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UNDERSTANDING TERMINOLOGIES USED IN UPSC MAINS QUESTIONS

1. Discuss:  In discuss you have to write two or all the aspects of an issue. Don’t criticize,
simply present all the sides in an analytical manner. As the conclusion you
write a brief summary of all the sides.

2. Critically Discuss: Critically discuss again has to aspects. In discuss one writes two aspects or all aspects of an issue or the problem. Discuss is an elaboration in which all the aspects of a problem, issue and a phenomenon are to be presented. Critically
discuss is a popular command.
Critically discuss indicate, one has to present all the aspects by examining its pros and cons. One does not only present all aspects but evaluate the different aspects.
Critically discuss refers to examine either two aspects or aspects by examining
aspects.
One has to give the plus points and minus points of a phenomenon.
For example, one has to critically discuss the Gandhian view of nonviolence.
In this one has to see the plus points of nonviolence and one must give the
example of India`s national struggle. Then one has to severely criticise the
concept of non-violence and cite all the negative aspects of nonviolence.

3. Explain: It is also a common directive. You write the meaning of the problem, all
aspects involved in it. You simply try to write all the why which may emerge in
the problem. We can give an example; Why smart city programme, this has to
be written in `explain smart city. Explain is the answer to all `why`. It touches
and explores all aspects.
Explanations require you to write the context of the question. You explain or
convince by providing this context. In simple terms you write all aspects
without any criticism and your opinion.

4. Critically examine, examine and evaluate: 
These all indicate the same meaning. You first write after two lines of
introduction, a brief statement of what the idea or presentation is. Only then
you evaluate, criticise or examine. Examine does not mean only a rejection of
the idea it also means support and praise. In such questions you do not criticise
on your own. You are not eligible to criticise as scholars. Criticise on the basis
of scholar`s views.
In nutshell, you should demolish the proposition.

5.Comment: Generally, this is presented at the end of the question and so it is called suffix. In comment, you write the different aspects of a problem or issue or the topic
in an analytical manner and you also give your opinion.
In comment the whole problem or issue is presented and different aspects and
different views are presented related to the issue or the problem. No criticisms
are to be attempted. Criticism is the view of a scholar and comment is your
view.

6.Critically Comment: 
Critically comment is a double evaluation in simple terms. In comment one has
to give one`s view on any particular issue. In comment one has the liberty to
make any comments showing the for or against views. The comment is not
baseless. It requires you to do a general perusal and then you comment. This
general perusal is also a type of evaluation.
Critically comment requires you to show all the aspects with an evaluation
which is systematic and on concrete grounds. One has to meticulously see one
by one all issues issue.
The evaluation is on certain criteria. This evaluation must indicate the merits and demerits of the given topic or problem.
Critically comment therefore, indicate to comment after evaluation in a
systematic way. Comment is the view of some body in a deliberate manner
but when it is critically comment then the view has to be given after systematic
evaluation.
For example, if one has to comment on the question of nationalism, one can simply say nationalism is sacrosanct and nobody should be allowed say anything against it. The other non-critical comment can be nationalism has many bases and there can be different views on it.
Critically comment has to go by an evaluation of the principle of nationalism
and then one takes a position. One has to evaluate both the consequences
of nationalism and also the positive effects of nationalism.

7. Analyse:  It is also a very frequent directive. You simply remember one analogy. As the
medical students dissect insects or human organs in their laboratories so you
analyse a problem. You go deeper, you want to see the inner meanings.

8. Critically Analyse:  We have already presented the meaning of analyze. One has to dissect any phenomenon trying to go deeper and present the causes of any phenomenon.
This requires one to go inside any phenomenon and do the drain searching.
Critically analyze means one is an intense drain inspector. One does not only show the underlying causes of a phenomenon but show all other dimensions.
Critically analyze requires any one to show the underlying causes but also the plus and minus of any cause. This refers to seeing and imagining all the interrelated aspects of the causes. This is in-depth and analyzes underlying and interrelated causes.
For example, one has to critically analyze the problem of black money in India. One has to write the sources of black money, the causes of black money, why it is difficult to identify black money, how other countries like USA have done this. Critically analyze does not mean you have to more rather deeper causes in very brief.

9. Describe: It is the simplest directive. Describe is the description of a phenomenon or a
simple statement of facts. In describe neither you criticise nor you analyse.
You directly write about the apparent features. You write in straight way the features.

10.Illustrate, Elucidate, Enumerate and Elaborate:
They are almost identical terms. Normally in central services examinations
`describe` is not given but other queries are there. In all these cases you state
the facts or arguments in a straight forward manner. No criticisms should be
attempted. Detailed description is required.

11. Distinguish: It indicates a directive when you have to write the differences between two or more phenomena. You distinguish all aspects.

12.Compare: It is a directive in which you first, in very brief present the meanings of the
phenomena you are to compare. Then you write the differences as well as
similarities of the two. In the conclusion when you are summarizing write what
are more, the similarities or the differences.

13. Substantiate: It means you have to prove a particular proposition. You give only positive aspects. You present your arguments as a lawyer. You convince the examiner.

Thank you!

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