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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:  History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars

1) Along with the nazis, common citizens were equally complicit in allowing holocaust to happen. Analyse critically. (250 Words) 

The Indian Express


The Guardian



  • Around six million people were killed in the Holocaust, the Nazis systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. Jews from across Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe were rounded up, and either transported to extermination camps where they were gassed, shot locally, or starved and abused in ghettos and labour camps until they died.

No, common public are not be blamed:-

  • The Nazis did notcome to power by direct election. Instead Hitler enticed various conservative German parties to form a coalition with him, and slowly and gradually took over the government. So people did not elect him. So they are not to blame for his activities.
  • At no point did a majority of Germans support him or elect him. The Reichstag, the Germans elected representatives didpass the Enabling Act, but every German cannot be blamed for how their representatives voted.
  • The majority of Germans were not aware of the atrocities that Hitler caused.
  • The social-psychological conditions, the objective and keenly felt pressures of the group, the fear of being held in contempt by one’s comrades turned some common men into killing Jews.
  • There were instances all over Europe where people risked their lives to protect Jews.

Yes, people need to be blamed to a certain extent:-

  • The evil of the Nazi ideology did not come out of nowhere. The Nazi ideology was willed by people and carried out by people.
  • Hitler was not the only one advocating anti-Semitism to genocide extremes. He had immense support by the people as well.
  • Thousands of people, who had lived side by side with their Jewish neighbours for generations, were quite willing to turn on them and become part of a programme of mass murder.
  • Hitler’s Anti-Semitism was not peculiarly German either. It had been part of countries towards committing Genocides all over the world like he was inspired first by the American genocide of the Amerindians.



  • In many ways the Holocaust was the most modern genocide the world has ever seen carried out using all the bureaucratic institutional capacity of the modern state; aimed at eliminating Jews wherever they were caught, anywhere in the world.
  • Since World War Two, the international community has criminalized genocide and established the International Criminal Court.

General Studies – 2

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

2) India recently joined the Ashgabat Agreement, which was instituted in April 2011. Discuss the significance of this for India. (250 Words)



Ashgabat agreement :-

  • India recently joined the Ashgabat Agreement, which was instituted in April 2011 to establish an international multimodal transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
  • The Agreement was first signed by Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Oman and Qatar on 25 April 2011.
  • While Qatar subsequently withdrew from the agreement in 2013, Kazakhstan and Pakistan joined the grouping in 2016. The Ashgabat Agreement came into force in April 2016.
  • Its objective is to enhance connectivity within the Eurasian region and synchronize it with other regional transport corridors, including the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Significance :-

  • With the commissioning of the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar and India’s joining of the Ashgabat Agreement, a greater prospect now opens up for enlarging both the operational and practical scope of Chabahar to become a vital gateway and the shortest land route to Central Asia.
  • Its accession to the Ashgabat Agreement would enable India to utilise the existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interactions with the Eurasian region.
    • India’s share in Central Asia’s total trade is only about one per cent. Only by improving transport connectivity can the prospect of commercial ties with the region be enhanced.
  • Further, this would synchronise with India’s efforts to implement the INSTC for enhanced connectivity.
  • Resources:-
    • Joining the Ashgabat Agreement would make it easier for India to reach out to Central Asia which houses strategic and high-value minerals including uranium, copper, titanium, ferroalloys, yellow phosphorus, iron ore etc.
  • India’s participation in Eurasian connectivity projects through the Ashgabat Agreement will serve to address the integration process under the EAEU and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in more viable ways.
  • It will provide India an opportunity for reorientation of the freight traffic from the traditional sea route to land transcontinental routes
  • Afghanistan dependence on Pakistan will reduce and this will be beneficial for the stability of Indian neighbourhood.
    • Opening up of Chabahar will provide a quick, easy, cheap, fast and seamless access to Indian goods and cargo to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • In the backdrop of joining the Ashgabat Agreement, India can now enlarge the strategic role of Chabahar port for evolving an integrated transportation network involving both the INSTC and the proposed transit corridor to Central Asia.
    • In fact, the Chabahar-Iranshahr-Zahedan-Mashad corridor is the ideal route to connect to Sarakhs (Turkmen border). India has already committed to lay a railway track from Chabahar to Zahedan.

