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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 

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

1) Buddhism remains a key anchor for Asian identity and a phenomenon of unprecedented Pan-Asian importance, especially in terms of spiritual connectivity among nations with enduring impact. With special reference to India, discuss the statement. (250 Words)



  • Buddhism is one of the most intriguing philosophical products that originated in India some 2600 years back and has remained a powerful integrated philosophical whole, encompassing all facets of both spiritual and material culture that have guided humanity for centuries.


Buddhism remains a key anchor for Asian identity and of pan Asian importance:-

  • For all these centuries, Buddhism remained as the solid foundation for societal and cultural transformation in Asia.
  • Buddhism and trade had become synonymous as traders assisted monks who played a vital role in connecting their journey to distant Asian regions with the spread of the philosophy they practiced.
  • By providing the foundation for the adoption of culture, thoughts, idioms and common spiritual beliefs and practices among people in India, China, Japan, Korea and in other parts of Asia Buddhism became the single most important factor for infusing “Asia” with a cultural coherence.
  • Buddhism integrated myriad societies and regions, effectively interweaving them into a common culture of ethical values especially among the social and political elites in Asia.
  • Buddhist culture is the root from which several Asian nations draw their national identities and political and social heritages. In many countries, Buddhism is embedded into their “nationalistic” thinking and actions such as in Sri Lanka. Certainly, Buddhism is an intensifying factor for Asian emotional bonding and connectivity
  • At the core of Buddhism lies the idea of exploring the potential of an individual for realizing perfection towards the goal of attaining enlightenment. This philosophical virtue contributed to the foundation of democratic culture in many Asian societies.
  • The core ethics of Buddhism, which stress on the nature of interdependence and interconnection, drew Asian societies towards adaptation and cooperation, and these still drive them towards accepting a cooperative culture.
  • The diversity of Asian value systems today reflects how the culture of inclusiveness and tolerance has protected Asian cohesion at various turns of history.
  • The Buddhist emphasis on the need for consensus, practiced in the monastic order of Sangha also impacted Asian societies.
  • Buddhism allowed people to positively react to modernity and change. A majority of Asian societies and nations, including Japan, India and China, experienced modernity without completely emulating Western value systems
  • Asian history is full of Buddhist-Muslim friendly interactions and cooperation. These were not without advantage to Asian connectivity. Many Asian societies have internalized Buddhist principles without having to adopt a Buddhist identity.

Indian context:-

  • Scholars from across Asia came to study in renowned Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila and took home with them Buddhist teachings, texts and relics
  • For India, Buddhism lies at the core of its identity as a cradle of wisdom and provided the country with a unique image of being an embracer and enlightener rather than being a conqueror and threatening power.
  • In fact, the intrinsic nature of Buddhist principles provides India a global persona of benign international influence.
  • The essence of Buddhist influence lies in co-optive power, allowing nations to pursue interests without being explicitly adversarial. India’s domestic performance (democracy and pluralism) and external pursuit (independent and non-aligned foreign policy) have their underpinning in the Buddhist doctrine of Madhyamika.
  • The recent strategic embrace of India by major world powers including in nuclear cooperation is driven because of India’s irrefutable historical personality record and its unique appeal.
  • Buddhism has already gained prominence in India’s diplomacy for fostering deeper engagement with ASEAN countries as part of the ‘Look East’ and now “Act East” policy. In fact, Buddhism is also fast becoming a brand symbol of rising India.
  • Numerous Buddhist sites in India, directly linked to the spiritual destinies of millions in Asia, could form a part of Buddha-Industry,



  • The Nalanda project could certainly open the prospects of Asian convergence. Buddhism is once again making a comeback and its growing popularity is linked to the peaceful nature of its philosophy and to its geographic spread. Buddhism could become a catalyst for building greater interaction within the Asian community.


General Studies – 2

Topic:    Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these; Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies 

2) Regulators do not exist in a vacuum outside government policy and while regulators have independence in performing their role, they still fall within the broad definition of the executive branch of the State, and are accountable to the legislature. Analyse. (250 Words)



  • The regulatory state came into its own in India in the post-liberalization era
  • To simultaneously ensure regulatory independence and implementation of regulations consistent with government policies, legislative oversight of regulators is necessary.

