Essay Paper of UPSC CSE 2021 shocked most aspirants with unconventional questions. Please find the questions in the Essay Paper of UPSC 2021 Civil Services Mains Examination (written).
There were 8 Essay topics, out of which candidates were asked to write on two topics in 3 hours.
Candidates were supposed to answer about 1000 words for each essay (about 10-12 pages).
Essay Paper UPSC 2021 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 the medium other than the authorized one.
- Word limit, as specified, should be adhered to.
- Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.
Essay Question Paper – UPSC Civil Services Main Exam (Written) 2021
Write two essays, choosing one topic from each of the following Sections A and B, in about 1000-1200 words each:
1. The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced.
2. Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.
3. Philosophy of wantlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.
4. The real is rational and the rational is real.
5. Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
6. What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!
7. History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.
8. There are better practices to “best practices”.
Essay Paper UPSC 2021 (Mains): Question Paper and Analysis
Most of the essays topics this year were philosophical and open to the interpretation of the candidates. However, considering the philosophical base of the questions, most candidates found the questions tricky. It was not easy to write 1000 words on each topic within the time constraints.
UPSC has ensured that the essay topics were much different from the GS questions.
A philosophical theme is clearly evident in most of the essay topics in Section A as well as Section B. This was the case in 2020 as well. However, this year it became much more prominent. It is a clue about what UPSC expects from the essay paper.
Rather than asking candidates to write on topics most aspirants are familiar or trained with, UPSC is now evaluating the essay writing skills of aspirants by providing them with abstract or philosophical topics.
The reason for such a shift in the pattern should be the change in the focus of the Commission.
All the 8 topics presented this year will test spontaneous thinking, comprehension, writing skills, and time-management of aspirants.
Repeated questions from previous years
The importance of the previous year UPSC questions cannot be stressed more.
Just like prelims, in mains too many questions came directly repeated from previous year question papers. Also, there were themes you often see in many essay books.
One such question was Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
Thinkers, Philosophers, and their Quotes
Let’s analyse the source of some of the question topics.
Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.
This essay topic was a quote going rounds on the internet. The quote is attributed to “Coach Bobbi” [Bobbi Chegwyn] on Facebook.
Philosophy of wantlessness is Utopian, while materialism is a chimera.
This essay topic was connected with J.K. Mehta’s Theory of Wantlessness!
This has also connections with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy.
The real is rational and the rational is real.
This is a quote by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
As per Hegel, something can be real, yet it may not exist. Also, something may not be real, it may still exist. For Hegel, reality does not mean existence.
Among philosophers, Hegel is one whose thought is extremely difficult to understand. Often to understand Hegel’s thoughts, we need to grasp his ideas, not in isolation but together with his dialogue with other philosophers, in particular, Aristotle and Kant.
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World” is a poem by William Ross Wallace that praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. The poem was first published in 1865 under the title “What Rules the World“.
What is research, but a blind date with knowledge!
This is a quote by Will Harvey. Will Harvey (born 1967) is an American software developer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce.
It was Karl Marx who said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
First, it’s a tragedy because it shouldn’t have happened. Then it’s a farce (joke) because we didn’t learn from our mistakes the first time around. This is Marx’s version of dark humour.
What should aspirants preparing for next year do for an essay paper?
First of all, you should take the essay paper seriously.
Unless properly trained, it is not easy to write 10-12 pages on an abstract or philosophical topic.
You need to polish your comprehension and analytical skills.
Read different kinds of essays – particularly philosophical essays.
Give stress to the thoughts of philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Friedrich Niche, Karl Marx etc. Start writing essays on famous quotes.
Also, be prepared to write essays touching other areas like society, polity, economy, or technology. UPSC is known for surprises.
Remember that there is nothing like a constant trend with respect to UPSC questions.
What you get by analysing the previous year question papers are clues. And only those are what you need from UPSC questions!