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

1) ” Just as a patriarchal culture cannot tell stories of truly empowered women, so also, it cannot envision a truly supreme goddess.” Comment on the depiction of women as goddess in the Indian art. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Indian society since ancient times has been deeply patriarchal. But this has not deterred the women in society to come forward. The worship of goddess in Indian culture and religions tells the similar trends about gender subjugation.

Goddesses in Indian art and culture :-

  • The major festivals like Dasara, Diwali and Kali Puja shows that the goddess has always been present and it is time to acknowledge her power and her place in our lives.
  • The goddess appears in many forms in popular Hinduism, from serene and domesticated Lakshmi to fiery Durga and to wrathful Kali. 
  • In many parts of the country Dasara celebrates the victory of the goddess over the buffalo demon Mahisha. 

Patriarchal culture cant envision a truly supreme goddess :-

  • In Indus valley civilization and Vedic civilization finds mentions of many female goddess like mother goddess figurine, Usha, Aditi, Brahmvadinis etc. but they fail to establish their independence and true supremacy. Indian society was patriarchal in majority of time periods.
  • Shakti is usually depicted as having the weapons of all the gods, even the Trimurti. She holds the trident of Shiva, the Chakraof Vishnu, the Vajra of Indra, the Gada of Yamaraaj. She is depicted the most powerful but her power is derived from male gods.
  • If Prakriti is celebrated as the maker of the world, she is also responsible for Maya, its illusory nature which keeps us bound in the cycle of rebirth.
  • Though Durga remains independent, she is created from the surplus energy of the gods. Kali’s outstretched tongue expresses shame as she dances on Shiva’s corpse.
  • Sita had to give Agni Pariksha owing to her captivity in Lanka. However without her any fault she was held responsible and impure unless she proved her chastity.

All these examples show that the societal nature defines not only position of it’s women but also position of it’s goddess. In India’s case subjugation for females is deeply entrenched and significantly visible.

Topic: Role of civil services in a democracy; Accountability

2) Restructuring the civil services on basis of domain knowledge has a historical precedent and parallel success in the military as examples. How feasible is such an idea towards more effective governance? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The generalist character of the administrative personnel in India is losing its relevance, given the many emerging challenges. The need for domain knowledge in Indian Administrative Service personnel is being increasingly felt.

Existing progress in system so far :-

Indian civil services is inherited from British model. The tasks of it were confined only to the revenue collection, administration in early days. But with independence the need to model bureaucracy according to Indian needs is being felt increasingly. With increase in technicality and expertise in domains domain specific services has become the need of hour. The deeply hierarchical, rule based, “intelligent generalist” character of civil services needs to be changed.

What needs to be done :-

The civil service should thus assess the shift from seniority and experience based system to a domain knowledge based system.

  • Organisational Change–
  • Change in the organisation of government ministries and departments is essential alongside the change in the character of the personnel system.
  • This could be carried on by clustering the departments based on their needs, demands and characters.
  • The clusters may be categorized as security, economy, engineering, energy, social, rural, transport, science and technology, etc.
  • System  –
  • It is suggested that the Indian civil service could adopt the system practiced in the defence personnel.
  • A person joining the Indian Army as an infantry man remains so throughout the career and cannot become an artilleryman, etc.
  • Similarly, once “streamed”, the civil servants can spend the rest of their careers within the clusters or sectors as specified above.
  • Training – Training and examination could be made mandatory to reach higher levels in the service.
  • The academy at Mussoorie could engage in training officers in leadership qualities and more in imparting training in the domain knowledge.


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

3) Suicide is the second largest cause of death amongst young Indians. With reference to our Mental Health Policy Framework, how can social and care systems aid in better Mental Health of the nation? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- About 800,000 people commit suicide worldwide every year of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India a nation with 17.5% of world population. Between 1987 and 2007, the suicide rate increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000 with higher suicide rates in southern and eastern states of India. In 2012, Tamil Nadu (12.5% of all suicides), Maharashtra (11.9%) and West Bengal (11.0%) had the highest proportion of suicides. Among large population states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had the highest suicide rates per 100,000 people in 2012. The male to female suicide ratio has been about 2:1.

