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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 9 March 2020

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:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.  The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

1. Underlining the achievements of chatrapati Shivaji, describe how his policy was helpful in the expansion of Marathas? Also discuss the reasons for the fall of the Marathas. (250 words)

Reference: Modern Indian history by Spectrum publications

Why this question:

The question underlines the contributions of Shivaji to the construction of Maratha empire as well as expects one to present reasons for the fall of the empire.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the significant contributions made by Shivaji in building the Maratha empire and the causative factors that led to its decline.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain about Chatrapati Shivaji.


Shivaji was an able general and a skilled politician who, through his efforts, laid the foundation for a strong Maratha empire. Briefly present his achievements – he increased the influence of the Maratha Empire from Deccan to Karnataka and gave it a place at the all India level, he built an efficient administrative system,set up an authentic revenue system for income and broadened the economic base of the empire throughChauth along with Sardeshmukhi, army based on cash payment etc.

Then move onto discuss the factors that led to fall of the Maratha empire.


Conclude by reasserting the significance of his contributions in the Indian modern history.


Various factors contributed to the rise of Marathas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The physical environment of the Maratha country shaped certain peculiar qualities among the Marathas. The mountainous region and dense forests made them brave soldiers and adopt guerilla tactics. They built a number of formidable forts on the mountains. The spread of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra inculcated a spirit of religious unity among them.

The Marathas held important positions in the administrative and military systems of Deccan Sultanates of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. But the credit of establishing a powerful Maratha state goes to Shahji Bhonsle and his son Shivaji. The political unity was rendered by Shivaji Maharaj.


Shivaji was born at Shivner in 1627. His father was Shahji Bhonsle and mother Jija Bai. He inherited the jagir of Poona from his father in 1637.

Achievements of Chhatrapati Shivaji

  • Initial phase
    • He first conquered Raigarh, Kondana and Torna from the ruler of Bijapur.
    • After the death of his guardian, Dadaji Kondadev in 1647, Shivaji assumed full charge of his jagir.
    • He captured Javli from a Maratha chief, Chanda Rao More. This made him the master of Mavala region.
    • In 1657, he attacked the Bijapur kingdom and captured a number of hill forts in the Konkan region.
    • The Sultan of Bijapur sent Afzal Khan against Shivaji. But Afzal Khan was murdered by Shivaji in 1659 in a daring manner.
  • Military Conquests of Shivaji
    • Shivaji’s military conquests made him a legendary figure in the Maratha region. The Mughal emperor Aurangazeb was anxiously watching the rise of Maratha power under Shivaji.
    • Aurangzeb sent the Mughal governor of the Deccan, Shaista Khan against Shivaji. Shivaji suffered a defeat at the hands of the Mughal forces and lost Poona.
    • But Shivaji once again made a bold attack on Shaista Khan’s military camp at Poona in 1663, killed his son and wounded Khan.
    • In 1664, Shivaji attacked Surat, the chief port of the Mughals and plundered it.
    • A second attempt was made by Aurangzeb to defeat Shivaji by sending Raja Jai Singh of Amber. He succeeded in besieging the fort of Purander.
    • Treaty of Purander 1665:
      • According to the treaty, Shivaji had to surrender 23 forts to the Mughals out of 35 forts held by him.
      • The remaining 12 forts were to be left to Shivaji on condition of service and loyalty to Mughal empire.
      • On the other hand, the Mughals recognized the right of Shivaji to hold certain parts of the Bijapur kingdom.
    • Renewed war against Mughals
      • Surat was plundered by him for the second time in 1670.
      • He also captured all his lost territories by his conquests.
      • In 1674 Shivaji crowned himself at Raigarh and assumed the title Chatrapathi.

Shivaji’s policy and Expansion of Marathas

  • Administrative Policies
    • He laid the foundations of a sound system of administration. The king was the pivot of the government. He was assisted by a council of ministers called Ashtapradhan.
      • Peshwa – Finance and general administration. Later he became the prime minister
      • Sar-i-Naubat or Senapati – Military commander, a honorary post.
      • Amatya – Accountant General.
      • Waqenavis – Intelligence, posts and household affairs.
      • Sachiv – Correspondence.
      • Sumanta – Master of ceremonies
      • Nyayadish – Justice.
      • Panditarao – Charities and religious administration.
    • Revenue Policies
      • Lands were measured by using the measuring rod called kathi. Lands were also classified into three categories – paddy fields, garden lands and hilly tracks.
      • Taxes : Chauth and sardeshmukhi were the taxes collected not in the Maratha kingdom but in the neighbouring territories of the Mughal empire or Deccan sultanates.
        • Chauth was one fourth of the land revenue paid to the Marathas in order to avoid the Maratha raids.
        • Sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of ten percent on those lands which the Marathas claimed hereditary rights.
      • Military Policies

Shivaji was a man of military genius and his army was well organized.

  • The regular army consisted of about 30000 to 40000 cavalry supervised by havaildars. They were given fixed salaries.
  • There were two divisions in the Maratha cavalry –
    1. Bargirs, equipped and paid by the state;
    2. Silahdars, maintained by the nobles.
  • In the infantry, the Mavli foot soldiers played an important role.
  • Shivaji also maintained a navy.
  • The forts played an important role in the military operations of the Marathas. By the end of his reign, Shivaji had about 240 forts. Each fort was put under the charge of three officers of equal rank as a precaution against treachery.

