UPSC Mains 2021 GS-I Model Answer Pointers



1) Evaluate the nature Of the Bhakti literature and its contribution to Indian culture. (150 words, 10 marks)

● Intro
● Nature
● Contribution
● Criticism
● Conclusion

Model Points

Nature of Bhakti Literature:
New Form of Devotion: The Bhakti literature reflects a new form of devotion to God i.e., a personal bond between the devotee and the deity
Accessibility: By choosing to write in Avadhi which is a dialect of Hindi, Tulsidas made the epic of Ramayana and other devotional literature more accessible to the common man. This also represented a break from the composition of devotional literature in Sanskrit.
Break from the Past: It represented a significant break from the earlier devotional literature which was focused on rites and rituals and was mostly written in Sanskrit.
Diverse Background of Writers: The composers of bhakti literature came from diverse backgrounds. Kabir was a weaver, Ravidas was tanner, Sursuri was a woman, with Ramanandacharya, a Brahmin as their Guru.Mirabai was among the most famous women saints
of the Bhakti movement. She sang songs in praise of Lord Krishna which became popular as Bhajans
Unorthodox approach: Guru Nanak in his poems talked about futility of unnecessary rituals and pilgrimages.

Contribution of Bhakti Literature to Indian Culture:
Development of Languages: Development of Marathi, Punjabi and its script Gurumukhi, Assamese etc. occurred due efforts of saints like Tukaram, Sikh Gurus, Shankaradeva etc.
Mixtures of Themes: Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda is a popular devotional work on Lord Krishna. It is considered to be the most Sanskrit lyrical work of the Bhakti period. Its theme is the love between Lord Krishna and Radha. It laid the foundation for the growth of Bengali literature. His work represents a mix of passion, devotion, and lyricism.
Translation of Books: Bhattadeva had translated the Bhagavadgita into Assamese, which led to the enrichment of Assamese prose.
New forms of Poetry: The works of Narasimha Mehta, Bhalana, and Akho led to the growth of Gujarati literature under the influence of Vaishnava Bhakti. Narasimha Mehta is considered the father of Gujarati poetry
New Sacred Books: In Marathi, the works of Jnanadeva viz., Bhavartha Dipika (also known as Jnanesvari) and Amrutanubhava are revered as sacred books.
Devotional Songs: In Marathi, the works of Jnanadeva viz., Bhavartha Dipika (also known as Jnanesvari) and Amrutanubhava are revered as sacred books.

Not Complete Break: Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda is a popular devotional work on Lord Krishna. It is considered to be the most Sanskrit lyrical work of the Bhakti period.

2) Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj. (150 words, 10 marks)

● Intro
● Reasons for rise and growth of the movements
● Contribution of Young Bengal Movement
● Contribution of Brahmo Samaj
● Conclusion

Model Points

Introduction : Rise in 19th century as a reaction to colonial rule and challenged both British and priestly class supremacy.

Rise and Growth

        • Colonialism exposed flaws in society – need felt for improving social and religious life
        • Introduction of modern western education – exposure to modern ideas
        • Colonial support for various ideas of reformists like abolition of sati, child marriage , etc
        • Orientalism v/s Western Ideas – Debates

Young Bengal Movement

        • Derozio – inspired by French Revolution – free and rational thinking
        • Questioning all authority
        • Women’s rights and education
        • Fight social evils like sati, child marriage, etc

Brahmo Samaj

        • Religious reforms – preached against polytheism and idolatry and religious books as source of all authority
        • Criticised caste system and practices like polygamy
        • Women’s emancipation – women’s education, widow remarriage, etc
        • Woeked for improving peasants’ conditions


Rise both as a result of colianism and realisation of backwardness – contributed in rasing conciousness of the people – abolish regressive pratices – stepping stone for modernisation.

3) Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. (150 words, 10 Marks)

● Intro
● Administrative Issues
● Socio Cultural Issues
● Conclusion

Model Answer Pointers

Administrative Issues:
Lack of Sympathy with Congress: The ruler of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh, was antipathetic to the Congress, and did not see much future in India for him or the lifestyle he wished to lead.
Threat to law and order: India believed that if Junagadh was permitted to go to Pakistan, the communal tension already simmering in Gujarat would worsen, and refused to accept the accession. The government pointed out that the state was 80% Hindu, and called for a referendum to decide the question of accession.
Lack of Connectivity: Pakistan, attempting to force the issue of Kashmir’s accession, cut off supplies and transport links. Its transport links with India were tenuous and flooded during the rainy season.

Following socio-cultural problems existed in integration of Indian princely states: 
1. Peasant Discontent:The Telangana Rebellion of 1946–51 was a communist-led insurrection of peasants against the princely state of Hyderabad in the region of Telangana that escalated out of agitations in 1944–46.
2. Communal Problems: At the time of the transfer of power, the state of Jammu and Kashmir (widely called “Kashmir”) was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu, although the state itself had a Muslim majority. Hari Singh was equally hesitant about acceding to either India or Pakistan, as either would have provoked adverse reactions in parts of his kingdom.
3. There was economic divide between regions to be integrated such as between Baroda and other princely states of Saurashtra region.  

4) Differentiate the causes of landslides in the Himalayan region and Western Ghats. (150 words, 10 Marks)

Decoding the Question

A relatively easy question and asked with different wordings in UPSC Mains earlier as well. Focus should be on bringing out the differences in the causative factors for landslides in Himalayas and Western Ghats clearly.

Model Answer Pointers

  • Introduction
    • Define landslides : mass movement of rocks, soil, etc – on a mountain slope – under gravity
  • Body
    • Rock structure
      • Himalaya: sedimentary rocks – more denudation and erosion
      • WG: basalt rocks – less prone to denudation and erosion
    • Plate tectonics
      • Himalaya: tectonically very active
      • WG: tectonically more stable
    • Exogenetic Forces
      • Himalaya: rapid perennial rivers – more erosion
      • WG: less severity of such rivers
    • Conclusion
      • A good way to conclude would be to bring in human factor besides the physiographic ones pointed out above
        • Human activities , dams, urbanisation in already fragile Himalayan ecosystem is more intense as compared to WG.

5) Despite India being one of the countries of the Gondwanaland, its mining industry contributes much less to its Gross Domestic Product(GDP) in percentage. Discuss.(150 words, 10 Marks)

Decoding the Question

Although the question starts with a reference to Gondwanaland, the question in plain terms just boils down to the problems faced by mining industry that is hampering growth of this sector. 

Model Answer Pointers

  • Introduction
    • Give a small reference to Gondwanaland and then use whatever facts you can remember that highlights the poor state of the mining industry
      • Gondwanaland – rich in minerals
      • Contribution of mining industry to GDP : less than 2.5%
      • Issues : some natural but mainly operational and administrative
    • Body
      • Poor regulatory mechanisms
        • Illegal Mining : lobbying , corruption , arbitrary allocations – loss of public revenue
        • Delay in environmental clearances : bureaucratic red tape
        • Judicial interventions : long delays , losses
      • Operational / Administrative Issues
        • Many mines are small: lesser ability for better management
        • Low investment : for new exploration
        • Poor infrastructure for safe mining : accidents keep happening
    • Conclusion
        • Mention how the issues can be surmounted. If you have studied the National Mineral Policy, 2019 , you can use its features to write a good conclusion.
          • Widen the exploration : through increased reconnaissance and prospecting operations
          • Harmonising taxes, levies and royalty with world benchmarks
          • Strengthening regulation through technology
          • Sorting out delays in permissions

6) What are the environmental implications of the reclamation of the water bodies into urban land use? Explain with examples. (150 words, 10 Marks)

Decoding the Question

A straightforward question of a topic often in news.

