In the UPSC mains examination, essay paper is worth 250 marks and three hours. Here is the topic wise questions from the earlier years for the benefit of civil service IAS IPS aspirants.

  1. 1 India: Democracy, administration, Society, culture
    1. 1.1 India Since Independence
    2. 1.2 Federalism, Decentralization
    3. 1.3 Administration
    4. 1.4 Judiciary
    5. 1.5 Poverty, Social Justice
    6. 1.6 Indian Society, Culture and Values
    7. 1.7 Media, TV & Cinema, literature
  2. 2 Economy, Development
    1. 2.1 Growth vs Development
    2. 2.2 Environment vs Development
    3. 2.3 MNCs
    4. 2.4 Sectors of Economy
  3. 3 Education
    1. 3.1 Values in Education
    2. 3.2 Scheme implementation
    3. 3.3 Higher education
  4. 4 Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics
    1. 4.1 Character, Honesty, Ethics
    2. 4.2 Knowledge
    3. 4.3 Compassion
    4. 4.4 Truth and reality
    5. 4.5 Youth, Discipline
    6. 4.6 Towards excellence
  5. 5 Women empowerment
    1. 5.1 @National Politics
    2. 5.2 @World / Quote type
    3. 5.3 Empowerment overall
    4. 5.4 Compared to men
  6. 6 International issues, Internal Security, History
    1. 6.1 Globalization
    2. 6.2 International Org./ Bilateral
    3. 6.3 Security
    4. 6.4 History
  7. 7 Science-Technology
    1. 7.1 Science and Religion
    2. 7.2 Science and Education
    3. 7.3 Computer and internet
    4. 7.4 Sci-Tech: others
  8. Appendix: Linear Paper of UPSC Essay 2022
  9. Appendix: Model Answer pe Free Lecture & Powerpoint
  10. Appendix: Syllabus of Essay Paper in UPSC

1 India: Democracy, administration, Society, culture

1.1 India Since Independence

  1. Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success? -2013
  2. In the context of Gandhiji’s views on the matter, explore, on an evolutionary scale, the terms ‘Swadhinata’, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Dharmarajya’. Critically comment on their contemporary relevance to Indian democracy -2012
  3. Dreams which should not let India sleep. -2015
  4. Why should we be proud of being Indians? -2000
  5. Whither Indian democracy? -1995
  6. How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? -2003
  7. What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. -1997
  8. What have we gained from our democratic set-up? -2001
  9. My vision of India in 2001 a.d. -1993

1.2 Federalism, Decentralization

  1. Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. -2017
  2. Water disputes between States in federal India. -2016
  3. Cooperative federalism : Myth or reality. -2016
  4. Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication -2011
  5. Evaluation of panchayati raj system in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people. -2007
  6. Water resources should be under the control of the central government. -2004
  7. The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects. -1998

1.3 Administration

  1. There are better practices to “best practices”. -2021
  2. How should a civil servant conduct himself? -2003
  3. Politics without ethics is a disaster. -1995
  4. The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy -1996
  5. Need for transparency in public administration -1996
  6. The country’s need for a better disaster management system. -2000
  7. Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. -1994

1.4 Judiciary

  1. We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  2. Justice must reach the poor -2005
  3. Judicial activism and Indian democracy. -2004
  4. Judicial activism. -1997

1.5 Poverty, Social Justice

  1. There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless (बिना आर्थिक समृद्धि के सामाजिक न्याय नहीं हो सकता, किन्तु बिना सामाजिक न्याय के आर्थिक समृद्धि निरर्थक है ) -2020
  2. Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness. -2019
  3. The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. -2009
  4. Food security for sustainable national development -2005
  5. Reservation, politics and empowerment. -1999

1.6 Indian Society, Culture and Values

  1. Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have (जो हम है, वह संस्कार; जो हमारे पास है, वह सभ्यता ) -2020
  2. Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
  3. Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
  4. The composite culture of India. -1998
  5. The Indian society at the crossroads. -1994
  6. From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
  7. New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996

1.7 Media, TV & Cinema, literature

  1. Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy. -2019
  2. Responsibility of media in a democracy. -2002
  3. Role of media in good governance -2008
  4. Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it? -2011
  5. How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets? -2007
  6. Is sting operation an invasion on privacy? -2014
  7. Mass media and cultural invasion. -1999
  8. The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India. -1998
  9. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world (कवि संसार के अनधिकृत रूप से विधायक होते हैं) – 2022

