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(Getting Started) List Of Mistakes To Avoid In UPSC by IAS Topper Ruchi Bindal



(Getting Started) List Of Mistakes To Avoid In UPSC by IAS Topper Ruchi Bindal



Ruchi Bindal has successfully cleared the UPSC Civil Services Exam of 2019 with an all India rank of 39 in her 5th attempt. A BA programme graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, her post-graduation was in Conflict Analysis and Peace Building in Jamia Millia Islamia. She was aided by the Residential Coaching Academy of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, where she enrolled as recently as last year. Ruchi was unable to clear her upsc prelims in the first three attempts and in her last attempt, she could not go through mains. Today we discuss the mistakes Ruchi thinks one should avoid when pursuing UPSC Civil Services.

Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Do Not Try To Attempt Every Question

In prelims, accuracy is key. Trying to attempt every question you have a hunch about will only lead to bringing your score down. Solve the paper in iterations. In the first iteration, answer only the ones you are 100% certain about. Check your probable score, and based on it, choose to answer further so that you can reach the score you are targeting. Remember, prelims are qualifying, you need not score the highest. Understand the need of the moment.

  1. A Single Test Series Is Not Enough

For prelims, test series are just not for practice, they are also source material. Each test has 100 questions. When you take ten tests, you at least face 6 to 700 distinct questions. The more you attempt, the better are your chances of finding common topics in the actual UPSC Civil Service Examination. So make sure you take multiple tests. In fact, towards the end of her prelims preparation, Ruchi was taking a test a day.

  1. Ethics And Essays Are Not For The Last Minute

Ruchi believes one of the main reasons she did not qualify mains in her last attempt was because of her Ethics and Essays scores. She had left practicing for these upsc mains papers till the very last moment and lost out on her chance at an interview. Essays and Ethics both require substantial background information, including case studies and current affairs examples, along with a certain writing pattern. Practice is the only way to achieve this.

  1. Too Many Sources Do Not Help You

Another mistake Ruchi made in her last mains attempt was trying to read from too many sources. This did not leave her much time to practice answer writing or revise. As a result, her mains attempt was not well-prepared. Keeping sources limited, revising multiple times, and writing as many answers as possible is the key to cracking the mains exam.

Updates: UPSC civil services prelims 2020 postponed, new date to be  announced on May 20

Some General Do’s And Don’ts

  1. Maintaining Balanced Views Backed By Facts Is Key

In interviews, even more than your knowledge, your personality is being tested. And while it is important to be backed by facts and figures, what is even more important is to present a well-developed and balanced view on any topic you are being questioned about. UPSC strictly filters bias, so ensure you have both sides of the story before trying to answer any question. And if you don’t, humbly admitting that goes down well with the panels.

Overall, UPSC Civil Services is not an impossible examination. It is all about perseverance, smart and hard work combined that will allow you to find your name on the final list.

Best of Luck.

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(E-Book) Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams - APRIL 2021 PDF

General Awareness for UPSC Exams - APR 2021

Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams - APR 2021 PDF

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(E-Book) Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams - MARCH 2021 PDF

General Awareness for UPSC Exams - MAR 2021

Current Affairs GK for UPSC, IAS Exams - MAR 2021 PDF

  • Medium: English
  • E-BOOK NAME : IAS Current Affairs GK PDF - MAR 2021
  • Total Pages: 85
  • PRICE: 49/- FREE/- (only for few days)
  • Hosting Charges: 19/-
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  • International
  • Business And Economy
  • Science and Technology
  • Environment
  • Sports
  • MCQ Questions

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(Getting Started) Mahak Swami's Self Study Strategy AIR-393



(Getting Started) Mahak Swami's Self Study Strategy AIR-393



Mahak Swami, currently undergoing training as a Haryana Civil Service officer, has secured an all-India rank of 393 in UPSC Civil Services 2019. Hailing from Kurukshetra, both her parents are school teachers by profession. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, the batch of 2013. This was her 4th attempt. Her seniors in Haryana services have praised her hard work in these tough times of COVID.

Why Civil Services?

Mahak, like many others, after a few years in the private sector started thinking of what she wanted to do hereon. She decided the Software industry, although challenging, was not her cup of tea. Instead, with her aptitude towards social sciences and interest in contributing more directly to social causes, she zeroed in on Civil Services as her goal.

Why Choose Self-Study?

Mahak spoke to a few of her acquaintances who were preparing for the services. She realised that with the recent changes in the pattern in UPSC as well as the easily available online courses and study material, self-study was the most comfortable way for her to reach her goal. She happily quips that she never even felt the need to go to coaching and self-studying proved fruitful enough for her journey.

How To Approach Self-Study?

Mahak relied heavily on the internet for her preparation. She started by reading toppers' strategies. When she started her preparation, and she relied heavily on them. She does regret not having a mentor figure as she made mistakes in choosing sources as well initially without someone to guide her. But thankfully, it all worked out for the better.

Problems Faced During Preparation

One of the main problems Mahak faced was choosing the right sources. Her sources were very scattered which she believes hindered her preparation. Funnily enough, Mahak did not ever read newspapers. She always studied summaries. But in the beginning, she struggled with finding the right current affairs material.

Tips From Mahak's Experience

  • Notes making – Mahak is a big believer in notemaking. She never followed a single source for anything. As a result, her notes were always her primary source of study. She even made notes from the answers she wrote for her mains mocks. She did the same for her prelims mocks.
  • Ethics – Mahak followed sample notes by Shreyas Mag, one of the previous year's toppers. She started writing small and crisp definition. She started using examples from the Indian context such as History, Mythology, Current Affairs, etc. She highly recommends using such localised examples over western and bookish examples.
  • Essay – As long as you have prepared well for your General Studies papers, you will always have content. The trick to the essay paper is structuring the content you have and not letting the flow of writing dissolve. Also, do not waste time. You get one and a half hours for each essay and you must stick to this time. This is why Mahak highly recommends practicing writing essays frequently during your preparation.

  • Test Series – Mahak believes time management is the main skill you learn in mocks and writing 20 broad answers in 3 hours is not a joke. Always note the feedback and try to use them in improving your future answers.

Mahak's Optional Strategy

Mahak started her journey with Laxmikanth. It was interesting to her which is why she chose this topic. She learned Shubhra Ranjan's notes by heart and added current affairs tidbits to them. Rajya Sabha TV and India's World were two programs where eminent diplomats and scholars would come for discussions and Mahak used those discussions as fodder for her preparation. Again, the topper's strategies are very important according to her.

Message To Aspirants

Mahak advises all aspirants to minimize distractions and maximize effort in their preparation. Make a routine, make goals, and stick to them. As long as your heart is in it, you will most definitely succeed.

