Wednesday, June 09, 2004

How can I become a Civil Servant?

Years down the line, the picture has not changed much, and why should it, when tens of thousands of young people even today, are all willing to rough it out and chalk their way to the hallowed corridors of bureaucracy.

Needless to say, the Civil Services are an equally challenging career option for women. There have been, and there are many distinguished women bureaucrats who have done remarkably well in the field. Former Foreign Secretary of India, Ms.Choklia Iyer, an IFS officer, was the first woman to occupy the post in the year 2000; and Kiran Bedi, IPS officer, is all too familiar as one who fervently mooted the concept of prison reforms in Delhi's Tihar jail. The number of entrants into this Hall of Fame continues to grow…

The Colonial Past
The Civil Services have always had an air of "pride and power" around them. An offshoot of the Raj, they still hold the same sway even in the post-colonial era. Seen as a legacy of the British Rule here in India, the Civil Services, with all its connotations of hierarchical accountability and controls, was established soon after the suppression of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It marked the transfer of power from the East India Company to the Crown in England. The sole objective of the Services then, was to govern the far-flung British Empire, which predominantly involved duties like - preservation of law and order, dispensation of justice and the collection of taxes.

In the 19th century, these services were restricted only to the 'White Babus' and 'Sahibs'. Only from 1920s, after the constitution of the Indian Civil Services (ICS), were Indians admitted to the service.

The Democratic Present
Today, the Civil Servants, as the officers of the Civil Services are called, work in a wholly different context, different form the days of the Raj. Following the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, they now operate to create a 'Sovereign, Democratic and a Welfare State' with a singular focus on developing the nation.

So, if you are one, who visualizes the nation as a developed country, as a potential superpower in the days to come, and if you strongly believe that you can lead the nation towards this vision, then get set to chart your way to Bureaucracy and Babudom!

An overview of the services
The Indian Civil Services are organized into two main sections:

I. The All India Services
II. The Central Services

All India Services
The officers who make it to the All India Services, on appointment by the government of India, will be deputed to different States and are at the disposal of the respective State Governments. These services include:

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS): The IAS officers handle the affairs of the government. At the Central level, their job involves the framing and implementation of policies. At the district level, they manage the affairs of the district, including development related activities. At the divisional level, they look after law and order, general administration and development work.

The Indian Police Service (IPS): The IPS officer's job mainly involves maintaining law and order. (At the district level, they share this responsibility with the IAS officers.) The IPS officer is responsible for ensuring public safety and security; crime detection and prevention; and traffic control and accident prevention and management. There are several functional departments that help IPS officers to carry out their duties. They are:

Crime Branch
Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
Home Guards
Traffic Bureau.
The other agencies at the Central level that aid in similar functions are:

Intelligence Bureau (IB), which gathers information that will aid in predicting and preventing threats to public order.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which investigates into cases of corruption and major crimes that are referred to it.
Cabinet Secretariat Security, which looks after the personal security of the cabinet ministers.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who are called in times of emergency, like a natural calamity, or when the law and order situation cannot be controlled by the local police alone.
Border Security Force (BSF), these forces are responsible for the protection of life and property in the border areas.
The Indian Forest Service : The officers in this category manage the forest reserves of the nation. Their job involves the protection and conservation of forest resources and wildlife. They also look after the management and supply of forest products.

The Central Services
The Officers of the Central Services serve the Government of India only, irrespective of which State or Country they are posted in. Some of the predominant services that come under this category are:

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS): The IFS officers look after the country's external affairs, including diplomacy, trade and cultural relations. They are also responsible for the administration and activities of Indian missions abroad; and for the framing and implementation of the Government's foreign policy.
The Indian Railway Service (IRS): The Indian railway network is one of the largest in the world. The IRS officers ensure the smooth operation of this network.
The Indian Postal Service: This department looks after the functioning of the mail, telegraphic and other communication services in the country.
The Accounts and Auditing Service: This department functioning in four categories deals with accounts, audits and inspections of: - public sector, central and state government undertakings; all military establishments; and the fixing, assessment and collection of income tax.
The Indian Customs (IC) and Central Excise Service (CES): The IC deals with the checking and levy of duty on taxable goods brought into the country; and the CES carries out the duty of taxation of goods manufactured within the country.
The Indian Ordinance Factories Service: This service oversees the production of goods made particularly for the use of the Armed Forces.
The Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES): It is concerned with the administration of military cantonments.
The Indian Information Service (IIS): This comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The IIS officers handle the press and/or public relations both within the country and abroad on behalf of the government, its various ministries, Public Sector Units (PSUs) and the defence forces.
So, if you want to contribute more than your mite to the process, read on to know how you can enter the Services.

