1. Mock Questions: UPSC GSM1 History
  2. Ans1. Thugs of Hindustan and Criminal Tribes Act
  3. Ans2: Teachers, novelists, poets in freedom struggle
  4. Ans3: More credit- Satyagrahi or Revolutionary?
  5. Ans4: Totalitarianism in Europe

Mock Questions: UPSC GSM1 History

Answer each of the following question, in not more than 200 words

  1. “While the British deserve applaud for suppressing Thuggee in India, they deserve equal condemnation for the passing of Criminal Tribes Act 1871”. Examine critically.
  2. Write a note on the role played by the teachers, novelists and poets during India’s struggle for Independence.
  3. Who deserves the bigger credit for India’s independence: Khadi-clad satyagrahi or death-defying revolutionary?
  4. Write a short note on the events and actors responsible for the failure of democracy & the rise of totalitarianism in Europe from 1920s to 40s.

Syllabus Relevance? UPSC civil services Mains exam GS Paper1 (GSM1):

  • India before Independence: Mid-18th century – Present (significant events, personalities, issues); Freedom Struggle (various stages, important contributors from different parts of the country)
  • World History: 18th century events (e.g. Industrial revolution, WWs, redrawn boundaries, colonisation, decolonisation); Political philosophies (e.g. communism, capitalism, socialism) and their effect on society.

thugs of hindustan

Ans1. Thugs of Hindustan and Criminal Tribes Act

Difficult to write combined introduction of these two elements (1) Thuggee (2) criminal tribes- because again in the second paragraph, you’ll have to give ‘origin’ points of the criminal tribes. So, better treat these two as two separate short notes.

British & the abolition of Thuggee

  • (Definition) Thugs were a fraternity of ritual stranglers who looted and murdered travelers along the highways of India.
  • (Origin) We can find mention of Thuggee even in the biography of King Firoz Shah Tughlaq who ruled in 14th century.
  • Thugs bribed the officials of the princely states, circulated superstitions among ordinary folks. Hence they could evade the authorities and terrorize Indian highways for over 600 years. (Firoz Shah reign starts from ~1300, and Thuggee abolished ~1830s so it’s >600 years.)
  • They were more ruthless than ordinary bandits and highway robbers, because even if a traveler willingly handed over his belongings to the thugs, they’d kill him nonetheless as a ‘sacrifice’ to Goddess Kali.
  • In 1830s: Lord William Bentinck authorized Captain William Henry Sleeman to put an end to this cult. Indeed, the British deserve applaud to making Indian highways safe for the travelers.

British land settlement policy and their conquest of princely states further swelled the number of thugs as many evicted tenants, artisan and ex-soldiers joined their ranks. So British themselves had forced many people to become thugs! But, word limit doesn’t allow us to dwell into such finer nuances.

British & the Criminal Tribes

  • 1871: The British enacted Criminal Tribes Act, and notified most of the nomadic communities as criminals. Police and revenue officials were given draconian powers to brand, penalise, segregate and forcibly sedentarise nomadic communities- in pretext that these communities were ‘criminal by birth and practiced crime as a profession’.
  • 1952: Act was repealed and those tribes were ‘Denotified’. They were spread across the lists of SC, ST and OBCs. But since they did not possess any land in the British time, and rural Indians still ostracized them, these communities could not fully benefit from the educational and economic opportunities provided under the constitution of India.
  • Had the British enacted a law against habitual offenders and hardened criminals without any distinction based on caste, creed or birth- then we could applaud the British, as we do for their Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • But till date, these denotified tribes continue to languish in abject poverty, destitution and social neglect, because of the prejudicial labelling and stereotyping under the CTA act. Hence British rightly deserve criticism and condemnation for its enactment.

After the Britishers left, why didnot Indian politicians and bureaucrates actively help them? Are only British to be blamed? Again, word limit doesn’t allow us to dwell into such finer nuances. Besides, we are asked to find fault in CTA act, and not in what wrongs happened after independence?

Ans2: Teachers, novelists, poets in freedom struggle

Here also same problem. If you try for a ‘combined’ introduction of all three categories of people, then you’ve to apply more brain (which costs more precious time in the exam.) So, better write answer as two separate short notes (1) Teachers; (2) novelists and poets.
Teachers in freedom struggle
Teachers and educationists channelized and directed the energy of youth towards nationalism and against the social customs derogatory to women and the oppressed. Notable examples include:

  1. Henry Vivian Derozio: Told students to think freely, culminated into social movement called ‘Bengal Renaissance’. (Even though he was removed from the Calcutta Hindu College for allegedly encouraging sodomy and fornication among students, as per EPW.)
  2. Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya: founded BHU, 4times INC president, popularized “Satyamev Jayate”, went to 1st RTC, Got Bharat Ratna.
  3. Ram Mohan Roy: Anglo-Hindu college, women education, social reforms.
  4. Kaumudi Teacher: donated her ornaments during Gandhi’s visit in Kerala.
  5. Begum Safia Abdul Wajid: left lecturer job in Government College during Quit India movement. Joined INC, worked for education and emancipation of Muslim women, and encouraged them to join freedom struggle.
  6. Jadunath Sarkar: Noted Historian and teacher in the Presidency college of Calcutta and later in BHU. His comprehensive documentation of India’s medieval history, countered the British historians’ systematic attempts at maligning Indian civilization.
  7. Dr. S.Radhakrishnan: Taught philosophy, even went to League of Nations to highlight richness of Indian culture and indirectly prevented Western philosophers from denigrating our schools of thought.

