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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: Physical geography of India

1) Why does Kosi river cause devastating floods so often? Also examine the consequences of these frequent floods and measures taken to mitigate these floods. (250 Words)

Down to Earth



  • Kosi, often referred to as Bihar’s “river of sorrow”, is notorious for the devastating floods it causes in the vast tracts of northern Bihar, not to forget the devastating 2008 one.

Why does Kosi river cause floods so often:-

  • The cause behind the woes for those living along the banks of Kosi could be 1,082 million tonnes of silt that has been deposited in it in the last 54 years.
  • The silt causes the level of riverbed to rise. As a result, the natural longitudinal (straight) course of the river is disturbed. Therefore the river searches for a lateral path (left or right). As a result it changes its course and breaches the embankments on the new path it has created. The breach of embankments causes flo­ods.
  • The river would have slowed down on its normal course after 2008, but the government built fresh embankments, which once again prevented the river from flowing on its normal course. As a result, the river keeps moving abruptly, leading to floods.
  • Excessive sediment discharge into the river is the main cause. Embankments are constructed to prevent flow of water but with it, the flow of sediments is obstructed. This raises the riverbed, leading to steady rise in water-level.
  • Kosi has been displaying an oscillating movement trend for centuries. Studies have proven that over the past 200 years, the Kosi has shifted its course by 112.6km from east to west in its flow in Indian territory. This shift went on from 1736 till 1960, when construction of the Birpur barrage began in Supaul district.
  • Approximately 80 per cent of the Kosi’s catchment area falls in Nepal, which is mostly hilly and mountainous. Over the past few decades, excessive deforestation in Kosi’s stretch has reduced the soil’s capacity to hold water. This has, in turn, led to excessive siltation on the river.
  • The 2008 deluge in the Kosi was the result of a tectonic shift (movement of plates below earth’s surface) in the Kosi region, which led to pressure on the river’s eastern embankment.
  • Considering the vulnerability of the river Kosi’s basin, the melting glaciers will acerbate the problem a hundredfold. The melting glaciers will release much more water than normal in a short time thus creating a flood situation.
  • Unconsolidated sedimentary nature of rocks which are easily eroded.


  • The Kosi floods have caused unprecedented loss to lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and property in Bihar. 
  • Kosi floods caused extensive damage at both village and household levels.
    • At the village level, losses  were reported in terms of roads, embankments, bridges, culverts, public infrastructure, irrigation and electricity systems.
      • Since roads were severely damaged or destroyed, poor communications became a hindrance to efficient relief work and provision of basic necessities. Electricity and telecommunications were very badly affected, and about three-fourths of tubewells, a major source of irrigation, were severely  damaged. 
      • With the embankments all along the river course, the villagers inside the embankments and around them will be highly vulnerable to the flood waters and frequent breaches in the embankment walls.


  • At the household level, losses were to lives, livestock, agricultural operations and employment 
    The floods destroyed or damaged homes for the overwhelming majority of the people reduced their access to safe water and destroyed or damaged toilet facilities.
  • Vulnerable groups such as Muslims, OBC and Scheduled Castes reported more damage to their houses than others.
  • Damage to Kharif-season crops, including Aghani paddy (the major crop), maize, jute and other 
    vegetables, was extensive, and massive livestock losses occurred.
  • Shortage/unavailability of food and firewood
  • Among occupational groups, daily wage labourers will be the most severely affected, with both employment and monthly earnings falling sharply, after the flood.
  • The increased sedimentation will directly affected the agricultural lands and the irrigation canals and streams. This will lead to an over deterioration in cropping patterns in the region.

Measures taken :-

  • In affected states like Bihar structural measures like construction of embankments, flood retention walls, flood levees and channel improvements, etc were constructed . However, it is felt that structural measures itself is not sufficient to reduce the adverse impacts of floods in the state. Hence non-structural measures like flood plain management policy, building bye-laws, flow and silt management policy are also required.
  • Dredging carried out is unloaded beside the river by the engineers and slowing this gets accumulated with the river .
  • Construction of dam on Kosi with Nepal’s assistance to control its water.


