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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) As with the Mughals, under European colonial rule, architecture became an emblem of power, designed to endorse the occupying power. Examine the salient features fo the British architecture in India. (250 Words)




Why this question?

It’s in our topic list.   

Key demand of the question:

Direct question. Examine the salient features of British architecture (not colonial architecture – make sure not to include Portuguese, Dutch, French) 

Directive Word:

Examine– From reference links, extract relevant information, organise neatly and present in answer. 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction, write about relationship between power, prestige, pride and architecture, and how the British were not an exception. 

In the body, divide answer into 4-5 broad categories such as form, purpose, locations, style, inspiration etc. Within each category provide example and explain salient features. 

In the conclusion write 1-2 lines about the influence these structures have had on modern Indian architecture. 

Related Question/Articles: Here


  • Numerous European countries invaded India and created architectural styles reflective of their ancestral and adopted homes. The European colonizers created architecture that symbolized their mission of conquest, dedicated to the state or religion.
  • Among the key British architects of this time were Robert Fellowes Chisholm, Charles Mant, Henry Irwin etc. Their aim was to house their organisations, and their people and whatever was necessary to control an empire as big as India. 

Salient features of British architecture in India:-

  • In the beginning of the colonial rule there were attempts at creating authority through classical prototypes. In its later phase the colonial architecture culminated into what is called the Indo-Saracenic architecture. 
  • 3 styles dominate the British architecture:-
      • It was derived from a style that was originally typical of buildings in ancient Rome, and was subsequently revived, re-adapted and made popular during the European Renaissance.
      • The British imagined that a style that embodied the grandeur of imperial Rome could now be made to express the glory of imperial India.
      • Construction of geometrical structures fronted with lofty pillars
      • The Mediterranean origins of this architecture were also thought to be suitable for tropical weather.
      • The Town Hall in Bombay was built in this style in 1833(1st picture below).
      • Horniman circle(previously called the Elphinstone Circle), Mumbai completed in 1872.(2nd picture below).


    • The Gothic style had its roots in buildings, especially churches, built in northern Europe during the medieval period.
    • The neo-Gothic or new Gothic style was revived in the mid-nineteenth century in England.
    • This was the time when the government in Bombay was building its infrastructure and this style was adapted for Bombay.
    • Characterised by high-pitched roofs, pointed arches and detailed decoration.
    • An impressive group of buildings facing the seafront including the Secretariat, University of Bombay and HighCourt( 2nd picture below) were all built in this style
    • The most spectacular example of the neo-Gothic style is the Victoria Terminus(1st picture below) in Mumbai.






    • Towards the beginning of the twentieth century a new hybrid architectural style developed which combined the Indian with the European.
    • The Indo-Saracenic Revival (also known as Indo- Gothic , Mughal-Gothic, Neo-Mughal, or Hindu-Gothic) was an architectural style and movement by British architects in the late 19th century.
    • It drew elements from native Indo-Islamic and Indian architecture and combined them with Gothic revival and Neo-Classical styles favoured in Britain.
    • The inspiration for this style was medieval buildings in India with their domes, chhatris, jalis, and arches.
    • Public and government buildings, such as clock towers, courthouses, municipal buildings, colleges, and town halls, were often rendered on an intentionally grand scale, reflecting and promoting a notion of an invincible British Empire.
    • Infrastructure was composed of iron, steel, and poured concrete and included domes , overhanging eaves, pointed arches , vaulted roofs, pinnacles , open pavilions, and pierced open arcading.
    • ‘Chepauk Palace’ situated in Chennai (erstwhile Madras) was the first Indo-Saracenic building.
    • The Gateway of India(2nd picture below), built in the traditional Gujarati style to welcome King George V in 1911, is another example.
    • Victoria Memorial in Calcutta(2nd picture below), Khalsa college, Amritsar, Mysore palace, etc.






