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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 – 2

Topic– Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

1) Examine the reasons behind low participation of Indian women the STEM fields. Also discuss the steps taken by the government recently to tackle the problem.(250 words)


Why this question

Women form half of our population but their participation in STEM fields is abysmally low. The government has taken several steps to correct the problem. It is therefore necessary to know the reasons behind the problem and efforts on part of the government to tackle the issue.

Directive word

Examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to examine and bring out the reasons behind low participation of women in STEM fields. It also wants us to write in detail about the steps taken by the government to tackle the problem.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the participation of women in workforce in general and STEM fields in particular. Highlight the situation with the help of a few related statistics.


  • Bring out the reasons behind low participation of women in STEM fields. E.g While more women are enrolling in university, relatively few pursue careers in research; patriarchal society and stereotyping; family responsibilities; glass ceiling; high investment and less job security as compared to men etc.
  • Discuss the steps taken by the government to tackle the issue. E.g Discuss INSPIRE to MANAK scheme; KIRAN; Bio-care scheme. Discuss briefly their aim, strategy and working etc.
  • Discuss what more needs to be done- e.g role-model programmes; outreach programmes; financial incentives; gender sensitive employment and education policies etc.

Conclusion– Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background :-

  • Science, technology, engineering, and medicine together known as ‘STEM’ fields suffer from lack of women, especially in India.
  • According to the 2018 UNESCO Institute for Statistics report on women in science, 44% of bachelor students and 41% of doctoral students in India are female.

Reasons behind low participation of women in STEM fields:-

  • Women face “double burden syndrome” – a culture where both men and women feel the family and household duties are primarily the woman’s responsibility. 
  • According to a recent survey on Women in STEM, 81 per cent women in India perceive gender bias in performance evaluations. 
  • While more women are enrolling in university, relatively few pursue careers in research.
  • Societal bias:-
    • Women continue to face the same kind of discrimination at work as they face in society. 
    • Moreover, societal biases add to the view of women preferring teaching positions over research roles
  • According to a recent Accenture research report, the gender pay gap in India is as high as 67  percent.
  • Many highly qualified women, such as those with doctorates, drop out of the workforce,resulting in considerable depletion of national resources in science and technology.
  • There is a drastic drop in the percentage of women from the doctoral level to the scientist/faculty position, suggesting a bottleneck at the employment stage due to recruitment procedures and family responsibilities.
  • Perception:-
    • Many women are routinely told that they cannot be hired for high ranking positions because they either have children or will have children in the future. The underlying assumption is that a woman with a family will give more attention to her home than her job.
  • All India Survey of Higher Education for 2013-2014, which provides gender-segregated data in fields of study, noted the female share in undergraduate STEM degrees to be very low as compared to humanities.

Measures taken :-

  • Vigyan Jyoti scheme, advanced by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), was announced in the 2017 budget allocation for the Ministry of Science and Technology together with a 2,000-crore-rupee purse. 
    • The scheme’s aim is to arrange for girl students of classes 9, 10 and 11 meet women scientists, with the IITs and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research serving as the nodal centres
  • Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) is changed to Inspire-MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge)to attract talented young boys and girls to study science and pursue research as a career
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan programme :-
    • Launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014. 
    • Connect India’s elite institutes with local communities and address their developmental  challenges with appropriate technological interventions. 
  • Indo-US fellowship for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicineto participate in international collaborative research in premier institutions in America 
  • Women-centric programmes under the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) initiative :-
    • KIRAN also includes a mobility component to allow flexibility for female scientists seeking re-location or a break from regular work. 
  • Bio-technology Career Advancement and Reorientation (Bio-Care) scheme.
  • Relaxing the upper age limit by five years for women candidates for junior and senior research fellowships awarded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. 

Way forward:-

  • Women’s participation in STEM should be encouraged from primary school level rather only in higher studies. 
  • Awareness about gender inequality and its outcome has to be increased.
  • The community should be supportive and understanding of career prospects for women.
  • Companies can provide more internship opportunities for women and give STEM scholarships to meritorious yet economically backward girls.
  • Special fellowships for girl students securing top positions in university exams.
  • Reintegrate women who have taken mid-career breaks.
  • Summer and winter camps for those who opted for science need to be initiated.
  • Government should initiate a well-planned role model programme with successful women scientists, both through visual media and personal interactions.
  • Need for the Government to take appropriate measures to ensure mandatory and pro-active reporting on female participation by research and academic institutions, in addition to providing more opportunities for participation.
  • Transparency and accountability in selection and promotion policies must be ensured in all public-funded research projects with added incentives for female participation. 
  • To ensure adequate encouragement and information for women who stay away from the field due to lack of role models and perceived biases, a high-profile information campaign, highlighting women who have been successful in STEM fields should be initiated.


