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

1) It is said that the Pala period witnessed the last great phase of Buddhism and of the Buddhist art in India. Examine the main features of Pala art and the reasons why it ended suddenly in the 13th century. (250 Words)



  • The Pala dynasty ruled from 8th century to 12th century CE in the regions comprising Bihar and Bengal. The development of art which had been in a full fledged manner during the Mauryas and Guptas was further carried out by Palas.
  • Distinctive achievements of Palas are seen in the arts of architecture, sculpture, terracotta, painting and wall painting.

Main features of Pala art:-

  • Architecture:-
    • Various mahaviharas,Stupas ,chaityas,temples and forts were constructed. Most of the architecture was religious with the first two hundred years dominated by Buddhist art and the last two hundred years by Hindu art.
    • Among the various mahaviharas ,Nalanda,vikramashila,somapura,Traikutaka,Devikota ,Pandita ,Jagaddala vihara are notable. Planned residential buildings for monks were made.
    • A large number of manuscripts on palm-leaf relating to the Buddhist themes were written and illustrated with the images of Buddhist deities at these centres which also had workshops for the casting of bronze images.
    • Somapura mahavihara at Paharpur ,a creation of Dharmapala is one of the largest Buddhist vihara in Indian sub continent ,its architectural plan had influenced the architecture of countries like Myanmar and Indonesia.
  • Temples:-
    • The temples are known to express the local vanga style. The ninth century siddheshvara mahadeva temple in Baraker shows a tall curving shikara crowned by a large amalaka and is an example of the early pala style.
    • The rock cave temple at Kahalgaon (9th century)shows the gabled vault roof characteristic of the South Indian architecture.
  • Terracotta:-
    • Artistic and beautiful forms of terracotta were developed during the pala period. This art was developed for the purpose of decoration. Under this form of art such statues are made on walls which depict scenes from the religious and general life styles.
    • The terracotta plaques recovered from paharpur amply demonstrate the excellence of the art in the pala period.
  • Painting:-
    • The earliest examples of miniature painting in India exist in the form of illustrations to the religious texts on Buddhism executed under the Palas of the eastern India .
    • There are two forms of painting manuscripts and wall painting
    • Manuscripts were written on palm leaves .In these paintings scenes of life of Buddha and several god and goddess of Mahayana sects are depicted.
    • The impact of tantricism on these paintings are easily visible.
    • Red,blue,black and white colours are used a primary colours
    • Pala painting is characterized by sinuous line, delicate and nervous lines ,sensuous elegance, linear and decorative accent and subdued tones of colour.
    • It is naturalistic style which resembles the ideal forms of contemporary bronze and stone sculpture and reflects some feeling of classical art of Ajanta with sensuous bias of art of Eastern India.
    • Wall painting has been found in Saradh and Sarai sthal in Nalanda district. At the bottom of the platform made of granite stone flowers of geometric shapes, images of animals and humans are found.
  • Pala sculpture:-
    • The Gupta tradition of sculptural art attained a new height under the patronage of Pala rulers .The art incorporated lot of local characteristics in Bengal under the Palas and it continued right up to the end of 12th
    • The sculptures of stones and bronze were constructed in large numbers mostly in monastic sites of nalanda,Bodh Gaya etc
    • Most of the sculptures drew their inspiration from Buddhism. Apart from Buddha sculptures of gods and goddess of Hindu Dharma like surya, Vishnu, Ganesh etc were constructed.
    • The finest sculptures include a female bust ,two standing Avalokiteshwara images from Nalanda
    • Buddhist sculptures is characterized by a prominent and elaborately carved black slab and lotus seat frequently supported by lions.
    • Generally only frontal parts of the body have been shown in the sculptures. The front as highly detailed and decorated.
    • Due to influence of tantrism the sculptures of god were given different touches like that of female ,animal etc.
    • Bronze casting was an important feature of pala sculptures.
    • Also present examples of artistic beauty carved out of stone sculptures. These are made of black basalt stones .
    • The pala style is marked by slim and graceful figures, elaborate jewellery and conventional decoration
    • The main features of pala sculptures is their free flowing movement. Almost all figures are of similar sizes and were carved out of grayish or white spotted sandstone.


