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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:  Urbanisation – problems and remedies

1) Multiplicity of agencies and functional overlap deter effective urban governance. With reference to the recent incident in Mumbai, critique on how urban governance can become more seamless. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Cities like Mumbai are facing disasters in form of urban floods, pollution menace etc. The “resilient Mumbai spirit” in the face of crisis has been lauded by many. But when crises keep occurring frequently, it is a sign that something has gone badly wrong with the city’s governance. The recent stampede at Elphinstone station shows this.

Impact of multiplicity of agencies and functional overlap :-

  • Cities in India are governed by multiple organisations and authorities which have their own jurisdictions; thus Indian cities are characterised by multiple boundaries. 
  • The governing authorities in a city include urban local bodies (ULB) with the primary functions of service delivery, planning for socio-economic development and regulation of development.
  • Large cities also have development authorities, urban development authorities or improvement trusts responsible for planning and development that divide cities into various planning zones. 
  • This all results in lack of co ordination among various agencies and confusion in charge of work. This makes the public suffer as they don’t get effective and necessary infrastructure.
  • This also means lack of an adaptive and flexible planning process in response to the economic forces that drive demand for land and land use. 
  • Coordination and cooperation among all public authorities concerned needs to take place not just in response to a crisis but as a regular and routine feature of the governance set-up. This requires a single coordinating agency.


  • Until 2012, Delhi was governed by three municipal corporations — the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Delhi Cantonment Board. The area under the MCD was further sub-divided into 12 zones.
  • In 2012, the MCD area was divided into three municipal corporations — the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. Thus the NCT is governed by five bodies.
  • In 2012, the administrative boundaries were reformed to include two more districts — South East and Shahdara — to form 11 districts. The Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, notified in 2007 and formulated by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), identifies 15 planning zones.

It is crucial that the agency have a clear functional mandate and adequate autonomous power for planning and decision making. Further, it should have jurisdiction over certain functions such as transport for the entire metropolitan region. Besides transit, other functions such as solid waste disposal and water supply, that require provisioning at a regional level, could be delineated to be undertaken by this agency. It needs to have representatives from other public organisations and domain experts from outside the public sphere. Finally, it needs to be accountable to citizens for the functions in the region. This could be done by having direct or indirect elections to appoint the political head for this agency.

Topic:  Important aspects of governance, 

2) Examine the role played by relevant meteorological forecasting numbers to ensure better policy formulation and grass root action. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the conditions of the atmosphere for a given location and time. Many a times there are miscalculations and inaccuracies in prediction which proves detrimental to both policy formulation and grass root actions.

In April, the IMD had predicted “near normal”, or 96%, rains and then upgraded the figure to 98% a couple of months later. This belongs to below normal category of monsoon but the flood situation in many states indicated falsification in predictions.

Hence better policy formulation and grass root actions need relevant meteorological forecasting :-

  • It will help farmers to determine the period of sowing, what crops to be sowed and for government what preventive measures to take, at what scale, in which sector etc.
  • Relevant meteorological data will help in planning budgetary allocations in sectors and allocating the scarce resources of nation prudentially.
  • Countries fishermen, disaster management authorities, scientists, policy makers will be benefitted to do their work accurately and with efficiency.
  • Countries preparation in event of climate changes, extreme events better forecasting helps in making economy, infrastructure more resilient. Ex drought, flood management
  • It’s role in predicting accurate data, affected areas will help in securing weaker section of society a better future as women, children get affected the most with variations in normal weather.

Forecasting agencies must use advance technologies like supercomputers, radars, digital gadgets, precision robotics in order to enhance the accuracy of predictions. It will not only help in better planning but also reduce impact and save monetary loss of nation.

Topic:   Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

3) Propagating good reproductive hygiene is as most important as propagating good family planning. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Family planning involves using birth control techniques to decide how many children you have and when you have them. It allows couples to have their desired number of children, and control the spacing and timing of their births.

