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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.

General Studies – 1

Topic:  World history

1) What does US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean to various stakeholders? With a brief note on historical background of the issue, comment critically. (150 Words)

The Indian Express


Islamic traditions

  • Between 610 and 623 CE, Jerusalem was the direction of prayer or Qibla until it was changed towards the Ka’aba in Mecca by Prophet Mohammed in February 624.


Christianity traditions

  • While Jesus Christ’s birth is traced to a manger in nearby Bethlehem, the central elements of Christianity are linked to Jerusalem.
  • Believers trace the last thirteen steps of Christ in the old city, and the crucifixion and resurrection, the very core of Christianity, is located in the city where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands today.


Jewish traditions

  • For the Jews, Jerusalem was the home of their two ancient temples, both being destroyed by invading armies; the first by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE.
  • Hence, Jerusalem is the holiest place for the Jews.

Jerusalem status in modern history

  • Though all the Abrahamic faiths lay claims to Jerusalem, in the modern political context, the city has different geographic contours.


  1. Partition Plan, 1947
  • Under the partition plan approved by the UN General Assembly on 29 November 1947, Jerusalem and its surrounding areas including Bethlehem were declared corpus separatum.
  • The UN thereby sought to place the city under an international regime due to the shared and contested religious claims over it.

    2.Israel’s Declaration of Independence, 1948

  • The Declaration of Independence which announced the establishment of Israel hours before the British departure on 14 May 1948 was conspicuously silent on the country’s capital.
  • Formally giving up Zion (another name for Jerusalem) would have meant the realization of Zionism without Zion.
  • With the partition plan already dividing international opinion, the infant state did not have the luxury of ticking off international opinion at its birth.
  • Its entry into the UN, formalized in May 1949, was another compulsion and hence the otherwise colourful and detailed Israeli declaration of independence was silent on the question of its capital.

    3.Armistice Agreement, 1949

  • Meanwhile, the UN-sponsored Armistice Agreement between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan signed on 3 April 1949 formalized the division of Jerusalem, namely Israeli control of West Jerusalem and Jordanian control and subsequent annexation of East Jerusalem, including the old city and its religious sites holy to all the three Abrahamic faiths.
  • This brought in the concept of West and East Jerusalem into the political discourse of the Middle East.
  • Later that year, Israel declared the Western part of the city as its capital and gradually established or moved all its sovereign institutions, such as the office of the President, the seat of the Supreme Court, Knesset and government offices. By the early 1950s all the ministries except the Ministry of Defence were shifted to West Jerusalem.
  • West Jerusalem, which Israel declared as its capital has, however, not been recognized by much of the international community. Until President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement, even the US never recognized Israel’s claims to West Jerusalem as its capital.

    4.1967 June War

  • Until the June War, East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control and occupation.
  • Their control of the Old City and the third holiest place of Islam was a consolation for the Hashemites who lost Mecca and Medina to the al-Sauds in the 1920s.
  • During this period, a number of Jewish synagogues in the old city were desecrated, damaged or even destroyed and even non-Israeli Jews were prevented from praying in the Western Wall.
  • At the same time, despite international disapproval, the Armistice Agreement of 1949 institutionalized a de facto partition of the city and this status continued until 1967.
  • During the June War, Israel captured, along with the West Bank, the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Walled City and since then this has remained under its control.
  • Through a host of political and legislative moves, it sought to declare Jerusalem to be its ‘united, undivided and eternal capital’.
  • And it also sought to establish this fact on the ground through the construction of settlements beyond the June 1967 border.
  • But the international community, including the US, never recognized the eastern part of the city as a part of Jerusalem or Israeli territory.


1967 afterwards

  • Israel’s territorial expansion through the annexation and seizure of lands beyond the Green Line.
  • At the height of the Oslo process, the Arab village of Abu Dis in the old city was often suggested as a possible Palestinian capital.
  • However, the real problem of Jerusalem lay in the Walled City, which houses the ruins of the Western Wall, Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • Despite its proximity of only a few hundred yards, the Christian holy site can be separated due to it distinct geographical location, but this is not possible for the other two sites. Al-Aqsa and Harem al-Sharif stand on top of the ruins of the Western Wall.
  • The Oslo process was possible partly because of the Israeli willingness to discuss contentious issues including Jerusalem during the final status negotiations.
  • At the same time, it is essential to recognize that while other issues are bilateral in character between Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem is special in that not just Arab countries but Muslim societies beyond the Middle East have also acquired a stake and hence a veto in its resolution.

