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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: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

1)Reconciliation between the Mizo and the Bru communities is necessary for successful repatriation and for a long-term solution. Critically analyze.(250 words).


Why this question

Conflict between Mizos and Brus has resulted in mass displacement of people belonging to  both the communities. It is one of the most protracted and intractable issue plaguing the concerned Northeast states. The question is related to GS-1 syllabus under the following heading- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to analyse the reasons and nature of the Mizo-Bru conflict and then give our opinion on the above issue.

Directive word

Critically analyze-  we have to probe deeper into the question and identify and discuss  the key issues involved. Then we have to form a opinion on the main issue of, repatriation and long term solution.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- introduce your answer being giving a brief description of the Mizo and Bru groups, where they are living etc.

Body- divide the body into two parts.

  1. Discuss the main players ( fronts) and reasons for the present discord.
  2. Discuss difficulties faced in resolution of the issue.

Conclusion- give your opinion on, “Reconciliation between the Mizo and the Bru communities is necessary for successful repatriation and for a long-term solution”.


  • The Brus, also referred to as the Reangs, are spread across the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram. In Mizoram, they are largely restricted to the districts of Mamit and Kolasib. The first signs of a conflict between the Brus and the Mizos, the majority tribe of the state, emerged in 1995.
  • The issue has resulted in massive displacement, with the Brus leaving Mizoram since 1997. While few of the displaced families have returned, the majority is yet to be repatriated successfully. After two decades, it remains one of the longest unresolved conflicts in the North East.

Problems between Mizo and Bru communities :-

  • Bru ethnic mobilisation and ethnic violence:-
    • The Brus in Mizoram got organised after the formation of the state and it was this development that later paved the way for the emergence of organisations such as Bru National Union (BNU) and later the BNLF.
    • The BNU passed a resolution in 1997 demanding autonomy for the Brus, and separate autonomous councils within Mizoram. This was opposed by the Mizo organisations, which continues to be the major focal point of tension between the two communities.
    • The conflict between the Mizos and the Brus was sparked off by the killing of a forest guard belonging to the Mizo community in 1997 by an armed group, the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) and forced thousands of people from the Bru tribe to leave their homes in Mizoram and flee to Tripura.
    • BNLF was involved in numerous cases of arson, kidnapping, and killing in their area of operation, the border between Tripura and Mizoram. Such acts have intensified the hostility between the Mizos and the Brus.
    • In retaliation for the persecution they faced in Mizoram, the Brus have demanded that the Mizos of Tripura leave the state. 
  • Failed negotiations:-
    • In 2005, both sides were able to come to a settlement after several rounds of negotiations. The settlement promised the repatriation of Brus from Tripura and the surrender of arms by the BNLF, among others.
    • However, another spate of violence occurred after the killing of a Mizo youth by Bru militant groups in 2009. This has derailed the repatriation attempt, which has reached a deadlock on the issue.
    • The plan for repatriation continues to fail as both sides, the government and the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) now the main organisation representing the Brus could not come to a settlement.
    • The MBDPF continues to pressurise the central government for a fair and secure rehabilitation. In 2016, a fresh demand was made by the organisation for the creation of separate autonomous council, five hectares of land for each family etc .
      • For the Government of Mizoram, the issue of creating autonomous councils seems to be non-negotiable, as is the granting of five hectares of land. The government claims this is also non-viable.
      • This refusal by the Government of Mizoram has stalled the latest repatriation plan of 2016. 
    • In 2017 the Mizoram government announced that it had identified 32,857 people belonging to 5,413 families for repatriation and the process would begin soon. However, so far, action has not been taken.
  • Present challenges:-
    • At present, the major challenge is not only repatriation, but also the growing mistrust and suspicion between organisations representing the two communities.
    • Question of “bona fide citizens” is now becoming a major bone of contention.
      • While the government proposed the 1995 electoral roll as the cut-off year for identification of Bru families, the MBDPF claims that this will result in the exclusion of a large number of families in the process.
    • The bigger problem lies in the increasing perception of Brus as outsiders by the larger Mizo public in Mizoram. The outcome is the increasing suspicion of the Brus, which negates the possibility of a safe settlement, even if they are repatriated.
    • Brus who return are not safe in Mizo-dominated villages, and that they should be provided with cluster villages, a demand that the Mizoram government has termed as unreasonable.
    • The state government has accused leaders of the forum of Bru’s deliberately sabotaging the repatriation process by repeatedly changing their demands.