Regulators need independence because:-

  • The regulator is able to set up a specialised workforce that has superior technical knowledge
  • This is assisted by modified human resource and other processes, when compared with the functioning of mainstream government departments
  • With such knowledge, and close observation of the industry, an independent regulator is able to move rapidly in modifying regulations, thus giving malleability to laws
  • The presence of independent regulators improves legal certainty by ensuring that the regulatory approach does not fluctuate with political changes.
  • Excessive parliamentary interference would undercut their functional autonomy and may destroy their basic rationale. Judicious decision-making, depoliticizing decisions for fixation of tariffs, user charges and interest rates improve productivity and growth.

Regulators come under executive branch and are accountable to legislature:-

  • The centrality of legislative oversight comes from the design of regulators i.e..,the functions of the executive, legislature and judiciary are combined in the role of the regulator.
  • Regulatoryagencies are usually a part of the executive branch of the government, and they have statutory authority to perform their functions with oversight from the legislative branch.
  • The regulators came under question like Medical commission of India ,lacklustre performance of sports regulators ,the recent banking scams unearthed raised questions about the RBI role as well. So making them accountable to parliament is very important.
  • In India, parliamentary scrutiny of the regulators can take place through the following means:
    • Question Hour:
      • Every regulator falls within the administrative domain of a government department. During question hour, MPs can ask questions to scrutinise the functioning of ministries and the regulators related to their departments.
    • Discussions:
      • Parliament may take up the role of regulators for debate under different Rules of Procedure of Parliament (such as half-hour discussions and discussions under Rule 193 in the Lok Sabha).
      • In these debates too, the concerned minister responds to the issues raised by the MPs.  During these discussions, regulators cannot be summoned to explain their functioning
    • Parliamentary committees:
      • Public accounts committee has summoned RBI governor regarding demonetization last year.The PAC has also sought to know how much of the currency was demonetised, and how much has returned into the banking system
    • Department related Standing Committees:
      • The Committee system of Parliament is often used in several countries for oversight of regulators
      • Regulators are not required to regularly submit reports to parliamentary committees on their policies or to justify their actions. This is in contrast with the position in the United Kingdom, where the Bank of England periodically engages with the Parliament.
    • Finance Committees:
      • The Committee on Estimates reviews budgetary estimates of government departments. Such estimates include the budget of regulators. 

Way forward:-

  • The existing mechanisms of legislative oversight over regulators performance need to be strengthened considerably to be more effective.
  • The appointment process can make regulators more accountable. In the United Kingdom and the US, the appointment of a regulator is subject to ratification by Parliament or an agency appointed by Parliament. In contrast, the appointment of a regulator in India is at the discretion of the executive.
  • Currently, most regulators are financially self-sufficient, raising fees and charges for services, and consequently come under less scrutiny by Parliament. Requiring the approval of Parliament for budgets may be a way to exercise control on regulators.
  • Ad hoc scrutiny of the regulator was not adequate for effective oversight. There needs to be parliamentary reporting requirements on a regular basis.
  • Question of coordination in its scrutiny of regulators:-
    • Different regulators, while complying with their respective statutes, and executive orders, may take regulatory decisions that are in conflict with the overarching policy or the objectives of other regulators. Establishing a dedicated joint parliamentary committee to oversee regulatory bodies would address this issue.
  • There needs to be a proper mechanism for appeals against regulatory orders. Each regulator needs to come out with a charter and timelines for the provision of their services.
  • Direct accountability of regulatory bodies to Parliament was recommended by the Damodaran Committee in 2013.
  • Second ARC recommendations:-
    • Suggested that regulators submit annual reports periodically which should include the progress made on achieving their objectives. These reports should be accessible to the public.
    • Regulators be scrutinised by sector-specific committees. 


  • Policymakers find significant advantages in governance through regulators as they can provide a level playing field to all participants without fear or favour. They can build expertise matching the complexities of the task and evolves processes to enforce authority rapidly and proactively. But regulators need to be accountable for their actions too.

Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. 

3) Recent events around the world have fuelled xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiments. Analyse how recent immigration policy changes in the Middle East will impact migration and remittances with respect to India, and how India should cope up with reducing remittances and returning migrants. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • The impact of migration on economic growth and development through increased remittances is well established with India receiving about 56% of its remittances from migrants in West Asia
  • In a world where developments such as Brexit and the Trump presidency in the U.S. have intensified debate on migration, considerable uncertainties about remittances remain.