You have to dream before your dreams can come true - APJ Abdul Kalam |  Mowval Quotes | Latest Quotes | Famous Quotes

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Significant Issues in Indian Administration


Public Administration Papers Topic : Significant Issues in Indian Administration


  • “The President of India acts like grandparents in a family. If the younger generation does not follow his/her advice, he/she is just unable to do anything.” Comment. (20 marks 2007)
  • "India has failed to devise a long-term strategy for drought management." Comment. (30 marks 2004)
  • “The Role played by the National Human Rights Commission in maintaining and preserving the dignity of India’s citizens has been satisfactory and up to the expectations.” Elucidate. (60 marks 2006)
  • “The National Human Rights Commission is unable to play its role effectively due to various hindrances.” Comment (20 marks 2004)
  • ‘Right to Information Act has led to greater transparency and accountability of administration.’ Comment. (30 marks 2009)
  • With the Creation of new regulatory agencies in the wake of liberalisation , overlapping jurisdiction and conflicts become the new trend. Is there a need for the creation of a Super - regulator or unified regulator ? (30 marks 2010)
  • “The National Human Rights Commission has done a commendable job in developing a sense of responsibility among organisations towards the protection of human rights.”Comment on this assessment (30 marks 2009)
  •  “Lok-Ayuktas are judicial institutions without adequate teeth”. Comment (60 marks 2006)
  • "Disaster insurance is desirable but not an easy proposition to implement." Illustrate with Suitable examples(30 marks 2011)
  •  “Corruption is more of an environmental than an administrative problem.” Discuss (12 marks 2012) 
  • “Bureaucratic agencies, characterized by established procedures, specialization, leadership, clear objective, are not ideal to handle disaster management.” Examine with reference to the need for administrative flexibility in managing disaster. (in about 250 words)(20 marks 2013)
  • “Public Administration today tends to be less public quantitative terms, but more responsive to public needs than before in qualitative terms.” Examine with reference to citizen-centric administration. (10 marks 2013)
  • “The basic ethical problem for an administrator is to determine how he/she values.” Comment with reference to corruption in administration. (In about 250 words).(20 marks 2013)
  • Supreme Court ruling on 31st October, 2013 in respect of bureaucracy’s functioning would help achieve good governance. Analyse this ruling and add your comments on it. (20 marks 2014)
  • “Most Civil Servants in India are competent administrators, but they pay little attention to encourage people’s participation in decision-making.” Comment on the statement.(10 marks 2015)
  • Municipal governance in India is not sufficiently prepared to meet the challenges of frequent natural disasters.” Elucidate the statement and add your own suggestions .(20 marks 2015)
  • National Green Tribunal is viewed by many critics as a hindrance to economic development” Evaluate the statement and give arguments in support of your answer.(10 marks 2016)
  • Explain how the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) provides a framework and direction to the government agencies for all phases of the disaster management cycle. (20 marks 2016)
  • “The Right to Information Act is a path-breaking legislation which signals the march from darkness of secrecy to dawn of transparency.” (20 marks 2016)
  • What hurdles do the citizens face in obtaining information from the government? Explain how the reluctance of the government to part with information under RTI can be addressed. (20 marks 2016)
  • “The Right to Information (RTI) has started its journey but is far from its destination.” Comment(10 marks 2017)
  • “Disaster preparedness and management has become an important component of district administration  in India.” Discuss with suitable illustrations(20 marks 2017)
  • Discuss, with sustainable examples, the emerging challenges faced by the Regulatory Commissions as to the arbitrary agents between the State and the market forces(20 marks 2017)
  • “The ‘policy of non-action’ regarding the institutional mechanisms and legal provisions to eradicate corruption is a feature of Indian Administration.” Critically examine(20 marks 2017)
  • “Autonomy of civil society is crucial for responsive and effective administration.” Examine the statement.(10 marks 2018)
  • “In the Network Era the TRAI has the challenging task of protecting the Net Neutrality from digital aggression.” Comment .(20 marks 2018)
  • “The RTI has started its journey, but is far from its destination.” In the view of the statement, examine the present’s status of the RTI movement. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Minimal accountability being the dominant norm in the political system, the Lokpal can only be an ideal institution with limited effectiveness. Explain. (20 Marks 2019)
  • The National Policy on Disaster Management envisages a paradigm shift from hitherto reactive post-disaster relief centric regime to more proactive and enabling environment. Examine the responses of State Governments in this regard. (20 Marks 2019)
  • Accountability of regulatory bodies would address the problem of over-regulators and help make them truly facilitators. Analyze the present status of regulators and suggest measures to induce accountability in the mechanism. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Immediate post-retirement appointments of high officers of government have become a new trend. Discuss its pros and cons.(20 Marks 2020)
  • "There are adequate legal mechanisms to address corruption malpractices in administration, but they have failed to curb the mea any noticeable degree." In the light of this statement, discuss the efficacy the institution of Lokayukta in Indian States. (20 Marks 2020)
  • Ideally citizen-administration interface is supposed to be based on trustworthiness and purposefulness, in reality it is observed to be plagued by suspicion, conflicts, stresses and strains. Do you agree? Elaborate.(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) Is A Test Series Must For UPSC Mains?



(Getting Started) Is A Test Series Must For UPSC Mains?



One of the toughest competitive examinations held across the country each year is the UPSC Civil Services Exams. The limited vacancies, the unpredictability of the questions set, and the vast scope of the upsc syllabus makes it difficult for aspirants to structure their preparation. IAS Topper’s over the years have said that joining a test series is one of the first steps towards cracking the exam as it helps one cover the ask of the exam exhaustively.

UPSC civil services main 2016: Exam schedule released, check it here -  education$career - Hindustan Times

A Typical UPSC Mains Exam Hall

Importance of A Mains Test Series

Helps Cover The Complete Syllabus

Initially, one look at the syllabus for UPSC Civil Services and one might get very overwhelmed. The sheer scope and depth of the subjects covered can be intimidating. However, with the proper planning and guidance, it can be easily completed in a 10 to 18 months span. For this guidance, especially for self-studying aspirants, a test series is key as it breaks down the vast syllabus into short-term goals. Not only that, it schedules regular revisions as well.

SUBJECTS IN UPSC MAINS EXAM in 2020 | Ias study material, Exam study tips,  What to study

UPSC Civil Services Has A Vast Syllabus

Analysis of Your Strengths And Weaknesses

A test series also allows you to gauge your strengths and weaknesses. Often, we have preconceived notions about which parts of the syllabus we have a better grip over and which needs work. A test series allows you to test that theory out. Depending on the results, you can devote more time to the portions that need more effort, while lightly polishing those that are already well-cooked. This will elevate your overall performance.

How To Practise Essay Writing For Upsc | Sitedoct.org

Improved Writing Skills

Writing is the core of your UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination. No matter how much knowledge you have gathered, unless you can put it on paper coherently, within the required page limit, you will not score enough to qualify mains. Writing a test series allows you to not only practice your answer writing but also get feedback from experts in the field; feedback that you can utilize to better your answers. In the long-term, this will help you score better than most other aspirants.

Time Management Strategy

Toppers across years have mentioned how important it is to manage your time when writing a mains paper. Many say they missed being on the final list in their previous attempts simply because they could not complete their papers. Writing a mains test series will allow you to understand how much time to designate to each question to comfortably complete your paper.

So Should You join A Mains Test Series?

If experts in the field and previous upsc toppers are to be believed, absolutely! Joining a test series is crucial towards performing well in the mains examination. And even if you only choose to self-study, and even self-evaluate, at least attempting a test series on your own is undoubtedly the most important step in your preparation. Not only will it help you in ways we have discussed already, but it also allows you to judge the competition, and keep yourself updated on the hot topics of the year. This ensures you are not lagging behind your competitors in any manner. Overall, a mains test series is a must if you want to see your name on the final list.

