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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 and women’s organization

1) Examine the achievements and contributions of Cornelia Sorabji to women empowerment in India. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Cornelia Sorabji (15 November 1866 – 6 July 1954) was an Indian woman who was the first female graduate from Bombay University, the first woman to study law at Oxford University (indeed, the first Indian national to study at any British university), the first female advocate in India, and the first woman to practice law in India and Britain.

Contribution of Cornelia Sorabji to women empowerment :-

  • Education and career :- She enrolled in Deccan College, and claims to have topped the Presidency in her final degree examination, which would have entitled her to a government scholarship to study further in England.
  • Setting examples for others :- In England, she was refused a scholarship simply because she was a woman, was not allowed to read in the Lincoln Library and had the hardest time sitting for the barrister’s examination. Yet her sheer determination and spunk saw her through and she went on to become the first female lawyer not only in India but also in England.
  • Social reform :- Sorabji was involved in social reforms. She was associated with the Bengal branch of the National Council for Women in India, the Federation of University Women, and the Bengal League of Social Service for Women. For her services to the Indian nation, she was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medalin 1909.
  • Sorabji had supported the campaign for Indian Independence, relating women’s rights to the capacity for self-government. Although she supported traditional Indian life and culture, Sorabji promoted reform of Hindu laws regarding child marriageand the position of widows.

All these achievements and contributions of hers inspired the women of her time to step forward with education, employments, etc. Many of her friends contributed towards Indian Freedom Movement. The success stories of her and other great women of her time would contribute a lot even to today’s girls, especially at the time when our government is pushing at their best level to promote women empowerment.


Topic:  Functioning of judiciary

2) Although there can scarcely be any argument against the Chief Justice of India being the master of the roster as a tenet of judicial discipline, it would be naive to consider it an absolute principle of justice delivery. In the light of recent controversy involving the Supreme Court judges, discuss critically. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Recently a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of India, in a case concerning corruption arising out of certain judicial proceedings, declared that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster with the sole prerogative to determine which Bench of judges gets to hear which cases.

This is the customary practice and a moral obligation in order to keep the judiciary in discipline. The conflict of interest may arise here when the Chief Justice Of Indian is asked a recusal from a case.

  • The filing of petitions by Prasad Education Trust before the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court provided an opportunity to look into this matter.
  • A simultaneous investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) indicated a possible criminal conspiracy to ensure a favourable judicial order in this matter. 
  • Since the FIR indicated an attempt to fix a judicial proceeding, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court requesting that a Special Investigation Team under a retired Chief Justice of India be set up. 
  • Unfortunately, by allocating the matter to a Division Bench, the Chief Justice gave this principle a go-by. It is moot whether the Bench entrusted by the Chief Justice would ensure justice or not — the critical point is that such a Bench chosen by the Chief Justice was congenitally defective. 
  • This impropriety set off a chain of improper actions . Hence the five judge bench delivered the stated judgement. Again, whether the right decision was reached or not is moot — a decision was reached in which the Chief Justice was unarguably judge in his own cause. That itself suffices to make this judgment bad in law.

This all shows that urgent reform is required to restore the moral authority of the Supreme Court.

  • Two structural issues needs attention.
  • The cardinal principle that the Chief Justice of India is the master of the roster must be re-examined. 
  • Discipline lies at the heart of judicial functioning — its complex rules on filing, unwritten conventions of seniority, expected decorum in courtroom seating are all critical components to ensure institutional discipline. Hence needs to be fixed.

Justice Kurian Joseph of the Supreme Court wrote in respect of judicial appointments that a ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ is required if the system is to regain public confidence. If the moral authority of the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court is to be restored, something similar is needed urgently. Otherwise the Supreme Court will soon be a far cry from the institution we all revere.


Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes;

3) Critically evaluate performance and outcomes of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). (250 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- Swachh Bharat Mission is a campaign by the Government of India to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4,041 statutory cities and towns. It includes ambassadors and activities such as a run, national real-time monitoring and updates from NGOs.


The objectives of Swachh Bharat are to reduce or eliminate open defecation through the construction of individual, cluster and community toilets. The Swachh Bharat mission will also make an initiative of establishing an accountable mechanism of monitoring latrine use. The government is aiming to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India, at a projected cost of 1.96 lakh crore.


Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)


The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan has been restructured into the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin). The mission aims to make India an open defecation free country in Five Years. It seeks to improve the levels of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making Gram Panchayats Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean and sanitised.


Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan


The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched Swachh Vidyalaya Programme under Swachh Bharat Mission with an objective to provide separate toilets for boys and girls in all government schools within one year. The programme aims at ensuring that every school in the country must have a set of essential interventions that relate to both technical and human development aspects of a good Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme.


Rashtriya Swachhata Kosh


The Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) has been set up to facilitate and channelize individual philanthropic contributions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to achieve the objective of Clean India (Swachh Bharat) by the year 2019. The Kosh will be used to achieve the objective of improving cleanliness levels in rural and urban areas, including in schools. The allocation from the Kosh will be used to supplement and complement departmental resources for such activities.


Criticism of Swachha Bharat Mission:


  • Information on state, district and block-wise funds approved under SBM needs to be made easily available for people to know the annual plans and allocations for making their demands. This provision is not getting required importance.
  • There is need to be work towards changing deep-seated individual and social attitudes that lead to open defecation and other unhygienic practices among different communities. It is when such efforts come together that success stories such as Nadia district from West Bengal becoming the first district in the country to achieve open defecation free status can truly be celebrated.
  • To enable the creation of organic demand for sanitation among communities, SBM emphasises creating foot soldiers termed as Swacchata Doots. While this frontline work force is much desired, only 8,890 Swachhata Doots have been identified so far against the 76,108 needed in urban areas. The rural scenario looks even worse.
  • The exponential increase in toilet construction in the last few months of the financial year is a serious cause of concern. A simple on-ground verification of numbers uploaded on the MDWS website in a few areas found that many of the toilets claimed may not actually exist on the ground.
  • Rural sanitation is vested within the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), while urban areas fall under the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). School sanitation is given to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. In reality, however, there is a lack of coordination between the ministries and it is unclear yet on how they will work together to overcome their overlapping sanitation challenges.



Sanitation needs to be seen as a life cycle issue and hence providing sanitation facilities at work, education and other public spaces is important. This requires investing in the right place at the right time and in the most appropriate manner.


Additional informantion :-

Swaach Bharat Mission at a glance



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

4) Discuss the significance and findings of the recent India State-level Disease Burden Initiative. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative, a joint initiative between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions, released the first comprehensive set of state-level disease burden, risk factors estimates and trends for each state in India to inform health planning to reduce health inequalities amongst states in India. These estimates are based on analysis of all identifiable epidemiological data from India over quarter of a century.

Significance and findings of report :-

  • The data and results shared by the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative today in its report, scientific paper, and the online visualization tool will serve as a useful guide for fine-tuning data driven health planning specific for health situation of each state of the country.
  • The estimates released, which are based on utilization of all available epidemiological data, show that the per person burden due to major infectious disease.
  • The disease profile of each state released today showing the contribution of specific diseases and risk factors to the overall health loss can be a useful guide for states when they develop their Project Implementation Plans for health.

Particular findings :-

  • For instance, life expectancy at birth in the country improved significantly during 1990 to 2016 — from 59.7 years and 58.3 years for females and males respectively in 1990 to 70.3 years for females and 66.9 years for males in 2016. 
  • In a measure of the continuing inequalities, life expectancy for females in Uttar Pradesh was 66.8 years — below the national average and 12 years less than in Kerala, where it was 78.7 years.
  • Men in Kerala enjoyed a life expectancy of 73.8 years, but the corresponding figure for men in Assam was 63.6 years.
  • The study found that while under-5 mortality was improving in every State, there was a four-fold difference in the rate of improvement among States, which again indicated health inequalities.
  • The per person burden from many of the leading infectious and non-communicable diseases varies 5-10 times between different States and malnutrition continues to be the single largest risk for health loss in India


Topic Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

5) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a toothless tiger. Comment. (150 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- The Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA). The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.

