ESSAY ENGINEERING MODULE
- Entries for Essay Engineering Module are open throughout the year.
- Students can take the tests at their convenience but in the following order only.
- These tests are available both Classroom @ Chennai, ALL INDIA – POSTAL ALSO.
- Fees – Rs. 6000/-only
- For postal students Essay questions will be sent by email or SMS or Whatsapp or Telegram Message on weekly basis and the students have to send their essays by post to us. We will evaluate and give the feedback.
- There will be totally Three Essay Question Papers and 5 INDIVIDUAL ESSAY TOPICS covered in the programme.
- An Essay Booklet containing about 5 essays will be sent either in soft copy or hard copy by November Last week.
- The dates are tentative only. If needed there may be some alterations.
Understand Essay – Paper
Novelist Stephen King put it beautifully when he said, “I write to find out what I think.”
Your writing is the examiner’s only window to your thoughts. Thinking ought to precede writing. What you write on paper will tell the examiner how you think, how you argue and the way you substantiate your views.
UPSC through its essay paper which carries 250 marks, consisting of eight questions of two sections, where you have to answer any one question from each section of 4 questions, checks the coherence in the writing of the candidate, ideas in his mind and the way one can systematically and structurally write them on the paper. The questions asked in this paper are not subject-specific but are a blend of Current Affairs, Ethics, Economics, Society, Politics etc.
To score good marks and to taste the success, the approach to attempt this paper is to have a broader perspective of History, Geography, Economics, Ethics and Polity.
How to write the essay for UPSC?
- Read the topics thoroughly
This is the most important step in the process. You should choose one out of four topics. While selecting your topic, make sure you know most about that topic out of the given topics. What not to select:
- A sensitive or controversial topic like say, Religious Fundamentalism.
- A topic about which you are too passionate or feel strongly about. In this case, you may tend to get excited and fail to write a balanced essay. This can work against you.
- Avoid too factual and technical topics like “GM Foods – Boon or Bane” & “Urbanization – Its Hazards”.
- Topics on Socio-Political issues are most preferable
- Think for some time – Spend 15 minutes for each topic you have chosen
Once you’ve selected your topic, you should not start writing straight away. It is prudent to think for some time and organize your thoughts. Write in pencil the points you want to write. This is important because only then you can write your points in the correct sequence. For instance, if you are writing about India’s relations with her neighbors, you need to write the historical facts and events in the beginning. Suppose you start writing the essay, and realize only towards the end that you have forgotten to mention a crucial detail in the historical part; it would be too late to add it because of a space crunch.
Before writing a Fair Draft of the Essay, write one rough draft and strike it out later. Once you have the rough points in hand, you can start writing the essay. While writing, you must adhere to a good structure. (i.e) A well organised, cogent paragraphs.
Important pointers to note while you write:
- Don’t resort to name-calling. Never get personal in your essay.
- Don’t have extreme views. The Buddha’s middle path can help you here!
- Don’t just present problems. Give possible reforms/solutions also.
- Don’t criticize the government/administration excessively.
- Even if the topic is provocative, your essay shouldn’t be. Present a balanced picture. You don’t HAVE to agree or disagree to the topic.
- Avoid writing Utopian solutions.
- Keep in mind you are a bureaucrat, not a journalist or politician.
- Avoid writing lengthy paragraphs.
Using Quotes is though good not must
Mind it “You never get a second chance to give first impression”.
The right use of quotes in essays augments the power of your arguments and makes your essays appear more convincing. Plus, essays with quotes tend to score better than essays without them, because of the initial impact the use of quotes create on the reader, and help strengthen your point.
But we need to exercise prudence. Only use quotes as is, if you are convinced that paraphrasing would lower the impact or change the meaning of the original author’s words or when the argument could not be better expressed or said more succinctly.
Here is how you make sure you are doing it right. How do I incorporate quotes into my essay? At times, an essay can appear painfully discarded if the quotations are out of place or if the essay is too stuffed with quotes. So, what should you do to avoid this?
A great quote plays one or more roles from the following: creates the initial impact on the essay grader makes your essay look more promising and interesting establishes credibility concludes the essay with a point to contemplate If the quote doesn’t serve any of the above then you are forcing it into the essay and this could do more harm than good. You should start writing your essay with a quote that lays foundation to the main idea behind the essay. This can have a major impact on the evaluator. You can also comment on the quotation in this introductory paragraph if you wish. Either way, to get a perfect score on the UPSC essay, use a relevant quote strategically but don’t force it into the essay.
Can I alter the structure of the quotation?
