UPSC Essay Topics - Download Essay Previous Year Question Paper UPSC | Get UPSC Essay PYQ

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : July 11th, 2022

UPSC Essay Topics have been a topic of discussion every year due to their uncertainty. The Essay Topics for UPSC range from diverse topics including economic growth, women empowerment, art & culture, media & society, social justice or poverty, education, famous quotes from eminent personalities, etc. One should at least analyze the last 10 years' Essay Previous Year Question Paper UPSC to get an idea about Important Essay Topics for UPSC 2023.

Practicing the UPSC Essay Previous Year Question Paper helps during the UPSC Mains exam and the aspirant, through immense practice, can ace the essay paper. The UPSC Essay exam plays a very decisive role in the UPSC Mains examination. The paper carries 250 marks and candidates are expected to write two essays in three hours, ranging between 1000 to 1200 words. Candidates should read newspapers daily, to get an idea about the Essay Topics for UPSC. 

Table of Content

UPSC Essay Topics 2023

The UPSC Essay paper is one of the 9 papers of the UPSC Mains. The essay paper analysis the perspective of the candidates on social, economic, and political issues. UPSC generally picks up topics that are either Current Affairs oriented or are impacting the present society to a large extent. Some of the relevant UPSC Essay Topics which could be asked during the UPSC Exam may include:

  • Religion
  • Social Media
  • Foreign Policy
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Democracy
  • Urbanization
  • Globalization
  • Bureaucracy/Civil Service
  • e-Governance
  • Constitution
  • Water Security
  • Tourism
  • Media
  • Judiciary
  • Poverty/Hunger/Food Security
  • Human Resources- Employment
  • Innovation
  • Development
  • Education/Higher Education/Foreign University in Higher Education
  • Disaster Management
  • Nuclear Energy/ Nuke Power/Disarmament
  • Health
  • Communalism/ Secularism
  • Swachh Bharat
  • Federalism
  • United Nations
  • Society/Diversity
  • Science & Technology
  • Political/Electoral Reforms/Democracy – ADR Statistics
  • Capital Punishment
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Corruption
  • Terrorism/LWE/Internal Security/Cyber Security
  • Human Development
  • Ethics/Values/ Morals
  • Environment/ Sustainable Development
  • Women Empowerment/Gender Bias

Essay Topics for UPSC 2022

Essay PYQ UPSC 2022 is now available for download. The UPSC Essay Topics asked in the mains 2022 exam are also mentioned below. 

Essay Previous Year Question Paper UPSC 2022 PDF

  • Forests are the best case studies for economic excellence
  • Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world 
  • History is a series of victories won by the scientific man over the romantic man
  • A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ship is for
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining
  • You cannot step twice in the same river
  • A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities
  • Just because you have a choice, it does not mean that any of them has to be right

Essay Previous Year Question Paper UPSC

One of the best sources to practice UPSC Essay is by referring to the UPSC Essay Previous Year Question Paper. 

UPSC Essay Topics Previous Years

The essay paper is an important aspect of the UPSC CSE. Having a regular reading habit and watching analysis of topics through Current Affairs Videos helps a lot during the UPSC Essay paper. Practicing at least one topic from the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers would definitely help in the long run. 

Below is a list compiled of some of the topics that were asked in the UPSC Essay paper, and would be beneficial for candidates if they practice it.

  • Culture is what we are, civilization is what we have
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
  • What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!
  • Best for an individual is not necessarily best for the society
  • Wisdom finds truth
  • Ships don't sink because of water around them, ships sink because of water that gets into them
  • Patriarchy is the least noticed yet the most significant structure of social inequality
  • Technology as the silent factor in international relations
  • Mindful manifesto is the catalyst to a tranquil self
  • History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.
  • There are better practices to “best practices”.
  • Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success
  • Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling
  • Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.
  • The real is rational and the rational is real.
  • South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities.
  • Values are not what humanity is, but what humanity ought to be.
  • Life is a long journey between human beings and being humane.
  • There can be no social justice without economic prosperity but economic prosperity without social justice is meaningless.
  • The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced.
  • Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy.
  • Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness.

