Tuesday, December 30, 2014

UPSC Civil Services Mains GS Paper-1 2014


  1. To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss.
Indus valley civilization was an advance urban civilization and its urban planning and culture has following elements which provided inputs to modern day urbanization –
a.       Wide roads for easy commutation like modern cities
b.      Rectangular intersecting streets for better commutation and planning
c.       Covered drainage, which is also a hallmark of modern sanitation systems.
d.      Double storied buildings were also there which is similar to modern urban buildings where space is at a premium
e.      Bathrooms were also built insides homes and were connected to drains unlike earlier community bathing systems. Modern day houses also have inbuilt bathrooms.
f.        Warehouses – large granaries – like modern urban godowns for storage of grains for contingency
Hence, many features of the Indus Valley were adopted by the modern day urban settlements.

  1. Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.
Kushan kings had Greeko-Roman lineage and it had a significant influence on their art also as Kanishka maintained good relations with Greeko-Roman rulers. Following features were borrowed from the two schools –
a.       Buddha’s face was depicted as Greek god Apllonius
b.      Buddha’s drapery was similar to the Roman toga
c.       Hairs of Buddha were wavy like Roman sculptures
d.      Buddha’s body was made in a masculine manner similar to Greek gods
e.      Many artists were brought from both Greece and Rome
Hence, Gandhara sculpture was a mix of the two traditions.

  1. Taxila university was one of the oldest universities of the world with which were associated a number of renowned learned personalities of different disciplines. Its strategic location caused its fame to flourish, but unlike Nalanda, it is not considered as a university in the modern sense. Discuss.
(I didn’t have a great idea of Taxila and hence, instead of writing about those features of Taxila which were not in line of modern universities I focused on those features of Nalanda which made it a modern university)
Though Taxila was on a strategic location and for this reason, it also gained fame as well, but Nalanda had following features which made it the first truly global modern university of the world –
a.       First of all, like modern universities it had a big campus and more than 3000 students studied there
b.      Secondly, it promoted inter-disciplinary study like modern universities and all the three streams of Buddhism viz – Thervada, Mahavana and Vajrayana were taught here. Further, other philosophical traditions were also taught here.
c.       Thirdly, scholars from far and wide used to come here – from Sri Lanka, Malya, China etc. Hein Tsang and I-Tsing are some noted examples
d.      Fourthly, the university also promoted humanities disciplines actively and Nalanda school of Art was the famous school that developed around here.
Hence, Nalanda was a true modern university, while Taxila had a more conservative outlook due to which it fails to qualify as a university in modern sense.

  1. The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?
Apart from the third battle of Panipat (1761), other empire shaking battles like First Battle (1526), Second Battle (1556) and many other were also fought here for the following reasons –
a.       First of all, It had a strategic location and was the last frontier before one could claim the throne of Delhi and hence of India.
b.      Secondly, all the major attackers from outside – Afghan, Mongols, Turks etc used to come from the central Asian route and Panipat was the meeting point of Indian forces and foreign invaders.
c.       Thirdly, Panipat had a significant of psychological gains for the attackers. Once, it was won, it was a big moral booster.
d.      Finally, Panipat was also a geographically conducive location. In North, Himalayas guarded India, In West, deserts of Rajasthan discouraged invaders and Arab Sea was also not a route of choice. Due to these reasons, the forces used to converge at this point. (I drew a map also showing this)
Hence, due to strategic, geographic and political reasons, so many empire shaking battles took place here.

  1. Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu/Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment.
Sufis tried to do away with the orthodoxies of Islam and Hinduism and they had a following among both Hindus and Muslims, but they failed to bring radical changes in the Hindu and Muslim societies due to following reasons –
a.       First of all, they were largely limited to Northern India and hence didn’t have a pan-Indian presence.
b.      Secondly, some of the Sufi saints like – Suhrawardis – also had close contacts with nobility and enjoyed their company and even supported their moves. As a result they failed to condemn the orthodoxies.
c.       In Hindu society also, caste as a social evil continued as before.
d.      Many other practices like Purdah continued.
However, the contribution of Sufis cannot be totally brushed aside. They introduced various elements in Islam which were earlier prohibited. Sufis introduced ideas of humanitarianism and asceticism which were unparalleled. Sufi followers like Khusro and others made music popular in Islam and Khusro invented Tabla, Khayal, Sitar and so on. They also tried to bridge the barriers between two communities and even today, their Urs and Dargahs are attended by both communities.
(I feel I missed an important point that they failed to institutionalize themselves – as in case of Sikh religion – this lack of continuity made their impact very limited)

