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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.


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

1) Discuss how women were treated and depicted during the Chola culture. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Details on Chola dynasty:

The Chola dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the history of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire. As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE.

The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. The whole country south of the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of two centuries and more.

Chola dynasty

300s BCE–1279 CE

The Sangam literature describes the position of women in ancient Tamil society. In the Sangam Age, women were treated with special consideration. The natural feminine qualities such as Achcham, Madam and Naanam were insisted in the Sangam literature. Their most important virtue was chastity. The heroine of Silappathigaram. Kannagi had been hailed for her chastity and worshipped by the people. The women were given freedom to choose their life partners during the Sangam period. The concept of love had been elaborately discussed in Agananuru.

Women treated their husbands as equivalent to God during the Sangam period. They were not permitted to remarry and inherit property Sati or the custom of self-immolation at the death of one’s husband was not generally prevalent during this period. However, some women from the royal family indulged in the practice of Sati.

The Chola king’s retinue included the padimagalir — women bodyguards who protected and attended to the king. They accompanied him while he was camping in wartime, guarding him against potential ambushes. These women were celebrated for their valour, as warriors ready to lay down their lives for the king. They were supported by additional women guards in the palaces and the living quarters. These women were trained for fighting from a young age, and well-armed to protect the royalty. According to the Sangam literature, a woman had to play different roles in the family such as a dutiful wife, responsible mother and an ideal hostess to guests. Women’s education was also insisted during the Sangam Age. We come to know a few women poets like Avvaiyar, Kakkai Padiniyar and Nachchellaiyar, whose verses are found in the Sangam literature. Sangam women were also known for their courage. However, from the post-Sangam period, there was a decline in the status of women.

Women were represented in a variety of work roles besides serving as bodyguards. There are mentions of women in powerful functions in the kingdom, working as advisors and ambassadors — the poem Perum kathai speaks of ‘clever women’ acting as peacemakers between kingdoms.

The ‘daughters of god,’ the Devanar Makkal or temple women, had their names inscribed in temples for donations received in their names, and inscriptions suggest that Chola women had at least some control over the resources of their households.

The presence of donors beyond the queens suggests that female power existed throughout Chola society. Women were witnesses and signatories for land grants to temples, as well as land transactions.

This was a patriarchal, feudal society that still saw women in the context of their relationships with men, and widows were marginalised. Low status women were more like property, and could be exchanged by men. These women were often not treated kindly, even while the queens had their likenesses carved in temples in the form of goddesses — slender and elegant, royal and divine.



Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

2) Critically evaluate performance of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). (200 Words)


Even after 60 years of independence, a large section of Indian population still remains unbanked. In the recent years the government and Reserve Bank of India has been pushing the concept and idea of financial inclusion. The financial inclusion plan aims at providing easy access to financial services to those sections of the society who are deprived of it so far at affordable cost thereby bringing them into the mainstream of financial sector.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is an ambitious scheme for comprehensive financial inclusion launched by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on 28th August, 2014. The scheme has been started with a target to provide universal access to banking facilities starting with basic banking accounts with overdraft facility of Rs. 5,000 after six months and RuPay Debit Card with inbuilt accident insurance cover of Rs. 1Lakh and RuPay Kisan card. In the next phase, micro insurance and pension etc. will also be added.

Highlights of the pradhan mantri jan dhan yojana scheme

  • Interest on deposit
  • in built accident insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh with RuPay Debit Card given to the account holder
  • No minimum balance required
  • An additional Rs. 30,000 life insurance cover for the accounts opened up to January, 26, 2015
  • Easy transfer of money across India
  • Beneficiaries of government schemes will get direct benefit transfer in that account
  • After satisfactory operation of the account for 6 months an overdraft facility will be permitted
  • Access to pension, insurance product
  • Accidental insurance cover, RuPay Debit Card must be used at least once in 45 days
  • Availability of overdraft facility up to Rs. 5,000 but in only one account per household preferably lady of the household

Challenges in implementation of Pradhan mantri Jan Dhan yojana:

Many cases have been detected that, where an individual has opened more than one account in various banks.

Budgetary provisions has not been made by the government to provide incentives, otherwise the financial status of the banks may be ruined.

Insurance companies have to fix a nominal premium to cover the risk of the account holders in case it is not done the state owned LIC may batter with financial losses.

Overdraft facility needs to be properly regulated, as the same is the discretionary of the concerned banks. Many banks may decline to extend the overdraft facility therefore defeating the purpose. Business correspondents if made to accomplish the objective may misuse the authority and thereby making the life of people under below poverty line miserable.

KYC norms are not insisted under this programme, therefore duplication is unavoidable.

