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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.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and
Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1) Do you think the early development of historical studies of Buddhist art and architecture in India is closely linked to the British’s’ discovery of Buddhism? Give your opinion with suitable justifications.(250 words)

Medieval history NCERT by R S Sharma



The early development of historical study of Buddhist art and architecture in India is definitely closely linked to the British discovery of Buddhism. It began with the reports of the explorations of the Buddhist sites in northern India conducted by Alexander Cunningham and his colleagues under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India, during the 1880s.


Contributions of the British in rediscovering Buddhism:

  • Sir William Jones, the brilliant polymath who contributed more than any other individual to India’s national cultural renaissance.
  • Alongside his day job as a judge in Calcutta, Jones studied and mastered Sanskrit, rescued it from a narrow Brahmin monopoly, translated its classics and used the language to unlock the glories of our long forgotten Hindu and Buddhist past.
  • James Prinsep’s labours produced the biggest breakthrough in Indian historiography, the deciphering of the long-forgotten Brahmi script and through it the discovery of the Mauryan empire that had united the subcontinent in the 3rd century BC.
  • Ashoka’s edicts had announced the emperor’s conversion to Buddhism; but little was yet known about this obscure religion or the man who had founded it.
  • The discovery of the Buddha’s Indian connections was again the work of dedicated British explorers.
  • In the late 1790s, a British naturalist, who had heard reports in Burma that the Buddha was a Bihari, tracked down the Bodh Gaya Buddhist ruins.
  • In the following decades, the Buddha’s Indian roots were confirmed by the excavation of a series of mysterious, dome-like stupas.
  • First came the discovery in 1819 of Sanchi by a British army officer. Sanchi had long lain buried in forests, thus escaping destruction by either the Brahmanical Hindu revival that wiped out Indian Buddhism or by the Muslim invasions that shattered so many temples.
  • The stupas became the focus for further excavations by the man regarded as the father of Indian archaeology, Lieutenant Alexander Cunningham of the Royal Engineers.
  • In 1834, Cunningham used his engineering skills to drill deep down into the main stupa at Sanchi, where he discovered evidence that Buddhism had been widespread for several centuries from the Mauryan period down to the Gupta empire.
  • Cunningham unravelled the mighty Dhameka Stupa at Sarnath in 1835, which was cylindrical and quite unlike other hemi-spherical stupas. It marked the spot of the ‘Deer Park’, where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining his enlightenment.
  • Cunningham’s last major discovery was the Bharhut stupa, full of Mauryan Buddhist treasures which he sent off to Calcutta Museum, to be restored by the enthusiastic antiquarian Viceroy, Lord Curzon.
  • By using the bearings and distances mentioned by travellers like Fa Xian and Xuan Zang, Cunningham succeeded in fixing the locations of many of the famous sites mentioned in ancient Indian texts and thus rediscovering them.
  • Cunningham’s doggedness led him to rediscover and re-excavate Bodh Gaya in 1861 that Hamilton Buchanan had reported half a century ago as a place covered by a thick forest.
  • Cunningham’s further discoveries in 1862-63 were as important in the treatment of historical amnesia.
  • He, identified Ramnagar as the ancient ‘Ahich-chatra’; Kosam as the great ‘Kausambi’ and Sahet Mahet as the historic ‘Sravasti’.
  • Captain John Smith was the first European to stumble upon the Ajanta caves in 1819. The caves consist of Buddhist rock-cut temples dating back to time between 2 BC and 6 BC.
  • The Amravati stupa, that Col. Colin Mackenzie had stumbled upon first in 1798 is a major discovery in the British Archaeology.
  • A Scottish revenue official, Sir Walter Elliot, excavated the site of Mauryan stupa at Amaravati in Andhra in the 1840s and carted off some of the finest sculptures to the Madras Museum, whence some later found their way to the British Museum.
  • The next significant discovery after Amaravati and Ajanta was in 1830, General Ventura uncovered the Manikyala Stupa at Taxila.
  • More interesting is the fact that British scholars and archaeologists utilised Indian or Chinese texts, mainly Buddhist, to provide them with valuable clues to many historical sites.


