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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.

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

1) Interlinking of rivers may address the issue of paucity of water but poses a serious threat to the indigenous ecological diversity of the said rivers. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The recent discourse about the river linkage in country is getting attention from much expertise all over the country. The idea is getting very rational criticism from many corners of the country and it is important to connect heart and mind of people rather interlinking rivers.


The Indian Rivers Inter-link is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to link Indian rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India.

The Inter-link project has been split into three parts:

  • A northern Himalayan rivers inter-link component
  • A southern peninsular component
  • An intrastate rivers linking component.

The project is being managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA), under its Ministry of Water Resources. NWDA has studied and prepared reports on 14 inter-link projects for Himalayan component, 16 inter-link projects for peninsular component and 37 intrastate river linking projects.

Benefits of river linking project:

India also sees years of excess monsoons and floods, followed by below average or late monsoons with droughts. This geographical and time variance in availability of natural water versus the year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap,  that has been worsening with India’s rising population.

projects claim the answers to India’s water problem is to conserve the abundant monsoon water bounty, store it in reservoirs, and deliver this water – using rivers inter-linking project – to areas and over times when water becomes scarce.

Beyond water security, the project is also seen to offer potential benefits to transport infrastructure through navigation, as well as to broadening income sources in rural areas through fish farming.

Basis for opposition to project:

Cost of the project: The comprehensive proposal to link Himalayan rivers with peninsular rivers for inters basin transfer of water was estimated to cost around Rs 5,60,000 crore in 2001. Land submergence and R&R (relief and rehabilitation) packages would be additional to the cost. There are no firm estimates available for the scheme, such as the cost of power required to lift water.

A study by IIT Madras and IIT Bombay presented evidence to show that rainfall in ‘surplus’ basins was declining while it was increasing in ‘deficient’ basins. It means, the report added, that rainfall was getting uniform, thus negating transfer of the water.

The Shah committee also pointed out that the linking of rivers will affect natural supply of nutrients for agricultural lands through curtailing flooding of downstream areas.

Half a million people are likely to be displaced in the process that will create the huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.

Usually rivers change their course and direction in about 100 years and if this happens after interlinking, then the project will not be feasible for a longer run.

Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life system and will be a major ecological disaster.

The impact of river linking on wildlife has not studied well as river linkages may damage the animal corridors and natural niches of the wild animal.

There is the possibility that, peninsular component of river linking may lead to the coastal erosion and submergence of coastal areas.

Controversy over the NRLP ranges from dubious project design, negative environmental impacts such as change in the land-oceans and freshwater-seawater ecosystems, increase in seismic hazards, transfer of river pollution, and loss of forests and biodiversity, huge social and financial cost of about US$120 billion, and available less costly demand management options.

Proposed alternative strategies:

  1. River being the ecological entity, it must be treated as an independent entity having huge life and cultural value as well. The approach to see water as a mere commodity must be shunned away with.
  2. People must revive river rather than connecting them.
  3. The work of river rejuvenation and water management must happen at local level with the principle of subsidiarity.
  4. The rejuvenation of river will recharge ground water level at local level. The issues of ground water scarcity are not getting required attention as compared to surface water.
  5. The people must decide about water in their area. The interlinking of river will take away the decision making power of local panchayat to decide about the water in their own region. The concept of river parliament comes from this very concern.

River Parliament: Case study:

In January 1999, gram sabhapatis (village chiefs) from 34 villages along the river Arvari met and unanimously decided to manage the river and the natural resources. In fact, the villagers, along with the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), had revived the dead Arvari through traditional water harvesting structures like johad s, and building new ones like check dams and anicuts. They met in January and formed a parliament to control these resources, while the government tried to impose its own hold.

At the first parliament, the villagers adopted a constitution to regulate their activities. It was a tribute to Gandhi’s gram swaraj and the triumph of the people over an insensitive government. Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, it was a final expression of people who were disillusioned with the government.


Topic:  Poverty and developmental issues

2) Reducing homelessness can have significant impact on poverty reduction. Comment highlighting the impact of the National Urban Livelihoods Mission. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 Economic development and urbanisation are closely linked. Cities in India are emerging as the country’s engines of economic growth, with a contribution of more than 60 per cent to GDP. India’s urban population is now 377 million (Census of India, 2011). This represents a 31 per cent increase from 2001 when urban population was 286 million. Despite the robust economic growth at the national level, the number of the urban poor has steadily increased in recent decades.