Why it is called toothless tiger :-

  • NHRC’s recommendations do not percolate to the ground level as the NHRC does not have the backing of the Protection of Human Rights Act to penalise authorities which do not implement its orders.
  • The Act does not extend to Jammu and Kashmir and hence the commission has to keep its eyes closed to human rights violations there.
  • The Act does not categorically empower the NHRC to act when human rights violations through private parties take place.
  • The Act requires that three of the five members of a human rights commission must be former judges but does not specify whether these judges should have a proven record of human rights activism or expertise or qualifications in the area. Regarding the other two members, the Act is vague, saying simply: “persons having knowledge and experience of human rights.”
  • Under the Act, human rights commissions cannot investigate an event if the complaint was made more than one year after the incident. Therefore, a large number of genuine grievances go unaddressed.
  • The powers of the National Human Rights Commission relating to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been restricted to simply seeking a report from the Government, (without being allowed to summons witnesses), and then issuing recommendations.


Way forward :-

  • The effectiveness of commissions will be greatly enhanced if their decisions are immediately made enforceable by the government. This will save considerable time and energy as commissions will no longer need to either send reminders to government departments to implement the recommendations or alternatively to approach High Courts through a cumbersome judicial process to make the government take action.
  • A large number of human rights violations occur in areas where there is insurgency and internal conflict. Not allowing NHRC to independently investigate complaints against the military and security forces only compounds the problems and furthers cultures of impunity. It is essential that commission is able to summons witnesses and documents.
  • As non-judicial member positions are increasingly being filled by ex-bureaucrats, credence is given to the contention that NHRC is more an extension of the government, rather than independent agency exercising oversight. If it is to play a meaningful role in society, it must include civil society human rights activists as members. Many activists have the knowledge and on-the-ground experience of contemporary trends in the human rights movement to be an asset to the Commission.
  • NHRC needs to develop an independent cadre of staff with appropriate experience. The present arrangement of having to reply on those on deputation from different government departments is not satisfactory as experience has shown that most have little knowledge and understanding of human rights issues. This problem can be rectified by employing specially recruited and qualified staff to help clear the heavy inflow of complaints.
  • A culture of human rights ought to be promoted through education. Human rights education in India is extremely important, given the fact that society is witness to numerous violations and abuse of powers and that the ability of the people to fight these injustices is limited. The strategy for inculcating human rights culture among the people needs to be based on a number of factors: social, legal, political, judicial, and institutional.


Topic: Issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

6) Why does Geographical Indication (GI) tag matter? It is argued that Geographical Indications have potential to be India’s growth engine. Examine why. (250 Words) 

The Hindu


Introduction :- A geographical indication (GI) is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a geographical indication may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.

GI tags matters owing to it’s effects on following things. :-

  • It provides legal protection to the products.
  • It prevents unauthorized use of a GI tag products by others.
  • It gives a structuring of the supply chain around a common product reputation.
  • increases and stabilizes prices for the GI product.
  • Adds value distributed through all the levels of the supply chain,
  • Preserve the natural resources on which the product is based, the traditions and traditional know-how.
  • It enhances tourism and related activities in the region.


How it can be growth engine of India :-

  • The Article 22 of the Agreement, which forms the centrality of GI protection, provides for a general level of cross-border protection of GIs in the course of trade which helps in trade of GI.
  • Benefits of the registration of a product as GI is actually realized only when these products are effectively marketed and protected against illegal copying. Hence registering under GI is the first step.
  • legal protection to GIs also extends to protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression contained in the products. In doing so, not only are livelihoods protected but also possibilities of employment generation are encouraged.
  • Since many of Indian GI products relate to textile and tea—which are largely exported to EU countries—there is a merit in negotiating to implement equal treatment for Indian GI products. 

GIs have the potential to be our growth engine. Policy-makers must pay a heed to this and negotiate harder to give Indian GI products their true reward.

Topic: Energy

7) Why is India, the country with the world’s third largest coal reserves , facing coal shortages? Examine why and suggest measures to overcome shortages. (150 Words)


Introduction :- Coal mining in India began in 1774 when John Sumner and Suetonius Grant Heatly of the East India Company commenced commercial exploitation in the Raniganj Coalfield along the Western bank of Damodar river. As on 31 March 2015, India had estimated coal reserves of 306.6 billion metric tons (338.0 billion short tons).

