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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) The stupa is an important form of Buddhist architecture, though it predates Buddhism. Discuss the religious, architectural and philosophical significance of various Buddhist stupas. (250 Words)

Khan Academy


  • Before Buddhism, great teachers were buried in mounds. Some were cremated, but sometimes they were buried in a seated, meditative position. The mound of earth covered them up. Thus, the domed shape of the stupa came to represent a person seated in meditation much as the Buddha was when he achieved Enlightenment and knowledge of the Four Noble Truths.

Buddhist stupas:-

  • In Buddhism, the earliest stupas contained portions of the Buddha’s ashes, and as a result, the stupa began to be associated with the body of the Buddha. Adding the Buddha’s ashes to the mound activated it with the energy of the Buddha himself.

Religious significance:-

  • The ashes of the Buddha were buried in stupas built at locations associated with important events in the Buddha’s life including Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushingara
  • Buddha gave specific directions regarding the appropriate method of honoring his remains (the Maha-parinibbāna sutra): his ashes were to be buried in a stupa at the crossing of the mythical four great roads (the four directions of space), the unmoving hub of the wheel, the place of Enlightenment.
  • They were also a site of rituals and ceremonies. Their presence eventually attracted other constructions including monasteries.
  • The pilgrimage activity around the stupa had an important impact on the social history of Buddhism. Merchants, artisans, and monks alike enjoyed the benefits of the income generated by the activity resulting from the emblematic stupas.
  • Along with monasteries (viharas) and prayer halls (chaityas), stupas form one of the three types of religious structures in Buddhism. Later, stupas were included in chaityas

Philosophical significance:-

  • Stupas remind the Buddhist practitioner of the Buddha and his teachings almost 2,500 years after his death. Stupas were considered the living presence of the buddha, his protective powers, and his living energy.
  • For Buddhists, building stupas also has karmic benefits. They believe that if a practitioner builds a stupa he or she will not be reborn in a remote location and will not suffer from extreme poverty. As a result, a vast number of stupas dot the countryside in Tibet (where they are called chorten) and in Burma (chedi).
  • Buddhists visit stupas to perform rituals that help them to achieve one of the most important goals of Buddhism: to understand the Buddha’s teachings, known as the Four Noble Truths so when they die they cease to be caught up in samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death and achieve enlightenment.

Architectural significance :-

  • Stupas became a symbol not only of Buddhism itself but also an architectural testimony to its expansion and strength. The stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut are one of the oldest stone structures in India.
  • Most stupas have a very distinctive semi-spherical shape, often surrounded by a fence. As Buddhism was introduced in different regions, the basic architectural features of stupas were transformed into a variety of shapes reflecting the artistic expressions of those cultures.
  • If one thinks of the stupa as a circle or wheel, the unmoving center symbolizes Enlightenment. The toranaare directional gates guiding the practitioner in the correct direction on the correct path to Enlightenment, the understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
  • The stupa makes visible something that is so large as to be unimaginable. The axis symbolizes the center of the cosmos partitioning the world into six directions: north, south, east, west, the nadir and the zenith. 
  • The practitioner circumambulates (walks around) stupa as a meditational practice focusing on the Buddha’s teachings. This movement suggests the endless cycle of rebirth (samsara) and the spokes of the Eightfold Path (eight guidelines that assist the practitioner) that leads to knowledge of the Four Noble Truths and into the center of the unmoving hub of the wheel, Enlightenment. 


  • The Stupa as an architecture, though religious in character and sui genere, assimilated the secular, religious folk art practices of the past and the traditions of the alien art and thus contributed to the development of art in India.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

2) Why is Andhra Pradesh demanding special status from the union government? Discuss the constitutional provisions and fiscal implications of this demand. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

The Indian Express



  • Special status was earmarked for States on the basis of laid-down criteria such as difficult terrain, low population, strategic location, economic backwardness and non-viable finances. It is debatable whether A.P. qualifies for however the demand for special status has been very prolific.

Why Andhra Pradesh is demanding Special status ?

