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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:  Salient features of Indian society

1) What do you understand by cultural capital? Discuss its importance in society such as India. (150 Words)



Cultural Capital

  • Cultural capital is a form of power beyond the economic form, and is exercised through different non-economic goods and services such as information, articulation, education, and aesthetics
  • It helps to understand the existence of power and domination within society, through cultural stratification, and to argue that success can be better explained by the inheritance of cultural capital from the family, rather than through individual talent.


Social Mobility in India

  • Understanding social mobility in the Indian context is a challenge, since the social structure in India has evolved with features of both caste and class within its fold
  • The class-like characteristics found in the caste system and vice versa, make the phenomenon more complex. 
  • There is lack of cultural capital, in all its forms, in the cases of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), as well as rural residents, restricts their upward intergenerational social mobility, and instead paves the way for downward social mobility in the competitive market situation
  • Abundant cultural capital comes from within the family, if an individual belongs to a relatively higher caste, upper class, urban residence, where members possess better educational backgrounds.
  • Thus, access to adequate cultural capital enables the reproduction of intergenerational social mobility. On the other hand, individuals with a lower caste and/or class status, rural upbringing, poor educational background, and experiencing relative poverty, have to struggle at every step in their search for better career prospects in order to achieve upward social mobility.
  • Individuals possessing greater cultural capital also get immediate access to inspirational membership reference groups since they can access role models within the family, neighbourhood and peer groups who help shape their career aspirations right from childhood. 
  • On the other hand, those individuals without any or with very little access to any kind of cultural capital depend upon the non-membership reference groups for inspiration and motivation while identifying role models, and undergo the painful process of anticipatory socialisation.


General Studies – 2


Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,

2) Should state governments have the power to enact their own data protection laws? Substantiate. (250 Words)

The Wire


Determining which list should contain a particular subject

  • None of the entries in the schedule specifically mention the subject matter of data protection. This does not automatically mean that it falls within the residuary subject matter
  • Courts use the test of “pith and substance” to identify the essence of a legislation and identify which of the entries in the three lists best covers the issue.  
  • This doctrine was recognised by the Supreme Court in its early days in the case of The State of Bombay and Another vs F.N. Balsara where the court had to decide on whether the Bombay Prohibition Act was within the ambit of List I or List II.

The ‘pith and substance’ of a data protection law

  • The “pith and substance” of a data protection law is a slightly complicated issue because such a law deals with records which are an intrinsic part of every aspect of governance and administration. There are, however, a few parliamentary legislations which deal exclusively with data and information held by the government and those can serve as a starting point for the discussion.
  • The pith and substance of a data protection law, in the context of the state, is basically the right to regulate access to state records. 


Reasons for allowing states to make data protection laws


  1. Regulation of public data under the state control
  • When it comes to records maintained by the state government in context of state taxes, financial records, state services governed by state laws, employment records of state employees, land records, educational records and lower court records, a data protection law can be enacted only by the state legislature and not the parliament. 

     2.Regualtion of private data of sectors in the state list

  • The next question to be examined is that of data protection for the private sector
  • The question of a central or state law will again depend on which legislature can regulate that particular sector under Schedule VII
  • So, for example, Entry 31 of List I covers, “post, telephone, telegraph, wireless, broadcast” etc. This clearly means that the parliament will have the right to enact a data protection law for the telecom and internet sector regulating how that data may be accessed or used
  • Same goes for Aadhaar, which is a centrally-funded project.
  • However, for other sectors like hospitals, hotels, casinos which fall under List II, where only the state legislature enacts legislation creating the public/private record, it is only the state legislature that can enact a data protection law
  • The pith and substance in these cases is regulation of those sectors and transparency or secrecy of those records goes to the core of regulating any particular sector. 
  • Any other outcome will lead to a rather strange scenario where states can regulate certain sectors without having the power to define the transparency of those sectors.

     3.Decentralisation of information for policy formulation needed

  • This may become a prickly issue between the Centre and the states in light of the State Resident Data Hubs (SRDHs) that will be a goldmine of data for state governments from a financial perspective as well as a surveillance perspective. 
  • These hubs will contain data of all beneficiaries of various government schemes and as the system is populated with more data, it will become a critical tool of governance. 
  • Allowing states to retain control over the SRDHs will help to prevent this concentration of information.

     4.International experience

  • Other countries with a federal scheme of governance follow a similar template for data regulation. 
  • Germany, for example, has different data regulation laws at the federal and provincial level. 
  • The same is true for the US, where the Privacy Act, 1974 regulates only the federal government’s records, while different states have their own privacy laws based on either common law or state constitutions. 


