Tag Archives: insights ias

Insights Secure-2014: Questions On Current Events


04, April 2014

Answer ALL the questions in about 200 words

1. Write a note on Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarisation 2 (BICEP2) experiment conducted at the South Pole recently. Explain its significance.

Business Standard

2.  Critically comment on Sri Lanka’s policies towards its Tamil population post – 2009 victory over LTTE.

The Indian Express

3. In the light of recent Supreme Court judgement, critically analyse all the positive and negative criticisms against Aadhar project.

The Indian Express

4. What are the challenges being faced by Assam and the Indian government in dealing with migrants from Bangladesh post 1971 war. Examine the steps taken so far to address the issue.

The Hindu

5. Explain the functioning of PSLV. Examine why it’s been very successful so far.

The Hindu

6. With examples explain how insurgency poses threat to smooth functioning of democratic processes in India.

The Hindu

7. Write a note on ZunZuneo project which was in news recently.

The Hindu

8.What is Social Progress Index? How is it calculated? Explain.

The Hindu

9. In recently released Social Progress Index, Bangladesh ranks ahead of India, and USA, most powerful nation ranks 16th. Critically explain why some countries with rich resources and stable governments are ranked low in the index.

The Hindu


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Religion – A Perspective

~Saurabh Goyal


Our Collective Collusion

Religion is essentially the values one commits himself to. And over time with a consistent practice and relentless observance it becomes central theme running through that person. As there is no universal constant set of life-conditions, our responses to life too must differ over space and time.

One’s faith is such a personal thing that no matter how dispassionate and objective an outside analysis is, it always runs the risk of getting presumptuous. This is why both those who debunk the faith and those who vouch for it, end up impinging on the basic, fundamental right of every life on this earth- The right to self-determination.

So long as this personal aspect of our life does not colonize the space meant for our collective existence, we are fine- So everyone responds to his or her motivations and callings, everyone protects his right to his own choice and respects the choices others make (Not in a shallow sense that we understand it these days, where non-interference is always accompanied with condescension).

Such a society requires individuals who are self-possessed. But unfortunately we in India are not so self-possessed. And this leaves us in an abysmal state. So Religion in our country is no longer about compassion, humility, and renunciation; It is about authority, chauvinism and grandiose. It is no longer a personal quest; it is a collective sight of fight. Our Gods no longer are good enough to defend us; rather we must defend our Gods from reason and scrutiny. In collective spaces that we share it transcends an individual’s all other identities; so one is what his religion is, that too how I see his religion not as how it actually is.

It has become increasingly difficult in such an atmosphere to have a reasoned discussion about this state of conditions. Precisely because the moment one starts speaking on the issue, who he is becomes more important than what he is saying. And this lack of reasoned argument has rendered the reformative aspect of religion marginal. Argumentative Indian is gagged in insidious ways.

Who is to blame? As is the norm in Indian society our first response will be – The state. But the fact is that it is not the state that has diminished religion in our country; it is the religion which has fettered the state in so many ways. And now state too is busy is busy rent-seeking in the whole state of affairs, and has lost that reformist zeal which it had when we started off as a democracy. Part of the reason is that our politics has lost all credibility. Our representative Institutions are fundamentally undemocratic and unrepresentative in nature. Though we have elected them to those offices, but the moment they introduce a change we will be the first ones to raise scepticism. This is because elections in India have become an enterprise where you exercise your vote to make a choice not of the virtue but of the lesser evil.

In part religion itself is to blame. That it is not producing kind of progressive knowledge it should to cope with the dynamic nature of our existence ; and the fact that we have abdicated our responsibility to generate that knowledge to God men, Clergies and religious chauvinist. So a handful of people can claim to speak for the whole community; a community can kill an individual with impunity just because their customs tell them she is a witch; a temple will provide people a chance to pray in a sequence that is determined by the depth of your pocket. And the strangest and most saddening part is that we are so used to them that these things no longer seem implausible to us. In place of our Gods inspiring us for higher values, we have inspired our Gods to collude with us.