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Law and Order Administration


Public Administration Papers Topic : Urban Local Government


  • “Law and order problems of the twenty-first century cannot be tackled through legislation and structures of the nineteenth century.” Give suggestions for transforming the law and order machinery at the State level. (30 marks 2009)
  • “The role played by Central and State Governments in maintaining law and order is inadequate and unmatched to growing criminalization.” Comment. (20 marks 2005)
  • “Criminalisation of politics has been responsible for the problems related to law and order in our nation.” Comment.(20 marks 2004)
  • “Criminalization of politics in India has been extended to politicization of criminals.” Comment. (30 marks 2003)
  • “Community policing has become a victim of elite capture.” Discuss the Concept of community policing and Bring out the implications of the above statement. (30 marks 2011)
  • “Even though law and order administration is a State subject in the Indian Constitution, it is paradoxical that the para -military and other kinds of security forces under the Union Government has grown in recent years.” Critically analyse the statement. (20 marks 2012)
  • Compare and contrast the Padmanabhaiah, Ribeiro and Mallinath Committee Reports. (25 marks 2012)
  • “Laws are enacted without involving the police in the conception stage, with the result of implementation of these laws leaves much to be desired.” Examine the role of police in the protection of children. (In about 250 words)(20 marks 2013)
  • “The design of the Indian Polices was to subjugate the Indian People in the aftermath of 1857.” Analyse in the context of the Indian Police Act of 1861.(20 marks 2013)
  • “There is both criminalization of politics and politicization of criminals in India.” Examine and identify the challenges they cause for law and order administration. (In about 250 words)(20 marks 2013)
  • Critically examine the statement: ‘Thana’ (Police Station) as the last bastion of the waning British administrative legacy of India. (10 marks 2014)
  • “Police-Public relations are a story of insincere efforts made on both sides.” Elaborate(10 marks 2014)
  • Do you think that the Central paramilitary police forces have proven more effective than the State police service? Give your answer objectively in a critical vein. (10 marks 2014)
  • Critically examine the concept of community policing as a tool for improving public-police relations.(10 marks 2015)
  • Discuss the significance and role of the Central Paramilitary Forces in maintaining law and order and countering insurgency as well as terrorism. (20 marks 2015)
  • Discuss critically the salient features of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) regarding its purposes and jurisdiction. (20 marks 2015)
  • “Police reforms in India have remained a contentious issue.” Critically analyse. (10 marks 2016)
  • In view of the contemporary internal scenario should “law and order” be made a part of the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India? Justify your opinion. (20 marks 2017)
  • The image of Indian Police can be improved if its structure and orientations are transformed radically.” Do you agree? Elaborate(10 marks 2017)
  • "The AFSPA debate reveals that the Indian paramilitary forces are caught between the imperatives of national security and protection of human rights.” Discuss. (10 marks 2018)
  • “Institutional change is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for reducing criminalisation of politics." Examine. (20 marks 2018)
  • The police-public interface is punctuated with distrust and fear. Suggest how the police can reform its image in the eyes of the public. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Even though the law and order administration is a State subject, it is paradoxical that the Central agencies- NIA or paramilitary forces under the Union Government-have restricted the powers of State Governments. Discuss. (20 Marks 2019)
  • There has been a long-standing demand for separation of police investigation from prosecution. Analyze its merits and demerits.(10 Marks 2020)
  • Police needs to be made accountable and freed from the grip of politics. It is a big challenge not only for law and order but also for the development of the country. Critically examine.(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy-By IAS Topper Raunak Agarwal (AIR-13)



(Getting Started) UPSC Prelims Strategy-By IAS Topper Raunak Agarwal (AIR-13)



Public service brings satisfaction, respect,' says UPSC Rank 13 Raunak  Agarwal - ABPEducation

Raunak Agarwal, AIR-13, UPSC CSE 2019

Raunak Aggarwal from Kolkata secured a prestigious all India rank of 13 in UPSC Civil Services Examination. Hailing from a family of businessmen, Raunak is a Chartered Accountant by training. He is no stranger to outstanding performances as he even secured a rank of 5 in his CA exam. This was Raunak’s 3rd attempt at Civil Services and he was under pressure to join the family business if it did not work out. Even though shocked by the magnitude of his success, Raunak is relieved that he will now be taking the first step into his dream career.

Raunak’S Strategy For The upsc preliminary Examination

Raunak had failed to qualify both his previous upsc prelims attempts. He realised that objectives were not his strength so he went on to modify his strategy a little here and there to better his chances. For the static portion, he followed the most common sources. It was for current affairs and mock tests where he made amendments.

Understanding The Trend

UPSC’s question patterns and types are ever changing and very hard to predict. However, Raunak has observed that current affairs have been gaining a lot of momentum. And the questions asked are not directly factual, they are usually analytical in their approach or a mixture of current events and related static affairs.

UPSC Prelims Subject-Wise Weightage 2011 - 2019 | IAS Prelims Marks  Distribution

Question Trends In UPSC Prelims

Current Affairs

Raunak used to read the Indian Express daily for his dose of current updates. He used to also go through Vision IAS and Insights On India’s monthly current affairs magazines. Rau has a Study Focussed magazine that is released two months before the prelims which Raunak also referred to. He believes that studying current affairs from varied sources allows you to exhaustively complete current affairs.

How To Use Mock Tests

Raunak believes negative marking is one of the main reasons many fail to qualify prelims. The first step should be to minimize it. He suggests noting down on each page which questions you are a 100% certain one, which you have 50% certainty with, and so on. On the first iteration of attempting your paper, answer only the ones you are 100% certain of. Check how short you are from reaching the score you need to clear the cut-off. If you have already reached it, there is no need to answer more. If not, answer the ones where you are 50% sure of the answers and then again repeat the process. 

This way, you minimize your negative marking and can score the best you can.

How To Answer

Message For IAS Aspirants

Raunak admits that even though he is from an financially privileged family, his ultimate goal has always been Civil Services. Businesses may fetch in a lot of money, but he sees himself contributing a lot more on the ground than anything else and encourages others to do the same. His message to aspirants is to not give up once they have admitted their passion for civil services and keep working hard towards the end goal. 

That is the only way to achieve your UPSC dream.

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Urban Local Government


Public Administration Papers Topic : Urban Local Government


  • In urban governance, uni-functional agencies and development authorities create a “functional jungle.” Explain (20 marks 2008)
  • “Sound municipal governance requires a cadre of specialized municipal services executives equal in state Services.” Comment. (20 marks 2009)
  • “The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) is one of the biggest reforms - linked development programmes taken up by the Government.” Comment. (20 marks 2010)
  • Examine the institutional vulnerability of municipal governance in the midst of an emerging spectre of multiple partnerships . (30 marks 2011)
  • Local self - government in India is the interplay of several factors – historical ideological and administrative. Critically examine these factors. (30 marks 2012)
  • “Municipal Administration in India faces both structural and operational challenges.” Examine in the context of post-74th Amendment Act. (In about 250 words) (10 marks 2013)
  • Explain the notion of one hundred ‘smart cities’ and its likely impact on India’s urbanization.(10 marks 2014)
  • Comment on the recent changes in the approach and methodology of devolution of responsibilities and transfer of funds from the Union to the States. (10 marks 2015)
  • How do the Union Government policies on Smart and AMRUT Cities address the problems of management of urban development? Explain. (20 marks 2015)
  • “The separation between regulatory and development functions in many development administration.” Critically examine the need to relook at this policy. (20 marks 2016)
  • “The concept of ‘New localism’ is related to the emerging nature of the relationship between the State governments and local government bodies.” Explain (10 marks 2016)
  • “Neighbourhood management provides an appropriate global strategy of dealing with social exclusion in the urban development scenario." Comment. (10 marks 2018)
  • The concept of new localism arrangement may defeat the very purpose of local self-governance. Do you agree? Justify. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Urban local governance is perpetually afflicted with lack of financial autonomy and starvation of funds. Elaborate.(10 Marks 2020)
  • Ward committees in urban local governance have remained more tigers. The ideal of realizing effective people's participation in collabor with local functionaries is still in the pipeline. Evaluate the gap in the and practice.(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) History Optional Strategy by Ashutosh Kulkarni AIR-44



(Getting Started) History Optional Strategy by Ashutosh Kulkarni AIR-44



Ashutosh cleared UPSC Civil Services 2019 with an all India rank of 44 in his 4th attempt. Ashutosh is a mechanical engineer hailing from Maharashtra. His father works at the C-DAC and his mother is a bank manager. He had been preparing for UPSC full-time since his college days. Before his final successful stint this year, he had reached the interview stage twice. He had also been temporarily working with mygov.in before making it to the list this year. 

Why History Optional?

