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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: Urbanisation – problems and remedies

1) Urbanization advances economic development, but it also poses major challenges, from managing congestion and pollution to ensuring that growth is inclusive and equitable. Does India have tools to overcome to overcome these challenges? Discuss. (250 Words)

Project Syndicate



  • By 2030, India’s urban population will reach 600 million people. For India, rapid urbanization is particularly vital to enable the country to take full advantage of the demographic dividend afforded by its young population. As the urbanization process continues, connectivity, proximity, and diversity will accelerate knowledge diffusion, spark further innovation, and enhance productivity and employment growth.


  • Rapid urbanization also poses enormous challenges, from managing congestion and pollution to ensuring that growth is inclusive and equitable.
  • The challenges of urbanisation include
    • Lack of prior and proper planning
    • The ineffective functioning of civic bodies and the paucity of resources for urban local bodies.
    • In a bid to address these shortcomings, the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were passed to devolve more powers and the three “Fs” funds, functions and functionaries. However, this is not happening effectively.

Yes, India has the tools to overcome the challenges:-

  • India will benefit from technological innovations including digital technologies, cleaner energy, innovative construction materials, and new modes of transport. As technology continues to advance , more diversified cities and districts tend to experience greater job growth.
    • The strongest job gains due to diversification are occurring in rural areas and among small enterprises, suggesting that India’s urbanization can bring inclusive growth and prosperity.
    • Evidence also shows that high growth rates, which support poverty reduction, are concentrated in the rural areas of particular districts.
  • The UN “New Urban Agenda” emphasises the need to focus on these challenges.
  • Its flagship schemes like the Smart Cities, AMRUT, Housing for All, HRIDAY and Swachh Bharat are aimed at not only addressing various deficits to provide better urban governance, but also seek to make Indian cities and towns hubs of growth and sustainable development.
  • A series of reforms through incentives and disincentives have been put in place to achieve these goals. Incentives for universal housing, giving infrastructure status to affordable housing, allowing FDI and providing income tax exemption are among the important measures taken.
  • Also, the government is promoting innovative measures like waste-to-energy, waste-to-compost and the reuse of construction and demolition waste as part of sustainable urbanisation.

Way forward:-

  • ‘Housing for All’ policy should be pursued with a vigorous annual review that ranks States on the basis of performance. The Centre should also take its own National Urban Transport Policy on developing cities around mobility networks seriously.
  • Urban governance policies, although mainly in the domain of the States, must be aligned with national commitments on reduction of carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11.
  • There is a need for a plan of action to achieve sustainable human settlements. It should ensure adequate shelter, water, energy, sanitation and solid waste management, along with other elements.
  • There is a need for proper planning and various deficits relating to infrastructure, housing, slum upgradation ,reduce pollution, employment, education and health in urban areas need to be through public and private participation.

General Studies – 2

Topic:   Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

2) The success of Swacch Bharat mission hinges on strong municipals and efficient governance. Comment. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


Issues with municipalities and efficient governance in Swachh Bharat programme:

  • The rate of open defecation is not decreasing much:-
    • India has far higher levels of open defecation than other countries of the same GDP per capita.
    • Even though the rate of construction of toilets is increasing the municipalities are failing to make people use them.
  • Lack of funds with Municipalities is the biggest challenge.
    • Unlike individual toilets there is no central funding for individual toilets, hence Municipalities fail to construct
  • Lack of proper sewage system:-
    • Several toilets are being built in haste, but not connected to sewers. There has been a rush among local officials to show progress and to prove themselves before the Centre since it is a high-priority project. So, even though nobody is using these toilets, they have been registered as a progress.
    • It takes years to build sewage systems, and local politicians face all the costs upfront, and the benefits are far in the future.
    • Disgruntled citizens and voters complain about the digging of neighbourhoods for years, causing much nuisance to their daily lives. 
  • Deeply entrenched cultural contexts have not been taken into account for successful policy outcomes. India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. This can be done by municipalities investing in sewage systems.
  • Corruption:-
    • Municipalities are not working as change agents. The municipalities in India are a very weak arm of governance. An elected body of a municipality is very weak and corrupt.
  • Problem of political incentives:-
    • Municipal and government offices are itself not clean.
    • Waste collection in urban areas is not done regularly .Even when it is done it is dumped outside the cities leading to heaps of garbage.

