The Government of India’s Civil Services is a prestigious opportunity for the citizens of India. Passing the test is not as simple as it seems. This exam needs sheer hard work, dedication and a sharp mind.

Candidates can use a variety of additional study methods to help them pass the exam on their own. Other significant ways to elevate one’s IAS preparations to a new level include comprehensive self-study, a clear grasp of important topics, the memory of important facts and numbers, the substantial practice of aptitude tests and numerical problems, and so on.

In this post, you will find the UPSC Mains 2021 Paper for GS 1, 2, 3 and 4. Go through the questions and see where you stand in tackling them.

UPSC Mains 2021 Paper (GS 1, 2, 3, 4)

Under these sections, you will find all the questions that were posed in UPSC Mains 2021 paper. Check them out and try to answer them to check your preparation level.

UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 1

Question 1 to 10

Q1: Evaluate the nature of Bhakti Literature and its contribution to  Indian culture. (Answer in 150 words)

Q2: Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj. (Answer in 150 wrds)

Q3: Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. (Answer in 150 words)

Q4: Differentiate the causes of landslides in the Himalayan region and the Western Ghats. (Answer in 150 words)

Q5: Despite India being one of the countries of Gondwanaland, its mining industry contributes much less to its Gross Domestic Product(GDP) in percentage. Discuss. (Answer in 150 words)

Q6: What are the environmental implications of the reclamation of the water bodies into urban land use? Explain with examples. (Answer in 150 words)

Q7: Mention the global occurrence of volcanic eruptions in 2021 and their impact on the regional environment. (Answer in 150 words)

Q8: Why is India considered a subcontinent? Elaborate on your answer. (Answer in 150 words)

Q9: Examine the uniqueness of the tribal knowledge system when compared with mainstream knowledge and cultural systems. (Answer in 150 words)

Q10: Examine the role of the ‘Gig Economy’ in the process of empowerment of women in India. (Answer in 150 words)

Question 11 to 20

Q11: To what extent did the role of the moderates prepare a base for the wider freedom movement? Comment. (Answer in 250 words)

Q12: Bring out the constructive programmes of Mahatma Gandhi during Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement. (Answer in 250 words)

Q13: There arose a serious challenge to the Democratic State System between the two World Wars.” Evaluate the statement. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q14: Briefly mention the alignment of major mountain ranges of the world and explain their impact on local weather conditions, with examples. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q15: How does the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q16: Discuss the multi-dimensional implications of the uneven distribution of mineral oil in the world. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q17: What are the main socio-economic implications arising out of the development of IT industries in major cities of India? (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q18: Discuss the main objectives of Population Education and point out the measures to achieve them in India in detail. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q19: What is Cryptocurrency? How does it affect global society? Has it been affecting Indian society also? (Answer in 250 wrds)

Q20: How does Indian society maintain continuity in traditional social values? Enumerate the changes taking place in it. (Answer in 250 wrds)

Also Read: UPSC CDS 2022 Application Form: Important Dates, Application Form, Test Centre & More

UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 2

UPSC Mains Paper Question 1 to 10

Q1: ‘Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions. (Answer in  150 words)

Q2: Discuss the desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiciary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness. (Answer in  150 words)

Q3: How have the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission of India enabled the states to improve their fiscal position? (Answer in  150 words)

Q4: To what extent, in your view, the Parliament is able to ensure accountability of the executive in India? (Answer in  150 words)

Q5: “Pressure groups play a vital role in influencing public policymaking in India.” Explain how the business associations contribute to public policies. (Answer in  150 words)

Q6: “Besides being a moral imperative of Welfare State, primary health structure is a necessary pre-condition for sustainable development.” Analyze. (Answer in  150 words)

Q7: ‘Earn while you learn’ scheme needs to be strengthened to make vocational education and skill training meaningful.” Comment. (Answer in  150 words)

Q8: Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through the microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples. (Answer in  150 words)

