We have been keeping busy for the past few days due to the MAINS exam, speaking to our students,guiding them and counselling them.
Last year we conducted the Essay Test series and Thank you all those who joined us.The Essay papers in MAINS came on predicted lines and many of our Essays appeared in the Exam and we sincerely hope that our reviews helped the students to write a better essay in the exam.
Our test series covered 6 out of the 8 topics asked by UPSC this year “(Some directly and some indirectly . Indirectly implies the topic might be different but the theme is more or less in line with the UPSC question)
The Essay Topics in the Mains Exam are :-
Section – A
- If development is not engendered , it is endangered.
- Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed.
- Water disputes between States in federal India
- Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare
- Cooperative Federalism- Myth or Reality
- Cyberspace and Internet :Blessing or Curse to the Human civilization in the long run.
- Near Jobless Growth in India; An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms
- Digital Economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality.
The Essay that appeared from our test series – directly/indirectly
In our Essay Test Series – 01 , we gave these topics :-
India- Island of prosperity in the sea of poverty.
- This topic resonates with the ” Digital Economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality“
- The similarity between the two topics is that :-
- Digital Economy represents the service and IT sector growth in India post-1991 reform which resulted in massive GDP growth, however it did not benefit all sections.The very nature of job requires high-skill and hence those who could afford education and got the skillset did benefits from it where as the fruits of the development did not reach all sections of society which resulted in skewed Human Development Index.Only few states of India fared batter.This abrupt jump from primary sector to tertiary sector without a robust manufacturing base resulted in ” Islands of prosperity in sea of poverty”
- The essay can be approached in two ways :-
- First take a stand and then justify it through out your essay
- Or Put everything on the canvas and then deduce your analysis from it
- Both approaches works well for this kind of essays, so it is up-to you how you want to play your cards.The main point is if the flow is intact and the essay is interesting it will sail through.
- Here is a deductive approach to the essay :-
- In Deductive approach you can break-down in to following questions:-
- What is digital economy ?
- Did it gave rise to inequality – Inter-country , Intra-country,Inter-continental etc.
- What are reasons for inequality ?
- Is it a leveller ?
- Is it a more of leveller or a source of inequality ?
- Way forward/Conclusion
- Briefly discuss what digital economy entails , what is its genesis- Link it with 3rd and 4th Industrial revolution (We have published many good articles on these themes)
- Then take a global perspective, how those who have access to technology fare well.
- Give example of Japan , South Korea,USA etc
- The growth in digital economy widened the gulf of economic inequality between countrie – Inter-country inequality.
- Then discuss the case of India as per the aforementioned theme- Intra-country inequality.
- This would justify the inequality portion of the topic.
- Then show how it is a leveller too.
- Show how, although the initial round of benefits cornered by few countries, now the rest of the countries are catching up.
- For example – Countries like India , China, Philippines etc are catching up and cornering the market due to their massive investment in Human capital
- Show how, digital economy is removing the middle man thus giving a level playing field to farmers and agro-economy , Link it with e-NAM , Handicaraft etc
- Discuss how it is changing the nature of politics and creating a more just society and governance
- Removing Corruption , bringing transparency etc thus a leveller
- However discuss this particular point briefly as it does not cater to the need of the topic of digital economy directly, although it does cater to the leveller part of the essay, so small discussion is good but it should not be stretched too far.
- It also a a great leveller as far as information asymmetry is concerned.Information is the bread and butter of digital economy.
- Then give few example how it is integrating the rural hinterland and giving them access to a larger market through e-commerce.Also discuss how Digital India can be a game changer in this regard.
- Give example of Taobao Village of China and Akodara Vilage of India
- Many more examples can be thought of.
- In conclusion, mention that although digital economy initially showed disruptive tendencies , however it is far more of a leveller than just being a source of economic inequality.The Essay should be such that , although it is a source of economic inequality – the inequality can be fought with investment in human capital and smart policy.The problem is not about the technology or digital economy per se, as such technology is not bad, the real question is how our policy makers deal with it.When they lack foresight and vision, we are caught off-guard. Inequality due to digital economy is not due to digital economy but due to bad policy.Thus squarely blaming it not justified.
