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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:  Social empowerment; Art and culture

1) Discuss critically the significance of Dalit iconography such as statues of Ambedkar across India. (200 Words)


Introduction :- Iconography, as a branch of art history, studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. A secondary meaning is the production of religious images, called “icons”.  Dalit iconography refers to use of images, statues, paintings specially related to or of Dr . Ambedkar’s in order to assert their presence and keep the memories of it alive. Sculptor Brahmesh V Wagh first designed a statue of Ambedkar holding a copy of the Constitution in one hand and the other outstretched with a pointing index finger, which is now commonly seen across the country. The first time any iconography of Ambedkar had been placed in a public space was a bronze image on the south-east side of the Lok Sabha hall, New Delhi, in 1966.

Significance :-

  • Iconography helps people in recognising the glorious efforts, contributions made by the national leaders. It remind us about our responsibilities and duties towards them.
  • The politics of proliferating Dalit iconography is one of seeking visibility and asserting one’s right to access public spaces. making themselves (dalit’s) visible in the village cultural scape is the primary motive in erecting Dalit imagery at the entrance of their ghettos, apart from laying claim to public spaces. 
  • It is also to ascribe Dalit pride as a citizen of this land and nation by linking it with the Ambedkar’s immense contribution for the country.
  • Ambedkar as an icon has become a symbol of Dalit identity. Proliferation of his iconography as a vehicle of the socio political aspirations and assertions of Dalits in caste-ridden public places unravels a process of “deep politicisation” in Indian society

However such iconography also has it’s dark side :-

  • Clashes routinely erupt over such iconography given the upper castes’ fear of their threatened hegemony. Ex the recent Saharanpur clashes. It may lead to disturbance to social harmony, casteism and thereby to politicisation of issues. These can be easily targeted to spread hatred.
  • The affronted upper castes consider these assertions as a threat to their social dominance, historically legitimated and justified byvillage society. Thus, there are two kinds of political emotions at work, in the context of proliferating Dalit iconography, in the villages of north India: (i) Dalit emotions of self–pride at rising social visibility, and (ii) the upper castes’ fear over threatened hegemonic control. Consequently, violence is the outcome of these two political emotions engendered in the face of Dalit art and politics.
  • An effort at creating spaces of Dalit Bahujan pride was projected as a symbol of massive corruption and self-indulgence. Many a times people decried these acts as a waste of state resources and taxpayers’ money.

Conclusion :- Dalit Iconography has over the period helped in showcasing the aspirations of Dalit community but overemphasis on it and its aggressive push is not in much interest of people. Dr . Ambedkar himself was in oppose to it. What is required is diversifying the modes of preserving the values, cherished principles of great leaders and memorising their contribution. Opening libraries, study and research centres for their work, spreading awareness through museums will go in long run while giving voice to people belonging to them as well.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

2) Analyse the extent of regional disparities in income per capita in India, considering both disparities amongst and within major states. Also analyse how will GST affect regional disparity in incomes. (200 Words)


Introduction :- It is believed that a rising tide lifts all boats; unfortunately, this is not true about India. Economic development has enhanced divergence rather than fostering convergence. Inter- and intra-regional disparity has accentuated. The average Tamilian today earns four times more than the average Bihari. In another decade from now, it is likely that the per capita income of the richest state will be more than four times the per capita income of the poorest state. The richer states are getting richer while the poorer states are being left behind. 

12 largest states (Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, united Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha and Kerala) that account for more than 85% of India’s population and nearly 80% of annual gross domestic product (GDP). Beginning 1992, the divergence among India’s states began to skyrocket.

The following chart shows per capita income inequality among different states:-

2011 per capita income

While optimists believe that the recently launched GST may narrow those gaps, there are reasons for concern that these gaps may actually be widened further. GST positive role in minimising income inequality :-

  • It is argued that GST is a destination based tax hence the discriminatory factor of states having upper hand in manufacturing, industrial base is removed. Now even non industrialised and poor states can also be benefitted with increased revenue.
  • GST will usher era of one nation, one market hence will be important in removing the interstate trade barriers and making facilitation for growth of trade and economy.
  • GST will help in tax compliance, more effective revenue collection hence the centre will have fiscal consolidation thereby it can devolve more taxes to the backward and poor state hence will help in its growth.

