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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: Role of women; Poverty and developmental issues

1) The recent 2017 amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 (Amendment) is a step forward in the right direction towards increasing gender diversity at the workplace. Comment. (150 Words)

The Wire

Introduction :- In 2012, which is the most recent data available, only 27% of Indian women worked compared to 55% in OECD countries and 63% in East Asia. This deficit shaves off an estimated 2.5% from the country’s gross domestic product every year. The amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, which were introduced this year, in particular the provision of 26 weeks of paid maternity leave and the mandatory crèche facility, are path-breaking.

Four major changes have been made to the law relating to maternity benefits and which will prove to be the game changers in labour force participation are


  • Firstly, it extends the period of maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks of which not more than eight weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery. This exceeds the International Labour Organisation’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development.
  • Secondly, women who legally adopt a child below the age of three months or a “commissioning mother” will be entitled to maternity benefit for 12 weeks from the date on which the child is handed over to her.  
  • Thirdly, it gives discretion to employers to allow women to work from home after the period of maternity benefit on mutually agreeable conditions. This would apply if the nature of work assigned to the woman permits her to work from home
  • Fourthly, it requires establishments having 50 or more employees to have a crèche facility, either separately or along with common facilities. Further, employers should allow the woman to visit the crèche four times a day, which “shall also include the interval for rest allowed to her.”
  • The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.  Such communication must be in writing and electronically.


In order to ensure that the mandatory nature of the Amendment is not self defeating in the purpose of increasing gender diversity, thereby risking decline in hiring of women workforce, the government may have to put on its thinking cap on how to distribute/reduce the financial burden on the employer. It could do this perhaps giving tax benefits to companies to implement and incentivize this much needed boost to women empowerment at work and in society and address other important milestones to be covered such as introduction of paternity leave which is a crucial piece missing from this progressive legislation.

Topic: Role of women and women’s organisations

2) Discuss the nature and significance of contributions of Anasuya Sarabhai to women’s empowerment in India. (150 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Anasuya Sarabhai (11 November 1885 – 1972) was a pioneer of the women’s labour movement in India. She founded the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majoor Mahajan Sangh), India’s oldest union of textile workers, in 1920.

Nature and significance of contribution of Anusuya Sarabhai to women’s empowerment in India :-

  • Self empowerment and determination :- She was born in Gujarati family and married at youger age of 13 to her uncle. But with her grit and zeal to fight any form of social evils, she walked away from the marriage and went to England to study at the prestigious London School of Economics. 
  • Women empowerment :- After the school, she also started a crèche, toilets for women, a maternity home and a hostel for harijan girls. It was then that she became aware of the status of the working class in India and decided to take up their cause. She mentored Ela Bhatt who went on to establish the Self Employment Women Association which worked for women at large scale.
  • Representation :- In 1914, she helped Ahmedabad’s weavers successfully organise their first strike to demand higher wages and through years, she went on to become their most trusted vocal supporter, negotiating with mill owners (including her brother) for better working conditions.
  • Work for weaker section :- She did not limit her knowledge and as a teacher made it her mission to educate the poor and downtrodden. She opened a school for poor students of all castes.
  • She was influenced by the great personalities and struggles of time like in Ahmedabad mill strike with Mahatma Gandhi and by British women activists in Suffragette Movement.

Anasuya Sarbhai’s respectfully called Motabehn is heralded as the change maker in India’s freedom struggle owing to her immense contribution for women empowerment in unfavorable circumstances.

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

3) Why is militant Buddhism on the rise in few Asian countries? Examine the justifications given by votaries of violence in Buddhism. Also comment on India’s response to militant Buddhism in its neighbourhood. (250 Words)

The Wire

Introduction :- Millitant Buddhism refers to acts of violence and aggression committed by Buddhists with religious, political, socio-cultural motivations as well as self-inflicted violence during ascetics or for religious purposes.