The three pre-requisites for entering the Services through the Civil Services Examination are:

The candidate must be an Indian citizen. He/She should be between 21 to 30 years of age, as on August 1st of the examination year. Age relaxation of 5 years and 3 years is available to those belonging to SC/ ST and OBC categories respectively. The candidate should have a Bachelor's degree in any discipline from any recognized University.

The Starting Point:
Cracking the Competitive Examination
Entry to the IAS, IPS and the Central Services is through the combined Competitive Examination for the Civil Services. Recruitment to the Indian Forest Service is through a separate examination. The Competitive Examination takes place in three stages:

Stage I: Preliminary Examination
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), an autonomous body that ensures unbiased recruitment to the Civil Services, conducts the examination. The notification for obtaining the application forms for the examination will appear in the Employment News and also in other leading dailies.

The preliminary (prelims), a written examination is held in the month of June every year. It consists of two papers, both in the objective type format.

Paper I: This paper is called the General Studies and carries a maximum score of 150 points on 150 questions. It is of two hours duration. It covers these six topics - Indian History, the Constitution of India, Geography, Economics, Science and Current Affairs.
Paper II: This is an optional paper on a subject of your choice, for instance, Political Science, History, Economics, Psychology etc. A list of the optional subjects that can be taken, can be obtained from the UPSC website - Paper II carries a score of 300 points on 120 questions and is also of two hours duration.

Since, it is an extremely competitive exam, the candidates taking the prelims must be extremely diligent and hard working. Only the highest scorers qualify for the second examination, that is, the Main Examination. The success rate of preliminary exam is less than 10%.
Stage II: Main Examination
The Main Examination is a written examination in the subjective or essay type format. It is generally held in the month of November/December. It includes nine papers:

Papers I & II: These are the language papers, of 300 marks each. One is the English language paper, which is compulsory; and the other is in any Indian language mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Marks obtained in these papers are not added in the total score, however qualifying or passing in them with the specified minimum percentage is necessary.
Paper III: The third is an Essay paper of 200 marks. The candidate can choose to write the essay in either English or in any Indian language mentioned in the eight schedule of the Constitution.
Paper IV and V: These are the General Studies (G.K. and Current Affairs) papers of 300 marks each.
Paper VI, VII, VIII & IX: Here, the candidate will have to take two optional subjects, which would contain two papers each. Thus, a total of four papers, where each paper would be of 300 marks, with a total score of 1200.

The number of candidates, who pass through this stage successfully, is further reduced in percentage when compared to the numbers who succeed in the prelims. An indication of the tough competition is the fact that, (on a 1:10 basis), if for instance, a thousand candidates pass the Main exam, there is in reality, only 100 vacancies or civil service posts available.
Stage III: Personality Test
In this final round of elimination, the competition gets the toughest. Candidates are selected on a 1:2 ratio. So, if there are ten vacancies, then twenty candidates will be interviewed.

The personality test follows the pattern of an oral interview or a viva voce. An expert panel judges the candidate's over all personality, his/her social traits, presence of mind, and leadership qualities, apart from their intellectual capabilities and aptitude for the work involved.

When all the hard work of the candidate finally pays off and he finds himself smoothly cruising out of, even the interview stage, he undergoes compulsory training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie as a probationary officer. Training will be imparted in academic areas, which comprise subject studies like economics, history, political science, etc. After this foundation course, specific job-oriented training is conducted separately by each service.

Climbing up the Career Ladder
All officers begin as Junior Scale Officers. With time and experience, they move on to the higher levels like Senior Scale, Super Time Scale, Additional Secretary, Secretary, Chief Secretary and Cabinet Secretary, with the last four representing the higher echelons.

The remuneration given to these government servants might not match corporate standards of the capitalistic world. But the allowances and facilities given to the civil servants are commensurate with the job. It includes housing, telephone, leave travel concessions, official vehicles and so on.

Necessary Traits
If you are a wannabe civil servant, these are the stuff you should be made of:

Apart from tonnes of intelligence and ounces of common sense, you must have a deep sense of responsibility and empathy with the underprivileged and the ability to interact with all kinds of people.
If you are an idealist, who believes that the world will be perfect one day, with optimism and positive thinking to go with it, you already fit the bill.
You will also require emotional stability to keep your cool when you have to make the unwilling colleagues or subordinates work.
You should also possess immense personal integrity, for there will be many offenders eagerly waving wads of pelf at you.
Any job that involves decision-making entails a sense of stately power. Not allowing power to get into your head could be a challenge to your level-headedness.

