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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:   World geography

1) Why does the Bay of Bengal witness more cyclones than the Arabian Sea? Why the recent occurrence of cyclone Ockhi is termed strange and unusual?  Examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


 What are Cyclones?

cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure.

Features of tropical cyclone that normally occurs on Indian coast

Tropical cyclones are intense low-pressure areas confined to the area lying between 30° N and 30° S latitudes, in the atmosphere around which high velocity winds blow. Horizontally, it extends up to 500-1,000 km and vertically from surface to 12-14 km.

A tropical cyclone or hurricane is like a heat engine that is energised by the release of latent heat on account of the condensation of moisture that the wind gathers after moving over the oceans and seas.

Cyclones in Bay of Bengal

Owing to its Peninsular shape surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west, the tropical cyclones in India also originate in these two important locations.

Though most of the cyclones originate between 10°-15° north latitudes during the monsoon season, yet in case of the Bay of Bengal, cyclones mostly develop during the months of October and November. Here, they originate between 16°-2° N latitudes and to the west of 92° E. By July the place of origin of these storms shifts to around 18° N latitude and west of 90°E near the Sunderban Delta.

Why does the Bay of Bengal have more cyclones than the Arabian Sea?

The relatively colder waters of the Arabian Sea are not conducive to the formation and intensification of cyclones.

Additionally, the eastern coast of India receives cyclones that form not just in the Bay of Bengal, mostly around the Andaman Sea near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but also those travelling from the Pacific Ocean, where the frequency of ‘typhoons’, as these are called there, is quite high. Most of these cyclones weaken considerably after encountering a big landmass. Therefore, these do not travel to the Arabian Sea side.

The western coast of India thus witnesses only those cyclones that originate locally or the ones, like Ockhi, that travel from the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka.

What is special about Ockhi?

  1. 1. Origin

 Ockhi originated near the south-western coast of Sri Lanka, and travelled very near the southern-most tip of the Indian mainland, along the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, towards the Lakshadweep islands, where it was at its most powerful.

It weakened considerably after that and continued further, taking a north-easterly turn towards the Maharashtra and Gujarat coastlines —cyclones in this area are not a common phenomenon.

  1. Detection time

Many of the big cyclones in recent years developed near the Andaman Sea. From there, it took those cyclones about five to six days to hit the Andhra Pradesh or Odisha coasts.

But the origin of Ockhi was much closer home. Because it developed nearby, the lead time for the forecast was much less than in other recent cyclone cases.

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

2) Gandhiji declared himself  that he was a sanatan Hindu, yet he was castigated as working against hinduism. Discuss critically Gandhiji’s views on hinduism and religion in general. (250 Words)

The Indian Express




  • Although Gandhi described himself as a Hindu, his Hinduism was neither religious nor cultic in the everyday sense. He did not believe in a personal God. He also rejected vigrahaworship and rituals of all kind, including Vedic ones.


Qualification of texts through ethics


  • While Gandhi did claim he believed in “all that goes by the name of Hindu scriptures” he immediately qualified it by saying that he also believed in all other religious texts in a similar way.
  • Moreover, his acceptance of these texts was not unconditional. Like the Buddha, he retained the right to reject anything in them that, according to him, went against reason and morality.


Swaraj independent of religion or caste


  • In the non-hierarchical stateless socialist society (swaraj) that Gandhi envisaged in his constructive programme, religion and caste did not have any role to play. Religion was, in fact, completely eliminated from the public space.


On Varnashrama dharma


  • The technique Gandhi adopted for this purpose was the same as the one the Buddha used 2,500 years before him — to transform the Brahminism of his time into an ethically better practice.
  • Gandhi said “We are all Shudras and if we can bring ourselves to believe this, the merger of the Harijans in Savarana Hindus becomes incredibly simple and in course of time, we might be able to reconstruct the old varnas”. Such natural reconstruction, according to Gandhi, would be totally egalitarian.


Anathema to western modernity


  • Gandhi’s refusal to get rid of the expression “varnashrama dharma” was part of his programme of redefining the traditional Hindu vocabulary without seeking the support of a modernist ideology.
  • He wanted to reject the vocabulary of the European enlightenment and modernity for the reasons he eloquently articulated in Hind Swaraj.


His interpretation of Gita and ahinsa


  • In his interpretation of the Gita as a literary text, Gandhi criticises the author for the thoughtless use of war imagery when, according to Gandhi, the central message of the text is anasakti.
  • Anasakti, Gandhi says, cannot be practised without turning oneself first into a votary and practitioner of ahimsa. Bhakti is reinterpreted in such a way so as to make it synonymous with ahimsa and satya.




