UPSC Essay: Science and Technology is a panacea for the growth and security of the nation

Disclaimer: The below points have been reproduced from memory only and may not be exactly what I wrote in the exam.


India was one of the richest nations in the world in the medieval ages i.e. 16th and 17th centuries. Then Akbar rejected the Guttenberg press. Jahangir rejected the water lift. Indian mariners took little interest in adopting the compass and other marine discoveries of the world from the Europeans. The result – within less than a century and a half – India became a slave to those very Europeans!

India’s recent Mars mission – Mangalyaan – was criticised by some. Questions were raised – can a country as poor as India afford to indulge in such scientific ‘extravaganza’? Wouldn’t this money be better spent on reducing poverty, providing drinking water, sanitation etc.? But if history is any lesson, Mangalyaan was every inch worth it at this cost (Rs. 450 crores), if for nothing else then simply for keeping India on top of the technologies of the age and developing scientific temper.

Science is essential for the development of a nation. Its most important contribution is that it helps in creating the larger social ecosystem required for growth. It promotes new ideas, removes all feudal institutions, conservatism, superstitions. It makes society open to change – change which is essential for the development of society. But it also creates many unintended challenges and also may be inadequate by itself. So it is not a panacea and needs to be managed well and supported by appropriate policy framework.

In the remaining paragraphs of the essay, we will explore each sector, see how science is essential for the development of the sector and our security, yet it is not the panacea and needs to be managed.


– Talked about need of science for ensuring food security – our population is growing, but acreage under cultivation is more or less stagnant. So need to increase productivity which can come only by science.

– Talked about irrigation – india is a water scarce nation. so need to encourage micro irrigation techniques.

– Talked about need of science in disaster warning, crop survey, marketing.

– Talked about use of biometrics in PDS to reduce leakages.

– All this way, science can help us reduce poverty as well, because development of agriculture has highest impact on poverty.

– Talked about challenges created by science. Bt crops and farmer suicides. Bt makes agriculture riskier, hence higher number of suicides. Suggested we need to include socio economic considerations as well apart from scientific safety while giving approvals.

– Talked about science alone not enough. we need to better supply chain, invest more etc. On PDS, biometrics not the only solution, we need social audits, universalisation etc. In water, need water audits, water user associations etc.

– So science is essential but not the panacea. It needs to be managed.


– Talked about Industrial revolution, how it is ongoing and still needed.

– Talked about how technology has transformed our lives. mobiles, IT etc. How we need it to improve governance.

– Talked about how science can help us discover substitutes for imports, develop our own resource base.

– Gave the limitations of science here, need to focus on inclusive growth else it won’t be sustainable. Talked about tribal displacement here.

– Moral of the story, science is absolutely essential, but not the panacea. We need good policies as well.


– Talked about how we import most of our energy. But this is not a sustainable system for a would be global power.

– So we need shale gas, coal bed methane, nuclear energy etc. on the supply side and need more efficient vehicles, green buildings, ultra super power plants on the demand side.

– But we also have lot of coal, gas and oil which we need to explore. To do that we need right policies, land acquisition, environmental clearances, other approvals etc.

– Also need to address the safety concerns of nuclear energy post Fukishama.

– Thus needs appropriate framework with science.


– Gave some findings of recent IPCC report, global warming. Gave the impact of climate change on wheat production, Indian monsoons, cyclones.

– To mitigate i.e. reduce our emissions, we will need to develop own science and tech. can’t import new technologies from west as they not giving aid any more.

– To adapt, again need science. Need drought resistant crop varieties etc.

– In research also, we need advanced satellites, supercomputers. So science needed.

– But climate change affects poor most. So need to ensure that these scientific changes help the poor.

– So science is not the panacea, but is essential. Need appropriate policy framework along with science.


– Talked about cyclone Phailin and Uttarakhand floods. Phailin was so severe, yet life loss was so less… why? because of science, we could accurately track phailin and give meaningful actionable warnings to administration. But in Uttarakhand, IMD’s forecasts are not accurate, vague and not actionable.