You get an opportunity to represent the Government
Working from the grassroots, you get the chance to contribute your mite to the development, day-to-day administration and for the overall welfare of the nation
The excellent training you receive as a probationary officer in a wide range of intellectual, physical and creative activities groom you into a well-developed personality.
You will work in different capacities, in different administrative departments. This rich experience can vastly expand your knowledge base.
With principal activities like decision-making and policy formulation, the job is vested with power.
It is a white-collared job with cushy allowances and facilities

You have to work in a rigid hierarchical system, answerable to those at higher echelons at every step. This may sometimes act as a hindrance to freedom and creative inputs.
You may have to work in an atmosphere of brazen corruption, red-tapeism and unaccountability.
Deployed in a different state/cadre, or in case of Indian Foreign Service officers, in different countries, you may have to spend a lot of time away from home, family and friends.
You might have to work under severe stress and pressure while handling situations that can create law and order problems. Most IPS officers, working in the C.I.D or C.B.I departments regularly confront such work situations.
When a project fails to take off, you alone are often made the scapegoat by politicians, people and the press.
Coaching Institutes
There are many institutes spread all over the country that train Civil Service aspirants. Most of these institutes are full-time coaching classes that train students for various other competitive exams too, like the IIT-JEE, CAT, GRE, TOEFL, etc.

A look at the classified section of your daily newspaper will show the addresses of such institutes in your city and area. But beware, not all may deliver the standards they promise. There are a few reputed institutes, of which some also offer coaching via the postal or correspondence mode. The well-known among them are:

Rau's IAS Study Circle-

Brilliant's Tutorials--

A search over the Net in a search engine like Google can provide you with other institutes and their contact addresses. You could also watch out for their advertisements in leading newspapers and magazines.

No matter how well the coaching classes try to aid you in your preparation, finally the onus is on you to put in extensive and intensive hours of study, digest what you have studied and in the end, face the exam with confidence.

So, most aspirants prefer to prepare on their own. And the past records have shown that they have fared equally well. Most preparation material for the optional subjects and general studies are available, including solved question papers of previous years' examinations.

Besides a regular habit of reading as many newspapers and magazines as possible, especially those related to the Civil Service exams is a big must. If you know somebody in the family or friend circle, who has cracked the exam, talking to him or her on how to prepare, could be of immense help too.

By now, you might be having a picture of what the Civil Services are all about. If you are convinced that it figures like your ultimate job destination and if you have the gritty determination and an indomitable will to get there, well, what are you waiting for? Start preparing now…See you there!

Art And Craft Of Success In Civil Services Exam

What does it take to be an IAS Officer?
is one question I have been repeatedly asked by the students with a hint of sparkle in their eyes. Every time I have repeated the same answer,
A lot of grit, obsession for learning and a bit of that sparkle in the eyes.
I tell them that Civil Services is not just another job. In fact it is a whole new approach to life. The essence of Civil Services is a deep sense of commitment to public good which requires proper understanding and appreciation of Indian reality with all its weaknesses and strengths. We need to identify with the ethos of our society and its cravings.

Selection Process
The emphasis of UPSC in its selection process is to identify appropriate personality-types and not just people who merely display a certain level of academic excellence. The substance of such a personality is an abiding faith in good governance and belief in a firm social commitment to the concept of fair play and justice. It is thus hoped that the people who wish to join Civil Services would be man and woman of real substance without pretence to shallow scholarship. With the hope & faith that such paragons of virtue are not yet extinct, the UPSC goes about its task of selecting suitable men & women for these services. Candidates appearing at this examination would be facing an examination which in many aspects differs from the university-type exam.

Consequently, the technique of preparation has to be different to suit the matrix of this examination. There is a lot of teaching in our universities but very little learning takes place because of a general air of indifference and intellectual inertia which shows lack of training in focusing the mental potential, on the part of the students as well as teachers. Work for most university examinations can be done at a leisured pace.

But a candidate for the Civil Services Examination does not have so much time at his disposal. Still, apart from vigorous preparation for at least one year, if the candidates keep this examination in view for one more preceding year, they would be on the right path. What one needs is not a bag of tricks or ways of outwitting examiners for success. Instead, one should make it a habit to concentrate on essentials of each theme or topic that is being studied. The approach should be to develop a higher degree of intellectual curiosity in order to acquire a critical understanding of the new concepts and ideas, better and faster.

