Mission Mains 2021 - GS Paper 2 & 3 - ForumIAS

Mission Mains 2021 - GS Paper 2 & 3

This is for those of you who are planning to write Mains 2020 ( subject to prelims happening ) and we clearing it. Nevertheless, in this time of lull, I am iniviting all people to come up with Mains related study material and Daily Q & A. I will be regular with the newspaper, my self and try to post questions. Anyone else interested, please contribute!

Let us have separate thread for GS Paper 4 & Essay as GS 2 and 3 are largely from current, and we can pool lot of questions.

If @root can help to pin it up, then we can begin with a small group.

Will help in daily accountability. 

root,Neyawnand60 otherslike this



@rashiv Would you want to suggest topics for making brief pointers? 

For GS 2- comparing Indian president with American president (since it is election year + comes under comparing constitutions) 

For GS 3- a radical suggestion. Before prelims, there was an initiative where few students got together and compiled notes of 1year of Down to Earth. Willing participant chose 1 month each and they got it done. Maybe we could do that for NITI Aayog 3 year plan 

Is 3 year AP worth the effort?

I had made notes of the NITI strategy document quite a while back. 

Attaching it to cut down some efforts here.

P.S. The notes have been divided into two documents with relevant portions from gs 2 and 3 respectively.

P.P.S. Advance apologies for the excessive clumsiness.

gs2 niti summary.pdf

gs3 niti summary.pdf

Naadan_Parinda,Joeyisthebestand23 otherslike this

Some points which haven't been mentioned above that I'd like to share

1. Division of taxation subjects is enshrined in constitution. And amendments to it can only be initiated by parliament, with states role limited only to ratification.

2. Finance commission is appointed by sole discretion of centre through the President, along with its terms of reference. States thus remain a beneficiary rather than active participants in sphere of financial federalism. Recent example of where the tenure of 14th Finance Commission was extended and it's recommendations for Fy20 along with FY21-26 can be seen as an act of unilaterlalism by centre. 

3.While GST has emerged as a parallel mechanism for devolution of some indirect taxes, Finance commission's ability to balance requisite financial resources for state suffers due to lack of synergy between the two constitutional bodies.

4. The effective Veto of Centre due to 1/3rd of weighted votes in GST council tilts the balance in favour of centre.

5.the borrowing limits on states along with restrictions over Fiscal deficit has hindered the ability of states to develop according to their needs, with capital expenditure component suffering in order to meet these restrictions.

6. The provisions for Compensation to states within GST structure for 5 years have not been given any constitutional legitimacy, and in absence of dispute resolution structure as mandated, the states remain vaguely placed to seek their rightful compensation.

Counter view

1. Despite the provision of decision making in GST council through voting, most of the decisions till now have been taken by consensus.

2. President is the representative of entire nation and as such, Finance commission being constituted through him gives it federal sanctity.

3. Although states cannot initiate amendments to taxation provisions of constitution, the representatives of respective states in Parliament are entitled to do so, and can even achieve success by securing wider cooperation across party lines.

4. States have been given limited fiscal space to ensure that regional interests don't end creating disturbances in national economic framework.


1. Earlier the planning commission had considerable overlap with Finance Commission in terms of membership. Similar arrangement should be pursued for GST Council as well allowing opportunity of representation to states as well

2.Finance Commission should be made a permanent body so that it can factor in variations in GST collection and make annual provisions for devolution of finances to state accordingly.

3.States have to be encouraged to build upon their existing taxation base and increase revenue collection.inclusion of performance grants within the terms of reference for 15th FC are a step in the right direction

4.Since at present states provide employment to 1.5 times as compared to centre, and bears 58% of total government expenditure, the shift in greater financial autonomy as well as ability towards state is only inevitable. Therefore centre should try to prepare states for these greater challenges as well.

root,Neyawnand12 otherslike this


@Yo_Yo_Choti_Singh How 2 manage ths ques in 10 min??The need for cooperation among various service sector has been an inherent component of development discourse. Partnership bridges bring the gap among the sectors. It also sets in motion a culture of ‘Collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’. In the light of statements above examine India’s Development process.(15)

Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders - GS 2 Topic 10/11

Ye topic agar yaad h mind mein to contour will be easy and comprehensive. 