Philosophical Essay Topics UPSC

Every year, UPSC tends to give two or more essay topics related to philosophical thoughts or quotes famous lines by eminent personalities. To cover and know a basic background to write on philosophical topics, for reference students can refer to Philosophy Books for UPSC. The topics asked on Philosophical/ Quotes asked are-

  • Be the change you want to see in others. 
  • Reality does not conform to the ideal but confirms it.
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave. 
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. 
  • If youth knew if age could. 
  • An Useless life is an early death.
  • Search for truth can only be attained through spiritual means. 
  • Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. 
  • Words are sharper than a two-edged sword.
  • Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilization. 
  • True religion cannot be misused. 
  • Truth is lived, not taught. 
  • With greater power comes greater responsibility. 
  • There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. 
  • “The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values. 
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent. 
  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret. 
  • Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.
  • Philosophy of witlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.
  • The real is rational and the rational is real.
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered. 

Essay UPSC Topics on Indian Culture & Society 

The essay topics on Indian Culture and Society are always very diverse. Static content on this can be read from the basic books on Society referred to during the exam. The topics asked are-

  • Are new cults and godmen threat to the traditional religion.
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values.
  • Indian society is at a crossroads. 
  • The composite culture of Indian society
  • Where the Youth culture of today heading towards
  • As civilization progresses, culture declines. 
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the Gates-Buffet model- a natural progression or a paradigm shift?

UPSC Essay Topics on Education

Education is one of the favourite topics of UPSC. Mostly, every year an essay topic related to education is asked in the paper. To cover this topic, one needs to be updated with the Current Affairs to include major changes and developments related to the field. The topics asked are-

  • Privatization of higher education in India. 
  • Does growth in literacy correspond to growth in education. 
  • Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil. 
  • Concept of Real Education
  • Restructuring of the Indian education system with respect to the NEP 
  • Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms. 
  • “Education for all”: myth or reality. 
  • Credit-based higher education system – What future it holds in the Indian Education System
  • Independent thinking should be encouraged right from childhood.
  • Modern technological education and human values. 
  • Are standardized tests the correct way to measure academic ability or progress?
  • Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses? 
  • Future of growing competition in exams beneficial for the youth? 

Science and Technology Essay PYQ UPSC

Science and Technology essay topics can be generally covered from Current Affairs. Students can watch analysis of topics or Current Affairs Videos to write a multidimensional essay. The topics may include:

  • The modern doctor and his patients. 
  • The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced.
  • Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India. 
  • Technology cannot replace manpower. 
  • Social media is inherently a selfish medium. 
  • Value-based science and education. 
  • Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run. 
  • The lure of space. 
  • Spirituality and scientific temper.
  • The march of science and the erosion of human values.
  • The cyberworld: Its charms and challenges.
  • Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible? 
  • Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. 
  • Science and technology are the panaceas for the growth and security of the nation. 

UPSC Essay PYQ on Women Empowerment

UPSC encourages gender equality in the workplace and hence, topics on women are always favorite. Through the essay, the main aim is to understand the candidate's level of thinking and critical thinking ability. Stating data, references and day-to-day examples can be added while writing essays, which will fetch extra marks.

Some of the topics related to women and women empowerment include:

  • Challenges and prospects of Women empowerment
  • Ground realities of the new emerging women power
  • Fulfillment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. 
  • Is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal- Managing work and home?
  • Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
  • What if all the developed countries had women as their heads. 
  • Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight.
  • Whither women’s emancipation? 
  • Woman is God's best creation.
  • Empowerment alone cannot help our women.
  • Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. 

UPSC Essay Questions on Polity & Administration 

To cover Polity and Administration topics, one can gain basic knowledge from Polity Books for UPSC and Public Administration Books for UPSC. These books provide static knowledge about the relevant issues and their background, which can be used while writing the essays.

The essays on the topic include:

  • How the evaluation of the Panchayati raj system in India would lead to the eradication of power to people. 
  • How should a civil servant conduct himself? 
  • Water disputes between States in federal India. 
  • The fatal triangle of Politics, bureaucracy, and business
  • Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic, and developmental implications. 
  • Water resources should be under the control of the central government. 
  • Justice must reach the poor. 
  • Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? 
  • Politics without ethics is a disaster. 
  • The language politics in India: its past, present, and future. 
  • Is a better disaster management system need of the hour?
  • Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality. 
  • Judicial activism and Indian democracy. 
  • Need for transparency in public administration. 
  • The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy. 

