Upsc Essays Mrunal

  1. Instructions
  2. Section-A: 125 Marks
  3. Section-B: 125 Marks
  4. Analysis of Essay-2017 Paper
  5. Essay-list: Topic wise last 25 years (1993-2017)
    1. 1) India: Democracy, administration, Society, culture
    2. 2) Economy, Development
    3. 3) Education
    4. 4) Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics
    5. 5) Women empowerment
    6. 6) International issues, Internal Security
    7. 7) Science-Technology

Instructions to Essay 2017

  • On 28th October 2017, UPSC conducted the Essay paper for the civil services mains examination, with following instructions:
  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in medium other than authorized one.
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

Section-A: 125 Marks

Write any one of the following essay in 1000-1200 words.

  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?

Section-B: 125 Marks

Write any one of the following essay in 1000-1200 words.

  1. Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
  2. Fulfilment 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.

Essay-2017 Paper Compared to Previous Years

Essay and GS In recent yearsEssay-2017
Since 2014: Total 8 essay topics divided equally in two sections and you’ve to write one essay from each sectionSystem continued
2016: Nothing directly from globalization.Asked about relevance of NAM in multipolar word
  • Both 2014, 15 they focused on value education.
  • 2016: shifted focused to ‘innovation’
Reverted back to education and its role in shaping the destiny of the nation.
  • 2016: cooperative federalism myth or reality
Asked about federalism in context of new economic measures.
  • 2016: asked about engenderment of development.
Examiner’s concern for women empowerment continues under the new essay on ‘new women’s fulfillment’.
Fear of technology
  • 2015: Technology cannot replace manpower.
  • 2016: 1) Cyberspace- blessing/Curse? 2) Digital economy creates  inequality?
Trend continues with new essay on “social media is a selfish medium”.
Fear of capitalism, need for inclusivity
  • 2015: (1) Can capitalism bring inclusive growth? (2) Crisis faced in India – moral or economic.
  • 2016: (1) Near jobless growth: in India An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. (2) Digital economy: A leveler or a source of economic inequality.
  • The fear becomes ‘sector-specific’ i.e. Agriculture can’t provide subsistence to majority of the farmers.
  • Nitiayog 3 year document & Eco.Survey 2016-17 v2. Both highlighted the problems behind this phenomenon, and how to address it. And I had covered it in my three parts summary article series.
GSM4-2014: “All human beings aspire for happiness. Do you agree? What does happiness mean to you? Explain with examples.”
  • Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.

Essay-list: Topic wise last 25 years (1993-2017)

Each year, along with essay paper, I also upload topicwise compilation of all essays asked since 1993. However, this time, I’ve further refined the internal classification of the topics. Here it goes:

1) India: Democracy, administration, Society, culture

1.1India Since Independence

  • Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success? -2013
  • 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
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep. -2015
  • Why should we be proud of being Indians? -2000
  • Whither Indian democracy? -1995
  • How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? -2003
  • What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. -1997
  • What have we gained from our democratic set-up? -2001
  • My vision of India in 2001 a.d. -1993

1.2Federalism, Decentralization

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


  • How should a civil servant conduct himself? -2003
  • Politics without ethics is a disaster. -1995
  • The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy -1996
  • Need for transparency in public administration -1996
  • The country’s need for a better disaster management system. -2000
  • Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. -1994


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

1.5Poverty, Social Justice

  • Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence. -1993
  • The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. -2009
  • Food security for sustainable national development -2005
  • Reservation, politics and empowerment. -1999

1.6Indian Culture and Values

  • Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
  • The composite culture of India. -1998
  • The Indian society at the crossroads. -1994
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
  • New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996

1.7Media, TV & Cinema

  • Responsibility of media in a democracy. -2002
  • Role of media in good governance -2008
  • Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it? -2011
  • How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets? -2007
  • Is sting operation an invasion on privacy? -2014
  • Mass media and cultural invasion. -1999
  • The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India. -1998

2) Economy, Development

2.1Growth vs Development

  • Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality. -2016
  • Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. -2016
  • Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. -2016
  • Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. -2015
  • Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country? -2014
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country-2013
  • Can capitalism bring inclusive growth? -2015
  • Resource management in the Indian context. -1999

2.2Environment vs Development

  • Ecological considerations need not hamper development. -1993
  • Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. -2006
  • Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? -2010
  • Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. -1997
  • Urbanisation and its hazards -2008


  • Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. -2006
  • Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs -1994
  • Special economic zone: boon or bane -2008
  • 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

2.4Sectors of Economy

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

3) Education

3.1Values in Education

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

3.2Scheme implementation

  •  “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. -2006
  • Restructuring of Indian education system. -1995

3.3Higher education

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

4) Quote based, Philosophy, Ethics

4.1Character, honesty

  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  • Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. -2016
  • Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. -2015
  • With greater power comes greater responsibility. -2014
  • Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. -2014
  • Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man.  -2007
  • He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. -1993


  • There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -2003
  • Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. -1995


