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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: Political philosophies like communism, Capitalism, socialism etc, their forms and
effect on the society.

1) Socialism is like a hat that has lost its shape because everyone wears it. Evaluate in context of the various forms of socialism in practice during 19th and 20th century. (250 words) 


Key demand of the question

The question makes an assertion that socialism has lost its meaning because of the various forms of socialism in practice. We have to examine the various schools of socialism, their similarities and differences and whether socialism still conveys some essential meaning or whether it is just a meta ideology.

Directive word

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight what the statement tries to convey before going into its evaluation


  • Bring out the contrasts in the various forms of socialism in practice over the ages – revolutionary socialism as advocated by Mao, Marx, Lenin; Fabian socialism; Syndicate socialism etc
  • Examine whether their end objectives and their methods had some semblance of similarity.
  • Examine whether our understanding of socialism has reached some ground and what it means to us today

Conclusion – Highlight that till the time inequality exists in society, socialism will be relevant.


  • Socialismis a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.
  • Broadly, it’s a political and economic system under which the means of production are owned by the community as a whole, with government ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth. 
  • Socialism has morphed into Soviet-style communism and spawned Latin American dictatorships, while in Europe, many countries combine socialistic principles with capitalism and democracy. In the U.S., programs that opponents once condemned as socialism, such as Social Security and Medicare, are now deeply embedded in our society.
  • Socialism has been incorporated in many liberal democracies like India with the welfare state concept so the unique features of socialism have already been adopted. So socialists cannot actually define socialism in the present context.

Forms of socialism in 19th and 20th century:-

  • Utopian Socialism:
    • One of the earliest forms of socialism founded by the Welsh Spiritualist philosopher Robert Owen . In contrast to later socialist schools of thought which would advocate violent revolution, the Utopians believed that capitalists could be convinced to become socialists purely through rational persuasion
    • This was more a vision of equality than a concrete plan. It arose in the early 19th century, before industrialization. It would be achieved peacefully through a series of experimental societies
  • Democratic Socialism:
    • The second type of Socialism that like Utopian Socialism was born in the United Kingdom in the 19th Century. In contrast to Utopian Socialism ,Democratic Socialism does not advocate a return to agrarian communities .
    • Instead, it advocates gradual reforms within the industrial market system and electoral, parliamentary democracy .
    • Democratic Socialists are arguably the most pragmatic socialists in that instead of demanding immediate market abolition like Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyists and some Libertarian Socialists, they work within the market system from below in order to gently nudge employers to give workers fairer wages.
    • The factors of production are managed by a democratically elected government. Central planning distributes common goods, such as mass transit, housing, and energy, while the free market is allowed to distribute consumer goods.  
  • Revolutionary Socialism:
    • Founded in the Industrial Revolution era in Germany and put into practice in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China, North Korea etc and many other third-world nations in various forms.
    • Revolutionary Socialists saw both of the older schools of Socialist thought as insufficient for the task of fundamentally transforming society from a capitalist one into a socialist one. The reason being in their eyes the Utopians and Democratic Socialists did not have a proper consciousness of the extent of the injustices inherent to class society.
    • As such, Revolutionary Socialists rejected the notion that capitalism could be reformed to be more fair to workers, believing capitalism was inherently exploitative and thus needed to be abolished by any means necessary
    • Revolutionary socialismis the socialist doctrine that social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from capitalism to socialism
    • Revolutionary socialism is opposed to social movements that seek to gradually ameliorate the economic and social problems of capitalism through political reform.
    • Revolutionary Socialist theorists and activists include or have included Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin,Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Rosa Luxemburg and Malcolm X.
  • Libertarian Socialism:
    • Libertarian Socialism seeks the dismantling of all injust social and economic hierarchies. Whilst Libertarian Socialists may be either revolutionaries or reformists, they generally agree that early attempts at creating socialist societies failed due to their statist nature, viewing statism as a contradiction to the egalitarian values of socialism on the basis that states promote social stratification and class disparities.
  • Fabian Socialism:
    • This type of socialism was extolled by a British organization in the late 1900s. It advocated a gradual change to socialism through laws, elections, and other peaceful means.
    • The Fabians constructed a model of socialism which they claimed could be achieved through a programme of nationalisation and delivery of welfare services directed by national government, with some tasks delegated to local municipalities elected by the people, but with effective control in the hands of those who knew best, the professional classes.
    • A long way indeed from the original socialist vision that working people could live and prosper in self-governing and co-operative communities, where  they exercised ownership and control.
  • Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism:-
    • They are thus not separate ideologies, but represent the constant growth and advancement of one and the same ideology .
    • Maoism has a more rural bent than the ideologies espoused by Marx and Lenin.
    • Marxism-Leninism, as the Soviet version of communism is often called, held that urban workers should form the revolutionary vanguard. Mao Zedong, on the other hand, believed that Communist revolutions should gestate among the rural peasantry, who would later join with their proletariat comrades in the cities to form classless paradises.
    • Marxism:-
      • Marx argued that “proletarian” revolutions could only occur in fully industrialized and capitalist countries. He argued that, in such countries, workers would eventually release they are toiling for the benefit of the middle and upper classes, forcibly overthrow their employers and create a communist state.
      • According to Marx, countries like Russia, did not have the proper environment for a proletarian revolution because of its lack of industrialization and its reliance on agriculture.
    • Lenin however, argued that an underdeveloped and autocratic nation such as the Russia Empire, would be the first to turn communist.
      • Lenin also modified the Marxist theory of a “dictatorship of the proletarian” into a dictatorship of the exclusive Communist Party. Lenin developed the idea of “vanguardism” which believes that a communist revolution can only be implemented by an elite core of revolutionaries called the vanguard.
      • According to Marxism-Leninism, the vanguard (i.e the Communist Party) would instigate the revolution, ban all opposition parties and create a one-party socialist republic.
    • Maoism:-
      • Mao Zedong suffer the same conflict with Marxism as Lenin did. China at this time was far from an industrialized nation (the ideal revolutionary society according to Marx) but consisted of primarily a rural peasant population. Like Lenin, Mao disagreed with Marx’s assumption that communist revolution could only be achieved in developed industrialized countries.
      • Mao’s variation of communism focused on the mobilizing rural farmers as opposed to urban industrial workers, as Mao himself was originally a peasant farmer. Mao describes his version of communism as “Marxism adapted for Chinese circumstances.”
    • Leninism and Maoism both utilizes the theories of Marxism, however fit such in the reality of their society.