Buddhism had survived and prospered outside its homeland, but in its cradle and nursery its existence was forgotten. Thus, within just eight decades, Buddhist architecture was suddenly brought back into our memory and served to stoke a strong sense of pride among Indians who were thoroughly demoralised by the systematic campaign of British rulers to belittle their past. Despite the Britishers being colonizers, they helped in rediscovering some of the treasures of Buddhism which were in a deplorable state.

Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

2) Present the business case for gender equality in our society with suitable illustrations.(250 words)




Gender based segregation is the distribution of workers across and within occupations, based upon demographic characteristics like gender. Social mores, rising incomes of men, and gender-based segregation in the job market are limiting women’s economic empowerment in India


Current situation:

  • The latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2015-16 shows that the proportion of working women has witnessed a sharp decline compared to a decade ago.
  • In 2005-06, when the last NFHS survey was conducted, 43% of married women in the age group of 15-49 years had reported working in the past 12 months.
  • This proportion has declined to 31% in the latest survey. 98% of married men in the same age bracket reported having worked in the last 12 months, the data shows.
  • Despite an increase in the last 10 years, the proportion of married women earning more than their husbands remains low at 19%.
  • Only 18% of India’s GDP is from paid work by women, compared to 40% in China. Only 27% of India’s workforce is composed of women, compared to 48% globally.
  • India ranks 120 among 131 countries in female labour force participation rates.
  • Only 14% of India’s elected members of Parliament are women, compared to, say, 24% of the members of the House of Representatives in the US.
  • In Nagaland, there are eight women for every 10 men in the labour force, as against just two women for every 10 men in Delhi.
  • Women in very low-income households work by necessity, mostly in the informal sector. An estimated 120 million, or 97% of all female workers, fall into this category.
  • While 44% of graduating college students are women, only 25% of entry-level professionals are women. This indicates yet another cultural norm of early marriage and home-based roles for women.
  • Moreover, this 25% drops further to a paltry 4% of CXOs in India who are women.

Gender based segregation limits women’s empowerment:

  • The under-representation of women in the workforce is both a social and economic loss.
  • A Harvard Business Review study shows that companies with women occupying 30% of leadership positions are 15% more profitable than companies with no women in leadership positions.
  • Closer home, if Indian women participated in the workforce to the same extent as women across the world, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be higher by 27% and grow an additional 1.5% each year.
  • Three key factors that have limited the role of women in the Indian economy: the role of entrenched gender norms in our society, the rising incomes of men (which raises family income and makes it easier for women to quit working), and the lack of quality jobs for women.
  • The latest evidence on regressive attitudes towards women comes from the Social Attitudes Research India survey covering Delhi, Mumbai, UP and Rajasthan in 2016.
  • A new study based on the survey shows that a significant share of men and women feel that married women whose husbands earn a good living should not work outside the home.

Factors responsible for such a fall in working rates of women:

