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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: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies

1) Urban India faces considerable gaps along the full cycle of sanitation. Discuss priorities and strategies that urban India should focus on to make Indian cities clean. (250 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- Cities of today’s world are facing major issue of waste generation and its disposal, also, the local authorities and administration are facing the biggest challenge in terms of maintaining cleanliness at public places. Importance of sanitation is immense. It is not merely a hygiene concern; it has serious health and economic implications. A World Bank study on the economic impacts of inadequate sanitation in India estimated that India lost the equivalent of 6.4 per cent of GDP due to inadequate sanitation. More than 70 percent of this (₹1.75 lakh crore or trillion) was accounted for by premature mortality and health-related costs.


The full cycle of sanitation has four stages: access to toilets; safe containment; conveyance either through the sewerage network or de-sledging trucks, and treatment and disposal. The waste needs to be handled safely at each of these stages in order to gain public health benefits.


Some of the reasons for considerable gap in sanitation :-


The belief that sewerage and sewage treatment systems could be built in all cities. Sewerage refers to fully sealed underground pipes, and must not be confused with open storm water drains that are supposed to carry only rainwater. After decades of investment, India has managed to connect only a little more than a third of its urban households, most of which are located in metropolitan cities, to sewerage systems. This is because sewerage systems and sewage treatment plants (STPs) — a preferred system in most western countries — are not only expensive but are also complicated to maintain.

Priorities to make urban area clean :-

  • The cleanliness and sanitation concept must look holistically at the entire sanitation chain, beyond constructing toilets. States like Kerala which has very high sanitation coverage, has poor health outcomes due to second generation issues.
  • The focus continues to be on hardware – subsidy driven solutions, despite the high slippage, non-use and millions of ‘’missing toilets’’ under the Total Sanitation Campaign and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
  • India’s sanitation programme lacks the professionalism and high quality management which are critical for the desired behaviour change. Fragmented approaches, weak convergence, inequity and exclusion, procedural rigidities, poor monitoring and weak quality assurance are other serious blockages.
  • Rather than promoting a one size fits all sanitation solution, India should encourage innovation and adaptive solutions suited to its huge diversity.
  • The current focus on Corporate Social Responsibility partnerships should go beyond funding to look for infusion of private sector management practices in sanitation, specifically in designing a communication strategy and campaign to generate demand.

Innovative experiments in urban sanitation in Indian cities :-

  • There have been innovative experiments in sanitation infrastructure and service provision in some urban slums by NGOs and government.
  • SPARC and WaterAid India have demonstrated the concept of community managed slum sanitation programmes in Mumbai and Thiruchirapalli.
  • Recently, with the engagement of the Pune Municipal Commissioner, this work was taken up on a large scale in Pune Municipality.
  • The cities of Hyderabad and Bangalore have also witnessed innovative successes. The Hyderabad Municipal Corporation relied on increased tax collection for spending on water and sanitation.
  • However the Pune Municipal Commissioner (R. Gaikwad) did not follow this route and was able to spend forty times the annual outlay for urban sanitation by drawing on sources of funding other than increasing taxes on civic services.
  • The Infosys sponsored model in Bangalore demonstrated a sustainable pilot project where high quality public toilets in commercial areas cross subsidise toilets in slums.


Innovative strategies from all around the world :-


  • The city-state of Singapore maintains its cleanliness by considering the little things. Stickers in bathrooms remind citizens to always flush the toilet. Littering fines are high and well communicated. Chewing gum sales are forbidden to avoid gum stuck to public subway stations or benches.
  • By emphasizing recycling, Adelaide Australia drastically reduced their dependence on landfills, leading to a much cleaner living environment. The city encourages citizens to consider giving quality, unwanted items to charity and to urge each other to rely on the city’s recycling services.
  • Oslo has one of the highest populations in Europe, but there’s virtually no litter on the streets. The litter goes to an automatic underground waste disposal system run by the city. Many houses are connected to the system, which carries the trash underground. The waste is then burned by incinerators and used to fuel and heat the cit y, which reduces both pollution and waste in one blow.
  • Minneapolis Minnesota among on so many cities is on “cleanest cities” lists, as Block by Block works hard everyday to keep the city clean. Minneapolis’ stance on vandalism and graffiti is to remove it within 24 hours. This reduces new graffiti and keeps areas looking welcoming.
  • Zurich citizens often choose to travel via public transportation. They have many options available including tram, bus, boat and train. Public transportation reduces carbon emissions by decreasing the number of individual cars in transit everyday. The city keeps their systems well kept and reliable.
  • Reykjavik Iceland discovered that once it decided to implement green cleaning programs in its government, environmental efforts became a more attractive proposition in the local economy. Many businesses in Reykjavik now implement environmental policies to encourage employees to consider cleanliness in their everyday work and commutes.