The other side :-

per capita income

  • It is entirely plausible that with reduced policy levers (in terms of tax policy) at the level of the states, together with the existence of agglomeration economies and network effects, could actually exacerbate regional inequality.
  • The argument that GST will remove trade barriers and integrate market, economy is not much promising as the Economic Survey has already pointed out the high level of integration in economy.

income disparity

Case study :- Apple Inc. wants to set up a manufacturing plant in India, a very welcome development for investment- and job-starved India. Apple is negotiating for certain tax exemptions and in a pre-GST era, states would have competed with each other to offer these exemptions and throw in other incentives to attract Apple. In a GST regime, the ability of poorer Uttar Pradesh to wean Apple away from richer Karnataka using tax tools is even more diminished. To be sure, there are various other factors of governance, law and order, land and labour costs that will influence Apple’s choice of state. Perhaps states can still circumvent the GST spirit of one market one tax by offering cashbacks in lieu of GST as incentives to companies. Whichever way one expects this to play out, it is indubitably clear that with GST, Uttar Pradesh is in no better a position to attract Apple vis-à-vis Karnataka than it is without GST. So, GST at best will not have an impact on the current disturbing trend of income divergence of states or at worst will exacerbate it by removing a powerful fiscal tool of states.

Conclusion :- It is the underlying deeper factors such as higher private sector productivity, and better quality of governance (the latter is also highlighted by the survey) that distinguish leading from lagging states, these are factors that will not disappear simply because goods and people are on the move. Its also very early to gauge the impact of GST on per capita income inequality. Perhaps, in the fifth year of GST rollout, we can check to see if economic divergence has sharpened or narrowed and take corrective steps. Such steps might need to include region-specific subsidies to attract investment and jobs.


Topic:  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

3) According to the evidence presented in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and studies elsewhere, 11 years of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have not been able to make much of a dent in rural poverty. What innovative ways would you suggest to improve outcome of the MGNREGA? Discuss. (200 Words)



Introduction :- National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MGNREGA), is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

One of the major aim of MGNREGS was to increase wages, ensure food security, curb distress migration and thereby reduce poverty.

mgnrega & poverty

Officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a new report which found that the programme reduced poverty overall by up to 32 per cent and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty.

Still the act was not able to make much dent in rural poverty on expected line .

  • In its bi-annual India Development Update, the World Bank said that though the rural job guarantee scheme has an inbuilt self-targeting mechanism unlike the cash transfer scheme and has multiplier effects on economic activity, it entails high costs and participants have to forgo alternative income.
  • A study conducted by the World Bank in Bihar found that compared to a potential reduction in poverty by 14 percentage points because of the MGNREGS, actual impact on rural poverty is only about one percentage point.
  • According to the National Sample Survey data of 2009-10, 46% of households reported that one or more members of their households would have liked to work on the scheme and only 25% secured any work over the course of the year.
  • A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research and the University of Maryland found that nearly 60% of the poor participate in MGNREGA infrastructure projects in Chhattisgarh while barely 11% of poor households participate in Bihar due to lower capacity of local administration.

mgnrega innovativeness

Some innovative ways to improve outcome of MGNREGS :-


  • MGNREGS schemes could have been implemented much better through appropriate convergence with other poverty alleviation schemes, sanitation initiatives in an imaginative manner. Ex Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Linking the MGNREGS with the system of rice intensification (SRI), a technology practice known to increase yields while affecting significant savings in water use, seed and agrochemicals. SRI is labour intensive and lends itself to the prospect of including SRI as a permissible item under MGNREGS.