Topic:Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

2)Discuss the problems faced by women prisoners in India. Do you think they should be given more compassionate treatment than the male prisoners.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Women related issues are very important from the exam as well as humanitarian point of view. The issue was recently highlighted by a report of 46 children being in jail for no fault of theirs. The issue is related to GS 1 syllabus under the following heading-

Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

key demand of the question.

The question wants us to simply highlight the problems faced by women prisoners in India. It then wants us to present our opinion on the issue- whether they should be given more compassionate treatment than the male prisoners. We have to justify our opinion.

Directive word

Discuss- we have to write in detail about all the issues faced by women prisoners in India.

Do you think- It demands our opinion on the issue along with necessary justifications.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the data about women prisoners in India. E.g India’s women prisoner population has ballooned 61% over the past 15 years, far outstripping the male growth rate of 33%.


  • Discuss the problems faced by women prisoners in India.

E.g overcrowding and lack of separate jails, lack of hygiene, healthcare, psychological help, majority are women who have been subjected to some crime earlier, petty offences dominate, lack of support for their children, shortage of women wardens, superintendents, assistant superintendents, doctors, and counsellors,  sexual and physical violence etc.

  1. Discuss in points why or why not women should be given more compassionate treatment than their counterparts. It would be easy to gather points if you agree with the idea and that seems logical and compassionate also.

Conclusion– Form a concise, fair and a balanced opinion, such that the law is also respected but the dignity and the rights of the women prisoners are also upheld.


Problems faced by women prisoners:-

  • Poor infrastructure in prisons:-
    • Overcrowding, a lack of sanitation and unacceptable standards of health care are standard.
    • India’s women prisoner population has ballooned 61% over the past 15 years, far outstripping the male growth rate of 33%, but infrastructure growth hasn’t kept pace.
    • Women are often confined to small wards inside male prisons, their needs becoming secondary to those of the general inmate population.
  • Health and hygiene:-
    • Poor sanitation, little medical or psychological help and constant intimidation .
    • Emotional stress:-
      • Women prisoners undergo intensive emotional stress due to separation from their families. A study of the age profile of the inmates in Tamil Nadu prisons reveals that of the total 1,000 inmates about 200 are in the age group 20 to 30 years, which is the child bearing age for women.
    • The coverage of facilities such as sanitary napkins, pre- and post-natal care for pregnant mothers is patchy. In many jails, for instance, pieces of cloth are used in place of pads.
  • Brutality and violence:-
    • Prisons have become warehouses for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, people suffering from mental illness, and individuals struggling with drug addiction.
  • Prison staff are not sufficiently trained to interact with women who have suffered trauma, and many prisons lack the programs and resources to help women successfully address these issues.
  • Admission:-
    • Women prisoners on admission are in a mentally disturbed condition. Nearly 60 per cent of inmates suffer from various issues of mental health like psychosis, major depressions and personality disorder.
  • Mothers:-
    • Many inmates are in the age group 30 to 40 years where they have young, growing children who are deprived of the emotional support of the mother.
    • Many imprisoned women are mothers and usually primary or sole careers for their children. When a mother is imprisoned, her family will often break up, resulting in many children ending up in state care institutions or alternative care. Imprisonment far from home also complicates a woman’s resettlement after release.
  • The social stigma attached to a woman prisoner is much worse compared to a man inmate.
    • Visit by families is also few and far between. They are rarely consulted on important family decisions. 