Certain challenges still exist in the region like:-

  • Competition and rivalries between the countries in this region.
  • Issues of water scarcity
  • Border disputes
  • Extremism and fundamentalism
  • Drug trafficking
  • Environmental degradation
  • Migration
  • Growing Violence & Security challenges

Way forward:-

  • India’s connectivity approach need not be limited to increasing trade and commerce but should aim to enhance investment and services, interlinking sources of raw material, centres of productions and markets between India and Eurasia.
    • For example, a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) could spur the unhindered flow of raw materials as well as inflow of capital and technology through new industrial infrastructure along Chabahar and INSTC routes.

Topic:   Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

3) For governments, careful data mining from Big Data might help understand our behaviour in order to facilitate planning. Should governments rely too much on big data for planning? What cautions need to be taken? Examine critically. (250 Words) 

The Hindu



  • With technological innovations taking place every day and data generation is taking place at large the importance of big data cannot be put aside.

Government need to  rely on big data:-

  • Big Data and associated analytics are beneficial in various areas, such as
    • Solving traffic problems in cities
    • Targeting healthcare delivery
    • Efficient supply chain management
    • Preventive steps for environmental protection
    • Providing a personalized educational experience for students
    • Enabling security to individuals and society
    • Informed policymaking.
  • When data is scarce, expensive to obtain, or not available in digital form, it makes sense to let people with experience make decisions, based on patterns and relationships they have observed and internalized. This is where big data importance lies as it makes it easy to process data and arrive at decisions.
  • The new benefits that big data analytics brings to the table, however, are speed and efficiency.
  • The possible benefits of Big Data analytics in government could range from transforming government programmes and empowering citizens to improving transparency and enabling the participation of all stakeholders.
  • International case studies:-
    • Several countries, such as the UK, US and European Union (EU) member countries, have started big data government programmes. 
    • The Open Government Data Platform initiative, similar to the initiative of the US government started in 2009, is a welcome start in opening up public data for use by analysts, researchers and practitioners
    • Big Data can enhance the government’s ability to serve its citizens and address major national challenges involving the economy, healthcare, job creation, natural disasters, and terrorism.



  • There are examples of blunders being made with a load of information at one’s fingertips. Big data may mean more information, but it also means more false information. The errors are bound to increase exponentially with more and more redundant information.
  • Collection of data is also a paramount task for government as data is received from multiple online and offline channels. Sharing data between departments and across ministries is a challenge, given the jurisdictional boundaries that exist.
  • Data blunders often arise out of bias, low-quality data, unreliable sources, technical glitches, an improper understanding of the larger picture, and lack of proper statistical tools and resources to analyse large volumes of data.
  • Moreover, Big Data invariably exhibits fake statistical relationships among different variables. Relying too heavily on a particular model is also a common mistake in Big Data analyses. Therefore, the model should be wisely and carefully chosen according to the situation.
  • World is focussing on collecting more and more data while being inattentive to the necessity or capacity to use them. There is a possibility of getting lost in the waves of data.
  • Problem with collecting and storing such vast amounts of data overseas is the ability of owners of such data stores to violate the privacy of people.
    • The alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election is an example.
  • The potential drain of economic wealth of a nation:-
    • Currently, the corporations collecting such vast amounts of data are all based in developed countries, mostly in the U.S.
    • India has neither the knowledge nor the favourable environment for businesses that collect data on such a vast scale. 


Cautions needed/What can India do are :-

  • Any breach of confidentiality regarding data that is collected and processed by the government could have serious ramifications. Thus the importance of data protection and privacy regulations and guidelines as exemplified by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is necessary.
  • It is time to formulate a comprehensive Big Data programme across Central and state government ministries/departments with help from industry, academic and research institutions.
  • Mining and geological engineers design mines to remove minerals safely and efficiently. The same principle should be adopted by statisticians in order to mine data efficiently. So, using some routine algorithm is not enough.
  • By providing appropriate subsidies such as cheap power and real estate, and cheap network bandwidth to those data centres, India should encourage its industries to be able to build and retain data within its boundaries.
  • In the short term, India should also create a policy framework that encourages overseas multinationals such as Google and Amazon to build large data centres in India and to retain the bulk of raw data collected in India within its national geographical boundaries.
  • India should also build research and development activities in Big Data Science and data centre technology at academic and research institutions
  • This will require developing software and training for individuals on how to protect their privacy and for organisations and government officials to put in place strict firewalls, data backup and secure erasure procedures.
  • The government has approved the “Digital India” Plan that aims to connect 2.5 lakh villages to the Internet by 2019 and to bring Wi-Fi access to 2.5 lakh schools, all universities and public places in major cities and major tourist centres. This is indeed a very desirable policy step.