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


  • Truth is lived, not taught -1996
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent. -1995
  • Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. -2002

4.5Youth, Discipline

  • Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin -2008
  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret -1994
  • If youth knew, if age could. -2002
  • Youth culture today. -1999
  • Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? -2014

4.6Towards excellence

  • Quick but steady wins the race. -2015
  • Useless life is an early death. -1994
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. -1995
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave. -2002
  • The pursuit of excellence. -2001

5) Women empowerment

[email protected] Politics

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

[email protected] / Quote type

  • If women ruled the world -2005
  • The hand that rocks the cradle -2005

5.3Empowerment overall

  • Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. -2017
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered. -2016
  • Whither women’s emancipation? -2004
  • Empowerment alone cannot help our women. -2001
  • Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. -1999

5.4Compared to men

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

6) International issues, Internal Security


  • Geography may remain the same ; history need not. -2010
  • Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. -1994
  • ‘ globalization’ vs. ‘ nationalism’ -2009
  • National identity and patriotism -2008
  • Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. -2004
  • The masks of new imperialism. -2003
  • As civilization advances culture declines. -2003
  • The implications of globalization for India. -2000
  • My vision of an ideal world order. -2001
  • India’s contribution to world wisdom. -1998
  • The world of the twenty-first century. -1998
  • Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. -2010

6.2International Org./ Bilateral

  • Has the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world ? -2017
  • Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities -1996
  • The global order: political and economic -1993
  • India’s role in promoting ASEAN co-operation. -2004
  • Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement -2006


  • Good fences make good neighbours -2009
  • Terrorism and world peace -2005
  • True religion cannot be misused. -1997
  • In the Indian context , both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism -2011
  • Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? -2007
  • Are we a ‘soft ’ state ? -2009

7) Science-Technology

7.1Science and Religion

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

7.2Science and Education

  • Modern technological education and human values. -2002
  • Value-based science and education. -1999
  • The march of science and the erosion of human values. -2001

7.3Computer and internet

  • ‘Social media’ is inherently a selfish medium. -2017
  • Cyberspace and Internet : Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run -2016
  • Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. -2006
  • The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. -2000
  • Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. -1993

7.4Sci-Tech: others

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

visit for more papers.

  1. Instructions
  2. Section-A
  3. Section-B
  4. Essay-hints / Points to Consider
    1. #1: Literature and humane society
    2. #5: Modern Educator’s role


  • Write two eassys, choosing one from each of the following sections A and B in about 1000-1200 words each (2 x 125 = 250 marks)
  • Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.
  • The essay must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided. No marks will be given for answers written in medium other than authorized one.


1) There is no surer foundation for a humane society than cultivating a taste for literature among its adolescents.
मानवीय/दयाशील समाज की स्थापना के लिए, किशोरों में साहित्य-प्रेम के उपार्जन से अधिक विश्वस्त आधार कोई नहीं हैं.

2) Climate: A common good, belonging to all and meant for all.
जलवायु: एक सार्वजनिक माल, जो सभी का है, और सभी के लिए मायने रखता है.
(Quote: Pope Francis, Context: India to ratify Paris Treaty on 2nd October)

3) The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.
स्वतंत्रता की लागत दमन की कीमत से कम है.
(Context: Police brutality against the African-American in USA)

4) Democracy, good governance and modernity can’t be imported from outside a country.
लोकतंत्र, सुशासन और आधुनिकता को देश के बाहर से आयात नहीं किया जा सकता।


5) The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
आधुनिक शिक्षक का कार्य जंगलों की कटौती नहीं, परन्तु रेगिस्तान की सिंचाई करना है.
(Quote: C.S.Lewis, Context: New Education Policy; and since last two mains continuously topics related to youth, education, innovation.)

6) The only place where ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is dictionary.
केवल (अंग्रेजी) शब्दकोश ही ऐसी जगह है, जहां ‘सफलता’ ‘काम” से पहले आती है.
(Context: Since last two Mains at least one motivational quote related to work, management etc.)

7) Peace cannot be kept by force but can be achieved only by mutual-understanding.
बल नही केवल आपसी समझ से ही शान्ति को स्थापित रखा जा सकता है.
(Quote: Einstein, Context: Uri Attack)

8) Root cause of our social and national degradation is our treatment of women.
महिलाओ के प्रति हमारा व्यवहार हमारी सामाजिक और राष्ट्रीय गिरावट का मूल कारण है.
(Quote: Swami Vivekanand, Context: Daily news, Movie “Pink”; since last 3 Mains, no Essay on women, so it might end up as backbreaking moveTM to Current-Affairs as in CSAT-2016!)

Essay-hints / Points to Consider

Due to paucity of time, I’m unable to prepare hints/brainstorm points for all eight essays but you’re most of welcome to put them in the comment section. The good ones will be added back in this article.

