current year, Air India is projected to earn an operating profit of Rs 300 crore and net loss after tax of Rs 3,643 crore.

Does it serve public interest :-

  • According to privatization’s supporters, this shift from public to private management is so profound that it will produce a panoply of significant improvements: boosting the efficiency and quality of remaining government activities, reducing taxes, and shrinking the size of government. In the functions that are privatized, they argue, the profit-seeking behavior of new, private sector managers will undoubtedly lead to cost cutting and greater attention to customer satisfaction.

Arguments in its opposition :-

The abuse of the ‘public interest’

Those who have opposed privatisation argue that the public utilities were nationalised in the first place in the public interest. The utilities are products and services that are essential to all members of the general public. A private company in charge of one of these industries, interested only in profit, is likely to close down or marginalize unprofitable elements of its operations (e.g. cutting expensive remote services like phone boxes in the Shetlands). As nationalised companies, unprofitable but essential services continue through cross-subsidisation; unprofitable services being subsidised by the profitable services.

The natural monopolies argument

As we said earlier (in the ‘monopoly’ Learn-It), competition in industries that are natural monopolies wastes resources. The government avoided this problem in most cases by selling off industries in one go to one company. Unfortunately, this meant that the government had simply transformed an inefficient state run monopoly into a slightly more efficient but privately run monopoly with no competitive pressures. The whole point of privatisation was to allow competition to occur. In most cases this was difficult precisely because the industries in question were natural monopolies. Hence, all the utilities have regulators who make sure these privatised monopolies do not take liberties with their customers. Having said all that, many of the very monopolistic utilities have had competition forced upon them in the late 90s (e.g. gas, electricity and even water to a certain extent).

The problem of externalities

Unexpectedly, all of the utilities create negative externalities (via pollution, spoiling the environment, etc.) It can be argued that as public sector companies, the government can regulate output and make sure that it is at the socially optimal level (i.e. allow for externalities). In the private sector, maximisation of profit is the only concern, so a socially damaging level of externalities will occur. It should be noted, though, that the government could still achieve a socially optimal output level by subsidising/taxing the privatised utilities until the desired outcome is achieved (see the topic called ‘market failure’ if you are muddled).

The redistribution of wealth

One can argue that the increasing inequality of the eighties was, in part, due to privatisation. The government was selling off state assets (owned by everyone) to a wealthier subset of the population, thereby increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Although it can be argued that the poorer have gained through improved services (e.g. BT), this is not true of all utilities and those at the top end have got ridiculously wealthy.

The loss of economies of scale

One of the major advantages of nationalised industries is that their sheer size allows them to take advantage of economies of scale. Privatisation normally involves the break-up of a large entity into many smaller ones. This was particularly true with the railways. These smaller units will not be able to take advantage of economies of scale in the way that British Rail could in the past.

Job losses

Privatisation forces the new private companies to be efficient, or at least find some way of reducing their costs in order to make a profit given the strict pricing formulae used by the regulators (see later). By far the most popular way of cutting costs for these firms was to shed labour in large quantities. Productivity definitely rose in these industries, but was it due to increased efficiency via improved management, etc., or just a similar output being produced by fewer workers?

Conclusion :- Privatization seems to be a bold move but not a panacea to sole all the problems. Air India privatization is paramount but it is important for government to not solely handover the fate of aviation sector in hands of private players and maintain sufficient regulation/control to restrain monopolism in this sector.


Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

5) Fresh evidence of loss of forest cover in the Indian Sundarbans, which represent a third of the largest contiguous mangrove ecosystem in the world, has been documented in scientific studies. Examine the causes of this loss, measures needed to revers this loss and ecological cost of not doing anything about this loss. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The mangrove forest cover in the Indian Sunderbans has been depleting alarmingly over the past few decades. The fragile ecosystem of the Indian Sunderbans that, other than being home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, also harbours a population of 4.5 million people.