  • Attempts at repatriation, without reconciliation, will provide at best a short-term solution. So a long term solution need to be worked out

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


2)Examine the changes brought about by Civil Disobedience Movement?(250 words)


Key demand of the question

CDM was the 2nd mass movement and led to several important developments in the Indian freedom struggle. The question demands us to list the impact that CDM had on the progress of the national movement. We also have to mention the areas where changes were sought to be brought but couldn’t. The overall impact of the CDM needs to be mentioned as well.


Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.


Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention in brief about CDM – the objectives with which Mahatma Gandhi have a clarion call for CDM



  • Discuss in brief the eleven demands of Gandhi and whether those demands were fulfilled.
  • Discuss the other direct and indirect impacts of the movement
    • Peaceful and persistent opposition
      – the local revolts have to be mentioned such as khudai khidmatgars etc. The impact of those revolts have to be mentioned
    • Round Table Conferences – the failure of 1st and the impact of others
    • Gandhi Irwin pact
    • Worldwide support etc


Conclusion – mention the overall impact of the movement that Gandhi Irwin pact made the people realise that their leaders are at par with the Britishers.


  • Civil Disobedience Movement was launched in the Congress Session of December 1929 and continued till 1934. Mahatma Gandhi was the forerunner of the movement. The aim of this movement was a complete disobedience of the orders of the British Government.

Impact of the movement :-

  • There was agitation against land revenue, abolition of salt tax, cutting down military expenditure, levying duty on foreign cloth, among others, throughout India. A very important movement was that of Salt Satyagraha where Gandhi undertook the Dandi march as a protest against the Salt tax.
  • Gandhi notified 11 demands to Irwin and warned British of the implications.
    • The eleven demands made were
      • Total prohibition
      • Release of poltical prisoners
      • Cuts in army expenses, civil services salaraies
      • Changes in Arms Act
      • Reform of the C.I.D
      • Lowering of rupee-sterling rate
      • Textile protection
      • Reservation of coastal shipping for Indians
      • A fifty percent reduction in land revenue
      • Abolition of both salt tax and government salt monopoly
      • The launch of Civil Disobedience was also stated.
    • The British Government agreed to:-
      • Withdraw all ordinances and end prosecution
      • Release all political prisoners, except those guilty of violence
      • Permit peaceful picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops
      • Restore confiscated properties of the satyagrahis
      • Permit free collection or manufacture of salt by persons near the sea-coast
      • Lift the ban over the congress.
    • Round table conference:-
      • Lord Willington jailed Gandhi in January 1932, shortly after Gandhi’s return from the second Round Table Conference in London. He was charged with attempting to mount another civil disobedience movement. Nehru was also arrested and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
      • The three Round Table Conferences in London, held to advance India’s progress to self-government, eventually resulted in the Government of India Act of 1935, which gave the Indian provinces a system of popular autonomous government. 
    • Civil disobedience continuation:-
      • Civil Disobedience in different forms continued in different provinces. Special stress was laid on boycott of foreign good.
      • In eastern India, payment of chowkidari tax was refused. This no-tax campaign became very popular in Bihar.
      • In Bengal, J.N. Sengupta defied Government laws by reading openly the books banned by the government.
      • Defiance of forest laws assumed a mass character in Maharashtra, Karnataka and the Central Provinces, especially in areas with large tribal populations who had been the most seriously affected by the colonial Government’s restrictions on the use of the forest.
      • The Gandhi-Irwin Pact and the Second Round Table Conference having failed, the movement was resumed with new zeal.
      • The movement marked an important state in the progress of the freedom struggle.
      • The movement received global attention.
      • Imports from Britain had fallen considerably.
      • The participation of the Muslims was significant.Even middle and upper class Muslim women were active
      • National flag became symbol of protest
      • People realised that their leaders are at par with the Britishers.
    • Peshawar demonstrations:-
      • Arrest of Congress leaders in the North West Frontier Province led to a mass demonstration of unprecedented magnitude in Peshawar. Khudai Khidmatgars under Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan played an extremely active role in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
      • The atmosphere created by their political work contributed to the mass upsurge in Peshawar
      • The Peshawar demonstrations are significant because it was here that the soldiers of the Garhwali regiments refused to fire on the unarmed crowd.
    • Changes from non cooperation movmenet:-
      • The number of people who went to jail was estimated at over 90,000 more than three times the figure for the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-22
      • While the Non-cooperation Movement was launched to remedy the wrongs of the Government of India Act 1919, the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched as an attempt to attain Poorna Swarajya.
      • The Non-cooperation movement was the beginning, and there was no deliberated violation of law. But in the Civil Disobedience Movement laws were deliberately broken; it became popular among the rural and poor
      • The picketing of the Liquor shops was something which made the women an indispensable part of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
      • The impact of this movement was slow but definite. In due course of time, CPI emerged as an alternative to the Congress.
      • The gap between Hindu and Muslims became so wide that it culminated in partition, around a decade and half later.