- There is a book on this – ‘Digital Economy’ , it was coined in Don Tapscott’s 1995 book The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence.The Digital Economy was among the first books to consider how the Internet would change the way we did business.If USA has e-bay or Amazon, India has Flipkart or Snapdeal or Infibeam and more importantly the Alibaba from China is beating all of them and a great example how with right push and policy India can be a global player in this arena too.
- In Deductive approach you can break-down in to following questions:-
- The topic which we gave is more specific to India however the topic in the exam demands a broader approach.
Cyber world- its charm and challenges.
- This is the 2nd topic out of 4 essays in our First Essay Test and resonates well with the topic of the exam – “Cyberspace and Internet :Blessing or Curse to the Human civilization in the long run”
- In this topic you have to discuss both – the issues and the benefits , however nowhere you should mention that it is a curse, because it is not.There are problems such as “globalization of terrorism” ,cyber stalking ,cyber bullying , right to privacy, piracy and many other such issues but internet as such is definitely not a curse.
- As the topic mentions civilization , you can stretch to every possible way- social, political, economy , national security and cyber war and the list will be endless because it affects every aspect of our life.Internet is Mankind’s greatest creation , ever.Period.There is no doubt about it.
- If we write an essay on this topic, we might end up writing a book because the topic is that vast.So the key in this essay is how you handle such a massive data and perspective in 1200 words, So you have to be very choosy on selecting the themes for this essay and you must choose few good ones.One key issue which we found in reviewing the paper of students for this essay was that , for most part they are stating the obvious, which may kill the interest in the essay.
- Most of the students would have written this essay, so if you choose your theme wisely , you will fare better.In this kind of essay , everyone has content , the scoring part thus relies on how you represent it and make it reading-worthy.And we are certain of few of our students who would have written magnificent essay on this topic.
In our Essay Test Series – 04 , we gave this topic :-
Technology is the biggest enabler of human race than sum of everything else ever will be.
- This topic resonates well with the topic in the exam- “Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare”
- In this topic you have to show how Innovation in technology has been changing the course of human race.You can start with Invention of Wheel or Fire , but don’t dwell too much on the past.
- Then you can jump to invention of Printing press and Internet and how they have shaped our economy and society altogether.
- You can also take examples from other field such as invention of medicine such as Penicillin etc
- The content can be vast so choose topics that are interesting and choose wisely.
- You can give examples of the age of Industrial revolution and how it was propelled by innovation and how it changed economy and society.
- To justify the “Key determinant” word of the topic , you have to pit technology against other drivers of society such as economy, tradition, culture etc and then show how innovation changes the course – it not only impacts economy, but society and culture and even religious belief too (Few years ago – Polio and Leprosy were thought to be the curse of the gods or results of bad karma in present or past life until the invention of medicine and vaccines for these diseases- No no one thinks it a result of bad karma anymore or curse of some supernatural god)
- We have given many good points in our personalized feedback, if you have inculcated them in your essay then it will fetch you very good marks.Fairly simple topic , and probably most attempted topic so you have bring some brilliance in to the essay to make it more interesting.
- One can not generate brilliance in 3 hours in exam hall, hence if you have written these topics and got the reviews and implemented the feedback- you will do well.
In our Essay Test Series – 06 , we gave these topics :-
There is no meaning of economic prosperity if it is not accompanied by social justice.
- This topic sits well with the topic in the exam – “If development is not engendered , it is endangered “
- However the only difference is the topic in our test series is broad where as the topic in the exam in little narrow.In our topic you not only have to discuss gender justice , but other aspects of social justice as well including environmental justice, right to health, right to food, right to livelihood etc, but the essay topic in the exam is more specific to gender justice and the essay can be written beautifully.
- In short you can discuss these themes in this topic:-
- Are women getting fair deal and really reaping the benefits of development.
- You can also discuss , although women have far more greater access to employment now and they can have financial autonomy, however the social prejudice are still prevalent.