  1. Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence.
When British left India, 70% of the land was in the hands of just a few big landlords, poverty was more than 50% and domestic savings were measly 3%.
I mentioned how they impacted agriculture (Zamindari, high revenue rates), industry (discourage development of domestic industry as imperialism promoted domestic goods) and domestic production (handicraft was ruined, forests were plundered). I also wrote how it was exposed at the earliest by Dada Bhai Naroji and R C Dutt.
I concluded, that their economic policies also had some silver lining as well as Railways, telegraph and other means of communication and early heavy industries were developed during their times and they served India well after independence.
(Since, there were too many things to write, I feel, I couldn’t judiciously select the key points and facts and as a result it gave a very general presentation to my answer. I could have been more sharp on this answer had there been sufficient time to think over it)

  1. In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?
(It could have a better introduction like – how it was a ‘final’ knell in the British colonial coffin, by mentioning the preceding events which shook the empire completely, but instead I started the answer right away)
RIN Mutiny was the last nail in the coffin of colonial aspirations as armed forces and police were the tools due to which British were able to rule over their colonies.
A mutiny in the armed forces symbolized the decline of might of the colonial rulers. It was a psychological boost for the independence struggle as well. It mobilized people for their cause as well.
Inspired from them, many other mutinies also took place like Jabalpur Signals corps mutiny.
Finally, it was the Navy which was the strength of the British, once naval strength was compromised, British rule end was inevitable.

  1. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?
French Revolution was the first global development which influenced likes of Tipu Sultan politically and Raja Ram Mohun Roy socially.
Renaissance also had great social impacts on Indian anti-colonial struggle. It inspired Bengal renaissance and also sowed ideas of nationalism which proved fatal for British rule.
Italian Unification also inspired many Indians and V D Sawarkar formed ‘Young India’ (I failed to remember the name ‘Abhinva Bharat’, though I had read it just before entering the examination hall L and hence wrote its English name) on the lines of ‘Young Italy’ of Mazzini.
Russian defeat by Japan in 1905 and defeat of Italy by Ethiopia also inspired Indian freedom struggle and made the Indians believe that colonial powers can be defeated.
Russian Nihilists also inspired the revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Anushilan Samiti and so on.
Russian Revolution and Comintern inspired communists in India and within Congress also socialist party was formed in 1934.
Thus, international events motivated moderates, extremists and revolutionaries alike in anti-colonial struggle.
(I also mentioned a few other events, but I feel they could have been better organized under the three headings as mentioned in question, but in a hurry to write, I just mentioned all the events and when I realized that I have not classified them, I wrote in brackets after each event its nature viz – political, social or economic. I also failed to explicitly mention economic events, though I knew many of them like – Great Depression, Industrial Revolution, Cotton export and so on)

  1. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?
Suez was nationalized by the Egyptian ruler Naseer, but European powers especially Britain and France opposed it as they feared that it might affect their trade activities and Suez was also a short route to connect to their erstwhile colonies and impose their hegemony. They asked Naseer to include such terms of navigations which were favorable to them. But Egypt refused to accept those terms in wake of protections of its sovereignty. Britain and France made threatening noises and persuaded Israel to launch an attack instead and later they also joined. It led to the Suez crisis.
However, this crisis led to great humiliation of Britain as it was globally condemned and even Western powers like USA also criticized this colonial-like act of Britain. Finally, an agreement was reached in which India played a crucial role. The event showed that colonialism can no longer be practiced and Britain had to learn a bitter lesson out of it.

  1. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.
As a part of new economic policy, Lenin made significant changes especially in the field of land ownership and industrial development as state assumed a central role and it affected Indian policies after independence in following manner –
a.       India followed a similar socialistic model of planned growth and Planning commission was established in 1951.
b.      India also followed a state led growth and many industries were setup by the state.
c.       In agriculture also, India introduced cooperative movement.
(I guess I mentioned 1-2 more points or expanded above to make multiple points)
However, Indian policies were also different from Lenin’s policies. First of all, state had limited role and Indian followed a mixed economy model instead of a communist model with total state control. Secondly, land in India was also not transferred to state and hence community cultivation was not there in case of India.