– But there are so many other aspects of disaster preparation. Administrative will, planning, vulnerability studies etc. So science again is not the panacea, though is imp. Need other things also.


– Talked about recent Novartis, Tykreb and Bayer compulsory license issues. But said this cannot go on forever, specially if we want more FTAs.

– MNCs want profit, but we want public health. This conflict needs to be resolved. We are a net patent importer. We need to change this by becoming net patent generator. This can only happen with science.

– But then we ll have to ensure our own companies don’t become like these MNCs. Issues such as clinical trials ethics is also there.

– So again, boss, science is essential, but not panacea. Needs proper policies.


– Wrote how china is developing its weapons ($100 bio defence budget), talked how naxals, terrorists getting most modern. So we absolutely need modern weapons, drones etc.

– Talked of NSA Prism. Need to safeguard our data.

– But science can only give us the weapon. It still needs to be fired. That will happen only with a political order. So we need political will. We need intelligence coordination.

– So again, without science we can’t do anything, but science is not the panacea. Need political will, policies etc.


– Repeated, science is essential, but not maai baap.


  1. Good start and overall view. Solid horizon.
    Only point of criticism i can mention is that maybe you could stress the balanced view (pro-poor ideas, how science is not competing with other essentials for limited resources ).
    All the very best.


  2. what a crap essay.. i don think this essay is going to fetch you good marks at all.Still i hope best for you. Last time i got only around 140.. this time i think i will make it big in essay.


  3. Hi superman, u have written nicely and after seeing the volume of info i understood that my essay is the SUBSET of ur essay :)…. but any way could u plz check my essay here below —
    para1. A tool is value neutral. it is the action of human agency which makes it value positive or negative……. While the advancement of s&T will constantly aid to growth of human civilisation the ultimate authority to use them will always lie in the hands of man.
    para2. S&T is not new to the modern society. It has been there ever since the civilisation came into existence but the modern science is truely rooted in European reanaissance and enlightenment which is reflected in Bacon’s words…. (Now i do not remember)…as well as thoreau’s words… ” .. .. .. . .”. It is this ideological transition which completely changed the way science was looked upon and today it is integrated to development and progress of society and nation.
    para3. (now benefits of s&t)… connectivity, employment, increasing comfort, high HDI, services, education, (I missed disease control), nuclear energy …… after explaining all these i wrote that all these things have aided to the stability and growth of the society and hence nation. And a stable and growing nation can only ensure security to its subjects as security demands both internal stability and development of society and external security of borders. Thankfully, the border security has made enough progress with defence research on modern warfare and reconassaice techniques.
    Mode change now
    para 4. So it looks like that S&T is panacea to all the human ills— but unfortunately it is not. (now opposite examples)… globalisation benefitting only skilled, maginalisatoin of people, discrimantion, social inequality (World bank report referred), child abuse, human traficking, terrorism nuclear war, religious fundamentalism, changing family values (Note: I had initially used “falling” instead of “changing” but i did not want to make it controversial so i changed the word.), internet pornography, nuclear energy/nuclear war. Note: there was a necessity to link properly these problems with science, so I had started with globalisation and progressed one by one explaining all problems. to wards the end of these problems i wrote all these are the applications of s&t but only negative direction.
    (After so much criticism of sci now it was time to cool down but gradually -:) )
    new para: ……. (do not remember exactly)..Analysis part to point faults in s&t ….. may be we have Agni V and chandrayaan, but if our livelihood security is haunted on a daily basis then there if no point in talking about Agni V, Mission onMars and Nuclear Submarine. In this regard it is worth to remember Vivekananda’s words–
    “So long as the millions live in hunger ….. ”
    (Turning to solutions:)
    Prevalance of ills in society compells us then to think what has gone wrong. Is it the problem with s&t or with us. s&t can never be wrong or right. It is always value neutral. it is the man who has chosen it with different intentions. Therefore the solution also lies with man only. the biggest problem in righteous use of s&t is ignorance and therefore the effort should be to be aware of it. s&t should be respected and appreciated. the higher the sofistication the higher should be respect.
    Last para… (do not remember intial)… but last line, ……we must understand that we develop technology,(Note: here it should be hyphen but I had put comma -:( ) technology does not develop us.
    total 938 words. (I had counted)


    • Hi uday, very nice essay. I thnk u ll score very well in it. Only point raising eyebrow is u seem somewhere endorsing the view that if poverty exists in india, no use of mars mission. Or i may be wrong in interpreting this. But overall a very nicely framed essay.


