[Analysis] UPSC Mains-2017 GS Paper2 is least complex so far, 80% Qs solvable from routine sources, Plus FREE [DL] Topicwise Compilation of Last 5 YRS’ GS2 papers

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  1. UPSC Mains GS2 Paper-2017 (Linear Format)
  2. Answer sources for GSM2-2017
  3. Least complex* among all GSM2 papers so far
    1. Court Judgements
    2. Human development
    3. International bodies and initiatives
  4. But “Easy” questions make it a Tough paper:
  5. Length of GSM2 paper: write 5 hrs’ maal in 3 hrs
  6. Recurring themes
    1. Examiner’s fear of China continues
    2. Examiner’s dissatisfaction with Local governance continues
    3. Examiner’s obsession with SHG on alternate years
  7. Movement from General / Broad to specific question?
    1. Does 2017 have more theory based questions?
    2. Does 2017 have more opinion based questions?
    3. Writing & Articulation skill
  8. GS2 Mains-Topicwise Questions since Syllabus change
  9. [Block-1] Polity
    1. Polity: Basics of Constitution
    2. Polity: The Executive
    3. Polity: Legislature & Elections
    4. Polity: Separation of Powers
    5. Polity: Federalism & Local governance
    6. Polity: Bodies
  10. [Block-2] Policies for sectors, services
    1. Welfare: Policies & Schemes
    2. Welfare: Social Services: Health, Edu, HRD
    3. Welfare: Sectoral Policies (Economy related)
  11. [Block-3] Governance & groups
    1. Governance: Accountability & E-Gov
    2. Groups: Civil Services, NGO, SHG, Pressure Groups
  12. [Block-4] IR Diplomacy
    1. IR/Diplomacy: Neighbors
    2. IR/Diplomacy: Not-Neighbors but affecting interests
    3. IR/Diplomacy: Institutions, Groupings, Agreements

UPSC Mains GS2 Paper-2017 (Linear Format)

Total marks 250. Total duration: 3 hours. Date: 30/10/2017.
Answer following questions each in 150 words x 10 marks.

  1. “The local self-government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance”. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation.
  2. Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India.
  3. ‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss.
  4. How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years?
  5. Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people.
  6. ‘To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs, the identification of beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes’ Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme.
  7. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss
  8. Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement.
  9. ‘China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor.
  10. What are the main functions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)? Explain different functional commissions attached to it.

Answer following questions each in 250 words x 15 marks.

  1. Explain the salient features of the constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. Do you think it is efficacious enough ‘to remove cascading effect of taxes and provide for common national market for goods and services’?
  2. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy.
  3. The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof.
  4. To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful?
  5. Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer.
  6. ‘The emergence of Self Help Groups(SHGs) in contemporary times points to the slow but steady withdrawal of the state from developmental activities’. Examine the role of the SHGs in developmental activities and the measures taken by the Government of India to promote the SHGs.
  7. ‘Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India remain mere show pieces until and unless they are backed by political will’. Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation programmes in India.
  8. Initially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment
  9. The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries.
  10. Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South- East Asia in this context

