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

1) Discuss the architectural and cultural significance of Taj Mahal. (200 Words)

The Indian Express




Taj Mahal is one of the famous wonders of the world. It was built in regime of Mughal ruler Shahjahan in 17th century.Taj Mahal was built in Agra by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal. 


Architectural significance


Taj Mahal was the apogee of the evolutionary architectural process in medieval India. 


  1. Orderly, simple plan and elevation
  •  At the corners of the terrace stand four tall, tapering minarets, one hundred and thirty two feet high.
  • The main body of the building is topped with a drum and dome and four cupolas forming a beautiful skyline.   
  • The tomb structure is a square with chamfers forming eight sides, recessed with deep arches. This structural stylisation produces in the elevation of the building a variety of contrasting planes and shade and solids and voids effects. 
  • All sides of the building, the twin elevations of floor to roof and roof to pinnacle, atop the foliated crest of the dome, measure 186 feet each. 
  • The interior arrangements of the mausoleum consist of a crypt below and a vaulted, octagonal tomb chamber above, with a room at each angle, all connected with corridors. 
  • Light to every part of the building is obtained by means of carved and perforated jalis, set in the arched recesses of the interior. 
  • The ceiling is as high as the façade creating a void with the help of a double dome. 

    2.Perfect proportions or symmetry

  • The plinth, the walls of the structure and the drum-dome are in perfect proportion to one another. 
  • Towards the west of the white marble-faced tomb lies a red sandstone mosque and a similar construction in the east to maintain balance.

    3.Ethereal quality marble

  • The Taj complex is entered through a monumental red sandstone gateway the opening arch of which beautifully frames the mausoleum.
  • Marble for the building was quarried from the Makrana mines in Rajasthan and this white edifice is contrasted with the red sandstone of the surrounding structures.

    4.Perfect setting of bagh and river 

  • The tomb is laid out in a Chahar Bagh, criss-crossed with paths and water courses, interspersed with pools and fountains.
  • The structure is placed on the northern extremity of the bagh instead of the middle to take advantage of the river bank.


  • The patina the Taj has lends it a different hue at various times of day and night. 
  • A straight path through the bagh reaches the plinth of the tomb from where is accessed the floor terrace of the edifice. 


  • Four types of embellishments have been used with great effect for the interior and exterior surfaces of the Taj Mahal. 
  • These are stone carvings in high and low relief on the walls, the delicate carving of marble into jalis and graceful volutes (spiral ornament on the pillar), and the creation of arabesques with pietra dura (yellow marble, jade and jasper) on walls and tombstones and geometric designs with tessellation


  • The art of calligraphy is used with the inlay of jasper in white marble to write Quranic verses. Calligraphy provided a decorative element on the walls and a continuous connection with the Almighty.



General Studies – 2


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

2) The endeavour of India, Japan and US to connect the Pacific and Indian Oceans could be an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and enhance the bargaining power of small countries vis-a-vis Beijing. Discuss. (200 Words)

The Indian Express



  • 19th Chinese Congress has agreed to write the BRI into the CCP’s constitution.
  • US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has described China’s development assistance under BRI as “predatory economics”.
  • Though Japan and the United States are wary of China’s BRI, they had sent representatives to the Beijing conference. 


India’s argument against BRI

  • Arguing that projects under China’s BRI have not met international norms for infrastructure development, Delhi insisted that the “connectivity initiative must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities.” 
  • Delhi also affirmed that “connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity” of other states.


Connecting Indo-Pacific Oceans

  • During his first term as prime minister, Abe visited India in 2007 and in his address to Parliament talked about “confluence of the two seas”. 
  • More recently, he expanded on the concept by talking about a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”. It now calls for connecting “two continents” — Asia and Africaand “two oceans” — the Indian and Pacific through trans-border connectivity corridors.


Enhancing bargaining power of smaller countries

  • Tillerson recognised that “many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programmes and financing schemes, which often fail to promote jobs or prosperity for the people they claim to help. 
  • It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms — tools that will actually help nations instead of saddle them with mounting debt. India and the United States must lead the way in growing these multilateral efforts.


