[Analysis] General Studies Mains Analysis of 2012 Paper 1 & 2: Topicwise Analysis, future approach for UPSC IAS IPS exam

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UPSC Paperset
  1. Difficulty
  2. Conspiracy theories
  3. History (Freedom Struggle)
  4. Culture
  5. Polity
  6. Yearbook
  7. Public Health
  8. Environment (NOT Geography!)
  9. [PIN] Persons in News
  10. Diplomacy
  11. Economy
  12. Science Tech
  13. Statistics and Data Interpretation
  14. Topicwise Breakup for Paper I and Paper II
    1. Length of the paper: GS1 (2011 vs 2012)
    2. Length of the paper: GSM2 (2011 vs 2012)
  15. Conclusion
  16. Bogus marketing propaganda
  17. Future prediction

To download GS paper I and II of 2012, click me

To see the answerkeys for 1 marker, 2 marker and 5 marker questions click me


  • School Board exams in India, run with a mandate to “passout almost everyone”, so that those students can serve as sacrificial lambs for the self-financed colleges. Therefore, either the questions are damn too easy or while checking the papers, marks are given in very liberal manner. (Particularly when it is the year of state or national election.)
  • But UPSC runs with a different mandate: “eliminate almost everyone and maintain reputation for being a badass Lord Curzon.” So UPSC doesnot, cannot and shallnot frame easy papers in the first place.
  • In MCQs, Even if the papers are allegedly “easy“, they are usually trap questions and there is always the negative marking system which hugely affects the result.
  • Similarly, in mains, even if the papers are allegedly “easy“, still the evaluators don’t show mercy on people filling up pages with average quality answers. Merely Filling up answersheets doesn’t translate into marks.

Anyways, Since difficulty is a relative term, we have to compare 2012’s paper with 2011’s paper. But first, Let us first create a scientific scale of difficulty.

Scale of difficulty

  1. Based on source of question: the question can be either Static (from standard reference books, Laxmikanth, Spectrum, Majid Hussain, Bipin Chandra, India 2012 Yearbook etc) or can be Dynamic (from newspaper and magazines)
  2. Based on wording of the question: it can be either factual or analytical.
Static Factual
  1. Write a note on Salt Satyagraha of 1930 / Gandhi-Irwain Pact etc.
  2. What are the main difference between the passage of a Constitution Amendment Bill and other Legislative Bills? (2001)
Static Analytical
  1. ”The Lucknow Pack of 1916 was signed without regard for its consequences.” Elucidate. (1993)
  2. ‘Essentially all that is contained in part IV-A of the Constitution is just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.’ Critically examine this statement. (2011)
Dynamic Factual
  1. What are the salient features of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011 introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011? (2012)
  2. List the main objectives of the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP), 2011.
  3. All the Science and Tech 2 markers.
Dynamic Analytical
  1. What do you understand by the term “Innovation”? Discuss the need for launching a national innovation policy in India. (2012)
  2. Discuss the globalization of R&D and its impact on India’s development. Provide an illustration from at least one sector such as Information Technology or Health. (2012)
  • Static factual are not ‘easy’ as such, but they’re relatively the easiest among these four type of questions. Because you can find verbatim answers in the standard reference books, you just have to revise the books and during the exam just recall and reproduce the knowledge in your answer sheet.
  • Dynamic-Analytical are toughest among the four because
    • you don’t usually find the whole answer verbatim in any newspaper column or magazine article.
    • In most cases, you need to follow the current affairs and newspaper columns on regularly and the ‘fodder material’ builds up over months.
    • In the exam hall, you’ve to brainstorm for the ideas, assemble those fodder points in proper order, connect the dots and frame an answer.
    • Hence Dynamic Analytical question = your time is drained and brain is fatigued during the exam.

Therefore even if only 20% of the questions are Dynamic-analytical, they significantly drain your time and energy in the exam, and indirectly affect your performance, handwriting speed in the other questions.  And then the paper feels even more difficult and lengthier.

Conspiracy theories

Two theories that I’ve been hearing since last three years. They are cited to explain pretty much everything that happens or doesn’t happen or is likely to happen in Civil Service Exam (including all the rumor bombs).

  1. UPSC chairman wants to break the backs of coaching classes. (Actually no longer a conspiracy, this one is a universally accepted truth.)
  2. UPSC chairman hates senior players and prefers first timers. (It is alleged that He said something like that in an interview or press conference)

Personally, I have nothing against coaching classes except that they should not involve in false advertisements (topper photos etc.),  should keep their fees reasonable, and provide quality education. And I’ve got nothing against senior players either, for being one myself, I hold them in high regard, respect, reverence and sympathy.
Anyways for a minute, forget about the diplomatic statements like “UPSC has changed the pattern to select candidates having right aptitude and qualities to become civil servent”, and answer this role-playing question:

“Imagine that you’re the UPSC chairman. How would you break the backs of coaching classes and senior players?”


