Tuesday, December 30, 2014

UPSC Civil Services Mains GS Paper-3 2014

GS PAPER – 3

  1. Normally countries shift from agriculture to industry and then later to services, but India shifted directly from agriculture to services. What are the reasons for the huge growth of services vis-a-vis industry in the country? Can India become a developed country without a strong industrial base?
There are various reasons for huge growth of services in India –
a.       First of all, industrial growth requires huge capital investment which was not there when India became independent
b.      Secondly, there were historical factors as well. British rulers never allowed industrial growth in India as it was against their imperial interests and export policies
c.       Thirdly, great stress is laid in Indian culture on acquiring softer skills of life like education which are more conducive for services growth
d.      After independence, India also grew under a highly restrictive regime and there was negligible technological transfer by the then powers like USA etc
e.      Finally, India also made significant advances in fields like IT, BPO etc early on which later on became a big component of service Industry
However, Industrial growth is imperative for India to become a developed country –
a.       First of all, industrial growth is necessary to absorb the surplus labor from agriculture which has become overcrowded
b.      Industrial growth is also necessary to cut dependency in key strategic areas like heavy machinery
c.       Industrial growth is also necessary to bridge the trade deficit of India which is widening day by day
d.      Finally, Industrial growth is also necessary from security point of view as well  as it alone provides for domestic production of defence equipments majority of which are currently imported by India.
Indian government has also perhaps identified this issue and has launched National Manufacturing Policy 2011 which aims at increasing the share of manufacturing from existing 16% to 25%.

  1. While we found India’s demographic dividend, we ignore the dropping rates of employability. What are we missing while doing so? Where will the jobs that India desperately needs come from? Explain.
A decade back a NASSCOM-McKinsey survey highlighted that only 25% of Indian engineers are employable and the situation is even worse now due to following reasons –
a.       First of all, the education in India is defective as it has limited industry orientation.
b.      Secondly, as per Yashpal Committee on higher education, mushrooming deemed universities have led to degradation of higher education as many of them are not at par with accepted standards
c.       Thirdly, there are limited skill development programs which are ran by government
d.      Fourthly, industrial internship scopes are limited
To improve this situation, following steps can be taken to create those jobs –
a.       The mandate of National Skill Development Corporation needs to be expanded to include more people in skill development programs
b.      Secondly, The Apprenticeship Act needs to be amended to allow students from even humanities and non-engineering stream to get internship in industries as currently only engineers are allowed to undergo industrial internship programs
c.       Thirdly, quality of education needs to be improved and entrepreneurial cells should be developed in universities

  1. There is also a point of view that Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) set up under the state acts have not only impeded the development of agriculture but also have been the cause of food inflation in India. Critically examine.
(I have largely read negatives of APMCs in various articles etc, so their positive achievements didn’t came across my mind at that time which could have balanced the answer)
APMCs have worked in largely monopolistic manner and have impeded agricultural growth in following manner –
a.       First of all, 80% of farm produce which is marketed is routed through these and this has led to their virtual monopoly and the inefficiencies associated with such monopolistic behavior also crept in
b.      Secondly, they have discouraged other practices like Contract Farming, due to which there has been poor farmers-industry collaboration which could have attracted more investment and technology in agriculture
c.       Thirdly, most of the APMCs are poorly equipped with facilities like warehousing, cold-storage etc which leads to improper handling of farm produce
d.      They have also failed to promote innovative practices among farmers
e.      They have also failed on backward integration front and despite their mandate, they don’t play active role in providing farm inputs to farmers
f.        They have also failed to provide timely information on agricultural markets and other farming related information
They have contributed towards inflation in following manner –
a.       They have discouraged competition and this has led to artificial prices of farm produce
b.      Secondly, due to their inefficient handling of food grains, there is lot of wastage which also contribute to inflation
c.       Thirdly, their opaque working has ensured that there is no adequate projection of demand and supply and this has led to unpredictability about inflation

  1. “In the villages itself no form of credit organisation will be suitable except the cooperative society.” – All Indian Rural Credit Survey. Discuss this statement in the background of agriculture finance in India. What constrain and challenges do financial institutions supplying agricultural finances? How can technology be used to better reach and serve rural clients?
The importance of Credit Cooperatives in rural areas was identified first way back in 1910s when first credit cooperative was established in India. Cooperatives allow advantage of close working, identification of needs and mutual cooperation using indigenous knowledge. Even today, less than 25% of rural areas have no bank branch and credit availability is poor. Challenges faced by financial institutions in India in field of agricultural finance are –
a.       First of all, there is poor institutional penetration in rural areas
b.      Secondly, there is also issue of defaults and rising NPAs
c.       There is also a collateral requirement which is often unfulfilled as land-holdings in rural areas have depleted very much
d.      As per Nachiket Mor Committee, the preferential lending share of rural areas is low and needs to be increased
e.      Finally, populist political measures like loan waiver have also put additional burden on banks and have hindered their viability in rural areas
Technology can be used in following manners to serve the rural areas better –
a.       Using mobile-banking as mobile penetration in even rural areas is now around 90%
b.      Using bank-representatives
c.       Mobile-ATMs
d.      Using video-banking as started by Bank of Baroda
(The latter half of answer could have been better, Aadhar, use of biometrics, tele-media to promote financial literacy, internet banking could have been mentioned)