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

2) The revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership minus the U.S. opens opportunities for India. Examine. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- When Donald Trump abandoned the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in his very first week after being sworn in as U.S. President, there were doubts whether the trade agreement, painstakingly negotiated over more than a decade, would survive. 

The remaining 11 nations agreed in Danang in principle to a new pact, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), revising some of the features of the TPP

Benefits for India :-

  • Access to lucrative US market to be cut for India’s export competitors:The TPP positioned textile manufacturer Vietnam and information technology outsourcing powerhouse the Philippines in a favourable position to get access to the high-value American market. India’s domestic textile industry has been continuously eclipsed by nations like Bangladesh and Vietnam with cheaper production costs and aggressive marketing. 
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal to come into focus: The RCEP is a proposed trade deal between the 10 countries of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and FTAs with six other countries including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Negotiations, which formally began at the end of 2012, have progressively become more complicated after 15 rounds and four ministerial meetings. The absence of TPP will give member nations more reason to push for

a successful RCEP at the earliest.


  • India’s concerns over trade diversions and other non-tariff barriers to lessen: India had been wary of the effect of TPP on its own Major issues of concern for the country have been the proliferation of non-tariff barriers (NTB) to trade as a result of TPP and greater trade diversion. Trade experts had warned that NTBs, which constitute various forms of trade restrictions like quotas, embargoes and sanctions, might be imposed on India by nations signatory to the TPP to keep the balance of trade with other member nations.
  • Greater chance of bilateral boost to trade by India and US: The TPP had been billed as a battle between the US and manufacturing powerhouse China over domination of global Even if the US does not enter TPP to contain China, the nature of global commerce goes against isolationism. Thus, experts point out that the US will have to step up bilateral understandings on trade matters, even with India.
  • Pressure to conform with TPP standards in ongoing trade negotiations to slide: There has been pressure on India to conform to stricter standards of labour, intellectual property and investment, officials from the Ministry of Commerce have said. Countries present at the TPP and RCEP trade deals had been arguing in favour of it. India, however, has been opposed to such demands.
  • In its free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, it may now be in a better position to protect sensitive items such as dairy products from cuts. India’s FTA talks with Canada had hit a road block because of the latter’s unhappiness with the provisions on investor-state dispute in India’s draft bilateral investment treaty. With the Trump regime appearing to distance itself from Canada, Ottawa may be in a more accommodating frame of mind. 
  • The US’s withdrawl from the TPP would also benefit the domestic leather industry, said a top official of industry body Council for Leather Exports.

The TPP’s future is uncertain given the US withdrawal, but several signatories have signaled their intentions to re-work the TPP without the participation of the US. Mr. Trump’s agenda to pull his country out of multilateral agreements has coincided, ironically, with the rise of China as the leading world power promoting globalisation. Trump’s decision to walk out of the TPP may not have a direct impact on India, but there could be indirect spin-offs. The extent to which India can positively handle the pressure and use the frustration of TPP members from a failed agreement to its advantage would be something to watch out for.

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

3) The ongoing crisis in Catalonia region is a salutary reminder to India of what can go wrong when regional grievances are allowed to fester. Comment. (250 Words)


Introduction :- The ongoing crisis in the Catalonia region of Spain saw an attempt at secession was ruthlessly put down by central authorities.

Reasons for the ongoing crisis :-

  • One of the roots of the putative independence movement is a sense of Catalan identity distinct from that of much of the rest of Spain—an identity rooted in language, culture and history.
  • There is a growing a growing dissatisfaction with fiscal transfers within the kingdom of Spain, which many Catalonians believe hurt their region disproportionately, was, and remains, an equally important driver of the desire for independence.

