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11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal


[Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam
What is not changed?
Prelims approach
What about the current affairs?
Mains Exam: Change of format
GS1: Culture History Geography
GS2: Polity, Yearbook, IR
GS3: Economy, Environment, S&T, Agro, Disaster and Security
GS4: Ethics
Personal Opinion?

Ok, so few days back UPSC released the much awaited notification for 2013 So you already know, what is changed. It is a stale
news. This article is just an overview article for future approach.
I’ll upload a full fledged strategy / approach / studyplan for General studies (Mains), combined with all list of topics to be
prepared, resources, downloads etc. Yes i know preliminary is over, but it takes time for me to wade through all the books and
pdfs myself. You don’t want me to misguide you in haste, do you? hahaha. Besides I’ve other exams to look into IES, CDS,
RAS et al.
What is not changed?
1. Age- attempt limit is not changed.
2. Age is still counted on 1st August of the given year. (rumor market said UPSC was planning to count age on 1st Jan.)
3. Vacancies are almost the same (2012: 1037 vacancies, 2013: approx. 1000)
4. Mains to Interview quota is same (twice the number of vacancies. It was same in 2011 and 2012)
5. Prelims syllabus is not changed even one bit. (so the approach / strategy for prelims remains one and same.)
Prelims approach
Approach to general studies for prelims, already given long time ago.Here is just a checklist, ask yourself:

1. I’ve finished reading NCERT, NIOS, Yearbook, Laxmikanth etc. (+static topics from GS Manual) multiple times. I’ve rock solid
command over them (or I’ll be revising them often until I get rock solid command).
2. I’ve tried/ will try myself with the MCQs given in GS Manual.
3. For aptitude, I’m doing maximum practice at night (so I don’t fall asleep by simply reading some book).

That’s Well and good, you’re on right track. Now the question that bothers a lot of candidates:

What about the current affairs?

Current affairs itself is quite big. But for prelims, you’ve to concentrate only on the current affairs associated with specific sectors:

1. Environment n biodiversity
2. Science tech
High priority current
3. Polity
4. Economy.
5. Yearbook stuff (Government schemes/ org. etc)

1. International relations.
Low priority current
2. Misc.GK (Sports, awards, persons in news, books, authors etc): Lists already given for 2012 and
13 click me

If you’ve been maintaining notes out of Hindu/Indianexpress past one year, that’s totally awesome. Just keep doing it.
But those of you, who joined the game late and or did not diligently read newspapers/maintained notes. What to do now? Here is
a firefighting tip. Do any one of the following
Option A: 1/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
Get a book called Wizard’s Current Affairs 2013. (they publish it every year. Please note, other publication houses also release
similar books. Use whatever is easily available to you.)
It doesn’t guarantee UPSC is directly going to asks questions from it. But such book gives an overview of what happened past
one year (in topicwise fashion: bilateral, sci-tech etc.)
The book itself is quite thick but you don’t have to prepare everything, just concentrate on the high priority areas. Then you dig
internet, standard reference books etc. for topics that are directly indirectly related to it and are “basic” in nature. For example,
there is news about Libya, then you check Libya’s location in the map, its capital, its bordering nations and so on. There is some
news about Eastern Dedicated freight corridor, then you dig out from which states does this corridor pass through? …..Prelims is
not about Ph.D. Prelims is mostly about tricky questions from very basic concepts / facts.
Option B:
hit the public library. Pick past 1 years’ current affairs magazines (CST, Chronicle, PD, Wizard..whatever is available).
Go through the first 20-25 pages :the important national international affairs are given here.
And Remaining pages of magazines is usually filler material (toppers’ interviews and recycled articles on polity), you can read
them if you’ve time and mood.
But from those first 20-25 pages, note down the exam worthy current affairs, come back home dig net +/- standard reference
books as and where required.

^Please note, these option A / B are just firefighting tools. They’d work fine for SSC, SBI type exams. But Current affairs for UPSC is
a different game altogether. That’s the reason I’ve always advised people to read daily newspapers and maintain notes out of it. As a
UPSC aspirant, Current affairs must be part of your daily routine. If you don’t do it on dailybasis, that’s when you’ve to turn to such
(not so reliable) ^firefighting tools.
And don’t put too much of your time in current affairs, because lot of questions come from static part (theory) too.

Another concern is regarding “Cutoffs possibly getting high” because IFoS and IAS have common preliminary exam. My point is: Just
read revise and practice. Leave rest in the hands of God. Don’t enter the exam hall with the cut off mindset or negative marking will dig
your grave.

