UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper 1 Analysis: Questions Paper, Questions asked in Exam, Nature of Questions, etc.

The General Studies Paper 1 was conducted by UPSC as part of the Civil Services Main Exam 2020 on 9 January, 2021.

20 questions were asked in the exam in which 10 questions were of 10 marks each and remaining 10 questions were of 15 marks each.

Instructions given in GS Paper 1 UPSC 2020 are as follows:

– Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.

– There are 20 questions printed both in ENGLISH and HINDI.

– All questions are compulsory.

– The number of marks carried by a question/part is printed against it.

– Answers must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.

– No marks will be given for answers written in the medium other than the authorized one.

– Answers to questions no. 1 to 10 should be in 150 words, whereas answers to questions no. 11 to 20 should be in 250 words.

– Keep the word limit indicated in the questions in mind.

– Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.

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GS Paper 1 Question Paper: UPSC CSE (Written) 2020

  1. 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
  2. Pala period is the most significant phase in the history of Buddhism in India. Enumerate. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  3. Evaluate the policies of Lord Curzon and their long term implications on the national movements. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  4. Discuss the geophysical characteristics of Circum- Pacific Zone. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  5. The process of desertification does not have climate boundaries. Justify with examples. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  6. How will the melting of Himalayan glaciers have a far-reaching impact on the water resources of India? (Answer in 150 words) 10
  7. 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
  8. Has caste lost its relevance in understanding the multi-cultural Indian Society? Elaborate your answer with illustrations. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  9. COVID-19 pandemic accelerated class inequalities and poverty in India Comment. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  10. Do you agree that regionalism in India appears to be a consequence of rising cultural assertiveness? Argue. (Answer in 150 words) 10
  11. 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
  12. Persian literary sources of medieval India reflect the spirit of the age. Comment. (Answer in 250 words) 15
  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
  14. The interlinking of rivers can provide viable solutions to the multi-dimensional inter-related problems of droughts, floods and interrupted navigation. Critically examine. (Answer in 250 words) 15
  15. 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
  16. India has immense potential of solar energy though there are regional variations in its developments. Elaborate. (Answer in 250 words) 15
  17. Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (Answer in 250 words) 15
  18. Is diversity and pluralism in India under threat due to globalisation? Justify your answer. (Answer in 250 words) 15
  19. Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree? (Answer in 250 words) 15
  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

Have a look at the Analysis of the GS Paper 1 UPSC Mains

First, we will discuss the questions asked from various sections

As seen in the question paper the weightage given to the Art and Culture exam has significantly increased as four questions were asked in the exam worth 50 marks. Also, the weightage of the Modern history section was decreased as only two questions were asked.

If we see the paper difficulty wise then this year’s UPSC GS Paper 1 Mains was moderate given the fact that several questions asked were straight forward and directly related to the syllabus. Maximum weightage in the question paper is of Geography section with eight questions (Q. 4,-7, and 14-17) worth 100 marks. This was followed by the ‘society’ section with six questions (8-10, and 18-20) worth 75 marks.

The weightage given to the ‘Art and Culture’ section has been significantly increased with four questions (1, 2, 11 and 12) worth 50 marks. As discussed above the weightage given to the ‘Modern History’ section has been decreased with two questions (3 and 13) worth 25 marks. Also, from world history or post-independence history of India, there were no questions. That is questions were not asked from world history or post-independence history of India in the GS Paper 1 UPSC Mains.

Now, the nature of the questions asked in the GS Paper 1 UPSC Mains

If we talk about the Geography section then questions asked were conventional and straight forward in nature with some repeated questions from the previous year’s theme like interlinking of rivers or flooding of cities. Most of the questions required contemporary examples.

In the Society section, the nature of questions asked was from moderate to difficult which required a deeper understanding of Indian society and its prevailing issues like questions asked were of COVID-19 and caste system. Questions were also like an opinion based and open-ended that tested the critical thinking of the aspirant as well.

Now, the Art and Culture Section, the nature of the questions asked were difficult due to factual and analytical.

In Modern History Section, the nature of questions asked was straight forward which could easily be answered by the aspirant and were of conventional sources.

Therefore, we can say that 100+ would be the good score as the paper was of moderate difficulty and was also not lengthy.

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Questions asked in the Exam Syllabus wise are as follows:

1. 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

As per syllabus topic asked: Indian Art and Culture will cover Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times. So, straight forward question but to write content specific may be difficult.

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

As per syllabus topic asked: Indian Art and Culture Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

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

As per syllabus topic asked: Modern History middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues. Can be answered from conventional sources.

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

As per syllabus topic asked: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic activity, cyclone.

Straightforward and factual question. Can be explained via a diagram.

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

As per syllabus topic asked: Geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps).

The question required conceptual understanding of desertification and some factual knowledge as well.

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features including water-bodies and ice-caps.

7. 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)

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).

It can be easily answered from the NCERT of Geography.

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Salient features of Indian society

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Poverty and developmental issue

Question-based on current affairs so nature is moderate.

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Regionalism

Question asked was moderate and straightforward.

11. 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)

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

Nature of the question is difficult and need deeper and analytical thinking to answer

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Indian Art and Culture will cover Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Question is difficult as knowledge regarding Persian literature is required.

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).

As per the syllabus, topic asked: The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

14. 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)

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent)

15. 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)

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Distribution of key natural resources across the world including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Distribution of key natural resources across the world including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Effects of globalization on Indian society

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

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India

Nature of question is difficult as it is opinion-based.

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)

As per the syllabus, topic asked: Social empowerment

The nature of the question is easy or moderate and straightforward in which several examples can be given for better explanation.

In the end, we can say that an aspirant requires smartness to tackle the society section and a good command over concepts and important topics of History and Geography due to which an aspirant can gain better marks through this paper.

UPSC CSE Mains 2020 Detailed Syllabus: GS Paper-I (Indian Heritage & Culture, History & Geography of the World & Society)

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