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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:  Social empowerment; Population issues; Women

1) The Economic Survey presents the first ever estimate of the number of ‘unwanted’ girls in India at 21 million. Who are these ‘unwanted’ girls? Discuss the significance of this estimation. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Unwanted girls :-

  • Unwanted girls in India are the 21 million girls whose parents wanted a boy but had a girl instead .
  • The number has been arrived at by looking at the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) which is heavily male-skewed, indicating that parents keep having children until they get the desired number of sons.

Significance of this estimation:-

  • It shows that there is the ‘son meta preference’ and patriarchal mindset where parents do not stop having children after having a daughter in Indian society.
  • The corollary is that the girls receive fewer resources because their parents wanted a son leading to girls suffering disproportionately from disease, neglect, or inadequate nutrition.
  • Also shows why there are less women in the workplace.
  • Also shows that not enough is being done to stop violence against women, which is seriously limiting women’s labor participation.
  • Comparing data from 1991 and 2011, the study also found that even as incomes rose across different states in India, the sex ratio declined.
    • In northern Punjab and Haryana states, there are 1,200 boys under the age of seven for every 1,000 girls, though they are among the richest states.
  • In some sense, once born, the lives of women are improving but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born.
  • Deeply-ingrained preference for boys has led to a massive gender gap in India.
  • The problem of female infanticide does not seem confined to smaller villages, contrary to common perception but relatively large urban areas also have this problem.
  • The schemes undertaken by the governments have not had very significant impact for women.

What needs to be done ?

  • Ensuring property rights for women
  • Ending gender stereotyping in Indian popular culture can also help.
  • Giving push to women for economic empowerment so that social empowerment would follow.
  • Quality education should be provided with inclusive schemes like Dhanalaxmi, Save daughter educate daughter etc implemented effectively.


GeneralStudies – 2 

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

2) Today there is much more data and evidence about the contours of the learning crisis in India than ever before. In the light of this data, time is ripe for India to move beyond universal schooling and focus on  improving the quality of children’s learning outcomes. Analyse. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • The ASER report and NAS report have put forward the latest data towards the trends of education in India.

Findings from ASER report regarding the learning crisis in India which also show that quality need to be focused more :-

  • RTE helped:-
    • As the ASER report shows, a direct consequence of the RTE has been that most tend to continue to stay within the formal education set-up, even after the Act folds up at age 14.
    • From about 55 per cent enrolment in 1987, India is now achieving near-total enrolment. 
  • Highlights the issue of failure of quality education in schools.
    • Learning deficits carry forward as 14 to 18-year-olds go from being adolescents to young adults
      • Though their ability to read in regional languages and English seems to improve with age, the same does not apply to math. The proportion of youth who have not acquired basic math skills by age 14 is the same as that of 18-year-olds
    • Inability to apply basic literacy and numeracy skills to everyday tasks:-
      • These findings are worrying because these are everyday skills that formal education has failed to equip them with.
      • Given the fragile foundation of basic education, the large majority of workforce cannot be trained for high skill, high-productivity jobs.
    • Gender discrimination:-
      • The report also highlights the gender aspect of enrolment, with the number of girls falling sharply with age.
    • The quality of public schools has sunk to abysmally low levels, as government schools have become the reserve of children at the very bottom of India’s social ladder.
    • With issues like teacher absenteeism, poor student attendance, bad infrastructure, inadequate teacher preparation programmes and rote learning practices focus on quality of education is very necessary
    • The “no detention policy” – the practice of automatically graduating children through the grades until they reach Grade 8, even if their test scores are poor needs to be revisited
    • According to the World Development Report 2018 “Learning to Realise Education’s Promise”, India ranks second from the bottom after Malawi in a list of 12 countries where some Grade 2 students were found to be unable to read a single word from a short text. 
    • According to TSR subramanian committee report a large number of government schools do not have full-time headmasters/principals. The lack of effective leadership has contributed to indiscipline among teachers leading to declining academic standards.


What needs to be done?