Case study :- The example of a village in the Nanded district of Maharashtra has shown recently. MGNREGA funds are being used in the Tembhurni village to construct the soak pits, called “magic” pits by the locals, behind every house in the village. As reported by the Times of India (2016), the four-foot-deep pits dug are making the usually overflowing open drains redundant, thus depriving mosquitoes of their breeding grounds. They are covered with a cement pipe that has four equidistant holes at the top. A layer of sand and fine gravel is spread under and around the pipe to allow the water to percolate slowly into the ground that suck in the waste water. Within a year, it had rendered the village free from mosquitos, against the backdrop of dengue, malaria and various other mosquito-borne diseases that severely continue to plague rural Maharashtra. Water flowing into the 200 soak pits gradually drains down into aquifers, recharging the groundwater level, and thereby eliminating water scarcity in the village.


Conclusion :- The poor do not overcome their poverty until they are empowered to do so, and empowerment comes only through education, health and acquisition of an employable skill set. Programmes like MGNREGA do not facilitate any of these and merely provide subsistence-level aid, which may alleviate their poverty only temporarily. In fact, instead of addressing the roots of poverty, they only perpetuate it by denying the poor the only tools—education, health and skill—that can eradicate poverty through generation of wealth in the economy and providing productive employment while ensuring economic growth.


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4) For the last 15 years, allocation to the child budget has remained stagnant at around 3% of the union budget. Do you think this amount is adequate to safeguard the health, nutrition, education and protection of India’s 434 million children? Critically analyse. (200 Words)



The persistence under-allocation of union budget for the children’s welfare has been critical issue in the development of India. India which boasts the largest number of children’s population in the world, has to make sure that every child receives quality education, better health facilities and space to enjoy childhood.

Is allocation of 3% of union budget sufficient for child budget?

Arguments in Favor-

  • Budget 2017–18 adheres to the norms of increased devolution to the states (recommended by 14th FC), and places the onus and accountability for allocating resources for children on the state governments. In the current administrative structure, large welfare schemes continue to be the main vehicles through which services and benefits reach children.
  • With the changes resulting from budgetary devolution and decentralization, state governments are expected to redesign and customize welfare schemes at the state level to amplify their reach and make them more inclusive, without compromising on the quality of services.

Arguments against-

  • Minimal allocation-

Children constitute the 34% of share of the total population. Against this the union budget allocates only 3% of the total budget to child budget.

  • Universalization of Anganwadis-

Anganwadis provide safe and secure environment for the healthy nourishment of the children. There are currently 62,970 posts of anganwadi workers that remain vacant and many anganwadis lack adequate infrastructural facilities, failing to provide quality preschool education and a safe and secure environment for children.

  • Various components of education neglected-

Components such as teacher training and investment in inspection and monitoring constitute a minuscule part of the school budget in all the states. The study also revealed that the mid-day meal (MDM) programme, an important component of the school education budget, has remained stagnant for most states barring Karnataka, where the share of MDM in the school education budget increased from 8.2% in 2012–13 to 9.5% in 2015–16 (BE).

  • Inadequate allocation to secondary level-

The Rashtriya Madhyamic Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) was launched in 2009 with the objectives of achieving 75% enrolment at the secondary level by 2015, universal access by 2017, and universal retention by 2020. While the targets were progressive and ambitious, the scheme has not been able to penetrate deeply at the state and district level and the progress has been sluggish due to under-allocation as well as underutilization of allocated budgets. India is still far from the targets of the RMSA, with only 33 of every 100 children enrolled managing to pass Class 12 age appropriately.    

Unless government invest adequately in secondary education and make efforts to universalize it, a few years from now, we will have a young labor force numbering 236 million, but not necessarily one that is educated and skilled.

  • Reduction in Budget for marginalized-

Majority of out-of-school children are from disadvantaged groups—SC, ST, Muslims, migrants, children with special needs, urban deprived children, working children, and children in other difficult circumstances.

Even though, the budget allocated for pre- and post-matric fellowships and hostels have decreased. The pre-matric scholarship for SC children has been slashed from `459 crore to `45 crore. Also, the allocation by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for an umbrella scheme for the education of Scheduled Tribe (ST) children has been reduced.