  1. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 has come into effect from 1 January 2014. What implication would it have on industrialisation and agriculture in India?
(If there were one question on which I could have hedged my bets for its likelihood of appearance in this year’s paper, it was this one)
The new Land Acquisition Act is likely to have following implications for industry –
a.       First of all, it make land acquisition expensive as now industrialists will have to pay upto 4 times the market cost of land
b.      Secondly, the 80% consent clause will make land acquisition very difficult for industrialists to acquire the land
c.       Thirdly, the stringent requirements like Social Impact Assessment also pose hurdles in the acquisition process
d.      Strict clauses like no change of purpose, award of 20% appreciated amount to original owners, return of land in case it remains unused for 3 years etc have made land acquisition difficult and expensive
Due to such provisions, cost of industrial projects is likely to go up and may impact their viability and competitiveness.
On the agriculture sector, the Act has following impacts –
a.       First, of all farmers will get better price of their lands
b.      As this law also has a component of rehabilitation, farmers will have a better deal
c.       Strict requirements like consensus of 70-80%, social impact assessment, consent of Gram Sabha and so on have made acquisition of agricultural land difficult
d.      However, there are also provisions like – upto 5% multi-crop land acquisition is allowed (this provision was not there in the original draft) under this Act and it is counter to agrarian interests
e.      Further, there are 16 existing legislations which lead to bulk acquisitions and can still lead to acquisition of agricultural land. Further, if land remains unused, it need not necessarily go back to farmers, but will go to state land banks
Hence, the legislation has mixed implications for agriculture.

  1. Capitalism has guided the world economy to unprecedented prosperity. However, it often encourages shortsightedness and contributes to wide disparities between the rich and the poor. In this light, would it be correct to believe and adopt capitalism driving inclusive growth in India? Discuss.
Capitalism as an economic ideology is driven by profit. Undue emphasis on profit and ignoring of social aspects has led to events like Great Depression, Economic Crisis of 2009-09 and so on. It often leads to indiscriminate consumption as well.
Hence, adoption of capitalism as a developmental strategy will not work. Capitalism makes condition of rich better and condition of poor worse as only those who have capital benefit from it. Inclusive growth also requires focus on the poorest and deprived, while capitalism gives priority to those with purchasing power.
(I am not sure what exactly I wrote in the answer except the above first para. This answer could have been better if I had given some time to it, initially it seemed too obvious to me, but later I found that the biggest shortcoming of capitalism was already mentioned in the question. I am not sure whether I used concepts like ‘Gini Coefficient’ etc in my answer which could have made it sound more objective. I could have also mentioned success stories of some Latin American countries like Cuba where socialist regimes have done so well. Instead of thinking of some objective facts, I got entangled myself into an ideological debate of capitalism vs socialism and as a result my answer was more abstract in nature)

  1. Explain how private public partnership agreements, in longer gestation infrastructure projects, can transfer unsuitable liabilities to the future. What arrangements need to be put in place to ensure that successive generations’ capacities are not compromised?
(I was not sure which specific liabilities do such projects put. In the hindsight, now I have come to conclusion that since PPP projects are executed by private operators and hence with profit motive alone, such projects might ignore various long term implications like – environmental hazards, long term social impact (due to its shoddy assessment), sustainability etc)
(From the word ‘liability’, I primarily inferred ‘economic’ liabilities like viability funding, debt accumulation, shoddy execution and incomplete projects with locked in-capital. I made suggestions also on above lines)

  1. National urban transport policy emphasizes on moving people instead of moving vehicles. Discuss critically the success of various strategies of the government in this regard.
(I have no specific idea of strategies except like – Dedicated BRT Corridors, MRTS or metro rails and so on and hence instead mentioned these in the beginning and proceeded with broad apparent failure of transportation policy of government. I clubbed issues like – poor traffic management, congestion on roads, pollution, rising number of accidental deaths etc, ignorance of some areas and disproportionate focus on other areas and so on. I also mentioned how government policies lacked an integrated multi-modal approach and all transport sectors operate in isolation and without any synergy)

  1. Foreign direct investment in the defence sector is now said to be liberalised. What influence this is expected to have on Indian defence and economy in the short and long run?
In short run, it can have following impacts on Indian defence and economy –
a.       Cut imports
b.      Installation of domestic capacities
c.       Bridge trade deficit
d.      Technology transfers
In long run, it may have following impacts – 
a.       Emergence of India as a defence exporter from an importer
b.      Strategic partnership with many countries and companies like Lockheed Martin, Dassault, Boeing etc
c.       Boost in indigenous research, capabilities and cut foreign dependencies
(Wrote a few more points and expanded above with relevant examples. However, I apparently mixed some short term gains with long term ones and vice versa)

  1. Scientific research in Indian universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as our business operations, engineering or administration, and the universities are becoming consumer oriented. Critically comment.
India spends less than 1% of its GDP on research related activities. The fact that Indian universities produce few world class research scholars and publication shows that something is amiss. Higher education among graduates is not actively promoted and there is excessive focus on placements, rather than learning. Even teachers and faculty fail to put themselves as adequate role models. Fat pay packets (like the recent 1 crore plus placement offer to IIT students etc) by corporate and mushrooming private institutions have made education a commodity.
(I don’t recall the rest of the content, but I remember that I didn’t explore the positive dimensions and also didn’t provide many objective data to support my arguments. Details like – not even a single Nobel laureate from our universities, poor research funding in companies and universities and so on)

