The Paperwallah 2014 Mains Question Analysis – GS Paper-2

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The pattern of question in GS-1 and GS-2 was totally new and caught everyone by surprise. New pattern…a total break from the past…all of it called for recaliberation of strategies.

GS-2 had 20 questions in total, each of 12.5 marks; world limit 200 words for all questions. All this hints at the fact that, more than ever before , time was of essence. One cannot waste precious time by attempting questions which one does not know much about. ‘Beating around the bush’ strategy to get the 1-2 marks( for questions one had no idea about) was a strict no no in the two GS papers today.

GS Paper-2 in particular stressed the immense need to study The Hindu thoroughly on a daily basis without fail. Moreover the new trend reconfirms the fact that now one has to read from a wide horizon – The Hindu, Frontline, high quality books on international relations, environment (assuming same trend continues for other papers too). You may read recommendations of Team Paperwallah after the analysis of 20th questions in this post. Paperwallah will give full study recommendations once Mains gets over.

Now let us analyse each question of the GS Paper-2

(For GS Paper-3 analysis please click HERE)

Question-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.judicial activism

In this question you have to mention Keshavananda Bharati case (the fundamental rights case) – in which SC held that a constitutional amendment duly passed by the legislature was invalid as damaging or destroying its basic structure; it also said that the judgment could not be annulled by any amendment to be made by Parliament.You should also add points like Fundamental rights being one of the basic structure of the constitution and how FRs promote democracy.

Then you should come to Judicial activism and how the Indian judiciary earned a human face in India by liberalising access to justice and giving relief to disadvantaged groups and the have-nots under the leadership of Justices V.R. Krishna Iyer and P.N. Bhagwati. With the increasing criminalisation and misgovernance and the complete apathy of the executive, the court took up the case of terrorist funding linked to political corruption through the `hawala’ route in the Vineet Narain Case (Jain hawala Case).

The courts on several occasions have issued directions in public interest litigation (PIL) covering a wide spectrum such as road safety, pollution, illegal structures in VIP zones, monkey menace, dog menace, unpaid dues by former and serving legislators, nursery admissions, and admissions in institutions of higher learning.The common citizens have discovered that the administration has become so apathetic and non-performing and corruption and criminality so widespread that they have no recourse except to move the courts through PIL, enlarging the field for judicial intervention.

The great contribution of judicial activism in India has been to provide a safety valve in a democracy and a hope that justice is not beyond reach. Judicial activism has come to stay in India and will prosper as long as the judiciary is respected and is not undermined by negative perceptions, which have overtaken the executive and the legislature. Judicial activism has added much needed oxygen to a gigantic democratic experiment in India by the alchemy of judico-photosynthesis. (for further reading you may refer to the following sources from The Hindu – (a) Judicial Activism-a perspective, (b) Judicial activism and democracy, (c) Defending the basics of the constitution). There are many other articles but these three articles from The Hindu will give a good idea to the aspirants regarding what all need to be known to answer this question.

Question-2. 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 strong center, a feature that militates against the concept of strong federalism. Discuss.

Here you have to write about how the constitution gives more powers to the center. You need to also mention the various aspects of federalism. The issue mentioned in this Mains question is reflected in one of the statements of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar – “The… charge is that the Centre has been given the power to override the States. This charge must be admitted. But before condemning the Constitution for containing such overriding powers, certain considerations must be borne in mind. The first is that these overriding powers do not form the normal feature of the Constitution. Their use and operation are expressly confined to emergencies only”. One of the best articles from The Hindu, which one can read to answer this question exhaustively, is – A challenge to Indian Federalism. Try to read Laxmikanth too.

Question-3. 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.powers

The question is based on the recent meet of the All India Whips Conference in Goa in October which was covered in detail in The Hindu.

This question was fairly direct and one has to know the exact reason for the absence of legal codification of the ‘parliamentary privileges’ –  to protect the the delicate “separation of powers” as envisaged in the Constitution between the judiciary and the legislature. In case the privileges are codified then such codification would invite undue judicial interference. However many rules can be codified, and for others there can be some sort of consensus build by all parties for all members to follow.

Question-4. What do you understand by the concept of the ‘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.free speech

Here one has to categorically explain in a sentence or two the exact meaning of the freedom of speech – The right to freedom of speech and expression is enshrined as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Freedom of expression means the right to express one’s opinion by words of mouth, writing, printing, picture or in any other manner. Rather than reading our clumsily written points on this question it would be best of you read an article from The Hindu on this issue written by the best of the best Justice A.P. Shah. Click HERE to read his take on the freedom of expression and films. You may also read an article by Soli Sorabjee on the same issue. As an icing on the cake you may read an important book review article from The Hindu which also has enough material on this topic – Exploring cinema, censorship and its impact.

Question-5. Instances of President’s delay in commuting death sentences has come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit for the President to accept/reject such petitions? Analyse.death

If one is an avid The Hindu reader then he/she would definitely remember the Shatrughan Chauhan case (yes you have to mention the name if you want to get max marks for this question). The Hindu had many editorials on this issue. You may read the following to get a good grasp – (a) The agony of awaiting death (b) Putting a full stop to death sentence (c) Mercy and machinery of death (Frontline).

