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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:  Social empowerment; Women; Paper-2 – Laws and mechanisms for vulnerable section

1) Despite a change in laws relating to Rape, it is the characterisation of victims that causes significant agony. Comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

The unfortunate realities of inequality in society have resulted into heinous crimes such as Rape and molestation. Even though at policy level, woman protection and empowerment in always on agenda, the society is yet to accept it with its all dimension and involved complexities.

The social stigma linked with rape victim is clear sigh of patriarchal and feudal mindset that punishes victim than the criminal. This kind of approach is totally unacceptable to modern concept of welfare state but still exists to larger extent.

The rape laws were made stringent and strong deterrent exists in legal framework of the country. Stigmatization of rape linked with woman body and her character is the big challenge that needs to be fight with.

Rape victims in patriarchal setup seen as a burden on the family and thus on society who has no future prospects. This very concept of dependency pushes person in more agony and pain much beyond once understanding.

The treatment given by police and judiciary is also part of victimization. The procedure that needs to be followed in order to prove the rape occurring is medieval in its form and concept. These institutes need to be more sensitized and compassionate towards rape victim who needs mental support in crucial time.

 The economic dependence of woman further makes situation complex as victim needs to depend on help from others.

The internet and other technological tools are used against the victim to threaten woman to prohibit her from reporting the case. In many cases it has been observed that, police has refused to file FIR at first instance if the woman hails from poor sections of the society.

Protection of woman from sexual harassment at work place has been provided by the law but law has failed to change the mindset and culture at workplace that looks towards victim with changed attitude that questions her character itself.

Marriage system has also complicated the situation as the rape victims are generally considered not to get married as per social norms. This adds to the agony of the suffering person who is forced to live a lonely painful life in patriarchal setup.

This gap between social norms and legal provisions can be filled with proactive efforts to generate awareness about rational understanding of rape. Radical steps are required for this kind of social reforms in which woman must take a leading role to define their bodily integrity and autonomy.


Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

2) Why was  UN Human Rights Council (HRC) established? Discuss its mandate and significance of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


UN Human Rights Council and its mandate-

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is United Nations’ inter-governmental body responsible for promoting and protecting human rightsaround the world. 
  • The General Assembly established the UNHRC by adopting a resolution in 2006, in order to replace the previous CHR, which had been heavily criticized for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.
  • The UNHRC addresses human rights-related situations in all UN member states. The UNHRC also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of associationand assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
  • The UNHRC is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights(UNCHR), and is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. The UN General Assembly elects the members who occupy the UNHRC’s 47 seats. The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard. The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms. The seats are distributed among the UN’s regional groups as follows: 13 for Africa, 13 for Asia, six for Eastern Europe, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean, and seven for the Western European and Others Group.

Significance of the Universal Periodic Review (URP) process-

  • The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process established by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC), under which the human rights record of each of the UN’s 193 member countries is peer-reviewed every four or five years. Such periodic review can reinforce the efforts in preserving human rights all over the world.
  • Under the HRC’s UPR, every country has the opportunity to make recommendations on every other country’s human rights record. Thus it is first of its kind platform provided at international level that would allow scrutiny of every nation by rest of the world community.
  • Although the recommendations are not binding on the member countries, they carry the moral imprimatur of the international community behind them. Thus no country can easily overlook or neglect them.
  • URP allows close scrutiny of every human rights issues confronting the world and bringing them before the world community.

URP has been novel concept in censuring the nations violating the human rights. This institutional mechanism must be supported and strengthened to ensure that human rights are protected and respected all over the world. 

Extra information-

Recently India was subjected to such peer-to-peer review at UNHRC in the third URP and around 250 recommendations were made to it. Some of them are-

Countries including Switzerland and Pakistan asked for the abolition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); several countries like Germany and the United States said the use of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to harass and intimidate NGOs should end; 10 countries raised concerns over restrictions to freedom of assembly and association; 15 countries said they were concerned about growing violence, including mob violence. Ten countries asked India to criminalize marital rape, and 30 said they were concerned about growing violence against women. Most of the 152 recommendations that India accepted pertained to sustainable development goals related to eliminating poverty, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and improving protection for women and children.