  1. Can overuse and the availability of antibiotics without doctor’s prescription, the contributors to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases in India? What are the available mechanisms for monitoring and control? Critically discuss the various issues involved.
Overuse and consumption of anti-biotics without prescription lead to development of resistance and mutation of the bacteria and other living organisms which lead to drug resistance which make even common ailments like cold and influenza fatal. It also leads to development of superbugs which are resistant to all kinds of existing drugs.
Available mechanisms for monitoring and control include strengthening of ‘Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940’ which was amended recently. It has also led to inclusion of antibiotics into a new ‘Schedule H1’ which puts in place following mechanisms to monitor and control their use –
a.       First of all, the new guidelines prohibit their over the counter sale without prescription
b.      Secondly, the chemists have to now retain a copy of the prescription
c.       Thirdly, chemists have to also maintain a separate register now making entries regarding the details of the buyers
d.      Finally, such drugs will now have a red border in their packings
Apart from these, India has recently taken initiative in identifying the threat of the misuse of antibiotics and in 2012-13 issued ‘Chennai Declaration’ which lays broad guidelines regarding the use and regulation of anti-biotics.

  1. In a globalised world, intellectual property rights assume significance and are a source of litigation. Broadly distinguish between the terms – copyrights, patents and trade secrets.
Copyrights are awarded for the creative expressions like – literary writings, movies, softwares, art etc which have primary aim of entertainment or recreation and only secondary commercial applications. As per Berne Convention, they are awarded automatically without any formal registration and are usually valid till after 50 years of death of the author/creator. WIPO is an international organization which monitors the copyright regime across the world. In India, Copyrights Act of 1957 governs their use.
Patents on the other hand deals with those inventions and innovations which have commercial applications. For example – new drug formulations, new machines etc are items of patents. TRIPS is one of the global agreements which govern their use. Further, they have to be registered separately in each country and are generally valid for 20 years. In India, Indian Patent Act, 1971 which was comprehensively amended in 1990s, governs them.
Trade Secrets on the other hand are the commercial proprietor know-how which makes the products of a company unique and distinctive. For example – ingredients and formulation of Coca-Cola is a trade secret. They are also governed by TRIPS and other mechanisms.
(I was not very sure about trade secrets and made a guess of it)

  1. Should the pursuit of carbon credit and clean development mechanism set up under UNFCCC be maintained even through there has been a massive slide in the value of carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth.
Carbon credit market saw a decline in wake of the global financial crisis and lack of interest from many developed countries, but India should pursue the CDM mechanism and carbon credit mechanism because –
a.       First of all, India has most of its energy needs being satisfied from high carbon sources like coal and CDM can help it towards shifting towards a cleaner growth model by way of transfer of clean technologies
b.      Secondly, the decline in carbon credit market is only temporary. The fact that global community has agreed to have a second commitment period of Kyoto (from 2017-20) shows that CDM is here to stay and has potential of growth
c.       Further, India is one of the countries, apart from China, which has benefitted most from the CDM mechanism. Despite decline in value of carbon credits, India still benefits from it.
(I had added a few more spontaneous points linking the energy needs of India and CDM with conclusion that CDM has a nett benefit for India and is still relevant)

  1. Drought has been recognised as a disaster in view of its party expense, temporal duration, slow onset and lasting effect on various vulnerable sections. With a focus on the September 2010 guidelines from the National disaster management authority, discuss the mechanism for preparedness to deal with the El Nino and La Nina fallouts in India.
(I had no idea about September 2010 guidelines, but had just a faint recall that I had read an article or editorial on the drought being recognized as a disaster. However, couldn’t recall any specific things)
The September 2010 guidelines have identified the drought as a disaster and following guidelines have been issued –
a.       It has been suggested that the storage and warehousing of the food grains be done more in a decentralized manner so that the response is quick and there are less logistical hurdles in transference of food grains
b.      It has also been suggested that a state level and central level coordinating body be formed so that coordination between various bodies like FCI, Central Warehouse Corporation etc is optimum
(I also wrote some other commonsensical suggestions, but avoided mentioning anything related to agriculture or change in cropping patterns)

  1. Environmental impact assessment studies are increasingly undertaken before project is cleared by the government. Discuss the environmental impacts of coal-fired thermal plants located at Pitheads.
Current EIA norms were notified in 2006 and various reports have shown that environmental impact norms have been liberally violated by the coal mining activities. Environmental impacts of coal fired thermal plants located coal-fired pitheads are –
a.       First of all, coal mining leads to deep excavations and in absence of proper reclamation of mined site, water seepage leads to pollution of aquifers and hence polluted drinking water
b.      Secondly, coal mining also leads to escaping of harmful gases into environment some of which are even poisonous too
c.       Excavation of coal and its transportation also leads to spillage of coal soot and dust which settles on the vegetation and crops of nearby areas. It hinders their growth.
d.      Coal combustion also leads to emission of green house gases which leads to climate change
e.      Finally, in most of the pitheads, no ‘cumulative environmental impact assessment’ has not been done. Due to mining and other activities, unforeseen cumulative damages are done to environment apart from above.

