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

1) The government has approved changes to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958. What are these changes? What will be their implications? Examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) is an act of parliament of the government of India that provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. It was passed in 1958. The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act.

2010 Amendment –

Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains act 1958, was amended in 2010 to strengthen its penal provisions, to prevent Encroachments and illegal construction close to the monuments- which was happening on a large scale. As a result of the increased pressure of habitation, especially in urban areas, protected monuments and sites were getting hemmed in from all sides. This affected their safety, security and aesthetics.

The main features of the amendments were the creation of a “prohibited area” 100 meter around every national monument where no construction, public or private is permitted, “regulated area” 200 meter beyond the prohibited area, where any construction requires permission of a newly constituted National Monuments Authority. Given the unique nature of each monument, the Act also proposed heritage bye-laws for each monument to be prepared by an expert body.

The UPA government’s decision to designate a 100-metre prohibited perimeter around every monument was upheld by the Supreme Court of India.

2017 proposed amendments –

To make way for certain constructions limited strictly to public works and projects essential to public within the prohibited area, the following amendments have been approved: 

i) Insertion of a new definition of “public works” in section 2 of the Act. 
ii) Amendment to section 20A of the Act so as to allow any Department or Office of the Central Government to carry out public works in the prohibited area after obtaining permission from the Central Government. 

iii) Insertion of a new clause (ea) to section 20-I of the principal Act.

Pros –

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act, 1958 (as amended in the year 2010) prohibits grant of any permission for new construction within the prohibited area of a centrally protected monument/ site.

  • Prohibition of new construction within prohibited area is adversely impacting various public works and developmental projects of the Central Government. 
  • The amendment will pave way for certain constructions limited strictly to public works and projects essential to public within the prohibited area and benefit the public at large. 
  • This amendment would incentivize development activities making communication and transportation easier. Present prohibition has restricted such development activities amending which would facilitate constructions.

Cons –

A 2013 report by CAG said that about 1/3rd of the National Monuments of the country have been encroached upon and a majority of them were poorly guarded due to the lack of manpower. 

  • The monuments which are already deteriorating due to pollution, human interference and development activities around are further put under direct threat with the proposed changes. 
  • Public works by central government are executed more often than other small infrastructure projects which may even cause disturbance to tourism.
  • The construction methods and tools may cause great loss to some architecturally and structurally weak monuments, viz. vibrations, particulate pollutants.
  • It will give people the wrong message of govt. giving priority to development over environment, deterring the public from being conscious about the environment.

Conclusion –

In a developing country like India, transportation & communication facilities are essential for the development of the society as a whole. Development along with the lowest adverse impact on the cultural heritage and environment should be the aim of govt. As there is a large untapped potential of tourism in India, govt. should adopt balanced approach towards development and monument preservation. Development should not occur at the cost of our heritage- cultural or environmental.


Topic: Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

2) “Antarctica is a climate stabilising factor.” Elaborate. Also discuss impact of human activities on Antarctica. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Antarctica is an isolated continent. It is away from anthropogenic interference but not from effects of climate change.

The vast ice capped Antarctica helps to stabilize the climate of earth in following ways:-

  • Distribution of sea surface temperature – Antarctica is a unique part of the Earth’s Climate Machine. It stores large amount of sea ice and transports heat from the tropics towards the poles by ocean currents and increases the ability of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Albedo of ice-surface – Snow and ice are highly reflective. They reflect solar energy to space like a mirror. Open seawater, however, is a comparatively efficient absorber of solar energy.
  • Sea ice as barrier – Sea ice isolates the water from the air, reducing the transfer of energy between winds and ocean currents.
  • Planetary winds – the polar cell of planetary winds moves ice cold wind from pole to warmer tropics thereby maintaining a temp-stabilizing effect on earth climate.
  • Greenhouse gas reservoir – The permafrost holds large amount of greenhouse gases like CO2, limiting the atmospheric temperature.

The impact of human activities –

  • Climate change and glacier melting – It is evident from thinning of the Larsen Ice Shelf. This erosion has been interspersed by two previous collapses of smaller ice shelves, Larsen A in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002, the latter providing strong evidence of subsequent accelerated glacier flow into the sea.
  • Biodiversity loss: Among the stark effects of changes could be a shift in biodiversity. The species like emperor penguins which depend on sea ice to complete their life cycle are at risk if ice cover declines.
  • Any dramatic change will only add to the worry of irreversible effects of climate change, given that the Arctic and Greenland have also been losing ice cover.
  • Positive feedback: When global warming melts sea ice, Earth becomes a better absorber of heat, which encourages further warming.
  • Ozone hole – anthropogenic generation of ozone depleting substances viz. CFCs, HCFCs, etc. caused depletion of ozone layer.