The vision of a prosperous, flourishing, liberal society that we had at our beginnings can be realised only with a fundamental shift in our thinking. It needs a society where we confront hard realities not brush them under the carpet; where our framework on secularism does not rest on community, diversity and scriptures but on individuality, rule of law, liberty and freedom. Diversity will flourish anyway. Individual protection against majoritarianism is the paramount responsibility of the state, state must be consistent and clear in its stand. After all individual is the smallest minority in any society. And we must learn that to be a democrat means much more than the shallow understanding of the word that we have been carrying all along.

And just so you know I am still figuring out my religion.



Insights Secure-2014: Questions On Current Events


17, February 2014

1. What are the challenges of corruption? How does it impact  society? Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu

2. In the light of recent events highlight the importance of choosing quality regulators in both tradeable and  non-tradeable sectors in India. (200 Words)

Business Standard


3. “The CPI-WPI gap underscores the dilemma faced by monetary policy.” Examine in the light of recent data released on CPI and WPI. (200 Words)

Business Standard


4. Write a note on the composition and function of committee of privileges of the Indian parliament. (200 Words)

The Hindu

5. What measures has the Election Commission taken to bring electoral reforms in India in last twenty years? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

6. Do you thin the revival of ancient culture and festivals would bring women empowerment in India? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

7. ” It was time Indian journalism was liberated from corporate stenography. ” Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

8. What are the challenges being faced by the automobile industry  in India? Explain. (200 Words)

The Hindu



The Big Picture – Manufacturing sector: Why are we lagging behind?

Guests: Mohan Guruswamy (Economist and Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation) ; Jagdish Khattar (Former Managing Director of Maruti Udyog Ltd) ; Dr. Praveen Jha (Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, JNU) ; Priya Ranjan Dash (Managing Editor, Financial Chronicle)

Courtesy: Rajya Sabha TV



Insights Secure-2014: Questions On Current Events

From now onward, we will try to cover some basics too. Looking at the GS paper of this year’s Mains it appears that there is lot of focus on Basics.  Good to know that few questions from Secure-2014 figured in the question paper!


02, December 2013

1. What was the impact of Bhopal Gas Tragedy on the environment and health on the people living in the surrounding areas? (200 Words)

The Hindu

2. “India and Japan share the goal of total elimination of nuclear weapons.” Looking at the nuclear policies of both the governments, in your opinion, do you think both countries have come closer to this goal? Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

3. How does various WTO rules affect Indian agriculture? Explain. (200 Words)

The Hindu

4. Throw light on the need for framing rules for regulating the sale of acid. (100 Words)

The Hindu

5. Why does India need a civil nuclear liability law? Elucidate. (200 Words)

The Hindu

6. Comment on the Section 8(1)(i) of the Right to Information Act (1000 Words)

The Hindu

7. “The Shunglu Committee had suggested structural changes in CAG by making it a multi-member body.” What is the rationale behind such a recommendation? Analyze.(200 Words)

The Hindu

8. What are the major inter-state river water disputes between riparian states in the peninsular India? Explain the role of Tribunals in resolving these disputes. (250 Words)

The Hindu

9. Why Dombivili Industrial Belt was in news recently? (50 Words)

The Hindu

10.  Tax-free secured redeemable non-convertible bonds (100 Words)

The hindu

Reference 1

Reference 2

Reference 3

11. Social, Economic and Environmental Development (SEED) for the The Central Karakoram National Park  (CKNP) (50 Words)

The Hindu

12. Octocopters (50 Words)

The Hindu

13. What is Zero Sum Game? (50 Words)

The Hindu

14. Orange Revolution (100 Words)

The Hindu

15.  Long March-3B rocket (50 Words)

The Hindu

16. Why The Bedouin were recently in news? (50 Words)

The Hindu

17. Greater Adjutant Stork (50 Words)

The Hindu

18. Tyagaraja and Pancharatna kritis  (50 Words)

The Hindu

19. How can India eliminate the practice of open defecation in India? Suggest measures and give examples of any existing successful models. (200 Words)

The Hindu

20.  Community policing as a tool for better policing. (150 Words)

Indian Express.