Widening gap between urban rich and poor:

Data from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 50th and 61st Rounds reveals that the Gini ratio of urban consumption distribution (that ranges from 0 with perfect equality to 1 with perfect inequality) increased from 0.34 in 1993-94 to 0.38 in 2004-05, widening the divide between the rich and the poor in cities. The per capita expenditure of the bottom 20 percent of urban households increased at a slower pace than that of the middle 60 percent or top 20 percent.

 Urban poverty is multi-dimensional. The urban poor face multiple deprivations –

inadequate access to affordable housing, basic civic services like water, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management, roads, street lighting, health care, education and social security, and livelihoods opportunities.

The dimensions of urban poverty can be divided into three categories:

(i) Residential vulnerability (access to land, shelter, basic services, etc.);

(ii) Social vulnerability (deprivations related to factors like gender, age and social stratification, lack of social protection, inadequate voice and participation in governance structures,

 (iii) Occupational vulnerability (precarious livelihoods, dependence on informal sector for employment and earnings, lack of job security, poor working conditions, etc.).

These vulnerabilities are inter-related. Amongst the urban poor, there are sections subject to greater vulnerability in terms of the above classification; these include women, children, and the aged, SCs, STs, minorities and differently-abled persons who deserve attention on a priority basis.

National Urban Livelihood Mission:

To reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor households by enabling them to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots level institutions of the poor. The mission would aim at providing shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless in a phased manner. In addition, the Mission would also address livelihood concerns of the urban street vendors by facilitating access to suitable spaces, institutional credit, social security and skills to the urban street vendors for accessing emerging market opportunities.

Reducing homelessness and poverty reduction are linked:

  • The very aim of NULM is providing shelter equipped with essential services in phased manner to urban poor including urban homeless. This will provide the social security to Urban poor.
  • The economic forces in property business are so strong that the poor cannot survive and afford to have a home in normal circumstances. The NULM thus uplifts the lifestyle of people by provision of well-equipped services in home.
  • This program is directly reducing slum formation in urban areas. Slums are one of the biggest challenges in reducing the Urban poverty.
  • Self-employment Programme (SEP) component of NULM focuses on providing financial assistance to individuals/groups of urban poor for setting up gainful self-employment microenterprises/ventures, suited to their skills, aptitude, training and local conditions.
  • NULM aims to achieve universal financial inclusion, through opening of basic savings accounts, facilitating access to financial literacy, credit, affordable insurance, and remittance facilities to the urban poor and their institutions.
  • The objective of City Livelihoods Centre (CLC) is to provide a platform where by the urban poor can market their services and access information and other benefits. CLCs will act as a “one-stop shop” for those seeking services from the informal sector as well as for the urban poor promoting their services and products.
  • NULM focuses on providing assistance for development / upgrading of the skills of the urban poor so as to enhance their capacity for self-employment and salaried employment. EST&P intends to provide training to the urban poor as per the skill demand from the market, so that they can set up self-employment ventures or secure salaried employment.
  • NULM supports promotion of novel initiatives in the form of innovative projects. These initiatives may be in the nature of pioneering efforts, aimed at catalysing sustainable approaches to urban livelihoods through Public, Private, Community Partnership (P-P-C-P), demonstrating a promising methodology or making a distinct impact on the urban poverty situation through scalable initiatives.


The pronouncements of the Supreme Court of India have brought into focus the plight of the urban homeless by holding that the right to dignified shelters is a necessary component of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. NULM is multidimensional program that targets the very specific aspects of life of urban poverty and helps millions of people to live a life of dignity.


Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

3) Immigration Policies based on merit may serve the host country’s interest of retaining talent but questions the humanitarian component of the process. Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu



Immigration is defined as the movement of people from their home country or region to another country, of which they are not native, to live. There are specific economic factors that contribute to immigration, including the desire to obtain higher wage rates, improve the standard of living, have better job opportunities, and gain an education. Non-economic factors are also significant and include leaving a home country due to persecution, ethnic cleansing, genocide, war, natural disasters, and political control (for example, dictatorship). Throughout history, with improved transportation and technology, immigration has become increasingly common worldwide. Immigration numbers impact both the home country and the host country.

The issue of immigration and the international response to it has become the important aspect today. This can be seen recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issues in USA and Rohingyas fleeing from Rakhine state in Myanmar. The state actions against minority groups affect the lives of people to very large extent and many times create long lasting impact on them.

Immigration has both positive and negative effects on the host and home countries including population totals, employment, and production.

