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UPSC Main GS exam analysis, questions asked in exam

The weightage given to the art and culture section has significantly increased with four questions worth 50 marks from the section being asked in the exam. The weightage of modern history has decreased with only two questions

New Delhi | Updated: January 10, 2021 10:49:19 am
upsc, upsc.gov.in, upsc main question paper, upsc CSE main, upsc main question paper, employment news, sakari naukri, sarkari naukri result,UPSC Main exam was held today (Express photo by Prem nath pandey/Representational)

— Written by Dr Rohit Singh

This year’s UPSC Mains GS 1 has been moderate in difficulty given the fact that many questions were straightforward and directly related to the syllabus. The geography section had maximum weightage with eight questions — Q. 4,-7, and 14-17 worth 100 marks. This was followed by the ‘society’ section of GS 1 with six questions – 8-10, and 18-20 worth 75 marks.

Surprisingly, the weightage given to the ‘art and culture’ section has significantly increased with four questions  — 1, 2,11,12 worth 50 marks from the section being asked in the exam. The weightage of modern history has decreased with only two questions  — 3 and 13 worth 25 marks. Further, there was no question from the world history or post-independence history of India.

Read | UPSC CSE main analysis 2020: ‘Essay paper toughest’

In geography, section questions were conventional and straightforward in nature with some repeated questions from the previous year’s theme, including those on interlinking of rivers or flooding of cities. Most of the questions required contemporary examples.

In the society section, the questions were from moderate to difficult which required a deeper understanding of Indian society and its prevailing issues, including questions on COVID 19 and the caste system. There were some opinion-based and open-ended questions that tested the critical thinking of the aspirants.

Read | Ministry of Home Affairs invites applications for 2000 IB officer posts

In the art and culture section, the questions were difficult given their factual as well as analytical nature. The modern History section had straightforward questions, which could be easily answered from conventional sources. Overall, it could be said that a good score in this paper would be 100 + as the paper was of moderate difficulty and was not lengthy.

How was the second shift?

The UPSC 2020 Mains GS 2 that took place in the second shift was overall moderately difficult but was lengthy. Many questions had a current perspective and required analytical thinking. Polity and governance had maximum weightage with 11 questions, 4 questions were from International Relations and the number of Social Justice and Welfare based questions were 5.

Even though questions in the Polity and Governance section were mostly current affairs based, but there were some questions on static themes also like the role of Rajya Sabha, Judicial Activism and PIL, and reforms in civil services. National Education Policy was asked, which had been in news recently. Overall, this section was difficult and lengthy to answer.

Based on students’ memory, here are questions asked in the exam

Q1. The rock-cut architecture represents one of the most important sources of our knowledge of early Indian art and history. Discuss. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • Straightforward yet difficult to write content/ too specific

Q2. Pala period is the most significant phase in the history of Buddhism in India. Enumerate. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • Difficult/Moderate – Pala being less important in syllabus

Q3. Evaluate the policies of Lord Curzon and their long term implications on the national movements. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic – Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
  • Easy and straightforward can be answered from any conventional source.

Q4. Discuss the geophysical characteristics of Circum-Pacific Zone. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Important geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic activity, cyclone.
  • Moderately difficult
  • Straightforward and factual question about the Circum Pacific Zone.
  • Could use diagram to fetch better marks in this question.

Q5. The process of desertification does not have climate boundaries. Justify with examples. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps)
  • Difficult and conceptual
  • This required conceptual understanding of desertification and also some factual knowledge for examples to justify your answer.

Q6. How will the melting of Himalayan glaciers have a far-reaching impact on the water resources of India? (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps)
  • Easy and straightforward
  • A repeated theme on Himalayan glaciers and its melting and its impact.

Q7. Account for the present location of iron and steel industries away from the source of raw material by giving examples. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
  • Easy and straightforward question
  • This question could be easily answered from Geography NCERT.

Q8. Has caste lost its relevance in understanding the multi- cultural Indian Society? Elaborate your answer with illustrations. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Salient features of Indian society
  • Difficult and require deeper understanding
  • Contemporary examples required

Q9. COVID-19 pandemic accelerated class inequalities and poverty in India. Comment. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Poverty and developmental issue
  • Moderate based on current affairs
  • We have to write how COVID 19 pandemic has widened the gap between rich and poor. Unemployment, migration, etc. can be included.