His endeavour was to encourage a creative “misreading” of these texts that would help situate Hinduism on the bedrock of ahimsa and satya. He thought it was imperative to transport the reader of these texts to an ethical/spiritual plane. Only this could make Hinduism an ethical religion.


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

3) What were the objectives of the New Delhi Declaration signed between India and Iran? Have they been realised? Critically examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express




In January 2003, when Iran’s President Khatami visited India as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, he and then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed on an ambitious roadmap of strategic cooperation.

Among the key projects agreed on was Chabahar, which held the potential to link the South Asian subcontinent to the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe.

At a press conference, Vajpayee said that the two countries were determined to “consolidate, expand and diversify” bilateral relations, with clear targets to be achieved over the “next five years”, or by 2008.


Objectives envisaged under New Delhi Declaration


  1. Economic relations – Transport Corridors and Energy security


  • In the New Delhi Declaration they signed, the two leaders recognised that their “growing strategic convergence needs to be underpinned with a strong economic relationship”.
  • In boosting the economic content of ties, the focus was on building transport corridors and deepening energy cooperation.


  1. Transit to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan


  • India’s ambition of reaching Afghanistan — since Pakistan had blocked land transit and access through its territory — fuelled the need for developing the strategic project of Chabahar.


Why not realised fully?


  • US declaration of Iran being one of the “axis of evil” — along with Iraq and North Korea —pushed New Delhi to abandon its strategic relationship with Tehran.
  • The relations gathered momentum in 2015 as the Iran-P-5+1 talks bore fruition and geopolitics took a new direction.
  • In 2017, the new US administration’s attitude towards Iran is again bitter.


Way forward


  • New Delhi appears determined to stay the course since it believes the benefits of the Chabahar project are clear. Delhi’s approach also stems from the fact that China is aggressively pursuing its own Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project —many in Delhi view this as one of India’s projects to counter Xi’s BRI
  • Indian policymakers will have to use the Chabahar project as a lynchpin to integrate it with its larger connectivity project — the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
  • The INSTC, initiated in 2000 by Russia, India and Iran, is a multi-modal transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, and onward to northern Europe via St Petersburg in Russia. The INSTC envisages the movement of goods from Mumbai, India to Bandar Abbas, Iran, by sea, from Bandar Abbas to Bandar-e-Anzali, an Iranian port on the Caspian Sea, by road, from Bandar-e-Anzali to Astrakhan, a Caspian port in the Russian Federation, by ship across the Caspian Sea, and thereafter into the Russian Federation and further into Europe by Russian Railways.


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

4) What were the principles proclaimed at the Alma Ata declaration on “Health for All” in 1978? It is said that these principles are very much relevant to India today. Examine why. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


Alma Ata Declaration


  • The Alma Ata declaration on “Health for All” in 1978 set out a broad set of principles called the Primary Health Care (PHC) approach.
  • It focussed on multi-dimensional, inter-sectoral healthcare, which was to be made available “closest to home”.

Primacy of primary healthcare


  • It required technology to be simple and low cost, while being effective and safe.
  • Primary care, with secondary and tertiary levels also adopting PHC principles, was envisioned as the hub of this sytem.
  • This does not mean lesser secondary/tertiary level services but implies that they must be affordable and accessible, utilising technologies that provide the core of available health knowledge without unnecessary frills.
  • Decentering” of hospitals implies that primary healthcare providers are in a leadership position to identify local priorities for people’s health and the kind of services individual patients need — much like the family doctor.
  • The experience of health systems in the UK and Thailand — which give this “gatekeeper” role to the primary health workers — show that this approach creates more rational, affordable and comprehensive healthcare systems.


National Health Policy and Primary health


  1. Creation of a public health cadre, 
  2. introducing nurses and AYUSH practitioners with bridge training as mid-level practitioners at the primary level,
  3. revamping the regulatory mechanism and the curriculum of medical education, and 
  4. promoting medical pluralism


Secondary and tertiary healthcare on lines of PHC


  • Secondary/tertiary-level hospitals, public and private, have to be re-structured along PHC principles.
  • A large number of experiments such as Jan Swasthya Sahyog hospital (Bilaspur), the Association of Rural Surgeons of India, RUHSA (Vellore) and SEARCH (Gadchiroli) demonstrate the viability of rational and effective secondary and tertiary services.
  • There is also much to learn from the experiences of Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • The private sector should be brought under regulations that are based on PHC criteria.


