How to Prepare for General Studies Mains Part-I   3 comments

BPSC UPSC or any PSC Exam (Main) General Studies Paper – I:

Mark of most of PSC exams totals to 300 marks for GS paper.

The topic covered here may varies by 30% in PSC(public service commision) exams. However, breath and scope of syllabus remain similar to following topic. for BPSC and UPSC main GS syllabus, I will be uploading soon in next blogs.

The major areas of this paper are covered under following sub-titles: History of Modern India and Indian Culture, Geography of India, Constitution of India and Indian polity and Current National Issues & Topics of Social Relevance. Here, we will have detailed analysis of General Studies’ first paper in BPSC UPSC or any PSC Exam (Main)  for each section under relevant sub-title.

The Main Topic/Sections would be:

A. History of Modern India and Indian Culture

B. Geography of India

C. Constitution of India and Indian Polity

D. Current National Issues and Topics of Social Relevance

Lets talk about them one by one:

1. History of Modern India and Indian Culture

While IAS or PSC preparation, candidates should have clear idea about the importance of ‘Indian culture and history’ section – Three types of questions appears in the IAS exam (main), these are (i) 250 words, (ii) 150 or 100 words and (iii) 20 words answer for each questions. Dealing with such questions requires mental smartness, in other words, quick understanding of the question, recalling all the relevant points and then organizing them in appropriate chronological order and writing them with brevity and clarity. All these instructions are easier said than done! In forthcoming paragraphs we will be dealing with UPSC exam and the correct scientific approach in IAS or PSC preparation.

IAS or PSC aspirants should be crystal clear that this section of General Studies Paper I, does not deal all aspects of modern India, but the main focus would be ‘freedom struggle’ and ‘Indian culture’, so it is necessary for IAS candidates to have broad knowledge about the nature and scope of the syllabus. What is the originating point of Indian freedom struggle? General idea or answer for this question is 1857 revolt; the topic is highly debated/controversial – some scholars considers it a revolt other a sepoy mutiny or else. The best strategy for IAS preparation of this section in the IAS exam is that the candidate should adopt holistic approach. That is, they should prepare this topic, keeping in mind various aspects – What were the causes of the revolt? Was it just a mutiny? Was it India’s first national war of independence (according to V.D.Savarkar), or was it first, or national, or even war of Independence? (R.C. Majumdar). What was the nature of the revolt? Why was it more powerful in Avadh region? Why did it fail? What were it’s consequences etc. The IAS aspirants should prepare for this topic in IAS exam keeping in mind various perspectives.

Scholars consider that organized form of freedom struggle started around or from 1885 after the inception of Indian National Congress. The most basic and first thing that an IAS aspirant should prepare is the socio-political background in which INC was founded. Its ‘Moderate Phase’. Why it is called moderate phase? What were the demands of Congress? Developments during this phase. Questions frequently arise from this part of the syllabus.

Indian freedom struggle passed through many phases i.e. the moderate, the extremist, the Gandhian, the revolutionaries, the leftist and the socialist. Usually, in UPSC exam questions are formed in two patterns regarding the freedom struggle of India – (i) Conventional type: to test the knowledge and information level of candidate during IAS preparation. The question format is like – nature, cause, impact and failure of any movement or other issue. Another format is – Do you agree? Do you think? What is your opinion? What do you think? etc. (ii) Analytical type: the second type of questions asked in IAS exam is analytical. They want to check candidates’ original way of thinking, freshness of ideas and rational ability. Most of the IAS aspirants are comfortable dealing with first type of question because they have evolved this ability by going through various books and study materials etc.

Indian freedom struggle is a widely known topic, and almost every candidate preparing for IAS exam is well familiar with Swadeshi Movement, Home Rule League Movement, Rowlatt Satyagraha, Khilafat Movement, Non-cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement. IAS aspirants can easily correlate the chronological order of events but the real problem starts with them during UPSC exam (main) writing. What to start and how to start; how to create sequence of important points and how to end the answer. Such hiccups are usually found in majority of students. If stuck in such states of affairs, how to overcome it? Lets go through some fruitful tips:

For example, let us take a topic from Indian Freedom Movement – ‘Role of revolutionaries in India’s struggle for Independence’. Practice, following steps and then observe the amazing clarity and holistic approach to your answer.

Step I: Make a list of popular revolutionary organisations and revolutionaries, 3-5 organisations and 10-11 revolutionaries.

Step II: Try to find out their source of inspirations or ideas such as Russia-Japanese war, Irish Republican Army, Bolshevik Revolution etc.