  • Maternity: Many women who join the workforce are unable to re-join after having a child.
  • The landmark legislation Maternity Benefit Act, 2017, which entitles a woman to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, is becoming a big hurdle as start-ups and SMEs have become reluctant to hire them.
  • The increased cost for companies and this may discourage them from hiring women.
  • The share of women workers in the agriculture sector dropped from 42% in 2004 -05 to 35.5% in 2011-12. This decrease in FLPR in agriculture can be attributed to increased adoption of technology in agriculture.
  • The gender pay gap was 34 per cent in India, that is, women get 34 per cent less compared to men for performing the same job with same qualifications.
  • In the organised sector, women professionals even in the highest ranks of labour (legislators, senior officials, and managers) are also paid less compared to their male counterparts. However, these women constitute only one per cent of the total female work force and the gap is lowest as they are aware of their rights.
  • Concerns about safety and Harassment at work site, both explicit and implicit.
  • According to NSSO, urban males accounted for 16% of India’s population, but held 77% of all jobs in computer-related activities in 2011-12. This shows how gender has become a discriminatory factor for certain white-collared jobs.
  • Higher Education levels of women also allow them to pursue leisure and other non-work activities, all of which reduce female labour force participation.
  • Insufficient availability of the type of jobs that women say they would like to do, such as regular part-time jobs that provide steady income and allow women to reconcile household duties with work.
  • According to the reports, about 74 per cent in rural areas and about 70 per cent in urban areas preferred ‘part time’ work on a regular basis while 21 per cent in rural areas and 25 per cent in urban areas wanted regular ‘full-time’ work.
  • Marriage is a career stopper for the majority of Indian women and this cultural abhorrence towards women working is a not-so-subtle way of ensuring that the escape routes out of a marriage are minimised, if not entirely closed
  • Social norms about household work are against women’s mobility and participation in paid work. Childbirth and taking care of elderly parents or in-laws account for the subsequent points where women drop off the employment pipeline.
  • The cultural baggage about women working outside the home is so strong that in most traditional Indian families, quitting work is a necessary precondition to the wedding itself.
  • When increases in family incomes are there, due to the cultural factors, women leave the work to take care of the family and avoid the stigma of working outside.

Way forward:

  • Non-farm job creation for women: there is a need to generate education-based jobs in rural areas in the industrial and services sectors
  • The state governments should make policies for the participation of rural women in permanent salaried jobs.
  • The governments should also generate awareness to espouse a positive attitude towards women among the public since it is one of the most important impediments in women’s participation in economic activities.
  • Local bodies, with aid from state governments, should open more crèches in towns and cities so that women with children can step out and work. The crèches will open employment opportunities for women.
  • Supply side reforms to improve infrastructure and address other constraints to job creation could enable more women to enter the labour force.
  • Higher social spending, including in education, can lead to higher female labour force participation by boosting female stocks of human capital.
  • Skilling the women:
    • Initiatives such as Skill India, Make in India, and new gender-based quotas from corporate boards to the police force can spur a positive change. But we need to invest in skill training and job support.
    • The private sector could also take active part in training women entrepreneurs. For example: Unilever’s Shakti program, which has trained more than 70,000 rural women in India as micro-entrepreneurs to sell personal-care products as a way of making its brands available in rural India
  • Equal pay: The principle of equal remuneration for work of equal value that is protected by Indian law must be put to actual practice. Improved wage-transparency and gender neutral job evaluation is required to achieve this end.
  • Assuring safe access to work: It is important to improve existing transport and communication networks and provide safe accommodation for women who travel to or has migrated for work.
  • A useful and easily implementable idea would be to give income tax benefits to women. It would be a bold and effective step to increasing India’s female workforce participation.
  • For political empowerment of women, their representation in Parliament and in decision making roles in public sphere is one of the key indicators of empowerment.
  • Gig Economy provides women flexible work options to pursue their career while not missing important milestones in their family lives.
  • Drawing more women into the labour force, supplemented by structural reforms that could help create more jobs would be a source of future growth for India. Only then would India be able to reap the benefits of “demographic dividend” from its large and youthful labour force.


With more than 75% women not contributing to the economy, the nation is not only losing on the economic part but also the development of 50% of our population. The numeric consequences of reducing obstacles to women’s full economic participation far exceed the demographic advantages of having a larger pool of young workers. It is thus high time to talk of the gender dividend along with the demographic dividend.

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

3) At the time when Asia is becoming the world’s powerhouse and economic center, do you think India is at the Inflection point? Discuss.(250 words)




Asia could generate more than half of the world’s GDP by 2040 as cross-border flows shift toward the region, and the country should be prepared to make the most of it. Indian economy in its recent period of significant growth—faster than the global average—has stalled in the face of global headwinds against trade, volatile commodity markets, stagnant private investment, weaker domestic consumption and constrained government spending in the wake of recent fiscal and monetary reforms.