  • Overall, shift from static to dynamic questions.
  • Where it is hard to frame ‘dynamic’ questions (History for example), then move from Static factual (freedom fighter 2 markers) to Static Analytical. [Same for Statistics and Data interpretation.]
  • Where it is hard to frame ‘static analytical’ (culture for example), then frame Static factual questions which are usually not covered in Standard reference books / coaching material. That’d force them out of their comfort zone.
  • Completely stop asking from the conventional topics (History, Polity, Geography).
    • But just like soup and salad is mandatory for modern day wedding reception, even for namesake you’d need to paste a few questions from those topics – just for formality. (e.g. rights under Art 21).
  • Even in Dynamic Factual / Anlytical questions- donot ask anything from popular / hot topics. For example Olympic 2012, NAM 2.0, Indo-Bangladesh exchange of territories, Syrian crisis, etc.
  • And finally, Hire a few ACIOs on deputation, ask them to collect material from top-coaching classes and make sure no question comes from it.

Now let us analyse the paper I and II of General Studies 2012, through ^this prism. Following Graph will provide more food for thought, once you read the whole analysis. (Click on the Image to Enlarge it)

UPSC General Studies Mains Analysis

History (Freedom Struggle)

Trace the salient sequence of events in the popular revolt that took place in February 1946 in the then, ‘Royal Indian Navy’ and bring out its significance in the freedom struggle. Do you agree with the view that the sailors who took part in this revolt were some of the unsung heroes of the freedom struggle?20“The Indian independence movement was a mass—based movement that encompassed various sections of society. It also underwent the process of constant ideological evolution? Critically examine.25
Evaluate the influence of the three important women’s organizations of the early twentieth century in India on the Country’s society and politics. To what extent do you think were the social objectives of these organizations constrained by their political objectives?20The significance of Patharughat in the Indian freedom struggle2
‘Benoy-Badal-Dinesh’ martyrdom5
Bharat Naujawan Sabha5
‘Babbar Akali’ movement.5


  1. Majority of the History questions =Static Analytical. (25 marks)
  2. According to UPSC’s official syllabus, the “History” Is made up of two topics: Freedom Struggle + Indian Culture. So, While it appears that the importance of History has declined from 55 to 27 marks but overall History+Culture in 2011’s paper =63 marks. And In 2012’s paper History+Culture= worth 64 marks.
  3. Therefore only the composition has changed- more emphasis on Culture portion, otherwise weightage given to the whole topic “History of Modern India and Indian Culture” is almost the same.
  4. History unlikely to fall below this level in GS paper- for soup and salad formality. (20 marks) or it might just vanish from the paper like Indian Geography did this year. (you’ll see it after a few paragraphs)
  5. I think UPSC has exhausted the static question bank on Indian History (freedom struggle). Therefor very unlikely that ‘static/direct/factual’ questions will appear in future e.g. “Discuss the character of major tribal uprisings in British India in the nineteenth Century.”
  6. However there was an essay on ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Dharmarajya’ in 2012’s paper (Worth 200 marks). So history continues to remain indirectly important.
  7. No “quotes” based question (unlike the nightmarish paper of 2009).
  8. In 2012’s paper “Persons in News” were worth 1 mark each. So even in future, if freedom fighters are asked, may be it’d be 1 mark each. One has to seriously think about cost-benefit ratio of mugging up 150+ freedom fighers now.
  9. Bipin Chandra still a good read for static analytical topics. But Spectrum’s books= lost the significance, particularly its freedom fighters book (Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore.).
  10. Patharughat was in news in 2011 for Army had opened some shrine/ museum there.


Distinguish either between the ‘Moatsu’ and ‘Yemshe’ festivals of Nagaland or the ‘Losar’ and ‘Khan’ festivals of Arunachal Pradesh.5The ‘flute-playing Krishna’ theme is very popular in Indian art. Discuss.15
What are the major different styles of unglazed pottery making in India?5Comment on the significance of Rasarnava in studying the history of Indian Chemistry.5
List the classical dance forms of India as per the Sangeet Natak Akademi.5What are the groups into which musical instruments in India have traditionally been classified?5
Bhand Pather1Comment on the significance of fire in Zoroastrianism.5
Swang1Why is Laurie Baker called ‘the conscience keeper of Indian architecture’?5
Maach1Bagurumba folk dance2


  • Star of ‘culture’ is on rise (as expected from 2011’s paper), but Still looking for reliable book or source.
  • Classification of musical instrument is given in the appendix of Spectrum Book on Culture.
  • Flute playing Krisha’s answer is scattered around, in the same book: Ragmala paintings from Mewar school, Kisengarh painting, Thanjavur etc.etc. but still framing recalling and framing 150 words answer for specifically “Flute Playing” Krishan, is kinda difficult.
  • Another problem: even if there is a reliable book, how on earth can one mugup all the folk dances of India?
  • Anyways more on the source part later articles.