General Studies – 3

Topic:   Basics of cyber security

4) What is cryptojacking? Examine why cryptojacking poses challenges to critical infrastructures, regulators and consumers alike. (250 Words)




Cryptojacking :-

  • Cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of your computing device to mine cryptocurrency.
  • Cryptojacking used to be confined to the victim unknowingly installing a program that secretly mines cryptocurrency.
  • One of the most successful is Monero, which builds a degree of privacy into transactions (something bitcoin doesn’t do). Currently it requires no specialised hardware for mining, so anyone with computing power to spare can mine it.

Challenges posed by it :-

  • Critical infrastructure:-
    • The critical infrastructure security firm Radiflow announced that it had discovered cryptocurrency mining malware in the operational technology network (which does monitoring and control) of a water utility in Europe which is the first known instance of mining malware being used against an industrial control system.
    • The researchers note that the malware was built to run quietly in the background, using as much processing power as it could to mine the cryptocurrency Monero without overwhelming the system and creating obvious problems.
    • The miner was also designed to detect and even disable security scanners and other defence tools that might flag it.
    • Such a malware attack increases processor and network bandwidth usage, which can cause industrial control applications to hang, pause, and even crash potentially degrading an operator’s ability to manage a plant.
    • Industrial plants may prove an enticing environment for malicious miners. Many don’t use a lot of processing power for baseline operations, but do draw a lot of electricity, making it relatively easy for mining malware to mask both its CPU and power consumption.
    • The inner networks of industrial control systems are known for running dated, unpatched software so it makes it easy to cryptojack.
  • Regulators:-
    • Under-preparedness of regulators in curbing hi-tech crimes and safeguarding consumers from such untoward incidents.
    • Lack of competence with the regulatory bodies to implement requirements. Most of the technical competence lies with the private sector, which is leading innovation in this segment.
    • Their limitations in investigation and identification of the perpetrators.
    • Cryptojacking is decentralised, which means that there is no single authority for mediation or resolving disputes, unlike in the case of the banking system.
    • The underlying technology ensures anonymity for users, and technically it is next to impossible for investigating agencies to establish the identity of the transacting parties
    • Given the transnational nature of such crimes and frauds, it is equally difficult to prosecute the perpetrators and bring them to justice in accordance with domestic laws.
  • Consumers:-
    • Hardly any safeguards for consumers against fraudulent activities, leaving a sense of uncertainty over consumer protection and dispute settlement mechanisms.
    • This means the website or internet provider doing the cryptojacking can mine cryptocurrency with little cost to themselves.
    • The problem for the computer’s owner is that this takes up processor power, making other operations take much longer. Having systems freeze, losing data users were working on can have a significant effect on productivity

Way forward:-

  • So India needs to develop the infrastructure to effectively deal with cryptojacking by investing in technology more, making people aware about the consequences of this process.

Topic:    Employment

5) Why is it important for India to create more salaried jobs? How it can create such jobs? Discuss. (250 Words)



  • The unemployment rate in 2015-16 was 5% of the labour force, up from 4.9% in 2013-14. Around 12 million people enter the Indian labour market every year and India is undergoing a phase of jobless growth. This makes it necessary for India to focus on job creation

Why is it important to create more salaried jobs ?

  • India needs to create regular, salaried jobs with growing earnings rather than self-employed ones in order to join the ranks of the global middle class by 2047 according to the World Bank
  • In a society with wide inequalities, the most urgent priority is to create productive, regular jobs.
  • The jobs deficit that India faces has the potential to turn the much-awaited demographic dividend into a demographic curse.
  • A growth strategy that focuses on productivity-led economic growth and good jobs will ensure not only that growth is inclusive but that growth is sustainable.
  • With an ever-increasing number of the working population, the need of the hour is regular salaried jobs. Public sector, the largest provider of good jobs, employs only 5% of workers. So there is a need to create more jobs.
  • Regular jobs are urgent priority.
    • According to data, between 2005 and 2012, over 13 million population entered the working age, while only 3 million jobs were created.
  • Informal jobs would adversely affect India’s development as a whole due to lack of skilled labour for high productive jobs. So India needs to focus on salaried jobs.
  • If India cannot give the millions of people entering the job market employment, anger will increase, and it has the potential to derail what has been built so far
  • A shift in the pattern of employment from permanent jobs to casual and contract employment has an adverse effect on the level of wages, stability of employment, and employees social security.
  • Regular and salaried jobs are also required to retain women in the workforce.
  • As skills expand, worker productivity rises, enabling wages high enough to lift many more Indians into the middle class, likely lowering inequality.
  • The World Bank argues that it is not the just the number of jobs but types of jobs as well.
    • It said that while agriculture is still home to nearly half the workforce, output-per-worker is than half of the economy’s average.
    • It also pointed out that in sectors like construction and retail, job creation was higher but output-per-worker and labour-productivity are low.
    • So quality jobs are needed.