Asia – World’s powerhouse and economic center:

  • Asia is becoming the world’s powerhouse and economic center.
  • New research from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that Asia could generate more than half of the world’s GDP by 2040 as cross-border flows shift toward the region, which is rapidly integrating.
  • Asian region accounts for 60% of goods traded, 56% of greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) and 74% of journeys by Asian air travellers taking place within the region.

Potential of India:

  • India offers three major ingredients to the broader Asian economy:
    • services, which account for 53% of India’s GDP.
    • A young labour force (younger than China’s median age by around ten years)
    • New markets for the rest of the region.
  • Even factoring in the downturn, GDP in India is expected to grow at well above 5% for the coming period, and incremental consumption is expected to reach $2.4 trillion by 2030.

Opportunities for India:

  • Manufacturing sector: First, as more advanced Asian countries like China move up the economic development ladder, phasing out manufacturing in favour of a shift to R&D and more knowledge intensive manufacturing, there is room for India to seize the baton and become a larger sourcing base for global supply chains.
  • Flows of Capital and Investment: ‘Advanced Asia’ (Japan, South Korea, Singapore) and China have been huge contributors to the development of ‘Emerging Asia’ (small highly interconnected economies like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.), with China accounting for 42% of total Asian outbound FDI in 2013-17 and 43% and 61% of Emerging Asia’s imports and exports respectively.
  • Innovation: East Asia has emerged as a leading hub, rivalling the leading innovation hubs globally. East Asia has already gained pole position in driving innovation relating to key disruption themes such as electric mobility, 5G telecom, and renewable energy. Nearly 65% of global patents stemmed from Asia between 2015 and 2017, derived from the 50 fastest rising innovation cities in Asia, with an opportunity for Indian firms to be a part of this Asia-wide innovation arc.
  • Leading consumption centres: A rapidly growing Asia is catapulting its major cities into leading consumption centres, that offers a ripe market opportunity for Indian businesses ranging from IT services, tourism services, generic pharmaceuticals, automotive components, agrochemicals, and so forth. Just with China alone, India runs an over $50 billion of trade deficit, that could be narrowed down by targeting these export opportunities.

Measures needed:

  • Infrastructure improvement: Investments are needed to improve the logistical backbone supporting manufacturing, incentives are needed to encourage future investments in R&D.
  • Large-scale innovation hubs need to be developed to move manufacturing to the next phase and help to capture the demand opportunity.


The Asian century is well and truly underway. As globalization gives way to regionalism, and Asia takes a leading position, India could look to many of the opportunities arising out of the region’s rapid integration and shifting networks and flows to help drive its next chapter of growth.

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments,
significant provisions and basic structure.

4) Laws, the rule of law, and courts are not enough to protect and vindicate the right to privacy against State intrusion. Critically analyse the statement in the backdrop of recent WhatsApp Spyware attack. (250 words)



The recent incident of Israeli software, Pegasus, which had been used to hack the WhatsApp accounts of — and spy on — numerous Indian human rights defenders, activists, and lawyers. It is yet to be determined who authorised this surveillance — and why — but the revelations placed a renewed spotlight upon the legal framework governing privacy and surveillance in India. The Government’s reaction to messaging platform WhatsApp’s revelation is inadequate and, more unfortunately, far from reassuring.


There cannot be any national security without individual privacy:

  • The targeted users included activists, journalists, and senior government officials, among others.
  • This intrusion by the spyware is not merely an infringement of the rights of the citizens of the country but also a worrying development for India’s national security apparatus.
  • The security of a device becomes one of the fundamental bedrocks of maintaining user trust as society becomes more and more digitised.
  • Such an approach belies appreciating the injury and threats to individuals and the country.
  • There is an urgent need to take up this issue seriously by constituting an independent high-level inquiry with credible members and experts that can restore confidence and conduct its proceedings transparently.
  • We must all recognise that national security starts with securing the smartphones of every single Indian by embracing technologies such as encryption rather than deploying spyware.
  • This is a core part of our fundamental right to privacy.