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

5) In 1992, the United Nations announced that December 3 would be observed every year as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Comment on the advances made in legislation on disability over the years. (250 Words)

The Hindu




International Declarations


  • The disability rights movement gained momentum in the 1970s when disability was started to be seen as a human rights issue.
  • This is when the UN General Assembly proclaimed in 1976 that 1981 would be the International Year of Disabled Persons.
  • Later, 1983-1992 was marked as the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), 2006 was a big step towards viewing persons as “subjects with rights” and not “objects of charity”. India is a signatory to the UNCRPD and ratified it in 2007.
  • Further, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to “leave no one behind”. It states that persons with disabilities must be both “beneficiaries and agents of change”.
  • However, attitudinal, institutional, and infrastructural barriers remain, with the World Bank stating that 15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability and that they “on average, as a group, are more likely to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities”.
  • In 2011, the World Health Organisation came up with a world report on disability for the first time


Indian Context


  • In India, according to the 2011 Census, 2.21% of the population has one or multiple types of disabilities, making the country home to one of the largest disabled populations in the world.
  • Legislation moved forward last year in India when the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed, replacing the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The 2016 Act recognises 21 kinds of disabilities compared to the previous seven, including dwarfism, speech and language disability, and three blood disorders.
  • The new Act also increased the quota for disability reservation in higher educational institutions from 3% to 5% and in government jobs from 3% to 4%, for a more inclusive society. However, legislation alone is not enough; implementation remains abysmal.




  • Every state has particular schemes for them who are poor – provide monthly allowance
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme, scheme of national awards for them, scholarships, Mukhya Matri Nishaktikaran shiksha yojana, assistance to purchase aids and appliances, reservation in jobs


Tax benefits


  1. Under Section 80U of Income Tax




  1. Scolarships at higher education,
  2. Financial assistance,
  3. 3% reservation in government and aided educational institutions,
  4. Comprehensive Education Scheme for Disabled Children – to provide accessible and barrier free built in infrastructure and transport facilities etc + exemption from mathematics + extra time in exam + use of scribes/readers +modification of curriculum
  5. Inclusive Education for the Disabled at Secondary Stage
  6. Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship Scheme – for MPhil and PhD students




  1. Reservation of 5% in all Groups
  2. Age relaxation of upto 10 years in upper age limit
  3. Certain identified positions in various departments are reserved for them
  4. Postings near home to Group C and D disabled people
  5. Special employment exchanges in state capitals and special employmet cells in district headquarters
  6. Provides incentives for employment in private sector as well – like contribution to provident fund as employer
  7. Natioanl Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation – loans for self employment and small business
  8. Scheme for Public Sector Banks for Orphanges, Women’s Homes and Physically Hnadicapped Persons’ – differential rate of interest – 4%
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP scheme)
  • Indira Awas Yojana 3% funds reserved for the benefit of the disabled where dwelling units are provided free of cost to rural BPL.
  • Scheme of Natioal Awards for the empowerment of persons with Disabilities – given across various activities and sectors to encourage others
  • Trust Fund  – SC order in 2004 to transfer Rs 724 crores collected in excess by rounding off tax by banks to the fund.
  • Technology Development Projects in Mission Mode – R&D projects since 1990-91 for effective aids and appliances
  • Social security programmes as discussed elsewhere
  • Indira Gandhi Disability Pension Scheme added as a component of National Social Assistance Programme in 2009 – Rs 300 monthly
  • Disability benefit – Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 – requires employer to pay compensation in cases of employment related injuries




  • Social and physical barriers
  • Coverage of programmes is not comprehensive
  • Absence of single window approach
  • Schemes scattered


Way forward


  • 10th plan – advocated introduction of a Component Plan for the diabled in the budget of all concerned ministries to ensure regual flow of funds
  • Need to plan and design inclusive strategies by understanding dynamics of disability
  • Collect data in detail on all related aspects possible
  • Comprehensive administrative arrangements
  • Pooling of funds from various sources
  • Delivering the benefits under professional supervision and control
  • More resources needed from all levels of government


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

6) The National Crime Records Bureau data for 2016 on two important aspects, violent crime and crime against women, should prompt State governments to make a serious study of the underlying causes. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Hindu




  • The National Crime Records Bureau data for 2016 is released
  • Annual data is useful in reviewing trends of extreme events, such as murder, but less so in the case of other offences that tend to be underreported.


Crime against women


  • The national tally on crimes against women, which includes rape, abduction, assault and cruelty by husband and relatives, is up by 2.9% over that of 2015.
  • Going by the data, there is a distinct urban geography as well for violence against women, with Delhi and Mumbai appearing the least safe: Delhi recorded a rate of crime that is more than twice the national average.
  • The definition of the heinous offence has been broadened, police forces have been directed to record the crime with greater sensitivity, and some measures initiated to make public places safer for women.
  • This approach could lead to a reduction in violent crime over time.


