UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing - 18 September (GS 1)


  1. Explain the role of geographical factors towards the development of Ancient India.       (10)
  2. What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education and nationalism?           (10)

Model Solutions

Q. 1 Explain the role of geographical factors towards the development of Ancient India.

Core Demand: How did specific geographical features and conditions of the Indian subcontinent play a pivotal role in the historical, cultural, and economic development of Ancient India.

Model Structure

Geographical factors like fertile plains for agriculture, rugged mountains acting as physical barriers to invasions, and river systems like the Indus and Ganga influenced trade, culture and the emergence of Harappan civilisation and Vedic societies.
Geographical factors like the North West Himalayas, river systems etc acted as a natural barrier and influenced climate, trade routes, and cultural interactions, contributing significantly to India's historical evolution.
Physiographic features like Himalayas and rivers, and culture were the geographical factors which contributed towards the development of Ancient India.

Main body
The distinct geographical factors which contributed to the development of Ancient India:

  • Himalayan Mountains
    • Acted as a natural barrier, protecting the Indian subcontinent from potential invasions from the north
    • Kept climate conditions favourable by preventing cold winds from north
  • Major river systems like Indus and Ganga:
    • Provided fertile soil which led to the development of civilisation on their banks.
    • Eg. Harappan civilization, Empires like Gupta, Mourya etc. on the banks of river Ganga
    • Similarly in Southern India, major empires were on the banks of rivers like Kaveri, Godavari, etc.
  • Monsoon Winds: Predictable monsoon winds proved to be crucial for development of agriculture.
  • Presence of different types of climatic zones in India (tropical, subtropical, cold, mediterranean, etc) led to diversity of crops and spices which made India a major exporter of agricultural products.
  • Thar Desert: Located in the northwest, the Thar Desert acted as a natural barrier against invasions
  • Indian Ocean: The vast coastline along the Indian Ocean facilitated maritime trade.
    • Eg. Lothal port
  • Deccan Plateau: it is rich in minerals which led to development of mining activities in ancient times.
    • Also acted as a bridge for cultural and trade exchanges between North and South India.
  • Dense Forests: Provided timber, medicinal plants, and other forest resources.
    • Played a role in the cultural and religious life of ancient India → many ancient texts and scriptures written in forests

Indian geography profoundly impacted ancient India's development, fostering agricultural prosperity, trade networks, and cultural exchanges resulting in a diverse and resilient civilization that continues to influence modern India.
Features like diverse landscapes, rivers, and climate continue to shape agriculture, infrastructure, and regional disparities, emphasizing the enduring relevance of geographical factors in India's growth.
The geographical features of India like diverse landscapes, rivers, and natural resources facilitated civilization growth, trade, and cultural exchange, leaving an indelible mark on the historical legacy of Ancient India.

Q2. What was the difference between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in their approach towards education and nationalism? (10)

Core Demand: Compare the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on given topics. While the question asks differences specifically, similarities (if any) can also be mentioned.

Model structure

Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore were towering figures in the Indian freedom struggle and cultural renaissance. Their distinct philosophies towards education and nationalism, while aimed at India's betterment, showcased divergent paths and methodologies.

Main Body
Approach towards Education

  • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Basic Education: Gandhi's "Nai Talim" system was implemented in the Wardha education scheme in 1937. It emphasised craft-centred education, where spinning was seen as a core skill.
    • Moral Development: His stress on moral education can be seen in his autobiography "The Story of My Experiments with Truth," where life's lessons and moral values took precedence over formal education.
    • Rural Centric: Gandhi's emphasis on rural India was evident in his statement, "The real India lives in villages."
  • Rabindranath Tagore
    • Holistic Development: Tagore's emphasis on music, art, and nature in Shantiniketan's curriculum showcased his belief in holistic education. For instance, students celebrated festivals like 'Basanta Utsav' with music, dance, and colours.
    • Shantiniketan: The very design of Shantiniketan, with classes held under trees, was a departure from traditional classroom-bound education.
    • Global and Universal: Tagore invited scholars from various parts of the world to Shantiniketan, like the eminent art historian Stella Kramrisch, to ensure a global educational perspective.

Approach towards Nationalism

  • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Inclusive Nationalism: Gandhi's call for Hindu-Muslim unity, especially during the Khilafat Movement, showcased his vision of inclusive nationalism.
    • Active Resistance: The Dandi March in 1930 was a significant act of civil disobedience against the British salt tax, epitomising his method of active resistance.
    • Moral Nationalism: Gandhi emphasised Swaraj as a moral concept, not just political independence.
    • "Swaraj is a sacred word, a Vedic word, meaning self-rule and self-restraint."
  • Rabindranath Tagore:
    • Critical of Aggressive Nationalism: Tagore's criticism of nationalism, especially during World War I, is evident in his essays compiled in "Nationalism" (1917).
    • Universalism: His song "Jana Gana Mana," which became India's national anthem, speaks of the unity of diverse Indian regions without emphasising any group's dominance.
    • Emphasis on Spiritual Unity: His poem "Bharat Tirtha" speaks of India as a pilgrimage, a confluence of cultures and spiritual traditions from all directions.

Note: You can also write this question in a comparison table format.


  • Through their unique approaches, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore left an indelible mark on India's ethos.
  • While Gandhi's methods were deeply entrenched in grassroots activism and moral values, Tagore's vision blended India's rich traditions with a universal spirit. Their legacies, though distinct, continue to guide India's philosophical and moral compass.

Previous Post

Next Post