Such questions are largely BAKAR QUESTIONS which need flow charts and overall touching of points with specific examples at some points.

I will TRY to include following things in my answer (NOT WRITING EXACT ANSWER AS IT DOESN'T MATTER - APPROACH IS IMPORTANT)

"EXACT Copy Paste Headings" can best save in such questions like

1a.Need of Cooperation across sectors and how it's inherent development discourse (4-5 lines opening remarks with one good example like Telecom/Airways !) 

1b. How the partnership or collaboration bridged the gaps and help set in motion a culture of cooperation and team spirit : again give one two specific examples.

2. India's Development process : better to make a basic flow chart here about various era like Nehruvian >>Indira >>Rajiv >>LPG era >>New India era

3. How cooperation, collaboration and partnership impacted India's development discourse : HERE DUMP IN WHATEVER COMES IN YOUR MIND. GIVE MAXIMUM EXAMPLES POINTS DATA etc here andMENTION ALL SYLLABUS TERMS IN BETWEEN LIKE PPP SHG CHARITY ORGANIZATION NGOs etc You can also go paper wise examples like one from history one from geography one polity one or two from pub adm one two from economy and ONE FROM ETHICS PERSPECTIVE !

4. Limitations / challenges till now in this development discourse and collaboration and Way forward: 

Drop key points /names of NITI AAYOG ECO SURVEY MODI JI BUDGET SPEECH WTO etc in this part.

Bss ban gayi khichdi. Jesa vague question vesa vague answer ;)


Naadan_Parinda,Tetsukoand10 otherslike this


Please suggest me how to prepare Gs2 (I appeared in mains 2019 and got very less marks-75 , please help me), kindly mention sources also.

1. Practice writing answers

2. Read about issues (pros-cons- way forward)

3. Get a grip on the terminology. Link answers to constitution, constitution's values, SC judgements. 

4. End an answer on a +ve note, with a suggestion as far as possible. 


Newspaper, your own notes, any good GS2 compilation (Vision/Forum)

Neyawn,EiChanand9 otherslike this

Here is my answer. Please review it and provide feedback/suggestions/improvements. Thanks!

Good comprehensive answer. Only suggestion->cut down on words used to explain your points 

My pointers 

1. Introduction- Every crisis exposes and highlights the hidden vulnerabilities of a society. The Covid pandemic has done the same for Indian society. 

2. Vulnerabilities of India 

a. Political- issues pertaining to fiscal federalism. Eg State’s financial position impacting their ability to fight Covid 

a. Urban planning- Major metropolitan cities are worst impacted + slum model of living showed its perils with high corona cases. Eg Dharavi 

b. Social- migrant crisis exposed the issues surrounding internal migrants having low social protection and political priority 

c. Cultural- few instances of prioritising religious gathering over following norms of social distancing

d. Health- tertiary capability in form of shortage of ICU bed & ventilator, and, primary health centre weakness 

3. Positive highlights 

a. Political- strength of Indian federalism as seen in constant cooperation between all units of Indian federalism 

b. Mobility- railways and airline sector showed maturity via Shramik trains and Vande Bharat mission 

c. Cultural- Culture of Indian society to come together in times of crisis. Eg Voluntary work by NGO, donation by individuals 

d. Economic- adaptable as seen in the swift rise in production scale and capability of PPE, masks etc 

e. Health- role of pharma capability seen in HCQ availability and the key role played by Asha & Anganwadi workers.

3. Conclusion- In light of PM’s message of turning this crisis as an opportunity, the need is to usher steps for fiscal autonomy for local government, focus on smart villages and scaling up capability of health sector.