Judiciary’s rulings regarding snooping:

  • In this context, a judgment by the Bombay High Court — delivered just a few days before the Pegasus scandal broke — restated some important and fundamental principles, and deserves to be studied carefully.
  • In Vinit Kumar v Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the CBI had placed a businessman under surveillance, on suspicion of corruption. The surveillance orders were challenged in the Bombay High Court, and a two-judge bench of Justices found that they were illegal and unconstitutional.
  • The basis of the high court’s ruling was that under the 1885 Telegraph Act (and its accompanying rules), surveillance was not meant to be a routine or ordinary investigation tactic.
  • It was limited to situations of “public emergency” or “public safety”.
  • The high court found that the CBI had failed to justify how public safety required keeping the businessman under surveillance, and also found that procedural safeguards had not been complied with. For this reason, the surveillance orders were quashed.
  • The court held that if interception was illegal, then copies of the intercepted material had to be destroyed.
  • the high court held that the evidence that had been obtained through illegal surveillance could not be used by the CBI in court.
  • A significant part of the high court’s ruling was based upon the famous Puttaswamy judgment of the Supreme Court, where a nine-judge bench held that privacy was a fundamental right under the Constitution

Other stringent measures needed to protect the Right to Privacy of individuals:

  • Conscientious whistle-blowers, and a free and active press will be required.
  • when cases of extra-legal and unauthorised surveillance come to light, the courts have a role to play in ensuring that the rule of law is upheld and vindicated.
  • the State must not be permitted to take advantage of breaking the law and illegally snooping on citizens.
  • In a country where data protection and privacy laws are still in a nascent stage, incidents such as this highlight the big dangers to privacy and freedom in an increasingly digital society.
  • There is a need to bring in the data protection bill and the antiquated 1885 Telegraph Act, and its attendant rules should be reformed.
  • It is thus imperative that the Government sends a strong message on privacy, something that the Supreme Court in 2017 declared to be intrinsic to life and liberty and therefore an inherent part of the fundamental rights.


The urgent need of the hour to bring in laws that limit the State’s powers of surveillance only to those situations where it is strictly necessary and never conducted in bulk, upon the entire population. The more important, introduce stringent penalties for illegal surveillance, if — and when — that comes to light. The WhatsApp-Pegasus controversy affords a golden opportunity to do just that.

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

5) How big a challenge is sustaining India’s open-defecation free status? Discuss the efforts of the government in this direction and the significance of multi-stakeholder approach for achieving a sustainable target.(250 words)



Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of an India where no one had to suffer the indignity of open defecation. There cannot be a better tribute to him than the transformation of the country, in the last five years, from being the highest contributor to global open defecation to torch-bearer for global sanitation. In the last five years, India has triggered a sanitation revolution.


Government efforts:

  • The major finding of this analysis was that all these health indicators improved significantly in both groups after the implementation of SBM. (ES-2019)
  • Five hundred and eighty-four districts, 5,840 blocks, 244,687 gram panchayats and 541,433 villages are open defecation free (ODF).
  • Towards the end of 2017, an independent verification agency (IVA) conducted the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS), and found that 93.4 per cent people who had toilets, used them regularly. NARSS also re- confirmed the ODF status of 95.6 per cent of the villages that had been verified ODF by the state governments.
  • SBM had resulted in the improvement of key primary health indicators–diarrhoea deaths among children less than five years had reduced significantly in the past four years. (ES-2019)
  • Around 2% of rural India has got individual household latrines (IHHL) coverage in the last four years under SBM, which has had significant impact on health. For example, an estimated 140,000 deaths were reported due to diarrhoeal diseases in 2014. This has declined to about 50,000 deaths in 2017-2018. While diarrhoea accounted for 11% deaths of children under five in 2013, an independent survey claims it is around 8.6% now. (ES-2019)
  • Districts with low IHHL coverage suffered more from diarrhoea, malaria, still births and low birth weight, when compared to districts with high IHHL coverage—indicating that lack of sanitation and hygiene are the primary reasons for these health problems. (ES-2019)
  • Over the last four years, a cadre of 500,000 Swachhagrahis has been created who have triggered lakhs of villages to become ODF.
  • The foot-soldiers have helped in geo-tagging toilets, verifying household behaviour, converting old toilets and retro-fitting them, engaging in other forms of cleanliness.
  • Bal Swachhata mission that was launched to inculcate cleanliness values and personal hygiene amongst children.