The above conquests and policies of Shivaji was the major reason for Maratha stronghold in the region against Mughals. They became a formidable enemy of neighboring kings.

Marathas after Shivaji

The Maratha kingdom was, however, certainly weakened at the start of 18th century due to various internal and external factors.

  • A full-scale civil war broke out between the forces of Shahu (grandson of Shivaji) and those of Tarabai (Rajaram’s widow).The loyalty of Maratha sardars and Deshmukhs kept on shifting from one block to another.
  • Since the time of Balaji Viswanath, the office of the Peshwa became powerful. He died in 1720 and was succeeded by his son Baji Rao, who was in power till 1740.
  • After the death of Baji Rao in 1740, Shahu appointed his son Balaji Bajirao (1740-1761) as Peshwa. This was indeed the peak period of Maratha glory.
  • In 1761, after the third battle of Panipat Madhav Rao became the Peshwa. In 1772, Madhav Rao died of consumption.
  • After the death of Madhav Rao, the struggle for power occurred between Raghunath Rao and Narayan Rao. In 1773 Narayan Rao was killed.
  • Madhav Rao Narayan succeeded his father Narayan Rao.
  • Raghunath Rao tried to capture power with the help of British. This led to the 1st Anglo- Maratha war.
  • Madhav Rao died in 1794. Baji Rao II, son of Raghunath Rao succeeded Madhav Rao.
  • At the end of 3rd Anglo- Maratha war Peshwa was dethroned and pensioned off while other Maratha states remained as subsidiary states.

Reasons for fall of Marathas

  • War of Succession : There ensued a war of succession after the death of Shivaji between his sons, Shambaji and Rajaram. Shambaji emerged victorious but later he was captured and executed by the Mughals. Rajaram succeeded the throne but the Mughals made him to flee to the Ginjee fort.
  • Political structure: Divisions within

The other reason for downfall of Maratha empire was its own structure. Its nature was that of a confederacy where power was shared among the chiefs or sardars (Bhonsle, Holker etc).

  • Weak Revenue Administration

Marathas depended on the collection of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi and on their exploits from plunder and loot. They failed to develop an efficient system of revenue administration. New territories were conquered but much less focus was on the administration. Rulers were mainly interested in raising revenue from peasantry through taxation.

  • Weak Diplomacy

Marathas did not take the trouble to find out what was happening elsewhere and what their enemies were doing. There was no far-sighted statesmanship or effective strategy. They failed to cultivate alliances with forces around them.

  • Anglo-Maratha Wars and Subsidiary Alliance

In 1802, Peshwa Baji Rao II accepted subsidiary alliance by signing Treaty of Bassein. This marked the downfall of Maratha empire. By 1818 the Maratha power was finally crushed and the great chiefs that represented it in central India submitted and accepted the over lordship of the East India Company.


Shivaji was really a constructive genius and nation-builder. His rise from jagirdar to Chatrapathi was spectacular. He unified the Marathas and remained a great enemy of the Mughal empire. He was a daring soldier and a brilliant administrator. Post his rule, infighting, disunity amongst Maratha confederacy became the major reason for their downfall.


Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.  The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

2. What do you mean by Renaissance describe the main features of Indian renaissance?(250 words)

Reference: Modern Indian history by Spectrum publications

Why this question:

The question is straightforward and aims to examine the key features of Indian renaissance.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the concept of renaissance and the key features of renaissance specific to the Indian context.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain what renaissance is.


Social and cultural awakenings in India were a result of Indian renaissance that was inspired by the Western concept of reason, equality and liberty. Renaissance meaning revival or rebirth was the great transitional movement of Europe that swept away medieval unprogressive ideas and substituted it with individualism, material emancipation, skepticism, nationalism, a more sound economic system and self-expression. Indian Renaissance was started under the influence of the western thinkers. Main

features of Indian Renaissance were as follows:

  • A new way of studying Indian past was brought in.
  • Reinterpretation of Indian religious text and rituals was made, which brought
  • Irregularities and mal-practices in our religion into light at that time.
  • A new movement for socio-religious reforms were started under Raja Ram Mohan
  • Roy and other intellectuals.
  • It was influenced by western thinkers.
  • Indian Renaissance gave rise to study of English literature thoughts, philosophies and books of history.
  • Over political movements it has some influence and later on it was perfectly adopted by political movements.


Conclude by reasserting the significance of it to Modern Indian history.


The socio intellectual revolution that took place in the nineteenth century in the fields of philosophy, literature, science, politics and social reforms is often known as Indian Renaissance. An important part of this Renaissance was reforming Hinduism from within on the basis of Post Enlightenment rationalism. The Renaissance was especially focused in Bengal and is popularly known as the Bengal Renaissance.

However, the use of ‘renaissance’ is slightly problematic as in European history it is used to refer to the “rebirth” or revival of Greco-Roman learning in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries after the long winter of the dark medieval period. But in Indian context, it implied rediscovering rationalism from within India’s past.