Importance of family planning :-

  • It is very much needed for maternal health. Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery.
  • While motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, for too many women it is associated with suffering, ill-health and even death.
  • A woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being, as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy.

Importance of reproductive hygiene :-

Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of reproductive disease or infirmity.  Reproductive health deals with the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life.

                                                                                                                                  -United Nations

  • Reproductive health is not just about sex. It is part of a holistic health program starting from early age teaching values and understanding the anatomy and physiology of their bodies.
  • This education continues when they are young adults to have safe and acceptable access to methods of fertility regulation of their choice and the right to have access to appropriate healthcare services that enables women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth.

·         Women bear by far the greatest burden of reproductive health problems. Women are at risk of complications from pregnancy and childbirth; they also face risks in preventing unwanted pregnancy, suffer the complications of unsafe abortion, bear most of the burden of contraception, and are more exposed to contracting, and suffering the complications of reproductive tract infections, particularly sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). ·         Among women of reproductive age, 36% of all healthy years of life lost is due to reproductive health problems such as unregulated fertility, maternal mortality and morbidity and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.  By contrast, the equivalent figure for men is 12%.Hence good reproductive hygiene is equally important as propagating good family planning. 


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

4) How can India play a significant role in the redevelopment and security of Afghanistan. Do you think India should be militarily involved in the same? Critically analyse. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of India have traditionally been strong and friendly. Whilst the Republic of India was the only South Asian country to recognize the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s, its relations were diminished during the 1990s Afghan civil war and the Taliban government. India aided the overthrow of the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. Indians are working in various construction projects, as part of India’s rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. India’s significant role in redevelopment and security of Afghanistan :-·         India will assist in development projects like the Shatoot dam and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low-cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city and a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif·         India’s focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, application of remote sensing in resource management and space technology in governance.·         India agreed to strengthen security co-operations and extend further assistance for the Afghan national defence and security forces in fighting the scourge of terrorism, organized crime, trafficking of narcotics and money laundering.·         India would be providing increased training facilities for Afghan defence forces that have been battling a resurgent Taliban for many years. India has pledged $3.1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban from KabulHowever this developmental assistance should not extend to military sphere. This will dramatically change India’s position and role in Afghanistan. It’s involvement in military activity and future alliances counter alliances will involve India unnecessarily into groupings. India has already ruled out such possibility.  


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

5) Discuss the geopolitical significance of the Horn of Africa to India. Also discuss nature of India’s engagement with this region. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in Northeast Africa. It juts hundreds of kilometres into the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, lying along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. The area is the easternmost projection of the African continent. The Horn of Africa denotes the region containing the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The area has experienced imperialism, neo-colonialism, Cold War, ethnic strife, intra-African conflict, poverty, disease, famine and much else.

Geopolitical significance :-


  • The four different states constituting the Horn — Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti — along with Yemen across the Red Sea have long been described as one of the world’s pivotal regions.
  • India’s major Oil and natural gas trade passes through the critical point of horn of Africa.
  • Many regional powers are now trying to shape the strategic landscape of the Horn through military bases and armed interventions.
  • Djibouti, for example, is reported to host military facilities of Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Eritrea has bases for UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar; UAE and Turkey have facilities in different regions of Somalia.
  • Our strategic community and official agencies should pay more attention to the conditions and power dynamics in the Horn of Africa because what happens in the region has a direct bearing on our security.