  1. The diverse nature of India as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society is not immune to the impact of radicalism which has been in her neighbourhood. Discuss along with the strategies to be adopted to counter this environment.
(I mainly focused on influence due to Islamic radicalism from Pakistan and Bangladesh and also the impact of driving out of Rohingyes from radical Burmese Buddhists)
India has been exposed in recent years to radical Islamists from her neighbourhood viz from Pakistan and Bangladesh. It has led to influx of ideas to India and India has witnessed communal clashes in recent years in UP etc. Further, such ideas have also caused ethnic clashes as in case of recent Assam violence. Various strategies adopted to counter this environment are –
a.       National integration council (explained its working)
b.      Increased patrolling along the border and curbing of infiltration of radical elements
c.       Electronic fences have been erected along the border of Pakistan and work is on along the border of Bangladesh
d.      There is also increased cooperation among the government of Bangladesh and Indian security forces in terms of representative level talks and exchange of information
e.      Government is also planning to bring Anti Communal Violence Bill
So, government has adopted both softer and harder strategies to counter the influence of such radical forces.

  1. International civil aviation laws provide all countries complete and exclusive sovereignity over the airspace above the territory. What do you understand by airspace? What are the implications of these laws on the space above this airspace? Discuss the challenges which this poses and suggests ways to contain the threat.
(This was the question which baffled me most. First of all I couldn’t grasp the question completely. Secondly I had no idea what is the extent of airspace over which a country is sovereign. Thirdly, I was not sure whether the ‘airspace’ which is above refers to outer-space. I was also unsure whether the question was linked to Chinese moves regarding ADIZ, Ukrainian shootout of Malaysian plane or use of outerspace and associated dangers. I wrote a very vague answer of it. I started with recent Chinese moves – I forgot the name ADIZ – and referred the space above airspace as – ‘outer space’ – highlighted the role of ITU, satellite usage and what not. In short… I was groping in the dark, knowing well that it is futile :P)
(I would like to know what others have written on this)

  1. How illegal trans-border migration does pose a threat to India’s security? Discuss the strategies to curb this, bring out the factors which give impetus to such migration.
Illegal migration poses threat to Indian security in various ways –
a.       First of all, illegal migrations from porous border of Bangladesh are leading to ethnic clashes in Assam and other North Eastern regions
b.      Secondly, infiltrations from Pakistani border in Kashmir are leading to terrorism
c.       Along the border of Punjab, illegal migrations are leading to drug smuggling as well. It has also led to weakening of internal social security
d.      Illicit flow of counterfeit currency is leading to economic insecurity
Thus, illegal migration has a threat to physical, social and economic security of India. Following strategies have been adopted to curb it –
a.       Electronic fencing along the borders
b.      Increased surveillance and use of technology like drones
c.       Cooperation with the neighboring border forces
Factors which give impetus to such migration are –
a.       Better economic opportunities in India as compared to neighboring states
b.      Communal clashes in neighboring states and minority persecution as in case of Bangladesh, where Hindu minorities have been driven out
c.       Ethnic clashes – as in case of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar
d.      Porous border along Bangladesh and Myanmar due to difficult hilly terrain and difficulty in demarcating the boundary
e.      Cross-border infiltration as in case of Pakistan border

  1. In 2012, the longitudinal marking of the high-risk areas for piracy was moved from 65° East to 78° east in the Arabian Sea by International Maritime organisation. What impact does this have on India’s maritime security concerns?
Shifting of Somalian and other pirates activities to eastern longitudes brought the threat of piracy closer to India’s doorstep and it poses following threats to India’s maritime security –
a.       First of all, more than 50% of India’s maritime trade passes through the Arabian sea and it has posed a great threat to Indian merchant vessels as it is apparent in the capturing of Indian sailors by pirates in past few years
b.      Secondly, India also imports a great deal of oil and gas from Arabian nations which pass through this route and presence of pirates threatens energy security of India as well
c.       There is also a danger of pirates using Lakshadweeps as their launch pad of their pirate attacks
d.      As there is significant presence of naval forces in Arabian sea, presence of pirates also increase chances of their skirmishes with Indian defence forces

  1. China and Pakistan have entered into an agreement for development of an economic corridor. What threat does it pose for India’s security? Critically examine.
(As per recent news, China is building infrastructure around the area of PoK. There are also prolonged developments of China strengthening its presence along Karakoram highway. China has also taken operational control of Gwadar port. But since it talked about security concerns for India, I maintained much of focus on planned economic corridor adjacent to J&K)
China and Pakistan have recently entered into agreements to develop economic corridor along the Karakoram highway and China has also increased its infrastructure development activities in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir apart from taking operational control of Gwadar port. It poses following security concerns for India –
a.       First of all, it brings together the two arch-enemies of India together and hence poses a greater security threat
b.      Secondly, development of infrastructure in PoK will lead to faster mobilization of Pakistani army closer to India in wake of possible conflict
c.       Newly built infrastructure like – roads can also be used by terrorists and other elements to make easy penetration into India
(I explained primarily above points and probably added 1-2 more which I don’t remember now)

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Overall, this paper was very diffused one and required most effort in terms of organization of thoughts. Many questions were loosely attempted, just for the sake of attempting as even otherwise I had little extra stuff to write in other questions. 

I request you all to put your feedback, share your answers - you may even do it anonymously while posting your comments.


