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General Studies – 1


:  Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times; 

1) It is argued that democracy is integral to the Indian nation and that there are many examples of its rich democratic traditions in the ancient Indian republican polities before Independence. Do you agree? Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express



  • Today India is the largest democratic nation in terms of population. But history and ancient literature suggest that democracy and republic ideas were implemented ever since the ‘Age of Vedas‘. The present Westminster style of democracy in India was inherited from the British but the principle of democracy in Vedas existed as a core value in Ancient India

Democratic traditions in ancient Indian republican polities:-

  • Ancient India was the progenitor of democracy, as one can trace its evolution from the Vedas and subsequently hear of its presence through numerous accounts. This spirit of republicanism continued to thrive at the grassroots at village level, which were left undisturbed to their own devices in the new political order.
  • Likewise, the economic guilds organised on a republican pattern continued to function and to thrive even during the powerful Mauryan Empire.
  • Even where there was monarchy, it was a limited or constitutional mon­archy, so that the pattern of monarchy remained fundamentally democratic. It was based on decentralisation and local autonomy. The people formed the following appropriate associations and groups to exercise their rights in self-government in an ascending order: kula (clan), jati (caste), sreni (guild), puga or pura (village community) and janapada (state).
  • Each group had its own rules and regulations and was working for democracy at its respective stratum of self-government. Some of the janapadas in ancient India were republican in form and some had monarchical organisation. But each of them often had an assembly (samiti) the pre­cursor of the modern parliament which was attended by the high and the low together with a view to taking decisions about the affairs of the state. 
  • In the Mahabharata, there is a reference to Ganas (republics) being governed by their councils of leaders called Gana-Mukhyas. All these Ganas (republics) had an extremely democratic constitution. Each had its own assembly (parishad).
  • It is said that in ancient India, the people led a democratic way of liv­ing although political democracy did not exist in its full form.

Modern sense of democracy dint exist then:-

  • The modern sense of democracy was not applicable then. The terms universal adult suffrage, equality before law, election etc were still not applicable largely..
  • Tribal assembly (santhagara) was dominated by oligarchs and that non-Kshatriyas, slaves and wage earners had no place in it.
  • Further, the strict control exercised by the “republican” states through executive edicts and legislation exposes their undemocratic character.
  • According to a Buddhist Jataka story there was a ban among the Shakyas on the marriage of girls even with a king of supposedly low status.
  • The gana of Vaishali formulated a rule which related to the marriage of girls in different wards of the city. Similarly, inter-dining among the people of unequal birth was also prohibited


  • That era is influenced by war and conquest so the democracy which people considered then and now are largely different .With education and rationale democracy in India has been the result and gift of the freedom fighters to the people of India where everyone is equal.

TopicIndian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

2) Discuss the origin of Tantrism and nature of its influence of both Hinduism and Buddhism.  (250 Words)



  • Tantrism is the search for spiritual power and ultimate release by means of the repetition of sacred syllables and phrases (mantras), symbolic drawings (mandalas), and other secret rites elaborated in the texts known as Tantras (“Looms”).

Origin of Tantrism:-

  • It is believed that tantrism originated in the early centuries CE and gradually developed into an actual pantheon by the end of the Gupta period.
  • The spread of Buddhism to East Asia and Southeast Asia gave rise to the introduction and evolvement of tantra in these regions of the world as well.

The salient features of Tantrism are namely the

  • Spirit of Heterodoxy
  • The Spirit of Revolt:-
    • It professed equality of all encouraged free social interaction among all castes and unrestricted access to ritual worship for all, in blatant opposition to the existing Brahmanic traditions. 
  • Ritualism
  • Centrality of the Body:
    • The human body is credited to be the earliest medium through which truth can be realised. Body and bodily faculties are employed in the practice of sadhana. 
  • The Ultimate Reality as Bi-polar
  • Realisation as the union of polarities:-
    • Liberation from the bondage is the chief goal of Tantrism. 
  • The Pursuit of Siddhis:-
  • Predominance of Female Deities
  • Deities of Terrifying Nature
  • Emphasis on Guru and Diksha:
    • Tantrism proves to be a dangerous path for those who are initiated and unaccompanied by a competent Guru. No sadhaka should attempt it by him. 

