SYNOPSIS [16th February,2021] Day 32: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)

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  • February 18, 2021
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SYNOPSIS [16th February,2021] Day 32: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)


1. What were the key philosophical ideals rooted in the American Revolution? Discuss.  


Candidate are expected to write about American Revolution and discuss about key philosophical ideals rooted in the American Revolution. 


The American Revolution, which took place between 1765 and 1783, was a political upheaval during which colonists in the Thirteen North American Colonies of Great Britain rejected the British monarchy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain, won political independence and went on to form the United States of America. The American Revolution was the result of a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations in American society, government and ways of thinking.


Key philosophical ideals rooted in American Revolution –

  • Some of the leaders of the American Revolution were influenced by Enlightenment ideas which are, freedom of speech, equality, freedom of press, and religious tolerance. American colonists did not have these rights, in result, they rebelled against England for independence. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote about American’s natural rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These ideas came from the Enlightenment, the ideals led towards the American Revolution soon after.
  • John Locke was one of the most important and influential philosophers in the history of the world. He devoted a lot of his time into writing about philosophy and political thought. The founding fathers of the American Revolution drew heavily on his ideals. John Locke argued “The power of any king or government is derived from people who contract to obey their rules in exchange for law and security. Individuals have a natural right to hold property and this can never be taken from them without their own consent. If a ruler infringes the terms of the contract that empowers him or seizes property without consent, the people can resist and depose him” (John Locke).
  • Around 1750, many Thinkers were challenging the status-quo and demanding freedom & liberty for the people. They placed before the people idea of a democratic form of governance. They helped in development of ideas of Republicanism and Liberalism that militated against colonialism.
  • Many leading colonists, most notably Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, followed the doctrines of deism, a religious outgrowth of the Enlightenment. Deists relied on the reasoning power of science rather than on faith. The best way to improve society, deists argued, was to rely on reason. The Enlightenment embraced the concept of natural rights as a rational ideology, which fostered the Patriots’ yearning for liberty and a democratic government that protected their freedoms.
  • As the leaders of the American colonies fought for independence from Great Britain, the focus of attention broadened to include social reforms. Political representatives tackled several key issues, including voting rights, slavery, religion, and women’s rights.
  • No Taxation without Representation called by Colonial lawyers they argued that the stamp tax violated colonists’ natural rights, and they accused the government of “taxation without representation.” In Britain, citizens consented to taxes through their representatives in Parliament. The colonists, however, had no representation in Parliament. Thus, they argued they could not be taxed.
  • Ideas that were once just abstract thoughts such as popular sovereignty, natural rights, constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers were now part of an actual political system that worked.


The American Revolution had a profound impact on the history of the modern world. It provided a template through which modern ideas could defeat oppressive regimes.

The subsequent success of the USA in world arena is a testimony to how powerful is the idea of liberal democracy and emancipation of the populace. This model was successfully emulated by many countries (especially in Europe) post World War II. India also has learned a lot from the American experience and adopted many of these democratic principles, adding to our own democratic socialist principles.

2. With the help of suitable examples, explain the concepts of mercantilism and imperialism.


Question is straight forward in nature. Candidate can give evolution of mercantilism and imperialism in brief and then complement it with suitable examples.


Mercantilism was dominant in modernized parts of Europe, and some areas in Africa from the 16th to the 19th centuries, a period of proto-industrialization. It promotes imperialism, colonialism, tariffs and subsidies on traded goods to achieve that goal.


What is mercantilism?

  • The Mercantilism theory states that there is a finite amount of wealth in the world and that it is in a nation’s best interest to accumulate this finite wealth.
  • A country achieves wealth by producing and exporting more goods than it imports. These goods must be sold at a profit for wealth to accumulate. Profits are large when a country spends a small amount of money on raw materials needed to create a product and sells the finished product for a high price. Then, Mercantilism was meant to serve the interests of the only empire, not the colony. Colonies existed for the benefit of the home country.
  • A nation’s wealth is measured by the amount of precious metals (Bullion) it has accumulated rather than by its productivity. Sometimes, mercantilism is also known as bullionism.
  • A favourable balance of trade is required to increase the wealth of the nation. To achieve this, domestic industry should be protected. Exports should be encouraged even at the cost of rival economies and imports should be curbed.

Strategies of Mercantilism –

  • Aggressively exploit natural resources abroad. Build colonies to extract wealth.
  • Maximize the export-to-import ratios and build up trade surpluses with other countries. The strategies to do so were as follows:
  • Raise protective tariffs or quotas or both on foreign imports.
  • Erect non-tariff barriers on foreign imports.
  • Dump exports on foreign markets by pricing them below cost so as to drive foreign companies out of their own domestic markets.
  • Prevent other states from obtaining wealth. This could be done by Create exclusive trading relationships with weaker states so as to deny more powerful states access to their resources.

