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Synopsis: Mains Self Study Test – 14

Insights Mains Self Study 2016- Test 14

You can find Mains self Study Question papers and answer written by aspirants HERE

These questions are based on THIS Timetable.

Note: Following answers are neither model answers nor proper synopsis. We are trying to provide you information that is not usually found in textbooks.  If you have already written answers to these questions, compare and check if you have written relevant points, if you haven’t answered yet, choose important points from the following content to frame 200 words answer.


1) “The major characteristics of eighteenth-century India was therefore the weakening of the centralised Mughal empire and a dispersal of political power across the regions.” Discuss such dispersal of political power in South India. (200 Words)

Mughal empire began to rapidly decline ince the reign of Aurangzeb. This is attributed to reasons like

  • Aurangzeb’s divisive policies which alienated Hindus who constituted majority of subject population
  • Recurrent wars of succession.
  • Expansionist military campaigns against Bijapur, Golconda, Marathas sapped the vitality of the empire.
  • Lack of military reforms and reforms in technology.
  • Persian invasion and plunder of wealth.
  • Absence of a clear heir and a strong leader who could re-unite the Mughal kingdom after Aurangzeb.

All these led to weakening of Mughal empire and growth of power centres in different parts which are as follows:

  • Autonomous kingdom of Hyderabad: founded in 1724 by Chin Qulich Khan who took the title of ‘Nizam-ul-mulk’. He organised the Turani and Irani noblemen against Syyed brothers. For all practical purposes, Nizam acted independently of Mughal empire, conducting wars, signing treaties, making appointments. The locally entrenched semi-autonomous rulers were allowed to govern their inherited territories in return for an annual tribute paid to Nizam. By the end of 18th century, Hyderabad represented a relatively new political system with a whole range of new participants, who had diverse origins and social background.
  • Marathas emerged as a powerful empire, not just in Deccan but they also pwnwtrated in north India under Peshwa Bajirao. It emerged as a confederacy where power was shared among ‘sardars or chiefs’ like Bhonsles, Gaikwad, Holkar, Sindhia.
  • Emergence of Mysore as a significant power in mid-18th century was very spectacular. Originally, a vice royalty under Vijaynagara empire, Mysore was gradually transformed into an autonomous principality by Wodeyar dynasty. Under Hyder Ali and Tipu sultan, there was modernisation of military on European lines.
  • The southernmost state of Travancore: It had always maintained its independence from Mughal rule. Its king Marthanda Verma started expanding his dominions with the help of a strong and modern army trained along western lines.  

Thus, the dispersal of political power across regions indicated transformation of polity rather than complete collapse of Mughal empire. The symbols of Mughal authority were still recognised.

2) “The expansion of the empire in India in the second half of the eighteenth century marked an extension of the ‘gentlemanly capitalism’.” Discuss. (200 Words)

Gentlemanly capitalism’ as defined by Cain and Hopkins is genuinely all-embracing, with implications for Britain’s economic development, social structure and politics. It describes a society in which, since the late seventeenth century, land and commercial wealth, together (especially after 1850) with a range of service and professional interests, have dominated Britain’s economy. It is a theory of new imperialism emphasizing that British imperialism was driven by the business interests of city of London and not just industrialization.

Initially, the East India company (EIC) was given monopoly to trade with India, it was not given the mandate to carry on conquest or colonisation. The main objective was to make as much profits from trade with India as possible. This however, gradually led to gaining administrative rights in India. The following are the reasons:

  • The trade of EIC was always in conflict as they had to compete with Portuguese and French powers to gain foothold on Indian soil. This led to constant wars and use of military power between the three colonising powers. EIC had to cope up with its military expenditure. This was achieved by gaining diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa after battle of Plassey and Buxar. This initiated territorial expansion and gain of administrative control in India.
  • The company officials had the “get rich quick” tendency. They used official ‘dastaks’ for private trade from which they got huge profits. They indulged in corruption to do this successfully. This led to loss of revenue to Indian rulers who started to oppose. The company then started to interfere in internal affairs of Indian rulers and also waging battles against them.
  • With beginning of industrial revolution in Europe, Britain needed a constant and regular supply of cheap raw materials from India. This meant brining large areas under EIC control so as to have stability in supply of raw materials to factories in Britain. This necessitated conquests. Britain also wanted Indians to be consumers of British machine made goods. But this needed “Anglicisation” of Indians so that they would develop interest in British products. This again required brining large areas under their control.

