Displaying 5 of 5 records

Title: Living in the panopticon: on mass surveillance

Issue: Mass surveillance and Right to Privacy

Syllabus: General Studies-II - Indian Polity and Constitution - Indian Constitution - Salient Features, Preamble, Fundamental Rights, DPSP, Duties

Context: Fundamental Rights, particularly, Right to Privacy has failed to keep up with the growing of surveillance states around the world


  1. With the massive increase in technology, government has come up to rely heavily on it for building a surveillance state citing the need of security
  2. Every major place in the cities are equipped with CCTV which are backed by face recognition software, software companies too are using their products which can possibly be used to spy on its customers on a large scale
  3. In China, face recognition software is being used to spy on Uighur Muslims. Alexa product of Amazon has the potential to monitor all conversations of its customers. USA in recent times has used Artificial intelligence to monitor conversations of its citizens and also people all over the world
  4. Surveillance by governments is not a new phenomenon. However, the surveillance in the present 21st century  has new paradigm to it:
  • From selective spying it has moved to mass surveillance
  • From manual intelligence in intelligence gathering to Artificial intelligence
  • Restrictions which were imposed on privacy are being consistently done away with
  • Data is being constantly aggregated in one place rather than segregation of the data

Takeaway point: Surveillance in the 21st century cannot be totally done away with, however, there has to be global standard to prevent illegal surveillance. European Union’s ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ is a measure that can be used to ensure data privacy

Keywords: Right to privacy Mass surveillance

# Previous UPSC Question Marks Year
1 Indian and USA are two large democracies. Examine the basic tenets on which the two political systems are based. 2018
2 Discuss each adjective attached to the word ‘Republic’ in the preamble. Are they defendable in the present circumstances stances? 2016
3 Did the Government of India Act, 1935 lay down a federal constitution? Discuss. 2016
4 Though the federal principal 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 Center, a feature that militates against the concept of strong federalism. Discuss. (200 words) 10 marks 2014
5 Essentially all that is contained in Part IV-A of the Constitution is just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life. Critically examine this statement. (250 words) 15 marks. 20 2011
6 Discuss the major extra-constitutional factors influencing the federal polity in India. (250 words) 15 marks 2008
7 What is a Constitution? What are the main sources of the Indian Constitution? (250 words) 2007
8 What is the significance of a preamble to a constitution? Bring out the philosophy of the Indian polity as enshrined in the preamble of the Indian Constitution. (250 words) 2004
9 . What is Article 356 in the Indian Constitution? Comment 150 words 1997
10 Distinguish between Parliamentary and Presidential forms of Government. Do you think that changing over to Presidential form will be a solution for better governance? Substantiate your answer (About 250 words). 1995
11 India is not a federation but it has definite federal features. Elucidate 1982
12 Bring out the significance of the Fundamental Rights provided in the Constitution of India. The right to acquire, hold and dispose of property has ceased to be a fundamental right. Examine the purpose of the change 1981

Currently there are no previous questions available.

Title: To the final lap: on Lok Sabha polls

Issue: Political discourse

Syllabus: General Studies-II - Indian Polity and Constitution - Elections, Representation of Peoples Act

Context: With the six phases of Indian elections concluded, it has been observed that political discourse in the country has degraded


  1. Issues observed in the elections so far
    1. Personal attacks on each other
    2. Overly relying on religion to attract voters
    3. Policy issues which are rarely discussed or debated
    4. Violence in some part of the countries during voting
    5. Fake news being peddled on social media
    6. Consequences of such issue: It creates mistrust of the people on the election process, antagonism not just among the political parties but also among the people in the society.

Takeaway point: Democracy and elections should be directed at achieving civilized goals rather than the present goals of winning power at any cost

Keywords: Political discourse Elections antagonism Civilized goals.

# Previous UPSC Question Marks Year
1 In the light of recent controversy regarding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India? (10) 2018
2 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? (250 words) 2017
3 Examine the impact of Regional Political Parties in Indian politics. (150 words) 15 marks. 2008
4 what are the Main determination of voting behavior in India? (250 words) 2007
5 Identify the major electoral reforms which are necessary in the Indian Political System. (150 words) 2000
6 Is it correct to describe the party system in India as One party Dominant system ?give reasons for your answer. 1985
7 Why was it considered necessary to pass the anti-defection bill ? In what ways is it likely to improve the political health of the country? 1984
8 Despite all talk of an effective opposition why has it not been possible to develop an effective opposition in India? Enumerate the principle impediments to the achievements if the much desired political objective 1983
9 The Phenomenon of Political defection in India assumed large proportions in recent years. Bring out the factor responsible for the growth of this phenomenon. Is it right to say than ban on defection will amount to suppression of thought and action? 45 1981

Currently there are no previous questions available.