Taking It Easy
Every student does possess an overload of worries, fears, hopes and anxieties but one must learn to minimize these factors during the preparations and at the time of exam. To be cool is a fashion these days but we are rarely able to achieve that type of mental state since the anxieties still manage to get into our way. So most of the time it is you who is getting into your own way. Thus it is you who will have to clear out of your way. Only when you are calm and collected you can read and think fast. The student should develop through suitable techniques a mental architecture by using which he can easily hold and recall information in a fast and orderly manner.

Survival Of The Fittest
By the way, it should be borne in mind that there is no element of chance in getting through this exam. Remember, success is when preparation meets performance. Further, also remember competition is nothing new to you. Darwin tells us that man is a survivor of many competitions that he had to face early in this career like most other animals or spices. Hence, we are all born with a strong survival instinct and ability to compete well for most of our needs. The situation in Civil Services competition is no different.

The most effective tool that you have got to win in this competition is your brain which is like a sleeping giant. Recent researches in psychology, education, genetics, physics, and mathematics have shown that the potential of your brain is far greater than was generally imagined. Even the earlier statement that on average we use only one per cent of our brains may well be wrong because it now seems that we use even less than one percent - which means that an enormous amount of your mental capability is never used by you. As you very well know today's society is a knowledge driven society. So, your mind is the most important tool in this knowledge-based environment. Hence, mind is man's ultimate weapon and I call upon you to use it with confidence for success in anything that you do.

The author, V P Gupta, is the Director of the well known institute, Rau's IAS Study Circle, New Delhi

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A good article - IAS topper 2000

A good article written by Sorabh Babu Maheshwari, IAS Topper 2000 outlining the dos and donts for the exam. This stuff deserves our precious time. So find some time to read it.

The path to the coveted Civil Services is full of ups and downs and is a highly uneven track to traverse. Before taking a decision about Civil Services as your career, it is expedient to check up oneself and remain determined after wards. The first and foremost thing to decide while aspiring for Civil Services is the judicious choice subjects for the Prelims and the Mains. This is the most important and first step of your journey and should be accomplished most carefully as coming things hinge on it and a wrong decision may prove to be disastrous. Careful analysis of syllabus, previous years’ papers, your calibre, requirement of subject (Visionary, Numerical, Theoretical), comfort level with the subject and past trends should be done.

Advice from seniors and fellow candidates should also be sought. To avoid dithering in choice at later stage, initial deep thinking and consultations are a must. Having decided the subject, it is advisable to stick to your choice even if the perception of others about it is not favourable. Preparation for General Studies can be done hand in hand while preparing for Optional papers. Good mix of study hours for General Studies and Optionals makes study enjoyable and it becomes easy to sustain for long hours without losing interest and enthusiasm. Before Prelims result, one Optional can be exhaustively prepared so as to have an edge during study for the Mains and also to ease out burden during these busy days. General Studies, though does not have any limits, yet syllabus as outlined by UPSC gives quite good understanding of the question paper.

General tendency about General Studies paper is to devote much more time on unproductive readings which, in reality yields little returns. Concentrate on what is more probable, followed by probable, then less probable if time permits. Even if you do not cover less probable ones, you are not at much o floss. So, be secure and study systematically. Being a regular reader of newspapers n magazines gives good command and writing skill, hence, this should be made a habit. Trend now-a-days has shifted more towards current issues, hence a thorough awareness of recent happenings is mandatory. one you achieve the threshold in General Studies, more efforts should be put on Optionals (Especially in Prelims) as it is more scoring and is the hub of success. For Mains, syllabus is quite beautifully elaborated and we know beforehand the study topics. Ready reference material as published in some magazines is of great help.

I believe that the preamble of UPSC Question Paper are the instructions on the front page of the paper. Give some time in reading the instructions and follow them. By doing this, you are averting a possible source of error which could creep in if you do not read them. Follow the world-limit as prescribed at the end of the question to the extent possible. Try to confine your answer within that limit, never exceed it. The art to
express many contrasting views in a confined word space comes through practice, so practise some previous years’ question papers. Be your own while writing, never try to imitate anybody. Your expression needs try to be limited yet comprehensive while writing General Studies paper. In Essay paper, your imagination can reach zenith but with a purpose, never divert from the main topic. To ensure, work out the sub-titles, rearrange them if necessary and once you are satisfied with the rough work, elaborate are
satisfied with the rough work, elaborate on this outline after wards. There is no standard word-limit yet. What one can effectively write in 3-hour duration is good enough length. My essay consisted of approx 2500 words. Conclusion should be drawn only at the end, take a balanced approach and write whatever good comes to your mind at the end, take a balanced approach and write what ever good comes to your mind at the moment. Devote initial 40-46 minutes on preparing rough outline. Next 2 hours for writing inflow and last 15-20 minuets for review and corrections.

