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ESSAY PRIMER

How to write an essay in Civil Services Examination?


What is an essay?
• The word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer, which
means 'to try' or 'to attempt'.

• Essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost


anything.
-Aldous Huxley, a leading essayist
Scheme of ‘Essay Paper’ in Civil Services
Main Examination
• Usually held on the ‘first day’ of the Main Examination
• Two Sections (A and B) in the essay paper
• Section A: Four options for writing one essay
Maximum Marks: 125
Word Limit: 1000-1200 words
• Section B: Same as Section A
• Total time limit: Three hours
Word Limit
900

800

700

600

500

400
850

300

200

100
175 175
0

Introduction Body Conclusion


Components of an essay

Introduction Body Conclusion


‘Introduction’ of an essay
Interpret the meaning of the title of the essay

Define the “Keywords”

Introduction should tell the reader what to expect in the


body/thesis of the essay.

Grab the attention of the examiner

Word limit: 150 – 200 approx.


‘Body’ of the essay
It should cover all the aspects of the ‘title’ that has already been briefly touched in the
‘introduction’

The argument should be in consonance with the demand of the essay

Successive paragraphs should be cohesive

Avoid extremes: neither shower too much praise nor too much criticism

Avoid first or second person in the language

Provide supporting evidence for an argument

Word limit: 800-900 approx.


‘Conclusion’ of the Essay

Summarize the ideas discussed in the body of the essay

Provide solutions to the argument in brief

Conclusion should express the essence of the essay

Should have a ‘Futuristic’ and ‘Optimistic’ tone

Word limit: 150-200


‘Planning’ an Essay

Brainstorming
Total time for Attempting Writing one Revising one
for one essay:
two essays: one essay: 90 essay: 60-70 essay: 5
15-20
180 minutes minutes minutes minutes
minutes
Planning an Essay
Total time: 90 minutes
70

60

50

40

30
65

20

10 20

0
5

Brainstorming Writing the essay Revision


Time in minutes
Brainstorming

Topic: Education without


values, as useful as it is, seems
rather to make a man more
clever devil (CSE 2015)
Organization
of an essay

Content Development
of the essay

Editing the perspectives


(Word Limit)

Arranging the points


‘Introduction’ of an essay
Anecdotal
introduction

Direct
introduction
Types of Introduction
Starting with a
Maxim or a
saying

Deliberative
introduction
Type: Anecdotal introduction
Topic: Be the change you want to see in others- GandhiJi (CSE- 2013)

Gulzari Lal Nanda, the country’s home minister in mid 1960s was a well-meaning
man. He was perturbed by the pace at which corruption was spreading within
government. He invited the public not to stand on ceremony and post with him
personally their complaints about alleged cases of corruption. A couple of mornings
were set aside every week for the minister to have a face-to-face encounter with
members of the public. In no time, long queues formed of people anxious to unload
their grievances to the minister. Not surprisingly, it took hours and hours — and
sometimes days — to meet the home minister. The impatient crowd and the
constabulary assigned to manage the crowd soon came to a deal. Policemen happily
accepted a ten-rupee note from each of those who wanted to jump the queue and
see the minister before their turn came. Corruption, so to say, received the official
imprimatur.
Anecdotal introduction
Topic: Resource management in the Indian context. (CSE- 1999)
Buddha, one day, was in deep thought about the worldly activities and the ways of instilling goodness in
humans. The following is the text of conversation between him and his disciple. One of his disciples
approached him and said humbly " Oh my teacher ! While you are so much concerned about the world and
others, why don't you look in to the welfare and needs of your own disciples also." Buddha : "OK.. Tell me how
I can help you" Disciple : "Master! My attire is worn out and is beyond the decency to wear the same. Can I get
a new one, please." Buddha found the robe indeed was in a bad condition which needed replacement. He
asked the store keeper to give the disciple a new robe to wear on. The disciple thanked Buddha and retired to
his room. Though he met his disciple's requirement, Buddha was not all that contented on his decision. He
realized that he missed out some point. A while after, he realized what he should have asked the disciple . He
went to his disciple's place and asked him "Is your new attire comfortable? Do you need anything more
?"Disciple : "Thank you my Master. The attire is indeed very comfortable. I need nothing more" Buddha :
"Having got the new one, what did you do with your old attire?"Disciple : "I am using it as my bed spread"
Buddha "Then.. hope you have disposed off your old bed spread" Disciple " No.. no.. master. I am using my old
bedspread as my window curtain"Buddha " What about your old Curtain?" Disciple "Being used to handle hot
utensils in the kitchen" Buddha : "Oh.. I see.. Can you tell me what did they do with the old cloth they used in
Kitchen" Disciple : "They are being used to wash the floor." Buddha " " Then, the old rug being used to wash
the floor...???" Disciple " Master, since they were torn off so much, we could not find any better use, but to use
as a twig in the oil lamp, which is right now lit in your study room...." Buddha smiled in contentment and left
for his room.
Anecdotal introduction
Sources:
• -Historical events
• -Yojana / Kurukshetra Case Studies
• -Topics that are making headlines in the recent past.
• -Popular culture. E.g.: Swades (2004), Laal Rang (2016)
• -Mythology: Mythic literature viz. Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bible, Bhagwad Gita.
• -Excerpts from books with the name of the author