Q9: “If the last few decades were Asia’s growth story, the next few are expected to be Africa’s.” In the light of this statement, examine India’s influence in Africa in recent years. (Answer in  150 words)

Q10: “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. (Answer in  150 words)

UPSC Mains Paper Ques 11 to 15

Q11: The jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) regarding lodging an FIR and conducting probes within a particular state is being questioned by various States. However, the power of States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. Explain with special reference to the federal character of India. (Answer in  250 words)

Q12: Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analyzing their structural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures. (Answer in  250 words)

Q13: Analyze the distinguishing features of the notion of Equality in the Constitutions of the USA and India. (Answer in  250 words)

Q14: Explain the constitutional provisions under which Legislative Councils are established. Review the working and current status of Legislative Councils with suitable illustrations. (Answer in  250 words)

Q15: Do Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees keep the administration on its toes and inspire reverence for parliamentary control? Evaluate the working of such committees with suitable examples. (Answer in  250 words)

Also Read: UPSC Epfo 2022: Check Out the Details and Information about the Most Prestigious Exam!

UPSC Mains Paper Ques 16 to 20

Q16: Has digital illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, coupled with lack of Information and Communication Technology(ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development? Examine with justification. (Answer in  250 words)

Q17: “Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and the feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu? (Answer in  250 words)

Q18: Can Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations present an alternative model of public service delivery to benefit the common citizen? Discuss the challenges of this alternative model. (Answer in  250 words)

Q19: Critically examine the aims and objectives of SCO. What importance does it hold for India? (Answer in  250 words)

Q20: The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario. (Answer in  250 words)

UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 3

Question 1 to 10

Question 1: Explain the difference between the computing methodology of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) before the year 2015 and after the year 2015. (Ans in 150 words)

Question 2: Distinguish between Capital Budget and Revenue Budget. Explain the components of both these Budgets. (Ans in 150 words)

Question 3: How did land reforms in some parts of the country help to improve the socio-economic conditions of marginal and small farmers? (Ans in 150 words)

Question 4: How and to what extent would micro-irrigation help in solving India’s water crisis? (Ans in 150 words)

Question 5: How is the S-400 air defence system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world? (Ans in 150 words)

Question 6: Explain the purpose of the Green Grid Initiative launched at the World Leaders Summit of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021. When was this idea first floated in the International Solar Alliance (ISA)? (Ans in 150 words)

Question 7: Describe the key points of the revised Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). How are these different from its last update in 2005? What changes in India’s National Clean Air Programme are required to achieve these revised standards? (Ans in 150 words)

Question 8: Discuss the vulnerability of India to earthquake-related hazards. Give examples including the salient features of major disasters caused by earthquakes in different parts of India during the last three decades. (Ans in 150 words)

Question 9: Discuss how emerging technologies and globalisation contribute to money laundering. Elaborate measures to tackle the problem of money laundering both at national and international levels. (Ans in 150 words)

Question 10: Keeping in view India’s internal security, analyse the impact of cross-border cyber attacks. Also, discuss defensive measures against these sophisticated attacks. (Ans in 150 words)

Question 11 to 20

Question 11: Do you agree that the Indian economy has recently experienced V- shapes recovery? Give reasons in support of your answer. (Ans in 250 words)

Question 12: “Investment in infrastructure is essential for more rapid and inclusive economic growth.” Discuss in the light of India’s experience. (Ans in 250 words)

Question 13: What are the salient features of the National Food Security Act, 2013? How has the Food Security Bill helped in eliminating hunger and malnutrition in India? (Ans in 250 words)

Question 14: What are the present challenges before crop diversification? How do emerging technologies provide an opportunity for crop diversification? (Ans in 250 words)

Question 15: What are the research and developmental achievements in applied biotechnology? How will these achievements help to uplift the poorer sections of society? (Ans in 250 words)

Question 16: The Nobel Prize in Physics of 2014 was jointly awarded to Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura for the invention of Blue LEDs in the 1990s. How has this invention impacted the everyday life of human beings? (Ans in 250 words)