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations

3) India’s foreign policy objective of being the leader of the South Asian Regional System needs an overhauling approach. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Being largest, strongest and most populous country in the South Asia, India has always occupied pivotal position and has helped in stabilizing the region. India has been helping Nepal and Bhutan by opening its sea ports, developing their hydro-electricity potential and offering aids and assistance whenever required. Further India-Bangladesh share the cordial relations and have overcome problems like enclave exchanges, Teesta water dispute etc. India’s relations with Sri Lanka are improving after having tense relationship with her in the past over the Tamilian issue while relationship with Myanmar is steadily improving. India is too active in stabilizing Afghanistan along with the world community and has attempted many infrastructural strides in it. 

Thus India has played important role in South Asia. However some of the recent instances have led to skepticism about India’s continuing role as the leader in South Asia.

  • China has been aggressively entering into South Asia with her huge resources and expertise in infrastructural projects. OBOR, CPEC, development of ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh are some of its examples.
  • Pakistan has openly challenged the position of preeminence that India has acquired over the period of time. Further increasing terror attacks from Pakistan seem to have diluted the image of India in the eyes of her neighbors. Even the numbers of security personnel lost in the terror attacks and insurgency operations have increased after the surgical strikes.
  • India’s support to Tamils in Sri Lanka and Madheshi’s in Nepal has been projected as interference in the internal affairs of those nations.

Thus India needs to bring some of the changes in its neighborhood policy to maintain its position of leadership in South Asia-

  • The most important factor stabilizing South Asia would be ending hostility among the nations. For this India could take initiatives in reviving SAARC that could be used for effective communication among the nations and as an instrument in bringing changes.
  • India should put herself in a position from where she would be able to cater the need of investment and resource funding of the neighboring nations.
  • India and Pakistan need to come together regarding the no use policy for nuclear weapons as this would bring much needed relief to the South Asia.
  • India needs to provide its huge domestic market for the goods and services from her smaller neighbors to give the impetus to their economies. There is also need to increase the trade and commerce among the South Asian nations. Strong economic ties are important for good relations among the nations.
  • India should not expect the treatment of reciprocity from her smaller neighbors. In fact India needs to be kind in offering financial resources and technical expertise to the neighbors.
  • There also need to encourage people to people, Business to Business ties and community interactions to bring people from varied backgrounds closer to each other.
  • Whole of South Asia lags behind in socio-economic and health parameters than the rest of the world. Thus India should devise institutional measures in improving the overall standard of living in South Asia.

India has already taken efforts in such directions. India has built South Asia Satellite for the benefit of all its neighbors (except Pakistan). Further road connectivity project like BBIN is in the pipeline. India’s recent stand-off with China at Dokalam has increased India’s prestige as net security provider in the future against the Chinese domination in the region. The most immediate and important factor for India is to strengthen her economy so that its effect percolate to neighboring nations too.


Topic: Infrastructure; 

4) Electrification, in contemporary times, is a basic human necessity. With reference to the recently launched scheme Saubhagya, examine the feasibility of a national universal electrification program. (200 Words)

The Hindu



Indian Prime Minister has launched Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya to provide electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December 2018. The scheme funds the cost of last-mile connectivity to willing households to help achieve the goal of lighting every household by 31 December 2018.

The scheme has been launched specifically because it was found that issue of ‘electricity access’ wasn’t solved even after electrifying 78% of the un-electrified villages under the DDUGJY. (A village is declared to be electrified if 10% of the households are given electricity along with public places such as schools, panchayat office, health centres, dispensaries and community centres.)