Nature of influence on both Hinduism and Buddhism :-

  • Tantra has other connotations as well, both in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It may apply to any of the scriptures, which usually deal with the worship of Goddess Shakti, the Sacred Feminine in the Hindu pantheon.
  • Hinduism:-
    • According to Hindu tantrism, the entire universe is considered to be the divine stage where Shiva and Shakti carry on the drama of life. Tantra deals with ritual and spiritual practices to attain the grace of that Shakti, with the aim at achieving liberation from darkness of ignorance, thus also attaining immortality.
    • Today, Tantra basically exists in the Shakta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shaurya and Ganapatya traditions. Though each one of these cults has their own texts and treatises, there is no clear line of demarcation between all of them and they all include the basic tenets of Tantrism.
    • Extolled as a short-cut to self-realization and spiritual enlightenment by some, left-hand tantric rites are often rejected as dangerous by most orthodox Hindus. The popular perception of tantra among Hindus espoused in Indian journalism, equates it with black magic.
    • Tantra exists for spiritual seekers in the age of Kaliyuga, when Vedic practices no longer apply to the current state of morality and Tantra is the most direct means to realization
    • In traditional pockets of Tantric practice in India, such as in Assam near the venerated Hindu temple of Kali, Kammakha, in parts of West Bengal, in Siddhanta temples of South India, and in Kasmiri Shiva temples up north, Tantra has retained its true form.
  • Buddhism:-
    • Tantric Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana Buddhism, is an ancient and a highly complicated system of Buddhist philosophy.
    • What sets Buddhist Tantrism apart from all the other sects are the rituals, which use the Upaya (or skilful) aspect to attain Godhead, rather than mere meditation.
    • Tibet too has a very strong Buddhist Tantric background which continues, albeit many have been transplanted to monasteries in India, and claims to be a right-hand path, in contrast to the more varied Hindu counterparts (that include both left and right-hand practices)


  • Tantric Hindu and Buddhist traditions influenced a number of other religious traditions, both within South Asia as well as in other areas of the world. Because tantric traditions first emerged in South Asia, their impact there is naturally the most significant. The South Asian traditions that were influenced by the tantric traditions to some degree include Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism

General Studies – 2

Topic:    Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these; Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act;

3) What are the main features of India’s anti-defection law? Also examine interpretations and recommendations made by the courts and committees on the law. Do you think, instead of the Speaker, the decision on defections should be decided by an external neutral body such as the Election Commission? Comment. (250 Words)



  • The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”. However over the years there have been criticisms over the disqualifications and several issues in relation to the working of this law which need to be discussed.

Features of anti defection law :-

  • Disqualification
    • If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
      • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
      • Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party.  However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
      • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election. 
      • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
    • Power to Disqualify
      • The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member.
      • If a complaint is received with respect to the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the  House elected by that House shall take the decision.
    • Exception 
      • A person shall not be disqualified if his original political party merges with another, and:
        • He and other members of the old political party become members of the new political party, or
        • He and other members do not accept the merger and opt to function as a separate group.
      • This exception shall operate only if not less than two-thirds of the members of party in the House have agreed to the merger.