Examples of mercantilism –

  • Mercantilist ideas were the dominant economic ideology of all of Europe in the early modern period. It began in France in early 16th century when an important decree of 1539 banned the import of woollen goods from Spain and some other parts. In 1540, France banned the export of bullion.
  • In England, the mercantilism reached its peak in 17th century particularly between 1640 to 1660. A major contrast between French mercantilism and British mercantilism was that in Britain, the focus remained in international trade rather than the domestic control.
  • The nation aggressively sought colonies and once under British control, regulations were imposed that allowed the colony to only produce raw materials and to only trade with Britain. mercantilist policies were one of the major causes of the American Revolution.

Imperialism –

  • Imperialism is the ideology and policy of extending the rule or authority of a country over that of another and its people either through military, economic or political means.
  • Although the earliest examples of imperialism can be traced back to the third millennium BC empires of Assyria and Babylon, the modern concept of imperialism arose in the 17th century with the rise in European colonialism.
  • The word ‘Imperialism’ comes from the Latin word “imperium”, which means ‘sovereign power’ or simply ‘rule’.
  • the main focus of imperialism has always been power projection and economic growth for the country carrying it out. Keeping the focus of European imperialism in mind, territorial expansion was largely focused on economic growth by collecting resources from subjugated territories and maintaining control either through military or political means. The British colonisation of India can be regarded as an example.

Types and examples of imperialism –

  • Colony: A region our country governed directly by a foreign power. The example of this is British control of India and French control of Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Protectorate: Where a country or a part of its territory has its own government but is under the control or ‘protection’ of a foreign power. The British protectorate of the Niger River delta was an example of a protectorate.
  • Sphere of influence: An area where an external power claims exclusive rights and privileges for trade and investment. Central Asian nations were under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union through the duration of the Cold War.
  • Economic Imperialism: Independent but less-developed nations controlled by private businesses rather than by foreign governments. For example, American fruit-based companies had a monopoly on fruit production, particularly bananas, in the Caribbean region and some parts of Latin America. As these nations were dependent on the trade of banana for the survival of their economy, they were at the mercy of the whims and fancies of these American fruit companies leading to the coining of the term ‘banana republics’.
  • Walter Rodney, a Guyanese economist, in his 1972 classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, proposes the idea that imperialism is a phase of capitalism which stated that “Western European capitalist countries, the US, and Japan established political, economic, military and cultural hegemony over other parts of the world which were initially at a lower level and therefore could not resist domination.”


Mercantilism, in a way, was both the cause as well as the effect of imperialism. Mercantile economic policies were definitely an impetus for the start of colonization. But subsequently, the benefits due to colonial exploitation further reinforced the ideology of mercantile capitalism and augmented its spread across Europe. As a result these countries saw very rapid increase in trade volume while colonies suffered proportionally.

3. How did nationalism evolve as an important political strand in the 19th century?

How did it impact the world? Analyse.


The question is asking you to analyse so it means to look at or think about the different parts or details of something carefully in order to understand or explain it.


A nation is a group of people speaking a common language, sharing a common culture, a sense of a common destiny, and sharing a common history. So, nationalism is also a term to describe the common bonds that hold people together within a nation, creating a new type of community. Tied to this is the idea that individuals’ loyalty should be focused on the nation and that each nation should be able to determine its own future—an idea known as self-determination. So, nationalism is also the idea that the nation should have that right to govern itself and the right to self-determination. 



  • Nationalism is not very old. Before the very end of the eighteenth century (1700s), nationalism didn’t even exist as a widespread cultural or political ideology.
  • The French revolutionary era had great importance in the development and spread of nationalism as an ideology. As napoleon expanded and his armies occupied many other European countries, those other countries all agreed national self-determination was the way to go. Uniting against the French regime created a sense of common destiny—a sense of nationalism.
  • There were many other trends occurring at the same time including the growth in literacy, urban areas, and print culture (communicating through printed words and images). With the enlightenment, education and literacy and the many forms of print were crucial to the spread of ideas. Common bonds formed between intellectuals and the reading public within countries. 
  • The most devoted nationalists in the early nineteenth century were actually secondary students and university students in urban areas.
  • While nationalism has much to do with unity, its development often comes through the defining of differences. 