UPSC Civil Services Mains GS Paper-2 2014

GS PAPER – 2

  1. Starting from inventing the ‘basic structure’ doctrine, the judiciary has played a highly proactive role in ensuring that India develops into a thriving democracy. In light of the statement, evaluate the role played by judicial activism in achieving the ideals of democracy.
Judiciary gave concept of basic structure in Keshavananda Bharti Case in 1973 to safeguard the interests of citizens against legislative whims. In the same decade it also pioneered the way for Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which strengthened the collective good by overcoming the limitations imposed by principles of locus standi.
It further strengthened the rights of individual in a liberal democracy in Maneka Gandhi Case where it came up with ‘due process of law’ and hence limiting the arbitrary discretion of legislature.
Over the years it has also interpreted Article 19 and 21 in a very liberal manner and has expanded the meaning of fundamental rights by including various other rights like – right to pollution free environment, right against handcuffing, right to information and so on.
More recently, in 2014, it also gave a landmark judgment in Rajiv Gandhi killer’s case by commuting their death sentence in wake of inordinate delay on their mercy petition. This has again made death penalty de facto abolished and strengthened the right to life of individual.
Thus, over the years judiciary has acted in the ‘spirit’ of our constitution and liberal democracy, rather than ‘letter’ of it and hence strengthened democracy.
(Missed the most recent judgment on transgenders rights, though it was the first thing which came to my mind, but was lost by the time I reached at the end of answer)

  1. Though the federal principle is dominant in our Constitution and that principle is one of its basic features, but it is equally true that federalism under the Indian Constitution leans in favour of a strong Centre, a feature that militates against the concept of strong federalism. Discuss.
The fact that the very word ‘federal’ is mentioned nowhere in our constitution shows its unitary nature which is variously described as quasi-federalism, cooperative federalism and so on. It is also exemplified by following constitutional provisions as well –
a.       Center government has more financial powers
b.      Unified judiciary
c.       Single CAG, Election Commission
d.      Emergency Provision ad president rule provision
e.      Strong role of planning commission
Finally, the very existence of states under Article 3 is contingent upon the will of the union and it may create or destroy the states despite their approval and opposition.

  1. The ‘Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and its Members’ as envisaged in Article 105 of the Constitution leave room for a large number of un-codified and un-enumerated privileges to continue. Assess the reasons for the absence of legal codification of the ‘parliamentary privileges’. How can this problem be addressed?
The nature of language and lack of proper codification of power and privileges under article 105 leaves for a lot of scope in favor of parliamentarians. It has following reasons for their continuance –
a.       First of all, while there are liberal provisions for the independence of judiciary, like contempt of court etc, there are no such strict provisions for parliament. To ensure the independence of parliament and provide for unforeseen events which cannot be covered by even a total codification, some flexibility is needed.
b.      Secondly, the power hungry nature and semi-feudal nature of our social institutions has also hindered any constructive reforms.
c.       Finally, there is also lack of political will due to which parliamentarians have not favored the change in existing mechanisms which curb their privileges.
However, a liberal democracy demands a transparent working of parliament as well and put the legislators on equal footing as that of rest of citizens, following steps can be taken for it –
a.       Parliamentary proceedings need to be more transparent and make parliamentarians more accountable for their conduct.
b.      The privileges should be codified in a clear manner to mention dos and donts like civil services conduct rules.
c.       A consensus needs to be built across the party lines

  1. What do you understand by the concept “freedom of speech and expression”? Does it cover hate speech also? Why do the films in India stand on a slightly different plane from other forms of expression? Discuss.
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right that is guaranteed by our constitution and it allows an individual to express his ideas, views, opinion etc publicly.
It doesn’t cover hate speeches as ‘freedom of speech and expression’ is not an absolute right and there are limits on freedom of speech and expression in constitution itself and in various legislations like CrPC, like – threat to national integration, public order, rights of others, potential of communal conflicts and so on. Since hate speeches violate these provisions, it doesn’t fall under freedom of speech and expression.
However, films in India stand on a slightly different plane due to following reasons –
a.       First of all, films are screened by a body called Censor Board which screens out any such content which is against public order.
b.      Secondly, films also come up with suitable caveats in form of certifications like U, A , U/A etc and are primarily for private watching and an individual can always decide to avoid them.
c.       Finally, while hate speeches and other forms of expressions are in the realm of ‘reality’, films are often on the plane of ‘fiction’.
Hence, films are rather forms of expression of creativity which differentiate them from other forms of expression.

  1. Instances of President’s delay in commuting death sentences has come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit specified for the President to accept/reject such petitions? Analyse.
Recent decision of SC of commutation of death sentence in case of inordinate delay (in Rajiv Gandhi Killer’s case and other cases) has highlighted that there is a need of limiting the timeframe for presidential decisions for following reasons –
a.       First of all, inordinate delay leads to a person dying many deaths every single day and it also violates many fundamental human rights of the individual which are also mentioned in the UN’s Universal Human Rights Declaration.
b.      Secondly, such inordinate delay also weaken the trust of people at large in the justice delivery system of India
c.       Thirdly, such inordinate delays are more often than not due to political reasons and not due to jurisprudential reasons
d.      Finally, while inordinate delays lead to the suffering and disappointment to those who have faith in justice delivery mechanism of the country, it also encourages unscrupulous elements as it removes the fear of punishment and they even enjoy stay in prison at the expense of public money.
However, there is another dimension to this inordinate delay as well. Human rights activist view this inordinate delay as a defacto negation of the cruel and inhuman practice of death sentence. India is one of the few countries across the globe where death sentence is still awarded and its defacto negation by inordinate delay is welcome indeed.
(I should have also mentioned that since death is an irrevocable and irreversible thing, inordinate delay can be justified if a due investigation and consideration of all factors is required by president)

