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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:  Role of women and women’s organization

1) Research found that women’s NGOs had made vital contributions to the success of development projects, but they were easily marginalised and trivialised once those projects got off the ground. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Wire



  • In contemporary global development circles, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are now performing many more roles and activities than they did a few decades ago.

Role of NGOs in women empowerment

  • NGOs are increasingly taking on the responsibility of implementing the gender equality and women’s empowerment agendas of the global development sector.
  • The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015 will undoubtedly increase the engagement of women’s NGOs in a variety of activities.


Women’s NGOs in India

  • In India, women’s NGOs were involved in delivering urban basic services like water, sanitation and electricity.
  • Women’s NGOs played crucial roles in development projects, often mobilising, organising and building projects that otherwise would never have launched.


Example of Gujarat

  • women’s NGOs in the state of Gujarat mobilised local communities to participate in urban development projects


  1. Formed community organisations and implementated projects
  • They helped form community-based organisations to represent local interests and implemented community development projects — such as health services, adult literacy and child care.

    2.Conducted research

  • Women’s NGOs also conducted research to determine whether local communities could afford to pay for basic urban services.

    3.Negotiated with the decision makers for variety of questions

  • They negotiated subsidies, fair pricing and flexible terms of payment with utilities on behalf of marginalised people. 

   4.Arranged easy access to various government services

  • They arranged access to loans from microfinance institutions for households that could not cover the cost of water or electricity connections.

   5.Enhanced women participation by aligning with the state

  • And by insisting that water and electricity bills be issued in the names of female heads of households, women’s NGOs strengthened women’s access to property and housing.

   6.Educated people and policymakers

  • The NGOs also educated stakeholders about the realities of life for the urban poor, and shared lessons learned in one urban area with NGOs in other cities in India.


Women’s NGOs easily marginalised

  • After the success of the pilot projects, the other partners declared that they would “go it alone” and no longer involve the NGO partner in delivering basic urban services.
  • They were often dismissed as supplementary and dispensable by the other partners.
  • Because the NGOs’ role of organising, mobilising and helping local communities participate in development initiatives was seen as a “natural” extension of women’s caregiving work, it was easy for other partners to diminish and dismiss their contributions.


Way forward


  1. Formal agreements to define concrete role
  • The lack of such formal agreements entrenches the perception that the role NGOs play is not particularly valuable. 
  • But the involvement of partners with a wide range of views, sizes, structures and experiences underscores the importance of formalising the role of women’s NGOs.

     2.Data dissemination to signify their role

  • Collecting, maintaining and analysing data on a regular basis about key project impacts and outcomes will be crucial for making NGO contributions more visible and less dismissible.
  • Collaborating with academics and other development professionals to publish and disseminate findings from such projects will also strengthen and validate NGO efforts. 

General Studies – 2


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

2) Sold as a concept to plug leakages in welfare schemes, Aadhaar is now creating more problems than what it had set out to resolve. Critically analyse. (250 Words)

Down to Earth



  Aadhar to plug leakages

  • In 2010, when the first Aadhaar was issued, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the economically and socially backward people will be the biggest beneficiaries, who, till then, couldn’t avail the benefits of government welfare schemes due to lack of identity proof.
  • The founding premise of Aadhaar was to recognise the exact beneficiary of government subsidies and weed out duplicates and forgeries. But enrolling for Aadhaar was an individual’s choice.
  • Today 12-digit unique identity number has created unique problems by making it a must-have for almost every facility a citizen wants to avail, irrespective of his or her social and economic status.




  1. Accessing services through mandatory Aadhar
  • In March 2014, Supreme Court said Aadhaar was not mandatory to avail social welfare schemes.
  • But in August 2015, it agreed to make Aadhaar mandatory for cooking gas subsidy.
  • Later in October that year, it also allowed the use of Aadhaar for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme and pensions by central and state governments.
  • The same confusion prevailed over making Aadhaar-PAN linkage mandatory for filing income tax.

