SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [13th Sep] – UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]

  • September 16, 2016
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SYNOPSIS- IASbaba’s TLP 2016 [13th Sep] – UPSC Mains GS Questions [HOT]


1. Imposition of secularism on the people of a country who are deeply religious has led to communalism. Do you agree? Critically analyze.


You should briefly introduce the idea of secularism and also mention about secular structure of Indian Society. Also explain the idea of secularism enshrined in the Indian constitution.


  • Impact of inclusion of secularism in Indian constitution: – legal status, protection to minorities, religious freedom etc.
  • How secularism has helped in strengthening the social bonding between communities.

How Indian idea of secularism is different from western concept and how does it help in improving the multiculturalism rather than creating plural mono culturalism.

  • Discuss the fault lines arising due to secularism – idea of pseudo secularism, appeasement, food habits etc.( use examples of other countries too)
  • Discuss how these fault lines are disguised in the name of religion and which have other major reasons too – political, economic, social etc.


You should state that the idea of secularism is one the bedrock of a multi-cultural society like India and it should be followed in its true spirit.

Best Answer1: Peeku

Secularism is a belief that religion should not be a part of state affairs. Indian Secularism is based on concept of Sarva Dharma Sambhava- equality of all religions. Communalism on the other hand implies strong allegiance to one’s ethnicity, race or religion than to society as a whole.

Secularism not leading to Communalism:

  1. India, the birth place of major religions has traditionally been secular promoting equal tolerance for all religions
  2. Though the term ‘Secular’ was added to Indian Constitution via the 42nd amendment, India has seen various examples be it Dhamma of Ashoka or Din-e-Elahi of Akbar.
  3. Communalism in India has roots in the British Policy of Divide and Rule. United India was a threat to British, thus through policies like Partition of Bengal, Separate Electorates, Communal awards etc, they ensured that Indians remain divided.
  4. India is still one of the most Secular countries where all religions get equal respect and Constitutional protection.

Secularism leading to Communalism:

  1. Indian Secularism is State driven. Minorities argue that state should not interfere in religious matters. In the issue of Triple Talaq, AIMPLB said that personal laws cannot be re-written in name of social reforms.
  2. While minorities fear that state led interventions will impose will of majority, the majority thinks that the state is busy in appeasing minority.
  3. Such misconceptions, fuelled by motives of anti-social elements result into extreme communalism.

Holding Secularism completely responsible for Communalism would be a mistake. As much as it is responsibility of State to maintain communal harmony, the citizens are equally responsible too.


Best Answer2: Lucky

Secularism in India is a unique phenomenon. The Supreme Court declared it a Basic Feature of the Constitution. However, sometime ,it is alleged that imposition of secularism on its people vide 42nd Amendment has led to communalism.
Yes, it has led to-

1.Our cultural, religious practices are our identity .A homogenization is certainly a jolt on these values.

2.Our secularism is a positive connotation where the state gives equal respect to all religion. Here, the majority religious people take it being disfavored. Even positive discrimination in the matter of minorities are creating problems as people take it political appeasement.

  1. on the other hand, minorities allege that in the garb of uniform Civil Code like legislation which have bearing on secularism, the state is trying to impose majority based codes by infringing upon their personal laws.
  2. Backwardness of few religious communities in economic and political form, have also been cited because of being marginalized or not provided with equal opportunities. The Sachar Committee Report has highlighted it in detail.

But, it can’t be concluded that adoption of secularism model is only led to communalism.

  1. India is secular because its people, its culture and national ethos are secular. Secularism is India’s manifest destiny. Right from ancient history to modern India through medieval India, we can find many examples which highlights rich culture of tolerance, mutual-coexistence and respect diversity.
  2. India has exemplified a model which can be described as ‘diversity is unity’. If the communalism would have been the only fall out of secularism, India as a state would have not survived so far who can forget our constitution assembly which was occupied by majority Hindu people, envisioned for cultural and religious rights in the form of fundamental rights for the other minor communities. This was the biggest example of tolerance and mutual trust.
    Apropos, communalism cannot be cited an outcome of adoption of secularism. Increasing trends of riots and religious hatred are having multiple causes requiring a comprehensive strategy to tackle.