Causes of Renaissance:

  • Social Conditions
    • The most distressing was the position of women. The birth of a girl was unwelcome, her marriage a burden and her widowhood inauspicious.
    • Another debilitating factor was Caste. It sought to maintain a system of segregation, hierarchically ordained on the basis of ritual status, hampering social mobility and fostered social divisions.
    • There were innumerable other practices marked by constraint, status, authority, bigotry and blind fatalism.
    • Rejecting them as features of a decadent society, the reform movements sought to create a social climate for modernization.
  • Western Education
    • The introduction of western education and ideas had the far reaching impact on the Indian Society. Through the glasses of utility, reason, justice, and progress, a select group of individuals began to explore the nature of their own society.
    • There was a gradual emergence of public opinion. The debates between the Orientalists, scholars of Eastern societies like India on one side, and the Utilitarians, Liberals and Missionaries on the other also enabled the penetration of ideas, at least amongst the upper section of society.
    • The exposure to post-Enlightenment rationalism that came to signify modernity brought a change in the outlook of a select group of Indians.
  • Social and ideological base
    • It was a time of emerging middle class and western-educated intellectuals.
    • Ideologies of Rationalism, religious universalism, humanism and secularism were on the rise.

Features of Indian Renaissance

The central figure of this cultural awakening was Raja RamMohan Roy. Known as the “father of the Indian Renaissance”, Rammohan Roy was a great patriot, scholar and humanist. He was moved by deep love for the country and worked throughout his life for the social, religious, intellectual and political regeneration of the Indians.

  • Re-imagination of Indian Past: A new way of studying Indian past was brought in. For instance Raja Ram Mohan Roy translated into Bengali the Vedas and the five Upanishads to prove his conviction that ancient Hindu texts support monotheism.
  • Reinterpretation of religious text and rituals: The long-term agenda of the Brahmo Samaj—to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism—was based on the twin pillars of reason and the Vedas and Upanishads. The Samaj also tried to incorporate teachings of other religions and kept its emphasis on human dignity, opposition to idolatry and criticism of social evils such as sati.
  • Socio-Religious Reforms:

Position of Women

  • Abolition of Sati Influenced by the frontal attack launched by the enlightened Indian reformers led by Raja Rammohan Roy, the government declared the practice of sati illegal and punishable by criminal courts as culpable homicide in 1829.
  • The Bengal regulations of 1795 and 1804 declared infanticide illegal and equivalent to murder. An Act passed in 1870 made it compulsory for parents to register the birth of all babies
  • Widow Remarriage: The Brahmo Samaj had the issue of widow remarriage high on its agenda and did much to popularise it. But it was mainly due to the efforts of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-91), that the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, was passed.
  • Women’s Education: The Bethune School, founded by J.E.D. Bethune, president of the Council of Education in Calcutta in 1849 was the first fruit of the powerful movement for women’s education that arose in the 1840s and 1850s. Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was associated with no less than 35 girls’ schools in Bengal and is considered one of the pioneers of women’s education.

Caste Reforms

  • The social reformers attacked the rigid hereditary basis of caste distinctions and the law of karma which formed the basis of the religio-philosophic defence of the undemocratic authoritarian caste institution.
  • In Maharashtra, Jyotiba Phule, born in a low caste Mali family, led a movement against the brahminical domination of Hindu society.
  • Indian Renaissance gave rise to study of English literature thoughts, philosophies and books of history. The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, Shelley, John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Paine, Spencer and Voltaire helped many Indians imbibe modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist ideas.


These movements took into their ambit the entire cultural existence, the way of life. The evolution of an alternative cultural-ideological system and the regeneration of traditional institutions were two concerns of these movements. These concerns were manifest in the attempts to reconstruct traditional knowledge, the use and development of vernacular languages, creation of an alternative system of education, defence of religion, efforts to regenerate Indian art and literature, the emphasis on Indian dress and food, attempts to revitalize the Indian systems of medicine and to research the pre-colonial technology for its potential. It proved to be a harbinger of modernism in India.


Topic:  Role of women and women’s organization,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. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

3. Evaluate the progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action by the world community. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why this question:

8th March was celebrated as World women’s day and in this context the article presents a stock of the progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action by the world community.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the progress made for women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action by the world community.


Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain the Beijing Platform for Action.


The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China is recognized as the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere. Then move onto discuss the significance of women to the society, the growth and development of a country. Highlight the progress made so far; explain galvanizing moments in the gender equality movement: a five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment. Explain where women stand today. Present a picture of Indian context.


Conclude with way forward.


As a defining framework for change, the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern, at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Even 20 years later, it remains a powerful source of guidance and inspiration. It set out an expansive vision and landmark set of commitments for achieving gender equality.

In 1995, gender equality advocates brought to the fore the lack of empowerment and the multitude of human rights violations experienced by women and girls and the need for comprehensive laws and policies as well as the transformation of institutions, both formal (e.g. states, markets, national and global governance structures) and informal (e.g. family, community), to achieve gender equality and the full realization of the human rights of women and girls.


Progress made for Women’s rights

The Sustainable Development Goal SDG-5 aims at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girl children across the world.