  • With the Government of India also focusing on campaigns such as ‘Make in India’ Innovation Mission, there is focus on developing innovation and manufacturing right from schools. This will be the right time for India to rise to the challenge and develop a culture of application-based learning and innovation among the schools, students, colleges, and teachers.

Topic–  India and its bilateral relations

2) Indo-US relations in contemporary times is based on mutual trust and cooperation. in the light of this statement critically analyze the prospects of Indo-US relations in the contemporary times.(250 words)


Why this question

This article discusses the contour of indo us relationship, highlights the issues on which cooperation is going on between the two countries and the issues on which they don’t see eye to eye.  The article is useful to prepare for IR section of paper 2.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to shed light on the nature of relation between the two countries. The statement in the question makes the assertion that indo us relations is based on mutual trust and cooperation. We have to critically examine this statement. Therefore we have to highlight the aspects of relationship where there is indeed immense trust and cooperation and the aspect of the relationship which are a source of distrust between the two nations. Finally we need to provide a fair and balanced opinion on the nature of relationship between the two countries.

Directive word

Critically 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 . When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Initially we have to shed light on the nature of my relationship between the two countries. We can mention that till cold war, there was an extreme level of mistrust between the two nations. Since the past two decades, the two estranged democracies have tried to make amends.


  • Highlight those aspects of the relationship which show the level of trust and cooperation between the two nation – exception given to India, defence partnership between the two nations , bustling trade etc
  • Highlight the obstacles in the relationship – USA’s reticence in accepting that India can and will run its own foreign policy in case of Iran and Russia, the need for diversification of our defence imports etc
  • Synthesize the two points of view, that even though the two countries do not see eye to eye on a lot of issues, Institutional mechanisms such as the 2+2 framework help each other in understanding each other’s point of view

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view on the nature of indo us relationship in contemporary times and discuss the way forward.


  • India–US relations touch the milestone of 70 years .The India-US relationship over the last few decades has significantly improved. It is far stronger, far matured despite some different opinion in some areas.
  • The recent 2+2 dialogue on COMCASA signifies the strength of this relationship.

India US relations are progressing and potential is visible  :-

  • Trade :-
    • The two nations two-way trade is of $140 billion. along with sales in U.S. civil aviation and military equipment, now crude oil is added, as well. India is the biggest growing market for Americans and the U.S. remains a dominant investment partner for India.
    • S., working with multilateral development banks, could help India finance infrastructure projects.
  • Defence and military :-
    • Over 300 joint military exercises have been undertaken
    • Advanced armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) deal is on the horizon along with unprecedented offers of defence technologies and Make in India defence projects.
    • Most notably, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (Comcasa) that has been pursued for over a decade is a powerful signal that the two nations are moving much closer to a genuinely effective defence partnership.
  • More than 37 missions covering numerous areas of cooperation, from outer space to monsoon prediction and agriculture to education
  • Geopolitical :-
    • America’s Asia-focused military command was renamed the Indo-Pacific Command to highlight India’s centrality to regional security
    • Centrality of India in America’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy has been clearly recognized in the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy documents. 
    • The decision to rename the Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command was also a symbolic recognition of India’s importance to the evolving American worldview. 
  • The US Congress acted to provide special relief for India from being caught up in US sanctions against Russia.
  • Officials of India, the U.S., Japan and Australia also held talks to give shape to the quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open, and inclusive, and apparently to counter China’s rise. This change from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific is to indicate the special role of India in the region.
  • Pakistan factor:-
    • Unlike in the past, no longer does the U.S. equate India with Pakistan when regional issues are discussed. Recently U.S. has suspended $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, accusing the country of lies and deceit and providing safe haven to terrorists in return for $33 billion U.S. aid over the last 15 years.
  • China:-
    • There is alignment between the two countries on several issues pertaining to China, such as its One Belt One Road plan and the China-Pakistan economic corridor running through Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. The U.S. and India are now engaged in joint naval and army exercises. On economic relations,
  • India should play a major role in post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan
  • Technology :-
    • The US administration granted India “Strategic Trade Authorization 1” status to facilitate sensitive high technology trade and an
  • Nuclear agreements :-
    • The Civil Nuclear Agreement (2005) ended India’s nuclear isolation and also heralded a new strategic partnership between the two countries.