Best Answer3: Deep

Communalism is a political ideology which states that people who follow the same religion have common secular interests whereas Secularism in Indian context means equal treatment of all religions by the state.

Communalism in India is the result of the emergence of modern politics, which has its roots in partition of Bengal in 1905 and feature of separate electorate under Government of India Act, 1909, Communal award in 1932, Government of India Act, 1935 etc.

Secularism was first constitutionally imposed by 42nd CAA 1976 where in the preamble the word ‘secular’ was added. Supreme Court in 1985 Shah Bano verdict established secularism and need of UCC(Art44). In 1994 Supreme Court said Secularism was a basic feature of the Indian Constitution.

The root of communalism lies in ‘divide and rule’ politics. Communalism was created to separate human beings on basis of religion and to exploit them. Deeply religious peoples can be exploited and manipulated by showing the communalism agenda and misguiding their religious sentiments and beliefs. But secularism is based on mutual respect of each other’s religion and it can never lead to communalism. Instead it can eradicate the poison of communalism from the hearts of people.

India is the land of “Sarba Dharma Sambhaba”, Ashoka’s Dhamma, Akbar’s Sulh-i-kul. India will always maintain the idea of secularism and religious tolerance. As Paulo Coelho said, “All religions lead to the same God, and all deserve the same respect.”

2. Regionalism in the Indian context hasn’t necessarily been a bad experience. Critically comment.


Politically India is a union of states but culturally it is a melting pot of diverse and magnificent cultures.  Our founding fathers always aimed at preserving national unity but encouraging diversity to flourish.


Regionalism: the theory or practice of regional rather than central systems of administration or economic, cultural, or political affiliation.

Regionalism has been associated with various issues and problems such as

  1. Regionalism sometimes borders sub nationalism which can create separatist tendencies
  2. In the era of coalition politics, the feeling of regionalism sometimes dominates issues of national interest.
  3. Lopsided developments where certain regions are able t corner-off the benefits at the expense of other regions.
  4. Local issues dominating or subverting national issues and agenda.

However it has certain positive aspects are well, which are not recognized explicitly, such as:

  1. Constitutes the rainbow-culture of India where each region strives to preserve its uniqueness discarding attempts towards uniformity. This has a great economic value in the form of tourism as well.
  2. Strengthens federal spirit of Indian polity by bringing in diverse perspectives and region-specific issues through the Upper House.
  3. Acceptance of culture specificity of some states for administration purposes and providing them autonomy under Schedules 4 and 5.
  4. Led to rise of regional leadership in the late 1960s which made our democracy more resilient towards majoritarianism.


Write a brief conclusion.


Best answer: Nazreen

Regionalism is an ideology which gave priority to regional contents like geographical distinction; language barriers; and cultural diversity, over national priorities. India being a right contender according to region differentiation also allowed it to establish. It has mix attributes:-
(good ones)

Federal notion:- though Indian preamble called india, a union of state, but its some provision like formation of autonomous councils; special status to some states for easy dissimination of democracy, helps to curb tensions in regions

Better utilisation of resource:- state formation in 2000, UK(river resourses)-JHARKAND&CHHATISGARH(mineral resourses), devide their parent states acoording to their geographical needs. Only to enhance their efficiency,

Participation in democracy:- several regional parties emerged from regionalism like AIDMK(TN), TELGU DESAM(ANDHARA), helps to strengthen the peoples participation in polity.

Preservation:- helps to protect distinct identities like TRIBES are allowed to work according to their cultural demand e.g>PESA Act.

(bad ones)

Vote bank politics:- this led to some time violence over regional identity.