Title: Redactive pricing audit and the CAG's duties

Issue: Rafale issue

Syllabus: General Studies-II - Indian Polity and Constitution - Constitutional, Statutory, Executive, Regulatory, Quasi Judicial Bodies

Context: The report prepared by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in Rafale case was criticized by the Supreme Court of India on account of redacted pricing


  1. Mandate of the  office of CAG
  • The CAG is mandated to audit all receipts and expenditures of the three-tier governments in India and report to the legislature judiciously, independently, objectively in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, without fear and favor
  • CAG conducts financial compliance and performance audits and submits his reports to the legislature to help people’s representatives in enforcing legislative oversight and public accountability of the executive.
  1. However, the report prepared by the committee on Rafale was not completely transparent, many parts of the report pertaining to pricing was redacted on the insistence of the ministry. Ministry believed that publishing such pricing would lead to security concerns
  2. What is Redactive pricing? Redaction is the selection or adaption by ‘obscuring or removing sensitive information’ from a document prior to publication
  3. Issues with Redactive pricing:
  • Redactive pricing is nowhere used in supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in other countries
  • There is no constitutional limit on CAG powers to audit and in preparation of reports
  • Complete, accurate and reliable information due to redactive pricing in the Rafale report
  1. What should be done? Pricing decision in defence procurement should be subjected to detailed analysis, without resorting to redactive pricing. CAG should be allowed to establish whether the procurement activity was executed keeping in mind economy, efficiency, effectiveness, ethics and equity.  Expertise should be also be developed in the CAG office to audit complex procurement such as Rafale deal

Takeaway point: CAG is an eminent institution in the country. The doubts that have arisen in the Rafale case can be set right by preparing report which does not resort to redactive pricing.

Keywords: Redactive pricing CAG power and functions Rafale pricing issue

# Previous UPSC Question Marks Year
1 Whether National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) can enforce the implementation of constitutional reservation for the Scheduled Castes in the religious minority institutions? Examine. (10) 2018
2 “The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has a very vital role to play.” Explain how this is reflected in the method and terms of his appointment as well as the range of powers he can exercise. (10) 2018
3 How is the Finance Commission of India constituted? What do you know about the terms of reference of the recently constituted Finance Commission? Discuss. (15) 2018
4 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. (250 words) 2017
5 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
6 What is a quasi-judicial body? Explain with the help of concrete examples. 2016
7 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. (200 words) 15 marks 2015
8 “If amendment bill to the Whistleblowers Act, 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect.” Critically evaluate. (200 words) 15 marks 2015
9 “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. (200 words) 15 marks 2015
10 The setting up of a Rail Tarif Authority to regulate fares will subject the cash strapped Indian Railways to demand subsidy for obligation to operate nonprofitable 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. (200 words) 10 marks 2014
11 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. (200 words) 10 marks 2014
12 Discuss the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission which have been a departure from the previous commissions for strengthening the local government finances. (200 words) 10 marks 2013
13 Discuss the composition and functions of Union Public Service Commission. (150 words) 15 marks. 20 2008
14 How does the Inter- State Council establish co-ordination between States? (150 words) 2006
15 What are the steps that the Election Commission may take if a recalcitrant State Government wants to put off Assembly Elections? (150 words) 2005
16 How does the Indian Constitution Seek to maintain independence of the Public Service Commission? (250 words) 2004
17 What is a Finance Commission? Discuss the main functions of the State Finance Commission. (150 words) 2004
18 What is a Finance Commission? (150 words) 2003
19 Describe the methods of delimiting constituencies for parliamentary elections in India. (150 words) 2002
20 Differentiate and state the significance of general election, mid-term election and by-election. (150 words) 1998
21 How are the President and the Vice President of India elected? What are the constitutional issues involved in their election (About 250 words)? 1997
22 What is the stand of the Election Commission on the residential qualification of the members of the Rajya Sabha? 150 Words 1994
23 n India, though the Governor is the constitutional head of a state just as the President of the country, the former may be enjoying more powers than the latter. Do you agree? Give reasons (About 250 words). 1994
24 Explain the role of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council in the formulation of public policy in India (About 250 words). 1994
25 Explain the position of the Election Commission with regard to the residential qualification of the members of the Council of States. What do you think about it? (150 Words) 1994
26 Describe the composition and functions of the Election Commission of India (150 Words) 1993
27 Describe the composition and functions of the National Development Council. (150 Words) 1993
28 What is National Integration Council? Is there a need for it? What was the major outcome of the recent meeting of the National Integration Council? (150 Words) 1991
29 Examine the constitutional relation between the President and the Prime Minister of India (About 250 words). 1991
30 Discuss the powers of the President of India regarding the scheduled areas (150 Words ) 1991
31 What are the constitutional provisions that ensure the independence of the Public Service Commissions in India? (150 Words ) 1991
32 Discuss the secular nature of Indian polity and the position of minorities in India. (150 Words ) 1991
33 Review the present Electoral System in India and suggest modifications to ensure better and healthier Policy (In about 250 words). 1990
34 Explain the nature and extent of discretionary powers and special responsibilities of the Governor in the Indian Constitution? 1990
35 Define the duties and powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in regard to Audit and show how the Constitution provides for his independence from Executive Control (About 250 words). 1989
36 Explain the Constitutional responsibilities of the Election Commission of India. 1988
37 How is the governor of a state appointed in India? Does the manner of his appointments ensure his independent functioning? 1984
38 Panchayati Raj has been designed in function as the grass root of democracy in India. Describe its organisational setup. What is the present position? Assess the performances of Panchayati System (Answer to each question on should be in about 150 words). 1981

