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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:  Role of women; Social empowerment; Population and associated issues

1) Empowering women to make reproductive choices is the best way to address fertility, and its associated health challenges in India. Analyse. (250 Words)

The Hindu




  • The final report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4 showed that total fertility rate reduced to 2.2 children showing the success of family planning methods .

Empowering women necessary to address fertility because:-

  • The successful lowering of TFR and 1 percent reduction in the unmet family planning needs, can be ascribed to literacy, which has gone up among women.
    • Where TFR numbers are high, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar because of lack of access and marriages of girls under the age of 18.
    • Women with 12 years or more of schooling have a fertility rate of 1.7, while women with no schooling have an average rate of 3.1. 
  • Has the positive impact on the health of the mother. It also encourages spacing between babies, which should ideally be 32 months or more. This is also because of economic empowerment.
  • With increasing literacy, the resultant awareness is empowering women to make sexual health and reproductive choices.
  • There is a high rate of teenage pregnancies in rural areas. Though the number of teenage pregnancies is down from NFHS 3 – 16 percent to 8 percent there are still enough women without access to or a choice in safe reproductive healthcare.
  • There is a need to treat women as autonomous beings able to take control over their sexual and reproductive lives and to make decisions on these matters on the basis of access to adequate information. A woman’s right to reproductive autonomy is often impaired because of her status in society.
  • Data show that the higher the level of a woman’s educational attainment, the fewer children she is likely to bear. Given that fewer children per woman and delayed marriage and childbearing could mean more resources per child and better health and survival rates for mothers and children, this is an important link.
    • For example, an education reform in Kenya that increased the length of primary education by a year resulted in increased female educational attainment, and delayed marriage and fertility.
    • The data in India shows that the number of children per woman declines with women’s level of schooling.
  • The economic theory of fertility suggests an incentive effect: more educated women have higher opportunity costs of bearing children in terms of lost income. The household bargaining model suggests that more educated women are better able to support themselves and have more bargaining power, including on family size.
  • More educated women may learn different ideas of desired family size through school, community, and exposure to global communication networks. Finally, more educated women know more about prenatal care and child health, and hence might have lower fertility because of greater confidence that their children will survive.
  • Education levels are strongly correlated with another important aspect of the fertility rate. Higher levels of schooling mean lower levels of teenage pregnancy.
    • Teenage childbearing results in greater health risks. Birth intervals smaller than 24 months are associated with increased health risks for both mothers and newborns.
  • Lack of education robs women of reproductive control, feeding into India’s maternal and child health problem.
  • Combined with younger pregnancies and higher childbearing rates, it also constrains women’s economic choices. This, in turn, reinforces a lack of reproductive control
  • Staying in school provides a protective effect.
    • Girls who stay in school are less likely to become pregnant, less likely to marry at a young age and more likely to use contraception. Staying in school also provides a protective effect against HIV acquisition
  • Misuse of sterilisation camps is due to women’s ignorance due to illiteracy and lack of awareness regarding reproductive rights.
  • The vast majority of studies found some positive associations between women’s empowerment and lower fertility, longer birth intervals, and lower rates of unintended pregnancy.


Way forward:-

  • Laws protecting against child marriage and against rape and other forms of gender-based violence clearly need to be developed and implemented .
  • Gender norms that accept gender-based violence are harmful to the lives and reproductive health of adolescents.
  • Access to family planning, reduced child mortality, access to work opportunities may also influence the number of children a woman bears.


General Studies – 2

Topic:   Functioning of the judiciary

2) Comment on the premises that justify complete judicial insulation from the public. In your opinion, what mechanism needs to be evolved within the Supreme Court to resolve internal disputes and bring more transparency in its functioning? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu



Premises that justify judicial insulation from public:-

  • Any interference by parliament or government in judicial functioning is not encouraged.
  • Fear of politicisation of judiciary:-
    • Judiciary needs independence with respect to its appointments and functioning. Any move towards reforming the judiciary by parliament is seen as an attempt to reduce judiciary’s role .
  • Outside interference will lead to partisanship in judicial proceedings.
  • Also there is a concept that overt parliamentary law is the sole method of interference (like during emergency) with the judiciary and so judiciary need to be insulated.
  • The office of CJI is trusted unquestionably.
    • However based on experiences from UK, the principle that one should trust one’s Chief Justice, cannot be an absolute one. That it has become so is testament to the legal fraternity closing ranks under the ruse of convention.
  • Also any genuine action trying to bring judicial reforms is also thwarted of as interference.
  • With such judicial insulation there is lack of transparency leading to internal disputes as well.


