How to Prepare for General Studies Mains part-II   2 comments

UPSC or other PSC’s G.S. (Mains)  Paper – II (in the case of BPSC this become PAPER-I)

For states’ PSC that state general knowledge plays a greater role while designing the question for Mains’. Also marking style differs from state to state. Suggested books and soruces are listed at the end of each topic. which you can refer. I will also be attaching a syllabus for General studies Mains for BPSC and UPSC in my next blog for your comfort.

The Main GS question can be categorised in following broad topics:

A. India and World

B. Economics: India’s Economic Interaction with the World

C. International Affairs and institution

D. Statistical analysis and Graphs

India & World 
India and the World is one of the most important topics for the IAS or other PS main’s examination. Questions of 90 marks (approx.) are asked from this section. In the present era of liberalization, privatization and globalization, the interdependence among the states has increased and has led to the emergence of an international system which is totally different from the earlier international system which was prevailing during the cold war. India’s foreign policy in this changed era has also undergone changes. For instance, the focus of India’s foreign policy in the contemporary times is building good relations with the economic blocks like the European Union, the ASEAN etc. In simpler terms, we can say that economic diplomacy has gained importance in the present times. Not only this, the Indian perspective as regard to its nuclear policy has also changed. In the contemporary times, India has declared itself as a nuclear state. Apart from this, India in reality is not focusing too much on Non-Align Movement.

Questions asked in this section are very dynamic and aim to test the candidate’s understanding of India’s relations with the contemporary world. Based on the scientific analysis of the questions asked in the last ten years, the best strategy for the IAS mains examination for answering this section is to concentrate on the units of India and its neighbours, India and Superpowers, India and regional economic blocks like the European Union, ASEAN, Look East Policy and dynamics of India’s foreign policy (India’s Nuclear Policy etc.). As this is a dynamic paper, the candidates must be aware of the events in international arena. Many candidates spends a lot of time in reading textbooks on Indian Foreign Policy, but if we see the reality, the international events dealt in the text books become outdated by the time of the IAS mains examination. For this reason it is suggested that the candidates shall base their preparations on journals, magazines and newspapers to prepare for this part. The candidates may refer:

  • World Focus (Monthly journal)
  • Chronicle, CCST, PD (any one)
  • Frontline

Any leading national newspaper!

Economics – (Economics (India’s Economic Interaction with the World) 

As you know the syllabus of mains exam has been revised. Actually, the syllabus of Indian Economy (GS) has not been changed rather it has been elaborated and reshuffled. Earlier Indian Economy was a part of Indian Economy & India’s economic interaction with the world can be divided into two areas in the G.S. paper. These two areas are the external sector and the domestic sector. Earlier, the external sector was not separately mentioned but it accounted for almost half of the questions, in the recent years now it has been listed topic wise.

The domestic sector of the Indian Economy is mentioned in Paper-I under the topic ‘current national issues and topics of social relevance’.
It includes:
(i) The Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
(ii) Issues arising from the social and economic exclusion of large sections from the benefits of development.
(iii) Other issues relating to development and management of human resources.

This section implicitly pertains to fundamentals of the Indian Economy, growth and development, Economic Planning, social issues like poverty, unemployment, inequalities etc, Money and Banking, Fiscal system, Industry and agriculture.

The external sector of the economy is placed under the topic ‘India’s economic interaction with the world’ in paper-II.
It includes:
(i) Economic and trade issues such as foreign investment.
(ii) Economic and diplomacy issues relating to oil, gas and energy flows.
(iii) The role and functions of IMP, World Bank, WTO, WIPO etc. which influences India’s economic interaction with other countries and international institutions.

The approach to effectively answer the questions is that students should have a grip over the basic economic concepts and selected current topics should be studied intensively. Most of the questions require integration of various concepts because every social phenomenon is interrelated and interdependent. For example, if there is a question on inflation then students have to take into account the impact of capital inflows, appreciation of currency, demand and supply conditions, monetary policy etc. Answer writing practice will help in improving organization and presentation of the answer.

As far as books are concerned, students have to depend on many sources as no single book comprehensively covers the syllabus. ‘Indian Economic Development’, NCERT of class XI may be referred for the overview of the Indian economy. ‘Macro-economics’, NCERT of class XII is useful for basic concepts and economic terms which are important for the two mark questions. Indian Economy by Mishra-Puri or Dutt-Sundaram should be read but selectively. The chapters or topics which are to be referred from these books include planning, Agriculture, Unemployment, External sector etc. Students may also refer relevant topics from Indian Economy since Independence by Uma Kapila for quality improvement purpose. Students should read business and economy page of any one newspaper and one or two IAS exam oriented magazines. Students should make short notes on the current contention macro-economic issues.

List of Probable topics:

  • Appreciation of Rupee
  • Convertibility
  • SEZ
  • Trade and Investment Policy
  • WTO-Agreements, Impact and current status
  • Relevance of IMF
  • 11th Five Year Plan
  • Agriculture – problems, policy & reforms
  • VAT
  • Micro-finance
  • Inflation
  • Economic Reforms
  • Regional Trade Agreement (RTAs) like SAFTA, BIMSTEC, ASEAN, ED.