New Initiative From Tomorrow – Insights Current Events!

From tomorrow (11/10/2013)  a  new initiative will be started for aspirants preparing for 2014 and 2015 UPSC civil services exam. Daily current events analysis will be published on this blog.

I have added new member to Insights. He is Mohan – extremely good at news analysis. We both will try to ensure quality content for you.

This will immensely help fresher and many aspirants who find it difficult to read and digest news published in The Hindu and other newspapers from examination point of view.

Insights Secure-2014 and this new initiative will complete your quest for easy access and reading of current events exclusively with exam orientation.

This will be free for you. You will be able to copy paste the content. No restriction on right clicking and copying.

I will also provide PDF every day. Please do share it with friends if you like the quality.

For first five days it will run as a trial. Your feedback and suggestions are important for us to improve and give you back quality stuff. So feel free to criticize. Or suggest new ideas when you see it tomorrow evening.

We plan to introduce new initiatives during coming festive seasons of Diwali, Christmas and New Year eve also.

Tomorrow’s initiative is a gift on the eve of Dasara and Durga Pooja festival. Happy festive season to all of you!



How To Choose An Optional Subject For UPSC Civil Services Mains – Practical Tips

Choosing a right Optional subject is a crucial step in your preparation for the UPSC civil services exam. A wrong decision not only costs you a rank but also leaves in you a sense of regret for the rest of your life.

In the new pattern for Mains, you can opt for only one Optional subject (in old pattern it was two) which will have two papers of 250 Marks each. So, one Optional subject carries 500 Marks in Mains.

Aspirants come from diverse academic backgrounds – Agriculture, Arts, , Commerce, Engineering, Law, Literature, Management, Medical, , Science etc. That is why UPSC has given aspirants to choose from an array of 51 Optional subjects (26 Literature +25 non literature subjects) based on their interests and academic background.

It is a common knowledge that many aspirants opt for subjects other than their graduation subjects.

upsc optional subjects, insights india, upsc 2014

So, what is the criteria to choose an optional subject?

Following are the important steps you should follow before you finalize a subject as your Optional.

  1. First go through the list of all the Optional Subjects. Read the names of the subjects again and again for 15 minutes.
  2. Now go back to your school and college days. Think about your favorite subjects then. Think hard in which subject you excelled, in which subject you showed more interest, in which subject you got good marks.
  3. Now come to the present. See which areas of news you are more interested in. Think which topics of GS you like more. Some people like history, some like polity/sociology and keep reading those books as if they are doing masters in those topics. Think of short-listing them as your Optional subject.
  4. Some people also have a hobby of reading literature of their mother language.
  5. Now see the list of UPSC Optional Subjects again.
  6. Based on above criteria, make a list of 4-5 subjects that you think you have interest in.
  7. Now go through the syllabus of each Optional Subject. Read all topics carefully. Underline/highlight the topics — that you think you know something about or have some interest — in the syllabus of each shortlisted Optional subject.
  8. Now go through the Previous Year Question papers (3-4 years) of the shortlisted Subjects. Read all the questions. Again gauge yourself the level of interest you have or residual knowledge you possess to answer each question. It’s just to know yourself how comfortable you are with a subject, don’t worry if you don’t know answer to any question.
  9. Finally, the availability of materials and guidance in the form of coaching matters a lot. For some subjects it is difficult to get standard books, for some coaching may not be available. Non technical subjects can be prepared by doing self study provided you regularly practice writing.
  10. By now you will have a clear picture about choosing between 2-3 subjects. For example, if you are an engineering student and exceptionally good at your engineering subjects, at the same time if you have extensively read literature of your native language, may be since childhood, you will be in dilemma to choose between these two subjects.