Changes in the immigration policies of Middle eastern countries:

  • Along with declining oil prices and sluggish regional economies, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the regional governments decided to prioritise filling their workforce with their nationals.
  • Oman began “Omanisation”, a policy aimed at replacing expatriate workers with trained Omani personnel, back in 1988.
  • The other four, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have tightened their immigration policies to appease increasingly restive youth, many of whom were unemployed and participated in protests during the Arab uprisings.
  • In 2011, the Saudi government enacted Saudi Nationalisation Scheme or Nitaqat system with a view to reducing unemployment among Saudi nationals, with incentives being announced for companies and enterprises performing in accordance with this system.
    • Under the new Nitaqat system, companies will be labelled as “blue or premium”, “green”, “yellow”, or “red” depending on the level of Saudi workers in them to comply with established workers.
    • Companies with less than 10 employees will not fall under the Nitaqat program.
    • Red companies will not be allowed to renew work visas for their foreign employees. Foreign workers employed by companies categorized as “red” must seek employment with a “green” company before their visas expire. 
    • Yellow companies may renew work visas for up to six years for each foreign employee, but this time limit applies retrospectively.
    • Last year it restricted employment in shopping malls to Saudi nationals.
    • In 2016 it issued an order to reduce dependence on expatriate workers comes after last year’s decision to reserve all jobs in mobile phone shops for Saudi nationals.

How will they impact migration and remittances for India:-

  • It is evident that the youth of West Asia will replace migrants in the coming years, in turn leading to a reduction in remittances.
  • Thousands of Indians are set to return to India leading to reverse migration. 
  • Result in immediate job losses and reduced job opportunities. 
  • It is almost impossible now to run companies on the licences given to Saudi nationals. Strict actions are being taken against benami businesses.
  • Impact on Kerala:-
    • Without remittances, Kerala would have had to adopt an entirely different economic growth path.
    • In 2016, for the first time in 20 years, the Malayali migrant community got smaller by 10% to 2.2 million.
    • Replaced by migrants from other Asian countries such as the Philippines and Nepal, but also by other Indian migrants from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Decrease in migration is expected to result in a similar decrease in remittances to the State.
    • Kerala thus faces the huge challenge of reintegrating and rehabilitating them into the society and the economy.
    • The sudden exodus of the unemployed could trigger off economic crisis and social unrest in the State.
    • The sudden fall in remittances from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries may lead to a ripple effect on interlinked sectors such as real estate and transport.

How will India cope up with changed situation:-

  • India needs to formulate strategies to compensate for the restricted flow of remittances that is expected in the near future.
  • This demands innovative policies targeted at skilling, reskilling and educating both prospective and returned emigrants.
  • Both the central and state governments must plan out strong rehabilitation packages for the unemployed migrant returnees.
  • Government should undertake massive investments in infrastructure and industrial development to boost employment opportunities.


Topic:  Role of civil services in a democracy

4) Do we really need a Chief Secretary in today’s politico-administrative ambience in the States and Union Territories? Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express

The Hindu


  • Chief secretary is the head of the civil administration in the state or union territory, an officer who represents not just his own service but all services within the civil administration but the recent incident of the Delhi chief secretary being assaulted has raised many questions.

The responsibilities chief secretary looks into are:-

  • Guardian of the morale of the civil services and in particular the All India Services
  • Design and continuous improvement of administrative systems
  • Human resource development in the civil services
  • Preserve integrity, neutrality and responsiveness in the civil services
  • As a holistic representative of the government, ensure an integrated image of the government internally and externally
  • Install and activate appropriate long-term planning, implementation and evaluation systems.
  • Supreme court judgements:-
    • P. Royappa (1974) – The post of Chief Secretary is lynchpin in the administration and smooth functioning of the administration .
  • Salil Sabhlok (2013) –It may be necessary for Chief Minister of a State to appoint a ‘suitable’ person as a Chief Secretary because both the State Government or the Chief Minister and the appointee share a similar vision of the administrative goals and requirements of the State.
  • The CS has to show leadership while overseeing that public interest is preserved in letter and spirit. It is his duty to run an efficient administration and give the CM fair and impartial advice.