Ashutosh took up History Optional as he found himself deeply interested in the subject which according to him should be the first and foremost criteria for choosing an optional. There should be a general inclination towards the subject because, for any optional, UPSC expects a post-graduation level of specialization. The next consideration for him was whether or not he can grasp the contents of the topics mentioned in the upsc syllabus which he found himself being comfortable with History. One of the main advantages of History is that it is chronological and that allows your brain to process it more easily.

Why Not History?

History is brimming with facts and one must process a tonne of information to get a grasp over it. The syllabus also happens to be vast. However, despite the long syllabus, every topic is explicitly mentioned, which leaves no place for vague interpretations. 

Strategy

In History, you have 2 papers and each has 2 sections. Paper-I is divided into Ancient and Medieval History, whereas Paper-II is divided into Modern and World History. Ashutosh suggests that you keep one section in each paper very strong. For him, the choices were Ancient and Modern History. Attempt 3 questions from the stronger section and 2 from the weaker section.

Suggested Books & Sources

Ashutosh suggests limiting the sources for each section to 3-4. He recommends the following – 

5 Books to Study History for IAS Prelims Exam - ClearIAS

Ancient History

Medieval History

Modern History

World History

 

UPSC Mains History Optional Study Kit

Note Making Is A Must

For History, different points for the same topic will be spread over different sources. Thus, making your notes is non-negotiable. Keep in mind the idea is to compress material so keep a minimum 10:1 word ratio between the source and your notes. For ancient and medieval History, quoting sources is very important and so you must keep archeology, epigraphy, numismatics, and literature are a must. In the exam, generic statements will not fetch you marks if you don’t quote sources. Have views of Historians embedded in your notes so that you can recall and write them in the exam. For Modern and World History, sources are not important but the analysis of events is. So, make notes accordingly.

Answer Writing And Time Management

Fix a time for each question. Ashutosh had decided to spend 7 minutes on 10 markers, 10 minutes on 15 markers, and 15 minutes for 20 marker questions. Adding classy introductions and conclusions is important as that makes an impact. Facts are the building blocks, backed by sources and clever analysis. Be specific and have clarity of thought to score well. Note the keywords and answer as per instructions without going into a tangent. Quote Historians in introductions and conclusions, add in-depth analytical conclusions. The examiner must understand that you have developed a 360-degree overall view of the subject.

Answer Writing Tips For CSE Mains » Apti Plus

Generic Answer Writing Tips For UPSC CSE Mains

Message To Aspirants

Keep revising and keep practicing without fail. Use maps and keep practicing Historical sites. Finish everything before the upsc prelims so that in the time between the prelims and mains, you can simply revise the whole thing at least thrice. 

If you follow these steps, you are bound to do score enough. And with a little bit of luck, this might just push you into the final list.

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Rural Development


Public Administration Papers Topic : Rural Development


  • What are the basic hurdles and pitfalls in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ? (30 marks 2008)
  • "The special development programmes taken up for poverty alleviation with a hope that benefits of these programmes may reach to the people living below the poverty line - have utterly failed to. achieve its. objectives." Comment. (60 marks 2004)
  • ‘Economic Development and Social Justice are the hallmarks of the 1992 Constitutional Amendment Acts.’ Elucidate. (20 marks 2008)
  • “73rd Constitutional Amendment has provided permanent structural framework to PRI’s resulting into silent social revolution.” Comment (60 marks 2007)
  • "The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment are major landmarks in India’s Constitutional History and Local Governance." Comment.(20 marks 2006)
  • "Non - Governmental Organisations play a catalytic role in enabling communities to define their own priorities...." Comment.(20 marks 2010)
  • "Absence of District Planning , Committees in a large number of districts. has prevented convergence of planning at the district level." Examine the above statement with examples. (20 marks 2011)
  • ‘Panchayati Raj Institutions are still affected by State control and domination by bureaucracy.’ Do you agree ? (12 marks 2012)
  • “The second generation reforms in the Panchayati Raj institutions have changed Panchayats from the agency of development at local level into a political institution.” Discuss(10 marks 2013)
  • “Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Panchayat’s functions enhances efficiency, transparency and accountability and also induces mass ICT culture.” Examine. (In about 250 words) (20 marks 2013)
  • “Gandhian model of decentralization is similar to the process of reinventing governance. “ Analyze in the context of good governance. (In about 250 words) (20 marks 2013)
  • “The 73rd Amendment, it is felt, may accentuate fiscal indiscipline by establishing between State and Local Governments a system of transfers similar to the one in the place between the Central and State Governments.” (World Bank) Comment. (In about 250 words) (20 marks 2013)
  • “Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have contributed to a change in the role of rural women in development — from symbolic participation to empowerment.” Discuss. (10 marks 2013)
  • Do you think that the role of Panchayati Raj should go beyond development administration? Give reasons for your answer. (10 marks 2014)
  • “Unimplemented reforms in administrations weaken the administrative reforms process most.” Do you agree? Give your answer citing specific cases as illustrations. (20 marks 2014)
  • “Decentralised governance must serve as an instrument of realizing social change and social justice.” Comment on the statement. (10 marks 2015)
  • Do you think that the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), in practice, reflects genuine devolution of powers and resources? Give reasons for your answer. (10 marks 2015)
  • “The goals of good governance will remain utopian if local governments responsible for providing all basic services directly to the citizens, are not empowered as mandated by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts.” Critically evaluate the status of empowerment of the local bodies. (20 marks 2015)
  • “The objectives of fiscal devolution to local bodies as mandated by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts has been derailed by the actual working of the State Finance Commissions. ” Comment. (10 marks 2016)
  • “The institution of the Gram Sabha has very little connection with the   Gandhian spirit of direct democracy.” Critically examine(10 marks 2017)
  • "Social audit has lent a critical edge to the implementation of programmes such as MGNREGA." Comment(10 marks 2018)
  • “Rural development programmes have failed to effectively address the problems of small and marginal farmers.” Analyse and give suggestions. (20 marks 2018)
  • The evidence suggests that the dream of deliberative democracy could not be realized in practice at the grassroot level. Evaluate the impediments in the functioning of Gram Sabha. (10 Marks 2019)
  • All weather rural connectivity schemes to even unconnected rural habitations has the potential to transform the rural economy. Do you agree? Justify. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions are still plagued by State control and domination of bureaucracy. Argue your case.(10 Marks 2020)
  • Despite the constitutional provisions for representation, the voice of weaker sections is not having the desired impact in the realms of Panchayati Raj Institutions. Critically examine.(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) Himanshu Gupta Shares The Do's And Don'ts Of Philosophy Optional (AIR-27)



(Getting Started) Himanshu Gupta Shares The Do's And Don'ts Of Philosophy Optional (AIR-27)



Himanshu Gupta secured an applaudable all India rank of 27 in his 3rd attempt in UPSC Civil Services Examination in 2019. This was his second attempt with Philosophy as an optional. In his initial attempt, Himanshu had taken up Geography Optional but later changed it in his next attempt and then continued with Philosophy thereon. He admits he was not clear on his choice of optional in his first attempt, and being from an Electrical Engineering background, he chose Geography for its scientific leanings. However, after much consideration, he shifted to Philosophy and would like to help aspirants with their Philosophy Optional strategy for UPSC. 

Why Should One Take Up Philosophy?

Himanshu did not clear upsc prelims in his first attempt, so his choice of optional did not matter. However, he soon realised that for UPSC, the core of choosing an optional should be interest. There are not the only syllabus specific textbooks that one reads for their UPSC optional, but an array of reference books and other materials. Without interest, nobody can possibly memorise so much information. UPSC is like a marathon and not a 100-metre race. One must treat it as a long-term plan. For Himanshu, Philosophy became an important part of that plan.

Why Should One Not Take Up Philosophy?