That’s for prelims. Now let’s move to Mains.

Mains Exam: Change of format

Before (upto 2012) After (2013)
Paper Marks Paper Marks
Regional language paper.
300 Same as Earlier 300
Compulsory Marks not counted in merit.
language English Paper. But marks
papers not counted 300 same as earlier 300
in final merit list.
Essay Yes 200 Yes 250
General Studies 2 papers 600 4 papers (new topics included) 1000
First optional 2 papers 600 2 papers 500
Second optional 2 papers 600 Removed 0
Interview Yes 300 Yes but marks reduced 275
2900 2900
Merit from 2300. Merit from 2025

What is removed from general studies?

1. Statistics and data interpretation topic removed from General Studies (Mains).
2. Public Health, Health education and ethical concerns regarding health-care, medical research and pharmaceuticals topic removed.
(It is no longer Explicitly mentioned under syllabus, although doesn’t prevent UPSC from asking this under GS3!)
GS1: Culture History Geography
#1: History and Culture

1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Same as usual. NIOS, IGNOU tourism
Architecture from ancient to modern times. studies, Spectrum book on Culture.

2. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until
the present- significant events, personalities, issues Same as usual. Bipin Chandra +/- Spectrum 2/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
3. The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors +/- GS Manual.
/contributions from different parts of the country.

#2: History of World

1. events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawing of 1. NCERT.
national boundaries, 2.
2. colonization, decolonization, 3. Selective reading of IGNOU BA
3. political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and History.
effect on the society. 4. IGNOU MA history

#3: Socio stuff

1. Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the


2. Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1. Starting point is IGNOU MPS 003 India
democracy and Development.
3. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated
2. Then there is Decent material scattered in
issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their
IGNOU Sociology, political science and Public
problems and their remedies.
Administration (BA, MA).

4. Effects of globalization on Indian society

5. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

#4: Geography
General Studies Before change 2013
Preliminary exam Geography = Physical + World + India Same
Mains Geography = only Indian Geography. Now Geography = Physical + World + India.

Now, Let’s check the syllabus of geography (general studies)

Physical Geography

Topics Comment

1. Salient features of world’s physical geography. Starting point is NCERTS / GS Manual.

2. Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes,

Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.,
Starting point is NCERTS + GS Manual + NIOS biodiversity +
3. geographical features and their location.
selective reading of IGNOU Disaster
4. changes in critical geographical features (including water-
bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects
of such changes.

India and World Geography

Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent
1. Starting point
factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of 2. click me for
the world (including India) more

GS2: Polity, Yearbook, IR

#1: Polity + rights issue
Basic Constitution

1. Indian Constitution- historical

underpinnings, evolution, features, 3/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
amendments, significant provisions
basic structure.
2. Functions and responsibilities of the
Union and the States,
3. Comparison of the Indian
constitutional scheme with that of
other countries Starting point is: yes you guessed it right, the great M.Laxmikanth. Then DD
4. Parliament and State Legislatures – Basu if you’ve time and mood.
structure, functioning, conduct of +net digging and newspapers for new stuff e.g. right to education.
business, powers & privileges and Also
issues arising out of these.
5. Structure, organization and functioning
of the Executive and the Judiciary
6. Appointment to various Constitutional
posts, powers, functions and
responsibilities of various
Constitutional Bodies.
7. Statutory, regulatory and various
quasi-judicial bodies

Advanced topics

1. issues and challenges pertaining to the

federal structure,
2. Devolution of powers + finances up to
local levels and challenges therein. Starting point is (again) IGNOU MPS 003. Then again lot of good stuff scattered
3. Separation of powers between various around in IGNOU Public Administration, Political science and sociology.Also
organs dispute redressal mechanisms newspapers, columns, net digging from current affairs point of view (e.g. Pressure
and institutions. groups –> Lokpal)
4. Pressure groups and formal/informal
associations and their role in the
5. Representation of People’s Act:
Salient features

Rights issue

1. Vulnerable sections: protections, Starting point again our good old Laxmikanth.
Betterment: mechanisms, laws, For welfare schemes, INDIA Yearbook, list of topics given here click me
institutions and Bodies. + newspaper + official websites of respective ministries.
2. Vulnerable Sections: Welfare

Yearbook, Welfare schemes

1. Ministries and
Departments of the
2. Government policies for
development in various Basic functions and overview of policies given in India yearbook. After that, Newpapers, Yojana
3. Social Sector Kurukshetra, official sites of respective ministries.12th Five Yearplan PDFs click me. (they contain
development: Health, truckload of fodder points).
Education, Human
4. Poverty and hunger:
Issues relating to

Public Administration related

1. Governance: Important aspects of

2. Development processes and the development industry
3. the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, Respective chapters from IGNOU BA, MA 4/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
charities, institutional and other stakeholders Public Administration.
4. transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures. 2nd ARC reports click me (selective
5. e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; reading).
6. Citizens charters
7. Role of civil services in a democracy.

