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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:   Poverty and developmental issues; 

1) We need to articulate why education is most crucial for removal of poverty, and for India’s development. Why and how we need to articulate the role of education in development? Discuss. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


Education plays a significant role in the overall development of a person so naturally it helps in the country’s development with improvement in social indicators ,reduction of poverty etc

Why Education  is important for removal of poverty and India’s Development:-

  • Education is the tool which alone can inculcate national and cultural values and liberate people of false prejudice, ignorance and representations.
  • Education provides them required knowledge, technique, skill and information and enables them to know their rights and duties towards their family, their society and towards their motherland at large.
  • Education expands their vision and outlook, provokes the spirit of healthy competition and a desire to advance for the achievements of their consciousness regenerating truth, and thereby capability to fight injustice, corruption, violence, disparity and communalism, the greatest hazards to the progress of the nation.
  • Quality education is today’s need as it is the development of  intellectual skills  and knowledge  which will equip learners to fulfill the needs of professionals, decision makers and trainers. 
  • Education provides many opportunities in various fields for the development of the country. Education makes people independent, builds confidence and self-esteem, which is very important for the development of a country. 
  • The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report:-
    • 171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills. That’s equivalent to a 12% drop in the world total.
  • Education increases individual earnings
    • Education increases earnings by roughly 10% per each additional year of schooling
  • Education reduces economic inequalities
    • If workers from poor and rich backgrounds received the same education, disparity between the two in working poverty could decrease by 39%.
  • Education promotes economic growth:-
    • No country in the world has achieved rapid and consistent economic growth without at least 40 percent of its adult population being literate.
  • The creation of green industries will rely on high-skilled, educated workers. Agriculture contributes 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. Primary and secondary education can provide future farmers with critical knowledge about sustainability challenges in agriculture.
  • Education benefits people’s health throughout their entire lives, from a mother’s pre-birth lifestyle to the likelihood of developing diseases later in life.
    • Women with at least six years of education are more likely to use prenatal vitamins and other useful tactics during pregnancy, thus reducing the risk of maternal or infant mortality. 
  • Education has proven to benefit women and girls at a higher rate than boys. The empowerment that girls receive from an education both personally and economically is unmatched by any other factor.

How to do it:-

  • Education is a means to secure employment hence there is need to encourage and expand avenues for vocational training.
  • Make the problem visible
    • Regular assessments are needed to measure progress in learning .India should participate regularly in international assessments so as to set goals and benchmark its performance and progress.
    • The quality of national assessments should be improved and third party assessors like Annual Status on Education Report and Educational Initiatives should be encouraged to provide periodic feedback.
    • The District Information System for Education (DISE) system should be upgraded to a ‘Student Progress Tracking System’ which will track learning levels of individual children and provide diagnostic data to serve as a basis for improvement to schools and teachers. 
  • Build systemic and institutional capacity by strengthening research on learning and building teacher strength .
  • The focus on students, parents and teachers is on maximising exam marks and not on learning, which needs to be corrected by having Board Exams that measure learning.
  • Implement the recommendations of Subramanian report especially giving precedence to merit.


In India schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, RTE, encouraging creative ability by Stand Up India etc are steps in the right direction to make education the tool which enables light for many.


Topic:   Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc

2) What are subduction zone volcanoes? Why their study is important? Examine. (150 Words)

The Wire

Subduction zone volcanoes :-

  • Most observed volcanic activity takes place along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region around the Pacific Ocean where several tectonic plates meet, causing earthquakes and a chain of what geologists call subduction zone volcanoes.
  • Subduction zone volcanism occurs where two plates are converging on one another. One plate containing oceanic lithosphere descends beneath the adjacent plate, thus consuming the oceanic lithosphere into the earth’s mantle. This on-going process is called 
  • As the descending plate bends downward at the surface, it creates a large linear depression called an oceanic trench.
  • Example, forming the northern rim of the Ring of Fire, is the Aleutian trench.

  • The Pacific plate descends into the mantle at the site of the Aleutian trench. Subduction zone volcanism here has generated the Aleutian island chain of active volcanoes.
  • As the subducting slab descends to greater and greater depths, it progressively encounters greater temperatures and greater pressures which cause the slab to release water into the mantle wedge overlying the descending plate.
  • Magma rises upward to produce a linear belt of volcanoes parallel to the oceanic trench, as exemplified in the above image of the Aleutian Island chain. The chain of volcanoes is called an island arc.
  • If the oceanic lithosphere subducts beneath an adjacent plate of continental lithosphere, then a similar belt of volcanoes will be generated on continental crust. This belt is then called a volcanic arc, examples of which include the Cascade volcanic arc of the U.S. Pacific northwest, and the Andes volcanic arc of South America.