      • hi superman, if u have raised eyebrow on my point then certainly I consider it my fault. but if u just look at the penultimate line then it is explained that poverty, marginalisation discrimination are also the result of science only, but applied in negative direction. But any way thanks for ur comment and i hope u r enjoying ur training.


  4. secondly, just below that para, I raised a point that ” Is it the problem with s&t or with us”.
    The answer I gave that “s&t can never be wrong or right. It is always value neutral.”


  5. hey superman..amazing essay..after reading it, it is quite clear one can write an essay with basic ideas, multi-dimensional thinking and presentation skills..subject knowledge or inclination are secondary..

    one question – did u write headings in the actual essay in exam?


  6. sir……….such a simple but breathtakingly encompassing so many examples dat we everyday come across…..nd that a dumb like me cannot even recognise the significance of utilising them in an essay..thank u sir..for giving the direction..god bless…


  7. sir first of all congratulations for securing AIR-1 ………im preparing for 1014 exam…… writing an essay here…….please review and guide me…….criticise if there are any flaws without any doubt…… always ready to accept criticisms as they hep enrich our skill…..


    Crony capitalism is an economic system in which the businesses gain benefits through their political connections. Politicians in turn get their work done by business community. The work may relate to the flow of large amount of capital to sustain the liquidity crunches of the respective nations, setting up of large scale industries in which govt cannot invest or it may relate to the development of infrastructural facilities for the access of common people.
    In fact, crony capitalism emerged from the so called capitalism. While capitalism produces some economic activity, crony capitalism stagnates the economic production in the sense that the businesses are busy to lobby the govt to get the desired projects or tenders. This tendency of lobbying some businesses may provoke the remaining sections of business community to enter into lobbying, who otherwise has no intention to lobby, there by stagnating the economic production which shifts the focus from production oriented capitalism to lobby oriented cronyism.
    Before further proceeding to the components of crony capitalism, first let us discuss the evolution of capitalism and how it turned into crony capitalism. The emergence of capitalism can be traced back to the so called ” Industrial Revolution “. This industrial revolution created some section of capitalists who entered into the economy of Europe by producing goods. Later on, they captured the means of production and distribution of goods, which came to be known as the alternative power of production i.e., Market. However, with the emergence of democracies in US, French, Britain, India etc., the capitalism turned into crony capitalism in the sense that the businesses in a bid to capture the whole market, lobbied the govts for their own benefits. This resulted into the blockade of economic activity there by increasing the scarcity of goods, further increasing the existing inequality among people.
    Now let us turn to the components of crony capitalism i.e., what are the ways in which cronyism can be spread. They include rent seeking, regulatory capture and interest group politics.
    Rent seeking means spending wealth on lobbying political establishments to further the existing wealth. The businesses in a bid further their interests rent seek the govts through their political connections. For example, a business firm which lobbies for the development of infrastructural facilities like roads, earn further profits by levying toll taxes. The govt at the helm earns the revenue through lobbying. In fact, lobbying is legal in the advanced western countries.
    Regulatory capture means capturing of regulatory bodies by vested groups to turn their course. Many govts around the world established regulatory bodies to monitor the activities of market. But the staff of regulatory bodies being generalists , the vested groups in the respective industries or fields where there is regulation captures the regulatory bodies by giving false data to them, there by paving way for the vested groups to further their interests.
    Interest group politics means the framing of govt polices according to the whims and fancies of these interest groups or pressure groups. In a democracy, there bound to emerge pressure groups over a period of time, as democracy meant mandate of majority. Hence, while framing policies govt is definitely influenced by these interest groups.
    In addition to the above mentioned flaws in a democracy which permit rent seeking, regulatory capture and interest group politics, there are many reasons which promote the cronyism. The breakdown of USSR and adoption of capitalism by many of the former soviet states sent a strong message to the international community that capitalism has indeed won, which created a room for the expansion of cronyism. The globalisation of economy which was started in 1990s further increased the crony capitalism.