Model Answer Pointers

  • Introduction
    • Highlight the importance of water bodies in urban ecosystem
      • Groundwater recharge
      • Drinking water
      • Support biodiversity
  • Body : highlight environmental implications of water bodies reclamation into urban land use with examples wherever possible.
      • Declining no. of waterbodies in urban landscape
        • Bengaluru
        • Ahmedabad
      • Decreasing capacity of natural drains
        • Results into flooding
        • Ex : Mumbai
      • Degradation of water ecology
        • Influx of nutrients
        • Disposal of sewage
        • Drinking water pollution – high concentration of chemicals
        • Dal Lake, Srinagar
      • Biodiversity extinction
        • Rise in BOD
        • Habitat destruction
  • Conclusion : conservation measures needed
        • Waste water treatment
        • Non encroachment
        • Reduced anthropogenic stress

7) Mention the global occurrence of volcanic eruptions in 2021 and their impact on regional environment. (150 words, 10 Marks)

Decoding the Question

A current affairs based question as a number volcanic eruptions were in news in 2021. For the second part of the question, viz. the impact on regional environment, static knowledge can be used after you have mentioned all the global occurrences of volcanic eruptions that you can remember.

Model Answer Pointers

  • Introduction
    • Define volcanic eruptions : Release of lava and gas, often explosively from an active volcano
  • Body
    • Several incidents in 2021
      • Iceland
      • Taal volcano near Manila
      • La Palma
      • Ulawun, Papua New Guinea
      • Krakatau, Indonesia
      • Stromboli, Italy
      • Reventador, Ecuador
    • Impacts on regional environment are both positive and negative
      • Spread of volcanic ash – reduced visibility , localised cooling effect due to blocking of insolation
      • Increase in soil fertility
      • Could stimulate earthquakes
      • Emission of poisonous gases – difficulty in breathing
      • The internal heat associated with young volcanic systems produces geothermal energy
      • Metallic minerals mined in the world–such as copper, gold, silver, lead, and zinc–are associated with magmas found deep within the roots of extinct volcanoes

8) Why is India considered as a sub-continent? Elaborate your answer. (150 words, 10 Marks)

Decoding the Question

A basic question that can be covered from any standard textbook including NCERTs.

Model Answer Pointers


  • Definition of subcontinent : part of a continent – with its own unique identity in terms of geography, culture and even polity.


Give reasons for why is India considered a sub continent

  • Geologically : lies on a separate tectonic ‘Indian Plate’ , separted from rest of Asia by mountain ranges
  • Geographically : Bound by Himalayas and Oceans and consists of deserts as well as vast plains – a distinct diversity of landforms
  • Human Diversity : Multiples religions, races with multitude of languages and customs – all united by a single constitution and idea of single nationhood.
  • Politically : Largest democracy with socialist and secular outlook
  • Environmentally : Wide variety in flora and fauna , amny of which are endemic to India


Indian subcontinent not just consists of India but its neighbours as well and together they have their own distinct identity from the rest of the world.

9) Examine the uniqueness of tribal knowledge system when compared with mainstream knowledge and cultural systems. (150 words, 10 Marks)

Basic Demand: Highlight the peculiarities of tribal knowledge system and compare those to mainstream knowledge.

Main Points

Tribal Knowledge systems Mainstream knowledge systems
• Promotes survivalism • Promotes luxurious living
• co-existing with nature • need for environmentalism
• equitable, inclusive • specialised, differential, professional
• faith driven • rationality driven
• in built community led development approach • need to reinstate community led development


Mainstream knowledge and cultural systems – not different but just an evolutionary extension of tribal knowledge systems.

10) Examine the uniqueness of tribal knowledge system when compared with mainstream knowledge and cultural systems. (150 words, 10 Marks)

11) To what extent did the role of the moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? Comment. (250 words, 15 Marks)

● Intro
● Role
● Lack to Bring in Masses
● Conclusion

Model Answer Pointers

Role of moderates in widening the base of India’s freedom movement: 
1. Growth of Economic Nationalism: Dada Bhai Naoroji’s economic critique of colonial rule created conviction about exploitative nature of the British rule in India.
2. Moderates created an understanding of common political, economic and cultural interests of Indians across the length and breadth of the country.
3. Demands for constitutional reforms and propaganda in the legislative councils
4. Demand for Constitutional Reforms: Britishers had established Imperial legislative councils under the Indian Councils Act 1861. These councils did not have any real power and were intended to mask the official acts and policies as being passed by a representative body. Further, the Britishers appointed only 45 Indian members from 1862 to 1892.