UPSC PYQ Essay on Economic Growth, Development, Sectors

Essays on economic growth, development and MNC sectors are asked mostly every year in the UPSC Essay Paper. To write essays on these topics, one can refer to Economy Notes for UPSC to get a general overview of the topics. Once the basics are clear, one can add examples, data, and figures, to make the essay multidimensional. 

The essays on these topics may include:

  • Can tourism be the next big thing for India?
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) should be the right indices for judging the well-being of a country. 
  • Are the Multinational corporations, saviors, or saboteurs?
  • Is the Digital economy a leveler or a source of economic inequality?
  • Is it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country?
  • Future of BPO Culture in India
  • Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. 
  • Is the near jobless growth in India, an anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms.
  • Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. 
  • Future of traditional handicrafts in India? 
  • Concept of the Special economic zone
  • Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare.
  • The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model for development is more of a bane than a boon in the Indian context. Justify? 
  • Understanding Resource management in the Indian context.
  • How globalization is impacting the small-scale industries in India.

How to Score Marks on IAS Essay Topics?

Writing is a window to your thought process. This is exactly what is accessed while the examiner goes through your answer script. An essay is basically a well-structured collection of ideas on any specific topic. Mastering the art to score maximum marks on the paper requires immense practice and perseverance. The essay is not merely a test of factual knowledge, but rather a test of creativity and spirit. To score good marks on the UPSC Essay paper, follow these steps:

Select the topic carefully

The UPSC Essay paper contains two sections, and candidates need to write one essay from each of the two given sections. Both essays are 125 marks each; 1000-1200 words. Before selecting, think over the topic, whether it is too controversial or do you have enough data to write on it, etc.

Ponder of the topic

Once the topic is selected, think over the topic and write the main keywords that you will use during the essay. Try giving a multidimensional approach to the essay and adhere to a good structure of intro-body and conclusion.

Structure well

The introduction paragraph is the essence of the essay and should contain a concise idea about the topic. The basic theme should talk about your views on the topic. The main body of the essay should be divided into small paragraphs but should be well interlinked. The language of the essay should be convenient, lucid and easy to understand. The essay evaluates your critical thinking ability rather than on the usage of fancy jargon. If required, facts and data should be included. Usage of quotes and sayings adds weight to the essays. The conclusion paragraph should be self-explanatory. Candidates should try to have a neutral or balanced approach while writing the essay.

Follow the ABC of essay writing

The ABC of essay writing stands for Accuracy/appropriateness, Brevity, and Consistency of the essay. Following this rule helps a lot while writing on the UPSC Essay Topics.


write a comment

UPSC Essay Topics FAQs

  • Yes, UPSC Essay Topics do get repeated from the previous year's papers, but only there is always a tweak in the language. Other than this, it has been observed that repetitive topics are asked from the areas of History, Economics and Indian Polity majorly.

  • Any topic on which the candidate has enough knowledge and material is best to write upon. While writing UPSC Essay Topics, always write in paragraphs and avoid points. Adding quotes, references and data fetches the essay extra brownie points.

  • On seeing the UPSC Exam Pattern, it is concluded that the UPSC Essay paper has two sections, comprising 4-5 essays each. A candidate needs to write on two UPSC Essay Topics, one from each section, comprising 1000 to 1200 words. The UPSC Essay Paper is 250 marks; each essay contributes 125 marks.

  • A score of 125 and above is considered a good mark in the Essay Questions UPSC, while a score between 100-120 is considered average.

  • To start practising with the IAS Essay Topics, keep the following points in mind:

    • Read newspapers daily
    • Highlight important lines or quotes and write them separately
    • Practise one UPSC Essay Topic from Previous Year at least once a week and get it to peer review.
    • Use normal lucid language while writing. Usage of Queen’s English or jargon is not appreciated.
    • Have an integrated thinking attitude
    • Never take sides while writing essays, and have a balanced approach. Always have an optimistic outlook in your essays

Follow us for latest updates