  • The government needs to rethink its strategies to protect the people permanently from the scourge of floods, through scientific management of river water and effective protection of embankments from erosion.

Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes

2) The 2018 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2018) seeks to inform policy and decision-makers, inside and outside the water community, about the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address contemporary water management challenges.  What are these nature-based solutions (NBS)? What is their potential? Examine. (250 Words)

India Environmental Portal

Report (Chapter 1)



  • The water-related challenges countries face today are immense. The world’s population is expected to increase to around 10 billion people (2050), with two-thirds of them living in cities.
  • India faces major threats to its water security, with most water bodies near urban centres heavily polluted. Inter-State disputes over river resources are also becoming more intense and widespread. Hence there is a need for effective water management solutions.

Nature based solutions (NbS):-


  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines NbS as “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, thereby providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.
  • Nature-based solutions (NBS) are inspired and supported by nature and use, or mimic, 
    natural processes to contribute to the improved management of water.


  • The NbS are fundamental to actualisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially number two (zero hunger), six (water), 13 (climate action), 14 (oceans) and 15 (ecosystems).
  • They can simultaneously increase the resilience of the territories to climate risks such as hurricanes, droughts, floods and erosions.
  • They play a role in biodiversity and soil protection and ecological rehabilitation
  • Nature-based solutions hold great promise in areas which also include sustainable food production, improved human settlements, access to drinking water supplies and sanitation, water-related disaster risk reduction, and helping to respond to the impact of climate change on water resources
  • Agriculture:-
    • Nature-based solutions can address overall water scarcity through supply-side management and are recognised as the main solution to achieving sustainable water for agriculture.
    • The environmental co-benefits of nature-based solutions to increasing sustainable agricultural production are substantial as there are decreased pressures on land conversion and reduced pollution, erosion and water requirements.
  • Land degradation:-
    • NBS central to, for example, sustaining livelihoods in dryland areas and combating desertification through rehabilitating land productivity
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment can also be a cost-effective, nature-based solution that provides effluent of adequate quality for several non-potable uses (irrigation) and additional benefits that include energy production.
  • Watershed management is another nature-based solution that is seen not only as a complement to built infrastructure but also one that could also spur local economic development, job creation, biodiversity protection and climate resilience.
  • Nature-based solutions are closely aligned with traditional and local knowledge including those held by indigenous and tribal peoples in the context of water variability and change
  • NBS that involve eco-sanitation approaches, such as dry toilets, also offer promise to practically eliminate water use requirements in many situations.
  • NBS contribute to improved and more sustainable jobs  through creating overall direct benefits of improved water  resources management, thus generating employment opportunities across a large array of sectors and unlocking  the potential for indirect employment creation through its multiplier effect



  • These solutions should be part of a global, participative and integrated approach of water management; especially, in the context of climate change. They can be combined to institutional and technical solutions, to respond to the specific needs and constraints of various ecosystems. Adopting them will not only improve water management but also achieve water security.

Topic: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country. 

3) The transformation of tribals’ relationship with their forests under the influence of colonialism was the root cause for their uprisings against the British in colonial India. Analyse. (250 Words)