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

2) Why in your opinion, there is an increased interest in Dr Ambedkar’s philosophy these days? Critically examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


Bhimrao Ambedkar, known as Baba Saheb & the ‘Father of the Indian Constitution’, was an erudite scholar. Due to being born in a low Mahar caste, he was subject to social and economic discrimination of the highest order. Despite this, he pursued an academic life and became the first ‘untouchable’ to graduate from the University of Bombay as well as Columbia University (USA). His life and memoirs have continued to inspire many Indians more than six decades after his death;

  • Ambedkar rejected the ‘Vedic School of Hinduism’ that sought to uphold fourfold vertical classification of society into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishayas & Shudras. Such a system perpetuated social, economic and political discrimination of a majority by the minority elite. He instead opted for the ‘Carvaka School of thought’ that similar to Buddhism preached an ideology that sought for equality of all regardless of caste, language & gender. Ambedkar supported Gautama Buddha’s view that ‘One became great by one’s work & not by birth’.
  • Ambedkar called for a ‘horizontal division of caste’ rather than the vertical one, where dignity for all individuals was a given. He supported inter-caste and inter-faith marriages too as these unions meant that people had come out of ‘mental barriers of caste’ and loved ‘each other’s souls’.
  • Ambedkar wanted universal education for all including untouchables. Ambedkar felt separate electorates where ‘Dalit’ voters voted for a Dalit leader would solve their problems. Despite reluctantly supporting reservation, Ambedkar envisaged an India that would abandon religious superstition, dogma and superiority to embrace equality, justice and fraternity, ideals that are now a part of the Indian constitution.


There is renewed interest in the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar is due to following reasons:

  • The issue of Dalit emancipation still resonates in the socio-political discourse even after years of independence. The political parties of all hues therefore appreciates the ideas of Ambedkar on Dalit issues in various forms.
  • There have been demands to “indigenise” the constitution of India in view of the continous civilisation inherited by us. Thus, the ambiguity arises on issues like uniform ( common) civil code or the definition or practice of secularism in inherently plural India. The fact that Ambedkar was pinnacle personality in the formation of the constitution, references to him are bound to occur.

General Studies – 2


Topic:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

3) If a permanent Security Council seat is unavailable for India at UNSC, what other options does it have on the table? Should India explore and accept them? Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu




Indian and other countries of the UN general assembly have been asking for the reforms in United nations from late 1970s. One of the major demand in the reform process is acceptance of more members in the “Security council” and equivalent representation of all the regions in this body.


Importance of UNSC for India

  • UNSC is by far more important from the national interest point of view. 
  • It deals with questions of peace and security as well as terrorism
  • It has also developed a tendency to widen its ambit into other fields, including human rights and eventually environment. 
  • Since it is in permanent session, we have to try to be its member as often as possible.


But due to many reasons the permanent seat for India at security council seems not possible at the moment. But there are many other options on table for India to strengthen it’s position in the council:


  1. Non-permanent seat
  • The provision of semi-permanent seats in the security council for long periods of 6-8 years with reelection provisions is one such option. As India have adequate support in the General Assembly this provision looks good for India.

     2.Admission without veto power

  • P5 members will be more willing to include India in the security council with their veto power protected. 

     3.Reform of veto power

  • The provision of “Double Veto“, where two votes are needed to veto any provision can help India push important provisions that are rejected due to veto by only China.

    4.Representation in other bodies

  • India could look for election or nomination to other important bodies like IJC, Human rights council, Committee on contribution etc of UN which are also very significant.


Feasibility of these options as per Indian interests

  • Once granted admission in the security council even as semi permanent member India can push for more reforms later on with an improved position.
  • India can use these options to build it’s image at the general assembly to build support for its candidature as permanent security council member.
  • The present stance of P5 members is not favourable towards reforms and till General assembly push for these reforms India should have alternate system in place to secure its interest.




But even after accepting these options India needs to carry on with the push for reforms by working on developing consensus among the members of General assembly. India should keep on contributing to the UN missions to improve the already strong image at the world Arena.

Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

4) Can India have an uniform data protection law? Examine the challenges India faces in drafting robust data protection law for its citizens. (250 Words)

The Hindu




Fast progressive technology has put forward new set of challenges before world. Formulating a uniform data protection law is one such challenge and developing countries are specially affected by it. The peculiar case of India has following issues in uniform data protection law:


  1. Imported technology
  • India relies on many imported technologies which follow the standards of their origin countries and have dissimilar rules for data protection.
  • A digital economy — such as India’s — that relies overwhelmingly on imported technologies cannot be levelled overnight to make way for a uniform data protection law. 
  • For instance, more than 80% of Indian smartphone users today rely on Google’s Android operating system. But the majority of those mobile devices are sold by Samsung, Xiaomi or Oppo

    2.Localisation of data not feasible

  • Major players are not only based abroad but also send data to overseas and thus beyond India’s jurisdiction because of lack of infrastructure of data localization.
  • Many of the world’s giant data centres are located in northern climes near water bodies, since they require mild temperatures and enormous quantities of water to cool thousands of servers.
  • India with its round-the-year warm climate and scarce natural resources, cannot really afford to divert electricity and water to maintain data centres, besides huge physical security of the infrastructure created hence.