India’s relationship with region :-

  • India currently does not have an embassy in Djibouti. Independent India discarded this geopolitical thinking as it adopted an inward economic orientation and replaced its inherited regional security role with non-alignment and military isolationism. As a result, India’s influence on the ground steadily diminished. Things began to change in the 1990s as Delhi turned to economic globalisation.
  • It is worth noting that a considerable degree of consultation, coordination and cooperation in capacity building in anti-piracy operations has been taking place between India and horn of Africa.
  • India’s engagement with horn of Africa goes much beyond the piracy angle and involves the medical tourism, student exchange, work of UN peacekeeping force etc

Topic: Indian economy; Infrastructure

6) Upgrading existing infrastructure and not creating new is the key to socio-economic transformation. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Infrastructure sector is a key driver for the Indian economy. The sector is highly responsible for propelling India’s overall development and enjoys intense focus from Government for initiating policies that would ensure time-bound creation of world class infrastructure in the country. Infrastructure sector includes power, bridges, dams, roads and urban infrastructure development. In 2016, India jumped 19 places in World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) 2016, to rank 35th amongst 160 countries.

The social infrastructure is crucial for countries overall economic growth. However considering slow down of Indian economy greater public investment must now flow into the repair and reconstruction of infrastructure rather than starting new projects.

  • Increased public investment in new projects leads to a higher deficit, which is the gap between the government’s expenditure and its receipts. 
  • Government’s efforts to ensure a good living habitat for the poor in the country and launching of new flagship urban missions like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) under the urban habitat model need further up gradation in order to enhance it’d reach and impact.
  • The development of road infrastructure is getting funding and up gradation with government support and innovative methods like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) launched its first overseas issue of Masala Bond at the London Stock Exchange
  • The Ministry of Shipping plans to undertake development of 37 national waterways (NWs), out of the 111 NWs declared under the National Waterways Act 2016, in the next three years, which would have positive impact on reduction of overall logistics cost. 
  • The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) expects investment in India’s existing power transmission sector to reach Rs 2.6 lakh crore (US$ 38.85 billion) during the 13th plan (2017-22), and to enhance the transmission capacity of the inter-regional links by 45,700 megawatt (MW).

Such investment in existing infrastructure project will save precious government financial resources, will enhance prudent allocation of money and will help in upgrading the critical infrastructure needed for country’s overall development. However neglect of new projects should not be done. India also need to explore modern options like bullet trains, green field regional airports, shipping waterways etc to lead country in global developments.


Topic: Developments in S&T

7) What do you understand by cryptocurrency/crypto-token powered initial coin offerings (ICO)? Should India regulate ICOs? If yes, how? Examine. (200 Words)


Introduction :- ICO is the abbreviation of Initial Coin Offering. It means that someone offers investors some units of a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token in exchange against cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Since 2013 ICOs are often used to fund the development of new cryptocurrencies. The pre-created token can be easily sold and traded on all cryptocurrency exchanges if there is demand for them.

An ICO is largely similar to an initial public offering, but it differs to the extent that instead of offering shares in a company, cryptocurrencies or crypto-tokens are offered at a predetermined rate. These crypto-tokens are basically digital assets which can be configured in a number of ways to represent a variety of services.

Should India regulate ICO :-

  • Currently, there isn’t much regulatory clarity globally regarding ICOs.
  • China has recently banned all ICOs in order to check the disruption of economic and financial order in the Chinese market.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Canadian Securities Administrators, on the other hand, have released investor bulletins highlighting that some ICOs may need to be categorized as securities in accordance with the nature of the crypto-token offered.
  • India should think on regulating ICOs as the cryptocurrencies are the future currencies. They are bound to occupy the traditional currency market and if not regulated can exaggerate the problems of corruption, black money, terror financing etc.


How should India regulate it :- In order to streamline and regulate ICOs in India, there are legal and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed.

  • Based on their nature, crypto-tokens/cryptocurrencies could be classified as securities or currency or a payment system or intangible property. This classification shall be crucial in determining the regulatory framework governing their issuance even otherwise and through the ICO route. 
  • Compliance requirements will also vary if crypto-token is a currency then it will be required to follow know your customer norms and anti-money laundering requirements—whereas if they are considered securities, then companies will be required to comply with SEBI listing regulations.
  • crypto-regulations will have to be enacted inter alia governing issuance through ICOs, transfer and management of crypto-tokens, which shall serve as the Bible for intermediaries such as crypto-exchanges and crypto-brokers among others. 