In this situation, the ‘success rate’ counts. Usually literature subjects have performed well in all years. You might end up choosing the literature of your native language as your Optional subject. It’s a good decision.

For some people who have worked in a big organization, Public Administration appeals a lot and in fact it has been the most popular optional with working aspirants or with those who have quit their jobs.

Medical students may opt for Medical Science, Zoology or Anthropology as these subjects are related to their field.

In the end what matters is how much you love the subject. If you love every topic in it, then it is the ‘One’ you should go along with. Not with the ‘most successful’ or ‘the most popular’ ones.


Filed under BOOKS, IAS, SECURE-2014, UPSC, UPSC Mains GS Strategy

Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 75!!!

QUESTIONS: DAY – 75 [Topics the development industry; Parliament -bigstock-Diamond-4904031functioning;  challenges of corruption(Paper-V)]

  1. What are the preconditions for the growth of Civil Society? Is Indian democracy conducive to it? (250 Words)
  2. Identify the major obstacles in the smooth functioning of Parliamentary democracy in India.(250 Words)
  3. Suggest concrete measures for the eradication of wide spread corruption in public life in India.(250 Words)




Question 1

Other two questions don’t need references!



Ethics Case Study – 3 – Ethics In Public and Personal Relationships

Ethics Case Study – 3:

Keshav recently got a job of First Division Assistant in Tehsil (Taluk) office. He is smart and hardworking. Because of which Tehsildar has become fond of him and though he is Keshav’s superior, he has made Keshav his good friend.

Keshav is married to Ramya who is  educated and recently got posted as Panchayat Secretary, incidentally to the Panchayat office located in Keshav’s village itself. Ramya’s mother-in-law is not supportive of her and her job. She frequently taunts Ramya and demands all of Ramya’s salary to be given to her. Though Keshav supports Ramya, he seldom objects to her mother’s remarks to his wife.

A young, male Panchayat member of same Panchayat where Ramya works ,and who wields considerable clout in the village and Tehsil, comes to know that she had ‘illegally’ signed a property assessment certificate and claims that he has documents to prove his claim. The certificate  was obtained by a relative of this Panchayat member who was not in good terms with him. In the past serious fights were taken place between them over this property.

Ramya insists that she signed it only after Panchayat’s bill collector surveyed the property and gave his verbal assurance about the legality of the property in question.  As he was born and brought up in the village and knew matters of the village very well, Ramya had trusted him. Now the Panchayat member is threatening her to take the matter to District Panchayat and get her suspended.

Ramya seeks her husband’s help who is close to tehsildar and who in turn is a close friend of Block Development Officer. Ramya’s mother-in-law is forcing her to quit the job and stay at home, but Ramya wants to be financially independent and pleads her innocence. Keshav is in moral dilemma over the entire episode.

What should be Keshav’s course of action so that he doesn’t compromise his ethics in personal and professional relationships? (200 Words)



Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 64

QUESTIONS: DAY 64 (GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-III, TopicsDevelopment processes and the development industry- the role of  SHGs; India and its neighborhood- relations.)

  1. “SHGs are gaining importance as both a political force and as a channel for government benefits.”  Comment. (250 Words)
  2. “Instead of influencing the course of the political process, India might benefit by re-focusing its attention on long term economic relations and in building human resource capacities in Nepal.” Critically analyze. (250 Words)




Question 1 – It’s a general Questions, references might not be very helpful

Question – 2 – Again a general question



“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” – An Essay

The following Essay was written as part of Weekly Essay Challenge - 8 by Mr. Aditya Jha

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” 

Aditya Jha

An imaginary conversation between a couple : year 2030.

Wife : Honey, you have got a mail from the environmental agency. It is about our carbon footprints bill. Haven’t you paid yet?

Husband: Obviously not. I do not understand why these guys care about such silly things.

Wife: But, shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t we pay for the pollution we create? What about those who would bear its brunt in the future.

Husband: I pay taxes and that is enough. Anyway, we would live for another 30 years or so. How does it matter to me, whatever happens after that.

