[Analysis] Essay topic trends in last 19 years (1993-2011) for UPSC civil service IAS exam

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I’m classifying all the essays asked in last 19 years, into 8 broad topics.
Topic [bracket shows # of questions asked so far]


1.    Economy (India vs Bharat theme) [12]2.    Education [11]3.    Culture [18]4.    International issues [13]5.    Philosophy [15]6.    Polity & Administration [27]7.    Technology [6]8.    Women empowerment [10]

The Occurrence Table of Essay Topics


Now doing the interpretation based on the year-wise ‘occurrence’ of these essays. See this table

Chart: The occurance table of Essay topics for 1993-2011(if trouble viewing the photo, then download the pdf file)


The Observations & Speculations

  1. Since last 5 years continuously, no essay on technology or women empowerment. (see the continuity of those black dots in the table) As we saw in the mains analysis, the Women empowerment topic seems to be shifted from Essay papers to GS Paper 1.
  2. In the early 90s you were given 6-8 essays and you had to pickup one, they’ve gradually reduced the options to barely 4 essays!
  3. Economy is under dry spell after a long time (2011), otherwise since 2006, there has been 1-2 essays each year.
  4. ‘Education’ topic had atmost 2 continuous dry years during the entire 19 years period, otherwise they’ve been asking from it at a regular interval.
  5. Indian culture is second most important topic after polity (total 18 essays)
  6. Just like Education, culture too hasn’t seen lengthy dry years, same is true for Global/international issues.
  7. Philosophical essays were ‘hot’ in the initial years: 1993 to 1996, two essays per year and then abruptly stopped for four years. I guess the paper-setter retired or perhaps UPSC changed their ‘trend’ in those years for some reason.
  8. Polity /Administration has seen dry year only thrice.
  9. Seems UPSC has some personal grudge against science professors, when It comes to framing the essay paper, Only 6 essays so far from S&T in last 19 years! Or perhaps, to balance the advantage enjoyed by Science graduates in GS paper-II and to provide level playing field to non-science graduates, they’ve stopped asking S&T essays since last 5 years.
  10. 1993-2006, Women empowerment used to be a recurring essay topic, almost every year.

 Now what can be the speculations for 2012??

  1. There will be 4 essays. (or 3?!)
  2. UPSC continues its love for culture, one essay will be asked (since Art n Culture as a topic is not given as much importance in GS paper1)?
  3. UPSC continues to ignore S&T and Women empowerment topic. (as they’re well covered in GS papers)?
  4. You can share your own speculations in the comments below!

The Bar and Pie chart breakups

Bar and Pie chart breakups for Essay topics in last 19 years

Appendix- I (The topicwise Essay list of last 19 years (1993-2011)

Economy (india vs bharat theme)

1.    Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. -2006
2.    Bpo boom in india.   -2007
3.    Globalization would finish small-scale industries in india. -2006
4.    Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence. -1993
5.    Ecological considerations need not hamper development. -1993
6.    Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs -1994
7.    Special economic zone : boon or bane -2008
8.    Resource management in the indian context. -1999
9.    Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? -2010
10.    Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? -2009
11.    The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. -2009
12.    Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. -1997

Education

1.    Modern technological education and human values. -2002
2.    Credit – based higher education system – status , opportunities and challenges -2011
3.    “Education for all” campaign in india: myth or reality. -2006
4.    Privatization of higher education in india. -2002
5.    Irrelevance of the classroom. -2001
6.    Value-based science and education. -1999
7.    Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses ? -2008
8.    Independent thinking should be encouraged right form the childhood. -2007
9.    Restructuring of indian education system. -1995
10.    Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. -1996
11.    What is real education? -2005