It’s not just in Myanmar that this militant Buddhism is on the rise: it’s also surfacing in the other two leading Theravādin countries: Sri Lanka and Thailand. In all three countries, Buddhists make up the vast majority of the population: 70% in Sri Lanka, 88% in Myanmar, and 93% in Thailand

Reasons for it’s rise :-

  • The conviction that Buddhism is under threat psychologically instigate the monks to adopt the path of violence in self defence.
  • The notion that a non-Buddhist minority is the vanguard of an imminent invasion is very strongindeed which provokes the monks to adopt violent path.
  • There is an absence of strong checks and balance system, political empowerment of minority and the issue is being politically appeased in order to create chaos.
  • The social insecurity and instability is also another reason for the rise of militant Budhhism trend.
  • The rising threats due to other religion like Muslim jihad for example many monks were killed by Muslims in south Thailand. In past Bamiyan Buddha image and Nalanda University was badly devastated by Islamic forces.

Justification given :-

  • Militant monks usually start their argumentation by pointing out that even the Buddha himself showed some understanding for the wars conducted by his benefactor King Pasenadi instead of condemning them.
  • Burmese monks are preaching violenceinstead of peace, and “firm action” instead of meditation. They justify killing in defence of their own religion hence they are justifying persecution of Rohingyas

Indian response :-

India is the birthplace of Buddhism which is in itself a very peaceful religion hence India will not support such activities. India will always oppose killings, devastation of people under the garb of religion in danger.


Topic: Cropping pattern; Food security

4) Discuss the importance of saving traditional seed varieties in organic farming. (150 Words)

Down to Earth


Introduction :- In agriculture and gardening, seed saving (sometimes known as brown bagging[1]) is the practice of saving seeds or other reproductive material (e.g. tubers) from vegetablesgrainherbs, and flowers for use from year to year for annuals and nutstree fruits, and berries for perennials and trees. However in the wake of GM crop era saving of traditional seed varieties has not only become difficult but also necessary. At the 19th Organic World Congress, more than 55 groups have come together to call for the conservation of indigenous seeds and shunning GM crops.

Importance of saving traditional seed varieties :-

  • Native crop varieties are not only drought and disease resistant, but are nutritive and retain the soil fertility as they do not need chemical fertilisers and excessive water.
  • The conservation of native seeds is important to prevent the exploitation of already distressed farmers.
  • Farmers often become dependent on these companies for seeds as these cannot be saved for the next sowing season. In this context, conservation of native crops becomes paramount to
  • Native crops are likely to become extinct as large seed companies promote and patent hybrid seeds.
  • The selection and conservation of good seeds are central to sustainable agriculture and global food security. For this conservation of native seed holds much importance.
  • Without a strong base of diverse seeds, food production is threatened by disease and climate change. Conservation of native seeds becomes important in the wake of climate change. For ex traditional rice varieties ripen simply with the changing seasons. So if a single rice variety is planted at different points of time all of it is still ready for harvest at nearly the same time.
  • Abundance of traditional seeds and widespread cultivation of High yield varieties have proved to be detrimental like can be seen in case of Punjab which due to such overuse has become the cancer capital of India.

Hence it becomes important to save the native varieties of seeds. Efforts taken by organisations like  Save Our Rice campaign Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch or India seed Sovereignty Alliance and individuals like Rahibai in Maharashtra, Babulal Dahiya in Madhya Pradesh is noteworthy.

Topic:  Energy

5) Shale is OPEC’s nemesis. Discuss. Also examine how does increase in shale output in North America benefit India. (150 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- Shale oil is an unconventional oil produced from oil shale rock fragments by pyrolysishydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. These processes convert the organic matter within the rock (kerogen) into synthetic oil and gas. The resulting oil can be used immediately as a fuel or upgraded to meet refinery feedstock specifications by adding hydrogen and removing impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen. The refined products can be used for the same purposes as those derived from crude oil.

Shale is OPEC’s nemesis :-

  • In the past, North American producers of shale brought a multi-year bull market in oil to an abrupt end.
  • Since then, OPEC has struggled to maintain control over oil prices except for brief spells.
  • The American shale industry has been let free to increase production in response to higher prices, thus imposing a cap on the price of oil.
  • There are no signs yet of a structural change in the oil market to suggest that it could be any different this time.
  • Shale producers have continued to pump more oil into the market as crude prices have crossed the $50 mark. 