  1. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India?
In a middle class family, though women are allowed to work, their position has not improved –
a.       Middle class working women work in ‘dual shifts’ – they perform their office work and also do all house work as well. Their work load is not shared by their in-laws, husbands etc.
b.      Secondly, their status is still tied to the status of their husband, and despite being employed, their husbands are considered primary bread winners.
c.       They are encouraged to take ‘safe’ jobs – jobs which are conducive for the larger family.
d.      They are also forced to make sacrifices in terms of career prospects and their careers are given a second low priority over the careers of their husbands.
e.      At work place also, they are discriminated and their promotion chances are lower and there is a presence of ‘glass ceiling’.
Thus, position of middle class working women has not significantly improved in wake of patriarchal structure.

  1. Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments.
Haryana and Punjab are the most prosperous regions of India and they also have the poorest sex ratios for following reasons –
a.       Patriarchal society promotes preference for male children.
b.      Secondly, in the advance regions, medical facilities and sex detection facilities are better available. As a result, sex-detection is easy to access.
c.       These are also the regions where land prices have gone up due to factors like Green Revolution, NCR proximity and so on. A desire to keep the land within patriline also promotes male child preference as land becomes costly.
d.      Social institutions like Khaps have also discouraged the birth of the female children and issues like honour killings have discouraged parents from giving birth to female child.
e.      Finally, there is also a gross inadequacy in implementation of enabling legislation like PCPNDT in Haryana and Punjab where not even a single conviction has happened till date.
Thus, there is a mix of political, economic and social factors that have worked in these regions due to which sex ratio is made worse by a lack of political will.

  1. Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain.
British didn’t succeed in northeast of India, primarily for following reasons –
a.       In hilly areas of the northeast, there were numerous tribes with strong tribal ethnic identities. They had historically opposed the entry of British and there had been many uprisings like – Kuki rebellion in Manipur, Jaintiya rebellion in Meghalya and Mishmish revolt and so on. In fact, many regions like Manipur could never came under the rule of British empire fully. Tribal resistance later forced the British to adopt the policy of ‘isolation’ of these areas. Works by many enlightened Europeans in these areas (like that of anthropologist Elwin) also forced the British to leave these regions alone.
b.      Secondly, geographical reasons also deterred the British due to difficult terrain of this region.
c.       Finally, the region was not so much economically viable as British failed to establish economic links with this region. The fact that final frontier of British railways was limited to Assam is a proof that they couldn't go beyond it.
Hence, there were multiple factors which thwarted British attempts to establish tea estates in eastern regions
(I could have more elaborated the geographical factors – by linking them to the factors which are conducive to the growth of tea plants. However, when I read ‘didn't succeed’ words in the question, my immediate response was to look out for extra-geographical factors)

  1. Why did the Green Revolution in India virtually by-pass the eastern region despite fertile soil and good availability of water?
Apart from fertile soil and availability of water, Green Revolution depended upon other factors like – HYV seeds, mechanical farming, consolidated land holdings, credit availability and so on. Hence, following are the factors due to which it by-passed eastern region of Bihar and Bengal –
a.       First of all, land consolidation was successful in the region of Haryana etc which made large tracts of the land available for capitalist farming which was a pre-condition for Green Revolution
b.      Secondly, agro-equipment industry was also initially developed in the region of Punjab which benefitted only the nearby regions.
c.       Thirdly, there was also adequate credit availability in north as financial institutions had better penetration there. Further, this region was historically more prosperous than eastern India and hence, farmers provided adequate capital.
d.      Finally, eastern region was also the region where Zamindari system was the most prevalent and it impacted the financial health of the region and pushed the agriculture of this region into backwardness.
As a result of these factors, eastern region found the time after independence, when Green Revolution was started, as too inadequate to respond the requirements of Green Revolution and were hence deprived from its benefits.
(One crucial point which I perhaps missed – thanks to one of my cousins to highlight it – was that Eastern region was rice cultivating while Green Revolution was primarily driven by wheat, though focus on rice was also there in Green Revolution)

  1. The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss.
The life cycle of joint family in contemporary India depends upon various economic factors –
a.       First of all, occupational compulsions in industrial economy make members more mobile than earlier times
b.      Secondly, economic opportunities in cities are more and this leads to migration
c.       Thirdly, there are also better facilities in urban areas like – education, health etc which act as pull factors.
d.      Fourthly, cost of livings in the urban areas are very high which discourage joint families as they cannot be sustained in cities
e.      Finally, the nuclear families again become joint due to economic compulsions. In dual career families where husband and wife both are employed, grandparents are often needed to take care of young ones when day-care services are expensive in cities.
Thus, economic factors have outweighed social factors in determining the fate of joint family.