Using the exact words from the original source is called quoting. You should quote when you believe that the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective way to communicate the point you wish to make. If you want to borrow an idea from the author but don’t put the idea in their exact words, then it’s called paraphrasing. (but remember that you still have to cite the original author even when you are paraphrasing) For example, Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” You can alter the quotation on your own according to the passage, by saying: ‘To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “It is easier to trust when you can verify.”‘ By doing this, you are not only citing the original author, but also gaining extra points for using your own version of the quote.
Avoid too many quotes
If you deploy a lot of quotations in your essay, it appears as though several people are talking about the topic apart from yourself. This would downplay your own voice and leaves little room for your own ideas. It is your essay and it should be your voice that needs to be heard, not some notable/famous person’s. Quote as infrequently as possible. So, don’t cram every quote you know into the essay. As a rule of thumb, refrain from using more than 2 quotes in any essay. (One in the introductory paragraph and the other if necessary in the conclusion)
Introducing the quote
The last thing you would want is get your score cancelled on account of plagiarism. It’s highly recommended that you cite the author of the quotation. If you don’t cite, you may give the impression that you claim to be the original author and that could result in plagiarism. You should place the quote in double quotation marks. Here is an example usage citing the author: Thomas Jefferson once said “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
Substantiating your arguments
In the main body of the essay, each para must have an argument or an idea and a reasoning to back that argument. You can substantiate it through a real-life example, a statistic, an authentic committee or organisational report etc.
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.
Concluding an Essay
Whether it is Introduction / Conclusion do not write a sub heading mentioning Introduction or Conclusion. That shows a kind of immaturity. Conclusion must logically flow form your preceding arguments and it must essentially be on a futuristic, optimistic note. But suppose in your introduction, if you had written about a fictitious character, then it’s always advisable to end your write-up with a reference to that character. It gives a sense of completeness to the essay.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.”
Write well by Practicing Well.
Some Reference Essays
LIST OF PREVIOUS YEAR ESSAY TOPICS (1997-2019) (DOWNLOAD PDF)
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 plural 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
SECTION – A
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
SECTION – B
1. Customary morality cannot be a guide to modern life
2. “The past’ is a permanent dimension of human consciousness and values
3. A people that values its privileges above its principles loses both
4. Reality does not conform to the ideal, but confirms it
UPSC MAINS 2017 ESSAY QUESTION PAPER
Section – A
Section – B
UPSC Mains 2015 Essay Paper
Instructions: Write two essays, choosing one from each of the following Section A & B, in about 1000-1200 words. Total Marks : 250
Section-A: 125 Marks
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.
Section-B: 125 Marks
1. Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality.
2. Cyberspace and Internet: Blessing or curse to the human civilization in the long run?
3. Near jobless growth in India: An anomaly or an outcome of economic reforms.
4. Digital economy: A leveller or a source of economic inequality.
UPSC Mains 2015 Essay Paper
Instructions: Write two essays, choosing one from each of the following Section A & B, in about 1000-1200 words. Total Marks : 250
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 more clever devil.
1. Technology cannot replace manpower.
2. Crisis faced in India – moral or economic.
3. Dreams which should not let India sleep.
4. Can capitalism bring inclusive growth?.
Ø With greater power comes greater responsibility.
Ø Is the growing level of competition good for the youth?
Ø Are the standardized tests good measure of academic ability or progress?
Ø Words are sharper than the two-edged sword.
Ø Was it the policy paralysis or the paralysis of implementation which slowed the growth of our country?
Ø Is sting operation an invasion on privacy?
Ø Fifty Golds in Olympics: Can this be a reality for India?
Ø Tourism: Can this be the next big thing for India?
Write an essay on any one of the following topics, in not more than 2500 words. (250 marks)
Ø Be the change you want to see in others (Gandhi)
Ø Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success?
Ø GDP (Gross Domestic Product) along with GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the wellbeing of a country
Ø Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation.
Ø 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.
Ø 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?
Ø Science and Mysticism: Are they compatible?
Ø Managing work and home – is the Indian working woman getting a fair deal?
Ø Creation of smaller states and the consequent administrative, economic and developmental implication.
Ø Does Indian Cinema shape our popular culture or merely reflect it?
Ø Credit – based higher education system – status, opportunities and challenges.
Ø In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism
Ø Geography may remain the same; history need not
Ø Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country?
Ø Preparedness of our society for India’ global leadership role
Ø From traditional Indian philanthropy to the gates-buffet model-a natural progression or a paradigm shift?