  • Formal teaching needs to be supplemented by in-school pull-out programmes, after-school reading classes and summer camps by voluntary organisations using innovative pedagogies.
  • When the focus is moving from “providing schooling” towards “ensuring learning”, a multi-year period is needed for implementation.
  • In the upcoming Budget, an amount could be set aside specifically for a learning improvement fund. Financial mechanisms could be worked out to access this Central or State-level special fund so that interested districts could bid for these funds based on a well worked out plan.
  • The learning process requires both the government and the private sector across states to combine delivery of quality knowledge inputs (through effective implementation of RTE norms) along with a greater focus on output (the quality of learning).
  • Children need to be grouped by their learning level, not grade. Teaching-learning activities and materials for each group are based on their level and aimed at enabling children progress to the next level and beyond. 
    • Two recently concluded randomised evaluations of “teaching at the right level” in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh provide promising insights into how this model can be scaled up successfully within a government school system.



  • India is to truly rise as a global economic power, the policymakers and education specialists must focus its efforts on developing its public schools into a world-class education system.
  • Adequate resources, higher standards for teachers and the flushing out of corruption must all be part of a reform package that seeks to make Indian education the nation’s top priority.

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.  

3) Unless legislatures are truly strengthened and the disproportionate power of the executive in the legislature curtailed, the issue of ‘office of profit’ can not be fully addressed. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background :-

  • India has three organs of the government legislature, executive and judiciary. However over the period of time executive(PM /CM ,Ministers) has become dominant and has huge control over legislature. Legislators cannot hold a office of profit but the incentives and the powers held by the executive is making legislature weak.
  • India’s Constitution makers under Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) state that a lawmaker will be disqualified if he or she occupies “any office of profit” under the Central or State governments, other than those offices exempted by law.
  • While the term “office of profit” is not defined in the Constitution, the Supreme Court, in multiple decisions, has laid out its contours.

Disproportionate powers of executive over legislature :-

  • In India’s parliamentary system, contesting elections to the legislature is primarily seen as a path to exercise executive power.
  • The power to introduce a public bill in parliament lies with the minister, ordinance making power lies with the executive. These powers are not there for legislators.
  • Also according to the 91st Constitutional amendment act a cap is placed on the strength of council of ministers which is 15% for Parliament and state legislature and 10% for Delhi state legislature. This leads to not all legislators being executives.
  • In coalition governments, to appease other parties new executive posts have been created.
  • So to appease these legislators who could not find place in cabinet, there have been instances where they have been made parliamentary secretaries. This is in conflict with the rules as the same person is having both legislative and executive powers. So a legislator is holding an office of profit.
  • Rewarding MLAs with executive posts can restrict them from performing their primary role.
  • The creation of such posts can also be attributed to the larger institutional malaise facing the legislatures.
  • Lawmakers have been enfeebled over the years through measures such as binding party whips and a purely executive-driven legislative agenda.
  • In such an institutional milieu, lawmakers increasingly seek positions with perks to exercise influence

How to strengthen legislatures?

  • Can be done by using whip only during non confidence motion and giving legislators to act based on their choice.
  • Accountability of executive need to increase frequent consultative committee meetings, increasing sittings in each session ,ensuring proper debate so that disproportionate power of executive is checked and quality bills are passed.
  • There is a need to amend anti defection law
  • Parliamentary committees need to be strengthened
  • Ordinance making need to be used only in extra ordinary circumstances


By ensuring all the above the legislature will be strengthened and issue with office of profit can be fully addressed.

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

4) India can be a ‘consensus builder’ in its neighbourhood before moving ahead with its role as ‘net security provider’. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express


  • India is gaining momentum in the international arena by being members of MTCR, Wassenaar agreement, Australia group, now it is developing Assumption island in Seychelles as well. This raised questions whether India needs to be a consensus builder or net security provider in its neighbourhood.

Challenges in India’s neighbourhood :-

  • Piracy, terrorism, human and drug trafickking, Border conflicts
  • China strategic expansion by developing infrastructure in Srilanka, CPEC corridor , opening the naval base in Djibouti etc
  • US is pulling out from international agreements like TPP,US moving out from Afghanistan puts China in the forefront. also
  • Refugee crisis – Rohingya issue
  • Also there are issues of instability due to the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


To ensure the challenges are solved India needs to develop militarily and be a net security provider through the assumption island of Seychelles, Strengthening border management through integrated check posts, defence relations with ASEAN

However there are some issues for India to be a net security provider :-

  • India is strongly dependent on other countries for military infrastructure and indigenisation of technology is still very less.
  • India has no policy like China’s One belt one road to include many countries
  • Lack of strong international role
  • India’s foreign policy is focussed on non interference of other country’s internal affairs
  • India is still unable to deliver projects on time like BBIN,TAPI are being delayed.


