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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:  Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country ; Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism

1) Dalit movement has today merely remained an effort at mass political mobilisation. Critically examine the statement tracing the evolution of Dalit movement.(250 Words)

The Indian Express



  • Dalits are one of the most oppressed communities in India who by and large  have for thousands of years  remained neglected and ignored in the social milieu. The dalits have suffered cumulative domination, protested several sources of deprivation, political powerlessness, exploitation and poverty.
  • Dalit movement could be taken as the articulation phase of the numerous faceless struggles against the iniquitous socio-economic formation ordained by the caste system that has occupied vast spaces of Indian history.
  • Ambhedkar played a significant role in making people aware of the dalit identity which was sustained by many organisations for instance Dalit panther in Maharashtra

Dalit movements are mostly about political mobilisation:-

  • Dalit movement, like identity movements across the world, has really narrowed its focus to forms of oppressions.
  • Most visible dalit movements have been around issues like reservations and discrimination in colleges, and these are issues that affect only a small proportion of the Dalit population.
  • Also dalit movement forsook mass struggles and adopted the electoral path to secure political power. This process, instead of strengthening dalits, has in many cases emasculated them politically and caused the creation of a separate class of beneficiaries from amongst them, which if at all, had a very tenuous linkage with the Dalit masses. This class has completely distorted the ideology  of dalit liberation.
  • Worrisome feature in recourse to ‘alliance politics’ that overtly represents the myopic vision of the dalit leadership which is strategizing mainly to remain visible in the political  
  • Consecutive governments have used dalit leadership to gain the support of dalits for gaining power but have not given a serious thought to their sufferings.
  • The dynamics in rural Dalit politics seems to have moved from challenging the upper castes to finding acceptance and becoming a part of the majoritarian polity that is under construction. 

Dalits are fighting beyond just political mobilisation:-

  • What began as isolated struggle of the dalits in obscure villages for land reclamation, dramatically gained a regional and national dimension
  • Champions of the dalit cause therefore do not fail to indicate the right to equality both nationally and internationally
  • Dalit movement is assertion of rights. That exactly is what Ambedkar and 1970’s dalit movements asked for.
  • The scale of social mobilisation of Dalits in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and to some extent in other parts of the country, has not been seen in recent times. There is palpable anger in the community because of the sense of impunity with which they are being subjected to violence in certain parts of the country. 
  • Social hierarchy is challenged through everyday acts as due to reservation many dalits have attained upward mobility .
  • Political power has helped, but younger Dalits are clear this is one part of a much wider movement.


Dalit movements should have broader focus:-

  • The mobilisation of Dalit students and the increasing awareness of caste oppression were some positive outcomes amid the troubling instances of attack on dissent and democratic rights in India. Movements of the oppressed can be sustained and strengthened only if they take up issues of economic justice.
  • Any Dalit movement to address the needs of Dalits as a group, has to see itself as part of a class-wide movement. The reason for that is the overwhelming majority of Dalits are wage labourers either in the rural areas or in the informal sector in the urban settings.



Why this question?

With the recent Supreme Court’s order on the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and the ensuing Dalit protests, it becomes important to delve deep into the history of Dalit movements and contrast it with the the nature of Dalit movement as it is currently. The current Dalit protests should be prepared from a GS 1 perspective.

Key demand of the question

The key focus of the question is on examining the opinion expressed in the statement that Dalit movements have merely remained tools of mass mobilization and manifestation of vote bank politics. This view is to examined by contrasting it with Dalit movements of the past.

Directive word:

Critically examine – The focus should be on providing arguments for and against the hypothesis that Dalit movements today are merely political mobilization tools. We can argue that the movement today is in sync with the objectives of the Dalit movements as envisaged by Ambedkar and as had happened in the 70s. On the contrary, the Dalit movement today can be seen as mass appeal of the social empowerment ideals and the efforts of the marginalized section to seize power in the game of political one man upmanship.

Structure of the answer

In the introduction, write on the Dalit movements in India and the nature of Dalit movement currently.

First give arguments for your thesis (whatever your view on the statement is). Thereafter, briefly give arguments on your antithesis.

In your conclusion give a balanced opinion on the status of Dalit movement in India currently.


General Studies – 2

Topic: Governance, accountability, transparency, e-governance

2) Facebook’s current privacy crisis and questions about how Google gathers, uses and stores our personal information demonstrate an urgent need to review and replace inadequate and outdated ways to regulate data and information. Comment.  (250 Words)

The Economic Times

The Economist


  • The 2016 US election was a warning that social media platforms pose risks that need to be considered seriously by regulators in free societies. Social media platforms are allowed to collect personal data and use it for “social experimentation,” without regulation.
  • Societies have allowed these digital platforms to function without much regard to the risks of propaganda and bias they create. It’s time to reign them in through effective regulation.

