Essay is a piece of writing where you will be expressing your opinions on a topic.


  1. Manoj Jindal – Rank 53 CSE 2016 – Essay 158/250
  2. Tanai Sultania – Rank 63 CSE 2016  – Essay 159/250
  3. Mittali Sethi, Rank -56 CSE 2016 – Essay 160/250
  4. Anudeep Durishetty , Rank 1 CSE 2017 – Essay 155/250
  5. Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25 CSE 2015 – 149/250

Previous Years Essay Questions arranged Topicwise

  1. Art and Culture

  2. History

  3. Polity

  4. Social Issues

  5. Security issues

  6. Current Issues

  7. International Issues

  8. Science & Technology

  9. Economy

  10. Environment

  11. Ethics


Civil Services Mains Essay Paper Syllabus:

Candidates may be required to write essays on multiple topics. They will be expected to keep closely to the subject of the essay to arrange their ideas in orderly fashion and to write concisely. Credit will be given for effective and exact expression.


A Good Essay

  • should have an introduction, body and conclusion.
  • should be multi-dimensional.
  • should be relevant to current times.
  • should have clarity about the topic and about your stance on topic – For / Against / Both / None.
  • should have arguments and evidences to defend your stance.
  • should ignite the reader’s curiosity about the topic.
  • should provide new insights about the topic and impress the examiner.
  • should be simple but effective, coherent and well structured.


  • Avoid writing in the first person.
  • Avoid being too aggressive in your writing.
  • Avoid being pessimistic in your writing.
  • Avoid writing in points.
  • Don’t stray away from the topic.
  • Don’t get too personal and name politicians or political parties unnecessarily.


  • Read a lot of good essays.
  • Read newspaper editorials every day.
  • Prepare some material on general topics
  • Collect good anecdotes, quotes and real life stories, case studies, government initiaitves from newspapers and books
  • Practice writing essays during your preparation time and get feedback.
  • In Exam,
    • Choose a topic that you are most aware of and have significant knowledge about.
    • Make a rough sketch of the order of things you want to write in your essay. This avoids scratching.
    • There should be continuity in your essay. Let there be a natural flow of points. This indicates clarity of thoughts.
    • It should contain quotes, headings, sub-headings and diagrams if required.
    • Focus more on real-life examples rather than theoretical jargon

After reading your essay, Examiner must feel you are a composed person with balanced views, with a cheerful and positive disposition.

Toppers Essay strategy

1.      Manoj Jindal – Rank 53 CSE 2016 – Essay 158/250

His Structure

  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement [the main argument of your essay]
  • Mini-thesis statements to support the main argument
  • Antithesis, if needed
  • Conclusion


2.      Tanai Sultania – Rank 63 CSE 2016  – Essay 159/250

My sample essay outline:

Essay Topic:

Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run?


“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”-Bill Gates

  • In Introduction part- defined Internet and cyberspace and reflected on how the above quote is true .
  • Stated that to understand whether cyberspace and internet are blessing or curse we need to reflect on history, present and future


  • For History: Gave history and origin of internet from 1960s to 1990s ( US government efforts- ARPANET to Tim berners lee,WWW,HTML etc )and depicted that the invention was only for blessing and not curse.
  • For Present and Future: used all the dimensions mentioned above and gave examples in each dimensions (Eg: economic- boom of e-commerce, political- twitter and Facebook used by government, election commission, social and cultural- kinship and marriage, religion through cyberspace , technological- telemedicine, tele-education bringing world closer and ensuring health and education and other dimensions) . In all these aspects gave 1-2 lines on future also as essay demanded “In the long run”.
  • After covering all aspects in blessing, reflected on curse part also- in all dimensions ( Here had examples of movie names also which depicted the curse part). Also used recent examples of cyberattacks, wikileaks, banking data hacks, ransomware, cyber bullying,shaming,hacks, cyber harassment of women, trial by internet, fake messages and news) . Once again depicted how they could increase in long run.


We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain- Stephen Hawking

The laughing with tears emoji was named the word of the year by oxford dictionary 2015.This is how much cyberspace has penetrated our life.

Reflected on need for regulation and ethics in 2-3 line

Rabindranath Tagore’s where knowledge is free, where world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls is possible only if internet and cyberspace used judiciously and lead the human civilization as a blessing.

3.      Mittali Sethi, Rank -56 CSE 2016 – Essay 160/250

A brief writing on What is Essay to explain the point.

