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[ Day 7 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2023 – World History & Ethics


World History

Q1. American and French Revolutions contributed to the development of democratic ideals, human rights, and the concept of citizenship in the modern world. Elucidate. (10M)


The American (1776) and the French Revolutions (1789) are considered as a cardinal epoch in world history. These revolutions, though occurring in different contexts and at different times, shared common goals and principles that have had a lasting impact on political systems and societies around the globe.


Contribution of American and French revolutions to the development of democratic ideals, human rights and concept of citizenship:

Democratic Ideals:

  • American Revolution: The American Revolution, which culminated in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the subsequent establishment of the United States, introduced the concept of popular sovereignty.
    • It emphasized the idea that political power derives from the consent of the governed, and that government exists to protect the rights and liberties of individuals.
    • The American Revolution inspired the formation of democratic governments worldwide, serving as a model for the implementation of representative democracy.
  • French Revolution: The French Revolution, starting in 1789, aimed to overthrow the monarchy and establish a democratic republic based on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
    • It challenged the social and political hierarchy of the Ancien Régime, promoting the idea that all citizens should have equal rights and opportunities.
    • It also popularized the ideals of democracy, political participation, and the empowerment of the common people.

Human rights:

  • American revolution: The United States Declaration of Independence, with its affirmation of “unalienable rights” such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, laid the groundwork for the recognition of fundamental human rights.
    • The subsequent adoption of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights incorporated specific protections for individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.
  • French revolution: The French Revolution played a crucial role in advancing the concept of human rights.
    • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted in 1789, proclaimed fundamental rights and freedoms for all individuals, irrespective of social status.
      • It asserted principles like the right to liberty, property, and due process of law.
    • The Declaration had a lasting impact on human rights discourse, influencing subsequent declarations and international human rights instruments.

Concept of Citizenship:

  • American revolution: it contributed to the development of the concept of citizenship. It established the notion that citizenship is not solely based on birth or hereditary privilege but is derived from the principles of equality, participation, and allegiance to the nation.
    • It also defined citizenship as an individual’s membership in the political community, with certain rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for civic engagement.
  • French Revolution: it significantly transformed the concept of citizenship. It emphasized the idea of equal citizenship for all individuals, irrespective of their social background.
    • The revolutionary government abolished feudal privileges and introduced the principle of equal rights for all citizens.
    • The concept of citizenship became closely associated with civic duties, political participation, and the idea of the nation as a collective entity.


The combined influence of the American and French Revolutions was profound. They served as a catalyst for the development of democratic systems, the protection of human rights, and the recognition of citizenship as a fundamental aspect of individual identity in the modern world.


Q2. What were the key factors and events that led to the outbreak of the First World War, and how did they relate to the preservation of the balance of power? (15M)


World War I occurred between July 1914 and November 11, 1918. By the end of the war, over 17 million people would be killed including over 100,000 American troops. The reason why war erupted is actually much more complicated than a simple list of causes. While there was a chain of events that directly led to the fighting, the actual root causes are much deeper and part of continued debate and discussion.


Key factors and events that led to the outbreak of First World War:

  • Mutual Defense Alliances: Over time, countries throughout Europe made mutual defense agreements that would pull them into battle. These treaties meant that if one country was attacked, allied countries were bound to defend them.
    • They were divided into two major alliance systems—the Triple Entente (comprising France, Russia, and later, Britain) and the Central Powers (comprising Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy initially, later joined by the Ottoman Empire).
  • Imperialism: Before World War I, Africa and parts of Asia were points of contention among the European countries. This was especially true because of the raw materials these areas could provide.
    • The increasing competition and desire for greater empires led to an increase in confrontation that helped push the world into WW I.
  • Militarism: As the world entered the 20th century, an arms race had begun. By 1914, Germany had the greatest increase in military build-up.
    • Great Britain and Germany both greatly increased their navies in this time period. Further, in Germany and Russia particularly, the military establishment began to have a greater influence on public policy.
    • This increase in militarism helped push the countries involved into war.
  • Nationalism: Much of the origin of the war was based on the desire of the Slavic peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina to no longer be part of Austria Hungary but instead be part of Serbia.
    • In this way, nationalism led directly to the War. But in a more general way, the nationalism of the various countries throughout Europe contributed not only to the beginning but the extension of the war in Europe. Each country tried to prove their dominance and power.
  • Balkan Crises: The Balkans, a volatile region with overlapping national and ethnic aspirations, witnessed several crises in the early 20th century.
    • These crises included wars and uprisings, such as the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, which heightened tensions among the major powers.
  • Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist in June 1914 in Sarajevo triggered a diplomatic crisis.
    • Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assassination and issued a series of demands, leading to a chain reaction of events that eventually led to the outbreak of war.
  • Diplomatic Failures: Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis and prevent the escalation of hostilities failed. Negotiations and diplomatic channels were strained, and mutual mistrust among the nations prevailed.


