GS Paper II (Polity, Governance, Social Justice and International Relations)
Hello friends. Today we will discuss about the specific strategy that you should be adopting while attempting the mains examination specifically with respect to the preparation for paper II, i.e. polity and international relations. So, when you see the syllabus, what we will be doing very briefly in the next thirty minutes or so is to try and understand what is important from examination point of view for the mains examination this year and at the same point of time try and see what things should be kept in mind while answering a question and what should not be resorted to while answering the questions and also briefly we will look at some of the major topics which should definitely be covered by you in your run up for the preparation of the mains examination. So if you see the syllabus itself, let’s first just briefly see what are the areas of the syllabus that are itself important and then we will move on to see what other specific topics which are important for the examination this year. When you see the syllabus for general studies paper II you will see that there is a division into in terms of governance, constitution, polity, social injustice and international relations. Now what I specifically would want you to focus from the mains perspective is on the basics of constitution and governance, something that you should have gone through a little more detail. At the same point of time, what you need to understand roughly seventy out of two fifty, seventy to eighty out of two fifty marks, or one third of the paper will be specifically focused upon international relations and so our specific focus has to come on international relations where greater amount of attention being paid to the recent developments from an Indian perspective in foreign policy. Another important area is the whole governance constitution thing that we have already talked about.
So, let’s just go see the syllabus and before that let’s try and understand what should be kept in mind before attempting answers in the mains. What is important to understand that on average only fifteen to twenty five questions are asked in your mains examination in paper II, if you see the past two years pattern. What you also need to understand is that you are roughly getting somewhere between eight to ten minutes to answer every question in the mains, you are getting some twenty questions or so. The understanding is when you have some eight minutes to answer a question, what is important first of all is try and complete the paper at all costs and try your best as to not leave any question in the paper itself, because that is something that must be thoroughly avoided. A question which is left completely blank is a very big mistake because of the fact that it reduces the chances of your score actually being on the higher end side. So try and attempt all the questions and for this what is important is that you stick to the demand of the question and you try and address the demand of the question in a straight forward manner. What is important even while writing in the answer is highly desirable is from an examination point of view that you write and try and stick to answers in a point wise format, especially for the constitution and governance related topics. Try and write answers in a point wise format. So if the demand of the question is basically talking about reforms that should have been brought, for example, with respect to the higher judiciary or with respect to the working of the education sector or say with respect to any particular governance specific reform, what you should, your answer should clearly point out crisply and to the point. Try and not focus too much upon writing a lengthy introduction or a conclusion because you may fall short on time. The first priority must be to complete the paper and to try and address the nature of the question and the demand of the question specifically. If the question asks you to compare and to critically analyze a governmental policy or critically analyze what suggestion or what improvements must be made to the parliamentary system of democracy etc. then in that condition you should clearly point out firstly the strengths and weaknesses of a particular system and then try and answer in the last part of the forward or suggested recommendations to improve upon the working of the system. Often the recommendation which you are suggesting should be based upon governmental committee’s recommendation, for example, we have discussed specifically with respect to governance, good governance, citizens charter, e-governance, specific recommendation according to the second year RC recommendation that you would have gone through in the tablet itself. Now, the next important thing that you need to understand is that when it comes to answering the question in a point wise format, refrain from using a point wise approach and as far as possible do not try and use a point wise approach while answering international relations questions. So while answering questions on topics related to international relations, please refrain from using a point wise approach that maybe a more preferable approach in terms of writing governance and polity related questions. Okay, so if you keep this much in mind, this is the basic things that you have to keep in mind about what should be done and what should not be done with respect to the mains questions. It is highly desirable that you come to the questions about which you do not have much clue at the last when answering the questions. Answer the questions that you have fair amount of knowledge and understanding at the start, so as to insure that you do not in any condition miss out on the questions that you know already. At the same point of time, it is highly desirable and recommended that you complete the question paper because leaving out questions and not attempting them you know simply closes the possibility of you scoring even one or two marks on those questions. So even if you have a less idea try and write those questions at the last so that you at least get, you are in a position of even getting two or three marks out of say ten marks. Because that score also adds a lot of value when there is cumulative accumulation of marks over the large number of questions. So keep that in mind.