In addition to Competition Success Review and standard books, I studied History Polity of
Spectrum Series books, Economics, Science & Technology and Geography through MnM Series books which I found quite useful. Approach to Optional paper is not universal and is individual specific, adopt such strategy which you are comfortable with and which fits
into your constraints. Since, I am working with maruti Udyog, I did not have plenty of time as against my fellow candidates. I has to evolve and finetune my strategy to cover up such a huge Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics syllabi apart from General Studies & essay. “How to write an answer” is equally vital for Mechanical Engineering/ Mathematics paper as it is for General Studies & Essay. Students sometimes ignore basics and it costs much. Before proceeding, state all the assumptions involve and try to give
minutes plausible details, adopt step-by-step approach, see that no vital step is left in between, as these steps are the links and missing or weak links can never ensure good strength of the answer, so be careful about it. All this sequential and systematic
answering comes through a lot of practice and analysis of standard answers. Simulate the actual examination hours at home to judge your performance and to plug any loopholes.

For the Personality Test one should better form a group of 3-4 people as the preparation
for Interview cannot be done in isolation. All would agree that personality is a life-time asset and expecting miraculous alterations in personality in a span of a few days or weeks is not possible. Yet, efforts can be made to overcome major deficiency and
polish p views and opinions. Remember, no one is omniscient and non-awareness of something should be admitted with politeness. Only those people learn who have urge to change an willing to accept new ideologies. If at any point of time, you could show
that your approach is flexible an amenable the world is yours. It is better to say ‘No’ than to bluff around. Those interviewing are highly experienced persons and know much better than us, therefore one should be expressed only if asked so, never start
giving history of an issue, unless asked to do so. Of the question put is not clear t you, politely ask for more information. It is not the factual knowledge but your views which are on test. Always observe interview etiquette and be honest, polite, convincing an modest. Arrogance, rigidity, flicking round the issue should be avoided. A lot depends upon the Almighty, so pray often.

Be self confident but not complacent, honest, motivated, have patience and be optimistic. Work hard as there is no short-cut to success and hard work
never goes unrewarded. I would like to quote Swami Vivekanand (often my eldest brother reminds me of it):
Arise awake and rest not till the goal is achieved.
There are many ups and downs during the course. It is the ‘downs’ which need to be tackled more vigorously and skillfully, it is when a person’s qualities are on test and they emerge as winners who have these qualities. To cite my example, I was often told that it is just impossible to think for IAS while working. I was advised sometimes even to quit the job. Yet, I managed to come out with flying colours despite all these hiccups’ kudos to good planning, my faith in Almighty, parents’ blessing, hard work and God’s grace. I have read somewhere that winners are those who manage their hardships effectively and do learn from our mistakes makes us successful. Never feel
depressed, self confidence and inner strength are the two basic requirements for anybody to appear in this examination. Believe in yourself. You are your own best judge and you know which areas are weak and nee reinforcement. General perception around the Civil
Services aspirants regarding Mechanical Engineering is highly discourage yet I took it and got success. So never get carried away by others.

history (part2) - from krishna reddy

Strategy for Mains

Methodology of Study
The strategy for the Main Examination necessarily involves developing a proper perspective and acquiring a thorough understanding of the subject. In other words, greater attention should be paid to the honing of the analytical capability rather than mere collection of information. To acquire a thorough understanding of the subject, the following pertinent questions should be posed and duly answered on each and every theme/topic of the subject:


1. What is it? (or) What happened?

2. Why was it done? (or) Why did it happen?

3. How was it done? (or) How did it happen?

4. What was the outcome/impact?

In carrying out the above task, some standard textbooks (a list is given at the end) ought to be consulted. But it is neither feasible nor advisable to prepare elaborate essays on all topics. Instead detailed synopses on all the topics may be prepared, which would be invaluable for quick and easy revision.