Since India faces similar kind of situation it can learn important lessons from ongoing crisis :

  • It is estimated that a sizeable quantum of inter-state fiscal redistribution occurs between have and have-not states through the Centre’s taxing and spending policies. For example, for every Rs100 that the average citizen of Maharashtra contributes to Central coffers, he or she receives Rs15; by contrast, the average citizen of Bihar receives Rs420 for every Rs100 that he or she contributes.
  • Resentment and separatist zeal in Catalonia have been fuelled by the feeling among many residents that their hard work and thrift are paying for the alleged indolence, welfare dependency culture, and absence of entrepreneurial ethos in lagging regions.
  • India can experience the resentment like this as it has already faced many armed and secessionist insurgencies. The mix of economic and cultural sources of alienation amongst have states is perhaps strongest in Tamil Nadu, where there exists a pre-existing vein of pan-Tamilian nationalism that may be tapped by vote-getting politicians.


The need of the hour is to move away from the over-centralizing tendencies of the Centre—which have characterized all dispensations—and towards a model which takes fiscal and policy devolution to the states seriously. It is time to turn that rhetoric of competitive/cooperative federalism into reality.


Topic: Environmental pollution

4) The union government’s decision to advance introduction of BS-VI grade petrol and diesel in Delhi by two years to April 2018 appears to be a logical step in fighting air pollution. But what are the practical, financial and technological hurdles to meeting the deadlines on govt’s clean fuel roadmap? Examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Delhi is suffering from worst form of air pollution today. As a step to reduce air pollution Union Petroleum ministry has decided to advance the introduction of BS- VI grade petrol and diesel in New Delhi by two years to April 2018. Previously in Jan 2016 it had decided to skip BS- V and go directly to BS- VI by 2020 which was originally scheduled for 2024 in line with India’s promises at 2015 Paris Climate Change conference.

BS Norms (Bharat Stage norms)

  • BS emission standards are norms instituted by government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment including motor vehicle.
  • India has been following European (Euro) emission norms with a time lag of five years.
  • They were introduced first in 1991 tightened in 1996 fuel specification 1996 to be implemented by 2000
  •  Supreme Court order in April 1999 centre notified BS-I and II norms. Then in auto fuel policy 2003 and in subsequently in 2005, 2010 they were upgraded to BS- IV

Implementation hurdles :-

Practical hurdles :-

  • India took as many as seven years for entire country to shift to BS- Now directly shifting to BS- VI that too within two years advance poses implementation difficulties for both oil companies and automakers.
  • Higher grade fuel can be beneficial only if it is used in BS- VI compliant vehicle. So automakers have to manufacturing new vehicles. It will be impractical to make BS- VI vehicles just for one city. Full migration to BS- VI vehicles countrywide will take time (2020).
  • If applied only for Delhi the interstate trucks, the biggest polluters are forced to stay on BS- VI norms and their cost, fuel compatibility might not  be there

Financial Hurdles :-

  • It will increase the prices of vehicles by Rs. 20000 to Rs 2 lack owing to the additional investment by automakers.
  • The overall cost for up gradation to BS- VI norms might be around Rs. 40000 crores.

Technological hurdles :-

  • For Automakers :- There is no enough time to carry on design changes that include two critical component like Diesel Particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction module.
  • DPFs have specific problems in Indian context and would have to be optimised for these conditions like low driving speeds. This would require validation tests over 6-7 lack km, which may take upto seven years.
  • Optimisation of SCR module would take 3-4 years
  • Since BS- V is bypassed DPF and SCR both to be tested together which makes it difficult to detect which of the technologies is at fault in case of errors.

Topic: storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;; IPR

5) It is said that seed industry in India is in crisis. Examine the causes of this crisis and remedies needed to revive seed industry. (250 Words)


Introduction :- Agricultural sector is highly dependent on availability and quality of seeds for a productive harvest, as seed is the basic and most critical input for sustainable agriculture. Developments in seed industries in India in last 30 years are very significant. Government restructured seed industry and strengthened seed infrastructure through national seed projects, new seed development policy.

