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General Studies – 1

Topic:  Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

1) Why did Chola rulers constantly shift their capital cities? Write a note on the architectural style of Chola temples. (150 Words)

The Hindu




The Chola dynasty was one of the longest ruling dynasties in the history of southern India. 

Their dynasty is well know for its elaborate architectural finesse, bravery shown by Kings like Rajendra 1 their Capital was earlier located at Uraiyur(Southern Andhra Pradesh) and was later shifted to Tanjor(Northern Tamil Nadu)


The reasons for the frequent capital shift can be traced as follows

  • To maintain naval hegemony over Srilanka,Maldives, Indonesia and other maritime ambitions.
  • To conduct trade. As Kaveripatnam ( early capital) acted as a port of trade. Silk cotton trade was the reason for shift to Uraiyur
  • As a mark of victory to define their mighty strength. Rajendra Chola I built new capital Gangaikonda to celebrate his victory over northern Indian rulers. As invaders looted the Capitals of dynasties they set foot in, Cholas shifted capital to Tanjor to save temples and architecture from destruction.


Chola temple architecture


Chola art saw culmination of dravida temple art resulting in most sophisticated buildings

  • Cholas followed the architectural style of the Pallavas deducting essential features of Pallavas such as lion motifs, for tigers, adding greater refinement etc. and were mostly involved in the construction of temples (Dravidian Style)
  • They used material of stone instead of bricks due to its greater durability. Neatly detailed frescos including birds, dancing figurines and other pictorial stories from Puranas. Some temples have potraits of the Kings and queens themselves. 
  • The temples had a Garbhaghriha(Deity room); Vimana(Brihadeshwara Temple); Shikhara(Stone weighing 90 tonne); Mandap. Metal Art(Nataraja at Chidamabaram Temple) Lofty Gates
  • Dvarpalas at the entrance of the mandap became a unique feature
  • Temples were covered with exquisite well composed sculptures and frescoes
  • Ganas are the most memorable figures were built during the chola period
  • Yazhi a recurring pattern of the sclupted mythical animals were also a unique features
  • Examples include Brihadweswara , Vijayalaya temples
  • Presence of water tank is the unique feature of chola architecture..

General Studies – 2


Topic:  Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

1) Why did Chola rulers constantly shift their capital cities? Write a note on the architectural style of Chola temples. (150 Words)

The Hindu



  • The fresh round of economic sanctions imposed unanimously by the UN Security Council on North Korea is a predictable response to mounting international frustration over the nuclear stand-off. 
  • The sanctions include an 89% curb on refined petroleum imports into North Korea, stringent inspections of ships transferring fuel to the country, and the expulsion of thousands of North Koreans in other countries 
  • The stated aim of the sanctions regime has been to force North Korea to halt its nuclear programme and start disarmament negotiations.


Why diplomacy is the only solution


  1. North Korea military and nuclear capabilities
  • Pyongyang now has the capability to hit parts of mainland America and its intermediate-range missiles can easily target U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam
  • North Korea asserts that it will root out the United States threat and blackmail of nuclear war and solidly defend the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region
  • In September, North Korea detonated its sixth underground nuclear device, which it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.
  • The development has served as a reminder to the U.S. that the scope for military options may be increasingly narrowing.
  • The old carrot and stick policies will not work. 

    2.Avert nuclearisation of Japan and South Korea

  • Military action may lead to nuclearisation in Japan and South Korea. 

    3.North Korea trade dependent on China than US 

  • Sanctions have limited utility because China accounts for 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade 

    4.China hesitant

  • For China, a nuclear North Korea is a lesser threat than a regime collapse that could lead to a unified Korea allied to the U.S.


US hard stance

  • U.S. has also charged the North Korean government with the world-wide ‘WannaCry’ cyberattacks in May. 
  • Trump warned that the U.S. would be willing to take unilateral action if China was not able to rein in its neighbour


China and Russia approach

  • As on previous occasions, Beijing and Moscow were able to impress upon the Security Council the potentially destabilising and hence counterproductive impact of extreme measures. 
  • However, even as China and Russia approved the latest measures, they continued to state their preference for diplomatic engagement. 
  • The last thing that China, which shares a long border with North Korea, wants is a war on its doorstep and U.S. troops on its borders.
  • This is significant given the intercontinental ballistic missile that Pyongyang launched in November, which could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in North America. 
  • China and Russia have been critical of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, proposing that if the U.S. and South Korea were to suspend their joint military exercises, North Korea could agree to suspending its tests, opening the way to a dialogue


Way forward

  • The old objectives of ‘denuclearisation’ and ‘reunification’ have to be set aside. North Korea’s nuclear capability will have to be accepted, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Mutual recognition will have to precede reunification and for this, the two Koreas need to begin a dialogue in due course. Managing this requires closer understanding between the U.S. and South Korea than is currently on display.
  • For Mr. Kim, the stakes are existential and parallel negotiations on political and nuclear tracks are needed if the current crisis is to be averted.
  • Against this backdrop, a revival of stalled peace negotiations between the P-5 nations and North Korea may be the only realistic alternative on the horizon. 
  • The successful conclusion of the 2015 civilian nuclear agreement between the P-5 plus Germany and Iran affords a constructive template to move ahead with North Korea. 


Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations.

3) In the light of the recent developments, critically comment on India’s position on Palestine. (150 Words)

The Wire




“There is No Permanent Enemy or Friend vis-a-vis Foreign Relations But Only Convergence or Divergence of Interest.”

This is discernible from India’s present foreign policy which is shifting from Non-Alignment to Strategic Alignment.

The strategic Alignment is visible from India’s de-hyphenated foreign policy with Israel-Palestine.

With recent developments,the critics say that there has been a shift in India’s position with Palestine.


India’s disposition towards Israel

  • The recent visit of India’s PM to Israel,declaring Israel as Strategic Partner, consolidating defense agreements particularly besides hosts of other agreements.


Impulsive Attitude of Trump Administration

  • This is conspicuous from recent US stand on Jerusalem to declare it as the capital of Israel, which is a controversial issue in not only Palestine, but also the entire Muslim world.


India’s Position on Palestine

  • India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.
  • Along with political support, India has been contributing material and technical assistance to the Palestinian people. 
  • In 2016 India pledged a USD 1.25 million to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees
  • India has always been a leading partner in educational support and capacity building process
  • The recent visit of India’s President to Palestine manifests India’s support to Palestine cause is still intact.
  • The critics view is that Indian policy is certainly affected by US in recent times.


Why Indian Policy shouldn’t change?


  1. Avert Islamic terrorism 
  • Peace and stability in the Middle East is, perhaps, the most important imperative of Indian foreign policy, and  it will be adversely affected by the dynamics that Trump’s policies will unleash.
  • The US decision, against international consensus, could well stoke off further instability in the volatile region and lead to yet another bout of Islamist radicalism – all matters of direct concern for India.

    2.Oil dependence on Middle East

  • Some 70% of our oil comes from the region, seven million of our citizens work there. Four times in recent history, India has had to evacuate its nationals from the region; in 1990 from Kuwait, Lebanon in 2006, Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. 

    3.Chinese diplomatic aggressions

  • China like Rohingya issue in Myanmar is actively asserting its diplomatic profile to resolve issues in Israel and Palestine against the US polcies. It is favouring solutions like “Two states” as initially propounded by India.
  • It will lead to ceding of space for India.




However, it would be too early to say that India has changed its pro-Arab historical stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. At the same time it can’t be denied that in recent time India have disposed from towards Israel. 


Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations. 

5) Why is it imperative for India to remember that Chabahar is an SEZ and not an exclusive project handed over to India? Comment. (150 Words)




  • Despite both India and Iran peddling the overhyped narrative of “civilizational ties” being the bedrock of the bilateral relationship, it is, in fact, hard, unemotional economics that drives the engagement


Why India needs to be cautionary?


  1. Iran hesitance
  • Chabahar is a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and not an exclusive project handed over to India, and Iran has reiterated this point multiple times.
  • Chabahar has got an altogether different lease of life in the Indian discourse compared to the Iranian one. India’s access to Chabahar is predominantly seen as a counter-balance to the port of Gwadar
  • In fact, Chabahar and Gwadar even have a sister-cities agreement, promoting trade and people-to-people ties between the ports even as New Delhi pitches the two against each other.

    2.Chinese offers to Iran

  • Compared to Beijing’s already full control of Gwadar, China has already activated a $10 billion credit line to Tehran, with another $15 billion one close to fruition. 
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been successful in taking large chunks of projects away from Western companies in Iran.

    3.Chinese infrastructure investment in Pakistan

  • India’s fears stem from the possibility of a build-up of Chinese naval presence in the near future, with China committing around $60 billion in infrastructure investments in Pakistan

    4.Chinese military buildup in Indian Ocean

  • The protection of this vast investment will lead China to increase its military footprint in the seas around South Asia. 
  • To put it in perspective, 2013 saw no Chinese naval submarines in the waters of the Indian Ocean, while this has jumped to an average of seven-eight such ships in 2017. While these movements include anti-piracy operations, it raises the question of why submarines are required to tackle glorified tugboats and modified motorboats off the African coast. 
  • These movements, of course, are now backed further by Beijing’s first overseas permanent military installation in Djibouti. 
  • The probability of such a build-up weighs heavy on Indian strategists’ minds, and Chabahar is often seen as the ideal balancing option. 