Yet, the lack of long-term data on Antarctica, as opposed to other regions, makes it difficult to arrive at sound conclusions. Fortunately, newer satellite technologies, which were not available during earlier instances of iceberg calving, will help in the study of the fragile peninsular region and Antarctica as a whole.


General Studies – 2


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

3) Write a critical note on the “Doval doctrine”. (200 Words)




A country’s national security policy is determined by many factors, including external threats, geography, political culture, military capabilities, economic needs, elite opinion, popular opinion (in democracies) and its leaders’ perceptions of the country’s interests. This conceptual framework manifests itself as foreign policy or national security ‘doctrine’, which in turn guides leaders in conducting the foreign policy of a country. A national security doctrine helps the statesmen identify and prioritize that country’s geopolitical interests.

What is Doval doctrine?

“Doval doctrine”—named after National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval—described as an “aggressive, hardline approach” that shuts down any discussion of Kashmir in political terms and applies disproportionate coercive power to terrorise and subjugate all resistance.

Doval Doctrine, which pervades the current government policy on Pakistan and China, is marked by three themes –

  1. Irrelevance of morality
  2. Of extremism freed from calculation or calibration
  3. Reliance on military.

Doval doctrine emerges from the two important lectures he has delivered on national security – Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture at Shastra University, Tanjore, in February 2014 and Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture on ‘State Security Statecraft and Conflict of Values’ at Mumbai in August 2015.

Components of Doval doctrine:

  • Doval states that terrorist organizations could be bought with money, weapons and manpower.
  • Paradigm shift should occur with the use of high technology and intelligence-driven covert operations.
  • Emphasis has been given on principle that individual morality should not be imposed on the larger values of the state and that the values of the state are above the values of any individual.
  • The Doval Doctrine makes no bones about the use of power and what may be called aggressive defense Vis a Vis adversaries.
  • The Doval doctrine is an adaptation of this world view and its immediate target is the neighborhood, especially Pakistan.
  • The message that Doval was sending out that appeasement will not work in order to enhance the national security in long duration term.

The Doval doctrine puts importance to the military capacities in order to have an offensive stance when required.

Critical analysis:

  • The problem with the Doval doctrine is that it puts a disproportionate pressure on the “leader” to compensate for the strategic weaknesses. There is even an apprehension that the “leader-centric” approach may encourage a dilution of our national defence assets, assiduously built over the last fifteen years.
  • Doval doctrine tends to induce a kind of a neglecting approach that unthinkingly ignores the traditional tools of diplomacy and instruments of statecraft.
  • Global Impression: A willingness to be rude and rough on the global stage may impress the domestic audience or the NRI crowd but it does not create a lasting impression in any chancellery.
  • Doval doctrine does not take into consideration the socio economic complexities present in neighboring countries.
  • Human rights issues are intricately woven into diplomacy and national security component of foreign policy. The very specific defensive stand as per Doval doctrine does not provide space for the Human rights consideration.
  • The hardline approach which does not considers discussions as the tool of diplomacy cannot bear positive results in long duration.


A country like India which had gone through crisis after crisis resulting from militancy, insurgency, terrorist attacks, dangers inherent, on the one side, in the unsettled border dispute with a neighbour with hegemonist ambitions on the other should practice adhocratic way in managing its security imperatives.


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

4) How will GST of 18% on tendu leaves impact tribals? Critically examine. (200 Words)



Brief background-

India’s forests are home to crores of people, including many Scheduled Tribes, who live in or near the forest areas of the country. Nearly 250 million people live in and around forests in India, of which the estimated indigenous Adivasi or tribal population stands at about 100 million. The tribal communities of India have had an integral and close knit relationship with the forests and have been dependent on the forests for livelihoods and existence. The relationship was mutually beneficial and not one sided. Taking this aspect of synergy between tribal people and forestry, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 provides rights to tribal people on minor forest produce collection and sale.

The law concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India. The act specifically defines Forest produce as :

“all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.”

The rights which are included in section 3(1) of the Act also mention the right to collect minor forest produce in following manner:

 “Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce (includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin) which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries “

The Tendu leaves collection falls under the collection rights of the tribal people. The 18% tax rate on tendu leaves under new regime of Goods and services tax will have remarkable impact on the lives of the people who are dependent on the   tendu leaves collection.

The purpose behind the Taxation on tendu leaves:

  • As there are varied tax rates under various state sales taxes, the application of uniform tax rates under GST tax regime will create the uniform tax structure in all over the country.
  • The very purpose of raising the tax rate on tendu leaves is to discourage the smoking habits, mainly among the poor sections of the society.
  • Uniformity in tax structure accompanied by better monitoring under GST regime will curb the illegal transit of tendu leaves and thus it will help to reduce corruption involved in its trade.