The next important thing that you need to keep in mind is the important topics which are important from an examination point of view this year. What we would want you to do is, we will actually point out some five or six major key issues in area that you should definitely focus upon on in polity area and some five or six areas in the international relations sections. What is important is that you definitely focus upon this because there is a very high likelihood that a question may come from these areas.
Let’s see the polity related topics. The first issue I would say rather is the whole constitutional debate as of now, for example, on the relations between the directive principles of straight policies and fundamental rights. For example right now the whole controversy regarding the ban on cow slaughter and meat prohibition. For example the ban on cow slaughter is a directive principle mentioned under Article 48 and how do you de concise with the rights of individuals mentioned under fundamental rights. So this is a issue that we have dealt with at great lengths before in the tablet itself, and you know this is one of the issues that can come in one way or the other.
Another important thing, even with respect to, that you should keep in mind, another important topic is the whole issue of the right to privacy. The right to privacy has been hotly debated right now and the Supreme Court has recently given guidelines as to how the right to privacy should be read at least with respect to Aadhar. And what are the four, the Supreme Court recently came up with four guidelines with respect to the working of Aadhar and that should be kept in mind. Also, the right to privacy, whether it is a part of fundamental right is also and what are the limits to right to privacy. This is a question again, which is important from the mains point of view under polity in your paper II.
Another important topic is Article 377 and the issue related to the rights of transgenders because this is the first time in the past thirty years that a private member’s bill on the issue of transgenders, on the right of transgenders has been passed and on the other hand, the recent advent by Rohinton Nariman and others in the Supreme Court argues that we need to, or the constitution should provide special protection to the transgender community in the form of reservation in higher education and jobs also. So this is another issue of the transgender community and the legalization of homosexuality and decriminalization of homosexuality that can give rise to a question and specifically in the context of the rights of the transgender individuals and the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 and how Article 19 and 21 relate to the issue of homosexuality under Article 377. So that is an important issue.
Another important issue is with respect to the appointment to the higher judiciary. The appointment to the higher judiciary and the problems with it is also a critical issue and specifically the National Judicial Appointments Commission and the appointment procedure which has sort to be modified by the NGAC bill is also an important question which has been a matter of debate for some time now and can come in the mains examination.
Also, an important topic is the whole issue of good governance and the whole issue of e-Governance specifically in the idea of good governance because the new government at the center has had a very dedicated push towards e-Governance, so the whole issue of e-Governance is something that has been discussed at length when we have talked about before about the whole idea of good governance what are the secondary recommendations on good governance and on reforming e-Governance. So this is something that you should go through the lectures that you have with yourself before you go for the mains.
Also, what is an important topic is, for example, is the Shreya Singhal case with respect to the repeal of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000, something that happened in the early months in 2015, and so the whole issue of fundamental rights and the right of freedom of speech and expression over the internet and how did Section 66A of the Information Technology Act actually curtailed this right and what should be done and how does the Supreme Court ruling actually reinstate the right. So, that’s another important issue.
One of the last important issues with respect to, I would say, polity related topics that you should definitely cover is the issue of poverty estimation and the issue of socio economic caste census. Issues related to poverty and hunger is separate sub-topic in your paper II syllabus and that’s the issue of poverty measurement, a very important topic and specially the relevance of the socio economic caste census and its findings is important from the mains point and that also should be covered. And the details on the socio economic caste census should be shortly provided to you in the forthcoming lectures.
What you also need to understand that apart from these five or six major topics from polity point of view, some four or five major topics from international relations point of view also must be definitely covered.