Somapura Mahavihara, a World Heritage Site, was built by Dharmapala



Reasons for sudden ending :-


  • The Pala art came to a sudden end after the destruction of the Buddhist monasteries at the hands of Muslim invaders in the first half of the 13th century.
  • Some of the monks and artists escaped and fled to Nepal, which helped in reinforcing the existing art traditions there.
  • Ramapala was the last strong Pala ruler. After his death, a rebellion broke out in Kamarupa during his son Kumarapala’s reign. So due to rebellions art was not focussed much.


 General Studies – 2 

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

2) BIMSTEC is a desirable alternative to SAARC and an extra feather to India’s Act East Policy. Analyse. (250 Words)





  • The European and ASEAN experience is testimony to the contribution of regional cooperation in the economic growth of the countries.
  • BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia. It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Given this composition, BIMSTEC has emerged as a natural platform to test regional cooperation in the South Asian region.
  • Recently, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has gained more favour as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia


How is it a desirable alternative to SAARC ?

  • BIMSTEC serves two purposes for India – it makes it easier for India to share a common regional platform with its neighbours in South Asia (sans Pakistan) and secondly, BIMSTEC also establishes a linkage between South and Southeast Asia.
  • Regional cooperation under the ambit of SAARC has become difficult made BIMSTEC more viable:
    • Despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–Motor vehicle agreement, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
    • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016
    • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats
      • For instance, while cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a major concern for India, Pakistan has failed to address these concerns.
    • One of the reasons for BIMSTEC’s popularity is that the member countries have generally cordial relationships, something patently missing among the SAARC countries.
    • As a trade bloc, BIMSTEC provides many opportunities:-
      • The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$2 trillion and will likely grow further.
      • Trade among the BIMSTEC member countries reached six percent in just a decade, while in SAARC, it has remained around five percent since its inception.
      • Compared to SAARC, BIMSTEC has greater trade potential as well. Among the member countries, India’s intra-BIMSTEC trade is around 3 percent of its total trade. 
    • BIMSTEC regional grouping happens to have five nations that are also part of SAARC. The fact that this region is growing at 6.5% per annum, collectively comprises of 1.5 billion people, is the drive behind India’s focus being part of BIMSTEC.

It is an extra feather to India’s act east policy :-

  • India was motivated to join BIMSTEC as it wanted to enhance its connectivity with ASEAN countries: a major component of its Look East Policy, now rechristened ‘Act East’ policy.
    • India saw BIST-EC, later renamed as BIMST-EC in 1997 itself when joined by Myanmar, as another opportunity to increase connectivity with ASEAN
    • In terms of connectivity, BIMSTEC has at last three major projects that, when finished, could transform the movement of goods and vehicles through the countries in the grouping.
      • One is the Kaladan Multimodal project that seeks to link India and Myanmar.
      • Another is the Asian Trilateral Highway connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar. It represents a significant step in establishing connectivity between India and Southeast Asian countries.
      • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) have signed a pact for the movement of goods and vehicles among them.
    • The agenda of BIMSTEC is in sync with other regional/sub-regional organisations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), etc. Simultaneously, BIMSTEC fits in the agenda of a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific too.
    • The political rivalry between India and Pakistan never allowed SAARC to be the driving factor in an augmenting regional cooperation within South Asia. Hence, it would be pragmatic for India to work closely with BIMSTEC and ASEAN to expand regional cooperation in areas of mutual concerns including terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organised crime and insurgency; food security, energy; trade and investment, connectivity and infrastructure, poverty alleviation to name a few.
    • India’s  stimulating outlook towards Southeast Asia vis-à-vis Asia-Pacific as expressed through Act east policy and the other way round, i.e, the Asia-Pacific’s desire to have India as a strong stakeholder in the region.
    • BIMSTEC offers many opportunities to its member countries. For India, it aids in its Look East Policy and South­–South cooperation efforts. The development of the Northeastern region, by opening up to Bangladesh and Myanmar, is another incentive.