  • When Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, it sought special category status on the grounds that it was at a disadvantage, especially because of the loss of capital Hyderabad to Telangana.
  • Andhra not only lost a capital but also an important industry hub, which was in and around Hyderabad.
    • The contribution of agriculture to state GDP is higher for Andhra than its neighbouring states. This is also a reflection of a lower level of industrialization and along with it a lower per capita income and again, the lowest in South.
  • Promise was made:-
    • One of the promises was that at that time (of bifurcation), that special category status would be extended to Andhra Pradesh for five years, to help put the state on a firmer footing 
  • Andhra Pradesh is facing a situation of continued massive revenue deficit – Rs 14,682 in 2017-18. The state government says that the deficit has occurred due to bifurcation of the state .So special status will ease the burden on the state government.
  • Some of the districts in the state are very backward especially the districts in the rayalaseema region.
  • How will a special status help:-
    • Typically, the big attraction is all the industrial incentives such as tax exemptions for 10 years .For instance Baddi in Himachal Pradesh emerged as an important pharmaceutical hub. It was largely on account of such incentives. 
    • All the borrowings from other countries for the externally aided projects in a state, about 90 per cent is repaid by the government of India for special status states.
    • Under special category status, a state gets Centre’s assistance in the ratio of 90:10 (Union : State) for all externally aided and centrally sponsored projects much above the Finance Commission mandated 60:40 ratio.
  • Now with huge people support special status has become an emotional and political movement.

Constitutional provisions:-

  • Constitution never categorised some states as special and treated all of them on an equal footing.
  • The 14th Finance Commission did away with distinction between general and special category states, as it had taken into account the level of backwardness of states in the proposed transfer of funds to states. 
  • The recommendations were accepted in 2015, a year after the Andhra was bifurcated

Fiscal implications:-

  • Centre perhaps does not want to earn the displeasure of Andhra’s neighbouring states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and even Maharashtra by granting that special status.
  • This is primarily because it will lead to potential migration of industrial investments from one region to another.

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

3) Plugging gaps in justice system, not death penalty, can curb child sexual abuse,. In the light of recent move by Haryana and Rajasthan in introducing the death penalty for rape of a child below the age of 12 years, analyse the statement. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


  • Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is endemic, and devastates a victim for lifetime.
  • According to Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate, 53% of children have faced Child Sexual Abuse in their lives.
  • There are increasing incidences of sexual assault against young children.Crime in India, 2016 revealed that 19,920 children were allegedly victims of child rape in 2016 alone. However, the conviction in 2016 for such crimes stood at an abysmal 28.2 per cent 

Recent move:-

  • Haryana and Rajasthan joined Madhya Pradesh in introducing the death penalty for rape of a child below the age of 12 years. Maharashtra and Karnataka too are considering it.
  • These amendments provide a judge with the option of imposing the death penalty, and also increase the mandatory minimum sentence from 10 to 14 years.

How plugging gaps in justice system will reduce child sexual abuse and how death penalty is not the solution :-

  • Systemic gaps:-
    • One of the reasons for low conviction rates is the vast majority of victims turning hostile.
    • Where children do testify against the accused, several systemic gaps such as lapses in investigation, lack of child-friendly procedures, challenges related to age-determination, poor appreciation of the testimony of the child adversely affect the conviction rate.
  • Effective implementation of POCSO act:-
    • Without effective implementation of the law, a death penalty will not work in reducing crime.
    • The mandatory minimum sentences for sexual offences was already increased by the POCSO Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 specifically to address growing sexual crimes. These penalties are rendered meaningless in the face of thousands of crimes that go acquitted, or worse, undetected.
    • Acquittals are the norm as Section 42A of the POCSO Act is not aligned with the social reality of normal sexual exploration among teenagers and the belief about the sanctity of marriage held by most judges, prosecutors, and the police. 
    • The POCSO’s approach fails to recognise the autonomy and evolving capacity of children, particularly adolescents.
  • This alone will not help:-
    • It is unlikely that the alarming rates of child sexual abuse will decrease without the implementation of child protection units at the district level, along with Life skills based education in school curricula and willingness at home to openly talk about the issue.
  • Effects of imposing the death penalty will be short term:-
    • There are several countries where the death penalty is executed but still the child abuse rate has not seen a significant decrease.
    • Awarding the death penalty requires the highest level of proof, hence trials are far more rigorous and painstaking than those for other punishments such as life imprisonment. Hence, child and minor victims would be required to testify and re-testify for years to come, and this would only add to the trauma that they have already suffered