Ø Are our traditional handicrafts doomed to a slow death?
Ø Are we a soft state?
Ø The focus of health care is increasingly getting skewed towards the ‘haves’ of our society
Ø Good fences make good neighbors
Ø Globalization vs. Nationalism
Ø Role of media in good governance
Ø National identity and patriotism
Ø Special economic zone: boon or bane
Ø Discipline means success and anarchy means ruin
Ø Urbanization and its hazards
Ø Is an egalitarian society possible by educating the masses?
Ø Independent thinking should be encouraged right from the childhood.
Ø Evaluation of Panchayati Raj System in India from the point of view of eradication of power to people.
Ø Attitude makes, habit makes character and character makes a man.
Ø Is Autonomy the best answer to combat balkanization?
Ø How has satellite television brought about cultural change in Indian mindsets?
Ø BPO boom in India.
Ø Women’s Reservation Bill Would Usher in Empowerment for Women in India.
Ø Protection of Ecology and Environment is Essential for Sustained Economic Development.
Ø Importance of Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement.
Ø “Education for All” Campaign in India: Myth or Reality.
Ø Globalization Would Finish Small-Scale Industries in India.
Ø Increasing Computerization Would lead to the Creation of a Dehumanized Society.
Ø Justice must reach the poor
Ø The hand that rocks the cradle
Ø If women ruled the world
Ø What is real education?
Ø Terrorism and world peace
Ø Food security for sustainable national development
Ø India’s role in promoting ASEAN cooperation
Ø Judicial activism and Indian democracy
Ø Whither women’s emancipation
Ø Globalization and its impact on Indian culture
Ø The lure of space
Ø Water resources should be under the control of the central government
Ø The masks of new imperialism
Ø How far has democracy in India delivered the goods
Ø How should a civil servant conduct himself?
Ø As civilization advances culture declines
Ø There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so
Ø Spirituality and scientific temper
Ø Modern technological education and human values
Ø Search for truth can only be a spiritual problem
Ø If youth knew, if age could.
Ø The paths of glory lead but to the grave
Ø Privatization of higher education in India
Ø Responsibility of media in democracy
Ø What have we gained from our democratic set-up?
Ø My vision of an ideal world order
Ø The march of science and the erosion of human values
Ø Irrelevance of the classroom
Ø The pursuit of excellence
Ø Empowerment alone cannot help our women
Ø Why should we be proud of being Indians?
Ø The cyber world : its charm and challenges
Ø The country’s need for a better disaster management system
Ø Indian culture today: a myth or a reality?
Ø The implications of globalization for India
Ø Modernism and our traditional socio-ethical values
Ø Women’s empowerment: challenges and prospects
Ø The youth culture today
Ø Mass media and cultural invasion
Ø Resource management in the Indian context
Ø Value-based science and education
Ø Reservations, politics and empowerment
Ø The composite culture of India
Ø Woman is god’ best creation
Ø The misinterpretation and misuse of freedom in India
Ø India’s contribution to world wisdom
Ø The language problem in India: its past, present and prospects
Ø The world of the twenty-first century
Ø What we have not learnt during fifty years of Independence
Ø Judicial activism
Ø Greater political power alone will not improve women plight
Ø True religion cannot be misused
Ø The modern doctor and his patients
Ø Urbanization is blessing disguise
Ø Literacy is growing very fast but there is no corresponding growth in education
Ø Restructuring of the UNO to reflect present realities
Ø New cults and god men a threat to traditional religions
Ø The VIP cult is a bane of Indian democracy
Ø Need for transparency in Public Administration
Ø Truth is lived, not taught
Ø Politics without ethic is a disaster
Ø The new emerging woman power: the ground realities
Ø When money speaks, the truth is silent
Ø Whither Indian democracy?
Ø Restructuring of Indian education system
Ø Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the life blood real civilization
Ø Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds
Ø Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret
Ø Indian Society at the crossroads
Ø The Challenge before a civil servant today
Ø Modernization and westernization are not identical concepts
Ø A useless life is an early death
Ø Politics, Business and Bureaucracy-a fatal triangle
Ø Multinational Corporations-saviors or saboteurs
Ø My vision of India in 2001
Ø The emerging Global order, Political and Economic
Ø “He who Reigns within himself and Rules his Passions, Desires and Fears, is more than a King”
Ø Compassion is the basis of all Morality
Ø Men have failed; let women take over
Ø Economic growth without distributive justice is bound to breed violence
Ø Ecological considerations need not hamper development
Ø Computer: The harbinger of silent revolution
Practice makes a man perfect.