In 2009’s mains attempt, I got only 20/200 marks in the Essay. It was about ‘are we a soft state?’ . I wrote it only from the foriegn policy and law-n-order point of view, without seeing the cultural -historical contexts. It was a monotonous essay without any spark. Moral of the story: do try to see different angles of the subject and give a thorough thought before you start writing.
Some veterans are in opinion that you should pick up the essay on technical subject, example space-technology, advances in medical science, how IT has changed lives and so on. Because only a few people attempt them, and due to technical nature, your ideas are unlikely to be in conflict with the examiner so you’ll get more marks.
But then again you need enough ‘content’ to write 1500+ words else the padding route=digging your own grave. And there are enough toppers who wrote the non-technical essay and still got in the top-merit list so as usual for every generalisation made about UPSC, you’ll find a counter example!
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant consisted of six GE light water boiling water reactors (BWRs) with a combined power of gigawatts, making it one of the world's 25 largest nuclear power stations . It was the first GE-designed nuclear plant to be constructed and run entirely by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Reactor 1 was a 439 MWe type (BWR-3) reactor constructed in July 1967, and commenced operation on 26 March 1971.  It was designed to withstand an earthquake with a peak ground acceleration of g ( m/s 2 ) and a response spectrum based on the 1952 Kern County earthquake .  Reactors 2 and 3 were both 784 MWe type BWR-4s. Reactor 2 commenced operation in July 1974, and Reactor 3 in March 1976. The earthquake design basis for all units ranged from g ( m/s 2 ) to g ( m/s 2 ).   After the 1978 Miyagi earthquake , when the ground acceleration reached g ( m/s 2 ) for 30 seconds, no damage to the critical parts of the reactor was found.  Units 1–5 have a Mark-1 type (light bulb torus ) containment structure ; unit 6 has Mark 2-type (over/under) containment structure.  In September 2010, Reactor 3 was partially fueled by mixed-oxides (MOX) . 
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