Way forward:-

  • Pursuit of Swachh Bharat also requires strengthening public health services. Services such as good drainage systems, absence of swamps and ponds that are home to stagnant water, and the supply of safe drinking water all of which reduce exposure to and spread of diseases  are classic examples of public goods and require effective government intervention. 
  • Developing proper sewage system in village would also have wider impact with water not stagnating any more, lesser vector borne diseases etc so the wider objective of sanitation will be achieved.
  • Enabling local governments to construct sewage systems will solve the purity issue :-
    • A toilet that flushes away human waste into the sewage and waste management system solves the problem. If there is a functional sewage system, it is relatively low cost for households to build a toilet in every home that is connected to the sewage system. 

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

3) Examine the role and potential of community level interventions and emerging technologies in  improving quality of care for women and newborns. (250 Words)

Down to Earth



  • Health care of omen around the world needs a lot of improvement with maternal mortality rate still high in many countries and institution of deliveries is still minimal especially in third world countries.
  • It is the lack of care providers and functional health facilities that have made countries rely on community health programmes.

Potential of community level interactions:-

  • Practices like home visitation and people mobilisation prove effective at community level, for which women support groups play a pivotal role.
  • These support groups, which comprise women of varying levels of experience, provide ante-natal care and disseminate health-related messages within a community.
  • Health facilities are the second-level intervention, wherein emergency obstetric and newborn care facilities are provided. This is followed by district-level intervention wherein health care workers are trained. District-level interventions also provide necessary data to guide national health policy.
  • Community interventions can make girls aware about reproductive health in a better way educating them about the nutrition needed for them and child. This can lead to less child marriages in a country like India.


  • ICT does not only benefit medical practitioners in remote areas through the exchange of information between primary and specialty care health professionals, but also enables them to obtain a second opinion to help with diagnosis. This helps in strengthening cooperation between health professionals and improves coordination.
  • Mother tracking system in India is a very innovative way to keep check on mother and the new born child.
  • Blood samples, medicines etc can be delivered on time in rural areas when technological interventions happen.
  • Mass awareness can take place due to technology via mobile messages.


  • Despite the advantages for a country to have effective healthcare the public health care system needs to be strengthened.
  • India needs to focus on preventive healthcare with enhancing nutrition for new born and mother to deal with the issue of malnutrition.

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

4) Analyse the findings of the NITI Aayog’s Health Index report that was released recently. (250 Words)

Down to Earth

Health index report :-

  • In its first attempt at establishing an annual systematic tool to measure and understand the heterogeneity and complexity of the nation’s performance in Health the NITI Aayog released a Health Index report 
  • The report ranks states and union territories (UTs) on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes and their overall performance with respect to each other.
  • The report has ranked all states and UTs in three different categories: big states, small states and UT.

Key findings from the report:-

  • Kerala has topped the list of larger states on overall health performance while Uttar Pradesh appeared at the bottom among larger states in terms of overall performance.
  • As per the index report for large states, Kerala was followed by Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
  • Besides Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Odisha are among the states that performed poorly in the health index.
  • Among small states, Mizoram ranked first, followed by Manipur and Goa in terms of annual incremental performance.

Positives :

  • States with a record of investment in literacy, nutrition and primary health care have achieved high scores in NITI Aayog’s first Health Index. Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu are the best-performing large States.
  • The better-performing States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu is that their continuous improvements have overall left little room to notch up high incremental scores, but intra-State inequalities need to be addressed.
  • The Health Index will act as a tool to leverage cooperative and competitive federalism, accelerating the pace of achieving health outcomes.
  • Kerala has emerged the top state in overall performance.
    • It was a leader with respect to proportion of low birth weight among newborns, total fertility rate, NMR, sex ratio at birth and institutional deliveries.
    • With respect to the public health institutions also, the state came on top.
    • The vacancy of medical officers at PHCs was lowest in Kerala (six per cent) followed by Tamil Nadu (8) and Punjab (8).
    • Kerala also had the highest rates of e-payments.
    • It also has the notable distinction of surpassing the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 target.
    • The state is also credited with having cardiac care units in 50 per cent or more districts