Question 17: Describe the major outcomes of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What are the commitments made by India at this conference? (Ans in 250 words)

Question 18: Describe the various causes and effects of landslides. Mention the important components of the National Landslide Risk Management Strategy. (Ans in 250 words)

Question 19: Analyse the multidimensıonal challenges posed by external state and non-state actors, to the internal security of India. Also, discuss measures required to be taken to combat these threats. (Ans in 250 words)

Question 20: Analyse the complexity and intensity of terrorism, its causes, linkages and obnoxious nexus. Also, suggest measures required to be taken to eradicate the menace of terrorism. (Ans in 250 words)

UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 4

UPSC Mains Paper 4 Section A

Question 1

  1. a) Identify five ethical traits on which one can plot the performance of a civil servant. Justify their inclusion in the matrix. (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) Identify ten essential values that are needed to be an effective public servant. Describe the ways and means to prevent non-ethical behaviour in public servants. (Answer in 150 words)

Question 2

  1. a) Impact of digital technology as a reliable source of input for rational decision making is a debatable issue. Critically evaluate with a suitable example. (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) Besides domain knowledge, a public official needs innovativeness and creativity of a high order as well, while resolving ethical dilemmas. Discuss with a suitable example. (Answer in 150 words)

Question 3

What does each of the following quotations mean to you?

  1. a) “Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or later” – Swami Vivekananda (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until and unless we obtain peace within ourselves” – Dalai Lama (Answer in 150 words)
  3. c) “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that it is better for us all” – Erik Erikson (Answer in 150 words)

Question 4

  1. a) Attitude is an important component that goes as input in the development of human beings. How to build a suitable attitude needed for a public servant? (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) In case of a crisis of conscience does emotional intelligence help to overcome the same without compromising the ethical and moral stand that you are likely to follow? Critically examine. (Answer in 150 words)

Question 5

  1. a) “Refugees should not be turned back to the country where they would face prosecution or human rights violation.” Examine the statement with reference to the ethical dimension being violated by the nation claiming to be democratic with an open society. (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) Should impartial and being non-partisan be considered indispensable qualities to make a successful civil servant? Discuss with illustrations. (Answer in 150 words)

Question 6

  1. a) An independent and empowered social audit mechanism is an absolute must in every sphere of public service, including the judiciary, to ensure performance, accountability and ethical conduct. Elaborate. (Answer in 150 words)
  2. b) “Integrity is a value that empowers the human being’’. Justify with suitable illustration. (Answer in 150 words)

Also Read: UPSC 2022 Application Form: Last Date of Notification & Guide on How to Fill the Form

UPSC Mains Paper 4 Section B

Question 7

Sunil is a young civil servant and has a reputation for his competence, integrity, dedication and relentlessness in pursuit of difficult and onerous jobs. Considering his profile, he was picked up by his bosses to handle a very challenging and sensitive assignment. He was posted in a tribal-dominated district notorious for illegal sand mining.

Excavating sand from river belts and transporting it through trucks and selling them in the black market was rampant. This illegal sand mining mafia was operating with the support of local functionaries and tribal musclemen who in turn were bribing selected poor tribals and had kept the tribals under fear and intimidation.

Sunil being a sharp and energetic officer immediately grasped the ground realities and the modus operandi followed by the mafia through their devious and dubious mechanism. On making inquiries, he gathered that some of their own office employees are hand in glove with them and have developed a close unholy nexus.

Sunil initiated stringent action against them and started conducting raids on their illegal operations of the movement of trucks filled with sand. The mafia got rattled as not many officers in the past had taken such strong steps against the mafia. Some of the office employees who were allegedly close to the mafia informed them that the officer is determined to clean up the mafia’s illegal sand mining operations in that district and may cause them irreparable damage.

The mafia turned hostile and launched a counter-offensive. The tribal musclemen and mafia started threatening him with dire consequences. His family (wife and old mother) were stalked and were under virtual surveillance and thus causing mental torture, agony and stress to all of them.