Question Analysis
The other part, in fact a more crucial part, of the preparation for the Main Examination pertains to the question-analysis. During the last two decades several types of questions have appeared in the examinations. On the basis of the terms and words attached to them, the questions can be classified into the following categories/types:


I #Analytical

estimate/judge/critically examine

#Merits & demerits/
advantages & disadvantages/
failures & achievements/
for & against

II #Descriptive

#Describe/elaborate/narrate/give an account of/enumerate/list out

#Going into the details or elaboration

III #Explanatory


#Explaining with the help of relevant examples

IV #Causal

#Account for

#Giving reasons or causes

V #Chronological
#Trace out
#Dealing in a chronological order

Of the above five categories of questions, the analytical types are the most frequently asked ones accounting for almost fifty percent and potentially high-scoring. The other four categories together make up the rest and are average in scoring.

Answer Writing
In writing answers to all types of questions, there is a three-fold criterion that has to be fulfilled. Every answer is evaluated for its relevancy, clarity and precision. Relevancy shows subject command; clarity of thought gets expressed in lucidity of presentation; and precision demonstrates not only comprehending skills but also articulation.

So, after acquiring a thorough understanding of the subject, a candidate should concentrate on the ways and means of applying it to the examination in the most effective fashion. Writing answers to as many previous and potential questions as possible and getting them evaluated is indispensable and highly rewarding in this examination. Possession of knowledge is a prerequisite, but only the application of it in the most effective fashion yields the desired result.

Thus, in the final analysis, it may be reiterated that History is definitely a safe optional. Any candidate who puts in the required effort with systematic planning can hope to not only cross the fifty percent mark but also post the winning score of sixty.

List of Compulsory Books

Indian History

1. NCERT History Books for Classes XI and XII

2. Allchins: The Birth of Indian Civiliztion

3. R. S. Sharma: The State and Varna Formation in the Mid-Ganga Plains

4. Romila Thapar: History of India, Volume 1

5. D. N. Jha: An Introductory Outline to Ancient India

6. A. L. Basham: The Wonder that was India, Volume 1

7. S. A. A. Rizvi: The Wonder that was India, Volume 2

8. Satish Chandra: Medieval India, Parts 1 and 2 (Har Anand Pub.)

9. J. L. Mehta: Advanced History of Medieval India, Volumes 1, 2 and 3

10. Grover and Grover: Modern Indian History

11. Bipan Chandra and Others: India’s Struggle for Independence

12. Sumit Sarkar: Modern India

13. Nilakanta Sastri: History of South India

14. R. C. Mazumdar and Others: An Advanced History of India

15. The Gazetteer of India, Volume 2: History and Culture

Modern World History

1. NCERT Story of World Civilization, Parts 1 and 2, for Classes IX and X

2. McMillan’s Contemporary World History

3. J. E. Swain: A History of World Civilization

4. C. D. M. Ketelbey: A History of Modern Times

5. Burns and Others: History of World Civilizations, Parts B and C

6. David Thomson: Europe since Napoleon

7. J. M Roberts: The Pelican History of the World

8. Vikas Publications’ International Relations

history (part 1) - blueprint from krishna reddy

History as an optional subject for the Civil Services Examinations has always attracted lot of attention. Though subject to fluctuating fortunes like any other optional, it has stood the test of time and been more stable than most of the other optionals. In fact, it has often proved itself to be a safe optional for many a candidate in the otherwise highly unpredictable Civil Services Examinations. This is a remarkable achievement for an optional that had been and still continues to be a victim of too many misnomers and misconceptions. Moreover, the latest revision of the syllabus, though may raise the adrenalin of the candidates, will actually act as a blessing in disguise. For it is not only a timely and necessary revision, but also makes the subject relevant and contemporary.

Problems and Prospects
One such misnomer is the supposed vastness of the syllabus and the other is the so-called factual nature of the subject. Both are interlinked. For, the misnomer about the vastness stems from the misconception of the nature of the subject. If approached with a right attitude and a proper perspective, History can be seen as a manageable, intelligible and, above all, very captivating subject.

Vastness of the Syllabus
To begin with, History has a great amount of continuity with certain crucial changes taking place in a gradual rather than an abrupt fashion. Further, the changes are almost always minimal and not sweeping. So, the basic task here is to see what is changing and why the changes are taking place. In other words, each historical phase has its undercurrents and logic, which have to be fully grasped. The lengthiness or vastness of the History syllabus is, therefore, more of a myth than a reality.

Factual Nature of the Subject
Next, the nature of the History subject is mostly misconceived and hence misunderstood. History is not a mere collection of facts in the form of dates and names. Though they are as important to History as the bones are to the human body, more crucial are the interpretations and explanations that are the flesh and blood of History. So, what is more important than factual information is developing conceptual clarity? The one and only way this can be done is by acquiring a proper perspective and understanding of the undercurrents of different historical periods.

