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Strategy for General Studies Papers (Mains) under new Syllabus

There are four papers for General Studies that is introduced from 2013. Each of them carry 250 marks and in total they make 1000 marks. With the gravity of Civil Services Mains examination now being shifted to General Studies, it's very important to have a sound strategy for its preparation, as now score of General Studies has become the passport of success.

Students should go through current National issues and topics of social relevance, major happenings at the national level during the last one calendar year. Issues of social relevance that affect the lives of people should always be dealt in detail. National newspapers, news magazines, journals and periodicals are good source of information to prepare topics related to different papers of General Studies. Here is strategy for each paper according to its syllabus;

Paper I

Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society: The subject is like a story and there could be linkages between two questions. Students thus need to ensure that the entire syllabus is covered. They can do so without preparing portions which appeared last year in the mains examination. The general trend is that there are no repetitions from last year's papers, but once in a while students could be in for a surprise. The part relating to Indian heritage and culture will cover all aspects from ancient to modern times. In the segment History and Geography of the world society, students should concentrate on human and economic aspects. There could be questions based on the Human Development Report prepared by United Nations Development Programme. The World Development Report of World Bank deals in different aspects of economic geography and such areas should be stressed in preparation of GS paper one.

Paper II

Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations: The role of government in public life and giving direction on different policy matters like social work has to be covered under governance. The other focus here could be role of the government in providing budgetary support to areas like atomic energy, manufacturing of military goods and the utility of public sector. Different aspects of the Constitution like Supreme Court judgment during the past one year are important in the constitution segment. At macro level, students need to know in detail issues that pertains to Indian political system for instance reorganization of Indian states. Significance of India's foreign policy with focus on India's interaction with rest of the world is a separate area. Indian's relations with major world powers like US, China, Russia, France, UK and European Union should be covered in detail. Immediate neighbours too play an important role in India's foreign policy. Reforms in United Nations Security Council (UNSC), India's bid for permanent seats in the Security Council are some of the areas that require attention.

Paper III

Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management: Scientific and technological development during the last one year, with focus on development of AIDS vaccine, stem cell research, non-renewable sources of energy and development of Indian space programme has to be given importance. Regarding economic development, how we manage our economy and issues related to taxation and spending pattern should be covered comprehensively. There should be emphasis on the social sector, issues related to Foreign Direct Investment, disinvestment policy etc. Environmental security is big issue these days and so is the disaster management. In wake of 2004 Tsunami and 2013 Utrakhnd floods the issue of disaster management has gained currency. The probable question could be; Is it justified to spend heavily on space research, when we are unable to manage our natural disaster.

Paper IV

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude: Ethics and integrity is a new section that's added from 2013. This is more of general nature and answers can be framed on the spot but some basic understanding of the concepts. The issues associated with it are like, corruption, black money, criminal tendencies, doing things that are unlawful etc. Some very good thought have to be given to ethics and integrity section. However, the aptitude section needs special attention. Statistical analysis, graphs and diagrams are the key feature of this section. This tests the candidates' ability to draw conclusions from information presented in statistical, graphical or diagrammatical form and to point out deficiencies therein. This segment has to be practiced.

Finally, the General Studies preparation for mains is all about writing so students should be focussed in terms of language, and they should ensure that the answers are concise and analytical. The examiner is usually in a hurry and if provided with facts and coherent replies, his job becomes easier. The answers should be written in a precise manner. Word limit should be adhered to, wherever mentioned. Students should focus on providing their side of justification in a logical manner. Repetitive and elaborate replies should be strictly avoided.

This is a broad strategy for the preparation of the civil services general studies paper. One can add and improvise this strategy in order to get better results. However, the fact that has to be underlined is, there is no short cut to success in Civil Services.