Topic:   Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

3) The recent 2G scam verdict by special CBI court reflects incapacity of the state and its institutions. Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express



Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court’s reasoning in order cancelling 122 licenses in 2G case was internally incoherent. 
  • Its perception of arbitrariness was shaped by the public perception that ministerial corruption may have been involved. 
  • It tried to do Parliament’s work by taking a call on a petition based on a CAG report, and thus elevated the CAG report to a definitive document that it is not



  • The judgment is an indictment of the bureaucracy. 
  • It argues the bureaucracy does not understand the rules it drafts, its notes to ministers are unclear, if not deliberately misleading. It creates a fog of convoluted reasoning that obscures the issues. 
  • But bureaucratic responsibility now seems to be supplanting ministerial responsibility. In the coal scam, where there was an indictment, bureaucrats, not ministers, were held responsible. Even here, something similar is going on. Part of the reason the prime minister is absolved of responsibility is based on the idea that the bureaucrat’s note was five pages long and convoluted and the PM cannot possibly be expected to have command of the details. As a factual matter, this may be true, but one has to wonder what ramifications this has for bureaucracy-minister relationships. The courts seem to be giving politicians benefit of the doubt more than bureaucrats.



  • The third institutional loser is the CAG-Parliament relationship. 
  • The CAG’s reports are, in our constitutional scheme, not meant to be definitive. They are to be presented to Parliament that has to take a view on them. 
  • The ability of CAG reports to spark public reaction will now be diminished.



  • While we can blame the CAG for grandstanding, we must not forget that it was parliamentary dysfunction that made it all possible. 
  • Parliamentary dysfunction is what has emboldened non-elected institutions, from the CAG to the Supreme Court, to usurp authority and exceed their brief. 
  • Parliament is the ultimate locus of accountability. If it cannot perform truth-mediating functions, or hold ministers to account, everyone will step into the breach. 
  • When Parliament abdicates, the entire administrative law and constitutional scheme gets distorted
  • No solution will be possible to this problem without restoring integrity to Parliament.

Topic:  Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

4) The judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in August 2016 in the case of Anita Thakur and Ors v Government of J&K and Ors 2007 is likely to be a landmark in constitutional actions against the state in the context of the right to protest and corresponding limits on state action. Discuss. (150 Words)




  • In 2016 in Anita Thakur and Ors v Government of J&K and Ors, the Supreme Court granted compensation to the victims of disproportionate police (state) action in quelling an unlawful assembly, for violation of the fundamental right to speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution.




  1. Right to protest
  • On issues of law, the court traced the protestors’ right to protest fromArticle 19(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d), which respectively confer on Indian citizens the right to freedom of speech, to assemble peaceably and without arms, form associations or unions, and move freely throughout the territory of India. 
  • All of these freedoms culminate in the expression of grievances through peaceful protest marches 

     2.Restrictions under the ambit of laws

  • However, with rights come duties and restrictions, and most of these rights are subject to restrictions of public order, the sovereignty and integrity of India, and security of the state, which have to be reasonable and “in the interests of” the aforementioned grounds of restrictions.
  • Court traced the legal authority that allows the state to enforce these reasonable restrictions to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973, where the substantive and procedural authorisation is stipulated. 
  • While Section 141 of the IPC deals with unlawful assembly, also covering public rallies that turn violent and unruly, Section 268 of the IPC defines “public nuisance”as any act “which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.” 
  • The CrPC authorises an executive magistrate to prohibit the repetition or continuation of public nuisance,and also permits the issuance of directions to prevent any obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or prevent any danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of public tranquility, or a riot, of an affray. 
  • In other words, force can be used, but only to the extent it is reasonable.
  • In the end, the Court, furthering the freedom of speech and expression, has categorically delivered the message that no amount of public concern can blind the adjudicating authority into allowing the executive to compromise indiscriminately the quality and efficacy of the fundamental rights granted to the citizens of this nation, which the Court is mandated to protect.
  • While the protestors had triggered the incident by taking the first step in disturbing the peace, the police had also exceeded their mandate and used excessive force even after they had controlled the group of protestors
  • Any irresponsible exercise of the power to restrict the rights of free speech and expression by the state would attract legal consequences and not mere censure.

    3.Compensation in case of contravention

  • Hence, to the extent that the fundamental right of the petitioners was compromised by police excesses, in exercise of its power under Article 32 of the Constitution (right to constitutional remedy), the Court awarded compensation to the petitioners.

