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

1) The socio-cultural regeneration in nineteenth century India was occasioned by the colonial presence, but not created by it. Analyse. (250 Words)

Bipan Chandra India’s Struggle for Independence, Page 83, Chapter – 6


  • The social and cultural regeneration of the 19th century was, however, qualitatively of a different order than the pre-colonial manifestations of reform like Bhakti movements  which did not play a socially transformative role but confined their activities to a number of self-contained sects without much communication or interaction with one another.

How colonial presence helped the socio cultural regeneration in the nineteenth century:-


  • While the pre-colonial movements were trapped in feudal ethics, the 19th century regeneration occurred in the context of an emerging middle class which mainly developed its social vision, political beliefs and cultural ethos from the history of Western societies, received through the medium of the ideological apparatuses of the colonial state.
  • They were drawn towards a new cultural situation through their association with the colonial rulers
  • All socio-religious reformers whether Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Parsis aimed at the 
    spread of modern education. They believed that education was the most effective tool to awaken and modernize
  • The British conquest and the consequent dissemination of colonial culture and ideology had led to an inevitable introspection about the strengths and weaknesses of indigenous culture and institutions. The response, indeed, was varied but the need to reform social and religious life was a commonly shared conviction.
  • Because of the indefatigable efforts of the reformers, a number of administrative measures were adopted by the Government to improve the condition of women like Abolition of Sati , against female infanticide, widow’s remarriage ,against child marriage etc.
  • Along with enlightenment and rational thought of the reformers of the 19th century ,the circumstances created by British triggered the reform movements like for instance British used the position of social conditions like the status of Indian women, illiteracy, superstitions etc which were practised then to justify the enslavement of India. So it became imperative for the Indian intelligentsia to contest the tag of backwardness. Along with that the Orientalism brought forth archaelogical excavations of India’s rich cultural heritage like the discovery of  Indus valley civilisation.

However British has not created it:-

  • The Indians took the role played by Christian missionaries propagating Christianity as an onslaught on their religion and social customs and questioned many of their own social and religious practices. They wanted to reform it so that evil social practices could be removed from society
  • Reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Jyotiba Phule, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Pandita Ramabai understood that ignorance and backwardness  in the society was responsible for hindering its progress and development.
  • They studied the religious scriptures and criticized the prevalent religious and social practices. According to them, society should be based on the concepts of liberty and equality both for men and women and this was possible only by the spread of modern and scientific education especially among the women. 
  • They considered the caste system as irrational and unscientific. They felt it was against the basic rules of  humanity. The untiring and relentless efforts of the social reformers helped people to become more tolerant towards each other.
  • They cited the scriptures to show that the practices prevalent during nineteenth century like Sati find no sanction in them.
  • Two important intellectual criteria which informed the reform movements were rationalism and religious universalism. In the Brahmo Samaj, it led to the repudiation of the infallibility of the Vedas, and in the Aligarh Movement, to the reconciliation of the teachings of Islam with the needs of the modern age.


General Studies – 2

Topic:  Functioning of judiciary

2) Special courts, fast-track courts and tribunals are panacea for for judicial efficiency.  Critically analyse. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • There are over 2.8 crore cases in the subordinate judiciary, which is the most out of the three tiers of the judiciary subordinate, high courts and the Supreme Court. So there are alternate mechanisms like fast track courts ,tribunals, special courts  created to dispose off this arrears.

Merits of Special courts,fast track courts and tribunals:-

  • India has several specialised Courts and Tribunals to reduce the burden of pending cases. These special Courts and Tribunals specialise in certain area/laws and ensure that the citizens are not overly inconvenienced in the resolution of minor disputes
  • In order to reduce the Non-Performing Assets of the Banks and Financial Institutions in the public and private sector, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) was established for expeditious adjudication and recovery of debts due to banks and financial institutions. Prior to the introduction of Debt Recovery Tribunal, petitions had to be filed separately for adjudication of cases and execution proceedings in different courts depending upon their jurisdiction. 
  • Make the dispute redressal process quick and less expensive.
  • Fast track courts were created to deal with this problem of arrears in judiciary.
  • Increases the quality of judicial process as judges with expertise related to respective fields are appointed.