  • The significance of British architecture is visible even in post independent India where most of the important government offices are still hosted in these monuments.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies; Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,

2) What were the objectives of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006? Recently, the  Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) released an audit report on the ‘Implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006’ . Examine its findings and recommendations. (250 Words)



Why this question?

Post – Maggi episode, issue of food safety is mainstream and has attracted lots of policy attention. It’s a very important question for Mains-2018.   

Key demand of the question:

First, briefly write what were the objectives of food safety act; secondly examine findings of CAG and then write its recommendations. Give more weightage to last two parts. 

Directive Word:

Examine: From the article, extract relevant points and write them in your answer as per question’s demand. Your opinion is not required.

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 1-2 about need for plugging loopholes in food safety act to ensure safe food to citizens (link with SDG or any report finding) 

In the body, divide answer into TWO main parts: One for writing the objectives of the law (briefly 3-4 direct points). In the Second part, Combine CAG Findings and Recommendations (as is done in reference PDF). Also, categorise each finding and recommendation (as is done in reference PDF).  However, you may further divide each finding into 1-2 points. 

In the conclusion, write in 1-2 lines why it’s utmost important to prioritise food safety (give number of children that eat junk food) Or write that food safety is important but before that food security must be ensured (give no. of hungry mouths in India) 

Related question/Articles: Here , Here , HereHere

TIP: As you can see in the reference PDF, categorising points helps notice important points easily. Try to emulate it i your answers.


  • The great majority of people will experience a food borne disease at some point in their lives. This highlights the importance of making sure the food people eat is not contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals. Hence food safety regulations are necessary.
  • According to WHO more than 200 diseases are spread through food. One in ten people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 4,20,000 doe each year as a result. So even Sustainable development goals focus on food safety .

Objectives of Food safety and standards act 2006:-

  • The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 was enacted to
    • Consolidate multiple laws in the country relating to food safety
    • Establish a single point reference system
    • Establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).  FSSAI formulates standards for food and regulates their manufacture, storage, and distribution, among others. 

Key findings of the CAG report:-

  • Even after more than a decade of the enactment of the Act, the Ministry and FSSAI are yet to frame regulations governing various procedures and mechanisms as stated in the Act. 
  • FSSAI has been unable to identify areas for which standards are yet to be formulated or revised. 
  • There is no clarity on the reasons underlying the identification of food products that were standardised ahead of others.  Multiple cases of high levels of lead and MSG in Maggi noodles were found many years later it has been in the market .This showed the complacency of the food authorities.
    • In some cases FSSAI entrusted the task of suggesting revision of standards to representatives of the food business operators, whose opinions may be biased
  • Licensing to food businesses were issued on the basis of incomplete documents in more than 50% of cases checked .
    • In cities street food culture is taking precedence but the quality of food served is not checked.
    • FSSAI has failed to ensure that the customs authorities do not let unsafe foods enter the country. 
  • Food laboratories:-
    • The food laboratories used for testing by FSSAI are of low quality and 65 out of the 72 state food laboratories do not possess proper accreditation .
    • There is no data maintained regarding the quality of food analysts .
    • The shortage of functional food testing equipment in state food laboratories resulted in deficient testing of food samples. 
  • Recruitment:-
    • Recruitment process was ineffective even after the passing of the act. This has resulted in acute shortage of staff at various levels which affects food safety measures across the states
  • Contractual employees were performing routine functions, defeating the intention of appointing contractual employees only for specific tasks of defined duration.


  • Regulatory and administrative framework:-
    • The CAG recommended that the FSSAI must expedite the notification of regulations on all the areas that have been specified in the Act.  Further, it must frame standard operating procedures on the formulation and review of standards, and ensure that these are adhered to.
  • Licensing:-
    • FSSAI ensure all licenses issued under the earlier system of product approvals are reviewed, and licenses cancelled and reissued as required under the present procedure of product approvals.
  • Food business:-
    • FSSAI also does not have any database on food businesses. In this context, the CAG recommended FSSAI and state food authorities must conduct surveys of food business activity under their jurisdiction. 
  • To increase the staff, the CAG recommended that the Ministry and FSSAI must take steps to notify the recruitment regulations and fill up the vacancies.