New seed development policy (1988-89) transformed Indian seed industry by giving access to Indian farmers of best of seeds and planting material available anywhere globally. Stimulated investment by private sector into Indian seed sector with strong R&D base with more emphasis on high value hybrids such as BT-Cotton.

As a result farmers have wide product choices and seed industry is set to work with a farmer centric approach. For decades Indian policy frameworks facilitated competition and subsequent development of an industry structure that delivered sustainable economic benefits. Government has a major role in low profit seed varieties where private players are less interested viz. cereals, vegetable etc.

But today seed industry suffers from many problems due to lack of holistic policy structure for the sector and lack of regulation that has put it in the crisis.

Causes of crisis :-

  • High level of fragmentation :- Rabobank report 2006 :- India’s top 10 seed firms accounted for just 25% of total volume of seeds sold by private sector in 2005

Reasons for the same :-

  • Low entry barriers
  • Poor Intellectual property rights climate resulting in freely available germ plasm and parent lines to start a seed production company.
  • Formal, Informal flow of seed material from public institution to private entrepreneurs.
  • Meagre research investment by private companies :

India only incest 3-4 % of revenue into it against international norm of 10-12%.

Reasons for the same :-

  • Heavy fragmentation
  • No strong Intellectual Property rights regulations
  • No competition in sector
  • Lack of regulation in case of GM seed :
  • Government fell short of visionary approach to reap long term benefits by enabling Indian seed industry to absorb and exploit the new GM technology.
  • No steps were taken to prevent illegal introduction of GM crops into market.
  • Government failed to promote and articulate roles of different stakeholders harvesting the seed sector in long term.
  • Confusion regarding GM Crops among farmers, public which government must clarify.

Steps needed to be taken :-

  • Strengthening regulatory mechanism :-
  • For seed and biotech industry to make it transparent science based predictable and fair.
  • To prevent the over fragmentation of sector
  • In order to control illegal activities.
  • Clear IPR regime :-
  • Quick resolution to the conflicts between different IP laws
  • Defining clearly the government’s policy on IP protection and research investment promotion.
  • National policy on GM crop :-
  • It will bring clarity on areas and sectors where government want to encourage GM cropping
  • To take over the illegal GM crop fields ex. GM Cotton
  • Investing in educating people about GM technologies and it’s benefits.
  • Transforming state seed corporations :-

In terms of their infrastructure, technologies, approach and management culture.


Conclusion :- Indian seed improvement program is critical for food security of India. Till date Indian seed sector both public and private has done impressive work. The recent policy paralysis can be done away with proper actions by government. Comprehensive policy structure keeping in mind the long term benefits is the need of the hour.


Topic: Resource mobilisation

6) Do you think philanthropy can effectively solve public problems? Discuss with a note on the Co-Impact initiative. (250 Words)


Introduction :- The new Co-Impact initiative launched is meant to target precisely that kind of change. It is born out of the Giving Pledge—Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s 2010 pact which around 170 billionaires have now signed on to, promising to give at least half their fortunes to charity.

Co-Impact is aimed at providing the expertise and linkages necessary for channelling such big-ticket philanthropy towards equally big-ticket projects that have usually been the province of states: global health, education, equality and the like. And it has enough big names on board—Bill and Melinda Gates, former eBay president Jeffrey Skoll and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, among others—to give it heft.

Can philanthropy solve public problems is seen by two examples of India and United States :-

  • If we take the example of US. It is the most charitable country in the world as a percentage of gross domestic product, and therefore, given the size of its economy, in terms of volume. Last year, it saw almost $400 billion given for philanthropic purposes. The bulk of this, by far, comes from mega-donors. A move towards long-term global agendas in areas such as vaccination, malaria eradication and primary education, driven by rigorous data analysis—randomized control trials have become the gold standard over the past decade or so—stands to maximize value for money and minimize opportunity costs.
  • India is a good example of another important benefit. Individual philanthropy here has grown rapidly over the past decade, outstripping corporate social responsibility funds and foreign aid handily. Bain’s “Indian Philanthropy Report 2017” notes that individual philanthropists contributed Rs36,000 crore in 2017, a sixfold increase from Rs6,000 crore in 2011. These donations account for an increasingly substantial chunk of total development expenditure.