Net Immigration Rate: This graph shows the worldwide net immigration rate in 2011. The blue shows positive rates, the orange is negative, green is stable, and gray represents no data available. It is predicted that global immigration rates will continue to increase in the future.

Reasons to control immigration on Merit basis are:

  • The higher population numbers placed strain on the infrastructure and services within the host country. The merit based policy is convenient for host country as it allows selective immigration.
  • Merit based immigration policy can be used to allow intellectual and skilled people to migrate. Such policy founds beneficial for economy of host country in longer terms.
  • Host countries are faced with a variety of challenges due to immigration including population surges, support services, employment, and national security.
  • When immigrants move to a new country, they are faced with many unknowns, including finding employment and housing, as well as adjusting to new laws, cultural norms, and possibly a new language. It can be a challenge for a host country to assimilate immigrants into society and provide the necessary support.
  • There are chances that High immigration numbers may threaten national identity, increase dependence on welfare, and threaten national security (through illegal immigration or terrorism).
  • Immigration of foreign people may lead to generation of majoritarism and movement against immigrants by native people. Such condition may create law and order problem in host country.

Cons of merit based immigration policy:

  • This kind policy is not in resonance with philosophy of International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
  • Merit based policy is discriminatory at its very core due to its selective approach. The more skilled get priority over less skilled. Such policy attracts the international Ethics.
  • Merit based policy may vary as per the political setup. This can be observed in recent issue in USA about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • Merit based policy may be based on gender, ethnicity or religion of migrating people. Such policies do not suit the understanding of modern world.


It is clear that immigration can be beneficial for migrants, but only if their rights are protected properly. It can also be economically beneficial for both countries of origin and host countries; however, with present economic and trading structures it is the rich and powerful countries that benefit most. Migration brings social and cultural pressures that need to be taken into account in planning for future services.


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

4) Safety of children in the school premises is as important as delivery of quality of education. Do you think framing national guidelines on minimum security provisions at schools can address the issue effectively? Give reasons for your comments. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


Recent decision by honourable SC of India to a plea filed by two women lawyers seeking implementation of existing guidelines to ensure safety and well-being of children in schools across the country highlighted this issue once again.

Concerns of safety in educational institutes:

  • There are high chances of gender linked violence in educational institutes as well.
  • Most private schools are set up by people such as property dealers, liquor barons, politicians and the like, with a two-fold purpose. First of all, schools give them a fig leaf of respectability. And they are also a great avenue for the investment of dubiously acquired wealth.
  • In many cases, infrastructure creates threat to life and security of school children. Building norms are not taken into consideration.
  • School inspections are not worthy of faith and found in many cases as a manipulated routine exercise.
  • It has been observed that, there is hardly any training given to school teachers or head of the school with respect to crisis management.
  • The problem is further compounded by the fact that there is no way in which a regular audit in safety measures can be conducted. None of the school boards (although they have comprehensive manuals) have either the resources or the expertise to ensure conformity with safety measures.

Need of national guidelines on minimum security provisions at schools:

  • Such guidelines will provide much required proactive approach that reactive approach in safety of school children.
  • Such framework will bring uniformity in terms of security measures that exist in various schools. Mostly in bad shape in today’s conditions.
  • Guidelines will provide specific mandate for implementation of security measures and thus will also attract funding for it.
  • It will be far easier to monitor the security measures and their implementation for government as well.
  • It will bring clear separation of responsibilities among various stakeholders so that grievance redressal will be prompt and much simpler as well.
  • Pre decided policy framework will specify the role of private agencies who are in today’s context involved in making business more than providing genuine security to students.
  • Security guidelines can involve local self-government as an important component of the decision making as well as monitoring.
  • This can be first step in bringing global best practices for provision of security to school children in India.


After the right to education, it is the high time to consider the minor yet important aspects of education system in country. Pre structured guidelines for security of school children will go long way in assuring the safety of young minds and souls of country.



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

5) Good Higher Education and Research systems facilitate incremental economic development. Analyse. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :-  India holds an important place in the global education industry. The country has more than 1.4 million schools with over 227 million students enrolled and more than 36,000 higher education institutes. India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world. However, there is still a lot of potential for further development in the education system specially its role in economic development of nation.

From ancient Greece to 19th century Britain and 20th century United States, there is evidence that when nations do well in higher education and research, they do well in economic development.