Advantages of the Subject
Having dispelled the misnomers and misconceptions about History, it would not be out of place here to point out its well-known merits or natural advantages. First of all, History is such a subject that a graduate from any discipline, be it arts or sciences, can pick it up in a limited time with minimum, but systematic, effort. Secondly, the revised History syllabus covers a major part of the General Studies, both for the Preliminary and the Main Examinations. Hence, it saves precious time and energy for the candidates who then can pay more attention to the other portions of the General Studies. Finally, it enables candidates to write their Essay Paper with a historical perspective, which is invaluable and indispensable in essay writing.

Strategy for Prelims

Objectives of Strategy
To succeed in the Civil Services Preliminary Examination, a well-planned strategy is necessary. It should be a two-pronged one, i.e. extensive preparation followed by intensive preparation. The former is aimed at enabling the candidate to acquire all the necessary information, while the latter is meant to give a proper understanding of the subject. That is to say that the candidate acquires knowledge of all the details by the former and analysis as well as perspective by the latter.

This two-pronged strategy is essential for the Preliminary Examination, which is of the objective type and hence calls for detailed information as well as basic understanding. The candidate is, therefore, required to collect as much relevant information as possible on each and every topic mentioned in the syllabus and assimilate it. And in order to ensure that the collected information is properly understood and assimilated, multiple-choice type tests (topic-wise tests followed by combined ones) should be practiced.

Guidelines in Preparation
In the course of the preparation for the Prelims, candidates would normally face the problem of what to study and, equally if not more importantly, what not to study. Here the candidates have to exercise great amount of discretion and sharpen their discerning skills to make their preparation relevant as well as sufficient to meet the requirements of the examination. Further, it is meaningless to give equal importance to all the chapters, for they do not get equal coverage in the examination. Even a casual glance at the previous papers will show their relative coverage, which should be taken into consideration in devoting time and energy to different chapters.

Typology of Questions
The Preliminary Examination trends of the past two decades show different types or patterns of questions, ranging from the simplest to the most complicated ones. The following six types may be identified:

Single-item Type

Plural-item Type

Chronology-based Type

Matching Type

Map-based Type

Assertion and Reason Type

Of the six types, the first one is the simplest and the most common type, and tests knowledge alone. The second type is more complicated and tests not only knowledge but also understanding. In other words, it calls for thoroughness of preparation. The third type tests the historical sense of the candidates. The fourth type is not only knowledge-based but also requires candidates to relate things and see the connections. The fifth type necessitates study of maps in learning the subject and demands geographical knowledge. Finally, the sixth type gives the ultimate test to one’s understanding of the subject.

(to be continued...)

Saturday, June 05, 2004

2004 ias toppers interviews

The Union Public Service Commission has declared the Civil Service (Main) Examination 2003 results today. In all 413 candidates including 184 General candidates, 129 belonging to the Other Backward Classes, 67 to the Scheduled Castes, 33 to the Scheduled Tribes have been recommended for appointment to the I) Indian Administrative Service; ii) Indian Foreign Service; iii) Indian Police Service; and iv) Central Services, Group "A" and Group `B'. There are 4 candidates with physical disability selected this time. The written examinations were conducted by the UPSC in May, 2003. The Interviews and Personality Tests were held in April-May, 2004. In all 3,16,326 candidates applied for the examinations out of which 1,60,788 actually took the Preliminary Examinations. 5,973 were qualified for the Main Examinations, out of which 1179 were called
for interviews for final selection.

Ms. Roopa Mishra, MBA from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar has topped this year's examination. This was her first attempt. Ms. Ashima Garg from Delhi University secured the second position. The following is the list of 20 successful candidates in Order of Merit:

Rank No. Name

The detailed results are also available in the PIB's internet service and UPSC website

CHENNAI: Sangeetha, 27, does not have a formal college education, but she has come out with flying colours in the Civil Services Examination this year.

Sangeetha ranks third in the state and 34th at the All India level. Her undergraduate and post-graduate degrees were through correspondence courses and her success proves that it's not where you study, but what you do with it that matters.

A student of Kendriya Vidyalaya in Kalpakkam, Sangeetha went in for a vocational course after she cleared the Railway Recruitment Board examinations after Class 10. She began working as a railway clerk, but pursued correspondence courses in Commerce through Annamalai University. She later moved to ICICI Bank for a clerical post.

