UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (13-12-2022) - GS 1


Q1. The Gandhian politics was, in a sense, a continuation of Tilak’s politics? Do you agree with the statement? Discuss.  (150 words)  10 marks

Q2. Although the revolt of 1857 came at first as a mere military mutiny, it speedily changed its character and became a national insurrection. Discuss. (250 words)  15 marks

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Model Solutions

Q1. The Gandhian politics was, in a sense, a continuation of Tilak’s politics? Do you agree with the statement? Discuss. (150 words) 10 marks

Model Structure

  • The influence of Tilak’s politics on Gandhiji gets reflected in the political philosophy and tools used including boycott, swadeshi, national education and passive resistance.

Main Body:

  • Gandhiji’s politics as a continuation of Tilak’s politics:
    • Goal of the national movement: both considered the goal of the national movement to be ‘Swaraj’ or self-rule.
      • Both were staunch supporters of anti-colonialism and preferred self-rule over a foreign rule even if it was just and benevolent.
    • Satyagraha and passive resistance: Principle of Satyagraha was drawn from the ideas of passive resistance adopted in the extremist action plan.
    • Democratization of Indian politics: Both Tilak and Gandhiji believed in the power of masses and were firm believers of their capacity to make great sacrifices.
    • Educating people and spreading awareness: Both realized that the people need to be educated and made aware of the true nature of colonial rule.
    • Bringing together different ideologies: Tilak brought the extremist and moderate groups together through the Lucknow Pact in 1916.
      • Gandhiji was also a firm believer to unite different religions and castes in their fight against the British Rule.
    • National liberation as the Karma: Tilak interpreted Gita as the philosophy of Karma Yoga, or performance of action in the spirit of disinterestedness.
      • Gandhiji adapted this interpretation to his views on truth, non-violence and service of the people by giving it a moral and non-violent dimension.
  • Differences in their approaches:
    • Meaning of ‘Swaraj’: Tilak wanted to expel the British but were in favour of keeping the Western institutions established by them.
      • Gandhi Ji did not have much faith in Western institutions like parliamentary democracy.
    • Personal qualities: For Tilak, there was no place for saintly qualities in the sphere of politics, while Gandhi gave highest priority to morality and non-violence in personal life and public action.
    • Difference with regard to the means and the end: As per Tilak, ‘Swaraj’ could not be achieved by using pure and non-violent means.
      • However, Gandhiji believed that the means must be ethically right, pure and non-violent.


  • Despite these differences in approaches, there is no denying that both dreamt of an India which was independent and stood on its own feet, although their means to achieve them were different.

Q2. Although the revolt of 1857 came at first as a mere military mutiny, it speedily changed its character and became a national insurrection. Discuss. (250 words) 15 marks

Model Structure

  • The revolt of 1857 was the first major challenge to British rule in India which started a revolt of sepoys of EIC, but were soon joined in by masses in an apparent insurrection against the British. or
  • The revolt has been characterized in various terms from being a local military mutiny that went out of hand to being the first war of independence.

Main Body:

  • Elements of localized mutiny in 1857 revolt:
    • Localized events: After martyrdom of Mangal Pandey in march 1857, it would take another 2 months for the revolt to unfold with news of disgraced regiment reaching other cantonments.
    • Discontent against terms of service among sepoys under the East India company.
      • For example, the General Services Enlistment Act 1856, which obligated to serve overseas, there were issues related to pension, pay, promotions.
    • There was no centralized leader to lead the mutiny. Only soldiers were leading the attack at different cantonments, with incidents of arson to begin with.
    • Even though the revolt started to spread to other regions and regiments, the area of influence was limited to military cantonments.
      • Peasants, civilians, local leaders were not involved till very late.
  • However, character of 1857 revolt changed from localized mutiny to national insurrection because: (only when you have less content)
    • Short-term factors:
      • Disgruntled landlords: The British revenue policies led to confiscation of properties of many landlords and Talukdars. These disgruntled landlords became leaders of the revolt.
      • The annexation policy: Lord Dalhousie’s doctrine of lapse caused major discontent among the Indian ruling classes who lost their privileged status.
    • Long-term factors:
      • Economic grievances: There was pauperization of agriculture due to the economic crisis and destruction of Indian handicrafts under the British.
      • Socio-religious grievances: The legislation for the suppression of sati and the remarriage of the widows led to the belief that the British were targeting Indian religions.
  • National elements in 1857 revolt:
    • Unprecedented Mass mobilization: There was mobilization among people across classes from tenants, to landlords, to aristocrats.
    • Communal Unity: Hindus and Muslims mobilized for common cultural, economic and political grievances against the foreign control and interferences in their lives.
    • National leader: Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar took the leadership of the revolt.
    • Common Vision: There was a common vision for return to the politically decentralized order of the 18th century under Mughal suzerainty.
    • Common Enemy: The British were identified as the common enemy by all sections of the masses, from artisans to farmers and landlords to aristocrats.
  • However, many historians have questioned the national characterization of the 1857 revolt due to following reasons:
    • Limited geographical spread: There was lack of mobilization outside the northern plains. Southern India was virtually unaffected.
    • National Disunity: British could use the military reinforcements from the newly conquered Punjab or the military assistance of many princely states such as of Gwalior.
    • Limited Vision: There was no clearly thought-out plan to improve the conditions of the mobilized masses.
    • Short-term motives: Aristocratic leadership of the revolt was motivated by a desire for restoration of feudal privileges.


  • Despite the limitations of vision, motives, and geographical extent, there was a deep structural layer in the insurrection of 1857 which represented a definite national awakening against the foreign disruptions in the life of people across classes and communities.
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