   2.Aadhar Bill introduced as money bill to avert debate

  • On March, 2016, the government presented Aadhaar (Delivery of Benefits, Subsidies and Services) Bill as a money bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha.
  • It also introduced last-minute amendments to the Bill to make Aadhaar mandatory.
  • The upper house recommended a provision, wherein, if an individual chooses not to enroll for Aadhaar, he should be offered “alternate and viable means of identification” for delivery of subsidy and other benefits. The Bill, however, was passed with-out considering the recommendation.

   3.Not foolproof

  • Many poor people have been excluded from dicrepencies that occur one time or anothr in Aadhar database.

   4.Privacy issue

  • Most developed countries have already dropped the idea of having Aadhaar-like identification system to protect people’s privacy.
  • Even the US, one of the first countries in the world to have a national identification number for its citizens, does not collect fingerprints or scan iris to create social security number (SSN)
  • Unlike India, the US has a privacy law that makes it unlawful for government agencies to deny benefits just because the individual refuses to disclose his SSN.

   5.Various oganisations are reluctant

  • No office is willing to link all this information with the Centralised Data and Information System. That destroys their power.


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Conservation; Environmental pollution

4) Examine the environmental impact of China’s growing footprint on the globe. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


Consumer of wildlife products

  • For a start, China is overwhelmingly the world’s biggest consumer of illegally poached wildlife and wildlife products
  • From rhino horn, to pangolins, to shark fins, to a menagerie of wild bird species, Chinese consumption drives much of the global trade in wildlife exploitation and smuggling.
  • Over the past 15 years, China’s rapacious appetite for ivory has largely driven a global collapse of elephant populations. In response to growing international criticism, China promised to shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.
  • China is also the world’s biggest importer of illegal timber, a trade that imperils forests while defrauding developing nations of billions of dollars each year in timber royalties. Most illegal timber flows across its border with Myanmar.


Infrastructure projects are environmentally consequential

  • China’s One Belt One Road initiative alone will carve massive arrays of new roads, railroads, ports, and extractive industries such as mining, logging, and oil and gas projects into at least 70 nations across Asia, Europe, and Africa.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping promises that the Belt and Road initiative will be “green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable”, but such a claim is profoundly divorced from reality.
  • There will be large-scale deforestation, habitat fragmentation, wildlife poaching, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


Exploitation of natural resources

  • China’s pursuit of natural resources is also escalating across Latin America. 
  • In the Amazon, for example, big mining projects – many of which are feeding Chinese industries – don’t just cause serious local degradation, but also promote widespread deforestation from the networks of roads bulldozed into remote areas to access the mines.
  • Overall, China is the most aggressive consumer of minerals on the planet, and the biggest driver of tropical deforestation.


Exporting its carbon use by building in developing countries

  • A World Bank study of more than 3,000 overseas projects funded or operated by China revealed how it often treats poor nations as “pollution havens” – transferring its own environmental degradation to developing nations that are desperate for foreign investment.



  • Though, China is beginning to temper its appetite for domestic fossil-fuelled energy. It is now a leading investor in solar and wind energy, and recently delayed construction of more than 150 coal-fired electricity plants in China.
  • China now produces more than twice the carbon emissions of the United States, the second-biggest polluter, following the greatest building spree of coal, nuclear, and large-scale hydro projects in human history.

Topic: Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems

5) India is the third largest dam-building nation in the world after China and the US, but despite that its annual per capita water storage capacity is just 225 cubic metres. Are there any alternatives to dams that India could explore? Examine. (150 Words)

Down to Earth



  • India is the third largest dam-building nation in the world after China and the US. We have more than 5,000 large dams.
  • Despite that, India’s annual per capita water storage capacity is 225 cubic metres, which is far less compared to China (1,200 cubic metres)
  • The fact that the per capita availability of water per year in India is 879 cubic metres and it is a water-scarce nation does not mean that there is shortage of water but there is lack of storage of water or water management.
  • And dams don’t solve the problem of lack of water storage. On the contrary, the storage capacity of a river is reduced to 75 per cent due to the problem of silting.
  • Dams, which interfere with the continuous flow, don’t just lead to depression of groundwater table in the downstream but also restrict movement of organisms, nutrients and sand along a river, which has an impact on downstream aquatic system and biodiversity.