  • Investment in Child Protection –

Child protection, including prevention of exploitation and violence against children, has a small percentage of the overall budget. Child protection has seen an overall increase from 1.21% to 1.49% of the child budget. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) is one of the largest schemes, with rescue and prevention built into it through implementation of various child protection legislations. The increase in the ICPS budget has come after years of stagnation of the scheme at approximately `400 crore. Despite this increase the Child Protection remains under-allocated and neglected area.     

Recently introduced or revised policies and legislations on child protection, such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 and National Plan of Action for Children, 2016 need to be backed by a financial memorandum in order to realize their stated vision and objectives.

  • Inadequate allocation by states-

The additional budgetary investments by different states do not present a very encouraging picture either. Data shows that after the implementation of the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations, not all states have prioritized investment in ICDS. Some relatively economically powerful states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have in fact reduced or kept ICDS allocations stagnant.


Indian constitution obliges State to make incessant and unremitting efforts for the healthy development of children. If India is to reap the benefits of demographic dividend and achieve its full economic potential, it is imperative for the government to invest in children at the earliest.


General Studies – 3

Topic Disaster management

5) Karnataka government has opposed Centre’s move to change parameters for drought assessment. Discuss why. (200 Words)

Down to Earth


The Centre has issued a ‘Manual for Drought Management’ in December 2016 and replaced the existing ‘2009 manual for drought management’. The new manual has changed some of the provision which are said to be detrimental for the states.

Reasons for Karnataka and other state government’s changes in the parameters for drought assessment-

  • The ‘moderate’ drought category has been deleted in the new manual.  It means drought-hit areas will now be categorized as ‘normal’ and ‘severe’. Only in case of ‘severe’ drought, a state would be eligible for central assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
  • The manual made it clear that states have to spend from its exchequer to tackle ‘moderate’ drought and approach the Union government only for cases of ‘severe’ drought.
  • New conditions included in the norms will make it more difficult for the states to prove ‘severe’ drought and get relief from the Centre as the yardstick to measure severity of drought has been made stricter.
  • The new manual, which adopted standard practices from across the world, gives six parameters for declaration of drought. These categories of indices are Rainfall, Vegetation, Hydrological indices, Crops situation indices, ground verification and others. These six indices are further elaborated into more than 13 sub-points, making it technically extensive.
  • Except rainfall and ground verification, all other indices are considered impact indicators. To come under ‘severe’ drought category, a state has to prove severity in three out of these four impact indicators. Even if two indicators suggest severity of drought, the state would be shifted to ‘normal’ category.
  • The reason behind registering a protest is a visible attempt from the Centre to steer clear of the liability of providing relief to tackle ‘moderate drought’. Also, the technical criteria to show that drought is ‘severe’ in nature have been made more stringent. Most of the districts in Karnataka will not be considered for Centre’s assistance as they do not come under new definition of ‘severe’ drought.
  • Rain-fed related parameters- There is issue with the definition of dry spell, which is, less than 50 per cent of normal precipitation in a week. The previous guidelines gave states space to consider less than three weeks of dry spell, whereas the current manual says that more than three weeks of dry spell is possibly detrimental to crop health.
  • Crop-situation related parameters – To get the drought situation considered as ‘severe’, the sowing has to be below 50 per cent of the normal. But such level of reduction in sowing areas has never happened in the past. Even when Karnataka witnessed the worst drought in the year 2002, about 80 per cent of sowing area was reportedly sown. As we are at the gateway of south-west monsoon, farmers start sowing, anticipating good rains. However, as monsoon weakens, crop loss is reported. Hence, we always have high crop loss instead of lesser sowing.
  • According to the new norms, only those regions with below 25 per cent of soil moisture will be considered under ‘severe’ drought category. No crop can sustain even below 40 per cent of soil moisture but bringing it down to below 25 per cent looks far too strict a yardstick. Even between 25 and 40 per cent, a plant would be standing but yield would be zero. So, it is quite impractical.
  • Remote Sensing-based Vegetation Indices- This parameter is for assessment of anomalies in large areas through satellite-based crop monitoring. Any deviation from normal years would reflect whether Vegetation Crop Index value is good, fair, poor or very poor. However, only ‘very poor’ index will be considered for ‘severe’ drought category.
  • Hydrological Indices- It consists of reservoir storage index, stream-flow drought index and groundwater index. The reservoir-level index or stream-flow drought index would help those blocks of Talukas that come under command area. In case of groundwater index, the groundwater depletion is visible in the alluvial plains but not so in hilly terrains like Deccan Plateau.


