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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) According to the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) the landlessness and dependence on manual casual labour for a livelihood are key deprivations facing rural families in India today. In the light of this observation and latest trends in construction jobs, discuss the measures that are needed to address rural distress in India. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • There is increase in evidence that agricultural income for the marginal farmers is likely to fall and farmer distress has already been growing leading to rise in farmers protests in several states.

Observations and trends from socio economic and caste census:-

  • The rural census mapped deprivation using seven indicators.
  • 5% of all rural households suffer from at least one deprivation indicator but landless households engaged in manual labour are more vulnerable.
  • Nearly 54 million households are in the landless-labourer category.
  • Along with landless families, small and marginal farmers are getting pauperised and more engaged in manual labour. 
  • The overall farm size is down from the 2.25 hectares (ha) average to a 1.25 ha average in 2010 and will continue to become even smaller. 
  • Construction boom:-
    • Employment in construction sector increased rapidly in 2005 due to investment in infrastructure, booming real estate etc.
    • However  construction jobs are growing more slowly since 2011-12, as both public investment and private investment has fallen so fewer workers have been leaving agriculture since 2011-12. This is hurting landless labour and small and marginal farmers the most.
  • Government has taken various measures like PMFBY, PMKSY, E-NAM increasing, SAMPADA scheme etc but more needs to be done.

Measures needed for reducing rural distress:-

  • Economic:-
    • Reducing input costs:-
      • Greater subsidies could be extended for the purchase of agricultural equipment, fertilizers and pesticides
      • Allowing marginal farmers to be paid for tilling their own fields. Such measures could also increase their net income.
    • The scope of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act could be increased. .
    • Enhance access to non-farm sources of income and providing  remunerative prices for farm produce.
    • Strengthen the repayment capacity of the farmers by improving and stabilizing their income.
    • Institutional financing is available and accessible and benefit provision is simplified while disbursed funds are effectively monitored
    • Creating an vibrant food processing sector
    • Increasing the investment in allied sectors such as livestock and dairy sector
    • Reforms in APMC market and efforts to eliminate middle men.
    • Bridging the income-consumption gap especially in the case of Landless labourers by introducing efficient methods of price stabilization
  • Social:-
    • The medical insurance coverage could be expanded through the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna.
  • Technological:-
    • Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers income.
  • Political and governance :-
    • States must undertake and sincerely implement long-pending reforms in the agriculture sector with urgency.
    • Agricultural reforms, such as in irrigation and warehousing infrastructure, can help increase farm productivity and therefore incomes.
    • States should seek to establish early warning signals, monitoring farmers who go past set limits and seek unsustainable loans.
    • Village-wise lists of deeply indebted farmers must be prepared annually to identify farmers on the flight path to penury and potential suicide.
    • The NABARD along with the local administration should be tasked with analysing such village lists for macro and local policy interventions, along with devising timely loan restructuring initiatives, insurance claim settlements and better counselling.
    • Implement recommendations of MS Swaminathan Committee on MSP reforms and Arvind Subramanian Committee on Increasing Pulse Production.


  • With empathy for India’s farmers and a truthful assessment of on-the-ground farming reality, India must make the right choices for Indian agriculture.


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

2) For the past two years, India’s project to develop military infrastructure on Seychelles’ northern island of Assumption has failed to take off. Examine significance of this project and reasons for its delay in taking off. (250 Words)

The Wire



  • India has been looking to consolidate and strengthen its strategic position in the Indian ocean region and opportunity availed through the Assumption island in Seychelles along with Agalega island in Mauritius where India had committed to develop infrastructure in during PM visit in 2015.

Why is this project Important:-

  • For India:-
    • The project is supposed to be among the concrete outcomes of India’s revamped strategy for the Indian ocean region, launched as
    • India will also get access to the facilities on the island, strategically located on the southern Indian ocean.
    • To assume greater control in the Indian Ocean region in the face of expanding Chinese presence along with the military base at Djibouti.
    • It is part of India’s approach to enhance the capabilities of the Indian Ocean countries and keep out the extra regional players. Indian ships have also been active in fighting piracy in the waters around the island.
  • For Seychelles:-
    • The agreement would enable India to help Seychelles through the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces SPDF to build military infrastructures on Assumption Island(SPDF)
    • Coast Guard base on this island is considered as an ideal location that will allow the Seychelles military to better undertake surveillance of the EEZ
    • The infrastructure built on Assumption is expected to drastically cut down on the time needed to despatch a coast guard vessel or aircraft in case of any incident.
  • The infrastructure also includes residential barracksfor SPDF’s Coast Guard and fixing up the jetty and existing airstrip for the SPDF