Alternative to dams


  1. Subsurface dams
  • It is time we follow countries like Japan that have created multiple sub-surface dams.
  • Unlike a surface dam, water loss by evaporation is minimal in underground dams.
  • In a country like India, where evaporation rates are very high, this can be the game changer



  • The sub-surface dams capture ground waters flowing fairly near the surface of the ground.  This water can be accessed via wells upstream from the dam. Since the water is stored within the aquifer, submergence of land can be avoided. Moreover, there will not be any evaporation loss from the reservoir. Additionally, no siltation takes place in the reservoir and the potential disaster like collapse of dams can be avoided.

    2.Coastal reservoirs

  • storing floodwater during rainy season with the help of coastal reservoirs is the best solution to overcome water shortage.
  • the reservoir should be built near the river mouth where it joins the sea.
  • The coastal reservoirs should have the provision of capturing only the floodwater and allowing excess floodwater to flow into the sea.

Topic:  Environmental pollution; Agriculture

6) Discuss the harmful effects of pesticide on farmers in India. (150 Words)

The Hindu


Pesticides are used in farming in order to eradicate the unwanted pest which are threat to the crops. But using pesticides may cause serious harmful effects such as


  • Indiscriminate use of endosulfan in kerla has resulted in deaths of many farmers .
  • Pesticides reduces the quality of the crop – it reduces the nutrients content as well as taste.
  • It degrades soil nutritional content and in turns make farming difficult on the same land.
  • Farmers are suspectable to various health related issue after coming into contact with pesticides.e. g. Dermal problem, itching, skin burn etc
  • Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation.
  • They release harmful gases – contribute to environment pollution.
  • They are carcinogenic.
  • Indiscriminate use of pesticides cause resistance in pest – as seen in the case of orrisa recently where the pest attacked rice field because they developed resistance.


Way forward

  • Limited use of pesticides should be use – soil health card can be beneficial in informing farmer to use the quantity.
  • Organic farming should be encouraged.
  • Sale and supply of pesticides needs to be regulated. 
  • Under the Insecticides Act, 1968, which seeks to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides, government officials are required to train farmers in the use of these chemicals, but in reality it is the privately owned Krushi Seva Kendras that give them advice
  • Central Pesticides Board be formed to advise on use and disposal of pesticides on sound lines

Topic:  Environmental pollution

7) Why is the presence of antibiotic resistance in the environment a worrying factor? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • Until now, India’s fight against antibiotic-resistance was focussed on getting people to cut down on unnecessary antibiotic consumption. Having too many antibiotics causes bodily pathogens to resist these miracle drugs. 
  • But, for the first time, the 2017 National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance talks about limiting antibiotics in effluent being dumped by drug makers into the environment
  • This is because when these drugs taint soil and water, the scores of microbes that live there grow drug-resistant. 
  • But only a tiny proportion of these environmental microbes trigger disease in humans. 


Environment-pathogen link

  • There is intimacy shared between environmental bacteria and human pathogens
  • Typically, a pathogen can take two routes to antibiotic resistance. 


  1. The first is for its own genes to mutate spontaneously to help fight the drug. This is a long-winded route, because mutations take time to spread through a bacterial population. 
  2. The second route, a shortcut known as horizontal gene transfer, is for the bug to borrow resistance genes from its neighbours.