The matter assumed serious proportions when a muscle man came to his office and threatened him to stop raids etc., otherwise, his fate will not be different than some of his predecessors (ten years back one officer was killed by the mafia)


  1. a) Identify the different options available to Sunil in attending this situation

  2. b) Critically evaluate each of the options listed by you.

  3. c) Which of the above, do you think, would be most appropriate for Sunil to adopt and why?

(Ans in 250 words)

Question 8

You are Vice Principal of a degree college in one of the middle-class towns. The principal has recently retired and management is looking for his replacement. There are also feelers that the management may promote you as Principal.

In the meantime, during the annual examination, the flying squad which came from the university caught two students red-handed involving unfair means. A senior lecturer of the college was personally helping these students in this act. This senior lecturer also happens to be close to the management.

One of the students was the son of a local politician who was responsible for getting the college affiliated to the present reputed university. The second student was the son of a local businessman who has donated maximum funds for running the college. You immediately informed the management regarding this unfortunate incident.

The management told you to resolve the issue with the flying squad at any cost. They further said that such an incident will not only tarnish the image of the college but also the politician and the businessman are very important personalities for the functioning of the college.

You were also given a hint that your further promotion to Principal depends on your capability in resolving this issue with the flying squad.

In the meantime, you were intimidated by your administrative officer that certain members of the student union are protesting outside the college gate against the senior lecturer and the students involved in this incident are demanding strict action against defaulters.

  1. a) Discuss the ethical issue involved in the case.

  2. b) Critically examine the options available with you as Vice Principal. What option will you adopt and why?

(Ans in 250 words)

Question 9

An elevated corridor is being constructed to reduce traffic congestion in the capital of a particular state. You have been selected as project manager of this prestigious project on your professional competence and experience.

The deadline is to complete the project in the next two years by 30 June 2021, since the project is to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister before the elections are announced in the second week of July 2021. While carrying out the surprise inspection by the inspecting team, a minor crack was noticed in one of the piers of the elevated corridor possibly due to poor material used.

You immediately informed the chief engineer and stopped further work. It was assessed by you that a minimum of three piers of the elevated corridor have to be demolished and reconstructed.

But this process will delay the project minimum by four to six months. But the chief engineer overruled the observation of the inspecting team on the ground that it was a minor crack that will not in any way impact the strength and durability of the bridge.

He ordered you to overlook the observation of the inspecting team and continue working with the same speed and tempo. He informed you that the minister does not want any delay as he wants the Chief Minister to inaugurate the elevated corridor before the elections are declared.

Also informed you that the contractor is a far relative of the minister and he wants him to finish the project. He also gave you a hint that your further promotion as an additional chief engineer is under consideration by the ministry.

However, you strongly felt that the minor crack in the pier in the elevated corridor will adversely affect the health and life of the bridge and therefore it will be very dangerous not to repair the elevated corridor.


a) Under the given conditions, what are the options available to you as a project manager?

b) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by the project manager and his response to overcome such challenges?

c) What are the professional challenges likely to be faced by the project manager and his response to overcome such challenges?

d) What can be the consequences of overlooking the observation raised by the inspecting team?

(Ans in 250 words)

Question 10

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has quickly spread to various countries.

As of May 8th, 2020, in India 56342 positive cases of corona had been reported. India with a population of more than 1.35 billion had difficulty in controlling the transmission of coronavirus among its population. Multiple strategies became necessary to handle this outbreak.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India raised awareness about this outbreak and to take all necessary actions to control the spread of COVID -19. The Indian Government implemented a 55-day lockdown throughout the country to reduce the transmission of the virus.

Schools and colleges had shifted to alternative modes of teaching-learning-evaluation and certification. Online mode has become popular these days.

India was not prepared for a sudden onslaught of such a crisis due to limited infrastructure in terms of human resources, money and other facilities needed for taking care of this situation.

This disease did not spare anybody irrespective of caste, creed, religion on one hand and ‘have and have not’ on the other. Deficiencies in hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, hospital staff and crematorium were the most crucial aspects.

