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

1) What do you understand by cultural heritage? How cultural heritage can be used to bring about peace and reconciliation? Discuss. (150 Words)

The Indian Express




Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from one generation to another including customs,practices, objects,artistic expressions,values etc.


Cultural heritage can be used to bring peace and reconciliation in the following ways


  1. Harmony between different communities
  • The variety and diversity of heritage in India depicts the nature of relationships that existed between the different communities. They borrowed from each other, like temple architecture of Northern and Southern India.
  • The identities of communities have also been very mobile and the exchange of ideas was smooth. This is illustrated by our heritage.

    2.Lesson of peace from the past

  • It also shows how drastic effects on the human civilization of conflicts between man.
  • The deficiencies in our society were challenged from time to time, be it during the emergence of Buddhism in 6th century BC or Bhakti movement in the medieval period.

    3.Soft power to build bridges

  • It can be used as a tool of soft diplomacy. The relationship of India with the South East Asian countries and even with China can be built around the shared cultural heritage of Buddhism and Hinduism.
  • It helps to increase people to people contact which helps to reduce prejudices

    4.Prospects of tourism – economic industry

  • Cultural heritage can serve as a source of livelihood for many people on the horizon. 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

2) What do you understand by pluralism? In your opinion, which events in modern India have negatively impacted pluralism most? Examine. (150 Words)

The Hindu




Pluralism in theory relates to the co-existence of various religious, cultural and diverse groups of people within a definite territory. Indian pluralism has been a source of inspiration to many countries, as, besides the cultural coherence witnessed in Indian Society, pluralism is not only protected by the Constitution of India, but the very genesis of Indian society.


Pluralism has however witnessed disturbances in the last few decades


Religious riots

  • Evidenced by the Babri Masjid Demolition, Godhra riots, Indian society went regressive unlike its ethos. 
  • The majoritarianism has no specific reference in ancient India, while it has evolved into “religious nationalism” today.


Caste conflicts

  • The Jat revolt in Punjab and Haryana, Patiadar and Dalit revolts in Gujarat have highlighted the sharp divide in the society at the regional level. 
  • However these protests were equally the result of socio-economic imbalances created due to rural economic unrest besides caste factor.
  • The caste reservation, which indeed has significance, has emerged as a contentious issue in respect of share in coveted government jobs.


Regional disputes

  • The regional identities in the subcontinent got consolidated in the medieval period, primarily on the basis of language when the Bhakti p movement spread.
  • In the recent context, the disputes on the sharing of waters of rivers like between Tamil Nadu and Karanatka are issues of concern.. The cultural antecedents of such disputes challenges plural coexistence.
  • The imposition of uniform language like Sanskritised Hindi in a land with more than 1600 languages and 22 constitutionally recognised languages besides thousands of dialects has been an issue since independence.




Though India has made sustained and successful efforts to make the nation a thread after the independence, there is much more that needs to be done.


General Studies – 2


Topic:  Role of civil services in a democracy. 

3) The focus of police reform should really be on reorganising criminal administration. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu



  • NCRB date presents a dismal picture of the key performance statistic with only 47% convictions in Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes at the national level.
  • Criminal justice system in India is engulfed with issues of redundant laws of 19th century and issues of weak institutional and infrastructure flaws that makes the condition of victim pathetic to get justice. 


Issues with Criminal justice system are:

  • Lack of infrastructure like forensic lab, DNA testings, use of ICT in courts etc.
  • Procedural issues like no separation between investigation of crime and law and order maintenance.
  • Non independence of prosecutor to frame charges and guide investigation.
  • Large number of undertrial and tardy court procedures.
  • Lack of distinction between social legislation and criminal legislation.
  • Short time punishment made people victim of criminal indoctrination and societal apathy.