  • The participation of Muslims in the Civil Disobedience Movement was certainly nowhere near that in 1920-22. The appeals of communal leaders to stay away, combined with active Government encouragement of communal dissension to counter the forces of nationalism, had their effect.


  • This movement was an important juncture in the history of Indian independence. Satyagraha was put on a firm footing through its large scale usage in the movement. India rediscovered its inherent strength and confidence to crusade against the British for its freedom.

General Studies – 2

TOPIC: India and its neighborhood- relations.

3)From Doklam to Wuhan, India – China relationship has come a long way. Discuss the developments in this period.(250 Words)




Why this question

Modi Xi Summit at Wuhan is a historic moment in the course of bilateral relationship of India and China. Off late, there have been several needling issues between the two which could have led to bittering the relationships. There are still several concerns which haven’t been addressed and the summit provides an apt time to discuss the developments and their implications.


Key demand of the question

The question is asking us to discuss the developments in the period between Doklam to Wuhan. While Doklam represented a low point in the relationship, Wuhan is an attempt to mend broken bridges. We have to mention the key developments in this period, their causes and implications which have had a substantial impact on the relationship.


Directive word

Discuss – We have to go into the detail of the issues involved, analysing their cause and implications, their pros and cons. Here we have to bring out the key issues in the bilateral relationship, their cause and whether we have indeed come a long way in addressing those issues.


Structure of the answer

Introduction – discuss the overall status of India China bilateral relationship.



  • Discuss what Doklam and Wuhan signify for India China relationship – from almost breakdown of trust to an effort at building trust. Also highlight the importance of India China relationship for the world in general.
  • Discuss the main issues. Most of them are the generic issues which always crop up between India and China such as trade imbalance, border issues, CPEC and BRI etc
  • Discuss the developments in these issues in this time, whether we have managed to iron out the issues or whether the problem had aggravated.
  • Discuss whether Wuhan summit indeed reflects a reset in Indo China relationship based on the outcome of the discussion.


Conclusion – Comment on the overall state of bilateral affairs between the two country with a way forward.


  • Post-Doklam the timeline witnessed apparent expression from India to put the bilateral relations on track, with more sincere and cultivated efforts from both the countries. India and China have a multidimensional relationship like economy, trade, security, connectivity, maritime domain etc