By the way, I’m copy pasting an interesting post from orkut here:

Shriharsha Nettar wrote,

I had observed that for last 3 years, the questions on culture had been asked from this Link: http://www.ccrtindia.gov.in/performingarts.htm.

So, This time i prepared for culture ONLY from this section, that have not been asked in last 3 years..Puppet art and musical instruments…
Musical instrument question had come this year… So my guess for Next year, puppet arts.. Go through these …:-)


‘Essentially all that is contained in part IV-A of the Constitution is just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.’ Critically examine this statement.20What is the ‘Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat’?5
‘The exercise of executive clemency is not a privilege but is based on several principles, and discretion has to be exercised in public considerations.’ Analyse this statements in the context of the judicial powers of the President of India.20What are the Rights within the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?5
Evolution of ‘Green Benches’ in our higher judiciary.12Comment on the significance of the Preamble contained in the Right to Information Act.5
Distinction between ‘Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees’ and ‘Parliamentary Forums’.12Determining the ‘value’ assigned to the vote of a Member of a State Legislative Assembly and of a Member of Parliament in the Indian Presidential elections.2
Problems specific to the denotified and nomadic tribes in India.12The Union Cabinet recently cleared the proposal to rename and amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. What are the salient features of the proposed amendments?15
E-governance initiatives by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).5What are the salient features of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011 introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011?15
The Bihar Special Courts Act, 2009 and why it has been in the news recently?5
Bring out the salient features of the PCPNDT Act, 1994, and the implications of its amendment in 2003.20

2011= Polity is worth 106 marks. (Although debatable, some would put UPSC e-governance in [Yearbook] category.)

2012= Total 47 marks worth polity.

Look at the complete reversal of fortune, declined by around 50%! (Same is the case with Persons in News- from 14 to 7).

Many ‘hot’ polity topics that UPSC consciously did not ask.

  1. Analytical question on judiciary vs Executive (just like 2011 had executive clemency)
  2. Analytical question on CAG vs Executive (in the light of all scams)
  3. 12 or 15 marker question on Presidential election.
  4. PIL (because of Justice Kapadia’s approach to them).

Although ^these are dynamic analytical, but had become way too hot topics in the temple of dooms (Delhi’s factories).

Comments on Polity

  1. CSAT 2012 had good amount of questions from Polity, so your proficiency on polity was already tested. May be UPSC didn’t see any point in again asking truckload of questions from polity further in mains. Besides Static polity = helps coaching factories and muggers.
  2. DD Basu’s era is officially over, unless they move to “Static Analytical” type of question from polity next year.
  3. Atleast 7 marks (Art 21 and Value of MP-MLA’s votes) worth questions are no-excuse. Hence Laxmikanth continues to remain a good read.
  4. You should keep an eye on this website http://www.prsindia.org/ it provides information on all the pending bills and upcoming bills and their pros and cons.


Critically examine the design of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) scheme. Do you think it has a better chance of success than the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) in achieving its objectives?20Critically review the international concern in achieving the targets set for the Millennium Development Goals. (GS II)15
Highlight the structure, objectives and role of the Advertising Standards Council of India, In what way has the August 2006 government notification made it more effective?20What do you understand by the term “Innovation”? Discuss the need for launching a national innovation policy in India.25
Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS).12Keeping in view the informal sector’s share in the total workforce of the country, critically examine the relevant inclusive measures initiated by the Government of India and their effectiveness.25
Benefits and potential drawbacks of ‘cash-transfers’ to ‘Below Poverty Line’ (BPL) households.12List the main objectives of the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP), 2011.5
Composition and functions of the National Executive Comittee of the National Disaster Management Authority.5To implement one key recommendation of the Mohini Giri Committee, the Government has recently announced the constitution of a National  Council. Highlight the composition and the mandate of this National Council.5
The Telecommunications Ministry’s proposed Spectrum Management Commission.5Comment on the recent launching of the National Mission on Libraries (NML).5
The Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to sanitation.5


  1. SPOT-6, IRSO question was in Paper I, technically under “Yearbook”, but I have counted it in Science and Tech.
  2. Similarly, the Millennium Development goal was from paper II under “IR”, but I’ve counted it under Science and Tech.
  3. Planning Commission’s chapter on Health, Drug Resistant TB etc. although can be classified as Yearbook, but I’ve put them under Public Health.

