Q.1) No one knows whether a big earthquake is going to hit or not, but a more relevant question is what even if we knew. Discuss (15 marks - 250 words)

Why this question? - Recent earthquakes, in and around Delhi (12 since May, most powerful 3.4 magnitude)  have triggered discussions on the possibility of increased seismicity around Delhi, and fears of an impending big earthquake sometime soon. None of these apprehensions have any scientific basis.

Intro - One can define the phenomena of earthquakes and unpredictability associated with it.

Body - Here, one has to discuss whether an earthquake can be predicted or not. Based upon the above discussion, rather wasting time on speculation disaster preparedness is the need of the hour.

Way ahead - Elements of earthquake preparedness.

Conclusion - Capacity building and training in case a big earthquake occurs is what is required. 


Q.2) There are some differences among academics on the direct as well as indirect costs and benefits of the level of forex reserves. In this backdrop examine the benefits and issues associated with holding forex reserves in India. (250 words - 15 marks)

Why this question? -  India’s foreign exchange reserves are rising and are slated to hit the $500 billion mark soon is the only reason to cheer, amidst a gloomy situation on the economic front due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Intro - One can begin the answer by giving a picture of current forex reserves in India.

Body - Tell briefly why forex reserves are increasing in India. Then mention the benefits of forex reserves. After the highlight the issues associated with forex reserves in India.

Way ahead - The share of high volatile(FPIs) in Forex basket needs to be minimized etc.

Conclusion - Tell to avoid a situation like the 1991 crisis holding forex reserves is essential.


Q.3) India ranks low in Environment performance index.In the light of this report, highlight major reasons for low performance and suggest some way ahead to improve India’s ranking.

Why in news:

  • India secured 168 rank in the 12th edition of the biennial Environment Performance Index (EPI Index 2020), that measured the environmental performance of 180 countries — and was released by Yale University on June 4, 2020. 


In intro recent EPI can be quoted to show how India performed vis a vis other countries.


  • Discuss the various factors responsible for low performance -environment laws, industrial pollution etc.
  • Suggest way ahead: good governance, public participation etc.


  • Based on the discussion above conclude your answer.


Q.4) India’s Economic situation deteriorated owing to the Covid 19 lockdown as a consequence of which, the World Bank projected India’s Economy to contract by 3.2% in 2020-21. Discuss. 15 marks (250 words)

Why this question:

The World Bank projected India’s Economy to contract by 3.2% in FY21 as robust measures to restrict the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have significantly curtailed activity in Asia’s third largest economy.


The World bank in its Global Economic prospects report estimated that Indian Economy will contract by 3.2% in 2020-21.


The Indian Economy plummeted in the during the lockdown -

  • A sharp decline in the real GDP:  This is significantly lower than the 5% that the Second Advance Estimates suggested at the end of February earlier this year.
    • Nominal GDP plummets: At the time of the 2019-20 Budget presentation, nominal GDP was expected to grow by 12%-12.5%. By the end of it, provisional estimates peg it at just 7.2%.
    • This sharp deceleration in nominal GDP growth, shows the continued weakening of India’s growth momentum even before it was hit by the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
  • Missing Second tier(Manufacturing Sector)
    • 2019: A dismal picture: While the agriculture and allied sectors enjoyed buoyant growth, as the year progressed, manufacturing simply lost its way.
  • Demand has fallen, FD increased:
    • The most disturbing news is that the three components of demand have fallen - consumption demand has slowed, while investments and exports are both in negative territory.
    • The Controller General of Accounts data showed that the Centre’s gross tax revenues fell an unprecedented 3.4% in 2019-20, while fiscal deficit increased to 4.6% of GDP, well above the revised estimate of 3.8%. 

Steps taken to Support the economy:

Under this tell about the numerous reforms initiated by Government and RBI as part of Atma Nirbhar package. Eg -

  • Enhanced spending on health care to bolster the covid-19 response 
  • Wage support, in-kind and cash transfers to lower-income households 
  • Deferral of tax payments 
  • Loan and liquidity support for small businesses and financial institutions.
  • Further RBI also decreased the repo rate to 4%, relaxed the investment conditions for portfolio investors and enhanced moratorium on loans.   

Way Ahead

  • The self reliant capability calls for -
    • Planned state investments in R&D including basic research (3-5% of GDP)
    • Technology and policy support to private corporations
    • Infrastructure Creation 
    • Education and skill development (4-6% of GDP)
    • Augmenting the Health Expenditure ( 3% of GDP)
    • Upgradation and reorientation of  PSUs would also be crucial given their distinctive place in the ecosystem. 


  • As per the WB’s outlook, the crisis is likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges.
  • Apart from country level initiatives to combat the pandemic and its after effects,  the global community must unite to find ways to attain a robust recovery so as to prevent more people from falling into poverty and unemployment.


Q.5) As epidemiologists tend to consider that the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic may come in the near future in India, the existing loopholes in the healthcare system are highlighted again. Comment (250 words)

Why this question?

Coronavirus pandemic has already exposed some of the loopholes in India’s health care system.


Mention unprecedented threat of COVID -19 and the crucial times


  • In brief about the peak
  • Limitations of India’s health care system
    • Lack of infrastructure
    • Low public health spending
    • Subnational disparities
    • Non-significant role of Private sector during the pandemic
  • Suggestions
    • Step up in public health
    • Role of the civil society and their coordination with state etc


Way ahead for making India capable to effectively deal with the crisis.