Challenges remain:-

  • Russia:-
    • Indian acquisition of Russia’s advanced S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft weapon would likely hinder interoperability and prevent the US from sharing certain defence technology with India because placing a Russian radar capability in close proximity to American technology puts those technologies at risk.
    • This could also mean more sanctions for New Delhi, as per a US law called “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA)
  • Iran:-
    • The US has asked all countries, including India, to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero. If India fails to do this, its companies will face the same sanctions as any other violator of American law.
    • US ’s decision to jettison the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran and secondary sanctions on entities doing business with Iran has raised uncomfortable questions for India.
  • H-1B visas for Indians:-
    • Tightening of rules applying to H-1B visas and the targeting of Indian companies that are among its heaviest users.
  • Pakistan factor:-
    • Despite Washington’s claims to having de-hyphenated its relations with India and Pakistan, the United States has not been able to extricate itself from the liabilities of its complex alliance with Pakistan. 
    • More than 17 years of American presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s centrality to efforts to bring any kind of resolution to this theater of war will constrain areas of convergence between the United States and India when it comes to dealing with terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
  • Economic:-
    • There has been a marked uptick in economic frictions, with US’s sharp rhetoric and protectionist measures, including tariffs on steel and aluminium, that have added to a long list of differences over market access and intellectual property rights.
  • Climate change:-
    • US accused India of demanding billions in exchange for committing to reduce its carbon emissions as part of the Paris climate accord.
  • Intellectual property rights:-
    • India is already on the priority watch list in the Super 301 report for IPR ‘violations’; foreign exchange policies are under the scanner, and has been dragged to the WTO on export subsidies.
  • Afghanistan:-
    • More than 17 years of American presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s centrality to efforts to bring any kind of resolution to this theater of war will constrain areas of convergence between the United States and India when it comes to dealing with terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

General Studies – 3

Topic – Indian economy – issues

3) Tourism can become one of the mainstays of Indian economy if certain basic issues are taken care of. Examine.(250 words)


Why this question

The article discusses the steps that India needs to take in order to realise the government’s target of achieving 20 million tourists arrival by 2020. The article discusses the changes that will have to be brought by India for making tourism one of the mainstays of Indian economy. Hence this article is useful to prepare tourism sector for GS3.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to highlight the potential of tourism sector in India, the shortcomings in the sector, the steps that India needs to take to boost tourism in the country. Finally we need to mention the impact of focussing on tourism sector in India.

Directive word

Examine –

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention that UN world tourism organization in a report has estimated that there has been a significant jump in tourist arrival in India and the revenue earned on account of tourism.


  • Discuss the status of tourism in India. Give facts and figures related to revenue and forex earnings, tourist footfalls. Also highlight the diverse nature of tourist circuits in the country.
  • Highlight the areas where work is needed – security, infrastructure and connectivity.give details of these three aspects
  • Mention the steps taken by the government in improving the aforementioned areas through schemes and programmes like PRASAD, e tourist visa etc
  • Discuss the steps that need to be taken still to fill in the gaps

Conclusion – Give your view on the potential of tourism sector in India and the impact it can have.


  • The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has said that international tourist arrivals in India grew from 14.57 million in 2016 to 15.54 million in 2017 and receipts increased from $22.42 billion to $27.36 billion. 