Thus there is visible protest against the new manual for drought management issued by Central government. States are dependent on the center’s aid for mitigating the ill-consequences of even moderate droughts. Though agriculture is a state subject, Central government should share more burden in cases of natural calamities as revenue generating capacities of the states are limited.



Topic: Conservation

6) Several wildlife groups have opposed the Forest Rights Act as being anti-conservation. Do you agree? Critically examine. (200 Words)




Forest Rights Act 2006 has been enacted by the government of India to recognize the rights of the forest dwellers and local communities on the forest and with the aim of empowering them with regard to most of the decisions regarding forest and its use. The act has been opposed by many as anti-conservationist and detrimental to forests.

Is Forest Rights Act anti-conservation?

Arguments made against the FRA-

  • The existing Indian Forest Act (IFA) and Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) provided adequate protection to local people;
  • Recognition of the rights of forest dwellers would increase encroachment on forestland due to false claims;
  • The passing of the act had been carried out in haste and without adequate thought being applied to the impact of the FRA on forests and wildlife.
  • The provisions of the FRA are used by local politicians to influence the local communities for their vested political interests.

Arguments in favor of FRA-

  • Sustainable and effective protection of sensitive ecosystems requires the democratic involvement of those who live in and depend on those ecosystems as legally empowered rights holders. This has also been recognized in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), particularly in its Program of Work on Protected Areas.
  • By recognizing and vesting forest rights to local people, the FRA empowers forest dwelling communities to manage natural resources and conserve biodiversity.
  • Additionally, by envisaging and providing for local stewardship of forests, it creates a possibility of collaboration between local people, state agencies and other actors, on equal terms. The FRA vests a particularly significant right to forest dwellers, namely the “right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting or conserving for sustainable use.”
  • Act grants local institutions the opportunity to define conservation according to their customary and historically informed understanding and practice. Additionally, the FRA empowers communities to “protect forests, wildlife and biodiversity, and to ensure protection of catchments, water sources and other ecologically sensitive areas.”
  • The FRA also serves as a crucial barrier to one of the main drivers of biodiversity decline in India, namely, the diversion of forests for developmental purposes. Under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) such diversion was to be entirely decided upon by state constituted agencies and institutions. The FRA changes this by also empowering forest dwelling communities to preserve their habitat from “any form of destructive practices affecting the cultural and natural heritage;” and empowers them to “stop any activity which adversely affects the wild animals, forests and biodiversity.
  • The government’s own data shows that 14,00,000 ha of forests have been diverted since 1980 for non-forestry purposes, mainly for mining, defence projects, and hydroelectric projects. In response to a query in Parliament in 2016, it was officially accepted that up to 25,000 ha of forests are being diverted every year for non-forestry activities.

The provisions of the FRA for the first time have given such communities a legal instrument to prevent state-sanctioned deforestation. Gram sabhas have been able to use these clauses with variable degrees of success. A leading example emerged in the Niyamgiri case of Odisha in which the Supreme Court upheld FRA and ordered that forests could be diverted for mining only if the gram sabhas of the local Dongria Kond community gave their consent.

  • The enactment of the FRA has legitimized the resistance of communities against monoculture plantations, clear-felling of dense old-growth forests by the Forest Development Corporations (FDC), and commercial forestry operations in traditional forests, which deplete biodiversity and threaten food security.
  • The FRA offers the chance to rethink wildlife conservation approaches in protected areas too, by making local communities rights-holders in the forest and improving the governance at the local level.


