All of your preparation can come to nought if your actual answers are not upto the mark. UPSC provides two guidelines:
- Word Limit
- Content is more important than length
Taken together, these mean that you need not write a full 150/200 words for an answer. If you have exhausted all you have to say, do stop right there. I must have exceeded the word limit in around half a dozen answers in all. But this is a very bad idea. It eats into your time and may also lead to trouble should UPSC become stringent about word limits.
I underlined important parts of an answer in all papers where I could. I used a pencil for this. There is no need to stick to paragraphs or points. Where the question asks about the salient features of a scheme or programme, points are probably the best bet. Otherwise, paragraphs are just fine.
You can certainly draws charts and diagrams if you want to. I drew a comparison table in GS Paper III where it was asked to differentiate between various forms of IP. There was also a rough diagram of the Karakoram Highway in the same paper. I wouldn’t recommend this though, unless it is absolutely a must. You end up spending a lot of time on one answer this way.
What follows are reproductions of some of my answers in CSE-2014 to the best of my memory. Some of the facts may be wrong but that is because this is exactly what I wrote in the exam too. I hope it gives you some clue about structuring an answer.
GS 1-Question 4- Reason for battles fought at Panipat
Panipat has been the site of three major battles in Indian history-1526, 1556 and 1761. The reasons for this primarily have to do with its strategic location vis a vis Delhi.
Any Army proceeding from beyond the Indus would take the Grand Trunk Road to access the North Indian Plains. Near Panipat, this road is bound by the Yamuna on one side and the outcrops of the Aravallis down south. There are no other natural defences till Delhi. It is therefore an excellent point to block an invader’s advance. With its back to the river and the Capital not too far away, the defending Army can be assured of its supply lines not being disrupted.
The level plain of Panipat also provides ample scope for maneuvering massive armies-a traditional feature of medieval Indian warfare. However, in all the three instances, the smaller, more mobile invading forces prevailed.
GS 1- Question 9- Suez Crisis and Britain
The accession to power Egyptian President Gamal Nasser changed the power paradigm in the Middle-East. Nasser’s popular appeal to pan Arabism and Non Alignment led to the dilution of British influence in Jordan and Iraq. He further antagonized the UK by nationalizing the Suez Canal-vital for British energy shipping. PM Eden decided that given the strategic importance of the Canal, Nasser posed a potent threat that had to be neutralized, inspite of US warnings to the contrary.
The impasse that developed after Israel, UK and France captured the Canal meant that oil supply to Europe was shut down. Fearing a tilt towards Communism in the Islamic World, the US, backed by the UN, applied financial and diplomatic pressure on the Allies to withdraw. Faced with the realization that it could not do without US support and that it lacked the military projecting power of old, UK had to beat a humiliating retreat.
GS 2- Question 2- Federalism in the Indian Constitution
The Indian Constitution has often been described by scholars as a ‘Federal Constitution with Unitary Features’.
Some of these Unitary Features are:
- Supremacy of the Union Parliament in Articles 246 and 254 of the Constitution making conflicting State Law redundant
- Emergency Powers of the President under Article 356 dismissing State Governments in the event of a ‘breakdown of Constitutional machinery’
- Single citizenship
- No separate State Constitutions
- Power of the Rajya Sabha under Article 249 to declare that a State List matter may be legislated upon by the Parliament
- Unified Judiciary
- Union distributing funds to the States
- Power of the Parliament to create new States and modify boundaries of existing ones.
These features owe their existence to the fact that the Indian provinces, unlike in the US, were never sovereign entities. They did not come together to constitute the Union but rather it was the Union that recognized them. The Indian Constitution is also a pragmatic document that takes into account the ground realities in India and seeks to discourage fissiparous tendencies in the far flung provinces. It may be noticed that many of these features are for exceptional situations and the basic federative notion of autonomy for States is respected.