Bank correspondence i.e. bank mitra is the idea before the finance ministry whereas creating infrastructure mitra for business mitra, including computers, micro ATM biometric scanners, and internet connectivity may be a major concern.

There is a commitment on the part of the government to provide Rs. 50,000 towards equipment, Rs. 25,000 towards working capital and Rs. 50,000 towards vehicle. These arrangements have been made without budgeting provisions.

Bank mitra should be properly trained with accurate knowledge, skill and attitude and the outcome of the training shall be visible in terms of accomplishing the target.

Making every village a Swavalamban village is considered to be an advantage but the lack of infrastructure may become a major hurdle for the effective implementation

Private Banks levy hidden charges on the beneficiary which may become a deterrent for the financial inclusion.


The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana scheme has substantial growth in number of accounts opened. Success of the PMJDY scheme depends on the effective regulatory system as in the stakeholders have to build a sustainable ecosystem to keep the accounts active and successful implementation of the programme. The challenge is the conversion of the non-operative accounts with zero balance into operative and for this it’s important to focus on financial literacy programme. Inclusive growth “Sab Ka Sath Sub Ka Vikas” is central to development philosophy.



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

3) Discuss the progress made in bilateral relationship between India and Switzerland since India’s independence. (200 Words)

The Indian Express


India and Switzerland have had cordial and friendly relations since India’s Independence, based on shared values of democracy and the rule of law. India’s policy of non-alignment and Switzerland’s traditional policy of neutrality led to a close understanding between the two countries.

Switzerland established diplomatic relations with India soon after Independence. A Treaty of Friendship between India and Switzerland was signed at New Delhi on August 14, 1948, one of the first such treaties to be signed by independent India and an important milestone in Indo-Swiss relations. The Treaty provided for the establishment of diplomatic missions between the two countries and missions were opened in Berne and Delhi soon after.

The Indo-Swiss Joint Economic Commission was set up in 1959 to intensify economic and commercial relations.From 1971 to 1976, during and after Bangladesh’s struggle for Independence, Switzerland represented India’s interests in Pakistan and vice versa.

Issues like mutual support for our respective bids for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, negotiations with EFTA on TEPA, the need for cooperation to bring tax offenders to justice, conclusion of an agreement on the automatic exchange of information on tax matters, cooperation in skill development and Ayurveda and other bilateral issues were discussed during the meetings.Switzerland and India have been regularly conducting a political dialogue since 2005.  Since 2012, the two countries have also been involved in a dialogue on migration and consular matters.

The Swiss VET Initiative India (SVETII) was launched as a pilot project on the occasion of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Indo-Swiss bilateral friendship treaty in 2008. A public-private initiative, it reflected a specific demand of Swiss companies in India for qualified workers as well as Switzerland’s interest in positioning its vocational education and training (VET) system internationally.

A Tagore Chair has been set up at University of Lausanne (UNIL) for Hindi in 2011, which has successfully completed 4 sessions with professors deputed by ICCR, as per MOU’s validity.As a large part of FDI in India, is routed through other countries, actual Swiss FDI in India is much higher, with overall Swiss investment inflows into India pegged at above USD 7 billion upto 2013-14.

Switzerland is the 5th largest trading partner for India with the total bilateral trade including merchandise exports, bullion and IT services and software exports, amounting to US$ 23.2 billion in 2014-15 and US$ 19.32 billion (April-Feb., 2015-16). Bilateral trade has shown generally a positive trend despite the global economic slowdown.

Commerce/Trade Ministers from India and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, agreed to launch negotiations on a comprehensive Trade and Investment Agreement as per the recommendations of the Joint EFTA-India Study Group established on 1 December 2006.

Swiss initiatives to introduce the Swiss Dual Vocational Educational System at a mass level in India are contributing to India’s development.The International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated on 21 June, 2015 at Waisenhausplatz in the City Centre of Berne and in Culture Centre, Gasometer, Liechtenstein.

The Indian community in Switzerland comprises of approximately 18,000 Indians including over 6300 persons of Indian origin (Swiss passport holders). Most of them are professionals in Engineering, IT, pharmaceuticals and paramedical fields.

Government extended the e-tourist visa facility to 37 more countries from 26th February 2016 including Switzerland, covering 150 countries. Henceforth, Swiss nationals visiting India for tourism purposes can avail this e-visa facility with immediate effect. There has been a slow but steady uptake of e-visas.

As part of its Energy Strategy 2050, Switzerland has decided to take steps to improve energy efficiency and boost the share of renewable energies in the energy mix. India’s energy strategy, which is currently being drawn up, shares the same priorities. In terms of energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energies, a number of joint projects are already under way between our two countries.