  • The rise and spread of nationalism gave people a new sense of identity and also led to an increased sense of competition among nation-states. 
  • After the downfall of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna met mainly to redistribute the territories occupied by the French. The makers of the Vienna Settlement tried to prevent the spread of the ideas of democracy and nationalism. Despite their efforts, liberal ideas were gaining ground.
  • Italy had been divided into small kingdoms and principalities. Napoleon, through his conquests, brought the country under a single administrative unit. 
  • The fall of Napoleon again led to the disintegration of Italy but later, Venetia was ceded to Italy by Austria in 1866 when Austria was weakened by the Prussian War. When Prussia attacked France in 1870, the Italian army occupied Rome. The unification of Italy was complete; Rome became the capital of united Italy.
  • The German victory led to the political unification of Germany. The Prussian king, William I, was proclaimed Emperor of Germany. The spirit of nationalism brought about the unification of Germany. Within a short time, a united Germany emerged as a powerful force in European polity.


Over the following century several revolutions across Europe would remove these royals from power. New constitutional governments led by citizens of these nation-states would take their place. These nations would then compete for colonies across the world in Africa, Eastern Asia, and Southeast Asia by the end of the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, nationalism would play a major role in the competition between nations. It was an extremely bloody competition that we now call World War I.

4. Examine the factors that led to the early success of Industrial Revolution in Europe.


Question is very simple and straight forward in its approachstudents are expected to mention the factors that led to the success of industrial revolution in Europe in a detailed manner.


Industrial Revolution, in modern history, the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. This process began in Britain in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world. Goods that had once been painstakingly crafted by hand started to be produced in mass quantities by machines in factories, thanks to the introduction of new machines and techniques in textiles, iron making and other industries. Fueled by the game-changing use of steam power, the Industrial Revolution began in Britain and spread to the rest of the world, including the United States, by the 1830s and ‘40s. Modern historians often refer to this period as the First Industrial Revolution, to set it apart from a second period of industrialization that took place from the late 19th to early 20th centuries and saw rapid advances in the steel, electric and automobile industries.


Factors that led to early success of Industrial Revolution in Europe –

  • It is established that some historians visualized the Revolution as a consequence of social and institutional changes brought by the end of feudalism in Britain after the English Civil War in the 17th century. As national border controls became more effective and it also prevent in transmission of various deadly disease. The percentage of children who lived past infancy rose significantly and it resulted in creating huge workforce. 
  • The Enclosure movement and the British Agricultural Revolution made food production more effective and less labour-intensive, forcing the excess population who could no longer find employment in agriculture into cottage industry. The colonial expansion of the 17th century with the associated development of international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of capital are also mentioned as factors, as is the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
  • Primary reason for the early success of industrial revolution is the population’s increase. Since the XVIII century, epidemics of plague were vanishing and the development of agriculture allowed the growth of food production and then there was a decline in catastrophic mortality (hunger, wars and epidemics). In addition, population’s increase augmented demand for goods and services. It promoted technical innovations that increased production and profits. Several technological invention also led to the industrial revolution and major enabling technology was the invention and development of the steam engine. These inventions began in England in the textile sector, at the beginning they were very simple inventions, they were built of wood and made by artisans and people without scientific preparation, but after that, this technological development in the industry made possible the emergence of factory. It is a place where a high production is achieved through the division of labour because each worker takes charge of only in a portion of the process.
  • The foreign trade led to get inexpensive and plentiful raw materials and achieved broad market for industrial products. So, people generated revenues through reducing of production costs and expanding of their market, take advantage of that opportunity was unquestionably the best option. Although primarily the countries of northern Europe had organized a global trade for their benefit and their privileged status was delaying the industrialization of the rest of the world, the discovery of the optimization of profits through the purchase of raw materials in other markets led to countries realized that it was essential to establish stable relations with markets elsewhere in the world.
  • Historians stated that the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain was due to abundant natural or financial resources that Britain received from its many foreign colonies or that profits from the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean assisted fuel industrial investment. It has been designated that bondage provided only 5% of the British national income during the years of the Industrial Revolution. A major cause for the Industrial Revolution was the huge spurt of population growth in England. Alongside the fast growth in population, medical systems had also enhanced, thus there was a reduction in the number of epidemics that spread resulting in less of a death toll through lack of medical knowledge.
  • In the beginning, the Industrial Revolution was closely related to a small number of innovations, made in the second half of the 18th century: Textiles: The progression of the textile industry was major development in Britain’s industrialization. Steam power-The enhanced steam engine developed by James Watt which was mainly used for pumping out mines, but from the 1780s, it was applied to power machines. This permitted rapid development of efficient semi-automated factories on an earlier unimaginable scale in places where waterpower was not available. Iron founding- In the Iron industry, coke was finally applied to all stages of iron smelting, replacing charcoal. This had been attained much earlier for lead and copper as well as for producing pig iron in a blast furnace, but the second stage in the production of bar iron depended on the use of potting and stamping.
  • Disappearance of serfdom (a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord) and ‘enclosure movement’ provided huge surplus agricultural labour which looked for employment and became source of cheap labour. Britain was rich with natural resources. Iron and coal proved twin pillars of Industrial Revolution and Britain was lucky to have them in close proximity. If not then their colonial policy fulfil their need of resources.
  • The emergence of British power would spawn the third major advance in management, the Industrial Revolution. As the British Empire’s power grew, so did opportunities for trade. The 18th century saw the emergence of various international corporations, such as the Hudson’s Bay Company which conducted business globally. The Hudson’s Bay Company orchestrated fur trade in Canada where pelts were produced and then shipped to England for trade in any part of the globe. This further development of trade led to the establishment of the marketplace as a dominant means of organizing the exchange of goods. The market would coordinate the actions and activities of various participants, thus allowing resources to flow to their most efficient uses. One of the major intellectual leaders of this period was the economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith.
  • Adam Smith proposed the idea of specialization and coordination within corporations as a source of economic growth. Specialization and division of labor were Smith’s major contributions to management thought. The division of labor meant that a worker specialized in performing one task that was part of a larger series of tasks, at the end of which a product would be produced. The idea of specialization of labor had several important outcomes. Firstly, specialization drastically reduced the cost of goods. Secondly, it drastically reduced the need for training. Instead of learning every aspect of a task, workers needed to learn one portion of it. Thirdly, the need to coordinate all these different tasks required a greater emphasis on management.