  • The report said even Kerala lagged behind in having 24×7 Public health care. It also pointed to the delay of fund transfer from state treasury to implementation agencies. There was a decline in immunisation coverage.
  • One-third of the states have registered a decline in performance

Way forward :-

  • Both the Centre and the States have the responsibility to scale up their investment on health as a percentage of their budgets, to be more ambitious in interventions.
  • While the NHPS may be able to address some of the financial risk associated with ill-health, it will take systematic improvements to preventive and primary care to achieve higher scores in the Index.
  • As the experience from countries in the West shows, socialisation of medicine with a reliance on taxation to fund basic programmes is the bedrock of a good health system. If the NITI Aayog Health Index leads to a mainstreaming of health on these lines, that would be a positive outcome.

Topic:  Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

5) The National Human Rights Commission of India is often considered as toothless body, however over a period of time it is observed that, though unevenly and sometimes ineffectively, it has carved out triumphal moments that have opened up state actions to judicial and public scrutiny. Critically evaluate. (250 Words)



  • NHRC being a statutory body with limited powers has taken a bold decision by questioning the government’s stand on Rohingyas treating them as human beings first rather than as refugees.


  • Custodial torture, right to work and labour rights, extrajudicial killings, sexual violenc,child labour, manual scavenging, problems faced by scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, religious minorities, persons with disabilities etc are the issues dealt by NHRC
  • Successful examples:-
    • Some of the famous interventions of NHRC include campaigns against discrimination of HIV patients.
    • It also has asked all State Governments to report the cases of custodial deaths or rapes within 24 hours of occurrence failing which it would be assumed that there was an attempt to suppress the incident.
    • An important intervention of the Commission was related to Nithari Village in Noida, UP, where children were sexually abused and murdered.
    • Recently, NHRC helped to bring out in open a multi crore pension scam in Haryana.
    • It also is looking up the sterilization tragedy of Chattisgarh.
    • NHRC seeks factual report from Defence Ministry on allegations of human rights violations of armed forces by stone pelters in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Accredited with ‘A’ status by ICC and endorsed by UNGA.
  • Investigating the violation of human rights or action of any public servant that amounts to negligence in prevention of such violation.
  • Visiting the jails or any other such public institutions under state government to inquire about the living conditions of inmate.



  • Painstakingly investigates human rights violation cases, sometimes in remote areas, with its limited resources. But at the end when NHRC arrives at a finding, it can only recommend remedial measures or direct the state concerned to pay compensation. It does not have power of prosecution.
  • Even in the Rohingya refugees case, where the notice issued by it to the central government may serve to open up a space of dissonance within the dominant status quo on the issue, 
    but not be able to achieve anything more.
  • It is dependent on the Government for manpower and money. The Central Government shall pay to the Commission by way of grants such sums of money as it may consider fit.
  • NHRC cannot investigate an event if the complaint was made more than one year after the incident. Hence, a large number of genuine grievances go unaddressed.
  • Violations by armed forces cannot be effectively investigated (no power to summon witnesses)
  • Overburdened with complaints:
    • It has limited strength. With increase in complaints it becomes difficult to address the cases
  • Issue of majoritarianism may affect the impartiality/accountability of the body

General Studies – 3

Topic:   Environmental pollution 

6) What is ozone pollution? Why is it still a cause for concern?  Examine. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


  • In India pollution discussion 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.

Ozone pollution:-

  • 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.

Effects :-

  • 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.
  • Ground-level ozone is a greenhouse gas that is detrimental to crop productivity. Elevated ground-level ozone exposures affect agricultural crops and trees, especially slow growing crops and long-lived trees.
  • Ozone damages the leaves and needles of sensitive plants, causing visible alterations such as defoliation and change of leaf colour.