     5.India’s growing relationship with US

  • The trade of hydrocarbons is the largest chunk of Indo-Iranian ties, and, at the peak of American sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme, India had the hard task of balancing American pressure in order to minimize any long-term damage between the two countries as Iran pushed for financial clearances from India to the tune of nearly $6 billion in pending oil payments. 
  • Even as India informed Iran of its inability to do so, due to sanctions, the then government of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad persisted, often threatening New Delhi that it could lose stakes in projects such as Chabahar port, the Farzad B gas field and so on if it did not defy Washington.



  • Emerging from those times relatively unscathed, India has managed to keep its foot in the door to protect its interests and revived the narrative of Chabahar’s importance. 
  • However, the security dimension is based on a preferential approach towards Indian interests rather than one based on exclusivity by Tehran, making it much more of a high stakes game for New Delhi, which does not have a mature grand-strategy design around its foreign policy.


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

6) In the light of the apprehensions expressed against some of its provisions, critically analyse aims and rationale of the proposed new Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Act (FRDI) law. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

The Wire


FRDI Bill provisions

  • The FRDI Act defines the resolution mechanisms being pushed by the government as an alternative to recapitalisation.


  1. Creation of independent Resolution Corporation
  • At the centre of the new scheme is the creation of a new independent corporation that would take over the task of resolution of bankruptcy in banks, insurance companies and identified “systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs).
  • The Resolution Corporation will also take over the task of insuring bank deposits, compensating depositors up to a specified maximum amount (at present Rs.1 lakh) in case of bank failure.

    2.Classification of financial institutions

  • As part of its responsibilities, the corporation is to be mandated to classify the financial institutions under its jurisdiction under different categories based on risk of failure, varying from “low” and “moderate” (where the probability of failure is marginally or well below acceptable levels) to “material” or “imminent” (implying failure probabilities that are above or substantially above acceptable levels) and, finally, critical (being on the verge of failure).

    3.Imminent firms under the radar

  • In cases of financial firms placed under the material or imminent category, the Resolution Corporation is to be given the power to: (i) inspect the books to obtain information on assets and liabilities; (ii) restrict the activities of the firm concerned; (iii) prohibit or limit payments of different kinds; and (iii) require submission of a restoration plan to the regulator and a resolution plan to it, if necessary involving a merger or amalgamation.

    4.Critical firms to be taken over

  • In cases identified as critical, the Resolution Corporation will take over their administration and proceed to transfer their assets and liabilities through merger or acquisition or liquidation with permission from the NCLT.
  • Closing all options, the law prohibits recourse to the courts to stay the proceedings at the NCLT or seeking alternative routes to resolution.
  • Since liquidation involves compensating stakeholders according to their designated seniority, depending on the net assets available, any stakeholder can be called upon to accept a “haircut” or loss, including holders of deposits more than the maximum amount insured against loss.

Issues with the bill


  1. Scrapping of DICGC
  • The Bill proposes the scrapping of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (set up in the early 1960s in the aftermath of the collapse of two banks), which guarantees repayment of bank deposits up to Rs. 1 lakh in case a bank is liquidated.

     2.No amount stated to be returned to depositors

  • A new Resolution Corporation under the Finance Ministry will steer financial entities out of the woods and offer a similar cover for deposits.
  • The silence of the Bill on the extent of deposits to be guaranteed is a key source of concern, and may necessitate the need to revisit the existing Rs. 1 lakh deposit guarantee, which hasn’t been revised since 1993.

     3.Categorisation will precipitate failure instead of solvution

  • Since mere categorisation in the “material” or “imminent” category will send out a signal, banks so designated can become the target of a run, as depositors fearing failure would want to move out their deposits. Instead of resolving the problem of vulnerability to failure, the mechanism may actually precipitate failure.

    4.No recourse for employees in case of resolution plan

  • The restoration and/or resolution plan, to be acceptable, may “force” a financial firm to accept amalgamation or merger.
  • This would have implications for parties that are not responsible for the state of the firm, including officers, employees, creditors and small shareholders.

    5.Conflict between resolution corporation and firm under scrutiny may arise on resolution plan

  • To start with, while the Resolution Corporation and the regulator concerned will determine whether a financial firm is to be placed in the “material” or “imminent” category, the task of working out an acceptable restoration or renewal plan rests with the firm under scrutiny.
  • That is, the responsibility of restoring viability is that of the bank, insurance company or SIFI, with the regulation and resolution authority retaining the right to determine whether it has managed to reduce the probability of failure.