#1: Literature and humane society

  • How can literature (reading/writing) as a ‘hobby’ make a person ‘humanist’?
  • Are there any age-appropriate novels/ poems that can help teenagers to develop a ‘humane’ outlook?
Harry Potter (J.K.Rowling)Racial struggle between pure-blood wizards vs. others.
Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)Post-apocalyptic nation where “Union” government itself organizes reality show cum ‘gladiator’ type matches among 12 states. Protagonist is a girl from coal-mining area who has seen poverty, hunger and child labour throughout her life, and winning such match would help her escape from all of it.
Charlie and Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket)plot similar to hunger games- young boy wants to win a lottery based competition to help his poor family.

Shouldn’t attempt this essay, if your knowledge of literature is confined to above stated Hollywood blockbusters (or to the titles prescribed in your literature optional subject). You must narrate classical titles as well- to connect with the uncle-ji, babu-ji demography of examiners!

To kill a mocking bird (Harper Lee):Through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who tries to defend the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape in a racially prejudiced town in USA of 1930s.
SimilarlyAnimal farm,1984, Diary of a young girl, Les Miserable, Tale of Two cities; Charlotte’s Web, Fahrenheit 451, Old man and the sea; Plays of Shakespeare; Short stories of Tagore, Premchand et al.

When you cite example of a novel- it should not merely narrate the plot- but rather highlight the values that will imbibe humane outlook in its reader.

  • Doesn’t school syllabus already have poems, short stories of Tagore, Prem-chand et al? Has it cultivated the appreciation of literature among teens? or students merely merely mugging up points to pass exam?

Focus your Essay around how literature helps making a person humane. Don’t digress too much bashing the present education system or the ills/intolerance in the society or how students love movies and video games more.

  • In highschool, apart from prescribing supplementary reading list, what else can be done to make teenagers like literature? What are the pros and cons of just showing the hollywood / Bollywood movies based on novels?
  • Churchill won Nobel for literature (1953) for his six volume history on 2nd world war. Vajpayee- a poet and a humane prime minister. Do you know any other examples of famous personalities with fondness for literature?
  • Isn’t it too ‘extreme’ to say there is no other way to develop humane society than literature? Shouldn’t we give equal emphasis to NCC, NSS, Sports, Painting, Drama etc.?
  • Isn’t it too ‘extreme’ to believe that literature will automatically lead to humane society? The French are known as connoisseurs and patrons of art and literature, yet (some/many of them) demanding ban on ‘burkini’!

Essay should end on positive note/ conclusion- rather than focusing mainly that it’s too extreme to say/believe xyz!

#5: Modern Educator’s role

You’ve to focus on the contrasting roles: “cutting forest” vs. “irrigating desert”:

Theme: Cutting Forest

We cut forest to start farming / plantation, where prime motive is ‘mass-production’ of economic commodity with “uniform” quality. What will happen If educator teaches in this style?

  • Education shapes our sense of morality, so, isn’t it desirable to have uniform morality by cutting jungle?
  • Isn’t it desirable to have “uniform” quality in certain trades such as accountancy and civil engineering?
  • Cutting jungle means cutting over grown vegetation to make the land clean, barren, naked and exposed. Then, isn’t this required sometimes? e.g. Narration of (original) history – the religious persecutions, massacres and atrocities.
  • Will teacher fortify the youth mind against creativity, emotions and empathy. Will student become “all head, no heart”?
  • Student trained for uniformity and order – Will he fight against ill-practices by society and government?
  • Can we blame teachers of Nazi soldiers and ISIS terrorists?

Theme: Irrigating desert:

Desert irrigation (without subsequent farming or plantation) may lead to growth of any variety of plants. Not necessarily that all plants will be uniform, not necessarily that all plants will be of economic value. What will happen If educator teaches in this style?

  • Moisture reduces dryness. Will students become less apathetic and cynical towards life?
  • Will it encourage students to take of liberal arts and humanities subjects after highschool? Is this desirable for current economy?
  • If educator gives only water (=ideas?), then student’s mind (=desert?) will grow whatever seeds fall from self-reflection, parents, society, movies, internet? Is this desirable? At what stage- school or college?
  • What safeguards should the teacher take while irrigating the desert – to ensure his students…
    • don’t start glamorizing drug, sex, hippi-culture, anarchy, sedition and LWE?
    • don’t criticize everything under the sun as theH**** columnists.
    • don’t protest against everything above the earth at Jantar-Mantar.
  • Do you know any teacher who ‘irrigated’ minds of his student? Aristotle to Alexander, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to Vivekanda, Chanakya to Chandragupta?

Personal glory of teacher (in freedom struggle / scientific discovery) is less irrelevant, because the essay topic here is about nurturing student.

  • Is the present system conductive for teacher to work like this?- when
    • syllabus is prescribed by government.
    • institutes lack the instruments and infrastructure to pursue R&D/creativity.
    • students themselves want ‘exam-oriented’ material instead of studying DD Basu?

Focus your essay on educator’s role. Don’t digress too much on the ills of society as a result of faulty education system or the nuisance of coaching factories.

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