Even though imaginary and prospective, the conversation reflects the callous attitude of those living on the earth. The earth has existed for billions of years, and the span of human life is incomparable with its age. For centuries, it has been saved for us by our ancestors. Thus, central to the statement in question is ” Sustainable Development” , which is development taking into account the concerns of future generations.

The concept, though looks simple and straightforward, is a generational change in human thinking about their environment. First put forward officially by the Brundtland Commission in its report “Our Common Future”, in 1980s, it has shaped the international discourse on environment the most significantly. Its background was the persistent and alarming deterioration in the quality of the environment. Since then, several national and international summits have taken place, discussing the urgency of the situation. In pursuance of these, several measures, agreements and protocols were adopted like Kyoto protocol, Montreal protocol etc. Some of these were binding on parties and thus religiously adhered to, but the non-binding ones were paid merely lip-service. And, in fact, nations now are unwilling to renew any such commitments owing to several economic constraints. It seems that the new realization of sustainable development has faded.

The central problem to this is the perceived clash between economy and environment, which involves balancing the short-term material interests with the long-term goal of environmental sustainability. The inclination towards the former at the cost of environment usually results from short-sighted political considerations and unconsciousness of the interests of future generation. The former is understandable, and thus the latter comes into play knowingly.

Its implications are grave. The quality of water, air and land has continuously deteriorated. It is projected that unless the present situation changes, millions would be thirsty across the globe by 2025. The crop productivity and total production would decrease owing to land degradation, despite a rising population, leaving many hungry. Carbon dioxide levels have already breached the alarming level of 440 ppm (IPCC) and consequent increased global warming would melt polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, increasing the mean sea level. Thus, the frequency of both floods and drought, paradoxically, would increase and rising sea levels would submerge coastal areas and low-lying nations such as Maldives. Also, the incidence of tropical diseases would increase with rising temperature of earth. These implications are not exhaustive, but they do provide a picture of the future crisis, to be faced solely by the coming generations.

However, despite all scientific inputs and reasonable analysis, the international community has failed, to act collectively and reach a consensus. Recent summits like the Doha Climate Talks and COP-11 were all stuck on issues relating to commitment and finance. In fact, both are inter-related. Since, the international community indirectly represents its people. who are often unaware of the bigger picture, this impasse on issues of climate change is understandable. The situation will only worsen if corrective and preventive actions are not taken. People want to save for their children, but forget, that nothing can be achieved without collective consciousness and action concerning the future.

Of course, resource extraction from the earth can not be stopped, but with moderate and judicious use it can be made sustainable. A balance needs to be achieved between the short-term and long.term interests and the importance of conservation and concern for nature, in this, can not be understated. We have not received the earth from the ancestors to exploit it the way we want, rather, we are only the ephemeral guardians of this treasure-trove, whose future guardians are waiting. And, it would be wrong on our part to cheat them by finishing the treasure in the trove, leaving only the guardianship to them.

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Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 54

QUESTIONS: DAY 54 [GENERAL STUDIES PAPER IV, TopicsInvestment models + Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services (from Paper-III); Linkages between development and spread of extremism)

  1. “Resort to PPPs in the social sector often raises concerns about the commercialization of services that are normally expected to be provided free or highly subsidized.” Comment. (250 Words)
  2. “While development is a useful tool against Maoist  extremism, it is imperative that a semblance of order precede injection of resources into the extremist-affected areas.”  Critically comment. (250 Words)





Both questions are general in nature; following links will provide only food for thought, not answers to the above questions.

Question 1

Question 2



The Rationale Behind Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge

Most of us read newspapers and magazines. Right now, if I ask you to name or recall few articles published yesterday in The Hindu Opinion page, chances are that you will hardly recall/remember anything. Of course, after thinking for a few minutes, you may recall something, but when asked to reply without thinking too hard, you will rarely recall anything – unless  you’d written something about those articles.