Answer 1: An Essay is written based on one’s thought process regarding an issue. Although it started way back in the 1800s, it continues even today. It is used in the assessments of colleges, schools and universities and therefore, it forms an important part of the human existence.

Remarks: There is nothing wrong with this essay. But to me, this kind of an essay is dab, dry. There is no passion in what you are putting forward here. You don’t love your words.

Answer 2: Nothing relates better to the Freedom of Speech provided by the Constitution of India to its citizens, better than an Essay. The flow of free thoughts gives one the opportunity to open up and express their own self, in the least limited way possible. In this context, therefore, I would say one who can think, can write an essay, although the ability evolves with one’s experiences. Therefore, learning how to write an essay is a part of the very growth of a human being.

Remarks: Did you see what I did here? I related the introduction to both the central purpose of the Essay and the polity of India. Did I use any big words? I am sure everyone knows the meaning of every word I used here. It is just a matter of how they are arranged and my order of thinking.

Answer 3: One of the biggest virtues of the greatest leaders of the world have been their ability to give to the world in terms of their thoughts. The books of Nehru, Gandhi have persisted over generations and Essays form an inherent part of them. Even the late actor, Robin Williams – who showed this in action, said “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” So, learning how to write an essay is almost like offering yourself out into the world and connecting beyond boundaries – a very big virtue indeed.

Remarks: This kind of introduction is useful if you know some substance and can use it in the Essay. Personally, I prefer Essay 2 because it is your own creative thought.

This is a long topic of discussion. My point is that when an essay is asked to you, you must ask yourself what kind of an essay would you like to read? Imagine there are 10000 people who would read it. From people who know nothing about the topic, to those who know a lot about it. So you cover the topic for everyone. Add ethical dimensions to it, human experiences, your own related experiences to make it special.

I wrote a poem in my first essay – and I made it right there in the exam hall! What you write is yours – you should show that. Don’t hold back your thought process, let your mind run free like a little girl in a garden!

Here is how I would think if I had to write on how to answer your question:

4.      Anudeep Durishetty , Rank 1 CSE 2017 – Essay 155/250

Novelist Stephen King put it beautifully when he said, “I write to find out what I think.”


Essay introduction can be:

  • a fictitious incident or story (where you introduce a character);
  • a real life anecdote;
  • a quote;


In my Mains exam, this was my introduction to the essay ‘Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classroom’

“The year was 1945. Towards the end of a gruesome world war, the world powers decided to carve up the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel.

“Before partition, North and South Korea might have been homogeneous in every respect, but after the division, they steered onto different paths. While schools in the North chose to ‘educate’ their children in the worship of a cult leader, ideological indoctrination and servility, its southern counterpart focused on liberal education, innovation and economic growth.

“Today, almost seven decades later, the difference in the fates of these people and the trajectories of both these nations cannot be more stark. One is known for gross violation of human rights, while the other a champion of liberal democracy. One is known for gut-wrenching poverty, while the other unbridled prosperity.

“This only proves the age old adage that the destiny of a nation is indeed shaped in its classrooms.”

Main Content from the Topic

This is like spinning the web from a thread. Depending on the topic, you can choose among the following options that fits best.

  • Temporal: Past, present and future
  • Sectoral: Media, Science & Tech, Business, Sports, Religion, Politics, Administration etc
  • Walks of Life: Individual, Family, Professional workplace, Society, Community, National, Global
  • Problem & Solution: Concept (historical evolution+status), benefits, problems, solutions
  • Standard: Social, Political, Economical, Administrative, International, Environmental, Historical, Scientific, Security/Defence, Legal


For a topic like “Has Globalisation delivered on its promise?” I find the problem & solution method an apt way to develop your narrative. So choose as per the question.

Substantiating your arguments

For example, if you are arguing that Capital punishment is an expensive form of justice, you should be able to given an example or a statistic or Law Commission’s opinion as to how the subjects of death penalty are overwhelmingly from poor communities.

Statistics, examples, expert opinions and constitutional provisions are crucial and they make your arguments authoritative.


You need to summarise the complete essay in 3-4 sentences, after which you can write your vision for future.

Sample Essay- Anudeep-Durishetty AIR 1 (Click Here) 


5.      Chandra Mohan Garg, Rank 25 CSE 2015 – 149/250

Essay Structure

  •  Choice of topic
  • Interpretation of the essay topic
  • Brainstorming
  • Key words
  • Past-Present-Future: – Another way to think upon to get points related to the topic.
  • SPECLIH:-Think from Social, Political, Economic, Cultural, Legal, International, Humanistic perspective. You can make your own acronym and add more dimensions to think from
  •  Now what to brainstorm: You can look for quotes, examples, events, illustrations, case studies, Government initiatives, and facts and figures etc. So anything that can make the essay more informative and interesting.


“Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”[2014].

Introduction: Here you could begin your Intro with the Tehelka story of Gujarat riots that hit the news and then raise questions was it good or bad and discuss that in the body.

Body: This part is all about analysis. Here three things are Important. 1.) If the topic is debatable you need to discuss both sides. If not then it will be straight-forward. 2.) In any case you will have certain line of arguments to put your case. 3.) Explain each of them through some examples.

Example: “Is sting operation an Invasion in Privacy”. This is debatable topic. So you will have both sides. Yes it in an invasion, No it is not an invasion. To discuss both sides you will have some arguments. Now when you put your arguments substantiate with the example and illustrations.

Conclusion: In conclusion focus on three things 1.) Summarise the topic 2.) Put your concluding stand 3.) Tell a way ahead. Try to end your essay on some positive/visionary note.

Time division

There is no hard and fast rule, it is totally your discretion but am telling it as this will be asked. So am sharing what I used to do.

  •        Topic Selection : 5 minutes
  •        Brainstorming/creating outline/structure of essay : 15 minutes
  •        Essay Writing : 1hr to 1hr 5 minutes
  •        Revising Essay: 5 minutes

His Sample Essay

essay-mudit-jain AIR55

Previous Year Question Papers:


Previous Years Essay Questions arranged Topicwise


  • “The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values – 2018
  • Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success? -2013
  • 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
  • Dreams which should not let India sleep. -2015
  • Why should we be proud of being Indians? -2000
  • Whither Indian democracy? -1995
  • How far has democracy in India delivered the goods? -2003
  • What we have not learnt during fifty years of independence. -1997
  • What have we gained from our democratic set-up? -2001
  • My vision of India in 2001 a.d. -1993


  • Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. -2017
  • Water disputes between States in federal India. -2016
  • Cooperative federalism : Myth or reality. -2016
  • Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication -2011
  • Evaluation of panchayati raj system in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people.  -2007
  • Water resources should be under the control of the central government. -2004
  • The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects. -1998
  • How should a civil servant conduct himself? -2003
  • Politics without ethics is a disaster. -1995
  • The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy -1996
  • Need for transparency in public administration -1996
  • The country’s need for a better disaster management system. -2000
  • Politics, bureaucracy and business – fatal triangle. -1994
  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  • Justice must reach the poor -2005
  • Judicial activism and Indian democracy. -2004
  • Judicial activism. -1997


Art and Culture:

  • South Asian Societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities -2019
  • Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
  • The composite culture of India. -1998
  • The Indian society at the crossroads. -1994
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
  • New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996
  • Indian culture today: a myth or a reality? -2000
  • Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values. -2000
  • The composite culture of India. -1998
  • The Indian society at the crossroads. -1994
  • From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift? -2010
  • New cults and godmen: a threat to traditional religion -1996

Social Issues:

  • Neglect of primary healthcare and education in India are reasons for its backwardness -2019
  • A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both – 2018
  • Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence. -1993
  • The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society. -2009
  • Food security for sustainable national development -2005
  • Reservation, politics and empowerment. -1999
  • Destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms. -2017
  • Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil-2015
  • Independent thinking should be encouraged right form the childhood. -2007
  • Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress? -2014
  • Irrelevance of the classroom. -2001
  • Is the growing level of competition good for the youth? -2014
  • Literacy is growing very fast, but there is no corresponding growth in education. -1996
  • Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses ? -2008
  • What is real education? -2005
  • “Education for all” campaign in India: myth or reality. -2006
  • Restructuring of Indian education system. -1995
  • Privatization of higher education in India. -2002
  • Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges -2011
  • Greater political power alone will not improve women’s plight. -1997
  • Women’s reservation bill would usher in empowerment for women in India. -2006
  • The new emerging women power: the ground realities. -1995
  • If women ruled the world -2005
  • The hand that rocks the cradle -2005
  • Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth. -2017
  • If development is not engendered, it is endangered. -2016
  • Whither women’s emancipation? -2004
  • Empowerment alone cannot help our women. -2001
  • Women empowerment: challenges and prospects. -1999
  • Woman is god’s best creation. -1998
  • Men have failed: let women take over. -1993
  • Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal ?-2012