  • Supreme court still being the highest court of appeal defeats the purpose of these courts as people can appeal there.
  • Special courts:-
    • While there is sufficient discussion around fast track courts and tribunals, the same cannot be said about special courts. This vacuum in research and analysis with respect to special courts has led to inconsistencies in legislation and operation.
    • What the legislature intends to accomplish by creating special courts is not clear.
      • For instance, there seem to be more special courts under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 as compared to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 despite data showing the former having a tenth of the number of registered cases as the latter (2015)
    • Tribunals :-
      • But a tribunal which is biased, incompetent and unfair, cause more harm than serve such intended purposes
      • Problematic because in majority of the cases government is the
      • Tribunals bypass the constitutional mandate of high courts and SC.
    • Fast track courts:-
      • The central government and state governments have decided to disband the fast-track courts because they are too expensive 
      • Experts were concerned with the declining standards of these courts and have defined it as ‘fast-track injustice.’
      • These courts are given unrealistic targets of cases to finish. 
      • Judges (were) cutting down on evidence, not allowing full cross-examinations, proceeding in the absence of lawyers in many cases has been common in fast track courts.
    • These deal with specific cases like rape, IPR etc so judicial pendency of cases is not resolved


Conclusion :-

  • Parameters such as the frequency and number of effective hearings and calculating the number of pending cases need to be developed to study the workings of special courts. Along with this the alternative redressal mechanisms like arbitration, mediation, negotiation etc need to be encouraged.


General Studies – 3

Topic:  Security challenges and their management in border areas

3) Border security is one of the most vital component of national security of any country and in this regard, the Indian government has been pushing for technological solutions through Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) project. In this light, discuss the limitations, cost-effectiveness and suitability of technological solutions to manage India’s borders. (250 Words)

The Economic Times


  • Repeated acts of terror from across the border led to rigorous introspection in the Government for developing measures to avoid such tragedies.
  • The use of high-tech solutions for border security was being considered by India since 2012 and the trigger for implementing the CIBMS was the Pathankot terrorist attack.
  • The CIBMS is touted as a more robust and integrated system that is capable of addressing the gaps in the present system of border security by seamlessly integrating human resources, weapons, and high-tech surveillance equipment

Limitations of technological solutions :-

  • The experiences of countries such as the United States that have employed high-tech devices demonstrate that not only are the costs of such devices prohibitive but that they also fail to provide a comprehensive solution to border security problems.
    • Even US is weighed down by the economic burden caused by implementation of the ‘virtual fence’ on the US-Mexico border.
    • Infusion of large funds for acquiring the CIBMS at a time when economy is struggling with slow growth, is also going to be a challenge before the government.
    • The exorbitant cost of the electronic devices and the lack of easy availability of spare parts act as a deterrent against their use.
  • The army is also using some imported, sophisticated technical equipments, but its optimum use is hampered by its incompatibility with terrain and border security infrastructure.
    • Erratic power supply and adverse climatic and terrain conditions in the border areas could potentially undermine the functioning of the sophisticated system.
  • The effectiveness of the equipments is further curtailed by the lack of training, repair and maintenance facility and smart users. 
    • BSF does not have the required technical expertise to offer clear guidelines to the vendors so that they can provide suitable products. This fact is further evidenced by media reports that the two attempts at testing the CIBMS system were stalled due to technical mismatch and budgetary projections. 
    • Operation and maintenance of the existing sophisticated equipment remain a problem. At present, many of the high-tech surveillance devices deployed by the BSF are not optimally utilised because the required technical expertise is not uniformly available among the force’s personnel.
    • Being manpower intensive, the system was not effective in providing rest and relief to BSF troops
  • Centralised decision making could hamper timely and effective response on the ground given that detection and interception of infiltrators at the border require a quick response which is achieved only through a decentralised decision making process.


  • Cost effectiveness and suitability :-
  • Technical solutions are necessary to augment and complement the traditional methods of border guarding.
  • They not only enhance the surveillance and detection capabilities of the border guarding forces but also improve the impact of the border guarding personnel against infiltration and trans-border crimes.
  • Smart borders will not only strengthen security infrastructure but also can go a long way in reducing the loss of valuable lives of our soldiers.
  • Besides, the idea has a potential to boost innovation in Indian companies and research institutes, which could develop cost-effective technologies. 

Way forward:-

  • A strong initiative to utilize this existing infrastructure to their optimum capacity can go a long way in improving border security without additional cost.
  • There is a need for setting up a border security operation cum intelligence centers, for better cooperation and coordination among various agencies involved in border security. Operations should be intelligence driven.


  • Instead of high-cost and innovative technological solutions that require extensive technical expertise, a judicious mix of properly trained manpower and affordable and tested technology is likely to yield better results.