Q10. Do you agree that regionalism in India appears to be a consequence of rising cultural assertiveness? Argue. (Answer in 150 words, 10 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Regionalism
  • Moderate and straightforward from syllabus
  • Regionalism is the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose by people within a specific geographical region, united by its unique language, culture, language, etc. Discuss the emergence of regional political parties as a result of secessionist tendencies. Son of the soil doctrine.

Q11. Indian Philosophy and tradition played a significant role in conceiving and shaping the monuments and their art in India. Discuss. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • Difficult due to need of deep and analytical thinking to answer
  • It required to interlink Indian philosophy and tradition with art and highlight it using examples.

Q12. Persian literary sources of medieval India reflect the spirit of the age. Comment. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times
  • Difficult given deeper knowledge required for Persian literature.

Q.13 Since the decade of the 1920s, the national movement acquired various ideological strands and thereby expanded its social base. Discuss. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Easy and repeated theme from previous year

Q14. The interlinking of revivers can provide viable solutions to the multi-dimensional inter-related problems of droughts, floods and interrupted navigation. Critically examine. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent)
  • Easy and repeated theme of interlinking of rivers asked in past year also
  • Could have been easily answered if previous year questions were solved by aspirant.

Q15. Account for the huge flooding of million cities in India including the smart ones like Hyderabad and Pune. Suggest lasting remedial measures. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – urbanization, their problems and their remedies
  • Easy and based on the repeated theme of urban flooding asked in previous year questions.
  • Could have been easily done if the candidate had done previous year questions.

Q 16. India has immense potential of solar energy though there are regional variations in its developments. Elaborate. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent)
  • Easy given solar energy is a conventional topic and a lot of content available on it.

Q 17. Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus -Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent)
  • Moderate and factual from current affairs – State of Forest Report 2019. Knowledge of the report would have helped in answering the question.

Q 18. Is diversity and pluralism in India under threat due to globalisation? Justify your answer. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Effects of globalization on Indian society
  • Moderate and straightforward

Q 19. Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree? (Answer in 250 words) 15 

  • Topic in syllabus – Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
  • Difficult given opinion based question

Q 20. How have digital initiatives in India contributed to the functioning of the education system in the country? Elaborate your answer. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)

  • Topic in syllabus – Social empowerment
  • Easy/moderate and straightforward with lot of example

Questions asked in the GS 2 exam –

Q 1“There is a need for simplification of Procedure for disqualification of persons found guilty of corrupt practices under the Representation of Peoples Act”. Comment (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic – Salient features of the Representation of People’s  Act.
  • Difficult question given that specific knowledge of RPA Section 123 dealing with corrupt practices required.
  • Limited content in Laxmikant

 Q 2 “Recent amendments to the Right to Information Act will have profound impact on the autonomy and independence of the Information Commission”.  Discuss.

  • Topic – transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Moderate and Straightforward Question from current affairs.
  • Recently the RTI act was amended which allowed the central government to prescribe the term for information commissioners. Also it allowed central government to determine salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief/State Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners.

Q 3 How far do you think Cooperation, competition and confrontation have shaped the nature of federation in India? Cite Some recent examples to validate your answer.

  •  Topic -issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
  • Easy and straightforward question given lot of developments in recent years in federal relation
  • Cooperation – GST Council
  • Confrontation – Permission to CBI to investigate cases , Opposition farm laws by some states
  • Competition – Ease of doing business ranking of state governments

 Q4 The judicial systems in India and the UK seem to be converging as well as diverging in recent times. Highlight the key points of convergence and divergence between the two nations in terms of their judicial practices. (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic – Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.
  • Difficult question due to its unconventional nature and lack of knowledge on UK Judicial system
  • It requires specific knowledge of Judicial Practice in UK

Q.5 “Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker’ ! Do you think this practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India?

  • Topic – Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Moderate difficulty as office of speaker in Parliament and State legislature has been in news due to controversy over his/her biases in anti – defection decisions and in conducting proceedings of the house.