2 Economy, Development


2.1 Growth vs Development

  1. Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. -2018
  2. Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality. -2016
  3. Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. -2016
  4. Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. -2016
  5. Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. -2015
  6. Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country? -2014
  7. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country-2013
  8. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth? -2015
  9. Resource management in the Indian context. -1999
  10. Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence. -1993

2.2 Environment vs Development

  1. Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence (आर्थिक समृद्धि हासिल करने के मामले में वन सर्वोत्तम प्रतिमान होते हैं।) – 2022
  2. Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India. -2018
  3. Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? -2010
  4. Urbanisation and its hazards -2008
  5. Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. -2006
  6. Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. -1997
  7. Ecological considerations need not hamper development. -1993

2.3 MNCs

  1. Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. -2006
  2. Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs -1994
  3. Special economic zone: boon or bane -2008
  4. Is the criticism that the ‘Public-Private-Partnership’ (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified ?-2012

2.4 Sectors of Economy

  1. Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for majority of farmers in India. -2017
  2. BPO boom in India. -2007
  3. Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India? -2014
  4. Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? -2009

3 Education


3.1 Values in Education

  1. Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms. -2017
  2. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil-2015
  3. Independent thinking should be encouraged right form the childhood. -2007
  4. Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress? -2014
  5. Irrelevance of the classroom. -2001
  6. Is the growing level of competition good for the youth? -2014
  7. Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. -1996
  8. Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses ? -2008
  9. What is real education? -2005

3.2 Scheme implementation

  1. Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness. -2019
  2. “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. -2006
  3. Restructuring of Indian education system. -1995

3.3 Higher education

  1. Privatization of higher education in India. -2002
  2. Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges -2011

4 Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics


4.1 Character, Honesty, Ethics

  1. A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities (हर असमंजस के लिए मुस्कराहट ही चुनिन्दा साधन है) – 2022
  2. Philosophy of wantlessness is a Utopian, while materialism is a chimera. -2021
  3. Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me. -2021
  4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication (सरलता चरम परिष्करण है ) -2020
  5. Ships don’t sink because of water around them ships sink because of water that gets into them (जहाज अपने चारों तरफ के पानी के वजह से नहीं डूबा करते, जहाज पानी के अंदर समां जाने की वजह से डूबता हैं ) -2020
  6. Life is a long journey between being human and being humane.  (मनुष्य होने और मानव बनने के बीच का लम्बा सफर ही जीवन है)-2020
  7. Values are not what humanity is, but what humanity ought to be -2019
  8. Best for an individual is not necessarily best for the society -2019
  9. Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success -2019
  10. Wisdom finds truth -2019
  11. A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both. -2018
  12. Customary morality cannot be a guide to modem file. -2018
  13. We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  14. Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. -2016
  15. Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. -2015
  16. With greater power comes greater responsibility. -2014
  17. Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. -2014
  18. Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man. -2007
  19. He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. -1993

4.2 Knowledge

  1. The real is rational and the rational is real. -2021
  2. Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self (विचारपरक संकल्प स्वयं के शांतचित्त रहने का उत्प्रेरक है )-2020
  3. ‘The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values. -2018
  4. A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. -2018
  5. There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -2003
  6. Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. -1995

4.3 Compassion

  1. Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. -2017
  2. Compassion is the basic of all morality of the world -1993
  3. Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. -2015
  4. Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)-2013

4.4 Truth and reality

  1. Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right (केवल इसलिए कि आपके पास विकल्प हैं, इसका यह अर्थ कदापि नहीं है कि उनमें से किसी को भी ठीक होना ही होगा) – 2022
  2. Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it. -2018
  3. Truth is lived, not taught -1996
  4. When money speaks, the truth is silent. -1995
  5. Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. -2002

4.5 Youth, Discipline

  1. The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining (छप्पर मरम्मत करने का समय तभी होता है, जब धूप खिली हुई हो) – 2022
  2. You cannot step twice in the same river (आप उसी नदी में दोबारा नहीं उतर सकते) – 2022
  3. Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin -2008
  4. Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret -1994
  5. If youth knew, if age could. -2002
  6. Youth culture today. -1999
  7. Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? -2014

4.6 Towards excellence

  1. A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for (जहाज बन्दरगाह के भीतर सुरक्षित होता है, परन्तु इसके लिए तो वह होता नहीं है) – 2022
  2. Quick but steady wins the race. -2015
  3. Useless life is an early death. -1994
  4. Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. -1995
  5. The paths of glory lead but to the grave. -2002
  6. The pursuit of excellence. -2001

5 Women empowerment


5.1 @National Politics

  1. Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. -1997
  2. Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. -2006
  3. The new emerging women power: the ground realities. -1995

5.2 @World / Quote type

  1. Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. -2021
  2. If women ruled the world -2005
  3. The hand that rocks the cradle -2005

