Print Friendly, PDF & Email



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: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

1) Discuss Jawaharlal Nehru’s views on science and religion, and their relevance today. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


Introduction :- Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. He emerged as the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and ruled India from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964.

When the country celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Pandit Nehru, an occasion arrives to explore his most important contribution to all of us. His views on science and religion stands out and his efforts to inculcate them in India needs to be remembered.

Jawaharlal Nehru on Science :

  • Pandit Nehru laid the brick and mortar of science in newly independent India. Nehru’s enormous contributions to the establishment of the IITs, of the large network of research laboratories of the CSIR and DRDO and of the atomic energy establishment are all well known. 
  • But more than the brick and mortar the hardware or establishment of physical facilities as it were Nehru was preoccupied with what he at different times called the scientific method, the scientific approach, the scientific outlook and the scientific temper the soft-ware.
  • To Nehru, scientific temper was something to be inculcated in society at large. He used to believe that Science was not merely an individual’s search for truth; It was something infinitely more than that if it worked for the community.
  • His emphasis on the development of scientific temperament is a great contribution to India because it initiated the fight against religious obscurantism and superstition which the whole country was steeped in.

Nehru on religion :-

  • Despite his celebration of science, the deeper metaphysical/spiritual question fascinated Nehru. He repeatedly argued, the burden of religion has to be lessened.
  • Almost like Max Weber, he would allow himself to be troubled by the question relating to the meaning of existence in a world characterised by increasing rationalisation and secularisation. 
  • He admitted that Science ignored the ultimate purposes and some faith seems necessary in terms of the spirit which are beyond the scope of our physical world.
  • A secular Nehru was more sensitive to the fineness of spiritual wonder than what these days the zealots and state-sponsored celebrity babas are doing.
  • From his dissection of communalism Nehru discovered that secularism was the sole response to the communal forces. Scientific life-style was its pragmatic base. When secularism was to be practised, no other political system could be established except one which was a functional democracy. This is very much relevant even today when we are a diverse country.

Today we experience the presence of his absence. His scholarship, his passion, and his wonder we miss in a political culture. We have lost what made his ‘discovery’ possible — a spirit of nuanced dialogue, decolonised cosmopolitanism and cultural syncretism.


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

2) While the focus on  the Rohingya refugee crisis is justified, the indifference to plight of Sri Lankan refugees is condemnable. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The Rohingya people are a stateless  Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine StateMyanmar. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis. On 22 Oct 2017, the UN reported that an estimated 603,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar had crossed the border into Bangladesh alone since August 25, 2017.


In recent months, the focus of the media has been on the Rohingya refugees in India. But the plight of Sri Lankan refugees, who have been here for nearly 35 years, appears to have gone out of the public consciousness.


Justification of focus on Rohingya crisis can be done on following points :-

  • The plight of the Rohingyas from Myanmar and Bangladesh is being described as Asia’s biggest mass exodus. They are described by the United Nationsin 2013 as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
  • According to Human Rights Watch, the 1982 laws effectively deny to the Rohingya the possibility of acquiring a nationality. Despite being able to trace Rohingya history to the 8th century, Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight national races.
  • The Rohingyas have faced military crackdowns in 1978, 1991–1992, 20122015and 2016–2017. UN officials and HRW have described Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing.
  • Probes by the UN have found evidence of increasing incitement of hatred and religious intolerance by ultra-nationalist Buddhists against Rohingyas while the Myanmar security forces have been conducting summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment and forced labour against the community.

However ignorance to plight of Sri Lankan Tamil is condemnable owing to their struggle and pathetic condition :-

  • Over 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils had sought refuge in the State during the worst crisis in Sri Lanka between 1983 and 1987 and the decade following that. Presently, 109 special camps in Tamil Nadu house more than 60,000 refugees.
  • The pathetic condition of shelters, restrictions on movement, and limited scope of livelihood opportunities affect the community of one lakh-odd Sri Lankan refugees, who have been living in Tamil Nadu ever since the anti-Tamil pogrom in Sri Lanka in July 1983.
  • The refugees also suffer from social and psychological problems as reports of suicides, school dropouts and child marriage show. Many middle-aged refugees worry about their children’s future, given the fact that 40% of camp refugees are below 18 years.
  • In the last eight and a half years, hardly 10% of the refugee population (9,238 people) went back through a scheme implemented by Indian officials along with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Way Forward :-