Answer sources for GSM2-2017

  • Nowadays some armchair experts randomly google answers after the exam is over and then they extrapolate that you were supposed to get Lord’s division that question would come from so and so random Government report or research paper. (आपको सपना आ जाना चाहिए था के उधर से प्रश्न निकलेगा.)
  • I’m utilizing a slightly different approach: If large chunk of answer is available at a single standard reference source, then I’ll count material availability as yes.
  • If answer is scattered across multiple less-known / less used sources, then I’ll count as “no*”. It doesn’t mean that given question is unsolvable, it only means that it requires much more effort.
Sr.Source of AnswerAvailable
1.weakness PRI
  • IGNOU MPS-003 book-1 page 152 IGNOU’s MPS-003: India’s democracy and development is a generic module that all should read for essay and Mains GS. OR
  • 2nd ARC  6th report.
  • These are not ‘randomly’ googled reports after the 2017’s exam. I’ve been recommending them since the introduction of new syllabus in 2013. But most candidates don’t read due to paucity of time vs. gigantism of new syllabus vs. overload of material through telegram.
Yes
2.NJAC judgementUPSC had a trend of asking landmark judgements as well as about conflict between Judiciary vs XO/LSR. Bit old news though (2015) but available in  Hindu and IndianexpressYes
3.Simultanous election to LS & SLA
  • But difficult question because “this reform will save money and time” that much everyone knows and it’s already preambled in the question itself. You’ve to write about “how it’ll reduce accountability” as well. Although if you’re following newspaper columns, it can be managed.
  • For example- two important points worth 200 words already in this IE column. Interesting it appeared on 7th Oct 2017. Shows the merit of following newspaper even in the exam month.
Yes
4.informal pressure groups
  • First part of the question is “Theory”: “how they influence politics” is given in IGNOU MPS-003 Book-1 page 195 onwards.
  • Second part of the question is “Current”: are informal groups becoming stronger. It’s also manageable, If you follow columns particularly in EPW- because 90% of their magazine pages are devoted to intolerance, communalism and cow vigilantism only.
Yes
5.PAC’s role in enforcing accountabilityYes
6.WASH initiative
  • Verbatim given (including its title!) in Kurukshetra July 2017 Page 18 onwards.
  • But even if you’ve not read that magazine, still it’s not impossible to answer, but You’ve to pause, think, brainstorm and invent the points. After all, since last two years, Economic survey had been highlighting how open defecation means weak mother and malnourished child – which further his school learning outcomes, need for temporary toilets at construction sites in smart cities and so forth….all covered in my two dozen schemes for rural and urban development.
Yes
7.new Disability act.
  • Available in this PRSindia document
  • And in my BES176/Human Dev #1 lecture, I had instructed students to refer that for Mains.
  • It’s a difficult question nonetheless because everyone knows that new act has 21 PH-categories, 4% reservation and various bodies and special courts. But it requires writing skill to properly connect those points with this ‘opinion based’ question – that whether such mechanisms empower PH?
Yes
8.Poverty and HungerYes
9.China’s military power
  • If you’re following newspaper columns, IDSA etc. then it’s a straightforward question.
  • Macgrawhill has launched new book on International Relation by Pavneet Singh (of Vajiram and Ravi fame). It covers this topic in Part-I ch2. of the book. Although since book was listed in amazon at 31st October 2017, so can’t “Credit” it for this question since GSM2 exam was held on 30th October. But you should read it for the next year. Book is loaded with enough mindmaps and comprehensive coverage. For the given price it’s a killer deal compared to straining eyes on random pdf compilations.
Yes
10.EOCSOC
  • I’ve verbatim taught this in my BES176/Human Dev #1 lecture. (यहाँ तक की तपस्वी गुंजाल का केशिनो कहाँ पर स्थित है?)
  • Also mentioned in NCERT Class 12 Political Science: Contemporary World Politics chapter 6.
  • Also available in every General Studies Manual.
  • Interestingly, I had even written answer to a similar mock question four years ago in this article. By Delhi’s bogus marketing standards, even if it was written/taught 500 years ago, then also I can claim credit, but I’ll not.
Yes
11.GST cascading
  • After watching my one hour lecture on this topic, a person should be able to answer this much.
  • The only pitfall is- person writing too much praise of GST, without mentioning that:
  • 1) common market not possible without repealing / reforming state specific APMC laws, and
  • 2) cascading effect will continue until petro-energy products brought into the GST regime.
Yes
12. right to privacyYes
13.Jt session of parliamentYes
14.EC reforms-2016
  • EC released a Handbook containing 47 reform proposals on variety of issues in December 2016 .
  • Difficult because you’ve to write 250 words. And without knowing the actual content, people would make up stories about black money, electoral bonds, paid news. Because most budget and newspapers had mostly focused on black money part. Actual EC suggested reforms are more sublime and varied.
No*
15.NCW
  • Theoratical background and major activities given in Ch.28 of India Yearbook 2017.
  • Topic was in news during 2015, when there was a proposal to give it punitive powers of a civil court, similar to human rights commission. Then again in 2016. But it was never a very hot news unlike Triple Talaq.
  • So, in absence of that keypiece of information, person has to make up for answer using the outcomes in various heinous crimes against women.
  • Difficult because you’ve to write 250 words to justify your opinion whether NCW has succeeded or failed.
No*
16.SHGOne of the favorite topics of UPSC for paper2. Can be answered from any of the following sources:

  1. Second ARC 9th report’s 4th chapter. It mentions the significance of SHG in extending credit, remittance and skill via NABARD, SIDBI, MFI and various schemes.
  2. Kurukshetra magazine September 2017: page 28 gives the list of schemes, page 29 mentions how SHG help and as icing on the cake, page 31 has a box mentioning NABARD data that SHGs cover over 10 crore rural households.
Yes
17.Poverty showpiece
  • It’s not an anti-government question because Jaitley himself mentioned in budget 2017 speech that “Over Rs. 3 lakh crores are spent in rural areas every year, if we add up all the programmes meant for rural poor from the Central Budget, State Budgets, Bank linkage for self-help groups, etc. With a clear focus on improving accountability, outcomes and convergence, we will undertake a Mission Antyodaya to bring one crore households out of poverty and to make 50,000 gram panchayats poverty free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji”.
  • From his speech it can be inferred that so far schemes had been for showpiece only!?
  • Some more fodder you can find from Eco.Survey 2016-17 vol1 chapter 9 on UBI, wherein CEA highlights misallocation in CSS as a reason for poverty.
  • Besides Substantial amount of fodder points available in 2nd ARC 9th report chapter 2 and 5. As well as Ch.8 of NITI3YR document.
  • Yet, it’s a difficult question because you’ve to write about performance of major poverty alleviation programs vs. ‘political will’. “Programs” is plural, so you’ve to talk beyond just MNREGA. And for a good answer, you’ve to back it with some data. 250 words essayish bolbachchan alone will not suffice otherwise.
Yes
18.IAS neutrality & drastic reform
  • 2nd ARC: 4th report chapter 6, 7 and 9. One should have read it even for GSM4 Ethics paper.
  • You could also quote table 16-1 from NITI3YR document.
Yes
19.energy securityAnswer has to be assembled from the recent bilateral meetings. It’s unlikely that you’ll find all the maal at once place. E.g.

  • 2015: Ashgabat agreement and TAPI Gaspipeline.
  • 2016: India-Iran Farzad B gasfield. And later proposed Iran-India underground gas pipeline to bypass Pakistan.
  • 2016: India-Qatar energy pact for joint exploration of oil and gas.
  • 2017: India UAE oil storage pact with Saudi Arab. And so forth.

Without mention of such specific deals, Generic bolbachchan will not suffice for 250 words question. I count material availability as “no” because it’s scattered across multiple newspaper articles and PIB updates.

  • Pavneet Singh’s book also covers it in Part-E, but since it came one day after the exam, so can’t give credit. But you should read it for next year.
No*
20.disapora
  • IGNOU BA Political Science module EPS-06 Unit3: Indians in South Asia. It has 11 pages worth content
  • but still I count material availability  “no” because UPSC so far neglected asking questions from diaspora topic, so candidates would neglect topic beyond routine NRI current affairs issues about Visa & protectionism, hate crimes etc.
No*

Conclusion

  • 4 questions are such that “one stop” material not available. Although, they’re not ‘impossible’ to solve, but you’ve to brainstorm and connect dots spread across multiple sources.
  • 16 out 20 questions i.e. 80% of the questions can be solved straightforward from standard preparation / reference sources alone, and within that, large chunk from Kurukshetra magazine, IGNOU MPS-003 and 2nd ARC reports. Therefore, expensive coaching and study material is not necessary for success. Mains Success primarily depends on your ability to write less mediocre answer than others, in given time limit.
  • So, before scavenging for “Secret” material and compilations for 24/7 basis on telegram groups, you should first finish these standard reference sources.
  • Now coming to the analysis part….

Least complex* among all GSM2 papers so far

(*) Least complex doesn’t mean “easy” in absolute terms like 2+2 is 4. Here means that among all the GSM2 papers since 2013’s syllabus change, this 2017’s paper has straight forward questions. Observe:

Court Judgements

  • 2013: Discuss section66A of IT act wrt Art.19 of Constitution.
  • To answer this question, you need absolute knowledge that keyword “section66A” is about sending offensive messages on internet vs. Art19(A) freedom of speech. And, UPSC had not provided full form of IT act. So, those who did not know it, even wrote cock and bull stories about income tax act’s draconian provisions vs Art19(g) freedom of trader and business.
  • 2016: what happened in Coelho case? What do you think of judicial review. This is also a complex question because Coelho judgement came in 2007, and was asked in 2016. and the case is not so much covered in books and newspapers, unlike Indra Swahney, Golaknath, Keshavananda Bharti etc). So even if you could make up some links with judicial review of reservation ceiling – it was a difficult task  to fill 200 words.
  • Compared to that, 2017: straight forward asked “right to privacy”, every English and vernacular newspaper had provided gist / summary / “explained” series on these judgements in 2017. [although NJAC judgement can be termed as a bit complex question because occurred in 2015, and asked in 2017]

Legislature

  • 2014: powers and privileges under Art 105 for Member of Parliament and need for its legal codification. This requires more memory and recollection power.
  • 2017: straight forward “textbook” question about “when joint session of parliament can be held, and when it can’t be held?”

Human development

2014: 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?

