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1. Turning the spotlight on the urban poor.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Vulnerable sections.

Critical for UPSC to analyse urban poverty, employment dynamics, migration trends, and gender disparities for socioeconomic policy formulation.

●  The article discusses employment and income trends in Indian slums, contrasting rural-urban migration, gender dynamics, and economic challenges faced by the urban poor.


  • The India Employment Report (IER) 2024, conducted by the Institute for Human Development and International Labour Organization, delves into the dynamics of employment and income trends in India.

Trickle-down Effect and Divergent Trends:

  • IER questions the trickle-down effect amidst a 5.4% average real economic growth from 2015-16 to 2022-23.
  • Rural-urban divergence observed in employment and income trends, with urban areas facing higher unemployment rates but offering higher wages.

Employment Trends in Slums:

  • Survey conducted in Kolkata’s slums reveals stable occupations, with unskilled labour being predominant.
  • Trends indicate a shift towards petty businesses and construction work, with a decline in skilled labour employment.

Income Trends:

  • Average monthly income decreased by 5% at constant prices in 2019 compared to 2012.
  • Decline in real income observed across various occupations, including government service and petty businesses.

Gender Composition and Casual Work:

  • Percentage of women in the workforce declined by 3% in slums, contrasting with the IER’s national data showing a 1.6% increase.
  • Rise in casual work, particularly labour, attributed to increasing wages, though lacking social security.

Urban Poverty and Economic Mobility:

  • Despite higher urban income, deeper poverty observed due to declining income and inequality.
  • Lack of public support for access to cheap food and gainful employment exacerbates urban poverty.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Emphasis on rural non-farm sectors and public support for urban poverty alleviation is crucial.
  • Need for addressing inequalities and ensuring quality employment opportunities for sustainable economic mobility.


  • Urban income disparity highlights challenges in economic mobility and quality of work for the urban poor, necessitating comprehensive policy interventions.
Urban poverty in India:

Reasons for Urban Poverty:

●  Rapid urbanization leading to a surge in population density in urban areas.

●  Lack of affordable housing options, forcing people into slums and informal settlements.

●  Limited access to basic services like healthcare, education, and sanitation.

●  Structural unemployment due to mismatched skills and job opportunities.

●  Exploitative labour practices and low wages in the informal sector.

●  Inadequate social protection measures for vulnerable urban populations.

Way Forward to Tackle Urban Poverty:

● Implement policies for inclusive urban development focusing on equitable access to basic services and infrastructure.

● Promote affordable housing schemes and slum redevelopment programs to improve living conditions.

●  Invest in skill development and vocational training to enhance employability and create decent job opportunities.

●  Strengthen social safety nets such as food security programs, healthcare subsidies, and unemployment benefits.

● Foster partnerships between government, civil society, and private sector for sustainable urban poverty alleviation initiatives.

●   Address gender disparities and empower marginalised communities through targeted interventions.

●       Encourage community participation and grassroots initiatives for holistic urban poverty eradication.

PYQ: Despite implementation of various programmes for eradication of poverty by the government in India, poverty is still existing.’ Explain by giving reasons.
(150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2018)
Practice Question:  Discuss the socioeconomic challenges posed by urban poverty and employment dynamics, with a focus on slum communities in India. (250 Words /15 marks)

2. Systems science for a better future

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity, GS2 – Governance.

Crucial for UPSC as it covers global governance, economic policies, environmental sustainability, interdisciplinary understanding, and gender dynamics.


The article examines global authoritarian leanings, economic disparities, and environmental crises, stressing the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and gender-inclusive strategies for fostering sustainable development.

● It highlights the complexities of societal challenges and the need for holistic approaches to address them effectively.


Survey on Authoritarian Preferences:

  • Pew Research Center surveyed citizens globally in 2023, revealing preferences for authoritarian rulers over multi-party democracy.
  • Notable figures from Global South include India (85%), Indonesia (77%), South Africa (66%), and Brazil (57%), while the West shows significant numbers too.

Economic Discontent and Environmental Concerns:

  • Citizens in democratic nations express disillusionment with economic policies favouring the wealthy elite.
  • Global economic growth exacerbates environmental crises, with fossil fuel consumption and water scarcity posing existential threats.

India’s Unique Challenges:

  • India grapples with urban poverty, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation.
  • Despite economic growth, income inequality persists, hindering sustainable development efforts.

Environmental Performance and Population Pressure:

  • India’s environmental performance ranks poorly, with significant water stress despite a large population share.
  • Rapid population growth exacerbates resource scarcity and environmental degradation.

Complexity of Social Systems:

  • Interdisciplinary understanding is crucial to navigate complex social, economic, and environmental challenges.
  • Specialization in sciences limits comprehension of interconnected systems and holistic solutions.