Island arc formed by oceanic-oceanic subduction  

Volcanic arc formed by oceanic-continental subduction

  • The volcanoes produced by subduction zone volcanism are typically stratovolcanoes.

Why is their study important :-

  • It is the frequent, small to moderate-sized eruptions that pose a constant volcanic threat. Around the globe today, about 800m people live within 100km and 29m within 10km of active volcanoes.
  • Other threats include potentially deadly landslides, falling rocky ash, and inundation by toxic gases that can be triggered by volcanic eruptions.
  • Beyond human safety, there are huge economic concerns.
  • Monitoring of these volcanoes is extremely important to the aviation industry.
  • Volcanoes continue to play an important role by adding to the Earth’s water supply and forming new islands.
  • Volcanic eruptions may slow climate change by releasing aerosols that help block sunlight into the Earth’s stratosphere, according to a Nature Geoscience study mentioned in Time magazine.
  • Subduction zone volcanoes
    • are generally violent volcanoes as overriding of plates creates blockage for molten lava (unlike the volcanoes that are created during plate divergence) and this blockage precisely decides the intensity of eruption.
    • Due to plate overriding the magma is expected to travel larger distance within the earth’s crust. Hence, during the process it becomes highly viscous.
  • Geologists conjure that the violent volcanic activities in the Ring of fire area is because the region is very close to numerous tectonic plates that are frequently subjected to subduction.

General Studies – 2

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

3) India and China hold the key to the emerging global political economy. How can both countries, especially India, ensure that the Asian century belongs to them? Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • The world is witnessing the rise of developing countries like India and China and the age of developed countries is coming in to an end with rising protectionism, fastest growing economies being from Asian countries.

How they hold the key :-

  • India and China hold the key to the emerging global political economy. Joining the U.S. and other advanced economies in closing up will only lead to slower growth.
  • With international institutions like IMF and WB,WTO losing significance the formation of new banks like AIIB and NDB put India and China in the forefront.
  • The growing clout in the UN of these countries especially India is visible
  • The recent election of Judges in International court of justice put India again in the forefront which for the first time Britain does not have a judge in the court showing the growing power of India.
  • BRICS is fast becoming an influential political forum for the world’s new powers.
    • Experts suggest that by 2030, the BRICS would account for 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.
  • China and India are first and third in the world GDP pecking order, based on purchasing power parity.
  • China recently almost tripled its contribution to the United Nations budget, increased Chinese peacekeepers by several thousand, and committed several billion dollars in aid for the poorest countries to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals
  • India’s rise in Southeast Asia:-
    • First, there are no territorial disputes between India and its immediate neighbours in Southeast Asia.
    • Despite India’s more advanced military capabilities, New Delhi is not claiming the mantle of leadership there but prefers to work in accordance with the local norms and mores.

How can they ensure that Asian century belongs to them?

  • India and China, as the two fastest growing major economies, need to engage with each other and with other willing partner nations, particularly in the East Asia and the Pacific region (including advanced economies like Japan and Australia), to maintain openness and embrace globalisation.
    • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is one forum where this engagement can happen.
  • India can engage on free trade and free investment in other groups like the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan) and via these groups with the entire ASEAN region.
  • India, China and the rest of the region need to look beyond rivalry and defensiveness to explore the possibilities of economic integration .
  • China has acquiesced in India’s participation in the East Asia Summit and India has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. While Asia is devoid of meaningful security institutions, interlocking economic and trade relationships could knit China and India closer together.
  • India needs to embrace an export-oriented development strategy acknowledging the importance of global market for merchandise trade
  • There is much room for intra-BRICS cooperation. The civilian aviation sector where China and India will provide most of the world expansion is one. 
  • China and India have broadly similar interests and approaches on a wide range of international questions, from most issues of international peace and security to the principles of world trade and the ways and means of coping with globalisation.
    • They have already begun working together in multinational forums on such issues as 
    • Climate change and environment protection
    • Have no real differences on matters like encouraging biodiversity
    • Promoting population control
    • Combating transnational crime.etc All of these areas provide a realistic basis for further long-term multilateral cooperation.
    • China-India cooperation could also improve on the issues of piracy, oil spills and other international environmental issues. Both share a mutual interest in keeping open the sea lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean
    • Multilateral issues like nuclear disarmament and arms races in outer space, human-trafficking and natural disasters are issues on which the two countries could play mutually supportive roles, take joint responsibility and contribute to the establishment of new rules in the global system.
  • China can be more open to India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and similar international bodies as well showing the congruence of interests of both countries.