How did the relationship change :-

  • Issues before Doklam :-
    • With the growth of globalization and regional connectivity, the following issues have sprouted:
    • India’s open antagonism towards China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), particularly towards the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
    • Its attempts to counter rising Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean and South Asia by moving closer to the United States, Japan ,and Australia
    • Concerns over terrorism.
    • Differences over issues like India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group
    • The listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist
    • Widening trade deficit with India
  • The present efforts make a meaningful case for India, which has for long attributed maintenance of ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘peaceful borderland’ as its key foreign policy objective.
  • Afghanistan:-
    • India and China have also agreed to start discussing the modalities of a joint economic project in Afghanistan, in addition to the possibility of further regional economic collaboration.
  • Boundary dispute:-
    • Communications about the border will continue via the Special Representatives of both countries, and strategic guidelines will be issued to both militaries to ensure the expansion of communications along the border, with the long-term aim being to minimize the occurrence of any future Doklam-like incidents.
    • The two leaders further directed their militaries to earnestly implement various confidence building measures agreed upon between the two sides, including the principle of mutual and equal security, and strengthen existing institutional arrangements and information sharing mechanisms to prevent incidents in border regions.
  • Stability:-
    • Both the countries shared the view that peaceful, stable and balanced relations between India and China will be a positive factor for stability amidst current global uncertainties.
    • They also agreed that proper management of the bilateral relationship will be conducive for the development and prosperity of the region, and will create the conditions for the Asian Century.
    • To this end, they decided to strengthen the Closer Development Partnership in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner, in pursuit of national modernization and greater prosperity for their peoples.
  • Economic:-
    • The two leaders agreed to push forward bilateral trade and investment in a balanced and sustainable manner by taking advantage of complementarities between their two economies.
  • Cultural:-
    • They also discussed ways to promote greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges and agreed to explore establishing new mechanisms in this direction.
  • International role:-
    • They reiterated the importance of building an open, multipolar, pluralist and participatory global economic order which will enable all countries to pursue their development and contribute to the elimination of poverty and inequality in all regions of the world.
    • They agreed to jointly contribute in a positive and constructive way in facilitating sustainable solutions for global challenges including climate change, sustainable development, food security etc.
    • They underscored the importance of reform of multilateral financial and political institutions to make them representative and responsive to the needs of developing countries.
    • Cooperate against terrorism
    • China played a helping hand for India in grey-listing Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force meeting on terror financing.
  • Recently, China and India have initiated discussions to jointly use their leverage in oil price negotiations. In addition, both the countries are having cooperation in global climate change negotiations.

Some challenges remain :-

  • Moreover, on the border issue itself, the scale and quality of transgression by the Chinese has been a concern for India, including Depsang, Chumar, and Doklam. This happened when both the sides were having constant high-level visits in last few years.
  • China’s informal meetings with the United States, in 2013, and in 2017, failed because reality did not keep pace with optics. Similar can be the case with India.
  • As far as the BRI is concerned, China has agreed not to be too inflexible about India’s involvement. But this, while appearing to be magnanimous enough, does nothing to assuage India’s own concerns about possible territorial encroachments in an already troubled area.


  • India and China are in the right direction to understand that more than conflict and war diplomacy would lead to effective resolution.

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


 4)Centre has unleashed a series of reformist steps to unburden and unshackle the higher education sector. To ensure they are effective, UGC needs to reform it’s working. Examine. (250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

This article combines two issues – steps taken by government to improve status of higher education as well as role of regulatory agencies in the field of higher education. Both very important for mains.


Key demand of the question

Following are the issues that need to be highlighted in the answer

  • Step taken by govt to improve higher eduxation.
  • What are the steps designed to achieve. How will they unshackle higher education
  • Examine the current role of UGC
  • Reforms required in the functioning of UGC to achieve the aim that government is trying to achieve


Directive word

Examine –  When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.


Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the status quo in higher education to establish that the sector indeed needs reforms



  • Discuss the aims of the reforms initiated by the government
  • Discuss the steps taken by the govt such as HEFA, ranking of universities, trying to create world class universities, greater autonomy to universities through bills like IIM Bill etc
  • Examine the issues faced by UGC that hinder the growth of higher education in India. Such as no respect for autonomy, trying to micromanage affairs etc
  • Mention the reforms which will help. Take suggestions from previous committees like Hari Gautam committee, Sam Pitroda Committee etc. Also take inputs from the article.


Conclusion – mention the need of bringing in reforms quickly to ensure that higher education improves which will help in strengthening the economy and provide other benefits.


  • India is estimated to have over 800 universities (over 40,000 colleges are affiliated to them). About 94% of students of higher education study in 369 State universities. Despite the huge number the quality of education is largely questionable. 