TopicConservation; Environmental pollution

4) Discuss the origin and significance of Chipko and other similar movements. Do you think development has trumped environmentalism today? Comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express



  • India’s environment movement is a product of its democratic system. Indian environmental groups have organised numerous protest movements against deforestation ,construction of high dams, mining, pollution and nuclear power plants with varying degrees of success.

Origin of Chipko movement :-

  • Spearheaded by the Dasholi gram swarajya mandal a Gandhian organisation, the Chipko Movement began as a protest movement in 1973 against the policy of the government of Uttar Pradesh to auction forests.
  • Chipko activists stood for people’s rights in forests and have since gone on to organise women’s groups for afforestation.
  • The name of the movement ‘chipko’ comes from the word ’embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees and encircled them to prevent being hacked.
  • In no time it spilled onto other states in north India.


  • In India environmental movements arose out of the imperative of human survival. This was an environmentalism of the poor, which married the concern of social justice on the one hand with sustainability on the other. It argued that present patterns of resource use disadvantaged local communities and devastated the natural environment.
  • Chipko Movement:-
    • It is best remembered for the collective mobilisation of women for the cause of preserving forests, which also brought about a change in attitude regarding their own status in society. 
    • Due to Chipko movement new laws to control pollution and to protect natural forests were enacted. There was even talk of restoring community systems of water and forest management.
    • As a sequel to the above movement several wild life sanctuaries have been carved out and poaching in these areas has been made a cognizable offense.
    • The movement triggered a worldwide thinking in favour of forest management. Concepts such as community forestry arose in Indonesia, Malaysia.
  • Save silent valley movement:-
    • First major campaign against a dam in India.In 1980, the M.G.K. Menon Committee set up to review the hydroelectric project against which the protests were going on and came out with a recommendation to scrap it.
  • Environmental movements like Narmada Bacha andolan , Chipko movement etc attributed their success to commitment to social justice and environmental concerns linked to people.
  • These movements have inspired critical and intellectual assessments of the country’s ecological concerns.

Development Vs environmentalism:-

The debate of whether environment or development is favoured by the countries and has nations accorded secondary importance to environment is a question to be discussed.

Development takes precedence :-

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is regarded by other ministries as a ‘negative’ force that impedes ‘development ’and most often the environment is relegated to a secondary position.
  • The argument is that the protection of the environment is important, but not at the cost of development.  In the ‘development versus environment’ debate, the demand is always for a compromise on environmental concerns but never moderation of developmental activities.
  • The destruction of  aquifers,  rivers turning into sewers, rampant deforestation ,not respecting rights of indigenous people as projects like Vedanta are sanctioned , the looming water crisis even in states with water abundance like Kerala, pollution in cities show that environment was sidelined with respect to  development.
  • A NASA study in 2009 identified a third of the world’s major aquifers to be in distress, with the Indus basin  which includes Punjab and Haryana, India’s granaries  ranked the second-most over-stressed.
  • The catastrophic environmental impacts of economic growth like climate change, deforestation, pollution and toxicity, etc  are putting in place new and more urgent limits on the production and consumption of these resources.
  • The levels of air pollution were now shockingly high in all Indian cities. Across India, the untreated waste of cities was dumped on villages.
  • All these instances confirm that environment has been neglected.


However India is increasingly moving towards serious environment conservation like  the recent initiatives like commitment towards Paris agreement, International solar alliance , investment in renewable energy etc show that India is trying to move towards sustainable growth .



  • Integrating natural capital assessment and valuation into economic system is critical to usher in a truly sustainable future for India.

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

5) Government procurement can be used to improve the nature and quality of production in the economy, and improve business culture. Analyse. (250 Words)

The Economic Times

 Background :-

  • Government procurement in India is around 30% of GDP, which currently is around $2.1 trillion.
  • Public/government procurement broadly refers to the process by which government (at the Central, State and local levels), its agencies/departments and State-owned enterprises procure goods and/or services only for their own use, and not for sale/resale commercially

How can government procurement be used to improve the nature and quality of production in economy, business culture :-