Tourism can become mainstay in Indian economy due to the following advantages:-

  • Reasons why rural tourism need to be promoted:-
    • Seeing the stressful urban lifestyles leading towards “counter-urbanization” syndrome
    • Growing curiosity of urban people regarding rural culture and heritages
    • Downfall of income level from agriculture and related works
    • Lack of alternative way outs for earning sufficient money
    • Scope for new business opportunities
    • Changing attitude in Indian and global tourists behaviour in terms of nature awareness and increasing demand for niche tourism and green products. So it is evident that the future of Rural Tourism in India is going to be very promising one.
  • It has a great impact in case of maintaining the sustainable livelihood of the rural population, promoting local culture and heritages, empowering local women, alleviating poverty, conserving and preserving natural resources, improving basic rural infrastructure, adopting new work culture and overall developing a better impression of locality and its people in tourists mind.
  • Reduces migration:-
    • Tourism facilitates the declining areas to be developed with basic infrastructure facilities and provides the host community alternative ways of employment and side by side it reduces out-migration.
    • It fosters a closer relationship between city dwellers and rural communities.
  • Alternative Way of Earning 
    • Tourism can be a potential tool to reduce over-dependency on cultivation especially in rural areas and it contributes to the overall economic development of an area that would otherwise be deprived. 
  • Employment 
    • Tourism creates a large number of semi-skilled jobs for the local population in not only local hotels and catering trades but also in other fields like transport, retailing, heritage interpretation etc.
    • Moreover, it ensures revival of traditional arts, crafts, building art etc. and brings marketing opportunity for rural producers to sell their products directly to the tourists. 
    • It allows alternative sources of earning opportunities from non-agricultural sectors that improve living standards of the rural dwellers to some extent. 
  • Job Retention 
    • Cash flows generating from rural tourism can assist job retention in services such as retailing, transport, hospitality, medical care etc. It provides additional income for farmers, local fishermen and local suppliers
  • Alternative Business Opportunities 
    • Tourism generates new business opportunities through developing close relationships with tourist facilities.
    • For example, a number of tourists love to taste local cuisines of different tourist spots. Therefore any restaurant serving ethnic foods can also attract tourists  though many of these restaurants are not directly related to tourism business. 
  • Poverty Alleviation
    • Rural Tourism is being admired all over the world because such form of tourism can shape up rural society both by economic and social terms.
    • It brings both monetary and social benefits to the rural people.
    • It alleviates poverty by creating alternative sources of earning. 
  • Empowerment of Localities
    • Tourism cannot be flourished without the involvement of local people in it.
    • Accommodation facilities are being provided by local hotel owners whereas local suppliers supply food and beverages to the local hotels.
    • Local producers produce locally made products as per tourists demand and earn money by selling them in the local market.
    • To entertain tourists, local organizers conduct different cultural programmes where local performers exhibit their art and culture through live performance.
    • Not only that, people also become engaged in different decision-making processes. All such engagement actually empowers the localites. 
  • Entrepreneurial scope
    • Tourism has increased career options for the young entrepreneurs. 
  • Arts and Crafts Sale 
    • Arts and crafts are the evidence of local culture and heritages of a community belonging from any region or any nation. The urban tourists, wherever they go, generally prefer to have a collection of local arts and crafts to make their trip-experience a remembering one.
    • Such tendency motivates them to purchase local arts and crafts from the local producers and artists. 
    • Side by side it encourages the local community to sell their products in local market. Such practice opens an alternative way of earning to the rural people. 
  • Environmental Improvement :-
    • Environmental improvements such as village paving and traffic regulation schemes, sewage and litter disposal can be assisted by tourism revenues and political pressures from tourism authorities.
    • These help develop pride of place, important in retaining existing population and businesses, and in attracting new enterprises and families.
  • Heritage Preservation:-
    • Tourism brings a strong sense of emotion in everyone’s (both community and tourists) mind to preserve and reserve the local culture and heritages to make any place attractive for the tourists to visit it and also for the host community to live in.
    • Such sense is maintained through rural museums that play a significant role in local heritage preservation.
  • Source of Foreign Exchange Earnings:
    • Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange earnings in India. This has favourable impact on the balance of payment of the country. The tourism industry in India generated about US$100 billion in 2008 and that is expected to increase to US$275.5 billion by 2018 at a 9.4% annual growth rate.
  • The sector also has the potential to create micro-entrepreneurs who in turn can employ more people. The multiplier effect it delivers is high.
  • Travel and tourism sector in India has the potential to grow much faster and support 46 million jobs by 2025, provided the right investments and policies continue to be implemented.

Challenges tourism industry faces :-

  • Deprivation, Improper Communication Facilities and Embryonic Stage of Rural Market :-
    • Markets are often characterized by population and majority of them still come under below Poverty Line. These villagers are less involved in showcasing their culture and heritages in front of the tourists visiting their places as they are not very much aware of the potentiality of rural tourism that can act as an alternative source of earning
    • Moreover, most of the rural markets are underdeveloped with lots of hindrances like absence of proper mode of surface transportation, lack of basic infrastructure etc.
  • Communication Skill:-
    • The difference in languages and lack of basic education are the two basic obstacles.
  • Legislation Problem:-
    • Generally, owners of licensed accommodation units pay taxes to the government. But it is kind of burden for the poor rural marketers to pay tax at a regular basis as they lack sufficient financial backing and many a time they face losses in business because of seasonal demand. 
  • Insufficient Financial Support:-
    • Most of the tourism marketers especially in rural areas come from the poor family background and not every time they are financially supported by the local banks or local government bodies through loan facilities.
  • Lack of Trained Human Resource :-
    • Lack of trained human resource is a common issue that affects directly the tourism and hospitality industry badly. Moreover, the trained people from urban areas normally are not interested in going to rural areas to work due to lack of basic infrastructure facilities. 
  • Lack of Proper Physical Communications 
    • Proper drinking water, sufficient electricity, good telecommunication, safety and security, etc. are the few basic needs of a tourist while he or she is visiting any place individually or in a group. It is unfortunate but true that nearly half of the villages in this country do not have all- weather roads and above said basic facilities.