Therefore Police reform is made feasible through reforming of criminal administration such as:

  • Availability of infrastructure such as Forensic lab, E-Courts, use of CCTV and so on.
  • Procedural reforms like fast track courts,removal of redundant laws,community policing and so on.
  • Independence to Prosecutor to frame charge and guide investigation.
  • Separation of investigation from law and order maintenance.
  • Separation of operational responsibility with accountability.Ex-UK Mayor provide priorities with operational freedom to commissioner accountable to him.
  • Fines by Magistrate for small crimes to promote behavioural changes.
  • Social legislation such as liquor and motor vehicle be deal separately from crimes in IPC.


Thus, Police is part of criminal justice whose substantial reform depends on whole reformation of criminal justice system.

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

4) Last week, the U.S. protested at the World Trade Organisation against China’s bid for recognition as a market economy. What is market economy? Why does China want this status? Why is the US opposing it? Also examine how will China’s elevation as market economy affect India. (250 Words)

The Hindu





A market economy is an economic system where decisions regarding investment, production, and distribution are based on the interplay of supply and demand, which determines the prices of goods and services. 

Under WTO norms, once a country gets MES status, its exports are subjected to minimum stipulated levies in the WTO compliant countries.


Why China is seeking the status?

  • It seeks to make its exports competitive in the global market in the context of “Chinese normal” growth. The exports will help it sustain its economic growth.
  • There are also strategic reasons for China to pursue the status as it wants to capture the global markets as USA is receding from globalisation. In the CPEC summit, Chinese President asserted “inclusive globalisation” of which global trade is an integral part.


US Opposition

  • Western resistance to accord China the necessary recognition is rooted in concerns over a glut of Chinese imports flooding domestic markets and causing job losses in the manufacturing sector.
  • Most importantly, it is important from US point of view to put constraints on the hegemonic tendencies of China in the global market.


Impat on India

  • In the economic terms, Chinese Market Economic Status will put Indian government in the cage to not put anti-dumping duties. It will be significant as trade deficit with China is extremely huge. 
  • There are several sectors like chemicals, steel, electrical and electronics which will be hurt severly.
  • Further, the economic dependence on China for the products ranging from consumer goods to steel, the strategic advantage will be accorded to China in case of war.
  • India, being a developing country, seeks to diversify its market in Africa and Latin America which will be directly impacted if China gets access on account of its status of Market Economy under WTO.

General Studies – 3



Topic: Infrastructure

6) In your opinion, what needs to be done in order to make the ‘Housing For All by 2022’ programme successful?  Discuss. (250 Words)



  • The government launched the “Housing For All by 2022” programme in 2015, with the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Pmay) as a key anchor scheme
  • Pmay envisages building 20 million urban units by 2022




  1. Land availability
  • Urban areas contribute 70% to the GDP but occupy only 4% of the land base

     2.Quality developers

  • In India, without adequate urban land parcels to set up housing complexes or housing schemes with private participation, meaningful supply creation will not happen. 
  • India is largely a country of small-scale entrepreneurs and real estate is no exception. While the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority is a step in the right direction to safeguard consumer interests, the level of compliance and strict fund-usage conditions are onerous for small-scale developers.

    3.Archaic lending principles

  • The current practice of assigning a low rating to all new companies, and slowly upgrading them over time, does not help in facilitating accelerated growth. 
  • By assigning high importance to traditional parameters, such as scale and vintage, before taking any exposure to new-age housing finance companies, lending institutions are not accelerating growth. 




  1. Solving land issue
  • Government should proactively allow urban public land holding to be utilized for affordable housing projects
  • The government can also explore the launch of an affordable rental housing scheme, wherein it could create a stock of affordable housing units within urban areas. 
  • Globally, countries such as Singapore and Sweden have huge public housing programmes that form 83% and 30%, respectively, of the country’s housing stock.
  • The private sector can play a role in implementing best construction practices, and in maintaining the housing stock, as is the practice in New York. 

     2.Support to real estate entrepreneurs

  • By building a strong support system and hand-holding the real estate entrepreneurs, we could create an ecosystem of quality developers.