How to resolve internal disputes and bring transparency ?

  • A committee of judges can be formed to decide which benches will handle which cases instead of the arbitrary decision of CJI in deciding these.
  • Supreme Court Act can be passed by Parliament with SC restructured into three divisions like Administrative, Appellate and constitutional.
  • Constitution envisages the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to be the possible subject matter of a parliamentary law from Entry 77 of List I of the Seventh Schedule which makes the aforementioned a legitimate subject of law-making.
    • Passage of such a law is critical to rectify the discourse of any parliamentary law relating to the judiciary being only interference .
  • A degree of institutional coherence is necessary for proper functioning of the apex court.
    • It will allow for more careful contemplation of which matters actually deserve admission to India’s apex court.
    • It will reduce the discretion available to the CJI to select benches, since this will be limited to the appellate division alone. 
  • Appointments of judges can be made more transparent and National judicial appointment commission needs serious consideration.
  • Performance Commission:-
    • Many U.S. States have constituted such commissions, which examine complaints about the conduct of judges. They are vested with powers to take consequential action. India can emulate it.
  • All India Judicial services can be started to compensate for shortage of judges along with good quality.

Topic: Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders 

3) Define civil society.  Is a democratic state necessary precondition for a vigilant civil society? Critically examine the role of civil society is mobilising social movements and implications of these movements on polity in India. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Civil society:-

  • Civil society is the “third sector” of society, along with government and business.
  • The term “civil society” generally is used to refer to social relations and organizations outside the state or governmental control.  Sometimes it is also taken to mean outside the economic or business sphere as well. 
  • Usually “civil society” refers to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and associations that people belong to for social and political reasons: churches and church groups, community groups, youth groups, service organizations, interest groups, and academic institutions and organizations.
  • It comprises civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Democratic state is the necessary precondition:-

  • Democratic theory holds that citizens have the political competence to participate in political processes through public debates, campaigns, and non-violent direct action in civil society. Therefore a democratic state is a necessary precondition for a vigilant civil society.
  • In a democracy, civil society groups have respect for the law, for the rights of individuals, and for the rights of other groups to express their interests and opinions.  
  • A democratic state cannot be stable unless it is effective and legitimate, with the respect and support of its citizens.  Civil society is a check, a monitor, but also a vital partner in the quest for this kind of positive relationship between the democratic state and its citizens.
  • In a democracy, non-governmental organisations provide a platform to civil society to dissent in an informed and reasoned manner
  • A democratic civil society also needs a democratic state. If the government respects the voice of citizens through the grant of the right to freedom of expression and association, it should be enabling civil society to articulate aspirations, critically engage with the state, and issue social report cards.
  • Civil society grows in places where the state does not impose restrictive legislation but, on the contrary, encourages and enhances civic participation. This happens better in a democracy
  • Authoritarian or autocratic governments see civil institutions as a threat and close them down.  

Not necessarily a precondition because:-

  • The promises of democracy can only be realised through collective action in civil society. If the state constrains civil society space, democracy is truncated, and citizens are seen only as voters.
  • A strong civil society is simultaneously a precondition and outcome of a functioning and stable democracy. The United Nations recognises that development and democracy function best when civil society is permitted to flourish unhindered.
  • It plays an integral role in democracies, and helps democratic countries to enjoy justice, equity, representation, and freedoms of expression and association, amongst many others – needed for sustenance of democracy.
  • Parliamentary democracy becomes participative democracy only with civil society’s active role


