This year’s essay for UPSC Mains was the opposite of last year’s. Last year’s paper was a play on English language and abstraction, while this year it was more conventional. The topics for the essay were the expected ones.
For example – The best time to repair your roof is while the sun is shining, it is from the family of quotes and proverbs. The youngsters would have thought of their childhood, drawn good ideas from it, and must have written praising essays.
Likewise, using the best case studies for economic excellence, talking about resource efficiency, beating scarcity, interdependence, sustainability, etc. Many students have pondered these lines while preparing for the exam in detail.
Another topic was Narayan Moorthy, founder of Infosys’ quote “A ship is safest in harbor, but that’s not where it’s supposed to be.” This is about entrepreneurship, taking risks, overcoming challenges, and students have also thought about these topics during preparation.
The quote from an ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “No one ever steps into the same river twice…” is about nothing that is permanent. The idea here is to discuss that change is the only constant and the challenges that come with change. This was also an expected topic.
Likewise, the fact that poets are dreamers is at the heart of the essay topic that says that poets are the undeclared, unrecognized, unrecognized legislators. William Wordsworth, for example, celebrated the French Revolution: “Bliss it was in that dawn to live, but to be young was very heavenly”
Another essay topic – History is the advance of science or romance. Romance is like being a tourist, visiting places and being superficial, not delving into them. While science is an art, a collective effort. Science triumphs over romance because it is about grasping material reality, the bull by the horns. Science has triumphed.
For the candidates who would like to explore more behavioral or interpersonal topics, they can choose: Smile is the best device, often the one that hides ambiguities. In this topic we can dissect smiles, the variety of smiles, their purpose, what is the social decorum that can make your smile contagious. We have a lot of folklore about smiling. And since the subject mentions that a smile is a device used to hide ambiguities, that can be explored socially, behaviorally, and psychologically. So many candidates would have chosen that for sure.
— The article is written by Sriram Srirangam, Founder and Director, SRIRAM’s IAS
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