Violent crimes


  • Viewed in perspective, the murder rate today has declined to the level prevailing in the 1950s, which was 2.7 per 1,00,000 people, after touching a peak of 4.62 in 1992.
  • But that macro figure conceals regional variations, witnessed in U.P. and Bihar, where 4,889 and 2,581 murder incidents took place during 2016, respectively, while it was 305 in densely populated Kerala. One question that needs to be analysed is, how much does social development influence a reduction in crime?




  • Last year’s data indicate that there is a rise in the number of cases involving juveniles.
  • A focussed programme to universalise education and skills training would potentially keep juveniles from coming into conflict with the law.


Way forward for the states


  1. Police reforms


  • There are also basic issues that need urgent reform, such as modernising the police, recruiting the right candidates and teaching them to uphold human rights.
  • The orders of the Supreme Court on police reforms issued in 2006 have not been implemented in letter and spirit by all States.
  • Eliminating political interference in its working. This would lead to a reduction in crimes committed with impunity and raise public confidence in the criminal justice delivery system. 


  1. Data study


  • As a measure of data improvement, it should be mandatory to record not just the principal offence in a case, as the NCRB does, and list all cognisable offences separately.
  • Rather than view the available data passively, governments would do well to launch serious studies that result in policies and measures for freedom from violence.


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

7) Discuss the possible geographical, environmental and national security implications for India of diverting the river Yarlung Tsangpo by China. (250 Words)

The Hindu




  • China is planning to divert the waters of the Yarlung Tsangpo (the upper stream of India’s Brahmaputra) to its water-starved Xinjiang province


Geographical and environmental implications


  1. 1. Impact on downstream ecology and people


  • Indian and Bangladeshi water experts have, understandably, raised alarm bells over the plan for the adverse impacts it would have on downstream areas.


  1. River interlinking affected


  • Brahmaputra is an important resource for India’s own water diversion plans – the national river interlinking project
  • River interlinking project envisage to meet irrigation and other demands particularly, which now will have to be met with exploitation of groundwater.


  1. Energy production will be affected


  • It is considered a powerhouse to meet India’s energy demands in the future.
  • Since India has higher use of fossil fuels, it was imperative to shift to renewable energy sources like hydropower. Obviously, the environmental impact will be considerable in case Brahamputra is obstructed in China onlt.


National Security implications


  1. Data sharing on Brahmaputra – a strategic ploy


  • One, the Brahmaputra agreement between China and India is a suboptimal arrangement within broader bilateral relations.
  • As per the current agreement, China has thus far agreed to share hydrological data on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra (YTB) during the monsoon season.
  • Why did China agree to cooperate in the first place when it has clearly resisted doing so for years, and with other riparian countries through which the Mekong flows? One of the explanations could be that this gesture of cooperation aligns well with China’s broader political strategy of portraying an image of a ‘responsible neighbour’.


  1. Chinese multilateralism on water sharing


  • Three, departing from the past, China’s approach to transboundary water sharing is shifting towards multilateral arrangements.
  • In 2015, China signed the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) framework along with five other countries through which the Mekong flows.
  • This China-led multilateral agreement is an alternative to the Asian Development Bank-led Mekong River Commission, which China never signed.
  • The LMC aligns with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and focuses on land and water connectivity, besides river management.
  • In South Asia, China has been insistent in establishing greater ties with Bangladesh on flood forecasting, water technologies, and water management.
  • India, on the other hand, prefers bilateral relations, as it has with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
  • By way of improving relationship with Bangladesh, China could well be aiming to encircle India to reach a deal on the sharing of YTB that favours China’s objective of economic expansionism.


Way forward


  • A decade ago, India started planning multiple hydropower projects on the Brahmaputra as a reactive strategy against Chinese dam-building activities on the upper reaches of the river.
  • This strategy is informed by the international law of ‘prior appropriation’, which states that the first user gets the rights to continue using that quantity of water.
  • It needs to de-emphasise China’s role for the time being and restrengthen its relationship with Bangladesh. It needs to push the impending Teesta river agreement and restore its image as a responsible upper riparian.
  • India needs to mirror its strength and firmness in negotiations with China on water rights.


