IAS Mains Writing Essentials – Reading and answering a question as it should be!

This question appeared in IAS Mains this time and I am just using it as an example to drive home a particular point.

“The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate.

Now just focus on 4 things in this question to help me drive home an important point – 

No. 1: The examiners has chosen to name J&K, HP and UK particularly in this question.

No. 2: Examiners talks about “reaching carrying capacity”

No. 3: The reason has been attributed to “tourism”

No. 4: The examiner asks you to critically evaluate the statement.

To answer this question in a way that gets us marks we must know following 2 terms absolutely clearly –

#1. Carrying Capacity:

Technically, “the carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment”.

For our purpose, “the population size that can be supported with the given resources”.

#2. Critically Evaluate:

The critical evaluation means giving our verdict as to what extent a statement or finding stated is true, or to what extent we agree with it. We also need to provide evidence which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing our decision on what we judge to be the most important factors and justify how we have made our choice.

The mistake most of the candidates might have made:

Critical evaluation requires the candidates to provide evidence both to support and contradict a statement and then reach a conclusion. Unfortunately, most candidates who attempted this question would have given evidence only to support the statement.

So, out of 12.5, basically they would have already lost 4-5 marks for the portion they just did not attempt (this is the reason for the huge difference in the anticipated marks and the actual marks that the candidate gets).

All right? So when you answer a question, don’t just read it in a cursory manner and start writing immediately (something I had stated earlier as well). The questions are frame with a purpose.

Examiner takes time to frame them and probably that’s the reason we don’t find any other exams coming even remotely closer to UPSC.

So, now you know how important it is to just know what the question asks before we answer.

Will soon write about the various terms used in the paper and what they mean to help you write exactly what the examiner wants and get marks!

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By Amit Bhardwaj

Engineer by training | Educationist at heart | Indulgences? Reading, Quizzing and Teaching.

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