Important point: Focus:


Always convey the underlying meaning of the The anecdote should be directly and not
anecdote. Interpret the anecdote and convey tangentially related to the ‘Central Theme’
its connection to the title of the essay. of the title.
Type: Direct Introduction
• Interpret the title in simple words
• Define the Keywords
• Explain very briefly the underlying ideas in the title
• Touch various aspects of the title taking in view the following:
-Social
-Political
-Economic
-Environmental
-Philosophical
-Scientific
-Historical
Direct Introduction
Interpret the title:

Topic: Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to


make a man more clever devil (CSE 2015)

• Education without values:


-Secular education / Value Neutral
-Vices
• Making a man a more clever devil
Direct Introduction
Defining the Keywords:

Topic: Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to


make a man more clever devil (CSE 2015)

• Education
• Values
• Value Education
• Clever devil
Direct Introduction
Various aspects of the title taking in view the following:

Topic: Good fences make good neighbors -2009

-Political / Polity
-Social
-Economic
-Legal
-Environmental
-Philosophical
-Scientific
-Historical
Type: Starting with a Maxim or a saying
• The aphorism should be directly related to the ‘Central Theme’
• Maxim / Saying / Quote should be contextual
• Interpret the Maxim / Saying / Quote
• Explain very briefly how it is related to the topic
• If it is written in a different language, then write its translation in English or the
medium authorized for your papers, as the case maybe.
• Last step: Follow all the steps that is necessary in the direct introduction
Type: Deliberative Introduction

Anecdote
or
Aphorism

Two Components

Torrent of
Questions
Deliberative introduction
• Quotation / Anecdote: Should be contextual
• Torrent of Questions component:
Topic: Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in
education. (CSE- 1996)

• Quotation Component: “I never let my schooling interfere with my


education”. - Mark Twain
• Torrent of Questions component: Why is education important? Even after
so many decades of independence, why have we not been able to provide
quality education? Why the quantity is increasing but not the quality? Why
is teaching not considered a respectable job in India? Why our public
funding is education is not at par with other countries? Why ‘Right to
Education’ is still a long way from achieving its desired goals? What are the
reasons for the burgeoning gap between ‘Literacy’ and ‘Education’.
Deliberative introduction
Topic: Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in
education. (CSE- 1996)

• Quotation Component: “I never let my schooling interfere with my


education”. - Mark Twain
• Torrent of Questions component: Why is education important? Even after
so many decades of independence, why have we not been able to provide
quality education? Why the quantity is increasing but not the quality? Why
is teaching not considered a respectable job in India? Why our public
funding in education is not at par with other countries? Why ‘Right to
Education’ is still a long way from achieving its desired goals? What are the
reasons for the burgeoning gap between ‘Literacy’ and ‘Education’?
• Important step: Answer all the above questions in the body of the essay.
Body of Essay
• The demarcation between Introduction and the Body of the essay should be
conspicuous.
• Don’t explicitly write “Introduction”, “Body” and “Conclusion”
• The structure and language of the essay should convey the examiner: end of
Introduction and start of Body segment.
• Maintain ‘Conformity’ with the title of the essay
• Different perspectives (Political, Social, Environmental, Philosophical, Historical,
Legal) should be conveyed in different paragraphs
• Cohesiveness and flow between paragraphs should be maintained
• Include: (Contextualize)
- Quotations
- UN studies, National/International Reports
- Books and Authors and their central idea
• Argument should be followed by an evidence
Conclusion of essay
• A conclusion is the final result or judgment reached by reasoning or summing
up the various aspects described in the body of the essay.
• Should be thematic
• It shouldn't’t include any new ideas or evidence or facts or perspective
• Should have a positive, prescriptive, futuristic, idealistic etc. overtone
• A Maxim / Saying / Quote may be used to end an essay. Before writing a Maxim
/ Saying / Quote contextualize it with the flow of the essay.
• Topic: Dreams which should not let India sleep. (CSE- 2015)
After writing the conclusion with a positive, prescriptive, futuristic,
idealistic etc. overtone. Conclude
Conclusion of essay
• Topic: Dreams which should not let India sleep. (CSE- 2015)

After writing the conclusion with a positive, prescriptive, futuristic, idealistic etc.
overtone. Conclude the essay by writing….

