Category Archives: UPSC CSE

Law optional – Constitutional and Administrative Law

This article is written by Avi Prasad, Rank 13, UPSC CSE 2013.

General Sources

One must have a source which provides topic-wise break up of Mains Examination questions asked in past years. I relied on the one published on UPSC portal which was just a compilation of previous years’ questions under different topic heads. Yet, it was a very important tool in my preparation as it gave insight into the repetitive nature of questions asked, the variations and the important areas of syllabus. It also helped me identify parts of the syllabus that have rarely been tested by UPSC. While past is no definite indicator for the future, I took the decision to focus only on the topics which have been frequently asked by UPSC. Thus, I was able to narrow down the syllabus considerably. This strategy has held me in good stead in both my successful attempts with Law.

In this entry, I will list out the books I relied upon and how they can be used upon along with additional sources. An important source is excellent case summary of important cases published by Delhi University for its LLB course. This material is available for download at DU’s website. I also read the ubiquitously called ‘Dukki’ (for those unfamiliar with the term; it is the ‘guide-book’ which is relied upon by most students of Delhi University for passing the examination held by the University). The guide-books are essentially quality notes prepared with references from multiple books. While they are very useful for some part of the syllabus, their drawback is that they don’t cover the entire syllabus. However, these can be read as a basic preparatory text. There are two major publishers/authors of Dukki – Ashok Jain and Singhal. One has to compare Dukkis for each subject to ascertain which one is better for a particular subject.

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Comments on selection of Law as an optional

This article is written by Avi Prasad, Rank 13, UPSC CSE 2013

I appeared with Law as an optional in both my attempts (Rank 171, CSE 2012 and Rank 13, CSE 2013) and owe my selection to good marks in Law papers. Further, in prelims a good number of questions are based on polity and constitution, which most law students find easy. As most of the social and economic issues are addressed through the legislative mechanism, students of law optional are at an advantage in extracting the intention, mechanism and other relevant information from the dreary language of an Act/proposed Bill.

Also important issues of governance like RTI, exercise of discretion, citizen-official interface, relationship between organs of state etc. trace their roots to administrative and constitutional law. These are all important parts of Mains syllabus for GS.

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Preparing for General Studies Paper 2 (Mains Examination)

This post is written by Avi Prasad (CSE 2013, Rank 13) and Riju Bafna (CSE 2013, Rank 77). Your queries can be submitted in the comment column below.

Preparing for General Studies Paper 2 (Mains Examination)

Governance, Constitution and Polity

Topic Source
Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure. Basic book may be Laxmikant and the bare Act. Read newspaper articles on constitutional issues is a must. For instance, Keshvananda Bharti case (which recently completed 40 years) makes probable a question on evolution of basic structure doctrine over the years.
Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. Laxmikant, along with relevant newspaper articles. Also useful to go through latest Finance Commission reports (summary should be sufficient)
Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions. Read about Lok Adalats, Alternate Dispute Redressal mechanism, Executive-Judiciary relationship, judicial activism. These can be done through articles in The Hindu and Indian Express.
Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries. Civil Services Times published a summary of constitutions of major countries in 2013. It may be available in the market as photocopy.
Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. In addition to Laxmikant, one can follow the website of parliament of India which has an FAQ section on parliamentary procedure and associated terminology. If possible, one can go through Constitution of India by MP Jain which has a chapter on Parliamentary privileges.
Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity. We relied on the online coaching material provided by GK today for the pressure group, NGO part. For structure of GOI, Polity portion of India Year Book is best source.
Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act. Election commission website and notes by GK today. Sriram Coaching also has decent notes on this.
Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. Just read all the relevant articles of the bare ACT of the Constitution.
Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. Sriram and GKtoday
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures Relevant 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission report and Shankar IAS academy book on subject
Role of civil services in a democracy. Any coaching material notes/ articles from newspapers

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Preparing for Public Administration Optional

This article is written by PREM RANJAN SINGH, Rank 62, UPSC CSE 2013. He is currently undergoing training as an IPS and shall be joining IAS soon. He has provided his contact details and interested candidates can direct his queries directly to him. 

Public administration has become very tricky to score in UPSC. Fortunately I have been able to score good marks in this subject: 2010- 340; 2011 – 330 ; 2012- 210 (good by any standards as pub ad was butchered that year); 2013- 228 .

Some of the things which we must remember/follow/understand in pub-ad:

  • The most important thing in pud-ad is conceptual clarity. Unfortunately most of us rely completely on coaching notes and end up having only superficial knowledge which is very dangerous in present setup of UPSC exam and especially in pub-ad.
  • Untill n unless u have conceptual clarity you won’t be able to understand the question in the first place.
  • All of us write answers in pub-ad and feel that we  have written it well but the problem is most of us interpret questions differently and end up writing different answers. The correct interpretation of question will only happen if ur concepts are clear.

I know you may think that what is so new in that but I tell you very honestly that this is the reason why most of us are not able to score good marks in pub-ad (apart from UPSC recent break-up n hate for pub-ad).

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Guidance for Geography as an optional in UPSC Mains

(This article is written by Chanchal Rana, Rank 7, UPSC CSE 2013. He is currently undergoing training as an IPS and shall be joining IAS soon)

Disclaimer: All that the esteemed reader is to find below are based solely on my experiences with the subject for 3 consecutive attempts. The tips or the sources are not full or final and hence not prescriptive in nature and the reader is expected to use his own wisdom in the course of preparation for the subject.

[I plan to answer/ help all my dear aspirants (HEREINAFTER ADDRESSED as SIR) in the form of FAQs]

My Credibility (if at all it is !!!)  for scribbling in this blog::

Attempt Paper-1 Paper-II
1st (CSE 2011) /600 marks 120 145
2nd (CSE 2012)/600 marks 95 170
3rd (CSE 2013)/500 marks 88 130

1.  Why should SIR choose Geography as an optional?

Ans: The importance of optional although is in a decline, has still been one of the major deciding factor for being recommended by UPSC at the end of years of patience. I choose the optional not by any rational decision but because some of my friends opted for it and because I had heard that it fetched good marks. I swear, I knew nothing more than that earth has 3 layers and that tsunami was a giant wave and had seen India and world map. But I would suggest it as an optional because :-

  • It is scientific in nature unlike other Arts optional. Hence, logical and rational. Good for engineers like me.
  • It is heavily covered directly in GS Paper-1 and also indirectly in many areas of GS Paper-3
  • Sufficient material is available in the form of books by Indian Authors as well as coaching institute materials.
  • Ample scope for diagrammatic representation.
  • Helps a great deal in interview.

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