Extent of the loss-

  • Mangrove Forest Cover Changes in Indian Sundarban (1986-2012) Using Remote Sensing and GIS, a publication by the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, reveals that from 1986 to 2012, 124.418 sq. km. mangrove forest cover has been lost.
  • The total forest cover of the Indian Sunderbans as assessed by remote sensing studies for the year 1986 was about 2,246.839 sq. km., which gradually declined by 2,201.41 sq. km. in 1996, then down to 2168.914 sq km in 2001 and to 2122.421 sq km in 2012. The loss in the mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans is about 5.5 %.

Causes of the loss-

  • Agriculture expansion and Aquaculture- Growing human population with few alternative livelihood opportunities poses a serious threat to the mangrove forest. A large faction of mangroves in Sunderban is being destroyed due to aquaculture and agriculture expansion. Many mangrove fields have been cleared off and embankments have been formed particularly for paddy cultivation.
  • Cutting mangroves for timber, fuel and charcoal- Because of high calorific value of mangrove wood and high strength people are destroying mangroves for firewood, charcoal and timber collection. Mangrove wood is highly suitable for chipboard and paper industry. So due to its industrial value forests were cleared annually for these purposes. Due to illegal cutting, encroachment of forest areas and illegal poaching of wildlife, the mangrove forest is losing biodiversity in an alarming rate.
  • Pollution- This forest ecosystem also has become vulnerable to pollution, which may have changed the ecosystem’s biogeochemistry.
  • Natural calamities- Frequent occurrences of tropical cyclones, storms and tsunamis have damaged the mangroves sunderban in India.
  • Reduction in fresh water and tidal water flows- Mangroves are well established in areas where there is good amount of fresh water inflow. Dam and barricade construction on upper portion of rivers reduces fresh water flow into mangrove swamps. Embankment construction and siltation at the river mouth obstruct tidal water flow in to mangrove swamps. Reduction in fresh water and tidal water inflow increases the salinity of these areas, resulting in poor germination, growth and regeneration of mangroves.
  • Climate change and rise in sea water- Climate change and sea rise- climate change and sea level rise has contributed to the phenomenon of losing land, including mangrove forests in the Sundarbans, in the last part of the 21st century. Critical minimal inflow of freshwater is necessary for the luxuriant growth of mangroves.

For instance- The mean sea level rise at the Sagar Island Station, measured from 1985 onward till 2010, shows a rise by 2.6-4 mm a year, which can be considered a driving factor for coastal erosion, coastal flooding, and an increase in the number of tidal creeks that have affected the mangroves.

Measures needed to reverse this loss-

  • Creating awareness – People of the area should be made aware about the issues faced by the Sundarbans. The farmers and their families need to be made to understand that they should embrace the issues or changes that they are facing. They should be made aware of the consequences of man-made hazards like deforestation etc. 
  • Joint efforts by India and Bangladesh – A joint meeting to save the Sundarbans should be organized between both the countries. It should involve eminent people like scientists or environmentalists and NGO’s. The meeting should develop an action plan and should be monitored periodically. 
  • Public -Private partnership – Various international organizations, NGO’s or other banks should come forward to grant the funds to save Sundarbans. The local communities should be provided with funds so that they can consume other sources of nourishment. A regular auditing on the usage of the fund will be very helpful. 
  • Encouragement to eco-tourism– The local communities should be a participant of the friendly tourism practices in order to encourage eco-tourism. A community based eco-tourism model should be developed which would aim to benefit the whole of the community. 
  • Creating alternative sources of livelihood – Both the governments of India and Bangladesh should introduce alternatives for income generation so that the local people need not depend on the mangrove forest resources. People living nearby the mangrove forests depend on the firewood, meat, fish etc. 
  • Legislative measures– Impressive legislative measures should be undertaken and implemented by both the governments of India and Bangladesh. A frequent check should be carried out in order to check whether the rules are implemented or not. The neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, China etc should also contribute in whichever way they can to improve the condition of the Sundarbans.
  • Effective use of IT– The Information Technology should be utilized effectively to spread the awareness regarding the issue of Sundarbans. Students should be provided with an opportunity to take part in the contests like essay writing, brochure designing etc related to the topic of Sundarbans. This will inculcate in them a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc should spread the message of saving the Sundarbans. 
  • Mangrove plantation– The plantation of mangrove forests should be encouraged because it will capture the rate of coastal erosion. Mangrove plantation would increase the survival of the Sundarbans. Unless such large scale measures involving the people are taken, Sundarbans might disappear from the maps of both the countries. 
  • Responsibility of the Localities– Apart from the Center and State government initiatives, the local communities themselves has to take up some action plan. The people can adopt the concept of backyard farming instead of using the salinated lands. At times, the salinated lands might be used by the people. In such cases, the Central or state government should provide the seeds that would grow in the salinated lands. The local community should concentrate on preserving and protecting the wildlife especially the endangered species like the Bengal Tiger etc. 