Concerns remain:-

  • Infrequency of the BIMSTEC summits, the highest decision-making body of the organisation. In its 20 years of existence, the BIMSTEC summit has taken place only thrice.
  • The delay in the adoption of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a framework that was agreed upon in 2004, fuels doubts about BIMSTEC’s efficacy.
  • A landmark achievement for BIMSTEC was the establishment of a permanent secretariat in Dhaka. However, the secretariat faces a severe resource crunch, both in terms of money and manpower, which has adversely affected its performance

Way forward:-

  • Early ratifications of the BIMSTEC FTA, the counter-terrorism convention and finalisation and conclusion of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, BIMSTEC Framework Agreement on Transit, Trans-shipment and Movement of Vehicular Traffic as well as BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement etc should be prioritised without much delay.
  • It has to adopt people-centric and output-oriented approaches to win the confidence of the common people across the sub-region. That would help it to become a facilitator of regional cooperation in a true sense.
  • Consistency in the frequency of the summits to ensure regularity in decision-making;
  • Improving the capacity of the secretariat, both in terms of manpower and funding;
  • Ensuring tangible results/benefits, which will add to the motivation of the countries to concentrate on BIMSTEC (projects in the areas of tourism, digital connectivity, energy connectivity and humanitarian assistance in disaster relief should be considered); and
  • Empowering BIMSTEC to be a platform for dispute resolution among member countriesThis will require debates and discussions among the BIMSTEC countries to reach consensus.


  • Insofar as their regions of interest overlap, SAARC and BIMSTEC complement each other in terms of functions and goals. BIMSTEC provides SAARC countries a unique opportunity to connect with ASEAN. 


General Studies – 3

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

3) What’s the difference between blue economy and blue-water economy with respect to maritime diplomacy? Examine why both blue economy and blue-water economy are important for India. (250 Words)



  • India has the seventh longest coastline in Asia at 7,516.6 km, covering nine states and two union territories. These states are not only highly vulnerable to natural disasters, lacking in resilience and adaptive capacity, but are also faced with development deficits, to begin with.
  • This can change when India focuses on being blue economy, blue water economy and begins to take a more proactive role in global discussions on ocean resources.

Blue economy:-

  • The ‘Blue Economy’ or the ‘Oceans Economy’ is definedby the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as
  • A subset of, and complement to, the evolving development paradigm emphasising greener and more sustainable and inclusive economic paths.
  • It seeks to expand the economic frontiers of coastal countries beyond their land territories.
  • The Oceans Economy encompasses a sustainable economy for the ocean-based marine environment, related biodiversity, ecosystems, species and genetic resources including marine living organisms and natural resources in the seabed while ensuring their sustainable use and hence, conservation.


  • ‘Blue economy’ is the integration of ocean economy development with values of social inclusion and environmental sustainability, along with dynamic and innovative business models.

Blue water economy:-

  • There is no agreed definition of ‘Blue-Water Economy’. It largely denotes economic activities conducted on high seas which include marine transportation, deep sea fishing and deep sea mineral explorations.


  • The blue economy, as distinct from the blue-water economy, encompasses in it the “green economy”, with focus on the environment, and the “ocean economy” or “coastal economy”, with its emphasis on complementarities among coastal and island states for sustenance and sustainable development.

Why both are important?

  • In the development of oceans, blue economy adopts the principles of green economy, including low carbon emissions, resource efficiency, and social inclusion. It also features in Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • For India, blue economy extends beyond being merely an economic and environmental proposition. It presents India with an unprecedented opportunity to meet its national objectives, strengthen connectivity with neighbours, and exert influence in the surrounding regions. 
  • For a country struggling to meet its development objectives, blue economy offers another path in the pursuit of growth and development, and ecological sustainability
  • Blue economic development, focused on livelihood generation, achieving energy security, building ecological resilience, and improving health and living standards of coastal communities, would reinforce and strengthen the efforts of the Indian government as it strives to achieve the SDGs by 2030,effective disaster management, coastal conservation etc.
  • If India is to further its blue economy strategy, it must pay particular attention to strengthening connectivity. For one, sea routes in the Indian Ocean carry up to 90 percent of India’s trade. This is only one of the reasons why sea-route and inland water connectivity assumes importance for India in its push to nurture its blue economy.
  • Other significant benefits include employment generation, and a boost to the country’s industrial development through the provision of a more fuel-efficient, cheaper and reliable mode of transportation.
  • Regional and Global Influence:-
    • The geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, from which the development of blue economy cannot be detached.
    • India has been growing uneasy about Beijing’s perceived ‘String of Pearls’ strategy in the Indian Ocean. India aims to not only secure its own territory but also be able to project power farther than its shores.
    • India is expected to import 90 percent of its crude oil by 2030, and its coal imports are expected to more than double to 300 million tonnes by 2040. India needs to be able to protect the energy routes to bring these resources to its shores.
  • Mineral exploration would boost Indian economy further and also help in the nutrition aspect
  • Coastal shipping:-
    • The Indian government has initiated several measures to promote coastal shipping and modernize India’s ports so that ports become drivers of economic growth.
    • Globally countries such as China and Netherlands have achieved a modal share of 24 percent for coastal shipping and inland water navigation. India’s Sagarmala Project envisages doubling the current share of coastal shipping in India’s overall modal mix from six percent to 12 percent by 2025.

