UPSC Mains – GS Paper 2 – 2015


UPSC Mains 3rd paper (GS 2) was conducted today. Below are the Questions which were asked by UPSC in the General Studies Paper 2

UPSC Instructions : All questions carry equal marks. Answer the questions in not more than 200 words. Each Question is 12.5 Marks

  1. Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for it’s citizens a Uniform Civil Code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy
  2. The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasing emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings
  3. In absence of a well educated and organised Local level government system, ‘Panchayats’ and ‘Samitis’ have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instruments of governance. Critically discuss
  4. Khap Panchayats have been in the news for functioning as extra-constitutional authorities, often delivering pronouncements amounting to human rights violations. Discuss critically the actions taken by the legislative, executive and Judiciary to set the things right in this regard
  5. Restoring to ordinances has always raised concern on violation of the spirit of separation of powers doctrine. While noting the rationales justifying the power to promulgate ordinances, analyse whether the decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue have further facilitated resorting to this power. Should the power to promulgate ordinances be repealed?
  6. What are the major changes brought in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 through the recent Ordinance promulgated by the president? How far will it improve India’s dispute resolution mechanism? Discuss
  7. Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulations on burning crackers during Diwali? Discuss in the light of Article 21 of Indian Constitution and judgement(s) of the Apex court in this regard
  8. Examine critically the recent changes in the rules governing foreign funding of NGOs under the foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 1976
  9. The Self-Help group (SHG) Bank Linkage Programme (SBLP) which is India’s own innovation, has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programmes. Elucidate
  10. How can the role of NGOs be strengthened in India for development works relating to protection of the environment? Discus throwing light on the major constraints
  11. The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss
  12. Public Health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What are the viable alternatives would you suggest?
  13. Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicated reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators
  14. In the light of the Satyam Scandal (2009), discuss the changes brought in corporate governance to ensure transparency, accountability
  15. “If Amendment Bill to the Whistleblowers Act 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect”. Critically evaluate
  16. “For achieving the desired objectives, it is necessary to ensure that the regulatory Institutions remain independent and autonomous”. Discuss in the light of the experiences in recent past.
  17. Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine
  18. Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council.
  19. Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with neighbours. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss
  20. Terrorist activities and mutual distrust have clouded India-Pakistan relations. To what extent the use of soft power like sports and cultural exchanges could help generate goodwill between the two countries? Discuss with suitable examples

The above are the questions which were asked in the UPSC Mains examination today. We suggest that in your preparation for the UPSC Mains you all make your answers and post them in the comments section below. We will be posting the model answers for the UPSC Mains question in the coming days.

To download the Exam paper : Click Here (pdf) – Direct Link

Judiciary – Reaching Out or Over-reaching

Judiciary – In the mix

JudiciaryIn a significant remark on judiciary’s intervention in CBI investigations, a parliamentary committee stated that the Supreme Court and High Court have started performing the functions of the lowest rung of criminal justice system, taking over the role of a magistrate. This observation has come at a time when all the high profile cases like 2G scam , Sharda scam etc are big ticket CBI cases, being either regularly heard or monitored by the Supreme Court.

So the big question is the whether the judiciary is over stepping its basic function ?

The most important lineup is “What compelled the committee to  make such observations and under what circumstances”?

A senior committee member says that in India on one hand there is a need for fair investigation against high and mighty; on the other hand this system of monitoring brings in certain problems as well. It tends to infringe on the right of trial of the accused.  For e.g., if the apex courts starts monitoring a case under trial; then how can one expect the magistrate or other trial judge to maintain complete independence . Hence under the pressure of apex courts; the judiciary, somewhere down the line, fails  to give the presumption of innocence to the accused to which he is entitled by the constitution. Hence rather than rectifying the same system there is a need  to find an institutional   answer to this issue.

Parliamentary committee after studying the pros and cons of the system have come up with an institutional solution to the issue. As per the committee LOKPAL seems to be the answer for all these issues in hand. Lokpal should monitor investigations without influencing the trials and in accordance  with the fundamental principles of jurisprudence that you are presumed to be innocent till you are proven to be guilty.

The committee backs up their claim with a case study from USA. They have a different kind of approach to solve these issues i.e Independent Council Act. For eg when Bill Clinton was charged with certain kind of allegations, federal court appointed independent council; who became in-charge of the investigation as well as prosecution with requisite funds for the purpose of investigation. The case was resolved within 10 days as the council was allowed to use it’s own methods to prove it’s side of the story and without any monitoring. Hence; proving the need for the existence of an independent institution for the same in India  for faster and accurate  case trials.

A senior judge of High Court justifies Judicial System by saying that Indian constitutional arrangement as of now allows Supreme Court to monitor such probes because there is no other apex agency to do the same as per the constitution. He also mentions that how successful these probes have been after the Supreme Court intervention. (e.g. all the high profile cases like 2G scam, coal gate could only see light of the day because of Supreme Court intervening the cases) He further states that  monitoring such cases is the statutory power given to the apex court by the constitution and it cannot be abridged away. The Judge suggested that daily monitoring should be checked so that the courts can devote time to other pending cases.