Women inmates can get compassionate treatment than male counterparts because of the following reasons:

  • Crime data show that there is a high rate of simple thefts among women prisoners. In the case of non-violent women offenders, community service should be the main option for reform. 
  • If a prisoner has children living with her in prison. It is the fundamental duty of the state to do everything possible to see to their physical and emotional needs.
  • Women offenders are themselves victims of crime before they turn to crime. Therefore, there is a clear case for the award of community service to those women who have been jailed for non-violent offences.
  • By treating incarcerated women with dignity and giving them basic support, India can not only improve public safety and reduce recidivism, but also live out its societal values, making criminal justice system more just.
  • Incarceration splinters the family ties that help women rebuild their lives when they return to their communities.
  • In a landmark judgment in the Upadhyay Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh case, gender specific issues of women have been dealt with in detail and minimum standards laid for the care of the mother and the child. In pursuance of this, women inmates are allowed to keep their children up to six years of age. Pregnant women in prisons have to be given proper pre-natal and post-natal care.
  • After her child turns six and is removed from the prison, the woman inmate often has no way of knowing how her child is being brought up or cared for in the outside world.
  • Women in prison generally have more, and more specific, health problems than male prisoners and tend to place a greater demand on the prison health service than men do.
  • Other issues show women prisons have many constraints:-
    • There’s a dire shortage of women wardens, superintendents, assistant superintendents, doctors, and counsellors. Because this need is not met, there are huge gaps between the needs of women inmates and the administration providing them
    • There’s also a large gap in the range, level, and quality of vocational training given to women inmates as compared to men.
    • Food rations are significantly smaller for women inmates than they are for male inmates.
    • Lack of attention to the very different and often more complex needs of women has resulted in neglect of their human rights, disregard to international recommendations and many instances of social injustice. In a world where there are widespread and persistent inequities between women and men, societies continue to fail to meet the health needs of women at key moments of their lives.



  • Being compassionate to prisoners based on gender alone is discrimination to male prisoners and against equality.

Way forward:-

  • Rehabilitation and social integration are two other crucial imperatives, which should receive focused attention of correctional administration and also of civil society.
  • There should be reforms that strengthen family ties and support rehabilitation, including requiring the Federal Bureau of Prisons to consider the location of children when placing mothers behind bars, expanding visitation policies for primary caretakers, banning shackling and solitary confinement for pregnant women, and prohibiting prisons from charging for essential health care items, such as tampons and pads.
  • Model Prison Manual, drafted by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), also calls for women doctors, superintendents, separate kitchens for women inmates, and pre- and post-natal care for pregnant inmates, as also temporary release for an impending delivery.
  • Inmates, whether undertrials or convicts, need access to a woman counsellor
  • It would be a good start to have more women’s jails rather than confining women prisoners to a small room within a men’s prison.
  • To prevent imprisonment in the first place, community-based services need to be strengthened and more widely used, especially for substance use, sexual and reproductive health and mental health. A recent report points out that community corrections programmes have been shown to protect public safety and reduce recidivism at a fraction of the human and economic costs of imprisonment.
  • The determinants of criminal behaviour in women and the long-lasting effects of histories of violence and abuse should be known and understood by those providing supervision and care for women prisoners. All staff working with women prisoners should have followed gender-sensitivity training to raise awareness of and improve response to these gender-related issues.
  • International standards are of vital importance and contain regulations specifically directed to prisoners or women, but they are necessarily general in their terms and do not always sufficiently guarantee the provision of services to meet women prisoners’ specific needs. The Quaker Council for European Affairs has published a gender critique of the European Prison Rules, which lists amendments and additions to the European Prison Rules with the status, rights and welfare of imprisoned women in mind.
  • Health services for women in prison should be individualized as far as possible to meet the specific expressed needs of the women.

General Studies – 2

Topic:Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

3) Some of the issues faced by Indian judiciary today, are in fact, recurring problems left unaddressed for decades. Examine.(250 words)

The hindu



Why this question

Indian judiciary has been going through turbulent waters with a range of issues questioning its credibility and foundation. These issues, though apparently new are a result of some systemic deficiencies which have been left unaddressed for decades. The issue is related to the GS-2  syllabus under the following heading-

Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the question, identify the important issues faced by Indian judiciary today and then examine them. We have to find necessary justification in the form of arguments and facts, to establish that some of the issues faced by Indian judiciary today, are in fact, recurring problems left unaddressed for decades.

Directive word

Examine- we have to dig deep into the issue and find out how the present issues faced by Indian judiciary are not new but recurring problems.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Identify and mention those issues which you think are faced by Indian judiciary today and have been existing there for decades. E.g appointments in judiciary ( rejection by the government of the collegium’s recommendation of K.M. Joseph), mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption in the higher judiciary ( recent CJI controversy), CJI’s  position as the master of the roster etc.

Body- Discuss in points how these problems have been existed there for decades. Take help of the articles attached to frame your answer. Discuss the issues individually and be  exhaustive and concise at the same time.