How to create jobs ?

  • World Bank :-
    • The existing stringent labour regulations create a segmented labour market with a high level of protection for a very small fraction of workers in jobs and high barriers for the entry of other workers into the protected segment of the formal labour market. So reforms in land and labour markets in India would pay high dividends and help unshackle Indian businesses.
    • Well-functioning land markets require clearly defined property rights, a reliable land registry, and predictable processes for investment and changes in land-use.
    • Flexible labour markets that facilitate the reallocation of workers in response to market conditions are important for productivity and job growth
    • Going forward grandfathering current workers covered under existing laws and introducing easy mechanisms for firms to buy workers out of their old contracts are possible options.
  • Appoint a National Jobs Adviser to the Prime Minister in the PMO.
    • The Adviser would
      • Align job growth planning with economic planning; ensure integration of the multiple policies across central ministries, as well as with the states
      • Enable sharing of best practices between states, and provide a liaison between government and the private sector.
    • Enable growth in existing Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs):-
      • While start-ups (especially digital start-ups) are glamorous, SMEs are the growth backbone of any nation and primary drivers of job growth. Yet India’s policies favour micro-enterprises.
    • There should be cluster development to support job creation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Most of the unorganised sector employment is in MSMEs, which tend to be concentrated in specific geographic locations.
    • Special packages are needed for labour-intensive industries to create jobs:-
      • There are a number of labour intensive manufacturing sectors in India such as food processing, leather and footwear, wood manufacturers and furniture, textiles and apparel and garments.
      • The nature of the package will need to be individually designed for each sector defined as quickly as possible.
    • Align urban development with manufacturing clusters to create jobs.
    • Public investments in health, education, police and judiciary can create many government jobs.
      • Education: requires upgrading the quality of learning across the board — in primary and secondary schools, universities and training institutions.
    • Entry and exit of firms:
      • The high cost of dismissing regular workers evidently hinders firms from hiring them. 
      • For a larger number of India’s workers to access the security, opportunity, and benefits of a regular salaried job, these high costs, which protect only a minority of workers, need to be lowered.
      • This would also need to be accompanied by stronger labour market programs and institutions to cushion both formal and informal workers from labour market shocks and improve their future earning potential. 


TopicResource mobilisation

6) Despite stringent measures, India has been unsuccessful in improving tax compliance rate. In your opinion, what measures should be taken to improve tax compliance in India? Discuss. (250 Words)



Unsuccessful in improving tax compliance :-

  • Rate of tax compliance is low in India, with 36% of all individual taxpayers in the organized and unorganized sector filing tax returns.
  • Some of the behavioural factors considered include the complexity of tax filing mechanisms, social status and lie aversion. 
  • Tax compliance among individual taxpayers is at 11.6%. This, coupled with the low tax-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio, suggests that there is still much the government can do to widen the tax base.
  • With an increase in enforcement powers, trust in government and tax authorities goes down, and there is a conducive environment for individuals to be dishonest in reporting their income on tax returns.

However recent events suggest that tax authorities have stepped up checks on irregularities in financial dealings by scrutinizing bank deposits post-demonetisation.