Comments on yearbook

  • As everyone expected, the [Yearbook] continues to be an important topic. But There is another significant Development. In 2011, most [yearbook] questions are factual type. (list major recommendations, salient feature etc.etc.)
  • But atleast 40 marks of [Yearbook] in 2012’s paper = from Dynamic Analytical part. (innovation, informal sector)
  • Sources for future preparation:
    1. India Yearbook.
    2. Newspaper columns (particularly for the dynamic analytical type)
    3. Yojana + Kurukshetra Magazines. (can be downloaded for free, using their official websites)
    4. Digging through Official websites of various ministries.
    5. Planning Commission’s draft paper. (contains chapter on Both health and innovation, + plenty of fodder material for informal sector etc.)
    6. Press releases from  www.Pib.nic.in
    7. + ^Notes making and regular revision
  • And, one should prepare with an open mind ready for surprizes. Because UPSC’s pendulum can swing in either direction. (like it did in Polity from 106 to bare 47 marks). So It’d again be a grave mistake to put all eggs in just Yearbook, Culture and Science-Tech baskets.

Public Health

Official Syllabus of UPSC for General Studies Mains Paper I:

  1. (iv) Health issues including the management of Public Health, Health education and ethical concerns regarding health-care,medical research and pharmaceuticals.
The first-aid that you can safely administer to a person standing next to you at the bus-stop who suddenly faints.5You are stationed in a small district town in the plains of Northern India, The summer has been severe. Suddenly, a colleague, who had been out since morning, returns to the office complaining of headache, restlessness and confusion. Shortly, he becomes unconscious. His body temperature is 40°C. What first aid steps would you take to revive him?5
Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) technology.5The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine has been making the headlines in the recent months. Who make the ideal candidates for receiving this vaccine and what are its benefits?5
Omega-3 fatty acids in our food5Many food items contain “trans fats”. What do you  understand by this term? Which Indian food items contain trans fats? What are the implications of trans fats on human health?15
Discuss the extent, causes, and implications of the ‘nutrition transition’ said to be underway in India.20“There is an urgent need for the Planning Commission to revise the chapter on health in the 12th Plan document.” Comment.15
New initiatives during the 11th Five Year Plan in the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB).12What do you understand by the term “Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis” {MDR-TB)? What measures would you advocate for its containment and what are the implications of its spread in the community?15
Despite strict prohibitory regulations, “doping” has become increasingly common amongst athletes. Name five commonly used performance- enhancing drugs. What are the risks associated with their use?10
In the context of Assisted Reproductive Technologies, India has emerged as a hub of commercial surrogacy. What key biological, legal and ethical issues merit consideration while framing the regulation to govern surrogacy in India?10
  • Note: I’ve counted HPV, Surrogacy and Doping question from Paper II under health. Although you can put them under [Science-Tech] as well.
  • Future source of preparation: more or less the same like [Yearbook]+ science tech.
  • Doping question –due to Olympic games. [I was expecting an F1 flag-ish question from any Olympic game though!]
  • It seems UPSC has made it mandatory to ask one ‘role playing’ question on first-aid treatment.
  • There ought to be some pdf on egyankosh, listing all the first aid treatments. And it wouldn’t hurt preparing it. (besides that knowledge might help in real life as well.)
  • I think the issue of drug price control (the Novartis patent, SC judgement, Pranab Sen Task force reports etc) gains significance for next mains. But then again if this topic becomes too hot in the Coaching factories of Delhi, then UPSC may not ask it in 2013!

Environment (NOT Geography!)

Geography and Environment are closely interlinked. Let us discuss both together.

UPSC’s official syllabus for GS1

  1. Geography of India : In this part, questions will be on the physical, economic and social geography of India.
  2. (iv) Environmental issues, ecological preservation, conservation of natural resources and national heritage.

Year 2011: There is only one single question from Geography: The significance of counter-urbanization in the improvement of metropolitan cities in India. (12 marks)

Year 2012: “Dushtu lok Geography vanished.”

Not a single question on geography. This is sacrilegious, this is blasphemy but then again, this is UPSC.

And the vaccum is filled up by Environment and biodiversity. (And similar thing also happened in CSAT GS Paper).

The impact of climate change on water resources in India.12GS IExplain the concepts “Environmental Sustainability” and “Sustainable Development of People”.5GS II
Phase-IV of the tiger monitoring programme in India.5GS IExplain briefly the “Clean Development Mechanism” as provided under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).5GS II
The diminishing population of vultures5GS IIWhat is Permaculture? Give at least three common examples where permaculture concepts are being put to use.10GS II
‘Billion Acts of Green’2GS IIGiven the accelerated pace of development and demand for energy, would you consider renewable energy as a viable option for India’s future?15GS I
Analyse critically the interlinkages between the Convention on Biological Diversity and FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.15GS II
Examine the causes and the extent of ‘desertification’ in India and suggest remedial measures.25GS I
In the context of the growing demands for the ban of Endosulfan in the country, critically examine the issues involved. What, in your view, should be done in the matter?25GS I
The issue of tourism in core areas of tiger reserve forests in the country is a subject matter of debate. Critically examine various aspects of this issue, keeping in view relevant recent judicial pronouncements.25GS I
  • Note: For Environment  topic, I’ve counted the questions from Paper II here as well. (CDM, FAO etc)
  • But just like Yearbook, here also many questions are from ‘dynamic-analytical’ portion.
  • It seems Vulture is the most important creature in India. From GS Mains Paper II (2011), CSAT 2012, APFC-2012, this vulture topic is getting repeated too much, even Saas Bahu serials have less clichés.
  • RIO+20 was too hot topic here. But no direct question, because Temple of Dooms blew it out proportion.

