SYNOPSIS [29th JANUARY,2021] Day 17: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)

  • IASbaba
  • January 30, 2021
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Question Compilation, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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SYNOPSIS [29th JANUARY,2021] Day 17: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)


1. What are the qualities of a good leader? Discuss. Who is your favourite leader and why? Substantiate. 


The question demands to explain qualities of a good leader, also it is important to mention about favourite leader with proper explanation about why do you like that particular leader and which qualities in him/her inspire you most.


A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

                                                      John C Maxwell.

The above quote by john maxwell sums up everything leadership is about. A leader is someone who can see how things can be improved and who rallies people to move toward that better vision. Leaders can work toward making their vision a reality while putting people first. Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants. The man who successfully marshals his human collaborators to achieve particular ends is a leader. A great leader is one who can do so day after day, and year after year, in a wide variety of circumstances.


Qualities of a good leader-

Leader is a self-starter, a person around whom revolves the entire team. It is from the leader that the team draws energy, courage and the spirit to go ahead. He or she is the torch-bearer, the guide who leads the team to success. So, what makes a good leader Is there a set formula that can ensure making of great leaders, Unfortunately, leadership is not mathematics. It is the science of progressive learning and does not have set rules. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates followed different styles, but both remain classic examples of great leaders. Having said so, great leaders of the past and present reflect some common traits.

Here are some qualities that aspiring leaders should imbibe-

  • Vision

Leadership requires farsightedness. The ability to see ahead and lead the team on the correct path is a skill which comes with experience. It is the intuition of the leader, the ability to learn from past mistakes and move accordingly that sets apart from the rest.

  • Integrity

The characteristic features of a leader define the establishment he drives. The employees and the organisation are a reflection of him. His innate values and learnings form the life-sap of the business. A leader with integrity builds an efficient team and a successful business, as well.

  • Commitment

A leader leads by example. What better way to do this than to shoulder the responsibility with the team? There is no greater motivation for the team than to see the boss working along, sharing the burden. A committed leader builds a committed team in the long run.

  • Creativity

It is the quality of the leader to do something beyond the ordinary that sets him apart. To take something of average quality and build something new out of it is a quality that leaders possess. After all, leadership is all about breaking the regular and moving out of the box.

  • Crisis Management

The true mettle of a leader is tested during crises. It is the way he handles challenges and turns them into opportunities that proves his worth as a leader. It is in trying times that the team looks up to its leader for guidance and support. Thus, successful leadership calls for the ability to cruise through such difficult times and ensure success.

  • Team Player

A leader not only leads the team from the front, but also stands along with it. Only when a leader is a good team player can he become a successful leader. Understanding the team, bonding with them and sharing the work are some of the significant qualities of a leader that not only make him successful but an idol to his team. While it is true that time and experiences make a seasoned leader, it is always good to start early.

  • Honesty

Whatever ethical values you hold, when you are responsible for a team of people, it’s important to raise the bar higher.

  • Delegation

Delegating work is one of the most important skills of a leader as doing everything yourself is not possible and leads to poor quality work.

  • Communication

Communication is the key. It is important to let the people know your vision and convey exactly what you expect out of them.

  • Confidence

As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep everyone feeling the same. Confidence of a leader inspires and motivates followers to become more determined to achieve the goal.

Favourite Leader-

  • India has produced leaders who had admirers all over the world and whose impact is still found to be inspiring many. Among the few leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, JN Nehru, MS Dhoni and Nandan Nilekani are notable to mention. 
  • Amongst these, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Vikrambhai Sarabhai and Mahatma Gandhi are my favourites. 