So India needs to first try to build consensus in the neighbourhood and then be ready to engage militarily.

Why India should be a consensus builder in its neighbourhood:-

  • Indian foreign policy relied on its deep resources of wisdom and inner strength based on a percept of it being a civilizational state, that was reflected in its international conduct. To that effect, foreign policy has been driven by peace rather than security. It gave India a global persona of benign international influence.
  • An honest attempt to build a new paradigm of India-China trust grounded on the shared historical and cultural awareness, as also on the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens on both sides, may prove to be more effective
  • Transforming India’s old arrangements with smaller neighbours like Bhutan and Nepal and developing India as a regional economic hub,
  • India need to try to implement the projects it promised in Myanmar, trilateral highway on time and encourage economic cooperation
  • By focussing on SAARC,BIMSTEC India can ensure the cohesiveness and solidarity among the countries in the region gaining the trust.
  • There need to be moral consistency in its actions like Housing projects in Jaffna, the parliament in Kabul and the Sittwe port renovation project in Myanmar are all symbols of Indian efforts to reach out in the region.
  • By focussing on connectivity India needs to link ASEAN for the benefitting of north east bringing. This ensures India as a regional power.
  • In the light of climate change India can engage with other countries on early warning systems and disaster mitigation.
  • It have increase relations in space diplomacy, more people people contact as well.

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

5) What are the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group? How do these elite regimes control the export of weapons and transfer of weapons technologies? Why does membership in them matter to India? Examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


  • In the 18 years since its nuclear tests, India’s pursuit of nuclear legitimacy has taken several forms.
  • Successive governments have renounced further tests, promulgated defensive nuclear doctrines and accepted international supervision.
  • As part of this effort, India has placed particular emphasis on joining key export control regimes.

 MTCR :-

  • MTCR is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.
  • It has 35 members. India was admitted in June 2016. China is not a member.
  • MTCR’s initial aim of controlling proliferation of nuclear missiles was expanded in 1992 to include delivery systems for chemical and biological weapons as well.
  • It encourages members not to export missiles delivering any weapon of mass destruction.

Australia group :-

  • It is an informal forum of countries which through the harmonisation of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.
  • The principal objective of its members is to use licensing measures to restrict exports of certain chemicals, biological agents, and dual-use chemical and biological manufacturing facilities and equipment that could contribute to the proliferation of CBWs.
  • It has 43 members; India was admitted as a participant on January 19 this year. China is not a member of the AG.

Wassenaar Agreement:-

  • It aims to promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies so there are no destabilising accumulations and terrorists do not acquire them.
  • It has 42 members; India was admitted as a “participating state”  in 2017.
  • Members must be producers/exporters of arms/sensitive industrial equipment
  • Members must have national polices for non-proliferation and an effective export control regime
  • Members must adhere to global non-proliferation compacts including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention.


How do these regimes control the export of weapons and transfer of weapon technologies ?

  • MTCR:-
    • MTCR members are supposed to establish national export control policies for ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, space launch vehicles, drones, remotely piloted vehicles, sounding rockets, their components and technologies.
    • The regime’s guidelines say there will be a strong presumption to deny exports of “Category I” items, which include complete missiles and rockets, major sub-systems, and production facilities.
    • “Category II” exports i.e.., specialised materials, technologies, propellants, and sub-components for missiles and rockets some of which also have civilian uses, are less severe.
    • MTCR is a voluntary regime, places no legal obligations on its members, and has no enforcement mechanism.
    • It is clear that exports to fellow members are not treated differently from exports to non-members
  • Australia group:-
    • Members commit to prevent spread of Chemical based weapons proliferation
      • Including being a party to Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention
      • Being a manufacturer/exporter/transshipper of AG-controlled items
      • Having an effective export control system with legal penalties and sanctions built in.
    • The obligations are not legally binding.
  • Wassenaar agreement:-
    • The Wassenaar Arrangement requires participating states to apply export controls to all items in the Wassenaar “Control List” and the “Munitions List”, with the objective of preventing unauthorised transfers or re-transfers of those items.
    • Participating states must also exchange information to assist in developing common understandings of transfer risks. They must report their arms transfers and transfers/denials of certain dual-use goods and technologies to countries outside the Arrangement on a six-monthly basis.
    • In order to do all this, members agree to guidelines, elements and procedures as a basis for decision-making through their own national legislation and policies.