  • Public procurement has a significant impact as it plays a key role in the creation of both social and economic infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, provisions for drinking water and sanitation etc.
  • If public procurements are competitive, they would result in the selection of the most efficient/competitive seller to the buyer (the Government) ensuring maximum savings for the latter and, consequently, the tax payer. 
  • An efficient procurement system appears as a strong element of the public expenditure management systems by helping an entity in taking appropriate budgetary decisions and identifying the required investment opportunities
  • China has used procurement by its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as an effective tool for benefitting local enterprises. Given that SOEs are major players in the Chinese economy both from production and consumption perspectives, many producer SOEs have benefitted from procurement policies favouring local enterprises. 
  • The latest Indian policy aims to encourage procurement from local suppliers with substantive local content set at a minimum of 50% of value addition.
    • The policy hopes to incentivise firms to shift to greater sourcing of inputs raw materials, intermediates and components domestically for satisfying the local content criteria necessary to qualify for preferences in public procurement. 
    • This was to push the ‘Make In India’ initiative
    • Ensure greater flow of capital and technology into domestic services and manufacturing
    • Boost job creation locally as well as promote small enterprises. 
  • Privatisation per se will not lead to greater competition and references to the case of Russia and China show that privatisation there has led to oligarchy.
  • The government of India has emphasized information technology (e-procurement) as a tool for enhancing transparency, efficiency, and accountability in the public procurement.
  • An effective procurement management information system (PMIS) is important for a sound and sustained procurement system.
    • PMIS not only helps in tracking the ongoing as well as completed procurements but also provides information to any procuring entity in executing different procurement activities primarily in bid preparation and evaluation.
    • It, thus, serves as a data centre to assess and track the past tenders to identify and weed out the anticompetitive elements as well as narrow down the procurement cycle

Despite its emergence as a crucial element of good governance, the public procurement system in India continues to suffer from several weaknesses:-

  • The ways in which these goods and services are purchased the procurement process can sometimes be inefficient and opaque to citizens. The procurement data is not easy to find or easy to understand; the policies are not always clear.
  • One of the biggest challenges for the observatories in India has been access to data. Many states still use manual procurement, and even when they use e-procurement systems, it is not possible to get back-end data. 
  • Rules are unable to counter corruption. They do not reflect many imperatives which public procurement regimes need to satisfy to meet the complex needs of a modernising economy, especially in their tendering modes and transparency rules, which are not helpful in promoting the small scale sector.
  • Besides, what is lacking are provisions to encourage sustainable public procurement, mechanisms to redress grievances of bidders andmarket access norms.
  • Unlike many countries, India does not have a comprehensive procurement legislation, and the procurement regime in the country appears to be fragmented and inconsistent in terms of rules, regulations, and procedures
  • In addition, the system in India is aimed at achieving socio-economic developmental objectives including promotion of MSEs through price and purchase preferences and reservation of sector-specific products. These lead to complexities due to multiple interpretations of rules and regulations at the discretion of the procuring entities.
  • Presence of anti-competitive elements
    • The existence of anti-competitive practices by the bidders’ community tends to hamper the procurement process by negating the best value of money. Competition issues in India mainly concern with collusive bidding, bid rigging, cartelization, and abuse of dominance
  • Low participation of the domestic MSEs
    • Despite the MSEs provisions, the participation of domestic MSEs in the public procurement activities remains low in India. A


Way forward:-

  • World Bank initiative centers around a set of small, civil society organizations called “procurement observatories” that have started collecting government procurement data and presenting it to the public in an understandable way. This needs to be promoted.
  • Formulating a contemporary, scientific and consolidated ‘public procurement policy’ would be better.


Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology. 

6) Discuss the features of the draft Defence Production Policy, 2018. (250 Words)

The Hindu




  • With the aim of creating up to 30 lakh jobs and a total turnover Rs. 1.7 lakh crore in defence goods, the Union government has prepared its draft Defence Production Policy, 2018.
  • The vision of the policy is to make India among the top five countries of the world in the aerospace and defence industries, with the active participation of the public and private sectors, fulfilling the objective of self-reliance as well as the demand of other friendly countries


  • The draft policy says the government’s aim is to achieve a turnover of Rs. 1,70,000 crore (approximately $26 billion) in defence goods and services by 2025, involving additional investment of nearly Rs. 70,000 crore (about $10 billion) creating employment for nearly 2-3 million people.
  • It also hopes to achieve exports of Rs. 35,000 crore in defence goods and services by 2025
  • The policy aims to create an environment that encourages a dynamic, robust and competitive defence industry as an important part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative”.
  • The policy also hopes to reduce current dependence on imports and to achieve self-reliance in development and manufacture of several weapon systems/platforms.
  • The policy proposes to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in niche technology areas to 74% under the automatic route.
  • Private sector:-
    • The government will list its requirements in terms of platforms and weapon systems for the next decade to help private sector companies understand the opportunities
    • It will also simplify procedures for private firms to enter defense production, i.e., liberalize the regime by issuing licenses in 30 days and pruning no-go areas to a small ‘negative list’ for licensing
    • The government will also do away with capacity assessment, except for critical projects
  • Taxes:-
    • In the area of taxation, the government has proposed rationalization of taxes on import of capital goods for services and inputs for defense and aims to prevent inversion of taxes
  • The policy also plans to export defence goods worth $5 billion to other countries. It also plans on setting up Defence Export Organisation in partnership with the industry and market domestically produced goods overseas.