However, moderates’ achievement in mobilizing masses was limited as shown below:
● Dev failed to widen their democratic base and the scope of demand
● They had a narrow social base and the masses plays a passive role in the the upcoming National freedom. This was because the early Nationalist left political faith in the the masses they felt that there were numerous divisions and subdivisions in Indian society.

12) Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement. (250 words, 15 Marks)

● Intro
● Briefly Mention why Constructive Programmes
● Explain those Constructive Programmes Phase wise
● Conclusion

Model Answer Pointers

Why Constructive Programme:
● In 1920 Gandhi launched the constructive programmes through the Congress. Gandhi aimed at re-generating a new society on a non-violent basis by empowering the masses through training and discipline in constructive programmes, and to achieve the same, he laid increasing stress on the necessity of working on this programme by any Satyagrahi. He said, “Civil disobedience is not absolutely necessary to win freedom through purely non-violent effort, if the cooperation of the whole nation is secured in the constructive programme.”

Components of Gandhi’s constructive programme during Non-cooperation and Civil Disobedience movements:

Communal unity:
According to Gandhi, communal unity does not merely mean political unity but should be an unbreakable unity of hearts, and can be achieved only by living like people and living with them as they live. This was what Gandhi did and achieved. That is why he wanted every Congress man to be one with the people and to represent in his own person every Hindu and non-Hindu to achieve such a unity. He wanted them to cultivate personal contacts and friendship with people of different faith other than his own, and to have the same respect for their faith as for his own.

Removal of Untouchability:
Gandhi held that untouchability was a blot and curse upon Hinduism. It was an age-old social evil which had to be removed to establish social equality in the society. Gandhi endeavoured to abolish this evil. He started the ‘Harijan’ newspaper to explain his ideas to people and he travelled throughout the country to raise funds for Harijans. He also accommodated a Harijan family in his Kochrab ashram, thereby courting discontent of ashramites and an economic boycott from the rich.

Promotion of Khadi:
Gandhi presented Khadi as a symbol of nationalism, economic freedom, equality and selfreliance. It was his belief that reconstruction of the society and effective Satyagraha against the foreign rule can be possible only through Khadi. Khadi is the core of the constructive activities as recommended by him. He called Khadi the sun of the solar system of the village economy. According to him there could be no Swaraj without universal and voluntary acceptance of Khadi. In his scheme of reconstruction for free India, villages should no longer depend on cities. In the task of village upliftment, he gave first priority to khadi and other village industries. India being a country of agriculture, the farmers spend half the year without work in idleness. So Gandhi thought spinning was the best option for them as productive activity.

In Gandhi’s scheme of constructive programme, prohibition was a vital social and moral reform. Gandhi attached much importance to this because the people in villages and cities would be incapable of moral effort which was necessary for Satyagraha unless they were free from the grip of intoxicants. He also felt that women and students had a special opportunity to advance this reform. By acts of loving service they could acquire on addicts a hold which would compel them to listen to the appeal to give up the evil habit.

Village industry:
For Gandhi, Khadi is the sun of the village solar system and other village industries are the planets. Khadi takes the Central place in the upliftment of village economy. Without khadi, the other industries cannot grow. Similarly, without the revival of other essential industries khadi cannot make satisfactory progress. In order to make the villages selfreliant, the development of both the industries is essential as they are inter-dependent. Village economy remains incomplete without the revival and growth of other cottage industries such as hand-grinding, hand pounding, paper, soap etc. The development of such industries will make the villages self-sustained units and will end the exploitation of the villages by the cities.

Basic education:
Gandhi was clear that the education of citizens is a backbone of any society. So he envisaged a new educational system for non-violent society of his dream and experimented it for many years. Basic Education should be connected with life and should lead to the development of mind, body and soul. It was Gandhi’s unflinching faith that there are abundant power and potentiality in children. The nature and surroundings of society in which the children are born and brought up can itself be very educative for their life and development. They can learn many things by dealing with practical work and by direct experiences

Upliftement of Women:
In his mission of Swaraj, Gandhi needed the cooperation of women, kisans, labourers and students. So, he had planned to work amongst them through constructive programme, which was a concrete plan to generate awareness in them and get their support in the freedom struggle. He believed that the movement cannot succeed without the active participation of women.

