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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.

  • According to National crime records bureau figures 17,700 Indians died  and 48 people every day  due to fire accidents in 2015.
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat, the two most highly urbanised states, account for about 30% of the country’s fire accident deaths.
Regulations are not working :-
  • There is a close correlation between deaths due to fire-related accidents and population density associated with urbanisation.
  • These are man made disasters with failure in urban planning  manufactured by a mix of bad regulations and compromised enforcement machinery and powerful interest groups.
  • The Chennai floods in 2015 was because of faulty urban planning with industrial complexes, educational institutions and housing estates ravaging the watershed areas filling up thousands of smaller ponds and streams and silting major tanks and increasing the surface water flow manifold.
  • Urban areas alone require an additional 4,200 fire stations just to meet the minimum standard for response time.
  • Buildings need in-built fire-fighting equipment like sprinklers and alarms that work. But there is hardly any attention.
  • Regular inspections are supposed to ensure the presence of basic fire-fighting equipment as well as compliance with building norms. But there are enough loopholes, such as norms not applying for establishments with a seating capacity of less than 50 people.
  • People also view inspections as a form of license raj. There is a lot of resistance
  • Technological issues:-
    • urban cities have failed to invest in LIDAR-based (Light Detection and Ranging) technologies that can be used to aerially keep a track of setbacks and the presence of fire exits.
  • Adequate space could have easily been retained for essential services like fire stations while redeveloping mill land, but urban cities don’t do it.
  •  From fire safety to waste recycling, from energy efficiency to water supply, from housing to traffic safety, the organised interest groups have infiltrated the state machinery and have been successful in damaging public interests as a matter of daily existence.
  • Urban development is a state subject so there is lack of coordination among multiple stakeholders involved.
  • Inspection authorities failure 
  • There are LIDAR-based (Light Detection and Ranging) technologies that can be used to aerially keep a track of setbacks and presence of fire exists. 
  • There is a need to break the  bureaucracy-real estate business nexus.
  • Strict implementation of laws is necessary especially fire regulations 
  • There needs to be focus on holistic development which addresses economic growth, employment, social change. At the same time, it needs to deal with economic deprivation, environmental degradation, waste management, and proper utilisation of space.
  • Multiplicity of authorities is a problem in  metropolitan cities in India so a minimum organisational set-up as in Singapore  is effective in  bringing these multiple agencies on a common platform to determine a metropolitan-wide strategy for planning and implementation. 

General Studies – 2

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

2) India has a shockingly high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 167: for every 100,000 births. This is more than twice the target to be achieved under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Why do you think institutional delivery is still a nightmare for majority of pregnant women in India? (250 Words)

The Wire


  • To reduce maternal mortality reduce India put forward policies and programmes in place to facilitate institutional births through Janani Suraksha yojana but still large concerns remain.
Why is institutional delivery a nightmare :-
  • The uptake of these facilities has not increased and so the number of maternal deaths has not decreased. 
  • The lack of adequate staff and quality doctors especially in rural areas.
  • Indian public health system is unable to provide quality healthcare to all those who can’t afford the private sector.
  • Lack of proper budgetary allocation by government with r spectrum to healthcare services.
  • Even when the services are available, they are of poor quality, which deters people from utilising them further.
  • Substandard and inhumane care is delivered by healthcare professionals.
    • Women face verbal abuse and discrimination
    • Made to deliver on the floor due to lack of beds
    • Not provided pain relief to avoid prolonged births
  • Invasive procedures are performed like episiotomy is performed on them without their knowledge or consent.
  • Infrastructural constraints :-
    • There is overcrowding in the room with the obstetrician, resident doctor, nurses and interns.
  • In India, allowing a birth companion is usually not possible in a government set-up, despite many studies from around the world showing the benefits of having the spouse or a trusted family member present for a smooth labour.
  • In India, caesarean sections are very often seen as a means of making money in the private sector and as a means of quicker labour in the public sector. 
  • The intersectionality of physical and verbal abuse and discrimination with caste, class or medical condition also can’t be denied.
    • A large section of women that face obstetric violence belong to lower socio-economic backgrounds. 
  • Lack of awareness due to illiteracy and social stigma is still prevalent in some areas.
  •  Healthcare providers need to be held responsible for their actions and must treat women in labour as autonomous individuals. 
  • Budgetary allocation needs to increase 
  • The rural areas healthcare infrastructure needs to increase especially implementing ASHA more effectively.

Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

3) India does not have a legal definition of what constitutes personal information and lacks a robust and comprehensive data protection law. We need to have both quickly in place if the Supreme Court’s judgment according privacy the status of a fundamental right is to have any meaning. In the light of recent developments, critically comment on the statement. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background :-
  • In this digital age a growing pool of personal information that can be easily shared has become available to government and private entities.So there is a need for some clarity on this issue.
Lack of data protection in India :-
  • Technological issues :-
    • In the light of new technologies including internet of things and machine learning based on big data key issues related to data protection arise.
    •  Emerging technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things may operate outside the framework of traditional privacy principles.
  • Legal issues:
    • Data protectionin India is governed by loosely constructed provisions of the Information Technology Amended Act, 2008 (ITAA) under Sections 43-A and 72A of the Act.
    • Compensation for failure to protect data (Section 43-A) was introduced by way of an amendment in 2008.However, the Act fails to define sensitive data and states the same as personal information as may be prescribed by the Central government
      • Even when data leaks such as  from the  McDonald’s McDelivery app have happened, section 43A and its rules have not proven of use
    • The effort to bring in Personal Data Protection Bill governing data protection and privacy has been dismal.
      • The bill was unable to explain the duties and responsibilities of a data controller
      • The bill also fails to underline the issue relating to outsourced data and the liabilities of companies outsourcing and hosting the data.
    • The current legislation (ITAA) fails to mention the enterprises that store data and questions their liability in case of a breach and compensation to consumers
    • Data put out through biometrics or for economic purposes remains at risk in India since no legislation has been chalked out to protect such personal data.
  • There is no body that specifically regulates data privacy.
  • Privacy is a fundamental human right, recognised as such in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. India has ratified the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which contains an obligation to protect privacy. Control over one’s personal data is an innate facet of privacy.
  • Judicial confusion:-
    • Puttaswamy judgment is not clear on whether privacy is a fundamental right that can be applied horizontally
No it’s not :-
  • The government-appointed Srikrishna committee  as part of its work to prepare a data protection framework and frame a draft Data Protection Bill.
  • The move assumes significance amid the debate over security of individuals’ private data, including Aadhaar-linked biometrics, and the rising number of cyber-crimes in the country.
  • Some redress for misuse of personal data by commercial entities is also available under the Consumer Protection Act enacted in 2015.As per the Act, the disclosure of personal information given in confidence is an unfair trade practice.
  • International examples:-
    • EU case study
      • Protection of people’s data has been included as one of the fundamental rights of the European Union under Article 8 of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
      • Right to privacy and consent of an individual form the basis of Article 8 adding the right to access data and the right to have it rectified.
    • Japan:
      •  Japan introduced a separate central legislation for protection of data as the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI).
      • Similar to the EU law, consent of a data subject forms the essence of the legislation and has been stated as mandatory in case of transmitting data to a third party or for any use beyond communication purposes.
  • Indian law should create an independent oversight for all government surveillance, as well as a data commissioner’s office with the power to take proactive action against violators.

General Studies – 3

Topic:  Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

4) It doesn’t augur well for an aspiring market economy that the government should provide goods that competitive markets can provide effectively. With reference to debate on the privatization of Air India, comment on the statement. (150 Words)


  • Recently parliamentary panel in its draft report postponed the privatization of Air India by five years.This brought the issue of whether government should still goods in competitive market 
Yes,government need not run :-
  • Indian state need not run commercial enterprises for the simple reason that it tends to compromise profit for achieving overall welfare of the people
  • In the case of Air India The airline needs better management so as to not be a burden on the country’s finances.
  • Air India is operationally inefficient and unable to compete with private sector operators. The airline has been grossly mismanaged over the it’s better for private sector to take over it as their motive is profit.
  • The airline has not been able to achieve the targets set in the turnaround plan
  • The government will have to keep bailing out Air India with taxpayers’ money if it decides to hold on to it.
  • In the case of Air India, the cost is a lot higher as it is consistently making losses and is dependent on the government for survival. Further, the presence of state-owned enterprise distorts the market. 
  • A firm with access to government finances and practically no fear of failing affects price discovery in the market and can hurt private sector operators in the business.
  • Divesting the loss-making Air India will send a strong signal to investors that India is serious about reforms and is no longer willing to throw good money after bad. 
  • The government has fiscal constraints and needs to spend more in important areas such as health and education. 
No,government’s role is necessary:-
  • The draft report of the parliamentary panel expressed displeasure with implementation of the turnaround plan (TAP), and cited concern over potential layoffs should the privatization go through.
  • International example:-
    • After being privatised British rail has gained a reputation for poor services and management.
Way forward:-
  • There is need to revamp air India especially in the light of growing standard of people and increasing urbanisation.  