E.g appointments in judiciary- Discuss the logic of the makers of constitution in making such an arrangement of appointment, then discuss first judges case and how it was misused to get it replaced by a less desirable collegium system, which has its own flaws.

Similarly frame your answer for other two issues.

Conclusion– Form a concise, fair and balanced opinion on the issue and suggest a way-forward.



  • As of September 30, 2016, the Supreme Court has nearly 61,000 pending cases, official figures say. The high courts have a backlog of more than 40 lakh cases, and all subordinate courts together are yet to dispose of around 2.85 crore cases. On an average, cases take three years and nine months to get disposed.
  • Such is apathy faced by judiciary and hence reforms are necessary

Problems plaguing judiciary for decades:-

  • Under trials:-
    • India has one of the world’s largest number of undertrial prisoners. A little over two-thirds of India’s roughly 4.2 lakh prisoners await trial.
  • Low performance of India on ease of doing business because of lag in enforcement of contract largely due to the inefficient judicial system
  • The system is unable to keep pace with new cases being instituted in Indian diverse economy.
  • Judicial procedure is very complex and costly putting the poor at a distance from justice
  • Cases stuck:-
    • Usually cases near the final stage of hearing tend to be left over at disproportionate rates and often end up getting stuck in the system.
  • Uncertainty:-
    • The uncertainty around which cases will come up for hearing means neither judges nor lawyers can plan their preparation.
    • This situation compels lawyers to waste time waiting in court and enables them to cite the simultaneous listing of multiple cases as an excuse for adjournments.
    • Registry staff must manage the massive task of re-listing leftover matters in an already bulging docket, instead of streamlining case flow.
  • Case listing:
    • It is not uncommon to see more than 100 cases being assigned to judges on a given day. Such case listing affects the adjudication process and thus the justice delivery system as the judge rarely gets proper time for research.
  • Adjournments:-
    • A pervasive reason for delays is adjournments. A study by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (VCLP) conducted on Delhi HC found thatin 91 per cent of cases delayed over two years, adjournments were sought and granted.
    • These encourage delaying tactics, block judicial time, prevent effective case management and impoverish litigants. They deter many from seeking access to formal justice. 
    • Though the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 suggests not more than three adjournments should be given in each case, Vidhi finds the Delhi High Court gave more than three adjournments in nearly 70% of all delayed cases. 
  • Court infrastructure
    • Inadequate support staff for judges to the dearth of basic courtroom facilities.
    • Without research and secretarial support, judges are unable to perform their functions in a timely manner.
    • Even though judges managed to hear many cases in a day, it takes time for the stenographers to finish typing the orders. 
    • Most of the subordinate courts lack basic infrastructure for judges, court staff and litigants
  • Contribution of the courts to the problem by non-adherence to procedural timeframes.
  • Lawyers :-
    • 82% of all delays could be attributed to lawyers and not the judges per se.
    • There is some anecdotal evidence that lawyers end up meeting their clients only when they are produced in court, thus giving them a very little time to effectively confer with their clients for their case.
  • Other government institutions leading to indirectly affecting judiciary:-
    • Delays in the legal system are caused not only because of a shortage of judges, but also because of a shortage of police officers (who have to investigate cases and then come to court on a regular basis), prosecutors (who are often underpaid and over-worked), inadequate judicial infrastructure (overcrowded court rooms or inadequate support staff such as stenographers) 
  • Appointment of judges:-
    • Article 124 states that judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President, after consultation with certain authorities, including the CJI. But it does not tell us how these consultations are to be made, or what criteria ought to be applied in deciding who becomes a judge.
  • The collegium system is not only opaque and inequitable, containing not a single constitutionally provided check or balance.
  • Recent rejection by the government of the collegium’s recommendation of K.M. Joseph, for elevation to the Supreme Court also raised several doubts.
  • The Constitution is silent on the administrative role that the CJI performs.
    • The central authority that he now enjoys, in deciding which cases get to be heard by which benches, is essentially a product of custom (since codified into the Supreme Court Rules of 2013).
  • Anomolies found recently:-
    • According to experts, in the issue related to present CJI assignment of certain particularly sensitive cases to benches is without reference to established norms and precedents.
    • Benches are generally constituted by the Chief Justice considering the previous orders and it is rare to exclude from reconstituted benches the Judges who had heard the matter earlier and are still available.
    • There appears to be a pattern in distribution of such cases. Matters involving Constitutional Authorities and certain issues relevant to political spectrum are being marked to certain Benches.