Bipan Chandra India’s Struggle for Independence, Page 41, Chapter – 2

How tribals relationship with forests  transformed and became the root cause:-

  • Before British influence, tribals had depended on the forest for food, fuel and cattlefeed. They practiced shifting cultivation (jhum, podu, etc.), taking recourse to fresh forest lands when their existing lands showed signs of exhaustion. The colonial government changed all this.
  • Changes made:-
    • British usurped the forest lands and placed restrictions on access to forest products, forest lands and village common lands.
    • It refused to let cultivation shift to new areas.
    • Oppression and extortion by policemen, zamindars and other petty officials have exercised a combined system of extortions, oppressive exactions, forcible dispossession of property, abuse
      and personal violence which further aggravated distress among the tribals.
    • The revenue farmers and government agents also intensified and expanded the system of begar making the tribals perform unpaid labour.
    • It introduced a large number of outsider middleman (money-lenders, traders and revenue farmers) among the tribal.
      • They increasingly took possession of tribal lands and trapped the tribal in debt-web and this brought the tribal people within the fold on the colonial economy and exploitation
    • The colonial intrusion and the triumvirate of trader, moneylender and revenue farmer in sum disrupted the tribal identity
    • The British govern­ment had introduced certain legislations permitting merchants and contractors to cut the forests. These rules not only deprived the tribals of several forest products but also made them victims of harassment by the forest officials. This led tribes in Andhra Pradesh under Alluri sita Rama Raju and some other areas to launch movements.
      • It tightened the control (restriction on shifting cultivation and attempts to curb the use timber and grazing facilities) of forest zones for revenue purpose ( from 1867 onwards) and this shattered the very basis of tribal economy.
    • All this differed in intensity from region to region, but the complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities provided the common factor for all the tribal uprisings. 
    • The rebellions normally began at the point where the tribals felt so oppressed that they felt they had no alternative but to fight. When this happened, the tribals began to move towards armed resistance and elementary organization.




  • Tribal uprisings played an important role in the national movement with some leaders like Rani Gaidinilu, Birsa Munda , Santhal rebellion with some experts terming it as the First War of 


General Studies – 2

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

4) A unique initiative by the governments of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, “border haats” have been introduced to facilitate cross-border trade. Analyse the impact of this initiative. (250 Words)



  • In order to improve the livelihoods of the villagers across the international border of the north eastern states , the governments of the border-sharing countries of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh have introduced the concept of “border haats.”

Border haats:-

  • Haat means market.
  • Border haats are specially designed marketplaces along the border of two countries which aim at promoting the well-being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of the two countries by establishing traditional systems of marketing the local produce through local markets.
  • Currently, four border haats are operational along the India–Bangladesh border. 
  • The commodities sold in the designated border haats are exempted from custom duties and other duties/taxes levied by the concerned authorities of both countries.


  • Positive :-
    • Border areas are almost always also remote areas, and residents do not have easy access to commercial centres in the heartlands. Hence, border haats are seen as a good alternative.
    • The economic condition of the vendors has also increased overtime and, consequently, there is pressure on the competent authorities to issue fresh licenses to new vendors, or to give new vendors the opportunity to sell products by rotation.
    • The border haat has been successful in improving the economic and social condition of the villagers involved as well.
    • Border haats are proven to have great potential to reduce informal trade.
    • As per data furnished by the concerned State Governments, cash trade equivalent to Indian Rupees 1686.62 lakhs was carried out at the said four border haats in the five year period ending 2015-16.
    • The socio-cultural ties of cross-border residents also provide an impetus for greater economic engagement.
      • Border trade encourages familiarity and trust between communities. Much of the border trade happens through the barter system  shows the mutual understanding and good faith.
      • Also, it has been noticed that as border trade improves, border smuggling usually diminishes as well.
      • These haats are also used by people for meeting with relatives as no passport is required to enter the haats.
    • Bangladesh and India have agreed in principle to set up more border haats (markets) along the common borders of the two countries in future considering the local demand
  • Negatives/concerns:-
    • There are no border haats in operation along the Bhutan and Myanmar borders.
    • Border trade happens on a much smaller scale and contributes only a fraction to the overall bilateral trade.
    • Of course, border haats alone will not be enough. Political stability and infrastructure development are still a concern.
    • The trade is in favour of India with respect to Bangladesh so trade deficit is yet to be reduced in such pace due to various barriers, including insufficient infrastructures and various non-tariff barriers.