The most prevalent myth Himanshu admits to falling for was that Philosophy optional for UPSC has a very short and crisp syllabus. A year into his preparation, Himanshu realised that was not the case. Although the number of topics to be covered for Philosophy optional may look limited, the scope of each topic and the in-depth understanding required in enormous. Himanshu soon realised that to understand one concept, he has to read through multiple sources and watch a few videos online. It is indeed time-consuming and if a crisp syllabus is what you are after, Philosophy may not be the right choice for you.

Booklist For Philosophy Optional

There are 2 papers for Philosophy, each with 2 sections. There are different reading material required for each section. 

Philosophy (Optional) Study Materials for UPSC Mains

DOWNLOAD 10 YEARS UPSC MAINS PHILOSOPHY PAPERS PDF

Paper-I

Part-A: Indian Philosophy by CD Sharma

Part-B: Western Philosophy by Y Massey

Paper-II

Part-A: Socio-Political Philosophy by OP Gauba

Part-B: Philosophy Of Religion by Y Massey/ John Hick

Himanshu resisted from sticking strictly by standard books. He used coaching materials as his base and followed online material such as shodhganga for papers by Ph.D. scholars. Himanshu suggests previous years’ question topics along with the phrase “shodhganga” on Google to search for relevant material. 

He used a Youtube video documentary series called “Closure To Truth” as additional material for his Paper-II Section-B. Even Stanford University has a website dedicated to Philosophy courses. Of course, these are material that one should use selectively once they have covered their base material.

Answer Writing : 

Himanshu has some interesting tips for writing answers. For example, he used Sanskrit Sutras in the phonetic language in his Indian Philosophy. For Western Philosophy he quoted scholars from books. Having extra information and differentiating content in your answer will help you score better in your Philosophy Optional. Writing a test series is non-negotiable when it comes to this particular optional because the answers you write must have so much more than mere facts represented in them, and without the right practice and guidance, one can't write such high-quality answers.

 

Just Reading From Source Will Not Cut It, Practicing Writing Is Key

Message To Aspirants

Remember, the maximum people score in their GS papers is hardly ever more than 50%, but when it comes to their optionals, even 60% is a doable target. So to secure a good rank, concentrate on your optional. 

Himanshu wishes every aspirant the best of luck in their upcoming attempts.

Philosophy (Optional) Study Materials for UPSC Mains

DOWNLOAD 10 YEARS UPSC MAINS PHILOSOPHY PAPERS PDF

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Administrative Reforms  Since Independence


Public Administration Papers Topic : Administrative Reforms  Since Independence


  • In your view , which have been the five most important administrative reforms implemented after Independence? What has been their impact ? (30 marks 2009)
  • All efforts in the field of reforms in public administration by the political executive have resulted in no significant output." Comment.(20 marks 2006)
  • "Efforts made towards administrative reforms so far have been lacking in a congruence between strategy, structure and substance." Comment.(20 marks 2005)
  • "In spite of valuable suggestions through Administrative Reforms, still we have not been able to come up to the expectations of the people." Discuss. (30 marks 2004)
  • Briefly discuss the recommendations of any two following: (30 marks 2009) 
  1. Paul Appleby (1953 and 1956), 
  2. Santhanam Committee, 
  3.  Hota Committee, 
  4.   Sixth Pay Commission 
  • "The recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on reforming the Civil Service are radical yet implementable." Do you agree ? (30 marks 2009)
  • The National Commission to review the working of the Constitution has suggested revolutionary changes in administrative culture.' Analyse its major recommendations on Civil Services and Administration. (60 marks 2007)
  • Describe the changing character and new orientations of Public Services in India since Independence.  (60 marks 2008)
  • With reference to India, discuss the assertion that administrative reforms are multi dimensional and need to be substantiated by reforms in other related areas of state action. (30 marks 2010)
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its 10th Report, observes that "the common perception is that the incentive structure in government is too weak and inadequate to motivate better performance." Elucidate.  (30 marks 2010)
  • Discuss the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission in respect of the National Development Council for improving Centre- State planning relations. (20 marks 2012)
  • “Excellent ideas but poor implementation have characterised the administrative reforms in India since Independence.” Critically examine the statement giving examples from the Union and State Governments. (20 marks 2015)
  • What are the major concerns of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on Civil Service reforms? Indicate the current status of their implementation. (10 marks 2015)
  • “The Second Administrative Reform Commission (ARC) makes a strong case for the principle of subsidiary .”Elaborate (10 marks 2017)
  • “The recommendations of various commissions on administrative reforms have not made a radical departure from the Paul Appleby Report.” Do you agree ? Give reasons. (20 marks 2018)
  • Considerable attention has been paid to the restructuring of the administrative systems at the Central and local levels, but very few reforms have been undertaken at the State level. What steps would you suggest to rectify it? (20 Marks 2019)

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(Getting Started) How To Complete Lengthy UPSC Mains Papers In 3 Hours



(Getting Started) How To Complete Lengthy UPSC Mains Papers In 3 Hours



Top 5 Answer Writing Tips for UPSC Civil Service Mains

UPSC Civil Services is one of the toughest competitive examinations in the country, perhaps even the world, but with good reasons. The upsc preliminary examination itself is considered tough enough, but the upsc main examination; which comprises of 9 conventional written papers, is even harder to get through. IAS aspirants work for years developing their knowledge base and improving their writing skills to score above the cut-off. However, knowledge and writing skills cannot help you score enough if you are not able to complete answering all questions. 

So here are the top 4 tips to help you complete your mains papers within the allotted 3 hours.

4 Tips To Finish Your UPSC Mains Papers On-Time 

  1. Don’t Just Start Writing From The First Question Itself

Each mains paper is a good mix of easy, medium, and hard questions. Not all of them need to be answered. Usually, candidates are expected to answer 1 or 2 mandatory questions, and they have the option of choosing which ones to answer from the ones left. Take 5-7 minutes at the very beginning of the examination to choose the questions you have the most knowledge about. Start with writing the questions that come most easily to you. This way, when you finish those questions before time, you are left with more time to answer the ones you are less comfortable writing. In the rush to answer, do not start writing tough questions only to miss out on the easy ones.

  1. Don’t Try To Switch Between Multiple Pens And Pencil

A lot of aspirants believe using multiple colors on the paper will have the examiner more attracted to and invested in your answer. And though this may be partially true, it is ultimately the information you put down on the paper that matters. In your rush to use different inks, and draw neat diagrams and maps in pencil, do not miss out on answering questions that can fetch you 10-12 more marks. Be wise. Write neat answers and underline or indent the information to highlight them. Draw rough maps and diagrams with a pen. As long as your facts are accurate, and you have met the demand of the question, you will score well.

Why do aspirants prefer Pilot V5 pens for the UPSC CSE Mains, though it is  not water-resistant? - Quora

You only need one pen

  1. Use A Good Quality Pen

Imagine the stress if your pen stops working in the middle of such an important examination. Even if you do not lose more than a few seconds in picking up another pen, the distraction and stress alone can affect your abilities. Use a good quality pen to avoid stress. It doesn’t have to be very expensive. A regular ball-point with a wide nib should give a smooth writing experience and even help your writing speed.

  1. The Watch Is Your Friend

Keep tracking the time. The goal is to answer 20 questions in 180 minutes. 10 of these are shorter ones and 10 are longer. Allot 6-7 minutes to the 10 markers and 8-10 minutes to the 15 markers. You should absolutely spend no more than 10 minutes on a single question. Keep an eye on the watch as you start and keep checking it every few sentences to ensure you are on track. As long as you don’t slow your pace, you should be able to finish the paper with at least a few minutes to spare.

Practice Makes You Perfect

All of these tips will not be applicable overnight. As you write more answers over the months preceding your mains examination, time yourself, and keep revising, you will find yourself falling into this pattern. Practice will ensure you finish your mains papers on time, so do not stop writing answers. Remember, your mains score is the ultimate deciding factor as to where on the final list your name sits. 