  • Primary Education
    • There has been significant progress towards closing the gender gaps in primary enrolment. In 2012, developing regions as a whole had achieved gender parity in primary education, with the gender parity index increasing from 0.86 to 0.97.
    • In Southern Asia, where the corresponding index in primary education of 0.74 was the lowest among all regions in 1990, progress has been remarkable, by 2012, the index had reached 1.0, signifying that gender parity in primary education had been reached.
  • Tertiary Education: Young women’s share of enrolment in tertiary education has also increased. In 1995, they made up 48 per cent of tertiary students globally and the share rose to 51 per cent in 2012.

Women’s Health

  • Women’s life expectancy has increased globally over the last 20 years from 67 to 73 years between 1990 and 2012.
  • Globally, in 2013, there were an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths, a decline of 45 per cent since 1990.

Crimes against Women

  • Trafficking accounts for between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of all trafficking victims detected globally, and women and girls together account for some 75 per cent.
  • A study of 42,000 women in the European Union found that 55 per cent of women have experienced sexual harassment at least once since the age of 15.

Women and Armed Conflict

  • UN Resolution 1325: The resolution (31st october, 2000) acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls. It calls for the adoption of a gender perspective to consider the special needs of women and girls during conflict, repatriation and resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration, and post-conflict reconstruction.
    • Sweden became first nation to adopt a feminist policy in foreign affairs.

Political representation

  • 24.3 per cent of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019, a slow but welcome increase from 11.3 per cent in 1995
  • As of June 2019, 11 women are serving as Head of State and 12 are serving as Head of Government
  • Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians worldwide, where, women have won 61.3 per cent of seats in the lower house.

Women and economy

  • In the last 20 years the gender gap in labour market participation has narrowed marginally,from 28 to 26 percentage points. There remains significant regional variation in women’s labour force participation.

Indian Context

  • Positives
    • Education enrollment:
      • With the enactment of Right to Education Act in 2009, girl child enrollment in primary school is nearly cent percent.
      • Furthermore, secondary school enrollment is at 80.9% in 2015-16 from 76.4% in 2013-14. This is mainly due to better sanitation in schools under Swachh Bharat.
    • Women centric development
      • Ujjwala Scheme has provided LPG gas connection to 8 crore women, giving them respite from drudgery of indoor pollution and mortality.
      • Nutrition based programmes targeting women such as POSHAN, Laqshya (Labour room Quality Improvement Initiative) and institutional deliveries has decreased MMR to 122 per lakh (26.9% reduction from 2013)
    • Entrepreneurship
      • Women SHG’s are given loans of upto 1 Lakh under the MUDRA scheme.
      • NITI Aayog has created Women Entrepreneurship Portal wherein it has handholding programme for women.
    • Women and science
      • Women-centric programmes under the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) initiative.
      • ‘Women Scientists Program’ provides fellowship to women who have had a break in the career to pursue research in science and engineering.
    • Reproductive health
      • Maternity Benefit Act has increased the maternity leave to 26 weeks.
      • Pradhan Mantri Matritva Yojana provides cash transfer to women at certain intervals during their pregnancy.
    • Concerns
      • Son-meta preference

The Economic Survey 2018 has mentioned that the desire for a male child has created 21 million “unwanted” girls in India between 0 and 25 years.

  • Female infanticide and low Sex ratio at birth
    • According to the latest Health Index released by the Niti Aayog released by the Centre, India’s girl-to-boy sex ratios at birth (SRB) have declined in 17 of 21 large states. This signals a failure in the nation’s ability to curb female selective abortion after illegal sex disclosure.
    • As recently as March 2020, news cases of infanticide were reported in Tamil Nadu’s Usilampatti.
  • Crimes against women

The crimes rose from 3,793 per million in 2016 to 3,886 per million in 2017, as per NCRB Report. Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 56,011 cases followed by Maharashtra.

Global Challenges and Concern

  • Conflict based Violence: Conflict related sexual and gender-based violence remains a serious concern, including the continuing occurrence of rape, harassment, sexual slavery and forced marriage As of March 2014, there were 34 parties to conflict, including armed groups, militia and Government security forces, that were credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of violence
  • Gender wage-gap: At the current pace of progress it would take more than 75 years to reach equal remuneration for work of equal value
  • Labour force

The widest gender gaps in labour force participation rates in 1992 were in the Middle East and North Africa region and in South Asia, at 56 and 50 percentage points respectively. In 2012, the two regions continued to display the biggest gaps (at 53 and 50 percentage points respectively) even though the gender gap in the former region had slightly narrowed.

  • Reproductive rights
    • In 51 countries with data on the subject, only 57 per cent of women aged 15 to 49, married or in union, make their own decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and health services.
  • Unequal opportunity:
    • According to recent data from some 90 countries, women devote on average roughly three times more hours a day to unpaid care and domestic work than men, limiting the time available for paid work, education and leisure and further reinforcing gender-based socioeconomic disadvantages.
    • Too many women remain without access to decent work, are denied equal rights to inheritance and property and are vulnerable to poverty.
  • Political Representation needs to be 50% at all levels of government in all nations.


While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Moreover, insufficient progress on structural issues at the root of gender inequality, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation, are undermining the ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 and the Beijing Platform for Action 1995.


