Saturday, 30 June 2018

Preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination - Mains - G.S. Paper 1 by Satyakam Dutta - Part 2


General Studies papers (I to IV) constitute 1000 Marks in the UPSC Civil Service Mains Examination, each paper carrying 250 marks. In today’s issue, we are going to discuss the Paper 1 of the examination. To understand what is required to be studies, we shall have to analyse the Syllabus first.

The Syllabus of the General Studies I Paper of the Civil Services Mains Examination is being given below as it is from the Exam Notification for reference.

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society:

·         Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
·         Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.
·         The Freedom Struggle - its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.
·         Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
·         History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc. - their forms and effect on the society.
·         Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
·         Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
·         Effects of globalization on Indian society.
·         Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
·         Salient features of world's physical geography.
·         Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
·         Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location - changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

Though the Syllabus looks immensely vast, if we take a look at the syllabus above closely, we can see that the Paper 1 primarily consists of Art and Culture, History of India’s Independence Struggle, Post-Independence Indian History, World History, Sociology and Geography. After dividing the Syllabus into the topics mentioned above, we can now limit our study of the said topics to a few study materials and reference and textbooks.

Art and Culture – If one has followed his old high school books on Social Studies well enough, this topic would be an easy walk. For a text, Spectrum’s Art and Culture is a nice book to follow. I had studied this book intensively. Like any other topic in General Studies, one also has to follow contemporary issues in Art and Culture. UPSC asks things which are relevant and have some contemporary weightage. While reading a newspaper, one has to keep an eye on.

History of India’s Independence StruggleNCERT books are good for the pre-1857 part and Spectrum’s A Brief History of Modern India is a good book for 1857 and beyond. Most of the questions do not ask one to go into the very depth of history but require to be analytical keeping in mind the various issues relevant to that period. Many successful aspirant recommend Shekhar Bandopadhyay’s From Plassey to Partition. In addition to the above, I had read Bipan Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence, which also is a very good book.

Post- Independence HistoryNCERT‘s Politics in India Since Independence is a brilliant book which gives everything one needs to know clearly and concisely. Also again, the personalities are given in boxes in the book which helps a lot in revising and also memorizing. In addition to the NECRT book, if one needs some additional material, one can refer Bipan Chandra’s India since Independence, which is a good book nevertheless, but it is more of a research book than a reference. Hence, one can have a casual read only if one is interested.

World History – Old NCERT books of Standard 9-12 on history are the best books for World History. These are the books which were there before 2000. They are more than enough for World Histroy. However, they are difficult to find now in physical form but can be downloaded from this link: http://iasexamportal.com/civilservices/ncert-books-old

Sociology – A general understanding of Indian Society is required to answer questions relating to sociology. I believe for this part, a continuous read of the newspapers would benefit a lot. Though there no specific textbooks, magazines like Yojana and Frontline delve a lot on the current problems facing the society and how the Government is talking them. The aspirant should not always be critical of what Government is doing. The intention of the Government is always correct and hence, the policy decisions are required to be evaluated on merit and not histrionics. India generally succeeds less on the execution part.

Geography – The basic and the most important books for Geography are the NCERT books for the Standard 11 and 12. One has to compulsorily study these textbooks. Mrunal.org has got a very nice collection of articles and materials for the Geography part of the GS Paper 1 and YouTube has some brilliant videos on the basic topics.

As we all know, these days UPSC has made the GS paper very challenging. It has become dynamic and more opinion based. Students need to do an extensive coverage of current affairs and also, they can’t neglect the conventional aspect. Therefore, newspaper reading is crucial given the current trend.

One must always try and make one’s own hand-written notes. While reading newspapers one should observe the following- abbreviations, new terms, organisations, quotes and examples, which can be used elsewhere, etc. Reading newspapers carefully and corresponding note writing is very effective for retention and one is also able to revise very quickly.

One should read the editorials carefully and try and understand the main points. After reading, one should write a summary of the editorial in a designated notebook. This would help one build one’s own opinion and also quick revision later. I used to have a separate notebook for all Papers and used to have separate pages for separate topics. For example, in my notebook for GS Paper 1, I used to have a few pages for let’s say “Poverty and Developmental Issues” from the syllabus and there I used to note down important points from Editorials from newspapers one by one. I used to keep empty space below for more points to be added later from future editorials. In a year’s time I had 3-4 pages of good points on “Poverty and Developmental Issues” which were helpful for me for the GS Paper 1 as well as for the Essay paper.

Concluding today’s article, I would like to inform that NECRT books which are relevant to GS Paper 1 are available for download in this link: http://www.civilsdaily.com/ncert-books-free-download/ Aspirants can download them and read intensively.

(With help from various topper’s blogs)



Preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination - Mains -  G.S. Paper 3 by Satyakam Dutta - Part 4

Preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination - Mains -  G.S. Paper 4 by Satyakam Dutta - Part 5


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