Reforms made:-

  • Centre has unleashed a series of reformist steps to unburden and unshackle the higher education sector
  • Promising greater autonomy to universities/colleges
  • Creating a regulatory environment for upgrading existing institutions into the world-class category
  • Enabling universities to access large amount of funds from the newly-created Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA).
  • Passage of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017, which will extend greater autonomy to the IIMs.
  • Subsequently approved the continuation of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, which has been working quietly to improve the quality of higher educational institutions in the States through outcome-based grants.

Issues faced by UGC

  • UGC could not maintain quality standards as evidenced in the massification of education. The mushrooming of deemed universities and private colleges without adequate infrastructure and research facilities is a major problem.
  • Instead of experts in UGC suggesting reforms in higher education, there is a bureaucratization in the functioning of UGC which has resulted in “one size fits all” solutions being provided
  • There is a stark failure in attracting foreign faculties to Indian Universities
  • UGC has been accused of biased granting of funds
  • There is a flawed system of rewarding research. Research is rewarded based on Academic Performance Index which are based on citations instead of peer review and expert appraisal
  • Autonomous institutes have often complained that they are not being allowed to function independently
  • The present UGC does not cater to the current needs of higher education
    • With time, ideally, there needed to be a shift in thinking from a ‘regulator’ to a ‘facilitator’. However, instead, there appears to have been an increasing trend towards playing the role of a ‘licensor’, wherein on several matters, permission of the UGC is required by the universities for starting a programme in distance education, entering into collaboration with foreign institutions, opening a new department/school (for central universities) etc.
  • There’s widespread criticism that no higher education institution of India figures in the global top 200.
  • UGC has sidestepped its primary function of being a guardian of educational excellence and focused more on awarding grants which is its secondary function

Reforms needed are:-

  • Replace the UGC Act, 1956, with a new law that should respond to the current needs of higher education. Such an Act will take forward the reforms adopted until now, remove the clutter of regulatory agencies under the HRD Ministry’s purview, and pave the way for the emergence of high-quality higher educational institutions.
  • A major function on which the UGC currently spends a vast amount of time will be eliminated from the responsibilities of the Higher education regulatory council. This will leave the HERC with two major tasks: decisions on the disbursement of funds and accreditation.
  • There is a need to bring all important regulatory bodies UGC, AICTE, MCI, BCI, NCTE and those under state governments onto a common platform and develop a common understanding and strategy for managing the change.
  • Awareness:-
    • A national campaign should be launched by the UGC underlining the need for ushering in quality in all institutions of higher education by including renowned personalities from the field of education
  • Understand and address the real causes of problems that plague the higher education sector like sub-par teaching learning process, inadequate infrastructure, poor quality of research, among others.
  • UGC, along with other bodies which fund research, will have to develop a fresh approach both in terms of the quantum of funds made available for research as well as developing credible strategies for incentivising research in areas that can have far-reaching influence in a specific field of learning/knowledge.
  • Suggestions of various Reform Committees
    • National Knowledge Commission under Sam Pitroda recommended abolition of UGC and creation of an independent regulatory authority for higher education namely National Higher Education Authority
    • Yash Pal Committee also recommended scrapping UGC and AICTE and restore autonomy to institutes providing higher education
    • Hari Gautam committee gave the following suggestions
      • Amend UGC Act as restructuring UGC would be a futile and cumbersome process

General Studies – 3

TOPIC Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies


5)Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is a good scheme with flawed execution. Critically analyse.(250 words)


Indian Express

Why this question

PMFBY is a premier government scheme to address one of the critical challenges faced by our farmers – that of crop insurance. Hence, it is important to track the progress of the scheme.


Key demand of the question

The question makes the assertion that the design of the scheme is good but the execution is flawed. We have to critically examine both these claims.


Directive word

Critically analyze – we have to assess two things

  • Whether the design of the scheme is good
  • Whether execution of the scheme is good
  • Overall opinion on the status of the scheme


Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention in brier about the problem that PMFBY is trying to solve.