Mechanisms available at present:-

  • International:-
    • To protect the privacy of its individual users, the European Union is to implement the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018.
      • Aimed at harmonising data privacy laws across Europe, it will impose stiff penalty of up to 4% of the company’s worldwide turnover in the event of a breach.
      • Many companies will also have to ensure that even their vendors are fully compliant with the GDPR as a condition for running their businesses. 
    • Private companies regulate through privacy agreement between the digital platforms and the users.
  • India:-
    • Online content, whether on the Internet or in mobile media, is regulated through the Information Technology Act 2000 (amended in 2008) and the rules formulated under the act.
    • Besides, other laws governing content in all media include provisions (including those for defamation, incitement to offence, obscenity etc) in the Indian Penal Code, the Cinematograph Act, the Copyright Act, the Broadcasting Regulations, the advertising code, etc.
    • Establishment of Indian computer emergency response team (CERT-In) as a nodal agency to look after cyber threats.
    • Setting up of cyber police stations to deal with cyber crime related cases.
    • Launched Cyber Swachhata Kendra to clean botnets.

Constraints with the present ways to regulate data and information:-

  • For too long, regulators have turned a blind eye to the use of data, emboldening digital platforms to do as they please with no oversight
  • Existing privacy laws in India don’t deal with social media abuse. Current legal recourse is through laws for defamation, sexual harassment, intimidation and so on.
  • A law as widespread as Section 66A can definitely lead to a chilling effect on free speech. 
  • The American government has done little to help in this regard:-
    • The Federal Trade Commission merely requires internet companies to have a privacy policy available for consumers to see. A company can change that policy whenever it wants as long as it says it is doing so.
  • But the sheer expanse of the Internet and the anonymity it grants makes it difficult to track down people.
  • Unlike mainstream media that falls under comprehensive regulation, online platforms have scope for wrongdoing due to the lack of binding rules, and the ability to keep owners and editors private like in the case of fake news sites.
    • In the absence of such crucial information, there is no understanding of the liability and the credibility of the information that is being hosted on their respective sites

Solutions needed are:-

  • India needs to have a legal framework for data protection. It will create a vital and necessary framework against which rights and responsibilities can be articulated, and digressions thereof evaluated.
    • A proper data protection law with an effective enforcement mechanism would ensure recognition for India as a trustworthy global destination for data-based businesses and privacy-conscious consumers while also protecting the Right to Privacy of the people in India.
    • Along with law there is a need for strong independent watchdog institutions to ensure that the organisations handling our data do not go astray.
  • Need better guidelines around the ethical use of data, especially around profiling and social manipulation.
  • Need a more proactive approach, where social platforms disclose broadly their data mining goals and policies and demonstrate that they are not violating the implicit intentions of users who entrusted them with their data.
  • Ultimate control of data must reside with the individuals who generate it; they should be enabled to use, restrict or monetise it as they wish. 
    • Therefore, laws should enable the right kind of innovation — one that is user-centric and privacy-protecting
  • Committees recommendations:-
    • Srikrishna committee :-
      • Committee has proposed the creation of a strong Data Protection Authority(DPA). 
      • Some of the recommendations, such as applying the law to both government and private data collectors, fines against violators and direct compensation to complainants, are progressive. 
    • Justice AP Shah group emphasized on taking the informed and individual consent of users before the collection of their personal data.
  • International agreementsform an important node in a web of solutions needed to address security and the rule of law in cyberspace. Given India’s  vision of a Digital India and considering the surge in cybercrime, it would be beneficial for India to join Budapest Convention
  • Experts have pointed to the importance of aspects such as following basic cyber hygiene and a periodic review of the security facets of one’s profile on various web platforms,especially on social media, where users tend to share personal information.
    • When there are no legitimate security or public interest reasons, users should  have the right to have their data destroyed.

Why this question

Facebook, the world’s largest social media company has been involved in many controversies, ranging from manipulating US elections to collection of user data by Cambridge Analytica firm.  Similarly google collects huge amount of data ranging from web searches to user location. This huge amount of data raises serious privacy and regulatory concerns.

This question comes under GS-3 syllabus- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


Key demand of the question

The question wants us to deliberate upon the current mechanisms in place to regulate data and information in India and globally. Then it wants us to point out the deficiencies/limitations of these mechanisms/ institutions.

Directive word

Comment- the answer should have a personal opinion derived from facts/ arguments. The opinion so derived should be backed by sufficient logic/ arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- in the introduction part briefly discuss the corpus of data generated over Facebook and Google and how it affects the privacy of citizens.