  • Scientists believe that many human pathogens today picked up their resistance genes from the environment through this shortcut


The antibiotic age

  • Earliest antibiotic-resistance genes in nature are millions of years old. But when humans starting manufacturing antibiotics in the 1950s, a large doses of these drugs seeped into the environment through poultry and human excreta, and waste water from drug makers and hospitals. This led to an explosion of resistance genes in soil and water microbes.
  • In 2007, Swedish investigators found that water in a pharma effluent treatment plant had both high levels of ciprofloxacin as well as novel resistance genes, never seen in microbes elsewhere. 
  • When the Swedish researchers compared the numbers of qnr genes in the faeces of people living in antibiotic-polluted regions and elsewhere, they found no difference. This seems to imply that the flow of genes from the environment to humans is a rare event
  • We live in unprecedented times where environmental bacteria, pathogens and antibiotics are mixing like never before. This means such rare events are almost inevitable. 
  • Once they jump to human bugs, resistance-genes can spread across continents in a few days, thanks to international air travel.



  • Wastewater in pharma clusters could give rise to new genes as dangerous as New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) of 2009.
  • Thus, countries like India with huge pharma industry should take appropriate steps.

Topic:  e-technology in the aid of farmers 

8) It is said that the TIGR2ESS  project aims to define the requirements for a second, more sustainable Green Revolution in India. Write a note on the objectives and benefits of this project. (250 Words)

The Wire



  • TIGR2ESS is  a new, large-scale, multi-partner project that has just been awarded £6.9m funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) by Research Councils UK 
  • It is a formidable network of partners from research, industry, government and NGOs in the UK and India.
  • It aims to define the requirements for a second, more sustainable Green Revolution, and to deliver this through a suite of research programmes, training workshops and educational activities.
  • The funding forms part of the UK government’s Official Development Assistance commitment, and partners from both countries will work together.



  • The empowerment of women will be a key theme of this multifaceted project. 


  1. Food security and nutrition for families
  • Providing India’s women with the skills and knowledge to contribute to improved food security for their country, and better nutrition for their families will take various approaches. 
  • The UK–Indian partnership will set up ‘nutrition kitchens’ in Indian villages alongside existing health centres to run monthly cooking classes and provide nutrition-relevant education

     2.Increase farmer income

  • In parallel, it will be looking for ways to increase the value of these crops, to raise family incomes

    3.Research and educate on farming practices 

  • TIGR2ESS will bring together science and social science to drive interventions that actually work for Indian farmers and their communities.
  • TIGR2ESS will include fundamental research addressing crop productivity and water use in India and will identify appropriate crops and farming practices for different climatic regions
  • Workshops will educate female farmers to help them improve their farming practices.

    4.Capacity building of farmers

  • It also includes a capacity-building programme of researcher exchanges between the UK and India to ensure skills development and build expertise for the long term

     5.Access to government services

  • Recognising that an increasing number of India’s smallholder farmers are women, we need to ensure that state resources and services, and knowledge, are equally accessible to them

General Studies – 4


Topic:  Ethics in public administration; Ethics in human actions. 

Give compelling reasons why hate crimes must be denounced by all sections of the society.


  • Hate speech is incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like.
  • Thus, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.


Consequences of hate crime

  • Hate crimes are particularly serious because of their potential to provoke panic
  • Such crimes pose a very stiff challenge in a democratic society
  • They may be isolated, they may be the handiwork of individuals acting on their own, but by positioning one group (religious, racial, ethnic, gender) against another, the impact of these crimes spills into the wider community. 
  • They heighten anxieties among the targeted groups, and in the age of a polarised social media, they risk giving the unacceptable a perverse acceptability
  • It disturbs social fabric thereby distorting secular framework of india
  • It hampers peace and tranquillity, suspicion among various sects of society
  • It deprives individuals from right to live with dignity, right to equality as per constitution of india
  • It could impair economic growth & development. At times, it causes displacement & migration.
  • It could polarize the electorate and give way to the divisive elements in to the political system and thus relegating real issues in a poor country like India.
  • It t threatens to other attributes such as empathy love compassion, solidarity, co operation and co ordination
  • There is only one way to counter them: with a clear, unambiguous consensus against hate.