Ecological cost of not taking any measures-

  • Exposure to cyclones, hurricanes and sea water intrusion- The ability of mangroves to provide protection against tropical storm surges has been debated since 1970. Extensive tracts of mangroves can protect adjacent land and human populations from storm surges of water caused by high intensity coastal storms and hurricanes. A healthy mangrove forest can also prevent salt water intrusion preventing damage of freshwater ecosystems and agricultural areas. Mangrove forests reduce the fury of cyclonic storms and gales and minimize the effect of the rising of sea level due to global warming 

Thus by not taking any measures and risking the loss of mangroves, Sunderbans which hosts varied biodiversity and 4.5 million population are increasingly getting vulnerable to the cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural hazards.

  • Carbon sequestration in mangroves and climate change- Mangrove forests play a major role in carbon cycle in removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in plant materials. They also have important roles in sustaining tropical and subtropical coastal productivity and sequester large amounts of carbon below ground. Mangroves are among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics and their carbon sequestration potential is estimated to be up to 50 times greater than tropical terrestrial forests. 

Loss of mangroves by clearing, conversion for aquaculture and other anthropogenic activities lead to changes in soil chemistry resulting in rapid emission rates of GHGs, especially CO2.

Thus, failing to preserve mangrove forests can cause considerable carbon emissions and lead to climate change. Although the contribution of mangroves to global carbon sequestration is very low, their contribution to carbon burial in global coastal ocean is high.

  • Mangrove sacred groves: Traditional conservation- Traditional conservation of forests through sacred groves in India has been practised since very long. Sacred groves are the forest patches protected by a community for their religious beliefs. These forest patches are restricted for logging and hunting.

Loss of mangroves can deprive local communities of their sacred religious groves and in turn reduce their conservation efforts.


India and Bangladesh should act as responsible neighbors in order to prevent the Sundarbans from vanishing away. Both the countries should learn from their past mistakes and bring some development changes to the conservation of biodiversity of Sundarbans. 


Topic: Energy; Planning

6) Discuss the significance of recently unveiled Open Acreage Licensing and the National Data Repository policies. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The recently unveiled Open Acreage Licensing Policy and the National Data Repository together are a significant and welcome step towards opening up the hydrocarbon exploration and production industry in India.

Significance of the Open Acreage Licensing policy-

  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government. By placing greater discretion in the hands of explorers and operators, the Licensing Policy attempts to address a major drawback in the New Exploration Licensing Policy, which forced energy explorers to bid for blocks chosen by the government. 
  • Companies can now apply for particular areas they deem to be attractive to invest in, and the Centre will put those areas up for bids. This is more attractive for prospective operators because in the past, the blocks chosen by the government often were large swathes of land or sea in which only a small fraction had hydrocarbon reserves.
  • By offering companies the freedom to choose exactly the areas they want to explore, and their size, the government has a better chance to woo serious energy investors in an effort to help achieve a more cohesive framework of the country’s energy security. 
  • Private sector would now take active part in the exploration of the hydrocarbons which ultimately increase India’s total hydrocarbon production and would minimize its dependence on foreign sources.
  • There are plans to conduct the auctions twice a year in current scenario; the frequency could be increased as soon as the industry grows accustomed to the new system. This, too, will lend more flexibility to the industry.

