UPSC Civil Services Mains Geography Paper-I of 2021


A Must Read for Civil Services Geography Optional of UPSC

For the civil services mains examination, UPSC provides 41 optional subjects. Each aspirant should select one optional paper of their choice and appear in two papers (Paper-I and Paper-II). Among these options, for a long time, Geography has been one of the most popular optional subjects among civil services aspirants. Though the syllabus is vast, it is equally preferred by engineering, science, art, and humanities graduates.

The first step to prepare for the Geography Optional is thoroughly reading and understanding the NCERT Geography Books. Even before that understanding the contents of each of the 10 NCERT Geography Books. With that in mind, the key topics covered in each of these books are given below for a high-level understanding before you dive deep into the option.



Time Allowed: Three Hours Maximum Marks: 250


Please read each of the following instructions carefully before attempting questions.
There are EIGHT questions divided in TWO SECTIONS and printed both in HINDI and in ENGLISH. The candidate has to attempt FIVE questions in all.

Question Nos. 1 and 5 are compulsory and out of the remaining, THREE are to be attempted Choosing at least ONE question from each Section.

The number of marks carried by a question/part is indicated 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 a medium other than the authorized one.

Word limit in questions, wherever specified, should be adhered to.

Illustrate your answers with suitable sketches/maps and diagrams, wherever considered necessary. These shall be drawn in the space provided for answering the question itself.
Attempts of questions shall. be counted in sequential order. Unless struck off, the attempt of a question shall be counted even if attempted partly. Any page or portion of the page left blank in the Question-cum-Answer Booklet must be clearly struck off.


1.Answer the following in about 150 words each: 10 × 5 = 50

1. (a) Describe the concept of 'Altiplanation'. [10]

1. (b) What are the important factors responsible for airmass modifications? [10]

1. (c) Discuss the hazards associated with rise of sea-surface temperature. [10]

1. (d) Gene pool centres are 'Good Hope' for biodiversity conservation. Elucidate. [10]

1. (e)Describe how ecosystem services of Himalaya are essential for Highland-Lowland sustainability in Asia. [10]

2. (a)The concept of Plate tectonics has been derived from the isostasy and continental drift theory. Elaborate citing suitable examples. [20]

2. (b)Give a detailed account of bottom topography of the Pacific Ocean. [15]

2. (c) Soil erosion and soil degradation are threat to food supply. Discuss. [15]

3. (a) Examine major influencing factors for varied patterns of precipitations on the continents. [20]

3. (b) Maritime security is being neglected. Indicate the major challenges and suggest solutions in the context of Law of the Sea. [15]

3. (c) Explaining the concept of carbon neutrality, describe the measures taken by carbon positive and negative nations. [15]

4. (a) With suitable examples, elaborate human ecological adaptations. Explain its impacts on ecology and environment in various parts of the world. [20]

4. (b) Stream basins and drainage divides are important components to delineate a watershed area. Explain. [15]

4. (c) Indicating the causes of lightning, describe the threats associated with it. [15]


5.Answer the following in about 150 words each: 10 x 5 = 50

5. (a) The interrelationships between social and spatial structure are complex. Explain in the context of socio-spatial dialectic. [10]

5. (b) How is energy transition seen as an instrument for achieving zero carbon by 2050? [10]

5. (c) Protected cultivation assists in healthier and a larger produce. Justify with examples. [10]

5. (d) Explain the processes of contagion and hierarchical diffusion in addressing regional imbalances. [10]

5. (e) Examine the relevance of Central Place Theory of Chris taller in the present context. [10]

6. (a) Development-induced displacement poses serious challenges. Mention its causes, consequences and solutions. [20]

6. (b)Describe the role of accessibility and affordability in food security of developing world. [15]

6. (c) The environmental issues are not adequately addressed in the regional planning. Comment. [15]

7. (a) Suggest criteria, indicators and techniques for delimitation of formal regions. [20]

7. (b) Boundaries are important in geopolitics. Explain. What issues develop from the inclusionary and exclusionary aspects of borders? [15]

7. (c) Small number of mega cities are playing key role in organization of global economics and culture. Explain. [15]

8. (a) Why is radicalism seen as a major paradigm shift in geography? Explain its causes, approaches and criticism. [20]

8. (b) Aging population has adverse social and economic consequences. Explain with examples. [15]

8. (c) Present a critical account of Alfred Weber Theory of industrial location. [15]

Written by Venkadesh Narayanan, IRAS

He is a Mechanical Engineer and an MBA with over 30 years of experience in Consulting and Coaching Civil Services aspirants. He is a former member of Indian Civil Services (IRAS 2000 Batch) who opted for Geography and Psychology papers during his CS Mains.

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