Coalition parties:- prevent the development and growth of one single idea, due to amalgamation of different ideologies e.g>current “mahagathbandhan”in bihar.

Inequalities:- due to progress of favourite regions other one deprived of their demands thus led to “pocket growths”and “lopsided development”e.g> Mumbai and dharavi.

Riots:- emphasis to one religion, main conflict in india is over hindu-muslim e.g> ayodhya dispute, kashmiri pandit exodus.

Thus it has both consequence over INDIAN society, and in current scenario, it emerges as tension due to conflicts between different region. Thus what we should encourage is nationalism with strengthened federalism so that co-operation and competition among different nodes remain the main propaganda to develop not conflicts. NITI aayog, interstate councils are the right platforms to cherish “ekal Bharat”(united Bharat) goal.

3. What do you understand by social empowerment? Whom the State wants to empower and why? Analyse.

In introduction, provide the definition of Social Empowerment:

(Note: In our definition ‘three basic components’ should be mentioned without fail – i.e., Empowerment is multi-dimensional, social, and a process.)

Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power (that is, the capacity to implement) in people, for use in their own lives, their communities, and in their society, by acting on issues that they define as important.

Social empowerment is understood as the process of developing a sense of autonomy and self-confidence, and acting individually and collectively to change social relationships and the institutions and discourses that exclude poor people and keep them in poverty.

Whom the State wants to empower?

In general, almost all needs empowerment. In particular, the most vulnerable sections need social empowerment.

In India, the vulnerable groups include the very poor,

  • Women and Children,
  • Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST),
  • Aged and Disabled,
  • Poor migrants and refugees,
  • People living with HIV/AIDS and Sexual Minorities and
  • Other Marginalised communities.

You can provide few lines why they need social empowerment (as the question asks analyze)

Some important key points should be mentioned in your answer:

  • They often lack the skills, lacks power and confidence to engage in community decision-making. This in turn may be taken to imply that they are helpless or victims.
  • To increase their power and autonomy to achieve certain outcomes they need and desire.
  • voice, organisation, representation and identity
  • It is constitutional obligation (FR, DPSP) and international covenants/SDGs
  • Social empowerment focuses on supporting disadvantaged people to gain power and exert greater influence over those who control access to key resources.

Poor people’s involvement in local associations and inter-community cooperation mechanisms can contribute to social empowerment by improving their skills, knowledge and self-perception. Local associations also act as self-help mechanisms through which poor people organise their economic activities, such as farming cooperatives, or microfinance groups.


It may therefore be important to support mechanisms designed to specifically target marginalised groups and an ideal state is always expected to gain power from its citizens and more so from the most vulnerable sections of the society. Hence, it is absolutely essential for the state to take along all sections with itself, so that we become a great nation.

Best answer 1: SherniZaad

Social empowerment is a comprehensive phenomenon which strives to give strength and recognition to the marginalized and weaker sections of the society who due to some factors are lagging behind the other sections of the population by using various positive tools like education, health and social security.

State wants to empower the following sections of the population :-

1) Women- they have been lagging behind their male counterparts in every field whether education, health and employment , hence to achieve faster economic amd inclusive growth there’s need to first empower them socially.

2) Children- India is still enslaved in the bondage of social evils like child labour, child trafficking, malnutrition and hunger. Children are the future of our country hence there’s a need to empower them.

3 ) Tribals- their unique culture and way of living enriches India’s culture however due to historical injustices and developmental processes, their culture and languages are slowly eroding,hence they need social empowerment.

4) Dalits- Despite granting of political rights , India is still witnessing Dalit movements which indicates they need social empowerment in terms of self respect and social status.

5) Transgenders- they have been subjected to violence and maltreatment by society due to social stigma attached with their identity . Recent Transgender bill is a positive step towards their social empowerment.