Though both the sides seems to be accurate from their own point of view; there is one more paradigm which needs immediate attention:

What makes a court intervene a probe, when this should be the core responsibility of the executive.

na769ej1jvq8ua854spnThis situation has arisen because it has been found that investigations have been interfered by the political classes (the high and mighty of Indian executive system) either directly or indirectly by influencing the police system in the country. Thus arises the need of an independent  agency like Lokpal to relinquish the role of all the unwanted actors in the system.

Committee also takes a stand for Lokpal by suggesting that high profile cases, partisan investigations are regular facets of criminal law. (Will SC start taking the role of police station as well?) If SC is police station; and the charge sheet is first approved by the SC; fate of those accused remains uncertain? Thereby solidifying their claim for Lokpal.

Lokpal should have its  own investigation wing,  then the need for monitoring by SC will not be so extensive. Also, since courts are overburdened these days they should delegate some of its non-core functions to an independent and reliable institution like the Lokpal.

Though Lokpal seems to be the savior in such a situation but is the authenticity of Lokpal guaranteed in every circumstance? It cannot be denied that appointment of Lokpal is controlled by the political class directly or indirectly by the Lokpal Act. Hence first of all there is a need to be more transparent in the appointment of Lokpal. Also, for the genuine functioning of the Lokpal it should be vested with certain important powers, e.g all the investigating agencies like CBI and CVC should come under their ambit  to give the office more credibility and power.

Here lies the ultimate question that  in a country like India which stands second in population graph of the world; do the agencies have enough resources to cater all the citizens individually and then again have overlapping functions creating more hassles in the judicial system.

The answer lies in the discussion there in; an independent and strong Lokpal should be the first step, and as it proceeds; with the analysis of its pros and cons we should come up with a stringent framework for monitoring all the probes.

But in a country like India where constitution is supreme, nothing can abridge the power of SC to monitor cases . All we need is the perfect balance between legislature, executive and judiciary; so that judiciary should only bird watch the cases and rest shall be done by appropriate agencies.

To listen to this in the Debate : Click below

To read more articles on Judicial Activism : Click Here

India – Japan Relations

India – Japan 

India – Japan relations have taken a new turn with the Japan visiting India this month. This is what the Head of the Delegation and the host India had to say about each other.

No partner has played such a decisive role in India’s economic transformation as Japan. No friend will matter more in realizing India’s economic dreams than Japan.”….Modi

“Strong India is good for Japan and a strong Japan is good for India”…. Abe

Shinzo Abe’s India visit came in less than two years of Japanese Emperor’s visit in 2013- highlighting the importance that India – Japan relations and what it means to India.

Context: Very strategic – Both India and Japan face severe challenges from China, which makes India – Japan relations a high priority to both the countries

  • India-China boundary dispute and Diaoyu/Senkaku islands dispute in East China Sea
  • Heightened maritime challenges at South China Sea (China’s land reclamation activities) and Indian Ocean Region (String of Pearls, China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative).

To counter-balance growing China: Pledge to uphold

  • Sovereignty and territorial integrity;
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes;
  • Democracy, human rights and rule of law;
  • Open global trade regime; and
  • Freedom of navigation and over flight.

Significance Diversification from Economic centric to defence and security ties:


  • $15 billion high-speed Japanese Shinkansen bullet train deal connecting Mumbai- Ahmadabad – Japan offers $12 billion soft loan at 0.1 per cent interest rate with repayment over 50 years and 15 years moratorium. (Indian bid: Japan ousted China)
  • “Make in India”: Japan pledged $12 billion to fund the initiative and build industrial townships in India strengthening the India – Japan relations
  • Collaboration for Smart City Projects

Civil-nuclear energy agreement:

  • Boost India’s economic growth as this will quadruple India’s present 5,000 megawatts of nuclear power to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 – satisfying energy demands for economic outgrowth.

Defence and security ties:

  • Japan now an official partner in India-US Malabar Exercises (To counter maritime challenges in Indo-Pacific and countering China’s increasing unilateral moves in South China Sea, an important Sea lane of Communication (SLOC) along the Straits of Malacca).
  • Transfer of defence equipment and technology and exchange of other security measures for protection of classified military information (strengthening strategic ties further).
  • Moreover, collaboration in fields of infrastructure, manufacturing and high technology, including advanced transportation systems, solar power generation, space, biotechnology, rare earths and advanced materials are other highlights of the India – Japan relations

Cultural quotient:

  • Ganga Arti at Varanasi
  • Spiritual connect that India – Japan envisage over Buddhism


  • From bilateral to qualitative: Vajpayee – Koizumi Agreement (2001) on “India – Japan Global Partnership”- aiming at meeting global challenges.
  • “Special Strategic Global Partnership” in 2014 between India – Japan
  • A new high of “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” in 2015.

To read the news story about India – Japan relations : Click Here


Syllabus for GS Paper 2 (UPSC)

Syllabus for GS Paper 2

This is a 250 Marks Paper in the mains examination of UPSC. The Topics/Subjects covered under GS-2 paper are :-

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  2. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  3. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  4. Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  5. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  6. Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  7. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
  8. Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  9. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  10. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  11. Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
  12. 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.
  13. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  14. Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  15. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  16. Role of civil services in a democracy.
  17. India and its neighborhood- relations.
  18. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  19. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  20. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

Visit Raj Malhotra IAS Coaching Chandigarh for more here