Question-6. The size of the cabinet should be as big as the governmental work justifies and as big as the PM can manage as a team. How far is the efficacy of the government then inversely related to the size of the cabinet? Discuss.

It was a simple question where one had to play safe. One should mention 91st Amendment and then give some gyaan (words of wisdom!!) on how there is a threshold limit below which size of cabinet will be directly proportional to efficacy blah blah. One should not have wasted more time than what was absolutely necessary.

Question-7. 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 sometime. What difference would an increase in FDI make? Critically evaluate the pros and cons.fdi

Here one had to write about the stress that the media sector is in, why it is in need of investments and how FDI can bring the needed capital. One has to also strategically show off his knowledge by mentioning the current cap (26 percent) and the proposed hike (49 percent). At the same time one had to write about Home Ministry’s security related objections in increasing the FDI cap in media sector.  Mentioning Arvind Mayaram panel’s name (and its reco on FDI cap in media sector) would separate men from the boys!!!

Question-8. 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 power sector, discuss if the proposed reform is expected to benefit the consumers, the Indian Railways or the private container operators.rail

In this question one should mention how passenger services have been subsidized over the years due to populist reasons, why freight services have become costlier (freight rates are increased every year to subsidize passenger fares, and private parties prefer road to transport their goods). So price correction is needed, and an independent body needs to regulate prices, just like TRAI for telecom. You may mention about the Electricity Act of 2003, which opened up the power sector for greater private investments – the private sector for the first time got non-discriminatory open access in the transmission of power, and the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions were mandated to introduce open access in power distribution, after accounting for State-specific conditions. All this led to the fact that today, more than one-third of India’s power capacity is operated by the private sector. Now same thing can be replicated in the Railways. (And the same man who did it in power sector is now the rail minister – of course you need not mention this trivia to UPSC!!). You can mention that separate subsidies for poorest of the poor, or for non-profitable routes can be built in in the new framework…blah blah.

Question-9. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in India can be mostHumanRightsCommissionCartoon effective when its tasks are supported by other mechanisms that ensure the accountability of a government. In light of the above observations assess the role of NHRC as an effective complement to the judiciary and other institutions in promoting and protecting human rights  standards.

Since these questions elicit your opinion, there is always this risk of writing too much thus leading to avoidable time loss. You have to be careful with these questions. In this particular question one has to give gyaan. You may read the following three articles from The Hindu – (a) Making Human rights a reality (b) Universal rights and universal violations (c) Commissions and their omissions.

Question-10. The penetration of Self-Help-Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.self help

Here you need to mention the socio-cultural problems which crop up when development projects are implemented by making SHGs as the nucleus – issues of caste (how SHG members tend to be of a particular caste and sideline others), class (rich bypassing or dominating the poor), gender (how husbands dominate wives even though wives are the actual SHG members), caste violence, SHGs breaking down, middlemen fooling poor members, technology gap (NREGA payment etc). Give gyaan..

Question-11. 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 economies?

These are sociology questions and people with this optional will find it slightly easier to answer (though this particular questions needs to be interpreted properly and related logic needs to be presented). Team Paperwallah thinks that there can be at least two different yet correct interpretations of this question.

Question-12. 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.

Opinion based question. You may write all the gyaan…but you have to have one eye looking at the clock!!!

Question-13. 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.

You need to go for a middle ground somewhere, write about quality education and link to a right degree of autonomy. You may use the N.R.Madhav Menon report on higher education autonomy in Kerala (which can be easily extrapolated to the whole country). You may read the following articles from The Hindu to enhance your knowledge – (a) Autonomy will be revolutionary (b) Autonomy is no magic wand.

Question-14. Has the cadre based civil services organization been the cause of slow change in India? Critically examine.

Here you need to critically analyse using examples if possible. Of course you have to give points from both sides and arrive at a logical conclusion. Each cader/service tends to develop its own fiefdom and always tries to enhance its powers etc without looking at the bigger picture.

Question-15. Two parallel run schemes of the government, the Adhar card and NPR, one as voluntary and the other as compulsory, have led to debates at national levels and also litigations. On merit discuss, whether or not, both schemes need run concurrently. Analyse the potential of the schemes to achieve developmental benefits and equitable growth.

Recent news from The Hindu have hinted that government has been exploring the possibility of a synergy between the two ambitious projects (click HERE) – The Home Ministry has already suggested that the NPR and Aadhaar schemes be merged under the Registrar General of India (RGI) or division of work between the two should be in such a way that enrolment is done entirely by NPR while the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which runs Aadhaar, carries out deduplication ahead of generating the unique number. At the same time SC passed an interim order making it clear that no person should be disadvantaged because she does not possess an ‘Aadhaar’ card. To get a firm group over this issue you may refer to the following articles – (a) NPR rolls on, regardless (b) Government favours Aadhar NPR synergy (c) The future of Aadhar: finding common ground between Aadhar and NPR.

Question-16. With respect to the South China Sea, maritime territorial disputeschina_india_cartoon_chinadaily and rising tension affirm the need for safeguarding maritime security to freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region. In this context, discuss the bilateral issues between India and China.