Several wildlife groups have opposed the Forest Rights Act as being anti-conservation. However, field experience indicates that the act can and is being used by local communities for arresting biodiversity decline by opposing the diversion of forests to mega-development projects and by using situated knowledge and values to bring about conservation. Though concrete outcome of FRA are yet to come in the public, the act has great potential to conserve the biodiversity in India.

(Case studies of the successful conservation strategies)-

  • Mendha-Lekha village in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, where self-rule and forest conservation date back a few decades, was one of the first villages to have claimed and received Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights over 1,800 ha of forests. While initiating a forest governance and management system, the village set aside 10% of forest area for wildlife, compiled a community biodiversity register, and for livelihood have decided to carry out forest management activities (soil and water conservation, mulching for bamboo, etc) instead of heavy extraction of resources.
  • In Maharashtra’s Amravati district, near the Melghat Tiger Reserve, Payvihir village claimed and received community forest resource titles in 2012. Subsequent forest management and governance led to uniting a conflict-ridden village towards an envisioning and planning process which led to regenerated forests, return of wildlife, and livelihoods through forest-based activities, including the sale of custard apple and tendu patta.
  • Pachgaon village in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, after receiving CFR rights in 2012, has also been nearly self-sufficient in generating local livelihood from regulated bamboo harvests. To maintain the diversity of their forests the villagers decided not to harvest tendu patta that was traditionally an important non-timber forest produce earning substantial revenue. They have done this to reduce forest fires, allow for regeneration, and provide tendu fruits for wildlife. In addition to devising rules and regulations of use for their 2,487 acres of community forest resources, the village also protects 85 acres as a strict protected zone for wildlife. Inspired by these villages, gram sabhas that have received CFR rights in the buffer zone of Tadoba Tiger Reserve are now in the process of devising similar conservation and management plans.


Topic: Conservation

7) Critically evaluate the promise and performance of the forest rights act. (200 Words)



Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) was enacted in response to an unprecedented public mobilization of forest dwellers for rights over forestland. It also sought to redress historical injustices meted out to Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers in the creation of forest estates in the colonial era. FRA recognizes 14 types of pre-existing rights of forest dwellers on all categories of forestland, including protected areas. The FRA is laden with potential to further goals of sustainable development, conservation and democratization of India’s forests. Thus its performance must be analyzed with regarding different parameters.

Promise and performance of the Forest rights act-

(Detailed analysis has been provided to give holistic understanding of the issue and also to cover other questions related to this topic)

  • Community Forest Resource (CFR) Rights-
  1. Critical to realizing true potential of the act is the granting of CFR rights in combination with conservation and protection rights. In terms of area, potentially, up to 85.6 million acres or 34.6 million hectares of forests could be recognized as CFRs in the country. In terms of potential beneficiaries, an estimated 200 million Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs) in over 1,70,000 villages are the users of this potential area, and could, therefore, gain collective rights over forests under the CFR provisions of the FRA.
  2. Community Forest Rights–Learning Alliance (CFR–LA), reports that only 2.7 million acres have been recognized as CFRRs in the last 10 years. This is barely 3% of the potential for CFR rights.

The data shows that very little of the potential of the FRA has been achieved. Indeed, most states have been lackluster in recognizing and implementing CFR rights.

  • Performance of IFRs
  1. IFRs are another significant category of rights provided under the FRA. Most states prioritized the implementation of IFRs, treating the FRA as a land distribution scheme rather than the recognition of pre-existing rights.
  2. Data shows that Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Tripura have done well in IFR recognition, quantitatively speaking.
  3. However, various reports and feedback from the ground indicate that these rights recognitions have been ridden with several problems. The problems include illegal rejection of land claims, non-acceptance of valid claims, under-recognition of claims and mistakes in the titling process.
  • Performance of States
  1. An analysis of state-wise data on the recognition of IFR and CFR claims shows that states can be categorised into five broad categories.
  2. Some states, which we call “laggard states,” have either not started implementing FRA at all or have barely made a beginning. A surprisingly large number of states fall in this category.
  3. Two states, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, have focused only on “IFR implementation.”
  4. Some others have recognised IFRs and community forest rights instead of CFR rights; Madhya Pradesh is an example of this.
  5. The “low CFR performing” states have implemented CFR rights but are at a very low level of implementation compared to their potential (less than 2%).
  6. Finally, four states fall in the better performing category as they show substantial efforts in implementing both CFRs and IFRs. Maharashtra stands out as the state with the highest achievement in recognising CFRs but even Maharashtra has only achieved 18% of its potential. Similarly, Odisha, another well-feted state, has achieved barely 6% of its CFR potential. Thus, the revolutionary potential of FRA remains largely untapped.