Indian culture

1.    Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
2.    Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
3.    Youth culture today. -1999
4.    Mass media and cultural invasion. -1999
5.    The composite culture of india. -1998
6.    The indian society at the crossroads. -1994
7.    Does indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it -2011
8.    Geography may remain the same ; history need not. -2010
9.    From traditional indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
10.    Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. -1994
11.    New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996
12.    How has satellite television brought about cultural change in indian mindsets. -2007
13.    ‘ globlisation’ vs. ‘ nationalism’ -2009
14.    National identity and patriotism -2008
15.    Responsibility of media in a democracy. -2002
16.    Why should we be proud of being indians? -2000
17.    True religion cannot be misused. -1997
18.    Globalizations and its impact on indian culture. -2004

International issues

1.    India’s role in promoting asean co-operation. -2004
2.    The masks of new imperialism. -2003
3.    As civilization advances culture declines. -2003
4.    The implications of globalization for india. -2000
5.    My vision of an ideal world order. -2001
6.    India’s contribution to world wisdom. -1998
7.    The world of the twenty-first century. -1998
8.    Preparedness of our society for india’s global leadership role. -2010
9.    The global order: political and economic -1993
10.    Importance of indo-u.s. nuclear agreement -2006
11.    Good fences make good neighbors -2009
12.    Terrorism and world peace -2005
13.    Restructuring of uno reflect present realities -1996

Philosophy

1.    Discipline means success , anarchy means ruin -2008
2.    Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man.  -2007
3.    There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -2003
4.    Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. -2002
5.    Spirituality and scientific temper. -2003
6.    Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. -1995
7.    Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. -1995
8.    Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, oldage a regret -1994
9.    Useless life is an early death. -1994
10.    He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. -1993
11.    Compassion is the basic of all morality would -1993
12.    If youth knew, if age could. -2002
13.    The paths of glory lead but to the grave. -2002
14.    The pursuit of excellence. -2001
15.    Truth is lived, not taught -1996

Polity, administration

1.    Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative , economic and developmental implication -2011
2.    Evaluation of panchayati raj system in india from the point of view of eradication of power to people.  -2007
3.    Justice must reach the poor -2005
4.    Water resources should be under the control of the central government. -2004
5.    The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in india. -1998
6.    The language problem in india: its past, present and prospects. -1998
7.    Reservation, politics and empowerment. -1999
8.    When money speaks, the truth is silent. -1995
9.    How should a civil servant conduct himself? -2003
10.    Politics without ethics is a disaster. -1995
11.    Judicial activism. -1997
12.    The vip cult is a bane of indian democracy -1996
13.    Need for transparency in public administration -1996
14.    Whither indian democracy? -1995
15.    Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. -1994
16.    How far has democracy in india delivered the goods? -2003
17.    What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. -1997
18.    My vision of india in 2001 a.d. -1993
19.    In the indian context , both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism -2011
20.    Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? -2007
21.    The country’s need for a better disaster management system. -2000
22.    Are we a ‘soft ’ state ? -2009
23.    Role of media in good governance -2008
24.    Judicial activism and indian democracy. -2004
25.    What have we gained from our democratic set-up? -2001
26.    Urbanisation and its hazards -2008
27.    Food security for sustainable national development -2005

Technology

1.    Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. -1993
2.    The march of science and the erosion of human values. -2001
3.    The modern doctor and his patients. -1997
4.    Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. -2006
5.    The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. -2000
6.    The lure of space. -2004

Women empowerment

1.    Men have failed: let women take over. -1993
2.    Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in india. -2006
3.    The hand that rocks the cradle -2005
4.    If women ruled the world -2005
5.    Whither women’s emancipation? -2004
6.    Empowerment alone cannot help our women. -2001
7.    Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. -1999
8.    Woman is god’s best creation. -1998
9.    Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. -1997
10.    The new emerging women power: the ground realities. -1995

Appendix II (Yearwise Essay Papers for UPSC mains 1993-2011)

20111. Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative , economic and developmental implication

2. Does Indian Cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it

3. Credit – based higher education system – status , opportunities and challenges

4. In the Indian context , Both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism
20101. Geography may remain the same ; history need not.

2. Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country?

3. Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role.

4. From traditional Indian philanthropy to the Gates-Buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift?
20091. Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death?

2. Are we a ‘Soft ’ state ?

3. “The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society”.

