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UPSC Civil Services Exam Mains 2023 – General Studies 1 Synopsis


NOTE: This is just a sample framework. Answer writing is much broader than this framework. Develop your own perspectives and ensure you do not restrict yourself to the framework provided here.


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Q1. Explain the role of geographical factors towards the development of Ancient India. (Answer in 150 words) 10





The geographical landscape of Ancient India was not merely a backdrop but an active participant in the shaping of this ancient civilization. Spanning a vast subcontinent with a wide array of natural features, India’s geography exerted a profound influence on its development.




Role of geographical factors towards the development of Ancient India:

  • Varied topography: India’s diverse topography, including the Himalayan mountains in the north and the fertile Gangetic plains, significantly shaped settlement patterns and agriculture.
    • The Gangetic plains, for instance, fostered early agricultural civilizations like the Vedic civilization.
    • Simultaneously, the Himalayas acted as both a climatic barrier, retaining monsoon rains for civilizations like Magadha and the Mauryan Empire, and a natural defense against invasions from Central Asia, fostering geographical isolation and providing a protective cocoon for the Indian subcontinent.
  • River systems: India’s major rivers, such as the Ganges and the Indus, provided a lifeline for early civilizations. They not only served as sources of water for agriculture but also as trade routes, promoting commerce and cultural exchange.
    • g. role of the Indus River in supporting trade during the Indus Valley civilization.
  • Natural resources: The geographical diversity of India endowed it with abundant natural resources, including minerals, forests, and wildlife. These resources contributed to the development of crafts, metallurgy, and trade.
    • g. Development of the metallurgy industry during the Chola period.
  • Trade and connectivity: India’s strategic location at the crossroads of trade routes facilitated commerce with other ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia and China.
    • The Silk Road, for example, passed through India, connecting it to the rest of the world.
  • Coastline: India’s extensive coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal facilitated maritime trade. Coastal cities like Muziris and Arikamedu became pivotal trading hubs, some even evolving into capital cities.
    • This maritime trade contributed to the flourishing of empires such as the Satavahanas, Cholas, and Pallavas.
  • India’s sacred geography, including its rivers, mountains, and forests, held profound spiritual significance. The Ganges River, the Himalayas, and revered places like Varanasi influenced religious beliefs and practices.
    • This influence resulted in the establishment of pilgrimage sites and temples, further strengthening the spiritual and cultural fabric of Ancient India.


While India faced challenges due to its diverse geography, it also reaped the benefits of this diversity, ultimately contributing to its rich and multifaceted history. The interaction between these geographical elements and human endeavors created a tapestry of civilizations that have left an indelible mark on India’s heritage.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q2. What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach toward education and nationalism? (Answer in 150 words) 10





Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, two towering figures in India’s struggle for independence, offered distinct and multifaceted perspectives on education and nationalism. While their overarching goal was India’s liberation from colonial rule, their approaches and philosophies diverged significantly.




Difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education:

Aspect Mahatma Gandhi Rabindranath Tagore
Holistic Development:





Prioritized comprehensive child development and actively advocated for the eradication of casteism in society. Emphasized self-realization as a crucial outcome of education, focusing on an individual’s understanding of themselves.
Approach to technology:


Expressly critical of machines and technology, advocating a simpler way of life. Supported the inclusion of modern science in education alongside traditional knowledge.
Target audience: Focused on educating the common man for societal improvement. Aimed to nurture saints and exemplary individuals through education.
National agenda:


Championed the promotion of Indian culture and civilization through educational initiatives. Advocated for the assimilation of the best aspects of Western education into the Indian system.
Pedagogical approach:


Promoted “Nai Talim,” emphasizing learning through activity and practicality. Adopted a curiosity-driven learning approach inspired by Plato’s methods.
Spiritual element:



Emphasized moral development through education as a means of promoting social change. Focused on moral development and contemplated life after death in the context of education.
Role of activity:


Centralized activity in education as a means of learning. Encouraged individual creativity and self-expression through education.
Harmony with nature:


Did not specifically address environmental aspects of education. Advocated for learning in close harmony with nature, recognizing its significance. E.g. establishment of Vishvabharti University.
Economic self-sufficiency: Advocated for economic self-sufficiency through productive work within educational institutions. Viewed education as a means of acquiring boundless knowledge without strict ties to self-sufficiency.
Freedom in education:


Advocated creative freedom within certain bounds. Sought complete freedom for children in education.

Commonalities in Gandhi and Tagore’s Education Philosophy:

  • Gandhi and Tagore shared a belief in the concept of God or the universal soul, highlighting their spiritual inclinations.
  • Both emphasized a child-centric approach to education, valuing each child’s uniqueness. They advocated for a curriculum that allowed children to explore their interests freely.
  • Additionally, both were staunch proponents of mother tongue education, opposing the imposition of the English language.
  • Their ideologies were rooted in idealism and humanism, underlining their commitment to higher moral and ethical values.

Difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards Nationalism:

Aspects Gandhi Tagore
Definition of Nationalism:



Gandhi regarded nationalism as an integral part of the broader global struggles for justice and equality, considering it a vehicle for serving humanity’s greater good. Tagore took issue with narrow, self-centred, and exclusionary forms of nationalism, characterizing them as dangerous and a potential source of powerdriven conflicts.
Approach to Armed Nationalism:


Gandhi vehemently opposed the concept of armed nationalism and any actions fuelled by hatred under its banner. Tagore expressed profound concern regarding the fragmentation of the world and the pursuit of power through the lens of nationalism.
The vision of Nationalism:


Gandhi aspired to align Indian nationalism with the foundational principles of justice, equality, and service to all of humanity. Tagore believed that nationalism should transcend the realm of power politics, emphasizing the importance of higher human ideals while distancing itself from narrow, exclusionary forms of nationalism.


Ultimately, both Gandhi and Tagore played pivotal roles in shaping India’s path to independence and continue to inspire generations with their unique perspectives on education, nationalism, and humanity.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q3. Bring out the socio-economic effects of the introduction of railways in different countries of the world. (Answer in 150 words) 10





The introduction of railways in different countries of the world marked a transformative era in human history. This innovation in transportation not only revolutionized the movement of goods and people but also had profound socio-economic effects on the nations that embraced this new mode of travel.