Give it your best and you’ll achieve your dream.

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Financial Management


Public Administration Papers Topic : Financial Management


  • "Parliamentary Departmental Committees have played their role effectively in analysing the demands for grants." Evaluate.(20 marks 2007)
  • Examine the role of the Finance Ministry of the Union Government in designing and implementing monetary and fiscal policies.(30 marks 2009)
  • "Audit, like the judiciary, the executive and the legislature is one of the important ingredients of democracy." Comment.(20 marks 2006)
  • "Audit provides a healthy safeguard against public money going down the drain." Comment. (30 marks 2005)
  • Comment on the following statement: "The Comptroller and Auditor - General (CAG) of India is a prosecutor with a law that hobbles its functioning, a judge without the power to sentence and a litigant with no right to appeal." (30 marks 2011)
  • What is output-based performance budgeting System ? Analyse this system in the context of India. (15 marks 2012)
  • 'The Budget is more than the economic horoscope of the nation '. Comment. (20 marks 2008)
  • 'Questions represent a  powerful technique of parliamentary control over expenditure.' Explain.(12 marks 2012)
  • The optimism expressed by the proponents o f the Financial Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003, in ensuring fiscal discipline appears to be unwarranted. Comment.(20 marks 2012)
  • “Performance budgeting failed because it was applied to sectors/programmes where quantitative evaluation was not feasible.” Examine the principles underlying performance budgeting techniques. (10 marks 2013)
  • “According is the essence of producing promptly and clearly the facts relating to financial condition and operations that are required as a basis of management.” Substantiate the statement in the context of accounting methods and techniques in government. (In about 250 words) (10 marks 2013) 
  • Justify the constructional provision to treat certain expenditure as charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India. (In about 150 words)(10 marks 2013)
  • Discuss the changes in powers of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) following a recent Supreme Court judgement in a case concerning a private service provider. (10 marks 2014)
  • Parliamentary Committees bring about accountability in public expenditure. Discuss.(10 marks 2014)
  • “Social auditing of flagship programmes of the Central government facilitates the performance of the Comptroller and Auditor-General.” Elaborate the statement with appropriate examples.(20 marks 2014)
  • Explain how budget can be used as a political instrument .(10 marks 2015)
  • Justify the budgetary support to nationalized banks to overcome the crisis resulting out of Non- Performing Assets (NPA). (10 marks 2016)
  • What merits do you foresee in the proposed merger of the Railway Budget with the General Budget? (10 marks 2016)
  • “The initiative of the Income Tax Department on disclosure of black money has had a mixed response.” Give suggestions for tackling this complex problem. (10 marks 2016)
  • Do you agree that Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations do not reflect and correlate the need for civil service reforms and accountability with pay increase? Justify your answer. (20 marks 2016)
  • “The office of Comptroller General of Accounts (CGA) is expected to strengthen public financial management in India”. Discuss its mandate. (10 marks 2017)
  • “Financial inclusion needs legal backing but it also requires increasing awareness for it to become a reality.” Discuss(10 marks 2018)
  • "Gender budgeting requires rethinking beyond allocations to become a powerful tool of gender mainstreaming." Discuss.  (10 marks 2018)
  • "Performance management requires identification of indicators and measures to ensure that goals are achieved efficiently." Discuss. (10 marks 2018)
  • Performance grants devolved by the Finance Commission of India have increased the Financial accountability of the local bodies. Elaborate. (10 Marks 2019)
  • The strategy to deal with the non-performing assets of banks may lead to overburdened taxpayers. Examine the role of the government to protect the interests of both. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Budget is an indicator of financial health of a polity which is reflected in the statement of income and expenditure. Discuss. (10 Marks 2020)
  • The office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India stands on the pillar of autonomy. Discuss the major lacunae in the functioning of this constitutional body and also suggest measures for its strengthening.(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) How To Fill Your DAF For UPSC Civil Services Exam



(Getting Started) How To Fill Your DAF For UPSC Civil Services Exam



As and when results for UPSC prelims are released, many aspirants have to go back to the drawing board to start fresh for another year. The few that qualify now have the mammoth task of writing UPSC mains examination in less than 3 months. But before it all, they are now required to fill in the Detailed Application form of DAF. The DAF is a form filled only by candidates on the UPSC Civil Services Examination who have cleared the preliminary stage and it serves as a tool for the council to gather more pertinent information about those they are about to hire. It is an extremely important piece of document that must be filled in very carefully.

UPSC Civil Services exam: Important instructions for filling the DAF form |  Education News,The Indian Express

Basics Of DAF

The DAF is a very technology-friendly process these days and need to be filled online on the UPSC official website. It has around 10 parts and each part caters to a specific type of related set of information. Each year minor changes are made in the form so candidates should read the instructions and guidelines carefully before putting down a response. All documents required to be submitted must be scanned and uploaded/attached during submission.

Documents To Be Attached

As of this year, the following documents need to be attached to the DAF –

  1. Scanned copy of Certificate of age.
  2. Scanned copy of Certificate(s) of educational qualifications.
  3. Scanned copy of Certificate in support of the claim to belong to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes (if applicable.
  4. Scanned copy of Certificate in support of the claim for age relaxation (if applicable).
  5. Scanned copy of the certificate in support of the claim to being Physically challenged (along with the certificate of Disability in Dominant (writing) Extremity, if applicable).
  6. Scanned copy of Hailing from Certificate to show that the candidate hails from Arunachal Pradesh/ Manipur/ Meghalaya/ Mizoram/ Nagaland or Sikkim (if applicable).
  7. Scanned copy of undertaking for the candidate who is in Government service that he /she has intimated in writing the Head of the Office / Department about his/her appearance in the examination.
  8. Scanned copies of documentary proof in support of service/status/landholding/income from different sources/property held by parents of OBC (non-creamy layer) candidates.

NOTE: The documents must be scanned in 200 dpi grayscale, in PDF format only. It is advised that cellphones should not be used for scanning documents. Documents should be placed together in a single, password-protected PDF file of size not more than 3 MB. The scans should be legible. No document is required to be sent by Post or by Hand.

You can find sample images of the DAF form in the images below.

Fees

UPSC has different fee structures for different groups of candidates. General and OBC candidates need to pay ₹200, whereas female and SC/ST candidates are exempted from this payment.

Service And Cadre Preference

This varies from year to year. Some years UPSC asks for the service and cadre preference during the initial DAF submission, and some year it is required as an addendum post mains. However, once you fill the preference, you cannot change it later, so be very careful and fill it once you are sure of what you want.

Hobbies/Co-Curricular Details

This might seem trivial at the first glance but keep in mind that this finds a glowing place in the DAF summary sheet. As a result, when you go to face your interview, these are topics the interview panel has access to and may ask questions on. So be truthful, and only fill in details you are completely confident about. You have come this far; do not let this opportunity slip. 

We wish you all the very best for your mains exams.

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(Getting Started) How To Read 2nd ARC Reports For UPSC



(Getting Started) How To Read 2nd ARC Reports For UPSC



UPSC takes special care in selecting aspirants who have a knack for administration. Towards this, the upsc syllabus and the requirements are tailored to this need. One of the most recommended documents that hold a lot of importance in the scheme of things is the 2nd ARC reports. ARC reports or the Administrative Reforms Commission Reports talk of a lot of the aspects of public service such as conflict resolution, administrative methods, governance, ethics in service, etc. Aspirants often skip them due to the sheer bulk of the content. However, anyone skipping these reports will suffer in their examination, and there is a better way of covering them than going through hundreds of pages of information.

What Are The 2nd ARC Reports?