  • Overall, while there has been significant progress, there is still a whole lot more than needs to be done before the full potential of border trade can be leveraged in a manner that benefits not only border residents but also neighbouring countries and the region at large.

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

5)Discuss the potential of mobile health (mHealth) services in improving rural health scenario. Also discuss issues associated with using mHealth services. (250 Words)



  • In India, access to mobile phones by way of over a billion mobile phone users (TRAI 2016) is far greater than traditional desktops, laptops and broadband, thus making mHealth all the more relevant when compared to conventional eHealth. 
  • With an urban teledensity of 154% and a rural teledensity of 51% (TRAI 2016), India should be poised to incorporate mHealth into the very fabric of our healthcare delivery system.

Potential of mobile health services :-

  • According to data gathered from Google Trends, a tool which helps understand the relative interest in a particular search term, India ranks among the top five  countries for search terms like ‘mobile health’, ‘health apps’, ‘medical apps’ and ‘mHealth’. This confirms that the Indian population is interested in mHealth.
  • A recent joint report by PwC and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) states that mHealth is expected to be crucial in making healthcare accessible in India. Also, it has the potential to save the country $0.8-1 billion annually.
  • It goes a long way in helping people be more in control of their health, be more aware and better educated about symptoms for various diseases which shouldn’t go unchecked, their health risks as well as, precautionary measures one can take to protect oneself.
    • For instance air quality related health apps that could give you an alert when the air quality in your home or locality goes above safe limits.
  • From maintaining a report to getting an expert opinion is always a tough task because it not only involves medical expenses but travelling and accommodation expenses also come along with it. Mobile healthcare brings experts to small cities and give the excess to the general population for the care they deserve.
  • Telemedicine, emergency services, text messaging services, supervision and support services to the healthcare service staff, and data collection are among the functions that mobile telephony has brought in as new opportunities to develop services that would cater also to the underprivileged, rural, and less educated part of the population, and attempt to cover the last mile.
  • mHealth offers a great promise to help cater to the needs of people with limited healthcare and family planning services and information in their everyday environment.


  • Huge volume and fragmented market:
    • More than 1,65,000 mHealth applications are available across the iTunes and Android app stores.
    • Many mHealth apps are of dubious origin and abandoned by the developer after an initial release or one update
    • There is no way for a prospective user to know which apps can be trusted.
  • Lack of awareness :-
    • The Government of India has launched a few mHealth initiatives. However, lack of awareness is a huge deterrent.
  • Poor infrastructure and security concerns :-
    • The rural population has very poor network connectivity.
    • Most of the poor population cannot afford to buy a decent smartphone which will give them access to mHealth.
    • In addition, if the infrastructure is present, then security and privacy are major concerns.
    • In the case of mHealth apps, there is no way to know if the app developer has taken appropriate measures to ensure security and protect his/her app against malicious attacks.
      • when the same phone is shared by several persons, it is difficult to maintain privacy and direct the message to the relevant person only
    • Issues related to language (various scripts and languages, potential misinterpretation of written information, level of literacy), timing of messages, mobile network fluctuations and incomplete coverage of mobile networks are present.
  • Low expectations
    • The key stakeholders in the healthcare community are unable to appreciate the potential of mHealth as there is no large-scale successful precedent in the Indian context. So, the resistance to change and adopt new technology is huge
  • Manual intervention:-
    • Be it the use of SMS, apps or audio/video consultations, a lot of manual intervention is necessary in the case of mHealth, which makes it unattractive.
  • Patients find cost, lack of relevant applications and provider’s unwillingness to use mHealth to be the top barriers to adoption.
  • Lack of regulatory issues, logistics and availability of appropriate, need-based, customised solutions are some of the major challenges in the way of widespread utilisation of mHealth.
  • Text-based services do not work in remote rural areas because a considerable proportion of people are still illiterate .