  • The Tamil Nadu government gives Rs 1,000 every month to the head of the refugee family, Rs 750 to each adult, and Rs 400 to every child. This is very less compared to their crisis situation hence they must be supported with just credit.
  • Refugee children are eligible to study up to Class 12 for free, and receive the benefits due to Indian students, including free textbooks, uniforms, bicycles, noon meals, bus passes and laptops. However this has not resulted into any ground level change in situation. The search for a better future, though, hasn’t been so fruitful for most of the refugees in the state of Tamil Nadu. There are many refugees in India who have been here for three generations and even the third generation after being educated are still working as daily wage labourers. Hence a comprehensive plan considering their real concerns and situation is necessary with involvement of all stakeholder in process.
  • Both the DMK and AIADMK governments have periodically demanded citizenship or permanent resident status for them this can be explored by centre. This will help the next generations of refugees who have stayed back in India.
  • Unlike in Canada, European countries, and Australia, India was reluctant to integrate the refugees into society. These refugees were unable to even decide whether or not to go back to Sri Lanka as observed by academic studies in Sri Lankan refugee camps. Hence shunning these narrow attitudes and showing broader perspectives of co-operation is needed.


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

3) The ‘Quad’ policy both compliments and contradicts India’s Act East policy. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :-  The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is an informal strategic dialogue between the United StatesJapanAustralia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries. It was Shinzo Abe who conceived the idea of Asian democracies joining forces. In 2006, Abe called for a quadrilateral dialogue among Japan, India, Australia and the United States.

India’s Act East Policy focusses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region. The policy which was originally conceived as an economic initiative, has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions including establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation.


The Objective of ”Act East Policy” is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels thereby providing enhanced connectivity to the States of North Eastern Region including Arunanchal Pradesh with other countries in our neighbourhood. 


QUAD policy compliments and contradicts India’s Act East policy :-

·         Quad offers space for economic consolidation, strategic autonomy. The coming together of India, the US, Japan and Australia is being seen as building a strategic partnership to deal with China’s rise and its implications. Hence the objectives of Quad and Look east policy of India can be gauged on similar grounds.

  • The Quad doesn’t just pertain to maritime surveillance, it also aims at enhancing connectivity in accordance with the rule of law and prudent financing in the Indo-Pacific together. This will help in countering China’s One Belt One Road maritime silk route project and can enhance India’s engagement with the region.
  • The 10 ASEAN countries account for about 11% of India’s global trade. For the past few years India has joined the ASEAN “plus six”, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, to discuss the RCEP free trade agreement. Quad can enhance these relationships.


  • Engaging with such alliances with big powers may divert India’s attention from immediate neighbors. It might create impression that India is increasingly giving importance to other new concerns rather than past priorities.
  • If the aims and objectives of Quad examined thoroughly than it’s quite clear that rather than economic, cultural co-operation it is about military co-operation and it’s strategies are directed towards countering China rather than mutual co-operation among region.
  • As India is on other global fronts like BRICS, SCO co-operating with China, it’s role in Quad might become fluttering to it’s own stands.

India’s engagement with Quad must be based on rational criteria’s with a cost benefit analysis to determine the extent of engagement. It should not hamper it’s priorities on list and it’s other agendas in region.

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections. 

4) The amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act are noble, but impractical to implement. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The government, made an amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 recently. This move places India in the league of wealthy Western countries that have some of the most generous benefits for new mothers. These noble amendments are as follows :-

  • Increased Paid Maternity Leave: The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. 
  • Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act extends certain benefits to adoptive mothers as well and provides that every woman who adopts a child shall be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, from the date of adoption.
  • Work from Home option: The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating to “work from home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
  • Crèche facility: The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day.
  • The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.

However they are impractical to implement :-

  • Cost intensive :- The measures introduced, particularly the crèche facility, are cost-intensive and may deter employers from hiring or retaining pregnant women. A 2014 International Labour Organisation report specifically cautions against making employers solely liable for the cost of maternity benefits for this reason.
  • Less spending per child to meet the breastfeeding guidelines :- One of the key goals of the act is to facilitate breastfeeding by working mothers. Studies have shown that health benefits that accrue to both the mother and her child by breastfeeding are more than matched by economic returns at family, enterprise and national levels.
  • Restricting the option of working from home to only women also reinforces gender-based roles within the family. Provisions like these will inevitably cause employers to view these measures as an undue burden. 