  • This is prime example of अतरंगी(Crazy) question. Some humanities professor must have written research paper on it, and then submitted the same for UPSC questionbank, as if ordinary aspirants have unlimited time and resources to study such finer nuances of each scheme and statistical tables about number of registered MSME units vs the caste of the owners!
  • Compared to that, 2017: straight forward questions about hunger, poverty, PH.

International bodies and initiatives

  • 2016: India’s position on UNESCO’s McBride Commission. Unless you know keyword MacBride = press freedom, you can’t answer this question. But 2017: WASH initiative has plenty of keywords about water, sanitation that even if you did not know it’s UNICEF initiative, you could write a few points.
  • 2014: WTO’s ITA agreement. 2016: WTO’s Doha agreement’s present negotiation. These were bit obscure and less covered topics in newspapers. Compared to that, 2017:  simply asked about UN’s EOCSOC.

For the lack of time, I’m not mentioning more comparisons here. But whether it’s PAC, Jt.Session of Parliament or GST- the topics are straightforward theory or well-known current affairs, compared to the type of questions they used to ask between 2013 to 2016. Read the topicwise questions given in the later part of this article to observe that trend yourself.

But “Easy” questions make it a Tough paper:

  • Since the syllabus change in 2013, the GSM2 has been notorious paper for two reasons
    • 1) both in terms of crazy (अतरंगी) questions
    • 2) strict evaluation- most candidates would get two digit marks out of Total 250 marks.
  • Therefore, aspirants will spend more time in digging difficult, random, obscure current affairs topics than preparing straight forward hot topics
  • e.g. right to privacy was a hot topic in current affairs of Q2-2017. If we go by precedence then UPSC asks ‘hot topics’ only after their expiry date ie. 1-2 years after the occurrence. Yet here they’ve asked it within same year. Same for GST. It’s possible some candidates would have neglected these topics, hoping they’ll come in 2018 or 2019!
  • Direct theory questions about PAC and Joint Session of Parliament are unexpected (because they’re too easy and straight forward).  Hence many aspirants would have simply neglected to brush up with theory, to chase more current affairs.
  • End result is: while outside the examhall, it looks like an ‘easy’ paper, but it’s not inside the exam hall. Even if a candidate knew all answers by heart, the wordlength vs timelimit is such that he can never finish every answer perfectly, because look the….

Irrelevance of Coaching in UPSC Mains GS2

Length of GSM2 paper: write 5 hrs’ maal in 3 hrs

Mains ExamEssay Total words (#)GSM2 Total Words
2013250025Qx 200 words each = 5000
2014240020Q x 200 words = 4000
2015240020Q x 200 words = 4000
2016240020Q x 200 words = 4000
20172400(10Qx150 words)+ (10Qx250w)=4000
  • (#) In Essay paper, candidate has to write two essays in not more than 1200 words each. Total marks 250, total time: 3 hrs.
  • In GSM2, majority of the questions contain opinion / analysis based “essayish” premises. Hence difficult to finish paper on time.
  • If we take essay word limit as a ‘baseline’ to a candidate’s writing speed, then GSM2’s total duration should be 5 hours* to write 4000 words, yet you’ve to finish it in 3 hours only! [*=4000w x 3hr/2400w]
  • Granted that no one has enough content to write all 20 answers perfectly- but the strategy that is given in most of the topper interviews, one should ‘attempt’ all questions.

Recurring themes

  • Bankruptcy in the questionbank has been forcing UPSC ask same topics and themes in recurring manner. As we saw in the GSM1-2017 analysis.
  • So on that pattern, Triple Talaq and SC’s Diwali cracker ban in Delhi: these two topics should have come (because already asked both in 2015) but here as counter-bluff, UPSC did not ask. However, it doesn’t mean an ‘end’ to asking recurring themes. Observe:

Examiner’s fear of China continues

  • 2013: China’s String of Pearls
  • 2014: China’s interest in South China sea
  • 2015: India’s Project Mausam (which is meant to counter Chinese influence)
  • 2017: Chinese military power.

Examiner’s dissatisfaction with Local governance continues

  • GSM2-2015: In absence of a well-educated and organized local level government system, `Panchayats’ and ‘Samitis’ have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instruments of governance. Critically discuss.
  • GSM2-2017: “The local self-government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance”. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation.

Examiner’s obsession with SHG on alternate years

YearQExaminer’s feeling?
2013The legitimacy and accountability of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their patrons, the micro-finance outfits, need systematic assessment and scrutiny for the sustained success of the concept. Discuss.Suspicious
2015The 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.Madly in love of SHG.
2017‘The emergence of Self Help Groups(SHGs) in contemporary times points to the slow but steady withdrawal of the state from developmental activities’. Examine the role of the SHGs in developmental activities and the measures taken by the Government of India to promote the SHGs.Realized that perhaps SHG not the ‘most effective’ but a necessary tool.