    3.Different belief systems may conflict of global common internet

  • Data protection rules are embedded into technologies by software developers according to their beliefs, culture, domestic law and organizational ethics which may not reflect India’s statutory considerations.


Way forward

  • India needs to recognise the known sources of vulnerability, conceive a logical and acceptable definitions of “sensitive” data to all stakeholders and keeping in mind the data needs of technology development industry to have local socio-economic specific data to develop better products. 
  • The best way forward is to allow companies to pursue independent data protection policies but monitor their enforcement through a national, multi-stakeholder agency. 
  • The rule of law demands that we recognize that there are different stakeholders and they shall be treated differently to uphold the principle of equality.

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

6) From India’s point of view, examine the significance of announcement of a free trade agreement between the Maldives and China. (150 Words)

The Hindu




Recently China and Maldives has concluded Free Trade Agreement. The announcement of a free trade agreement between the Maldives and China is another sign of Beijing’s success in its outreach in South Asia.  


This deal has raised various concerns in India for myriad reasons as follows


  1. Economic  – enhanced role for BRI forthcoming which India rejected
  • The FTA points towards economic realisation of BRI.
  • It is compounded by the fact that China already has an FTA with Pakistan, and is exploring or negotiating FTAs with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. 
  • Huge investments can outbid India’s investment plans in the region

     2.Political –  Dissatisfaction with India

  • India’s ongoing FTA with Maldives is at stake. Maldives political leadership has expressed displeasure over India
  • India also failed to tackle with Maldives domestic situation which helped China, particularly the opposition which was not taken into account while finalising FTA with Maldives.

     3.Security – militarization of South Asia

  • The biggest worry for India is that the FTA will draw the Maldives more closely into China’s security net. 
  • Although Mr. Yameen has categorically stated that the Maldives will remain a “demilitarised zone”, there are concerns that the PLA-Navy might be looking for a military base in the islands linked to projects in Djibouti, Gwadar and Hambantota. 

    4.Strategic – Chinese increasing footprint in South Asia

  • After its push for maritime linkages across the Indian Ocean, including naval exercises and port projects, and for the enhancement of regional connectivity through the Belt and Road Initiative, China seems to be ready to ramp up business ties across South Asia.


Way forward

  • Collaboration with other nations for infrastructural development should be India’s top priority
  • Restoring sovereignty of existing world order through multilateral pacts
  • Break structural rigidity in multilateral engagements and induce flexibility of approach.
  • Developing competitive advantage to counter Chinese diplomacy of economic trap. Skill development capacity and service sector deliverable should be strengthened.

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

7) The creation of incentives to produce vaccines for poverty-associated infections is key to improving public health. Discuss. (250 Words)




  • Diseases of poverty is a term collectively describes diseases,disabilities,health conditions that are more prevalent among the poor than among wealthier people. Examples include TB,malaria, polio etc.
  • India accounts for a significant number of deaths due to poverty associated infections.

Why India accounts for such number of deaths?

  • There is general absence of accessible and resistance-effective vaccines. For example, in case of TB, BCG vaccine that is currently in use (developed in the early 20th century) is ineffective for young people and adults. 
  • There is abysmal spending on the primary healthcare system where most of these communicable disease can be prevented in the first place. Also the hygiene standards are also very low given the poor governance structures and little public participation to ensure cleanliness.
  • Particularly in the developing countries as recognised by WHO, the drug resistance has become a havoc due to lack of awareness among the people as they tend to use drug indiscriminately without following the standard procedures.
  • R&D facilities in developing new vaccines are very poor due to a slew of factors. Besides lower spending by the state, private sector is also not incentivised due to the fact that poor do not have the capacity to buy the cost incurred on research.


How to incentivise the private sector participation?


Increase funding to research

  • Increase expenditure on R&D for the development of new vaccines
  • Hand held support by the government to local manufacturers in developing new vaccines



  • Encouraging philanthropic activities and donations etc. should also be explored as an otion. Eg Bill and milanda gates Foundation


Employing APC model

  • Using ADVANCE PURCHASE COMMITTMENTS in which a sponsor committ to fully or partially finance the purchase of vaccines at a pre specific price
  • In an APC, a sponsor (whether a government or a donor agency) commits to fully or partially finance the purchase of vaccines for a disease at a pre-specified price. 
  • The funds are spent only if the desired product is developed. This would create a larger market, with more certainty, which would attract more firms to develop new products.