Depite these sections, others like senion citizens, BPL public, unorganized workers , disabled etc also need social empowerment and government has been taking gradual amd bold steps like Stand up India, MUDRA, UJJWALA, SUGAMYA BHARAT ABHIYAN,etc towards achieving holistic and inclusive development of each and every citizen as well as the country as a whole.

Best answer 2: Saurabh (Apart from definition, rest is succinct)

India has been envisioned as a welfare state and one of the functions of a welfare state is to empower its citizens so that even the last man standing is able to share the benefits of development.

Empowerment needs to be social, economic and political. There are certain sections which are vulnerable and need the assistance of the state to rise to their true potential. Social empowerment refers to the process of providing the right opportunities to all sections of the society and according special attention to the vulnerable sections.

There are a multitude of sections in the society which the states should empower:

1) Economically backward citizens since they face all kinds of social discrimination and their dignity is usually taken for granted.

2) Women folk need to be empowered since they have always wrongly been considered as the weaker sex and as subordinate to men. Various social and religious practices are derogatory to female dignity, hence the role of state in empowering them becomes all the more crucial

3) Socially marginalized groups need to be empowered since they face inherent discrimination right from their birth

4) With rapid material growth, the aboriginal population which are referred to as tribals in India have to face the biggest threat to their livelihood and culture.

5) Children, especially poor and orphans are always vulnerable to exploitation in many forms; hence their empowerment is an absolute must

The need for social empowerment is absolutely essential:

1) The quality of a society is normally judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable sections

2) For becoming a world power, the state has to take along all sections of the society along the path of development

3) Gross and persistent neglect of vulnerable sections may lead to social disharmony

4) International conventions also bind individual states to work for empowering vulnerable sections

5) Constitution also mandates that vulnerable sections be empowered so that they also enjoy the fruits of development

6) Empowering individuals would bring out the best in them which would benefit the society as a whole

An ideal state is always expected to gain power from its citizens and more so from the most vulnerable sections of the society. Hence, it is absolutely essential for the state to take along all sections with itself, so that we become a great nation

4. What is ‘special category status’? How is it different from ‘special status’? What benefits do states with special category status enjoy? Discuss.

Introduction: –

Your introduction should define the special category status and why was it established.

The concept of a special category state was first introduced in 1969 when the 5th Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks. Initially three states Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir were granted special status but since then eight more have been included (Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand).

The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development. Some of the features required for special status are:

  • hilly and difficult terrain;
  • low population density or sizeable share of tribal population;
  • strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
  • economic and infrastructural backwardness; and
  • non-viable nature of state finances.



  • Differentiate between the special status and special category status.
  • Benefits which special category status states are getting.
  • Significant concession in excise & customs duties, income tax and corporate tax
  • 30 percent of planned expenditure (central budget) goes to ‘special category’ states
  • Special Central Assistance for economic development.
    Centre bears 90% of the state expenditure (given as grant) on all centrally-sponsored schemes(CSS) and external aid while rest 10% is given as loan to state. (For general category, the respective grant to loan ratio is 30:70)
  • Unspent money does not lapse and gets carry forward.


Your conclusion should say that more financial autonomy and accountability should replace these politically decided categorization and a level playing should be created OR you can opt for a different conclusion with justifying the need of special packages but in that case also you should focus on more transparency and accountability.

Best Answer1: CSE2016 aspirant (ABG)




Best Answer2: Ashutosh

The status of special category states are given to various states on the basis their backwardness in various geographical ans scoio-economic parameters like hilly terrain, low population density, poor resource base, less sources for finance etc.

This status has its history to 1969 with recommendation of 5th finance commission and it is given by union government on recommendation of NDC.

On the other hand special status criteria was bestowed on only state in India J&K due to its unique historical position with separate constituion and more autonomy in various legislative, executive spheres.

States with Special category status are accorded following benefits—-

1) 30% of planned expenditure of union budget is allotted to them.