All these dimension of bilateral relations between India and Switzerland highlights the cordial nature of the partnership.



TopicBilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

4) “Recent developments threaten the long-cherished unity in diversity in India and Indonesia.” Discuss critically. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Ans –

India-largest democracy and Indonesia-third largest democracy in the world are home to multiple languages, ethnicities, customs and religions. 

India contains all the 6 major religions of the world i.e. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism and similarly Indonesia harbors Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism. 
Both countries are secular and not based on European philosophy of single language, single religion and single ethnicity. Theirs is not the classic secularism of separation of state and church, but rather one of equal respect for all religions.

However, recent developments in both the countries have led to the danger to the secular fabric. There is increase in the extremist ideas and suppression of liberal voices.

In Indonesia – 

  1. Rise of Islam as political mobilizer –
  • Labeling of their PM candidate Mr. Widodo as Christian although he is Javanese Muslim. The political propaganda not only exhibits but also deepens the hatred for Christians. 
  • Purnama, who was Jakarta governor and executed various successful welfare schemes in Health and Education. But he is Christian with Chinese decedent and is charged for blasphemy. The extreme Islamic group (Front Pembela Islam or The Islamic Defenders Front) whipped up religious sentiments using social media and organised a series of anti-Purnama demonstrations.
  1. Rising tide of popular conservatism –
  • Resulting in part from Saudi-funded and trained preachers.
  • Cynical collaboration of otherwise “moderate” politicians who are using extremist groups for personal political gain.
  • According to Human Rights Watch, 16 non- Muslim people were persecuted for Blasphemy on their comments on social media.
  • There is rise in extremism in Indonesia. Some extremist parties like FPI are influencing public opinion and spreading intolerance.

In India – 

  1. Religious intolerance – Incidents of lynching of beef eaters and beef transportation creates atmosphere of fear among Muslims.
  2. Caste intolerance – Una chapter had highlighted the increasing atrocities on Dalits. Demand of reservation from affluent land owner castes is also the manifestation of bitterness for other sections of society.
  3. Racial intolerance – Attack on African women in Bangalore and on African students in Greater Noida reflects that the racism is imbibed in Indian mindset.
    Both the countries are the largest democracies with India in the World and Indonesia in entire South East Asia which are swayed by the Majorities’ sentiments and led minorities are under threat. In democracy every person has their right to speak and all people are governed under supreme law not by through majoritarian view.

These developments show that unity in diversity which was considered the strength of India and Indonesia is slowly turning into its weakness. But still this cannot threaten the unity of nation in long term if –

  • Representatives and politicians of both countries try hard to prevent such incidents.
  • Both countries are democracies, so should not ignore one section over other.
  • Constitution and Supreme Court to protect interests of minorities. Inclusive development and economic growth along with education makes people more tolerant.


Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas;

5) In the light of ending of Doklam standoff, what lessons should India learn in border management to address future security issues? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu


The Hindu


Ans –

The end to the Doklam standoff comes more than two months after it started, and in these two months, India-China military relations have only worsened. China’s original sin was the decision to extend a road up to the Doklam plateau in violation of the 2012 trilateral agreement on the border. There are more chances of stand offs between the two in the future. Example – On August 15, the two sides engaged in fisticuffs and threw stones by the Pangong Lake. The Chinese resorted to aggressive statements, including reminding India about the 1962 war.

The 2 months long stand-off near the tri-junction hold several lessons for India:

  1. Renewing treaties and robust border agreements – Differing perception on LAC is the major reason for recurrent transgression and disputes. Pockets of dispute and contested claims to the territory continue to exist. Thus, India needs to expeditiously need to resolve major border issues. Both countries should return to spirit of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement 2013, which provided specific guidelines on tackling future development on 3500 km boundary. It is time to brush up the treaties, and work towards more robust agreements.


  1. Boosting border infrastructure – such as road, rail connectivity. Use of state of the art technology for effective border surveillance.


  1. Diplomacy should prevail – Maintaining good economic and political relations with neighboring countries to ensure resolution of disputes diplomatically. The dynamics along the border were changing and political establishment needs to wake up to engage in a more intense bilateral exchange with China.


  1. Expanding Confidence building measures – more border personnel meetings, DGMO-level hotline, more visits and tactical-level exchanges.


  1. Another reminder – It was another jolt and a reminder that India have to be more vigilant and assertive with its border security and cannot take the buffer of Nepal and Bhutan lightly. An urgent need to re-strengthen relationship with Nepal and Bhutan.


Conclusion –

The Doklam imbroglio may have been resolved peacefully after 73 days, but sources in the military warn that India and China will witness such standoffs more frequently now, unless a more robust border management mechanism is put in place. Madhukar Gupta committee report should be implemented for effective border management in India.