Due to high demand and poor average quality, India is forced to import high quality coal to meet the requirements of steel plants. India’s coal imports have risen from 43.08 million metric tons in 2006-07 to 199.88 million metric tons in 2015-16.

Reasons due to which India is facing coal shortages :-

  • To produce the coal is only one part of the process. Transporting the coal to the power plants is another challenge altogether. India has a vast railway network, yet connectivity from the coal mines to the power plants on the coastal regions is a major bottleneck.
  • Problems in mining :- Mining has faced multiple problems in recent years. There have been problems in acquiring land for new mines and delays in government approvals. Increased judicial scrutiny following corruption scandals in the allotment of mining blocks and environmental degradation caused by illegal mining have made matters worse. 
  • Environment and forest clearances and land acquisition problems pose the biggest challenges to mining, impact of open cast mining, thermal heating of surroundings etc. becomes hurdle in full fledge extraction of coal.
  • The international price for coal has lowered considerably in the last several years as has the shipping freight charges. Imported high-energy coal is now a lower cost than similar coal purchased from Coal India for a large number of coal-fired power plants. Hence rather than investing in technologies that can extract coal domestically India opt for import of coal.

Way forward :-

  • Allow more private players in coal mining or as mining operators.
  • Allow private coal users to own or lease and run their own private rakes.
  • Allow road movement of coal in addition to rail, at least in the monsoon months. This is prohibited on environmental grounds, but during the rainy season it should be less of a hazard.
  • Increase the penalty for FSA non-compliance.
  • Make it mandatory for power companies to have a minimum inventory of, say, two weeks of coal at all times.
  • Speed up completion of rail links from pitheads to nearby power users on high priority.
  • Since electrons travel smoothly and without pollution, improve the national grid for electricity so that surplus power is never stranded, unlike surplus coal at pitheads.

Last, improve the health of discoms. This last suggestion is actually a big reform agenda already initiated as UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana). Let’s not forget that coal is an integral and large part of our energy for the foreseeable future.

Additional info :-














Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in public and private institutions

8) You are a Public Information Officer (PIO) in a government department. You are aware that the RTI Act 2005 envisages transparency and accountability in administration. The act has functioned as a check on the supposedly arbitrarily administrative behaviour and actions. However, as a PIO you have observed that there are citizens who filed RTI applications not for themselves but on behalf of such stakeholders who purportedly want to have access to information to further their own interests. At the same time there are these RTI activists who routinely file RTI applications and attempt to extort money from the decision makers. This type of RTI activism has affected the functioning of the administration adversely and also possibly jeopardises the genuineness of the applications which are essentially aimed at getting justice.

What measures would you suggest to separate genuine and non-genuine applications? Give merits and demerits of your suggestions. (250 Words)

Introduction :- Right To Information act is one of the most important legislature in India owing to it’s impact in empowering citizens for an accountable, transparent and responsible governance system in India. However it’s increased misuse day by day is causing much degradation of it’s noble aims and objectives. This is not only eroding the faith of people in RTI process but also affecting the functioning of the administration. Hence measures to separate genuine and non-genuine applications needs to be put in place :-

No Measures Merits Demerits
1) Setting up intermediary committees to filter the application based on it’s genuineness It will decrease the non genuine cases and hence will decrease the burden of administration. Genuineness or non genuineness may vary from case to case and is very subjective. In this some cases may get affected.
2) Increasing the fees for case filing It will deter frivolous cases from being filed. It may affect poor and weaker sections of society and they may not use RTI.
3) Declaring guidelines and spreading information about what can be the non genuine cases in public domain and declaring punishments for such cases. This will help people in getting informed about possible consequences of their filing of non genuine cases. Laws needs to be uniform and exceptions, conditions to it need legal backups. So many restrictions on so many things may render it ineffective.
4) Taking help of technology It will be helpful in streamlining the RTI applications, in systematizing the cases and examining them. This may over complicate a simple process and common people may not be able to understand processing of their cases or basis of rejection of their cases



The importance of RTI is so immense that RTI is considered as the most important thing happened in India next to it’s independence. Hence measures to minimize it’s ineffectiveness and maximize it’s impact must be taken.