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

5) Discuss critically the impact of Aadhaar on welfare programmes. (250 Words)



Aadhar to plug leakages

  • In 2010, when the first Aadhaar was issued, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the economically and socially backward people will be the biggest beneficiaries, who, till then, couldn’t avail the benefits of government welfare schemes due to lack of identity proof.
  • The founding premise of Aadhaar was to recognise the exact beneficiary of government subsidies and weed out duplicates and forgeries. But enrolling for Aadhaar was an individual’s choice.
  • Today 12-digit unique identity number has created unique problems by making it a must-have for almost every facility a citizen wants to avail, irrespective of his or her social and economic status.



  1. Accessing services through mandatory Aadhar
  • In March 2014, Supreme Court said Aadhaar was not mandatory to avail social welfare schemes.
  • But in August 2015, it agreed to make Aadhaar mandatory for cooking gas subsidy.
  • Later in October that year, it also allowed the use of Aadhaar for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme and pensions by central and state governments.
  • The same confusion prevailed over making Aadhaar-PAN linkage mandatory for filing income tax.

    2.Aadhar Bill introduced as money bill to avert debate

  • On March, 2016, the government presented Aadhaar (Delivery of Benefits, Subsidies and Services) Bill as a money bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha.
  • It also introduced last-minute amendments to the Bill to make Aadhaar mandatory.
  • The upper house recommended a provision, wherein, if an individual chooses not to enroll for Aadhaar, he should be offered “alternate and viable means of identification” for delivery of subsidy and other benefits. The Bill, however, was passed with-out considering the recommendation.

    3.Not foolproof

  • Many poor people have been excluded from dicrepencies that occur one time or anothr in Aadhar database.

    4.Privacy issue

  • Most developed countries have already dropped the idea of having Aadhaar-like identification system to protect people’s privacy.
  • Even the US, one of the first countries in the world to have a national identification number for its citizens, does not collect fingerprints or scan iris to create social security number (SSN)
  • Unlike India, the US has a privacy law that makes it unlawful for government agencies to deny benefits just because the individual refuses to disclose his SSN.

    5.Various oganisations ae relectunt

  • No office is willing to link all this information with the Centralised Data and Information System. That destroys their power.

Topic Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

6) An audit of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s premier watchdog on the food, by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) reveals gaps in the working of the body. Examine the findings of CAG and their significance. (250 Words)

Down to Earth



  • FSSAI is responsible for implementing the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006.
  • CAG found that though it has been more than a decade since the enactment of the act, FSSAI is yet to frame regulations and guidelines to govern different procedures.



CAG Findings

  • Neither FSSAI nor the state food authorities have documented policies and procedures on risk-based inspections
  • FSSAI does not even have a database on food businesses in the country. 
  • FSSAI has failed to set up well-equipped food labs in the states too. Only seven out of 72 states laboratories passed the standards issued by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories
  • There is an acute shortage of licensing and enforcement officers in the states which severely affected food safety measures. 
  • In case of renewal of the license too, FSSAI did not adhere to regulations. For example, there are cases pertaining to Central Licensing Authority (CLA), Kolkata and Guwahati, food business operators (FBOs) applied for renewal of licenses after their expiry.


Way forward

  • CAG has recommended that FSSAI should expedite the notification of regulation on areas that have been specified in the FSS Act, but are yet not covered. 
  • CAG has also recommended that the authority may frame standard operating procedures on the formulation and review of standards, and ensure that these are being followed in the near future. 
  • FSSAI would also have to ensure that all licenses issued are reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, before issuing
  • FSSAI and the state food authorities have to conduct surveys of food business activity under their jurisdiction to ensure a comprehensive and reliable database of FBOs and ensure better enforcement and administration of the FSS Act.
  • Ministry of Health and Family and Welfare should ensure accreditation of all state food laboratories, pertaining to equipment and functionality of the lab.

General Studies – 3


Topic:  Environmental pollution

7) The recently published report “Performance Audit of Rejuvenation of River Ganga” has put a question mark on the success of union government’s most ambitious programme for cleaning River Ganga. Critically examine why cleaning River Ganga remains a distant dream. (250 Words)

Down to Earth



  • The recently published report “Performance Audit of Rejuvenation of River Ganga” of (CAG) slammed the government for not performing upto the mark.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was established in August 2011 for project planning, management and implementation of activities related to river Ganga.
  • The CAG audit is the first attempt to assess the impact of NMCG on management of the river.