APJ Abdul Kalam: 

  • He was upright and honest. His dedication to the nation was commendable. Since childhood, Dr Kalam worked extremely hard to lead our nation to the path of glory, first by being the “Missile Man of India” and then finally the “President of the Nation.” During his days at ISRO and DRDO, he catapulted India’s space mission to great heights. He led India to become the global leader in nuclear arms race. Even at the personal level, his probity in and out was overwhelming. He managed his team exceptionally well. Even while being the President of the country, he mentored thousands of students to overcome failures in life and succeed. Even in his last moments, he was delivering lecture to the students which according to me was the greatest inspiration from the man who dedicated every single bit of his life for the nation. 
  • Apart from him, the recent calmness and maturity shown by Team India cricket captain Ajinkya Rahane in Tests against Australia has also substantiated the need of having an emotionally stable, level-headed man who leads the team in despair and overcomes all the challenges to succeed at the highest level.


Leadership demands progressive learning, and does not have set rules.

‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’

While Dr. Kalam’s life can serve as a model to anyone, He was called “the People’s President” because he saw that leadership is about people, about inspiring and connecting with others. And he did so with no motives of personal gain. His integrity and authenticity shone through and sailed the country when it needed the most. His dedication towards nation building will be remembered through centuries. Thus leadership is to lead from the front, Mahatma Gandhi overcame all the obstacles and lead India to freedom from the clutches of British imperialists, His thrust on individual emancipation proves that leaders are not born but they learn, understand and lead that is what makes them strong determined.

3. What lessons can be learnt from the lives of sporting legends? Illustrate with the help of suitable examples.


A simple and straightforward question where in you need to dwell upon the lessons you learnt, especially ethical lessons, from the lives of sporting legends and illustrate the same with some suitable examples.


Working toward excellence in sports can produce incredible gratification. Research has provided strong evidence that “sports strongly reinforce certain personal characteristics, things like respecting your opponent, responsibility, persistence and self-discipline, etc.”, which are exemplified in the lives of great sporting legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer, etc. 


Sports can instil important values, including respect and teamwork, as well as teach lessons about perseverance and honesty. These experiences can have meaningful implications on people’s behaviour’s, values, and understanding of themselves and others. For example –

  • Managing a defeat in a tennis tournament can prepare a person to handle other disappointments.
  • Supporting a teammate who cannot finish a football season because of an injury can build greater empathy in other areas of life.
  • Battling to make a qualifying time for a swimming event can prepare a person for the rigor required to achieve professional goals.

Ethical behavior in sports can promote ethics-driven behaviors in other areas, such as helping others in need, building trust, respecting dignity, and treating others equally. In this regard, some of the lessons which can be learnt from sporting legends are discussed below –

  • Patience and Perseverance – Mary Kom, a five-time world champion Boxer, has battled far more than what we have seen her fight in the ring. From struggling with poverty to playing the multiple roles of a mother, daughter, and elder sister, she has achieved much more than the average of all others. She is a living embodiment of patience & perseverance where she won a championship even after becoming a mother.
  • Dedication – Pelé, was the king of football for two decades straight. He is the only footballer who has been a part of three World Cup-winning squads and has netted 1281 goals in his twenty year career. Because of this dedication, he has won several medals and love from people. He made us realise that when you show pure dedication to something, the play comes to you naturally.
  • Extraordinary focus & practice – Michael Phelps is one of the most celebrated Olympians of all times where he has won more gold medals than any other Olympian. He believes that you are your own limit and limits are just decided by your mind. He epitomises the lesson that when you want to be the best, you have to do things that others aren’t willing to do.
  • Teamwork and Good sportsmanship – Gary Kirsten was made the coach of Indian cricket team when the team was going through a rough phase where he instilled a team spirit in players and always avoiding taking credit. This can help in instilling a strong value for cooperation and collaboration in people if incorporated in daily life.
  • Hard Work – Cricket legend and Indian sporting superstar Sachin Tendulkar is a living embodiment of relentless hard work which has made him one of the greatest batsman of all time in cricket history. He shows that there’s no substitute for hard work even in face of adversity like loss of closed one’s and physical injuries. 
  • Calmness and Maturity – Captain of New Zealand’s cricket team, Kane Williamson, showed a zen-like attitude and approach in the final of recently concluded Cricket World Cup even though his team lost by a whisker. Such a display of calmness and maturity won hearts of all people and is an example to be emulated in real life tense scenarios.
  • Giving it back to the society – Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the world’s most prominent soccer player, and Athlete of modern time. He also holds the record for the most charitable athlete. Cristiano makes it a point to give back to the fans and people in need. Such socially responsible attitude is a model to be emulated for future generations where the world is presently faced with growing inequality and unrest.