Way forward:-

  • Instead of focusing on apps for smartphones, the main interest should be directed to the establishing of non-profit call centres and service centres that are able to cater to people’s information and personal support needs in health issues.
  • It is essential to listen to the client experience: what the people’s needs are, and what kind of services would correspond to their everyday predicaments.
  • Mobile integration with external devices, sensors and systems can play a big role here. mHealth app developers need to develop APIs/interfaces to extract and capture data automatically wherever possible.
  • Providers can play the role of influencers and promote mHealth adoption by helping patients to identify the right apps.
  • The website of the National Health Portal, set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, lists a number of mHealth apps that the population can benefit from.


  • India can rise to the track of social development not by forgetting the most underprivileged, but by providing them the bounty of mobile technology in the form that is acceptable and accessible for their health-seeking.


General Studies – 3

Topic: Infrastructure – shipping, ports

6) What is roll on, roll off ship service? How is it different from lift on-lift off shipping?  Discuss potential and challenges of roll on, roll off shipping service for India. (250 Words)




  • Global warming and anthropogenic climate change due to rising environmental pollution and increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have forced policymakers across the world to 
    promote a modal shift in cargo transportation from roads to waterways
  • A modal shift to coastal shipping will not only bring down the costs of logistics and fuel consumption, but also have societal benefits such as decongesting roads, minimising road accidents, etc.

Roll on roll off ship service( Ro-ro) :-

  • Ro-ro shipping is a popular method of transporting cargo within and between countries.
  • The unique feature of this service is  that loaded trucks and cars can be driven onto the ship and be driven out at the port of destination.
  • The ro-ro service was  expected to
    • Transform transportation in the coastal region by  saving fuel
    • Protecting the environment by reducing the emission  of carbon dioxide and other pollutants
    • Reducing traffic jams in  towns and cities and decongesting highways
    • Minimising the wear and tear of vehicles
    • Reducing the risk of accidents
  • It is the simplest, cheapest, and most environment-friendly method for transporting wheeled cargo

Lift on lift off shipping (Lo-lo):-

  • A Lo-lo operation is when cargo is loaded and discharged over the top of the vessel using cranes or derricks

Differences between Ro-ro and Lo-lo :-

CranesRequires cranes to load cargo.Ro-ro does not require cranes to load the cargo. The vehicles are loaded and unloaded directly by driving  them inside the ship through built-in ramps. These vessels can be used for both civilian and non-civilian purposes.


CostLess expensive but only if it is included in a logistics chain that integrates rail transport and concerns high-volume cargoExpensive
Economic It is a more sustainable transport method especially as it is combined with rail transport.—-
TimeLoLo is generally much slower than Ro-RoFaster so gives this an undeniable comparable advantage in cases where high-value added products are transported
Transport plansComplexA less sophisticated logistics chain is required for Ro-Ro operations i.e., Ro-Ro simplifies the organisation of transport. 



Potential of roll on roll off shipping:-

  • Truck owners  benefit t more from the ro-ro service in terms of saving cost and  time, both. A transport company is able to save more than 30% of the cost and 40% of the time in case they opt to travel by sea with given shipping prices.
  • Truck owners
    • Minimises wear and tear of the vehicle
    • Less spending on fuel 
  • Drivers
    • More safety, less fatigue 
    • Loss of extra income 
  • Business houses
    • Lower costs
    • Speedy transportation
    • Zero pilferage 
  • Government
    • Saving of costly fuel 
    • Less corruption in revenue collection 
  • Environment
    • Lower carbon emissions and environmental  pollution, and hence a potential earning of carbon 
  • Society at large
    • Less road congestion
    • Better health due to less pollution


  • The major reasons for the ship owners not being able to  recover their cost of operations were the steep costs and the low initial price of transportation.
    • With the  present pricing and cost structure, owners will break even only if the ship runs at almost 90% of total trucking capacity.
  • An incorrect ramp strength and size was another issue, due  to which taking the ship to other major and minor ports was not possible.
  • Vessel-related port charges at private ports is one of the major causes of concern for coastal 
    ro-ro ship services, due to which it becomes operationally nonviable to carry out multiple port deliveries during a single voyage.
  • Neither a professional marketing agency nor a proper business development team was hired for the purpose of marketing ro-ro services.
  • The lack of commitment on behalf of the vessel owner went  against the interests of the business houses. With inconsistent  services, the owner was not able to build confidence in the ro-ro service.