  1. Underutilisation of funds
  • The report found that Rs 2500 crore sanctioned to different government organisations and public sector undertakings has not been utilised.
  • From the corpus of Rs 198.14 crore (as of March 31, 2017) available in the Clean Ganga Fund, money was not utilised due to non-finalisation of action plan.
  • Funds released by NMCG for construction of individual household latrines, information, education and communication activities and management of solid and liquid waste were not utilised by all five states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 
  • Only Uttarakhand achieved the target of construction of 100 per cent Individual household latrines. But in Uttarakhan too, the pace of solid and liquid waste management was slow and restricted to only to 13 Gram Panchayats.

     2.Non implementation of projects

  • The report highlighted delay and non-implementation of project related to cleaning of the river, installation of sewage treatment plants, and construction of toilets in households.
  • Only Uttarakhand has undertaken initiatives to identify the River Conservation Zones. 
  • For pollution abatement and ghat cleaning, sewage treatment plants, interception and diversion projects and canal works are delayed in execution as land was not available or clearances could not be procured or contractors were slow.

    3.Shortage of manpower

  • The programme suffers from overall shortage of manpower. 

    4.Monitoring in shambles

  • The monitoring meeting did not happen on prescribed frequency. 
  • The implementation of Bhuvan Ganga, a web portal which was conceptualised to enable execution and monitoring of projects was slow
  • Along with this, the role of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in monitoring and evaluation was also ambiguous as only 7.44 per cent of the sanctioned amount has been utilised. 
  • Improper management and implementation dilutes the concept of improving water quality. Total coliform bacteria levels in all the cities of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal ranged between 6 to 334 times higher than prescribed levels.


Way forward

  • The audit provides a set of 12 recommendations for realistic planning, better functioning of funds, strict monitoring and evaluation and management of goals to make river Ganga clean. 


  1. Timely release of funds
  • CAG says that major focus should be on the timely release of funds particularly Clean Ganga Fund

     2.Conceptualise plan and implement

  • NMCG should also finalise Ganga River Basin Management Plan and implement it in a time bound manner. 

    3.Streamline appraisal process

  • The appraisal process should be kept smooth and proceed in time bound manner. 

    4.Identify Conservation Zones

  • NMCG should also identify and declare River Conservation Zones 

    5.Capacity building to tackle sewerages

  • NMCG should address the capacity gaps of sewerages, in order to conserve the River Ganga from encroachment and construction activities.

Topic:   Achievements of Indians in science & technology;

8) Discuss the relevance of works and life of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


Srinivas Ramanujan, born in British Raj in 1887 was an Indian mathematician who is known for his contributions to number theory, mathematical analysis, infinite series & theta functions. His birthday is celebrated in India as National Mathematics Day.


  • Ramanujan was the first Indian fellow of Trinity College, London. Being selected at the age of 30, he was also one of the youngest fellows in the history of Royal Society. These facts still inspire the Indians, specially those working in the field of science & mathematics.
  • Though not having proper formal education in mathematics, Ramanujan was interested in the wonderful ‘game’ of maths & his interest got reflected into his research. This research attracted the eyes of the Indian & western mathematicians. So he was called to Cambridge where he worked on Mock theta functions.
  • Ramanujan Prime, Theta functions & many more mathematical formulas were his original contribution. After his death, the mathematicians all over the world are surprised to see the work on such formulas by Ramanujan in that time.
  • The scientists & mathematicians are working to use the research of Ramanujan to find out more facts about black-holes & formation of Universe.

Topic: Awareness in biotechnology

 9)How can DNA analysis help identify the identity of people who built the Indus Valley Civilisation? In the light of recent excavations carried out at Rakhigarhi, analyse. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • The many puzzles of ancient human history lies in ancient DNA (aDNA). But it was only within the last eight years or so that technology advanced enough for geneticists to confidently sequence aDNA extracted out of human skeletons that are thousands or even tens of thousands of years old.
  • But one problem still remained: DNA preserves far better in cold climates than in warm climates and, therefore, all the early aDNA studies were done on fossils recovered from cold regions
  • Extracting and analysing aDNA in Africa, India or West Asia remained a formidable challenge
  • In 2014, it was found that DNA taken from the inner ear region of the petrous bone could yield up to 100 times more DNA than other skeletal elements – a vital advantage, especially in poor DNA-preservation contexts. 
  • This discovery was followed by the development of new techniques to enrich the extracted DNA and filter out microbial and non-informative human DNA


Rakhigari remains

  • Four ancient skeletons excavated from a village called Rakhigarhi in Haryana. 
  • The four people to whom these bones once belonged — a couple, a boy and a man — lived roughly 4,600 years ago when the Indus Valley civilisation was in full bloom. 
  • The site was excavated and the skeletons were recovered in the beginning of 2014 
  • The DNA analysis will also help figure out their height, body features, and even the colour of their eyes. 
  • Once the skeletons are excavated, they should be documented and packed for analysis immediately. 