Rabindranath has rightly envisaged in his poem, the Idea of India:


“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free.
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.
Where words come out from the depth of truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms
toward perfection.
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost it's way into the dreary desert sand of dead
habit.
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action.
In to that heaven of freedom, my father, LET MY COUNTRY AWAKE!”
Selection of topic
Perspective Familiarity

Selection of topic

Clarity Scope
Selection of Topic

Perspectives / Angles

Historical Social Political Environmental Economic Scientific Philosophical


Selection of Topic

• Perspectives / Angles
Topic: Good fences make good neighbors -2009
-Geographical: Literal interpretation. E.g. India-China
-Social: Social Capital vs Individualistic lifestyle
-Economic: Fiscal policy and Monetary policy overlapping demand
-Polity: Coordination between different government agencies. E.g. Mumbai terror attack
-Legal: Judicial overreach vs Separation of Power
-Environmental: Man vs Nature, Sustainable development e.g.. Climate change and sea level rise
-Philosophical: Gita- duties and fruits of actions
-Scientific: Three parent baby. Creating have and have not.
-Historical: White Man’s Burden Civilizing the underdeveloped  Fight for dominance  World War
Selection of Topic
• Familiar topic
Topic: Are we a ‘soft ’ state ? (CSE-2009)

Soft State Vs Soft Power


Soft State: The Soft State is a term introduced by Gunnar Myrdal in his Asian Drama to
describe a general societal “indiscipline” prevalent in South Asia and by extension much of
the developing world - in comparison to kind of modern state that had emerged in Europe.
Myrdal used the term to describe:... all the various types of social indiscipline which
manifest themselves by deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, law observance and
enforcement, a widespread disobedience by public officials and, often, their collusion with
powerful persons and groups ... whose conduct they should regulate. Within the concept of
the soft states belongs also corruption
Soft Power: Soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University to
describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than by coercion (hard power), using force
or giving money as a means of persuasion. Soft power is the ability to shape the
preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that
it is noncoercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign
policies.
Selection of Topic
• Clarity: Avoid ambiguous topics
Topic: If development is not engendered, it is endangered. (CSE- 2016)
Engender: Cause or give rise to something

Topic: Credit based higher education system – status , opportunities and


challenges (CSE- 2011)

Credit: Marking system vs Financial credit


Choice Based Credit System provides choice for students to select from the prescribed courses
(core, elective or minor or soft skill courses).
Selection of Topic
Creativity

Scope
Ingenuity Novelty
Selection of Topic
Topic: Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. (CSE-2016)

Scope for Novelty, Ingenuity and Creativity


Innovation

Economic Growth Social Welfare

e-Commerce: Market Digital Transaction: Public Health:


penetration and Education: Learning
expansion E-wallet Stents applications

Housing and
Biotechnology: GM Agriculture: Precision Women Welfare:
Sanitation:
Crops Farming Distress calls
Tesla’s Solar roof

Bidding: Swiss Poverty alleviation: Employment and Skill


Mass transportation
Challenge JAM trinity development
Do’s and Don’t s of an essay

Maintain the focus of the essay

Coherence between the paragraphs should be maintained

Maintain good readable handwriting

Stick to the word limit

Write in simple, lucid language


Do’s and Don’t s of an essay

Underline important points

Do not write in points or bullet format

Avoid writing sub-headings

Grammatical and spelling errors should be minimal

Avoid writing sms or WhatsApp lingo e.g. bcoz, asap etc.


Do’s and Don’t s of an essay

Avoid writing long sentences

Do not draw flow charts or diagrams

Do not take extreme stand on the topic

Don’t use first and second person references

Avoid writing personal or made up anecdotes


Do’s and Don’t s of an essay

Avoid cutting and scribbling on the answer booklet

Don’t introduce new ideas in the conclusion part of the essay

Avoid repetition of same words

Do not deviate from the central theme of the title of the essay

Avoid technical jargons or theories. E.g.: Social functionalism, Social learning theory etc.
Resources
Yojana / Kurukshetra issues:
Resources
Excerpts or summary from famous books with name of the author:
Resources
Quotations

Personality Contextual

M.K. Gandhi Aristotle Women Education

Marx Confucius Terrorism Democracy

Corruption Environment
Resources
Quotations: Example

• Personality
Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle
- Seven sins according to Gandhi

• Contextual:
1. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's
greed.” on Environment
2. "Power doesn't corrupt people, people corrupt power.” on Corruption

Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/
Expectations of the UPSC
Expectations of the UPSC
Expectations of the UPSC
Expectations of the UPSC
THANK YOU

Minat Terkait