So you may be aware that the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh has been recently signed by the government at the center and to that extent it is a historic deal and it will give a very significant push to India’s relations with Bangladesh and has a very significant impact on India-Bangladesh relation. Again this is something that we have discussed at great length in the lectures before in the tablet so you can go and review them before the examination.
The SAARC and the issue of regional connectivity is also an important issue because of the new government at center which has given a dedicated push towards regional connectivity, the relevance of SAARC as an institution. What is India’s role in SAARC and what is SAARC doing to promote regional connectivity is an important issue. For example, a very recent agreement which has also been signed in 2015 is a motor vehicle agreement as well as an agreement to build a road and infrastructure connectivity links and something that has been called as the BPIN corridor – the Bangladesh – Bhutan – India and Nepal economic corridor which will be built in the coming years. So that’s another important agreement that has been signed to boost regional connectivity within these SAARC nations and these agreement has been signed between Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan. So, that’s the BPIN corridor that you also need to focus upon. Basically, the issue of regional connectivity. What are the obstacles to regional connectivity? What are the problems with respect to the functioning of SAARC? What are the challenges in respect to the functioning of SAARC and how can it be made more effective. So, this again is an issue that we have dealt with great length before and you should definitely focus upon it, because a question is likely to come. Almost every year at least two to three questions every year are likely to appear from India’s relations with its immediate. South Asia as a region carries much more importance in Indian foreign policy and from your examination point of view. Also, what is important it is that it is the first time that new Prime Minister, Narender Modi, after Jawaharlal Nehru for the first time went to Central Asia and visited all the central Asian countries. Also India has been offered the membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the SEO, along with Pakistan. So that the India’s joining of the SEO, the relevance of SEO and India’s Connect Central Asia policy, they all become important and it becomes extremely important from the examination point of view. Also, because of the fact that Russia has announced a Eurasian economic union in January 2015 and what is its relevance. So this whole issue of central Asia and India’s central Asia relations is very important this year from the examination point of view.
Also, with the removal of the sanctions on Iran by United States, India – Iran relations and how does the India – Iran relation fit into the larger look best policy of India is also very important from the examination point of view.
And finally, in December 2015, we have the Paris Negotiations coming about the climate changes issue and it is quite much likely that a question on climate change negotiation than Indian foreign policy stance can come in the examination. Some of these topics we will be covering in the forthcoming lectures with you.
Also, now what you need to understand is how do you actually structure an answer. So let’s just take one example of a question which has appeared last year in the main examination of 2014. And let’s take the question that came in the polity section, that just one question we are considering, that starting from the inventing of the Basic Structure doctrine the judiciary has played a highly proactive role in insuring that India develops into a thriving democracy in light of this statement evaluate the role played by judicial activism in achieving the ideals of democracy. Now, if you look at this question, what the question is asking is the working of the Indian judiciary from the time the Basic Structure doctrine was proposed in the Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973 and is looking at the issue of judicial activism and the strengths and the weaknesses of the Indian judiciary with respect to its working. So, what you need to point out in your answer is when you are asked in question to evaluate the role, what you are supposed to do is to bring the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the working and then take a measured stand. So, what you should be pointing out is, for example, firstly what is judicial activism and the idea of public interest litigation that came after the Kesavananda Bharati case and the public interest litigation idea that came in the 1980’s. So, first thing is, what you need to point in your answer is the definition of judicial activism and also is the whole idea of public interest litigation. So, then in the second part you should point out which has been the cases where in cases of judicial activism the judiciary has interfered in matters of the legislation. Then, how judiciary has interfered in the matters of and has actually taken up the matters of the executive. So, you point out specific examples and cases, for example, that we discussed even before, like the judiciary’s intervention in legislative matters was the direction given to the government for, in 1998, as to the Supreme Court guidelines on to prevent sexual harassment of women at workplace. Similarly, the Supreme Court monitoring of cases which are being investigated by the CBI; that is a judiciaries’ involvement in the work of the executive. And so when after you have pointed out these instances, these are all cases of judicial activism, also point out cases of public interest litigations which have been taken up by the judiciary. For example, the case in Delhi with respect to air pollution and with respect to the judiciary taking up the matter under the whole idea of preventing individual’s right to life and liberty and imposing and giving directions to the government to bring about strong systemic reform to prevent or to tackle the problem of air pollution in Delhi. So that was a 1998, 2000 verdict on the issue of air pollution. So, once you have done this, in the last part of the answer you should point out that judicial activism over a period of time when carried forward can result in judicial overreach and a violation of principle of separation of powers and thus in the long run judicial activism or judicial overreach is detrimental to the stability of the democracy itself. So, that’s the way you actually structure the answer. Try and bring the strengths and the weaknesses of the arguments on the positives and the negatives both and then in a way forward if at all there is a governmental recommendation you can suggest them. So, that’s what you need to remember.