Role of civil society in mobilising social movements :-


  • Civil society organisations (CSOs) can provide both immediate relief and longer-term transformative change
    • By defending collective interests and increasing accountability
    • Providing solidarity mechanisms and promoting participation
    • Influencing decision making
    • Directly engaging in service delivery
    • Challenging prejudice.
  • The recent examples of Dalit movements rising (Bhima –Koregaon),Anti corruption movement by Anna Hazare show how civil society can help in mobilising people and help in social movement.
  • In this way, excluded groups can be effective drivers of their own change by forming or participating in organisations that represent group interests.
  • CSOs also play an important role in conducting research to raise the profile of excluded groups.
  • These organizations frequently become involved in political activities. They try to influence governmental decision making and participate in a variety of public participation processes. As such, the establishment and maintenance of a healthy civil society is extremely important for the successful development and operation of democratic political systems.
  • However there are instances which show the ugly side as well. Civil society can also create a social movement prone to violence and affecting the cultural fabric like the recent atrocities on minorities and dalits by some groups ,Padmavati ban protests etc.

Implications of these social movements on polity:-

  • Social movements can act as the first steps towards developing a sense of self-identity and citizenship, which does not necessarily emerge initially through engagement with the state.
  • They allow individuals to turn grievances into a sense of collective injustice, and then action.
  • Group membership amongst those who are marginalized and the sense of dignity and solidarity that comes with this can stimulate people to aspire as a precursor to political engagement.
  • Brings in an aspect of transparency in the polity of the country.
  • Many sensitive issues are brought to the forefront like the LGBT rights, Right to information, anti corruption etc.

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

4) Why has it become imperative for policymakers in India to devise measures to effectively curb the use of tobacco and its products? In the light of failure of many policies to curb its use, what policy recommendation would you make to severely curb tobacco consumption in India? Discuss. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Why is it imperative to ban tobacco and its products in India ?

  • Economic:-
    • India is the second largest consumer and producer of tobacco-based products and are categorised as sin goods or demerit goods .
    • India’s distinct pattern of tobacco consumption is in multiple forms such as cigarettes, bidis, chewing tobacco and khaini (smokeless tobacco) in contrast to the global trend of cigarettes being the primary source of consumption.
    • Treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer imposes maximum financial burden on the individual and family.
  • Health:-
    • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like ischemic heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death globally and associated with tobacco use.
    • Smoking acts synergistically with other risk factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure to increase the risk of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD).
    • Respiratory Diseases
    • Effect on pregnancy and its outcome
    • Maternal tobacco use during pregnancy and exposure of child to second hand smoke in childhood is known to be a risk factor too.
  • Chemical:-
    • Tobacco products contains around 5000 toxic substances.
  • Psychological:
    • Low emotional stability and risk taking behaviour are more common in tobacco users.
  • Environmental:
    • For cultivation of tobacco crop forests are destroyed.
    • Burning of tobacco produces number of toxicants in environment.
    • Manufacturing, packaging and transportation also cause environmental pollution.


Failure of many policies:-

  • Governments have resorted to a mix of policies which range from
    • Monitoring the pricing and taxation regime of these products
    • Focus gradually shifting towards awareness campaigns highlighting the deadly effects of tobacco use
    • Regulatory control laws pertaining to packaging and labelling as well as shaming and prohibiting its use in public places.
  • The nationwide implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) has not improved the situation either. All tobacco-related products have been placed in the 28% tax slab. This led only a marginal increase in price leading to null effect.
  • But still lot needs to be done.

Recommendations needed:-

  • The revisions in the taxation policy concerning tobacco products should ideally have a
    • Mix of a removal of all excise and other tax exemptions irrespective of the size of the unit
    • Restrictions on sales of loose sticks
    • Raising taxes/duties on bidis and smokeless tobacco by a significantly higher level to narrow the price gap between the bidis and smokeless tobacco vis-à-vis cigarettes
  • Integrate cessation activities into formal health services:-
    • Health workers, who are often the first point of contact for patients, can also play an important role in tobacco cessation counselling.
    • Training health professionals in tobacco cessation.
  • Provide brief counselling and referral:-
    • Routine assessment of tobacco usage and brief counselling is known to have a positive effect on users.
  • Technology:-
    • Telephone help lines have played a major role in tobacco cessation in the West. This can be tried out as a more cost effective intervention method. Innovative measures such as mobile apps and peer support platforms using social media could also be tried out as additional strategies.
  • Awareness need to be generated from the school level itself with some lessons on prevention of tobacco use in the school curriculum. Also strong surveillance mechanism in schools and colleges is necessary .
  • Providing incentives to farmers to reduce tobacco production
  • COPTA act needs effective implementation.