  • Different governmental departments, agencies ,encompassing public health, agriculture ,education and trade, need to collaborate and communicate with each other and engage with civil society including consumer groups.

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

3) What is digital protectionism? Is digital protectionism good for India as it has been good for China so far? Analyse. (250 Words)



Why this question?

It’s a new and evolving concept. It’s important for Mains-2018 (there have been questions on protectionism). 

Key demand of the question:

Explain the concept (how well you understand it) and then analyse if it’s going to be good for India to protect its digital companies as is done by China. 

Directive Word:

Analyse: Apart from TWO main parts that are there in question, divide the Second part into sub-parts and examine if it’s going to help India or not.   

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 2-3 lines about new frontier in protectionism i.e. digital and its likely impact on global order(US-China equations) and India’s aspirations. Write a line about your opinion on impact on India (good or bad).

Define digital protectionism. Give 2 examples. 

In the body, divide answer 4-5 categories and examine/opine if digital protectionism will be good for India or not. For each category(such as digital economy, privacy, innovation etc), try to compare with China’s example. 

In the conclusion, write in 1-2 lines on need for India to create an appropriate ecosystem for digital innovations before competing with US and China (we don’t have our own Alibaba, Weibo etc to protect!!)

TIP: Whenever you encounter new concepts such as these, definitely attempt these type of questions in Secure


  • The future of globalisation is overwhelmingly digital with emails and 3D printing threatening to replace container ships, and services increasingly delivered online and across borders.
  • In that context, online barriers such as the “Great Firewall” of China erected to keep out content China objects to, looks like impediments to free trade as much as to free speech.

Digital protectionism:-

  • Digital protectionism is not just about data protection. It is also about localization requirements of computer installations, disclosure of computer source codes (computer operating systems) or the discriminatory treatment of digital products (music, video, software, e-books) transmitted electronically. 

Chinese model:-

  • In 2000, China laid the foundations of this protectionist regime with the Golden Shield Project for blocking politically sensitive information.
  • It has evolved considerably since then:
    • Web censorship
    • Keeping companies like Facebook and Twitter out of the country entirely
    • Forcing foreign firms to form joint ventures with Chinese partners and transfer IP
    • Government support for Chinese firms making strategic acquisitions abroad.
  • China’s tech giants, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu, have grown large enough to now compete internationally . The cumulative effect is that China now has a fair shot at taking the lead in critical future technologies, from Artificial Intelligence to electric vehicles.
  • Protectionism has meant Chinese payment services like Tenpay and Alipay having over 800 million users and a combined market share of nearly 90%. The microblogging site Sina Weibo has 500 million Chinese users more than Twitter’s global user base. 

Digital protectionism is not very feasible for India because:-

  • China’s unique political and economic models make its policies inimitable which is not feasible in India.
  • Any such attempt to throw up barriers would run the risk of being dangerously counterproductive. India will be considered less attractive as an investment destination if regulatory barriers and uncertainty are introduced
  • India’s information technology companies have been successful over the past few decades because of their openness to international trade and investment.
  • The digital economy has yet to mature. The medium- to long-term effects of protectionist policies on innovation and growth may far outstrip any short-term benefits.
  • Multiple studies have shown the importance of innovation clusters. Foreign competition that brings innovation capital helps build those clusters.
  • It slows innovation and productivity growth:-
    • With advanced technologies like Artificial intelligence, Internet of things, big data etc occupying greater role protectionism would hamper India’s innovative abilities.
  • It leads to inefficient capital allocation
  • It limits consumers options
  • It also promotes crony capitalism.
  • Concerns such as user privacy are present. Instead of digital protectionism India is looking to bring the data protection law which resolves the concerns.