The National Mental Health Policy, announced in October, 2014, is based, inter-alia, on the values and principles of equity, justice, integrated and evidence based care, quality, participatory and holistic approach to mental health. Its goals and objectives include the following:

  • to reduce distress, disability, exclusion, morbidity and premature mortality associated with mental health problems across life-span of a person,
  • to enhance understanding of mental health in the country,
  • to provide universal access to mental health care,
  • to increase access to mental health services for vulnerable groups,
  • to reduce risk and incidence of suicide and attempted suicide,
  • to ensure respect for rights and protection from harm of persons with mental health problems, and reduce stigma associated with mental health problems
  • to enhance availability and distribution of skilled human resources for mental health.

Along with this social and care systems aid in better Mental Health of the Nation in following ways :-
Suicide though can be attributed to neural disorder the psychological aspects like thwarted sense of belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, sense of fearlessness about bones deed when exaggerate owing to lack of care systems the suicidal tendencies come out in practicality.

The diminished and extensive social connections or low and high integration with society and suicide are integrately linked as shown by Emile Durkheim. The more a person is isolated from social systems the more he will be at risk of suicidal tendencies.

The multiplicity of seemingly intractable material and existential problems results in turmoil, followed by confusion and apathy that invokes feelings of distance, unquietness and feeling trapped.

Inability to grapple with the complexity of economic and social pressures of survival and conformity seem to result in an all-pervasive sense of hopelessness. A breakdown in safety nets augments social vulnerabilities and builds insurmountable distress.

70% of persons who died by suicide in India lived on an annual income of Rs. 1 lakh. This shows States that maintains social equilibrium safeguards essential interests of the disadvantaged through uninterrupted investments in health, education and social sectors can have less rate of suicide.

Way forward :-

The Bhore Committee had stated that every Indian should be able to access health care without the humiliation of proving their financial status, or the bitterness of accepting charity.

In the case of the ultra-poor living with mental health issues, targeted social interventions such as the disability allowance, an entitlement, that helps mediate struggles of deprivation, and by extension, exclusion, mandated by the Mental Health Care Act and the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, must be better streamlined, adopting an integrated single window health and social care system that will minimize cumbersome bureaucracy.

At a societal level, widening gaps linked to power and control may have defeated values of empathy and engaged compassion. Within families and across social groups, a mutual sense of responsibility and affiliation towards each other must be reinforced, through rituals and culture, social training or self-learning. Being kinder helps save lives and even as we celebrate diversity and agency, values of interdependence have to be strengthened.

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

4) What is the Act East policy? How can India improve better environmental diplomacy in the region with key stakeholder governments? Discuss. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- India’s Act East Policy focusses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region. The policy which was originally conceived as an economic initiative, has gained political, strategic and cultural dimensions including establishment of institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation.

The Objective of ”Act East Policy” is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels thereby providing enhanced connectivity to the States of North Eastern Region including Arunanchal Pradesh with other countries in our neighbourhood.

Efforts to make better environmental diplomacy in region :-

  • India has upgraded its relations to strategic partnership with Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, Singapore and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and forged close ties with all countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Further, apart from ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS), India has also been actively engaged in regional fora such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
  • Act East Policy has placed emphasis on India-ASEAN cooperation in our domestic agenda on infrastructure, manufacturing, trade, skills, urban renewal, smart cities, Make in India and other initiatives. Connectivity projects, cooperation in space, S&T and people-to-people exchanges could become a springboard for regional integration and prosperity. 

Diverse steps needed and being taken by government of India :-

  • The ASEAN-India Plan of Action for the period 2016-20 has been adopted in August 2015 which identifies concrete initiatives and areas of cooperation along the three pillars of political-security, economic and socio-cultural.
  • India continues with stepped up efforts to forge closer partnership with concerned regional and Multilateral organisation such as ASEAN, ARF, EAS, BIMSTEC, ACD, MCG and IORA.
  • On the Civilizational front, Buddhist and Hindu links could be energized to develop new contacts and connectivity between people.
  • On Connectivity, special efforts are being made to develop a coherent strategy, particularly for linking ASEAN with our North East.
  • Measures, including building transport infrastructure, encouraging airlines to enhance connectivity in the region, contacts between academic and cultural institutions are underway.
  • Our economic engagement with ASEAN has been stepped up – regional integration and implementation of projects are priorities.
  • The ASEAN-India Agreement on Trade in Service and Investments has entered into force for India and seven ASEAN countries from 1 July 2015. The ASEAN-India Trade Negotiating Committee has been tasked to undertake a review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement.
  • India has also invited ASEAN member states to participate in the International Solar Alliance which it has co-launched with France on 30 November 2015 at COP-21.
  • On strategic issues, we have increasing convergence on security interests with key partners both in bilateral and multilateral format. Closer cooperation in combating terrorism, collaborating for peace and stability in the region and promotion of maritime security based on international norms and laws are being pursued.

