“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other ideas alone. This is the way to success - that is way great spiritual giants are produced.”

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Life is self-realization. Every birth is divine. We are born anew every morning. My wish is that I may catch the gleam, be freed from limitations and enter upon my boundless possibilities. My endowments are so rich and rare. There is no other person in the world just like me. I have genius, which, if it were brought forth into the sunlight, would glorify with brilliant inspiration a thousand lives. I have insight that, if it were energized, would make the desert blossom as the rose. I have initiative that once illuminated would create an empire fairer than any ever raised in marble. I have harmony lying latent in the vast octaves of my being, which if awakened into melody would sooth, comfort, restore, and purify the passions of the world. I have beauty; matchless in forms of grace, which if breathed into marble, or spread in soul colors upon the canvass would adorn the palaces of kings. I have thoughts which if given expression would burn and shine thru countless ages and bear their messages of hope and power to fainting multitudes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


In a significant move DoPT has approved the changes in civil services exam pattern w.e.f. ensuing Civil Services Exams, 2013. Now, the new format will give more weightage to General Studies. Implementation of these changes will affect the fate of over four lakh civil services aspirants looking to take the exam this year.

The new pattern aims to overhaul the existing pattern by reducing the importance of optional subjects and increased focus on general studies. This will reduce any advantage a candidate could have over others merely by selecting highly scoring subjects as optional papers.  General studies have about 50% weightage while optional subject about 25%. As a matter of fact, the changes are on both lines - expected and unexpected. 

In order to really comprehend these changes, one must put all the dimensions of this examination in a proper perspective and then try to understand the importance of these changes. General Studies has been uplifted to a 'King-makers' status by allotting a huge 1000 marks to it. But GS is more than just being a part of the Main Examination. It also has an indirect role to play in the Essay Paper (250 marks) and the Interview (275 marks). 

No candidate can ever think of making it to the apex without a substantial command over GS. This will certainly undo the earlier outline in which a candidate's success was optional-driven. Now, optional will just engage in a supporting role in the success trajectory of a candidate. This is certainly a better way of testing a candidate's suitability for the Civil Services. The optional-led examination had resulted in promotion of rote learning, short-term coaching-based preparations which had little relevance to a career in the Civil Services, at least now.

Though the change has been announced now, its rainbow colour started appearing in 2009 mains only...

A glimpse of 2012 IAS Mains Exam Questions and topics it touched:

See the questions asked:

• China as trading partner + Border Issues

• Impact of Globalization on R&D in India + Example (IT/Health)

• Issues in Nepal

• Plant Genomics in Hunger Alleviation

• Indus Water Treaty - Latest Analysis

• Indian Diaspora - New Diaspora vs. Old Diaspora

• Reasons for poverty in African and South Asian Countries

• Impact of Putin's return (Russia vs. West)

• Convention on Biological Diversity + FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources For Food and Agriculture

• Millennium Development Goals + concerns

• Negative impact of US protectionist measures on India's Software Industry

• Assisted Reproductive Technologies - commercial surrogacy

• Failure of International Trade as Engine of Growth

• US - Iran problems vs. India -Iran Relations

• India and South China Sea

• Environment Sustainability & Sustainable Development of People

• Clean Development Mechanism, etc.

The 2009 Mains Story.......

2009 was a very different year for IAS aspirants in terms of IAS mains exams. Unexpected change in the question pattern was observed in both Paper-I and II of General Studies. Not only the questions on the sectional areas had been changed but also there was a new range of word limits. The nature of the question paper had become more current oriented. There was a subtle message UPSC tried to give to the aspirants - mere spoon-feeding will not work. The aspirants need to be thoroughly prepared with all dimensions. Past years trend analysis and selective studies will bear no fruits. Gone are the days when one needed to do smart work! You need to rework your strategy.

We are presenting an analysis of 2009 GS questions with breakup to familiarize you with the current trend. Let's consider the individual breakups in GS Paper-I and II.