Research shows that the states have prioritized individual rights recognition, for the granting of “land titles” are seen as a populist measure with political benefits.

  • However, the recognition of collective rights over forests as CFRs has different dimension too. Forests coming under the authority of gram sabhas are obviously seen as a threat to the forest bureaucracy’s control over critical forest resources. Several studies show that the forest bureaucracy has tried to subvert community rights recognition process. FRA is also seen as obstructing the rapid diversion of forestland for infrastructure and industrial purposes given the need to take prior consent from gram sabhas and has, therefore, not been in political favor with state governments competing for investments.
  • Collective pressure from civil society actors and grass-roots mobilisations in these states have pushed the nodal agencies, district administrations, and the political leadership to take action. Some progressive bureaucrats, especially officials from the tribal departments and district collectors, have actively sought civil society support for CFR rights recognition, for example, in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra and Mayurbhanj, Odisha.
  • In Maharashtra, the governor’s office has intervened and used its special power for Schedule V areas to promote CFR rights. This intervention by the Governor’s office ensured that the Village Forest Rules, a strategy used by the Maharashtra Forest Department to subvert community rights was not applied to the Schedule V Areas of Maharashtra.
  • In Gujarat, civil society organizations, especially Arch-Vahini played a key role in showing the benefits of community rights recognition. In Odisha, the civil society actors have developed a close alliance with progressive officials and have worked closely with the Tribal Welfare Department to support community rights recognition.
  • In other high potential states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand as well as undivided Andhra Pradesh, unfortunately, there has been limited mobilization of civil society and responsiveness from the state. The political leadership in these states seems to be unaware or unconvinced about the importance of CFR rights, and have not pushed for its implementation. The weakness and lack of capacity of the nodal ministry, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, has also meant that the FRA and CFR rights have been rendered political orphans.

Way forward-

  • Barely 3% of the estimated potential for CFR rights rights recognition, that is, 2.7 million acres out of 35.6 million acres, has been achieved. The recognition of IFRs has fared better in comparison with an estimated recognition of 3.84 million acres, though evidence shows that even that process has suffered from serious shortcomings.
  • And yet, despite this poor overall implementation, FRA has already become one of the largest land reforms in India’s history. Its true potential through the CFR rights for development, empowerment, poverty alleviation, and conservation, has been realised only in a few locations such as Gadchiroli, Narmada and Mayurbhanj.
  • These instances illustrate the potential of FRA to dramatically transform the forested landscapes of India and unleash the creative potential of India’s forest-dependent communities for sustainable development and conservation through democratic forest governance. However, realising the full potential and meeting the stated goals of redressing historical injustices against forest dwellers will require broader political will and effort both at the central and state levels.


Topic: Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;

8) What were the reasons for the sudden spike in the prices of particular pulses in 2015 in India? Also examine the causes of drop in their prices in recent weeks. (200 Words)



When prices of dal or pulses kept rising through the early summer of 2015, this was initially seen as a natural fallout of adverse weather conditions. But once the monsoons subsided, prices unexpectedly went high. Government has unearthed scam where prices were artificially increased by the traders and merchants.

Reasons for the sudden spike in the prices of pulses in 2015 in India-

  • Hoarding and Cartelization-

The abnormal price situation in India was created by a coordinated collusive activity orchestrated by few trading and financial entities. The physical stocks of pulses (were) cornered in domestic and international markets.

Few major commodity dealers having presence in overseas markets as well created a monopolistic condition by procuring and hoarding stocks of pulses in national as well as overseas markets. They rigged domestic rates to an unprecedented level to offload their stock procured at low rate.