Topic:   Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary

5) Transparency in Higher Judicial Appointments and Transfers need to balance the Independence of Judiciary and impose sufficient Accountability. Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- A judiciary which considers the rule of law a part of its basic structure must abandon the culture of secrecy that envelops the appointment process.  The issues of judicial appointment must be addressed in tandem with those of accountability and transparency.

The right to know is part of the freedom of speech and expression and the present secretive system as implemented by the collegium violates this fundamental right.

The present secretive process followed by the collegium excludes public scrutiny, violates the citizen’s right to know and leads to diminishing respect for the judiciary.

Key principles that need to be disclosed to ensure transparency and accountability in appointment process :-

  • Transparent criteria for eligibility as well as for shortlisting and selection (like age, standing, income, etc)
  • A complete and periodically updated database of potential candidates that includes their qualification, performance, general reputation, etc and which is accessible to the public.
  • Applications to be invited by nomination/advertisement.
  • Consultation with members of the Bar and Bar organisations.
  • Inputs sought from the public with regard to shortlisted candidates.
  • Absolute immunity to citizens, while giving their inputs in a confidential manner, from laws of contempt and defamation.
  • Reasons for selection to be recorded and disclosed when required.

All democracies are swiftly moving toward an open government and a citizen’s right to know an international trend increasingly being supported by judicial decisions.  The judiciary is an independent constitutional authority in its own right, just as Parliament and just as the executive. Independent, harmonious functioning in an accountable and transparent manner is required of all three wings. Non-negotiable should be a threshold level of independence of the judiciary from the executive and Parliament, accountability of judges in their functioning to the public at large, and transparency in the functioning of the judiciary that enables the public at large to appreciate why the institution works the way it does.


Topic:   Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act. 

6) India’s system of elections known as the first-past-the-post is often alleged to be unfair. Do you agree? Should this system be replaced by an alternative? Comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- A first-past-the-post (abbreviated as FPTP, 1stP, 1PTP or FPP) voting method is one in which voters indicate on a ballot the candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins: this is described as winner takes all. First-past-the-post voting is one of several plurality voting methods. It is a common, but not universal, feature of electoral systems with single-member electoral divisions, and is practiced in close to one third of countries. Notable examples include CanadaIndiaPakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as most of their current or former colonies and protectorates.

A parliamentary standing committee has initiated discussion on India’s system of elections. In order to understand the fairness of first past the post system one needs to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages :-

  • It’s simple to understand.
  • It doesn’t cost much to administer.
  • It’s is fairly quick to count the votes and work out who has won; meaning results can be declared relatively quickly after the polls close.
  • In a political environment, FPTP enables voters to clearly express a view on which party they think should form the next government.


Disadvantages :-

  • Representatives can get elected with small amounts of public support, as the size of the winning margin is irrelevant: what matters is only that they get more votes than other candidates.
  • FPTP encourages tactical voting, as voters often vote not for the candidate they most prefer, but against the candidate they most dislike.
  • FPTP is regarded as wasteful, as votes cast in a constituency for losing candidates, or for the winning candidate above the level they need to win that seat, count for nothing.
  • Rather than allocating seats in line with actual support, FPTP rewards parties with what is often termed ‘lumpy’ support; that is, with just enough votes to win in each particular area. With smaller parties, this works in favour of those with centralised support.
  • With relatively small constituency sizes, the way boundaries are drawn can have important effects on the election result.