5.3 Empowerment overall

  1. Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality (पितृ-सत्ता की व्यवस्था नजर मैं बहुत काम आने के बावजूद सामाजिक विषमता की सबसे प्रभावी संरचना है) -2020
  2. Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. -2017
  3. If development is not engendered, it is endangered. -2016
  4. Whither women’s emancipation? -2004
  5. Empowerment alone cannot help our women. -2001
  6. Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. -1999

5.4 Compared to men

  1. Woman is god’s best creation. -1998
  2. Men have failed: let women take over. -1993
  3. Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal ?-2012

6 International issues, Internal Security, History


6.1 Globalization

  1. South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities. -2019
  2. Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. -1994
  3. ‘globalization’ vs. ‘nationalism’ -2009
  4. National identity and patriotism -2008
  5. Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. -2004
  6. The masks of new imperialism. -2003
  7. As civilization advances culture declines. -2003
  8. The implications of globalization for India. -2000
  9. My vision of an ideal world order. -2001
  10. India’s contribution to world wisdom. -1998
  11. The world of the twenty-first century. -1998
  12. Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. -2010

6.2 International Org./ Bilateral

  1. Technology as the silent factor in international relations (अंतर्राष्ट्रीय संबंधों मैं मौन करक के रूप मैं प्रौद्योगिकी) -2020
  2. Has the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world ? -2017
  3. Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities -1996
  4. The global order: political and economic -1993
  5. India’s role in promoting ASEAN co-operation. -2004
  6. Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement -2006

6.3 Security

  1. Management of Indian border dispute is a complex task. -2018
  2. In the Indian context , both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism -2011
  3. Are we a ‘soft’ state ? -2009
  4. Good fences make good neighbours -2009
  5. Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? -2007
  6. Terrorism and world peace -2005
  7. True religion cannot be misused. -1997

6.4 History

  1. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. -2021
  2. Geography may remain the same ; history need not. -2010

7 Science-Technology


7.1 Science and Religion

  1. Spirituality and scientific temper. -2003
  2. Science and Mysticism : Are they compatible ?-2012

7.2 Science and Education

  1. What is research, but a blind date with knowledge! -2021
  2. Modern technological education and human values. -2002
  3. Value-based science and education. -1999
  4. The march of science and the erosion of human values. -2001

7.3 Computer and internet

  1. The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced. -2021
  2. Technology as the silent factor in international relations (अंतर्राष्ट्रीय संबंधों मैं मौन करक के रूप मैं प्रौद्योगिकी) -2020
  3. Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling. -2019
  4. ‘Social media’ is inherently a selfish medium. -2017
  5. Cyberspace and Internet : Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run -2016
  6. Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. -2006
  7. The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. -2000
  8. Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. -1993

7.4 Sci-Tech: others

  1. Technology cannot replace manpower. -2015
  2. Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation-2013
  3. The modern doctor and his patients. -1997
  4. The lure of space. -2004

 

Appendix: Linear Paper of UPSC Essay 2022

Answer one-one essay from each section in 1000-1200 words

Section-A

  1. Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence (आर्थिक समृद्धि हासिल करने के मामले में वन सर्वोत्तम प्रतिमान होते हैं।) – 2022
  2. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world (कवि संसार के अनधिकृत रूप से विधायक होते हैं) – 2022
  3. History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man (इतिहास वैज्ञानिक मनुष्य के रूमानी मनुष्य पर विजय हासिल करने का एक सिलसिला है।) – 2022
  4. A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ship is for (जहाज बन्दरगाह के भीतर सुरक्षित होता है, परन्तु इसके लिए तो वह होता नहीं है) & 2022

Section-B

  1. The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining (छप्पर मरम्मत करने का समय तभी होता है, जब धूप खिली हुई हो) – 2022
  2. You cannot step twice in the same river (आप उसी नदी में दोबारा नहीं उतर सकते) – 2022
  3. A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities (हर असमंजस के लिए मुस्कराहट ही चुनिन्दा साधन है) – 2022
  4. Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right (केवल इसलिए कि आपके पास विकल्प हैं, इसका यह अर्थ कदापि नहीं है कि उनमें से किसी को भी ठीक होना ही होगा) – 2022

Appendix: Model Answer pe Free Lecture & Powerpoint

  1. Free Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwYR7WJw1-QWw2l-GA5DVW0EThFRkORf8
  2. Free Powerpoint: https://unacademy.com/content/upsc/mains-paper-analysis/

Appendix: Syllabus of Essay Paper in UPSC

Essay: Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion, and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.