  • Discuss the design of the scheme
  • Analyze the good and the bad parts of the scheme
  • Discuss the implementation of the scheme. Analyze the pros and cons
  • Provide your opinion on what’s hampering the progress of scheme – design or implementation. You can also take a stand that the scheme is doing well, provided you are able to justify it.


Conclusion – mention the way forward and bringing in reforms soon to address the problem.


Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

  • It is aimed at shielding farmers from crop failures and yield losses due to vagaries of climate through insurance.
  • It compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield.
  • In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield.
  • The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
  • The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks like droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.


  • The PMFBY is an attempt to plug the holes in the older crop insurance schemes especially being
    • Their limited risk coverage 
    • For crops where the premiums were steeper insurance companies proportionally reduced the sum insured.
    • Compensation fell way short of even the farmer’s cost of production.
  • The Fasal Bima Yojana has done away with this cap on premium. The sum insured per hectare for a farmer is now decided by the District Level Technical Committee and is pre-declared and notified by the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance.
  • The farmer also pays less
    • The premium is 2 per cent of the sum insured for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent of it for all rabi crops.
    • For horticulture and commercial crops, the premium is 5 per cent of sum covered.
    • The remaining premium is paid by the government.
  • The scheme also envisages using technology
    • To capture and upload data of crop cutting
    • To reduce delays in claim payment to farmers
    • Remote sensing to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • Subsidised premiums and prompt claims settlement enabled by remote sensing and GPS technology should help substantially expand coverage.
  • An increase in the area insured should also bring down premium rates, through spreading of risks across more farmers. That would also help contain the government’s subsidy burden.
  • Government has further targeted at increasing the coverage. In Budget 2018-19, allocation to the PMFBY scheme  is  Rs 13,000 crore and a target of increasing coverage to 98 million ha gross crop area has been set.


  • Making the insurance business sustainable with actuarial premium rates is not going to help raise farmers incomes.
  • Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.
  • Most states failed to provide smart phones to revenue staff to capture and upload data of crop cutting, which continues to come with enormous delay.
  • There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages.
  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss: 
    • The sample size in each village was not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of crop losses.
    • In many cases, district or block level agricultural department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
    • There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling
    • Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment:
    • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.
    • Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium.
  • High actuarial premium rates
    • Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates
  • Massive profits for insurance companies
    • If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.
    • There have been farmers protests in various states against compulsory coverage of loanee farmers under this scheme. Farmer activists fear that this scheme might end up benefitting insurance companies more than the farmers.
  • Coverage only for loanee farmers:
    • PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers
  • Poor capacity to deliver: 
    • There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
    • Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY.
    • There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers.
    • Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.
    • Delayed notification by state governments
  • PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regionsas factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.
  • However, merely increasing the budget allocation for PMFBY scheme might not help the farmers.
  • CAG report:-
    • Private companies are not properly monitored and premium subsidy is released to them simply on the basis of affidavits provided by these companies without checking actual situation on the ground.

Way forward:-

  • There is an urgent need to link the insurance database with Core Banking Solution (CBS) so that when premium is deducted from a farmer’s bank account, the bank sends him a message informing about the premium, sum insured and name of insurance company.
  • There is a need for a total insurance package like seed insurance through replanting guarantee programme, crop cycle insurance, prepaid insurance card etc
  • Insurance unit has to be brought down to individual farm level
  • Making claims payment fast and transparent
    • There should be strict compliance of timelines with regard to the process of claim settlement to provide adequate and timely compensation to farmers.
  • Danger of discouraging mixed cropping and crop diversification
    • A limited number of crops are notified by states under PMFBY. This can act as an impediment to crop diversification.
    • PMFBY will have to make insurance relevant to farmers by including more and more crops under notification and by allowing insurance for mixed cropping.
  • Improve scheme monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism
    • Toll-free number should serve as a one-stop solution for crop insurance. Farmers should be able to avail of a single window that is accountable to them for all aspects of the scheme.
  • Coverage of losses expanded:-
    • Coverage of tenant and sharecropper farmers should increase
  • Awareness:-
    • Farmers must be informed before deducting crop insurance premium. They must be given a proper insurance policy document, with all relevant details.
  • Capacity building:-
    • Panchayati Raj Institutions and farmers need to be involved at different stages of implementation.
    • Robust assessment of crop loss should be done through capacity building of state governments, involvement of PRIs and farmers in loss assessment, auditing and multi-level checking to ensure credibility of data and testing incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management