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

5) Should the right to free and compulsory education be extended to the 14-18 age group? Substantiate. (150 Words)

The Hindu




  • Based on the recent ASER report it is understood that RTE has worked effectively in obtaining the goal of free and compulsory education up to the age of 14 years. However the age 14-18 years is a very primary age group who are the future workforce .So this needs attention.

 Yes, right to free and compulsory education need to be extended to this group as well because:-

  • It will provide guaranteed inclusion and will empower those in the 14-18 age group who are not enrolled anywhere and help them acquire finishing education that is so vital to their participation in the workforce.
  • It is absolutely essential for all of them to get an education that equips them with the skills, especially job-oriented vocational capabilities, if the expectation of a demographic dividend is to be meaningful. 
  • It is observed that girls were sent to school till 14 years but if education is made compulsory even after that then child marriages will be avoided and these girls will be empowered to make independent choices in life.
  • Child labour which is predominant issue in India would reduce drastically.
  • This will promote even the families of socially backward communities like SC’s, ST’s to send kids to school .This increases social mobility in the society.


  • From the ASER report ,even though compulsory education was there in primary sections results are very discouraging in rural areas.
  • Learning outcomes for those who had progressed to higher levels of schooling were shockingly low.
  • The target has not been on outcomes but the numbers which leads to deteriorating quality of education.
  • Free and compulsory education does not mean the schooling system is the best .Indian education system is plagued with problems like infrastructure issues, teacher quality issues, shortage of manpower etc.


Way forward and conclusion:-

  • To cater to the needs of the industry in the coming years and take advantage of the demographic dividend India needs to empower its children especially who are in the age group of 14-18 years and the weapon is education

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

6) What is an ‘orange’ passport? Why has this been introduced now? What is different about the ECR category? Do you think this policy is discriminatory? (250 Words)


Orange passports:-

  • As the last page of the passport would not be printed now, the passport holders with ECR status would be issued a passport with orange colour passport jacket and those with non-ECR status would continue to get a blue passport
  • The orange jacket will replace the emigration clearance on the last page of an Indian passport that is mandatory for unskilled and semi-skilled workers who have not completed Grade 10.
  • ECR passports are mainly given to non-matriculate workers who wish to work in the Gulf countries and in Southeast Asia.

Why has this been introduced now?

  • The government was wondering how to make passports more gender-just, especially after a few cases of single mothers applying for their children’s passports
  • The government has done away with the last page to be printed in due course.
  • It was while initiating a change in passports that the decision to introduce orange passports for the ECR category was taken.

What is different about the ECR category?

  • ECR passport holders are being serviced by the Protector General of Emigrants so that their human rights are safeguarded abroad.
  • Passport holders under the ECR category have faced exploitation, especially in West Asia. Protecting their human rights has become a priority, as the government is reaching out to Diaspora Indians and Indians working abroad.
  • With an orange passport, ECR passport holders will stand out in difficult situations and their passports will allow for quick processing of their documents.

Discriminatory policy:-

  • The decision will discriminate between ordinary workers and educated ones. This would lead to a situation wherein those who have not passed the tenth standard would be considered as second class citizens
  • The Indian government decision will affect migrant workers in 17 countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
  • Could increase the vulnerability of workers often duped by middlemen who promise them jobs
    • An orange cover shows a person is not well educated, and makes them vulnerable to exploitation. These are already vulnerable people who need more protection, not discrimination.
  • This violates the right to equality enshrined in the fundamental rights.

Not discriminatory because:-

  • Government said the decision would easily identify and protect labourers who have not completed Grade 10 who could be duped by unscrupulous agents.
  • Human trafficking could be monitored effectively as people who need attention are clearly mentioned.