Currently there are no previous questions available.

Title: Private, public and political morality

Issue: Ethics and its dimensions

Syllabus: General Studies-IV - Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude - Dimensions of Ethics

Context: Politicians in power have to follow ethics which is distinct from the ethics followed in private life.


  1. What is Ethics? Moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity.
  2. A person in the society interacts in the society in various capacities. For example, an individual and his role in his family, in society and when he is part of the government or the administration.
  3. In each of these spheres, ethics can be distinct
  4. Asoka view on Ethics in these spheres
  • Interpersonal morality: Special obligations to our children, spouse, parents, teachers and relatives.
  • Inter-group morality: It deals with harmony between different religious-philosophical groups generated by the exercise of sayamam (self-restraint), vacaguti — controlling one’s speech.
  • Public morality: deals with what rulers owe to their citizens and also vice-versa. Some of the things which rulers owed to their subjects: janahita, the good of all and janasukham dealing with happiness, impartiality
  1. Hegel’s view: He distinguished ethics in three spheres of human life: family, civil society and the state.
  • Family: Shared identities
  • Market society: each person acts as an individual based on his self-interests. Here people are regulated by legal rules
  • Political community: people are connected through shared interests, such as political freedom, solidarity, shared traditions and cultural heritage
  1. Private and political morality: It is often believed that people who have impeccable private ethical life are generally assumed to have corresponding high ethics in political life too. That is not entirely true. Example: FD Roosevolt had a high political ethics while in private life his ethics was low. Hitler was opposite

Takeaway point: In an ideal world, one can achieve high level of both private and public ethic. However, in a non-ideal world one can hope for people in politics will at least follow minimum norms of political morality even as they fail to be scrupulously moral in their private lives.

Keywords: Ethics Dimension of Ethics Ashoka and Friedrich Hegel

Currently there are no previous questions available.

Title: The Madhava Menon model of legal education

Issue: Education and public values

Syllabus: General Studies-II - Social Justice and Development - Social Sector - Education

Context: Education is better served if they are targeted to achieve the objective of ensuring public service. An institution which is built on this model would serve the society better. Madhan Menon was one such ace educationalist of our country


  1. Institutions built by Madhav Menon: National Law School in Bangalore in 1987, National Judicial Academy (NJA) setup in Bhopal, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Calcutta
  2. Values embodied by Madhav Menon in public life: Using skills for public good

Takeaway point: The function of education is not only to improve reasoning but also to improve morals in the society. Madhav menon strived to implement this throughout his life.

Keywords: Madhav Menon public good Education

Currently there are no previous questions available.

Currently there are no previous questions available.