• IASbaba
  • January 13, 2021
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Important Updates, UPSC MAINS 2020 QUESTION PAPERS
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Dear Aspirants

What do you think real happiness is? For us, it is the sense of achievement which one receives after putting in efforts to get something and then reaping the desired results. Today we would like to share our happiness with you.

For the past 6 years, we have been doing one thing with great passion and dedication. Yes! We love to guide the Civil Service aspirants. We have channelised all our energies and dedicated all our efforts into creating an ecosystem that gives every aspirant a chance to crack the prestigious civil services examination with Rank-1, even if he/she is in the remotest corner of the country. In this process, we have developed, designed, and dedicated a series of initiatives for Civil Services Exam preparation.

The quality of these initiatives has been proven time and again. It has become a norm to have high Hit Ratios in Prelims and Mains from the initiatives of IASbaba, namely Integrated Learning Programme (ILP) and Think Learn and Perform (TLP).

For the last 6 years, we have managed to hit the bull’s eye when it comes to GS Mains papers.

This article is not to boast about the Hit Ratio of our initiatives in any case. It would not be right to say that these many questions, directly or indirectly came from our initiatives just by using keywords of the UPSC questions. In that way, if we frame questions over the year on all keywords in the UPSC syllabus our hit ratio will be 100%. However, you are smart enough to analyse the importance of our initiatives and its very close resemblance to actual UPSC papers.

Rather than focusing on the numbers try to focus on the significance of these initiatives and make them a part of your preparation. Hard work should be done smartly to have a better Input-Output ratio of efforts and results.

Below we have come up with the Analysis and Approach for each question of General Studies (GS) Paper 2 that was asked by UPSC along with the links and references of IASbaba questions/ articles. After going through this article, you will realise that just by sincerely following the initiatives on our platform, your chances of success in the Mains stage would have increased dramatically.


NOTE: PDF of Analysis is provided at the end of the post.




Prima Facie the paper appears to be on the easier side but that is not the case. The questions asked were of moderate level and however, most of them were on expected lines. It was a good mix of fundamental and applied part.

To score high in this paper, one needs to be well aware of several important articles and amendments of the Indian constitution along with current affairs, because most of the questions appearing in the GS-2 paper has a direct link with recent happenings. Also, one needs to include recent commissions, reports, and its recommendations in the answers.

Let us take a few questions from International Relations – USA’s election and role of the diaspora, COVID-19 and role of WHO, QUAD alliance were in news everywhere as USA’s Pacific doctrine has India and Japan playing a key role and US & Russia balancing act by India. Anyone who is following the news of the last 6-7 months would have answered it with a lot of facts.

Also, this time the paper was such that one needs to devote at least 30-40 seconds per question to read and understand what is the basic demand and which part needs to be addressed. For instance, “Recent amendments to RTI having an impact on the Information Commission. Explain.” Here while reading on the first instance, there are chances of misunderstanding and explaining the power and functions of the Information commission but the actual demand of the question is about how amendments have impacted the Information Commission, each point should point out to specific amendment and how it impacts the latter.

There were four questions on International relations and sixteen questions on Indian polity and governance.

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 (Answer in 150 words)


This is a direct question with respect to the Representation of Peoples Act and requires that a candidate knows what are the provisions regarding disqualification in RPA Act and how these provisions are not simplified in nature and therefore there is a need for reform in this aspect.

First write what are the provisions related to disqualification which are mentioned in the Representation of people’s Act, such as section 123 and section 8 of the act.

Further, write how these provisions have proved inadequate to deal with the corrupt practices such as the case relating to Lalu Prasad Yadav who was not debarred from election until he was convicted and therefore there is a need to reform this act and the procedure. Here for simplification, you can suggest a tribunal to deal with the cases in fast track manner and also amending the RPA act to bar the candidate even at the trial stage for the heinous crimes and corrupt practices.