Identification of Indus Valley people


Scenario 1: The Harappans as Vedic Aryans

  • In the ancient DNA from Rakhigarhi, if scientists identify R1a, one of the hundreds of Y-DNA haplogroups (or male lineages that are passed on from fathers to sons). 
  • They also identify H2b — one of the hundreds of mt-DNA haplogroups (or female lineages that are passed on from mothers to daughters) — that has often been found in proximity to R1a.
  • Such a finding would go against the current understanding of the spread of Indo-European languages across Eurasia and also against current genetic evidence. 
  • R1a is the haplogroup most closely associated with Indo-European language speakers in a vast swathe of the Eurasian landmass, ranging from Ireland and the U.K. to Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Iran and northern India
  • In the majority of European countries, especially in central and eastern Europe, R1a has a frequency of 40-60%. 
  • In India, it has a frequency of about 17.5% — it is most common among north Indian Brahmins and least common among the tribals and the northeastern populations.

Scenario 2: The Harappans as West Asian migrants who may have brought the Dravidian languages to India

  • If scientists discover Y-DNA haplogroups J2 and L1a among the Rakhigarhi residents, along with mt-DNA haplogroups such as HV, K1 and T1
  • All these haplogroups are often associated with the origins and spread of agriculture and urbanisation in the earliest cradle of human civilisation, the Fertile Crescent in West Asia
  • Non-discovery of R1a and the discovery of haplogroups with West Asian affinities would suggest that when the Indus Valley civilisation was thriving, Indo-European language speakers were not present on location.

Scenario 3: The original settlers of India as Harappans

  • If scientists discover Y-DNA haplogroup H and mt-DNA haplogroups M2 and M36 in the Rakhigrahi ancient DNA. 
  • All these haplogroups are indisputably autochthonous, or indigenous
  • In other words, they are descendant lineages of the original OOA migrants. These lineages are spread far and wide across India today, though they vary significantly in their distribution
  • Female mt-DNA haplogroups that are descended from the OOA migrants dominate the Indian population with a frequency of 70-80% today, while Y-DNA lineages of the same descent are present at a far lower percentage, of around 10-40%, depending on the population group. This asymmetry is not necessarily surprising — male lineages die out and get replaced at a faster rate than female lineages because of the male-biased nature of human conflicts and wars, at least from the Neolithic period onwards.

Scenario 4: The Mundas in the Indus Valley

  • If scientists discover Y-DNA haplogroup O2a and mt-DNA haplogroup M4a in the Rakhigarhi ancient DNA. 
  • These haplogroups are associated with the speakers of Austro-Asiatic languages such as Mundari, Santali and Khasi. These haplogroups and related languages are also present in Southeast Asia
  • In India, speakers of these languages are currently found mostly in Central and East India

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. 


This quote is from Buddha.


We are often driven by our desires, belief, passions and prejudices which are the result of our constant thought process and evaluation of our surrounding. We strongly tend to comply with ourselves so as to avoid cognitive dissonance. This compliance results in our personality formation and we consciously or unconsciously affect people accordingly.


Constant thinking subconsciously triggers us to act in a particular way, by making our thoughts pure and as per the standards of society we will proved to be an asset for society. Our perception about the world and likely compliance all depends on our thought process.


Hitler used his destructive thinking power while Gandhi ji through the use of Ahinsa and Satyagraha  germinated the anti-colonial yoke in the psyche of the masses.


 In India,  our ancient culture aspired to have purest thoughts for the “vasudev kutumbkam”. The purity of thoughts has also been advocated in Vedas.

The greatest accomplishments in science and the spiritual world have been from people freeing their minds and opening themselves up to new ideas and concepts. Infact the progress of our society depends on our aggregate thinking.


Therefore it is imperative to use our thoughts judiciously which focuses towards love , empathy,compassion ,solidarity,benevolence ,integrity,emotional intelligence,transparency, honesty,accountability etc towards one another and to refrain from thoughts which holds us back which might create hatred,intolerance,crimes, exploitation,dissent etc.

Impeccable integrity can lead to more transparency, accountability, no to favoritism & nepotism or despotism

Similarly love can lead to more lesser violence, more tolerance, easy going around, no hatred, humanity as supreme etc 

Our shallow ideology and stubbornness can lead to mass exodus world at the verge of destruction like in West Asia or Myanmar can spread peace & prosperity and happiness. So repercussions is we the Human has to face, can also state environment destruction and nations thinking about it.