1. Conventional history questions were not asked. Instead three statements were given which wanted you to comment upon them. Besides, the conventional five Freedom movement related 2 markers were not there. 

2. There wasn't much from polity except the question on 'voting behaviour of Indians' [conventional terminology wasn't asked].

3. The routine computer terminology of 10 marks was missing. 

4. People thought UPSC would ask on 'Chandrayaan' but instead 'Hubble Space Telescope' was put through. 

5. In Paper -II there were many questions on biotech/bioinformatics/ DNA finger printing/biometric, ATM, etc. and just one conventional question on nanotech. 

6. In statistics, two graph related questions were asked and the rest stuff was quite easy as well. 

7. There was emphasis on international relations both in GS paper-II and Essay paper. There were three essay topics that had direct relevance to India's international relations.  

8. In geography there were conventional questions: wetlands & ecosystem, biodiversity, etc. People thought UPSC would ask in detail about monsoon mechanism/drought/famine (as the coaching classes had been saying) but they did not ask anything on these. Rather, there was one question on Meteorological department's work. 

9. In previous years UPSC would ask 2 markers/5 markers 'terminologies' from Economy but they did not do it this time. Instead they asked straight 30 marks questions - "Do you think we should stop liberalization after meltdown?"

The reason people said the examination pattern is changing because it didn't have the conventional 260 Marks worth Polity +History+ Economy combo and nothing was asked from what coaching institutes considered as important. In lieu, they asked Questions on sports, Television, folk dance, current affairs, etc. The 2 markers were also unique compared to previous trend. 

Change in continuity ....Reading CSAT 

UPSC had announced the new scheme of examination for IAS Prelims in 2011. The idea was to introduce an aptitude test in place of the existing optional subject paper in the civil services preliminary exam. There was a hue and cry over the proposal for Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), its implementation and its syllabus for long. However, interpretation of the CSAT syllabus has, no doubt, created a new "beginning". 
The previous pattern of the civil services preliminary exams was conceived in 1979 on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission. Since then, for 31 years, the preliminary pattern sustained with only some minor changes once in ten or fifteen years. But from 2011 onwards, civil services aspirants witnessed a sea change. Last two years' configuration of questions is a witness in itself.

The bid to change the system had been pending for quite some time as most of the government panels had advocated greater emphasis on "aptitude" of candidates rather than on their knowledge of subjects. The argument was that the specialists of any particular subject may not necessarily be good civil servants unless they have actual inclination towards it. Also, the new syllabus will provide a level-playing field.

Before you gear up for the IAS 2014, you also need to understand the basic philosophy of this change. Most of the Committees/Commissions constituted by the Government of India (GoI) have advocated laying greater emphasis on the aptitude of the candidates for Civil Services rather than on their knowledge of a particular subject. 

Even the Alagh Committee Report submitted in 2001, advocated for a greater change. The relevant portion of the Report goes like this- "The present testing of optional subjects is based on College/University curriculum. Re-examining the candidates in their own subjects appears to have doubtful utility. The universities have already done the work and retesting, possibly at a lower level than what candidates have completed earlier, appears to be unnecessary. What is important is the relevance of a subject to the job requirements of a Civil Servant, especially in the changing scenario." 

General Studies is the cornerstone of Civil Services examination. Inclusion of this paper both in the prelims and in the mains shows the amount of gravity that the examiners attribute to this faculty. So it becomes all the more important to understand the essence that you being a probable administrator must have to approach this domain so that you become more comfortable with this subject-of-subjects. 

In the changed scenario after the recent formal announcement from UPSC that it is moving into the direction of testing analytical skills rather than synthetic knowledge that a student gathers through different sources, the whole preparation module must change. Having analytical acumen shows that a person is able to grasp the impacts and the practical aspects of any event rather than simply the "whats" of it. UPSC is now moving to the higher realm of knowledge testing rather than mere "information test". 