Body- Divide the body of the answer into 2 parts. In one part, briefly describe the mechanisms/ institutions in place to regulate data and information in India and, globally. In the second part, discuss why these mechanisms/ institutions are inadequate.

Conclusion- in the conclusion part briefly mention some realistic solutions to the given problem.


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

3) Intensification of trade war between US and China offers many benefits to countries like India but it also poses certain serious threats to our economy. Analyse. (250 Words)

The Indian Express


  • The US administration rattled market bulls by calling for 25% tariffs on $50 billion in imports from China. China fired back with a plan to impose import duties on $50 billion worth of American products. 
  • This led to questions that trade war between America and China is in line.


  • Diminished US-China trade engagement could have positive results for countries such as Brazil and India from a trade perspective, at least in the short run.
    • For instance in the case of soybean there could be a cascading impact in terms of openings for India to enter other markets
  • US-China trade war could accelerate the transition. US companies that rely heavily on imports from China would be forced to redesign their supply chains around tariffs.
    • Multinationals and their suppliers would look for alternative facilities outside China. This is bad news for China but might benefit India.
  • Even if tariff walls went up, India’s large market and relatively swift growth would force multinationals who wanted a piece of that growth to manufacture locally.
  • India would receive a large boost from a China on the hunt for new supply chains.
  • If China goes ahead with its proposal to slap a 25 per cent tariff on polyethylene and liquid propane, which were among 106 American goods targeted, buyers in the Asian nation may look elsewhere for alternatives to pricier US supplies. And the energy-rich Middle East with plenty of petrochemical supplies looks well-suited to meet the substitution requirements. 

Threats :-

  • In the long term, a full-fledged trade war is not good for India. It invariably leads to a higher inflationary and low growth scenario.
  • Increase in interest rates in the US has implications for emerging economies such as India, both for the equity and debt markets.
    • Higher interest rates do make the option of investors borrowing cheap money in the US and investing in Indian equities significantly less attractive.
  • The three external risk factors higher tariffs, rising interest rates, and elevated bond sales will come at a time when the domestic banking system is grappling with a renewed stress of bad loans. 
  • India cannot grow on a sustained basis until it exports and free trade is in existence. With the trade war free trade might affect global economy and in turn India’s as well.
    • The whole integrity of WTO is at peril because the attitude US has taken. 
  • Trade war among major economies would affect multilateral trading system globalisation and disrupt global supply chains.
    • A blow to Chinese exports could ripple through the supply chains that stretch across the region, robbing other economies of growth opportunities and jobs.


  • US and China need to negotiate the issue amicably and not put the free trade under threat as this would not affect other economies but also their own too.

Why this question

In the recent trade war between China and US, US has imposed higher tariffs on several Chinese products and China has reciprocated the same by imposing higher tariffs on some US products. Escalation of this trade war would have huge implications not only for China and US but also for other economies including India. The question is related to the GS-3 syllabus under the following heading- India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to analyse the US-China trade war and thereof conclude its positive aspects as well as its fallouts, with respect to Indian economy.

Directive word

Analyse- the question wants us to dig deep into the issue and identify various benefits the ongoing US-China trade war can bring to India. It also wants us to find out the negative effects of such war on Indian economy.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- in the introduction you can mention the effect of the ongoing trade war on the stock exchanges. Or you can mention the implausibility of a full-scale trade war between the two countries given the geo-political realities in today’s world.

Body of the answer- divide the body of the answer into two parts. In one part, discuss the positive effects of US-China trade war, on Indian economy. In another part, discuss the adverse effects it could have on Indian economy.

Conclusion – in the conclusion you can mention in 1-2 lines, the importance of trade in promoting peace and prosperity among participating countries. You can also conclude your answer by providing suggestions in order to forestall any negative fallouts of the trade war on Indian economy.


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

4) Despite immense potential of EU-India Broad-based Trade & Investment Agreement (BTIA), the Agreement has been in limbo for a long time now. Discuss the issues that hinder its finalisation. (250 Words)

The Financial Express


  • Since 2007, India and the European Union have been negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement officially known as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)  covering trade in goods and services besides rules pertaining to cross-border investments, competition policy, government procurement and state aid.
  • This legally binding agreement would cover almost a fifth of the world population and, therefore, it impact and implications (both positive and negative) would be significant.
  • At a time when the US protectionism is on the rise, it makes sense to push forward for the early revival and conclusion of the negotiations which have been stalled for long. 