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

4. Discuss the role of women in evolving a knowledge economy and narrowing the gender inequality in the Indian context. (250 words)

Reference:  Live Mint

Why this question:

The article discusses at length the possible contributions that the women are making to the knowledge economy in the country.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the significance of women in evolving a knowledge economy and narrowing the gender inequality in the Indian context.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain what knowledge economy are.


Highlight that the Indian economic success requires scientific skills that can foster a knowledge economy, the emergence of which depends on how gender balanced the workforce is. Explain the present scenario – list down the challenges that women face in contributing to the knowledge economy. Then explain why women are key to the economy despite the above mentioned concerns and challenges? Highlight their potential.


Conclude by policies of the government in this direction; explain what should be done to harness the contribution of women to the knowledge economy.


“You can tell the condition of nation by looking the status of the women” – Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru

The knowledge economy is a system of consumption and production that is based on intellectual capital. In particular, it refers to the ability to capitalize on scientific discoveries and basic and applied research. In a knowledge economy, a significant component of value may thus consist of intangible assets such as the value of its workers’ knowledge or intellectual property.

The World Bank defines knowledge economies according to four pillars:

  • Institutional structures that provide incentives for entrepreneurship and the use of knowledge
  • Availability of skilled labor and a good education system
  • Access to information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructures
  • A vibrant innovation landscape that includes academia, the private sector, and civil society


Women in Knowledge Economy in India

A rapidly growing India requires a highly skilled technical workforce that is crucial for developing a knowledge economy. Unfortunately, half the scientific potential of India i.e. women in science—is squandered.

  • Women make up only 14% of the 280,000 scientists, engineers, and technologists in research and development institutions across the country, according to a recent study.
  • Over the years, the interest to study STEM has increased. According to a MasterCard study, over 85% of girls between the ages of 12-14 want to pursue studies in these fields.
  • In the field of Artificial Intelligence the gender gap stands at 72% (only 22% are women)

Challenges faced by women

  • When highly qualified women drop out of the workforce, it results in considerable depletion of national resources and our ability to flourish in knowledge economy.
  • Gender based social roles are imposed on women. Stereotypes encountered by girls to the family-caring responsibilities.
  • Women continue to face the same kind of discrimination at work as they face in society.
    • According to a recent Accenture research report, the gender pay gap in India is as high as 67 percent.
    • It is certainly more challenging for women pursuing science to excel due to the various hurdles they face and the bias that operates against them in almost all institutions
  • Peer-reviewed research reports have indicated that women scientists earn less, have less prestige within departments, have less lab space, are offered inadequate jobs on graduating with science degrees and have more teaching responsibilities.
  • They also face greater difficulty in receiving grants, and therefore apply for fewer grants in the first place.
    • It is imperative to tackle these issues with vigour if India is to take its rightful place among developed nations.
  • Women tend to lack access to informal networks that provide opportunities to work in high-profile projects, which include attending conferences abroad or on-the-job opportunities.
  • When it comes to peer recognition, women are at loss as they muster less support.
  • The most important one is mindset, which has been targeting women right from their cradles.
  • Unequal Opportunity : Women have less access to resources — such as property, financing, technology and education — needed to support active engagement in science, technology, engineering, research and innovation. As a result, their presence in employment, entrepreneurship and research is lower than men’s.
  • Due to family pressure and household responsibilities, many female graduates fail to convert their degree into a fulfilling career or stop pursuing managerial and leadership roles.

Therefore, they lack the work experience that would enable them to rise up the ranks and provide access to the wide range of developmental models that could build the credibility they need to advance.

Women are key to economic growth

  • India could boost its growth by5 percentage points to 9 percent per year if around 50% of women could join the work force. Even more if women are educated and are included in the knowledge economy, as per the World Bank
    • Conversely, it is estimated that gender gaps cost the economy some 15 percent of GDP.
  • It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.

Way forward

  • Educational institutes and the community should encourage girls from primary school to select a STEM field for their higher education.
  • In our educational system, there is too much of categorisation that starts too early. Science including physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology should be taught for all up to the 12th grade.
  • Steps can be taken to strengthen technical education in women’s institutions.
  • Special managerial skills through training and development programmes.
  • Corporates and public sector must increase their gender diversity and target must be atleast 50% of the workforce.
  • National level science conferences that are women centric, highlighting achievements of women in knowledge economy will prove to be an inspiration.
  • Handholding programmes by government to provide tangible support to women entrepreneurs.
  • Strengthen the maternity benefits and aiding women to ensure work life balance.
  • The importance and benefits of team work, networking and being proactive should form an important part of soft skill training offered for women.


Science needs the best scientists, and a knowledge economy needs a gender-balanced workforce. This can only be attained by realizing the full potential of women. Apart from being wasteful and unjust, the under-representation of women in science threatens the goal of achieving excellence in the field.

To tackle this, we must set an ambitious target of reaching out to 1 million young girls each year, and encourage them to take up science and make a difference. A national convention of women in science must be held annually, with a specific focus on discussing and building general awareness around the major challenges that women face.