6)Climate change will aggravate pre-existing socio-economic vulnerabilities and risks. Critically examine, in the context of India.(250 words).


why this question

Climate change, poverty and women related issues all are important as far as UPSC exam is concerned. All of them are interlinked and demand immediate attention. The question is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management and also to GS-2 syllabus- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.  Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

key demand of the question.

The question wants us to discuss how climate change will impact the existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities.  We have to bring out the relationship between climate change and socioeconomically vulnerable sections of people like the poor and the women in India.


Directive word

Critically examine- we have to  put forth explanations for why climate change will widen the socioeconomic vulnerabilities especially in the Indian context. We also have to form a personal opinion on the issue

structure of the answer

Introduction- briefly mention the precarious socioeconomic vulnerabilities- poverty, women’s status, caste system etc.


  1. Discuss the geographical features and other factors like development needs which make India highly susceptible to climate change effects.
  2. Discuss the links between climate change susceptibility of socioeconomically vulnerable  sections of India and how they will be impacted more.

Conclusion- put forth suggestions like gender and environmentally sensitive policy making, mobilisation of public support, provisioning of basic services and infrastructure; and the enhancement of basic capabilities, including appropriate knowledge and technology etc.


  • The socio economically backward sections in the countries will remain on the frontline of human-induced climate change over the next century, experiencing gradual sea-level rises, stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, larger and longer heatwaves etc.

Aggaravating already existing socio economic risks:-

  • India’s geographical location and agrarian economy is making it increasingly sensitive to climate change, intensifying and making more unpredictable the risks confronting people’s lives and livelihoods.
  • Extreme weather conditions, ranging from floods to heat waves and weak monsoons to unseasonal rains, are responsible for placing India fourth in the list of the 10 most affected countries globally on the Global Climate Risk Index.
  • Gender:-
    • The Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) notes that the impacts of climate change could prove particularly severe for women
    • Women across social groups in rural households bear the primary responsibility for water collection and use, as well as biomass collection for cooking.
    • Climate variability and environmental change are along with other political economy factors, intensifying the precariousness of livelihoods and women’s work burdens in production and reproduction, threatening their health and nutritional well-being and ultimately their survival.
  • Other groups:-
    • Growing recognition in research on climate change that both perceptions of risk and its impacts on people are associated with social position and identity, like class, caste/ethnicity and age .
    • In the Indian context, the Scheduled Tribes (STs) often tend to do worse than other groups, partly because of their dependence on natural resource–based livelihoods, but also because, being situated in remote rural locations, they have historically been marginalised from state provisioning of services
    • While climate variability and the consequent possibility of decline in yields and availability of food increases the general threat of malnutrition and related health risks are likely to be more intense for the socially excluded and economically insecure groups, such as the landless, smallholders, Scheduled Castes and STs, and women amongst them.
  • Due to rising sea level the population of coastal cities and areas will face additional challenges leading to migration.

Way forward:-

  • India must leverage the unique scientific and research capabilities at its disposal backed by, most importantly, the political will to bring succor to the climate change embattled world.
  • Use drip irrigation to save water, or do watershed development to increase water availability, or build barriers along the shore for protection from storms. 
  • While considering and designing climate change adaptation projects, in addition to vulnerabilities and costs, issues around equity, justice and social hierarchies must be equally considered.

TOPIC: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact

7) What do you understand by Small-scale sewage treatment plants. Discuss their advantages and disadvantages.(250 words).




why this question

A study has recommended that small-scale sewage treatment plants (SSTPs) should be recognized as a viable alternative in India to treat and safely dispose domestic sewage.The study recommends that the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs should develop technical specifications for small-scale sanitation so that funds can be channeled from the national level down to urban local bodies for it. The question is related to gs

key demand of the question.