TLP Plus Test 7, Question 1(2020)

Q.2) “Recent amendments to the Right to Information Act will have profound impact on the autonomy and independence of the Information Commission”. Discuss. (Answer in 150 words)


The question requires basic information about what is Right to Information Act 2005 and what are the recent amendment (made in 2019) which will impact the autonomy and independence of the information commission. This is a simple question as the right to information act and its amendments were in news for the past one year.

Mentions provisions of RTI Amendment Bill 2019: which seeks to amend Sections 13, 16, and 27 of the RTI Act. The amendment threatens RTI through provisions such as: CIC’s fixed term of 5 years has been changed to “term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”

The salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government” which were earlier equivalent to Chief Election Commissioner.

After writing these points link how these provisions dilute the autonomy and independence of the Information commission and what impacts it may have on overall idea of information sharing and good governance.


 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. (150 words)


This question is based on the issue of federalism and how the Indian federation has been shaped by three key concepts which are cooperation, competition and confrontation and then each term needs to be explained and examined under the current circumstances by giving examples from recent times.

Cooperation: Here the candidate can mention how through Niti aayog and zonal councils the Centre and states cooperate with each other in institutional manner while in recent times in the aftermath of lockdown imposed by COVID 19 the cooperation for solving migrant crisis as well the enhancement of testing facilities.

Competition: There is competition between different states especially after 1991 economic reforms of parameter of attracting FDI and GDP growth rate. Further the recent parameters of ease of doing business, logistic index, Swachh Bharat Sarvekshan.

Confrontation: Historical the confrontation is focused on sharing of waters and taxes between the states and also on the issue of the president’s rule under article 356, the jurisdiction of CBI. In recent times it can be seen in issues like sharing of taxes under GST Act, then the issue of recent farm bills, curtailing of jurisdiction of CBI by Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and sharing of water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu of river Kaveri


 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. (150 words)


This is a tricky question. The student needs to know what are the similarities and the differences between the judicial system of India and the United Kingdom. Further the candidate needs to give some examples to substantiate her/his points and focus on some recent issues where both the judicial system and have converged and diverged.

Here the candidate can focus on how there are similarities such as instrument of writ petitions to uphold rule of law, judicial independence, and how judiciary of both nations can review the acts of administration and executives.

While there are divergences such the scope of judicial review with Indian judiciary is far much wider than that available to the judiciary of UK, such as in UK the judiciary cannot review the acts made by parliament, next the special leave petition of Supreme Court of India has no parallel in UK. Further in India judges are appointed by collegium system while in UK there is a judicial appointment commission.

In recent issues it can be focused on how the act of sedition is no longer valid in the United Kingdom while it is often lay used in India, further the contempt of court proceedings are rare in UK while in India it has been used a seen in recent examples of Prashant Bhushan case.


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 its implication for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (150 words)


This question is based on the role of the Speaker. In recent time as it has been seen that the role of Speaker has come into contention between the opposition and the ruling parties for its partial behaviour. Therefore, the question demands from the candidate to examine how the ‘Office of Speaker’ can be made impartial to impart the robust functioning of Parliament of business in India.

Here write how Speaker plays a crucial role in issues such as disqualification under the Anti-defection law, the validation of money bill, maintaining the decorum in assembly, passing of critical motions like censure motion and no confidence motion and how the current system of appointing speaker from ruling party without any procedure to keep the post impartial is hampering its role and leads to subjective interpretation of issues rather than objectivity needed in a parliamentary democracy.

In suggestions to make the post impartial write about changing the provisions related to speaker such as resigning from the party, or making the post secure. Further write how it will lead to more comprehensive debates, more balanced emphasis to opposition parties and bringing more credibility to the institutions of Speaker.


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 (Answer in 150 words)


This is a question about Inclusive growth. One needs to bring out the importance of taking the healthcare needs of the Old age population and Women.

First bring out the unique problems/ needs of women: Institutional deliveries, awareness about cancers, Women’s health impact on new born babys health, Maternal mortality ratio, adolescent health, reproductive health and access to medicines etc. Likewise, bring out the unique problems/ needs of the old age population: desertion by family members, lack of specialised old age care, lack of social safety net to take care of health needs, insurance penetration, inadequate old age homes etc.