Reasons for delay:-


  • Seychelles reportedly wants to take a relook at the agreement signed between India and the island nation to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island.  Officials in Seychelles have said the agreement does not have legal backing on their side, whereas it has legal basis in India
  • There was more delay as the Seychelles government wanted to modify some clauses. These related to the capacity of the military infrastructure that India had committed to build for the Seychelles defence forces.
  • Agreement has not yet been placed before the parliament even though the president had the numbers earlier.
  • Seychelles would like to see larger facilities in keeping with the demand of the defence forces, since Assumption island would be the hub to patrol its waters to prevent illegal fishing and drug smuggling in the region.
  • There were also some other technical issues, like the location of the jetty.
  • Seychelles


Way ahead:-

  • In the face of resistance from within the Seychelles government over the infrastructure development agreement, India’s priority should be to engage with the island nation and counter any economic advantage that China can offer.
  • It also needs to limit the use of Seychelles as a refuelling base for China’s navy by neutralising the commercial benefit that Beijing can provide.

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

3) The National Medical Commission Bill has to be fine-tuned, especially in planning for rural health care. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • The national medical commission bill is the product of the NITI Aayog and was drafted following a scathing standing committee report in 2016 on the corrupt functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI) 
  • The bill if passed would repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956

How it addresses in planning for rural health care:-

  • The Bill attempts to tackle two main things on quality and quantity which ultimately affect the consumer : Corruption in medical education and shortage of medical professionals so that health care in India is efficient.


  • The NMC Bill misses an opportunity to plan for India’s rural health- care needs in the coming decades.
  • It eases regulations to set up private medical colleges, a move that will hopefully produce more doctors, this measure isn’t enough as there is severe shortage of doctors and most of them are concentrated in urban regions while close to 70% of Indians live in rural provinces.
  • Due to this rural people rely on informal health care providers
  • Training non-doctors:-
    • The focus is still largely on MBBS doctors as the best means of health-care delivery in isolated parts of rural India ignoring the evidence from countries like Mozambique and Thailand which show that training non doctors can be a safe, effective and cheap way to provide life-saving health care when no doctors are available.
  • A bridge course allowing alternative-medicine practitioners to prescribe modern drugs   is mentioned in the bill.
    • Unscientific mixing of systems and empowering of other practitioners through bridge courses will only pave the way for substandard doctors and substandard medical practice. This will seriously impact patient care and patient safety
  • It will cripple the functioning of medical professionalsby making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators.
  • The nexus between the unqualified practitioners or RMPs (Rural not-Registered medical practitioner) is apparent but bill neglects this.
  • Cost of medical education would increase and also the bill makes it easy to setting up of private medical colleges leading to rise of unskilled doctors.


  • The bill does not address how India would produce enough competent doctors to meet its evolving health-care challenges and how can it minimise opportunities for rent-seeking in medical education and practice.
  • There is a need for more elected members in the commission, but with limited terms of office, so that corrupt members aren’t re-elected.
  • International example:-
    • There is a need to keep the NMC free from political influence is for an independent body like the Union Public Service Commission to select its members.
    • Such a model is followed in the U.K where the Professional Standards Authority oversees the selection of members to the General Medical Council.
  • Clear guidelines are required indicating the circumstances and diseases where traditional practitioners can prescribe allopathic medicines.
  • A new system of community-based trained health workers (not government employees) who are enrolled on the state medical register is needed. This can only be done if the medical education law provides for it.
  • To bolster healthcare delivery there can be a three-year diploma for rural medical-care providers, along the lines of the Licentiate Medical Practitioners who practised in India before 1946. 


  • The Bill needs to confront reality and address it, keeping consumer interest paramount otherwise the new law will make little difference to people’s lives especially in rural India.


Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

4) Some argue that there is a link between caste and corruption implying that lower caste politicians and bureaucrats tend to be more corrupt. Do you agree? Critically comment. (150 Words)

The Wire



  • Recently there have been series of instances where high-profile legislators or politicians, predominantly from lower-ranked caste groups (Scheduled Castes or Tribes, or Other Backward Classes) were convicted on corruption charges and this raises the doubts whether caste and corruption are linked 

Link between caste and corruption :-

  • Critics argue that the caste which exercises control over the political, religious, social and economic power gives birth to other institutions like corruption also.
  • Due to discrimination faced by these castes in the society the leaders believe with money power they can increase their social status too.

Lower caste politicians and bureaucrats are not more corrupt :-

  • Factors affecting development are unrelated to whether the elected representatives are SC or upper caste.
  • Development indicators are no worse in reserved constituencies, compared to non-reserved constituencies. Additionally, there have been several positive outcomes as a result of quotas, going beyond standard development indicators
  • It would be difficult to empirically sustain the case that it is predominantly due to lower castes.
  • The high profile cases show that leaders from these communities got convicted so people build their opinion based on this for the whole community.
    • The Government of India recently disclosed the names of 17 people with foreign accounts out of whom not a single foreign account-holder belonged to the Dalit or Adivasi category.
    • In the Jain Hawala Scam also there were no Dalits or Adivasis.
  • SCs are still seriously under-represented in the rich and the elite.