ARC – Citizen Centric Administration (Good Governance) - UPSCTREE

Keywords From 2nd ARC Reports Can Be Used In Answer Writing

The first-ever ARC was set up in 1966 to examine and recommend administrative reforms in public service. The 2nd ARC and the last one to date were 2005 and it submitted 15 reports to reform public service in the country which covered issues such as RTI, ethics in governance, terrorism, local governance, etc. These latest ARC reports are what UPSC Civil Service aspirants most need, especially those with Public Administration as their optional.

List Of ARC Reports PDF Download

  • Right to Information - Master Key to Good Governance
  • Unlocking Human Capital - Entitlements and Governance-a Case Study
  • Crisis management - From Despair to Hope
  • Ethics in Governance
  • Public Law and Order - Justice for each..... peace for all.
  • Local Governance
  • Capacity Building for PEACE Resolution - Friction to Fusion
  • Combating Terrorism
  • Social Capital - A Shared Destiny
  • Refurbishing of Personnel Administration - Scaling New Heights
  • Promoting e-Governance - The Smart Way Forward
  • Citizen Centric Administration - The Heart of Governance
  • Organisational Structure of Government of India
  • Strengthening Financial Management Systems
  • State and District Administration

2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) PDF download

Why Is The 2nd ARC Reports Important?

The majority of aspirants appearing for UPSC are targeting the prestigious Administrative Service. As future administrators, knowing the drawbacks, perks, as well as recommendations of the administrative practices of the nation you wish to serve, is paramount. Moreover, these reports are a part of the tens of other committee reports that form the crux of the UPSC CSE Mains examination syllabus and will help you mint answers in the examination. Moreover, the 2nd ARC reports come with a variety of case studies and real-life examples that aspirants may use in the General Studies papers, especially in Ethics. 

How To Read The 2nd ARC Reports?

Online Course for Public Administration for IAS Mains

Other Reports Aspirants Study

The 2nd ARC Reports are bulky and most aspirants find it hard to read them in their entirety. But keep in mind that these reports are important not only for those with Public Administration optional but also for the rest who wish to add more value to their mains General Studies papers. Even if you are unable to read all the reports cover to cover, here are a few hacks you can follow –

  • Read summaries – A lot of successful aspirants vouch for this trick as an effective and time-saving way to ensure you derive some value from the 2nd ARC reports. Each report is accompanied by a summary in the end. Read the summary thoroughly and for any confusion, read parts of the report pertaining to what you have doubts about selectively.
  • Use coaching/online material – There are many effective summaries and explainers available for these reports online or by reputed coachings. Use them to bypass having to read such bulky material and grasp a better understanding in a shorter time.
  • Read selective reports – Not all of the 15 reports hold equal importance. You can choose to read selectively. The topmost important ones are –
    • Report 1 – Right to Information 
    • Report 3 – Crisis Management 
    • Report 4 – Ethics in Governance 
    • Report 8 – Combating Terrorism 
    • Report 11 – Promoting E-Governance
    • Report 12 – Citizen-Centric Administration 
    • Report 14 – Financial Management

No matter whether you read all 15 reports cover to cover, or follow one of the aforementioned shortcuts, the most important thing is that you do not skip it.

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Public Administration Papers Topic : Civil Services


Public Administration Papers Topic : Civil Services


  • Do State Services suffer in comparison with the All - India and Central Services? Suggest measures for enhancing the role, competence and impact of State Services.(30 marks 2009)
  • 'Training of civil servants for capacity ( building should be in consonance with the needs of the socio - economic and technological development of the country.' Explain.(30 marks 2008)
  • "A well - designed module-based training for Civil Servants is the best way to achieve the goals of good governance." Analyse. (20 marks 2007)
  • 'Performance Appraisal Systems' with special reference to the Performance Management and Evaluation System (PMES) are expected to transform the bureaucratic culture of Indian administration. Do you agree ? Give reasons. (30 marks 2011)
  • Comment on the following . statements :- (30 marks 2010)
  • (i) "The more developed an administrative system became the greater the likelihood that it would have developmental effects."
  • (ii) "The thrust of development administration failed to energise the Indian bureaucracy."
  •  Discuss the relationship between governance and development in anyone Indian Stater giving illustrations.(30 marks 2009)
  • "Social (Welfare) Administration in India is witnessing specialization and faster expansion of its administrative agencies," Evaluate.(20 marks 2007)
  • "Grievance redressal system is perhaps the weakest link in India's Civil service management." Comment. (15 marks 2011)
  • "The weakest aspect of Indian administration is the grievance redressal machinery." Discuss. (20 marks 2009)
  • "Civil service neutrality is a fiction. How can any thinking person be neutral ?" Comment. (20 marks 2010)
  • "There is no basic contradiction between Civil Service neutrality and Civil Service activism." Comment. (20 marks 2009)
  • 'Good governance is closely aligned with effective democratic governance.' Elaborate. (12 marks 2012)
  • Indian administration is yet to fully appreciate and adopt the benefits of Information Technology. Elucidate. (15 marks 2012)
  • “Civil services neutrality is founded on the application of the principles of Rule of Law”. Comment. (10 marks 2013)
  • “Judicial review of administrative tribunal’s decisions defeats the very objective of establishing tribunals.” Comment with reference to Central Administrative Tribunal. (10 marks 2013)
  • “The concept of social audit is more comprehensive than that of traditional audit.” Comment. (10 marks 2013)
  • Assess the role of honest and upright civil servants in regulatory and development administration in India. Give examples to substantiate your arguments. (20 marks 2014)
  • Elaborate the features of the grievances redressal mechanism of the civil services in India. Does this mechanism satisfy the objective of its creation? (10 marks 2014)
  • Discuss the need for civil services neutrality in development administration. Suggest some measures for achieving and strengthening it in practice.(20 marks 2014)
  • “Information Communication Technology (ICT) improves the quality of public service delivery, but fails to check bribery.” Comment. (10 marks 2015)
  • Discuss the major highlights of the reforms introduced from time-to-time in Central Civil Services Conduct Rules and add your own comments. (10 marks 2015)
  • “Autonomy granted to higher civil servants tends to increase their creativity and productivity.” Argue the case to make the civil service more accountable as well as innovative. (10 marks 2016)
  • “In a democratic polity, any conception of ethics and integrity in public life must encompass not only politicians and civil servants but also citizens.” Discuss. (20 marks 2016)
  • “The idea of lateral entry into the Civil Services would energies Indian administration.”What are its possible advantages and limitations? (20 marks 2017)
  • “There is a need for greater inclusion of technocrats in bureaucracy to ensure effective governance in India.” Do you agree” Elucidate(10 marks 2017)
  • “Civil servants should avoid airing grievances in the media.” In the context , discuss the grievance redressal mechanisms available to the Civil Servants in India. (10 marks 2017)
  • Do you think  that Public Service Guarantee Acts passed by various State Governments are an extension to the Citizen Charter? Give reasons(10 marks 2017)
  • “The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Administration encourage good governance initiatives. “ Discuss some such initiatives by the Civil Servants in this context. (20 marks 2017)
  • It is apprehended that lateral entry will lead to politicisation of bureaucracy. Do you agree? Justify(10 marks 2018)
  • “The 'enablers' and 'facilitators' are yet to replace the inspectors' and “controllers' in the civil service in India. Do you agree? Justify. (10 marks 2018)
  • "Competency mapping is important for effective allocation of responsibilities to administrators.” Do you think that a generalist administrator can handle all issues as effectively as a specialist Discuss. (20 marks 2018)
  • "Effective public grievance redressal requires administrative commitment. But process reengineering can help prevent some grievances.” Discuss. (20 marks 2018)
  • Emerging developmental aspirations of the society necessitate the constitutional amendment to change the present safeguards available to the civil servants. Evaluate the pros and cons of such an amendment. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Capacity issues relating to employees have hampered the implementation of several government programmes. Trace the reasons in the context of the provisions of the National Training Policy, 2012. (20 Marks 2019)
  • Effective ‘Performance Management System’ needs to precede ‘taking deadwood out’ from bureaucracy. Comment. (10 Marks )
  • ‘Sevottam Scheme’ had great potential to reform service delivery, but opportunity is frittered away. Comment. (10 Marks 2019)
  • Political neutrality of civil servants has been regarded as one of the cardinal principles in democrntic governments. Is its sanctity being maintained in practice in India? Elucidate.(10 Marks 2020)
  • Civil servants are trained to follow rules and procedures so much that they become bureaucrazy. Do you agree? Justify. (10 Marks 2020)