Way forward:-

  • There is a need to put in place an independent mechanism to deal with allegations of corruption in the judiciary. 
  • Choice of determining benches:-
    • In US Supreme court the Chief justice has no choice in the question of which judges to hear the case because all the 9 judges sit together to hear cases.
    • Similarly in UK 12 judges often sit in the panels of five (or more) so chief justice choice is constrained which is not the case in India where benches are sat predominantly in benches of two.
  • Allocation of cases, if not made transparent, would lead to suspicion.
    • More internal conflict in the court as the four Supreme court judges had publicly showed the apprehensions that cases were allotted to preferred Benches earlier.
  • Based on international experiences Supreme court can consider the following options:
    • A just and fair roster must be one that is divided subject-wise among judges according to their experience and expertise in those subjects must be decided.
    • Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court. Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human.
  • Vacancies in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts need to be filled up.Most High Courts are functioning with half or one third the sanctioned strength.
  • The infrastructure in the courts needs improvement
  • There needs to be appointment of ad hoc or additional judges to clear pending cases .
  • Reforming the system of appointing judges and holding their functioning to account is another priority.
  • Accepting applications for appointments as High Court judges:-
    • This is followed in the U.K. and can be adopted in India too. There must be full and complete disclosure of relationships and affiliations of applicants to sitting and retired judges. Minimum eligibility criteria for consideration need to be laid down, including appearances in important cases.
  • Three member Permanent Commission to scrutinise the credentials of candidates and recommend names may be constituted.
    • These Permanent Commissions should also be vested with the power to scrutinise complaints of dishonesty and lack of integrity of judges, to make recommendations to the collegiums to withdraw work from those judges pending impeachment.
  • The Law Commission has recommendedhearing cases continuously, avoiding postponements and reaching speedy verdicts. This is possible only when the caseload per judge is of a reasonable size.
  • Creating an Indian Judicial Service to create a large pool of trained, dedicated judges who would enlarge the pool of talent available for elevation to the higher judiciary would be a big step forward.
  • Diverting cases from the courts to alternate dispute resolution forums (such as mediation and Lok Adalats) and specialised tribunals.
  • Both jail adalats and plea bargaining, reduce the backlog in courts, by encouraging accused in certain cases to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.
  • Specification of time limitshas emerged as a distinctive feature of process reforms across jurisdictions that have been able to quantifiably minimise judicial delay, such as the UK and Singapore.
  • Reduce government litigation, simplify procedures, recommending precise capacity reinforcements and use of technology. 
  • Courts must become more open to applying management principles to optimise case movement and judicial time. In this, external support agencies competent in strategic thinking should be allowed to work with judicial officers to understand and help the institution function better. 
  • Technology:-
    • Using technology in courts cannot remain limited to digitising records alone but must affect how cases actually move through the system.
    • Initiatives such as CIS must be supplemented with file-tracking and knowledge management systems, to help courts achieve an optimal level of functioning.

TopicIndia and its neighborhood- relations.


4) China’s actions threaten the fragile Himalayan ecosystem and makes it imperative for India to act. Examine.(250 words)


Why this question

Himalayan ecosystem is sensitive, and Tibetan plateau is rich in natural resources ranging from minerals to water etc which is being exploited by China. This raises several concerns for India and becomes an issue that is necessary to be dealt with in the context of their bilateral relations.

Key demand of the question

Following points are to be incorporated in your answer

  • How does Chinese actions in Tibet threatens Himalayan ecosystem
  • How does Chinese inaction threaten Himalayan ecosystem
  • What has India done to deal with this threat
  • Other steps that must be taken by India

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that the Chinese unilateralism in its dealings with countries in its neighbourhood causes huge issues – building islands in SCS, dams in Tibet etc


  • Examine Chinese actions in Tibet which threaten the Himalayan ecosystem like building of dams, overdrive to appropriate natural resources in Tibet etc
  • Examine Chinese inactions which are leading to problems – nom sharing of water data, no intention of signing a water treaty etc
  • Examine the challenges it poses for India and its neighbourhood
  • Examine India’s past responses to this situation – registered protest in building of a dam etc
  • Steps that India should take to deal with this challenge

Conclusion – highlight that off late there have been signs of rapprochement between the two countries courtesy Wuhan etc and India should ensure that it’s strategic and environmental interests are respected by China.


  • Himalayas one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, is unique: It has the rarest medicinal plants, the highest-living primates on Earth, and scores of bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, fish and plant species not found anywhere else. Through the centuries, the nature-friendly Tibetan way of life helped preserve the Tibetan plateau’s pristine environment.