Socio-economic effects of the introduction of railways in different countries of the world:

  • Economic transformation: The introduction of railways in colonial India had a significant impact on the country’s economy. It facilitated the movement of raw materials, agricultural produce, and labour, supporting the growth of the British-controlled Indian economy.
    • In the United Kingdom during the Industrial Revolution, rapid railway expansion transformed the economy by enabling the efficient transport of coal, raw materials, and finished goods.
    • In Russia, the Trans-Siberian Railway opened up the remote east, leading to investments in projects like the Lena River gold mines.
  • Industrialization: Railways contributed to the growth of industries in India during the colonial period.
    • For instance, the railways supported the growth of the textile industry in Mumbai and the jute industry in Calcutta.
  • Urbanization and population shift: Railways led to the growth of cities and towns along their routes, attracting a significant labour force for construction, maintenance, and associated industries.
    • For instance, the development of cities like Chicago in the United States, and Mumbai in India led to significant population growth and urban development.
  • Employment opportunities: Railways require a vast workforce for operations, providing employment opportunities in various roles such as train drivers, conductors, signalmen, and station staff.

Social Impact:

  • Cultural exchange: Railways served as hubs of cultural convergence, as people from different regions and backgrounds often interacted on trains and at railway stations, leading to the exchange of ideas, languages, traditions, and cuisine.
    • g. The Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia connected people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, promoting cultural exchange.
  • Removal of social barriers: Railways contributed to reducing social inequalities to some extent, as people from diverse social backgrounds travelled together.
    • g. they helped reduce the caste burden in India.

Negative impact:

  • Colonial exploitation: Colonial powers often used railways to exploit and dominate regions, draining resources for their own benefit.
    • Britishers introduced the railway in India resource exploitation and suppressing the revolts.
  • Disruption of traditional livelihoods: Railways disrupted the traditional ways of life and livelihoods of many indigenous communities, leading to displacement or marginalization.
  • Environmental damage: Railways caused environmental damage by destroying forests, wildlife habitats, and water sources.
    • g. Damage to the Indus basin in Pakistan, leading to recurrent floods there.


Railways remain a testament to human innovation and their role in shaping the modern world cannot be overstated. They continue to connect nations and drive economic development, leaving a lasting legacy on societies and economies across the globe.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q4. Discuss the consequences of climate change on food security in tropical countries. (Answer in 150 words) 10





The IPCC Special Report On Climate Change And Land states that “Observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events (high confidence).”




Consequences of climate change on food security in tropical countries:

  • Reducing crop yields: Prolonged heatwaves and droughts can stunt crop growth and reduce the quality and quantity of harvests.
    • For instance, in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is projected to reduce maize yields by as much as 30% by 2050.
  • Pest and disease spread: Warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns can create favourable conditions for the proliferation of pests and diseases in tropical regions.
    • For instance, rising locust and pest attacks in South Asia and other tropical countries.
  • Price volatility: Climate-related disruptions in agriculture, including crop failures and reduced yields, can result in increased food price volatility.
    • In India, this has increased in recent times with soaring inflation in Tomato prices and heatwaves-low rainfall leading to export controls on various food commodities like wheat and rice.
  • Water scarcity: The World Resources Institute (WRI) reports that over 33% of the global population experiencing severe water stress resides in tropical countries.
    • The most water-stressed regions are the Middle East and North Africa, where 83% of the population is exposed to extremely high water stress, and South Asia, where 74% is exposed. This has a drastic impact on the food security of these countries.
  • Availability of cultivable land: Rising sea levels and coastal erosion, exacerbated by climate change, can reduce the availability of cultivable land in tropical coastal areas.
    • For example, In the Mekong Delta, rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion have affected rice farming and aquaculture.

Adaptation measures:

Adaptation Measures Description Example/Initiative
Climate Resilient Agriculture Promoting climate-resilient agricultural practices, including conservation agriculture, natural farming, agroforestry, and intercropping. – Conservation agriculture – Natural farming – Agroforestry – Intercropping
Storage and Post-Harvest Infrastructure Investment in improved storage facilities like grain silos and better post-harvest management practices. – Enhanced storage facilities – Improved post-harvest management
Irrigation Reforms Implementing efficient and sustainable irrigation systems, including drip irrigation and precision farming. – “System of Rice Intensification” (SRI) method for sustainable rice cultivation practices
Weather Forecasting Strengthening meteorological services and providing accurate and timely weather forecasts to aid farmers’ decisions. – Agrometeorology services scheme under IMD (India Meteorological Department) for weather information
Agriculture Market Information Systems Establishing platforms like “eNAM” (National Agriculture Market) to connect farmers with buyers and provide real-time price information. – “eNAM” platform in India – Participation in the global AMIS system by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)



Thus, addressing the consequences of climate change on food security in tropical countries is an urgent and multifaceted challenge. Apart from the measures to augment food security, global cooperation, and collective action to resolve the root cause of climate change are equally urgent.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q5. Why is the world today confronted with a crisis of availability of and access to freshwater resources? (Answer in 150 words) 10




Only 0.5% of the water on Earth is useable and available freshwater – and misuse, overuse, and climate change are dangerously affecting that supply. About two billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water today (SDG Report 2022).




Reasons behind the crisis availability:

  • Over-extraction: Unsustainable over-extraction of groundwater and surface water for irrigation, industry, and municipal use depletes aquifers and rivers faster than they can naturally recharge. Several cities have been past “Day Zero” of freshwater due to overuse.
  • Natural availability: Freshwater resources are not uniformly distributed Arid and semi-arid regions face inherent water scarcity due to their geographical location, receiving limited rainfall.
  • Climate change: Climate change disrupts the natural hydrological cycle, leading to altered precipitation patterns, prolonged droughts, and more intense floods. Many regions are experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, such as California, USA.
  • Population growth: The global population doubled between 1956 and 1994 from 2.8 to 5.6 billion (38 years), it is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, continuously increasing the demand for freshwater resources.
  • Pollution: Pollution from various sources, including agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and untreated sewage, contaminates freshwater sources.


Crisis of access:

  • The infrastructure of access: Access is also limited by a reliable and robust infrastructure of reservoir-to-tap supply to provide 24×7 functional water connection to all.
  • Mismanagement: Approximately 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safely managed drinking water services, and 4.2 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation services. (UNICEF, WHO)
  • Economic Disparities: Marginalized communities and low-income households often lack the means to invest in water infrastructure or pay for clean water services. The Cochabamba Water War of 2000 became a symbol of the issue of privatization and economics of water.
  • Gender Inequality: Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to clean water. UNICEF reports that women and girls spend 200 million hours each day collecting water.

Suggestive measures:

  • WASH measures: In rural areas of India, initiatives like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have focused on improving overall WASH conditions which has to be enhanced further.
  • Integrated water resource management: Integrated water resource management (IWRM) involves the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximize economic and social welfare while preserving ecosystems.
  • Sustainable agriculture: Promoting sustainable agricultural practices, such as conservation agriculture, organic farming, and efficient irrigation, helps reduce water wastage and environmental degradation.
  • Wastewater treatment: Singapore’s NEWater program treats wastewater to produce high-quality reclaimed water used for various non-potable applications, reducing reliance on freshwater sources.
  • Climate action: Climate action, including mitigation and adaptation measures and Climate-resilient infrastructure development, is essential to address the impacts of climate change on freshwater resources.


