UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (16-11-2022) - GS 1


Q1. Battle of Plassey was a watershed moment in history marking the end of middle ages and beginning of the modern phase in India. Discuss. (250 words)  15 marks

Q2. Satyagraha of Gandhi dispelled fear from the minds of masses and sealed the fate of imperialism in the country. Discuss. (250 words)  15 marks

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Q1. Battle of Plassey was a watershed moment in history marking the end of middle ages and beginning of the modern phase in India. Discuss. (250 words) 15 marks

Model Structure

  • The Battle of Plassey was fought between Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula of Bengal and East India Company in 1757 which resulted in the defeat of Nawab. The battle structurally weakened the old authority, and made EIC the de facto power controlling Bengal.

Main Body:

  • The battle of Plassey marked the end of middle-ages due to following reasons:
    • Cascading Political Effects: The battle was followed by the defeat of Nawab of Awadh, Bengal and Mughal Emperor at Battle of Buxar.
      • It also marked a start of subjugation of the entire subcontinent.
    • Economic Backwardness: The economic institutions of the Mughal empire and its regional states were backward.
      • Example, land grants for salary and in-kind wages kept the economy under-monetized.
      • This undermined the expansion of the consumer economy which was crucial for industrialization of Britain.
    • Social-Political Backwardness: The civil and criminal systems of justice were discriminatory.
      • The state made no effort for socio-economic development of people. Society was marked by dogmas and orthodoxies.
    • Prevalence of medieval ideas where caste, religion, gender, nobility etc. was more important than talent, self determination and justiciable rights.
      • The social thinking under the old regime lacked modern ideas such as liberty, equality, social contract etc. which were being hotly debated in Europe.
    • Scientific stagnation: There was a lack of effort towards promotion of scientific ideas and innovations.
      • For example, modes of transportation and industrial production were obsolete.
  • With the increase in British prominence in India after Battle of Plassey, many elements of modernism got introduced, such as:
    • Modern education, although laced with colonial bias, produced a class of Indians who waged movements for social reforms such as by Raja Rammohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar etc.
    • Modern means of communication like railways, postal system, telegraph, press etc. were introduced.
      • They helped catalyze mobilization of people and ideas on a national scale, marking the start of the modern national consciousness.
    • Codification of laws, introduction of modern bureaucracy, ideas such as separation of powers led to development of uniform administration throughout the country.
  • However, to call these reforms as modernism would be a shallow analysis because:
      1. Although the rule of law was introduced, the law itself was colonial and thus, not in the interest of Indians.
      1. Modern means of communication and transportation were meant to exploit and drain India of its resources.
      1. Social reforms were introduced to show backwardness of native culture and bring the educated section of Indian population on the British side.


  • Hence, despite certain latent modernization, British policies were not conforming to the fundamental idea of modernity.
  • Laced with colonialism, the modernity brought in by Britain did not serve the interest of India and Indians.

Q2. Satyagraha of Gandhi dispelled fear from the minds of masses and sealed the fate of imperialism in the country. Discuss. (250 words) 15 marks

Model Structure

  • Satyagraha was a strategy of nonviolent resistance against exploitative colonialism. It represented a political awakening marked by the moral energy of the exploited masses.

Main Body:

  • Satyagraha of Gandhi ji dispelled fear from the minds of masses in following ways:
    • Since satyagraha was non-violent peaceful resistance, the British establishment could not use violent ways to suppress it.
      • This reduced the fear of brutal oppression by the British from the mind of the masses.
    • Satyagraha as a philosophy is based on the ideas of selfless sacrifice.
      • Satyagrahi accepted that sacrifice is part of their struggle and hence the British threat of punishment lost its effectiveness.
    • Satyagraha provided a clear strategy under leadership of Gandhi to reduce confusion from the mind of people.
      • This helped in channelizing the energy of the masses in a non-violent way.
      • With mass participation and repetitive challenges to the authority, the fear of the British government came down.
    • Peaceful satyagraha was able to deliver results.
      • For example: during Gandhi-Irwin talks, finally equal treatment was given to freedom struggle leaders.
  • Satyagraha sealed the fate of imperialism in India because:
    • Fear was the biggest vehicle propagating British rule in India. Satyagraha took away this weapon from the British government.
    • Whenever the British used violent means to suppress peaceful protest like during Civil disobedience movement or anti-Simon commission movement.
      • The British lost moral authority, benevolence and self-proclaimed civilizational superiority.
    • Bending of the government to satyagraha broke the myth of British invincibility.
  • However, there were certain limitations in Satyagraha strategy:
    • Failure against communalism: The joint campaign of NCM and Khilafat started a wrong trend of combining religious and national identity.
    • Early Withdrawal of the movements alienated a lot of people and fueled parallel violent revolutionary actions such as by Bhagat Singh, Surya Sen etc.
    • Extending moral support to Britain during WW-II without concessions in return, divided the national movement at a crucial juncture.
      • This had implications for partition of India.

Despite the limitations and drawbacks of his methods, Gandhiji’s satyagraha was successful in dispelling fear from the minds of masses and destroyed the hegemony of British imperialism on minds of Indians.

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