Current Issues

  • Biased media is a real threat to Indian Democracy -2019
  • Responsibility of media in a democracy. -2002
  • Role of media in good governance -2008
  • Does Indian cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it? -2011
  • How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets? -2007
  • Is sting operation an invasion on privacy? -2014
  • Mass media and cultural invasion. -1999
  • The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India. -1998


  • Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere – 2018
  • Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality. -2016
  • Innovation is the key determinant of economic growth and social welfare. -2016
  • Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms. -2016
  • Crisis faced in India – moral or economic. -2015
  • Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country? -2014
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country-2013
  • Can capitalism bring inclusive growth? -2015
  • Resource management in the Indian context. -1999
  • Globalization would finish small-scale industries in India. -2006
  • Multinational corporations – saviours or saboteurs -1994
  • Special economic zone: boon or bane -2008
  • 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
  • Farming has lost the ability to be a source of subsistence for majority of farmers in India. -2017
  • BPO boom in India.   -2007
  • Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India? -2014
  • Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death? -2009


  • Ecological considerations need not hamper development. -1993
  • Protection of ecology and environment is essential for sustained economic development. -2006
  • Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country? -2010
  • Urbanization is a blessing in disguise. -1997
  • Urbanisation and its hazards -2008
  • Alternative technologies for a climate change resilient India – 2018


  • Wisdom finds truth -2019
  • Values are not what humanity is, but what humanity ought to be -2019
  • Best for an individual is not necessarily best for the society -2019
  • Courage to accept and dedication to improve are two keys to success -2019
  • Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it – 2018
  • Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life – 2018
  • A good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge – 2018
  • We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws. -2017
  • Need brings greed, if greed increases it spoils breed. -2016
  • Character of an institution is reflected in its leader. -2015
  • With greater power comes greater responsibility. -2014
  • Words are sharper than the two-edged sword. -2014
  • Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man.  -2007
  • He would reigns within himself and folds his passions and desires and fears is more than a king. -1993
  • There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -2003
  • Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of civilisation. -1995
  • Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. -2017
  • Compassion is the basic of all morality would -1993
  • Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole. -2015
  • Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)-2013
  • Truth is lived, not taught -1996
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent. -1995
  • Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem. -2002
  • Discipline means success, anarchy means ruin -2008
  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret -1994
  • If youth knew, if age could. -2002
  • Youth culture today. -1999
  • Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India? -2014
  • Quick but steady wins the race. -2015
  • Useless life is an early death. -1994
  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds. -1995
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave. -2002
  • The pursuit of excellence. -2001

International Issues

  • Geography may remain the same ; history need not. -2010
  • Modernisation and westernisation are not identical concepts. -1994
  • ‘ globalization’ vs. ‘ nationalism’ -2009
  • National identity and patriotism -2008
  • Globalizations and its impact on Indian culture. -2004
  • The masks of new imperialism. -2003
  • As civilization advances culture declines. -2003
  • The implications of globalization for India. -2000
  • My vision of an ideal world order. -2001
  • India’s contribution to world wisdom. -1998
  • The world of the twenty-first century. -1998
  • Preparedness of our society for India’s global leadership role. -2010
  • Has the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) lost its relevance in a multipolar world ? -2017
  • Restructuring of UNO reflect present realities -1996
  • The global order: political and economic -1993
  • India’s role in promoting ASEAN co-operation. -2004
  • Importance of Indo-US nuclear agreement -2006

Security issues

  • Management of Indian border disputes – a complex task – 2018
  • Good fences make good neighbours -2009
  • Terrorism and world peace -2005
  • True religion cannot be misused. -1997
  • In the Indian context , both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism -2011
  • Is autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization? -2007
  • Are we a ‘soft ’ state ? -2009

Science & Technology

  • Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling -2019
  • Spirituality and scientific temper. -2003
  • Science and Mysticism : Are they compatible ?-2012
  • Modern technological education and human values. -2002
  • Value-based science and education. -1999
  • The march of science and the erosion of human values. -2001
  • ‘Social media’ is inherently a selfish medium. -2017
  • Cyberspace and Internet : Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run -2016
  • Increasing computerization would lead to the creation of a dehumanized society. -2006
  • The cyber world: its charms and challenges. -2000
  • Computer: the harbinger of silent revolution. -1993
  • Technology cannot replace manpower. -2015
  • Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation-2013
  • The modern doctor and his patients. -1997
  • The lure of space. -2004