By embracing these measures and committing to sustainable water management, society can ensure equitable access to clean water, reduce water-related conflicts, safeguard ecosystems, and build resilience to future water challenges, fulfilling the targets under SDG Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation).

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q6. How are the fjords formed? Why do they constitute some of the most picturesque areas of the world? (Answer in 150 words) 10





Fjords are long, narrow, deep inlets of the sea, often flanked by steep cliffs or mountains. They are typically formed through a combination of geological and glacial processes. West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are famous fjords protected under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.



How are the fjords formed?

  • Glacial erosion: Fjords are primarily the result of glacial erosion. During the last Ice Age, large glaciers covered many coastal areas. These glaciers flowed downhill, carving deep valleys as they moved.
  • Valley formation: The powerful grinding action of glaciers scours the bedrock and widens the valley floor, while the steep valley walls are often smoothed and polished. Thus, forming U-shaped valleys.
  • Submersion: As the climate warmed and the glaciers began to retreat, the valleys carved by glacial erosion were often left below sea level. These valleys are sometimes referred to as “drowned valleys” because they become submerged as the sea levels rise.
  • Marine processes: Once submerged, the valleys continued to deepen through marine processes like wave erosion and sediment deposition. The saltwater intrusion further carved and deepened the valleys, resulting in the characteristic deep and narrow fjords.

Why do they constitute some of the most picturesque areas of the world?

  • Tranquil landscapes: Fjords often provide tranquil and serene landscapes. The deep, calm waters, surrounded by steep cliffs or lush forests, create a sense of peace and tranquillity.
  • Biodiversity: The combination of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in and around fjords results in a wide variety of flora and fauna.
  • Contrast of water and steep cliffs: Steep cliffs or towering mountains often rise abruptly from the water’s edge. This stark contrast between the vertical rock faces and the calm, reflective waters creates a visually striking and awe-inspiring scene.
  • Reflective water: They reflect the surrounding landscape, including the rugged cliffs, dense forests, and pristine skies. This reflection enhances the visual appeal of fjords, creating symmetrical and breathtaking views.
  • Cultural and recreational significance: Many communities and settlements are situated along their shores, offering visitors insights into local cultures and traditions. Additionally, fjords provide opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching, making them attractive destinations.



Thus, fjords stand as some of the most picturesque and captivating areas on our planet. Their picturesque charm encourages us to appreciate the splendour of the natural world and to strive for its protection.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q7. Why is the South-West monsoon called ‘Purvaiya’ (easterly) in Bhojpur Region? How has this directional seasonal wind system influenced the cultural ethos of the region? (Answer in 150 words) 10





The southwest monsoon is a climatic phenomenon of great significance in India as the carrier of rains, and its various regional names often reflect its local importance and cultural influence. In the Bhojpur region, which spans parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, and eastern Uttar Pradesh, the southwest monsoon is commonly referred to as ‘Purvaiya,’ which translates to ‘easterly.’




South-West Monsoon called Purvaiya’ (easterly) in Bhojpur Region:

  • Monsoonal winds: The southwest monsoon is characterized by prevailing winds that bring moisture-laden air from the southwest.
  • Turning westwards: As these monsoonal winds progress across the Eastern Indian subcontinent, they turn westwards and gradually change direction due to presence of the relief barriers like the Meghalaya plateau and the Purvanchal Himalayas.
  • Relative direction: Therefore, the winds blowing over the Bhojpur region come from the east rather than their actual origin in the southwest. Locally, “Purva” means east and so these easterlies are called ‘Purvaiya’.

How has this directional seasonal wind system influenced the cultural ethos of the region?

  • Agriculture: The arrival of the “Purvaiya” marks the beginning of the monsoon season which is culturally significant in an agrarian society, and farmers eagerly await this event for sowing their crops.
  • Festivals: Rain-related festivals, such as Teej and Sawan, are common in the region. These festivals involve prayers and rituals for the well-being of crops and agricultural prosperity. Other important festivals like Chhath puja also coincide in time.
  • Songs: Many traditional songs and lyrics revolve around the arrival of the “Purvaiya” and its impact on farming and rural life.
  • Cuisine: Seasonal and monsoon-specific dishes like ghughni, perukia et al are prepared using ingredients that thrive during this period.
  • Architecture: Traditional architecture in the Bhojpur Region is adapted to the monsoon’s climatic conditions. For example, houses may have sloping roofs to shed rainwater efficiently.


Thus, the southwest monsoon, affectionately referred to as “Purvaiya” in the Bhojpur Region, is much more than a meteorological event; it is an integral part of the region’s cultural fabric and way of life.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q8. Do you think marriage as a sacrament is losing its value in Modern India?  (Answer in 150 words) 10





Marriage is among the basic social institutions forming the basis of family. Marriage, regarded as a sacramental union includes the following aspects –

  1. Religious duty rather than civil contract
  2. Indissoluble bond
  3. Ideal of Pativratya


The advent of modernity has brought about certain changes in marriage undermining its sacramental nature.

  • Change in the purpose – Marriage is no longer seen as a religious obligation but as a means for the companionship of two individuals.
  • Change in nature of marriage – Elaborate rituals are not an integral part of marriages anymore.
    • g.- Court marriages under the Special Marriage Act, Mantra Mangalya in parts of Karnataka etc.,
  • Divorce – has challenged sacred notions of indissolubility and permanent union beyond life.
  • Widow remarriages – have challenged the ideals of ‘pativratya’ and infused modern notions of equality.
  • Live-ins, pre-marital sex, and demands of same-sex marriages – becoming more acceptable than before are challenging sacramental values attached.

However, its sacramental nature is reflected in

  • Religious customs still continue in most marriages among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. Eg- Priest or Maulvi solemnising the ceremony
  • Cultural and Religious Traditions: These cultural and religious values have been preserved and continue to be respected in modern times.
  • Arranged Marriages: These marriages often align with cultural and religious values, emphasizing the sanctity of the union.
  • Rituals and Ceremonies: Elaborate wedding rituals and ceremonies continue to be an integral part of Indian weddings.
  • Children and Lineage: Marriage is seen as the primary institution for raising children and preserving family heritage.