So this trend means

  1. Either examiner is changed, or examiner himself is having a ‘change of heart’ about SHG.
  2. If this trend of asking about SHG at every ‘alternate year’ continues then GSM2-2019 you should memorize SHG it by heart!

Movement from General / Broad to specific question?

  • GSM2-2013: Pressure group politics is sometimes seen as the informal face of politics. With regards to the above, assess the structure and functioning of pressure groups in India.
  • GSM2-2017: How do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years?  (150 words)

So what can we see from above questions?

  • First asked about pressure groups in ‘generic-overall’ terms, then asking about specific subtopic “informal pressure groups” (2017).
  • On a sidenote though, then it sounds like an outdated question pulled from old question bank, because Modi initiatives try to reach directly to beneficiary- whether it’s providing credit via Jandhan, Standup India, small finance banks and payment banks OR providing skill via outsourced private agencies. Very few of Modi schemes have SHG (e.g. rural livelihood mission).

Same in Polity subtopic “Bodies”:

  • 2015: “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.
  • 2016: What is a quasi-judicial body? Explain with the help of concrete examples.
  • Both of above are ‘broad / general questions’. But 2017 has a regulatory body specific question- measure success of NCW (although asked similar about NHRC in 2014)

Same in IR also

  • 2015: Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine. (You’ve to cover in ‘general‘ term variety of facets including energy, mineral, market expansion etc.)
  • Against that, 2017: only asked about a single specific dimension “India’s energy security” in W.Asia.

Does 2017 have more theory based questions?

Let’s prepare a matrix

Type of Q20162017
Theory86
Current65
Contemporary (#)69
Total Q2020
  • #contemporary means a current topic older than 1 year before exam.
  • In 2017, theory questions are ‘easy’ (PAC, Jt. Session, EOCSOC), hence it ‘feels’ that 2017 has less current affairs. But it’s not true.

Does 2017 have more opinion based questions?

Type of Question20162017
  • Write Opinion, assessment, suggestion, prospects.
  • Analyse impact of xyz, examine how abc’s role in achieving pqr
  • Discuss whether  good x is true but bad y is also happening.
1516
  • Non-Opinion.
  • Just describe, narrate things as they are, steps that already taken, without judging their merit / impact.
54
Total2020
Trend Analysis UPSC Mains GS Paper2 2016 vs 2017

Even internal breakup of four blocks (Polity, Welfare, Governance, IR) is similar to that of last year, except welfare gaining a bit more

So, It’s also a perception but not reality that 2017’s paper has ‘more opinion’ type questions. It’s just one question more than last year.

Writing & Articulation skill

Observe these two questions asked in GSM2-2017

  1. Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement.
  2. ‘Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India remain mere show pieces until and unless they are backed by political will’. Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation programmes in India.

Prima facie, both questions appear to be about pretty much the same thing. But, in “fine- print”, first question requires you to connect poverty-hunger with good governance, and second question about political will in removing poverty alleviation. But given the length of paper vs shortage of time, most candidates would have juggled same points and arguments in each of these two questions-difficult to expect marks in three digit then.

Similarly, Q:‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss.

Many candidates would have spent too many words first part of the statement, but too little on accountability portion. To conclude

  • Bullet points, mindmaps, powerpoints and memorization of ‘salient features’ can help clearing prelims, but they can only go that far. When ~80% of the questions are ‘opinion  / analysis / assessment’ based it requires articulation skill. It can’t develop overnight. You’ve to cultivate habit of reading columns, editorials, Committee reports instead of just going through their ‘digested bullet points’ prepared by someone else.

Anyways, enough of analysis, let’s finish this with compilation of topicwise questions:

GS2 Mains-Topicwise Questions since Syllabus change

In 2013, UPSC changed the syllabus-pattern of Mains examination and the number of general studies (GS) papers were increased from two to four. Out of them, GS Paper-2 deals with Polity, Governance, Welfare and International-Relations (IR)

CategoryGSM-220132014201520162017
PolityBasic Str.1012.537.512.515
PolityExecutive1025000
PolityLegislature & Elections1012.5012.540
PolityPower Sep.1012.512.512.510
PolityFed-Local3012.52537.510
PolityBodies2025252515
WelfareWelfare &
Protection
20250010
WelfarePoverty &
Hunger
10012.5025
WelfareEdu,Health,HDI20252537.510
WelfareEco.Reform012.5012.515
GovernanceAccountability200252510
GovernanceNGO,Pressure,IAS202537.52540
IRNeighbours5012.52512.510
IRNon-Neighbours
& Diaspora
10012.512.530
IRInst., Group,
Agreements
105012.52510
Total250250250250250