Future Source of Preparation [Environment]

  1. NCERT+ NOS material for basics (CSAT).
  2. India Yearbook (for Government schemes)
  3. Official websites of MoEF, UNFCC etc.
  4. Newspaper columns, magazines.

[PIN] Persons in News

Lieutenant Navdeep Singh2P.V. Sindhu1
Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar2Aditya Kumar Mandi1
Lobsang Sangay2Cyrus Mistry1
P.R. Sreejesh2Ashoke Sen1
Nileema Mishra2Mario de Miranda1
V. Tejeswini Bai2Issues highlighted through the work of Palagumrni Sainath2
Aishwarya Narkar2
F1 Flags (GS2)12
‘News International’ newspaper (GS2)2
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil2
Abel Kirui (GS2)2
Natalie Portman (GS2)2
Nawaf Salam (GS2)2
  • I classify all the trivial GK under [PIN], so F1 race flags and ‘News International’ newspaper also included here.
  • So, Importance of [PIN] has Declined by almost 80%! Besides if you consider the cost:benefit ratio (of mugging up 150 persons in news vs recalling them in actual exam for petty 7 marks) then the whole scene looks like a sick and cruel joke played by UPSC.
  • In GSM2011, there were PIN in both Paper I and II, but In GSM2012, only Paper I had PIN question.
  • but, every mark counts in the merit list. Besides, Sainath, Cyrus Mistry and Mario Miranda were ‘no-excuse’. So doesn’t hurt keeping a cursory eye on them.


Measures taken by the Indian government to combat privacy in the Indian Ocean.12What is meant by the G8+5 group?5
List the Central Asian Republics and identify those of particular strategic and economic importance to India. Examine the opportunities and bottlenecks in enhancing relations with these countries.20What are India’s stakes in the South China Sea?5
Critically examine the security and strategic implications of the so-called ‘string of pearls’ theory for India.20Compare the significance of IBSA and BRICS in the context of India’s multilateral diplomacy.10
“Compared to the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation Free Trade Area (BIMSTEC FTA) seems to be more promising.” Critically evaluate.20
Subsequent to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) waiver in 2008, what are the agreements on nuclear energy that India has signed with different countries?12How have the US sanctions against Iran affected India’s bilateral relations with Iran?10
Trace the progress of India’s efforts for a joint counter-terrorism strategy with China. What are the likely implications of the recent Xinjiang violence on these efforts?12Write a short analytical note on Indian Diaspora. How is the “New Diaspora” different from the “Old Diaspora”?15
Bring out the importance of the ‘Small and Medium Enterprises Expo and Conference’ held in Dubai last year for Indian business.12Does Putin’s return as President of Russia mark a shift to a confrontationist stance in international diplomacy towards the West?15
What are the salient features of the political and economic relationship between India and South Africa?12Do you think that China’s emergence as one of the largest trading partners of India had adversely affected the settlement of the outstanding border problem?25
“The causes and implications of the Jasmine Revolution and its spread are as much economic in nature as they are political.” Critically evaluate.20Discuss the contentious issues that have caused the prolonged constitutional logjam in Nepal.25
Success of international intervention in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)5“ The situation today is far different to that prevalent fifty years back when the Indus Water Treaty was signed.” Highlight the complexity of the current challenges on both sides of the border in this regard. Do you think that a review of the Treaty is in India’s best interests?25
Strategies adopted by Colombia to eliminates its drug cartels5
World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations (UN)5
Sculpture of the broken chair in front of the UN building at Geneva5
“As regards the increasing rates of melting of Arctic Sea ice, the interests of the Arctic Council nations may not coincide with those of the wider world.” Explain.12
Is there still a role for the concept of balance of power in contemporary international politics? Discuss.12
“Strategic interests seem to be replacing commercial interests for the host country with regard to Cam Ranh Bay.” Amplify.12
To what extent has the withdrawal of al-Shabab from Mogadishu given peace a real chance in Somalia? Assess.12
  • Note: International relation looks ‘declined’ because I’ve moved some questions to biodiversity and economy topics. Otherwise this one is still an important subject.
  • The phrase “‘old’ and ‘new’ Indian diaspora” is mentioned on Ministry of Overseas affairs website
  • Indus Water treaty was in news because of Nimoo Bazgo hydel project + Kishanganga hydel project.
  • US-Iran-India was in news throughout last two years.
  • Nepal’s internal trouble had been a hot topic over last 3-4 years. Finally UPSC has noticed.
  • No question on Indo-Bangladesh, Syria, Libya, South Sudan, Kofi Anna, India @UNSC etc. despite being hot topics.