Sports is a great equaliser where people from countries that are enemies can come together, live together, compete with one another in peaceful ways, and go back home with a wider perspective. But recent by headlines about sporting legends, who abuse steroids, run into trouble with the law, etc. have tarnished images of veterans.


The notion that sporting competition is about greater life lessons and the building of character needs to be imbibed in younger generations where sports can promote ethical values. Sporting legends should reward athletes for fair play and good sportsmanship, which can help in players respecting themselves, other players, officials, and the rules of the game while also ensuring sports serve as a vehicle for ethical behavior and positive values.

3. Which socio-religious reformer from the 19th century has inspired you the most? Discuss.


Students are expected to write about the most inspiring socio religious reformer from 19th century. With highlighting the important ethical values and ideas embraced by him/her and how it brought a change in society.


Indian society, in the 19th century, was trapped in a web of religious superstitions and social obscuritanism more so because of the advent of modern thoughts and ideas with the coming of the British. 


Significant contributions were made by socio religious reform movements and its leaders in the evolution of modern India. They stood for the democratization of the society, removal of superstitions and decadent customs, spread of enlightenment and development of a rational and modern outlook. This led to the national awakening in India.

Socio religious reformer Swami Vivekanda a inspiration personality:

  • Ethics: Vivekananda gave a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. Ethics according to Vivekananda was nothing but a code of conduct that helps a man to be a good citizen. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. 
  • Religion: His interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priest craft and intolerance. He believed that every religion offered a pathway to the eternal supreme, supreme freedom, supreme knowledge, supreme happiness.
  • Work for preserving unity: Swami Vivekananda went to the World Parliament of Religions as a representative of the Hindu religion. It was a prestigious platform to put forth the right understanding and the fundamentals of Hinduism. In the parliament, there were many eloquent speakers who had come well-prepared for their respective  speech.
  • Respect for culture and belief is necessary: One day, a Britisher commented that the Indian dressing style was ‘uncivilized’.  Swami Vivekananda replied, “In your culture, cloth builds a man but in our culture, character builds a man’. This story became very famous the world over, showcasing Swami Vivekananda’s deep understanding of the world. Culture, traditions and beliefs make every community  unique. And our own reasoning about their significance, importance enables us to help clear others’ doubts, perception or ideas.
  • Humility is a precious virtue: Swami Vivekananda was in England while conversing, Swami Vivekananda corrected his friend’s English. The friend retorted that English was his mother tongue and hence, could not be corrected. Swami Vivekananda smiled and humbly responded, “I know the use of language  because I have learnt the language while you have picked the language.” Listening to this witty reply, the friend was left  overwhelmed.
  • There are times when people retort and ask us questions, especially when we correct them. In such times, humility in our answer can help lighten the situation and save the bond from breaking. Remembering Swami Vivekananda’s this story can help us be aware of our replies, without losing the balance or getting offended.
  • Rationality: He was in complete agreement with the methods and results of modern science. He did not discard reason in favor of faith. He recognized intuition or inspiration as a higher faculty than reason. But the truth derived from intuition had to be explained and systematized by reason.
  • Education: He said that our process of education should be such that it helps the students to manifest their innate knowledge and power. He advocated a man-making character-building education. He said that education must make the students self-reliant and help them face the challenges of life. He was highly critical of the so-called educated who do not care for the poor and downtrodden.
  • Nationalism: Though growth of Nationalism is attributed to the Western influence but Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is deeply rooted in Indian spirituality and morality. His nationalism is based on Humanism and Universalism, the two cardinal features of Indian spiritual culture. The basis of his nationalism as per Vivekananda are Deep concern for masses, freedom and equality through which one expresses self, spiritual integration of the world on the basis of universal brotherhood. “Karmyoga” a system of ethics to attain freedom both political and spiritual through selfless service.