  • Corruption arises due to nepotism, unaccountable working conditions in government offices, degradation of values in the modern society so viewing it from the narrow perspective of caste is not acceptable.


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Employment

5) Government of India should create human capital by empowering youth through skilling and quality education to avert anti-reservations sentiment that’s spreading across country. Analyse.  (250 Words)

The Hindu


Why human capital has to be the focus and why anti reservation protests are taking place?

  • The vocational training schemes in the country are inadequate and woefully behind the times with many not addressing today’s needs. Good schemes like those offered by the Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF) in Bengaluru are simply too few.
  • Technical training is also constrained by a small educational base as 70% of India’s workforce is without tertiary education and a crippling lack of well-qualified trainers. 
  • Politicization of reservation to garner votes has put the motto of socio-economic development on back seat where reservation is extended to any community without properly scrutinizing its historical, socio- economic status.
  • Less than 4% of GDP is spent on education. Appallingly, Indian students spend more in the US than their government spends on higher education in total.
  • There is intensive competition among Indian students to get into the top universities but the reservation policy creates a hurdle for merit students.
  • loopholes in the implementation of creamy layer category of OBC
  • The reservation policy is actually benefitting the relatively well off and not the marginalised
  • There is no effort to complement the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) with a bigger skill development programme to train the young for employment.
  • Beyond student representation in specific fields of study, there are structural problems with India’s education system.


What needs to be done ?

  • There is a need for more investment on Indians by Government.
    • Structural transformation including the flow of capital investment into more productive, high-tech sectors is necessary.
  • Health:-
    • Concurrent investment in health and nutrition for maximising the impact of structural changes to India’s economy, and trigger growth that is swift, inclusive, and sustained.
    • The emphasis needs to shift from current massive levels of out-of-pocket spending to pooled spending.
    • The country needs to develop a stronger primary healthcare and nutrition system, ensure that both private and public sector providers offer high-quality services, and complete the unfinished agenda on infectious disease control.
    • With these changes, India will derive more value from its health expenditures and increase their impact on people’s lives and their collective economic future.
  • Education and skill development:-
    • Need for improvement in the quality of India’s tertiary education.
    • Firms can invest in programmes aimed at developing great school leaders, and also draw on their knowledge of leadership training.
    • Public-private partnerships can also help demonstrate high quality schooling and introduce innovation in the government school system.
    • Improving the quality of education will benefit all companies and industries alike by contributing to a better talent pool for our economy.

Way ahead:-

  • There is a strong need for policymakers to go beyond human capital, pushing for knowledge capital development while transforming India’s comparative advantages in demography and cheaper labour cost.

Topic:  Achievements of Indians in science & technology;

6) Discuss the significance and contemporary relevance of Nobel Laureate Har Gobind Khorana’s contributions to biology. (150 Words)

The Hindu


Har Gobind Khorana:-

  • He is an Indian American scientist who inspired the work in many fields.


  • Khorana was among those who significantly built on DNA knowledge and explained how this sequence of nucleic acids (better known as the genetic code) goes about making proteins, which is critical to the functioning of cells. 
  • Khorana was able to create nucleic acids in the lab and did so by figuring out the order in which nucleotides needed to be to make a suite of amino acids, which are the basic units of proteins.
  • Won 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine that showed how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell’s synthesis of proteins.
  • Khorana was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides
  • Also renowned for constructing the first synthetic gene and received a multitude of awards during his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science.
  • He further placed the lab-made gene in a living bacterium and was in that sense a founding father of biotechnology.
  • Khorana was an early practitioner, and perhaps a founding father, of the field of chemical biology. He brought the power of chemical synthesis to bear on deciphering the genetic code, relying on different combinations of trinucleotides.

Contemporary relevance :-

  • His work has relevance in areas such as synthetic biology and gene editing.
  • His work on synthetic gene is considered a forerunner to the method called Polymerase Chain Reaction that is among the methods used to commercially read the unique genetic structures of organisms today.
  • The CRISPR/Cas9 system, which is a new technology in genetics and is used alter the functioning of certain genes refers the work of Khorana as a key influence.
  • The genetic code which he helped establish, is a foundation of modern molecular biology, .It is also the basis for a huge number of modern disciplines, including analysis of genomes and understanding of evolution.
  • Khorana’s invention(s) have become automated and commercialized so that anyone now can order a synthetic oligonucleotide or a gene from any of a number of companies. One merely needs to send the genetic sequence to one of the companies to receive an oligonucleotide with the desired sequence.
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Government of India (DBT Department of Biotechnology), and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, in 2007, created the Khorana Program,
    • The mission of the Khorana Program is to build a seamless community of scientists, industrialists, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and India.