Potential of EU-India broad based trade and investment agreement :-

  • The EU (excluding the UK) is India’s largest trading partner, with total bilateral trade of around $77 billion (FY17), accounting for almost 12% of India’s total trade.The BTIA can only further the numbers.
  • The EU is concerned about China flooding global markets with inexpensive steel and the strength of China’s relationship with EU member states themselves is heterogeneous, with China trying to make inroads into Eastern and Central Europe through infrastructure investments. This makes it vital for India to cement its bonds with the EU further.
  • With around €100 billion in bilateral goods and services trade last year, India and the EU have a lot to gain from a trade deal. 
  • Services sector in Indian economy:-
    • India seeks improved market access Mode 1 (ITeS/BPO/KPO) and Mode 4 (movement of software professionals). There are many barriers to movement of professionals including cumbersome rules on work permits, wage parity conditions, visa formalities and non-recognition of professional qualifications. These rules also vary across different European countries that India would want harmonised and relaxed access to.
    • India also seeks data secure status as the high cost of compliance with the existing data protection laws and procedures renders many of its backend service providers uncompetitive.
  • EU’s thrust areas
    • The EU seeks further liberalisation of FDI in multi-brand retail and insurance, and opening up of the currently closed sectors such as accountancy and legal services.
    • European banks have been eyeing India’s relatively under-tapped banking space, but are wary of the restrictive rules on priority sector lending and obligation on financial inclusion.
    • EU wants India’s import duties on wines and spirits and dairy products substantially reduced, and also on automobiles.

Issues causing delay to sign the agreement are:-

  • Differences on intellectual property rights (IPR)
    • India fears that any commitment over and above the WTO’s intellectual property rights (TRIPS, or Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) will undermine its capacity to produce generic formulations
    • Further, data exclusivity measures (which allow pharmaceutical companies to exclusively retain rights to their clinical test results for a certain time period) would delay the production of generic medicines. That explains India’s strong opposition to the proposal.
    • EU is not granting “data secure” certification to India- a condition that facilitates the cross-border transfer of personal data, key to a number of companies’ services, especially in the IT industry. 
  • Trade in agriculture and food items:-
    • There is a fear that the EU dairy products will flood Indian markets if import duties are reduced.
    • India wants the EU to cut its agricultural subsidies while the EU has interests in India reducing its duties on dairy products, poultry, farm and fisheries.
    • Thus, both India and the EU have strong defensive interests with respect to agriculture and food items, which would be difficult to reconcile.
  • India wants a greater ease of movement of temporary skilled workers to provide services in the EU and the EU wanting greater market access for its automobiles and its wines and spirits.
    • There were efforts to harmonise rules on work permits and visas across the union, but they have met with limited success. Moreover, the recent surge in populist sentiments against immigration has reduced policy space for ceding ground on Mode 4.
  • The lack of political will on FDI in retail in India and lack of willingness to open Indian legal services for European law firms undermine India’s negotiating capacity on critical issues.
  • India’s automobile companies fear that reduced duties on cars under the EU-India BTIA will impact their market share and flood India with coveted European cars. Besides, European automakers will have no incentive to set up a local manufacturing base in India.
  • Disagreement on whether the protection of foreign investments will be part of the BTIA or dealt with in a stand-alone treaty. 
  • The EU is also seeking greater market access in the services sector, particularly banking, retail trade, telecommunications, legal and accounting services.
  • India has also expressed its opposition to the inclusion of sustainable development issues related to labour and environment under the proposed agreement.

Way forward:-

  • Improving India’s investment climate is a better way to promote investment and job opportunities.
  • Similarly, strengthening its IPR regime will help attract more FDI and aid R&D. India shouldn’t press on clauses like exhausting domestic legal remedies before proceeding for international arbitration under its investment rules.
  • The, EU, too needs to be flexible on its demand for TRIP+ rules that encourage ever-greening and hurt the cause of innovation.



  • Both India and the EU have enough trade complementarities and can gain a lot by opening up their respective markets. With the eventual phasing out of export subsidy schemes, India will need preferential access to the large European market to maintain or improve its comparative tariff advantages that can come through a free trade pact with the EU


Why this question

Trade deals are important issue from GS 2 and GS3 perspective. In this atmosphere where so much is happening in free trade around the world, all bilateral and multilateral agreements as well as other developments become very important.

Key demand of the question

The focus of the question is on EU India BTIA – the potential of it and the issues that obstruct its finalization.

Directive word

Examine- The question is self-explanatory. You have to highlight the various reasons along with their associated impacts that impede the deal’s finalization.

Structure of the answer

In the introduction, write briefly about EU India BTIA – its history, the current development etc.

Body-Divide the body of the answer into 2 parts.

In one part deal with the potential of BTIA. Why it is important for both stakeholders to finalize the deal early. Keep this section short.

In the latter part, discuss the reasons which in your opinion holds back the finalization.

Conclusion –End with a focus on lost potential and what should be done to finalise the deal soon.


Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

5) Skill India mission, to be successful, needs a paradigm shift. Examine in light of Sharada Prasad Committee recommendations. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • India is one of the youngest nations. Its median age is 27.3. Skill development holds the key to India’s future as a globally competitive economy and the demographic dividend it hopes to reap.
  • For this Skill India mission success is the key as its primary goals are
    • To meet employers needs of skills
    • To prepare workers (young and old) for a decent livelihood


Concerns with the Skill India mission in the current form:-

  • The government set a target of skilling 400 million persons by 2022, till 2016 it had only skilled 10 million people. At this pace, the 2022 target appears to be a far cry.
  • India faces a severe shortage of trained workers 2.3 per cent of India’s work force has formal skill training compared to 68 per cent in the UK.
  • The targets allocated to them were very high and without regard to any sectoral requirement. Everybody was chasing numbers without providing employment to the youth or meeting sectoral industry needs.
  • CAG :
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have pointed out flaws in the design and operations of the NSDC and National Skill Development Fund which has resulted in falling short of skill development goals.
  • Majority of them also could not achieve the placement targets for the trained persons.
  • There is a huge ethics and accountability issue if there is no credible assessment board and when there are too many sector skill councils, each trying to maximise their business.
  • The Sharada Prasad Committee findings:-
    • The NSDC is responsible for poor implementation of the Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) programme. It highlighted that only 8.5 per cent of the persons trained were able to get employment.
    • NSDC has not been able to discharge its responsibilities for setting up sector skill councils (SSCs) owing to lots of instances of serious conflict of interest and unethical practices.
      • Sector skill councils (SSCs) became a hotbed of crony capitalism that have tried to extract maximum benefit from public funds.
    • India has not been able to develop a sound vocational education and training system in the last 70 years. By providing focus on vocational training for only these disadvantaged categories, India has put a stigma on it
    • Mindset issue:-
      • It also has to do with the mindset of employers. They pay poor wages to skilled workers .If a skilled worker gets the same or marginally higher wages than the unskilled person, there is no incentive for him to get skilled.
      • It has also to do with the mindset of the academicians who think that vocational education will dilute value of education
    • Government is conducting vocational training courses without any connect with the actual industry demand. Most of them run short term courses with the result that they do not get employment.
    • Absence of ownership of National Standards:-
      • There are seventeen Ministries in addition to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship out of which only eight Ministries have developed their own course curriculum. It has been happening for long, probably, in absence of any national standards.
    • Apprenticeship training is not an integral part of VET:-
      • It has been conducted as a stand alone activity in which ITI graduates as well as fresher from school system can participate. The result has been that it has not been well received either by the trainees or by the employers.
    • Inadequate Financing of VET System
    • Inadequate Training Capacity in the country
    • Poor quality outcomes:-
      • One of the major challenges facing the vocational education/training system in the country is substandard quality leading to non employment. Basic reason for this has been the absence of national standards and national credible assessment and certification system.
    • Large School Drop-outs from schools
    • Huge shortage of qualified trainers in the vocational education/training system. One cannot imagine quality training without a quality trainer
    • Providing Counselling, Guidance and Employment Services to trainees is as important as providing them skills. This work was earlier done by the Employment Exchanges in the country. However, with time they have lost their relevance.
    • National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) meets its objectives through NSDC but its governance structure is flawed. The NSDF is required to oversee the work of NSDC.NSDF board of trustees consists of the chairman of NSDC as its member.

 Measures needed to improve:-

  • Incentivise employers to offer apprentice schemes that ensure skill training programmes are in sync with industry’s requirements.
  • The focus should be in strengthening reading, writing and arithmetic skills. No skill development can succeed if most of the workforce lacks the foundation to pick up skills in a fast-changing world. 
  • Indian government needs to conduct surveys, once every five years, through the National Sample Survey Office to collect data on skill providers and skill gaps by sector. Such data can guide evidence-based policy-making.
  • Sharada Prasad committee recommendations:
    • Create a sound and well defined National Vocational Education and Training System of the country which should ensure the following::-
      • At the secondary school level, the children should be sensitized about the dignity of labour, world of work and career options but vocational education and training should start only after 10 years of schooling which is the case in most of the developed world.
      • Every child should be given an option to go for higher vocational education and training.
    • Create National Labour Market Information System, National Occupational Standards, National Competency Standards, National Training Standards, National Accreditation Standards, National Assessment Standards and National Certification Standards and align them to the International Standards
    • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship should become the owner of all National Vocational Education and Training Standards and get them developed though intense industry involvement.
    • Set up state of the art Vocational Education and Training Colleges to impart vocational education and training with a clear objective of meeting the skills needs of the industry and providing employment to youth.
    • In-plant apprenticeship training should be made an integral part of the Vocational Education and Training for all trainees.
      • The trainees must learn core skills in the company and devote at least one third of the total training period for this training. In most of the advanced countries, in-plant apprenticeship training is combined with the vocational school training.
    • The industry must come together to contribute towards a National Skill Development Fund
    • All diploma colleges and ITIs should be renamed as VETCs and their capacities should be enhanced to about 500 trainees per annum.
    • There should be one Skill Development Centre (SDC) in a cluster of about 10-12 villages, which would provide skills to the youth so that they can access employment opportunities in the local economy.
      • The state of Gujarat has already set up a good number of such SDCs called Kaushal Vardhan Kendras which are doing excellent work.
    • The two existing Acts i.e. Apprentices Act, 1961 and The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 should be repealed and a new Vocational Education and Training Act (VETA) should be enacted.