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Public Administration Papers Topic : District Administration Since Independence


Public Administration Papers Topic : District Administration Since Independence


  • “District Administration is like a small tortoise carrying the load of an elephant”. Discuss (20 marks 2008)
  • "The District Collector, the Additional Deputy Commissioner and Sub-Divisional Officer, have virtually become ‘officer-in-attendance’ and have lost initiative and independence of judgement.” Comment.(60 marks 2006)
  • "The district officer as a chief agent and representative of state serves as a channel of communication between the Government  and the residents of the district." Explain. (30 marks 2004)
  • "One of the most distinctive characteristics of Indian Administrative Service is its multi-purpose character”.Comment. (20 marks 2005)
  • "The primary emphasis in District Administration has to be on implementation of development programmes in cooperation with active support of people." Elucidate. - (05/1I/3b/30) (30 marks 2005)
  • "The District Collector is an overburdened officer due to the expansion and increasing developmental activities." Comment. (20 marks 2005)
  • "Indian federalism is passing through a state of potential maturity." Discuss this statement in the context of the views of the Commission on Centre - State Relations (Justice M. M. Punchhi).(30 marks 2011)
  • "Many of the programmes of development being implemented at the State and the Local level have been initiated or financed by the Union Government. This has  transformed the nature of Indian' federalism." Critically examine this assessment. (30 marks 2009)
  • NGOs demand greater autonomy from the 5. State and are now 'new actors' in development. How effective are they as instruments of decentralisation and debureaucratisation ? Critically ev aluate. (30 marks 2012)
  • Explain the emerging ambiguity in respect of the development role of the District Collector in the wake of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment (12 marks 2012)
  • “Reducing the size (geographical area) of the district will provide relief to the overburdened and overworked collector.” Comment. (10 marks 2013)
  • Explain the important recommendation of V.T. Krishnamachari Committee (1962) on Indian and State Administrative Services and problems of District Administration. (10 marks 2013)
  • “District Collector is a legacy of the British Raj and has largely remained insulated from the demands of contemporary professionalism.” Discuss. (10 marks 2014)
  • “District Collector’s role in the development process has been overemphasized.” Comment on the statement. (10 marks 2015)
  • Digitization of land records is a necessary but not sufficient precondition for ensuring transparent district administration.” Explain (10 marks 2017)
  • ’District Planning Committee  (DPC) has been the weakest structure in the local self-government mechanism in India .” Analyze with examples(10 marks 2017)
  • “Development management advocates self-sustaining customer-friendly institutions at the district level.” Comment. (10 marks 2018)
  • Climate change issues pose new challenges for district administration to be proactive.” Elaborate(20 marks 2018)
  • It is observed that non-functioning of District Planning Committees is preventing the convergence of rural and urban planning needs. Do you agree? Justify. (20 Marks 2019)
  • The office of the District Collector has merely become a bureau for funneling government schemes, collecting statistics and an officer on attendance for unending VIP duties. Critically examine its role in the light of the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission. (20 Marks 2019)
  • District administration is the most important unit in governance. Most of the Central and State Government schemes and programmes are directed towards the district administration. In this context, discuss the challenges and problems posed to the district administration,(20 Marks 2020)

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(Getting Started) Sociology optional Strategy Neha Bhosle's AIR-15



(Getting Started) Sociology optional Strategy Neha Bhosle's AIR-15



Neha Bhosle secured the coveted AIR-15 rank in UPSC Civil Services Examination in 2019. Hailing from the state of Maharashtra, Neha has done her BE from Mumbai University and continued her education by completing her MBA from IIM Lucknow. She has also worked for the private sector for 3 years. She started preparing for UPSC in 2016 while in her job, but given the lack of time, she quit her job in 2017 and pursued a full-time preparation. This was her second attempt and her optional was Sociology.

Why Sociology Optional?

Neha took three months of researching optionals at the beginning of her preparation before zeroing in on Sociology. Initially, she had spent a few months on management optional as it was a reminiscence of her post-grad degree. However, the vast syllabus was not encouraging. Once she quit her job, choosing an optional different from her background and starting from scratch became a viable option. Keeping her general interest, ease of finding study material, and overlap with the General Studies syllabus, Neha chose Sociology to be her optional.

Sociology Optional Book List

Paper-I

  1. Both Class 11 NCERTs – Introducing Sociology and Understanding Society
  2. Both Class 12 NCERTs – Indian Society and Social Change and Development in India
  3. IGNOU Sociology - ESO 13 and MSO 04 Blocks
  4. Sociology – Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn (Blue Haralambos)

UPSC Mains Sociology (Optional) Study Materials

As per her blog, Neha recommends selectively reading from the Blue Haralambos (8th Edition)  –

  1. Introduction: sociological perspectives – full
  2. Chapter 1: Stratification, class and inequality – pages 21-24, 30-34, 47-56, 80-82, 87-93
  3. Chapter 2: Sex and gender – pages 95-101, 104-121, 130-138
  4. Chapter 3: ‘Race’, ethnicity and nationality – pages 155-160, 174-187, 193-197, 206-210
  5. Chapter 4: Poverty, social exclusion and the welfare state – pages 231-236, 246-247, 259-264, 269-276
  6. Chapter 6: Crime and deviance – pages 347-352, 361-367
  7. Chapter 7: Religion – pages 431-437, 444-462, 473-475, 487-488, 491-499, 504-507
  8. Chapter 8: Families, households and personal life – pages 509-525, 544-545, 566-569
  9. Chapter 9: Power, politics and the state – pages 579-590, 593-603, 608-620
  10. Chapter 10: Education – pages 663-671, 702-704
  11. Chapter 14: Methodology – full
  12. Chapter 15: Sociological theory – pages 953-998, 1013-1015

Paper-II

  1. Applied Sociology – Indian Society: Structure and Change by Vikash Ranjan Sir
  2. Mohapatra Sir’s Class Notebooks
  3. Tusharanshu Sharma Sir’s notes

Neha’s Strategy

Neha started with the NCERTs for Paper-I. Once she was done with them, she read the IGNOU material once and tried making notes from them. She followed this up by the selective reading of the Blue Haralambos and made study notes. She followed a similar process for Paper-II and made notes from the text. She also revised the IGNOU material more than once before the prelims itself. For the notes, she highlighted the potions she felt were more important or contained keywords, instead of making fresh notes.

After the prelims, armed with her own notes, and highlighted notes from Upendra Gaur Sir, Mohapatra Sir, and Tusharanshu Sharma Sir, she made multiple revisions and wrote tests. She joined the online combined Lectures and Test Series Course for Sociology by Praveen Kishore Sir.

Answer Writing

There are three things you need to have prepared before attempting writing good answers –

  1. 350-400 word notes on each topic mentioned in the syllabus.
  2. Real-life current affairs case studies pertaining to relevant topics in the syllabus.
  3. Answers to common questions asked over the years.

These already give you enough good content to fill your answers with. Now it is a matter of practice. Write test series and use the feedback to analyze and improve your answers. It is not rocket science and is very doable for each aspirant. 

Remember, the key to writing good answers in sociology is to not fall into the General Studies trap, but instead, think sociological points to write about. 

All the best!

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