Way forward:-

  • The need of the hour is to look into privacy concerns and create the appropriate ecosystems for innovation which will have a far larger pay-off 

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

4) India is rightly acclaimed to be the pharmacy of the world, with its huge private sector capacity for producing branded and unbranded generic drugs. However, India has seen the decline and near disappearance of public sector capacity for manufacture of drugs and vaccines. Why is healthy and robust public sector drug manufacturing is important for India? How can India boost this sector? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Why this question?

It’s an important issue, especially when public sector units are facing flak for all reasons, here is the need for revival of these units in pharma sector.   

Key demand of the question:

Write importance of reviving public sector drug manufacturing units and measures to boost them. First part needs more weightage (70%). 

Directive Word:

Examine: Address both parts of the question with relevant information extracted from article. your opinion is not needed.    

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write in 2-3 lines about complimenting efforts of private players with public players to make drugs affordable and accessible to huge population not only in India, also for the world.  Quote SDG/NFHS. 

In the body, divide answer into TWO main parts: First to answer why pubic sector drug companies need revival. Categorise into 4-5 parts such as Universal Healthcare, Affordability, etc. In the second part, write 4-5 points on how government should revive these. 

In the conclusion, write 1-2 line on uncertainty that exists in private sector and how public sector can be a saviour when situation(drug scarcity) arises.

Related question/Article: Here, Here

Background :-

  • India has been an active player in the pharmaceutical industry and has contributed globally towards making life saving drugs and low cost pharmaceutical products accessible and affordable for those in need. 
  • Despite, advances Indian biopharmaceutical industry is still 10-15 years behind their counterparts in the developed countries and faces stiff competition from China, Korea and others.
  • The lacuna primarily exists due to disconnected centers of excellence, less focus on translational research and staggered funding.

Why is healthy and robust public sector drug manufacturing is important :-

  • To ensure that Indian population is not denied access to drugs that the Indian private sector is unable to produce or supply at affordable cost.
    • These include drugs where compulsory licences may need to be issued by the government for patent protected drugs or even off-patent drugs which are commercially unattractive to private manufacturers.
  • With the acquisition of Indian drug companies by foreign manufacturers, or ‘strategic alliances’ which place shackles on the Indian partners, public sector capacity for manufacturing life saving drugs under a CL is the much needed fall-back option.
  • Drugs for neglected tropical diseases are of little interest to the commercially driven private drug industry.
  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), which are needed for drug manufacture (formulation), are now mostly imported from China. This makes India highly vulnerable to disruptions in supply and cost escalations in import.

How to boost public sector drug manufacturing :-

  • India needs to develop both public and private sector capacity within the country, with suitable government support and incentives, to ensure uninterrupted and inexpensive availability of APIs.
  • The High Level Expert Group Report on Universal Health Coverage for India (2011) clearly articulated the need for strengthening public sector units (PSUs) because:-
    • The use of PSUs will offer an opportunity to produce drug volumes for use in primary and secondary care facilities as well as help in ‘benchmarking’ drug costs.
  • Effective implementation of the Ayushman Bharat initiative calls for investment in expanding public sector capacity for producing essential drugs and APIs.
  • The UN report also urges member states of WTO to adopt a permanent revision of Paragraph 6 of the TRIPS agreement to enable swift and expeditious export of pharmaceutical products produced under compulsory license. India should take the lead in ensuring universal access to affordable drugs through such measures.
  • National Biopharma mission needs effective implementation:-
    • Innovate in India(i3) will witness an investment of USD 250 million with USD 125 million as a loan from world Bank and is anticipated to be a game changer for the Indian Biopharmaceutical industry. It aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.