Economic equality:
Gandhi holds that economic equality is the master key and the only solution to non-violent independence. So long as there is a gulf between the rich and the poor the construction of non-violent society is clearly impossible. A violent and bloody revolution is bound to happen unless there is a voluntary abdication of rich. Therefore, Gandhi suggests the way of equal distribution of wealth through his theory of Trusteeship, which implies that the rich people are not the owners of their wealth but they are only trustees.

India being an agricultural country, kisans are in majority in its population. Gandhi believed that if they are made conscious of their strength, no power on earth can resist them. The effective method of organising kisans is displayed by Gandhi’s kisan movement in Champaran, Kheda, Bardoli and Borsad.

Gandhi considers Ahmedabad non-violent labour union as a model for India to copy. Labour should have its own unions. The Union should have its own schools, hospitals and a crèche for workers’ children. It should also have a maternity home, its own printing press, khadi depot and residential quarters. Moreover, the union should run night schools for the general and scientific education of workers. They should teach the workers the science of conducting a successful strike. Besides, capital should be labour’s servant and not the master. The aim of constructive programme was to elevate the status of labour

According to Gandhi, the current education is unnatural and to acquire knowledge in foreign language in the place of mother tongue is a waste of time for students. Gandhi set out a clear programme to train and prepare the students, who are the future leaders of the nation, as to what they should do and should not do. Students, in his opinion, should keep away from party politics, political strikes and coercive and secret ways. They should take to spinning, use khadi and village products, learn the national language and enrich their mother tongue.

13) “There arose a serious challenge to the Democratic State System between the two World Wars.” Evaluate the statement. (250 words, 15 marks)

● Intro
● What are the key serious of Challenges?Highlight Them
● Why were there Challenges Posed?
● Delineate those Challenges Country wise: Spain, Russia, Germany,Italy
● Conclude

Model Answer Pointers

What are the Challenges to Demoractic Set up?
● Rise of Dictatorship like Hitler, Benito Mussolini and General Franco
● Rise of Militarism like Japan
● Rise of Communism

Why the challenges Posed?
● Weak Political Set up which included a lot of Coaliation parties which couldn’t Provide Stability
● Lack of Financial Management by the Democractic Government
● Rise of ultra-nationalism and conscription promoted militarism in international politics which posed a direct threat to Democracy.

● In Spain an incompetent parliamentary government was replaced by General Primo de Rivera, who ruled from 1923 until 1930 as a sort of benevolent dictator. The world economic crisis brought him down, and in an atmosphere of growing republicanism, King Alfonso XIII abdicated, hoping to avoid bloodshed (1931). Various republican governnments failed to solve the many problems facing them, and the situation deteriorated into civil war (1936-9) with the forces of the right fighting the left-wing republic. The war was won by the right-wing Nationalists, whose leader, General Franco, became head of the government

● In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded the Italian fascist party, which won 35 seats in the 1921 elections. At the same time there seemed to be a real danger of a left-wing revolution; in an atmosphere of strikes and riots, the fascists staged a ‘march on Rome’, which culminated in King Victor Emmanuel inviting Mussolini to form a government (October 1922); he remained in power until July 1943

● In Japan the democratically elected government, increasingly embarrassed by economic, financial and political problems, fell under the influence of the army in the early 1930s. The military soon involved Japan in war with China, and later took the country into the Second World War with its attack on Pearl Harbor (1941)

● When it became clear that the Duma was ineffective, unrest increased and culminated, after disastrous Russian defeats in the First World War, in two revolutions, both in 1917. The first revolution (February/March) overthrew the Tsar and set up a moderate provisional government. When this coped no better than the Tsar, it was itself overhrown by a second uprising: the Bolshevik revolution (October/November)

14) Briefly mention the alignment of major mountain ranges of the world and explain their impact on local weather conditions, with examples. (250 words, 15 marks)

Decoding the Question

A simple question from world physiography. All you need to do is to mention the positions of the major mountain ranges and point out the local weather conditions they affect

Model Answer Pointers

Introduction : Mention what a mountain range is along with the names of the major mountain ranges of the world.