To sum up, there is certainly some erosion of the sacramental value of marriage in modern India owing to influences of westernisation, urbanisation and legal reforms. Despite this, marriage hasn’t become purely contractual.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q9. Explain why suicide among young women is increasing in Indian Society. (Answer in 150 words) 10






Women in India account for over one-third of global female suicide deaths. According to NCRB data, in the year 2021, over 45 thousand women died by suicide.




Several complex and interconnected factors contribute to this concerning issue of increasing female suicides –


  • Mental health stigma– can prevent young women from seeking any professional help.
  • Marital Pressures– Early and sometimes forced marriages, dysfunctional marriages and domestic abuse increase the risk of suicide. Suicides as a result of dowry harassment are also significant.
    • Housewives make up over 50% of India’s female suicides (NCRB data)
  • Societal contradictions – i.e., conflict between women’s increasing education and empowerment and the persistence of their subdued status in Indian society.
    • g.- Factors like a glass ceiling at the workplace that restrict progression despite being well qualified.
    • NFHS of 2020-21 highlighted factors like restricted financial autonomy for women, limited mobility and marital controls.
  • Gender Discrimination – Disparities in access to education, employment and decisions can lead to feelings of hopelessness and frustration.
  • Social Media and Peer Pressure – The rise of social media has exposed young women to cyberbullying, revenge pornography etc.,
    • Alongside, heightened peer pressure, leads to low self-esteem and body image issues.
  • Educational Stress – High expectations from parents and society lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Economic Factors -Financial struggles, unemployment, being financially dependent on their families.
    • For instance, single mothers struggle to ensure good bringing up of their children.


Efforts to address this issue  –

  • Government Initiatives like the MANAS program in Maharastra;
  • Strict law enforcement against dowry, child marriage and forced marriages
  • Efforts of NGOs like Snehi and Vandrevala Foundation



However, Indian society needs more comprehensive efforts to create a supportive environment for all women irrespective of age, background and economic conditions in order to mitigate these preventable deaths by suicides.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q10. Child cuddling is now being replaced by mobile phones. Discuss its impact on the socialization of children. (Answer in 150 words) 10





In today’s increasingly digital world, the traditional practice of child cuddling is gradually being replaced by the allure of mobile phones. This shift raises concerns about the potential long-term consequences on children’s ability to form meaningful connections and navigate the complexities of human relationships.




While the advent of the mobile phone itself is not inherently detrimental, its misuse or overuse has implications on the way children are socialised such as –

  • Hampered Social Skills – such as empathy, active listening, and non-verbal communication. Development of emotional intelligence and social awareness, which are essential for healthy relationships are compromised.
  • Impact on Family Bonding– Family interactions are essential for instilling values, passing on cultural traditions, and creating a strong support system. Excessive screen time can undermine these.
  • Social isolation – less time spent bonding with real-world friends leads to the breakdown of social relationships.
  • Stifles Creativity and Imagination– Overreliance on digital devices for entertainment can hinder a child’s natural creativity and imaginative prowess.
  • Developmental Challenges – For instance, the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt a child’s sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and cognitive challenges, impacting their ability to engage effectively in social settings.
  • Exposure to dangers and vulnerabilities of the cyber-world –
    • such as inappropriate content, indoctrination, cyber-stalking and bullying, vulgar language etc.,
    • g. – Bois locker room Instagram chat group.


Despite these negatives, some positive impacts include –

  1. Learn new skills – such as a new language that can help the child to socialise with wider groups.
  2. Readiness to the tech-driven world
  3. Access to entertainment – can be a good stress-buster.



Therefore, it is important to note that not all screen time is harmful, and technology can offer educational and social benefits when used in moderation and with proper guidance from parents and caregivers. Striking a healthy balance between technology use and real-world socialization is key to ensuring that children grow into well-rounded individuals with strong social skills.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q11. What are the main features of Vedic society and religion? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society? (Answer in 250 words) 15




The Vedic period, spanning from around 1500 BCE to 500 BCE, was a transformative era in the history of the Indian subcontinent. During this time, a rich civilization emerged, shaping the essence of Indian culture and spirituality. It was marked by a profound reverence for ancient scriptures, elaborate rituals, and the growth of philosophical thinking.




Main features of Vedic society and religion:

  • Ritualistic society: Vedic society was deeply rooted in rituals and religious ceremonies. Sacrifices, known as Yajnas, were central to their religious practices.
    • These rituals involved offerings to gods, fire ceremonies, and hymn recitations from the Vedas.
  • Caste system: The Vedic society laid the foundation for the caste system, with the division of society into four main Varna: Brahmins (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaishyas (merchants and farmers), and Shudras (labourers).
    • This hierarchical structure influenced social and occupational roles.
  • Importance of the Vedas: The Vedas, a collection of ancient scriptures, held a central place in Vedic religion and society. They were revered as divine knowledge and formed the basis for religious rituals and hymns.
  • Polytheism: Vedic religion was polytheistic, with the worship of numerous deities representing various natural forces and cosmic principles. Indra, Agni, Varuna, and Vishnu were among the prominent gods.
  • Concept of Dharma: The idea of dharma, or moral duty, was significant in Vedic society. Each Varna and individual had specific duties and responsibilities based on their caste and stage of life (ashrama).
  • Varna and Ashrama system: Besides the Varna, the society was divided into Ashramas, which represented different life stages: Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (forest-dweller), and Sannyasa (renunciant). These stages outline the path of life for individuals.
  • Oral tradition: Initially, the Vedas and other religious texts were passed down orally from generation to generation, emphasizing the importance of memorization and oral transmission.
  • Patriarchy: Vedic society was patriarchal, with men holding dominant roles in both religious and social spheres. Women had specific roles within the household and were expected to follow the guidance of their husbands.
  • Agricultural economy: The Vedic economy was primarily agrarian, with farming and cattle-rearing being crucial to sustenance. The cow was especially revered as a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Relevance of features of Vedic society in contemporary Indian society:

  • Caste system: While modern India officially condemns caste-based discrimination and has implemented affirmative action policies, the caste system still exists in practice, impacting social and economic mobility.
  • Religious rituals: Rituals and ceremonies, albeit with some modifications, continue to hold significance in Hindu religious practices and life events like weddings and funerals.
  • Concept of Dharma: The idea of dharma remains relevant, guiding individuals in moral decision-making and fulfilling their social and familial responsibilities.
  • Polytheism: Hinduism, which evolved from the Vedic religion, is still a polytheistic faith with a vast pantheon of deities.
  • Vedas and Scriptures: The Vedas and other ancient scriptures remain important sources of religious and philosophical wisdom in Hinduism.
  • Patriarchy: Despite progress towards gender equality, elements of patriarchy persist in almost all parts of Indian society, more particularly in rural areas.
  • Agricultural tradition: Agriculture remains a significant part of the Indian economy, especially in rural areas, where farming and cattle-rearing continue to be essential livelihoods.