  1. PQI initiatative of Japan
  • In 2015, Abe had announced the partnership for quality infrastructure (PQI) with a fund of nearly $110 billion. In an enhanced version of the initiative announced in 2016, Japan plans to spend about $200 billion during the next five years on infrastructure projects around the world
  • Unlike China, Japan brings much greater experience in executing development projects in third world countries and is offering much better terms for its assistance. Well before Xi announced the BRI in 2013, Abe had unveiled a new vision of regional connectivity. 

    2.US investment in the region

  • US has also begun to put some money down for infrastructure development in the region. There is $500-million agreement between Washington and Kathmandu that will “invest in infrastructure to meet growing electricity and transportation needs in Nepal and promote trade linkages with partners in the region like India”. 
  • US has begun consultations with other countries in the region about providing alternative financial mechanisms to China’s BRI.

    3.Indian efforts

  • India’s emphasis is to press ahead vigorously with the large number of infrastructure projects that it has undertaken with its own resources in the Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. 
  • India should intensify the current discussions with the US, Japan, Europe and other partner countries to coordinate their regional infrastructure initiatives as well as take up joint projects in the Indo-Pacific. 
  • Delhi must quickly find ways to overcome its many institutional limitations in implementing projects in other countries.



  • By demonstrating the possibility for sustainable infrastructure development, Delhi and its partners can improve the bargaining capacity of smaller countries vis-a-vis China and might eventually encourage Beijing to discard its predatory geoeconomics and turn the BRI into a genuinely cooperative venture.



Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3) A learning crisis is a combination of factors beyond parents and extending to issues in conflict areas. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu



  • World Development Report 2018, the World Bank’s new report which focuses for the first time on education.
  • The report makes a moral case for education, with a rights-based approach, and sub-sections titled ‘Education as freedom’; ‘Education improves individual freedoms’; ‘Education benefits all of society’.


Factors beyond parents impacting education

  • World Development Report 2018 of World Bank discusses the far-reaching impact of poverty and chronic malnutrition on the physical and mental development of children.


  1. Impact of poverty
  • Poverty undermines a child’s learning. 
  • Severe deprivations—whether in terms of nutrition, unhealthy environments, or lack of nurture by caregivers—have long-lasting effects because they impair infants’ brain development.

     2.Impact of malnutrition

  • The effects of stunting in the early years on physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development prevent children from learning well in later years.  
  • So even in a good school, deprived children learn less.

    3.Technology dilemma

  • It is good to see that technology is not regarded as a panacea in itself but as something that has the potential to enhance learning — and that the teacher-learner relationship is at the centre of learning. 
  • Technological interventions increase learning — but only if they enhance the teacher-learner relationship.”


Way forward

  • If early childhood development programmes are to compensate for poor children’s disadvantages, they need to be scaled up and resourced for nutritional inputs, along with a focus on antenatal and postnatal care, sanitation, and counselling of parents for effective early child stimulation
  • Reduction of child stunting should be one of the major moral imperatives before nations today.

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4) A carefully embedded sex education curriculum goes beyond reproductive knowledge and correcting misconceptions. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu



  • As girls and boys grow, we help them navigate and engage with their world. 
  • We teach them self-management.
  • We teach them skills related to their expanding independence, such as how to buy something from the local grocery store and come back home with the right change. 
  • And we teach them how to manage social relationships, such as how to build supportive friendships and respect adults while recognising inappropriate actions.


Why comprehensive sex education is important


  1. To thrive in new opportunities and challenges
  • There is a need to provide adolescents with information and skills so they can thrive in the new opportunities and challenges they will face as teenagers and adults. 
  • As their social networks and the influence of peer groups and the media expand, they need and have a right to develop confidence, competence, and communication skills.

    2.To cope up with physical and psychological changes associated with puberty

  • As their bodies and minds mature, they need and have a right to information about puberty so that they are prepared for the changes they will experience.  
  • Many adolescents are poorly informed about the changes taking place in their bodies and minds at puberty, and unprepared to deal with them. 
  • They are also unaware and unprepared to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, or lack the skills to refuse unwanted sex from peers or adults who use coercive physical or emotional pressure.