Way forward :-

  • A policy is necessary to successfully reduce the effect of this pollutant.
  • Surface ozone not only damages health but also destroys crops. In a country where food insecurity is high, this should be reason enough to act.

Topic:    Achievements of Indians in science & technology

7) In recent years the  private sector is leading a new space race. How can India help private sector in India to boom in the space sector? Examine. (150 Words)



  • The Falcon Heavy launch by SpaceX that put the car on its trajectory confirms that the private sector is leading a new space race.
  • In the past two decades, through a combination of technology, policy, and will, governments of more than a dozen countries have successfully transferred many space operations to the private sector and it has yielded good results.

Indian scenario:-

  • Private sector companies have operated in the space sector since the 1980s. This is not confined to the US. A healthy ecosystem has sprung up around Isro (the Indian Space Research Organisation) but a bit more constrained than it is in the US due to strategic and regulatory issues.
  • Start-ups like Moon Express and Bengaluru-based Team Indus are aiming to compete in Google’s $20 million Lunar X Prize competition and put landers on the moon.
  • Till date, approximately 80% of the development work on launch vehicles has already been outsourced, with ISRO only focusing on the supervision. Even Chandrayaan II, which is scheduled for launch in 2018, has many sub-systems developed by private enterprises.
  • Issues:-
    • Space activity is still governed by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. It bars state actors from militarizing or claiming celestial bodies and calls upon states to regulate all private sector activity originating within their borders. Countries like the US and India haven’t quite come to grips with the problem yet.
    • The regulatory setup in India is not effective.It lacks a nodal body which is an independent body that creates a level playing field for government and private enterprises

How to engage private sector:-

  • ISRO role:-
    • Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) is increasingly looking for collaboration with the private sector to increase the number of satellites, explore more research-related opportunity areas and to overcome manpower and budgetary constraints(the budget of ISRO stands at 1.9 billion dollars against 19 billion dollars of NASA).
    • ISRO is going to double the number of satellites launched in the next two years and this would necessitate active involvement and participation of the private sector.
    • ISRO is trying to bring in private industry to augment ISRO‘s efforts in terms of launch vehicles, satellites and ground applications. With the existing ISRO manpower, it is not possible.
  • Increasing the budgetary allocation for research and development in space sector.
  • With the introduction of the new Space Activities Bill, the Indian government has also opened up opportunities for the private sector and made it much easier for them to sustain and thrive.
  • Children should be encouraged to be more creative and talented students need to be given proper exposure.
  • Tax exemptions can be given to the private players to make India a attractive market.


  • Throughout the globe, space sector is no longer the reserve of the government, as the entry barriers to private players are being lifted and entrepreneurs are exhibiting a keen interest to foray in this niche sector.
  • To thrive in this throttling competition and be head-and-shoulders above others in the same segment, innovative research has to be fostered and dynamic players have to be brought onboard. This is not possible without engagement, collaboration, partnership and devolving some of the roles to the private industry.

General Studies – 4

Topic:   Ethics in human actions



In the 2016 Global Business Ethics Survey India was ranked the most unethical of 13 major economies. India ranked 79th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index. It has become a reality in India where common man mostly believes that work from the government office is done by bribes but corruption has spread to even affluent elites and the private sector which was visible in Sathyam scam, Harshad Mehta scam, instances of crony capitalism  etc


In India senior management would ignore the unethical behaviour of employees to attain revenue targets. Foreign investors and companies complain that Indian businessmen don’t understand the concept of good faith in negotiations. There is illegal diversion of profits by promoters, insider trading, round tripping etc


The reason for this unethical behavior could be lack of focus on values while educating children, equating money with success, general decline of ethics in the society, lack of responsibility of the people leading to passive acceptance of corruption etc


The corroding ethical fabric of the country is not just an issue of morality for its own sake. No economy can perform at a high level without a basic level of integrity. The pervasive unethical behaviour of the sort will destroy trust. As trust erodes, the cost of doing business will soar, affecting India’s competitiveness and attractiveness as an investment destination.


So there is a need to increase the transparency in the private sector by implementing corporate governance committees recommendations.