4. “ Good Fences make good neighbors”

5. ‘ Globlisation’ vs. ‘ Nationalism’
20081. Role of Media in good governance

2. National Identity and Patritism

3. Special Economic Zone : Boon or Bane

4. Descipline means success , anarchy means ruin

5. Urbanisation and Its Hazards

6. Is an Egalitarian society possible by educating the masses ?
20071. Independent thinking should be encouraged right form the childhood.

2. Evaluation of Panchayati Raj System in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people.

3. Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man.

4. Is Autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization?

5. How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets.

6. BPO boom in India.
20061. Women’s Reservation Bill Would Usher in Empowerment for Women in India.

2. Protection of Ecology and Environment is Essential for Sustained Economic Development.

3. Importance of Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement

4. “Education for All” Campaign in India: Myth or Reality.

5. Globalization Would Finish Small-Scale Industries in India.

6. Increasing Computerization Would lead to the Creation of a Dehumanized Society.
20051. Justice must reach the poor

2. The hand that rocks the cradle

3. If women ruled the world

4. What is real education?

5. Terrorism and world peace

6. Food security for sustainable national development
20041. India’s Role in Promoting ASEAN Co-operation.

2. Judicial Activism and Indian Democracy.

3. Whither Women’s Emancipation?

4. Globalizations and Its Impact on Indian Culture.

5. The Lure of Space.

6. Water Resources Should Be Under the Control of the Central Government.
20031. The Masks of New Imperialism.

2. How far has democracy in India delivered the goods?

3. How should a civil servant conduct himself?

4. As civilization advances culture declines.

5. There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

6. Spirituality and Scientific temper.
20021. Modern technological education and human values.

2. Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem.

3. If youth knew, if age could.

4. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

5. Privatization of higher education in India.

6. Responsibility of media in a democracy.
20011. What have we gained from our democratic set-up?

2. My vision of an ideal world order.

3. The march of science and the erosion of human values.

4. Irrelevance of the classroom.

5. The pursuit of excellence.

6. Empowerment alone cannot help our women.
20001. Why should we be proud of being Indians?

2. The cyberworld: Its charms and challenges.

3. The country’s need for a better disaster management system.

4. Indian culture today: A myth or a reality?

5. The implications of globalization for India.

6. Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values.
19991. Women empowerment: Challenges and prospects.

2. Youth culture today.

3. Mass media and cultural invasion.

4. Resource management in the Indian context.

5. Value-based science and education.

6. Reservation, politics and empowerment.
19981. The composite culture of India.

2. Woman is God’s best creation.

3.The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India.

4. India’s contribution to world wisdom.

5. The language problem in India: Its past, present and prospects.

6. The world of the twenty-first century.
19971. What we have not learnt during fifty years of Independence.

2. Judicial activism.

3. Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight.

4. True religion cannot be misused.

5. The modern doctor and his patients.

6. Urbanization is a blessing in disguise.
19961. Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education.

2. Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities

3. New cults and Godmen: a threat to traditional religion

4. The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy

5. Need for transparency in public administration

6. Truth is lived, not taught
19951. Politics without ethics is a disaster.

2. The new emerging women Power: the ground realities.

3. When money speaks, the truth is silent.

4. Whither Indian democracy?

5. Restructuring of Indian education system.

6. Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation.

7. Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
19941. Youth is a blunder, Manhood a struggle, oldage a regret

2. The Indian society at the crossroads.

3. Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts.

4. Useless life is an early death.

5. Politics, bureaucracy and business – Fatal Triangle.

6. Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs
19931. My vision of India in 2001 A.D.

2. The global order: political and economic

3. He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king.

4. Compassion is the basic of all morality would

5. Men have failed: let women take over.

6. Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence.

7. Ecological considerations need not hamper development.

8. Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution.




So far 51 Comments posted

  1. Pingback: [Analysis] CSAT Paper I (General Studies) 2012 « Mrunal

  2. SANNU KUMAR SINGH

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  3. misha

    i prepared well. n done well in pre exam 2012.
    but not able to focus again. as i wan not able to clear pre exam.

