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How To Answer Questions In UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination – Sociology Optional Example

The following post is taken from a comment (from Muralidharan)that appeared on this blog here. I thought that it would be useful to share it as a main post for other aspirants to read who may or may not have sociology as an optional for civil services examination.

Answer writing skill is more important in mains exam. This is from sociology paper 2. They have explained how to approach and present answer and hope it will be useful.
Question: Explain the traditional power structure in rural India. Discuss the factors that have contributed to its changing pattern in recent years.

General Answer: The abolition of privileges and economic rights of the intermediaries like the Zamindars and feudal has though not succeeded in introducing an egalitarian class-structure in villages, yet it has made a great social psychological impact on ex-tenant groups and motivates them now for competition with traditional power groups for access to positions of power and social status. Village leadership has now increasingly become more conciliatory and pragmatic in orientation. With the traditional bases of power for the older village elite having been removed, the leadership, which is now emerging, has to reconcile with factions and opposite interest groups to stay in power.

In order to be effective, leaders now have to be pragmatic; exercise contract through informal relations and integrate bureaucratic innovations.

Comment: A very impressive introduction but still there is no mention of decentralization process and empowerment of women. This addition will make it highly impressive.

Now candidates give plenty of studies to prove it.

Orenstein reports that informal leaders are more effective in the village he studied (a village in Bombay) than formal leaders.

Alan Beals found the village leadership in Namhalli (Mysore) faction-ridden and villagers prone to rely on a leader who had the capacity of successful action. Factional basis leadership also seems to be the case in the village of Morsalli in Banglore district studied by William McCormack.

R. Bachenheimer finds in the Andhra village Padu, that leadership is in the hand of economically dominant families within each caste and wealth plus high caste status determine leadership.

Edward and L.G. Harper find the continuity of traditional form of leadership in village Totagadde in Karnataka.

According to Oscar Lewis traditional dominant Jats hold leadership in Rampur village in North India. He observes four characteristics of Jat leadership:

(a) the tendency to minimize the status difference between the leader and the led within the caste,
(b) resistance to delegate the authority to leaders permanently without consultation with the appropriate faction,
(c) Complete absence of youth leadership,
(d) Lack of direct note of women in leadership.

This pattern may not be typical of all northern villages.

According to a survey conducted by Planning Commission, the structure of rural leadership seems still dominated by rich and upper caste groups but there is a tendency towards recruitment of younger members to the leadership role in villages and a majority of leaders are literate.

Change in economic field also led to a change in leadership. It was proved by F.G. Bailey in his study of Bisipara village. Bailey found that Boad and Ganjam distillers left their traditional work and village and went to the town for better employment. They improved their economic strength and after returning to their village, showed interest in leadership.

Andre Beteille, in Sripuram village, found that there has been a change in the power structure of village without the traditional land-owning groups having lost their land to any substantial extent. He observes that today political power, whether in the village or outside it, is not as closely tied to ownership of land as it was in past. New bases of power have emerged which are, to some extent, independent of both caste and class. Perhaps most important among these is the strength of numerical power.

The findings of Beteille shows an instance of regional variation. In this context, an evaluation of twelve villages of India from different regions by B.S. Cohn is very conclusive. In six villages land control also compensates for lack of numerical dominance.

Conclusion: Generally speaking, there has been a break in the centripetal world view of castes and classes in most villages in India. A great level of change has come as a result of politicization of villages through the contemporary political reforms. It has also been motivated by community development schemes which now cover almost all the villages in India.

Comment: Case studies have been very beautifully presented and simultaneously there is no proper analysis. The complete answer is full of studies but is not looking focused, because the facts have not been analysed appropriately. Sometimes it seems as if some contradictory statements have been given. So, do tell and discuss the right causes responsible for the faction (if you are so talking about) in villages and how they are supporting to change the power-structure.


1. Give greater emphasis on 73rd Amendment Act.
2. Discuss the reservations given to SC/ST, women and backward class.
3. How did it bring changes in power-structure, corroborate with a few studies(one or two)
4. Discuss different programmes for the uplifting of poor sections and women empowerment/emphasis on female participation in politics/impact of Women’s Reservation Bill.
5. After giving all studies in a paragraph, discuss mainly about empowerment, democratic decentralization, mass participation in administration, awareness among people, etc.
6. More than a decade have gone after the implementation of Panchayati Raj, we have enormous studies on it, place a few of them rightly.
7. Give the views of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
8. Give the opinion of World Bank in the very age of Globalization in this context.

Generally candidates do not mention about Panchayati Raj because they think there is no substantial impact of it on masses.

Your View point: Do tell that the level of changes is not up to the mark, why? Corroborate it by studies, but keep telling that the change is taking place-though dimensions are varying, like, there is caste-based faction, Dalit consciousness has increased –Reason? The influence of Dalit leaders at rural level (Politicization of power in the name of Dalit Class) etc.

After such analysis, give a powerful conclusion.