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

5.Discuss therising threat and impact of coral bleaching on coral reefs of the World. (250 words)

Reference: Indian Express, UN.ORG

Why this question:

The article presents a picture of rising threat and impact of coral bleaching on coral reefs of the World.Scientists have warned that the Great Barrier Reef will face a critical period of heat stress over the coming weeks; following the most widespread coral bleaching the natural world has ever endured.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the effect of coral bleaching on the coral reefs of the world.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly define what corals are, what coral bleaching is.


Coral reefs are important hotspots of biodiversity in the ocean. Corals are animals in the same class (Cnidarian) as jellyfish and anemones. They consist of individual polyps that get together and build reefs. Discuss the significance of coral reefs first. Explain then the threats that they are possibly facing.Discuss the factors responsible for Coral Bleaching. Highlight the consequences of It on the ecology of coral reefs around the world. Suggest what needs to be done to overcome the challenge.


Conclude with way forward.


A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny water.

They occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean area, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species. Hence they are also known as “rainforests of the ocean”.

Coral Bleaching: When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.


Coral Bleaching

Rising threat of bleaching to Coral Reefs

Coral reef bleaching is caused by various anthropogenic and natural variations in the reef environment including sea temperature, solar irradiance, sedimentation, xenobiotics, subaerial exposure, inorganic nutrients, freshwater dilution, and epizootics. Coral bleaching events have been increasing in both frequency and extent worldwide in the past 20 years. Global climate change may play a role in the increase in coral bleaching events, and could cause the destruction of major reef tracts and the extinction of many coral species.

Natural Causes

  • Climate Change
    • Rising Sea surface temperature: The main cause of coral bleaching is heat stress resulting from high sea temperatures. Temperature increases of only one degree Celsius for only four weeks can trigger bleaching events.
      • If these temperatures persist for longer periods (eight weeks or more) corals begin to die.
    • El-Nino: Frequency of storms such as those associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation events has resulted in the devastation of very large areas of coral. In fact, 16% of the world’s corals were affected by the 1997-1998 El-Nino event.
  • Increased solar irradiance: Bleaching during the summer months, during seasonal temperature and irradiance maxima often occurs disproportionately in shallow-living corals and on the exposed summits of colonies. Solar radiation has been suspected to play a role in coral bleaching. Both photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, 400-700nm) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280-400nm) have been implicated in bleaching.
  • Freshwater inundation: Strong cyclones and storms causes heavy precipitation and strongly dilutes the ocean water near the shore. This can disrupt Saline content (ppm) of the shallow water coral and induces bleaching.
  • Subaerial exposure: Sudden exposure of reef flat corals to the atmosphere during events such as extreme low tides, ENSO-related sea level drops or tectonic uplift can potentially induce bleaching. The consequent exposure to high or low temperatures, increased solar radiation, desiccation, and sea water dilution by heavy rains could all play a role in zooxanthellae loss, but could also very well lead to coral death.
  • Cold-Stress Event: In January 2010, cold water temperatures in the Florida Keys caused a coral bleaching event that resulted in some coral death.
  • Epizootics: Pathogen induced bleaching is different from other sorts of bleaching. Most coral diseases cause patchy or whole colony death and sloughing of soft tissues, resulting in a white skeleton (not to be confused with bleached corals). A few pathogens have been identified the cause translucent white tissues, a protozoan.

Anthropogenic activities

  • Increasing Green House Gas Emissions
  • CO2 Emissions: Rising Emission intensity from fossil fuels, coal and factories are heating up the planet and increasing carbon fertilization in oceans. Harmful Algal Blooms leads to turbity of water, thereby causing bleaching.
  • Pollutant Runoff: Pollutants from river water and industrial affluent leads to bleaching.
  • Poor Quality water: This can occur due to toxic sediment that comes along with the water that joins the sea. Corals cannot withstand toxicity and thus expel the algae.

Impact of Coral Bleaching on Coral Reefs

Corals begin to starve once they bleach. While some corals are able to feed themselves, most corals struggle to survive without their zooxanthellae. If conditions return to normal, corals can regain their zooxanthellae, return to their normal colour and survive. However, this stress is likely to cause decreased coral growth and reproduction, and increased susceptibility to disease.

  • Great Barrier Reef: Over 2016 and 2017, Great Barrier Reef suffered back-to-back bleaching, leaving half of the shallow water corals dead. One-third of the 3,863 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef went through a catastrophic die-off.
  • Biodiversity of Ocean Ecosystem These sessile organisms also provide refuge and shelter for many mobile animals. The entire biodiversity sustaining on the coral reef will be affected.
  • Fish Species: 25% of fish species spend some part of their life cycle in reefs, despite the fact that they cover less than 1% of ocean floor.
  • Carbon sink: In addition, sessile algae and the coral–algal symbiosis determine carbon fixation and its pathways into organic and inorganic forms. These are the basis for the energy that supports the ecosystem and deposits the calcium carbonate skeletons that create the reef.
  • Loss of livelihoods: Countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines would bear the brunt of the damage, as it will reduce the fish stock rapidly.
  • Economic Impact: Both fishing and tourism will be hit hard. Many communities in Queensland had to look for alternate livelihoods due to coral bleaching and loss of ocean ecosystem.
  • Barrier to storm: Coral reefs act as key barrier to guard against incoming storms and mitigate the damage done by surging seas.