It is time for the government to shoulder the financial responsibility of providing maternity benefits.

  • This could be implemented by enabling employers to seek reimbursement of the expenses incurred by them in this respect.
  • In addition, the government must find innovative and cost-effective ways to ensure that working women are not forced to discontinue breastfeeding.
  • A simple method is to express breast milk and store it to be given to their children while they are away.
  • Employers need to facilitate a clean and private pumping room.

Government has to show the will to change this status quo by ensuring effective implementation of maternity benefits.


TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

5) India’s openness to both the quad and triad (India, China and Russia) suggests not the construction of new alliances, but Delhi’s return to the original conception of non-alignment. Analyse. (150 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Quad is the new forum of co-operation among countries of India, United States, Japan, Australia etc. While triad refers to India’s political coalition with Russia and China that later became the BRICS to include Brazil and South Africa.  

Recently the renewed quad did this week was to identify their shared interests on promoting connectivity, countering terrorism, addressing proliferation of nuclear weapons, and encourage respect for international law.

India’s openness to both the quad and triad suggest Delhi’s return to the original conception of non-alignment :-

  • If the explicit purpose of the triad was to promote a multipolar world, the quad has the big task of preventing the emergence of a unipolar Asia dominated by China.
  • Conception of quad as an alliance to contain China must be discarded. None of the four countries are interested in containment. In fact, the US, Japan and Australia have much deeper economic and political ties with China than India.
  • The persistent Indian anxieties on the quad are not about the high principle of strategic autonomy. They reflect the entrenched political distrust of America that expresses itself on any issue involving partnership with the US — whether it was the multilateral nuclear initiative, mini-lateral regional coordination through the quad, or the bilateral defence framework.
  • Contrary to the popular view, distrust of America was not written into independent India’s DNA. India’s founding fathers did not define non-alignment as anti-Americanism.
  • It decreed that working with Soviet Russia was progressive and cooperation with America meant surrendering national sovereignty. In utter perversity, non-alignment was interpreted as aligning with Soviet Russia.
  • The original conception of non-alignment was about building strong ties with all the major powers and making independent judgements about international affairs which is being followed by India’s openness to quad and triad.

Discarding the ambiguities inherited from the 1970s, Delhi now appears ready to expand cooperation with the West or East on the basis of enlightened self-interest. If the quad helps India improve its ability to defeat terrorism, improve regional connectivity and extend its its naval reach, Delhi is not going to thumb its nose. If China is ready to cooperate on terrorism and stop blocking India’s rise, Delhi will be happy explore the multiple possibilities with Beijing.

Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

6) As a traditional public health intervention, vaccines have been costing more money in recent years when a couple of newer generation of products are exhausting governments’ budgets largely due to their monopoly situations thanks to patent thicket and evergreening. Comment. (250 Words)

The Wire

Introduction :- A patent is a legal right to the sole use of an invention for 20 years after its creation. This includes a right to license it to others, to prevent others from using the product and to sell the patent to another.

While Evergreening is any of various legal, business and technological strategies by which producers extend their patents over products that are about to expire, in order to retain royalties from them, by either taking out new patents (for example over associated delivery systems, or new pharmaceutical mixtures), or by buying out, or frustrating competitors, for longer periods of time than would normally be permissible under the law.

 The WIPO report has either overstated or overlooked the role of patents in the context of vaccine access and innovation. Vaccines have been costing more money in recent years. Recent researches have suggested that patent thicket and evergreening, among others, have played an instrumental role.

However, the newly launched report by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Global Challenges division (herein the WIPO report) has concluded with several contestable remarks and downplayed the role of patents in hindering vaccine competition.

  • The WIPO report has either overstated or overlooked the role of patents in the context of vaccine access and innovation.
  • On one hand, it states that the control derived from patents ‘can help ensure vaccine quality and safety’. It is commonly known that it is rather good manufacture practice standards and government regulations that can ensure quality and safety of any medical products including vaccines. A patent, on another hand, is governed by different legal framework and criteria.
  • On another hand, it holds the view that ‘the various forms of IP rights have not posed a significant barrier to the manufacture and distribution of vaccines’.

A recent report published by Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF) suggests that new generation of vaccines are prone to a high concentration of patent ever greening.

One such example is a composition patent applied by Pfizer on its 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-13 vaccine) concerns comprising more serotypes to a PCV vaccine based on obvious technologies known for vaccine producers.