What is the answer to the new scheme? 

IAS exam, once termed as the 'mother of all exams' because of its vastness, is now 'Maa-Paa' of all the competitive exams, as the latest entry of 'Paa' in the form of GS mains has starched the length-breadth manifold. Why? Just read.......

1. Because of the vastness of the syllabus associated with it, wherein you are expected to know almost everything under the sun and their applications.

2. Because of the unpredictability of the exam wherein you cannot afford to make selective study purely based on previous years question papers and guidelines provided by the new 'mullah'.

3. The immense competition which you are confronted with, wherein you face the best minds in the country which come from their respective streams and sweat it out to become a part of the steel frame of the government. So there is hardly any room for carelessness, complacency and even overconfidence. You have to earn every mark hard to remain a cut above the rest.

Given such a scenario, preparing for civil services was always going to be a daunting task but now that you have made up your mind, we will endeavour to make this daunting task a little easier for you by using our vast experience in mentoring toppers in this exam.


Stagnant Vs Dynamic

Earlier the syllabus was stagnant. The present syllabus is dynamic meaning it calls for inter-disciplinary and cross-domain preparation where the bottomline can only be dynamic flux.

Ethics & Ethical Concern Gains Ground

In the previous GS syllabus ethical word was used only once in Paper I-“Health issues including the management of Public Health, Health education and ethical concerns regarding health-care, medical research and pharmaceuticals”. Now the word has become the most used terminology. 

This has certain implicit as well as explicit connotation. Explicitly it calls for a certain way of understanding the whole mechanism of State and Citizenry whereas implicitly it indicates a certain aptitude and attitude while dealing with any concept even if it has no direct relation with the ethical dimension. 

"Salient" Becomes the salient feature of the Syllabus

In the present syllabus "Salient" is also used many times. In fact it is used three times in Paper II and one time in Paper III. In Paper II it is used in the following points:

•    Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times   
•    Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
•    Salient features of world’s physical geography

Whereas; in Paper III it is used in

•    Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
     This in itself calls for a holistic and comprehensive methodology covering
•    the historical aspects
•    the evolutionary aspects
•    the concurrent aspects and not to miss;
•    the futuristic angle of the same leading to the ways of improving it further as per the demands of the times to come when new social, political and governance structures will come up.  

Newer Horizons as per Newer Demands & Concerns

The syllabus also has some newer dimensions as per the concurrent situational churning and evolution in the society and State at large. Here we mention those portions specifically which can truly be called as new additions to the syllabus. Having said this, we would like to underline the fact that many a times the present syllabic content is more elucidated and elaborated form of previous syllabus. It includes specific dimensions that makes the correspondingly similar previous syllabus more dynamic and concurrent. So even if in various domain the question pattern may not see an overnight and paradigm change but the treatment that is expected from You as per the question should certainly change in the current context. Exemplifying this fact truly can be the history portion. 

A domain so static has also been endeavoured by the UPSC to make it contextually concurrent by including the 

•    Salient aspects of art, literature and architecture from ancient to modern times
•    Modern Indian History from middle of the eighteenth century until the present times
•    Significant events, Personalities and Issues has also been included
•    Even Post-Independence consolidation and reorganization has been included
•    Not only this- World History with all the stages of development and political ideologies has also been included. To make the things limitless (in a way) the whole thing has been qualified with the word salient.  

Words like 

•    Sustainable
•    Equity
•    Pragmatic
•    Participative
•    Democratization
•    Ethical Governance Model
•    Empathy 
•    Self-lessness requires to be used more often wherever applicable. 

In paper II that is GS Paper I
•    Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
•    Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country
•    History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing 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.

Some Key Points to Look for:

If we can discuss briefly some of the points that come to mind instantly after looking at these then we can come up with the following points:

This Paper has witnessed the most elaborative widening of its content. When Salient features of Indian Society and Salient feature of the World’s Physical Geography is used it means that in a way You can expect any question from Sociology and Geography. 