If a global warming trend impacts on shallow tropical and subtropical seas, we may expect an increase in the frequency, severity and scale of coral reef bleaching. Coral mortality could exceed 95% regionally with species extirpation and extinctions. A conservative temperature increase of 1-2 degrees C would cause regions between 20-30 degrees N to experience sustained warming that falls within the lethal limits of most reef-building coral species. In conjunction with sea temperature rise would be a sea level rise, and it has been suggested that sea level rise would suppress coral growth or kill many corals through drowning or lower light levels.

Even if significant sea warming and elevated irradiance levels do not occur, coral reef degradation from anthropogenic pollution and overexploitation will still continue, a result of unrelenting human population growth.


Topic:  Government Budgeting.

6.Discuss what are electronic transmissions in global trade? Do you think negative list approach on custom duties on them is a better substitute in protecting the competitiveness?Analyse.(250 words)

Reference:  Financial Express

Why this question:

The debate about whether or not to extend the WTO Moratorium on imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions has, to date, narrowly focused on its potential customs revenue implications. Thus the question aims to analyse the approach of the negative list method on custom duties.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the electronic transmissions in global trade, and the aspects of methods to protect them from competitiveness.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain what electronic transmissions are in global trade.


Explain the premise first – that import barriers protect domestic industries from foreign competition, and allow them to grow. A similar thought informs India’s position against a moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Present points for and against the negative list approach on custom duties of these electronic transmissions. Take cues from the article and form an opinion.


Conclude with what should be the way ahead.


Digitizable products are those products that are traded both in physical form as well as ‘online’ i.e. downloaded from internet. For instance, music, e-book, software etc. The online trade of digitizable products is termed as electronic transmissions. Trade in ET differs from cross-border e-commerce as it excludes those products which are ordered online but delivered physically.

With the advent of Industry 4.0 and the associated technological advancements, the scope of digital trade is expanding much faster than what anyone could have imagined two decades ago. Growing digital trade has been accompanied by a rapidly growing trade in electronic transmissions (ET).

Background of the issue

  • In 1998, on the basis of a proposal submitted by the United States, WTO members adopted a Declaration on global electronic commerce, which included a two-year moratorium stating that “Members will continue their current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions”.
  • Since 1998, this Moratorium has been renewed every two years (except for 2003-2005 when the members failed to reach a decision in Cancun).
  • However, because of the difficulties in limiting the scope of ET, the debate on the Moratorium on custom duties has continued without reaching any consensus. Even after twenty years of discussions in the WTO, the understanding of the scope and definition of ET remains limited and the questions that were raised in 1999 remain the same in 2018.
  • Among other issues, three important issues which have been continuously debated are:

(a) characterization of ET as goods, services, or IP?

(b) revenue implications of the Moratorium; and

(c) technological feasibility of levying custom duties on ET.

India’s stance

  • India agreed not to impose customs duties on electronic transmissions in 1998, under WTO’s Work Program on e-commerce. This means no duties are applied to products and services transferred electronically. Such multilateralism is designed for flexibility, and the moratorium is reversible.
  • If turned into law, moratorium may become irreversible, reducing India’s ability to apply an industrial policy lens to the digital economy.
  • India had argued that the ecommerce moratorium led to loss of revenue as it gave such transmissions immunity from taxation in the WTO.
  • As per an UNCTAD study, India’s potential loss of revenue by not taxing electronic transmissions is around $500 million every year.

Negative List Approach

A negative-list approach, allows flexibility to identify specific products and services not covered by the moratorium.

Advantages for India

  • Services Sector: India’s service industry prospers in an open trade environment, but stagnate in a closed one—90% of the revenue of open IT and IT-enabled industries comes from global markets.
  • Fintech: India is also a net importer of banking and financial services—industries protected from foreign competition. Their lack of global competitiveness translates to poor domestic performance.
  • OECD has rebutted the UNCTAD study comprehensively. Infact, it estimates that India will lose 49 times more in terms of GDP, and 51 times more in terms of tax revenues, than what it will gain from tariffs.
  • Increase in digital trade: India accounts for only around 2% of global trade in value added terms, and digital markets can help increase this.
  • Cheaper Electronic Import: Digital imports don’t necessarily reduce the need for physical imports, rapid digitalization can cause an increase in physical imports of electronic equipment. India’s electronics imports will overshadow oil imports within the next decade.
  • Champion Sectors: The government’s Champion Sector initiative, which promotes exports of competitive services like media and entertainment, recognizes this opportunity. Such areas of strength must not be sacrificed at the altar of protectionism.


  • Revenue Losses: It is found that the potential per annum tariff revenue loss following a Moratorium will be much more for developing countries as compared to the developed countries, which have very low bound custom duties on the digitizable products.
  • Policy Space: Broader implications of the Moratorium on developing countries are in terms of losing policy space to develop their digital capabilities as well as their software sectors, which can have important implications for their manufacturing and industrialization processes.
  • No level playing field: With placing moratorium on duties on ET, developing nations like India will lose level playing field with developed nations to protect their domestic producers as well as protect their infant digital services providers.