Writing an answer to a question is more productive than just jotting down some points from a book. When you read some topic with a question in mind, your keenness becomes sharper and the ability to comprehend facts and ideas increases.

Later when you write an answer to the same question, without the help from any source, surprisingly, your mind consolidates many ideas of the past and present hidden in your subconscious, and presents them as a coherent answer.

This is the idea behind Daily Answer Writing Challenge – to make your exam preparation more productive.

When you read a topic from a book in a similar way as you read newspapers and write nothing about it, it is an utterly futile exercise and a huge waste of time. When you ‘read’ newspapers, you just ‘read’ them. For this exam (UPSC Civil Services), just ‘reading’ is not enough.

The advantages of Daily Answer Writing Challenge are manifold:

  • Questions stimulate you to read a certain topic with a new perspective. You read them critically.
  • After reading, it is suggested to write your answer on a paper first and then type it here. This double exercise will enhance your long term memory on that topic.
  • Your answer is visible to everyone who visits the page. Someone may correct you if they find a mistake in your answer
  • You can see others’ answers, and you may find a best answer to emulate later(structure, not content)
  • Unlike on various fora, where few friends make a group and try to answer questions on their own and stop it for some reasons after few days, here there is an invisible moderator making things easy for you (it is assumed so!).
  • Most topics from the syllabus will be covered (sans factual ones)
  • It is free and democratic. Fortunately, so far, none has used a harsh language against anyone (though democratic!)
  • Finally, it improves your writing ability – I have seen many transforming their writing style from ludicrous to sensible. It is the fruit of their own perseverance. Haven’t we fed innumerable times the classic cliché,  that  practice makes things perfect.
  • It is voluntary. Also, you have freedom to use pseudonym (But I don’t understand why some guys use girl’s names!)

It also has disadvantages:

  • You may not get feedback always, but you can compensate this by reading some good answers to see if your answer lacks some points/ideas
  • For some people typing may be irksome or difficult.

If you have experienced other advantages and disadvantages (apart from the one, ‘Insights doesn’t review answers’), please feel free to discuss them below in the comment section.

Some work like bringing all the best answers together and provide them in a pdf document is pending. Providing model answers is not a good idea for GS opinion based questions and is also not possible as it requires a lot of energy and time.

The other intention of this initiative was to make aspirants discus among themselves and contribute to each others’ answers.

If you want feedback, you must give feedback –  give and take principle.

PS: After you write/paste your answers here, go back to books and study for your other papers. After few hours spend one hour on reading others’ answers and if possible give some feedback. Again, go back to your studies.

It is tempting to check if anyone one has given feedback or not on your answers (Facebook syndrome), avoid it here to stay focused on your studies (Later, I don’t want you to spam this site with hate comments, such as, ‘you wasted our time!)


Archives of Daily Answer Writing Challenge



Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 51

QUESTIONS: DAY – 51 (GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-III, Topics: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate; Issues relating to poverty and hunger)

  1. “The promise of more effective global economic governance aftermath the 2008 Financial crisis remains unfulfilled.” Critically comment on the steps taken by the key global institutions in the light of the given statement. (250 Words)
  2. Does India need a poverty line ?Give your opinion in the light of recent controversies over the estimates of poverty line. (250 Words)




Question 1

Question – 2



Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge – Day – 48

QUESTIONS: DAY – 48 (GENERAL STUDIES PAPER-III, TopicsConstitution – evolution, amendments; India and its neighbours; Parliament – conduct of business)

  1. Is the suggestion that the Constitution should be amplified, by inserting in it provisions relating to matters on which it is silent, or it is left to conventions or the goodwill of those who are to administer those matters respectively, justified? Explain with suitable examples.(250 Words)
  2. “The political future of the countries of Southeast Asia, considered in relation to their economic development and their security, is indissolubly bound up with India’. Critically comment. (250 Words)
  3. Briefly explain the position of various items of business pending before the Lok Sabha at the time of dissolution of the House. (150 Words)




Question – 1

Question – 2

Question – 3