    3.Upgrading lending principles through use of technology

  • Since the rating drives the borrowing rate, which is a key cost for housing finance companies, such a wait and watch approach creates a bottleneck for the good companies.
  • To stimulate demand, loans need to be provided at affordable rates. In order for housing finance companies to lend at affordable rates, the financing ecosystem participants, such as large lending institutions and credit rating agencies, need to evaluate the new-age credit frameworks of housing finance companies. 
  • In today’s technology era, the credit evaluation of customers is done very differently by leveraging data and technology. For instance, tools like pincode-based customer mapping, social behaviour analytics, and technology-led fraud prevention and control, are immensely helping new-age housing finance companies to profitably lend to customers while controlling the credit risk. 
  • Instead, it would be immensely beneficial to rank companies on the fundamental soundness of their new-age technology-led tools/practices, and downgrade those who demonstrate weak results. Such a rating downgrade should be done swiftly in order to reflect the health of the company.


Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

7) Which are the ways through which government can capture data of informal sector? Examine the importance of data collected through GST and demonetisation for policymakers. (150 Words)

The Hindu



  • The informal sector is defined as that part of the economy where the establishment does not maintain regular accounts
  • It is informal because it is not subject to most of the traditional ways in which you can capture data. 


Capturing data from the informal sector

  • For the informal sector, the principle source of data is through establishment surveys. 
  • Regular establishment surveys, as recommended by the taskforce under [Arvind] Panagariya, will help.


 Importance of GST in understanding informal sector

  • GST will certainly capture a lot more monthly data. 


  1. Types and scope of production
  • In GST form, every producer of a good or service makes his payment and also gives some details about the production which is subject to tax. From that, policymakers can draw conclusions. 
  • Because the entities who will be filing this regular monthly return will be the larger companies, not the informal sector. We will get fairly quick disaggregated data for the larger entities from the GST database. 
  • However, the input tax credit where the larger entities outsource goods and services to smaller entities in the informal sector will be of great help.

    2.Spatial divergences of production

  • In addition to aggregates, you will also get data on inter-State transactions which was previously not available. 
  • This will give us a much better picture of a spatial spread of economic activity. 
  • The spatial divergences in India can then be very easily traced and tackled with which does have an impact on the informal sector.
  • That sort of information will be very useful to the policy establishment when they start looking at GST data more closely.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Values; Political attitude




Significance of political discourse

  • Political discourse is the life of democracy. Democracy will be stultified and loose its progress without free, dynamic and valued political discourse. Stakeholders in a democratic set up evolve, make informed decisions, hold representatives responsible and contribute to democratic advancement of political set up with time only because of free political discourse.


Decline of public discourse

  • However, the tone used in political discourse of recent times is somewhat discouraging. Using undemocratic language (sometimes going to the extreme of using abusive language), specially by high political figures, debases and lowers the morality in politics and further encourages the lower rung also to use the same.


It can be attributed to many factors:


  1. Declining personal ethical values.
  2. Promoted politics or dynastic politics where the leaders often lack sufficient groundwork.
  3. Corruption, irresponsible attitude, loss of touch of reality and unawareness of the values of democracy 
  4. Winning at any cost has become the norm. Means are not considered

Reflection of society

  • Electors often idolise the high public political figures and they have their own prejudices and these get wind when political figures use undemocratic language.  There is a direct relationship between the ethical values of society and then the leadership.
  • Type of polity and its language deeply depends on the society it represents. In a democratic setup, leaders are willing to say what the masses are willing to hear. So the current increasing coarseness in political discourse should be seen as a broader problem of degrading values and ethics in society as a whole than just in leaders. 


Reinforcement of prejudices

  • Polarization and spreading of disharmony are the results when political discourse is diluted with coarseness in language.


Way forward

  • Though the responsibility of leaders cannot be denied. When the senior and top leaderships themselves use foul language, other members and public start feeling justifying their use of such language. Hence leaders should lead with good examples.
  • We need to invest ( better education) in a strong value-driven society which is not accepting of such behaviour.