Significance of multi-stakeholder approach:

  • Community participation: Ensuring appropriate participation of the beneficiary/communities, financially or otherwise, in the setting up of the toilets to promote ownership and sustained use.
  • Flexibility in Choice: SBM offers flexibility by building in a menu of options so that the poor/disadvantaged families can subsequently upgrade their toilets depending upon their requirements and their financial position.
  • Capacity Building: SBM augments the institutional capacity of district to change behaviour at the grassroots level and strengthen the capacities of implementing agencies so that the programme could be rolled in a time-bound manner and collective outcomes could be measured.
  • Instil Behavior change: Incentivizing the performance of State-level institutions to implement activities for behavioural change among communities.
  • Broad-based Engagement: SBM set up the Swachh Bharat Kosh to encourage Corporate Social Responsibility and accept contributions from private organizations, individuals and philanthropists.
  • Use of Technology: Information technology and social media is imperative to this program as it allows citizens to keep a check on the availability of toilets for every rural household in India.
  • Nearly 95 per cent of all SBM toilets have already been geo-tagged. Many mobile applications have been launched by not only the government but also by few citizens, which direct the municipal corporations’ attention towards unclear areas.
  • Under SBM, an incentive of Rs 12,000 is provided for construction of individual Household Latrines (IHHL) to eligible beneficiaries in rural areas and covers for provision of water storage.

Challenges in sustaining the revolution:

  • Purity and pollution:
    • The key reason for this is that basic latrines that need to be emptied out manually or pumped by simple machines are unacceptable to higher caste Hindus.
    • It is not just a matter of access but a problem of perceptions of pollution, ritual purity, and caste.
    • Even if the government builds free toilets without any leakage or corruption, India will at best have 80 million new toilets that a large proportion of Indians do not want to use.
  • Contract labour:
    • Municipalities began to employ more contractual labourers mostly scavengers forced into the profession by their caste to remove waste.
    • The sanitation campaign burdens the contractual labourer with an ‘exclusive’ right to cleaning public spaces, while making it a voluntary act for the ‘public’ to not defecate, urinate or litter in random spaces. This reinforces the marginalization and stigmatization of such labourers.
    • The Swachh Bharat campaign hardly addresses a reworking of the underground sewerage system due to which many such labourers have died recently while cleaning jammed manholes that open into the sewerage system etc.
  • The rate of open defecation is not decreasing much:
    • India has far higher levels of open defecation than other countries of the same GDP per capita. For example, India has a higher GDP per capita than Bangladesh, but in Bangladesh only 8.4% households defecate in the open, compared to 55% in India.
  • Funds unspent:
    • Centre has literally forgotten to spend the money earmarked to promote the use of toilets, a concern raised in the State of India’s Environment in Figure: 2018.
    • Centre has also failed to exhaust its budget for Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin. This, despite the fact, that the budget for the scheme has seen a dip over the past year.
  • Implementation issues:
    • Sanitation coverage figures seemed to be more on paper but the actual progress at the ground level is very lethargic. Behavioural change is still a distant reality.

Measures needed to sustain the program:

  • Parliamentary Committee recommends the government to review its data time to time and delete the number of defunct toilets from the list to have a real picture of constructed and functional toilets in the country.
  • Deeply entrenched cultural contexts must be taken into account for successful policy outcomes. India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. This can be done by investing in sewage systems.
  • Enabling local governments to construct sewage systems will solve the purity issue.
  • Modernising the sewer lines and septic tanks and investing money and energy on smart techniques of sanitation.
  • Also it would not put stress on manual scavenging and this occupation can slowly fade away giving sense of dignity and equality to the most vulnerable sections.
  • Villages have very small houses and much clustered places where there is no place to construct toilets. The ideal solution is to have mohalla toilets designated to each house where people will keep their toilet clean by seeing others. One advantage is that when the toilets are outside the home, there will be a peer pressure to keep it clean.
  • There should be a proper database about what are the requirements in a particular area because we cannot force a toilet in a house where there is no place.
  • For India, constructing toilets is like a social work and not a development work. Once it is seen as a development work with country’s image, then the thrust will come and the people will realise how important it is and we should not lag behind other countries.
  • In schools it is the responsibility of the teachers and they have to be oriented to ensure that the child knows about hygiene which also includes knowing how to use a toilet.

Way forward:

  • Focus on the forward-looking 10-year sanitation strategy to move from ODF to ODF Plus.
  • Focusing on sustaining the SBM-G gains.
  • Ensuring that no one is left behind.
  • Ensuring access to solid and liquid waste management for all villages.
  • Ensure piped water supply to all households by 2024.

Topic  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. . 

6) The annual ozone hole over the Antarctic has been found to be at its smallest since the 1980s. Explain what causes the hole, and what does the small area this year mean in the context of climate protection efforts?(250 words)




An “ozone hole”, which builds up over the Antarctic region this time of the year, has been found to be the smallest since it was first discovered in the 1980s. This comes just a month after the UN Environment Programme said that the ozone layer was on track to be completely restored within “our lifetime” itself. Over the years, however, that threat has largely dissipated, as the world has banned the production and consumption of most of the “ozone-depleting substances”. However, it will take another 15-45 years for the ozone layer to be fully restored.


By absorbing the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun, the ozone molecules eliminate a big threat to life forms on earth. UV rays can cause skin cancer and other diseases and deformities, in plants and animals.

Causes for Ozone hole:

  • The ‘ozone hole’ is not really a hole. It is a region in the stratosphere, directly above Antarctica, where the concentration of ozone has been measured to become extremely low in certain months.
  • Depletion is not limited to that area and has happened in other regions of the stratosphere as well.
  • A set of special meteorological and chemical conditions that arise over the Antarctica in the months of September, October and November make the problem much more acute there.
  • NASA recently reported that this ozone hole, which usually grows to about 20 million sq. km in September, was less than half that size this year, the smallest it has ever been during this time after being discovered.

Reduction of Ozone hole size in terms of climate change efforts:

  • Montreal Protocol, the 1989 global agreement, organised international consensus on phased elimination of these chemicals. In subsequent years, the agreement has ensured the phase-out of over 90 per cent of these chemicals.
  • Two years ago, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol (Kigali Amendment) cleared the way for a faster elimination of another set of similar compounds, called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which were being used as temporary replacements for CFCs.
  • Because of its success in eliminating ozone depleting substances, the Montreal Protocol is often cited as a model for the problem of climate change.
  • The chemicals that were dealt with by the Montreal Protocol were used in only some specific sectors and their replacements were readily available, even if at a higher cost differential at that time.
  • The economic impact of banning these chemicals, and the disruption it caused, was limited to these sectors. Over the years, these industrial sectors have managed a relatively smooth transition.

However, scientists refute that it’s due to climate change efforts:

  • NASA said that this could have happened because of extraordinarily high temperatures in the stratosphere this year, rather than the ongoing human efforts to contain the ozone depletion.
  • Scientists have reported that temperatures in some areas of the stratosphere — usually over 100 degrees below zero — were 30° to 40°C higher than normal in September this year.
  • At least two such extraordinary warming of the stratosphere has been observed in the past, and on both those occasions the ozone hole was also measured to be smaller than usual.


Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, is a much more complex, and all-pervasive, problem. The emission of carbon dioxide happens from the most basic of all activity — production and consumption of energy. All other activities require energy to drive them, and therefore there is no escaping carbon dioxide emissions. Even the so called renewable energies have a carbon footprint. Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions affects economic activity and, in turn, the living standards of people. That is why climate change agreements like the Kyoto Protocol could achieve very little till now, while Paris Agreement faces an uphill task.