Court interpretations on anti defection law:-

  • The Tenth Schedule says the Speaker’s/Chairperson’s decision on questions of disqualification on ground of defection shall be final and can’t be questioned in courts. In Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu and Others (1991), an SC Constitution Bench declared that the Speaker’s decision was subject to judicial review.
  • In 1996 – Once a member is expelled, he is treated as an ‘unattached’ member in the house. However, he continues to be a member of the old party as per the Tenth Schedule.  So if he joins a new party after being expelled, he can be said to have voluntarily given up membership of his old party. 
  • The Speaker of a House does not have the power to review his own decisions to disqualify a candidate. Such power is not provided for under the Schedule, and is not implicit in the provisions either
  • If the Speaker fails to act on a complaint, or accepts claims of splits or mergers without making a finding, he fails to act as per the Tenth Schedule. The Court said that ignoring a petition for disqualification is not merely an irregularity but a violation of constitutional duties

Committee interpretations on anti defection law:-

  • Following demands that disqualification not be decided by speakers as they failed to be impartial, the Dinesh Goswami Committee and the Constitution Review Commission headed by Justice MN Venkatachaliah (2002) had recommended such a decision be made by the President or the Governor on the Election Commission’s advice, as in the case of disqualification on grounds of office of profit. 
  • Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms (1990)
    • Disqualification should be limited to cases where (a) a member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, (b) a member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. 
  • Law Commission (170th Report, 1999)
    • Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection law.
    • Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

Speaker should not be the final decider because:-

  • The Speaker has been assigned the role of an impartial arbiter. But the conduct of speakers has left much to be desired.
  • A lawmaker elected as Speaker/Chairman is allowed to resign from his/her party, and rejoin it if he/she demits office. But speakers have invariably allowed themselves to be used for gain of their party or leader.
  • There have been many instances which show there is a need for more clarity:-
    • The Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker disqualified nine MLAs from the ruling party in 2016, despite the MLAs not leaving the Congress or voting against it in the Assembly. Furthermore, while the MLAs had voiced dissenting notes against the Budget, the Budget itself was declared passed without voting by the Speaker.
    • Such instances highlight the need for greater clarity in the interpretations associated with the Anti-Defection Law. Perhaps, it might be better for such critical decisions, associated with representative disqualification, to be determined by the President instead, with inputs from the Election Commission.


  • The evil of political defections has been a matter of national concern. If it is not combated, it is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it. So anti defection law is a boon but should not be misused.

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act;

4) The Supreme Court’s recent decision on information disclosure ( Lok Prahari v. Union of India ) paves a way for future constitutional interventions in India’s party funding regime, including the scheme of electoral bonds. Analyse. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • Supreme Court, over the last few decades, has readily stepped in to introduce electoral reforms. However, most of these interventions are directed at candidates, and rarely at the parties.
  • The Lok Prahari decision  paves a way for future constitutional interventions in India’s party funding regime, including the scheme of electoral bonds.

Lok Prahari vs Union of India:-

  • Candidates contesting polls will now have to disclose their sources of income and that of their family members.

Benefits of this judgement :-

  • Funding:-
    • The U.S. Supreme Court held that it is essential for voters to know the funding sources of their candidates. Parties in India play at least two crucial roles in the election of candidates, namely financial support to candidates, and, more importantly, setting the agenda. 
    • Parties cannot lay claim to the representation of a candidate, and at the same time argue that information about party funding is not relevant for voters. 
  • Parties occupy a special space in India when it comes to agenda setting. By virtue of a strong anti-defection law in India, all elected legislators are bound by their party agenda. Supreme Court, upholding the anti-defection amendment, noted that a person who gets elected as a candidate set up by a political party is so elected on the basis of the programme of that political party.
  • The landmark order is intended to bring in more transparency in the poll process and comes ahead of elections scheduled to several states. So far, candidates only needed to reveal their income, not the sources.
  • This move can help in tackling the money power used in the elections.
  • If assets of a legislator increase without bearing any relationship to their known sources of income, it is inconsistent with the principle of the Rule of Law and a universally accepted Code of Conduct expected of the holder of a public office in a Constitutional democracy.
  • Under Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) that holding of any office of profit would disqualify a person either to become or continue to be a legislator.
  • Electoral bonds:-
    • It strikes a blow against the provisions discouraging transparency in party funding. If the court’s jurisprudence is consistently applied, the scheme of electoral bonds could be declared unconstitutional.
  • Also electoral bonds induce anonymity of the user further .With the judgement the source has to be told and the election process becomes accountable.