Naadan_Parinda,sonderand7 otherslike this

A good watch to understand UPSC Mains Answer Demands by Mrunal Patel.. especially for Freshers !! 

Tetsuko,GaryVeeand6 otherslike this


Adding to this discussion ( assuming people will write answer )

1 The division of taxation powers in India undermines both  “cooperative” and “federalism” . Critically examine.

Those if you reading Hindu or IE must be able to answer it! Just suggest points!

Why it isn’t co-operative 

A. Lack of consultation with all States on deciding taxation matters. Eg imposition of wealth tax 

B. No alternative to appeal against recommendations of Finance Commission

Why it is against federal principle

A. GST took away autonomy of States to impose tax. Eg Sales tax

B. Creates dependency of State to the Centre. Eg Dues and compensation pending under GST yet not given to States

C. Lack of effective devolution of tax share and autonomy to raise revenue via tax , to local bodies, as noted by 2nd ARC

Counter view- Article 269A presence of GST council for co-operation to decide all matters via vote 

 - Inter state council discussed Puncchi Commission recommendation, including those on taxation

 - Untied 42% devolution of tax share to States post 14th Finance Commission 

 Way forward 

A. Timely release of GST dues and compensation by the Centre

B. Increasing autonomy of State to levy tax. Eg Sin tax by Kerala 

C. Empowering State Finance Commission to ensure fiscal federalism between state and local body 

Naadan_Parinda,Barry_Allenand5 otherslike this

@Upsc_2020 @TheNotorious 

some pointers 

1. Introduction- define non state actors. Eg NGO, pressure groups etc 

2. Body 

A. Overt threats 

- IB report notes 2-3% loss to gdp due to protest and stalling of developmental project. 

- Promoting inciting speech and radicalising youth. Eg Zakir Naik’s Peace TV 

B. Covert threats 

- source of trafficking of arms, drugs, people

- exporting terrorist. Eg JeM

- implementing vested interest. Eg Compassion international engaged in conversions to Christianity 

3. Strategies 

- Using Darpan portal as a means to check legality and genuineness of NGO’s 

- Implementation of FRCA to watch flow of illegal funds/foreign funds 

- Strengthening intelligence agency, community awareness and legal remedies against such association 

- Good governance ensuring welfare society, to reduce scope of non state actors and their functions

4. Conclusion - Proactive measures need to be taken to protect unity and integrity of India while also promoting pluralistic society. Government  must be careful to not paint all non state actors in same light. Eg Pratham, there must be rule based and evidence based action. 

prashantshukla,GaryVeeand4 otherslike this


@rashiv Would you want to suggest topics for making brief pointers? 

For GS 2- comparing Indian president with American president (since it is election year + comes under comparing constitutions) 

For GS 3- a radical suggestion. Before prelims, there was an initiative where few students got together and compiled notes of 1year of Down to Earth. Willing participant chose 1 month each and they got it done. Maybe we could do that for NITI Aayog 3 year plan 

Presidentialisation of a Parliamentary system has the ills of both Presidential and Parliamentary System. Shashi Tharoor has given some very good views on this.

DM,Barry_Allenand4 otherslike this
Does OTT content require government regulation. Examine. 

One of the vision monthly summarized this very well. Doubt if I can do any more justice. 

Intro : Misleading display about IAF in a biopic released on OTT. 

No :

1) Freedom of creative expression

2) Pull content - so discretion for viewer

3) Age rated

4) Small production houses are finally able to reach target audience - red tape will discourage. 

5) Global reach - multi jurisdiction - difficult to regulate

6) Personal device - not in public space like theatre. Individual privacy comes into picture ( Puttaswamy 2017 )

Yes :

1) Age rating does not protecting exposure to children - violence, sex at inappropriate age impact.

2) Freedom of expression is not absolute

Balanced view : Have guidelines instead with standard system of age ratings. Encourage self regulation. Also push OTT platforms to have parental controls for using apps. 