Should it be replaced with alternative :-

  • Proportional system :- wherein parties are allotted seats in proportion to the votes they poll. Small parties and new entrants often find it hard to register victories at the constituency level. List system will allow them to have some voice and wont discriminate them with advantages enjoyed by established parties. it would genuinely encourage a multi-party system 

Disadvantages :-

  • Gives rise to coalition governments and a fragmented party system i.e. Less stable government.
  • The inability of the voter to enforce accountability by throwing a party out of power or a particular candidate out of office.
  • Difficulties either for voters to understand or for the electoral administration to implement depending on voter’s education and training of poll workers.


Way forward :-

With the flaws in FPTP increasingly becoming exposed, the time to look at alternative models has come. It is not supposed to altogether negate FPTP or completely adopt alternative system but reforms are needed. Now that the parliamentary committee has set in motion this serious debate, one hopes that the electoral system itself would be taken up as a key reform. Moreover, considering that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pressed electoral reforms as a priority political agenda—addressing issues such as transparency of political funding and simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state legislative assembles—he should not miss this opportunity to reform the electoral system.

Topic:  Environmental pollution; Conservation 

7) Global Environmental Policy need stability as much as it needs consensus. With reference to the Paris Agreement, identify the key outcomes of the same with India’s take towards them. (200 Words)

The Hindu


Introduction :- The Paris Agreement or Paris climate accord or Paris climate agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigationadaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.  

The 23rd UNFCCC conference being held at Bonn in Germany. The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA), which was negotiated at COP-21.

Treats of instability and inconsistency :-

  • In June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United Statesfrom the agreement, causing widespread condemnation both internationally and domestically. Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020.
  • There is speculation whether the formal withdrawal of the U.S. would alter the stance taken by Europe, Australia, and large countries at the COP and what role, if any, the U.S. would play behind the scenes.
  • The target set in COP21 refers to adhering limits of 1.5 Celsius. However many scientist and scholars argue that this limit is no way suitable to the changing challenges of global warming. Soon planet needs to prepare to limit 4 Celsius fall in temperature.

India’s stance :-

  • India is responsible for 6% of the global CO2 emissions following China, which accounts for 28%, the United States for 16% and the European Union 10%. In terms of per capita CO2 emissions, 10 other countries are ahead of India.
  • As part of the initial commitments to the agreement, India also plans to reduce its carbon emission intensity – emission per unit of GDP – by 33-35% from 2005 levels over 15 years. It aims at producing 40% of its installed electricity capacity by 2030 from non-fossil fuels.
  • This would mean India will have to shift significantly from coal-based power generation to renewable energy sources. It will have to produce 100 gigawatt from solar, 60 gigawatt from wind, 10 gigawatt from biomass and 5 gigawatt from small hydropower by 2022.


Additional information :-

Bonn meet agenda :-

  • The meetings in Bonn will cover a wide range of issues, including adjusting to living in a warmer world with the associated impacts, known as adaptation to climate change and reduction in greenhouse gases, referred to as mitigation.
  • They will also include sessions on loss and damage, or the means of addressing economic and non-economic forfeitures and potential injury associated with climate change.
  • Finally, the discussions will be about the implementation of targets that were decided by each country ahead of the Paris meeting, referred to as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and the finance, capacity building and technology transfer required by developing countries from rich nations.


Topic: Ethics in human actions; Attitude

8) Religious ignorance is better than moral quietness. Comment.(150 Words)

Introduction :- Religion and ethics, morals are the integral part of a person’s life. When it is about our country then it forms the bedrock of day to day life. Religion defines the way of life but ethics defines how to live life. Hence when it comes to their comparison religious ignorance is better than moral quietness.

  • If a person doesn’t know about religion then it’s accepted as so many people are atheist in this world but if a person doesn’t know about moral, ethics then it’s become not only difficult to accept but also can create problems in society. For ex if a person indulges into corrupt practices and do harmful actions to state and people.
  • Being religiously ignorant might not cause hazard to others like if a person doesn’t read scripture, doesn’t go to worship places it’s the person only who will get affected by ignoring good teachings in scriptures or not experiencing peace, spirituality of worship places but moral quietness of a person may harm society at large like people remained quite even if they saw horrific and widespread episodes of Sati in 19th century India. It was moral disobedience of people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy which brought changes.
  • Moral quietness results into increased bad elements, corrupt practices, anti social norms, societal disharmony and intolerance in society For ex. Lynching cases are nothing but result of moral quietness of people.

Hence one must try to be ethically morally vocal in order to contribute a bit and bring changes in present system.