Discussions on negative list approach must be done in the upcoming ministerial conference at Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan. This will balance the needs of developing and developed nations. Any further decisions on Moratorium on custom duties on ET therefore need to be taken with caution and clarity about the scope of the Moratorium and categorization of ‘digital content’. While GATT gives developing countries the flexibility of imposing custom duties on digital content and maintaining with their negotiated tariffs, GATS can provide them the flexibility of regulating trade in ET according to their domestic laws and regulations. Irrespective of the categorization, it is imperative for developing countries to have policy instruments controlling the trade in ET.


Topic:  Case study

7. An NCC cadet, Aparna Sen, has sent following petition to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT)- “NCC Cadets spend three years of their life with an ambition to become an officer in defense or police. They sacrifice college life of fun and leisure to attend various local, state and national camps. They get rigorous training in discipline, leadership and physical fitness. While there is quota for sportspersons in the recruitment of defense, railways and public sector undertakings, no such separate quota exists for NCC Cadets. Therefore, I request you to create separate quota for us in government jobs, failing which, we will organize a mass protest across the country.” As the Secretary (DoPT), how will you deal with petition? (250 words)

Reference: Case study

Why this question:

The case study presents a situation of ethical dilemma to a public servant.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must present the possible solutions to the case study above.

Structure of the answer:


Briefly explain the case study.


 State the nature of the ethical issue you’ve initially spotted. List the relevant facts Identify stakeholders, Clarify the underlying values, Consider consequences
Identify relevant rights/duties, Reflect on which virtues apply,  Consider relevant relationships, Develop a list of potential responses, Use moral imagination to consider each option based on the above considerations.
Choose the best option


Conclude by what could be done in the future to prevent the problem.


The case study presents a situation of dealing with ethical dilemma for a public servant, who must ensure that while placating the petitioner with reasoned arguments, she or he must prevent a mass protest that may lead to violence and strife. At the same time, it also reflects the demands of a cadet expecting tangible benefit failing which threatens to organize mass protest, which goes against the NCC motto of “Unity and Discipline”


  • Petitioner and the NCC Cadets
  • The Department of Personnel & Training
  • Secretary of DOPT
  • The general public

Ethical issues involved

  • Scope of Affirmative Action and its boundaries.
  • Expectation of benefits from NCC which stands for grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens.
  • Absolute equality versus Positive Discrimination
  • Justice and Fairness in Public Employment

The National Cadet Corps is open to all school and college students on a wholly voluntary basis. Students are not compelled to join NCC. In living up to its motto (Unity and Discipline), the NCC strives to be and is one of the greatest cohesive forces of the nation, bringing together the youth hailing from different parts of the country and moulding them into united, secular and disciplined citizens of the nation.

There are several benefits to NCC Cadets

  • The NCC quota currently exists for higher educational institutions in many states.
  • NCC certificate provided to candidates gets some relaxation during army selection.
  • In every regular course of the Indian Military Academy (IMA), 32 vacancies are reserved for the ‘C’ certified NCC candidates who are declared fit by SSB.
  • The cadets with ‘C’ certificate are exempted from CDS examination conducted by UPSC. But for this, the cadet must have ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade in ‘C’ certificate.
  • NCC Many organizations from the public sector give advantages to the cadets with ‘C’ certification like Indian Airlines, Pawan Hans Ltd, The National Small Industries Corp. Ltd. And many more.
  • ‘C’ certification offers you 10–15 bonus marks in paramilitary forces recruitment i.e. BSF, CISF, CRPF, SSB etc.

Available options as a Secretary

  1. Reject the petition and take strict course of action in case of protest
    • Merit : This will ensure equality of opportunity for all.
    • Demerit : Mass protests and demonstrations may spiral into widespread strife and violence. Police action may become imminent.
  2. Forward the petition to relevant stakeholders in the government to consider its merit.
    • Merit : Can avoid mass protests and disruption of normal public life.
    • Demerit : This goes against the principle of equality and demands may arise from other quarters demanding same treatment.
  3. Convince the petitioner to withdraw the protest and negotiate on the issue.

Potential Response as a Secretary

  • I would go for the third option, as it provides avenue for peaceful negotiation while ensuring minimum disruption to public.
  • Considering the existing benefits of NCC, it must be noted that there is ample advantage for joining defense forces and other public sector. All these benefits will be highlighted to the petitioner, to convince her of the government’s commitment to the youth.
  • As a Secretary, I will call for a discussion with the petitioner and NCC Cadets to inform them of their rights, to exercise them accordingly. I will appraise them of the consequences of a protest which may lead to damage to public property and inconvenience to common people. This action of theirs would go against the very motto and vision of NCC. They would lose the moral high ground if they continue with their plan.
  • Convince the petitioner of the role the government is playing in providing employment opportunities to the youth.
  • Ultimately if need be, I will ensure that law and order is maintained in the eventuality of a protest and take due course of action to prevent any strife.


The main aim of NCC is to create an organized, trained and motivated youth. With this aim, NCC not only creates soldiers for the nation but it also develops the leadership skills in the youth. It stands for discipline and as such the cadets must reflect these virtues in their conduct and aide the government in nation building.