UPSC IAS 2020 Mains: Exam Analysis (January 9) and Difficulty Level of General Studies ‘Paper-II’

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Jan 11, 2021

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The Union Public Service Commission commenced the UPSC IAS Mains 2020 on January 8, 2021 that will end on January 17, 2021. There are 2 papers conducted every day. Only on January 8, there was one paper. For each day, there are two time slots for the exam i.e. 9 am to 12 noon 2 pm to 5 pm for the 1st and 2nd paper respectively.

UPSC conducts the UPSC IAS exam in three phases - Prelims, Mains, and Interview. It is the most prestigious exam in the country. The recruitment exam is taken to select candidates for various civil service posts in various departments of the Government of India. Unlike the Prelims stage, the questions asked in the Mains exam are subjective in nature.

There are two kinds of papers in the UPSC IAS Mains Exam. These are namely the Merit subjects paper and Qualifying subjects (exam). The merit exam subjects consist of those subjects whose marks are taken into account for the final result calculation whereas Qualifying subjects do not carry any weightage in the final result. Although, both types of exams are mandatory in nature. The detailed components of the IAS Mains exam are shown below:



Nature of Exam

Total Marks

Duration (in hours)

Paper A

Indian Language




Paper B




Paper I





Paper II

General Studies (GS) I



Paper III

General Studies (GS) II



Paper IV

General Studies (GS) III



Paper V

General Studies (GS) IV



Paper VI

Optional Subject Paper-I



Paper VII

Optional Subject Paper-II



UPSC IAS 2020 Mains: General Studies II Paper

The Commission held the General Studies paper II on January 9, 2021 in the afternoon slot of 2 pm to 5 pm. The General Studies paper II covered concepts from the following

  • Governance
  • Constitution
  • Polity
  • Environment
  • Security and Disaster Management

The major questions from different sections and topics that were asked in the GS II paper are given below. The word count limit is 150 for first 10 questions and 250 words for the next 10 questions.

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 

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

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. 

Q.4) The judicial system in India and 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. 

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 it’s implication for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? 

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

Q.7) “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context, suggest reforms in Civil Service for Strengthening Democracy. 

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

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

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

Also check- IAS Mains Essay exam 2020 analysis

Q.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. 

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. 

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. 

Q.14) Rajyasabha has been transformed from a ‘useless Stepney tire’ to the most useful supportive organ in past few decades. Highlight the factors as well as areas in which this transformation could be visible. 

Q.15) Which steps are required for constitutionalisation of a commission? Do you think imparting constitutionality to the national commission for woman would ensure greater gender justice and empowerment in India? Give reasons. 

Q.16) “Incidence and intensity of poverty are most important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyze the latest United Nations Multi Poverty Index report.

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

Q.18) National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals-4 (2030). It intended to restructure and re-orient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement

Q.19) Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is transforming itself into a trade block from the military alliance, in present times. Discuss

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

The candidate who appeared for the exam found the paper very lengthy and not so scoring. Overall, the paper was high on the difficulty level. 

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*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.