2) Centrally Sponsored schemes have C-S ratio of 90:10, whereas in rest of the States it is   generally 70:30 or 60:40 or even 50:50.

3) Special Central Assistance given to them given to them which is additional to other benefits.

4) Concessions in income, corporate, excise, custom duty etc are given.

Way forward—-

Recently some states like Bihar, AP have raised the demand for SCS. But keeping in mind the various reforms like abolition of planning commission with establishment of NITI AYOG with mandate of cooperative and competitive federalism ; 42? devolution of tax resources by 14FC and more autonomy to states in various politco-adminustratuve – financial matter is the right step in abolition of this criteria and doing away with planned and complained budget has also reinforced the positive step with more equitable, harmonious and inclusive development of country and states in a sustainable manner.


Best Answer3:  Super Samurai

‘Special category’ status is a classification given by Centre to assist in development of those states that face geographical & socio-economic disadvantages like hilly terrains, strategic international borders, economic & infrastructural backwardness and non-viable state finances.

Special status, in India has been given to only J&K whereas SCS is provided to 11 states. Under special status, J&K enjoys more of political powers like Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are not applied to J&K, President can’t declare financial emergency in relation to J&K etc however SCS is more or less about providing financial assistance to some states.

Benefits for SCS states: –

1) Significant concession in excise & customs duties, income tax and corporate tax

2) 30 percent of planned expenditure (central budget) goes to ‘special category’ states

3) Special Category states are benefited because of Normal Central Assistance which was skewed in favour of these states. These states get more funds in terms of NCA and most part of these funds was in the form of grants rather than loans.

4) Special Central Assistance given to SCS is also an additional amount which can be used by the concerned state for economic development.

5) Centre bears 90% of the state expenditure (given as grant) on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while rest 10% is given as loan to state. For general category, the respective grant to loan ratio is 30:70 whereas external aid is passed on in the same ratio as received at the centre.

6) Unspent money does not lapse and gets carry forward.

Hence, special-category status catalyses the inflow of private investments and generates employment and additional revenue to state. Since centre bears 90% of state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes, state can take more welfare-based schemes from the new savings.

5. What are the constitutional provisions to solve water sharing disputes? Are they adequate? Give your opinion.


  1. Schedule VII – State List and Union List
  • States have power to legislate (under State list) with respect to water (water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water power).
  • Union list – Regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
  1. Article 262 Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers or river valleys. It makes two provisions:
  • Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • Parliament may also provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.
  1. River Boards Act (1956) and the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956)
  • In exercise of the power conferred by article 262 of the Constitution, Parliament has enacted the above two acts.
  • River Boards Act provides for the establishment of river boards for the regulation and development of inter-state river and river valleys.
  • Inter-State Water Disputes Act empowers the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication of a dispute between two or more states in relation to the waters of an inter-state river or river valley. The decision of the tribunal would be final and binding on the parties to the dispute.
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to have jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to such a tribunal under this Act.
  1. Article 263 contemplates the establishment of an Inter-State Council to effect coordination between the states and between Centre and states.

The provisions or the mechanisms are not adequate, there are some lacunas: (The below points and opinion is comprehensive. Some of the points should be in your answer within word limit)

The mechanism dealing with inter-state water disputes functions ineffectively because of several reasons.

  • The most prominent problem faced by it is that it do not have any effective authority for the implementation of the order of the tribunal.
  • The Tribunal can only give an award but cannot enforce its implementation. It has not been clothed with powers of punishment for ‘contempt’.
  • In the event of non-implementation of an ISWD Tribunal’s award by a state government, the central government can (failing persuasion) issue a direction to the erring state and then invoke Article 356, but that seems an extreme step; besides, when a popular government comes back it may once again refuse to implement the award. There is no easy answer to this problem.
  • The tribunal also lacks the power of enforcement of its decision which Supreme Court is endowed with. Thus such matters which involves public importance should be guided and decided by the court.