India and China should not see Doklam in terms of point-scoring but rather as a warning of the need for extending their border management framework across other borders as well.

Panchsheel principles could be the guiding force for both India and China in future. Peaceful co-existence along with respect to each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would foster mutual confidence. But at the end of the day India should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.




Topic: Basics of cybersecurity

6) Recently, the Supreme Court urged the government to put in place a robust mechanism for data protection. Discuss concerns expressed by the court and examine what measures government should take to ensure robust mechanism for data protection. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The term data protection is used to describe both operational backup of data and disaster recovery/business continuity (BC/DR). A data protection strategy should include data lifecycle management (DLM), a process that automates the movement of critical data to online and offline storage and information lifecycle management (ILM), a comprehensive strategy for valuing, cataloging and protecting information assets from application/user errors, malware/virus attacks, machine failure or facility outages/disruptions.

Concern of court :-

  • Noting that “informational privacy is a facet of the right to privacy”, a nine-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, said dangers to personal data originate not only from the government but also from private players.
  • Court argued that the dangers to privacy in an age of information can originate not only from the state but from non-state actors as well. 
  • The legitimate aims of the state would include for instance protecting national security, preventing and investigating crime, encouraging innovation and the spread of knowledge and preventing the dissipation of social welfare benefits.
  • The court said the introduction of a “carefully structured” data protection regime and its contours were matters policy matters to be considered by the Centre.
  • The court also took note of the Centre’s move to constitute a committee of experts led by former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.N. Srikrishna, on July 31, 2017 to identify “key data protection issues” and suggest a draft Data Protection Bill.
  • The Office Memorandum of the Justice Srikrishna Committee notes that the “government is cognisant of the growing importance of data protection in India. The need to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected is of utmost importance”.

Steps to be taken by government for Data Protection :-

  • The Centre has undertaken in the court that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology would work with the panel and hand over all necessary information to it within the next eight weeks, after which the latter will start its deliberations.
  • the committee would be framing a data protection Bill similar to the “technology-neutral” draft Privacy Bill submitted by an earlier expert committee led by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah to the Planning Commission of India in 2012.
  • Cyber Crime Cells have been set up in States and Union Territories for reporting and investigation of Cyber Crime cases. 
  • Government has set up cyber forensic training and investigation labs in the States of Kerala, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir for training of Law Enforcement and Judiciary in these States
  • In collaboration with Data Security Council of India (DSCI), NASSCOM, Cyber Forensic Labs have been set up at Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkata for awareness creation and training 
  • Training is imparted to Police Officers and Judicial officers in the Training Labs established by the Government. 
  • Cert-In is being strengthened. The ministry has approved 26 new posts… State Certs are being planned by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Jharkhand. Also, three sectoral Certs in power sector — generation, transmission and distribution, have been set up, in addition to the banking one.
  • National cyber coordination center is being set up to provide near real time situational awareness and rapid response at a cost of Rs 985 crore. This project will be completed in 5 years.


Topic:   Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems;

7) What is the difference between public and civil service? Discuss how should public and civil servants manage conflict of interest. (200 Words)


Introduction :- Civil service is an organ in the executive arm of government, primarily responsible for the execution of government policies and program. Civil service is divided into departments, these departments are called ministries and these ministries are headed by ministers.

Public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing provision of services. The term is associated with a social consensus (usually expressed through democratic elections) that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income, physical ability or mental acuity. Even where public services are neither publicly provided nor publicly financed, for social and political reasons they are usually subject to regulation going beyond that applying to most economic sectors.

The civil service is a sector of government composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership. A civil servant or public servant is a person so employed in the public sector employed for a government department or agency. 

A “conflict of interest” is: A conflict between the public duty and private interests of public officials, in which public officials have private-capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.


In rapidly changing public sector environments, conflicts of interest will always be an issue for concern. A too-strict approach to controlling the exercise of private interests may conflict with other rights, or be unworkable or counter-productive in practice by deterring experienced and competent potential candidates from seeking public office. A modern approach to conflict-of-interest policy seeks to strike a balance, by:

  • Identifying risks to the integrity of public organisations and public officials.
  • Prohibiting specific unacceptable forms of private interest.
  • Making public organisations and individual officials aware of the circumstances in which conflicts can arise.
  • Ensuring that effective procedures are deployed for the identification, disclosure, management, and promotion of the appropriate resolution of conflict-of-interest situations.
  • Demonstrate leadership commitment
  • Create a partnership with employees
  • develops an open organisational culture
  • Review “at-risk” areas
  • Preventive measures for emergent conflicts