Preparing for General Studies Paper 3 (Mains Examination)

In this post, we list out the sources for various topics in General Studies Paper 3, followed by a discussion on approach towards various topics.

Topic Broad Classification Source
Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Economics Any standard book on Indian Economy, Uma Kapila etc.
Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Economics Sriram notes
Government Budgeting Economics Economic Survey of India
Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers. Agriculture Shankar IAS academy book on the subject
Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing. Agriculture Shankar IAS academy book on the subject, Sriram notes
Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management. Agriculture Shankar IAS academy book on the subject, Mrunal
Land reforms in India. Agriculture Shankar IAS academy, Sriram notes
Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth. Economics Uma Kapila
Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc. Economics Sriram notes, GKtoday
Investment models. Economics Gktoday
Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. S&T Self prepared notes on topics mentioned on Gktoday’s science and technology section on the website, Youtube videos
Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights. S&T Sriram notes, Youtube videos on related topics
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. Environment Shankar IAS academy, Mrunal
Disaster and disaster management. DM Sriram notes, ARC
Linkages between development and spread of extremism. Security Self prepared notes, Shankar IAS academy
Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security. Security Self prepared notes, Shankar IAS academy, IDSA book
Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security Security Newspaper articles, IDSA book (read below for link) free ebook available for download
Money-laundering and its prevention. Security Sriram notes, Shankar IAS academy
Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism. Security Sriram notes, Shankar IAS academy
Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate Security Sriram notes, Shankar IAS academy, Internet website of security agencies


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Law and Behold

Let me apologize at the very outset for two things:

1. Twisting the original idiom, Lo and Behold, in a way that would put even Ogden Nash to shame (he’s turning in his grave as you read this), just to make the heading appealing.

2. Using a ‘z’ in place of an ‘s’ in apologize. I love Oxford commas, and detest American English and the American style of applying commas. But I cannot figure out how to change the US English settings on the computer I’m using. So imma be using American English, yo, just like Justin Bieber! But wait, isn’t he a Canadian?

So, this is about the law optional for UPSC. And I’m not a seasoned lawyer. I’m not, in fact, a lawyer. But still, I shall write this, since I guess I understand law somewhat. In fact, each one of us does. (I got decent marks, too – 251/500. So, you have to listen to my gratuitous advices at least once)

Law is not something alien. The basic crux has come from the way average people usually go about life – don’t take what’s not yours, be nice, don’t be violent and all that jazz. In fact, that’s what is mentioned in all religious books. And Hammurabi probably was the first dude who got it etched on stele. By the way, take this ‘average person’ thing very seriously; most laws assume that we are mango people.

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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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Munish Sharma (Rank 2, CSE 2013) on Civil Services Examination

My Two Cents on CSE

People tend to go doe-eyed when I talk about my preparation for civil services on two aspects. The first, I was in a job and had a slipshod style of studying. The second, I took up law as an optional, even though I am not a lawyer.

I made up my mind, on various accounts, to share my preparation strategy. But then, my way of studying is so precarious that I don’t suggest anyone, even my cousins, to study my way. Those, who know me well, call it the ‘perfect recipe to flunk the CSE’. The good, non-sadistic guy that I am, I usually direct them to the blogs of Gaurav and Riju, for I know theirs is the correct way to study. That’s analogous to every great sinner knowing the difference between right and wrong – I didn’t study the right way but I know what the right way is! The CSE is very unpredictable on its own; you don’t want to make it more complex by your own shortcomings. Nevertheless, we all have our unique journeys and stories – what clicked for me, mayn’t for others.

1. I have almost an eidetic memory for the lectures in social studies from school times, obviating the need to go full steam astern for devoting time to history and geography during my preparation. I believe that I had the greatest teachers ever at MCL Saraswati Bal Mandir, a school in Hari Nagar, New Delhi. During my MBA, I read texts like Salvatore, Dornbusch, Shapiro and Peterson & Lewis cover to cover. I remember basics from them; so I didn’t have to worry much for economics, too. My teachers from Biochemistry department at Sri Venkateswara College always laid a lot of stress on how to make sense of scientific journals and new scientific developments. So I studied no book for science and tech. Good memory, yes, I have, yet, at times, it so happens that I forget the name of a case as fundamental as ‘Keshwanand Bharti’. With age, memory starts playing tricks on you. In effect, it is only about doing bare minimum things you must know before appearing for the CSE. If you remember them from your school/college days, fine; otherwise, you will have to devote time for traditional topics, too.

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Guidance for Economics Optional in UPSC Mains

Note: Please scroll to the bottom of this article to download my notes for Economics Paper 2.

Why this optional?

Since last two-three years, UPSC seems to be awarding economics well and it is no longer considered to be a ‘low-scoring’ optional. The subject is technical in comparison to the other mainstream optionals but is equally (or rather more?) relevant in current times. All said and done, the input output ratio of this optional is positively correlated and it is unlikely that if you have done the paper well that you will get low marks.

Who should go for this optional?

I would strongly recommend students who have studied economics at graduation and/or post-graduation level to consider it as an optional for this exam. The level of questions is equivalent to BA Economics (Honours) course. Management students shall also not find it too difficult if they are interested in the subject and have studied basic Economics as part of their curriculum. Students from engineering background can also consider Economics as an optional but their learning curve might not be steep.

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