General Studies – 3 

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

7) What is e-way bill system? How will it work? Examine its merits and demerits. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Electronic way bill system :-

  • It offers the technological framework to track intra-state as well as inter-state movements of goods of value exceeding Rs 50,000
  • Under the e-way bill system, there will be no need for a separate transit pass for every state one e-way bill will be valid throughout the country for the movement of goods.
  • All consignments moving more than 10 km from their origin will require prior registration and generation of an e-way bill through the GST Network, which will be valid for varying durations depending on the distance travelled. 


  • According to notified e-way bill rules, every registered supplier will require prior online registration on the e-way bill portal for the movement of these goods.
  • Any supplier/recipient/transporter can generate an e-way bill. Once this is generated, there will be no need to fill the requisite information in the GST return, as there will be an automated filing of GSTR-1 .
  • A unique e-way bill number (EBN) as well as a QR code will be generated for tracking.
  • Digital facilities via SMS/Android apps will also be provided for the generation of e-way bills.
  • The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed a separate portal for the e-way bill.
  • The rules also specify that the permits would be valid for one day for the movement of goods for 100 km, and in the same proportion for following days.
  • Tax officials will have the power to scrutinise the e-way bill at any point during transit to check tax evasion.
  • Ten states have started trial runs of the e-way bill system.

Merits :-

  • With the move towards the e-way bill, the organised part of the long-distance logistics industry would contribute towards the rapid growth of the Indian economy (the organised section) as a whole.
  • Plugging tax evasion
  • The e-way bill will boost revenues by 15-20 per cent
  • Easy use:-
    • e-way bill can also be generated or cancelled through SMS
  • will bring uniformity across the states for seamless inter-state movement of goods.
  • The government has highlighted the powers provided to transporters in the e-way bill rules to report detention of vehicles beyond 30 minutes on the portal.
  • Also, the e-way bill rules facilitate online reporting of inspection and verification of documents.


  • The industry views the e-way bill as a system that will check tax evasion to some extent, but may not be able to stop it completely.
  • Also, it adds another layer of compliances for GST payers and, in case of technical glitches, may result in supply chain bottlenecks.
  • The system may not be able to handle the large volume of e-way bills that will have to be generated.
  • Companies are worried about their preparedness
  • Another concern is how the system will be adopted at the stockist level and if it will lead to supply shocks.
  • Compliance at the wholesale could be impacted initially.
  • Connectivity could be an issue in the smaller towns. Challenges will be infrastructure related.
    • Would lead to delays in transportation
  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) pointed out that any disruption in the GSTN will bring operations to a standstill. In such a situation, it wouldn’t be feasible to contact state officers and get waivers instantly.
  • Fears of Arbitrary Inspections
    • Tax consultants raised fears of arbitrary inspections by mobile squads that were prevalent in the earlier regime.
  • Understanding of the rules by stakeholders including small traders and transporters is also a worry. 
  • The e-way bills further dilute the benefits accruing out of an efficient GST model, simply because the matching envisaged through the GSTN portal has not successfully happened. 


Way forward:-

  • The provisions should be made applicable only to select, notified products which are prone to evasion and not to all products.
  • Instead of the e-way bill, the government could use quick response (QR) codes to validate the goods being transported. 

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions


  • Propriety:-
    • In general propriety is conformity to established/conventionally accepted standards of behaviour or morals.
  • Recently the four supreme court judges held a press conference .This is considered as violation of judicial propriety. The move by the judges is considered unethical because:-
    • In Judiciary it is generally against the convention for the judges to hold a press conference .
    • It raises questions of ethical functioning of Supreme court and questions the integrity of Chief Justice of India.
    • Differences among the judges is brought into the open tarnishing the image of judiciary in the public.
  • However this action has been taken after exhaustion of steps like internal resolution as well.
  • Why the act took place does not justify the violation as in this case to have kept silent would be tantamount to keeping the people of India ignorant which is not acceptable in a democracy.
  • The necessity for the judges to break the protocol shows that the grave nature of the crisis. Some things are too important to be kept hidden in the belief that in-house mechanisms are the best way of resolving deep disputes.
  • Not to have done so could have imperilled the apex court, the concept of justice and democracy.