Through his reforms, Swami Vivekananda brought a remarkable change in the society. His work, thoughts, ideas gave a new direction to the masses. Reading and knowing about the life of Swami Vivekananda is very inspiring for the youth of today and will remain the same for the upcoming generations.

4. China’s duality of cooperation and competition is a tough diplomatic challenge for India. Do you agree? Share your views. 

Approach- Candidate is required to understand the dynamics of India- china relationship. While presenting an overview of recent events, student can outline historical phases in Indo- china relations giving a possible way forward for future engagement.


China and India’s emergence as global powers is unprecedented in modern history. Sino-Indian bilateral relations are defined by a complex balance of competition and cooperation. Traditionally, China has oriented itself toward North East Asia and the Pacific, while India has focused on the South Asian subcontinent. Their remarkable economic growth and military expansions have lead to more frequent and sustained political interactions. This engagement has elements of both rivalry and cooperation.


Year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. The rise of Asia is marked by the emergence of the two civilizational states which have dominated the world economic system for over a millennium.

India China relations have evolved historically in broadly five phases,

  1. first phase of Accommodation and partnership(1954–58), the leaders of the older generation of the two countries jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the slogan of “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai”
  2. In the second phase this honeymoon period came to a close in 1959, when the border dispute came to the fore and the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa, Tibet, to take refuge in India. Thus, the second phase was characterised by the collapse of partnership and the road to war (1959–62).
  3. The third phase of post-war peace (1963–87) was characterised by growing distrust between the two nations and the freezing of the diplomatic ties. Communist China came to be seen as an aggressive neighbour that sought to humiliate a democratic, non-aligned India. It took almost three decades for China-India relations to recover.
  4. In the fourth phase (1988–97), the two nations tried to reconcile their differences in the backdrop of the end of the cold war and the growing strategic concerns in the global hegemonic system dominated by the USA. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1989, and his meetings with Deng Xiaoping, marked the beginning of a new phase.
  5. The last phase is characterised by Triangular Diplomacy, in which the relations between the two nations have been increasingly determined by the entry of USA into the arena. In this phase, India has been trying to balance its security concerns with the developmental cooperation with China.

Major Issues of Conflict and competition.

  • India China border dispute is one of the major issues of conflict between the two neighbours. The border issue is rooted in the disputed status of the Mac Mohan line which defines the border between India and China.
  • India China border can be broken down into 3 sectors -the western sector which is a disputed one (Aksai Chin), the central sector which is the undisputed sector and the eastern sector in which the dispute is over the Arunachal Pradesh.
  • To resolve the border dispute, in the year 1989 India and China formed a joint working group for confidence-building measures and agree to mutually settle the border.
  • In 2003 India and China signed the declaration to appoint a special representative to explore the framework of a boundary settlement from the political perspective.
  • In the year 2013 both Indian China signed the border defence cooperation agreement in October to maintain peace and tranquillity on the line of actual control. But the recent Galwan clashes has deteriorated major developments made in the past.

Areas of Cooperation

  • India and China have cooperated on various economic issues like the setting of BRICS. The trade and economic relationship between India and China has seen rapid growth in the last few years.
  • Trade volume between the two countries at the beginning of the century, the year 2000, stood at US$ 3 billion. In 2008, bilateral trade reached US$ 51.8 billion in 2018, bilateral trade reached an all-time high of US$ 95.54 billion. But the covid-19 pandemic has severely affected economic cooperation.
  • Engagement with china on platforms like Shanghai cooperation organisation, ASEAN, New development bank are examples strategic engagement of India.
  • Over the areas of expanding influence in the neighbourhood, India china relations are characterized by competition. Geoeconomically, India has proposed cotton route and Mausam project as an alternative to Chinas One belt road initiative.
  • India and china have conducted informal summits such as Wuhan and the Mamallapuram summit which had brought stability and momentum to the relations in the backdrop of Doklam crisis.