[Block-1] Polity

Trend Analysis UPSC Mains GS Paper 2: Polity

Polity: Basics of Constitution

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Historical underpinnings & evolution; Features, amendments, significant provisions, basic structure; Comparison of Indian constitutional scheme with other countries’

Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy.2017
Discuss each adjective attached to the word ‘Republic’ in the preamble. Are they defendable in the present circumstances stances?2016
Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizens a uniform civil code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy.2015
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 the judiciary to set the things right in this regard.2015
Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulations on burning crackers during Diwali? Discuss in the light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and Judgement(s) of the Apex Court in this regard.2015
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.2014
Discuss Section 66A of IT Act, with reference to its alleged violation of Article 19 of the Constitution.2013

Polity: The Executive

GS2 Syllabus Topic:

  • Executive (structure, organisation, functioning);
  • Ministries and Departments (of Union and State govts.)
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.2014
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.2014

Polity: Legislature & Elections

GS2 Syllabus Topic:

  • Union and State Legislatures (structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges; issues therein);
  • Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss.2017
To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful?2017
The Indian Constitution has provisions for holding joint session of the two houses of the Parliament. Enumerate the occasions when this would normally happen and also the occasions when it cannot, with reasons thereof.2017
The Indian party system is passing through a phase of transition which looks to be full of contradictions and paradoxes.” Discuss.2016
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?2014
The role of individual MPs (Members of Parliament) has diminished over the years and as a result healthy constructive debates on policy issues are not usually witnessed. How far can this be attributed to the anti-defection law, which was legislated but with a different intention?2013

Polity: Separation of Powers

GS2 Syllabus Topic:

  • Separation of Powers (between different organs, dispute redressal mechanisms, institutions);
  • Judiciary (structure, organisation functioning)
Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India.2017
What was held in the Coelho case? In this context, can you say that judicial review is of key importance amongst the basic features of the Constitution?2016
Resorting 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, analyze 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?2015
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.2014
The Supreme Court of India keeps a check on arbitrary power of the Parliament in amending the Constitution. Discuss critically.2013

Polity: Federalism & Local governance

GS2 Syllabus Topic:

  • Functions & responsibilities of the Union and the States; issues and challenges of federal structure;
  • Devolution of powers and finances to local levels; challenges therein.
 “The local self-government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance”. Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation.2017
Discuss the essentials of the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act and anomalies, if any that have led to recent reported conflicts between the elected representatives and the institution of the Lieutenant Governor in the administration of Delhi. Do you think that this will give rise to a new trend in the functioning of the Indian federal politics?2016
To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “Temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss the future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity.2016
Did the Government of India Act, 1935 lay down a federal constitution? Discuss.2016
The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings.2015
In absence of a well-educated and organized local level government system, `Panchayats’ and ‘Samitis’ have remained mainly political institutions and not effective instruments of governance. Critically discuss.2015
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.2014
Recent directives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas are perceived by the `Nagas’ as a threat to override the exceptional status enjoyed by the State. Discuss in light of Article 371A of the Indian Constitution.2013
Many State Governments further bifurcate geographical administrative areas like Districts and Talukas for better governance. In light of the above, can it also be justified that more number of smaller States would bring in effective governance at State level? Discuss.2013
Constitutional mechanisms to resolve the inter-state water disputes have failed to address and solve the problems. Is the failure due to structural or process inadequacy or both? Discuss.2013

Polity: Bodies

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts; Constitutional Bodies (powers, functions and responsibilities); Statutory, Regulatory and Quasi-judicial bodies

Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer.2017
Exercise of CAC’s powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and the States is derived from Article 149 of the Indian Constitution. Discuss whether audit of the Government’s Policy implementation could amount to overstepping its own (CAG) jurisdiction.2016
What is a quasi-judicial body? Explain with the help of concrete examples.2016
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.2015
“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.2015
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.2014
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.2014
Discuss the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission which have been a departure from the previous commissions for strengthening the local government finances.2013
The product diversification of financial institutions and insurance companies, resulting in overlapping of products and services strengthens the case for the merger of the two regulatory agencies, namely SEBI and IRDA. Justify.2013

[Block-2] Policies for sectors, services

Trend Analysis UPSC Mains GS Paper 2: Social schemes & Welfare

Welfare: Policies & Schemes

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Welfare Schemes (centre, states; performance, mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for protection of vulnerable sections);

Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss2017
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.2014
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?2014
The basis of providing urban amenities in rural areas (PURA) is rooted in establishing connectivity. Comment.2013
Electronic cash transfer system for the welfare schemes is an ambitious project to minimize corruption, eliminate wastage and facilitate reforms. Comment.2013
Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

As per the marketing rules of Delhi coaching & E-learning-wallas:- mere mention of the ‘term’ is sufficient to claim credit. I had at least taught bit more than that!

