All posts by Avi Prasad

Law optional – International Law

International Law comes under Section B of Paper 1 and consists of four questions out of which one is mandatory.

General Comments:

At first glance, syllabus of International Law appears slightly intimidating. There are some reasons for this. First, international law syllabus is very broad compared to the IL courses taught at most law colleges, especially the three year law course. Second, it is mostly an academic subject and is not part of the syllabus for most of the entrance examination related to law and judicial examinations. Third, this subject is peculiar as it consists of part legal philosophy, part diplomacy and part practice of actors of IL.

The good part about this section is that the material is very easily available. I referred to two books for this section: International Law by Malcolm N. Shaw fifth edition (presently the book is in its sixth edition) and International Law & Human Rights, S K Kapoor, 18th edition (presently the book is in its nineteenth edition). Together, these two books cover the entire syllabus. As in Consititutional Law, only 200-300 pages from each book are relevant for the purpose of UPSC preparation.

Internet can be used to refine certain answers. Internet is full of quality material on the subject, as google search is literally not constrained by any territorial limitations. What is subject matter of IL in India, remains for most part true for rest of the world. The questions of IL are even more predictable than Constitutional Law as IL is far less dynamic. Indeed if one is really lazy about IL, one can focus on 30-35 questions and expect couple of them to come in the mains examination.

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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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