Measures needed to improve tax compliance :-

  • L arge-scale Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) campaigns in recent years priming public goods and rewards for timely compliance can now be targeted to individual taxpayers by highlighting the salience of their value for public goods contribution
  • Specific targeting through pilot experiments could show the interaction of such norms with tax compliance behaviour.
  • One solution is to employ social norms in priming individuals to pay their taxes; this has been successful in nudging individuals in countries such as the UK, Norway and Guatemala, to name a few.
  • Also easy registration and filing process can help people to file taxes
  • There is a need to have good collection of data to check who is not paying tax with the government .This can be done by use of big data.
  • Also there is need to push for financial inclusion along with encouraging cashless transactions to make digital transactions more transparent
  • In line with the use of Gandhi’s image to influence citizen behaviour in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme, targeted behavioural interventions could make use of his likeness to nudge people towards honest behaviour.
    • Such interventions are low cost, especially since the CBDT already has in place an email reminder system to communicate with taxpayers using the e-filing system.
    • The government’s recent efforts at setting up a nudge unit could also be involved in such a policy intervention.

Topic: Conservation

7) Critically comment on the environmental policy that is being followed in India to raise forest cover to 33% of the geographical area. (250 Words)

The Hindu



  • India has increased its total forest cover by 1% to around 24% but the target of 33% is still a distant dream. So there is a need to analyse the measures taken by the government.

Government approach:-

  • India has enacted many legal acts to make sure the forest cover increases like
    • The forest rights act 2006
    • CAMPA act
    • National environmental policy 2006
  • Focussing on afforestration programmes and growing trees along the highways
  • Protection to national parks, biosphere reserves, sacred groves etc
  • Community development approach by promoting social forestry and agro forestry

However still concerns remain:-

  • There have been instances of private players displacing tribal communities from the forests and cutting don forests for industries.
  • The ecosystem services performed by plantations that have a lot of trees grown for commercial purposes cannot be equated with those of an undisturbed assemblage of plants, trees and animals.
  • A flawed definition of “forest cover” allows the government to claim growth in total forest cover despite large-scale deforestation.
  • India’s forest cover could actually be masking massive deforestation as the areas that have turned green are not necessarily natural forests, but plantations
  • Environmental economists have come to regard the calculation of national accounts of wealth and development as weak, because governments do not add the benefits of functions such as flood control and climate moderation to the value of forests.
  • Rotational felling of trees by forest departments, diversion of forest lands for developmental activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion, biotic pressures and natural disasters as other reasons for the decrease in the forest cover.
  • There have been instances of violation of forest right act ,even the CAMPA act, land acquisition rules and regulations.

Way forward:-

  • India must review the programmes that it has been pursuing to revive forests, and move away from monoculture plantations that are favoured by even forest development corporations in many States.
  • Scientific reforms to bring true nature back are needed.
  • The latest assessment categorises more than 300,000 sq km of area as open forests with a tree canopy of 10-40%. These lands provide the opportunity to bring back diverse, indigenous trees.
  • Such a measure, combined with a policy against allowing open cast mining, can bring about a renaissance.
  • Dedicated efforts will be required to protect the precious forests of the Northeast.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Moral philosophers from India and the world



Poverty can be defined as deprivation of basic amenities to person which disables him/her from access to food, drinking water, health, safety, shelter, clothing, and other basic amenities. So poverty is a multidimensional issue which adversely affects the person like violence would.


 When violence takes place the person is  physically hurt or killed or even can have mental trauma but poverty instigates mental, psychological, physical, economic pain to the person.


 Poor has to suffer all forms of violence. These include various spheres- economic, health, education, livelihood, social, political, administrative, legal, natural disasters, international.

  • Economic poverty: It deprives a poor from all basic necessities like food, drinking water, shelter, clothes, sanitation, education, health, transport etc.
  • Lack of public facilities and costly health treatment in private sector, ensures that the person remains outside the purview of proper health. Also they are the ones who are the most vulnerable to diseases as they reside in inhabitable conditions with no proper sanitation.
  • A poor is unable to send his/her ward to schools so deprivation can be affect further generations as well
  • Child labour and forced labour amongst poor is rampant
  • Poor children , fall in the trap of employers and work as domestic maids for low wages and long working hours. Even other forms of abuse life trafficking of women, prostitution and sexual assaults can affect them. 
  • When a disaster strikes they are the ones who get impacted the most
  • Physical violence on them goes largely unreported and even if reported authorities do not seriously take note of it affecting their fundamental rights promised by the constitution of India
  • It hinders holistic development of individual and affects the self esteem creating self doubt.


So poverty is an attack on human dignity. Comprehensive and coordinative effort needs to be taken by societies and countries together to uplift people from this menace and improve their standard of living and provide good quality of life.