Some of the Gender specific issues under the present context have also gained ground. It is expected thus from a future bureaucrat to have gender sensitive attitude. 

Resource nationalism and economic nationalism having thrown to the centre-stage of geopolitics has forced the UPSC to bring in topics like the one concerning the resource distribution. Issue like the Energy Securitization and also the one concerning the rare earth metals that have recently gained traction instantly comes to mind.  

In PAPER-III that is General Studies- II

•    Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
•    Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
•    Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
•    Parliament and State Legislatures - structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
•    Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary, Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity
•    Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
•    Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
•    Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
•    Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
•    Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures
•    Role of civil services in a democracy.
•    Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

Some Key Points to Ponder:

In this section which has governance as the core issue whether that be at the Social, Political, or International level will have more questions from the area of:
•    Moral Relativism
•    Challenges 
•    Dispute Redressal 
•    Local Levels Governance Model
•    Newer Institutions like the “pressure group” (in foreign developed democracies like the USA these have their own de-facto standing and are called “lobby group”) and NGOs
•    Representation of People’s Act and all such acts which are increasingly being “churned” and are undergoing through a lot of evolution as per the demands of the current times
So, in a nutshell if any section that demands a very nuanced, subtle and cautious way of writing answers with the correct and properly-qualified syntax then it has to be this section. 

In PAPER-IV that is General Studies-III

•    Major crops, cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
•    Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
•    Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
•    Land reforms in India
•    Investment models
•    Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
•    Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
•    Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights 
•    Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
•    Disaster and disaster management
•    Linkages between development and spread of extremism
•    Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
•    Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
•    Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
•    Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Some of the Key Points to Remember:

This Paper can truly be called the applied part of all that gets to Your mind. If You leave the conventional economic portion then all the other part is the practical application of everything that has to do with the development and advancement of the human society in general and India in particular. 

A lot of stress has been thrown to make the student more aware about the innovative and technical intervention in the domain of agriculture and allied activities. UPSC is also interested in making the to-be DM agri-bureaucrat when he is working in the hinterland having four out of five people in his district dependent on agriculture and food processing.

If earlier basic idea about the newer domains of science and technology was required; now the UPSC needs You to be “Aware” about all the new that is happening in this domain. Being aware certainly means more than having a basic idea about a concept. Not only that, now You are also required to know about the indigenization of technology. This certainly has geopolitical dimensions related to cyber security in the area of telecom and IT. 

Investment Models can include the conceptual like the Mahalanobois or Rao-Manmohan model or may be the applied part that is related to the funding and implementation models of the infrastructural investment. 

Ecology and environment has two points but even those points underline the implication part and not the factual.

The need to: 

Conserve Sustain and Disaster Management crops up prominently.   

Linkages of development with the spread of extremism throw the critical angle to the “exclusivist” approach to development Internal Security, linkages between internal Maoist-Naxal threat with the external forces and various security agencies will certainly invite UPSC to frame questions that will be directly in consonance to all the concurrent inter and intra institutional differences of approach within these domains.

*Paper V being a new addition will be discussed separately. To just give You an idea of our discussion- a leitmotif if You can call that- we will delve into the aspect that the whole paper (seeing the current dialectical debate) is in a way an extension of a single point that was mentioned in the previous paper. 

In the previous syllabus the sixth point of the fourth chapter in Paper I had the point:

Issues relating to good governance and accountability to the citizens including the maintenance of human rights, and of probity in public life.

Now, this has been elaborated and extended to be made into a complete chapter rather Paper carrying 250 marks. 

*Further in detail we will be discussing this paper with a case study at opportune place in the write-up. 


Remains Unchanged but with Forest Services Joining PT Treadmill; It Needs to be Deciphered Differently

UPSC uses the jargon of being a “well read person” to widen its circumference as far as the syllabus of this exam-which selects the top echelons of Indian Bureaucracy- is concerned. 