Way forward


  1. Use bail in sparingly
  • Bail in should typically be used where continuing a firm’s services is considered vital but its sale is unviable — not as a lazy default option.
  • If lenders don’t believe that a bail-in plan would salvage a firm, triggering the clause could end up causing a run on the bank instead of preventing one.
  • With its thrust on initiatives such as the Jan Dhan Yojana and demonetisation, the government has nudged more people towards the formal banking system.
  • To ensure that those gains are not lost, the government must communicate more clearly the rationale behind the bail-in provision, and the circumstances in which it may ultimately be used, if at all.

     2.Enhance the deposits to be returned in case of bankruptcy

  • Most importantly, it must enhance the amount of bank deposits that will remain safe under the new dispensation.

     3.Lesson from Financial Stability Board

  • This resolution framework is merely the replication in the Indian context of a regime recommended by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board (FSB)
  • The FSB was established in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-08, which was centred round the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • However, in those jurisdictions, the resolution of the post-crisis problem of potential insolvency of banks came through government purchases of equity and liquidity infusion by Central banks, unlike the FRDI Bill.

Topic: Awareness in IT

7) There is a growing support for either regulating or breaking big tech companies such as Facebook and Google. Discuss the reasons. Should they be broken up? Comment.  (250 Words)




Problems and respective solutions with Big tech

  • Big Tech like Google, Facebook and Amazon are being blamed for a number of things.


  1. Monopoly
  • They are engaging in monopolistic practices.
  • In the last year, 85% of the increase in ads online was shared by Google and Facebook. 
  • As a disproportionate beneficiary of online advertisement revenue, Google and Facebook have effectively become gatekeepers of information that is accessible to users of their platforms
  • Joseph Schumpeter wasn’t greatly enthused by perfect competition based on prices
  • He laid higher emphasis on competition from the next disruptor with a new method of production or organization. One needs to understand Schumpeter to explain why Kodak was beaten not by Fujifilm but by mobile phones with camera.
  • There are examples of how intervention by competition authorities in the cases of AT&T, IBM and Microsoft helped generate competition in those markets. Some similar kind of intervention is required. 
  • There are others who have advocated breaking up these tech giants. 
  • But the threat of competition emerging directly in the same market or, obliquely, in a different market keeps these tech giants on their toes, innovating constantly. The goal, remember, should be consumer welfare, whether it is delivered through competition or monopolies.

    2.Not Curbing fake news

  • not doing enough to curb fake news.
  • One particular concern has been centred on the lack of content curation by social media platforms
  • What Google and Facebook provide is high speed of dissemination—a feature that can be skilfully used to counter fake news.

     3.Violating the privacy of users

  • Since there is no direct user fee, Google and Facebook end up monetizing the personal data of consumers. Users are mostly unaware of how much of their data is used and how exactly. 
  • Regulators around the world should frame rules to make it mandatory for these tech firms to seek user consent before using personal data and be more open about how the data is used.

    4.Wages of employees

  • They have also been blamed for stagnation in wages and the decline in labour’s share of gross domestic product (GDP). 
  • The industries in which these superstar firms emerge are also the ones which have experienced high levels of innovation, as measured by citation-weighted patents or total factor productivity growth.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Attitude; Values 
  • Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought – Albert Einstein
  • Defined as the ability to come up with ideas that are both novel and useful, creativity’s desirability possibly outstrips that of any other trait, except perhaps intelligence.


Relationship between ethics and creativity

  • Creativity influences behaviour in unintended, indirect ways.
  • Research shows that thinking creatively is more likely to lead to dishonest behaviour. 
  • In other words, when faced with ethical dilemmas or the “grey zone”, creative people are more likely to behave unethically.


  1. Moral flexibility
  • Thinking creatively, or “outside the box”, leads individuals to restructure information and knowledge in several different ways, thus blurring the boundaries of right and wrong.
  • The more the amount of creativity required on their job, the more likely they were to indulge in dishonest behaviour.
  • Essentially, being creative, or the ability to think flexibly in many directions, blurs the thin line between honesty and dishonesty in ambiguous situations. 

     2.Feeling of entitlement

  • Creative people, being the rare breed they are, are perhaps more deserving of the better things in life.
  • While moral flexibility is one reason underlying this unethical behaviour, the feeling of entitlement is another.
  • By contributing original and novel ideas, creative individuals feel they deserve special, preferential treatment.
  • This sense of entitlement brings with it its own set of negative consequences, including cheating. 
  • Interestingly, this sense of entitlement was found to be unique to creativity and not generalizable to other valued traits, such as intelligence (perhaps thought to be more “abundant” than creativity).



  • World Economic Forum report titled “Future of Jobs” argues that by 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution would have created a world of “advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, disrupting and transforming the way we live and work”. 
  • To flourish in a competitive world where the mundane is taken over by machines, creativity will become a must-have
  • Hence in the contemporary world of Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ethics of creativity will be more pronounced in the coming years.