Way forward:-

  • In this connection, the role of Government and local monitoring bodies is going to be very crucial.
    • Government should educate people to enhance their communication skill, create sense of ownership, make them aware of the value of their culture and heritages and motivate them to take active participation
    • Encouraging local entrepreneurs, private enterprises, investors and other tourism stakeholders to come under a common umbrella for basic rural infrastructure development activities is also essential.
    • Implementation of Swadesh darshan and PRASAD scheme :-
      • The Union Ministry of Tourism had launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 with an aim to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
      • They will be developed by synergizing efforts to focus on concerns and needs of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
    • Product development as per tourists changing demands. 
    • Proper planning and conservation of natural resources and local heritages for the sustainable development of Tourism. 
    • Educate the people and develop their communication skill and language proficiency. 
    • Creating awareness regarding rural tourism benefits. 
    • Democratic movement that helps rural people at all levels to participate in tourism development activities. 
    • Conduct regular Government and/or private sponsored skill development programmes in identified rural area to train the rural people appointed in tourism business. 
    • Encourage young and potential business entrepreneurs for their businesses. 
    • Government initiatives to support the young entrepreneurs by providing loans. 
    • FDI or Private investment to introduces latest technology. 
    • Taking Tourism Circuit development approach for overall regional development. 
    • Take necessary safety and security measures for the tourists.
    • Share information to make better business decisions.
    • Any museum or interpretation centre can be set-up to provide information to tourists.

steps taken by the government in improving the aforementioned areas through schemes and programmes like PRASAD, e tourist visa etc

TopicIndia and its neighborhood- relations.

4) Given the perplexing situation in Afghanistan, India must carve out its own role in the region. Critically analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

Afghanistan is an important neighbouring country for India and its peace and stability are vital for India. Afghanistan is going to hold elections soon and India has made significant investments trying to bring development and democracy n the war-torn country. However the region, including Iran and Afghanistan and the involvement of foreign powers like US, Russia and China coupled with resurgence of the Taliban make the siting perplexed. It is therefore necessary to discuss the need for India to carve out its own role in Afghanistan.

Directive word

Critically analyze-  Here we have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts, and present them as a whole in a summary.Based on our discussion we have to form a concluding opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deep into the issue, discuss why the situation in Afghanistan is perplexing. Then it wants us to discuss why there is a need for India to carve out its own role in the region. Accordingly we have to form an opinion as to what should be the direction of such a pursuit.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few lines about India-Afghanistan relationship. E.g both are neighbors, members of SAARC, enjoy historical and vibrant ties at present with significant Afghan diaspora in India etc.


  • Discuss why the region is a perplexing situation. E.g mention resurgence of Taliban and plans for US withdrawal; Pakistan’s involvement in the region; need for development and rebuilding the nation; US, which is a key player has an unclear policy on Afghanistan; it is also against Iran which is important to give access to the sea  to landlocked Afghanistan through Chabahar port- which is in India’s interests etc.
  • Discuss the need for India to carve out its own role in the region. E.g mention the perplexing situation and conflicting aspirations of the powers involved in the region; mention India’s investment for development in Afghanistan- Salma Dam, Parliament building etc; mention the importance of Chabahar port and need to get access to central Asia through the port and then through Afghanistan etc.
  • Discuss the direction of our approach. E.g increase the corpus of aid; provide military support; act as mediator between the government of Afghanistan and other stakeholders etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the issue.

Background :-

  • Afghanistan and India share cultural and historical ties. Indo- Afghanistan ties were strengthened by Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011.

Complexity of Afghanistan:-

  • Continuous attacks :-
    • Recently there has been a spike in violence, with the Taliban carrying out a set of coordinated assaults around Afghanistan, rejecting an offer of a three-month ceasefire by President of Afghanistan and laying siege to Ghazni city. 
    • The violence this year has also put 2018 on course to be the deadliest year for Afghan civilians, with an average of nine people killed every day, according to UN data.
  • Pakistan factor :-
    • Despite six months of concerted American punitive actions on Islamabad, the Pakistan establishment is not shutting down support for Taliban fighters.
  • Situation puts serious doubt on any U.S. plans to draw down troops as US may have envisaged.
  • Iran factor :-
    • US administration’s collision course with Iran is another hurdle to realising its South Asia policy. Iran is a neighbour to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and any action against Tehran will have consequences on the region. 
    • US is also against Iran which is important to give access to the sea to landlocked Afghanistan through Chabahar port- which is in India’s interests etc.
  • Islamic state:-
    • After losing occupied territories in and around Mosul, IS is now slowly enlarging its presence in neighbouring countries, particularly Afghanistan. It is now targeting mainly the Shias and the Hazara minority, joining forces with the Taliban thereby changing the dynamics of the war in Afghanistan.
  • Russia:-
    • Russia proposed an international conference on Afghanistan with the participation of all neighbours of Afghanistan including Iran, Pakistan, and India, but the US did not attend citing possible growing Russian military association with the Taliban. 