More needs to be done:-

  • Low rates of conviction do not even have the effect of creating a fear of accountability in the first place. There is a need to urgently devise ways to bolster the existing criminal justice and child protection systems and ensure higher convictions, higher reporting of offences etc.
  • Children in slums with working-class parents also badly need crèches or child-care centres to ensure that there are safe spaces available for them while their parents are away.
  • Sexual abuse of children cannot be addressed in isolation from domestic violence faced by women inside their homes. Survivors of such violence need structured support to enable and empower them to approach the police and courts.
    • Public campaigns are also needed to educate the wider public about consent, autonomy and bodily integrity of children
  • Also parents and teachers need to make children aware about the right and wrong touch etc.
  • Parliament and the Supreme Court need to consider the South African Constitutional Court’s conclusions in Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children v. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development (2013), in which provisions that criminalised consensual sexual conduct of adolescents between 12 and 16 years were held unconstitutional. At the same time, the government and courts cannot be oblivious to sexual violence within personal relationships.


  • It’s high time that India prioritises the protection of children in all legal and policy agendas, while implementing the already existing child safeguarding mechanisms.

General Studies – 3

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life; Security challenges and their management in border areas; 

4) Discuss the potential applications of India’s earth observation satellites in its counter-terrorism operations. (250 Words)



  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) evidently does not fight wars and is purely a civilian agency, but the capabilities it imparts to the nation are among the very best in world. In the years to come, India’s space assets willplay a much bigger role if and when hostilities break out on its borders.


  • Imaging purposes:-
    • The declared use made of earth observation satellites (Cartosat Series) for facilitating the surgical strikes conducted across the Line of Control (LoC) in September 2016 represents a new precedent. 
    • CARTOSAT was used for imaging areas where surgical strikes were carried out.
  • Attempts at infiltration could be detected by using low earth orbit surveillance satellites, which would in turn enable the blocking of infiltrators through suitable force deployment.
    • In this regard, the active deployment of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which were reportedly used in Operation Gingerin 2011, and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs that are currently under consideration for procurement, will improve India’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
  • The deployment of high-resolution radar based imaging sensors with all-weather day and night observation capability in the form of the Synthetic Aperture Radar system (SAR sensor platform) would also be advantageous in both the surveillance and active reconnaissance roles.
    • RISAT 1 and 2 are the only two declared SAR systems in India’s possession for all weather day and night capability with X band and C band sensor systems.
  • Better focus yet with lesser time:-
    • Most of India’s present operational remote sensing satellites with earth observation payloads, including the RISAT and CARTOSAT series, are assumed to be capable of providing high-quality earth observation imagery ranging from 50m to sub-meter resolution.
    • At a known velocity of 7.5 km/s, these satellites pass over the entire length of the observed Area of Interest (AoI) over the western border of India in three to four minutes or even less.
    • A shorter target region like the border in Jammu & Kashmir would mean an even lesser time for the satellite’s orbital pass.
  • To monitor terrorist camps across the border

Way forward:-

  • India would need more than one satellite constellation. It would require multiple satellites that repeat their observation of a target area ideally one after the other in a contiguous form so that one satellite is always present over the Area of interest.
  • Preferably smaller satellite systems at very low earth orbit to enable short revisits and repeat cycles would be ideal. It is highly recommended that a range of nano and pico satellites be manufactured and their employment integrated with the border management system.
  • As satellites do not provide 24*7 surveillance this process along with inputs from other systems like ground radars and aerial surveillance platforms like the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEWACS), manned posts, aerial reconnaissance that render round the clock surveillance capabilities provide confirmation or build the overall picture of the situation.


  • India is fast developing a huge capability called ‘C4ISR’ or ‘command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and with Indian space agency support(Rukmini satellite for Navy ,coastal security ) India’s national interests can be secured effectively now and in future.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life; Security challenges and their management in border areas; 

5) Today, why is it important for India to formulate an effective policy to secure its interests in space. Also analyse what components should be there in its space security policy. (250 Words)



  • Several advancements made in the field of space technology over the last few decades have significantly benefitted mankind. Today, space technology is considered critical to human survival and progress.

 Why India need to formulate a policy to secure interests in space :-

  • Satellitesare now being used for many purposes: meteorology, television broadcasting, mobile telephony, navigation and internet.
  • Space systems are increasingly being used in multiple fields, such as financial management, education, tele-medicine, scientific research and disaster management, to gather real time information and increase efficiency and connectivity. 
  • Satellitetechnology is also playing a crucial role in measuring greenhouse gas emissions globally.
  • Military campaigns have demonstrated the significance of space technology for military purposes. The use of outer space for military support functions like reconnaissance, communication and navigation have received global acceptability since such usage does not directly violate any existing international legal regime.
  • Owing to growing dependence on space resources, there exists a possibility of intentional tampering with such assets and the associated ground setup, either by state or non-state actors. 
  • India’s dependence on space technology and satellite derived products has been increasing. As a leading space-faring nation, it has a major future agenda aimed at developing its own space assets for socio-economic as well as strategic purposes.
  • Capabilities in space have the potential to influence the international balance of power.
    • From the geostrategic prism, space is increasingly being viewed as a foreign policy tool and a force multiplier, and simultaneously also as the fourth medium of warfare.

