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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:  Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society; Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

1) What is secular nationalism? Why is it under threat lately? Is threat to secular nationalism a global phenomenon or unique to India? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu


Secular nationalism :- 

  • Nationalism is defined as a feeling of belongingness towards a particular nation. It is based on shared beliefs, history, shared political ideals, common political identity etc but not religion. This inclusive characteristic sums up to secular nationalism.
  • It was in 1857 during the first war of Indian independence that secular nationalism was manifested when fighting the British ,Hindu soldiers had no hesitation in accepting the Muslim king as their supreme commander with no trace of any communal bias among the Hindu, Muslim or Sikh soldiers.
  • Religious nationalism is an ideology that combines traditional religious beliefs in divine law and authority with the modern notion of the nation-state. Frequently associated with 
    quests for ethnic autonomy, religious nationalism draws on a religion as a repository 
    of powerful symbols, ready to be tapped and put into action, as politics come to be seen in religious terms.

Reasons why it’s under threat and threat exists even in India:-

  • Rise of religious nationalism:-
    • Indian nationalism became associated with superficial concerns for the cow
    • Muslim youth being radicalised by terrorist organisations in social media.
    • Love Jihad incidents.
    • Trying to distort the history of India by glorifying it as a Hindu nation.
  • A culture of hate that is being perpetrated in the name of nationalism is increasingly visible in India. The murders of journalists recently.
  • The dictation of what nationalism consists of and what it does not.
  • Government’s role:-
    • Could not stop the incidents affecting the lives of the minorities
    • Haryana announced that the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, would become mandatory throughout the state.
    • A number of churches were vandalized etc.
  • Laws were not applicable in a uniform manner.
  • Radicalisation of youth by anti social elements and also social media.

Global phenomenon :-


  • A disturbing aspect of the globalization of religion is taking place like the violent conflicts, worldwide  that are rooted in religion or expressed in religious terms.For instance the religious persecution of Rohingya muslims.
  • Nazism and fascism were both ugly manifestations of nationalism
  • With rising protectionism countries are increasingly taking action against minorities to safeguard majority interests like Ban on immigration of muslims from some muslim countries in US.
  • Some states even follow religion as part of state policy like Pakistan where minority communities are persecuted for blasphemy.
  • Rise of Islamic fundamentalism in especially the middle eastern countries.


  • Despite such instances around India and the world, society is progressing as the fundamentalist attitudes are checked by the constitution and judiciary in India. Similarly some countries are moving to promote harmony among different communities
  • Indian nationalism must be reinvigorated by stressing on three pillars: Constitutionalism (respect for the Constitution, due process, and rule of law), pluralism (respect and preservation of India’s diversity) and humanism (respect and promotion of insaaniyat).

Topic: Salient features of world’s physical geography. 

2) Examine why historians and archaeologists have expressed concern over amendments proposed to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958). (150 Words)

The Hindu



  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced passed in Lok Sabha recently. The Bill amends the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. 

Amendments proposed are :-

  • Construction in prohibited areas:-
    • An area of 100 meters around a protected monument or area is a prohibited area .
    • The Bill permits construction of public works in ‘prohibited areas’ for public purposes.
  • Definition of public works:-
    • Public works include the construction of any infrastructure that is financed and carried out by the central government for public purposes.
    • This infrastructure must be necessary for public safety and security and must be based on a specific instance of danger to public safety. 
  • Procedure for seeking permission for public works:-
    • The relevant central government department, that seeks to carry out construction for public purposes in a prohibited area, should make an application to the competent authority. 
    • If there is any question related to whether a construction project qualifies as ‘public works’, it will be referred to the National Monuments Authority which will make its recommendations to the central government whose decision will be final.
    • If the decision of the central government differs from that of the Authority, it should record its reasons in writing. 
    • This decision should be communicated by the competent authority, to the applicant, within 10 days of receiving it.
  • Impact assessment of proposed public works:
    • The National Monuments Authority will make its recommendations to the Centre only after conducting an archaeological, visual and heritage impact assessment
    • The Authority will make a recommendation for construction of public works to the central government, only if it is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of moving the construction outside the prohibited area.


  • A historical monument has to be conserved by leaving enough space around it otherwise the monument itself may decay once buildings come up next to it. This is neglected in the bill.
  • The pressures of urban development have meant that more and more historical monuments are coming under threat due to development activities around them.
  • In 2013, based on CAG report ASI found that 21 historical monuments had gone missing due to development activities around them.
  • There are a mere 3,650 monuments which are nationally protected in a country so the bill need to promote protection rather than lessening safeguards.
  • Failure of national monuments authority:-
    • A major task of this authority remains to be done, that of preparing heritage bye-laws for nationally protected monuments. 
  • Public works are more often than not very large infrastructure projects. Allowing these in the immediate vicinity of a protected monument will defeat the very purpose of the AMASR Act and will be a violation of Article 49 of the Constitution.