India’s strength :-

  • English is the world’s most important language and India’s strength in it is a natural advantage today.
  • With the far-sightedness of India’s founding fathers and, in particular, Jawaharlal Nehru, India took major steps in nurturing higher education and scientific temperament, setting up the IITs, the IIMs, and promoting some fine universities.
  • India today is the 14th most popular destination (1.4 per cent) in preference for higher education.

How to do that :-

  • The aim should be to provide high-quality education and charge international students the full fee for this.
  • If Indian universities are given the freedom, they will charge very less compared to many other countries pulling enormous students from all over the world. Government needs to create just the enabling environment for this.
  • The government has to pay attention to the little matters. For example, students should be able to get visas for their two-, three- or four-year study at one go.
  • There is enough enterprise in India and enough profit potential in this sector that private universities will crop up and do the actual delivery once the government provides this basic ethos.

The advantage of the nation becoming a global hub for education is that this can yield so much income that the government can then take the responsibility of providing these other kinds of education to its own citizens. The government should also take the responsibility to ensure that all Indians get education, taking account of the fact that many are so poor that they will have to be provided education for free.



Topic: Agriculture

6) Loan Waivers are essentially surgical strikes on Agriculture. Analyse the impact of such a measure on various stakeholders. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- A loan waiver is the waiving of the real or potential liability of the person or party who has taken out a loan through the voluntary action of the person or party who has made the loan. Examples of loan waivers include the Stafford Loan Forgiveness program in the United States and the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme in India.

Why is it important?

  • Agriculture in India has been facing many issues — fragmented land holding, depleting water table levels, deteriorating soil quality, rising input costs, low productivity.
  • Output prices may not be remunerative. Farmers are often forced to borrow to manage expenses.
  • Indebtedness is a key reason for the many farmer suicides in the country.
  • Loan waivers provide some relief to farmers in such situations
  • Farm loan waivers are at best a temporary solution

“A farm loan waiver undermines an honest credit culture and discipline It endangers moral hazard and entails transfer from tax payers. There is a need to create consensus that such that loan waiver promises are eschewed.”                                        

  • Urjit Patel

Impact on various stakeholders :-

  • Farmers :- Loan waivers might help the government buy peace with farmers in the short run, but they are unlikely to change much on the ground.
  • Government :- They can not only increase the deficit and interest burden, but also limit the ability of the government to undertake capital expenditure.
  • Other loaners :- They entail a moral hazard — even those who can afford to pay may not, in the expectation of a waiver.
  • Private borrowers :- Due to farm loan waivers, overall borrowings of the government would go up and that can lead to crowding out private borrowers and increase the cost of borrowings for others.
  • Credit system :- A blanket waiver scheme is detrimental to the development of credit markets. Repeated debt-waiver programmes distort households’ incentive structures, away from productive investments and towards unproductive consumption and wilful defaults. These wilful defaults, in turn, are likely to disrupt the functioning of the entire credit system.

Arundhati Bhattacharya, State Bank of India chairperson, said recently that the farm loan waiver leads to credit indiscipline for which a privilege motion was moved against her in the Maharashtra assembly

Solutions that go beyond loan waivers.

  • Studies done by World Bank have showed that loan waiver is not a solution to Indian agriculture sector.
  • Incentivise people to move out of agriculture by expansion in the manufacturing sector.
  • Apart from efforts to increase yields, land leasing should be strengthened, which will not only allow consolidation, but will also give an opportunity to unwilling farmers to exit the sector.
  • Adequate safeguards need to be built in order to protect farmers against both production and price risks.
  • Central and state governments will need to work together in order to enhance the viability of the sector.
  • Investment in practically every aspect of the farm economy, including irrigation, agricultural research, storage and marketing.
  • Require policy decisions in other areas like FDI in multi-brand retail, which would lay the groundwork for cold- chain storage infrastructure—that support the sector.
  • Formulate eligibility rules for loan waiver that depend on historical loan-utilization, investment, and repayment patterns.
  • Alternative policy intervention is the agricultural insurance.
  • The money waived could be invested for creating infrastructure that makes farmers independent of cartel of traders and help them to reap maximum economic benefit of their produce.
  • Considering loan waiver only up to a specified threshold limit (mostly Rs 1 lakh), and any amount over that will have to be paid so that there may not be a significant worsening of credit culture

Topic: Infrasructure

7) Discuss the provisions and significance of the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 24, 2017 by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Nitin Gadkari.  The Bill amends the Central Road Fund Act, 2000.  The Act regulates the Central Road Fund (CRF), that is credited with the cess collected on high speed diesel oil and petrol.  This collected amount is then released to National Highways Authority of India, and to the state/union territory governments for the development of national and state highways.