     3.To develop values of sorts

  • They are immersed in widespread inequitable gender norms and attitudes, with almost half of adolescents agreeing that wife-beating is justified in some situations.
  • As they move through adolescence, which we know is a period during which inequitable gender norms become further entrenched, they need and have a right to programming about respect, tolerance, and equitable attitudes.

    4.To build the gap of seeking information 

  • They do not know where and how to seek help from adults or health and social services when problems occur.



  • Sexuality education is not about how to have sex. 
  • Instead, sexuality education aims to improve knowledge and understanding, and to correct misconceptions by providing age appropriate, scientifically accurate, and culturally relevant information
  • It aspires to promote self-awareness and norms that are equitable and respectful of others, by providing opportunities to discuss and reflect on thoughts and feelings, attitudes and values. 
  • At the same time, it works to build social skills needed to make responsible choices and to carry them out, by providing structured opportunities to practise those skills.


General Studies – 3


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

6) Robotisation can either emancipate the labour sector or further exploit it. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu



Robotisation for the welfare of worker 


If properly managed, the robotic revolution could be a chance to free millions of people from a system of exploitation of labour which is unprecedentedly inhumane. 


  1. Creation of alternate humane jobs
  • A socially sensitive policy should consider this a chance for the government to gather advantages from higher robotisation and distribute them to the work force by creating job alternatives. 

     2.Less working hours

  • The Industrial Revolution and the continuous automation of work have morphed us into becoming increasingly less human workers. This is the central premise before looking into what robotisation can offer to the future of work in India.
  • By providing subsidies and employment systems with less working hours — such as part-time and work from home, robotisation can be a game changer.

    3.Distributing gains of robotised work

  • Robotised work should distribute earnings to those who will permanently lose their jobs. And this could be done in very specific ways.


Robotisation may exploit workers


  1. Poor wages for workers improving robots
  • AI companies are hiring women and youth and in turn spending some of its profit on education and drinking water for the community. But what is passed for bringing employment to underdeveloped areas is neo-colonial exploitation at its best. Workers are paid peanuts to build the very same AI that will render them obsolete
  • To refine conversation skills, a digital AI assistant needs to be told over and over when it has failed. If the workers understood the ramifications of their work, they might demand to be paid much more.

     2.Transformation of worker in cyborg era

  • The movement to “humanistic intelligence” era in which we transform our workers, first with wearable computers (smartwatches and Google glasses are a beginning, the new smartphones operating according to moods, gaze and gestures are the next step), and then with deeper integration, like implanting chips under the skin of their employees’ wrists.
  • It is called “shortening the chain of command”— from the smart screen era, to the cyborg era.
  • At first, technology might not immediately take all our jobs, but it will take over our bodies. This is how humans will compete with robots in an intermediary phase. What does it mean for society and its sense of identity, our relationship to our bodies?
  • There might be a lot of jobs for our new cyborg selves out there, in what is called the aug-mediated reality. Humans, some argue, are not to be defended, but expanded. So, humans will have to become transhumanistic, pimped-up cyborgs, with mechanical elements expanding our physical limitations.


Way forward


  1. Higher wages for people collecting data for robot optimisation
  • Enforce a high international minimum wage for all data-entry and data-supervision workers. Help people who are “feeding the machine” be better paid for contributing to coding reality into its virtual version.

     2.Nationalisation or licensing of robots 

  • As labour is being transformed at its roots, economic forces are not the only determining factor, but also  ethical and political, we should find ways so that everyone must benefit from the capital generated by robotisation.
  • Alternative form of ownership of the robots should be explored like they can become public property, since they are objects that occupy and operate on public grounds, impacting public economy and nation-wide employment.
  • Robots owned by private companies could be allowed to operate only by purchasing a costly state licence, benefitting society at large or, specifically, displaced workers, thus funding unemployment.

     3.Job permits for robots

  • Creating “job permits for robots” is also an option so that part of the revenue they raise with their work goes directly to finance the pension funds of the workers made redundant by robotisation.