  • Experts suggest that National Monuments Authority has been steadfast in refusing permission for construction within the prohibited areas despite tremendous pressure from private companies, and even the government.
  • The government said amended is needed to allow construction works related to infrastructure financed and carried out by central government for public purposes is necessary for the safety or security of the public at large.
  • Besides, such construction works would be taken up when there is no possibility of any other viable alternative to such construction beyond the limits of the prohibited area.



  • Putting in place proper protection system for monuments is more critical .
  • The CAG pointed to connivance by ASI officials with politicians in protecting those who have illegally occupied the prohibited zone around monuments. This needs proper accountability.
  • Strengthen capacity:-
    • Due to lack of manpower,546 of monuments whose records were scrutinised were encroached according to CAG.
  • There  should be proper rationalized criteria on issue of skyline.
  • Public need to be made aware the necessity of conserving these monuments.



  • India’s monuments form an irreplaceable archive of its civilisational heritage. So there is a need for greater focus on this.

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

3) Sir Arthur Cotton is remembered less as a representative of the British Raj and more as a local saviour in certain parts of India. Examine why. (250 Words)

The Wire



  • Arthur cotton known as the “Apara Bhageeratha” has roughly 3,000 statues of him gives a hint of the respect he still holds amongst farmers.

Work done by him and why he is considered as a local saviour:-

  • He is the architect of some of the grandest river-based projects that were completed in the 19th century that continue to function to date.
    • Construction of anicuts to control the tumultuous Cauvery river and to boost life and prosperity in a decaying Tanjore district. The construction of canals helped in navigation.
    • Sir Cotton ensured the construction of Dowleshwaram Barrage before
    • The Prakasam Barrage constructed across the Krishna river in Vijayawada still caters to the irrigational needs of the region.
    • He had envisaged Polavaram or Indira Sagar major irrigation project proposed across the Godavari long time ago.
  • The ‘rice bowl’ of Andhra Pradesh – the Godavari region – is credited to his vision
  • He had a grander scheme of implementing such a large scale project across India, to connect all rivers.
    • His vision extended beyond the Madras presidency that he served as he wanted to connect India from Calcutta to Karachi and Indus to the Nilgiris.
  • He aimed to tame rivers so as to limit damage during floods and famines and create a navigation system that would prove to be more cost effective.
  • He had rallied against imperial overzeal for the railways.
    • According to him,waterways were a doubly rewarding alternative to rail transport, simultaneously nourishing the farmlands of rural Indians.
  • He is one of the few colonial administrators loved by the people and disliked by his own colleagues ,taking stands that irritated his superiors.

General Studies – 2


Topic:   Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

4) Honouring constitutionalism, privileging individual rights over innovation should be the priority for any data protection legislation. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu




  • The volumes of data and content held digitally are expanding so are the ways that businesses can access, filter and understand this information, helping them to improve their efficiency and grow.                                  
  • At one end of the spectrum, there is distrust of the use of data beyond limited, specifically identified purposes. At the other end, the recognition that data is a valuable asset suggests that it’s more widespread and open-ended use could empower innovation and economic opportunity.


Data protection needs to honour constitutionalism and individual rights:-

  • The state has to protect its people first which is highlighted by the tenets of the constitution and is supposed to put the welfare of the people first.
  • Justice Srikrishna committee presumes to hold both fundamental rights and innovation as as competing values. This appears contrary to principles of individual liberty.
  • In the right to privacy judgement ,the judges provided one conclusion.The privacy protections that limit state intrusion and data protection laws should shield individuals rather than commercial interests or technological innovation.
  • Technology is a means, and not the end in itself. It must exist and work within the framework of the rule of law.
  • The right regulatory design will prevent pure market mechanisms that concentrate power and cause harm to individuals.
  • The A.P. Shah Committee recommendation regarding privacy act proceed from a clear acknowledgement of data protection protecting individuals and not about protecting innovation, state interests for welfare objectives, or commercial interests of technologists and corporations.
  • Current data storage and transfer will not provide adequate protection against viruses and malware, software vulnerabilities or data getting into the wrong hands for instance Airtel misusing Aadhar linking with the mobile number.


What needs to be done?

  • Policy recommendations should take a balanced view of data driven innovation to stimulate best practice, increase consumer awareness and protect privacy. 
  • Concept of social engineering is needed to made private developers more accountable.