China’s actions threatening Himalayan ecosystem:-

  • Extracting minerals:-
    • China’s Lhunze “gold rush” is part of its wider efforts in the Himalayas to extract precious metals, rare earths and other resources.
    • For example, after geological surveys identified rich copper deposits, copper mines have come up in the region where the Brahmaputra makes a U-turn to enter India. Copper mine tailings are beginning to pollute local waters in this sacred region,
    • China is engaged in major mining activity right along the militarised frontier with Arunachal Pradesh
    • Tibet is a treasure-trove of minerals, including precious metals and rare earths. It is the world’s top lithium producer and has China’s biggest reserves of 10 different metals.
  • River pollution:-
    • The cross-border effects of its environment-polluting activities in Tibet were exemplified last autumn when the Siang which is the Brahmaputra’s main artery suddenly turned blackish grey as it entered India.
  • Damming rivers:-
    • By building giant dams in cascades near its borders, China has reengineered transboundary flows of international rivers originating on the Tibetan Plateau, such as the Mekong.
  • Inducing rain:-
    • But now it is also seeking to reengineer the weather in Tibet so as to induce greater rain in the plateau’s arid regions. 
    • Such geoengineering opens a new interventionist frontier with unpredictable, trans-Himalayan implications. Given the climate system’s global interconnections, experiments in Tibet to bring more rain could help suck in moisture from other regions. That would potentially affect monsoons in India and elsewhere in Asia
  • Tibet is called the “Third Pole” because it has the largest perennial ice mass on the planet after the Arctic and Antarctica. But today, human-made environmental changes have resulted in Tibet warming at almost three times the global average. Scientific studies, including by Chinese scholars, point to high rates of loss of genetic variability and extinction of species. This holds major long-term implications for the triple role Tibet plays as Asia’s main freshwater repository, largest water supplier and principal rainmaker.

How is India reacting:-

  • India, as a riparian state, had flagged its concerns to China about various dams being built by it on the Brahmaputra river.
  • Zangmu dam over the Brahmaputra, which became partially operational in 2014, raised serious concerns in India 
  • No country is more affected by China’s assault on the Himalayan ecosystems than India.

China approach is secretive:-

  • Chinese shared little information about the developments. 
  • China would be wary of conceding the demand for a joint mechanism
  • On the other hand, as the border issue is unlikely to be settled in the near future, this limited cooperation on water is only a further concern to India.
  • China is a dialogue partner but unfortunately not a member of the Mekong River Commission, underscoring its intent to stay clued in on the discussions, without having to take on any legal obligation.
  • Despite its centrality in Asia’s water map, China has rebuffed the idea of a water-sharing treaty with any neighbour. Concern is thus growing among its downstream neighbours that China is seeking to turn water into a potential political weapon.
  • China claim scientific planning, adequate justification, prudent decisions and orderly exploitation are in line with international practice, but is not seen these in practice.
  • Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on trans-border rivers between India and China hasn’t been carrying out good cooperation on trans border rivers for a long time. 

What should be done ?

  • International pressure needs to be mounted on Beijing to refrain from activities that are contributing to a sharp decline of Tibet’s natural resources and environmental impairment. Asia’s ecological interests cannot be safeguarded unless China is forced to change course, including by respecting international environmental standards.
  • China must use its water informing details to downstream countries and rampant activities must not affect the river system and the ecology and geology.
  • Both India and China must be responsible towards exploitation of water resources of the Brahmaputra and carry out a policy of actual development and protection at the same time.


  • Legitimate use of the river water and hydrological resources is an important component of the rights of the people including millions of people living downstream along the banks of Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh.

General Studies – 3

TopicScience and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

5) Zoonotic diseases will prove to be a big health risk going forward and India must gear itself to deal with this challenge. Examine (250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

Diseases like Zika, Nipah etc have huge health costs. Off late, Bill Gates has predicted that we are very near the next epidemic. The health infrastructure in India, already quite shabby, would bend it’s back in trying to deal with situations like these. Hence, understanding the threats of zoonotic diseases and steps to deal with them is critical.


Key demand of the question

Following points are to be brought out in your answer

  • What are zoonotic diseases
  • How they are a huge health risk – apart from the obvious fact that they can lead to loss of significant no of lives, what other factors exacerbates the risk
  • How India deals with these diseases and the changes required

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any . In the above case, discuss points as highlighted above.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain zoonotic diseases along with some current examples to establish the scare on account of zoonotic diseases.


  • How they are a huge health risk – apart from the obvious fact that they can lead to loss of significant no of lives, what other factors exacerbates the risk. Explain points like ecosystem changes brought about, no vaccination etc
  • How we deal with such diseases , highlight our experience in dealing with Zika scare and now Nipah scare.
  • Examine how can we improve our handling of these diseases – virology centres, border screening, awareness etc

Conclusion – Mention that it is important to take proactive action, rather than reactive in this case as the health cost of an outbreak will be immense.



  • In the past fortnight, spotlight has been on Nipah in India and the return of Ebola in Africa. Both are viruses with high mortality rates and the fear of acquiring infection from patients is terrifying communities around them, and causing concern in even those who are far away. 
  • The last two decades witnessed the emergence of a plethora of public health challenges at the convergence of human, animal, and environmental health, including bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) ,H5N1 influenza, threats of bioterrorism, SARS and the impact of climate change on global food systems.

Zoonotic diseases:-

  • Zoonotic diseases (transmitted from animals to humans), account for over 60% of infectious outbreaks.
  • Deforestation due to expanding agriculture and logging, animal breeding, and live stock farming are creating a conveyor belt for the transmission of microbes, hitherto confined to their primary animal hosts in wild life, to the veterinary population and then to human habitats.
  • Anthropogenic climate change creates conditions for vectors like mosquitoes and ticks to spread to new geographies. They transport the microbes to the human body.
  • Microbial genetics evolve far more rapidly than humans. Microbes which are confined to forest animals or small human communities follow the survival rules of evolution, and generally have low virulence, because the extinction of their host will lead to their own extinction.