Barry_Allen,GaryVeeand4 otherslike this
@Villanelle Thanks. Although I knew that it's the basic structure that one usually expands in the essay. But Forum has got it as one of the 4 evaluation parameters and I got average in this field in one of my essay tests :P.
So I was wondering what exactly is a good Prewriting going to look like. Also, how crucial is it in real essay paper.

Bhai, if I am guessing correctly, the brainstorming part, it is good to have at least 1 page of brain storming. In my first Mains I had taken a pencil and eraser, and made some rough things, then erased it. Don't know why I erased it. Maybe to have the paper look clean. I also didn't get marks that year, though I had written ( as per my understanding ) a very good essay.

It is a good idea to keep it. Examiner ko dekhne do ki apan ne mehnat ki hai. 

GaryVee,upsc2020and4 otherslike this
@rashiv Would you want to suggest topics for making brief pointers? 

For GS 2- comparing Indian president with American president (since it is election year + comes under comparing constitutions) 

For GS 3- a radical suggestion. Before prelims, there was an initiative where few students got together and compiled notes of 1year of Down to Earth. Willing participant chose 1 month each and they got it done. Maybe we could do that for NITI Aayog 3 year plan 

Mariposa27,Alexrand3 otherslike this

Haven’t done answer writing practice since very long time plus still have to revise polity again but yet I tried to answer this question with whatever I knew  as I was asked to do so. Apologies for bad handwriting. Whoever is going to review the answer, please score  it out of 15 marks. Thanks!

Neyawn,Naadan_Parindaand3 otherslike this

Would like to add few points why cooperative federalism is not being followed in taxation

  1. States have little rights left to raise money by taxation with GST kicking in 
  2. dependency on GST revenue devolved from center which takes time
  3. the minimum tax revenue guarantee that center made to states for 5 years after GST was accpeted by states - the center has fallen back on that promise
  4. states raising funds is also challenge because :-
  5. Center's approval needed to raise borrowing limit
  6. center needs to stand as guarantor, thus dependence on center
  7. high rate of interest for loans by states  because no clear revenue projection of states (union has incoe tax, coporrate tax etc )
  8. Thus dependent on Center to borrow from market and handover to states.
  9. Some critiques argue that "cooperation" in "federalism" works when same party is in state and center. But a single monolithic taxation structure like GST is not viable in a economicallly and politically divergent set up - where states have popular mandate, and have little money to meet those promises.
Naadan_Parinda,Tetsukoand3 otherslike this

 The division of taxes in india is mainly done by two constitutional bodies- FC and GST council. Though both try to ensure fiscal federalism, but only GST council is able to represent states in its composition.

Features which undermine the "cooperative and "federalism" are - 

1. The FC composition

2. FC recommendations cannot be challenged by the aggrieved state.

3. Article 293 

4. In the pre GST era- states could raise additional funds by means like - increasing the sales tax etc. but currently not allowed and thus center dependency.

5. Under GST regime - center supposed to be releasing the funds to state periodically, but this is being delayed. 

6. Taxes levied under the GST laws to be shared as per prescribed by the Article 270(2)- subject matter of FC. 

7. Parameters for the division of the taxes between states - decided by FC - states views undermined. E..g. the southern states plight over change of base year for population 

However, GST council in certain ways, tries to ensure the Cooperative federalism - 

1. By ensuring states participation by vote in the decision making. 

2. To make recommendations on inter state trade - coming under the GST council ambit. 

3. If centre refuses to make allocations as per the recommendations of GST council - the states can approach the supreme court. 

Way forward - 

1. GST council can develop a pro active, independent body to ensure timely release of funds from centre to states. 

2. A robust dispute redressal mechanism can be set up by GST council.

3. More efficient vertical as well as horizontal devolution of funds can be ensured.

4. States to be allowed to raise funds from international source under special circumstances. 

5. States efforts like maintenance of forests, population control measures etc. to be incentivised and their historical aspects to be taken care of while allocating funds. 