IR / Diplomacy

1. India and its neighborhood- relations. Approach remains same as earlier.

2. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements
involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Starting point is selected topics on international relations
3. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing from IGNOU BA (Political Science) click me
countries on India’s interests, Dispora strategy given separately click me
4. Indian diaspora. Then IGNOU MA (Political Science) MPS 002 click me
5. Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their + newspapers, magz, net digging And
structure, mandate.

GS3: Economy, Environment, S&T, Agro, Disaster and Security

For a paper worth 250 marks, UPSC has packed way too many topics here!

#1: Economy

1. Indian Economy and issues relating

to planning, mobilization of
resources, growth, development 12th FYP plan PDF files.Basic of budgeting is explained in Laxmikanth, Ramesh Singh
and employment. etc. But hardly any direct-static questions come in mains. So this is mostly yearbook,
2. Inclusive growth and issues arising IGNOU (Economics) newspaper and current affairs.+
from it.
3. Government Budgeting.

Basic given in NCERT Class 11 economics. More can be found in

4. Effects of liberalization on the
economy. 1. IGNOU BA Economics.
2. IGNOU MA Economics

5. changes in industrial policy and their

effects on industrial growth. Basic given in India Yearbook.Then IGNOU (Economics BA, MA) selective reading,
6. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports,
Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Newspaper columns, 12th FYP pdfs for more fodder points.
7. Investment models

#2: SnT + Environment

1. Starting point is India

1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday
2. Then The Hindu’s Sci-tech
2. Achievements of Indians in science & technology;
portion, net digging and
3. Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
4. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-
4. +/- Spectrum’s book on
technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Science Tech.

1. NIOS, IGNOU material on

5. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact 2. India Yearbook
assessment 3. Official site of MoEF
4. Newspaper columns, Yojana,

#2: Agro

Now this is a new topic introduced in 2013. 5/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal

1. Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, NCERT geography, GS Manual+ Majid
2. Irrigation: different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, Hussain/Spectrum etc.

3. e-technology in the aid of farmers

4. Farm subsidies: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies
5. minimum support prices; Starting point is INDIA Yearbook, List
6. Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; of topics given here: click me
issues of buffer stocks and food security; Official website of Agriculture ministry.
7. Technology missions;
8. Land reforms in India.

9. transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related

Yojana-Kurukshetra old archives + new
constraints; me
10. Animal rearing: economics of
food processing already covered in my
11. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance,
article series. visit
location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain managemen

1. Disaster and disaster management. Selective reading IGNOU MPA 018

1. Various Security forces and agencies and
This is given in India Yearbook. Click me for the topicwise list
their mandate
Also given in India yearbook. More stuff can be found in IGNOU’s PG Law
2. basics of cyber security
program me

For the remaining topics:

1. Linkages between development and spread of extremism.

2. Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
3. Challenges to internal security through communication networks,
4. role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,
5. money-laundering and its prevention
6. border areas: Security challenges and their management
7. linkages of organized crime with terrorism

^mostly newspaper and net digging.

GS4: Ethics
Lot of vague topics added. Anyways, first let’s check the topics for which exact material is available

Probity in Governance:
1. Concept of public service;
2. Philosophical basis of governance and
3. Information sharing and transparency in Ethics in Public Administration
government, 1. Status and problems;
4. Right to Information, 2. ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;
5. Codes of Ethics, 3. laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance;
6. Codes of Conduct, 4. accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral
7. Citizen’s Charters, values in governance;
8. Work culture,
9. Quality of service delivery, Utilization of
public funds,
10. Challenges of corruption.