The question simply wants is to give a description of small-scale sewage treatment plant (SSTP) and discuss its advantages and disadvantages.

Structure of the answer

Introduction-  introduce your answer by giving a brief description of SSTP.


Divide the body into three main parts.

In one part, discuss the advantages of SSTPS. For example low cost, low space requirements, low maintenance etc.

In the other part, discuss the disadvantages of SSTPs. E.g high pathogen quality, need of skilled labour etc.

Conclusion- briefly discuss its suitability in India and how it can be popularized here (if so is warranted, as per your opinion).



  • There has been an exponential growth in the number of small-scale sewage treatment plants (SSTPs) serving from 10 to 1000 households in South Asia’s rapidly expanding urban areas. An estimated 20000 such systems are in operation in India today, providing an alternative to conventional, large-scale centralised systems.

Small-scale sanitation :-

  • It has been implemented in India for more than 30 years with NGOs and research institutes spearheading their implementation.
  • More recently, there were major policy revisions by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which introduced the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 2004 and an amendment in 2006, mandating that buildings with large built up areas (above 20,000 m2) must manage their wastewater on site. This has triggered the uptake of SSTPs across the country.
  • Although there is no formal national small-scale sanitation policy framework, individual states such as Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and cities such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, have developed their own individual SSS policies.


  • The SSWTP technology could be applied where:-
    • conventional sewage is simply too costly
    • environmental conditions require a high effluent quality
    • conventional on-site treatment proved to be of low community acceptance
    • low technology solution, such as composting toilets seem to be inappropriate
  • Small scale sanitation systems are used for treating domestic or industrial sewage
  • If the SSTPS are operated correctly with proper tertiary treatment units, the parameters like biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids are met and the standards of disposal of wastewater can be achieved
  • Reclaimed water from SSTPs is now commonly used for toilet flushing and gardening. This practice can reduce the freshwater consumption of a building or campus by 30% or more.


  • Solids management is major issue observed. A majority of the SSS systems studied do not consistently treat and safely dispose of the sludge they produce
  • Most SSTPs do not consistently treat and safely dispose of the sludge they produce.
  • The microbial quality of effluent was consistently not met in most systems analysed.
  • Disinfection systems are not operated properly.
  • High organic content affects the performance of disinfection since nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are not being removed properly.
  • Lack of skilled labour:-
    • Operators and managers are often not sufficiently informed about the functioning. Trouble shooting skills are therefore generally weak.
    • Operators often are not clearly instructed and supervised.
    • The absence of systematic documentation and archiving of information leads to loss of knowledge and understanding on the system’s performance and history. Such data is crucial for decision-making.
    • Clear responsibilities for organising spare parts as well as for planning and budgeting scheduled maintenance services are lacking.
  • At national level, there is a lack of a clear policy framework for small scale sanitation. The role and scope of SSS is not explicitly mentioned in the State Sanitation Strategies and only rarely in City Sanitation Plans.
  • The on-going performance of SSTPs is largely unknown at national, state and municipal levels and there is a lack of standardised performance monitoring.
  • Lack of accountability from consultants, technology suppliers and system integrators of SSS, resulting in low quality installations and failures in the long term operation of newly built systems.
  • Currently, different governmental agencies collect information on small-scale treatment plants without much coordination. This results not only in duplication of efforts, but also in data gaps and overlaps.

Way forward:-

  • The issue of solids management should be addressed strategically by either having on-site sludge treatment facilities or by providing off-site centralised treatment systems that can handle the produced sludge from the surrounding SSS systems
  • A clear, standardised procedure for the handover of plants to end-users and long-term owners is required.
  • A centralised online data platform should be created, ideally under the auspices of both the State Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) and the responsible Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
  • Standardised sampling (standard procedures and parameters) for small-scale treatment plants should be conducted more frequently. Such a mechanism would be effective in widening coverage by the authorities and to increase the data collection abilities.
  • Systematic training and licensing of operating personnel is needed to ensure well-functioning STPs.
  • Lifecycle costs are the key factor to consider when comparing the costs of different STPs, particularly operation & maintenance, and trained manpower and electricity costs.