IAS Mains 2014 GS-2 Paper Analysis and Review

The General Studies paper-2 was different from the paper of 2013. In a major shock, UPSC asked only 20 questions, with each question having a weightage of 12.5 marks.

However, the nature of questions was a bit simpler than the last year, and a number of questions came from the readily available material, like basic structure and Indian federalism. However, there were also a few questions that were twisted, to test the analytical and sharpness of a candidate’s mind.

The part-wise break up of the GS-2 paper was as follows:

Part Number of Questions Weightage
Constitution and Indian Polity 6 75
Policies and Program 3 37.5
Social Justice 4 50
Human Resources 2 25
IR 5 62.5
Total 20 250


GS2 analysis


Constitution and Indian Polity

Question 1 was a direct one, and provided a relief in terms of familiarity of concept. The question required the candidates to write a philosophical linkage between the basic structure pronouncement of the Kesavananad Bharti case of the Supreme Court and the proactive role played by the judiciary since then. You were to assess the role played by the Indian judiciary. The material for this question is widely available in all books.

Question 2 also came from the topics that are readily available in books on Indian constitution and polity. The question requires the candidate to explain Indian federalism as a basic feature of the Indian Constitution. However, the second part requires to explain how the Indian federalism is different from the ideal-type of federalism (as in USA). It requires you to explain how and why Indian constitution has a pro-center inclination.

The topic of Question 3 could also be easily found in the books and study material. It requires the candidate to discuss how power and privileges, provided in the Article 105, are uncodified, and how it leads to arbitration. Further, you are required to explain the reason for the same. The matter in Indian Polity by Laxmikant is a good source for this answer.

The topic of the Question 4 was also no surprise. The question required an explanation based on the candidate’s understanding of the current happenings in the Indian films, and why they need/need not to be considered as a special category.

Question 5 belonged to the part- ‘structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive and Judiciary’. It require an understanding of the power of pardon of the President, and the various procedural delays associated with it. While the legal aspect could be written from the bookish-knowledge, the application part require the candidate to write from his/her understanding.

Question 6 also came from the constitutional part, and the matter for this one could be found in books on Indian administration like R. K. Arora and Rajni Goyal.

Policies and Programmes

Question 7 comes from the part ‘Government Policies and Intervention’. But this question differs from a mainstream question, and requires the candidate to write about the pros and cons of allowing greater FDI in media and news.

The topic of Question 8 had been in news for quite some time. The proposal of Rail Tariff Authority has been a subject of debate in various newspapers and magazines. Thus, it is difficult to find this topic in books. But a regular study of newspaper would give you a sound knowledge about the issue. You could write about the pros and cons of allowing private containers in the railways.

Question 9 was based on Statutory bodies (National Human Rights Commission). You were supposed to write about how the NHRC could be made more powerful and accountable. Further the question required the candidate to make a comparative analysis of the NHRC with the judiciary and other institutions in promoting the human rights.

Social Justice

Question 10 was a simpler one, and is often found in economy and polity sections. The topic of Self Help Groups (SHGs) has been in news for various reasons. You could include the aspects of financial inclusion and socio-political growth in the answer.

Question 11 could be considered as a tricky one. You need to be very diplomatic and write intelligently for this answer. The question touches upon the debates of reservation and development. This is one of the questions that were hard to be found in the books.

The news of Boxer Sarita being suspended from international events raised expectations for some question on Sports. But Question 12 did not talk about that incident. Rather, it asked the candidates to discuss about the merits and demerits of the talent hunt programmes and the concept of rewarding the winners. An analytical and well thought answer is what is required to win this question.

Question 13 might have come from the growing debates regarding the IITs/IIMs and the creamy layer that comes out of such institutes. The question requires you to analyse the pros and cons of giving freedom to these institutions in terms of administration and curriculum design. You need to write well, lest you’ll stand to loose marks.

Human Resources

Question 14 came from the cadre system of civil services. Most of the candidates read it in the Ethics Paper, but it came in the GS-2. You were required to write if the cadre system has been responsible for slow reform in India. You could take any stand, but need to justify it properly.

Question 15 seems to be a time-consuming one. It requires an analysis of the merits and demerits of both the schemes. The question is highly analytical and comparative in nature and needs a lot of brain-storming before you start writing.


The problems of South China Sea has been in news for some time now. The Question 16 was directly picked from the newspapers. However, you need to link the various security concerns of Sino-India relations while attempting the answer.

Question 17 comes from IR and Economy. You need to evaluate the influence and impact of the Information Technology Agreements (ITA) on the Indian economy and security. This one could be written in to-the-point form.

Question 18 is again a cross-breed of IR and Economy. You need to evaluate the merits and demerits of the Terms and Conditions set by the International funding agencies. It is important that you include most of the points while attempting this answer, to make it rich and comprehensive.

Question 19 is contemporary in nature, and asks about the New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). You are required to do a comparative analysis between the do and evaluate how these are beneficial for India. Again, the knowledge from newspapers and magazines is the only reliable source for this question.

Question 20 could prove to be tricky for those who do not keep themselves updated. The question asked about the mandate and enforcement powers of the WTO, and also asked about India’s stand in the latest summit. The question was expected as there has been much debate over WTO and it’s provisions.

Difficulty Level

  • Constitutional and Indian Polity- Easy to Moderate
  • Policies and Programmes- Moderate
  • Social Justice- Moderate
  • Human Resources- Moderate to difficult
  • IR- Moderate to difficult

Aspirant forum will start posting the answer key soon…

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