    On the other hand, the increase in the number of ” Big Govts ” all over the world indicates the enhanced expenditure in the budget, increase of regulatory nature of govt. Big govt creates a room for the entry of interest groups to pressure govt to frame policies as per their wishes. There has been false claim across some sections of economic think tank, that big govt reduces crony capitalism. But, in reality, this big govt increases the interests of rent seekers paving way for enhancing cronyism.
    Now, let us consider how cronyism stifled the Indian economy as a case study. India adopted a democratic form of government. since independence there was a strict state control and this created a path for entry of cronyism in the form of License Raj quota. The corporate sector in a bid to get the required License lobbied the govt. This encouraged cronyism. In 1980s, India witnessed liquidity crunch and the economy was in a backfire. In the early 1990s, the economy was liberalised, what we call LPG, which increased the flow of foreign capital. In a lighter vein, we can say that, after the era of LPG, cronyism is happening legally. We can see directly, how various businesses in a hurry to earn ransom money, rent seek the Indian govt for awarding of projects like ” Augusta west land deal” , which relates to the purchase of VVIP helicopters, scam of Tata trucks in the high profile Indian military etc.
    While the developed countries face severe challenges from the guise of crony capitalism, the developing countries like India face different challenges like sustaining higher rate of growth, containing the deficits, counterfeit currency etc. whatever may be the causes of spread of cronyism, countries around the world suffer from the ills of crony capitalism.
    In case of India, the constitution of India mentions India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, Democratic, Republic nation. But, the emergence of crony capitalism rendered these novel ideals as a mere words in our preamble. In fact, we can say that crony capitalism overridden these ideals. However, the subsequent govts at the helm made efforts to achieve these noble ideals. The welfare programmes that are offered by the central and state govts are a case in point. These programmes are implemented to protect the common man from the ills of neo-liberal policies.
    On the other hand, many argue that democracy paves the way for the spread of crony capitalism. It may be true, as democracy meant mandate of majority ( majority being the vested groups and interest groups). But, the euphoria for crony capitalism is not the result of adoption of democratic form of govt. It is indeed, the nexus among the babus-political class-businesses which spread crony capitalism
    However, there are many ways and means to control crony capitalism. One of the means to control is sound ” Fiscal constitution “, which means following fiscal policies which limits the direction of those in political power. Also, following the constitutional obligations by the govt in awarding projects, allowing resources etc., is a way to mitigate cronyism.
    It is said that ” cronyism and democracy practically converge but theoretically diverge :. The govts around the world must strive to reverse the above statement i.e., ” cronyism and democracy practically diverge but theoretically converge. Further, the real beneficiaries of crony capitalism are govt and businesses. Hence, there is a need for adoption of a small govt ( as small govt meant lesser role for interest groups ) and manning of professionals for regulatory bodies instead of generalists gives an edge for the lesser discretionary role of vested groups ( as it is said above that, considering the lack of expertise on the part of generalists about technical issues in respective fields, the vested groups take advantage and may provide false information for the regulator to further their interests ). Experiences of Scandinavian countries where there exists inflexible fiscal constitution that limits the discretionary role of political class, can be taken into consideration while framing policies to mitigate the menace of crony capitalism.
    Last but not least, democratic decentralisation of governance can reduce the scope for cronyism ( as cronyism exists where there is centralisation of power ). Also, there is a need to create awareness about the concept of “crony capitalism” among common people so as to mitigate its spread and effects. In this way, we can reduce the threat to democracy from crony capitalism and indeed we can separate both, if we follow sound policies and by pragmatically resolving the problems.

    it took 2hr 50 minutes to write…….I think the words I wrote is around 1300 far below 2500………….

    sir please review and guide me……..what I can add more and what should be discarded…..