Then, mention how government programmes towards Old age and women’s health care are inadequate and are not aligned to take care of the unique needs of women & old age people.

Later, elaborate on the measures that need to be taken so as to take care of healthcare needs of women & old age.


TLP Test 11 Q13. How should India plan to cater to its ageing population in the next couple of decades? Are India’s institutions and social security nets equipped to bear the burden of a burgeoning dependent population? Critically examine

Q.7) “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context, suggest reforms in Civil Service for Strengthening Democracy. (Answer in 150 words)


This is a direct question on reforms needed in Civil Services. It is asked in the context of government launching Mission Karmayogi.

First, you need to bring out the interlinkage between robust bureaucracy and economic growth (transaction & compliance cost, upholding rule of law, level playing field, fair market competition, attracting investments). You can take the example of “Policy Paralysis” that occurred in UPA2 to bring out this interlinkage.

Next, bring out the existing impediments in Civil Service (silos approach, lack of expertise, red-tapism, ineffective grievance redressal mechanism, hierarchical, conservative, lacks innovation, lack of standardised training). Then, suggest the appropriate measures to plug these impediments.

You can conclude by quoting how Mission Karmayogi is trying to alter the landscape of Civil Service in India.


TLP Plus Test 17 Q1: 1. How critical is civil services reform in the ‘good governance’ discourse? Substantiate.

Q.8) “The emergence of Fourth Industrial Revolution (Digital Revolution) has initiated e-Governance as an integral part of government”. Discuss (Answer in 150 words)


In this question, you need to bring out the interlinkage between the Digital revolution and governance.

First mention the meaning of the Fourth Industrial revolution by contrasting it with the other three revolutions: First was driven by Steam power, the second was driven by electric power, third was driven by electronic power, the fourth is being driven by data & AI

Mention some statistics to show that the world and India, in particular, is witnessing a Digital revolution (increasing smartphone penetration, low internet cost, increasing UPI transactions)

Then, mention about Digital India mission and how it is playing key role in creating robust and efficient institutions of governance


TLP Plus Test: Q 11. Examine the role of Digital India in creating robust and efficient institutions of governance.

Q.9) Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Answer in 150 words) 


This is a question asked in the context of Criticisms mounted on WHO for its inefficient handling of COVID-19. Mention how there was a delay in declaring COVID-19 as Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This led to delay in closing of National Boundaries thus effectively spreading the virus across the globe.

Then, mention how WHO dithered from effectively discharging its duties in finding the roots of COVID-19 outbreak ostensibly under the pressure of China. You can further elaborate on how politicisation of international body like WHO can impact the Global Health Security.

You can also touch upon the USA’s withdrawal from WHO, its funding pattern, and Vaccine Nationalism to underscore how WHO credibility has worsened in crucial times.

You can conclude by saying how India can play role in strengthening the institution.


Q.10) “Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries”. Comment with examples. (Answer in 150 words)


This is a direct question on the significance of Indian Diaspora in West.

Indian Diaspora plays a pivotal role in Europe & America in the following ways

  • Electoral Power: Significant Population in these countries thus occupying high office (Kamala Harris, Canada Defence Minister, UK Parliamentarians etc)
  • Economic Power (funding activities)
  • Technology (Google, Microsoft headed by Indians thus they do play key role in driving investment to India)
  • Soft power (influencing culture through celebration of festivals, YOGA, ISKON movement etc)
  • Power to steer bilateral relations (ex: Indo-US Nuclear deal)

One can touch upon the above aspects by giving more examples. Thus Diplomacy is now not restricted to Heads of State but has percolated down to the Public as they do indeed have the power to steer geopolitical relations.


TLP Plus Test 17: Q19: 19. People of Indian origin are playing a prominent role in the domestic politics in many countries. How does it shape India’s efforts and outreach to India’s global diaspora? Discuss.

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.


This question can be divided in two parts wherein the first part you need to address that how Indian constitution has centralising features which were incorporated for maintaining the unity and integrity of India while in the second part you need to comment on how the three different acts the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897; The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and recently passed Farm Acts mentioned above are helpful to maintain integrity and unity of India.