Step III: How was their methodology of functioning different from Indian National Congress. Changes in functioning during first phase and second phase of revolutionary movements, especially after Russian Revolution.

Step IV: What were their immediate goals and ultimate goals, if any.

Step V: Which section of people in majority joined the revolutionary movements, in other words, what were there class base. 

Step VI: What was the Impact? Result? Outcome? 

Remember, the above-mentioned steps are not an answer format for just one sample question, but you should develop such type of thinking process for all your answers. In fact, all IAS preparing students provides near about the same ingredients for specific topics, but unfortunately few are able to develop systematic answers as per requirement of IAS exam.

For Cultural part of Indian history, one need not do anything extraordinary; just follow smart and scientific approach. Your studies for IAS exam general studies (preliminary stage) will be of utmost help to you. For this section you need to do some homework in following steps:

Step I: Make a list of important/popular freedom fighters of various regions, religion, class, caste, sex etc. Discover 4-5 major contributions of his/her and practice to write all contributions in a single sentence without using any period (full stop) in between. For example: Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel: Known as the ‘Iron Man’, helped in the unification of India, was the leader of Bardoli movement (1927) and worked as India’s first deputy Prime Minister. (Don’t repeat his name in the answer.)

Step II: Make a list of twenty important/famous festivals of India of various religion, tribes, region etc. Discover the origin and development of these festivals, occasion and the month of celebration. Special costumes and/or dish, if any, should be included. (Again – all information in one sentence, while doing IAS preparation.)

Step III: Make a list of twenty popular arts from ancient and medieval period, related with architecture, sculpture and paintings. Such as Gandhara Schools of art, Amravati School of art, Mathura school of art, Mauryan art, Gupta art, Chola art, Mughal architecture and paintings etc. While dealing the question, first mention about the salient features of the art, famous specimen, material used, the king/sculptor/architect involved and so on. (Practice these short answer writings repeatedly, for your IAS exam.)

Step IV: Make a list of twenty famous dance and folksongs of various regions, usually known as classical dance and classical music.
If the IAS aspirant makes his/her effort in correct pattern I am sure s/he will surely qualify IAS exam (mains) with flying colours.

2. Geography of India

The General Studies paper I syllabus for geography section fetch around 30 marks in UPSC exam (mains). It includes – physical, social and economic aspects of India. Apart from this, General Studies paper II contains an environmental section, which is related to geography and carry 30 marks. Thus, the actual marks from geography section rises to (Indian Geography [30] + Environmental Geography [30]) = 60 marks; in other words, 10 per cent of total marks. Here, we will deal about major topics of Geography in General Studies, nature of questions asked and writing techniques.

Major Topics:

Section of Geography List of Major Topics in G.S. Geography
Physical Geography of India Physiographic regions, drainage system, soil, vegetation climate, natural disasters, wildlife.
Economic Geography of India Energy, Metallic, Non-Metallic resources, Water resources, Industries, Transport sector, Agriculture.
Social Geography of India Population growth, distribution, Demographic attributes, Urbanization, Races, linguistic, Religious groups, SCs & STs etc.
Environmental Geography Global warming, Climatic change, Ozone depletion, Biodiversity, Summits on environments, Soil erosion etc.

Nature of Questions:

We find two types of question patterns – (i) Traditional or Basic, (ii) Current Affairs Based.
To understand or get clarity of concept regarding traditional questions it is recommended to go through class XI, XII NCERT books, they are very helpful in dealing with such nature of questions. Title of the books is as follow – (i) Indian physical environment (standard XI), and (ii) Indian People and Economy (standard XII). IAS aspirants should try to get new edition of NCERT books, because they are according to changing trend in our society, in other words – beside traditional topics they also include current developments in Geography.

Writing Technique:

IAS or PSC preparation needs clear information about the nature of questions asked in IAS exam as well as its word limits. Word limits for Geography general studies questions are 20 words and about 125 words. Thus the required answer should be to the point and well trimmed. In other way, skip introductory paragraph, switch to topic directly and just discuss/mention most relevant points. Structure of your answer could be in paragraph format or point format, best could be mix format (depending on nature of question). Your writing should contain lucid language and only important points – all dealt systematically – (for steps refer to G.S. History details).

