Sunday, 27 September 2015

General Studies Paper 1

Hi friends ,

Lets now discuss how to prepare General Studies Paper 1 for mains .

Some guidelines before you start your preparation:

1. Keep the syllabus in front of you.
2.Decide which books/notes you will follow.Stick to the same material till the end of the exam.
3. Look into the past question papers to understand how questions have been asked.
4.Make your own notes accordingly. Notes should be such that they contain important key words/phrases .You should be able to revise the notes before the exam.

GS paper 1 has five main categories

1.Indian History -Pre-independence and post independence
2.World History
3.Indian Society

Here are the basic books for reference. You can also find alternative sources.

Description in the syllabus
Reference books
  • Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

  • Spectrum -Facets of Indian culture
  • Selected chapters on art forms,literature and architecture from Ancient India NCERT
  • The Hindu
  • 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.

  • A brief history of Modern India -Spectrum
  • India since Independence -Bipin Chandra.
  • 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.

World History -Norman Love
The book is recommended for optional students.For GS,note down the important events and take down 5-10 points for each )
Example -For Industrial Revolution ,note down causes ,impact and the differences in its evolution in different countries.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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).

( For industrial location factors)

You can use these NCERTs as well .

Questions from past question papers-2013 and 2014


  1. To what extent has the urban planning and culture of the Indus Valley Civilization provided inputs to the present day urbanization? Discuss.
  2. Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.
  3. Taxila university was one of the oldest universities of the world with which were associated a number of renowned learned personalities of different disciplines. Its strategic location caused its fame to flourish, but unlike Nalanda, it is not considered as a university in the modern sense. Discuss.
  4. Sufis and medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu / Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment.
  5. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment.
  6. Discuss the Tandava dance as recorded in the early Indian inscriptions.
  7. Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss.

Indian History

  1. The third battle of Panipat was fought in 1761. Why were so many empire-shaking battles fought at Panipat?
  2. Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence.
  3. In what ways did the naval mutiny prove to be the last nail in the coffin of British colonial aspirations in India?
  4. Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. Discuss.
  5. Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated in various movements. Analyze their role in the Indian struggle for freedom.
  6. In many ways, Lord Dalhousie was the founder of modern India. Elaborate.
  7. Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success.
  8. Write a critical note on the evolution and significance of the slogan “Jai Jawana Jai Kisan”.
  9. Discuss the contribution of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to pre-and post-independent India.
  10. Analyze the circumstances that led to Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the agreement.
  11. Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive roles in the emergence of Bangladesh.
World History
  1. What were the major political, economic and social developments in the world which motivated the anti-colonial struggle in India?

  2. What were the events that led to the Suez Crisis in 1956? How did it deal a final blow to Britain’s self-image as a world power?

  3. The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.

  4. “Latecomer” Industrial revolution in Japan involved certain factors that were markedly different from what west had experience.
  5. Africa was chopped into states artificially created by accident of European competition. Analyse.
  6. American Revolution was an economic revolt against mercantilism. Substantiate.
  7. What policy instruments were deployed to contain the great economic depression?
Social issues
  1. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India?

  2. Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments.

  3. The life cycle of a joint family depends on economic factors rather than social values. Discuss.

  4. Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India.

  5. How do the Indian debates on secularism differ from the debates in the West?

  6. Discussion the various social problems which originated out of the speedy process of urbanization in India.
  7. Male membership needs to be encouraged in order to make women’s organization free from gender bias. Comment.
  8. Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India.
  9. Growing feeling of regionalism is an important factor in the generation of demand for a separate state. Discuss.

  1. Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain.
  2. Account for the change in the spatial pattern of the Iron and Steel industry in the world.
  3. Why did the Green Revolution in India virtually by-pass the eastern region despite fertile soil and good availability of water?
  4. Explain the formation of thousands of islands in Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos.
  5. Why are the world’s fold mountain systems located along the margins of continents? Bring out the association between the global distribution of Fold Mountains and the earthquakes and volcanoes.
  6. Tropical cyclones are largely confined to South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mexico. Why?
  7. Most of the unusual climatic happenings are explained as an outcome of the El-Nino effect. Do you agree?
  8. Bring out the relationship between the shrinking Himalayan glaciers and the symptoms of climate change in the Indian sub-continent.
  9. Critically evaluate the various resources of the oceans which can be harnessed to meet the resource crisis in the world.
  10. How does India see its place in the economic space of rising natural resource rich Africa?
  11. What do you understand by the theory of continental drift? Discuss the prominent evidences in its support.
  12. The recent cyclone on the east coast of India was called “Phailin”. How are the tropical cyclones named across the world? Elaborate.
  13. Bring out the causes for the formation of heat islands in the urban habitat of the world.
  14. What do you understand by the phenomenon of temperature inversion in meteorology? How does it affect the weather and the habitants of the place? 5 marks 100 words
  15. Major hot deserts in northern hemisphere are located between 20-30 degree north and on the western side of the continents. Why? 10 marks-200 words.
  16. Bringout the causes for more frequent landslides in the Himalayas than in Western Ghats.
  17. There is no formation of deltas by rivers of the Western Ghat. Why?
  18. Do you agree that there is a growing trend of opening new sugar mills in the Southern states of India ? Discuss with justification.
  19. Analyse the factors for highly decentralized cotton textile industry in India .
  20. With growing scarcity of fossil fuels, the atomic energy is gaining more and more significance in India. Discuss the availability of raw material required for the generation of atomic energy in India and in the world.
  21. It is said the India has substantial reserves of shale oil and gas, which can feed the needs of country for quarter century. However, tapping of the resources doesn’t appear to be high on the agenda. Discuss critically the availability and issues involved. 
Make notes after looking into the syllabus ,past question papers and reference material.
Revise them three times atleast before you take up the exams.
Take mock tests to monitor your performace.