  1. The size of the cabinet should be as big as governmental work justifies and as big as the Prime Minister can manage as a team. How far the efficacy of a government then is inversely related to the size of the cabinet? Discuss.
The debate between small or big size of cabinet was partly addressed by the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act which limited the size of Council of Minister to 15% of size of Lok Sabha. Big size is desirable for rational division of labor and equitable distribution of workload, but has following limitations –
a.       First off, big size pose a problem of coordination and it often leads to inordinate delays in decision making.
b.      Secondly, consensus building is also very difficult in the large size.
c.       Thirdly, in our parliamentary from, coalition are inevitable and often size of cabinet is expanded due to pulls and pressure of coalition politics and for short term gains.
d.      Finally, large cabinet size also means that there have to be additional expansion of resources and staff at huge public expense which cannot be justified in a developing country like India.
Limitations of small size can instead be overcome by appointing capable persons in the position of ministership, use of technology and ample use of cabinet committees and staff agencies. This is an era of lean governance and large size of cabinet reflects poorly on the leadership capabilities of the PM and his ministers.

  1. Though 100 percent FDI is already allowed in non-news media like a trade publication and general entertainment channel, the Government is mulling over the proposal for increased FDI in news media for quite some time. What difference would an increase in FDI make? Critically evaluate the pros and cons.
An increase in FDI will have many benefit for the news media segment, like –
a.       It will bring much needed cash for the cash starved media houses
b.      Secondly, it will also bring technological knowhow as well.
c.       It will also lead to increased competition. This will lead to improved service and more choices for the consumers. As a result, quality of news coverage and delivery is also likely to improve as they will now be judged with international benchmarks.
d.      Finally, it is also likely to see overseas expansion of news media from India and emergence of global India-based news channels which currently have no global presence.
However, foreign FDI in news media also suffers from some shortcomings like –
a.       It is likely to suffocate the fledgling news media industry as foreign MNCs are likely to use their money-muscle power to crush the domestic small players.
b.      It also has security dimensions. News and media networks are potential medium which can be used by external state and non-state actors to compromise the internal security. Further, they can also be used to spread falsehoods and rumours as well, as we have learnt from recent incidents of communal clashes in which media played a big role in spreading rumours.
Hence, FDI in news media should be allowed only after a suitable regulatory framework is in place and bodies like Press Council of India and Broadcasting Standards Authority of India are given more teeth.

  1. The setting up of a Rail Tariff Authority to regulate fares will subject the cash strapped Indian Railways to demand subsidy for obligation to operate non-profitable routes and services. Taking into account the experience in the power sector, discuss if the proposed reform is expected to benefit the consumers, the Indian Railways or the private container operators.
Railways currently operate on the ‘cross-subsidization’ model, in which the passenger business is loss making, but subsidized through the earnings of freight business. In power sector also, similar condition existed before Electricity Act of 2003 was enacted and in some states like Delhi, tariffs are now more realistic. Due to popular policies, free and subsidized electricity was given and other consumers were made to pay more and PSEBs were making huge losses.
The proposed reform is likely to benefit the most private container operators, as currently, they have to pay more and freight traffic is also given low priority over passenger traffic. It will lower freight container transportation costs and will also improve service level as cross-subsidisation will be done away with it.
Secondly, Indian Railways is also likely to benefit as the cash strapped body will be able to charge more realistically fares. According to high level committee on Railway Saftey headed by Kakodkar, railways need 1 lakh crore rupees and railway is likely to gain a portion of this amount from such a move.
Finally, passengers are likely to lose in the short term as they will be made to pay more. However, in the long run as railway will improve safety and services due to additional cash, they will also benefit.        
(I failed to recall the tariff regulatory role in power sector and could have mentioned the impact of Accelerated Power Sector Development Reforms)                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  1. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in India can be most effective when its tasks are adequately supported by other mechanisms that ensure the accountability of a government. In light of the above observation assess the role of NHRC as an effective complement to the judiciary and other institutions in promoting and protecting human rights standards.
NHRC was formed in early 1990s after India signed a UN convention, but despite the great value that we attach to human rights, the Commission has a weak role for the following reasons –
a.       It is only a recommendationary body and has no penal powers. Its recommendations can be ignored by the respective states.
b.      It also doesn’t have a full fledged investigating agency.
c.       It can also not take the cases which are older than a fixed time frame
d.      It can also not investigate the case of armed forces etc.
However, if its role is strengthened, it can play a powerful role in complementing the judiciary and other institutions as –
a.       It can help judiciary in those cases where expertise in human rights is required. Hence, it can act a specialized agency dealing with human rights violation and all such cases can be transferred to it.
b.      Secondly, judiciary has very high backlog and many cases are regarding human rights violation. It can help in reducing that backlog.
(I wrote 1-2 more points which I cannot recall now, but I clearly missed the ‘promotion part’, and have no idea about which ‘other institutions’ the question refers. Further, I feel, the first part of my answer is also not required as question demands us to explore only its complementary role)

  1. The penetration of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.
SHGs in rural areas have elicited more participation of women, but their success have been limited by following factors –
a.       First of all, patriarchy is a big hurdle in states like Haryana where social norms prohibit active participation of women.
b.      Secondly, due to social restrictions on the movement and mobility of women, they are not allowed to go outside the village for necessary training and skill development activities.
c.       Caste is also an important factors, due to which participation of lower caste women is discouraged.
d.      Even institutions like Panchayats have also failed to play an enabling role
e.      Financial institutions have also not been forthcoming in promoting these SHGs
(wrote 1-2 more points)
As a result, participation in SHG activities is more of perfunctory in nature and except in a few states like Karnataka, this movement has not been very successful due to socio-cultural barriers.