Why membership matters:-

  • With respect to MTCR
    • it burnishes its image as a non-proliferator, thereby making it easier for other missile-making countries to export to India.
    • India is the only one of the four unrecognised nuclear powers (the others are Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) that is a member of MTCR.
    • Now it is easier for other MTCR members to justify transferring sensitive technology to India. 
    • India’s space programme will be an obvious beneficiary.
    • Membership will ease the way for New Delhi to export its supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, co-developed with Russia. 
  • Being part of Australian group
    • would help strengthen supply chain security in the dynamic industry fields of biotechnology and chemicals along with meeting non-proliferation objectives.
  • Wassenaar agreement:-
    • India’s admittance to Wassenaar agreement despite being a non-signatory of the NPT has been seen as a sign of its growing nuclear legitimacy.
    • Membership of the Wassenaar Arrangement is, along with membership of MTCR and Australia Group, three-fourths of the way into the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. 
    • Wassenaar Arrangement will embed India deeper in the global non-proliferation architecture and enable access to critical technologies in the defence and space sectors.
  • The membership of these groups will give India a distinct advantage when participating in the management of global commerce in advanced technology.


  • The US is likely to treat the export of armed drones to India with much more caution than it does to NATO allies.
  • Not only is India working on nuclear-capable cruise missiles that could, in theory, benefit from drone technology US officials will also be hesitant to expand India’s perceived options for striking Pakistan. 
  • Indian drones in Pakistan would face a drastically less permissive environment than their CIA counterparts, which fly in specially cleared airspace.


  • India is moving in the right direction by being part of these groups and gaining international legitimacy. This shows the growing stature of India in the world arena .


General Studies – 3


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

6) The new Economic Survey provides compelling evidence of how the Indian economy is becoming more formalised. Discuss the causes and significance of formalisation of the Indian economy. (250 Words)



  • According to International labour organisation, a major challenge in India is the quality of jobs .Also the overall proportion of informal workers in total employment has remained relatively stable, at around 92 per cent.
  • However based on the economic survey statistics this seems to have changed.


  • The introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) has brought more firms into the tax net. The number of enterprises paying indirect taxes has gone up by 3.4 million, an increase of 50%.
  • The Indian workforce is more formalized than most people believed till recently. Nearly a third of the non-farm Indian workforce of 240 million has some social security coverage.
  • More than half of the non-farm workforce is employed in firms that now pay taxes.
  • Demonetization is one of the reasons why Indians are putting a greater proportion of their savings in the formal financial sector.
  • Bank deposits swelled after November 2016, though the booming stock market has also made financial savings through mutual funds more attractive compared to gold or real estate.
  • Also government push for cashless economy through digital India, Aadhaar streamlined the businesses and brought them into the formal sector.



  • Higher tax revenues for the government to spend
  • More direct tax payments by individuals as well as enterprises will not only create fiscal space for lower GST rates but also provide incentives for citizens to demand better governance.
  • This shows that there will be more firms paying indirect taxes and more individuals filing income tax returns etc
  • Demonetisation saw a bump in the number of people paying taxes, but a majority of these people are earning so little they don’t go past the minimum exemption limit.
  • In the case of new enterprises entering the GST system, the survey also notes most of these firms aren’t engaged in business-to-consumer transactions, but instead do transactions in what is called the business-to-business (B2B) sector and exports.
  • Due to more revenues to the government the tax to GDP ratio will increase which might lead to more investment in social sector.
  • It becomes tough to involve in money laundering and illegal activities as transparency has increased.
  • It is also about a profoundly different social contract between citizens and the state.