The cons of rise in the tax on tendu leaves:

  • The GST tax and its understanding have not been conveyed to tribal people in sufficient manner. As the tendu leaves are important aspect of livelihood of tribal people, it is the moral responsibility of the government to convey and explain the repercussions of the tax rise of tendu leaves to tribal people.
  • Due to increase in the tax, the middle man or the agent involved in the supply chain will reduce the share of the tribal people in total monetary transaction.
  • Gram sabha holds all the rights in auctioning of the forest produce. The more taxation will reduce the funds to Gramsabha that will later reduce its financial capability to some extent. Section 6(1) of the Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognized.
  • The lack of clarity is also present in the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), a government body under Ministry of Tribal Affairs to market tribal products. There is still existing ambiguity on the issue of GST and currently are not sure how the new tax regime will function.

The way ahead:

The government must take more efforts to provide more clarity on the GST roll out in the way that will be understood by people. There is hoard of ambiguity among the citizens and the various organizations across the country. While taking care of provision of funds for Gram Sabha, the quality livelihood opportunity must be made available to tribal people through forest and tribal department.


General Studies – 3


Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism

5) Recently, Mosul was liberated from the ISIS by Iraqi armed forces. Do you think it’s the end of ISIS and its ideology? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Iraqi forces have finally overcome the ISIS resistance and liberated the second largest city of the Iraq which has become the stronghold of the ISIS. After the Mosul’s liberation there have been talks of weakening of ISIS and its ideology. Although victory of Iraq’s forces is of great significance, it would be premature to assume the feebleness of ISIS. 

Does the liberation of Mosul signify end of ISIS and its ideology?

Significance of the victory at Mosul-

  • End of the Caliphate- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had proclaimed himself the ‘Caliph’ of the world’s Muslims three years ago from the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul. With the victory of Iraqi forces, Iraqi PM has declared the end of the Caliphate for good.
  • Dent in the ISIS stronghold- City of Mosul was synonymous with the power and prestige of the ISIS. It had acquired peripheral areas of the Mosul and had established its own exploitative regime. Loss of Mosul would surely undermine the authority and power of the ISIS in the rest of the region.
  • Redemption of confidence for Iraqi forces- The IS ruled the city with an iron fist ever since and expanded its influence beyond the city limits. The Iraqi army took months to recover from the humiliation it suffered and launched a counter-terror campaign with help from Iran-trained militias and the U.S. Air Force.  
  • This is in line with the military setbacks the ISIS has suffered in recent months. It has lost more than half of the territories it once held. Its propaganda blitzkrieg has taken a hit and even its ability to recruit new jihadists is under strain in the wake of battlefield losses. Its leader Baghdadi is either dead or on the run.

ISIS Shattered but not defeated-

  • The IS’s proto-state is not completely destroyed yet and it will not be in the immediate future. Though it lost Mosul, the IS still controls swathes of strategic territories in Iraq. Hawijah, a city adjoining Kirkuk that has been with the IS since 2013, continues to pose challenges to the Iraqi troops. The city’s mountainous terrain makes it difficult for the counter-terror forces to move in.
  • Besides Hawijah, the group controls Tal Afar, Salahuddin province and pockets in Anbar and Diyala. In Syria, it still controls Raqqa, its de facto capital which has been with the group since 2013, and Deir Ezzor, the largest city in the east. The battle to recapture Raqqa has just begun by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and will take time like other anti-IS battles.
  • Further, there’s no guarantee that the IS won’t come back to the cities it lost. It had done so earlier. The geopolitical fault lines of West Asia, especially in Iraq and Syria, which helped the IS rise in the first place, remain unchanged. In Iraq, a greater challenge before the government is to win over the people in the north and west, mostly Sunnis, who distrust the Shia-dominated government.
  • In Syria, the battle against the IS is more complicated than that in Iraq. In Iraq at least there is a consensus about what the legitimate force is against the IS. All players, from America and the Kurds to Iran and Shia militias, rallied behind the Iraqi government in the war. But in Syria, there’s no such consensus.

Raqqa is being attacked by both the SDF and the government troops. The U.S. is supporting the SDF, while Russia is backing the regime. Turkey, another country that’s involved through its proxies in the civil war, is wary of the SDF because it’s led by the Kurdish rebels. So even if Raqqa is liberated, it is difficult to reach a consensus on who will eventually run the city. If chaos prevails, that would be good news for the jihadists.

  • The IS is fundamentally an insurgency that transformed itself into a proto-state. Now the proto-state is under attack, but the group can retreat to insurgency for its survival. The history of insurgent groups suggests that it is difficult to defeat them outright.