How are they a risk :-

  • Humans now crowd together in large numbers, travel fast and far in many modes of transport, and unknowingly transmit microbes to other humans through sputum, saliva, semen, blood, and other bodily fluids. This enables the virus to multiply rapidly and mutate to more virulent forms.
  • Vaccines are presently not available against many of these viruses, though some early success has been reported in candidate vaccines for Ebola and Zika.
  • Specific drug treatments too, are unavailable.
  • Laboratory diagnosis is possible in specialised labs but is mainly useful for identifying the nature of the outbreak, modelling its likely spread, and alerting the health system of the anticipated clinical severity of the cases that will arise.
  • India has one of the highest density of livestock population and poorly guarded animal-human interface makes it vulnerable to disease outbursts.
  • The Indian subcontinent has been identified as one of the four global hotspots at increased risks from emergence of new infectious diseases, particularly zoonoses according to various studies.
  • Economic risk:-
    • The case for control of zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) is compelling. The economic losses from six major outbreaks of highly fatal zoonoses between 1997 and 2009 amounted to at least US$80 billion.
  • The health infrastructure in India, already quite shabby, would bend it’s back in trying to deal with situations like these.

India’s actions:-

  • India is now expanding its laboratory network but epidemiological surveillance systems need further strengthening.
  • In the absence of specific treatments, supportive care has been provided in the case of Nipah virus attack. Fluids for adequate hydration and electrolyte balance; medicines to control fever, and intensive care with respiratory and circulatory support are given when needed.
  • During any outbreak, isolation of the patient, avoidance of direct contact while providing care, tracing, examination of all contacts, and limiting their movement during the incubation period are helping to contain the spread.
  • Preventive measures include hand washing and avoiding contact with bodily fluids of a person known or suspected to be infected. Avoidance of direct or indirect contact with animals, who act as primary or reservoir hosts, is necessary and people are being made aware.
  • Effective risk communication to the public is especially necessary, to enable them to adopt preventive personal protection measures, seek timely medical care, and avoid mass panic. This requires clear and open information sharing by trusted experts who are adept in jargon-free messaging via mass media.
  • In Jaipur, India, dog vaccination and sterilization resulted in a decline of human rabies cases to zero.

How should India be ready:-

  • A rational response to such outbreaks requires an understanding of why these viruses cross species, how they are transmitted among humans, what preventive measures can be taken, which tests and treatments exist, and whether the health system is ready to contain the outbreak at an early stage.
  • Microbes must be vigilantly monitored during outbreaks to study if highly infective viruses are suddenly seized with mutation madness to develop higher virulence, especially in crowded populations where the virus has a free run.
  • Given the elevated risk to India from zoonotic diseases, it is important to have a policy framework in place to prevent an outbreak.
  • India needs to fund creation of data and evidence-base (data to support actions) on these infections so that they can be controlled in animals
  • India should prevent infections spreading to humans. This can happen with better collaboration (between various agencies), an operational framework from the government, better surveillance and sharing of data on these diseases.
  • The effectiveness of zoonotic disease control requires early detection at the source of the disease in animals, an early and accurate diagnosis, and rapid disease control measures. Therefore, One Health, a collaborative approach finds an important place at this human-animal interface to work effectively in disease prevention.
    • Numerous examples already exist of the success of this collaboration in One Health like in Chad, joint animal–human vaccination campaigns of DPT and polio in children and CBPP control in livestock resulted in greater coverage in both humans and livestock, and pastoralists became more aware of public health services.
  • Reporting by the media should exercise responsible restraint to avoid stoking mass hysteria.
  • Virology centres need to be established more
  • Border screening has to be done strictly.

General Studies – 4

Topic:Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6) “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Comment.(250 words)


Why this question

Courage is an important component determining the behaviour of  a person. It has a bearing on other virtues/ values and their expression.  The issue is related to GS-4 syllabus under the following heading-

Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to present our opinion and understanding on the importance of courage as a value and how it occupies a prominent place such that its presence or absence determines the presence/ absence of expression of other values.

Directive word

Comment- we have to form our opinion in favour or against the quotation and present necessary material accordingly. We have to provide necessary arguments along with our answer.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– mention the overall importance of courage in the life of a person. Or better if you can weave some story or situation which corroborates or negates the given quote.


Although the quotation is from Winston Churchill but it can be explained well by analysing and discussing Aristotle’s and other philosophers’ views on courage. Take the help of the articles attached with the question and use other sources to frame your answer.

Conclusion– Bring out a fair and balanced opinion on the importance and role of courage as a value.


Courage is a highly admired virtue. Most often we associate the word with physical prowess or bravery. But there’s another form of valour that’s much more important because it comes up more often. It’s called moral courage – the willingness to face not physical danger but emotional pain, disapproval, financial insecurity, or uncertainty rather than compromise an ethical principle.