Topic:  Developments in S&T

5) Though innovations such as blockchain are at the heart of creating ‘trustless’ decentralising technologies, their goal remains efficiency and profit. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • In the digital world today  new blockchain currencies, technology platforms and ecosystems, beginning with Bitcoin and Ethereum, but now also including Lisk, Kin and many .
  • So there is need to be caution about crypto currency on its positives and concerns 
Creationg trustless decentralising technologies:-
  • The blockchain uses economic incentives to motivate members of the network to do the work of validating every transaction.It does away with the bank’s role as an intermediary
  • It poses serious issue to central banks as well as states .
  •  Anonymity in this technology can be exploited by anti-social elements for terror funding,money laundering , human traficking etc.This is the reason RBI has given warnings.
How it enhances efficiency :-
  • Decentralisation:-
    • Interest in blockchain is also being driven by the belief that eliminating the need for a trusted third party in the transfer of value will enable faster, less expensive financial transactions, with greater privacy. 
  • Triple-entryAccounting :- 
    • Blockchain permits triple entry accounting, an enhancement to the traditional double entry system. All accounting entries involving outside parties are cryptographically sealed by a third entry.
    • Rather than occurring separately in independent sets of books, they occur in the same distributed, public ledger, creating an interlocking system of enduring accounting records.
  •  Transparency:
    • The distributed ledger structure gives the control of all their information and transactions to the users. Blockchain data is complete, accurate and consistent with all the members.
  • Faster transactions :-
    • Blockchain transactions can reduce transaction times to minutes and are processed 24/7. 
    • An instantaneous settlement would transform an industry such as transportation and energy, potentially saving billions from increased back-office efficiency and automation.
  •  Reduced transaction costs:
    • A transaction system build using blockchain eliminates third party intermediaries and overhead costs for exchanging assets.
  • Opportunities for blockchain go beyond finance and banking. It can transform systems in the fields of Healthcare (Electronic medical records), Entertainment (gaming and music streaming), Manufacturing (Supply chain management).
  • It can even make voting further  transparent in India .
  • There is a need to take effective measures on cryptocurrencies and bring some governmental guarantees regarding blockchain to avoid speculation . 

Topic:  Environmental pollution

6) What is surface ozone (O3)? Why is it considered as a neglected and dangerous pollutant? Examine. (150 Words)

The Hindu

  • In India pollution diacussion is mainly concentrated with particulate matter but ground level ozone/surface ozone  is equally hazardous .A recent study shows that the O3 levels will continue to rise drastically particularly in North India.
Surface ozone:
  • Ground level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. 
  • Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.
Why is it a Dangerous pollutant :-
  • Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. 
  • Groundlevel ozone can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation especially during the growing season and ecosystems including forests, parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas
  • It is the main ingredient in “smog.
  • According to data by 2050’s ozone levels will increase by up to 4.4% in many places in north India particularly Uttar Pradesh.
  • Due to this there will be a decrease over forest patches of the western ghats in the south of 3.4%
  • Climate change will adversely impact soil,moisture ,rains ,vegetation density etc which will further impact the absorption of ozone .
  • Man made sources like vehicles,power plants or machines which uses fossil fuels where the O3 component will increase by up to 45% in parts of North India.
Way forward :-
  • A policy is necessary to successfully reduce the effect of this pollutant.

General Studies – 4

Topic:    Attitude; Emotional intelligence


In the current world there are challenges with respect to climate change,water crisis ,growing violence ,terrorist activities so a leader with good temperament is very necessary
Reasons why these are important are :-
  • Traits like personality, how well leaders can communicate, and their ability to empathize, negotiate, and leadare necessary qualities for a great leader. For instance Jack Ma ‘s inspirational leadership 
  • Emotionally intelligent people tend to be more authentic and transparent .At the same time, they’re also able to keep their feelings in check and make well-informed decisions, are incredibly resilient under pressure and display higher rates of empathy .
  • In a study of more than 5000 leaders across multiple industries ,researchers discovered that the best  leaders were decisive and willing to take risks, but also more self-aware and more thoughtful about how they engaged with family and coworkers. 
  • They comprehend the needs and motivations of others, and in turn, calmly engage with them under pressure in order to move decisions forward.
  • According to Harvard study the most successful leaders are:
    • Able to empathize and manage the emotions of other people
    • Self-aware but not egocentric
    • Able to keep their own emotions in check, while quickly thinking and problem-solving around how their ideas will impact others
  • In the present world emotionally intelligent leaders are necessary to avoid conflicts like north Korea Vs US,understand environmental ethics,maintain peace ,defend minority rights etc.
  • Lack of such attributes especially in global leaders leads to intolerance,sectarian violence ,religious persecutions,refugee crisis etc..