Examining feasibility of such ambitious scheme-

  • The success of the scheme will depend largely on addressing structural issues that plague the broken power sector. The power generation utilities remain vastly under-utilised. The plant load factor (PLF) of coal and lignite-based plants, an indicator of capacity utilisation of power generation units, has dropped consistently over the decade from 77.5% in 2009-10 to 59.88% in 2016-17, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority.
  • As per the scheme, consumers should pay notified usage charges, but often these don’t cover the marginal costs of supply. This hints at the long-term structural issue – where service quality is the next concern after getting the wire in place. 
  • Regular metering, billing and collection from power consumers besides the stringent timeline will be the biggest challenge in implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), 
  • The Saubhagya scheme does very little to address the real problem of affordability. In fact, by failing to account for illegal connections taken by households which find it difficult to afford legal access to power, government data on electricity accessibility understate penetration.
  • A free electricity connection can ease the financial burden on the poor to some degree, but it will not address the recurring burden of power bills. The aim of improving affordability would require that supply be increased drastically to lower the price paid by retail consumers.
  • Budget of 16320 crore looks grossly insufficient and considering the huge infrastructural set-up, the budget could fall well-short in meeting its objectives.
  • The scheme will also require the infrastructure and financial support of the states. Without active support of the states, scheme would not be successful.
  • If the distribution companies do not show interest and enthusiasm to venture into the not-so-profit making areas, implementation will be a challenge, particularly by 2019. 
  • Also providing electricity to every household will require huge skilled human resource.

Saubhagya scheme is indeed an ambitious plan to provide basic necessity like electricity to every household. However along with such plan, there is simultaneous need of reforms in the structural issues of the electricity sector to make it more feasible and attractive to both DISCOMs and customers.


Topic: Infrastructure – railways; Employment

5) The largest employer in the world should aspire to be the safest employer too. With reference to safety concerns in the Railways, examine ways to enhance the safety quotient. (200 Words)

The Hindu




Indian railways, one of the largest in the world, have witnessed many accidents and violations of safety norms in the recent time. Considering lives of millions of daily customers, safe and secure ways of functioning has assumed the top priority for Indian railways.

Examining ways to enhance the safety quotient-

  • Enhancing the financial resources to railways- Committee headed by Mr. Anil Kakodkar had estimated that the total financial cost of implementing safety measures over the five-year period (2012-17) was likely be around Rs one lakh crore. In the Union Budget 2017-18, the creation of a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh was proposed for passenger safety. It will have a corpus of Rs one lakh crore, which will be built over a five-year period (Rs 20,000 crore per year).
  • The Standing Committee on Railways had noted that slow expansion of rail network has put undue burden on the existing infrastructure leading to severe congestion and safety compromises. Since independence, while the rail network has increased by 23%, passenger and freight traffic over this network has increased by 1,344% and 1,642% respectively. This suggests that railway lines are severely congested. Therefore, avoiding such accidents in the future would also require significant investments towards capital and maintenance of rail infrastructure.
  • The Committee on Restructuring of Railways recommended that the General Managers must be fully empowered to take all necessary decisions independent of the Railway Board. Zonal Railways should also have full power for expenditure and re-appropriations and sanctions. This will make each Zonal Railway accountable for its transport output, profitability and safety under its jurisdiction.
  • Loco-pilots are over-worked as they have to be on duty beyond their stipulated working hours. This work stress and fatigue puts the life of thousands of commuters at risk and affects the safety of train operations. Therefore loco-pilots and other related running staff should be provided with sound working conditions, better medical facilities and other amenities to improve their performance.
  • It has been noted that more than half of the accidents are due to lapses on the part of railway staff. Such lapses include carelessness in working, poor maintenance, adoption of short-cuts, and non-observance of laid down safety rules and procedures. To address these issues, conducting a regular refresher course for each category of railway staff should be adopted.
  • Un-manned level crossings (UMLCs) continue to be the biggest cause of casualties in rail accidents. Implementation of audio-visual warnings at level crossings has been recommended to warn road users about approaching trains. These may include Approaching Train Warning Systems, and Train Actuated Warning Systems. The Union Budget 2017-18 proposes to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines by 2020.
  • Between 2003-04 and 2015-16, derailments were the second highest reason for casualties. The Standing Committee on Railways, when examining the safety in railways, had noted that one of the reasons for derailments is defect in the track or coaches. The Committee had recommended that Indian Railways should switch completely to the Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches as they do not pile upon each other during derailments and hence cause lesser casualties.
  • There is also a need to restore the well-established practice of field inspections at all levels to grasp what is happening in the field. This would keep authorities informed of any impending possibilities of accidents.


Topic:  Agriculture

6) Sustainable agriculture is certainly more important than driven sectoral growth. How can agriculture be made sustainable, impactful, and qualitative? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu



The global population is likely to exceed 9 billion by 2050, with 5 billion people in Asia alone. Food production in the region must keep pace, even as environment sustainability and economic development are ensured. SDG no 2 assures to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture’. Thus it has become imperative to make sustainable, impactful and qualitative.