  • Low pulses production-

Pulses production for the 2014–15 crop year (July–June) was estimated to fall to 18.43 million tonnes from 19.78 million tonnes in the previous year. An acute shortage of tur and urad was caused by the monsoon failure in two consecutive years (2014 and 2015). Tur and urad are kharif crops and are dependent on the advent of rains in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

  • High prices in the international market-

Outside of India, tur and urad are only produced in Myanmar and countries in East Africa. Both of these locations are dependent on rainfall as these pulses are mostly grown in rain-fed areas. As a result, the government was unable to buy sufficient stock.Thus government had to import pulses from international market at high prices than usual years. Further cartelization at the international market aggravated the import situation.

Causes of drop in their prices in recent weeks-

  • Strict actions on hoarders

Government had conducted numerous raids and checks to catch hoarders and had taken many steps to break the cartelization. This could have had deterrence effect on hoarders in the current year.

  • High production-

Year 2016 witnessed good monsoon in India that helped the farmers in the rain-fed areas to grow pulses.

  • MSP

Government has promised high MSP for the buying pulses from the farmers in the current year which incentivized farmers to grow more pulses.

  • Buffer stock

Union government has created buffer stock (20 lakh tonnes) for the pulses to deal with any uncertainty in the future regarding the availability of pulses.

  • Regulation-

Government is strictly regulating the futures trade in pulses, result of which there is increased availability of pulses in the market.

  • Demonetization

Little part was also played by demonetization where prices of agriculture commodities crashed on account of unavailability of cash. 


There have been numerous instances of hoarding and cartelization in agricultural commodities in the recent years. Both farmers and consumers suffer out of this at the cost of middlemen. Thus government needs to evolve institutional mechanism to keep watch on the market so that government can anticipate the problem and take early steps to resolve it.  

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethics in international relations

9) What is realism in international relations? Examine its relationship with ethics. (150 Words)




Realism is a view of international politics that stresses its competitive and conflictual side. It is usually contrasted with idealism or liberalism, which tends to emphasize cooperation.

Realists consider the principal actors in the international arena to be states, which are concerned with their own security, act in pursuit of their own national interests, and struggle for power. For eg Israel-Palestine struggle where Israel has been adamant in accepting two-state solution.  

The negative side of the realists’ emphasis on power and self-interest is often their skepticism regarding the relevance of ethical norms to relations among states. National politics is the realm of authority and law, whereas international politics, they sometimes claim, is a sphere without justice, characterized by active or potential conflict among states. for eg. Nazi state in Germany during 2nd WW.

Not all realists, however, deny the presence of ethics in international relations. The distinction should be drawn between classical realism—represented by such twentieth-century theorists as Reinhold Niebuhr and Hans Morgenthau—and radical or extreme realism.

While classical realism emphasizes the concept of national interest, it is not the Machiavellian doctrine “that anything is justified by reason of state”. Nor does it involve the glorification of war or conflict. The classical realists do not reject the possibility of moral judgment in international politics. Rather, they are critical of moralism—abstract moral discourse that does not take into account political realities. They assign supreme value to successful political action based on prudence: the ability to judge the rightness of a given action from among possible alternatives on the basis of its likely political consequences.

Extreme realism however tends to put national interest above everything and disregards any ethical action that may obstruct their national interest. Radical realism has potential to create global tension that disturbs the international peace and stability.

In some ways realism helps country to pursue her national interests like India-Russia relations where India did not condemned the annexation of Crimea for not disturbing its ties with Russia. Also India has been cautious in dealing with the West Asian nations as they are great source of remittances for India and reliable source of fuel. This helps to widen diplomatic relations because idealistic ally every country is different from others and conflicts may occur on ideology or democracy or secularism. Russia moving towards Pakistan is realistic move although they have differences.

In the changing dynamic scenario every country is adopting pragmatic approach rather to withstand ideologies like anti colonialism that can’t be stopped. However one must maintain balance between realism and standard core values for sustenance of world when they are at stake, realism should take back seat.