  • Investment in public sector capacity is essential to ensure that the country can exercise that leadership even on occasions when the private pharmaceutical sector does not fully align with that objective.
  • There was an immediate need felt to focus on consolidated efforts to promote product discovery, translational research and early stage manufacturing in the country to ensure inclusive innovation.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

5) Recently, the union cabinet took a decision to change the basis of classification of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Examine on what basis classification of MSMEs will be done and how would this classification impact industries such as defence. (250 Words)



Why this question?

Updates you on this important issue and its impacts, especially on defence sector. Question combines two topics from GS-3 paper.  

Key demand of the question:

Examine the basis on which MSMEs are going to classified and how such classification would affect industries, especially defence.   

Directive Word:

Examine:  Just present facts from the article. 

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write 1-2 lines on the central role MSMEs are playing (share in GDP and employment) and how new classification was overdue. Write a line that it would boost defence sector which is in dire straits.  

Define MSME (present definition)

In the body, in TWO main parts address demand of the question. First, in point format write basis of new classification and how it’s different from the old. 

In the Second part, write likely impact on defence sector. Categorise into make in India, cost of production, investment etc. 

In the conclusion, write about the need for complimenting this effort with other reforms and industrial policies. 

Related Questions/Articles: Here, Here, Here



  • MSME is second largest employment generating sector after agriculture sector. It provides 80% of jobs in industry with just 20% of investment.
  • In the defence sector alone, as many as 6,000 MSME units have been supplying components and sub-assemblies to the public and private sector companies, out of which 800 are engaged with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Present classification:-

  • Presently, enterprises qualify as micro, small or medium enterprises if their investment in plant and machinery (for manufacturing units) and equipment (for service providers) is within the limits laid down in Section 7 of the MSMED Act 2006, which are as follows:
Type of EnterpriseInvestment in Plant of MachineryInvestment in Equipment
MicroNot exceeding Rs 25 lakhNot exceeding Rs 10 lakh
SmallMore than Rs 25 lakh but not exceeding Rs 5 croreMore than Rs 10 lakh but not exceeding Rs 2 crore
MediumMore than Rs 5 crore but not exceeding Rs 10 croreMore than Rs 2 crore but not exceeding Rs 5 crore


Basis of  New classification:-

  • MSMED (Amendment) Bill, 2015 simply sought to increase the existing monetary limits two to three times and to change the basis of classification from investment in plant and machinery or equipment to annual turnover without making a distinction between manufacturing enterprises and service providers. The revised classification and eligibility thresholds will be as follows:
Type of EnterpriseAnnual Turnover
MicroNot exceeding Rs 5 crore
SmallMore than Rs 5 crore but not exceeding Rs 75 crore
MediumMore than Rs 75 crore but not exceeding Rs 250 crore


 Impact on industries such as defence:

  • The expanded MSME base also improves the prospects for projects funded from the ‘Technology Development Fund (TDF)’ for development of defence and dual use technologies
  • Many sectors where MSMEs role to play such as Pharmaceuticals, Auto-component, Food processing, defence etc  have been demanding a many-fold increase in the investment limit needed to be compliant of the new mandatory and industrial standards. 
  • Increased capabilities will lead to more production so cost of production of defence equipments would reduce.
  • It is transparent, as authorities could always cross check the turnover through platforms such as GSTN. No CA certificate would be required.
  • The new system of classifying enterprises based on annual turnover will be more reliable, transparent and objective as the qualifying criteria will be verifiable with reference to the data available in the Goods and Services Tax network.
  • This will also reduce transaction costs as it will no more be necessary to carry out any inspection. It will make classification system progressive and evolutionary.
  • Many enterprises in defence that presently do not qualify should come within the ambit of the MSMED Act, 2006 and benefit from a large number of schemes promulgated by the government for this sector from time to time.
  • Existing  MSMEs in defence should also be able to invest more in plant and machinery and equipment without losing out on the benefits available to them.
  • It will also help in overcoming uncertainties associated with classification based on investment in plant & machinery and equipment and employment.
  • It will also improve ease of doing business.
  • It will provide flexibility to Government to fine-tune classification of MSMEs in response to changing economic scenario without resorting to amendment of MSMED Act.
  • It also levels the field for new and old enterprises as the comparison is not between historical investments and current investments but between current turnovers.
  • This would increase capabilities and Product’s Quality/Design that would benefit defence sector.
  • Start up’s in defence are likely to increase.
  • However due to increased competition there might be


  • Overall, the new definition is a vast improvement over the earlier definition and should help MSMEs to face new challenges in a better frame. When this classification is complemented with other reforms in acquisition of defence equipment , indigenization of defence etc it will be a game changer.