While India has undergone significant social, cultural, and economic changes over the centuries, certain aspects of Vedic society and religion have endured and continue to shape contemporary Indian society to some extent.


/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q12. What were the major technological changes introduced during the Sultanate period? How did those technological changes influence the Indian society? (Answer in 250 words) 15





The era of the Delhi Sultanate in India, spanning from the 13th to the 16th century, was characterized by a confluence of cultures, dynasties, and innovations. This period witnessed the introduction of major technological changes that not only reshaped the technological landscape but also played a pivotal role in influencing various facets of Indian society.




Major technological changes introduced during the Sultanate period:

  • Architecture and construction:
    • Indo-Islamic Architecture: The most prominent technological change was the introduction of Indo-Islamic architectural styles. This period saw the construction of magnificent structures like mosques, tombs, and forts with distinctive features like domes, minarets, and intricate carvings.
    • Use of Arches and Domes: The use of arches and domes in architecture, inspired by Islamic designs, allowed for the creation of large and aesthetically pleasing structures. Examples include the Qutub Minar and the Alai Darwaza in Delhi.
    • New materials like gypsum and lime paste improved building plastering, while lime as a cementing agent (mortar) began to be used.
  • Agriculture:
    • The Persian wheel, also known as Rahat in India, was introduced during this period. It improved water lifting and irrigation techniques, enabling more efficient cultivation of crops and increased agricultural productivity.
    • The ‘gaz-i-sikandari’ instrument streamlined land measurement, making revenue collection more efficient.
  • Art and craft: The Sultanate period saw advancements in the art of calligraphy, which influenced manuscript illustrations and the production of beautifully decorated manuscripts. This enhanced the aesthetic appeal of written texts.
    • The adoption of paper and bookbinding techniques facilitated education, culture, and administrative record-keeping.
  • Advanced Mining Techniques: including vertical bore pits and oval-shaft deep mines, enhanced metal production, benefiting toolmaking and weaponry.
  • Textiles: The introduction of the spinning wheel increased yarn production six-fold.
    • The pit loom, introduced in the fifteenth century, accelerated weaving processes.
    • The drawloom facilitated simultaneous patterned weaving with different colours.

Impact on society:

  • Political unity: The Delhi Sultanate’s flourishing armour and weaponry production played a pivotal role in expanding the Indian empire, promoting political unity, and bringing peace and stability to society.
  • Architectural Legacy: The Indo-Islamic architectural styles introduced during the Sultanate period continue to influence Indian architecture today. Their legacy can be seen in the design of modern mosques, tombs, and government buildings.
  • Cultural fusion: The blending of Indian and Islamic architectural elements and artistic styles created a unique cultural fusion.
    • This fusion reflected the multicultural nature of Indian society during this period and contributed to the diversity of India’s cultural heritage.
  • Agricultural advancements: The adoption of the Persian wheel and improved irrigation techniques boosted agricultural productivity. This technological change played a crucial role in sustaining a growing population and supporting urbanization.
  • Trade and Economy: The introduction of silver coins facilitated trade and commerce, contributing to the growth of urban centres and the development of a more sophisticated economy.
    • Regions like Gujarat gained renown for their intricate textiles, attracting traders from distant lands.
  • Artistic flourishing: The advancements in calligraphy and metalworking enriched India’s artistic traditions. The intricate metal artefacts and beautifully illustrated manuscripts became a source of pride and cultural expression.
  • Historical documentation: The technological changes in manuscript production and illustration helped in the preservation and documentation of historical texts and cultural knowledge, ensuring their transmission to future generations.


These technological advancements paved the way for India’s transition into a vibrant and interconnected society, setting the stage for further developments in the centuries to come.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q13. How did the colonial rule affect the tribals in India and what was the tribal response to the colonial oppression? (Answer in 250 words) 15





The colonial era in India, marked by British dominance from the 18th to the mid-20th century, brought profound changes to the country’s social, economic, and political landscape. Among the most affected were India’s tribal communities, whose centuries-old ways of life were significantly altered by colonial rule.




Effect of colonial rule on the tribals in India:

  • Loss of Self-Governance: British colonial rule undermined traditional systems of self-governance among tribal communities, replacing them with centralized British administration.
    • g. Tribals chief had to pay tribute to the British and discipline the tribal groups on behalf of the British.
  • Forest Dispossession: The British introduced forest laws, such as the Indian Forest Act of 1865, which restricted tribal access to forests and led to land dispossession. Tribals were often displaced from their ancestral lands to make way for colonial economic interests, such as timber extraction and commercial agriculture.
    • g. In Bastar region.
  • Cultural alienation: British rule often disregarded tribal cultural practices and religious beliefs, leading to cultural alienation and resentment among tribal populations.
    • The British often clashed with tribals’ worship of nature and sacred groves, which were integral to their way of life.
    • g. The suppression of tribal languages and cultures in missionary schools.
  • Social disruption: The British introduced revenue systems that disrupted traditional tribal land tenure systems, leading to conflicts over land ownership.
    • The Zamindari system introduced by the British in parts of India, including tribal areas, created intermediaries who exploited tribal peasants. E.g. Santhal region.
  • Displacement and exploitation: British policies led to the forced displacement of tribal communities from their ancestral lands to make way for infrastructure projects, plantations, and other British-controlled enterprises.
    • g. In regions like Assam, tribal communities were often forcibly resettled and used as labour in the tea plantations.
  • Violent suppression: In nearly all instances of tribal resistance against colonial authority, British forces resorted to violent suppression.
    • These harsh measures only served to strengthen the resolve of tribal communities to resist foreign rule.

Tribal response to the colonial oppression:

  • Armed resistance: Tribals in different regions launched armed uprisings against the British and their exploitative policies. The Santhal Rebellion of 1855-56 and the Birsa Munda-led Ulgulan (The Great Tumult) movement in the late 19th century are notable examples of armed tribal resistance.
  • Non-violent protests: Some tribal leaders like Jhalkari Bai in Central India and Rani Gaidinliu in Nagaland adopted non-violent forms of protest and civil disobedience against colonial rule.
    • They used their cultural symbols and practices as a means of resistance.
  • Forest movements: Many tribal communities organized forest protection movements to resist the British forest policies that threatened their access to traditional resources.
    • For instance, forest satyagraha in the Central provinces.
  • Cultural revival: Tribal communities made efforts to preserve and revive their languages, cultures, and traditional knowledge systems. They recognized the importance of cultural identity in resisting colonial assimilation.
    • g. Bastar Revolt and Bishnoi Movement (1730s) to preserve forests and livelihoods.
  • Engagement with Indian nationalism: Some tribal leaders and communities engaged with the broader Indian nationalist movement. Leaders like Jaipal Singh Munda and Rani Ma Gaidinliu advocated for tribal rights within the framework of Indian independence.
    • g. All India Tribal League, founded by Jaipal Singh Munda.