Q.6 In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Moderate difficulty can be answered with knowledge about schemes for healthcare of old people and women.
  • It is related to SDG 3 and 5.

Q 7. “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context suggest reforms in Civil Service for strengthening democracy. (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic – Role of civil services in a democracy.
  • Moderately difficult as directly from syllabus.
  • A candidate having read 10th Report of 2ARC and following recent reforms in civil services like perform and perish, Mission Karamyogi- can answer this question.
  • The National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (‘NPCSCB’) – “Mission Karmayogi” has been launched with the objective of enhancing governance through Civil Service Capacity Building

Q.8 “The emergence of Fourth Industrial Revolution (Digital Revolution) has initiated e-Governance as an integral part of the government”. Discuss (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic -Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential
  • Moderately difficult given the fact that e-governance has been quite in news in recent times.

Q.9 Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic- Important International institutions, agencies and fora their structure, mandate.
  • Easy Question – WHO has been in the news a lot over its response to COVID 19 pandemic . Lot of content in current affairs over this issue.

Q.10 “Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries”. Comment with examples. (Answer in 150 words)

  • Topic – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Moderate and current affairs based given the fact that role of Indian diaspora in recent US elections – Kamala Harris as Vice President of USA as well as in UK.

11 Indian Constitution exhibits centralising tendencies to maintain unity and integrity of the nation. Elucidate in the perspective of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897; The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and recently passed Farm Acts. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,
  • Moderate and current affairs based as Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, Disaster Management Act 2005 had been in news during COVID lockdown and recent farm acts have also been in news.

Q.12 Judicial legislation is antithetical to the doctrine of separation of powers as envisaged in the Indian Constitution. In this context justify the filing of large number of public interest petitions praying for issuing guidelines to executive authorities. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  • Moderate and Analytical question on PIL and Judicial activism. It required analytical thinking to answer the question properly.

Q.13 The strength and sustenance of local institutions in India has shifted from their formative phase of ‘functions , functionaries and funds’ to the contemporary stage of’ functionality’. Highlight the critical challenges faced by local institutions in terms of their functionality in recent times. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Difficult due to lack of understanding of ‘ Functionality’ related challenges. Conventional questions had been on lack of devolution of 3Fs- Funds, Functions and Functionaries.
  • You need to highlight the challenges they face in performing the functions devolved to them – lack of coordination between bureaucrats and subordinates, panchayat pati, corruption, Substandard personnel: lax attitude towards the governance, poor collection of taxes and fees, etc.

Q.14 Rajya Sabha has been transformed from a ‘useless stepney tyre’ to the most useful supporting organ in past few decades. Highlight the factors as well as the areas in which this transformation could be visible. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Analytical therefore difficult question

Q.15 Which steps are required for constitutionalization of a Commission ? Do you think imparting constitutionality to the National Commission for Women would ensure greater gender justice and empowerment in India ? Give reasons.

  • Topic – Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies/ Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies/ mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Difficult as the second part of the question was opinion based and required deeper knowledge and interlinking of topics
  • There was a question on NCW in previous years questions also.

Q.16 “The incidence and intensity of poverty are more important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyse the latest United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index Report. (Answer in 250 words).

  • Topic – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Easy and current affairs based. Theme is quite common – income alone is an inadequate criteria to measure poverty.

Q.17 “Micro-Finance as an anti-poverty vaccine, is aimed at asset creation and income security of the rural poor in India”. Evaluate the role of the Self Help Groups in achieving the twin objectives along with empowering women in rural India. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  • Easy and straightforward question on SHGs and their role.

Q.18 National Education Policy, 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient education system in India. Critically examine the statement. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Moderate and current affairs based question. Anyone following current affairs and knowing SDGs can answer it.

Q.19 ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)’ is transforming itself into a trade bloc from a military alliance, in present times — Discuss. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Easy and Current Affairs based question. Question on QUAD was expected as it was in the news.

 Q.20 What is the significance of Indo-US defence deals over Indo-Russian defence deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (Answer in 250 words)

  • Topic – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Moderate in nature as both Indo- US and Indo – Russia were in news but the question was analytical in nature.

 

— The author is mentor at gradeup.

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