India need to play a greater role:-

  • India’s development assistance has been the source of its considerable influence and goodwill among Afghan citizens.
  • Major projects, such as the Salma Dam and Parliament building in Kabul, that began in 2008-09, have now been completed.
  • Current crop of Small Development Projects launched in 2016, encompassing drinking water plans for several cities including Kabul, supply of buses, construction of low-cost housing, and assistance in health and education are important.
  • India inaugurated dam in Herat, which will boost the agricultural and industrial sectors of Herat. India has made long term commitment to Afghanistan’s security and development.
  • New Afghanistan Policy of USA supports India’s greater role in Afghanistan. Apart from that the policy also emphasized that Pakistan should end its support to terror groups who are involved in destabilization of Afghanistan.
  • Last year India and Afghanistan agreed to initiate an ambitious and forward-looking ‘New Development Partnership’, according to which India agreed to take up 116 high-impact community development projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the fields of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure and administrative infrastructure.
  • The new projects are:
    • Shahtoot dam and drinking water project for Kabul that would also facilitate irrigation.
    • Low cost housing for returning Afghan refugees in Nangarhar province to promote resettlement.
    • Road connectivity to Band-e-Amir in Bamyan province that would promote tourism to the national park and economic development.
    • Besides these government-funded projects, Aptech, a private firm, is providing IT training for Afghan youth in the country.
  • India has been giving a lot of non-lethal military assistance. In 2016 four MI 25 attack helicopters were given to Afghanistan.

Why India needs to continue what it’s doing :-

  • India has shied away from involving itself in full scale war for the following reasons:
    • Any deeper security co-operation with Afghanistan would have negative impact on Pakistan-India ties.
    • India does not share border with Afghanistan. It poses limitation to physical access to Afghanistan.
    • In past years USA was reluctant to involve India into the war to avoid grating Pakistan’s political sensitivities. Though it did try to promote regional economic cooperation between Delhi, Islamabad and Kabul
  • India does not want to strengthen security cooperation with Afghanistan as that may antagonize Pakistan.
  • Geography is the another reason behind India’s limited role in terms of security cooperation. The geographic limitation has imposed substantial limitations on India’s military role in Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan forces alone are not capable of handling terror groups and without external military support to the security forces and government, the entire agenda of development would be futile. Stability and security are pre-requisite for development. In fact, the stability in Afghanistan is also vital for India’s northwestern frontiers. 

What should India do:-

  • India must focus on assisting Afghanistan in every manner possible to ensure that the country’s elections are as peaceful and participative as possible. 
  • On the military front as well, India must move quickly to provide helicopters as well as engineering/tech support for Afghan hardware. 
  • Indian  government must realise that its consistent undermining of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) because of problems with Pakistan is also weakening Afghanistan’s engagement with the subcontinent, which India had worked hard to foster
  • For regional security there must be closer involvement of regional powers in international efforts to ensure non-interference and a stable Afghanistan; this also requires involvement of the Central Asian Republics, which border Afghanistan. It is important for India to coordinate its efforts with those of Russia and Iran to ensure success.

TopicIndian polity : Issues

5) Equality ‘within communities’ between men and women (personal law reform), rather than ‘equality between’ communities is more desirable (UCC). Critically analyze. (250 words)

Financial express


Why this question

The article discusses the recommendations of Law Commission with respect to the desirability of UCC in Indian context. UCC is an important topic for mains, and hence a critical analysis of LCI’s recommendation is required for GS2.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the recommendations of LCI with respect to UCC. The assertion being made in the question is that in context of India, it is better to bring reforms in personal laws to ensure gender justice etc rather than focussing on bringing a comprehensive UCC. We need to provide views from both side of the debate and give a fair and balanced opinion in the end.

Directive word

Critically analyse- When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that in its ‘Consultation Paper on Family Law Reforms’ released Friday, the Law Commission has taken a stand in favour of “equality ‘within communities’ between men and women” (personal law reform), “rather than ‘equality between’ communities” (UCC).


  • Discuss the recommendations of LCI – argued for reform of family laws of every religion through amendments and codification of certain aspects so as to make it gender-just. Law Commission has dealt with laws that are discriminatory rather than providing a uniform civil code which is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage. Most countries are now moving towards recognition of difference, and the mere existence of difference does not imply discrimination, but is indicative of a robust democracy.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of the recommendations of LCI. Discuss the issue from societal, constitutional, political perspectives. Discuss the reasons given by LCI in favour of making reforms in personal laws to keep in tune with current times. Also highlight the reason why LCI has resisted from introduction of UCC

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view on recommendations of LCI and discuss way forward.


  • Recently law commission stated that instead of UCC, the effort should be to establish equality within the frameworks of personal laws of each community, by working on ending discriminatory laws within such frameworks.
  • Banning instant triple talaq, decriminalising adultery and easing divorce for both genders can be thought of as such moves.