  1. Do government’s schemes for up-lifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economics?
Many government schemes like MNREGS, NRLM etc restrict the choices and undermine the potential of vulnerable and backward communities.
Due to a narrow focus, the vulnerable sections get discouraged to reap the benefits of free-market economy as their entrepreneurial abilities are not encouraged by states. Rural areas often offer limited opportunities as compared to urban areas which are the centers of economic activities in a liberalized economy. Limiting such sections to rural areas alone limits their avenues.
(Plus some more gyaan)

  1. An athlete participates in Olympics for personal triumph and nation’s glory; victors are showered with cash incentives by various agencies, on their return. Discuss the merit of state sponsored talent hunt and its cultivation as against the rationale of a reward mechanism as encouragement.
Reward mechanism as an encouragement only recognizes an existing fact and does little in promoting the talent. It is also limited by the small number of players it addresses and is post-facto in nature.
Talent cultivation schemes provide opportunities to even those who don’t have otherwise financial resources to pursue sports as a career. Further, such schemes provide opportunities to larger number of people, while reward mechanisms encourage just a few. Talent cultivation mechanisms also make long term investment as talent is nurtured right from childhood and hence has better chances of success, unlike narrow focus of reward mechanisms.
Since talent cultivation schemes have a long term objective, they also promote spirit of gamesmanship and sportsmanship rather than focusing on just winning. Thus, the moral foundation of talent promotion schemes is sounder than reward mechanisms.

  1. Should the premier institutes like IITs/IIMs be allowed to retain premier status, allowed more academic independence in designing courses and also decide mode/criteria of selection of students. Discuss in light of the growing challenges.
In the recent Times Higher Education Survey, none of the Indian institutions figured in top rungs as they are limited by the following factors –
a.       First of all they don’t have independence to design their courses. This is an era of inter-disciplinary study and a lack of which lead to poor focus and output.
b.      Secondly, faculty eligibility criteria are very strict. This discourages the participation of industrial experts in faculty position in even IITs and IIMs. Remunerations of faculty are also low which fail to attract talent in academics.
c.       In institutions themselves, there is an atmosphere of studying for ‘placement’, rather than learning and students feel less encouraged to take teaching jobs.
d.      There is also low industry interaction. Unlike some Western universities where entrepreneurial cells are established sponsored by Industry, research is not promoted in Indian universities by private companies. Steps should also be taken to amend Apprenticeship Act to promote students and industry interaction.
e.      Even full day to day operational autonomy of these institutes is meddled by the governments and ministries.
Hence, without independence, the institutes like IITs, IIMs have failed to truly earn the ‘premier’ tag.
(I could have highlighted the recent FYP controversy of DU, entrance test controversy related to IITs etc. I also didn’t touch upon required independence for admissions)

  1. Has the Cadre based Civil Services organisation been the cause of slow change in India? Critically examine.
Cadre based civil services organization has hindered the change in India due to following factors –
    1. First of all, they limit the expertise of the civil servants. When they are limited to a particular state, they become parochial in their outlook. Their learning opportunities are inhibited and their performance takes a hit.
    2. Secondly, as per ARC-2 recommendations, cadre-based generalists should be required to choose specialization after a period of say 9 years. Cadre based civil servants are jack-of all trades and master of none as they fail to develop any expertise throughout their careers.
    3. Thirdly, due to cadre based services, civil servants often develop close linkages with the political class and a bureaucracy-politics nexus emerges which militates against the developmental agenda as their focus gets shifted.
(I wrote 1-2 more points, but didn’t explore the other positive dimensions like – cadre based services have also helped civil servants in understanding the culture of a particular state in deeper way and they are a great integrating force as well. Further, I feel that I could have added one more point regarding working of AIS vs Central Services as Central Services are more all India in character)

  1. Two parallel run schemes of the Government viz. the Adhaar Card and NPR, one as voluntary and the other as compulsory, have led to debates at national levels and also litigations. On merits, discuss whether or not both schemes need run concurrently. Analyse the potential of the schemes to achieve developmental benefits and equitable growth.
NPR is a statutory body, while the Aadhar is voluntary. Both the schemes collect similar biometric details and hence, they overlap to a great degree. Due to duplication of the work done by the two, these need not be run concurrently.
The schemes have the potential of development and equitable growth in following manner –
a.       They can be linked to various developmental schemes and help in improved targeting.
b.      They can also be used to help eliminating ghost beneficiaries
c.       They can be used as a tool for Direct Benefit Transfer and hence can cut down logistical costs drastically and remove the inefficiencies
d.      It can ensure that the benefits reach only the intended beneficiaries and hence there is more equitable distribution of resources