For instance, the Taliban regime was toppled and its fighters were driven out of Kabul in 2001 following the American invasion. Their leader, Mullah Omar, died while he was hiding. But it does not mean that Taliban was defeated.

  • In fact, the IS has changed its strategy after the ‘Caliphate’ came under attack. Instead of expanding its territories, the group became defensive at its core and unleashed a wave of terror attacks elsewhere in the world, from Paris to Brussels and Berlin to Dhaka. It has also established franchises in other countries.

Boko Haram, Africa’s most dreaded terror outfit, has declared loyalty to the IS. In eastern Afghanistan, the IS has a branch — the Islamic State of Khorasan — which is directing the group’s operations in South Asia.

  • The recent outbreak of a war in the Philippines, where armed jihadist groups that have declared loyalty to the IS have been fighting government forces, suggests that the IS is expanding its asymmetric reach when its core is under attack.


All this suggests that the threat is far from over. The IS has already transformed itself into a globalised idea and outsourced its terror mission to groups and individuals who subscribe to its world view. So even if the IS core is destroyed, the IS insurgency, or an ‘al-Qaedafied’ Islamic State, will continue to pose security challenges.


General Studies – 4


Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world

6) This year marks the 1,000th birth anniversary of Ramanuja, the great Vaishnava theologian,, and the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s triggering of the Protestant Reformation which fundamentally reshaped Christianity. Discuss their philosophies and their relevance today. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Ramanuja and Martin Luther king were both great reformers, philosophers and thinkers of their time.

Ramanuja :- Ramanuja was a Hindu theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. He was born in a Tamil Brāhmin family in the village of Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.

His Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) philosophy has competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya, and Advaita (monism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. Rāmānuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Rāmānuja’s case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.

It was Ramanuja’s brilliance that gave practical effect to this theological innovation. He organised the daily pujas and annual festival cycle at the Srirangam Ranganatha temple in line with Agamic norms, thereby broadening the temple’s constituency to include rising peasant castes and women. He also made room for the emotive Tamil hymns of the Alvars in the otherwise austere Sanskrit temple liturgy. Eventually, under his leadership, these reforms took hold at other Vaishnavite temple complexes such as Tirupati and Melkote that had sprung up across South India over the preceding centuries.

Martin Luther :-

Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk  and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences as he understood it to be, that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money. 

Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God.

Relevance today :- What Ramanuja and Luther underline for us is that it is precisely this sort of reasoned debate amongst fellow believers, in dialogue with but not beholden to their scriptures, that has allowed religious communities throughout history to reform themselves — for the better.

Both of them tried and reformed the true concept of religion and helped masses to take a rational look at it. Their ideas and principles still remains the bench markers.


Topic: Ethics in personal relations

7) You are a working single parent living with your six year old child in an housing society. Recently divorce case between you and your husband was amicably settled in a court. You were given custody of your child. After the divorce,  your child has not been active and as cheerful as she used to be earlier. She seems to have lost interest in day to day activities.  In the interest of your child, your close friends and even parents are asking you to remarry a suitable person. However, you want to live alone with your child and lead an independent life. But, your child’s behaviour has become a matter of concern for your family and they all want you to either devote full time to childcare by resigning from job, or marry someone to provide child a father. On the other hand, your parents are not willing to live with you in the city as they do not want to vacate their ancestral home in the village. 

What are the ethical issues you are posed with? How are you going to manage these issues? Analyse. (200 Words)

Introduction :- The ethical issues involved in above case study are as follows :-

  • Parenting in today’s world with many couples getting divorced and future of their child
  • Trade of between my own ambitions and caring about the nurturing of child
  • Dilemma for remarriage
  • Inability of help from my parents

Course of action to be taken :-

My child’s healthy development is really a concern which needs utmost priority now. However for that marrying again would be against my wish and my mental preparedness. Hence I would find some ways by which my child would be happy again without I am being married again.

I will try to find out root causes of my child’s condition if she is behaving like this due to her loneliness or she needs support of a father.

If it is due to loneliness I will ensure that she gets good admission and company in school to be engaged. Also ensuring quality time to be spend with my child will be my priority. If it’s due to wanting of father’s love I would put these things to my ex-husband and convince him about spending some time together for child’s care.

Economic independence forms very important part of single parenting hence leaving job would be not in interest of either me or my child. I would try to take shifts when my child is engaged in school hence I can spend more time with her.

Also I will request my parents to visit us whenever its possible for them in order to get the child caring, warmth of other relationships.  

Divorce is an increasing phenomenon these days but we must understand the importance of family and it’s need for better future of children. Mutual understanding and respect among couple is needed. Also if divorced they must find out ways to protect the child against any psychological turmoil.