Centralising features which can be mentioned: Provisions of Emergency, Presidents rule, All India services, Integrated Judiciary, Sharing of revenue through Finance commission, concurrent list and residual powers available with the central government.

In second part write how the acts mentioned give centre the powers to issue various directions to state governments and how all these are visible in current context of Indian polity. For example, the farm acts has been implemented under the concurrent list, therefore the laws of centre will be upheld even if states opposed. This will lead to uniformity across farm sectors and help alleviate the deprivation of farmers, the disaster management act has been enacted under the residual powers and therefore was used in COVID 19 pandemic for a united fight against the epidemic and also to upheld integrity of India in such crucial times.


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.


In this question candidates are expected to write about how judiciary is adventuring into the legislative and executive domain and how it is antithetical to separation of powers while in the next part the candidate needs to address and link separation of powers in relation to public interests petitions which call upon judiciary to intervene.

Here the candidate should start by defining separation of powers and provisions of Indian constitution like Directive principle of State policy Article 50 which exhibit it explicitly. Then comment on the need of separation of power and how the recent cases where judicial overreach was visible that is in case of banning of BS4 vehicle and also banning of alcohol on the roads. Both these issues were the domain of executive action.

In next part write how the intrusion of judiciary in legislative domain is mainly as people are agitated by the lethargic attitude of legislators to deal with issues of critical importance and therefore the judiciary have come to the rescue. The right to Liberty, Equality and Life of Indian citizens was visible in issuing of Vishakha guidelines, formation of EPCA in Delhi to handle pollution and various electoral reforms such as declaring the assets and educational information of candidates.


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.


The question demands the candidate to do a comparative analysis of the situation of how the local governance and its institution from the initial phase of focus on the aspects of ‘functions functionaries and funds’ has shifted their focus towards the functionality of these institutions in recent times. While in the next part of the question the candidate needs to analyse what are the critical challenges which are being faced by local institution in current times.

Here in the first part the candidate can write about how after the formation of the local institutions like the gram panchayat and the urban local bodies in its initial year’s until recently was focused on the basic needs of an institution like funding, devolution of functions, and appointing of functionaries.

While in next part candidate needs to address how in current times the local institutions are facing issues such as encroachment in their functioning by various parastatal bodies of the state such as water development bodies, smart city special purpose vehicle, the appointment of the commissioner by the state in municipal bodies and gram Sevak at panchayat level, lack of capacity to deal with issues such as climate change, Suburban sprawl, demographic change.


TLP Test 2(2020) Questions No. 19

Q.14) Rajya Sabha has been transformed from’ 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.


Here the question is based on the static part of the syllabus which can be easily answered from books such as polity by M.Laxmikant. The candidate here needs to address the importance of the Rajya Sabha and how in recent decades the role of Rajya Sabha has been enhanced in the first part of the question. In the next part, the candidate needs to analyse what are the factors responsible for this change by highlighting the areas where this change is visible.

In the past few decades the factors which have been responsible for the transformation of Rajya Sabha into an essential organ are:

  • Coalition Governments which require a wider consensus and where no single party has a majority.
  • Prime Minister being part of the Rajya Sabha. As head of government, he imparts Rajya Sabha with enhanced weightage.
  • The requirement of informed opinion on the issues such as climate change, surrogacy law, DNA bill.
  • Increased principle of Federalism in Indian polity and the rise of regional parties.

The areas where this change is visible

  • Role of Rajya Sabha in enacting legislation of importance like the RTI act and also in opposing discriminatory legislation such as POTA act 2003.
  • Making the government’s accountable by the passing of amendments to the President’s address.
  • Making government to agree on amendments on important legislation of the Lokpal Act and Food Security Act 2013.
  • The support of Rajya Sabha in passing critical bills like the abrogation of article 370 was crucial.


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


The question expects candidate to address the basic keyword of constitutionalisation and suggest the procedure to constitutionalise any commission and highlight on whether giving constitutional status to NCW will ensure gender justice and empowerment of women with providing various reasons.