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

6) What are Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) and letters of comforts (LoCs) that are issued by banks? Recently the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned both LoUs and LoCs. Examine the causes and consequences. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


Why this question?

It’s in news thanks to Nirav Modi issue. This questions tests your basics about this issue.   

Key demand of the question:

Plainly define what’s LoU and LoC. Next, write causes and consequences of banning them (why didn’t RBI band them earlier?!?)  

Directive Word:

Examine:  Write related information as per demand of the question.  Your opinion not needed(except in the intro and conclusion may be, that too based on the issue in question)  

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction write 2-3 lines about RBI’s central role in regulating banking frauds and how its latest measure may be too late.  

Define LoU and LoC with examples.

In the body, divide answer into Causes and Consequences: First part, give reasons why RBI has banned them. In the Second part, explain likely impact on various stakeholders (banks, traders, stock market etc).

In the conclusion write why RBI should be more proactive in preventing bank frauds to restore public faith in institutions including RBI. 

Related Article/Question: Here


  • With use of Letters of Undertaking (LoUs), illegally used by companies of Nirav Modiand Mehul Choksi to defraud the Punjab national bank recently RBI decided to discontinue the practice of issuance of LoUs and letters of comforts (LoCs) .


  • An LoU is a document whereby the issuing bank guarantees its customer’s payment obligation to an overseas supplier.
  • A letter of comfort is typically provided by a bank to assure the financial soundness of its customer to repay its debt. 
  • Difference between LOU and LOC
ParticularLetter Of ComfortLetter Of Undertaking
DefinitionLoC in the banking parlance is referred to a document which is provided by a person, typically an affiliate (such as the holding / parent company) of the borrower (“LoC Provider”) assuring the financial soundness of the borrower to repay its debt(s).A contract to perform the promise, or discharge the liability, of a third person in case of his default
UseBetween Branches or Partner SubsidiaryInter-Bank
Basel IIILow ProvisioningHigh Provisioning
Charges to Customer LowHigh


Why RBI banned these?

  • These LoUs are cheap loans that firms get on the banks credit (worthiness), and not their own. It So banning LoUs has been a long-pending reform.
  • The multiple banking frauds unearthed since the Modi-Choksi case have revealed several loopholes in India’s banking, which the RBI is now looking to plug.
  • In recent years, loans taken abroad have been cheaper than those taken in India. As was alleged in the Rotomac case, promoter of the company used these cheap foreign loans for purposes other than what they were meant for, i.e.,importing goods.
  • Global banks prefer letters of credit (LC) to LoUs. The RBI, too, has kept the LC option open.
  • As Non performing assets are piling up in banks this move was much needed.

What are the consequences of this move?

  • Demerits:-
    • It is likely to affect trade finance and the rupee.
    • Importers will have to buy a lot more dollars to pay to overseas suppliers. This, in turn, may weaken the rupee significantly and put further pressure on importers. A weaker rupee will make imports costlier.
      • Importers, especially in the gem and jewellery sector, will have a tough time to finance their import business
      • As importers can’t delay payments, they are forced to buy dollars from the spot and forward market.
    • The RBI’s move could be especially disastrous at a time when Indian exporters are still limping back to growth. This is because many Indian exporters also import their inputs
    • Banks had tightened the rules for issuing LoUs and other guarantees. They were also asking for more documents.
    • Cost of credit could be on its way up
    • Stocks of public sector banks fell over 2 percent in early trade.
    • The cost pressure will rise on such companies. The gems and jewellery sector, in particular, is already suffering due to the drying up of credit in wake of the PNB fraud. It alone accounts for 13% of India’s exports.
  • Merits:-
    • Bankers say the scrapping of LoU/LoC is unlikely to impact trade credit as banks can issue Letters of Credit (LC) and Bank Guarantees for trade credits for imports.
    • The public trust on banking sector will not be lost