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Poverty and hunger issues

Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement.2017
‘Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India remain mere show pieces until and unless they are backed by political will’. Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation programmes in India.2017
Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators.2015
The Central Government frequently complains on the poor performance of the State Governments in eradicating suffering of the vulnerable sections of the society. Restructuring of Centrally sponsored schemes across the sectors for ameliorating the cause of vulnerable sections of population aims at providing flexibility to the States in better implementation. Critically evaluate.2013
Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

As per the marketing rules of Delhi coaching & E-learning-wallas:- mere mention of the ‘term’ is sufficient to claim credit. I had at least taught bit more than that!

Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

Welfare: Social Services: Health, Edu, HRD

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Social Sector & Social Services (health, education, human resources – issues in development, management);

‘To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs, the identification of beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes’ Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme.2017
Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation.2016
“Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable?2016
Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance?2016
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.2015
Public health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives would you suggest?2015
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.2014
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.2014
The concept of Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme is almost a century old in India with early beginnings in Madras Presidency in pre-independent India. The scheme has again been given impetus in most states in the last two decades. Critically examine its twin objectives, latest mandates and success.2013
Identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are related to health. Discuss the success of the actions taken by the Government for achieving the same.2013
Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

As per the marketing rules of Delhi coaching & E-learning-wallas:- mere mention of the ‘term’ is sufficient to claim credit. I had at least taught bit more than that!

Welfare: Sectoral Policies (Economy related)

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Government Policies & Interventions for development of various sectors (issues in their design, implementation)

Explain the salient features of the constitution(One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. Do you think it is efficacious enough ‘to remove cascading effect of taxes and provide for common national market for goods and services’?2017
Has the Indian governmental system responded adequately to the demands of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization started in 1991? What can the government do to be responsive to this important change?2016
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.2014
Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

As per the marketing rules of Delhi coaching & E-learning-wallas:- mere mention of the ‘term’ is sufficient to claim credit. I had at least taught bit more than that!

[Block-3] Governance & groups

It’s trend graph is already given along with block-2. Scroll above and see.

Governance: Accountability & E-Gov

  1. GS2 Syllabus Topic: Important aspects of governance; Transparency and accountability (institutional and other measures); Citizens Charter;
  2. GS2 Syllabus Topic: E-Governance (applications, models, successes, limitations, potential)
Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people.2017
“Effectiveness of the goverment system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are inter-dependent.” Discuss their relationship with each other in context of India.2016
In the integrity index of Transparency International, India stands very low. Discuss briefly the legal, political, economic, social and cultural factors that have caused the decline of public morality in India.2016
In the light of the Satyam Scandal (2009), discuss the changes brought in corporate governance to ensure transparency, accountability.2015
“If amendment bill to the Whistleblowers Act, 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect.” Critically evaluate.2015
Though Citizen’s charters have been formulated by many public service delivery organizations, there is no corresponding improvement in the level of citizens’ satisfaction and quality of services being provided. Analyze.2013
‘A national Lokpal, however strong it may be, cannot resolve the problems of immorality in public affairs’. Discuss.2013

Groups: Civil Services, NGO, SHG, Pressure Groups

GS2 Syllabus Topic:

  1. Development Processes & Development industry (role of NGOs, SHGs, groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders)
  2. Pressure Groups & Formal, Informal associations (and their role in the polity)
  3. Role of Civil Services in a democracy.
Civil ServicesInitially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment2017
NGO-SHG‘The emergence of Self Help Groups(SHGs) in contemporary times points to the slow but steady withdrawal of the state from developmental activities’. Examine the role of the SHGs in developmental activities and the measures taken by the Government of India to promote the SHGs.2017
Pressure GroupHow do pressure groups influence Indian political process? Do you agree with this view that informal pressure groups have emerged as powerful than formal pressure groups in recent years?2017
NGO-SHGExamine critically the recent changes in the rules governing foreign funding of NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 1976.2015
NGO-SHGThe 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.2015
NGO-SHGHow can the role of NGOs be strengthened in India for development works relating to protection of the environment? Discuss throwing light on the major constraints.2015
NGO-SHGThe penetration of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.2014
NGO-SHGThe legitimacy and accountability of Self Help Groups (SHGs) and their patrons, the micro-finance outfits, need systematic assessment and scrutiny for the sustained success of the concept. Discuss.2013
Pressure GroupPressure group politics is sometimes seen as the informal face of politics. With regards to the above, assess the structure and functioning of pressure groups in India.2013
Pressure group“In the Indian governance system, the role of non-state actors has been only marginal.” Critically examine this statement.2016
Civil ServicesHas the Cadre based Civil Services Organisation been the cause of slow change in India? Critically examine.2014
Civil Services“Traditional bureaucratic structure and culture have hampered the process of socio-economic development in India.” Comment.2016