Significance of the National Data Repository policies-

  • Along with open acreage policy, there is the National Data Repository, which is envisaged as a centralised database of geological and hydrocarbon information that will be available to all. 
  • NDR will primarily safeguard national E&P data asset and shall help and promote exploration and production activities in India. This will further streamline all associated procedures, policies and workflows pertaining to data submission, data cataloguing and data viewing, data retrieval and data trading for allconcerned quarters pertaining to E&P domain including stack holders, industries, government agencies, academia and research communities.
  • NDR will store and maintain hydrocarbon exploration & production data in a safe and reusable manner, in perpetuity. The data shall be preserved in accordance with generally accepted NDR standards, and made available to entitled users.
  • Besides allowing potential investors to make informed decisions, this will open up a new sector in India. There are a number of companies around the world that make it their business to simply explore hydrocarbon basins and sell the information they gather. The new initiative seeks to incentivise such prospectors.
  • Companies may also submit applications through the year and not just at designated and often infrequent points, as was the case earlier.
  • Having an NDR for India will enhance prospects of petroleum exploration and facilitate the Bidding Rounds by improving the availability of quality data. With this action, India will be joining the league of countries that have an NDR and can compete effectively in the hydrocarbon exploration and production sector.

Some concerns-

However, there are still some concerns about the implementation of the overall Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy.

  • The policy awards an extra five points to bidders for acreage if they have already invested in the exploration and development of that area, but it is doubtful if this is enough of an incentive, since the investment needed to simply explore is significant. By contrast, no such preference is given to mineral explorers while auctioning mining rights — instead, a revenue-share from mining operations is their recompense for exploration efforts. This could be considered for the hydrocarbon sector as well.
  • Another concern is whether India can attract enough investment to meet the government’s objective of reducing oil imports by 10% by 2022, especially given the past experience investors have had with large projects such as KG-D6. There are after all proven reserves in other parts of the world, such as the Gulf of Mexico, that could still keep investor appetite for Indian acreage weak.


Though there are some concerns, OAP and NDR are steps in right direction after policy paralysis that witnessed in the previous decade. Government should incentivize and encourage private sector in other areas too where government is lacking to develop on its own.


Topic: Conservation; Irrigation systems

7) Examine the merits and demerits of raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The Narmada Control Authority decided on June 17, 2017 to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam to its full height, by ordering the closure of 30 gates. It was announced in time with the arrival of the monsoon. Once the dam is at its full height, it is estimated that it will submerge one town and at least 176 villages, displace close to 20,000 families, flood productive agricultural land, and destroy hundreds of acres of biodiverse forest.


  • The increased height would enable irrigation of lands in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, which receive an annual rainfall of 50-75 cm and that also sporadic and highly variable.
  • States of Gujarat and Rajasthan face deep water crisis particularly during summer months. The proposed step could significantly resolve the drinking water crisis.
  • Developed irrigation facilities would decrease the dependence on erratic monsoons and helps in bringing prosperity in agriculture sector.
  • It will help in increasing the generation capacity of hydro-electric power plants.
  • Manufacturing in the area will receive a fillip and bring about economic development.


  • Siltation constitutes one of the biggest challenges to the long-term success of this dam. The steep slopes of the Narmada valley are prone to erosion. Apart from directly reducing water storage capacity, siltation also decreases water capacity due to increased evaporation loss. As a result, the capacity to generate hydropower is affected. A dam choked with silt creates a river prone to risky situations of potential flooding in the backwaters.
  • Compensation to the displaced, when given, has often come in the form of land unsuitable for farming or living, located either on riverbeds at the risk of flooding, or in rocky areas which cannot be ploughed. Resettlement sites lack basic facilities: no wells, drinking water pipelines, or grazing land for cattle, let alone schools or road facilities. This leaves the once self-reliant people of the valley with no option but to work as daily wage labour and crowd into urban slums .
  • The Narmada valley is one of the most fertile ecosystems in India, brimming with biodiversity, and with abundant fish, birds and trees. The dams along the Narmada have changed this, blocking normal water flow, leading to downstream habitat change and impacting biodiversity.
  • The Narmada estuary, where the river meets the sea, has become increasingly saline because of the decrease in fresh water flow after the dams came up. Fish catch of some species has now declined by as much as 75%, signalling the almost complete collapse of the once famous fishing industry. Thousands of commercial and subsistence fishermen affected by this change are not classified as dam-affected though.
  • Also the other affected ones are the people who and industries which depended on the once-abundant supply of fresh water in the delta. (Water has now suddenly turned saline even to the depth of borewells.)
  • Further it would adversely affect the invisible tribal communities who depend on the lush forests of the valley, forests that will now be submerged. Only those who can produce evidence of losing homes or agricultural plots are counted as “project-affected”, and can lay claim to compensation.