Thus, the primary interest of Britain in India was to have a profitable trade with India. But the greed to have control and monopoly over Indian trade, it was necessary for them to expansion of British empire in India.

3) Why is the Cuban missile crisis stands as a singular event during the Cold War ? Analyse. (200 Words)


Highest temperature experienced during cold war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. World in October, 1962 experienced a direct and dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union after Soviet deployed ballistic missiles in communist Cuba.

The crisis was unique in a number of ways, featuring calculations and miscalculations as well as direct and secret communications and miscommunications between the two sides. It stands as a ‘Singular event’ during the Cold War as it was the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war and also because of the consequences which followed the crisis.

US had already deployed ballistic missiles in Turkey and parts of Europe against the USSR with Moscow within the range. USSR started deploying the same in Cuba on the pretext of protecting Cuba from another invasion from US (The first being avoided by Fidel Castro, dictator of Cuba, on the Bay of Pigs) and thus there was a nuclear crisis looming.

The war ended with an agreement being reached, whereby USSR agreed to dismantle its missiles from Cuba and US agreed to never invade Cuba without a direct provocation. US also secretly agreed to dismantle its MRBMs from Italy and Turkey.

The most important consequence of the crisis was the realisation, by the two countries, of the possible catastrophe a Nuclear War can bring on the world. Following which a ‘HOTLINE’ was established between the two countries and both began to reconsider the Nuclear Arms race and agreed to a Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed in 1963, to carry out nuclear test only underground and thus avoid polluting the environment any further.

For these reasons and consequences Cuban Missile crises is considered to be a peak event during the cold war period.


4) Examine the events that led to opening up of the heavily armed Berlin Wall literally overnight. (200 Words)


On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete wall between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased.

Fall of Berlin Wall

The Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev had introduced a series of social and political reforms across Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe. He instituted several policies meant to stimulate economic reform. One such policy, Glasnost (openness), that allowed Soviet citizens greater opportunity to voice discontent with their government and the other one was perestroika (economic and social reform). With this, Gorbachev had opened the crack that eventually brought down the Berlin Wall and subsequently Soviet Union itself.

However, the reforms were rejected by the hardline communist leader of East Germany, Erich Honecker in order to keep communism in place.

But eventually the following events unfolded and he had to change his approach.

  1. Eager for financial help from west Germany, Gorbachev promised to bring an end to the divided Europe in exchange of financial aid.
  2. Thousands began to fled East Germany via Hungary when it opened its frontiers with Austria.
  3. The other blow was from the protestant church of East Germany. In most East German cities, small groups gathered to discuss opposition to the Soviets and to hold small protests. The small protests grew and soon, every city in East Germany was thronged with peaceful protesters in the tens of thousands. This changed the self-assurance of the people. In East Berlin, a group of intellectuals and students formed a group called Neues Forum (New Forum) that pressed for reforms within East Germany.

The attractiveness of the freedoms of the West, both political and commercial, served as motivation for large numbers of East Germans, as shown clearly by their later vote for rapid German reunification on Western terms. And the support that the United States gave both to its allies in Western Europe and to dissidents in Eastern Europe over the course of the long Cold War helped to shape an environment in which the wall could open.

The fall of the wall came about because of the complex interplay among Soviet reforms, East Berlin’s incompetence and, crucially, rising opposition from everyday Germans.