It is under disputes in multiple jurisdictions including India, South Korea, US and Europe. The broad patent, if granted without national law scrutiny, could effectively block follow-on developers to launch their own version of PCV-13.

It is, therefore, oversimplification for the WIPO report to conclude that patent plays the only insignificant role in the lack of competition in the current vaccine market.

Way forward :-

  • Applying patentability criteria that could restrict expansive claims, and easing public scrutiny mechanism such as patent opposition procedures are among the critical measures that national patent laws should consider. 
  • Claims concerning age groups or vaccine dose regimens, for instance, could be systematically rejected upon strict patentability.
  • Procedural safeguards such as pre-grant and post-grant oppositions could also increase public scrutiny on excessive practices.

WIPO needs to retreat this report to give a more professional analysis on the concrete patent barriers facing the new vaccine market, and the legal and policy tools that countries could use in tackling evergreening practices.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of Space

7) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to privatise the operations of its popular Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) by 2020. Examine the rationale behind this plan and also its merits and demerits. (150 Words)

The Wire


Introduction :- In order to step up the launch capacity within the country, ISRO is in the process of exploring the possibility of involving Indian industry in a greater role to meet the increased national requirements and possible commercial demand for launch services. Discussions are being held with the Indian industry towards formulating a plan & strategy to enhance the capacity and capability of managing the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) programme on an end to end basis. 

Rational behind it :-

  • ISRO has been pursuing a conscious approach of building up and nurturing the industrial capabilities in the country to maximally support the Indian Space Programme.
  • Through appropriate transfer of technology and hand-holding, ISRO is making focused efforts to consolidate and enhance participation of Indian industries for manufacturing and production of space related hardware such as rocket engine & stages, propellant tanks, spacecraft structures, solar panels, thermal control systems, electronic packages etc., required for satellites and launch vehicles. 

Merit of this move :-

  • A number of private players have shown interest and promise in the Indian space programme, and a few of them are interested in their own launch vehicles. Privatizing the operation of the rocket would free up ISRO to focus on more cutting-edge missions. 
  • ISRO is severely constrained to meet the ever-increasing demands from over 60 central departments, 29 states and thousands of private sector companies hence urging the domestic industry to come forward and help augment the manufacture and launch of satellites will help ISRO.
  • The nascent private space industry in India will not only provide services within the country but also opportunities for services in the neighboring countries and other parts of the globe.

Demerits of this move :-

  • The efficacy and efficiency attained by ISRO needs to be maintained in order to keep it’s standard intact in world. Privatization efforts will require very careful attention in this.
  • Privatizing such benchmark product of ISRO may hamper the trust and credibility of national institute. Hence outright privatization need to be evaluated on cost benefit analysis.
  • Such exercise will require well defined laws, rules, procedures, norms in place for which current establishments are not ready.

Privatization of PSLV comes with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. However it is a welcome step is implemented with right spirit. Privatizing PSLV operations and outsourcing hardware manufacturing will not just free up ISRO to focus on more nation-building missions, but also create a vibrant Indian space market.

This is very much in keeping with the global trend. Premier national space agencies such as NASA or ESA or JAXA do not engage in commercial manufacture of communications satellites or leasing transponders. They instead focus on building next generation R&D capabilities and possibilities, leaving the private sector to take care of commercialization.



Topic: Inclusive development; Agriculture credit

8) Loan waivers do not result in farmers’ welfare. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Farm loan waiver is the practice of writing off the loans given to farmers owing to their inability to pay them back due to reasons like calamity, disaster, political policies etc. Recently many governments like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh have done it.

Farm loan waiver are necessary for farmers welfare :-

  • Agriculture in India has been facing many issues — fragmented land holding, depleting water table levels, deteriorating soil quality, rising input costs, low productivity. Add to this vagaries of the monsoon.
  • Output prices may not be remunerative. Farmers are often forced to borrow to manage expenses. Also, many small farmers not eligible for bank credit borrow at exorbitant interest rates from private sources.
  • When nature rides roughshod over debt-ridden farmers in the form of erratic monsoon and crop failures, they face grim options. Indebtedness is a key reason for the many farmer suicides in the country.