(Cauvery water dispute case is a classic example showcasing complicated scenario of river water management and governance in India. When there is shortage, when developmental projects grow, and riparian States do not enjoy equal access to the source, inter-state problems are bound to rise in sharing.)

  • Though the issues relating to the water allocation involves special technicalities but entrusting the adjudicatory power to the tribunal leads to undermining the status of the Federal government. This may lead to creating of more obstacles rather finding a solution.
  • The Provision under Article 262 seems to be insufficient. It would have been better if a machinery had been written into the Constitution itself. Then it would not be left to the Parliament to provide a machinery.
  • Article 262 grants power to make a law; it does not impose a duty, for no court can issue a mandamus to the legislature to make a law. Also no provision of the Constitution can be held ultra-vires, but any law, or part of law made under Article 262 can be held ultra-vires.
  • Also there are always inordinate delays in the setting up of tribunals and deciding the award. The right to have a dispute referred to a tribunal under IWSDA is dependent on the opinion of the Central Government that the matter cannot be settled by negotiations.

Recommendations (Because of Cauvery issue, we are giving this additional points. Just for your information for Mains exam.)

In light of the prevailing loopholes in functioning of the system, certain recommendations can be considered.

  • Firstly, there is a need to set up a permanent tribunal for such disputes instead of creating one each time.
  • Then it has been suggested by the NCRWC that the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 be repealed and in its place a more comprehensive parliamentary legislation should be enacted.
  • It is of the view that it is not necessary to exclude Inter-State Water Disputes from the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under article 131 of the Constitution and that such disputes should also be made to fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
  • The rationale behind this is that almost in every case either of the party approaches Supreme Court seeking judicial review of the order or for the enforcement of the Fundamental rights. This leads to involvement of two forums in decision making.
  • Also, parliament needs to exercise its powers under Entry 56 List I effectively. According to National Water Policy, this can be done by setting up of river boards.
  • Alternatively, it has been suggested by some scholars that the Supreme Court should only be granted appellate jurisdiction, if an appeal to the Supreme Court is possible, at least no state can reasonably nurse a sense of grievance and as the Supreme Court’s decisions are still being respected and obeyed in this country, the non-implementation problem will disappear.

Best answer Officer in making

In a federation like India, Integrity of the nation and autonomy of the sates are sine qua non. Recent ongoing water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu yet again questioned the viable approaches to address this issue.

Constitutional provisions thereof –

  1. In 7th schedule entry 56 of Union List has given power to the Union with respect to interstate rivers, river valleys. However this power is subjected to conditions that Union can regulate to that extent prescribed laws by the Parliament in public interest.
  2. Under Article 131, original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court empowers it to address issues related to center and states, and inter states.
  3. Under Article 136, through a special leave petition to Supreme court the earlier ruling by the other courts or any other Tribunal can be challenged.
  4. Article 262 says parliament may by law provide for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter state rivers.
  5. Under Article 263, President may constitute Interstate council in public interest which has the function to regulate , advice up on any disputes which may arise between states.

Though there are constitutional provisions as well as legislations enacted by the Parliament, water sharing disputes has not been addressed pragmatically . These provisions have made a minimal impact because –

  1. Union government has taken a lackluster stand on this issue. So mediation and conciliation approach has not worked so far. Hence states are turning towards judiciary.
  2. the judiciary itself has burdened with so many pending cases and SPL methods are further aggravating the tension.
  3. Inter state council has not been regular otherwise it would have played a major role in mediation.
  4. the Water Dispute Tribunals takes a long time for it’s composition and submission of report thus delaying the matter.

From the above it is evident that our political system has enough provision to address the water sharing issues but proper utilization of those forum was minimal. As per various committee recommandations including Sarkaria Commision , River water disputes must prefer the route of Interstate council as ist route. A permanent Constitutional Bodies like Election commission, Finance commission, a water commission could be set up to resolve water sharing disputes.

Best answer 2: Sahil Garg


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