  1. Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India.
Feminization of agriculture is driven by various factors –
a.       Male members of family often migrate to other areas in search of better economic opportunities and this leaves females in prime roles
b.      Secondly, agriculture in rural areas is becoming expensive as cost of inputs goes up. To reduce costs, females are encouraged to participate in agriculture.
c.       Thirdly, females are now learning to be independent and aspire to be equal partners in economic activities in rural areas.
d.      Fourthly, in patriarchal states like Haryana, patriarchy is slowly losing ground in wake of modern values and this is also witnessing more women participation in agriculture.
Hence, there are many social and economic factors which are driving feminization of the workforce.

  1. How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West?
Indian secularism has a different context than western secularism as Western secularism emerged as a result of a need to separate religion and state, while Indian secularism emerged primarily to counter the evil of communalism.
Western secularism calls for separation of religion and civil life, while in case of India, religion is not just a private practice, but a way of life and hence such strict separation is not possible.
In case of India, state gives equal respect to all religions and doesn’t ban them. In fact, it even promotes many religious activities. Direct or indirect subsidies are given to Haj pilgrim, Amarnath yatra etc. Even our constitution doesn’t prohibit religion and provides freedom of conscience, promotion etc in Article 29, 30 etc.
Hence, while Western secularism is about ‘dharam-nirpekshta’, Indian debate is about ‘sarva-dharam-sambhava’.

  1. Most of the unusual climatic happenings are explained as an outcome of the El-Nino effect. Do you agree?
(I knew just one ‘unusual’ climatic happening – variation in Indian monsoon, I also knew it causes floods/excess rains in other parts of the world, but didn’t know where)
El-Nino causes many unusual climatic happenings like – deficient rainfall and erratic monsoon in India, excess rains in America etc and southern oscillations – an atmospheric phenomenon also linked to it.
However, the link between these unusual happenings and El-Nino is just a ‘correlation’ and the ‘causality’ has yet to be established. With current level of scientific and metrological research, there are no concrete evidences to suggest that El-Nino is the cause behind these unusual climatic happenings. In fact, some scientists even suggest that unusual climatic happenings are rather linked to global warming and climate change caused by industrial revolution.

  1. Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of fold-mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes.
Fold mountains like Himalayas, Alps are located at the margins of the continents because, they form as a result of folding process when two continental plates converge towards each other. The pressure exerted by two plates result into rise of such mountains.
As converging boundaries lead to building up of stress, its release results in earthquakes as in case of Himalaya system where such stress is most at the syntaxial bending of Himalayas.
Volcanos are mostly there on the diverging boundaries where the molten lava erupts as in case of pacific ring of fire. (I didn’t have any idea of any other volcanoes associated with any of fold mountain system, so wrote this).

  1. Explain the formation of thousands of islands in Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos.
Thousands of islands in Indonesia and Phillipines are formed primarily due to following reasons –
a.       Many of them are volcanic in origin and formed due to lava eruption. The area is also located on pacific ring of fire which is a place of boundary movements and lava eruption.
b.      Some of them have also formed as a result of coral deposits.

  1. Tropical cyclones are largely confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why?
Tropical cyclones are formed in these regions due to following reasons –
a.       First of all, as tropical cyclones are result of transfer of latent heat, adequate temperature is a pre-condition, which is fulfilled in these regions as temperature is high – 25-35 degree Celsius
b.      Secondly, tropical cyclones also require a source of water which is provided by the presence of the large water bodies. Presence of moist and saturated ambience is also conducive for their formation.
c.       Thirdly, presence of easterlies pushes them towards the land regions.
(I missed the role of Coriolles Forces, topographical factors like shape of these regions etc, and could have attempted this question better by mentioning key words like ‘formation of Cumulonimbus Cloud’)

  1. Bring out the relationship between the shrinking Himalayan glaciers and the symptoms of climate change in the Indian sub-continent.
Himalayan glaciers are melting due to rising green house gases. Recent surveys by IPCC and Indian Metrological department have shown that they have receded at a fast pace.
After Industrial revolution, as per 4th Assessment Report of IPCC, there has already been an increase of .6 degree Celsius in global average temperature due to increase in green house gases. Due to green house gases and consequent rise in temperature, glaciers of Himalaya have also melted as a result of climate change.