Even as we are in the throes of the transformational and paradigm change in the mains exam post the CSAT regimen in PT; the GS syllabus needs to be deciphered and interpreted more clearly. 

Here we present the syllabus of GS reduced to its lowest denominations for PT. After CSAT the same wordings of the syllabus got impregnanted with different meaning as far as its ‘indicative’ value is concerned. So, it becomes all the more important that you not only know the syllabus but understand it as well. For that you need to comprehend the same in the more holistic manner. 

In fact if you have set goals than you can think of getting there! The syllabus below can be considered as your set goals.

The emphasis is to read less number of journals and sources and gain most; so the suggestions takes the format of engaging You with least number of materials but the quality rather than the quantity is intrusive….

Current Portions Will Remain Important In Revised UPSC Pattern

Topics of current relevance have a special significance for many examinations across the world and exams that deal with the recruitment for administrative posts give highest priority to this area. One needs to understand the placental links between administration and current perspective to internalize the importance of ecology for success of any administrative structure.

Administration is a vaguely defined term that (in layman terms) includes govt. action in totality. Govt. itself is undergoing so many changes off late that the versatility in arenas in which govt. operates through direct and indirect means require the most versatile talent to effectively and decisively operate the administrative machinery.

Aim of this article will be to analyze the significance of current portions and concurrent aspects. In this aspect answers will be searched for questions like- Are the traditional areas of GS that include polity, history, economy losing ground to more dynamic areas like science and technology, current happenings around us?

Questions asked in both preliminary and mains have changed beyond recognition and questions are asked very rarely from the areas that can be considered Static as far as content updation is required. In such a scenario can it be said that magazines/newspapers and other sources like Net, TV or radio alone can sail one through the GS paper and one need not to sit for hours to command mastery over the traditional areas.

Such fallacious interpretations miss a vital fact that there is always an element of continuity between the past, present and future in every domain and a holistic treatment of any issue will require the same.

The fine point that syllabus by itself raises (and which is also one of aim of this article also) is that both traditional areas and emerging areas are equally important.

For example in paper 2 GS –topic 1 mentions that Indian constitution will cover the following sections

•    historical underpinnings TA
•    evolution CR
•    features TA
•    amendments CR
•    significant provisions TA 
•    basic structure CR

*TA – Traditional Areas
*CR- Current Relevance

Syllabus itself answers the question raised above that both TA and CR will remain entangled for a successful preparation.  

Limiting Breadth and Depth of Your Efforts

Another important dimension to issues of current relevance is-Understanding the importance of current relevance will also help in prioritizing the syllabic content and directing your energy towards most rewarding topics. (Remember the universal advice by almost all successful candidates that “It is not important how much you are studying rather what you are studying is more important.” ) 

For example the topics mentioned like Salient features of world’s Physical Geography, Contribution of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world are limitless topics as far as breadth of topics is concerned. Similarly, many topics like Philosophical basis of governance and probity, role of civil services in democracy, human values –lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators, concept of ethics, attitude and aptitude etc. are limitless as far as the depth of topics is concerned.

In such a scenario, one who is aware of happenings in surroundings can smartly chose the areas that need to be focused. For example because there was a recent issue in South China Sea over the sovereignty, one should not forget to see the important geographic features of area concerned. But overstretching the above criterion will again lead to problem of plenty, because invariably every region of world must be witnessing some important event at one time or another. In such a scenario, issues that have direct repercussions on interest of India must be focused, rather than important issues of general nature. For example in row over South China sea, vital interest of India were at stake because it is a major trade route and OVL had interest in oil exploration in same area.

Change Is Not The LAST WORD

One important caution point we would like to raise at this juncture is –

Has the syllabus delineated the boundaries of syllabus and students can have some relief from the uncertainty of range of questions?

Well, one might be tempted to answer in affirmative but, this is half truth. Uncertainty of questions in last couple of years has resulted mainly because of shift in focus to questions of current relevance rather than questions from traditional areas.