Despite having divergent ideas to handle international terrorism and the China –Pakistan axis there are many ways India and China can cooperate and see that that Asian century belongs to them.


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

4) To fully understand what secularism in the Indian context means, we must read the Constitution in its entirety. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • India is witnessing a growth of intolerance in the society and insecurity among the minority communities whether India is really secular and recently statements by an elected representative put this question in the forefront again.

Why constitution needs to be read in entirety to understand secularism?

  • According to some India has never been a secular state because the Constitution, as it was originally adopted, did not contain the word “secular”. They also point to B.R. Ambedkar’s pointed rejection of proposals during the Constitution’s drafting to have the word “secular” included in the Preamble.
  • However Secularism is inbuilt in the foundations of constitutionalism. Constitution doesn’t acquire its secular character merely from the words in the Preamble, but from a collective reading of many of its provisions, particularly the various fundamental rights that it guarantees.
  • Other provisions included in the Constitution which show the secular nature of it are:
    • Freedom of Religion as guaranteed under article 25, 26,27 and 28, supporting the idea of practicing any religious practice as long as it does not harm the social and moral order of society.
    • Article 29 and 30 provides special protection to religious minorities and their educational institutions.
    • Article 44 in DPSP makes a constitutional obligation on State to bring uniform civil code.
    • Article 51A call upon the citizens to upholds principles of fraternity and brotherhood, and to endure religious diversities
  • Not mentioning secular word in the constitution was not on account of any scepticism that the drafters might have had on the values of secularism. The assembly virtually took for granted India’s secular status.
  • Constitutional makers felt that any republic that purports to grant equality before the law to all its citizens, that purports to recognise people’s rights to free speech, to a freedom of religion and conscience simply cannot be un-secular.
  • There have also been instances under which judiciary made wide interpretation of Constitution and provided judgements related to Secularism as well.

Secularism in India (Extra) :-

  • Within the Assembly, there existed a conflict between two differing visions of secularism:
    • One that called for a complete wall of separation between state and religion
    • Second demanded that the state treat every religion with equal respect.
    • A study of the Constitution reveals that ultimately it was the latter vision that prevailed.
  • Secularism in the Indian setting calls for is the maintenance of a “principled distance” between state and religion. This does not mean that the state cannot intervene in religion and its affairs, but that any intervention should be within the limitations prescribed by the Constitution.
  • According to K.M. Munshi the non-establishment clause (of the U.S. Constitution ) was inappropriate to Indian conditions as Indian state could not possibly have a state religion, nor could a rigid line be drawn between the state and the church as in the U.S


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

5) Adequate ethical commitment to excellence is holding our nation back from achieving large-scale global academic excellence which is commensurate with our intellectual heritage and calibre. Comment.  (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • Indian higher educational institutions/ universities (HEIs) have slipped further in global rankings, with none making it to the top 250 according to the latest such ranking so bringing into the light the need for excellence in the educational institutions in India.

What is stopping India from achieving large scale global academic excellence:-

  • In India it is rarely appreciated that excellence is an ethical issue.
  • In western countries there is a sincere and stated commitment to cultivating excellence as a goal. Contrasting this with the academic ethos in India raises uncomfortable questions.
  • In western countries when it comes to teaching staff loss of the candidate to a rival institution is considered a serious failure, as excellence is seen to be a precious commodity, with the heads of such institutions held accountable.In India, in contrast, excellence is at best one of multiple criteria in faculty hiring.
  • Appointment to important posts in the universities:-
    • In India  it may be perceived by potential candidates that being in the good books of the person appointing is important. This creates distortions  from some good candidates not applying to some lobbying for posts. This has created a general perception that factors other than merit influence these decisions.
  • As long as there is financial dependence of Higher educational institutions on the government, autonomy will always be compromised.
  • Rote learning still plagues Indian system, students study only to score marks in exams, and sometimes to crack exams like IIT JEE, AIIMS or CLAT. 
  • If there are a few centres of educational excellence, for each of those there are thousands of mediocre and terrible schools, colleges and now even universities that do not meet even minimum standards.
  • Focus on skill based education
    • Indian education system is geared towards teaching and testing knowledge at every level as opposed to teaching skills.
  • Indian education system rarely rewards what deserves highest academic accolades. Deviance is discouraged. Risk taking is mocked. 
  • Teaching quality is bad.
  • The problem persists even in those institutions led by respected academics.
    • While academics freely criticise personality cults in the political sphere, they are happy to cultivate those of their own.
    • A few individuals dominate organisations and committees. Factions grow around them. These people, administratively overburdened out of their own choice, make serious judgments without adequate information.
    • Conflict of interest is another problem. For example, within an institution, the leader may provide partisan support for their own subject of expertise and restrain the progress of rivals.
  • In many Indian institutions research areas that are of global importance are often, out of sheer ignorance, treated with disdain.
  • The problem is the collective failure to articulate the goal of excellence and to exert firm pressure on anyone, however important, who blocks the path. 
  • There is an inherent flaw in the form of autonomy practiced in India presently. Heavily influenced by colonial past, India seems obsessed with a classical form of education and governanceThere is reluctance in offering absolute autonomy to institutes in something as basic as issuing degrees.