  • By giving a leg-up to defense manufacturing, India hopes to transform itself into a global leader in cyberspace and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies.
  • It pushes for increased indigenisation of defence production not just for purposes of self-reliance, but also to widen India’s export to other nations.
  • The policy also attempts to make it easier to do business. It calls for increased participation of MSMEs, start-ups and other players from the private sector in the defence industry.
  • The Government also wants greater interaction between private and public sector.
    • This policy aims at fusing together technologies from Ordnance Factory Board, Defence Public Sector Undertaking and private players.
    • It aims at advancing and boosting the existing public sector defence production units through skill development and overall program management.
    • It creates open competition in the industry. By opening the sector to private players, the policy is determined to create a driving force for increased productivity and innovation.
    • By inviting the private actors, India sees an opportunity to maximise returns on money.
  • The document also seeks to take advantage of the fact that India has emerged as a top destination for Research & Development (R&D) in the world. It proposes that India utilise this opportunity and catapult itself as a hub for defence related Intellectual Property (IP).
  • The Simplified Make-II would be facilitated easily through this draft policy and will launch itself as an initiative to make it easier for industries to enter defence sector.
  • The broad policy accelerates domestic defence production and thereby makes it feasible for India to have its own market . Indigenous defence production will attract more investors which eventually will lead to massive market creation.


  • Private defence industry has welcomed the announcement of explicit targets, but points out that close oversight would be needed to achieve them. The key to its success lies in how vigorously it is implemented.
  • R&D incentivisation across industry is falling. Earlier, there was tax exemption of 200 per cent of the R&D spend, which will be fallen to 100 per cent from 2020.
  • There is scepticism within industry above how exports can be scaled up fifteen fold in just seven years, from the current level of about $330 million.
  • To boost defence exports to $5 billion, there is a need for a body like Israel’s SIBAT, in which the military and the highest levels of government together facilitate arms sales abroad. The draft policy unfortunately limits itself to export promotion by DPSUs/Ordnance factories.

Way forward:-

  • Its success will lie in its implementation strategy, a periodic review mechanism, and ensuring accountability for non-compliance.
  • There must be a higher targeted incentivisation for defence R&D and product development.
  • It must contain a formal commitment that orders will not be given on “nomination” to DPSUs and ordnance factories, so that there is a true level playing field.
  • It should mention export promotion initiatives such as providing low-cost capital to defence exporters from the growing foreign exchange reserves  which could be detailed in separate export facilitation guidelines. 


General Studies – 4

Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions;



Creators of business intelligence and analytics applications bear responsibility for ensuring that people can reach the right conclusions from the facts and the way they are presented. Mobile developers are leveraging third-party code to quickly build and deploy apps, but many of those developers do not understand the code they are implementing or the ramifications of using them. It is getting very easy to build a mobile app, but it is harder than ever to build one well.


Issues such as spamming users for reviews to forcing users to log in with social networks so additional marketing can be sent to users friends and followers are common and now, sadly expected. 


It would be unethical to leave judgment about data quality to the user. For instance if a retail store publishes an incorrect price the brand has to honour it. Thus, the retailer incurs the cost of the wrong data. Similarly it is app creators responsibility to provide such assurance


People use apps to make decisions quickly, in many cases deciding instantly based on what they see. Given this, any embellishment or design that can lead to incorrect perceptions are unethical as they divert attention from the app’s core purpose of fueling better decisions. The goal is absolute clarity and lack of ambiguity so that decisions can be made quickly. 


People respect their privacy and the apps need to guarantee the trust put by the user’s is not misused by collection of data without consent .If the application will do something in the background, let the user know, and let them turn it off.


The danger lies in the combination of smartphone technology aimed at reinforcing app usage, and a business model based on attracting and keeping our attention. This combination co-opts our time and freedom and directs us towards information and advertisements which often add little value to our lives.


The developer should be self-moderating i.e.,they need to put care and thought into how their software interacts with a user’s data. The publisher, Apple and Google, for example, also have oversight and guidelines for approvals, which have several sections overlooking privacy as well as malware.Finally the consent of the users need to be mandated. Tech companies large and small must push for social responsibility as a necessary parallel to innovation.