  1. Account for the change in the spatial pattern of the Iron and Steel industry in the world.
(I missed the word ‘change’ and hence, instead of change, I simply described the spatial pattern of Iron and Steel industry around the world)
Iron and steel industries around the world have following locational factors –
a.       Since iron ore is a weight losing raw material, its industries are located near the source as the transport costs increase as in case of industries of Alsace Lorraine region of France
b.      Secondly, most of the iron and steel industries around the world are located near the coal mines as in case of Ruhr valley of Germany.
c.       Secondly, availability of Manganese – which is an important ingredient also affect their location. For example, Iron and Steel Industries in area around Hazaribagh have nearby Manganese mines also.
d.      Thirdly, due to export orientation, proximities to ports is also a factor. For example, Paradip port of Odisha
(One of my cousins and some friends pointed out that change in locational factors are like – coming up of smaller units, rather than integrated steel plants, use of scrap to run iron-steel plants, availability of electricity everywhere – unlike earlier when there was a dependency on coal for power, export orientation, as many plants are now located near ports, depletion of earlier iron ore mines and so on. I would be happy if get 1-2 marks in above answer of mine)

  1. Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world.
Mentioned –
Tidal energy
Geothermal energy
Economic minerals like Magnesium
Placer deposits and availability of gold
Shale gas in sedimentary deposits in coastal areas
Abundant source of water which is becoming a scarce commodity as technology improves. For example – Maldives is a country which now uses Ocean as a source of drinking water (Had heard in news a few days back that Maldives has no other source of water)
It can also be a source of land resources in wake of dwindling land and rising prices. For example, Palm Islands have been created in Dubai out of ocean.
(Didn’t mention Thorium and petroleum energy)

  1. How does India see its place in the economic space of rising natural resource rich Africa?
China has raced ahead of India in race for the resources of Africa, but India has also started to bolster its efforts to gain a bigger share of pie of resources of Africa –
a.       ONGC has oil exploration agreements with Nigeria which is the largest petroleum producing country of Africa
b.      India has also engaged itself with oil exploration in Sudan
c.       Indian telecom operators like Airtel have also acquired spectrum in some central African countries
d.      Indian government has also promoted acquisition of land in Africa for farming etc
e.      Indian government has also established PAN African network for better connectivity with Africa
f.        For investments, 2nd Indo-Africa summit happened in Addis Ababa in 2012
g.       Government of India has also launched ‘Focus Africa’ scheme for investment in Africa
(This was the last question attempted by me and by this question, my handwriting was at a new nadir. As time was running out, I could mention only the points of above in one line each and drew a very ugly map of Africa to show the Indian presence in resource-rich Africa.)


As of last time, I feel that, the paper could have been better attempted, had I got a bit extra time. Paper was the most doable of all the GS papers as it was very conventional as it had most of the questions directly asked or one needed to just rehash the existing knowledge. If I get just about equal marks as of last time (of course in a relative sense to others and not the absolute figure), I would be contended. An increase will be bonus.

It will be great if you can post your answers here or comment on above answers - you may even do it anonymously.


  1. Thank you for this initiative and unfortunately i cannot answer to these questions as I am new to this studies, but I will contribute to this initiative by answering in few months later.

  2. Thanx to you for sharing such answers which you have written in exam. Thanx a lot for giving us.

  3. Thanx to you for sharing such answers which you have written in exam. Thanx a lot for giving us.

  4. Sir i just want to know that whether u write in these many words which i assume are leser than 200.i usually write 2 page ans and at last leave 2 3 ans which cost me badly..plz help shudnt i write intro conclusion

  5. Sir i just want to know that whether u write in these many words which i assume are leser than 200.i usually write 2 page ans and at last leave 2 3 ans which cost me badly..plz help shudnt i write intro conclusion

    1. Hi Gaurav,

      Yes, I tried to keep my answers crisp and to the point.

  6. thanks a lot for sharing these answers.I had always thought that it is impossible for working & Married persons like me clear civil services.your success will always inspire people like me.