List of Essays Asked in Civil Services Mains Exam

List of Essays: UPSC checks the coherence in the candidate’s writing, the construct of thoughts in his/her head, and the way one can systematically put them on paper through its essay paper, which consists of eight themes separated into two sections with a maximum mark of 250 and a time limit of three hours. The subjects span from current social challenges to ethical and philosophical questions.

Reading and evaluating the previous year’s essay paper will give you a solid idea of the question’s nature. You must write an essay on one of the six to eight subjects provided to you. There have been six themes since 1996. There were seven themes in 1995 and 1994, and there were eight topics before that. As a result, it’s reasonable to expect that the number of topics covered will fluctuate in the next years. However, there will be plenty of options to choose from and write on.

Pattern of Essay in UPSC Mains

The Essay is Paper I of the UPSC Civil Services mains exam. IAS applicants who have passed the prelims must prepare two essays on a variety of topics. The paper is worth a total of 250 points, and its results are used to determine the Final Merit List. 

From 1994 to 2018, we’ve compiled a list of all the essay topics asked in the UPSC mains test. To help your preparation easier, we’ve divided the last 25 years’ essay questions into topics.

  • 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 the 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.

What is UPSC looking for in an Essay?

You will be required to respond to the question in various essays. Your essay should be more focused on the issue, with well-organized thoughts and concise writing. Your marks in the UPSC Exam are solely based on the topic; nevertheless, the examiner will look at your grammar, coherence, and the way you have structured your content.

How to make Transition through One Para to Another

Making proper transitions through one paragraph to another is important. It can be done in three ways:

  • Create a connection sentence at the end of the paragraph
  • Add a question at the end of the paragraph to create interest for the next paragraph
  • Use transition words to signal change in the paragraph

UPSC Essay Topics-Important Areas

Usually, the UPSC Essay questions cover these areas:

  • Democracy
  • Media & Society
  • Judiciary
  • Philosophies
  • Education
  • Environment/urbanization
  • Social justice/poverty
  • Economic sector
  • Indian Culture & Society
  • Character
  • Administration

List of UPSC Essay Topics 

It is critical to be familiar with all of the significant UPSC essay topics that were frequently asked in past exam papers. Let’s have a look at some crucial UPSC essay themes to get you started:


  1. Life is long journey between human being and being humane
  2. Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self
  3. Ships do not sink because of water around them, ships sink because of water that gets into them
  4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  5. Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have
  6. There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless
  7. Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality
  8. Technology as the silent factor in international relations


  1. Wisdom finds truth
  2. Values are not what humanity is, but what humanity ought to be
  3. Best for an Individual is not necessarily best for the society
  4. Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success
  5. South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and identities.
  6. Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness
  7. Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy
  8. Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling.


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


  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?
  5. Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
  6. Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth.
  7. We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.
  8. Social media is inherently a selfish medium.


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


  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 cleverer devil.
  5. Technology cannot replace manpower.
  6. Crisis faced in India – moral or economic.
  7. Dreams which should not let India sleep.
  8. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth?


  1. Is cricket the hindering the growth of other Indian sports and games? 
  2. Should India invest in sports and games? 
  3. Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India?
  4. Social media and privacy. 
  5. Is sting operation an invasion on privacy?
  6. India should claim its rightful place in tourism. 
  7. Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India?
  8. India as a soft power. 
  9. With greater power comes greater responsibility.
  10. The great aim of education is not knowledge but action. 
  11. Quality of higher education in India. 
  12. Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress?


  1. Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)
  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 wellbeing of a country
  4. Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation.


  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 is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context, justified?
  3. Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible?
  4. Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal?


  1. Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative , economic and developmental implication
  2. Does Indian Cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it
  3. Credit – based higher education system – status , opportunities and challenges
  4. In the Indian context , Both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism


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


  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 neighbors”
  5. ‘Globlisation’ vs. ‘Nationalism’


  1. Role of Media in good governance
  2. National Identity and Patriotism
  3. Special Economic Zone : Boon or Bane
  4. Discipline means success , anarchy means ruin
  5. Urbanisation and Its Hazards
  6. Is an Egalitarian society possible by educating the masses?


  1. Independent thinking should be encouraged right form 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.


  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.


  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


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


  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.
  6. Spirituality and Scientific temper.


  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. Privatization of higher education in India.
  6. Responsibility of media in a democracy.


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


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


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


  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.


  1. What we have not learnt during fifty years of Independence.
  2. Judicial activism.
  3. Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight.
  4. True religion cannot be misused.
  5. The modern doctor and his patients.
  6. Urbanization is a blessing in disguise.


  1. Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education.
  2. Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities
  3. New cults and Godmen: a threat to traditional religion
  4. The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy
  5. Need for transparency in public administration
  6. Truth is lived, not taught


  1. Politics without ethics is a disaster.
  2. The new emerging women Power: the ground realities.
  3. When money speaks, the truth is silent.
  4. Whither Indian democracy?
  5. Restructuring of Indian education system.
  6. Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation.
  7. Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.


  1. Youth is a blunder, Manhood a struggle, oldage a regret
  2. The Indian society at the crossroads.
  3. Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts.
  4. Useless life is an early death.
  5. Politics, bureaucracy and business – Fatal Triangle.
  6. Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs


  1. My vision of India in 2001 A.D.
  2. The global order: political and economic
  3. He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king.
  4. Compassion is the basic of all morality would
  5. Men have failed: let women take over.
  6. Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence.
  7. Ecological considerations need not hamper development.
  8. Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution.

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