 International Affairs and Institutions

In the wake of globalization and rapid information system, the world is shrinking. Every comer is in connection with the other extreme of it. Therefore, whatever happen in one part of the world has its impact on the other part. For that reason it is essential to the policy makers to be well aware of the rationale and consequence of the things happening around the world, which can influence their areas of interest. That is why in the General Studies they expect that examinee must be aware of those issues, which can influence the Indian concerns. As this topic which was earlier implicitly mentioned under the topic India and the world now is been made explicit and therefore reflect that there expectations are going higher from the examinee in terms of understanding on these issues.

The focal point of the questions happens to be those international affairs, which either directly or indirectly affects India on a larger scale. Say for example, environmental issue, nuclear deal, IPI gas pipeline. Various technology deals have direct influence on India and her peoples while what ever is happening in ‘the middle Asia have an indirect impact on India. The right way to prepare these topics is to look into both bilateral and multilateral issues, disputes and protests. Figure out carefully that what are the root causes behind the genesis of such things and what is the status-quo. Afterwards, try to develop on understanding over the issue going beyond that what is there. Think over and figure out all those hidden agendas governing the issue. This understanding of hidden agenda is the key to get an edge over others. In addition to it, if you succeed in doing so, in a way you will internalize it and therefore can produce effective answers with enough of originality some think explicitly mentioned in the syllabus.

At the same time role of various institutions have great importance in these affairs and it is expected from the IAS aspirants to have a basic understanding about the genesis and functioning of such institutions.

For the International Organizations, the main focus clearly should be on ‘United Nations’ that is formed .of six main organs, which are the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), .Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Secretariat; along with specialized agencies like WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHRC and others.

Then, there are various other international organizations like G-8 or a group of world’s most industrialized nations, G-­77 or a group of world’s developing countries and G-15, which is a more compact version of G-77. Moreover, there are organizations that focus on certain other subjects like OPEC, OIC, NATO, NAM, among others. One must know the outcome of their latest summits or meets.

Some other very important organizations are SAARC, which is an exclusive organization of seven South Asian Countries; European Union, which is perhaps the world’s most successful regional bloc along with ASEAN and NAFTA. Finally, one can expect questions on leading international non-governmental agencies like Amnesty International, Red Cross, World Wide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace and such like. Apart from that, reforms in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and ‘G-4’ bid for permanent seats in the Security Council and the role of BRIC and US during the entire process must be analyzed carefully.

Statistical Analysis, Graphs, and Diagrams

Statistics is an important part of second paper (General Studies) in IAS of PSC mains examination. As per the upsc syllabus, this section covers 40 marks in the second paper. It tests the candidate’s ability to draw conclusions from information given in statistical, graphical or diagrammatical form and to point out deficiencies, if any. It also plays major role in various state civil services examinations. Reason behind this is that its application is being made in economics, business, industry, scientific research administration and other fields. Questions which have been generally asked from this section are tabulation, diagram, pie chart, general arithmetical calculation and logic-based questions.

Many students from arts and humanities background do not pay enough attention to the section due to lack of interest and many others fail to complete the section due to shortage of time in the IAS or PSC examination hall. Despite covering a 40 marks in the second paper, its importance lies in the fact that one can easily score 40 out of 40 just by little practice, attention and application. On the other hand, lack of practice can lead to a blunder in the examination hall.

Benefit of mastering over the statistics is, you can score good marks in less time and can save your time. In the remaining time you can concentrate on the other parts of the question paper. It will help you to take lead from other IAS aspirants.

The analysis of the question paper of the past years shows that the questions asked are generally from a few conventional areas though their nature is changing and they are becoming applied in nature. The long questions each of 8 marks are generally asked from the section consisting of mean, median, mode, bar diagram, pie chart, data related to Tabular form correlation and regression etc. which need practice. The short questions each of 2 marks are generally asked from the section consisting of mean and variance or combined set, Index number and average etc. However, one should also grasp the concept and practice the questions from ‘Probability’, so that one faces no surprises in the examination hall. Sometimes, general questions based on logic and reasoning is also asked. This is to test the presence of mind of the candidate and his ability to draw valid answers.

IAS or PSC aspirants are usually scared to take statistical questions. But one can make it very easily by simply going in a methodical way. Particularly, for those candidates who are from humanity background should start from the easier chapter like mean and then gradually move towards those chapter which seems comparatively tougher. First, go through all the basic concepts of statistics, make the fundamentals clear and then solve chapter based problems. Second, take the last 6-7 years questions and solve it, by doing so you will get accustomed of the question asked in the Civil Services Examination. This will provide you confidence to take up the questions in the examination hall.

In IAS or PSC exam, the correct ways of preparing the current national/international, economic issues and topics of social relevance is to get familiarity with such topics with necessary information. For current affairs on India and World, one should read (study) at least one national newspaper (preferred- The Hindu) and a monthly competitive magazine.

Wish you All the Best! Believe in yourself and in your hardwork.

2 responses to “How to Prepare for General Studies Mains part-II

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  1. Does graph paper is given in the GS mains paper2

  2. Does graph paper is given in the GS mains paper2 for statistical portion?

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