What will the future be like?

  • China’s increasing activities and influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region through the Belt and Road Initiative and beyond, and an unbalanced economic relationship have ensured that the Sino-Indian relationship remains a fundamentally competitive one.
  • India is trying to enhance its military, nuclear, space, and technological capabilities, as well as its infrastructure. Establishing or enhancing partnerships in India’s extended neighbourhood, as well as with like-minded major powers — including Australia, France, Japan, Russia, and the United States — that can help balance China.


India remains one of the most important factor for the rise of asia. To contain china and to keep rise of China peaceful, India is the only option. This geopolitics dominates Indo- china relations. The Asian Century and the vision of a stable and peaceful world order can be materialised by Sino Indian cooperation in geopolitical and competition in geostrategic dimensions.

5. What are the most typical challenges of urban governance in Indian cities?

Discuss. What measures have been taken to address those?


Since question is asking you to discuss so there has to be a written debate where one has to use skill at reasoning, backed up by deliberately selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given context.


The pace and growth of urbanization in India poses enormous challenges to urban governance. Though planned urbanization is needed for the industry and services sectors and also for rural rejuvenation, the lack of empowerment of cities is constraining their ability to translate the urban development agenda into action. 



  • A federal framework that has not empowered its third tier despite amending the constitution in 1992 for doing so.
  • A missing link in the institutional framework for metropolitan planning and governance.
  • Inadequate capacity at the local government level to respond to the challenges of urban planning and management in a rapidly evolving urban scenario is the other crucial challenge faced by Indian cities.
  • Though metropolitan planning committees (MPCs) and district planning committees (DPCs) have been formed in some states, even there they have not forged links with city planning authorities. They have also not been effective as regional planning agencies
  • A political system that is heavily biased toward the rural sector.
  • The political economy of development in India has remained dominantly concerned with the development of rural areas implicitly assuming that urban areas can take care of themselves.
  • Accountability rests with the urban local bodies but it is not backed by either adequate finances or the capacity for planning and management
  • State finance commissions did not meet the standards set by the central finance commission. They have not challenged the state level political resistance to devolve and urban local governments have remained hamstrung by the lack of funds and are having to function with unfunded mandates.
  • There is evidence of deterioration in almost all of the major financial indicators of empowerment for urban local governments in India from their already very low levels.
  • In addition to the lack of financial devolution, there is a lack of financial autonomy both in mobilizing resources and in setting user charges to cover costs.


  • A reasonable definition of smart cities would be where residents demand good governance and the government, through better administration or high technology, is able to deliver high-quality services in a transparent and accountable manner. 
  • This would require spelling out the dimensions of institutional reform together with the high-tech infrastructure plans. No smart technology can deliver in the absence of smart governance.
  • The funding offered by the Government of India for all of the missions is a very small part of what is needed. The rest is expected to come from the state governments and also from the private sector under public–private partnership projects. 
  • City governments should be empowered through effective devolution and capacity building and state governments provide an enabling environment; cities will be in a position to translate the ambitious urban development agenda into action.


India has been among the fastest growing economies in the world for close to 2 decades. Faster growth has obvious implications for the pace and nature of urbanization. The combination of rising aspirations and growing middle classes on the one hand and inadequate planning for the inevitable increase in urbanization on the other is creating a situation that is socially, financially, and environmentally unsustainable. The challenge facing India’s planners and policymakers is how to radically improve the quality of life in cities so that they can continue to accommodate future growth while ensuring better living conditions for their residents and synergetic development of the rural sector. The reform in the institutions of urban governance is crucial in addressing this challenge.

TLP HOT Synopsis Day 17 PDF

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