5) How did the Vietnam War impact USA? Examine. (200 Words)

Lasting for 20 years (1955-1975), the Vietnam war, as bloody as any other wars, took away more than 2 million lives, in which most of them were civilians. 3 million were wounded, and hundreds of thousands of children were left orphans. The war ruined both North and South Vietnam.

Impact of war on USA

  • US was isolated in the world over the its policy and war in Vietnam.
  • It led Congress to replace the military draft with an all- volunteer force and the country to reduce the voting age to 18. It also inspired Congress to attack the “imperial” presidency through the War Powers Act, restricting a president’s ability to send American forces into combat without explicit Congressional approval.
  • The war also weakened U.S. military morale and undermined, for a time, the U.S. commitment to internationalism. In fact, there was a widespread public distrust of the government, especially in military decisions right after the war. There was a widespread sense of embarrassment about losing a war.
  • The war undermined liberal reform and made many Americans deeply suspicious of government. President Johnson’s Great Society programs competed with the war for scarce resources, and constituencies who might have supported liberal social programs turned against the president as a result of the war.
  • Many of the soldiers who survived, suffered from post traumatic stress. It became very difficult for them to start a normal life, Vietnam veterans who are still alive today admitted these things in various documentaries. The soldiers did not get heroic welcome by the native Americans.
  • The war left a heavy burden on the economy. About $ 900 billion was spent on the war, when there were more urgent needs like poverty alleviation, employment and education were starved of funds. ‘Anti-war sentiments and dissatisfaction with government further eroded consumer confidence. Interest rates rose, restricting the amount of capital available for businesses and consumers’.
  • It strengthened America’s resolve to outdo the Soviet Union in Proxy wars – The US indirectly supported the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. America learnt to use Napalm in battles. In fact it can be argued that Vietnam war was a kind of Chemical warfare because of the use of Chemical Orange.

USA`s intervention and policy in Vietnam war was not only criticized globally but also by their own citizens. It had a lasting impact.

6) Examine the role of USA in USSR disintegration. (200 Words)

The USSR disintegration took place in 1990, which was result of factors including reforms in Soviet union brought by Gorbachev, economic crisis in Soviet union, ethnic conflicts and attraction towards liberal society. As such the role of USA in USSR disintegration was not direct, but its political culture and social openness, its policies played indirect role.

  • Policies of USA with respect to Arms race made greatest contribution towards demise of the USSR. The US was spending 15-18% of its GDP at the military, the Soviets were spending up to 35% just to match USA. There was not only reduced expenditure on social structure but also it bankrupted Soviet Economy. US support to Mujahedeen’s in Afghanistan cost the US $ 1billion annually, but USSR had to spend ~7 billion. This put further strain on economy.
  • To counter the economic stagnation Gorbachev introduced the policies of Glasnost’ and Perestroika (Openness and Re-Structuring) hoping that people would be open about how to rebuild the communist system, and make it work better. Russian people were already inspired by the participative political culture of USA. The reforms allowed people to know about the western ways and openly criticise the soviet system – soon they were calling for it to be replaced. Soviet Youth were growing tired of being told that they couldn’t see certain films, couldn’t listen to Western Music, or listen to Western Radio stations. Glasnost’ allowed them to speak out against the regime – and enabled them to listen to the music they wanted.
  • After years of being told that the Soviet system was better than western capitalism, the reality of backwardness was a psychological shock to inhabitants of USSR.
  • Amidst quick, dramatic changes across the landscape of the Soviet Union, USA officials prioritized the prevention of nuclear catastrophe, the curbing of ethnic violence, and the stable transition to new political orders. USA articulated five basic principles that would guide U.S. policy toward the emerging republics: self-determination consistent with democratic principles, recognition of existing borders, support for democracy and rule of law, preservation of human rights and rights of national minorities, and respect for international law and obligations. The basic message was clear—if the new republics could follow these principles, they could expect cooperation and assistance from the United States
  • USA also had put restrictions on grain export to the USSR, which worsen the situation and caused a resentment among people against the policies of USSR.