  1. Paper I syllabus (i) The Indian economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
  2. Paper II Syllabus  India’s Economic Interaction with the World :In this part, questions will be on economic and trade issues such as foreign trade, foreign investment; economic and diplo-macy issues relating to oil, gas and energy flows; the role and functions of I.M.F., World Bank, W.T.O., WIPO etc. which influence India’s economic interaction with other countries and international institutions

Anyways, candidates don’t prepare Economy in segments. Because Indian and World economy are closly interlinked in current affairs. So I’ve combined both papers here.

Functions of the World Customs Organization. (WCO)5GS IIWhy is international trade perceived to have failed to act as an “engine of growth” in many developing countries including India?10GS II
Salient recommendations of the RBI-appointed Damodaran committee on customer service in Banks.12GS I“Domestic resource mobilization, though central to the process of Indian economic growth, is characterized by several constraints? Explain.15GS I
Why the Central Statistics Office has notified a new series of Consumer Price Index from this year?5GS IWhy have the resource rich African and South Asian countries remained poor for decades? Explain.15GS II
In the context of the ‘Euro-zone’ debt crisis, examine the proposed ‘six-pack’ solution. Do you think that this has a better chance of success than the earlier Stability and Growth Pact?20GS IIDiscuss the likely negative impact of the protectionist measures proposed by the US on India’s software industry.15GS II
Discuss the globalization of R&D and its impact on India’s development. Provide an illustration from at least one sector such as Information Technology or Health.25GS II
  • As expected, star of [Economy] is on rise. Almost 100% increase over last year.
  • But most of the questions are of dynamic-analytical nature therefore one should keep an eye on newspaper columns + some decent fodder material on egyankosh as well (selective pdfs from BA MA Economics)

Science Tech

Nisarga-Runa technology of BARC.5The safe landing of the “Curiosity” Rover under NASA’s space programme has sparked many possibilities. What are those and how could humankind benefit from them?10
The Kaveri K-10 aero-engine.5Significance of the SPOT-6 rocket launch for ISRO(GS1)2
International Year of Chemistry5The Sequoia supercomputer was launched this year. What are its specific features and what is its purpose?5
The scourge of e-waste5The human population is slated to grow to 9 billion by 2050. In this context, many scientists predict that plant genomics would play a critical rule in keeping out hunger and preserving the environment. Explain.25
‘Designer’ poultry eggs5
INSPIRE programme of the Department of Science and Technology5
The ‘Kessler syndrome’ with reference to space debris5
Difference between ‘spin-dyring’ and ‘tumble-drying’ technology with reference to drying of washed clothes5
‘Arensic-bug’ and the significance of its discovery5
F-22 ‘Raptor’ aircraft5
‘Concentrated’ solar energy and ‘photovoltaic’ solar energy5
Analog, hybrid and IP systems in CCTV technology5
Various applications of Kevlar5
Differences between Compact Disc (CD), Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) and Blu-ray Disc5
Gliese 581g2
MABLE robot2
‘Operation Shady Rat’2
L’Aquila earthquake2
OPERA detecter at Gran Sasso2
Saturn’s Titan2
  • Don’t be astonished by 50% decline in Science-Tech. Because the weightage has been shifted to Public Health and Biodiversity topic (after all MDR TB, Trans-Fats, HPV etc are ultimately science tech) So, overall science-tech continues to be an important topic.
  • Last year, the entire science-tech was 2 marker and 5 marker. So all you needed was to memorize 3-4 keywords on each term. But this time, two questions (NASA, Plant genome) are of 10 & 25 marks respectively that means you’d need content worth minimum 100 words. So the shift is towards more descriptive questions.
  • Future Approach : same as earlier: Newspaper, Magazine, but going into the details of pros/cons/features as well, rather than just making notes only for “2 marker/5 marker” type of questions.

Statistics and Data Interpretation

tabulation5milk avg2
ogive graph5height3
missing freq4bengal population6
tubelight freq4outsourcing7
avg speed of car4income distribution8
defective mean4scatter plot9
graph student walk6
shares average4
  • The weightage given to Stat, is almost the same like last year. The only difference is ‘variety’ of question.
  • This time more analytical questions, involving lengthier calculations.
  • + this time you had to draw three graphs (scatter plot, Bengal population and more than ogive).
  • So overall, both length and difficulty level of stat portion =increased. But then again if everything was easy and conventional, then it’d have helped the archenemies of UPSC.
  • Future approach : same as usual NCERT+ Spectrum + old question papers, but with more practice @home + egyankosh might have something on this new type of graphs. (or prepare all the graphs provided under Microsoft Excel 2007 or 2010)