  1. With respect to the South China Sea, maritime territorial disputes and rising tension affirm the need for safeguarding maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region. In this context, discuss the bilateral issues between India and China.
China has claimed a large area along Nine Dotted Line and has asserted its right over this area. Restrictions in this area has resulted in friction between India and China as China makes unilateral claims, while India wants freedom of navigation in this area and a more realistic settlement of boundary disputes through mechanisms like UNCLOS. Some of the bilateral issues are –
a.       About 50% of Indian trade passed through South China Sea and such restrictions hinder trade prospects of India
b.      Secondly, India is also involved in oil exploration activities in this region – for example near Vietnam seas – such restrictions impact the energy security issues of India as well.
c.       Thirdly, such restrictions also impact the Look East Policy of India and provide a roadblock in deepening strategic relations with East Asian countries.
d.      It also has a security dimension for India as, due to an extended nine dotted line, China has almost come to next door to India.

  1. The aim of Information Technology Agreements (ITAs) is to lower all taxes and tariffs on information technology products by signatories to zero. What impact should such agreements have on India’s interests?
IT agreements are likely to have both positive and negative impacts on India. Some of the positive impacts are –
a.       India has built expertise in IT services over the years and is one of the leading exporters. Lowering of tariffs will open up more markets for it and will also make Indian IT services more competitive.
b.      Secondly, IT services and projects implementation also requires significant deployment of skilled manpower. So, it will also boost employment in India.
c.       Rise in IT export will also help in lowering down the trade deficit
However, there are some apprehensions as well –
a.       First of all, India has poor capabilities in IT hardware and free trade may impact the fledgling IT hardware industries
b.      There is also a risk of countries like China flooding Indian markets by their cheap hardware
c.       This free flow of IT infrastructure also has security concerns as well. US government recently banned Chinese telecom equipment manufacturing firm Huawei after its suspected espionage related activities

  1. Some of the International funding agencies have special terms for economic participation stipulating a substantial component of the aid to be used for sourcing equipment from the leading countries. Discuss on merits of such terms and if, there exists a strong case not to accept such conditions in the Indian context.
(I haven’t heard of any such restrictions or such fields)
Restriction like sourcing of the equipments from particular countries has following adverse impacts on India –
    1. First of all, we live in a free market economy. Putting such restrictions not only pose a threat to India’s sovereign choice, but also undermine freedom of choice of India.
    2. Secondly, often such restrictions mean that India has to import more expensive equipments – as in case of import of equipments from developed countries like USA
    3. It prohibits India from exploring cheaper options due to the dubious restrictions like – safety, health standards, ISO standards and so on.
(wrote 1-2 more points I guess, but I didn’t favor and didn’t highlight merits of such restrictions)

  1. India has recently signed to become founding members of New Development Bank (NDB) and also the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). How will the role of the two Banks be different? Discuss the significance of these two banks for India.
The structure and role of the two banks is different in following manner –
NDB
AIIB
It is primarily a bank for BRICS members
It has China + 21 members.
All members have equal stake
Stake of members proportionate to their economy sizes
Apart from development, it also has role in case of balance of payment crisis. It has a separate contingency reserve of $100 billion for that
Its primary role is that of infrastructure development
These two banks are significant for India from various perspectives –
    1. First of all, according to 12th plan, India needs $ 1 trillion investment in infrastructure in next 5 years, these banks will help in funding that
    2. Secondly, these institutions will help India in countering the IMF and World Bank which are primarily dominated by Western Countries and will also provide India with more bargaining power to demand for more stake in IMF and World Bank
    3. Thirdly, these banks also provide India to play a leadership role among the developing countries and will provide a platform for strengthening its economic ties with them

  1. WTO is an important international institution where decisions taken affect countries in profound manner. What is the mandate of WTO and how binding are their decisions? Critically analyse India’s stand on the latest round of talks on Food security.
Mandate of WTO is to lower the trade barriers among the countries and facilitate free flow of goods and services across the national boundaries. It aims at eliminating trade and non-trade barriers to facilitate this.
It makes its decisions binding by various methods like – there are various sector specific arbitration mechanisms whose decisions are binding on its members. It also allow member countries to take steps like – anti-dumping duties etc to counter trade distorting practices by the other members.
India’s stand on the latest round of WTO talks – Doha Round, which started in 2001 – and the Trade Facilitation talks is that subsidy provided by the developing countries for food securities should not be limited under the De-Minimus clause of 10%. Before Trade Facilitation agreement is finalized, a permanent solution like – indefinite extension of ‘peace clause’ should be found out. India believes that free trade should not hurt the interest of small farmers and the food security of the poor.
(First of all, I didn’t have great idea about the mechanisms which make WTO decisions binding – except that WTO Agreements themselves are legally binding, secondly, I didn’t ‘critically analyzed’ India’s stand. I could have highlighted some more dimensions like – Why India’s stand may not be correct or why subsidies should be limited actually. Since, an agreement was reached just a few days before the exam paving way for TFA, I avoided mentioning that)

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According to me, this paper was a bit tricky and required on the spot and perhaps original thinking as well. According to me, this was the paper which required you to think like an administrator or policy maker. As it required some thinking and questions were long, I missed quite a few things which could have been part of my answers.