Topic:   Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

8) In the light of the dizzying increase witnessed in the value of cryptocurrencies, critically examine various issues associated with its acceptance as medium of currency to exchange goods and services. (150 Words)

The Hindu




  • Extraordinary return the digital currency has given investors as its price has witnessed a meteoric rise, from just a few cents in 2010 to hit a lifetime high of over $11,000 last week.
  • In 2017 alone, bitcoin price has increased by over 1000%.
  • Other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum too have shown equally impressive gains and falls, particularly over the last year.


Arguments in favour


  1. Competition to national currencies good


  • Enthusiasts argue that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are rapidly transforming into mainstream money that will offer serious competition to national currencies issued by central banks.


  1. Excellent returns 


  • Therefore they see bitcoin’s current price rise as merely a reflection of its bright future as a stateless currency.


Arguments against


  1. Financial bubble


  • Sceptics, however, have pointed to the Tulip Bubble of the 17th century and Internet stocks of the late 1990s as cautionary examples.


  1. Acceptability low 


  • Yet the fundamental value of any currency is based not on its underlying technology but on its general acceptability as money for the purpose of commerce.
  • Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency, is nowhere close to widespread use as a medium that helps in the exchange of goods and services.
  • Earlier this year, a Morgan Stanley research note concluded that bitcoin’s acceptance “is virtually zero”.
  • In fact, it found that the acceptance of bitcoin among the top 500 online retailers actually dropped in the last year.




  • The blockchain technology may well have some merits, as shown by increasing interest in it even among central banks and other financial institutions. Many have even started offering financial products and services centred around bitcoin.
  • It is also a telling sign of the times where easy monetary policy has pushed investors starved of yield in traditional assets into highly risky assets like bitcoin.


Topic: Infrastructure; Inclusive growth; S&T

9) “Telecom data holds the power to resolve issues—from preventing the spread of dengue to driving financial inclusion.” Discuss. (250 Words)



Scope for using telecom data


  • A billion mobile phone users in India
  • This is the next stage towards increasing automation and introduction of Artificial Intelligence based on digital data.
  • With the world’s second largest telecom subscriber base, professionally run telecom operators with large customer databases, and several social problems waiting to be solved, telecom data in India could unleash a new transformation.
  • Telecom data can be anonymized, aggregated and used to reveal the movements of populations and economic and psychological profiles—all without putting individual privacy at risk.
  • By merging telecom data with other relevant data—such as the number of new cases of a disease—and using visualization tools, governments and development organizations can make better-informed public-policy decisions.




  1. Mapping diseases locations


  • Mapping the movements of a population across an entire country, matched with malaria-infection data, can help zero in on problem areas.
  • Zambia – With the location pinpointed, public authorities and medical staff were able to effectively prioritize interventions in this area.


  1. Regulating traffic


  • Most municipalities do not have up-to-date granular data on the movements of populations on and off the roads.
  • Telecom data can be used to map and test the impact of changing or optimizing road infrastructure on actual traffic.
  • For instance, the municipality of Kampala, Uganda




Using data, especially telecom data, for social impact is still a relatively new concept.


  1. Privacy of consumers
  1. Concerns of telecom companies


  • Concerns that competitors may benefit from the strategic insights emanating from their data.
  • Analysing the data within the databases of telecom operators, rather than extracting it so that it is kept secure within their own networks.
  • Anonymizing the data to avoid any possibility of individual tracking.
  • Aggregating the data across dimensions like geographies or communities, to prevent any possibility of identifying individual patterns.




  • Issues ranging from preventing the spread of dengue and chikungunya, to prioritizing the next batch of rural roads, to placing bank mitras to drive financial inclusion, are all waiting to be solved using the power of telecom data.


Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. 




There are two sources of guidance by which human beings can judge the morality of their actions.

One is outside that is law and other is inherent within the actor that is conscience.


Law as moral obligation


  • St Thomas Aquinas defined law – “an ordinance of reason for the common good” – imposes moral obligation to act or restrains to not act
  • Law sets up a course of action
  • Aquinas emphasised upon good, possible and just laws therefore.
  • He recognised two kinds of laws – Natural and Positive laws
  • Natural law developed with time and is based on human nature. Human reason can discover it. It is also universal and immutable.
  • Positive law is a set of laws and depends on legislators’ free will. Promulgated by some external sign
  • Since natural law is general and vague, positive law is necessitated to clear ambiguity and establish principles




  • Against law which is outside the actor, conscience is within that determines morality.
  • It is a special act of mind that comes into being when the intellect passes judgement on the morality of a particular action.
  • From deontological perspective, conscience is a judgement – an act of intellect.
  • It is not a feeling or an emotion.
  • It is very specific to the action, unlike the general nature of laws.