Topic-wise Essay Questions from UPSC Mains (1993 – 2016)

Paper I of the UPSC civil services mains exam is the Essay Paper. Here, you will have to write two essays out of a few given topics. The paper is for a total of 250 marks and its marks are counted for the final score. In this article, we have listed all the essay topics asked in the UPSC mains exam from 1993 to 2016. We have also classified the essay questions into topics to make your preparation easier.


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

Federalism, Decentralization

  1. The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects. (1998)
  2. Water resources should be under the control of the central government. (2004)
  3. Evaluation of panchayati raj system in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people. (2007)
  4. Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? (2007)
  5. Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication. (2011)
  6. Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality. (2016)
  7. Water disputes between States in federal India. (2016)


  1. Judicial activism. (1997)
  2. Judicial activism and Indian democracy. (2004)
  3. Justice must reach the poor. (2005)

Democracy/India since independence

  1. My vision of India in 2001 AD. (1993)
  2. Whither Indian democracy? (1995)
  3. What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. (1997)
  4. Why should we be proud of being Indians? (2000)
  5. What have we gained from our democratic set-up? (2001)
  6. How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? (2003)
  7. National identity and patriotism. (2008)
  8. 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)
  9. Is the colonial mentality hindering India’s success? (2013)
  10. Dreams which should not let India sleep. (2015)

Social justice/Poverty

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

Economic growth and development

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

Media & Society

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

Indian culture & Society

  1. The Indian society at the crossroads. (1994)
  2. New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion. (1996)
  3. The composite culture of India. (1998)
  4. Youth culture today. (1999)
  5. Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. (2000)
  6. Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? (2000)
  7. As civilization advances culture declines. (2003)
  8. From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? (2010)


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

Economic sectors/MNCs

  1. Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs. (1994)
  2. Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. (2006)
  3. BPO boom in India. (2007)
  4. Special economic zone: boon or bane? (2008)
  5. Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? (2009)
  6. 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)
  7. Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India? (2014)


  1. Restructuring of Indian education system. (1995)
  2. Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. (1996)
  3. Irrelevance of the classroom. (2001)
  4. Privatization of higher education in India. (2002)
  5. Modern technological education and human values. (2002)
  6. What is real education? (2005)
  7. “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. (2006)
  8. Independent thinking should be encouraged right from the childhood. (2007)
  9. Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses? (2008)
  10. Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges. (2011)
  11. Is the growing level of competition good for the youth? (2014)
  12. Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress? (2014)
  13. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil. (2015)


  1. Men have failed: let women take over. (1993)
  2. The new emerging women power: the ground realities. (1995)
  3. Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. (1997)
  4. Woman is god’s best creation. (1998)
  5. Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. (1999)
  6. Empowerment alone cannot help our women. (2001)
  7. Whither women’s emancipation? (2004)
  8. If women ruled the world. (2005)
  9. The hand that rocks the cradle. (2005)
  10. Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. (2006)
  11. Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal? (2012)
  12. If development is not engendered, it is endangered. (2016)


  1. Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret. (1994)
  2. Useless life is an early death. (1994)
  3. Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. (1995)
  4. When money speaks, the truth is silent. (1995)
  5. Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. (1995)
  6. Truth is lived, not taught. (1996)
  7. True religion cannot be misused. (1997)
  8. Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. (2002)
  9. The paths of glory lead but to the grave. (2002)
  10. If youth knew, if age could. (2002)
  11. There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (2003)
  12. Be the change you want to see in others. (2013)
  13. With greater power comes greater responsibility. (2014)
  14. Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. (2014)
  15. Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. (2015)


  1. He who reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. (1993)
  2. Compassion is the basis of all morality. (1993)
  3. Attitude makes habit, habit makes character and character makes a man. (2007)
  4. Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin. (2008)
  5. Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. (2015)
  6. Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. (2016)


  1. The global order: political and economic. (1993)
  2. Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. (1994)
  3. The world of the twenty-first century. (1998)
  4. The implications of globalization for India. (2000)
  5. My vision of an ideal world order. (2001)
  6. The masks of new imperialism. (2003)
  7. Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. (2004)
  8. ‘Globalization’ vs. ‘nationalism’. (2009)
  9. Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. (2010)

Science & Tech

  1. The modern doctor and his patients. (1997)
  2. Value-based science and education. (1999)
  3. The march of science and the erosion of human values. (2001)
  4. Spirituality and scientific temper. (2003)
  5. The lure of space. (2004)
  6. Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible? (2012)
  7. Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation. (2013)
  8. Technology cannot replace manpower. (2015)


  1. Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. (1993)
  2. The cyberworld: its charms and challenges. (2000)
  3. Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. (2006)
  4. Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run. (2016)

International organisations/relations

  1. Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities. (1996)
  2. India’s role in promoting ASEAN co-operation. (2004)
  3. Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement. (2006)


  1. Terrorism and world peace. (2005)
  2. Are we a ‘soft’ state? (2009)
  3. Good fences make good neighbours. (2009)
  4. In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism. (2011)


  1. India’s contribution to world wisdom. (1998)
  2. The pursuit of excellence. (2001)
  3. Geography may remain the same; history need not. (2010)
  4. Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? (2014)
  5. Quick but steady wins the race. (2015)


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