  • This move by RBI is the first step and need to be followed by various banking reforms to resolve the woes of the present banking sector

General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethical concerns and dilemmas 

7) You are part of a trekking expedition to a remote stretch of Western Ghat hill section that has rough terrain and dense forest. The team consists of ten women and five men. As you climb up and reach the final point, your team notices that forest fire is spreading rapidly. There is no mobile network available.No satellite phone is also available. The team leader suggests spending night on the hill. 

a) What will you suggest to the team in this situation?

b) Before trekking, what are the precautions that your team should have taken? 


Why this question?

It’s based on recent tragedy in Theni, Tamil Nadu. This question wants to make you aware of precautions that needs to be taken before going ahead with such adventures, and also tries to test decision making ability in the face of adversities like this.   

Key demand of the question:

Firstly, write the measures/suggestions you would want team to take in such a situation. Information is limited and within this based on imagination, you should suggest practical measures. Secondly, write points about precautions that should have been taken (read reference article). 

Directive Word:

No directive word: for each question, based on its demand, explain and illustrate your arguments with examples. 

Structure of Answer:

Write a general introduction before answering Question (a). Here write 3-4 lines on facts of the case, issues you are facing and stakeholders involved. 

Question (a):   Write in paragraphs, all the measures that you want to suggest. Imagine the terrain, food-water supplies you have, safety of women/their concerns, need for unity, team work, methods to douse fire with or without water, can you camp using tents in such a situation? (Use imagination and suggest practical measures) These should try to uphold values such as courage, fortitude, empathy, presence of mind, emotional intelligence etc. 

Question (b): Based on given reference, write down all points. 

In the conclusion write a line on need for related agencies to maintain their integrity and adhering to rules to prevent unnecessary loss of lives (quote recent event).



Sociable sports that require teamwork rather than competition are catching on in particular among an urban population eager to escape the stresses of daily life and meet new people. As income levels rise and the urban middle class looks to spend time outdoors, interest in adventure sports like trekking is rising. The following stakeholders are involved like myself and other trekkers in the group.


  1. A) The current situation needs strict presence of mind ,emotional intelligence and teamwork of the group which is necessary to survive rather than panic. I would suggest taking an alternative route to safety and keep walking in the direction opposition to the direction of wind flow .Staying on the hill is not a good idea especially if it has dry patches as speed of fire spreading is unpredictable and can be very drastic as well .Also staying on the hill will mean necessity of additional food supplies ,concerns to women, protection issues at night in the middle of the wild etc as well. Camping  needs to be setup in an open place with no dry patches around. If any locals or forest dwellers come across ask them for suggestions as they know the area better.

B)Measures needed to take before hand are:-

  • First necessary permits should have been taken by the organisers in the trekking area.
  • Organisers should have been trained in fire escape manoeuvres, carrying the right equipment including wireless communication sets and satellite phones in case of emergencies
  • Check the map of the trial which is to be followed before hand and know escape routes for forest fire. Keep the map in hand.
  • Have a guide who knows the trekking area very well.
  • Get some training on how to act in a crisis situation.
  • Keep my Trekking Essentials like emergency kit ,eatables etc in handy.
  • See if the area is prone to any natural calamities during the season of the trek.


Trekkers need to take safety on treks more seriously. Not doing so can result in a catastrophic disaster like the one occurred in Theni, Tamilnadu recently.