Due to rigid polices of USSR, the communism was fading away, even China after independence gradually moved to liberal communism. But the rigid policies of USSR led to low growth levels and stagnation. Republics got attracted to capitalism as supported by USA, which gave sufficient freedom and was economically thriving.

7) Why do you think the rebels of 1857 Revolt did not succeed in defeating the British? Critically examine. (200 Words)

The revolt of 1857 was a patriotic and progressive step and became source of inspiration for national liberation movement. It was result of social, economic and political conditions. In Delhi, a court of administrators was established in the name of Emperor Bahadur Shah and all decisions were taken with majority votes. At regional level also, administration were conducted in the name of Mughal emperor.

However, the revolt largely failed due to: –

  • The Indian Soldiers were poorly equipped, they were fighting against strong and modern force. They had no arms and ammunition and fought with traditional weapons. e.g. sword, stick etc. as against modern weaponry of the time.
  • There was no quick system of communication and coordination. Everyone was fighting for their own reason and not necessarily against company. The fight was against oppression and not the administration. For example, peasants were fought against zamindars, there was a clear lack of direction.
  • The whole country was not united, vested interest let some to support the rule. Merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers were supporting Britishers as they saw their profit in doing so.
  • The revolt lacked strong leadership and was poorly served in cohesion with few exceptions like Rani laxmibai, Kunwar singh, etc.
  • The rebel started at different time in different areas while the rebels also lacked political perspective or vision for future.
  • The revolt was restricted in its expanse to North and central part of India. Hence, it was not a pan India movement

Although Revolt could not succeed but this revolt had disturbed the whole East India Company. Revolt led to end of company raj and the throne of India was handed over to the British Monarchy directly. This war opened up the doors for many more nationalists to demand of their rights and raise against atrocities. It has a huge contribution to the Indian National Movement.


8) Among the numerous tribal revolts, the Santhal hool or uprising was the most massive. Why did it take place? What were its consequences? Examine. (200 Words)

Santhals lived in area between Bhagalpur and Rajmahal called ‘Daman -I -koh’. Santhal hool was a revolt to remove the ‘dikus’ i.e. outsiders who oppressed them and they wanted to establish Satyug

It started around 1855 under the leadership of Sido and Kanhu who believed their actions have God’s blessing. It was concrete expression of many grievances of a tribal people. These grievances were:-

  • Land Alienation- Santhals were inhabitants of Bankura, Birbhum and Purulia districts of Bengal. They were pushed to the jungles of Rajmahal due to land revenue policy of Permanent settlement.
  • Taxation policy – Exorbitant taxes were levied on a people that paid tributes only. They had to borrow at high rates to pay the taxes.
  • Money lenders- Sahukars and Banias charged unreasonably high rates. When the borrower could not repay, he was sold into bondage, a quasi-slave status.
  • Loss of honour- English contractors and their Indian agents who were engaged in laying Railways lines kidnapped Santhal women and defiled their honour.

The Santhals rose against the authorities with their primitive weaponry. They fought fearlessly till the end, however the opponent had better arms and resources that helped them crush the rebellion. 

Consequence- the uprising made the British conscious of a need to prevent disaffection, So, Santhal territories were brought under one administrative structure called Santhal Pargana. The uprising though led by Santhals was not against other castes and tribes. It was against the exploiters. Gwalas (milkmen) and Lohars (ironsmiths) supported the uprising. This unity was a valuable lesson in subaltern movement.

9) Analyse the main features of the nature of peasant movements after 1857. (200 Words)

The effects of colonial exploitation of the Indian peasants through new economic policies, the new land revenue system, the colonial administration and judicial systems, the ruin of handicrafts, transformed the agrarian structure and led to series of peasants movements after 1857. To name, Indigo revolt, Pabna revolt, Deccan famine revolt, Ramosi peasant force, Kuka revolt, Mappila revolt were few of them.