  • This is the first step to bring transparency in party funding mechanism. With multiple steps like bring political parties in the purview of RTI, considering state funding of elections the menace of money misuse in elections can be curbed.

General Studies – 3

Topic:   Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, 

5) Artificial Intelligence(AI) heralds the next phase of digital capitalism where capital accumulation is powered by data. Elaborate the statement and discuss who should own data in AI driven digital capitalism and why. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • Artificial intelligenceis the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems .With AI data is in a very vulnerable position as data accumulators receive great gains at the cost of people’s privacy. So the people who are generating data need to be rewarded.

Statement explanation:-

  • Worldwide spending on AI solutions will grow to $57.6 billion by 2021.
  • The majority share of the investments is being made by the companies like Alphabet, Google, Amazon etc .All these companies hail from the most profitable sector of global capitalism (technology).So it’s clear that AI is critical for future profitability.
  • With digitisation corporates got data which is the means to access markets. For instance Uber operates in multiple countries based on data.
  • The corporate which have access to data of people are receiving the advertising revenue for instance Google and Facebook which do not produce any content at all but based on search patterns and the things posted the algorithms assess a person’s preferences .So every interaction is turned into a data point and fed it all into an algorithm.
  • Platform businesses like Uber, Airbnb leverage their ability to scale-up the digitisation of a given activity to quickly build monopolies that, in turn, boost their ability to collect more data.
  • Once a platform is in place to ensure a steady supply of fresh data to train an algorithm, the company can eventually move to a position where it can offer an array of AI solutions

Who should own data and why ? 

  • Citizens must consider data ownership carefully.
  • The platform-based, chargeable AI services being rolled out by the likes of Amazon and Google can be used for rent-seeking. So, there is no reason why people should continue to surrender ownership of their personal data without due compensation.
  • People should have control of their own data. They should be able to see how their data are used, and they should be able to take it with them on leaving the service provider.
  • There is very little idea what personal data companies own about people, what they do with it, or where they store it. This does not just raise issues about privacy, but also security. It is also profoundly disempowering. Most people believe they should have as much control as possible of their intellectual property or their physical selves.

Way forward:-

  • The time has come to put in place a new data ownership regime so that private capital is made to pay if it wants to use people’s personal data for commercial gain.
  • A more equitable distribution of the profits derived from data is essential to ensure that the original owner-producers of data get their due share.
  • Hub of All Things in UK devised a mechanism where personal data can be kept within a database over which you have full control. New regulation coming down the road should give a boost to projects like this.
  • In Europe, General Data Protection Regulation, as well as proposed new ePrivacy legislation, will mean companies have to be much more transparent about what personal data they hold on their customers or users, and what they do with it. This provides a new opportunity for people to take back control.


  • In the age of imperialism and colonialism developed countries took away resources from third world countries. In the age of digitisation they would have the power over data from the people of developing countries.


General Studies – 4

Topic:  Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators




John wooden stated that A Person’s True Character Is Revealed by What He Does When No One Is Watching. This is becoming almost impossible to achieve in the social media world where most of the people thrive for attention and recognition. For instance any small achievement is posted on twitter and facebook attracting the attention of thousands and millions of people.

The ethical idea that whether good is being done or not is not bothered anymore but who did it matters. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela ,Gandhi and other leaders worked for the benefit of humanity not expecting any return or acknowledgement from the society.

Especially in civil services where challenges are faced everyday and the ultimate goal is to uphold public interest there will be instances where poor is benefitted by your actions and they might not even know who did it. For instance Most people do not  know whose idea was NREGA but it benefitted millions of people.

Integrity requires a self discipline and will power capable of resisting the temptation. Its priceless reward is peace of mind and true dignity. Integrity requires in a civil servant to incorporate the values of honesty, sympathy empathy, compassion, fairness, self control and duty so that a civil servant will be able to uphold high personal and professional standards in all circumstances.