A person with courage acts courageously in a qualified way: at the right time, in the right manner, with the right motivation, etc. Aristotle does not simply bestow the title of courageous upon anyone, so long as they lack fear, no matter the situation.  For example, a virtuous man should rightly fear the loss of a good reputation.  As this example shows, the appropriateness or not, of courage in the right circumstances ought to inform us as to whether someone is actually courageous or not.


Integrity is essential to self-esteem and the admiration of others. It requires us to put our comforts, possessions, friendships, and even jobs at risk in the defence of deeply held principles. It takes moral fortitude to be honest at the risk of ridicule, rejection, or retaliation or when doing so may jeopardize our income or career. It takes boldness to be accountable and own up to mistakes when doing so may get us in trouble. It takes backbone to stand tough with our kids when doing so may cost us their affection. So courage leads to strengthening of values like responsibility, honesty, truthfulness, integrity etc


Even  important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales wither in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales requires being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales takes courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.


For Aristotle, the soldier in battle is the best example of courage.  Death, of all things, is the most frightening. Yet, it is not just any kind of death, but death in war, for this is the finest. What this shows is that courage is shown best in situations in which “there is a fight”. Courage is not the absence of fear but the resistance of fear, the mastery of fear. We praise the courageous man/woman  because he is able to withstand the painful and not because he restrains himself from the pleasurable, for the first is more difficult.

Topic– lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

7) “Our republic and its press will rise and fall together”. (J Pulitzer) Comment.(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

Cobrapost sting has captured the imagination of the entire nation and lowered the image of media which was already down in the dumps. This calls into question the grave issue of ethics in media and why media’s role in crucial in sustenance of republic and democracy.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to present our view on the interrelationship between an ethical media and a thriving republic. It expects us to bring out the values which are to be upheld by media and how those values translate into a strong republic. We are also expected to bring out how those values are crumbling today which is also affecting the harmony in our nation and society.

Directive word

Comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences. These types of question offer you a chance to consolidate your reading of different subjects to justify your opinion.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the Cobrapost scandal and the debates that it raises. Highlight that Pulitzer, the trailblazer of journalism, would have been ashamed.


  • Explain the values which in your opinion is what media has to uphold. Like freedom of speech, asking questions, parliament of the people etc
  • Relate those values to how they would help in strengthening the republic. This should be the main part of your answer
  • Examine how the media has performed so far and the effects it has had on the nation and the society
  • Present your view

Conclusion – Stress on the importance of media for a democracy and suggest reforms like the findings of Leveson committee etc



Around the world, digital media technologies are having a profound impact on the production and dissemination of news. These tools allow journalists to reach broader audiences, faster than ever before and allow citizens to play a greater role in the democratic debate. New technologies are expanding the information space and especially in Asia use of the internet, mobile phone news services, blogging and social media have seen enormous expansion.


The rising popularity of websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter means that news is no longer the exclusive preserve of reporters working for traditional media. Hence there is need for strong media ethics.


The five cardinal principles of journalism are getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism, Journalists must be independent voices, fairness and Impartiality, humanity and accountability.

A free and editorially independent press is an essential instrument for the promotion and consolidation of democracy and good governance. The media that claims to be the fourth pillar of democracy should remember that the role entrusts it with some responsibilities. Good journalism is about telling the truth


From the Radia tapes in 2010 to the Essar leaks last month, Indian journalism has been creaking under the burden of unethical practices.Number of prominent media institutions have over the years become a toxic amalgam of veniality, fanaticism, irresponsibility and subservience to power. The media has gone from being the saviour to democracy to being one of the principal threats to it.


Content in Indian media houses is not impartial and some favour some groups over other. These deals are struck not just by low-level marketing operatives, but seem to be negotiated by India’s biggest media barons and are constitutive of the business model. Issue of paid news that has become prominent of late.


Opaque private treaties have become common .For instance BCCL scheme involved private treaties by which a company would allot equity to BCCL in return for ad space, the report says. Media houses resorted to blackmail as well for instance in 2012 senior editors of the television channel Zee News were arrested for allegedly demanding Rs 100 crore from Jindal Power and Steel Ltd.


One of the defects is that the media often twist facts.Media often portray non-issues as real issues, while the real issues are sidelined for instance celebrity lives are probed very deep when many people are reeling under poverty and malnutrition in India.


Fake news shaped by preconceived notions, emotions and interests is now rampant on many media platforms. Many media houses are in competition to build a world of fake news to serve political and corporate interests leading to undermining of the democracy.


When any violence takes place media these days is giving a communal colour or religious angle to it even before facts are established. Also growth of technology has led to faster reporting. It should also have helped to enhance the quality of news. However, it can’t be said technology has enhanced the media’s credibility. Today’s measure is a race to telecast, even if what is given is false. This must change.


The mechanism of self-regulation has disappointed on many accounts, which makes it necessary to emulate the model of co-regulation, which is practiced in other countries.