Here candidate can compare working of constitutional bodies such as NCST NCSC and their ineffectiveness and being merely a recommending body such as how these bodies just play an advisory role and lack any implementation of its recommendations and also its lacks the independence as appointments are made by executives dominantly. This needs to be balanced with how there are certain positives of giving constitutional status such as reports being mandatorily discussed in parliament, powers of civil courts and can directly interact with media without any hindrances.

And suggest few measures to turn NCW into effective body and help in empowerment of women especially in current times where women are under threat from various problems such as increasing criminal activities like rape and sexual assaults, cybercrimes like deep fakes and online trolling and increasing empowerment of women and needs for legislative and social changes in society.


TLP Plus 2020 Test 7 Q.7

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


There are two statements in the question, first one is an assertion that says that both incidence and intensity of poverty measure income related poverty alone. And the second statement is a command, which asks to analyse how the UN’s Multi Poverty Index covers all other forms of poverty measurement.

In the first part we can explain the poverty line, World Banks criteria of $1 per day to measure poverty. We can also bring in Amartya Sen’s intensity of poverty, head count ratio, income distance etc, as well here.

You can also talk about Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee’s work on Poverty.

In the second part we need to explain how Multi Poverty Index measures, hunger, housing, happiness, overall nutrition, etc of a household.

We can conclude using India’s ranking in MPI and Tendulkar committee and Rangarajan Committee reports.


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.


Again, there are two parts in the question, for the first part we need to explain how micro-finance and the economy of ‘thrift’ is helping the income of rural poor in India. Here we need to bring good statistics about the percolation of SHGs, the amount of NABARD’s loan given away every year, and number of micro-finance institutions registered, etc.

In the second part, continuing with the statistics and examples of the self-help groups, we need to provide examples of those women led SHGs which are doing meticulous jobs in empowering the women section. Ex: of SEWA of Ela Bhatt, Kudumbashree of Kerala, MYRADA of Mysore can be quoted here.

Overall, it is essential to provide good facts and examples to make a power packed answer.


IASbaba TLP Test 7, Q. 13. Institutional sustainability and the quality of operations of the SHGs are matters of great concern. Comment.

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.


This is an analytical question, here we need to link the National Education Policy 2020 with that of targets provided by the SDG for sustainable education. Hence, we pick and choose those clauses in the policy which stress on the universal and sustainable education in particular.

Ex: We can include the new educational structure propounded in the policy that is in compliance with the international standards, provision in the NEP to improve employability, etc.

However, as the question demands to examine critically, we need to argue that not much about the quality of education is provided in the policy.

Also we can explain the lack of funds and infrastructure in the education sector which the policy doesn’t aim to provide.


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


A simple question, it asks to explain how QUAD, which is in news, is transforming from a trade block to a strategic partnership.

In the beginning, we can explain the trade partnerships like Indo-US and Indo-Japan nuclear deals, memorandums signed in areas of renewable energy, FMCG products, shale gas, during the earlier phase of Quad can also be mentioned.

However, in the second part we need to mention Pivot to Asia, Malabar Drill, CISMOA and BECA agreements and others.

We can conclude with a suggestion to co-opt China as well in the grouping.



Q.20) What is the significance of Indo-US deals over Indo-Russian defence deals? Discuss with reference to stability in Indo-Pacific region (Answer in 250 words)


There are two demands in this question as well;

In the first part we need to provide economic, strategic, and political significance of the Indo-US deal over that of the Indo-Russian deal.

Here, we can mention the S400 issue and US sanctions on Turkey, How INS Vikramaditya which was about to be dismantled was sold to India by Russians, and Russia’s reluctance to share technology related to Ramjet so on.

In the second part, we need to confine ourselves to the Indo-Pacific region, and we need to explain the significance of the Indo-US deal to enter Trans-Pacific Partnership, strengthening QUAD, countering China, etc.

We can conclude saying how Russia is an all-time friend of India and how India needs to strike a balance between India and Russia in this multi polar world.


Download the PDF of GS 2 Analysis here -> CLICK HERE



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