Constitution of India and Indian Polity

Indian polity section of General Studies paper I is very dynamic, the nature of questions asked in IAS exam is of two types (i) Traditional or Theoretical and, (ii) Current Affairs based. To make it more clear, theoretical type of question contains around 40 percent of questions and so while IAS preparation one should keep in mind this aspect. Theoretical types of questions are mostly from ‘Constitution of India’ such as Constitution and its main provisions, important amendments, relations between/among executive, legislature and judiciary; union and state; state and local government etc. Administrative reforms, provisions related to budget. IAS aspirants are suggested to have a detailed study of above-mentioned topics. Don’t rely of guidebooks instead refer to authentic textbooks. For 2 marks questions students should prepare a list of glossary of difficult/important terminologies or concepts.

The second type of questions in IAS exam, Indian polity section is based on current political issues such as important judgements of Supreme Court, recent amendment in constitution and its impact, constitutional bodies, executive, judiciary under debate due to specific reasons etc.

Writing Technique:

In UPSC or PSC exam, answer writing plays a vital role so your answers in IAS or PSC examination hall should be well structure and relevant to the question. For this the candidate should format a mental outline of the answer for specific question or else, if possible make rough point format in the last page of your answer-sheet (especially recommended for long answers). Support your answers with relevant constitutional articles, provisions, constitutional amendments and important judgements. Other to this, in IAS or PSC preparation the examinee is supposed to avoid open ended statements. Statements should be supported by constitutional provisions or fact and figures (govt. of India gazette). Avoid criticizing government or policies or its institutions – if necessary, write drawback of the said after discussing some of its merits. Give analytical and balanced opinion. Avoid expressing extreme stand.

In IAS or other PSC exam you should have proper plan to deal with the nature of questions i.e. if short question – directly jump to the relevant points without any formality of introduction, but in long type of questions – divide your answer in appropriate paragraph, pay more attention towards introduction and conclusion. Introductory paragraph should be able to develop a clear idea, what candidate is going to elaborate further, and conclusion should show trend or solution – such a holistic approach in IAS exam answers attracts examiner’s attention and help fetch better marks.

In IAS or other PSC preparation, practice of answer writing plays a significant role. For this, it is advisable that before appearing in IAS exam, candidate should practice answer writing on certain model questions or questions asked in previous years exam and get it evaluated by a serious senior student who is appearing in UPSC exam and have at least qualified IAS mains exam or a subject expert. For current knowledge on polity, IAS or PSC aspirants should regularly go through a national newspaper, news magazine. Those who are serious towards IAS exam should develop a habit of reading editorial; it will help to get familiar with different perspective on the topic/issue. It is also advisable that aspirants should keep paper clipping of important issues, this will help them in quick reference.

Current National Issues and Topics of Social Relevance

Modern administrators are considered to be well educated and practical people and so they are supposed to be well awared about the happenings around them. To test the mental awareness about contemporary society, candidates may find questions in IAS exam related to current national issues and social problems/issues. UPSC wants to judge IAS aspirants’ analytical information regarding abovesaid issues as well as if any solution for them. In this part of UPSC exam the commission wants to judge two things. Firstly, they want to know about the familiarity of candidate towards important issues/problems and its various aspects. Secondly, they want to know the rational way to deal with these problems/issues i.e. solutions or suggestions.

In IASor Other PSC preparation it has been found that most of the candidates find it easier to give good answer in IAS exam for the first type of question because they have read many times about it in various books or competitive magazines. They are comfortable providing all sorts of information, related theories and statistics but are unable to emphasize upon innovative ideas; this is because they have not done their homework of making own notes on pros and cons of such issues, this lands them to average marks. The second type of questions i.e. analytical suggestions need in-depth knowledge about the background of the issue as well as latest developments. For IAS exam, candidates are required to develop their answer in point format so that that they can mould their answers according to the demand of the question.

To score high in UPSC exam, on topics of social relevance and current national issues candidate should think rationally on the issues and try to work out innovational ideas (should be practical not bizarre). While writing an answer in IAS exam candidates focus more on problems/issues from various perspectives and try to logically explain the reasons behind it. Establish forward and backward linkages associated with the problem/issue. For example, to deal with the issue of ‘alcoholism’ one should take into account its social, economic, political, religious as well as educational aspects/perspectives.

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

WIsh you Good Luck Fellas!

3 responses to “How to Prepare for General Studies Mains Part-I

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  1. thanks to give information about the main 1st paper.

  2. sir, Good afternoon this is suresh.s from tamil nadu. I visited your suggestions to prepare public administration upsc mains and that was so comprehensive that one can easily & CONFIDENTLY prepare for it. i would like to get that detailed annalysis of the syllabus again. I searched it but i could not get it. Will you please present it again on ur thank you sir

  3. hello sir, what are the impotant topics for indian history for gs mains

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