What can be done?

  • Many countries use to base the funding on some parameters by applying a formula. This formula provides predictability of funding, and the HEI can count on it and focus its energies on its academics and more efficient use of this public funding. This enhances the autonomy of the HEI while still retaining its public character.
  • Reward creativity, original thinking, research and innovation
  • The goal of new education system should be to create entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, scientists, thinkers and writers who can establish the foundation of a knowledge based economy rather than the low-quality service provider nation that we are turning into.
  • Even developed countries are not free of academic politics but there are correctives applied as the rank and file of academia tends to be more professional than India’s.
    • Personality cults are met with a sharp push back and conflicts of interest are openly challenged.
    • Even when disputes take place, excellence does not take a back seat.
    • Institution leaders are evaluated by their funding and accreditation agencies, and made aware that their future leadership opportunities are diminished by every petty action
    • Ultimately, the system is accountable because it is committed to excellence.
  • Autonomy of HEIs is now widely acknowledged as a necessity for excellence and improvement, particularly for those HEIs that engage in research as well as education.
    • Single change of having each HEI select its own head through an approved and open process can bring about a great deal of autonomy in our HEIs. 
    • There has to be a realisation within the regulatory bodies as well as the institutes themselves that the outstanding ones have to be left on their own after a point to thrive in a competitive market.
    • In the UK, most efficient education systems rely on basic autonomy and amenable policies of staff recruitment, financial autonomy and appointment of the academic boards, states a 2010 report of the European Commission.

Topic Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections; Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions. 

6) The triple talaq Bill is a classic example of executive-legislative-judicial collaboration towards ensuring social justice. Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express


  • Triple Talaq has been an issue affecting Indian Muslim women since a long time. In the recent SC judgement it made this practice unconstitutional bringing the sense of relief to may Muslim women.
  • Acting on this the government introduced the bill in the Parliament to take action on this practice.

How is it a collaboration:-

  • At first glance, these developments come across as a classic example of collaboration the between the branches of government. The Supreme Court made a decision, the government conceptualised a Bill to reinforce the court’s decision, and Parliament is now in the process of enacting that Bill into law.
  • Similarly the passing of the bill in Loksabha shows the executive and legislature willingness in acting on the sensitive issue and the SC judgement.


How  the collaboration fails after the above mentioned points:-

  • However, this narrative collapses when the issue is considered more closely, as the Bill is at odds with the very judgment that it purports to reinforce
    • The statement of objects and reasons accompanying the Bill indicates that it is meant to give effect to the court’s judgment, which it claims had failed to produce any deterrent effect in reducing the practice of triple talaq across the country shows there was no effective collaboration.
    • To speak of “illegal divorce”, as the statement does, is therefore a contradiction in terms . Triple talaq is simply not a divorce in the first place
  • The criminalisation of triple talaq with a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years also undercuts one of the important effects of the Supreme Court’s judgment.
    • Until the judgment, there was an asymmetry between the authority conferred upon the words of a Muslim man as opposed to a Muslim woman.
    • By indicating that Muslim men lacked the power to divorce their wives through triple talaq, the Court diminished that asymmetry.
  • The victim of triple talaq is entitled to subsistence allowance and custody of minor children.The question of custody or allowance does not arise where couple remains married.This again goes against the basic purpose of court’s judgement
  • One of the significant questions that arose before the Court was whether it would be appropriate to defer to Parliament on this issue. While the two judges in the minority favoured imposing a six-month injunction to enable Parliament to enact legislation on the subject, the judges in the majority specifically chose not to do so.
  • In future there is an even chance that the court may decide that a law criminalising the use of three words violates the right to equality under the Constitution.
  • The bill was introduced in the parliament was passed in Loksabha without discussion and all proposed amendments were rejected.