Why this question?

Any issue that concerns employment is to be prepared from mains perspective. Skill India is an important governmental initiative to address the unemployment situation in the country. It is necessary, thus, to delve deep into the mission and understand its strength and weaknesses.

Key demand of the question:

The question is asking us to answer whether the provisions of Skill India mission have what it takes to boost vocational education and improve the employment situation in the country, or whether it requires reforms to achieve its goal. The reforms that are suggested should be in light of the Sharada Prasad Committee recommendations.

Directive Word:

Examine – IN this case you have to probe deeper into the Skill India Mission and recommendations of Sharada Prasad Committee to see if the shortcomings of Skill India Mission can be resolved by the reforms suggested.

Structure of Answer:

In the introduction, write about Skill India Mission – objectives, status. Mention the need of reaping demographic dividend by providing employment. Basically establish that Skill India should be high priority.

The body of this answer is to be divided into two parts. In the first part, talk about the problems plaguing Vocational Education and skilling in India. Analyse this problem (while quoting from Sharada Prasad Committee) from different dimensions – institutional shortcomings, implementation shortcomings etc

In the second part, talk about what are those reforms that are required or whether status quo should prevail. If you are taking the stand that reforms are required, quote from Sharada Prasad Committee recommendations to bolster your arguments. In case, you are taking the latter stand, focus on why the committee’s recommendations are not the way forward.

The conclusion should mention a fair view and a way forward.


Topic:India and its neighborhood- relations; Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

6) With Nepal joining China’s OBOR initiative and an increasing engagement of between the two countries it is time for a revisit in our foreign policy vis a vis Nepal. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu


  • India has age old unique, time tested ties of friendship with Nepal. The relationship between the two countries is deeply and intricately intertwined by geography, civilisational bonds, and cultural and social enmeshing.
  • However the Madhesi crisis and the economic blockade at the India-Nepal border in 2015 created some strains but the strain in relations could not have been sustained for long which is visible in the recent visit by Nepal’s PM to India.

Growing proximity of China –Nepal relations:-

  • Recently 10 agreements were signed between the two countries .The one related to trade and transit and the other on connectivity have attracted international attention for their security implication in the South Asian region.
  • As per the transit treaty with China, Nepal has now secured transit rights for trade with third countries through the Chinese territory
  • China decided to supply petroleum products to Nepal, apart from building petroleum storage facilities in this country.
  • Nepal has opened flood gates for the Chinese to operate in all sensitive areas, including Kathmandu, Pokhara and down up to Lumbini, which is just 25 km from the Indian border.
  • China’s activities have been steadily expanding in Nepal after Kathmandu’s support for OBOR materialized.


India needs to revisit its foreign policy with respect to Nepal:-

  • Nepal and India have an open border where trade and business is prominent. No other country in the region can allow free and unrestricted movement of people across their border as India and Nepal have done even after delineating the border more than 200 years ago. 
  • Even after so many years relations remained the same. The impression that India is trying to “micro-manage” Nepal’s affairs has persisted.
  • Nepal is moving to diversify its relations beyond India
  • Despite deep ties, India is no longer exercising the same influence over Nepali politics and does not command the same levers to shape Nepali elite opinion and society.
  • Nepali society particularly the hill dominated Kathmandu bureaucracy, media, civil society institutions  is becoming more autonomous of Indian influence.Their emotional investment in India is limited.
  • The momentum behind recent economic connectivity initiatives like the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Initiative and the operationalization of the BBIN-affiliated Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) demonstrate how both India and Nepal can mutually gain from connectivity initiatives. 