How India will get benefitted with increased production of shale :-

  • India has derived huge benefits from lower oil prices since 2014, with the government’s fiscal management and inflation-targeting being rendered a lot easier.
  • India, which is the fourth largest consumer of oil, is a big beneficiary of falling oil prices. The reduced prices will not only lower the import bill but also help save foreign exchange. As per rough estimates, a $10 fall in crude could reduce the current account deficit by approximately 0.5% of GDP and the fiscal deficit by around 0.1% of GDP.
  • The world supply of oil increased and US which was importing 9-10 million barrels per day (mbpd) now no longer does so because of its own shale oil production. Supply has also increased with countries such as Iraq producing more oil. Demand has, however, slowed down from Asia and Europe.

The oil price fall has created huge volatility in world markets including India, which is not insulated from the contagion effects of this development. However, the silver lining for India is that when the dust settles down, the capital earmarked for emerging markets and BRICs economies, is likely to flow into India given its relative attraction compared to a weakening Brazil on falling iron-ore prices or a collapsing Russia reeling under this oil price fall. 

Topic:  Conservation

6) What do you understand by for compensatory afforestation? Comment on the recent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on compensatory afforestation. (150 Words)

Down to Earth

Introduction :- Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees (forestation) in an area where there was no previous tree cover. Compensatory afforestation is the afforestation carried out in order to compensate the damage or loss caused due to industrial or other developmental activities.

Guidelines on compensatory afforestation :-

  • These guidelines specifies criteria for suitability and identification of land bank for compensatory afforestation.
  • It noted that in many cases a substantial portion of the land identified for compensatory afforestation already contain vegetation of varying density. Creation of compensatory afforestation will not fully compensate the loss of trees as there will not be enough space for the requisite number of plants to be planted.
  • Instead of outrightly rejecting such lands, the Ministry has suggested that at least 1,000 plants per hectare (ha) should be planted on the identified non-forest lands.
  • The guidelines, almost in the same breath, also provide relaxation to the criteria by stating that in case planting 1,000 plants per ha is not possible on non-forest land; the balance number of plantations can be done on degraded forests.
  • The guidelines have also directed the constitution of state-level committees under the chairmanship of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to expedite the creation of land bank for compensatory afforestation. 

Critical analysis :-

  • The guidelines have tried to address the mounting challenge of land scarcity for compensatory afforestation. However, they have fallen short of clarifying the minimum threshold for undertaking plantations on non-forest land. Nevertheless, various forest ecosystems in India have different natural tree densities. Putting a general criterion of 1,000 plants per ha (or difference between 1,000 and existing tree stock) raises more questions.
  • The emphasis on specifying a time period for maintenance of plantations which is 10 years is a welcome move. It would have been better if the guidelines had also specified a certain percentage of compensatory afforestation funds to be set aside exclusively for this purpose.
  • The land identified for compensatory afforestation is required to be notified as Reserved Forests under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. While the forest department’s jurisdiction would extend over new lands through this process, tribal dispossession of lands in the name of compensatory afforestation could increase.
  • The absence of community representation in the committees to be constituted for the identification of the land bank is also a matter of concern.

Topic: Conservation; Agricultural issues

7) Examine the causes of increasing incidences of pest attacks on crops in India. Do you think biological pest control would address pest problem effectively? Write a note on other pest control measures. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


Introduction :- A pest is a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (as agriculture or livestock production). alternative meanings include organisms that cause nuisance and epidemic disease associated with high mortality (specifically: plague). In its broadest sense, a pest is a competitor of humanity.

India has witnessed increased pest attacks in recent times :-

  • After a series of farmer suicides in Odisha’s Bargarh districtover pest attack, the state government finally acknowledged that there are nearly 200,000 hectares of area, on which paddy is grown, has been damaged across nine districts.
  • Punjab is not a major producer of cotton, Maharashtra is the second-biggest grower of the fiber. Both observed increases attack of Whitefly, pink bollworm.
  • Papilio Demoleus Linn (Lemon Butterfly or the Citrus Butterfly) is causing severe damage to citrus fruits in India.
  • Cosmoplites Sordidus, Germere (The Banana Weevil) is damaging Banana plants.