Topic:  Employment

7) The workers in the leather processing industry are one the neglected minorities in our country. Comment. (200 Words)

The Wire




Indian leather industry occupies a prominent place in the Indian economy in view of its massive potential for employment, growth, exports etc.

However it is ironical that the workers in the leather industry are one of the most neglected in our country.


Reasons for poor conditions of the workers in leather industry


There are certain social formations which engage in recovering the skins, bones and hooves of these animals. These materials find their use in downstream industry.


Social factors


  1. Caste occupation
  • In India the social status of a group depends upon the frequency of contact the group members have with organic materials and the nature of those materials. Males from high castes have very little touch with any organic material during the course of their normal occupations. People from the middle castes tend to work with soil and with animals. Women constantly deal with organic material, etc.
  • The flayers of skins and those who deal with bones, those who work with these skins to make leather and those who make footwear and other items deal with dead animals and their residues. As a result, they are forced to remain at the bottom rung of the society. And this ascribed status in the caste system perpetuates through generations.

    2.Minority of these workers in contrast to huge animal population

  • The animal population in India is huge, exceeding 240 million animals of the bovine species alone. But the animals are held in a highly decentralised manner across a dispersed geography. Even within a village, dispersed households hold them in a decentralised manner. 
  • Barely one or two families perhaps live in a village in order to utilise the resources in terms of carcasses of dead animals (cows, calves, bullocks, buffalos, mules, horses, camels, rabbits). This is the tragedy of the group. It is highly scattered across a wide terrain, and in each of its habitations, it is a hopeless minority.

    3.Sanskritisation of these caste workers

  • The social formations engaged in work on animal residues in general are an oppressed lot across the entire country. Many diverse social and economic developments have been affecting them. During the seventies, for instance, there was a strong movement towards sanskritisation in the group. 
  • Caste Panchayat took the view that since the occupation of flaying the skins off dead animals was one that made their social status so low, they would refrain from doing so.
  • This resulted in the group experiencing livelihoods stress on one hand and environmental distress due to decaying animals on the other. 


Economic reasons


  1. Emergence of synthetic materials
  • The second important development that emergence of synthetic materials as a resource for making products hitherto made out of leather. The massive incursion of synthetic footwear in rural and urban economy has in the first instance affected the footwear makers (cobblers).

    2.Exploitation by upstream leather industry

  • The effect on the upstream has also been severe but in part cushioned by the fact that a bulk of Indian hides and skins were exported for a substantial period of time. 
  • The difference between the economic engagements of the leather flayers earlier and now is that the contractor and aggregators that supply to the tanneries tend to be the chief economic actors they have to engage with. Due to the complex and often times hostile regulatory environment, these agents acquire monopolistic power over the leather flayers.
  • There is a complex interplay between religious affinity, caste hierarchy and economic force in the leather and tannery sector.


Policy apathy

  • Central and State Government policies for the sector tend to be dominated by commercial interests
  • These put the commercial interests of exporters and tanneries in sharp relief neglecting the interests of the voiceless leather flayers and the leather workers. 
  • The polity, ranging from formation of co-operatives to compulsory licensing for processing the carcass, gave complex responses. Also, some of those who dealt with bones took to skin work. 
  • Since there undoubtedly is an economic value in animal residues, it was inevitable that a combination of economic incentives and physical force would combine to make the hapless flayers continue to do the work.


General Studies – 4


Topic:   Human Values 

8) What are the social and economic costs of dishonesty? Why is it a challenge to inculcate honesty? Examine. (150 Words)





Dishonesty is the act of deceiving or not doing ones duty properly in expectation of some gain. It manifests into many forms like corruption, ineffeciency, money laundering and other such malpractices.


Social and Economical costs of dishonesty


Delays and Ineffeciencies

  • Dishonest and malpractices causes longer time and more money to finish the same project.
  • For eg, delays in construction of Commonwealth Games infrastrucutre coupled with news of huge corruption.