Why equality within communities is necessary:-

  • Law commission said that a uniform civil code (UCC) that would end religion-based personal laws is neither desirable nor feasible at present. 
  • Most countries are now moving towards recognition of difference, and the mere existence of difference does not imply discrimination, but is indicative of a robust democracy.
  • Commission has suggested a range of amendments to existing family laws and also suggested codification of certain aspects of personal laws so as to limit the ambiguity in interpretation and application of these personal laws.
  • In the absence of any consensus on a uniform civil code, the Commission says the best way forward may be to preserve the diversity of personal laws, but at the same time, ensure that personal laws do not contradict fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution of India.
  • India being a secular country guarantees its minorities the right to follow their own religion, culture and customs under Article 29 and 30. But implementing a Uniform Code will hamper India’s secularism.
  • What is unfortunate is the demand for UCC has always been framed in the context of communal politics. Many see it as majoritarianism under the garb of social reform.
  • UCC essentially means unifying personal laws to bring one set of secular laws for all citizens of India. Presently, Constitution allows most religions- including Hindus, Muslims and Christians to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

But uniform civil code is necessary due to the following reasons :-

  • As constitutional law should override the religious law in a secular republic.
  • The rights of women are usually limited under religious law.
  • A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
  • Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.

Way forward:-

  • Rather than an omnibus approach, the government could also bring separate aspects such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a uniform civil code in stages.
  • A comprehensive review of several other laws in the context of gender justice would also do well.

Topic–  part of static series under the heading – “Ocean bottom relief”

6) Which are the main factors that affect ocean relief? Explain the major relief features of ocean floor?(250 words)


Key demand of the question

The question is self explanatory in its demand. It expects us to list the factor that contribute to ocean relief and how. Thereafter, we need to mention the major relief feature of ocean floor and explain them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what is meant by ocean bottom relief and how our understanding of ocean bottom has evolved with time.


  • Explain how the various factors contribute to ocean relief – Ocean relief is largely due to tectonic, volcanic, erosional and depositional processes and their interactions.
  • List the major ocean relief features – the continental shelf, the continental slope, the continental rise, the Deep Sea Plain or the abyssal plain,Oceanic Deeps or Trenches, mid oceanic ridges. Explain these features.

Factors that affect ocean relief :-

  • Ocean relief is largely due to tectonic, volcanic, erosional and depositional processes and their interactions.
  • Ocean relief features are divided into major and minor relief features.

Major Ocean Relief Features

  1. The continental shelf:-
    • Continental Shelf is the gently slopingseaward extension of continental plate.
    • These extended margins of each continent are occupied by relatively shallow seas and gulfs.
    • Continental Shelf of all oceans together cover 7.5% of the total area of the oceans.
    • Gradient of continental is of 1° or even less.
    • The shelf typically ends at a very steep slope, called the shelf break.
    • The continental shelves are covered with variable thicknesses of sediments brought down by rivers, glaciers etc..
    • Average width of continental shelves is between 70 – 80 km.
    • Importance of continent shelves
      1. Marine food comes almost entirely from continental shelves;
      2. They provide the richest fishing grounds
      3. They are potential sites for economic minerals 
  1. The continental slope:-
    • Continental slope connects the continental shelf and the ocean basins.
    • It begins where the bottom of the continental shelf sharply drops off into a steep slope.
    • The gradient of the slope region varies between 2-5°.
    • The depth of the slope region varies between 200 and 3,000 m.
    • Continental slope boundary indicates the end of the continents.
    • Canyons and trenches are observed in this region.
  2. The continental rise:-
    • The continental slope graduallyloses its steepness with depth.
    • When the slope reaches a level of between 5° and 1°, it is referred to as the continental rise.
    • With increasing depth the rise becomes virtually flat and merges with the abyssal plain.
  3. The Deep Sea Plain or the abyssal plain.
    • Deep sea planes are gently sloping areas of the ocean basins.
    • These are the flattestand smoothest regions of the world because of terrigenous [denoting marine sediment eroded from the land] and shallow water sediments that buries the irregular topography.
    • It covers nearly 40%of the ocean floor.

