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How to Approach

G.S. Constitution
and Polity

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Democratic Politics-II, the Class X NCERT textbook says thatpolitics is about how thinking
human beings determine and change the way they live together. This involves ideas and
ideals, cooperation and coordination. This also involves conflict and competition, self and
collective interest. Therefore much of democratic politics is about power sharing.
The subject of Polity and Constitution has always occupied a dominant space in both the
Preliminary as well as Mains Civil Services Examination of the UPSC. Apart from
understanding the Indian Constitution, being well aware about the basics of our political
functioning is a sine qua non for the candidates who aspire to compete inthe Civil Services
Examination.
The Innovative Classroom Sessions at Vision IASwould cover the preliminary and mains
syllabus exhaustively and also focus on generating interest and developing conceptual
clarity. Using basic concepts and fundamentals of polity to understand current happenings
would also be a focus area, more so if the current trend were kept in mind.

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As a starting point we are providing the following basic readings from NCERTs, which you are
expected to complete before the Classroom Sessions begin:

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To begin with please start with theNCERT of Class IX, Democratic Politics-I.A sequential
reading of its chapters should suffice.
Chapter 1:Democracy in the Contemporary WorldThe definition and features of
democracy, changing map and phases in the expansion of democracy, democracy at
the global level (including international organizations and democracy promotion) are
the topics covered in this chapter. In addition to reading the text, please go through
the Glossary given at the end of the chapter. Also try to answer the questions given
as part of the exercise (One needs to be thorough with the Glossary and the end of
chapter Exercise questions of all the chapters in the book.)
Chapter 2: What is Democracy? Why Democracy?This chapter elaborately
discusses the definition as well as the features of democracy (expanding what was
very briefly covered in Chapter 1.) It also discusses why democracy is needed
(offering arguments both in favour and against democracy.) The final section is on
the broader meanings of democracy.
Chapter 3: Constitutional Design The first section on Democratic Constitution in
South Africa makes an interesting read. Why we need a Constitution? is the
subsequent section. The third section covers the Making of the Indian Constitution
(though the content is good, it is quite brief). The final section on the Guiding
Values of the Indian Constitution explains very clearly the key terms, like Sovereign,
Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic, Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
While these terms would need to be understood in much greater detail and clarity,
as a starting point the brief explanations of these, given towards the end of the
chapter, should suffice.

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Chapter 4: Electoral Politics Why Elections? What is our System of Elections? What
makes Elections in India Democratic? These are questions that have been
elaborately answered in this chapter.
Chapter 5: Working of Institutions This chapter includes sections on how major
policy decisions are taken, Parliament (need of Parliament and the two houses of
Parliament), the Political Executive (the Political and Permanent Executive, P.M. and
the Council of Minsters, the President) and the Judiciary. Thus, this chapter gives a
broad overview of all the three organs of the State and hence is quite important.
Chapter 6: Democratic Rights This chapter covers various aspects of Democratic
Rights like that of a Life without Rights, Rights in a Democracy, Rights in the Indian
Constitution (this section covers the fundamental rights in the Indian
Constitution)and expanding scope of rights.
Moving on to Class X NCERT, Democratic Politics-II, the contents of this book are more
about the politics and some concepts that are relevant to an understanding of the
Constitution.
For instance, the first chapter on Power Sharing starts off with examples from a
couple of countries around the world, before elaborating on the different Forms of
Power Sharing. As with the Class IX NCERT, ponder over the questions of the
Exercises of all the chapters in this book as well.
The second chapter on Federalismstartsby explaining what federalism means. Go
through this section very carefully, as the concept of Federalism needs to be
understood with great clarity for an effective understanding of the Indian
Constitution. The subsequent sections explain what makes India a federal country
and how federalism is practiced in India. The last section on Decentralization in India
explains briefly the third tier of democracy.
The next chapter on Democracy and Diversitystarts off with an interesting incidence
from the Mexico Olympics. The dilemmas raised relate to questions of racial
discrimination. It then explains some concepts related to differences and divisions.
The third section is about the Politics of Social Divisions.
While studying the fourth chapter on Gender, Religion and Castefocus on all the key
terms and try to develop an understanding of related concepts. For instance,
concepts like Division of Labour, Feminism, Patriarchy, Secularism, Communalism,
Caste, Inequality, Urbanization, Hierarchy, Mobility etc. need to be understood
clearly. Preferably, try to clear these concepts as and when you encounter them in
each section.
The fifth chapter on Popular Struggles and Movements, not only covers Popular
Struggles in a couple of countries, but also the concepts of Mobilization and
Organizations as well as Pressure Groups and Movements.
The sixth chapter on Political Partiesstarts off with the Need of Political Parties. This
section explains the meaning, functions as well as necessity of political parties. The
subsequent section elaborates on how many political parties we shouldhave. You
can give a quick reading to the sections on National and State Parties. After
completing this move on to the sections on challenges to political parties and how

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parties can be reformed. These two sections are quite important in the present
context as well.
Chapter sevenis on the Outcomes of Democracy.While the first section is on how
we assess democracys outcomes and moves on to the concept of Accountable,
responsive and legitimate government. The sections on Economic Growth and
Development and Reduction of inequality and poverty are covered here very briefly
(these have been elaborately covered in the NCERT textbooks on Economics). The
last but one sectioncovers briefly how Social Diversity can be accommodated, while
the last section is on Dignity and Freedom of the Citizens.
The final chapteron Challenges to Democracyis more a food for thought type of
chapter and can be given a quick reading.

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Finally, move on to the NCERT textbook of Class XI, titled Indian Constitution at Work. This
textbook has ten chapters in all. Reading these should be considered as a prerequisite to
reading other works like the ones by M Laxmikanth (Indian Polity) and D.D. Basu
(Introduction to the Constitution of India). Once read (a sequential reading would do), the
student would get a fairly good idea of the fundamental aspects of the Indian Constitution.
The learning outcomesexpected from each chapter have been clearly written at the
beginning of each. Please go through them and set your goals before you start reading the
chapter. This would help you in becoming clear about what the focus areas should be.
Reading the conclusion and making an earnest attempt to answer the end-of-chapter
questions, given as part of the Exercise, would bring about even more clarity. Please start
with the first chapter on Constitution: Why and Howand read each carefully, following all
the guidelines as aforementioned. All the fundamentals required for a basic understanding
of the Indian Constitution, like those of FundamentalsRights, the system of elections in India,
the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, Federalism, Local Governments etc. have been
covered in adequate detail in this book.

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Now arises the question on how to complete these readings before the Classroom Sessions
begin. One way to cover these would be to design your personal study program. Try to
create a schedule: an orderly, systematic approach is not only beneficial but also critical in
an examination like the UPSC CSE. Preferably dedicate a consistent block of time everyday of
the
week.

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Set a few learning outcomes, as are given in Class XI NCERT Indian Constitution at Work,
(but you can be a bit more elaborate) for a chapter after browsing through it quickly. Then
go for a thorough reading. Once you complete it, see whether the learning outcomes you
predicted made sense and helped you answer all the questions of the Exercise.
Apart from these, also go through a national daily, preferably The Hindu or The Indian
Express. While reading these, pay special attention to news items and editorials that are
either related to the Indian Constitution or the national as well as international political
systems, in one way or the other.

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