 The Bill seeks to allocate a share of this cess towards the development of inland waterways. 

  • Inclusion of inland waterways: The Bill defines national waterways as those that have been declared as ‘national waterways’ under the National Waterways Act, 2016.  Currently, 111 waterways are specified under the 2016 Act. 
  • Utilisation of fund: Under the 2000 Act, the fund can be utilised for various road projects including: (i) national highways, (ii) state roads including roads of inter-state and economic importance, and (iii) rural roads.  The Bill provides that in addition to these the fund will also be used for the development and maintenance of national waterways.   Powers of central government:  Under the Act, the central government has the power to administer the fund.  The central government will make decisions on the: (i) investments on national highways and expressways projects, (ii) raising funds for the development and maintenance of national highways, and rural roads, and (iii) disbursement of funds for national highways, state roads and rural roads.  The Bill provides that central government will make all the above decisions for national waterways as well.
  • Allocation of cess: Under the Act, the cess on high speed diesel oil and petrol is allocated towards different types of roads.  The Bill seeks to decrease the allocation of cess towards the development and maintenance of national highways from 41.5% to 39%.  It allocates 2.5% of the cess towards the development and maintenance of national waterways.  As per the financial memorandum of the Bill, at the current rate of levy of this cess, the share allocated towards waterways will amount to around Rs 2,000 crore per annum.  The remaining cess amount will continue to be used for the development of other roads such as national highways, state highways, etc.

Significance :-

  • As acquisition of land for national and State highways becomes scarce and the cost of construction of roads, flyovers and bridges goes up, the government is now exploring using water as a means of public transportation.
  • National Waterways provide cost-effective, logistically efficient and environment-friendly way of transport.
  • It is estimated that 1.8 lakh persons would be provided employment in the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) sector in the next five years. New employment opportunities are expected to be generated for operation and management of fairway, terminals, aids to navigation, barges, training, etc. Further, development of additional 106 NWs will create additional job opportunities.   
  • There is a huge potential for domestic cargo transportation as well as for cruise, tourism and passenger traffic.
  • It will boost the maritime trade of the states and augment their economies
  • It has proposed to provide 2.5% of the cess on high-speed diesel and petrol for the development and maintenance of national waterways. This would accelerate the development of national waterways by utilising the funds generated by way of cess. It also offers incentives and certainty for the private sector to invest in the inland waterways transport sector.

Challenges :-

  • With the enactment of the National Waterways Act, 2016, the total number of national waterways is now 111. But providing infrastructure such as jetties, terminals, and navigational channels continues to pose a challenge.
  • In order to suitably develop national waterways, sustainable source of funding is imperative as budgetary support and funds from multilateral institutions are inadequate.

National waterways provide a cost-effective, logistically efficient and environment-friendly mode of transport, whose development as a supplementary mode would enable diversion of traffic from over-congested roads and railways. Hence, the waterways project deserves better regulation and development across the country.


Topic:   Ethics and Human Interface

8) ‘What is religious is may not be moral, and what is moral is may not be religious.’ Explain the relationship between religion and morality citing examples. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Morality and religion is the relationship between religious views and morals. Many religions have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong. These include the Triple Jems of Jainism, Judaism’s Halacha, Islam’s Sharia, Catholicism’s Canon Law, Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, and Zoroastrianism’s “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds” concept, among others. These frameworks are outlined and interpreted by various sources such as holy books, oral and written traditions, and religious leaders. Many of these share tenets with secular value frameworks such as consequentialism, freethought, and utilitarianism.

Armin Geertz suggests that “the age-old assumption that religion produces morals and values is neither the only, nor the most parsimonious, hypothesis for religion”.

Bertrand Russell said, “There are also, in most religions, specific ethical tenets which do definite harm. The Catholic condemnation of birth control, if it could prevail, would make the mitigation of poverty and the abolition of war impossible. The Hindu beliefs that the cow is a sacred animal and that it is wicked for widows to remarry cause quite needless suffering.”[

Religious practices like “torturing unbelievers or burning them alive” potentially being labeled “ethical” In India the practices of Sati, human sacrifice was done in some religious views only. The  practices of Purdah, triple talaq in Muslim community are sanctioned as religious practices but they are not moral practices.  

On other hand it can be proved that religion have not much effect on morality in people.

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. Gender equality is highest among Scandinavian countries which are less religious. Hence what is moral may not be religious and religiosity may be not be the parameter to measure the morality.