Topic:  Conservation

7) Discuss the merits and demerits of the compensatory afforestation programme. (250 Words)

The Wire

Compensatory afforestation programme :-

  • Compensatory Afforestation (CA) refers to afforestation and regeneration activities carried out as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest purposes. Here “non-forest purpose” means the breaking up or clearing of any forest land or a portion thereof for-
    • the cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil-bearing plants, horticultural crops or medicinal plants;
    • any purpose other than reafforestation;



  • Since forests are being diverted routinely (at the rate of about 20,000-25,000 ha per year according to the Ministry of Environment and Forests) a large sum of money is accruing to the government. It is to manage this money, and to use it for the designated purposes, that CAMPA is proposed to be set up
  • The legislation will allow states to access nearly 42000 crore rupees that is lying idle and channel it into afforestation projects.
  • Compensatory afforestation purports to be a ‘win-win’ solution: a win for the environment because lost forests are compensated for, and a win for business because these forests can be traded on international carbon markets for their value as carbon sinks.
  • It has provisions or administration of funds and utilization of funds by the user agencies to undertake plantations, protection of forests and forest-related infrastructure development.
  • The adverse impacts of diversion of forests will get mitigated.
  • Will create the much-needed employment opportunities in tribal areas.
  • It will result in increase of green cover and creation of productive assets.


  • Programme will affect rights granted under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 by decimating the rights of forest dwelling communities .
  • There is difficulty in finding land, especially in smaller states, and in heavily forested ones like Chhattisgarh.
  • It seeks to use the money for the Green India Programme, wildlife protection and for infra development, etc which were not the original purposes of creating the fund.
  • Mis-utilisation of funds and lack of accountability
  • No community participation
    • The affected forest communities have no say in the management of CAMPA funds.
    • There is no long-term involvement of locals/tribals with the plantations.
  • It allows for an unconstitutional exercise of eminent domain the principle that the government ultimately has rights over all land in the country
  • Arrangements for land acquisition under the CAF Act violate existing land acquisition procedures in India.
    • CAF Act includes no legal provisions that can penalise misuse of land acquired.
    • It also doesn’t provide for any accountability mechanisms that oversee plantations.
    • Studies already reveal a startling number of ‘ghost’ plantations – plantations listed on the government’s ‘e-Green Watch’ website that simply don’t exist.
  • Compensatory afforestation renders the forest/non-forest distinction meaningless.
    • On the one hand, forest land is being clear-felled at lightning speed. while on the other, the forest department is acquiring more and more land under the ruse of compensatory afforestation.
  • It’s not just ‘non-forest land under the FCA’ that stands to become forest. Any and all other types of non-forest land qualify under the scheme.


  • Restoring degraded forest land and wildlife corridors should be the top priority.
  • The Act must be harmonised with the extant laws to minimise litigation.
  • The top-down bureaucratic approach should be replaced with democratic decentralisation. 

General Studies – 4

Topic: Values; Political attitude; Thinker and moral philosophers 

Answer :-


Gandhi’s relevance to contemporary debates becomes even more pertinent by analysing his philosophical and political contributions in a comparative perspective. Moreover, it reveals the multidimensional aspect of Gandhian thought while providing a sharp contrast between his approach to ethics, pluralism and autonomy and many challenges of contemporary world, including lack of empathy, legitimised violence and exclusion.


The heart of Gandhi’s ethics of empathy is to look within oneself, change oneself and then change the world. For Gandhi, cultures and nations are not isolated entities, because they all play a special role in the making of human history.


His goal for every culture is the same as his goal for every individual: to experiment with Truth. This is a way to open up the world to a harmonic exchange and a transformative dialogue among cultures.

At a more philosophical level, in Gandhi’s view, every culture should learn from others. As a result, politics for Gandhi is a matter of non-violent organisation of society with the aim of becoming more mature and more truthful.


At the same time, Gandhi is always concerned with cooperation among nations in terms of mutual understanding, empathic friendship and non-violent partnership. He had been influenced by Jainism, Buddhism and western philosophies in his path of following fast, principle of non-violence and the concept dignity of labour.


Even though civil disobedience was a western concept he  adapted it successfully to the Indian context. He believed in the western values of liberty and equality however he did not want these rights to uproot the local culture.


Capacity to engage constructively with conflicting values is an essential component of practical wisdom and empathic pluralism of Gandhian non-violence.Gandhian non-violent approach to plurality is a way of bridging differences and developing inter cultural awareness and understanding among individuals and nations. As a result, Gandhi suggests a view of civilisation deeply rooted in an ethics of non-violence.


For Gandhi, one’s sense of freedom is never a matter of simple self- introspection. Rather, understanding oneself as an autonomous self-consciousness requires the recognition of the otherness of the other.