Critique of Economic Ideologies:

  • Economists’ reliance on free market ideology overlooks societal well-being and environmental sustainability.
  • Capitalist institutions influence policies, prioritizing profits over human rights and environmental conservation.

Need for Systems Thinking:

  • Emphasis on holistic, self-adaptive systems thinking is essential for addressing global challenges effectively.
  • Cooperation-driven organizations can foster societal well-being, contrasting with profit-driven corporations.

Role of Gender Dynamics:

  • Women’s contributions to family and societal well-being are undervalued and excluded from traditional economic metrics.
  • Embracing caring, cooperative approaches over competitive ideologies is vital for societal improvement.


  • Addressing global challenges requires interdisciplinary cooperation, systems thinking, and gender-inclusive approaches to foster sustainable development and societal well-being.
Practice Question:  What are the implications of global authoritarian preferences and economic discontent on sustainable development and societal well-being? (250 Words /15 marks)

3. Living wills implementation lags in India

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity, GS2 – Governance.

Critical for UPSC as it concerns legal, medical, and ethical dimensions, reflecting governance challenges and public health policy intricacies.

●       The article discusses the challenges and slow progress in implementing living wills in India, highlighting legal complexities and bureaucratic hurdles.


Background of Living Wills in India:

  • Living wills, legal since 2018, enable terminally-ill patients to withhold or withdraw treatment and die with dignity.
  • Aimed at allowing patients to make choices about future medical care, particularly when unable to communicate their wishes.

Evolution of Legal Process:

  • Initially, the Supreme Court’s process for living wills was complex, hindering its implementation.
  • Concerns included potential abuse by unscrupulous individuals and bureaucratic safeguards, such as requiring judicial magistrate countersigning.

Streamlining the Procedure:

  • In 2023, the Court simplified the process, requiring living wills to be signed in the presence of witnesses and attested by a notary or gazetted officer.
  • Designating a competent officer as a custodian and authentication by treating doctors in case of terminal illness became part of the streamlined procedure.

Challenges in Implementation:

  • Most local governments have not designated custodians for living wills, impeding their effectiveness.
  • Lack of protocols for authentication through digital health records further complicates the process.

Certification and Decision-Making:

  • Guidelines mandate certification by primary and secondary medical boards for decisions on treatment withholding or withdrawal.
  • The absence of clear legal definitions, such as ‘next of kin’, adds complexity, leading to disagreements and legal uncertainties.

Reluctance and Hesitancy:

  • Officials and state governments exhibit reluctance due to the sensitive and unfamiliar nature of end-of-life care.
  • Clear guidance and detailed protocols from the Central government are essential to bridge the gap in expertise and facilitate effective implementation.

Lack of Progress:

  • Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling six years ago, governments have failed to take necessary steps for implementation.
  • Doctors’ concerns about legal implications hinder their ability to act in patients’ best interests, highlighting the urgency for effective guidance and persistent government action.


  • The failure to implement the right to die with dignity underscores the need for proactive government measures.
  • Effective guidance, protocols, and consistent action are imperative to alleviate legal uncertainties and empower doctors to honor patients’ express wishes.
What is a living will?

●  A living will is a legal document that allows individuals to specify their preferences for medical treatment in the event they become terminally ill or incapacitated and are unable to communicate their wishes.

● It outlines the medical interventions they do or do not want to receive, such as life-sustaining treatments or resuscitation measures, ensuring their autonomy and dignity in end-of-life care decisions.

Implementation Challenges in India:

●   Lack of awareness and education about living wills among the public.

●   Complex bureaucratic procedures and legal requirements hinder accessibility.

● Absence of designated custodians for living wills in most regions.

●   Unclear legal definitions, such as ‘next of kin’, leading to disputes.

●  Reluctance and hesitancy among officials and healthcare professionals.

●   Inadequate protocols for authentication through digital health records.

Way Forward:

●  Launch nationwide awareness campaigns to educate the public about living wills and their significance.

●   Simplify bureaucratic procedures and legal requirements to enhance accessibility and ease of execution.

●   Designate custodians for living wills across all regions to facilitate implementation.

●  Clarify legal definitions and provide clear guidelines for decision-making processes.

●  Conduct training programs for healthcare professionals to address hesitancy and ensure compliance.

● Develop protocols for authentication through digital health records to streamline the process.


● Addressing implementation challenges requires comprehensive strategies focusing on awareness, simplification, clarification, and capacity building to ensure effective utilization of living wills in India

Practice Question:  What are the challenges hindering the effective implementation of living wills in India, and how can they be addressed? (150 Words /10 marks)

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