The current COVID 19 situation requires a decentralised approach. The center is such extraordinary times must take steps to ensure that states can raise the funds locally and thus the states wont have to rely on non-essential commodities like liquor to tackle a health crisis. 


Naadan_Parinda,chamomileand3 otherslike this
» show previous quotes

Post point 3 of what?

Negatives, positives or way forward?

Point 3 was allegorical. But yes, an examiner burdened with 100 copies isn't going to read 20 points. An answer needs to be made presentable. 

Every candidate has similar points. What differentiates a Dabi from a Tabi is the way the answer is written. Esp in such questions wherein you've multiple stakeholders, impact areas. 

It's just a suggestion. I may be wrong. 

GaryVee,mickeyviruand3 otherslike this


How to prepare GS 3: Government Budgeting?

1. The public expenditure management is a challenge to the government of India in the context of budget-making during the post-liberalization period. Clarify it.

2. What are the reasons for the introduction of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget  Management (FRBM) act, 2003? Discuss critically its salient features and their effectiveness.

These are some questions asked previously from this topic. As you can see, the questions are most likely to revolve around your analysis of budgetary reforms. 

1. Analyse the budget, check for new reforms in this FY

2. In last 5 years, what are the major changes that have been introduced in budget making? For example - Advancement of Budget presentation to February 1 (earlier presented on the last working day of February), Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget, and Doing away with plan and non-plan expenditure. Prepare for such topics (pros cons impact)

3. Types of budget -Gender Budgeting is important

4. Post LPG reforms impact

5. Fiscal measures introduced

madz,tarunkrsinghand3 otherslike this

Keeping in mind the fact that above meme talks about, there is a high chance  that a question on recent developments in agri sector might be asked in upcoming mains and hence sharing self-notes for a quick revision. Thank me later; with a selection this year if possible hehe!

Barry_Allen,EiChanand3 otherslike this
Recent Defence agreements with Unites States of America are likely to be a game changer for Indian Armed Forces. Comment. 

Foundational agreements are those the US signs with countries it has close military ties with. India and USA have entered into the following defence agreements recently:

1. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which allows the military of either country to use each other's bases for logistics support

2. Communications Compatibility & Security Agreement (COMCASA) which will enable allies to use the US’ secure communications equipment and systems

3.  Basic Exchange Cooperation Agreement (BECA) facilitates the provision of targeting and navigation information from US systems.

The advantages for India by these include:

  1. enhance domain awareness about adversarial territories
  2. improve the accuracy of long-range weapon systems 
  3. Predictive Intelligence to warn decision-makers of emerging global hot spots and imminent threats

However, there are concerns that the agreements open India’s military bases to US inspection. Military bases as those in India have high-technology military assets sourced from various countries, including those not friendly with the US. Though, given the recent standoffs with neighbouring nations, the defence deals are likely to give India the tactical advantage and concerns can be mitigated mutually with enhanced cooperation.

GaryVee,chamomileand2 otherslike this


Can anyone please point out to reasons why sex ratio is so poor in states of Haryana and Punjab? 

@Yo_Yo_Choti_Singh Sir any pointers?

Many pointers can be given here.

1) Sanskritization - it's a process whereby lower rung of society tries to emulate practices of the higher rung. 

2) Patriarchal Society

3) Reproductive Choices - i.e Presence of sex determination technology is misused for killing the female fetus.

4) Misuse of Modern Science - i.e. abortion has to be used in rare situations and not as a weapon against females.

5) Societal Pressure - society looks down girl chile as a burden due to lack of sanitation facilities, dowry, etc.

6) Breakdown or lethargy of Administration - to work at the village level to prevent this malpractice.

7) Traditional Institutions - like Khap Panchayat which shields this malpractice from the law and order agencies.

8) Unethical Conduct - by medical professionals who have made it abortion as a business at the local level.

-Agriculture dominated society - demand for physical work. 

-Concept of Martial Race historically, prevalence today as well - enrolment in armies etc.

Naadan_Parinda,GaryVeeand2 otherslike this
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