Components that need to be imbibed are:-

  • To cater for strategic requirements, a National Authority for Space Security (NASS) needs to be established under the defence ministry to oversee all aspects of space security.
    • Under NASS, a Space Security Centre (secretariat to the Authority) could be established for coordinating the activities of the various stakeholders and to liaise with various agencies of the Space Commission
  • The Army, Navy, Air Force and other services like the Coast Guard and the Border Security Force are likely to increase their reliance on satellites for purpose of intelligence gathering, communication, navigation and operating various weapon systems.
    • There is also a need to develop Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) capacities in space to support network centric strategies.
    • A dedicated Space Command needs to be established for administering various military-related aspects of satellite technology
  • For launching of satellites and ensuring that operational satellites do not suffer damage from space debris, it is important to get timely warnings.
    • For this purpose, there is a need to develop a combination of an IR-microwave-radar network for gathering technical intelligence in space.
  • It is important for India’s foreign policy establishment to ensure that the country has stakes in any global programme on space situational awareness.
    • In fact, India could take the initiative to develop such a global programme. Alongside, there is also a need to put in place a Space Collision Warning System.
  • With increased activity in the space domain, satellites are being positioned in various layers of outer space.
    • For effectively utilising such assets to their full potential, it has become essential to study, monitor and forecast space weather continuously.
  • The stakes for private industry in the space arena are rapidly growing. Also, private industry should be encouraged to undertake various technology development and production projects.
    • Further, there is a need to update existing national laws and consider legislating new space laws
  • Technological innovation needs to be encouraged and agencies like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should be actively engaged in this regard.
  • India’s increasing military dependence on space would also make space assets more vulnerable to attacks by adversaries. Hence, redundancy mechanism needs to be ensured. For this purpose, India would have to develop effective counter-space capabilities.


  • India so far has continued with its original space agenda of using space technology specifically for the purpose of socio-economic development. The need for the proposed measures however arises in the context of the rapidly changing global space security dynamics with ISRO remaining the centre for the formulation for space security policy.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: 

6) Once selected, you are going to handle very responsible post which involves huge money and power. In this regard, how are you preparing yourself to handle such a huge responsibility in future?(150 Words)

ETHICS – Values



Civil servants have a crucial role to play in a country like India and are the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country. They have very important responsibilities like providing continuity to the governance, being an instrument for social change and development, instrument of implementation of government policies, settling social tensions and creating social unity and harmony etc.


To be a successful civil servant I am trying to inculcate the following ethical abilities:-


Ernest Hemingway said “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” The act of compassion and empathy are very important for being a civil servant as many people come to you for your help. Instead of getting irritated I need to put myself in their shoes and understand and solve the issue quickly. I provide food to the beggars and street kids  on the road, give the domestic help off one day in a week and also some financial help for her child’s education. These measures give me a truck of satisfaction and motivation that I  have to work for the needy and not power or greed.


Ability to stand for the right thing is very necessary. Recently I saw my Cousin sister telling her son and daughter that boys should not cry that only girls do, girls should not play outside etc. I told her not to treat them differently as this has repercussions in the future.


Sense of responsibility towards the society is very necessary. I try to conserve electricity by switching the lights off when I am not in the room. Also the incidents of child abuse and other instances of violence of women etc make me feel responsible that I need to take action and make society peaceful and see that children don’t face that trauma.


In the course of preparation getting to know and understand different cultures and traditions in the nation made me appreciate the differences and have an open mind and not just criticise right away just because they are different. So I started to self introspect.


Not getting attracted to money and power is another prerogative. I am able to understand the value of money in a better way as I am living with the basic means of living and living with my savings and not depending on others.


Even though these instances seem trivial , I am trying to put effort and make myself better and be a responsible civil servant in the future.



The answer can be very wide ended with aspirants writing their own personal experiences and highlighting different ethical values as well.