Way forward:-

  • For India, the marine services sector could be the backbone of its blue economy. In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ initiatives India must focus on marine ICTs, and transport (shipping) and communication services, and the creation of a knowledge hub for marine research and development, alongside the more traditional sectors like fisheries and coastal tourism.
  • The creation of the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) and the ‘Sagarmala Project’ are welcome moves in this direction. However, further efforts will be required to avoid fragmentation and overlapping of policies, while also creating a sustainable framework for the development of connectivity infrastructure.


  • Principles of blue economy, therefore, will be important in creating complementarity between discrete plans and policies, which have a common broad objective of sustainable ocean development.

TopicLand reforms in India; Agriculture

4) Examine the significance of the Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act and reasons why it has become an issue nowadays. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • The LARR act provided for greatly enhanced compensation, consent of those whose land was sought to be acquired, and detailed rehabilitation and resettlement provisions .In other words, it changed the relationship between the state and the individual by empowering the latter against the former.

Section 24 of LARR act :-

  • It also included a retrospective clause. Section 24 of the new Act provided that under certain circumstances, acquired land could be returned to affected families.
  • Section 24 under LARR, provides that the land acquired five (or more) year prior to LARR coming into force, shall be returned its owner if the government has either not paid the compensation or not taken physical possession of the land.
  • It will be applicable to all cases of land acquisition before the date of commencement of the Act if the award under the 1894 Act has not been made.
  • It will also be applicable if the possession of the land has not been taken regardless of whether the award has been made or not.

Significance :-

  • It would be correct to say that thousands of families who had previously given up all hope had their acquisition proceedings set aside and their land returned under Section 24.
  • This Section was upheld and imbued with substance by several judges of the Supreme Court and various High Courts.
  • It  has positively impacted the lives of several farmers/ land owners

Why it has become an issue :-

  • In 2015 an ordinance was passed to render this Section inoperative however protests led to PM  announcing the withdrawal of the amendments proposed by his government.
  • Now, the Supreme Court, in Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra(February 2018), has effectively implemented the provisions of the lapsed ordinance with regard to the retrospective clause.
  • In earlier judgments, the Section was interpreted in favour of securing the land owners interests over those of the state. This was in sync with the foundational premise of the 2013 Act
  • The section meant the new compensatory and acquisition norms would escalate the cost manifolds


  • LARR act is hailed as a landmark law in the interest of the all stakeholders so for implementation of this act government needs to consult all stakeholders.

Topic: Environmental pollution; Transport

5) Does replacing existing  bus transport, especially the CNG-based ones, with e-buses and encouraging citizens to move towards using e-vehicles address pollution in cities? Critically examine. (250 Words)



  • Vehicles produce a lot of carbon emissions that are ejected into natural atmosphere, leaving people vulnerable to things like pollutionand greenhouse gases. In order to help positively the environment people live in, electric vehicle is a great step forward

How E-vehicles address pollution in cities: –

  • Direct emissions include smog-forming pollutants(such as nitrogen oxides), other pollutants harmful to human health, and greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide. All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas.
  • Electric vehicles produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles.
  • Reduced Noise Pollution:Electric vehicles put curb on noise pollution as they are much quieter. Electric motors are capable of providing smooth drive with higher acceleration over longer distances.


  • 70-95% of PM emissions caused by road transportation is not related to tailpipe emissions but to road dust re-suspension and abrasion of brakes and tyres. E-buses will not eliminate these emissions.
  • Electric power is mainly produced by coal-powered plants. So the switch to electric would neither change the air quality in the city nor would it be an environmentally friendly initiative.
  • The technology is still too expensive primarily because of the battery.
  • Recharge Points:Electric fuelling stations are still in the development stages.
  • Not Suitable for Cities Facing Shortage of Power:As electric cars need power to charge up, cities already facing acute power shortage are not suitable for electric vehicles
  • Newer vehicles require new Industries for manufacturing base. This might cause land pattern change and deforestation.