General Studies – 3

Topic:   Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life  

7) There should be differential regulatory mechanisms to deal with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology respectively. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu


  • The news that bitcoin had broken the $10,000 barrier reflects the way that mainstream investors have been flocking to cryptocurrencies over the past year.Investment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies increased tremendously in India over the past year as well hence the need for regulation.
  • In India a lot of work is going on to integrate Blockchain technology into various sectors of the economy including the financial and health sectors. In 2016, the Indian bank, ICIC Bank, announced that it had completed a cross-border transaction executed on a Blockchain.


Why differential regulatory mechanisms are needed?

  • Crypto currencies:
    • Most new users know close to nothing of the technology, or how to verify the genuineness of a particular cryptocurrency. So there is a need for proper regulatory mechanism.
    • Crypto currencies may or may not emerge as a useful tool, especially since the government may not want to encourage the proliferation of anonymous, non-fiat currencies as its anti-black money fight intensifies.
    • Anything from a failed initial coin offering (or ICO, where funds are raised for new cryptocurrency ventures) to a rogue cryptocurrency exchange will result in a public confidence crisis
    • But hard-to-track criminal activity isn’t the only threat from the use of cryptocurrencies , there’s also the possibility of their use to finance terrorism, given that the formal banking sector is now adept at spotting suspicious movement and mobilisation of monies through the banking system
    • The global nature of this payment mechanism is the biggest challenge.
  • Blockchain:
    • But blockchains, basically digital ledgers of financial transactions that are immutable and instantly updated across the world, are worth looking at as aids to ease doing business. 
    • They have the potential to greatly streamline payment mechanisms and make them transparent.
    • The Blockchain technology almost entirely eliminates the need to belong in the tradition financial system, in order to be financially included.

Way ahead:

  • International examples:-
    • A progressive example of short-term regulation is being set by Japan and Singapore. The Japanese have quickly shed insecurities around “preserving” the Yen and gone on to declare bitcoin as legal tender without the excess baggage of central bank control on circulation. 
  • The fact that cryptocurrencies can be converted into pounds, dollars and euros does make regulation of them more feasible. It can be done at the point of their conversion through virtual currency exchanges which, as financial institutions, can be regulated.
  • International financial regulation and a growing number of national measures across the globe, such as “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) directed at financial institutions, have been strengthened. And, when implemented effectively, it’s now easier to track down individuals engaging in illegal transactions.


General Studies – 4

Topic:    Ethical issues in international relations and funding;



  • Foreign aid can save the lives of millions of people living in poverty around the world. It addresses issues such as health, education, infrastructure and humanitarian emergencies  leading to sustainable growth and development. 
  • Over the past half-century, aid to developing countries has grown to be big money, financed through taxation and delivered through a plethora of government and philanthropic organizations. Yet its ethical underpinnings have received surprisingly little attention.

Ethical issues:-

  • Most of such aid fails to reach the poorest people who need it the most. Foreign aid manages only to improve the lives of the richest people in the poorest countries of the world reinforcing social inequities and perpetuates cycles of political abuse
  • Lack of transparency and accountability:
    • Foreign aid’s biggest downside is that no clear, effective system has been put in place to hold aid recipients and their governments accountable for resources illegally taken from public sector coffers.
  • Sovereignty affected:-
    • Aid dependence results in bad governance, stunting development and makes the recipient countries at the mercy of the developed countries as is the case in the African countries.
    • Foreign Aid are short term interventions lacking lasting sustainable impact. Some of these blame the world economic structure where LDC are put in perpetual dependency.
    • Its volatility and unpredictability makes it difficult for countries to factor it into long term spending plans and include it in budgets 
    • Cultural imposition also takes place
  • Lack of compassion and selfish motive :-
    • Foreign aid is dispatched by bureaucrats and politicians who usually direct the flow of aid into the developing world.
  • Corruption:-
    • Their decisions are driven mostly by political considerations rather than noble intentions. This naturally leads to various forms of corruption.
  • Rise of fundamentalist tendencies:
    • Aid from some of the countries increased the extremist tendencies in countries like Pakistan .

Way ahead:-

  • Foreign Aid can only yield results when it is consecrated to improve lives of the poor ones through variety of empowerment programs (both for woman, unemployable youth and vulnerable).
  • It should help the government generate employment which will increase their living standards and the level of consumption.
  • It can have positive impact when it facilitates technology transfer, invest in research and high education, build strong competitive market and freedom of all sorts to create enabling environment for investors.
  • The notion of helping others can be effective when the donors provide selfless aid rather than expecting the returns from these underdeveloped countries.