There has to be right mix of policies that do not create trade-off between the developmental needs of different groups. There has to be a clear, transparent public accounting of livelihoods lost and jobs created, of profits accrued at the expense of great misery and injustice. Government should ensure that, under the name of development, large numbers of people are deprived of their livelihood and right to live life with dignity. The compensation measures should be in accordance with the lost worth and it should empower the people to live self-independent life.


General Studies – 4

Topic:  Ethics in public administration

8) Differentiate between prosecution and persecution. In your opinion, what should be the ideal role of a police officer in the Indian society? Comment. (150 Words)

The Indian Express


Difference between Prosecution and Persecution-


  • Prosecution, in law, refers to a legal procedure. It is defined as the institution and continuance of a criminal action that involves the process of pursuing formal charges against the defendant to final judgment. Simply put, Prosecution refers to the conducting of a lawsuit or court action.
  • Most often the term ‘Prosecution’ is associated with criminal cases wherein the government or state will file charges against a person accused of committing a crime. Thus, the legal team representing the government is generally referred to as the Prosecution. Their ultimate objective is to secure a conviction by proving beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.
  • However, the term ‘Prosecution’ can also refer to a judicial proceeding brought by one party against another, where the party initiating the action will prosecute the other for a particular wrong committed or violation of a right.


  • The term ‘Persecution’ is defined as the infliction of suffering or harm upon a person by reason of his/her religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political opinion, or social status. It is an intense form of abuse involving acts that amount to harassment, cruel or inhumane treatment or torment.
  • Persecution refers to the act of persecuting or the state of being persecuted. Thus, the act of persecuting refers to a mission or organized plan to segregate and harass a person or group of people based on either one or more of the reasons set out above. The group of people subjected to such harassment and experiencing the same constitutes the state of being persecuted.
  • An example of this is the Jewish Holocaust wherein the primary goal of the Nazi regime was the persecution and eradication of the Jewish race. Another example of Persecution was seen in the intense harassment and torment caused to minority groups in Rwanda and Somalia.

Ideal role of police officers in the Indian society-

  • In democratic states, policing should comply with the law, be accountable and respect human rights.
  • In a democratic society police must not be a law unto themselves. In spite of strong pressures and temptations to the contrary, they are not to act in an explicitly political fashion, nor to serve the partisan interests of the party in power, or the party they would like to see in power. Their purpose must not be to enforce political conformity. Holding unpopular beliefs or behaving in unconventional, yet legal, ways are not adequate grounds for interfering with citizen’s liberty. When opponents of democracy operate within the law police have an obligation to protect their rights, as well as the rights of others.
  • Police officers shall be unbiased and shall work without any fear or favor for the betterment of the society. They shall be impartial and non-partisan in their conduct. Eg During a riot situation, a police officer shall not arrest a person because of his/her religion but on the basis of evidence he/she possess.
  • Police officer shall display empathy to take holistic decisions in his service tenure. Empathy can help reduce juvenile delinquency and improve relationships between communities and police.
  • Police officer shall display exemplary courage in conduct of their duties. Eg. A police officer should lead his/her team from the front in case of any emergency such as riots, robbery or a terrorist attack.

In an open democratic society which respects the dignity of the individual and values voluntary and consensual behavior and the non-violent resolution of conflicts, police, with their secrecy and use of violence, are an anomaly. They are charged with using undemocratic means to obtain democratic ends. Police offer an ethical and moral paradox that will forever make democratic citizens uncomfortable.