While colonial rule inflicted significant hardships on India’s tribal populations, their resilience and unwavering commitment to preserving their cultural heritage and rights have paved the way for ongoing efforts to address historical injustices and promote tribal empowerment in modern India.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q14. Comment on the resource potentials of the long coastline of India and highlight the status of natural hazard preparedness in these areas. (Answer in 250 words) 15




The long coastline of India, stretching approximately 7,500 kilometres from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, presents a wealth of resource potential. However, it also places these coastal areas at risk from natural hazards.




Resource potentials of the long coastline of India:

  • Fisheries: India’s coastal waters are teeming with a rich variety of marine life, making it one of the world’s top fish-producing nations.
  • Tourism: India’s coastline boasts picturesque beaches, scenic landscapes, and historical sites, making it a popular tourist destination. Coastal states like Goa, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu attract tourists from around the world.
  • Hydrocarbons and other minerals: Offshore areas along the coast are known for hydrocarbon reserves, including oil and natural gas in the Bombay High and K-G basin. Coastal regions are also rich in other minerals such as salt, heavy minerals, limestone, and phosphates.
  • Placer deposits: Continental shelves contain placer deposits that hold valuable minerals like titanium, zircon, and rare earth elements.
  • Agriculture: Coconut, cashew, rice, and various fruits and vegetables are cultivated in these regions.
  • Newer avenues: E.g., Seaweed cultivation, Offshore wind farms, Tidal energy converters, ocean to freshwater plants.

Natural hazards vulnerability in these areas:

  • Cyclones: Coastal regions, especially in the Bay of Bengal, are susceptible to cyclones during the monsoon season.
  • Floods: Coastal areas are prone to floods, particularly during the monsoon season when heavy rainfall and overflowing rivers can lead to inundation.
  • Tsunamis: The Indian Ocean region is susceptible to tsunamis, which can result from undersea earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami highlighted the vulnerability of coastal areas.
  • Sea-level rise: Higher sea levels due to climate change can lead to saltwater intrusion, erosion, and increased vulnerability to storm surges.

Status of natural hazard preparedness in these areas:

  • Disaster management and response systems: India has a comprehensive disaster management framework that includes the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs).
    • Coastal states have their own disaster management plans tailored to address region-specific risks, including cyclones, floods, and tsunamis.
  • Cyclone risk mitigation: The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) focuses on reducing cyclone risks in these regions with investments in Early warning systems (EWS), Cyclone shelters etc.
  • Tsunami preparedness: The Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) at INCOIS Hyderabad provides timely alerts to coastal communities.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP): The ICZMP aims to address coastal vulnerabilities, including erosion, flooding, and sea-level rise.
    • This is aided by the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2018; which prevents incursions on coastal lands and waters.
  • Community participation: Local residents are trained in disaster response and evacuation procedures by various governmental and non-governmental institutions.


Coastal regions are critical to the nation’s economic growth and support the livelihoods of millions. However, this extensive coastline also faces vulnerabilities to various natural hazards. Looking ahead, it is essential for India to continue investing in coastal hazard preparedness, especially in the context of climate change, which amplifies the risks associated with rising sea levels and more intense storms.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q15. Identify and discuss the factors responsible for diversity of natural vegetation in India. Assess the significance of wildlife sanctuaries in rainforest regions of India. (Answer in 250 words) 15x





India is ranked 10th in the world and 4th in Asia for plant diversity, with approximately 47,000 plant species. It is home to about 6% of the world’s flowering plants.



Factors responsible for diversity of natural vegetation in India:

  • Subcontinental geography: India’s vast subcontinental landmass spans a wide range of latitudes and longitudes. This subcontinental size exposes the country to various climatic influences, resulting in diverse vegetation zones.
  • Diverse agro-climatic regions: India is home to diverse agro-climatic regions, each characterized by distinct climatic conditions, temperature ranges, and rainfall patterns. India has extremes of climatic regions with Rajasthan having Xerophytic vegetation while the Northeast region has Evergreen
  • Terrain and relief: The varied terrain and relief features of India, including mountains, plateaus, plains, and coastal areas, influence rainfall distribution and temperature gradients. This topographical diversity contributes to different vegetation types.
  • Soil diversity: India boasts a wide variety of soil types, including alluvial soils, red soils, black soils, and mountain soils. Soil characteristics influence the fertility and composition of vegetation in different regions.
  • Tropical latitude: India’s location near the equator places a significant part of the country within tropical latitudes. This indicates high insolation, year-round higher temperatures as well as sufficient precipitation.


Wildlife Sanctuaries: Protected areas where wildlife and their habitats are conserved and preserved, often for research and tourism, while limited human activities are allowed.

  • Jim Corbett National Park (Uttarakhand)
  • Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)


Significance of wildlife sanctuaries in rainforest regions of India:

  • Biodiversity conservation: Wildlife sanctuaries in rainforest regions serve as vital conservation areas for preserving India’s rich biodiversity holding it as one of the rare biodiversity hotspots.
  • Ecological services: They regulate climate, control erosion, and maintain soil fertility. These services have far-reaching impacts on regional and global ecosystems.
  • Carbon sequestration: Rainforests are exceptional carbon sinks, absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide. This is pivotal in mitigating climate change.
  • Endemic and endangered species conservation: Many rainforest sanctuaries in India are key habitats for endemic and endangered species. The Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh, for example, hosts several endangered species like the Flying Squirrel and Hoolock Gibbon.
  • Economic benefits: Wildlife sanctuaries in rainforest regions support sustainable or eco-tourism, generating revenue and employment opportunities for local communities.


India’s remarkable diversity of natural vegetation is the result of a complex interplay of geographical, climatic, and ecological factors. The symbiotic relationship between India’s diverse natural vegetation and its network of wildlife sanctuaries underscores the need for their preservation.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q16. Why did human development fail to keep pace with economic development in India? (Answer in 250 words) 15




Presently, India is among the fastest-growing large economies globally. However, despite being ranked 5th in the world’s GDP rankings in 2023, India’s Human Development indicators are not impressive. India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in the Human Development Report of 2021-22.




India’s human development status:

  • According to the Human Development Report of 2021-22, India ranks 132 out of 191 countries, behind Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).
  • India’s Human Development Index (HDI) value stood at 633 in 2021, which was lower than the world average of 0.732.
  • On all the four parameters of HDI, India was behind the world averages in 2021.