Many people around the world today enjoy the benefits of industrialization. With so much more energy flowing through human systems than ever before, many of us must do much less hard physical labor than earlier generations did. People today are able to feed more babies and bring them to adulthood. Many people vote and participate in modern states, which provide education, social security, and health benefits. Large numbers of people enjoy levels of wealth, health, education, travel, and life expectancy unimagined before industrialization.The benefits of industrialization, however, have come at great cost. For one thing, the rate of change (acceleration) is now so rapid that individuals and social systems struggle to keep up. And strong arguments can be made about depersonalization in the age of mass production. The increased complexity of the industrial system has also brought increased fragility. Industrialization depends on the interaction of many diverse components, any one of which could fail.

5. The French Revolution was a watershed in European history. Do you agree? Substantiate.


We have to mention features that made the French Revolution as a watershed in European history. We can also put arguments to claim that it was not a watershed movement. We need to give examples for our arguments.


The French Revolution was a watershed event in modern European history that began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned not only their country’s political landscape but also of Europe.


The French Revolution was a watershed in European history in following ways –

  • Political Upheaval: Uprooting of centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Political systems like constitutional monarchy, republic were tried and tested.
  • “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”: The document proclaimed the commitment to replace the ancient régime with a system based on equal opportunity, freedom of speech, popular sovereignty and representative government.
  • Propagation of Modern Ideas: Liberty, Fraternity, Equality become core ideas of Europe. 
  • Religious reforms: Privileges of clergy, church were abolished. It was subordinated to state and it gave rise to concept of secularism in Europe.
  • Rise of middle and worker class: Though bourgeois played crucial role in initiating revolution, the worker class strengthened and sustained the revolution. Socialism, Chartist Movement, Marxism, etc. had genesis in French revolution.
  • Nationalist Forces: It gave impetus to Italian and German integration, which were based on principle of nationalism.
  • Structural changes in European economy: Mercantilism, Capitalism, Laissez-faire like concept got more currency. Private ownership of land was considered as a fundamental right.
  • Role of Philosophers: Philosophers like Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, etc. played crucial role in reforming not only France but also Europe and World at large. They exposed existing degenerating system but at the same time put forward the vision of better future. Montesquieu emphasized on virtues of constitutional monarchy, Rousseau in his ‘Social Contract’ laid foundations for ‘State’ and Democracy.
  • Napoleon – The child of French Revolution: He took ideas of French Revolution to other parts of Europe like Spain, Italy, Germany, etc. He caused many administrative reforms like Napoleonic Code of 1804 formed basis for Civil and Criminal justice system in Europe and many other parts of the world including India.

However, it had following issues that prevented it from being a watershed movement –

  • American Revolution, 1765-83: It can be said to be a real watershed movement, as it was first successful revolution and successfully implemented modern ideas. It was also one of the reasons to cause French revolution.
  • Lack of concern to women and their rights: Voting rights, equal status, economic rights, etc. were not the core part of French revolution.
  • Reign of Terror, 1793-94: Caused apprehension about revolution in Europe and caused set to revolutionary ideas not only in France but also Europe. 
  • Destabilized Europe: Revolutions caused rise of Napoleon, European Coalitions, and set stage for wars which eventually caused world wars.


Although French Revolution failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the French Revolution played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people. 


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