Topic:  Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary 

5) Progressive centralisation of power within the office of the chief justice of India has not been accompanied by a parallel strengthening of the accountability of this office. Critically analyse. (250 Words)

The Indian Express



  • Recently  four of the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court holding a press conference  represents the culmination of the gradual deepening of a number of faultlines in the Indian judicial system and highlight the urgency with which they need to be addressed.

Centralisation of power with the office of CJI:-

  • With respect to the administration of the court the chief justice is the “first among equals”. The chief justice
    • decides when a case may be listed for hearing
    • Also decides which judges will hear it.
  • Choice of determining benches:-
    • In US Supreme court the Chief justice has no choice in the question of which judges to hear the case because all the 9 judges sit together to hear cases.
    • Similarly in UK 12 judges often sit in the panels of five (or more) so chief justice choice is constrained which is not the case in India where benches are sat predominantly in benches of two.
    • By comparison, the Chief Justice of India has significantly more discretion in determining which judges will hear and decide a case.
  • Personal interpretation:
    • When a judge surveys the legal landscape before him/her, it gives him/her greater room to effectuate a personal interpretive philosophy than she might otherwise have. Multiple examples can be cited to demonstrate this.
    • In the mid-2000s, where two Supreme Court benches were hearing cases involving the death penalty. One of these benches confirmed virtually every death sentence, while the other commuted most of the cases before it..
  • Selecting petitions for hearing:-
    • As the Supreme Court is dealing with a massive backlog of cases, the chief justice has the power to list cases for hearing.
    • Backlog allows the Court through the office of the chief justice to engage in the practice of judicial evasion that is effectively deciding a time-sensitive case in favour of one party by simply not hearing it.
  • The office of the chief justice remains answerable to none.
  • Anomolies found recently:-
    • According to experts, In the issue related to present CJI the assignment of certain particularly sensitive cases to benches is without reference to established norms and precedents.
    • Benches are generally constituted by the Chief Justice considering the previous orders and it is rare to exclude from reconstituted benches the Judges who had heard the matter earlier and are still available.
    • There appears to be a pattern in distribution of such cases. Matters involving Constitutional Authorities and certain issues relevant to political spectrum are being marked to certain Benches.

Accountability is still there because :-

  • Judges of the SC do not sit singly but in combinations of normally two and occasionally more. When deciding matters in open court, the CJI and the other judges sitting with him, act in their judicial capacity. While deciding cases, the CJI is one among equals.
  • While taking decisions on administrative matters ,one such onerous responsibility is the posting of matters before his own and other benches. When doing so, he does not act in his judicial capacity, but assigns matters keeping in mind established norms and conventions
  • He is as much bound by the Rule of Law as anybody else while exercising administrative powers under the Constitutional scheme


Way ahead:-

  • Meaningful reform is needed that brings accountability and transparency to the office of the chief justice, without compromising on judicial independence.
  • In Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v Union of India, the Second Judges Appointment Case:-
    • The Court has decided that opinion of the Chief Justice of India in appointments and transfers is not merely his individual opinion but an opinion formed collectively at the Apex level in the Judiciary
    • It has laid down that the Chief Justice must consult senior Judges, thus paving way for the Collegium system.
    • Perhaps this could be the way forward to tackle with the present problem.


General Studies – 3

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

6) Cryptocurrency transactions have led to concerns regarding consumer protection, money laundering, and financing of criminal activities. Discuss the challenges that exist in regulating cryptocurrencies. (250 Words)



  • Even though the cryptocurrency provides certain benefits and comes along with certain drawbacks, there is a malignant side to it as well.
  • Cryptocurrencies are being used for nefarious purposes like hacking, money laundering, obtaining illegal goods and services and fraudulent activities. 


  • Cryptocurrencies allow anonymous funding potentially acting as conduits for money laundering and terror financing. The consumer protection, in particular retail consumer protection concerns, stem from their volatile nature.
  • Consumer protection :-
    • As the number of users and transactions are increasing, the hackers are getting into the personal wallets or even to the entire transaction.
    • Fraudsters are finding new ways to deceive consumers and loot them. Some of those techniques are Ponzi schemes, imitation websites and phishing emails
      • One of the predominant ways includes a person sending their wallet file and private key to a user and requesting them to forward the bitcoin to another address.
      • The bait for the user is that they will be tempted to retain the bitcoin sent to them and not forward it.If they get greedy and end up accepting the wallet, it releases a file that drains all their bitcoins.
    • The anonymity of cryptocurrency has made way for cybercriminals to hold victims hard drives hostage to extort payment from them in terms of bitcoins.
  • Money laundering :-
    • Silk Road, a bitcoin based online market was seized for money laundering. The website comprised of over 13,000 listings for drugs, listings for spiteful software programs, fake passports, pirated media content and computer hacking facilities.
    • Face-to-face trading of bitcoins are a matter of concern as they are becoming a platform to launder money. The issue with these transactions is that people can either purchase bitcoins or exchange them for something else.
    • As a result, one could easily sell illegal services or products strictly for Bitcoins, or purchase large amounts of digital currency with regular currency, then transit the digital currency offshore and either exchange it for more illegal products and services or convert it to another nation’s currency then deposit it into a bank.
  • Financing of criminal activities :-
    • Since cryptocurrency is borderless, it can be really attractive for terrorist finances as they can transfer funds across countries in a cheap way.
    • They can avoid legal barriers, which makes it really beneficial for the efficiency of terrorist attacks.
    • Terrorists can hide their financial activities under the garb of anonymity or pseudonymity. 
    • Certain characteristics of cryptocurrency like speed, cost, security make it a lucrative source to finance such activities
    • Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins allow human traffickers to buy and sell girls for sex without the fear of legal consequences. Child sex trafficking is becoming wide spreading as traffickers believe that they can work anonymously using bitcoins.
    • Cryptocurrency is being used to fund child pornography, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking

Challenges existing in regulating cryptocurrencies :-

  • Apart from the above mentioned issues ,,most new users know close to nothing of the technology, or how to verify the genuineness of a particular crypto currency. So there is a need for proper regulatory mechanism.
  • The global nature of this payment mechanism is the biggest challenge.
  • Intense volatility of cryptocurrency.
  • No single location of buyers and seller.
    • The buyer can be from one country and seller from the other country so regulation becomes difficult.
  • Without the regulatory authority like Bank regulation become difficult.
  • Cryptographic content makes it difficult to be tracked.


Way ahead :-

  • In countries such as the US, the SEBI-equivalent regulatory body is looking into crypto currencies. Experts say, considering crypto currencies are looked at as a commodity, SEBI should look at regulating them
  • There is a need for clear regulations or proper jurisdiction so that tax has to be paid on all crypto currency transactions. 
  • 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 crypto currencies 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.

Topic:  Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values. 



  • Being obsequious is when one you are criticizing them because they are too eager to help or agree with someone more important than them.
  • It is a nature of being obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner.


  • In India generally people are taught the mantra of obedience since childhood. This happens across caste, class, religion and ethnicity. 
  • Public sphere (good and bad):-
    • In public sphere, especially in administration political neutrality is very necessary so an administrator need to be able to put forward ideas in public interest and not just comply with the elected representative.
    • For instance some of the civil servants have been jailed in India because of the nexus between bureaucracy and politicians. Being just obsequious violates the code of ethics followed by the civil servants.
    • However when citizen needs to abide by law, adhere to the tenets of the constitution ,discipline in military obsequious nature is required.
  • Private sphere (good and bad):-
    • Even in private sphere a person has to uphold his/her self respect by standing up for himself. Being just servile violates ones fundamental right of living life with dignity.
    • Thousands of Dalits in the country had been obsequious to dominant castes in the society due to patriarchal and caste discrimination. Same goes with women, LGBT communities etc.
    • Being obsequious also shows people’s belief in repressive traditions ,superstitions to the extent which harm the community as well.
    • In personal sphere being obsequious to parents as sort of respect is appreciable and shows a sense of respect and responsibility of the person.
  • However there is a sea of change happening in India when activists ,people and society as a whole are fighting for their rights, anti corruption and putting forward ideas to make India a better society.

Topic:  Ethics in human actions
a) Will you ignore her and sleep for the rest of the journey? Justify.
b) What issues does the case highlight. How can these issues be solved? Examine. (250 Words)

  A) As a responsible and empathetic citizen first I would try to talk to the lady and offer her my seat and in the meanwhile I will also request the conductor to arrange a seat for her as there should be reserved seats for female in a government bus.

 B)Issues case is highlighting:-

1.Sexual exploitation fear of the woman.

2.Sense of insecurity 

3.Women safety issue

4.Lack of security measures for women in public transport 

5.Lack of awareness about reservation of seats in the bus if they are then lack of implementation 

6.Lack of empathy among the fellow passengers.

How to resolve such issues:-

1.Gender sensitivity needs to be inculcated in the men from childhood itself.

2.Families need to treat both girls and boys alike and segregation of roles based on gender needs restructuring.

3.The government needs to ensure public transport is safe for women by having technological initiatives like GPS location tracking of the bus, having cameras onboard etc .

  • Kerala police introduced ‘Pink Beat’ patrol for enhancing the safety for women and children in public places. The Pink Beat includes specially trained women police personnel.
  • An app launched by the Delhi police called Himmat, or “courage” in Hindi, sends out the user’s location to the police control room etc.

4.Women need to believe that the offenders will be punished seriously.

5.Women need to be prepared for their self defence.