Loan waivers don’t result into farmers welfare rather cause many other problems :-

  • Loan waivers provide some relief to farmers in such situations, but there are debates about the long-term effectiveness of the measure.
  • Farm loan waivers are at best a temporary solution and entail a moral hazard even those who can afford to pay may not, in the expectation of a waiver.
  • Such measures can erode credit discipline and may make banks wary of lending to farmers in the future. It also makes a sharp dent in the finances of the government that finances the write-off.
  • Also a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute reveals that at the national level, 48% of agricultural households do not avail a loan from any source. Among the borrowing households, 36% take credit from informal sources.
  • A negative relationship between the size of farm and per capita consumption expenditure (a proxy for income) further underscores the importance of formal credit in assisting marginal and poor farm households in reducing poverty hence farm loan waivers fail to result into farmers welfare.

Way Forward :-

  • It is more important to make agriculture sustainable by reducing inefficiencies, increasing income, reducing costs and providing protection through insurance schemes.
  • Extending reach of minimum support price which has been dedicated to few crops and in a narrow geographical area is important.
  • The agro-processing industry and warehousing needs to expand so that agricultural produce can be stored when prices plunge.
  • Credit products for agriculture need to be tailor-made based on cropping and rain cycle, specific to a particular region. The regional offices of commercial banks should contribute in this exercise.
  • The period of crop loan should be extendable to four years, given that, on average, every second or third year the spatial distribution of rain pattern is erratic in India.

Urjit Patel recently commented that farm loan waiver undermines honest credit culture and discipline. It endangers moral hazard and entails transfer from tax payers. Hence alternative to blanket waivers need to be explored and adapted.



Topic: Ethics in human actions

Introduction :- Cheating, misconduct, deception and other forms of unethical behavior are widespread today, not just in business but in sports, government, schools, and many other arenas.

While the media often focuses on extreme cases of cheating and sensational scams (such as Bihar cheating cases in past)­­­, less attention is paid to what researchers call ordinary unethical behavior of cheating in day to day life. For example: not reporting income on one’s taxes, buying clothing with the intention of wearing it once and returning it, stealing from one’s employer, or cheating on an exam.

Is cheating unethical :-

  • Cheating is a result of ordinary people giving into the temptation to cheat when confronted with the opportunity to do so. When combined, these behaviors are extremely costly for both individual and society. It sets a very bad practice and precedence in place for others to follow.
  • It creates a distortion of level playing field. For ex Cheating is unfair to honest students.  A cheater receives through deception what honest students work hard for.
  • It is unethical in sense that if it is justified out of practicality of situation or broader perspective of it’s practice for a good reason them it gives people an excuse to cheat. For ex Lord Krishna played many tricks in Mahbharata but justified it for “winning of right”.

Why do people cheat :-

  • Cheating is viewed as one of the best short cut by lazy, unethical people and hence it is adopted to pass away from hard work.
  • The lack of self confidence, increased level of competition, fear of failure, maintaining the standard of living or reputation in economic terms are also some of the factors which drive a person to opt for cheating.
  • Absence of broader understanding of ethics, morals, integrity, honesty, patience, emotional intelligence are also responsible for increased cheating.
  • Miseries of life like poverty, unemployment, health hazards etc. may also become a cause for a person to go on adopting cheating as a means to get out of these problems.

Cheating may yield results in short terms but for long term perspective it is very unsustainable and unethical way to look for things. Hence must be avoided.

Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in private institutions

Introduction :- Collapse of under construction buildings is happening frequently in India. This not only causes huge economic losses to government or private person but also deaths and devastation to many people.

Reasons for such incidents that are taking place in :-

  • Lack of ethical understanding, empathy, sympathy, respect for human dignity, value to life, understanding of consequences of such practices lead to occurrence of such incidences.
  • Prevalence of corruption in officials, laxity in implementing construction norms in full fledge manner, violation of construction norms to gain benefits, exploitation of loopholes in system like building extra floors than permitted that too with low quality of material can be some of the other reasons.
  • The lack of transparency, grievances redressal mechanism in place, weakening of good governance, accountability, responsibility among people in charge are also causing such incidences to happen.

Measures to prevent their occurrence :-

  • Implementing existing rules, laws, norms in strict manner in order to curb their violation, misuse or exploitation. Amending them and keeping a check on them on time to time basis in order to make them relevant to present needs.
  • Punishing and fixing accountability on the builders, government officials involved in the case in order to deter others from doing such things in future.
  • Involving citizens i.e. people from community in vigilance committees and civil society watch groups in order to keep the activities of builder in check.
  • Use of technology can significantly enhance efforts to curb such practices and mishaps. Drones, satellite images, remote sensing can be used to keep vigilance in city construction activities.