Designing this philanthropic intervention for maximum impact is essential in order to solve public problems. Co-Impact pledgers like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Nilekani, which are active in India, can be useful in multiple ways here—from building the linkages necessary for innovative development solutions to access funds, to championing a move towards more data-driven philanthropy.

Topic: Cropping pattern; storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints;

7) Scientific storage facilities and a judicious trade policy will go a long way in helping onion farmers. Comment in the light of reports showing huge losses incurred by onion farmers in a bumper crop year. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- In August last year, the nation was crying for onions which sold at Rs 100 to Rs 80 per kg. Today, the same onion is being sold in the wholesale agricultural at 5 kgs for Re 1. Reason is a bumper crop with an average yield of 70-80 quintal per acre.

The onion prices ups and downs are well seen. There is a need to lan scientific storage facilities and judicious trade policies for the same.

  • One of the prime reasons behind high volatility in onion prices stems from a lack of storage facilities that have not kept pace with rising production. Also, the traditional storage practices incur losses as high as 40 per cent. 
  • modern cold storages, as being set up by Allround India, a subsidiary of Allround Holland, and other such companies, can bring down wastage within the 10-15 per cent range.
  • While a bulk of the storage has to be undertaken by the private sector, the state can do some stocking under a price stabilisation fund. They can hire the services of specialised private sector agencies to carry out such operations on the government’s behalf.
  • Trade policy can also help. In case of a bumper crop, promote exports and in case of a deficit crop, encourage imports. This has to be done well in advance — as soon as one comes to know the advance estimates of production.
  • Encouraging the setting up of onion dehydrating units and promote demand for dehydrated onions amongst large consumers (restaurants, fast food chains, army, hospitals, etc) will be helpful. Gujarat has already emerged as the main centre for dehydration units with 85 out of 100 units located there, while Maharashtra has just five units.
  • It can also promote and boost international trade. Dehydrated onions are being exported to Japan, Europe, Russia, US and some African countries. The Ministry of Food Processing and state governments can encourage entrepreneurs to avail grants for setting up onion dehydration and processing units. 

Thus, instead of raiding traders or banning exports et al, the Centre and the states would do better if they promote investment in scientific storage and processing facilities, and use trade policy more judiciously.


Topic:  Ethics in human actions

Introduction :- India has the second largest road networks in the world and accounts for 10% of worldwide road fatalities. Laws regulating the traffic on the road are provided under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. however lapses in traffic laws regulations, violations and accidents are glaring reality.

There are many moral issues involved in violation of traffic rule :-

  • It may result in death and injury to people without their fault :-For ex in Delhi, jumping lights is a feature of daily life. It is dangerous and very often fatal for either the violator or the innocent passerby or both. If everyone crashed lights, there would be chaos. Comparably, if everyone always told lies, there would be no difference between lying and truth-telling.
  • Violating signals and jumping lights can have devastating consequences :- Non-functioning traffic lights force people to take unilateral decisions when co-operative action is called for. If psychologically speaking, it results in of legitimising jumping lights when they do work.
  • Crashing lights also alters our character. we think little of rule-breaking, especially when no one is looking. Like school children singing patriotically and piously as their teachers look on, motorbikes and cars line up obediently at crossings only when some competent authority is present. Even the presence of a patrol car will not deter experienced jumpers for only traffic police can issue chalans. 
  • People violating traffic rules even don’t raise their voice against law makers and implementers and exploit their inability, inefficiency :- are As Lord Krishna said “dando damyatam asmi”. If there is one area where no one could rightly complain of police action, it is the one area where the police seem least active. Which makes one wonder if law and order are really a priority.

Roads are biggest source of interconnectivity within state and across and inter-county cooperation can give them international dimensions too. They are source of providing social, financial, health, tourism connectivity for every individual however, if safety is forgotten they can give an individual and others fatal consequences.

 It is important to realize that right to life and liberty involves ensuring safety at every level including while we are walking or driving on roads. It is ironical that respect for human life and law would come from increasing deterrence on road safety laws infact the same should commence the moment we hold the steering or think of passing it someone. If applied the Categorical imperative of Kant violation of traffic rule renders immoral activity in all respects.