Minor Ocean Relief Features

  1. Ridges:-
    • A mid-oceanic ridge is composed of two chains of mountains separated by a large depression. [Divergent Boundary]
    • These oceanic ridge systems are of tectonic originand provide evidence in support of the theory of Plate Tectonics
  2. Hills
  3. Seamounts:-
    • Seamount:It is a mountain with pointed summits, rising from the seafloor that does not reach the surface of the ocean. Seamounts are volcanic in origin. These can be 3,000-4,500 m tall.
    • The Emperor seamount, an extension of the Hawaiian Islands [Hotspot] in the Pacific Ocean, is a good example.
  4. Guyots:-
    • The flat topped mountains (seamounts) are known as guyots.
  5. Trenches:-
    • The trenches are relatively steep sided, narrow basins (Depressions). These areas are the deepest parts of the oceans.
    • They are of tectonic origin and are formed during ocean – ocean convergence and ocean continent convergence.
    • They are some 3-5 km deeper than the surrounding ocean floor.
    • The trenches lie along the fringes of the deep-sea plainat the bases of continental slopes and along island arcs.
    • The trenches run parallel to the bordering fold mountainsor the island chains.
  6. Canyons:-
    • Deep gorge, especially one with a river flowing through it.
  7. Sleeps
  8. Fracture zones
  9. Island arcs
  10. Atolls:-
    • These are low islands found in the tropical oceans consisting of coral reefs surrounding a central depression.
    • It may be a part of the sea (lagoon), or sometimes form enclosing a body of fresh, brackish, or highly saline water.
  11. Coral reefs:-
    • Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine water that contain few nutrients. They are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by marine invertebrates called corals.
  12. Submerged volcanoes and
  13. Sea-scarps.
  14. Bank, Shoal and Reef
    • These marine features are formed as a result of erosional, depositional and biological activity.
    • These are produced upon features of diastrophic [Earth Movements] Therefore, they are located on upper parts of elevations.

General Studies – 4

Topic-    Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

7) A free media has a crucial role in the prevention, monitoring and control of corruption. Discuss.(250 words)


Directive word

Discuss- This is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. We also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail as to how a free media can play a crucial role in the prevention, monitoring and control of corruption.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about media and corruption. E.g Corruption is a huge menace in India, and a vibrant media can play a significant role as the fourth pillar of democracy, in reducing the level of corruption in our society.


  • DIscuss in detail how media can play its role in prevention, monitoring and control of corruption. E.g  inform and educate the public on corruption, expose corruption in government, private sector and civil society organizations and help monitor codes of conduct while policing itself against corruption; providing  information on corruption through investigative reporting; Daily reporting of instances of corruption as they occur etc.
  • Discuss how the media can be ensured to operate in a free environment devoid of any outside or internal influence. E.g  sometimes under pressure of competition, the media does not verify allegations and information before putting them in the public domain. Occasionally, such allegations/complaints are motivated. It is necessary to evolve norms and practices that all allegations/complaints would be duly screened, and the person against whom such allegations are made is given a fair chance to put forth his version; The electronic media should evolve a Code of Conduct and a self regulating mechanism in order to adhere to a Code of Conduct as a safeguard against malafide action; Government agencies can help the media in the fight against corruption by disclosing details about corruption cases regularly etc.

Conclusion– sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.


  • Corruption is deeply rooted caricatures of human society, which impacts socio economic rights of citizens of the country. In modern society, the media is part of the solution to the problem of “How to Fight Corruption.”
  • There is no justice if people cannot see what is happening.  Media fulfills the first act of justice in any society as they help us see what is happening.

Media and corruption :-

  • Media acts as a watchdog and monitors the working of various private and government institutions and lends us voice to an extensive kind of 
    perceptions and arguments. This is how media marks a change in culture which 
    influences practices and norms and which in turn stimulates policy- making and 
    lawmaking transformations. 
  • Media fights corruptions by several ways like Investigative Journalism, RTI, by 
    conducting sting operations, holding public debates, opinion polls etc.
  • Media is one of the strongest weapons to fight corruption. Because of Media several scams have been pushed into limelight such as VYAPAM 
    scam, 3G scam, COLGATE Scam, HAWALA Scam etc
  • Media can provide awareness of the negative impact on society and is one of the most fundamental parts of an anticorruption strategy for society.
  • It can be used as a tool in exposing corruption by conducting various operations following the ethics and morality principle, thereby exposing fraudulent practices in Government, private sector, NGO, and other civil society organisations.


  • Media’s fight against corruption is sometimes motivated by money making motive, which is clear from various instances where publishing companies or television media do not show the truth behind a corruption scam.
  • Higher the profile of a person be it a government person or private higher the marketing done by media.
  • Sometimes journalists, editors and publishers lose their way and fall away from their role as a voice to inspire positive change. They lose sight of the idea that positive change is possible, and fall into the lowest level of journalism whereby they merely try to create any emotional reaction in the readers.
  • It has been observed that sometimes under pressure of competition, the media does not verify allegations and information before putting them in the public domain. Occasionally, such allegations/complaints are motivated. 
  • The Press Council was reconstituted to maintain and improve the standards of 
    newspapers and news agencies in India. The Press Council of India has prescribed a Code of Conduct for the print media. However, no such code exists for the electronic media.


Way forward:-

  • It is necessary to evolve norms and practices that all allegations/complaints would be duly screened, and the person against whom such allegations are made is given a fair chance to put forth his version.
  • The electronic media should evolve a Code of Conduct and a self regulating  mechanism in order to adhere to a Code of Conduct as a safeguard against malafide action. 
  • Government agencies can help the media in the fight against corruption by disclosing details about corruption cases regularly.