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Essay Question papers

Listed below are the questions for the UPSC essay paper from previous years. This should give you a fair idea of what types of essay topics are given. There are two sections and you are expected to attempt one from each section. There are enough options so do go through the topics and think for a while before you choose one. If you are looking for UPSC Essay Paper with Answer and IAS Essay Topics with Answers please visit this link and go through these essays and look for samples of winning essays.

Model Question Cum Answer Booklets for Mains Examination

UPSC Essay Question Paper 2021

UPSC Essay Question Paper 2020

UPSC Essay Question Paper 2019

UPSC Essay Question Paper 2018

Time Allowed: 3 hours

Maximum Marks: 250


  1. Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India
  2. A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge
  3. Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere
  4. Management of Indian border disputes – a complex task


  1. Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life
  2. “The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values
  3. A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both
  4. Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it

IAS (Main) written Essay paper 2017

Time Allowed: 3 hours

Maximum Marks: 250


  1. Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for majority of farmers in India.
  2. Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India.
  3. Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms.
  4. Has the Non- Alignment Movement(NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world.


  1. Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
  2. Fulfillment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth.
  3. We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.
  4. Social media is inherently a selfish medium.

IAS Essay paper 2016

Time Allowed: 3 hours

Maximum Marks: 250


  1. If development is not engendered, it is endangered
  2. Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed
  3. Water disputes between states in federal India
  4. Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare


  1. Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality
  2. Cyberspace and internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run
  3. Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms
  4. Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality

UPSC Essay Question paper 2015

Time Allowed: 3 hours

Maximum Marks: 250


  1. Lending Hands to someone is better than giving a dole.
  2. Quick but steady wins the race.
  3. Character of an institution is reflected in its leader.
  4. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever.


  1. Technology cannot replace manpower.
  2. Crisis faced in India moral or economic.
  3. Dreams which should not let India sleep.
  4. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth ?

IAS (Main) written Essay paper 2014

Time Allowed: 3 hours

Maximum Marks: 250


  1. With greater power comes greater responsibility.
  2. Is the growing level of competition good for the youth?
  3. Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress?
  4. Words are Sharper than the two-edged sword.


  1. Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country?
  2. Is sting operation an invasion on privacy?
  3. Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India?
  4. Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India?

Examiners will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of this material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his ability to think constructively and to present his ideas concisely, logically and effectively.
Candidate have to write essay on any one topic of the given topics.

Essay Paper for 2013 IAS Exam

1 Be the change you want to see in others- Gandhiji.
2 Is the Colonial mentality hindering India's Success?
3 GDP(Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH(Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the well being of a country.
4 Science and Technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the Nation.

Essay Question Paper for 2012 IAS Exam

1.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.
2.Is the criticism that the 'Public-private-Partnership'(PPP) model for development more of a bane in The Indian context justified?
3.Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible?
4.Managing work and home- is the Indian Working women getting a fair deal?

Essay Paper for 2011 UPSC IAS Exam

1.Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental Implications.
2.Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it?
3.credit-based higher education system status, opportunities and challenges.
4.Im the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are Crucial in combating terrorism.

Essay Paper for 2010 Civil service Exam

1. Geography may 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-Buffett model a natural progression or a paradigm shift?

Essay Paper for 2009 UPSC Exam

1. 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 neighbours."
5.'Globalism' vs. 'Nationalism'

Essay Paper for 2008 IAS exam

1. Role of media in good governance
2. National Identity and Patriotism
3. Special Economic Zones: Boon or Bane
4. Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin
5. Urbanization and its hazards
6. Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses?

Essay Paper for 2007 IAS Civil service Exam

1. Independent thinking should be encouraged right from 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.

Essay Paper for 2006 IAS Exam

1. 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.

Essay Paper for 2005 Civil service Exam

1. 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

Essay Paper for 2004 IAS Exam

1. India's Role in Promoting ASEAN Co-operation.
2. Judicial Activism and Indian Democracy.
3. Whiter Women's Emancipation?
4. Globalisation and Its Impact on Indian Culture.
5. The Lure of Space.
6. Water Resources Should Be Under the Control of Central Government.

Essay Paper for 2003 UPSC Civil Services Exam

1. 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.
Sprituality and Scientific temper.

Essay Paper for 2002 IAS Exam

1. 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. Privatisation of Higher Education in India.
6. Responsibility of media in democracy.

Essay Paper for 2001 UPSC Exam

1. 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 value.
4. Irrelevance of the classroom.
5. The pursuit of excellence
6. Empowerment alone cannot help our women.

Essay Paper for 2000 IAS Exam

1. Why should we be proud of being Indians ?
2. The cyber world : 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 globalisation for India.
6. Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values.

Essay Paper for 1999 IAS Exam

1. Women's empowerment : Challenges and prospects
2. The youth culture today
3. Mass media and cultural invasion
4. Resource management in the Indian context
5. Value-based science and education
6. Reservations, politics and empowerment

Essay Paper for 1998 IAS Civil service Exam

1. 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

Essay Paper for 1997 IAS Exam

1. What we have notlearnt during fifty years of Independence.
2. Judicial activism.
3. Greater political power alone will not improvewomen's plight.
4. True religioncannot be misused.
5. The moderndoctor and his patients.
6. Urbanization is a blessing in disguise.