Way forward:-

  • Technical specifications of the ro-ro vessel need to be evaluated as it requires a special ramp size, higher fuel efficiency, and lower cost of operations. 
  • The pricing of the ro-ro service needs to be revisited, as the  business volume is not uniformly distributed across both the journeys to and fro.
  • Shifting to net register tonnage (NRT) would be a better proposition to attract more customers.
  • Private ports need to rationalise vessel-related port charges and try to make them equivalent to major ports. 
  • The policy regarding incentivising transporters to use the ro-ro service needs to be revisited. 
  • Since ro-ro is a new business idea, the traditional method  of acquiring customers will not work. Since industry is expecting an end-to-end logistics solution, specialised service aggregator services in the form of mobile applications or aggregator service agencies may be developed for this new product.


  • Ro-ro is a unique service initiative, and has the potential to contribute to the Sagarmala project, and to sustainable economic development in the country.

General Studies – 4

Topic:  Corporate governance




India has a long tradition of paternalistic philanthropy. The process, though acclaimed recently, has been followed since ancient times albeit informally. Philosophers such as Kautilya  from India preached and promoted ethical principles while doing business. 


In India, there is a growing realization that business cannot succeed in isolation  and social progress is necessary for sustainable growth. An ideal  CSR practice has both ethical and philosophical dimensions,

particularly in India.


Corporate social responsibility:-

Companies engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) when they confer benefits on the communities located in or near where they work which are neither required by law nor an integral part of their primary, profit-oriented operations.



At one end of the spectrum, CSR can be viewed simply as a collection of good citizenship activities

being engaged by various organizations. At the other end, it is a way of doing business resulting in the significant impact on community and long-term sustainability.


It is also important to shape responsible and supportable relationships with the community at large

Education, health and environment are prominently tackled by CSR initiatives in India .Project Hariyali  and Project Nanhi Kali by Mahindra, Tata’s Act for Mahseer’ etc are some of the important initiatives by Indian companies.


However there is the danger that CSR erodes government’s responsibility to provide public services.

There is a real danger where community members think the company is acting from altruism and only later find out that wasn’t the driving force at all.


Not only is using serious world problems to sell products unethical, it desensitizes people to these problems. Many will assume that since someone else is seemingly tackling these problems, nothing more needs to be done. Some will believe that purchasing products packaged with CSR imagery actually helps to solve the problems. 


The fact that CSR in India is done based on laws companies otherwise are not very keen to participate in voluntary activities or they don’t want to spend profit on social causes.


Another reason that shows CSR is unethical is that it rarely is what it seems.  Most companies see CSR as public relations and marketing. As a result, social issues are used as advertising campaigns.  Companies make vague claims about ’empowering workers’, ‘a better world together’ and ‘helping local communities’ without evidence or meaning.


Developing and implementing CSR strategy helps leaders create a moral image of themselves and their firm, which ultimately provides a sense of accumulated moral credits. These moral credits mean they feel justified in engaging in less ethical behaviour and being less vigilant in managing the needs of their stakeholders. This bank of moral credits allows leaders to think that they can behave in a socially undesirable way without fear of discrediting their image. For instance The Volkswagen case represents above all an absolute failure in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The company deliberately set out to design a means to circumvent emissions control .


So to make CSR truly benefitting the society there is a need for regulatory mechanisms ,making people more aware so that they can demand the services rather than just be a passive recipient.


CSR should be a part of the DNA of any organization because successful ventures have to also give back to society and not just always take from it. This way businesses can have an overall positive impact on the communities, cultures, societies and environments in which they operate.