    Also tell me if the word limit of 2500 words should be adhered to compulsorily ……?

    waiting for ur reply……………..


    • first things first
      Start with good impressive words formation..
      Ur grammar counts as well
      Try to use coorect tense and articles
      in ur briefing u wrote “as it helps enrich our skills”. Instead deliver “as it helps enriched my skill coz ur refering to something important that values and help u get things done correctly


  8. Can we actually write an essay with headings and subheadings and then in point format or have you written it in this blog just for the illustration?
    If we can, then it will be a big relief for me, I really don’t like writing in paragraphs. Hope you reply asap, I need to improve my essay because this year essay ruined my chance.


  9. Hello Gaurav, in this section of the webpage, I had put my essay (on S&T) and you had already commented on that (see the first essay in reply). Unfortunately, I got just 60 marks and I am totally numb as to what happened in the essay. This is forcing me to rethink but I am not finding any conclusive reason as to what should be improved. Please, if u can find any reason?


  10. a single doubt coming to mind now and then….
    that whether handwriting need to be best to score more…?
    Actually I went through some of my friends’ marks and found that those with “beautiful” handwriting scored very well….!
    (I know doubt is super silly but stuck into it…! :( )


  11. boss do you really wrote like this i mean did u use headings like these in bold in ur answersheet , just asking as i never saw essays having heading and subheadings like that is this valid for an essay besides creativity ?


      • badhiya will follow this pattern , got 106 this time will use this to make a great leap forward – coincidently last year i also got 80 —- but u r smart enough to improve with a creative approach – a salute to your spirit . and please remain in contact with ur bhai logs over orkut and social media as much as u can this will help us poor guys to remain confident under the protection of – ‘savior superman’. tum to cha gaye crazyphoton bhai – par accha hai topper me apnepan ki feel aa rahi hai is baar … and CONGRATS i skipped that in first comment :P


  12. I too wrote on S&T but did not talk about India specific….I got 105….Should we write essay specific to India only?


  13. Hey sir I do know words and even know how to fix them in sentences the only problem that I face is….I am unable to use them while writing… me sir jee….vocabulory futile hi reh jaegi phir toh….


  14. Hello sir..Congratulations.. regarding the essay is it essential to mention the main point explicitly at the end of each sub topics!!


  15. HI sir there are two styles of writing essays in first style in introduction we give general outline of the essay and in subsequent paras we elaborate on them in second style without giving any outline in intro we write essay by taking one point in each para.I want to ask which style we should prefer ?


  16. Dear supermanreturns! ur blogs really inspire late bloomers like me. I am 40+ competing for PCS but I am also an avid follower of makers of modern India. I know that we all have a role to play in making a developed digital India but u supermen rock. Even they serve, who stand and wait.


  17. Gaurav sir, one question. Many says, you have to agree to the essay topic. But you haven’t agreed – you said science is NOT panacea but essential with many argument. IS this right approach ? please clarify


  18. That was such a great essay for a class 11th girl to read. sir, you are my role model hats off to the speeches and interviews you have given. I’m a big fan of your point of view towards the betterment of the nation. You have really made me realise what is the real purpose of becoming an IAS officer and why the exam is worth it.


  19. Sir , main class 12 Arts mein padhta hun aur mujhe I A.S. banna hai . UPSC ki mujhe thik-thak jaankari hai . Lekin phir hazaron tarah ke baat aur resources mujhe apne raaste se bhatkati rehti hai .

    Toppers ke interviews bhi maine bahut dekhe , more or less sab ki lag-bhag ek hi tarah ki strategy rahi hai.

    Phir koi achanak aakar bol deta hai maine ye nahi padhi maine wo padhi hai . Phir main sakpaka jaata hun .

    Etbe resources ki bharmaar hai ki kya padhe kya na padhe sochna padta hai .

    Sir , es baare mein kripya mera mrgdarshan kare . Dhanyabaad. :-)


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