India has already taken care of the issues :-

  • Twelve-point joint statement was issued recently highlighting the resolve of the countries to take their bilateral relations to newer heights on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and benefit.
    • Three agreements, on a rail project connecting an Indian border town with Kathmandu, on inland waterways connectivity and on agricultural development in Nepal, were signed.
  • The primacy of India in Nepal has not declined
    • Nepal’s currency is pegged to the Indian currency
    • Nepali and Indian workers can work freely in each other’s countries, without visas and work permits.
    • Nepal and India gain tremendously from remittances from the other .Nepalis can own property in India. Generations of Nepali students have studied in India.
    • This ‘special relationship’ takes concrete cultural forms. Nepalis and Indians visit each other’s country for religious pilgrimage.
    • There is abundant informal trade that exists across the open border.


What more needs to be done?

  • To enhance people-to-people relations, Nepal and India must resolve contentious issues relating to the border, including the two major areas of dispute at Susta and Kalpani. 
  • India must respect Nepal’s sovereignty as mutual respect is a key in bilateral relations and India should not meddle in the internal political affairs of Nepal or panic over China’s growing investment in Nepal.
  • India needs to finish the infrastructure projects on time for instance Pancheswar project has been pending for over 20 years now. 
  • India will have to focus on connectivity as a leverage to increase its strategic influence in the neighbourhood.
  • By reviving the Gujral doctrine and India’s willingness to provide non-reciprocal, unilateral, and preferential benefits to its smaller neighbours, the government has signalled intent to position India as a credible and leading power across the region.


  • With the status of Asia rising day by day in the international arena India needs to strengthen its neighbourhood policy


Why this question

Relations between India and Nepal soured after the latter promulgated its new constitution. Madhesi protests and the road blockade led to a diplomatic scuffle between the two countries. Since then china has increased its political and economic engagement with Nepal and recently Nepal has agreed to join the OBOR  initiative. Thus it is an important topic as far as UPSC mains exam is concerned. It’s part of GS-2; India and its neighbourhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreement involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Key Demand of the question

The question demands an analysis of our foreign policy vis a vis Nepal, in the light of growing influence of China in the country. The question also demands us to provide the necessary revisions required in our foreign policy to to amend our relations with Nepal and further strengthen them.

Directive word

Comment- we have to form a personal opinion on the basis of a discussion of India’s foreign policy towards Nepal. It also wants us to suggest the required changes in our foreign policy which could help in further strengthening our relations with Nepal.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – in the introduction mention the close linguistic, marital, religious, and, cultural ties between India and Nepal and also the scope of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of development as well as diplomacy.

Body – the body of the answer should be divided into two parts. In one part, briefly discuss going proximity between China and Nepal and souring of relations between India and Nepal over madhesi protests.

In another part, discuss the need  to revisit India’s foreign policy vis a vis Nepal and and give suggestions of amending the same in a way that it serves India’s diplomatic needs and also does not hurt Nepal’s sovereign interests and rights.

Conclusion- you can mention the rise of Asia and need of a stable, friendly neighbourhood in order to ensure development of the whole region.

General Studies – 3


Topic: Conservation ; 

7) There is lack of seriousness in prosecuting offenders under wildlife protection act. Discuss the reasons behind high acquittal rates in wildlife related crimes. (250 Words)

Down to Earth


  • Wildlife crimes were among the three major crimes worldwide, next only to illegal arms and drug trades. Removing a species from the flora and fauna will have an impact not only on the forest, but also on humans

Provisions regarding prosecuting offenders in the wildlife protection act:-

  • Offences in relation to animals specified in Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II of the Act carry a prescribed penalty of not less than three years imprisonment, which may extend up to seven years and a fine of not less than Rs10,000. These cases are non-compoundable.
  • South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network India joined (SAWEN) to work with seven other South Asian countries to fight against trans-border wildlife crime through communication, coordination, collaboration, capacity building and cooperation in the region.

Reasons behind high acquittal rates in wildlife related crimes:-

  • Recent book titled “State of India’s Environment 2017: In Figures” suggests a worrying 52 per cent increase in poaching and wildlife crimes between 2014 and 2016. 
  • Maharashtra, for instance, recorded only 17 convictions of the 147 court orders between 1995 and 2014, with a success rate of 11.56 per cent.
  • Most of the poaching cases either do not come out or are simply attributed to various other ‘non-suspicious’ factors.
  • Every forest guard is so burdened that even if they see a tiger carcass lying there with suspected situation of being poached, they would simply try and not register it.
  • Even if the dead animals are brought on record, it will be hassle to transport it and then appear at the  court as witness.
  • Chances of forest guards spotting a carcass before decomposing  are slim. In most cases, the carcasses rot before being sent for investigations so authorities cannot prove the cause of death. 
  • Rate of conviction is abysmal, owing to the lack of evidence:-
    • The latest data available from National Crime Records Bureau of 2014 says that the out of 5,835 cases reported under environment-related offences, 770 cases were reported under the Wildlife Protection Act, for which, 134 people were arrested and fewer were convicted.
  • There are only a few labs to do DNA profiling and these are overburdened to the extent that there are over 3000 pending cases in the court awaiting the completion of laboratory examination.
  • Incase the accused is caught red-handed with the animal parts, the witnesses turn hostile or the prosecution authorities do not shown up in court.
  • Even in cases where the accused is proven guilty, wrong sections under the Wildlife protection act are cited, The accused are not sentenced to the mandatory minimum punishment prescribed under the Act. 