Prima facie, it might seem that J.Sarkar and S.Radhakrishan personally did not participate in any ‘Satyagraha’ but they prevented the Western authors, historians and philosophers from brainwashing and propagandizing about the superiority of Western culture and rulers against India. Hence, indirectly they too have played a role in freedom struggle by raising the character of the Indian students and readers.
Similarly, countless teachers whose names are not recorded in the history books, but they too deserve credit and applaud, because their teaching produced the educated leaders who could fluently articulate their ideas in English and vernacular- and thus these leaders could convince both the foreigners and Indians about the need for self rule and independence.
Novelists and Poets:
The publication of novels, short stories and poems in vernacular newspapers and pamphlets brought about an awakening among the masses about our glorious past and the need for Swaraj (self-rule). Notable examples include:

  • Gujarat: Shrimad Rajchandra – a jain poet, whose philosophical poetry influenced Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas for non-violence and spiritualism. [Gandhi mentioned this in his autobiography “My experiments with Truth.”]
  • Bengal: Dinabandhu Mitra’s Nil Darpan highlighted exploitation of Indigo farmers. Bankim Chandra’s novel “Anadmath”. Contains fictional plot about a successful revolution against the British after Bengal famine. This novel was also translated in Hindi and other vernacular languages to emboldened the spirits of ordinary folks across India. Its poem “Vande Mataram” became the war-cry for the revolutionaries.
  • Punjab: Ajit Singh’s Pagri Sambhal O Jatta, stirred the peasants against the land exploitation of the British.
  • Tagore: His poems and short stories carried message of “Aatm-Shakti” (self-reliance). He renounced his knighthood in the aftermath of Jalian-walla massacre and preferred to stand by his countrymen. His Jan-gan-mana is our national anthem.
  • Urdu: Muhammad Iqbal penned “Saare Jahan’s achcha” -a popular patriotic song. Even Mahatma Gandhi sung it multiple times during his stay at Yarwada Jail to find the inner strength and motivation to continue on the path of freedom struggle.
  • Sarojini Naidu: Even if we discount the role of her “English” poems in awakening the spirits of “vernacular” folks, still as a freedom fighter her contribution has been immense. She participated in Dandi march and served as the president of INC.
  • You can read about more poets in Freedom struggle in this PIB article

Common Mistake

  • Since the change of Mains syllabus in 2013, UPSC has been asking about various ‘group’ freedom fighters. Example Women in Gandhian era (2016), Women in freedom struggle (2013), Foreigners who fought for India’s freedom (2013).
  • In all such questions, you’ve to give specific examples. If you do generic bol-bachchan about teachers, poets and novelists without concrete examples, then your answer is of poor quality.

Ans3: More credit- Satyagrahi or Revolutionary?

  • In my analysis of 2016’s Mains papers, I had pointed out that UPSC made haste without foresight when it added so many topics in the mains syllabus @2013‘s reforms, but its paper-setters quickly exhausted the question bank in just 3 years. Hence 2016’s paper had repetition of many themes and issues which were already asked in 2013,14 and 15. Example- just as I pointed out in last question- 2013: write women freedom fighter, then 2016: again asked same thing write about women freedom fighters in Gandhian era.
  • In 2015, they asked “How different would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi?”. So on the same theme, I’ve framed this mock question “Who deserves the bigger credit for India’s independence: Khadi-clad satyagrahi or death-defying revolutionary?”
  • If you’ve qualified for Mains, you’re intelligent enough to handle this easy question. Just narrate few examples from both sides and explain their importance. If you’ve to take stand in the conclusion, then lean towards non-violence.
  • Anyways, let’s try to sketch a rough answer. I’ll focus more words on revolutionaries, to indirectly justify the non-violent satyagrahi deserve more credit for the independence.