Topic:  Basics of cyber security;

7) Recently, a new sweeping two-tier security system for the Aadhaar programme was announced by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Discuss the features of new security system for Aadhaar. (150 Words)

The Wire



  • Security of aadhar has been a contentious issue in the recent years and after a wave of data breaches and leaks raised fresh privacy and security concerns UIDAI came up with the new security system to protect Aadhar.

New security system:-

  • Virtual ID is introduced for every Aadhar holder .It is a temporary 16-digit number that will be mapped to a user’s Aadhaar number that will allow the individual in question to avoid furnishing his or her Aadhaar number at the time of authentication
  • VID can be generated through the UIDAI’s resident portal, an Aadhaar enrollment centre and the mAadhaar mobile application.
  • Creation of a limited KYC (know your customer) service that will purportedly prevent agencies from storing Aadhaar numbers during the paperless KYC process.


  • With the introduction of virtual ID (VID), a fungible number mapped to the Aadhaar number, Aadhaar number holders will have an option not to share their Aadhaar number to improve privacy.
  • It is not possible to derive the Aadhaar number from the VID
  • Limited KYC will allow agencies to do their own paperless KYC process without access to the Aadhaar number.
  • UIDAI has also limited access to stored personal information and mandated the use of unique tokens through which authenticating agencies can access required data. It claims that the measures will strengthen privacy and also prevent combining of databases linked to Aadhaar. 
  • This is going to be one of the biggest innovations ever, people can change their virtual ID whenever they want or after every authentication or every 10 seconds.
  • UIDAI will also provide “unique tokens” to each agency against an Aadhaar number to ensure that they are to establish the uniqueness of beneficiaries in their database such as for distributing government subsidies under cooking gas or scholarships. 


  • Unless there is complete revocation, some database with Aadhaar numbers will still float around
  • There is no reason why some data controllers should be trusted, the tokenisation should be implemented for everyone.
  • New category of so called Global AUAs are exempted from using the virtual ids, so citizens are not protected almost anywhere that they need to use Aadhaar

Way forward:-


  • The widespread fear of misuse of demographic data is heightened by the fact that India still does not have a data protection legislation so the need for the data protection law is heightened.
  • Privacy experts and activists were of the view that more needs to be done to ensure foolproof security for critical personal information. 


General Studies – 4

Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;



  • The decision of whether or not to criminalise adultery is a conflict between societal morality (saturated with the patriarchal ideas of subordination of women and resultant inequality) and the constitutional morality of liberty, personal autonomy, freedom and privacy. 

Reasons why adultery should be decriminalised?

  • The adultery law in India is a throwback to the times when women were considered as property of their husbands.
  • In India, the law states that only a man can file a case of adultery and that too against a man with whom his wife has allegedly slept with. So, in essence, a woman can neither file a case of adultery, nor can she be prosecuted on the ground of adultery. This cuts gender discrimination both ways, that is, it discriminates against men and women.
  • The legal system supports giving a short term and psychological outlet to the parties in a marriage to blame a third person for the breakdown of a marriage.
  • Adultery is no more a criminal offence in most European countries but it may still have legal consequences, especially in divorce proceedings. In the U.S., adultery is generally punished in some states only if committed habitually or with public notoriety.
  • With individual autonomy and choices being recognised as an integral part of the right to privacy, there is no justification in retaining a dated adultery law.

There is support for criminalisation of adultery:-

  • Due to adultery the trust imbibed by the partner on the other is broken leading to vast psychological pain and deep distress for the person who got betrayed.
  • Supreme court held that breaking a matrimonial home is no less serious a crime than breaking into a house and refused to strike down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), under which men can be prosecuted for adultery.
  • The Justice Malimath Committee (2003) too strongly favoured preservation of matrimonial sanctity and thus justified retention of a gender neutral adultery law.
  • Countries governed by the Islamic law, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Somalia, strictly prohibit “zina”, or “fornication outside marriage”. Prosecutions are common and punishment can include fines, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, flogging and in extreme cases, the death penalty.


Divorce should not be criminalised:-

  • Recently the law made a Muslim man using triple talaq criminal and will be jailed but however his marriage is still intact with his wife. This only leads to further complications
    • Regarding the mental torture for the wife
    • Allowance has to be paid to the family when the husband is in jail
    • Rips apart the family .
    • So the triple talaq can be removed but divorce is largely a civil proceeding.


  • Sexual decisions and divorce of an individual fall under that realm of personal liberty which commands no State interference.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision to re-examine the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the IPC is a welcome step, and provides it with an opportunity to strike down this offensive provision as being inconsistent with constitutional principles and morality