Why the feeling that chief secretary is not needed:-

  • The question has arisen because to many of today’s Chief Ministers it does not seem to matter who the Chief Secretary is or how long he or she stays in the job.
  • In the Supreme Court judgment it dismissed the petition of an IAS officer against his supersession for promotion as Secretary to the Government of India and it remarked that “it is the privilege of the master to choose his cook.”
  • This has enabled Chief Ministers to promote officers to the Chief Secretary’s grade and pick and choose the Chief Secretary from them as per their whims and fancies without having to supersede an officer openly on merits but for disagreeing with the leaders.
  • Transfers of these officers based on Chief minister’s wish raised questions whether the post should actually exist.

How to strengthen the mechanism:-

  • Whenever cases of apparently unfair treatment of senior public servants by the political executive comes up before the Courts, the likely adverse impact of such treatment on the quality of administration and service to the public may also be given due weight instead of taking a narrowly legalistic, rule-based view
  • For the appointment/removal of the Chief Secretary, adopt a mechanism similar to the one suggested by the National Police Commission for the appointment/removal of the DGP.
  • The UPSC should acquire powers to do an annual State-wise review of how the All India Services cadres in each State are managed and place it before Parliament for a discussion



  • Civil services are essential for the smooth functioning of the democracy and is a vital tool for governance of India which is visible in multiple implementation of programmes, policy formulation etc.

Topic:  India and its neighborhood- relations

5) India is one of the few countries to have warm and mutually beneficial relations on all sides of the divide in West Asia including the Shia/Sunni split and the Iran/Israel rift. In the light of India’s “Think West” policy, analyse the statement. (250 Words)


The Indian Express



  • Over the past several years, India has tried to reshape its engagement with the Middle East, a region that houses millions of Indians and is vital for its economic, energy, and strategic interests.
  • The recent meetings with almost the major countries in the western Asia Israel, Iran, Gulf countries and India show that India is maintaining good relations with these countries.

Think west policy:-

  • It is the India’s policy outreach towards the Gulf. It suggests a new push towards more concrete strategic policies for West Asia.
  • The interplay among these (Gulf) nations actually offers India with new avenues of cooperation other than traditional focus on energy and labour. ‘Act East’ would be matched with ‘Think West.’

How India managed to strike balance:-

  • Iran:-
    • Both India and Iran seem to have come to the conclusion that there are a large number of areas in which their interests coincide and converge
    • Iran’s importance for India derives from its immense energy resources, strategically important location linking West Asia with Central Asia, and the possibility of building a friendship not disturbed by the “Pakistan factor.”
    • India and Iran have decided to focus their energies on areas of concurrence and rapidly embark on a mutually beneficial and fruitful partnership.
    • In the recent visit of Rouhani to India Nine agreements were signed covering a wide gamut of issues including connectivity, energy, infrastructure, trade, investment, security, defence, culture and people-to-people contacts.
    • India’s recent accession to the Ashgabat Agreement and to the TIR Convention will help enhance its engagement with the region.
    • Chabahar provides a strategic option to India to connect with Afghanistan and Central Asia and beyond by sidestepping an uncooperative Pakistan.
    • India will set up ‘plants in sectors such as fertilizers, petrochemicals and metallurgy in Chabahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ) on terms mutually beneficial to the concerned parties. This will be a win-win investment as it will promote India’s energy security while providing financial resources and employment opportunities to Iran.
    • The Agreement on Avoidance of Double taxation was signed to promote bilateral trade and investment
  • Gulf countries:-
    • The Gulf countries know that India does not have any ambitions to control West Asia. Nor is India part of any global alliance that challenges the Saudi influence in the region. This makes it easier for India to deepen its partnership with the Gulf Arab countries. India is not seen as a hostile power by either of the blocs(Gulf and Iran)
    • It is of vital importance to India that it maintains close ties with the Gulf Arab countries in order to ensure energy security, the continued flow of remittances, the well-being of the Indian expatriate workforce, and the tackling of the terror threat.
    • India offers both investment opportunities for the Saudi fund and remains a major buyer of its oil which make the country an important economic destination for the Saudis.
    • Saudi Arabia, like its compatriots in the Gulf, is now actively looking east to develop its core interest, selling oil.
    • Given the huge number of Indians working in the Gulf, it is possible that some of them could be influenced by the Islamic State’s propaganda. Therefore, retaining close intelligence and counterterror cooperation to tackle this challenge is a security imperative for both India and the Gulf Arab countries
  • Israel-Palestine :-
    • India has defence, agriculture ,science and technological relations with Israel at the same time it supports Palestinian cause as well. There is dehyphenation of the approach with Israel and Palestine which is welcomed by the countries.