Way forward:-

  • The focus should be on measures which are more sustainable, paired with effective investments to improve air quality.
  • With regards to the expected additional energy demand generated by India’s 2030 vision of electric vehicles, it might make sense to couple this with renewable energy: every electric vehicle sold should require a dedicated clean source of power to be installed
  • Other ways to spur EVs, include dedicated charging spots, and discounted or free parking.
  • In the Indian scenario, the government should provide the initial user base and demand to help technologies cross the chasm.
    • The government could consider making all new government and corporate vehicles electric.
    • This would force government buildings to install EV infrastructure, and hopefully create a large enough ecosystem for the maintenance market in petrol pumps and service shops to take off.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ; Quality of service delivery,  challenges of corruption. 

6) A building permitted for three floors, while being extended illegally to 6 floors by a builder, collapses. As a consequence, a number of innocent labourers including women and children died. These labourers are migrants of different places. The government arrested the builder and owner of the building. Government also suspended  few engineers. The dead migrants are given monetary compensation.

  1. Can such incidences, where most of the times poor people are the victims, be prevented? How?
  2. Discuss the ethical issues involved in such incidences.
  3. Examine the issues faced by migrant workers in cities.


Answer :-


In the developing countries, internal migration is a survival strategy for many labourers in search of a better livelihood and opportunities. Every year, India loses an average of 2,658 people to different kinds of structural collapses; that is around 7 deaths a day. 2011 saw the highest fatalities in ten years, 3161 deaths.


The stakeholders involved in this issue are the migrants, builders, owners, government authorities and society as a whole.


Question 1:-

To avoid such incidences , there needs to be accountability placed on multiple stakeholders. The government authorities granting the permission for the building need to strictly adhere to the rules, act according to professional code of conduct and not violating them for bribes. The builders and owners need to be given strict punishment and buildings be sealed  if they violate the rules and try to construct extra floors. Rights of human life and dignity should not be neglected and the nexus among powerful people who think they can get away with such instances need to be checked. Workers need to be made aware of their rights and duties so that any illegal methods of construction can be reported.


Question 2:-

Here the issue is not that of insufficient regulatory systems or safety standards, but that of non-compliance. Frequent regularisation of unauthorised constructions have emboldened violators and eroded the compliance culture. Lack of transparency in approval processes, discretionary exemptions, and slack inspections have put the interests of many apartment-buyers in peril. Rights of life of the poor workers is neglected. Lack of responsibility by builders and owners who are not being utilitarian but selfish. It also highlights the lack of empathy on the part of society towards the migrants.


Question 3:-

  • Social, and psychological challenges such as the stigma associated with menial labor, social exclusion, and xenophobia are faced by migrant workers
    • Being away from their families for prolonged periods also affects the psychosocial wellbeing of these migrant workers, leading to stress and depression.
  • Ensuring health as a human right
    • Access to health care facilities and services remains a major concern for migrant workers
  • Female migrant labourers face several important gender-based problems, including gender-based discrimination at work and violence. Several women are subjected to physical, verbal and sexual abuse at the workplace and their place of residence.
    • Emerging research shows that intimate partner violence is higher among migrant women than other women.
  • Equity and avoiding disparities
    • Migrant labourers are at a significant disadvantage in the community into which they have migrated. They are in unfamiliar territory amidst strangers. In addition, they are discriminated against by the members of society, who feel that they “belong to another culture”. As a result of these factors, migrant labourers may be deprived of access to healthcare facilities and services.
  • Balance of risks and benefits
    • Migrant labourers are employed in jobs which the local people prefer to shun .An analysis shows that migrant workers most often take up jobs in the construction industry, with its inherent risks of accidents, injuries, crushes and falls; commercial sex work, associated with a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases; and brick kilns, in which they face the risk of burn injuries.
  • Lack of basic amenities like drinking water, sanitation problems etc
  • Child labour might increase and also misuse of children in begging and other social crimes.



  • With the increasing quantum of migration within the country, there is a need to provide effective healthcare and other basic services to migrant workers will assume greater proportions over the years.