Measures needed further are:-

  • To meet the challenges posed by wildlife trafficking, stronger institutions and law enforcement are needed. Equally important is take action to simultaneously reduce poverty through expanded livelihood opportunities and the involvement of indigenous and local communities in decision-making, as well as general awareness raising.
  • Police need to provide enough priority to such trans-national crime.Majority of police personnel need to be aware that wildlife laws define the duties of police along with forest staffs.
  • Need for effective coordination between  police and forest officialsfor reducing poaching.
  • Infrastructure update, use of new technology and creating new habitats for rhinosis recommended by forest officials.
    • Electronic-eye technology, or E-eye for short, provides around-the-clock monitoring of sensitive regions. 
  • International collaboration:-
    • UNDP supports an integrated approach to combat illegal trade in wildlife and forest products. We support countries to diversify rural livelihoods, manage human-wildlife conflict, strengthen protected area management.


Why this question

A recent book titled “State of India’s Environment 2017: In Figures” by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests that a worrying 52 per cent increase in poaching and wildlife crimes occurred between 2014 and 2016. The issue became highlighted when Salman Khan was convicted in blackbuck poaching case. The question is directly related to the GS-3 syllabus(under the following heading)- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to deliberate upon the high acquittal rates  in case of wildlife related crimes. We have to discuss in detail, why crimes under Wildlife Protection Act are not prosecuted seriously and have low conviction rates.

Directive word

Discuss – we have to explore in detail the reasons behind high  acquittal and low conviction rates under wildlife protection act.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- you can introduce the answer with some statistics, for example from National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) or from the book  “State of India’s Environment 2017: In Figures” by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Body of the answer- the body of the answer should be divided into points. Each point should briefly describe the reason behind high acquittal rates in wildlife related crimes.

Conclusion – in conclusion briefly mention some plausible solutions that could be employed to rectify the above situation.

General Studies – 4

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

8) “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” – Dr Martin Luther King. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu



Martin Luther King was famous for using nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice, and he never got tired of trying to end segregation laws. At a time when white people were considered superior he forced a nation to live up to the true essence of the words of the Constitution.


 The statement aptly applies to his life as it highlights the fact that there were occasions in his life where doing the right thing was not easy and had even threatened his life but with courage he stuck to his values of ensuring all men are equal with his non violence resistance.


Tough situations bring out the person’s true character whether the person has integrity or not. There are multiple examples in international arena for instance Gandhi was single person who fought against the British with the weapons of truth and non-violence by persuading countrymen to walk on the path of non-violence. With integrity and conviction leaders faced the harshest treatments yet they did not go back in their motives for national movement for instance Bhagat Singh role in Indian freedom struggle.


Similarly being a civil servant there are multiple ethical dilemmas ,political pressure ,stress faced on a daily basis but the right administrator would try to impart justice to the society even in such circumstances standing up for the values he/she believes in gaining the trust and loyalty of the people. For instance the multiple transfers of  IAS and IPS officers in India, people fighting for some officers transfers etc.


Therefore  the true test of character is in adverse circumstances only. The strength and courage to abide by one’s principles will make the society just, free of corruption and ensure a ethical society


Why this question?

Quotes by famous personalities are important for Paper 4.

Key demand of the question:

The quote has to be understood in context of the life challenges of Martin Luther King. Your opinion is to be provided on what the quote implies, instances from history or current events where you feel the above has proven true.

Directive Word:

Comment:   Here we have to pick main points and give our ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from our wide reading.

Structure of Answer:

Introduction – Write about the ideals of Dr Martin Luther King, the issues he fought for and how this quote is relevant to his life.

In the body, mention about how you have interpreted this quote. Talk about integrity, the importance of staying true to your own values irrespective of the circumstances. Give examples of personalities who have achieved great things armed only with their integrity and conviction. Incorporate the fact that values have been acquired after a long effort and for self actualization, staying true to your values in adversarial circumstance is very important.

In the 2nd part of the body, one can talk about the advantages that can accrue by following the quote and quote instance from personal life where you have stayed true to your values and how it has helped you.

Conclusion – Give the issue at hand a global perspective, such as how for environmental problems to get resolved, it is important for environmentalists to continue waging their battle to bring about a sustainable change.