[Block-4] IR Diplomacy

Trend Analysis UPSC Mains GS Paper 2: International Relations & Diplomacy

IR/Diplomacy: Neighbors

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed and Developing countries on India (India’s interests, diaspora)

‘China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor.2017
The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries.2017
Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South- East Asia in this context2017
“Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member-states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.2016
Project `Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with its neighbors. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss.2015
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.2015
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.2014
The proposed withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan in 2014 is fraught with major security implications for the countries of the region. Examine in light of the fact that India is faced with a plethora of challenges and needs to safeguard its own strategic interests.2013
What do you understand by ‘The String of Pearls’? How does it impact India? Briefly outline the steps taken by India to counter this.2013
The protests in Shahbag Square in Dhaka in Bangladesh reveal a fundamental split in society between the nationalists and Islamic forces. What is its significance for India?2013
Discuss the political developments in Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India?2013
In respect of India — Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy.2013
What is meant by Gujral doctrine? Does it have any relevance today? Discuss.2013

IR/Diplomacy: Not-Neighbors but affecting interests

GS2 Syllabus Topic: India and its Neighbourhood (relations)

Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post-Cold War international scenario.2016
Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine.2015
Economic ties between India and Japan while growing in the recent years are still far below their potential. Elucidate the policy constraints which are inhibiting this growth.2013

IR/Diplomacy: Institutions, Groupings, Agreements

Proof Mrunal covered UPSC Topics in his lecture

As per the marketing rules of Delhi coaching & E-learning-wallas:- mere mention of the ‘term’ is sufficient to claim credit. I had at least taught bit more than that!

GS2 Syllabus Topic: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate); Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)

What are the main functions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)? Explain different functional commissions attached to it.2017
“The broader aims and objectives of WTO are to manage and promote international trade in the era of globalization. But the Doha round of negotiations seem doomed due to differences between the developed and the developing countries.” Discuss in the Indian perspective.2016
What are the aims and objectives of the McBride Commission of the UNESCO? What is India’s position on these?2016
Discuss the impediments India is facing in its pursuit of a permanent seat in UN Security Council.2015
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?2014
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.2014
India has recently signed to become founding a 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.2014
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.2014
The World Bank and the IMF, collectively known as the Bretton Woods Institutions, are the two inter-governmental pillars supporting the structure of the world’s economic and financial order. Superficially, the World Bank and the IMF exhibit many common characteristics, yet their role, functions and mandate are distinctly different. Elucidate.2013

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

14 Comments on “[Analysis] UPSC Mains-2017 GS Paper2 is least complex so far, 80% Qs solvable from routine sources, Plus FREE [DL] Topicwise Compilation of Last 5 YRS’ GS2 papers”

  1. Actually I was waiting for ur analysis..Thank u very much sir..

  2. “By Delhi’s bogus marketing standards, even if it was written/taught 500 years ago, then also I can claim credit, but I’ll not.”

    Epic :D :D :D

  3. Superb analysis by all standards. Waiting eagerly for other papers analysis.

  4. Holy mother goodness!
    I for one am sure that not even UPSC analyses their question paper to this level.

    “Saala itna detail mein kaun analyse kartha hey yaar?! ” :D

  5. Thank you very much sir,please provide gs3 analysis

  6. And the award *Most intelligent person in this era* goes to Mrunal sir. kya gazab ka analysis h sir

  7. Thank You So Much, Sir, for critically evaluation :)

  8. Can anybody tell me how to download topic wise previous questions of g.s . I did n’t get it in download section.

  9. thank you sir for analysis

  10. sir,please apload hindi contents.

  11. gs3 analysis sir pls..?

  12. Gs 3 analysis share please…..

  13. ur, every article gives us new hope and energy ……mujhe kuch nhi pta thaa iss paper ke bare mein but ur site gives me a new and clear +bright direction ……..thanks to u ….

    our true guru g

  14. My jaws dropped seeing this analysis. You are God in disguise ! ;)

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