Topicwise Breakup for Paper I and Paper II



  1. Total will not be 600 because there are options. But you can clearly see that in 2011, UPSC offered more options (754-600=154 marks) while in 2012, only 90 marks worth options.
  2. Here is the same graph again. Notice that in the Year 2011, the height of Blue bars have extreme range (e.g. Geography is 12, Diplomacy is 208). But in 2012 the height of red bars have less range. That means the weight is distributed in a more balanced fashion (not totally balanced, but yet more “inclusive” distribution than 2011).
 Click on the images to enlarge them
UPSC General Studies Mains Paper I and 2 Analysis
analysis of UPSC general studies mains ias ips exam paper

Length of the paper: GS1 (2011 vs 2012)

No. of QsMarks per Q.Total WordsTotal Marks

^This boring and complicated table says that

  1. In 2011, to write 300 marks worth questions, you had to write almost 3500 words. While in 2012, only 3000. So theoretically, 2012’s paper was shorter than last year. But we are missing another important fact, that is hidden in the same table.
  2. Big questions (10,15,20,25 marker types) consume lot of time in brain storming and framing the answer in mind, especially when they’re of “analytical” type. And we already saw that majority of the big questions in History, Public Health, Yearbook and environment were of “Dynamic-analytical” nature. So obviously It would take more time.
    1. In 2011, only 65% of the paper is made up of big questions. How did I come up with this number? Marks of 15 and 25 marker questions = (100+96)/300=65%
    2. But in 2012, 77% of the paper is made up of big questions. (125+105)/300=77%.

Therefore, GS paper of 2012 is lengthier than last year, because more than 3/4th of the paper is made up of ‘big questions’.

Length of the paper: GSM2 (2011 vs 2012)

No. of QsMarks per Q.Total WordsTotal Marks
stat86not uniformdepends3635

Using the same approach : big questions = brainstorming = more time consumed.

  • 2011’s paper : (60+84)/300= 48% of the paper has big questions. (12 marker and 20 marker)
  • 2012’s paper: (60+75+100)/300=78% of the paper has big questions (10,15,25 markers)
  • Secondly, the Stat portion of 2011, had (I think) only 2 graphs + relatively conventional calculations.
  • While Stat portion of 2012, had 3 graphs + lengthier calculations + unconventional questions.
  • Therefore GS paper II of 2012 is damn too lengthy compared any other paper.


This is my personal opinions. (and as usual) I am not going to debate over them.

  1. Your command over static portion has already been tested in CSAT 2012 (It had very few questions based on current affairs) so, there was no point in framing the GS mains paper having similar ‘static’ structure.
  2. Standard reference books continue to be important, for the above cited reason (prelims). But at the same time, their significance has declined for the Mains examination, unless they’re providing fodder material for analytical questions.
  3. UPSC will continue its Back-breaking moveTM against coaching classes and senior players. Therefore, static-factual types of questions are unlikely to appear in future, and even if they appear in future, it’ll be done only for namesake soup and salad formality worth 5-10 marks.
  4. The era of History+Polity+Geography is over. Another reason could be that UPSC did it to provide level playing ground to the candidates with non-history,geo,Public Administration,political science optionals.
  5. The new superstars in this Bollywood = Yearbook + Science Tech + Environment + International Relations. (Public health automatically covered under Yearbook +science tech)
  6. The papers were ‘inclusive’ in nature. Because if you compare the paper with the official syllabus of UPSC, then for GS1, there were questions from almost every topic except Law enforcement and community harmony. Similarly, for GS2, questions on almost everything topic of the syllabus except nuclear policy (actually Nuclear policy is also indirectly attached with US-Iran-India relation).
  7. Atleast the questions do not seem to be falling from sky (unlike those F1 flags of 2011).
  8. GS Mains papers are already notorious for being lengthy. But 2012 has new heights, just like A.Raja. So, Let the “length” of this paper be a reminder to those people who donot maintain notes. Notes making assumes unprecedented significance, in the light of these papers because
    1. Notes making improves handwriting speed.
    2. Notes making helps in quick-revision and recalling, provides fodder material for Dynamic-analytical type of questions.
    3. Notes making creates positive vibes in the study room. (else if you just keep stacking newspapers then their size and volume + the dust gathered on them, will create negative vibes). So ideally, you should cut-down, make notes out of newspapers, Yojana Kurukshetra etc and then throw them in the store room (or even better just sell them to Raddi-walla).
  9. Some candidates prefer to wait for the omniscient coaching factories of Delhi, to release the special material on current affairs. Now consider this: such material starts flooding only 1 month before the exam (they deliberately delay the release to prevent UPSC from spying on it) So, In such a short time you cannot possible mugup everything given in such material, even if it was worth 150 marks! (unless you just throw away your optional subjects’ books). Besides it is easier to read, remember 5 things per day than trying to mugup 500 terms overnight. Therefore current affairs is a home work you’re supposed to do every day rather than wait for someone else to come up with readymade digest for you.
  10. Competitive exams are meant for men and women without guilt. So instead of feeling guilty about whatever you have done or not done so far (failure in previous attempts, coaching no coaching, job no job etc) just change the study-approach and keep moving forward.
  11. You can either respect, fear, resent or hate the UPSC. But you must not let this mood of cynicism and pessimism surround you. Despite whatever Back-Breaking MoveTM UPSC employs, every year in the final merit list, you’ll see toppers with coaching, you’ll see toppers without coaching, toppers on first timers, toppers with more than one attempt, toppers who cracked it after leaving job, toppers who cracked it without leaving job and so on…. Therefore, if you’re destined to be a topper, you’ll be a topper. All that is in your hands, is hard work in right direction ,rather than badmouthing and resenting the factors that are outside your control- including India’s humiliating defeats in cricket.
  12. Many of these questions can be solved through Indian express as well- be it transfats, endosulphan, tiger reserve or consumer protection act. So those unable to access The Hindu on day to day basis, need not feel excessively guilty about it.