Its relation with preservation of Balance of power:

  • The alliance system, driven by the fear of being left isolated or overpowered by rival alliances, led to a delicate equilibrium where any spark of conflict could escalate quickly due to the interconnected network of commitments.
  • Factors like nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the failure of diplomacy, worked against the preservation of the balance of power.
    • Instead of maintaining stability and preventing conflicts, these factors created an environment of heightened tensions, rivalries, and military build-up, ultimately leading to a catastrophic war.
  • Restructuring of the power dynamics: The First World War had far-reaching consequences, including the restructuring of power dynamics, the collapse of empires, and the emergence of new geopolitical realities.
  • WWI highlighted the limitations of the balance of power system and the need for new approaches to international relations in the post-war era.


World War I moved into full force from 1914 through 1918, ending when peace was brokered between the German and Central Forces and the Allied Powers with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. However, this treaty forced punitive measures on Germany that further destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for the start of World War II.



Q3.  “While values such as honesty, respect and compassion are important; they all are meaningless until one possesses moral courage.” Elaborate the statement using suitable examples (10M)


Moral courage is the ability to stand up for what is right, just, and ethical, even in the face of adversity or personal risk. It goes beyond simply recognizing and valuing virtues such as honesty, respect, and compassion; it requires the strength to act on them when they are challenged.


Through the lives of great leaders, reformers, and administrators, we learn that moral courage is an essential attribute in driving positive change and upholding ethical principles in society.

  • Moral courage brings real change: Nelson Mandela exhibited moral courage by advocating for equality, justice, and reconciliation. Despite enduring decades of imprisonment, he remained steadfast in his beliefs, ultimately leading to the dismantling of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic South Africa.
  • Brings in accountability: Honesty supported by moral courage enables individuals to speak up and challenge those in positions of authority or power when they act unjustly or engage in unethical behavior. Vijay Pandhare was the Chief Engineer in the Maharashtra Water Resource department. In 2012, he made news for exposing corruption in the irrigation projects in the state.
  • Compassion Supported by Moral Courage: Moral courage helps transform compassion into action by prompting individuals to intervene when they witness suffering or injustice. Anand Kumar, a mathematician from Bihar, demonstrated moral courage and compassion by providing free coaching and educational opportunities to underprivileged students through his Super 30 program.
  • Helps challenge Social Norms and Conformity: Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance, including the Salt Satyagraha, indeed challenged the social norm of passive acceptance of British rule in India and led to significant social and political change.
  • Taking Responsibility for Mistakes: Moral courage helps us to admit mistakes even when it may be challenging or uncomfortable. Manmohan Singh, publicly acknowledged his moral mistake in not taking strong action against corruption during his tenure. He admitted that he could have done more to address the issue and prevent corrupt practices within his government.
  • Helps facing Personal Consequences: Moral courage pushes us to take personal risk, for upholding ethical values and principles. Durga Shakti Nagpal, an IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, gained national attention for her efforts to curb illegal sand mining in the state. Despite facing opposition from influential individuals and vested interests.
  • Making Ethical Decisions: Moral courage enables individuals to make difficult ethical decisions even when it may be easier or more advantageous to act otherwise. Example: Karna in the Mahabharata possessed immense talent but despite knowing that he was fighting for the wrong side in the Kurukshetra war, he chose to remain loyal to Duryodhana and his selfish interests rather than questioning the injustice of his actions.
  • Lack of moral courage promotes injustice and violence: Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former leader of Myanmar, faced criticism and expressed regret for not doing enough to prevent the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in her country.


Moral courage gives true meaning and substance to values such as honesty, respect, and compassion. It serves as the catalyst that propels values into action and empowers individuals to make a difference, often at great personal risk or sacrifice.

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