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Not all who wander are lost, UPSC Essay 2023

Not all who wander are lost


  • Introduction with anecdote
  • Arguments on essence of wandering – Integrating examples
  • Counter viewpoints
  • Pre-conclusion – Administrative dimension – Need of balancing wandering with clarity of purpose
  • Conclusion

Introduction – Story of Siddhartha Gautama/ Columbus’ quest of exploring the unknown


The topic reflects the idea that those who may appear lost or aimless may, in fact, be on a heroic quest. This perspective challenges preconceived notions and encourages us to look beyond appearances.

Essence of Wandering 

    • Leads to exploration – Societal level, Individual introspection (Linking this with introductory story of Gautam Buddha)
    • Personal growth and self-discovery (Introspection leads to critical thinking, we understand why one behaves in a certain way). Example – Philosophy of Tao 
    • Quest for knowledge (Such deep wandering into the psyche of oneself and others may lead to gaining significant knowledge). Ex – Ferdinand Magellan discovery of the nature of Earth surface. 
    • Creativity and innovation (Insights and knowledge acquired through wandering may lead to creativity and innovation) Thomas Alva Edison
    • Breaking free from conformity (Innovation/Creativity will challenge deep seated stereotypes and prejudices and in turn lead to breaking the conformity bias) 
  • Struggling for change/reform –  Cuba cost effective health care and education despite being wandering with revolutions and system of government 

Embracing uncertainty/Resisting the fear of unknown

It suggests that not having a fixed destination can be liberating, allowing us to adapt to the unexpected and be open to new experiences. This is particularly relevant in a rapidly changing world where flexibility and adaptability are highly valued.

Movements for social justice – LGBTQIA+, Environment, Women Empowerment, Caste equality movements.

Counter viewpoint 

Survivorship bias

  • Bias for those who do not get lost after wandering – but what about those who have / will lose after wandering?

Potential for Wasted Time:

  • Wandering without a purpose or goal can lead to a significant amount of time and resources being spent without tangible results. 
  • In certain contexts, such as education or career planning, meandering aimlessly may result in missed opportunities or delayed achievements.

Risk of Disconnection

Individuals who prioritise aimless exploration over obligations to family, work, or community may find themselves isolated or struggling to meet their obligations.

Pre conclusion remarks – Linkage with Indian administration – 

How wandering in the realm of bureaucratic rigidities led to the loss of purpose (welfare state). However, the decision to explore the path of “Digital world” has made governance citizen-centric. Balancing the wandering/exploration with clarity of purpose is paramount to achieve the dreams of AMRIT KAAL.


“Not all who wander are lost” invites us to navigate the complexities of life with an open heart and a curious mind, to embrace uncertainty and spontaneity, and to recognize that even those who appear to be wandering aimlessly may be on profound journeys of self-discovery and growth. It is an intellectual call to balance the pursuit of goals and the pursuit of wisdom, acknowledging that both are valuable and, at times, intertwined in the tapestry of human existence.

Check out the UPSC Essay paper 2023 analysis with Detail explanation of the Topic

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