Causes of increasing incidences of pest attack :-

  • Overuse of pesticides :- With farmers using pesticides more and more insects develops resistance.
  • Fertilizers are being used indiscriminately which makes crops more vulnerable to pest attacks. Organic soils and fertilizers increases crop’s resistance to pest attacks. In Japan, the density of whitebacked planthopper (Sogatella furcifera) immigrants in organic rice fields was significantly less than their density in conventional rice fields. 
  • Climate change :- The rising levels of CO2and temperatures are having direct effect on pests and diseases in crops. Elevated CO2 can increase levels of simple sugars in leaves and lower their nitrogen content. These can increase the damage caused by many insects, who will consume more leaves to meet their metabolic requirements of nitrogen.
  • Warmer temperatures in temperate climates will result in more types and higher populations of insects. Some insects like arctic moths take several years to complete one lifecycle.

Biological control is a method of controlling pests such as insectsmitesweeds and plant diseases using other organisms. It relies on predationparasitismherbivory, or other natural mechanisms, but typically also involves an active human management role. It can be an important component of integrated pest management (IPM) programs.

Advantages :-

  • Biological control is a very specific strategy. The vast majority of the time, whatever predator is introduced will only control the population of the pest they are meant to target.
  • after the initial introduction, very little effort is required to keep the system running fluidly. It also means that biological control can be kept in place for a much longer time than other methods of pest control.
  • Biological control can be cost effective in the long run. Although it may cost a bit to introduce a new species to an environment, it’s a tactic that only needs to be applied once due to its self-perpetuating nature.

However there are many drawbacks too.

  • It’s a slow process. It takes a lot of time and patience for the biological agents to work their magic on a pest population, whereas other methods like pesticides work provide immediate results. 
  • As it is very targeted only handful of pests are controlled that too very small in sample size.

Hence other method can be explored :-

  • Cultural control :- Mechanical pest controlis the use of hands-on techniques as well as simple equipment and devices, that provides a protective barrier between plants and insects. This is referred to as tillage and is one of the oldest methods of weed control as well as being useful for pest control; wireworms, the larvae of the common click beetle, are very destructive pests of newly ploughed grassland, and repeated cultivation exposes them to the birds and other predators that feed on them.
  • Trap cropping :- A trap cropis a crop of a plant that attracts pests, diverting them from nearby crops. Pests aggregated on the trap crop can be more easily controlled using pesticides or other methods.
  • Inter cropping and crop rotation :- inter-cropping. This practice consists of alternating rows of crops that are planted in fields. This reduces the attacks of pests and is easy to implement and provides room for diversity and adaptability depending on where farmers are located. Crop rotations or diversification is another practice that involves planting different crops after a season, so as to not exhaust the soil of nutrients, or to deprive newly hatched insect pests of their food. In China this is highly used for rice cultivation.


Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in private institutions

Introduction :- The above case study needs the emotional intelligence of Head of human Resource Department in order to handle a messy situation. In this though company is adhering to rules and regulations the situation of the worker’s family and other worker’s concerns needs to be addressed carefully.


No Recommendations Merit Demerit
1) Ignore the issue and protest This will pose the strict rule oriented behaviour of company hence will discourage future chaos beyond rules. This will paint company’s image as un friendly and insensitive to workers concerns.
2) Give the compensation This will help the family of the dead worker to face their loss and stand on their own for future course. It will set a bad precedence for future as anything beyond rule can be achieved by workers with some protest.
3) State the facts, warn the protestant workers and call the police It will control the situation immediately. Further loss due to worker’s protest can be stopped. Calling up of police will create a mistrust between company authorities and workers. This will lead to deterioration of work culture in future.
4) Set up a committee to further think on course of action This will pacify protesting people for sometime and will ensure company’s working hassle free. This will delay the matter and will showcase careless attitude of company to come at a resolve.


Course of action :

  • Company on one hand must show sensitivity towards the workers and on other hand secure the interests of company.
  • The workers as well as the family must be taken into confidence by a group of appointed people for dialogue between company and representative of protesting people.
  • Other workers must be told to join work immediately in order to avoid company’s loss.
  • The rules, findings of the report and facts must be conveyed to them in a friendly and co-operative environment. They must know that their demands and actions are illegal according to rules.
  • Granting compensation will clearly violate the rules and will set a bad precedence hence it should not be given out rightly. All such reasons must be conveyed to family members and tey must be asked to co-operate with company.
  • However even if the dead worker was drunk it is very difficult to face such devastating situation by the family members hence some financial help out of Corporate Social Responsibility or Worker’s welfare funds must be offered to the family.
  • If any of the family members can join the work in place of the victim they need to be given the chance and necessary training for the employment.