This focus will be further accentuated in coming years because uncertainty in administration itself has increased and today only dynamic, enthusiastic and positive minded administrator can meet the challenges successfully. If one understand and appreciate the uncertainty of job then he/she will find the range of questions very much justified and logical.

Syllabus has delineated the boundaries in certain areas and mentioned areas should act only as light house to guide your preparation. Mentioned syllabus is not the last word because in many areas very wide ranging terminology has been utilized and deadly word ‘etc.’ has been used quite frequently.

Change Will Work As A Guidance

Another major change in new prescribed syllabus is delineation of areas that have relevance for guiding the preparation. For example, earlier syllabus of mains mentioned under heading Constitution of India and Indian Polity:

"This part will include questions on the Constitution of India as well as all constitutional, legal, administrative and other issues emerging from the politico-administrative system prevalent in the country."

Whereas, the new syllabus will help the students in understanding demands of examination. For example in case of GS paper 2 it is mentioned that syllabus will include issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. Such clarity is also present in other portions of polity syllabus.

Issues of federalism and devolution of powers to lowest level of governance is a continuing theme and its importance has been shown by mentioning this part of syllabus under a separate heading. Salient features of RPA Act have been included in syllabus in light of recent outbursts of demands for corruption free environment and elections malpractices are considered the mother of corruption. 
Separation of power has been put under severe stress in recent years where instances of Judicial Activism and overreaching judiciary has forced even the CJI to advise against the same. How Jat and Gujjar agitation held the state govts ransom and splurge of violent protest across length and breadth of country demands that the study of dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions must be an integral part of an administrative exam.

Emergence of Governance paradigm to replace the Government model in Public Administration makes it mandatory to study the role and importance of NGOs, SHGs and other stakeholders in development processes and development industry for any aspiring administrator.

Topic 'e-governance models, successes' has a large overlap with current affairs. At same time, link of this change/advancement with aspects of governance, transparency and accountability can be studied within the mould of traditional models.

Topics under foreign relations which cover issues like status of present relations, effect of different groupings, agreements, policies, politics and mandate & structure of important international institutions are almost synonymous with areas of current affairs. 

Inclusive growth has been the explicit theme of both 11th and 12th five-year plans and is projected as one of the cross cutting agenda in all govt. interventions. If one notices carefully than it can be found that other topics included in the GS paper 3 have a strong link with the agenda of inclusivity.

For example interventions in agriculture transport and marketing, e- technology for farmers, animal rearing, food processing, land reforms etc. are aimed at correcting the imbalance in Indian growth story, which has bypassed the majority of Indians more so in aftermath of NEP of early 1990's.

S & T developments, achievements of Indians in the field, indigenization and developing of technology, awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights are areas from where questions will be asked about recent developments.

Syllabic content related to Internal security includes the latest developments in the field like role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges (example of misuse of these sites for spreading rumors and posing new challenges in instance of panic outmigration of people of North East from Banglore and other South Indian Cities and how law enforcement agencies found it difficult to deal with such a fluid problem) and basics of cyber security (e.g. spate of cyber attacks and increased vulnerability in present context, where digitization has become a norm in many strategically important areas). 

At the same time Topic Internal security also includes traditional areas like 

•    role of external state and non-state actors
•    Linkages between development and spread of extremism. 
•    Security challenges and their management in border areas  
•    linkages of organized crime with terrorism 
•    Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate 

GS paper 4 – Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude is more of a new addition to the GS syllabus. Compared to other 3 papers, portion of current relevance are least visible to an untrained eye in this paper. But after a careful analysis, one can find a strong undercurrent of current relevance.

For example syllabus mentions that 'This paper will include questions to test the candidates' attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilise the case study approach to determine these aspects." 

Case study approaches in such questions will be having a strong link with the recent developments. For example in light of recent outbursts of public functionaries in front of media, a case study might be given where your probable response can be asked as a senior, colleague or junior to deal with such cases.