Features of those revolts : –

  • Some of the revolts were successful because of cooperation, organization and discipline of the ryots and also in some of them the support of intelligentsia gave powerful support to rebellious peasantry for example in Indigo revolt, the carried on newspaper campaigns, organized mass meetings, prepared propaganda on peasants grievances and supported the legal battle. (R.C Dutt, Bankim Chnadra Chaterjee, Deen Bandhu Mitra )
  • The peasants opted for Legal resistance as there was strong awareness of law and legal rights and there was very little violence.
  • There was social boycott of those peasants who would not join the opposition against moneylenders, which acted as a tool of pressure.
  • The peasants fought directly and their demands were directed towards specific and limited objectives and they didn’t make colonialism their target.
  • The territorial reach of the movement was also limited which served the demands of the specific regions and couldn’t create country wide protest.
  • There was lack of understanding of colonialism among the peasants. There was opposition to the oppressive policies but it did not threaten British supremacy.
  • These movements lacked positive conception of an alternative society and their struggle occurred within the framework of the old societal order.
  • These movements lacked the needed continuity and long term agitation, due to which the momentum was lost. Once the specific objective was achieved, the peasant solidarity built around it disappeared and dissolved.

In these movements the Indian peasants showed strong courage, spirit of sacrifice, organizational abilities and solidarity irrespective of caste and religion. These movements were able to get considerable colonial concession.

10) What features characterised the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s? Examine. (200 WOrds)

The period saw some major changes and high points of the Cold War – nuclear arms race, proxy wars, ideological influences and propaganda war, the death of Stalin and a new Soviet leader; the growth of Communism in the Far East; the assertion of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe; the increased use of espionage between the USA and USSR; and the physical separation of east and west in Berlin and Cuban missile crisis.

After the drop of nuclear bomb on Japan by USA, USSR successfully tested atomic bomb in 1949, which led to the begining of arms race. Development of Hydrogen bomb, intercontinental ballistic missile with nuclear warhead, launch of earth satellites, submarine launch ballistic missiles, etc.

Major defense associations NATO and Warsaw Pact

Proxy wars-were fought with ideological influences and was used as a tool by two world powers to avoid direct confrontation and to show hegemony over each other. The Americans believed that it was their duty and necessity to US security, to resist the expansion of communism wherever it occurred. During the 1960s, this led them to the brink of nuclear war. It also suggests that the Cold War was the USA’s fault, because it tried to resist communism (e.g. Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Korea, NSC68, U2 incident).

Communism- was established in Eastern European nations and Russia was continually tightening their grip over Eastern European nations, for example on Poland, Hungary and Romania. This was seen as a threat by western countries

Death of Stalin in 1953, slightly improved relations between East and West, although problems still existed. This suggested that Stalin was to blame for many Cold War tensions, for example through his use of ‘salami’ tactics (the elimination of opposition to Communism in eastern Europe piece by piece), and as a result of his actions in Poland. Consequently, the Cold War started waning after his death in 1953.

Rise of Berlin Wall – Over the following years, it became a symbol of division – the division of Germany, the division of Europe, the division of communist East and democratic West. The Communists raised the wall to have a protective shell. The West symbolized it as a prison wall. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the Cold War, but also suggests that the Cold War was a result of mutual misunderstandings.

The Cold War was a mixture of a religious crusade in favor of one ideology or the other and the most ruthless power politics, which shows that the Cold War was a war of ideas – a war of different political religions (the ideological differences between America and Russia).

This period also saw thaw in the cold war and its signs were signing of peace agreement which ended Korean war, end of Indo- China war, Russians made concession by agreeing to give up military base in France, etc. But this thaw was partial and many high points worsen the situation as discussed in above paragraphs.