  4. chirag patel

    hello sir,
    I hv given enterance exam of spipa 2012.when they will declare the result of prelim exam ?

  5. tanu

    great work mrunal…definitely got m thinking………..u always make m want 2 work harder……thanx a ton

  6. Sahil

    great work man.. m short of words.. u r doing a wonderful job. whenever i need something .. ur documents or posts are always there to help me out……..

    thnq so much… :)

  7. Sonali Mohanty

    I love the way you analyse each and every topic. I’m not appearing for the exam. But yes, I view your site regularly.

  8. MAHESHWAR REDDY.B.V

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR, THE WAY YOU SORT OUT THINGS AND EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE IS REALLY FANTASTIC……:)

  9. sammy

    hello sir, its my dream to be a IPS officer and i am surfing a lot of sites but couldn’t find any information useful to me…can you please help me out??i don’t know which subjects to take in optional selection,i am really confused..!i am doing my engineering in E.C.E stream…!

  10. selva

    thank you so much Mr. Mrunal, Your work is definitely going to be a major part of my success in UPSC civil services exam,

  11. shaif tazir

    Dear Sir ,

    some IAS qualifiers wrote that they never studied specially for Essay , some poeple like Prince Dhawan of 2011 said they did . People like Safirulla who was working along with preparation didnt used special prep . i am also preparing along with job , i am not able to think of how without giving extra time for essay they are able to write more than 1000 words without writing junk in it . Logic seems that they have been reading wide spectrum of materials , but as safi says he used only Hindu and one magzine , Can you please tell us few precautions we can take (for those in jobs ) so that atleast we might approach essay without writing junk .

    Also sir , seeing the last years paper , seems pib.nic.in more indispensable source for reading , can u please tell us how to filter not needed stuff in it .

    Thanks – shaif

  12. nitish kumar

    dear sir
    I have completed my 10th in 2004 and 12th in 2011 this time doing graduation. I am afraid for this big gap in my education

  13. Mahtab

    Hi Mrunal sir
    U r doing praiseworthy work in order to make ias our dream true. your analysis and information are really logical and pratical for ias aspirant. a boquet of thanks to u

  14. sg

    Dear Mrunal,

    I am a working professional preparing for UPSC depending on Self-study and your site (which as I found, is of immense help). I have gone through all of your articles on ESSAY but I couldn’t find any suggestion for a standard ESSAY BOOK by name(hope I haven’t missed any). Please suggest a book or else, just write the link in case I have missed any.

  15. Ritesh ranjan

    Sir pls provide me link to download last 33 years queston papers of phy and chem of IAS mains exam with solution…sir..pls provide me…

    1. Abhishek

      Ritesh -Only Brilliant tutorials provide solutions of Phy and Che. So either you can purchase the materials from Brilliant or if u live in Delhi then you can get the xerox of materials in Ber Sarai(Jawahar Book Depot).

  16. AVINISH

    sir really u r motivating us with the heart its seems impossible to achive the aim without ur help thanks a lot

  17. rajesh

    Sir plz upload some essays on last years topic written by toppers and civil service aspirants…….this will of very big use to us…….this kind of thing is not provided by any of the sites…………..this is not an individual request but from our group who is following u regularly……..this is not only individual requirement but of all those who are preparing for civil service…………..i hope u will take my request seriously……….

  18. Test_taker

    Please incorporate the 2012 mains essay topics in your analysis so that it gives a consolidated view. Carry on the good work.

  19. Shreyas

    Mrunal… this is the best site for UPSC preparation. Most of information is just a click away & I am so happy to have find this site :).

  20. Aditya Parida

    Sir………. NO download option, can you post me the exact link, so that i can download 20 year essay paper. plz send me the link……..

  21. jaibir singh

    thanx for important statistics
    please provide me with similar yearwise classification of all G.S. exams & optional subjects

  22. kapyS

    Mrunal bhai can you please update this article for cse 2014. Your prediction that sci tech and women empowerment would come came true. That is hell of a prediction considering how capricious upsc is.

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