Good luck !
(This is a part of a series of blogs on IAS Exam simplified -like never before)

Here is the list of blogs in this series so far -

Here is the list of blogs ,on my experience as an IAS officer:

Bharat Darshan - the dream of every IAS aspirant.
One night at Flood Centre
My experience with a toothache

We are now active on every social media platform .
officersiasacademy (@officersiasacad) | Twitter

Saturday, 12 September 2015

IAS Exam -Simplified !

Hi friends ,

There is so much that is said about the IAS exams. Some call it the toughest exam while some call it an Unpredicatable Exam. I also went through this phase almost ten years ago . So, I decided to write a series of blogs to guide you through this path.

Vision without direction is hallucination.
Vision with a direction is progress.

Here is the list of blogs in this series so far -

Here is the list of blogs ,on my experience as an IAS officer:

Bharat Darshan - the dream of every IAS aspirant.
One night at Flood Centre
My experience with a toothache

Stay tuned !
There is a lot more to come from the Horse's mouth ;) Do leave comments and feedback :)

We are now active on every social media platform .
officersiasacademy (@officersiasacad) | Twitter

How to read "The Hindu " ?

Hi friends ,

Most of my students have had this question "How to read the Hindu ? What notes to make ?"
Yes,' The Hindu ' is the preferred newspaper for IAS aspirants ,because most of the questions are trigerred from there .

Before you learn how to read the newspaper ,here are some points I shall suggest .

  1. Always have the syllabus infront of you .
  2. Have the past question papers with you and keep referring to them,to understand how questions are asked .
  3. Understand the issue rather than just reading word by word. After identifying the issue ,take down notes topic wise and not date wise. 
  4. Use the following websites ,if you need more points .
      5. Do not spend more than 1 hour on the newspaper.Few students end up spending 3-4 hours                 merely on the newspaper .It does not help.

Lets take a look at the newspapers and relevant articles for the exam.

1. Any judgement/ruling /remark by Supreme Court/High Court is important. While you note down the judgement ,also understand its relevance in your syllabus.Relate it to Geography /History /Economics/Polity.

2. Identify social issues /challenges facing the society as such .Understand its pros and cons and also note down the recent incidents .You can quote them to substantiate your point .Example -caste riots ,moral policing ,restriction on freedom of speech,etc.

3.Note down any issue being discussed in the Government departments/ministries. Note down the pros and cons of the issue .example -Linking rivers ,water conservation ,etc.

4.Identify schemes/policies/ initiatives of the government .For the prelims ,you will have to know 
  • Objectives of the policy
  • Under which ministry /department / it operates.
  • Any special feature of the policy.
  • Who are the members (If its an organisation .eg.Inter State council)
  • Any constitutional provisions related to it .

For the mains ,
  • you will have to understand the issue relating to the policy/scheme and make notes on pros and cons.

Here,you will have to know about CISF and cyber crime in detail.

5.While reading the editorial , identify the issue first .Then find out points in favour and against it .Please understand the the editorials have a bias towards one opinion. So,it is your duty to identify points ,both for the topic and against the topic.


Here ,the issue is on the powers of AFSPA . A judgement has triggered this debate.

Hope you find the article helpful in reading the newspaper .
Happy reading .

Stay tuned!
(This is a part of a series of blogs on IAS Exam simplified like never before!)

Here is the list of blogs in this series so far -

We are now active on every social media platform .
officersiasacademy (@officersiasacad) | Twitter

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

IAS PRELIMS -How to prepare?

 Hi friends ,

This is the pattern for prelims exam.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION : Time duration: 2 hours per paper.


Note :
  • There is also negative marking ie 0.33 for every wrong answer.
  • Paper 2 is a qualifying paper .One has to get a minimum score of 66/200.(Applicable from 2015)
  • Hence ,only Paper 1 marks count for the cutoff from 2015.
Before you start your preparation ,be sure to have checked these two blogs -

1 .What were the cutoffs for Prelims ,Mains and Final in 2013 &2014 ?
2 . Prelims Syllabus

What books should i read?

I shall list down the basic NCERTs and reference books that one has to study,for preparation.

Reference Books/Source
Current events of national and international importance.
The Hindu
History of India and Indian National Movement.
(Focus on art ,literature,architecture,culture and socio-economic political conditions of all these periods )
(Focus on socio religious reform movements ,Great Revolt of 1857 and the Indian National Movement)
Indian and World Geography - Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Indian Polity and Governance - Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
Indian Polity -Laxmikant
(Dont forget to solve the previous year questions at the back of the book )
The Hindu
Economic and Social Development - Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
Economic Survey (in brief)
The Hindu
General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialisation General Science.
The Hindu

If you are a first timer ,

  1. Remember to check the past question papers before preparation ,and even during preparation.Find the papers attached below -

GS Paper 1 -2015
GS Paper 1 -2014

      2.  Solving the previous year question papers will not only give you confidence ,but help you understand how questions are asked in UPSC and what to read .

      3.  Take up tests at regular intervals ,to monitor your progress.

Stay tuned !
(This is a part of series of blogs on IAS Exam simplified -like never before.)

Here is the list of blogs in this series so far -

We are now active on every social media platform .
officersiasacademy (@officersiasacad) | Twitter