  • Today, India is building infrastructure in Iran while also sharing intelligence with Saudi Arabia. And while the UAE is cooperating with India on maritime security, Israel is selling arms to India. So the same approach needs to continue and India needs to maintain good relations with these countries.

General Studies – 3


Topic:   Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology; Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics

6) Future space exploration will be driven by private intentions, commitments and contracts. In this regard, for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) frugal engineering plays its part but it is not an end unto itself. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Wire


  • ISRO contribution with Mars mission, Chandrayaan  2 has caught the world by surprise especially with such low costs. ISRO may have been successful in keeping costs down but in the long run the numbers will only go up so frugal approach is not very effective in long term.

Why India cannot be frugal any more:-

  • Future is about simplifying the system, miniaturising the complex big system, strict quality control and maximising output from a product and make the missions cost-effective. This needs significant improvements in technology and innovation.
  • Frugal engineering is a brand of engineering targeted at markets where there is a marked preference for function over form for getting the job done over making it look good while it’s doing it. So while frugal engineering may be a good thing in many environments, it shouldn’t be so for space. Launch vehicles always need to meet a safety threshold
  • Private players:-
    • The manpower of ISAC/ISRO is not adequate for meeting both the increased load of making more satellites and also for the R&D that India needs for future satellites
    • The present bid to outsource AIT(assembly, integration and testing) will help ISRO re-deploy  human resources effectively and focus on R&D
    • It would also aid self-reliance by way of an independent Indian satellite industry.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Most state-owned space agencies believe that collaboration with private players is vital for capacity building, cost reduction and getting an extra mile cutting-edge advantage.

What has to be done ?.

  • 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.

Conclusion :-

  • 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, as is the consensus among senior ISRO officials.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Ethics in Human Actions

7) You are aspiring to become an IAS officer and you have cleared various stages and now you have been selected for the personal interview. Night before the interview, you are having dinner with your wife in a restaurant. Next to your table, suddenly a group of goons headed by a son of local MLA starts beating an innocent person. They are hitting him hard with certain weapons and the person is pleading for help. Others in the restaurant either run away or witnessing the scene mutely. Your wife is scared and wants to move away from the place. At the same time few of the goons are scaring away other customers and staff there. One of them comes to you and warns you to not to talk about the incident anywhere.

What would you have done in such a situation? Justify your action. (250 W0rds)


Answer :-


In the given situation the stakeholders involved are the victim who is being thrashed, people in the restaurant, myself, my wife and the goons.

Ethical issues and conflict of values in this case :-

  • Lack of value to human life – This is visible when goons are thrashing the victim
  • Misuse of Power – MLA son taking law into hands
  • Lack of responsibility by the people who are seeing the scene mutely
  • Lack of emotional intelligence on the part of the public to act


Available options:-

1.Take my wife and run away from the scene and not tell anyone about it

Doing this would make me and my  wife safe and attend my interview the next day. But firstly as a human being it is necessary to have empathy for the victim. Secondly a responsible citizen would make efforts to help the victim and report the offence. Thirdly , I would not go with this option because having an aim to be an IAS officer I am aspiring to take action against the anti social elements and uphold rule of law in the society. Not reporting the incident shows the lack of courage on my part and questions my attitude of working with integrity when I face pressure from other elements when I am a civil servant.


2.Try to stop the goons all by myself

Even though my intentions were good as I wanted to save the victim but following this shows my impulsive nature, not thinking about putting the life of mine and my wife’s in danger, also not acting with emotional intelligence where it’s clear that I would be overpowered by the goons and if I am beaten badly I might even miss the interview the next day as well. This would not solve the purpose of  helping the victim So I  would not follow this option.


3.First go outside try to get more people and simultaneously call the police as well

This is probably the best way to save the victim. As seeing more people the goons might leave the place then the victim can be taken to the hospital immediately. It also gives a sense of satisfaction and give a confidence to attend the interview the next day as I have done the right thing. I would choose this option.



  • The only thing necessary for the triumph of evilis for good men to do nothing .This is true as common man needs to standup against  wrong and fight for the right and be a good Samaritan.