- One essay topic which we gave in our test series can be discussed here- “Are the working women getting fair deal- balancing home and work“
- In sum , you can discuss on below themes :-
- gender equality
- gender mainstreaming
- Constructive male engagement- it is not about male vs female but male and female both walking together as equal partners.
- Feminism,Women empowerment
- You can also mention , even though there are political parties based on caste or religious lines in India, there are no such party that solely advocates Women’s cause.
- Also mention the irony – That India endured economic progress but it is not in sync with social progress and is vividly visible in Women issues.
- Discuss how if we don’t engender the development process then half of our society will be left behind, and we can not really develop when half of our energy is suppressed.Quote the data from World Bank report which says that if we can bring gender justice the economy will grow by 25% (Published an editorial in this regard as well)
- Discuss Gender Budgeting as well (This was given as a question in one of our Mains test series)
- Quote some data from Gender Inequality Index, Salary Index – Disparity in pay and equal pay for equal work etc to give credibility to your analysis.
India’s water woes and way forward.
- This topic is similar to the essay topic of the exam :- “Water disputes between States in federal India”
- The reason they are similar is simple , Indian water woes are leading to scarcity of water and when the issue is politicized then it becomes a federal issues.So in our essay topic , you have to write it primarily as an environmental issues with political tilt and in the essay of the exam you have to primarily write it as a political issues emanating from environmental issues/water woes.(The other way around but more or less content will be same.
- However one of our question is Mains test series is more appropriate with the topic of the essay – “Water reinforcing regionalism….Discuss“
In our essay test series – 10 we gave this topic :-
“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”
- This topic is similar to – “Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed.”
- The similarity is that you will be discussing similar themes – Need and greed along with breed:-
- The NEED is all about the need for development, more importantly economic development as an enabler for social development and other aspects of human development.
- The GREED is all about the desires which are over and above the NEED, the themes are:-
- Climate Change and its relation with excessive consumerism
- Link it with the per capita carbon footprint of the world.
- GREED is not only about economic , you can also discuss POLITICAL greed and more importantly GEO-POLITICAL GREED.
- A good example is How Saddam Hussein Oiled the Sea in GULF war leading to environmental crisis and permanent damage to ecosystem.Many more examples can be thought of.
- Then deal with how we are poisoning the BREED – that is our future generation .Discuss HUMAN COST of Pollution (There is question given in our MAINS series as well as an editorial is published in this regard).It should also discuss concept of sustainable development and inter-generation parity.
- The essay should deal how , as Gandhi said , “Fertilizers are good for parents but bad for offspring”
Overall Analysis of the Essay Paper
- 2 Essays are based on federalism and each in one section , so attempt both of them , it will make your essay sound similar.
- 3 essays on technology – Cyber, Innovation and digital economy – The content of these 3 essays is bound to overlap.The single thread that binds 3 of these essays is – Internet.The fact that UPSC asked 3 essays on internet , makes it amply clear of its aura.
- However one theme is found in 5 topics – that is economy:-
- Digital economy essay
- Jobless growth essay
- Innovation and economy
- Development essay – link between economic prosperity and gender justice and gender budgeting
- One environmental theme- Need and Greed essay- however, you can not discuss environment without discussing economy, so again economy essay with environmental tinge
- To put it rather simple, UPSC did not give you 8 essays, it gave you different version of 3 themes (Federalism,Internet and Economy), or better we can squeeze them in to 2 themes (Federalism and Economy) and asked you to write 2.So you essentially had to write 2 essays out of 2 themes, although content and approach may differ but largely they will overlap.
- The General observation is that there was no philosophical essays as such and that is good.Most of the essays were related to current events , so again it is a good trend.
We sincerely hope that you did well.
On a side note – we will soon be launching our Essay Program for 2017 and to be honest , we are happy that we did manage to cater to the needs of UPSC standard.
Last year , our Essay Program was the most enrolled program and this year it will be our flagship program.
Those who are interested to join our program let us know, and we will send you the coupon codes which you can use to get a discount when we launch the program. (Immediately post Mains 2016)
Just drop a mail to us at – firstname.lastname@example.org to receive discount coupon codes.The coupon codes will be provided for those who write to us with regards to joining the test series before 10th December 2016.