Topics like empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections will determine the role of civil service in ensuring inclusive growth, which is the current keyword of govt. policies.
Govt's efforts towards strengthening the information sharing and transparency enhancement by passing revolutionary legislations like RTI are more or less topics of current relevance.

Besides, subjective ideas like ethics, morality, human values are not static concepts. These are very dynamic concepts because these concerns are part of human society and human society is a living organism, not a dead wood.

A student will have to not only study the basics of the topics mentioned in paper 4 but he will have to keep himself aware of happenings around him to be in sync with the ethos of current time. Such synchronization cannot be possible without study of current events. With this we would end the article by summarizing the broad areas covered. 

In totality, we can draw following conclusions from the above discussion:

1.    Understanding the importance of current events will help in prioritizing the efforts by cutting unnecessary flab and focusing on important areas. 
2.    In absence of concentrated efforts a candidate will end up penalizing himself/herself.
3.    One will need to restrict both horizontal and vertical spread of syllabus and by internalizing the relevance of concurrent themes for administration one can smartly do the same. 
4.    Relevance of current events has increased but without commanding the traditional areas discussion of any issue will remain shallow.

Hence there is no point in endlessly discussing the relative importance of current vs traditional area, rather one has to strike a fine balance between the two areas.  Traditional areas will give you a sound foundation but outer structure of your successful journey will be made of current material. 

So we would suggest students not to swim against the current, rather with the current to enhance their success rates.

And the end is not this. 

In all these concepts you must have a critical and analytical bent of mind so that you are well equipped to answer questions of "higher" level.

As Philosopher Karl Popper in his "critical rationalism" has said that "Test for truthfulness about any theory rests on its chances of being proved false"; so based on this the examiner expects that a ‘to-be-bureaucrat’ must have that critical elements within his intelligence so that She/He can come up with better ways of policy interventions and thus establish the fundamentals of Governance (read Good Governance). 

Questioning the status-quo and attitude of inertia within the wider domain of the concept of State and Governance must be inculcated within each aspirant. 
After, we have analyzed the symptomatic problems, it becomes your writer’s moral obligation to come up with solutions or say ways and means to come up with ‘as-expected’ answer for questions of GS Paper. 

Emphasizing the aforesaid, the writer would again encore that development of a critical attitude that is fearless of asking questions that question the resistivity of inertia within any and every aspects of society and wider system of Governance is a-must. 

For this, reading newspaper (a standard and "real" newspaper (not the tabloid types)) is a must. Apart from this spending "constructive" time with net also comes in handy. Going beyond the newspaper and reading the actual source of how the news reports are made also proves useful. So sometimes you can also read the actual monetary and fiscal policy as released by the RBI and Finance Minister respectively so that you can construe your own original views. 

Remember, reading first-hand information from the original source can only make you develop original views regarding things.

And, where there is originality in thought there is no limitation. 

With freedom, you tend to question things. 

Finally with questioning you develop that "critical" aspects and attitude so much required for this examination particularly for the present trend of GS Paper and more so after the change when GS has 50% weightage on the entire score.

In a nutshell, your writer would only like to say that bringing “general score” (read below 45% as has been the current established pattern) in GS really put a question mark on the whole preparation. 
Apart from severely proving to be the deciding factorial even when the single optional paper will have a certain similarity of marks for all sincere students; it also somewhere resides in your system as a lingering pain that “I got less marks in General Studies Paper in an exam which is all about developing a Generalist approach”! 


  1. Its an outstanding article.i havent read so far such a lucid and an effective analysis of the changed pattern of the UPSC CS.Hats off to you with the highly magnetic writing skills you posses.It would be my honour if I get your guidance.Regards Abhineet

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  3. Sir According to the latest notification I want to know about the latest changes in UPSC Syllabus along with the examination pattern detail. Will be thankful to you if you can provide me direct link here.