Creadibility and Reputation Damage

  • Dishonesty has a high emotional cost too. An organization that loses trust among its customers due to one dishonest act of their employees will have to demonstrate its honesty in many more occasions just to even stand a chance of conveying to its customers that it has now mended its ways.
  • Dishonest practices leaves a stain on corporates, goverment departments and individuals.People prefer not to deal with such.
  • For eg., shares of Satyam Computer fell sharply after revelation of malpractices.


Disproportionality severe on Weaker Section

  • Dishonest practices casue more damage to certain groups like women, children, economically and socially backward groups.
  • A poor person will find it more difficult to pay bribe money.


Challenge of inculcating honesty


Across the world, several steps have been taken to curb dishonest practices. Stricter regulations have been enacted. More efficient surveillance networks using better technology have been installed. Regular and unexpected audits and raids are being done. Robust data- monitoring tools have been installed. 

But despite all these efforts, the rate of fraud has only been going up. It is very difficult to inculcate honesty among people-


Multiplier Effect of Corruption

  • A person who himself has paid bribe will find it more easier to ask for bribe. A person working in a dishonest environment is more likely to follow those same practices. Corruption breeds corruption.


Ineffecient Control Mechanisms

  • Most of the mechanisms like survellience, random inspections are ineffecient. They are unable to create fear.
  • Many of the fraud-monitoring systems have gone on to create a dysfunctional environment within organizations. Many honest employees end up believing that the surveillance software and fraud-countering measures are an example of the organization not trusting them. 
  • Such actions that convey expectations of wrongdoing may in fact lead to a rise in misconduct for both honest and dishonest workers by creating self-fulfilling prophecies for the former and self-perpetuating ones for the latter.


Social Acceptance

  • Despite all our efforts social stigma related to corruption is not very strong.
  • Eg: Naming and shaming the loan defaulters does not always work.




Fraud should be treated as a behavioural problem and the criminal justice system will have much less work to do.There is a need to develop a fraud-management strategy that is based not just on external monitoring but instead based on monitoring of the moral compass within each individual.


Dishonest practices like corruption have become a part of our work culture. Hence a more holistic value reorientation is needed. Right from primary schools and from a young age ills of these practices must be taught. Then only internal self-regulation against dishonest practices could be brought about.


Topic:   ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; 



Economic growth and development refers to the improvement in the standard of living of the people. 

However economic growth is more of a quantative concept delineating macroeconomic indicators, whereas economic development probs qualitative change in the lives through human development.


Ethical Challenges and respective solutions


Environmental Concerns

  • Economic progress must not be at the cost of environment. Such a progress is not sustainable. 
  • It will not only reduce the quality of life, but will also have economic costs. 
  • This can be balanced by using environment sensitive practices and comprehensive environmental impact assesment.
  • Green buildings, solar energy and traditional local water harvesting practices should be prioritised.


Inclusive Development

  • Economic progress must be inclusive as possible in terms of both regions and people of diversity. 
  • Huge differences in haves and havenots will create their own problems like regionalism, crimes, communalism, etc. This has been ascertained in Directive Principles as well, while 12th Planning Commission made “inclusive growth” a goal alongside economic growth.
  • Goverment schemes like Right to Education, National Food Security, setting up of SEZ in backward areas are steps in the same direction.


Control on mindless growth of consumerism

  • Progress must be more holistic rather than just mindless consumerism. As Marxists argue that consumerism has dehumanised the real elements of human life, thus progress must be such that it improves quality of life.
  • Promotion of Yoga and fitness, emphasis on fixed miximum working hours so that time with family is not sacrifised.


Respect for Individual and Community Rights

  • Proper care for an individual must be given while promoting growth of an entire society. Growth should not be at the cost of suffering of some.
  • For eg:  Right to Privacy needs emphasis while delivering services through Aadhar which potentially violates privacy.
  • Also, community rights, particularly of tribals should not be violated in the name of “development” like state control over forests and resources. The alienation and displacement of tribals has only become a menace in the form of Naxalism.




Economic progress is very important for the development of a country and its people. But merely adopting some western model of progress is not enough. We must identify our aspiration, needs and plan accordin to our conditions and constraints.