Parameters India World Average
Life expectancy at birth 67.2 years 71.4 years
Expected years of schooling 11.9 years 12.8 years
Mean years of schooling 6.7 years 8.6 years
Gross national income per capita (2017 PPP) $6,590 $16,752


Reasons for lagging Human Development include –

  • Uneven Distribution of Economic Growth – The OXFAM report states that- more than 40% of the wealth created in the country from 2012 to 2021 had gone to just 1% of the population while only 3% had trickled down to the bottom 50%.
    • This has resulted in significant disparities in access to basic amenities, healthcare and education
  • Gender disparities – unequal access to education and job opportunities and limited political representation for women results in disadvantage to half the population.
    • As per the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2022, India is in a very dismal position at rank 143 out of 146 countries.
  • Urban-Rural Divide – Cities are the centres of economic growth with a 60% contribution to Indian GDP. However, rural India, home to about 70% of the population, has lagged behind in growth and access to essential services. Disguised unemployment continues to ail the rural economy.
  • Loopholes in policy implementation – For instance, the Public Distribution System (PDS) faces issues such as leakages and inefficiencies, preventing the intended beneficiaries from receiving full benefits.
  • Low Quality of Services – While significant progress is made in reducing poverty and increasing access to healthcare and education, the quality of such services remains a concern.
    • For instance, despite near-universal enrolment in primary education, learning outcomes are dismal as reflected in the ASER Report by NGO Pratham.
  • Social hierarchy – Caste-based discrimination continues to restrict opportunities and access to resources for marginalized communities.
    • The disadvantage is reflected in NFHS data, wherein the key health indicators such as IMR and child mortality rates among SC/ST communities are much higher than the national average.
  • Lack of Social Security – Over 90 % of workers remain informally employed while contributing to about half of GDP. However, they are deprived of social security benefits limiting their ability to access quality services.

Ways to improve:

  • Governments must prioritise human development alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed.
  • This requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses:
    • income inequality and gender inequality
    • improves access to quality social services
    • addresses environmental challenges, and
    • provides for greater investment in social infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and basic household amenities.
  • Given India’s size and large population, it is critical to address the subnational or State-wise disparities in human development, which will help in realizing the demographic dividend.

Positive developments:

  • India has also shown improvement in some areas.
  • Compared to 2019, the impact of inequality on human development is lower.
  • India is bridging the human development gap between men and women faster than the world.
  • India’s investment in health and education is helping it come closer to the global human development average since 1990.
  • It is also improving access to clean water, sanitation and affordable clean energy.


While India has made laudable progress in many aspects, prioritising human development alongside economic growth is essential to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed and progress is correspondingly recorded on the human development side as well.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q17. From being a net food importer in the 1960s, India has emerged as a net food exporter to the world. Provide reasons. (Answer in 250 words) 15





In the 1960s, India was importing about 10-11 million tons of wheat every year. However, the country has exported wheat in the range of 2-7 million tonnes annually in the last three years. This is broadly true for the ‘Food & related items’ header in the external merchandise trade as between 2012 and 2015, India exported 63 million tons of grains.




Agricultural production (million tonnes)


Reasons behind being a net food importer in 1960s:

  • Colonial hangover of low productivity: India had inherited a legacy of low agricultural productivity from its colonial past. British colonial policies had often prioritized the extraction of resources over the development of agriculture.
  • Growing population: India’s population was rapidly increasing during the 1960s with the peak rate of 8% decadal growth, which placed immense pressure on the country’s food resources.
  • Famines: India had experienced devastating famines in the past, with the Bengal Famine of 1943 being a particularly tragic event. Food production fell to a five-year low of 62 million tonnes in 1957-58 which led to demand fulfilment from imports.
  • Conflicts: Political conflicts and wars, including the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-China wars, disrupted agricultural activities and led to food shortages.
  • Lack of irrigation and inputs: Insufficient irrigation infrastructure and limited access to modern agricultural inputs, such as high-yielding seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, hindered agricultural productivity.

India has emerged as a net food exporter:

  • Green Revolution: The Green Revolution, initiated in the 1960s, introduced high-yielding crop varieties, modern farming techniques, and increased use of fertilizers and irrigation. This led to significant increases in agricultural productivity.
  • Productivity: The adoption of modern agricultural practices, improved seeds, better irrigation, and mechanization substantially increased crop yields. Schemes related to Agricultural extension were a major factor in this.
  • Financial support: Government measures in providing low cost credit via NABARD and insurance and social security schemes provided a safety net to relatively poor Indian farmers to invest in agriculture.
  • Diversification: India diversified its crop production beyond staples like rice and wheat. The country began producing a wide range of fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, pulses, and spices.
  • Trade liberalisation: Economic liberalization in the 1990s opened up India’s economy and trade policies. Steps like formation of APEDA allowed for greater private sector participation in agriculture and exports.
  • Value addition: Food and agro-commodities processing has increased consistently which has added value to such exports from India, contributing to both value and quantity based net export status to value addition and lower losses.


At last, India’s remarkable transformation from a net food importer in the 1960s to a net food exporter to the world is a testament to its resilience, innovation, and commitment to agricultural development. However, as India continues on its path as a net food exporter, it faces ongoing challenges related to sustainability, climate change, and the need to balance domestic and international food security.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q18. Does urbanization lead to more segregation and/or marginalization of the poor in Indian metropolises? (Answer in 250 words) 15




India is rapidly urbanising and is estimated to host 50 per cent of its population in cities by 2050. While urbanisation is a characteristic of any fast-growing economy, its unsustainable nature is a matter of grave concern.




This has led to segregation and marginalisation of the poor in metropolitan cities in the following ways –


1)Housing Segregation– Clear division of rich and poor with gated communities and extending slums with limited amenities.

  • Eg -A third of Delhi’s residences are part of the slums with no basic resources.


2)Economic Disparities– Inadequate skill leads to poor ending up in informal jobs with no job security or social benefits. They are seen as the source of cheap labour for affluent residents. This creates vicious cycle of poverty.

3)Limited access to services -Limits on basic necessities such as clean water, healthcare, sanitation and education further segregates poor.

4)Social Exclusion based on intersectionality – Further discrimination on the factors like caste, religion and ethnicity.

  • Eg- Manual scavenging, a caste based prohibited practice, is still prevalent in many cities like Chennai.

5)Government policies –Struggle of policy makers to provide basic necessities to all urban population due to resource and fund constraints, unintentionally discriminates the poor.

  • Eg- Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum highlights this.

6)Gentrification-When wealthier individuals move into previously low-income neighbourhoods, which increases property prices and hence displacing long-term low income residents.