India-China and South China Sea have been one of the hottest IR topics for UPSC aspirants in the recent 8-10 months. There are many resources available, however you should never ignore guru gyaan of C. Raja Mohan and his very many articles on India China.

Question-17. The aim of Information Technology Agreements (ITAs) is to lower all taxes and tariffs on information technology products by signatories to zero. What impacts would such agreements have on India’s interests?

Since officially India is not part of ITA-2, after bad experience with ITA-1, the answer should focus on how it would be bad for India and what benefits WTO is assuring in this regard. Must say it was a slightly difficult question, as many did not have a good idea about ITAs. You may read the following- (a) India to skip talks on ITA scope. (b) Intro on ITAs by WTO (c) Electronics imbroglio.

Question-18. Some of the international funding agencies have special terms for economic participation stipulating a substantial component of the aid to be used for sourcing equipments 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.aid

This is the dark reality of the politics of aid, specially when it comes from developed countries. At times even India too has indulged by tying aid to Bangladesh/Sri Lanka with sourcing Indian machinery etc. Since question was on the India context you need to discuss how it restricts domestic manufacturing etc. Of course you also need to mention that in times of need, when domestic industry is not well developed, then such machineries/components need to be sourced from the donor countries. Take the middle ground, give examples etc.

Question-19. India has recently signed to become founding member 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 strategic significance of these two banks for India.

That India is a happy member of both the banks you need to bring out how India can shape both agencies’ working to its advantage, and how these agencies can be used by India to further its geopolitical as well as socio-capital ambitions.

The NDB is intended to offer development finance without the policy conditionality required by other major development banks. AIIB is intended to address the enormous need for infrastructure financing in the Asian region, one that neither the World Bank nor the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has the resources to meet. The AIIB move is being seen as an effort by China to challenge the influence of Japan in the region, as seen in Japanese influence in the functioning of the Asian Development Bank. The AIIB is expected to focus on China and Southeast Asia, and would hence complement — rather than contradict — the BRICS bank effort which would emphasise projects in the member countries and in Africa. U.S-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund are known for their politicised way of choosing borrowers without due regard for each countries’ individual circumstances. Their prescriptive recommendations, including liberalisation, deregulation and privatization, have proved not a panacea. While prospering some countries, they are failing others, especially in Africa. The new BRICS bank provides a brand new possibility…blah blah. You may refer this article, as well as this article, if not others.

Question-20. WTO is an important international institution where decisions WTOtaken affect countries in a 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.

1st part deals with basics of WTO and second part deals with how India negotiated for peace clause – very very hot topic during the last 2-3 months. Very many articles available on the net.

Paperwallah recommends all the aspirants keep in mind the following golden rules:

  1. Age of ‘coaching mafia notes’ is gone. As you can see in the above 20 questions, you need to have a solid opinion based on wide quality reading.
  2. Progress and study has to be incremental. A single paper like GS-2 touches a wide spectrum. You cannot expect to finish the syllabus, if you are serious, within 2-3 months. You cannot mug up cheap notes and be prepared for the exam.
  3. The above two points does not mean you have to study 18 hours every day for 10 months. Absolutely not. Just widen your study area, and study slowly, regularly, daily.
  4. The above 3rd point means the following – Read The Hindu exhaustively, critically…daily (I am a poet now, move aside Gulzaar saab!!). Focus on important issues of The Hindu, points and opinions, and do further reading on the issues flagged each day by using the net. For example – all the Paperwallah paid subscribers read selected (important) The Hindu articles daily, then attempt a high quality quiz on the same daily in the evening. Lest they forget, they attempt weekly quiz and monthly quiz. Each day Paperwallah compells its members to think critically and makes them realize where they erred in their understanding…Ok… Enough..We cannot go on advertising our services!!!
  5. Beyond The Hindu, read quality articles of people like C. Raja Mohan, ET articles, writings of legal luminaries. Include Frontline in your armour.

Team Paperwallah dedicates the following video to all those who have a dream!

More about Mains papers and prep in the coming 4-5 days.

All the best for now.

To read other posts like Daily quiz on The Hindu, and reviews of important books for UPSC etc please go to home page by clicking HERE and scroll down.

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To stand a chance in the Civil Services Exam you have to be extremely thorough with The Hindu on a daily basis. Team Paperwallah’s paid subscription plans take care of exactly this need of the aspirants.  Team Paperwallah provides the following products to our paid members – Daily News Reckoner (based on each day’s news from The Hindu and ET), Daily Online Quiz based on the day’s news (which consists of 10-20 questions, quiz is attempted via an online quiz platform with real time feedback and explanation), Weekly Online Quiz (a review of important questions of the whole week – which consists of 20-50 questions), Monthly Online Quiz (a review of the important questions of the whole month), and Consolidated topic wise News Reckoner for the whole 10 months(given to members one month before PT and one month before Mains – this is based on The Hindu and ET). We keep posting sample questions on this blog for non-subscribers so that they can get an idea of the quality of our quiz which our paid subscribers attempt everyday.

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