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and
developing new technology.

7) Despite the natural advantages, inconsistent policy has been the bane for India’s solar energy sector. Analyze the statement.(250 words)



National Solar Mission envisages establishing India as a global leader in solar energy. The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 100GW of grid connected solar power by 2022. (40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects). The country’s solar installed capacity reached 28.18 GW on March 31, 2019.


Natural advantages of Solar energy in India:

  • India has a great potential to generate electricity from solar energy and the Country is on course to emerge as a solar energy hub.
  • The techno-commercial potential of photovoltaics in India is enormous. With GDP growing in excess of 8%, the energy ‘gap’ between supply and demand will only widen. Solar PV is a renewable energy resource capable of bridging this ‘gap’.
  • Most parts of India have 300 – 330 sunny days in a year, which is equivalent to over 5000 trillion kWh per year – more than India’s total energy consumption per year.
  • Average solar incidence stands at a robust 4 – 7 kWh/sq. Meter/day.
  • About 66 MW of aggregate capacity is installed for various applications comprising one million industrial PV systems – 80% of which is solar lanterns, home/street lighting systems and solar water pumps, etc.
  • The estimated potential envisaged by the Ministry for the solar PV programme, i.e. solar street/home lighting systems, solar lanterns is 20 MW/sq. kilometre.
  • The potential of the solar thermal sector in India also remains untapped. The Ministry proposes an addition of 500 MW during the phase 1 of JNNSM.
  • Establishing manufacturing units at Export Oriented Units, SEZs or under the SIPS programme presents a good opportunity for firms which can leverage India’s cost advantage to export solar modules at competitive prices to markets in Europe and the United States.


  • National Solar Mission envisages establishing India as a global leader in solar energy.
  • The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 100GW of grid connected solar power by 2022. (40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects).
  • The country’s solar installed capacity reached 21 GW as of 31 December 2018.
  • India along with Paris, on the side-lines of UNFCCC’s CoP 21 at Paris (2015) decided to set up International Solar Alliance.
  • The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.


  • India should have taken a lead in solar panel manufacture to generate solar energy long ago. The share of all manufacturing in GDP was 16% in 1991; it remained the same in 2017.
  • Despite the new policy focus on solar plant installation, India is still not a solar panel manufacturer.
  • India’s solar story is largely built over imported products. Remaining dependent on imports only leads to short-term benefits for India.
  • The Chinese government has subsidised land acquisition, raw material, labour and export, among others. None of this is matched by the Indian government.
  • The cost of debt in India (11%) is highest in the Asia-Pacific region, while in China it is about 5%.
  • India’s domestic content requirement clause is facing legal challenge at WTO.
  • India is facing challenge to balance Prioritising domestic goals and WTO commitments.
  • The dumping of products is leading to profit erosion of local manufacturers.
  • Indian domestic manufacturers aren’t technically and economically strong to compete with Chinese companies.
  • China’s strong manufacturing base is giving stiff challenge to domestic manufacturer.
  • India’s solar waste is estimated to be around 1.8 million by 2050 also needs to be tackled.

Way Forward:

  • Flexible financing options for individuals to install rooftop solar installations would also support a faster adoption of clean energy.
  • Strong financial measures are required to finance the solar projects, innovative steps like green bonds, institutional loans and clean energy fund can play a crucial role.
  • Focus on last mile connectivity in remote areas where developing transmission infrastructure is a challenge through small solar installations or solar community grids by using a domestically manufactured product with small power inverters or batteries in every home may be helpful to ensure power for all in countries like India.
  • This will also help reduce time and cost for developing transmission infrastructure.
  • State governments need to support semiconductor production as part of a determined industrial policy to develop this capacity for the future.
  • Promotion of research and development in renewable energy sector, especially in storage technology.
  • Proper mechanism should be provided to tackle China’s dumping of solar equipments.
  • Framework to avoid unnecessary delays in policy decision making and implementation.
  • India needs a Solar Waste Management and Manufacturing Standards Policy.