  • Eg – Advent of MNCs in Bengaluru as the city developed as “Silicon Valley of India”

7)Vulnerability to disasters – 2023 Delhi flood’s disproportionately affected low-income groups.  Similarly, COVID -19 pandemic had further pushed them into deep poverty.


Despite these, there is silver-lining for urban poor as seen in following aspects:


1) Participation in gig-economy– Providing flexible work opportunities for semi-skilled.

Eg- Delivery agents, jobs with raid-hailing platforms like Ola and Uber.

2)Anonymity – offered by urban centres help many poor to integrate and access opportunities as equals leaving behind their caste and other discriminatory identities.

3)Government policy focus – Urban poor are at the centre of recent schemes such as AMRUT 2.0, Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, PM SVANidhi for street vendors etc.,


Way forward:

Attention must be paid to income generation, transport and empowerment of the beneficiaries to redress possible future problems


A three-pronged approach to Slum Free city should be adopted:

  • Provision of clear, free title to the residents, so that they enjoy the privileges of using property as a tangible asset.
  • To upgrade the infrastructure and services providing water, power, and sewage connections to individual homes, the collection of solid waste, street lighting and neighbourhood security and police support.
  • The creation of high-density, low income zoning that allows individual property owners to upgrade their homes without risk, rent out their properties to formal commercial establishments




It can be concluded that effective urban planning that is more inclusive is the need of the hour. It is also crucial to achieve SDG 11 of ‘making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.’

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q19. Why is caste identity in India both fluid and static? (Answer in 250 words) 15




Caste is a hierarchical social institution unique to Indian society. Caste today exhibits both static and fluid aspects due to its strong historical roots and ongoing societal changes due to the onslaught of modernity.




Following are the areas where caste identity displays its static character:

  1. Caste Endogamy- According to the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), Inter-caste marriages constitute only 5% of total Indian marriages even today. Any violation is sometimes met with honour crimes including honour killings.
  2. Rigidity – Caste is an ascriptive identity acquired by birth. There is no scope for mobility within this hierarchical structure.
  • Caste-based violence – Any attempt to improve social status by lower caste groups is often met with resistance, sometimes violently.
    1. g.- A dalit groom was beaten up by ‘upper-caste’ men for taking out a wedding procession on a horse in Rajgarh of MP.


However, its fluid character is evident in:

  1. Dilution in notions of Pollution and purity – in inter-caste relations such as accepting cooked food, drinking water, coming into close contact etc.,
    • Eg – it is impossible to maintain such notions of inter-dining restrictions in a modern-day office lunch room or college canteen.
  2. Caste-occupation dissociation –A person’s merit and skills rather than his/her caste identity is the main determinant of one’s occupation.
    • Eg – The formation of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) shows the rise of ‘Dalit capitalism’
  • Prominence of achieved identity over ascribed identity – i.e. factors like educational qualification, occupational position, income, etc., are the basis of identification of the individual rather than caste.
  1. Secularisation of castes – Formation of caste associations and their acting as pressure groups rather than as ritual communities.
    • g. – Reservation demands of Kapus in AP, and Marathis in Maharastra.
  2. Identity-based politics – wherein caste identity forms the basis of mobilization of electoral support.
    • g.- Mobilisation of Dalit communities by Bahujan Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.



Thus, it is evident how caste identity is preserved intact in some spheres. However, in most, areas of modern society owing to factors such as –westernization, urbanization, modern education, and rapid industrialization, caste identity has shed its original rigid nature.

/ UPSC GS1 2023

Q20. Discuss the impact of the post-liberal economy on ethnic identity and communalism. (Answer in 250 words) 15





The post-liberal economy in India, characterized by economic liberalization since the early 1990s. This transformation in the economic sphere has had profound socio-political consequences, reshaping the dynamics of ethnic identities and communalism in multiple ways.




Impact on Ethnic Identities


  • Economic Mobility and Identity Transformation:
    • For instance, urbanization and access to education have enabled Dalits and other marginalized groups to assert themselves economically, leading to changes in their social status and identity.
  • Transnational Connections: The post-liberal economy has facilitated increased migration, trade, and cultural exchange, allowing individuals to maintain connections with their ethnic or ancestral homeland.
    • The Sikh diaspora’s engagement with Punjab or the Kerala diaspora’s investment in their home state are examples of such transnational ethnic connections.
  • Cultural Revival and Globalization:
    • Bollywood, for example, has been instrumental in showcasing and preserving diverse Indian cultures.
  • Commercialization of Ethnic Culture: Ethnic food, clothing, and jewelry have become highly marketable products, catering to those with the means to afford them.
    • This commercialization underscores the growing fascination and nostalgia for ethnic cultures, which are often seen as exotic and unique.
  • Fluid and Fabricated Identities:
    • In Manipur, tribes shift between Kuki and Naga identities based on location and politics, revealing flexible identities with political consequences. Communities adapt for survival and political advantage, showcasing the malleability of ethnic affiliations.


Impact on Communalism:


  • Economic Disparities and Communal Tensions: Economic liberalization has widened the economic gap between communities. Some political groups exploit these disparities to inflame communal tensions, framing them as outcomes of favoritism towards certain communities.
    • Sachar Committee Report highlighted the economic plight of Indian Muslims, which has contributed to communal discontent.
  • Identity Politics and Communal Polarization: The post-liberal economy has seen the rise of identity-based politics. Communal and caste-based identities are often used as political tools to consolidate vote banks.
    • The Mandal Commission report, which led to affirmative action for certain backward castes, is an example of identity politics shaping policy and politics.
  • Media and Communal Narratives:. False information and hate speech can be disseminated quickly, leading to communal tensions and violence.
  • Regional Disparities and Communalism:
    • For instance, the recent Maratha agitation in Maharashtra highlighted regional disparities.
  • Urbanization and Communal Harmony: On the positive side, urbanization, driven by economic opportunities in cities, has fostered more diverse and inclusive environments.
    • Urban centers often have a more cosmopolitan outlook, where people from different backgrounds interact regularly. This has led to communal harmony and reduced the appeal of communal politics.
  • Rise of Middle Class and Communalism: The expansion of the middle class due to economic liberalization has had a mixed impact on communalism.
    • While some argue that a growing middle class promotes liberal values and tolerance, others point out instances where middle-class youth have been radicalized.




The impact of the post-liberal economy on ethnic identities and communalism is a complex interplay of economic disparities, cultural dynamics, and political strategies. While economic liberalization has transformed ethnic identities and led to both positive and negative consequences for communalism, addressing economic disparities and promoting inclusive development remains pivotal in managing communal tensions and fostering a harmonious society.

/ UPSC GS1 2023


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