Bogus marketing propaganda

  • In MS Word, this article has 20 pages and almost 7000 words. If I just continue this activity for a few more years, compile a thesis and bribe the right people in G***** university, I can easily get a Ph.D. (Task added in Gmail calendar).
  • Now time for the most important thing- bogus marketing and brainwashing.  After the prelims/mains are over, The prominent magazines and factories of Delhi come up with stupid stupendous claims that “more than 500 marks worth questions were from our study material and mock tests”.
  • So, I’m going to use their dubious accounting method i.e. even if a word was merely mentioned or hinted in any of my article and the same appeared in UPSC question paper, then it shall be calculated as UPSC asked it from my site, alright? Even if the article contains barely 2 marks worth information and UPSC asked it for 20 marks then also full marks will be credited. Because that the accounting method of Delhi!

So now let us check how much of the GS was from Mrunal.org

QuestionMarksReference on Mrunal.org
Consumer protection Act15Mock paper set by Tushar: http://mrunal.org/2012/09/mock-qs1-tushar.html
“Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis” {MDR-TB)?15http://mrunal.org/2012/02/science-tuberculosis-and-dots-therapy.html
Sustainable Development of People5http://mrunal.org/2012/09/diplomacy-rio20-meaning-outcomes-explain.html
Clean Development Mechanism5http://mrunal.org/2012/09/enb-kyoto.html
India’s stakes in the South China Sea5http://mrunal.org/2012/07/diplo-schina-auction.html
Ashok Sen1http://mrunal.org/2012/10/pin-2012.html
Mario Miranda1http://mrunal.org/2012/10/pin-2012.html
Income distribution :median and mode8http://mrunal.org/2012/09/stat-continuous-data.html
Height distribution: draw more than ogive3http://mrunal.org/2012/08/apt-stat-cufr.html
TotalOnly 80 marks.
Damn it, I’m way below the 500 marks  target set by Delhi’s Temple of Dooms hahaha.

Future prediction

YearQuestion on Tagore in GS Mains Paper IMarks
1992Discuss Tagore’s concept on education. How far was it a departure from conventional system of education?10
1993Explain Rabindranath Tagore’s Plan of village reconstruction.10
1994Why did Tagore emphasize on the primacy of the social over the political order?15
1995How far was Gurudev Rabindranath tagore’s concept of religion wedded to his love of nature?10
1996Tagore’s emphasis on internationalism and humanism was ahead of his times.10
1998Examine the ideas of Rabindranath Tagore on democracy.10
1999‘Tagore’s poetry is a written record of his religious experience.’ Elucidate.10
2002,…..all the way upto 2012
Period of “drought” for Tagore questions.

You can be dead sure that almost every one who appeared in 2000’s exam, would have done Ph.D on Tagore, his life, ideas and poetry.

And after the exam was over, they’d have given truckload of galliyaa (cursing) to UPSC.

So, when it comes to UPSC, don’t take everything for granted.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

172 Comments on “[Analysis] General Studies Mains Analysis of 2012 Paper 1 & 2: Topicwise Analysis, future approach for UPSC IAS IPS exam”

  1. Sir among History of Modern India (Bipin Chandra ) and India’s Struggle for Independence ( Bipin Chandra ) which book should be read ……. for prelims syllabus its given History of Modern India and Indian National Movement …….. so which book should i go with sir ……….

  2. Mrunal,
    from what angle do we prepare the topic of the countless scams being unearthed every day? could you please throw some light?

  3. Sir as you suggest I bought civil service times but on the very first page I found that the
    CST publish three magzines like CST- regular, CST- mains, CST- essay
    CST- prelims and so on so whether I need to go through all these magzines
    in a month or regular one is enough with Indian express? I am new to this field just three months before I quite my
    Job n preparing for CSE and your site helps me a lot so wana to thanks you…


  5. sir please help me to how to install google subscriber to view currentaffairs

  6. How many subjects, that is main important for UPSC. so that, if we clear this 100%. can we get good marks?


  8. Really helpful, great post, found this by google search. Thanks for all your hard work.

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