You are a hospital administrator in a public hospital at the time when coronavirus had attacked a large number of people and patients were pouring into the hospital day in and day out.

  1. a) What are your criteria and justification for putting your clinical and non-clinical staff to attend to the patients knowing fully well that it is a highly infectious disease and resources and infrastructure are limited?

  2. b) If yours is a private hospital, whether your jurisdiction and decision would remain the same as that of a public hospital?

(Ans in 250 words)

Question 11

A reputed food product company based in India developed a food product for the international market and started exporting the same after getting necessary approvals.

The company announced this achievement and also indicated that soon the product will be made available for domestic consumers with almost the same quality and health benefits.

Accordingly, the company got its product approved by the domestic competent authority and launched the product in the Indian market. The company could increase its market share over a period of time and earned substantial profit both domestically and internationally.

However, the random sample test conducted by the inspecting team found the product being sold domestically in variance with the approval obtained from the competent authority.

On further investigation, it was also discovered that the food company was not only selling products that were not meeting the health standard of the country but also selling the rejected export products in the domestic market. This episode adversely affected the reputation and profitability of the food company.

  1. a) What action do you visualize should be taken by the competent authority against the food company for violating the laid down domestic food standard and selling rejected export products in the domestic market?

  2. b) What course of action is available with the food company to resolve the crisis and bring back its lost reputation?

  3. c) Examine the ethical dilemma involved in the case.

(Ans in 250 words)

Question 12

Pawan has been working as an officer in the State Government for the last ten years. As a part of the routine transfer, he was posted to another department. He joined a new office along with five other colleagues.

The head of the office was a senior officer conversant with the functioning of the office. As a part of general inquiry, Pawan gathered that his senior officer carries the reputation of being a difficult and insensitive person having his own disturbed family life. Initially, all seemed to go well.

However, after some time Pawan felt that the senior officer was belittling him and at times unreasonable. Whatever suggestions given or views expressed by Pawan in the meetings were summarily rejected and the senior officer would express displeasure in the presence of others.

It became a pattern of the boss’s style of functioning to show him in a bad light highlighting his shortcomings and humiliating him publicly. It became apparent that though there are no serious work-related problems/shortcomings, the senior officer was always on one pretext or the other and would scold and shout at him.

The continuous harassment and public criticism of Pawan resulted in the loss of confidence, self-esteem and equanimity. Pawan realized that his relations with his senior officer are becoming more toxic and due to this, he perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. His mind was occupied with negativity and caused him mental torture, anguish and agony.

Eventually, it badly affected his personal and family life. He was no longer joyous, happy and content even at home. Rather without any reason, he would lose his temper with his wife and other family members.

The family environment was no longer pleasant and congenial. His wife who was always supportive of him also became a victim of his negativity and hostile behaviour. Due to harassment and humiliation suffered by him in the office, comfort and happiness virtually vanished from his life. Thus, it damaged his physical and mental health.

  1. a) What are the options available with Pawan to cope up with the situation?

  2. b) What approach Pawan should adopt for bringing peace, tranquillity and a congenial environment in the office and home?

  3. c) As an outsider, what are your suggestions for both boss and subordinate to overcome this situation and for improving the work performance, mental and emotional hygiene?

  4. d) In the above scenario, what type of training would you suggest for officers at various levels in the government offices?

(Ans in 250 words)


When it comes to the GS section of the CSE, your preparation for the Mains should be subtly different. When it comes to the Preliminary, you should concentrate on covering major subjects such as geography, history, and economics, as well as the most vital factor, current events.

In the mains, on the other hand, you must cover topics such as ethics, disaster management, and society. However, keep in mind that there is no real distinction between Prelims and Mains in terms of preparation technique, and only minor variations are required.

If you want to improve your preparation level in the CSE exam, visit UPSC Pathshala now.

Also Read: UPSC Recruitment 2022: Check Out the UPSC Notification for 2022 and Fulfill Your Ultimate Dream!

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Madhurjya Chowdhury

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

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