Now, finally, if you just come to the syllabus, especially another important topic from an examination mains point of view is the topic of Federalism. Almost every year you will find questions on Federalism coming and for example this year another important topic which we did not talk about till now, a very important topic on which a question can come is the issue of Fiscal Federalism, especially in light of the fourteenth finance commission recommendations. So, fourteenth finance commission recommendations should be clearly kept in mind by you and should be kept in detail, should go through in detail because there is a very high likelihood of a question coming from this sector.
Now comparison of Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries’ is also very, very highly important topic, because till now since the syllabus changed, a new question or a question on the comparison of the Indian constitution with another constitution has not yet appeared in your question paper in the mains, but it is quite much likely that a question can be asked and we have discussed in our lectures at specific points of comparing India’s Parliamentary formal democracy with presidential form of democracy and many other comparisons of the Indian constitution in the American as well as the British constitution. So, to that extent these comparisons are important and specific questions can come on these comparisons specifically in the mains section.
Now, also what is important is the representation of People Act, the issue of electoral reforms, a question on issue of electoral reforms also can come and we have discussed all these electoral reforms specifically, as you will quote some eight to ten major issues that need to be resolved with respect to bringing about electoral reform in India with respect to the whole procedure of elections. So that is also something that is important.
Finally comes the whole idea of governance and good governance. You will find that the issues of governance transparency and accountability is a specific topic which comes only in the mains questions from governance accountability, and charter e-Governance are not asked in the prelims so this is a topic exclusively from which you expect some twenty or thirty mark questions to come in the mains directly. Also, this portion is directly useful especially of tackling corruption and how can you use, how you can build systems to tackle corruption even for your ethics paper. This is a part of overlap of the polity syllabus with the ethics syllabus also to an extent. So, that’s also something that you will need to keep in mind.
Finally India and its neighborhood. A strong focus has to be on South Asia as a region if you have to look into foreign policy from India’s perspective and questions from India’s immediate neighborhood have repeatedly, almost every year there is a question on India’s foreign policy relations with one country in south Asia or the other. So, south Asia has a very important likelihood of appearing in your question paper. So, that is also something that you need to understand.
One more important issue that is gaining prominence with respect to international relations right now and can come in your examination is the whole issue of the United Nations Security Council reform and so that is some issue with the United Nation General Assembly meeting very recently that is happened. Question can come United Nations Security Council reform and India’s position on UN Security Council reform, what are India’s arguments etc. That is also an issue that you should keep in mind while you are preparing for the mains this year.
So now that we have discussed some ten to twelve major important topics which are important from paper II, do try and keep these and go through these topics before you go for the mains examination. And, once again what we are trying to emphasize here is stick to the points, try and answer after understanding the demands of the question and try as far as possible and it should be possible to answer all the questions even if there are certain questions about which you do not have much knowledge don’t leave the question. Write something about the question because even then you can get some at least one or two marks out of ten marks and that also when added up together comes as a huge chunk of marks which you can gain simply by addressing even some basic demands of the question, if not addressing the exact demand of the question.
With this we will wish you luck for the coming mains examination. Thank you.