Introduction (origin)

  • In the first half of the 20th century, some of the freedom fighters were not satisfied with the methods of non-violence satyagraha, boycotts, prayers and petitions. They believed use of violence and force could help achieving freedom in a faster and decisive manner.
  • With such ideology, many revolutionary secret organizations were born- from Anusilan Samiti and Jugantar in Bengal to Abhinava Bharat in Maharashtra to Gadar party in USA.
  • While these revolutionaries played an important role in channelizing the energy of angry youth for freedom struggle and made the British taste their own bitter and violent medicine, but the quantitative impact of revolutionaries in mass mobilization and attainment of freedom, was less than that of non-violent satyagrahis because:
  1. Individual revolutionary’s sacrifice inspired people, but couldn’t gather them as masses- like Gandhi did in NCM, QIM and his disciples did via individual satyagraha.
  2. Civil Disobedience forced Lord Irwin’s hand, he come up with vague offer of “Dominion status”, and under the “Gandhi Irwin Pact”, he agreed to free the political prisoners, remove salt tax etc. We don’t see any Viceroy ceding to the demands of revolutionaries even after successful train robbery, bombing or assassination. because, Unlike the mass Satyagrahs, these individual act of revolution didnot put govt. in extreme panic mode, because revolutionary organizations were geographically fragmented without a central leadership unlike INC. Their area of influence was confined mostly to the urban and semi-urban areas of Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab and Madras.
  3. Those preaching violence as a method to force ruling elites, could not establish social base in agrarian families and rural-laborers despite their lofty ideals. And when they did- the result was armed peasant struggle in Telengana first against Nizam and then against Indian army, and later on at Naxalbari. Thus, the idea that violence is solution – strengthens the forces of disintegration- as evident with the fall of USSR.
  4. Overuse of the past glory of Hindu traditions and Aryan Culture. Taking oaths in Ganga / Godress Kaali before embarking upon mission. Celebrating Gandesh and Shivaji. These gestures had limited the influence of revolutionaries to the educated youth among urban lower middle class Hindu families, while pro-British propagandists managed to keep most of the Muslims and scheduled castes away from these activities.
  5. But, non-violent Satyagrah ensured participation and mobilization of all religions and communities in freedom struggle, therefore our constitution is very sensitive, protective and inclusive about every citizen’s needs and aspirations.

Conclusion: From aforementioned points, it can be concluded that an armed struggle (combined with military help from Germany or Japan) could have led to a quicker but only partially-inclusive and partially-democratic independence for India. For these reasons, a Khadi-clad satyagrahi deserves little bit more credit than a death-defying revolutionary.

Ans4: Totalitarianism in Europe

Question: Write a short note on the events and actors responsible for the failure of democracy & the rise of totalitarianism in Europe from 1920s to 40s.
This one is quite easy IF you’ve Watched Pratik Nayak’s World History Lecture series. Basically you’ve to write the gist of ‘Interwar’ years. मित्रों, ये कोई बड़ा कठिन सवाल नही है.

Introduction: (Origin)
The First World War came to an end in 1918 and the Paris Peace conference was held in 1919. Many treaties including the Treaty of Versailles were signed during the conference, wherein the defeated countries were badly treated and victors were showered with the spoils of war. Consequently, following events and actors shaped totalitarianism in Europe between 1920s to 40s.

Now think about this- we only have 2 points about ‘interwar years’: (1) rise of Hitler and Mussolini after Versailles (2) Policy paralysis / inaction by England, France et al. So, how to stretch this into 200 words? well, you’ve to ‘narrate’ how dictator came into power, and what type of atrocities happens in Totalitarianism. Then easily answersheet can be filled up.

  • 1922: Mussolini’s Fascist party captured power in Italy. He started as Prime Minister, but converted his post to “Il Duce” i.e. Supreme commander. All local bodies were suspended, all political parties were banned, press freedom curtailed, only Fascist lawyers allowed to practice, unlimited powers to police, imprisonment of political dissenters. Thus, Italy came under a totalitarian regime. (see? I had only one word “Mussolini”, and I stretched it into four lines)
  • 1932-33: Germany: The Treaty of Versailles resulted into heavy loss of territories and economic resources for Germany. The resultant financial crisis weakened the Weimar republic, and Hitler’s Nazi party came into power. He suspended civil rights of people, Jews were denied citizenship, Communist parties were abolished and Heinrich Himmler’s Gestapo officials were given complete freedom in neutralizing the political opponents and exterminating the Jews, Gypsies and other minorities. (Again, dragged two words “Versailes + Hitler” into five lines. and whatever other keywords you can recall- Weimar, 3rd Reich, Himmler they are all icing on the cake.)
  • 1935: Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations and began rearming Germany. While France and England verbally condemned this, but didnot take any action. Their inaction is also to be blamed for emboldening Hitler and other dictators in Europe.
  • 1936: Hitler and Mussolini helped General Franco to overthrow republican party in Spain, and established dictatorship there as well.
  • 1936: Anti- Commintern Pact also known as Rome- Berlin -Tokyo Axis pact against France, England and Russia. This further invigorated Hitler and by mid-19040s: Germany captured Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. Thus the whole region was put under the totalitarian regime of the third Reich.

Conclusion: The rise of totalitarianism in Europe during 1920s to 40s was a result of not just the actions by Hitler or Mussolini but also by the events where the democratic powers indulged in inaction or ill-action. (Treaty of Versailles was an ill-action.)