Think, Learn & Perform (TLP)- UPSC GS Mains, ESSAY [Day 63]

  • IASbaba
  • November 1, 2015
  • 81
TLP Mains 2015
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Must ReferComprehensive Mains Strategy



Write an Essay on the following topics in not more than 1200-1500 Words


1. ‘Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live’.

2. Preventive vigilance as a tool for Good Governance.

3. Unity in diversity does not mean not having differences but it means not having conflicts.


A Model Essay for your reference




Words are sharper than a two edged sword:


The famous Irish playwright Samuel Beckett had once proclaimed that ‘Words are all we have.’ He said so, not because he made a living out of it, but because he realized what many of us fail to comprehend at times, the potency of words. Words, which are syllables, put together to give meaning to actions and actors, to feelings and phenomena, to events and emotions, to life, to destiny.

Closer home, I grew up with the same counsel from my father, which I still remember vividly. He always told me my words could wound or my words could heal, my words could make me live forever or get me killed. So, choose them wisely.

To make me learn the importance of this lesson, his weapon of choice was, well, words. He told me the story of how once Birbal had opined to his king, Akbar, that the most important organ of the body was the tongue.  ‘It could get you riches and it could get you killed,’ said the wise man. Akbar, skeptic at first, saw it for himself , when he ordered for an Afghan messenger , incensed and infuriated by his language and his manners, to be beheaded. Killing a messenger was nothing short of blasphemy, yet the King ordered the punishment, such was his wrath at the man’s insolence. Au courant, he garlanded and honoured a Persian diplomat for his words and demeanor , with which he could win their hearts.

Our ability to communicate is what sets us apart. What we say has a great impact on our personality, our relationships and the group dynamics to which we belong.

Mahatama Gandhi  had said “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your values, your values become your habits and your habits become your destiny.” This quote practically sums up everything. Our words are the connection between our beliefs and our destiny.

Recently, a new sect of Buddhism has emerged. They chant a verse which says that, “We believe in ourselves and always good will happen to us.” They chant this everyday, together, for hours, believing that in a cosmic way, the positivity they are giving to the universe will come back to them . This is the very difference between a pessimist and an optimist. A pessimist keep cursing himself and becomes the very reason of his destruction, while an optimist keep saying that he will do it and he eventually does what he wants.

There is this thing with words. If you keep saying something, even if you don’t mean it’ then also after sometime you’ll start believing in it, what you say becomes your belief and then it becomes an integral part of your personality. Many of us must have experienced that sometimes a very smart, good-looking person when opens his mouth ruins his image and personality. And on the other hand, a good speaker looks beautiful and irresistible. This has been the quality of many a charismatic leaders this world has seen and at the same time, of many an ignoble beings.

Apart from molding the individuals personality words also shape the personal relationships.  Relationships are based on the dialogue between two individuals. A relationship requires trust, understanding, love, respect and empathy. And all of these feelings are expressed by what you say. A wrong choice of words can destroy lives.

It is not just what we say but how we say it, that matters too. One man’s sarcasm can be another man’s insult. A flippant remark can lead to some long lasting damage. I remember seeing this poster as a child, it portrayed a crying girl with her back turned from a group of laughing schoolchildren. My heart sunk as I read, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” What a lie, I thought. Why else would the girl be crying if she was not hurt? Though pressed down upon on all sides, mocked and laughed at, called names, her dragons bid her to stand strong as they prodded her with white-hot prongs and left an indelible mark. I’ll bet her scars whisper to her at night, too.

The real power or edge of the words is seen when man from an individual relation gets into the society.

One flippant remark on how one should eat cake turned an entire nation against the Queen and then off came her head. Another Queen’s stinging words led to the great war of Mahabharata. The words of a small, diminutive man with a mustache moved a nation to genocide for the sake of an imagined greater good. One man’s proclamation, “I have a dream,” led to the emancipation of an entire race. A young boy shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (long live the revolution) and a helped a nation find its destiny. What seems like folklore to us now, came alive when an Indian Daily claimed as its headlines, ‘No one Killed Jessica’ and a country divided came together to fight for justice. Words live, they breathe among us, stay on long after we are gone, to be discussed by wide-eyed children trying to make sense of the legacy we have left behind. Hence, the reiteration, words are all we have.

To dismiss a reckless remark is to remove responsibility. This flippancy severs the cord of accountability between speaker and speech. As our medium of words has progressed from stone slabs to paper to screens, we seem to have lost the weight of the word.Think of an ancient scribe. He would pause, an ancient practice, before dipping his quill into a jar of thick, black ink. Fully aware of the repercussions of an error, he would painstakingly make each stroke with precision. He lived in an age unacquainted with a backspace key and where few could afford the price of an error.

But today, a text message mindlessly tapped out is just as soon deleted. Even this sentence was reconsidered, revisited, and revised. Our ability to communicate no longer springs from our dexterity of thought but the agility of our thumbs. Our words are no longer preserved in a weighty stone tablet. Instead, they are typed, deleted, and retyped and then sent out without pausing to think what chain of events we might set into motion. Such heedless words may lead to an innocent taking her life, to the lynching of an innocent man, riots in a city, shut downs and if nothing, leaves us with a general sense of unease and maybe impending doom. And we think, it was just a harmless text.

We are entitled. We have rights.

Does every tweeted and re-tweeted thought deserve merit merely in its right to be said? Is it politically correct to correct a politically incorrect statement? Our cry for the freedom of speech has made passage for the freedom from speech and the careful tending that should accompany it. Our tongues run rampant – never checked nor balanced. We demand our right to speak, but our flapping mouths pay no heed to how we speak. Because we think an error or offensive slip of the tongue incurs only minimal, if any, cost, when our words are many and close between.

It is important for us to realize that words written in posterity can influence the world for ages to come, not just in that moment or in that day or in that year. No civilization, war, warlord or a weapon of mass destruction have had such a long term impact on the society than the books written by scholars. These books brought an end to the dark ages and guided humanity toward Renaissance. Monstesquieu’sL’Esprit des lois, Karl Marx’s, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species or the mighty Vedas of Ancient India are not mere books but cornerstones in the history of mankind, guiding us, teaching us, showing us the power of words, written or spoken.

Where words can harm, they can heal too. Why else would Gautama Buddha, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela , Swami Vivekananda, Mother Teresa and some such great entities, be able to sway generation after generation, guide us, inspire us, tell us from black and white, help us. Their actions speak, but more importantly, their words speak, for those actions might not hold relevance after all these years, for we have no imperialism to fight against, or apartheid. But, some demons remain, and their words are what we have to keep going back to make sense of what went wrong and what we might do to rectify it.

Unfortunately, in present times, words are being used to incite violence and spread hatred. Young minds are easily influenced with fake promises and dreams. They become prey to anti-social elements. A new war is being fought everywhere in the world and this time words are used as potent weapons. Rational thinking is being suffocated by curbing the freedom of speech, and radical ideas are being spread. They have the potential to further break the already fragmented world.

To prevent this disaster, there is only one way. That is self-restraint and control over our thoughts and emotions. Kabir das said,“ Speak such words that overwhelms the heart, they make the world peaceful and brings peace to oneself.”

Suffice to say, words are sharper than a two edged sword, so all we can do is think before we speak. To end from where we started, ‘words are all we have.’







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