How can agriculture be made sustainable, impactful and qualitative?

  • Investing in research and development particularly in drought resistance and high yielding seed varieties, making agriculture suitable to changing conditions of the environment, introducing tested and secured GM crops etc.
  • Biodynamics- Biodynamics emphasizes the importance of reducing the use of off-site inputs (such as importing soil fertility) by generating the necessary health and fertility for food production onsite. It also places great importance on working with the natural phenomenon of the cosmos and its influences upon the heath of the soil, plants, and animals. Biodynamic practices have been applied to farms, gardens, vineyards, and other forms of agriculture.
  • Hydroponics and Aquaponics- These innovative farming techniques involve the growing of plants without soil, nourishing the plants through specialized nutrients that are added to water.
  • Better Water Management: Irrigation systems need to be well planned otherwise they lead to other issues like river depletion, dry land and soil degradation. One can also build rainwater harvesting systems to store rainwater and use them in drought prevailing conditions. Apart from that municipal waste water can be used for irrigation after recycling.
  • Applying integrated pest management (IPM). A range of methods, including mechanical and biological controls, can be applied systematically to keep pest populations under control while minimizing use of chemical pesticides.
  • Poly-cultures and Crop Rotation- By diversifying the crops that are grown on an area of land and through the rotation of crops that are grown, farmers can greatly reduce the opportunity for disease and pests to take hold. These practices also lead to reductions in the need to apply fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Organic farming be promoted to prevent the misuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides etc.
  • Studies show that women make up nearly half of agricultural labourers, yet they carry out approximately 70% of all farm work. Research shows that empowering women is one of the best ways to improve nutrition. Research needs to continue focussing on the needs of women farmers to ensure that they are the direct recipients of development impacts, such as access to markets and income, to improve theirs and their children’s access to adequate and diversified diets.
  • Retaining youths in agriculture is another important issue for the sustainable agriculture. Youths can infuse the energy and innovations for the better productivity and better results.
  • Urban Agriculture. The need to localize our food system requires that we grow food much closer to home, including in cities. Since most of the global population is predicted to live in cities in the future, there is a tremendous opportunity for urban agriculture to make a significant positive impact. Today, many innovative and sustainable growing techniques are already being used in cities, including backyard farmsand gardens, community gardens, rooftop farms, growing crops in urban greenhouses, indoor hydroponic farms

 Thus even after thousands of years of practicing, agriculture still holds the high potential and remains pivot for the sustainable development of the world.




Topic: International ethics

7) Cloning is a scientific marvel but an ethical dilemma. Comment. (150 Words)


Introduction :- In biology, cloning is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments (molecular cloning), cells (cell cloning), or organisms. The term also refers to the production of multiple copies of a product such as digital media or software.


How cloning is a scientific marvel :-

  • Parents that have lost a child can have that child returned to them with a clone.
  • Endangered animals can be cloned to save the species.
  • Many believe that cloning can be used to replace failing organs. This will diminish the waiting list for organ donations and allow more people to be saved.
  • Cloning could prove helpful in the research of genetics. Using cloning technologies, genetic researchers would have a better understanding of the composition of genes and the effects of genetic constituents on human traits.
  • Healing and recovery times could be lowered because of cloning. Using the person’s own cells, they will be able to recover that much faster and that much easier

How it is an ethical dilemma :-

  • Use of cloning technology is highly prone to misuse, manipulated use, and unethical practices.
  • By cloning it is argued that humans want to replace god. Interference with nature and natural laws creates a doubt in minds of people about other possible course humans can take in future.
  • The technology is even not yet developed fully and is unsafe to be implemented hence requires a rational, minimum, restricted use for now.
  • Cloning of animals is opposed by animal-groups due to the number of cloned animals that suffer from malformations before they die, and such animals its use for food is opposed by groups concerned about food safety.
  • Religious groups are divided, with some opposing the technology as usurping God’s place and, to the extent embryos are used, destroying a human life; others support therapeutic cloning’s potential life-saving benefits.

At the end cloning is a technology like other technologies of cyber, nuclear etc. Technology is value neutral its usability and impact depends on the users. Hence use of cloning is highly unethical if it is used with unethical intensions.