Global collaboration

  • Only 10% of global health research is devoted to conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden
  • Collaboration with international players, government departments, biotechnology through the multilateral platforms like BRICS which covers developing world.
  • Since benefits of the research on these diseases spill over to many countries, so none of the small countries has an incentive to unilaterally support the research


Compulsory licensing

  • WHO’s The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has provisions for ‘compulsory licensing’ that allow governments to license the production of essential drugs to local manufacturers who must then pay royalties to the innovator.
  • It should be implemented in letter and spirit by removing all the hurdles.


Incentives for creation of vaccine is not the only panacea to counter poverty associated infections other efforts such as

  • Creating awareness among masses about rational use of antibiotics.
  • Creating infrastructure in terms of health care centres , equipments eg X pert in case of TB 
  • Government programs should be implemented in letter and spirit
  • Database for vulnerable sections of population eg NeHA
  • Increasing budgetry allocation to health care sector.




Since prevention is better than cure, all these years, the government should have focused more on creating a vaccine; they are easy to administer, need little diagnosis before use and can be taken in a few doses rather than involving long treatments.

General Studies – 3


Topic:   Conservation

8) Critically comment on the objectives and utility of the union government’s move to “de-regulate” bamboo production by amending the definition of “trees” under the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927. (150 Words)

The Hindu


Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics,

9) What is machine learning(MI)? How do machines learn? Examine the impact of MI on humans. (150 Words)

The Hindu




  • Machine learning is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on learning data representations, as opposed to task-specific algorithms. Neural network depicts the complex interlinkages of the different data that is accumulated over time, like in a brain.
  • The preprint describes the careful process of doing away with the false positives and systemic blips before coming up with the true signals


How have machines learnt to learn?

  • Computer science in the 1990s had laid much of the theoretical background for machine learning namely via developing neural networks. This involved, in essence, reviving a philosophy of designing circuits to simulate the way neurons connect in the brain.
  • The brain with its billions neurons and each connected to a 1000 others is now the dominant metaphor for how ML programs are organised. 
  • Rather than older approaches that tried to program the most ‘efficient’ way to solve a problem (like what’s the best sequence of moves to checkmate) Machine Learning systems are increasingly organised around letting the systems figure out the rules from scratch. 
  • Circuits achieve their goals — differentiating cats from dogs and recognising signatures on cheques—by repetitively blitzing through ‘rewards’ and ‘penalties’ and are limited only by the efficiency of the underlying algorithms and computing power at their programmer’s disposal. 


AI vs Humans

  • They won’t really rule us.
  • They will be very interested in us — ‘artificial curiosity’ as the term goes.
  • As long as they don’t understand life and civilisation, they will be super interested in us and their origins.
  • In the long run, they will be much more interested in others of their kind and it will expand to wherever there are resources. There’s a billion times more sunlight in space than here. They will emigrate and be far away from humans.
  • Using approaches of Deep Learning — an approach where layers of ‘neurons’ are hierarchically arranged to recognise an object — machines can beat human champions of games that require computation and intuition, such as Go. 
  • More usefully, it can look at pictures of biopsies and picking out possible cancers.

General Studies – 4

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


Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness. Comment.




Humans, most of the times, are happy when events of their liking happens, their inner emotions expressed, innate desires fulfilled and they are free of all restraints. 

However, this does not necessarily always falls into ethical domain. Making oneself happy would lead to anarchy and chaos in the world devoid of morality. 

Morality is the sense which guides us to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the most basic touchstone of ethical behaviour to be able to decide what is right and what is not.


When we make ourselves worthy of happiness it means that our actions are ethical, moral and neutral. When we act under our inclinations we are happy but it may be prejudiced against someone and we shall not be worthy of that happiness as it comes at the cost of snatching someone else’ happiness.

  • Satisfaction: Morality teaches us not only to take the right decision but to be happy with whatever consequences thus follows.
  • Public Regard: A moral person would always be celebrated and respected by the society.
  • Coherence in actions and thoughts: There is no difference between what our conscience tells us and what we actual do. Hence as a result we don’t suffer from guilt, depression.
  • Self Worth: When we follow the path shown by our sense of morality, we enjoy our daily work. We take a pride in us and our work.


However, if we act out of rationality knowing that what we are doing is the right thing to do will put us in exalted domain of morality. It means that our act shall be governed by moral duty and not our inclinations.

This rational and reasoned act will give us inner satisfaction and peace and happiness thus gained would be absolute and free from any worldly determinant. This way we will make ourselves worthy of happiness.



( Social and political dimensions of happiness can also be added in the body)