In India, there is regulatory opaqueness surrounding the regulation of ICOs. As a crucial first step, it is recommended that a regulatory sandbox approach is followed to develop laws that achieve synergy between new technology, investor protection and effective regulatory oversight. If such an approach is followed, it may lead to greater innovation and investment in India.

Topic: Ethics in human actions; Ethics in public administration

8) State sponsored surveillance raises some serious ethical concerns. Examine the same in additional to highlighting your view on its practice. (150 Words)


Introduction :- Surveillance is simply put  the observation and/or monitoring of a person. Coming from the French word for looking upon the term encompasses not only visual observation but also the scrutiny of all behavior, speech, and actions. Prominent examples of surveillance include surveillance cameras, wiretaps, GPS tracking, and internet surveillance.

These advances in technology have a profound impact with regards to the ethics of placing individual under surveillance in our modern society. Today many of our actions are observable, recorded, searchable and traceable close surveillance is much more intrusive than it has been in the past.


Surveillance projects in India :-

  • Central Monitoring System (CMS): A data collection system similar to the NSA’s PRISM program. It enables the Government of India to listen to phone conversations, intercept e-mails and text messages, monitor posts on social networking service and track searches on Google
  • DRDO NETRA: Network that is capable of tracking online communications on a real time basis by harvesting data from various voice-over-IP services, including Skype and Google Talk. It is operated by the Research and Analysis Wing.
  • NATGRID: An intelligence grid that links the databases of several departments and ministries of the Government of India.


Ethical issues involved :-

  • Violation of privacy :- Surveillance is basically based on this principle as it involves gathering, watching and collecting a person’s information without his/her consent. It is one of the most valued and natural right of human.
  • Trust and autonomy :- As the privacy is violated people find it difficult to trust the government for the protection of their rights. It creates a distrust between the rulers and ruled. It encroaches upon the individual’s bodily and emotional autonomy.
  • Cause of surveillance :- The purpose of surveillance, or one particular instantiation of surveillance, is probably the most fundamental ethical question that can be asked. Security can be the easiest answers but it has been observed and experienced by all that the surveillance often has unethical usage associated with it.
  • Authority :- The justification of surveillance, and particularly the cause of that surveillance, will depend on who it is that is carrying out the surveillance. State security can and should be carried out by state intelligence agencies with assurance of it’s ethical use but surveillance by private agencies for their gains is out rightly unethical.


Middle path- Surveillance must be done with some measures into consideration like  :-

  • There must be sufficient sustainable cause. Any tendency for the secret world to encroach into areas unjustified by the scale of potential harm to national interests has to be checked.
  • There must be integrity of motive. No hidden agendas: the integrity of the whole system throughout the intelligence process must be assured, from collection to analysis and presentation.
  • The methods used must be proportionate. Their likely impact must be proportionate to the harm that is sought to prevent
  • There must be right and lawful authority. There must be the right level of sign-off on sensitive operations, with accountability up a recognized chain of command to permit effective oversight.
  • There must be a reasonable prospect of success. All intelligence operations need careful risk management, and before approval is given there has to be consideration of the likelihood of unintended consequences and the impact if the operation were to be exposed or otherwise go wrong.
  • Recourse to secret intelligence must be a last resort. There should be no reasonable alternative way of acquiring the information by non-secret methods.

Justification :-  The unconstrained collection of electronic intelligence is destroying civil liberties and creating the conditions for tyranny. Even Edward Snowden thinks on same line. But the continued freedom of our society ultimately rests on the refusal of the rest of us to accept such an extreme position, and on our willingness to recognise that an ethical balancing act is needed. We must respect the work of our intelligence agencies in keeping us safe, and be glad that in our democratic societies they are subject to the rule of law and must also ensure that the process of surveillance is balanced with ethical considerations.