Body : Mention the alignment of the major mountain ranges and the consequent effect on local weather. drawing a rough world map with the location of these mountain ranges will fetch some extra marks.


    • British Columbia to Southwest United States
    • Block the rainbearing winds from pacific – rain on windward side and deserts on the other side


    • North to South on left margins of the South American Continent
    • Acts as rainshadow for the atacama desert
    • Longest continental mountain range


    • West to east in Europe across eight Alpine countries
    • Affects rainfall patterns and direction of local winds like, Foehn, Mistral etc


    • Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in a South West to North East direction  
    • Separates the Mediterranean region from the Sahara Desert – causes high rainfall  in the region between them and the Mediterranean Sea by capturing the moisture laden winds  
    • Acts as a rain shadow, preventing the rainfall in the desert region of Sahara


    • West to East in the Indian subcontinent
    • Protects the Indian subcontinent from the frigid, dry winds blowing from the Tibetan plateau
    • Acts as barrier for monsoon winds, causing rainfall in India
    • Acts as rain shadow for the Taklamakan and Gobi Desert

15) How do the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain. (250 words, 15 marks)

Decoding the Question

A relatively tough question but it can be considered as a repeated questions from past year mains with slight modification. Can be solved using any standard current affairs material and if one has practised PYQs.

Model Answer Pointers

Introduction : Global warming and climate chnage leading to melting of glaciers with dire consequences


Warming in the Arctic

  • High emergence of El Nino related events
  • Central Pacific Trade wind intensification leading to weakening of extra-tropical cyclones 
  • Slowing of the jet stream, and its looping southwards.  
  • Extreme weather events in the middle latitudes
  • All this will reult in reduced opportunities for the native population for subsistence hunting, fishing and herding and the rise in temperature is likely to cause physiological stress in people adapted to be living in cooler climates. 
  • However, melting of ice might lead to opening of North Sea route for global trade, saving both time and cost.  

Warming in the Antartic

  • Slowing of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, disrupting gulf stream  
  • Will cause colder winters and hotter summers in North Atlantic
  • Warming of Antarctica Circumpolar Current can aggravate the effects of global warming
  • Melting of Antarctic glaciers could raise the sea levels substantially and enhance the incidences of coastal erosion and storm surges, causing loss of life/livelihood for the coastal people


Vital parts of our ecosystem – Nations need to work more in direction of arresting climate change – or else, this will have irreversible ramifications for global weather patterns and consequently on humans

16) Discuss the multi-dimensional implications of uneven distribution of mineral oil in the world. (250 words, 15 marks)

Decoding the Question

It’s a moderate level question and can be solved using any standard text book on geography.

Model Answer Pointers


Mention some points to illustrate the uneven distribution of mineral oil in the world like – Middle east has more than half of the world’s proven oil reserves, India is highly dependent on west Asia for its energy needs, etc – this has social, economic and political implications


  • Regional conflict affecting the geopolitics as almost everyone tries to have influence in such regions.
  • The un-even distribution of the mineral energy resource has led to high degree of energy insecurity in the oil deficient countries
  • Leads to economic implications like inflation, for the importing country. Also, affects the balance of trade between the importing and the exporting countries which in turn affects the foreign exchange reserves of the country.  
  • Vested interest in oil economy has potential to delay transition to clean energy and decarbonizing the world industry 
  • Leads to more job opportunities in middle east. For e.g., India has a large diaspora in the middle east.


With its wide ranging implications, India needs to diversify its energy basket both in terms of content and geography in order to be less dependent on the vagaries of the lopsided market which is a consequence of the uneven distribution of the mineral oil in the world.

17) What are the main socio-economic implications arising out of the development of IT industries in major cities of India? (250 words, 15 marks)

18) Discuss the main objectives of Population Education and point out the measures to achieve them in India in detail. (250 words, 15 marks)

19) What is Cryptocurrency? How does it affect global society? Has it been affecting Indian society also? (250 words, 15 marks)

20) How does Indian society maintain continuity in traditional social values? Enumerate the changes taking place in it. (250 words, 15 marks)

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