But her ambition did not stop there. After emerging successful in the Group 2 TNPSC (Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission) exams, she began work at the employment exchange in Anna Nagar.

I wanted to become an IAS officer even when I was in school. My parents and friends encouraged me
says Sangeetha. She says that group study with friends is an important part of preparing for the exams.

When her first attempt at the UPSC exam in 2000 failed, she did not clear the preliminary exams; In her second attempt, she went up to the interview level; In her third attempt, she failed to clear even the preliminary exam. In 2003 _ her fourth attempt _ Sangeetha emerged successful, with the chance of getting into the Indian
Administrative Services in the state she chooses.

Family support is necessary if you are a woman and want to compete with the best
she says.

Chennai resident R Aeron Israel Jebasingh, 29, ranks fourth in the state. He now works in Assam in the Indian Railway Traffic Services, but continued his attempts at the Civil Services till he got an IAS offer. His optional subjects were Public Administration and

TAMIL SCHOLARS: The state topper in the Civil Services Examination is J Kumaragurubaran, 24. The son of a farmer, he is the first graduate in his family. He stands first in the state and ranks eleven at the national level.

My optional subjects for the mains were Tamil and Geography
says Kumaragurubaran, who studied in Tamil medium at Thirukovilur Government Boys Higher Secondary school and went on to do engineering at REC, Tiruchy.

Three candidates _ Karupusamy (rank 220), M S Manivannan (rank 320) and P Manickavel (rank 329) _ who had written their examinations in Tamil have also cleared the UPSC exam. Their stories should serve as inspiration to many candidates from rural areas who were insecure about their success because they lacked mastery over English.

Karupusamy from Vedasandhur Dasiripatti in Dindigul is 25 years and comes from a family where agriculture has been the occupation until now. He studied in ordinary schools in Devinayanakkanpatti and Pollachi and later procured a mechanical engineering degree.

I got through only in my fourth attempt. And I'm grateful to S P Prabhakaran, Director of the government training institute in Chennai
he said. He is likely to get into the Indian Police Services.

Mannivannan, 32, from Athimancheripettai is the son of a weaver. He studied in the government school in his village and came to Chennai to do his undergraduate degree at Pachaiyappa's College. With social studies and Tamil as his main subjects, Mannivannan also cleared the UPSC exam only in his fourth attempt.

Language is not a barrier to succeed in the Civil Service Exams. I hope that more people write the exam in Tamil
he said.

Manickavel, 27, says,
Even at the interview level, what is looked for is confidence in yourself. It does not matter which language you speak in
Manickavel comes from a farming family of Sannasanallur in Sendurai in Perambalur district.

COIMBATORE: Millions of graduates aspire for `the dream career' of joining the civil services. Only a few can make it in their lifetime. One such person is R Lakshmanan of Coimbatore. At 23, Lakshmanan made his way to the Indian Administration Service successfully. Of the 413 candidates selected for the civil services examination this year, he was ranked 33. Indeed, this has made his prospects bright to secure the IAS post. It is not the first time for Lakshmanan to succeed in a single attempt. He cleared Chartered Accountant examination also in a similar manner.

People used to say CA is very tough to complete. I took it as a challenge after my Plus Two. At the age of 21, I achieved it. The idea of doing IAS came as a suggestion from my grandfather when I completed CA. Even I do felt no job satisfaction in CA. I wanted to serve for a cause. So I thought IAS will be the best career for that
noted Laxmanan. He chose correspondence mode to do B.Com degree, while simultaneously making the ground work for the IAS.

I decided to join in a coaching institute at New Delhi. Since my background is Commerce, I preferred that as one option along with Geography in which I had natural interest

The aspirants need to be strong in basic concepts, broad minded in all issues and selective in choosing subject materials. This is the success strategy, he pointed out. Till one knocks on the board room for interview, he or she should be thorough with his optional subjects.
Interestingly, I started reading a report on WTO's ruling that favoured India, while I was travelling in an auto to the final interview session. I expected some questions from the report. My assumption was right. I got three questions from it
he said this as an example from his own experience. While thanking his parents, K Raju, Branch Manager, Indian Overseas Bank, and Seethalakshmi, he insisted that the IAS aspirants should have a holistic approach - preparing for preliminary, main and interview session from the beginning itself, but in an organised manner.

welcome to crackias!

iam sathya, an ias aspirant from tamilnadu. i intend to make this blog useful for me and other ias aspirants out there. especially after a period of time as it starts to take form, i think this blog will be a good pointer to the freshers. this blog will be regularly updated.