For ^above topics, you’ll find content scattered in around in 6/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
1. IGNOU MPA 011
2. IGNOU MPA 013
3. 2nd ARC reports.
Remaining topics
1. Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics in
private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and
administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values
2. Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social
influence and persuasion.
3. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service , integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public
service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.
4. Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
5. Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
6. corporate governance.
7. ethical issues in international relations and funding.
8. +Case studies
Personal Opinion?
Father Wallace, a renowned Gujarati author and Maths Professor in St.Xaviers’ College, Ahmedabad. Once a TV reporter asked him,
“Lot of students in class 10 hate mathematics. So, What is your advice to them?” I was watching TV and hoped that he’d give some
awesome set of formulas that will completely demystify mathematics even for the weakest student. But all he said was:

“Mitro maare Etlu j kehvaa nu ke tamne gume ke naa gume, bhanvu toh padshe j!”
(Friends all I’ve to say is, whether you like it or not, you’ll have to study.)

Same applies to the pattern change, you can welcome it, you can condemn it, but as long you’re in this competition business, you’ve
to play by UPSC’s rules. Anyways for the sake of timepass reading, here are my opinions.

Most of the General studies syllabus (mains) can be covered using IGNOU, Yearbook, Yojana Kurukshetra, newspapers etc. So
atleast the reform is not heavy on your pocket (in terms of having to buy lot of new books / material).
Thanks to IGNOU’s material, self-study is easily possible. (available on
Reading so many PDFs on computer screen =painful on eyes.
Overlapping topics
Each mains paper has 3 hours duration so UPSC can take maximum two papers per day. Now, suppose today is GS1+2, then
tomorrow will be GS3+4.
Here comes to issue: you’ve to prepare similar topics again and again for two days because of their overlapping nature. for
1. Social empowerment in GS1, and next day Inclusive growth for GS3.
2. R.T.I, citizen-charter etc. as [Polity] topics for GS2 and next day for Ethics under GS4.
3. Role of civil services in a democracy (under GS2) and next day almost similar thing for Ethics under GS4.

So it feels as if the topic-list is compiled in haste, and that Agro topic in GS3 (+including supply chain Management!) sticks out like a
sore thumb.

One Optional still kept

Instead of two, now you’ve to pick only one optional. Makes it difficult for senior player to decide: which subject to keep and
which one to drop. (especially when UPSC is yet to deliver marksheets for Mains 2012).
UPSC should have removed both optionals. That way, people have to spend less money on books / coaching + more time
sparred to pursue any career backplan/ other exams.
Faster results
It still takes 1 year to finish the exam. Very painful especially for those who fail in mains and have to reappear in next prelims
within 2-3 months.
UPSC Should have converted prelims into a computer based MCQ test like IBPS/LIC to hasten the result delivery.
On an unrelated note:
If we look at the larger picture, everyone has to give so many exams simultaneously (UPSC, State PSC, IBPS, SSC, LIC, CDS, 7/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
CAPF….) These should be combined into only 2-3 exams for combined recruitment into all these jobs.
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720 comments to [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Print || PDF Subscribe
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Reply to this comment
bro,initiate discussions on ethics,aptitude…..overall marks is wht tat counts…if u begin now,the discussions would take some time to mature
and become a meaningful asset…so..

Reply to this comment
hey,ask ur community to come up with some innovative ,probable ,thinking-kind of will be relly helpful…

Harvindra kaur
Reply to this comment
Tumne pass kar liya kya ? Jo yaha par likhne chali ayi , agar kisi ki ijjat nahi karna jaanti ho toh tumhe koi right nahi hai kisi k baare me koi
opinion dene ka ,ok . agar dum hai toh Mrunal Sir ki tarah tum bhi koi Blog bnao aur competition me aao fir baat karna.

Reply to this comment
@sruthi—–>Jab log kisi se jalne lagte hain na,tab smjho vo tarakkeee kar rha hai,u r jealous of someone just coz u think he is a “galli ka
advisor”,sorry to say but,what matters is ur way of grasping and holding onto things in a different way,and that’s where MRUNAL bro
excels,thats it,dsnt matter if he has cleared or not,but i know one thing,only coz of his blog i have developed a good command over ECON
and i owe him one….@sruthi,better pack ur bags and move outta her,there’s only misery for u here,nthng else,bbye….and all the best.

Reply to this comment
Who the hell are you idiot?????@!!!!!

Reply to this comment 8/9
11/9/13 [Approach] UPSC 2013 General Studies: Prelims + Mains for Civil Service IAS IPS Exam « Mrunal
He did clear prelims and just because of misinterpretation of essay topic he could not clear mains. That was just a matter of luck. And
moreover I guess he is still not 30, but don’t understand why is he not giving exam again. With such limitless knowledge and understanding
of UPSC exam he can outshine anyone the day he sets his foot into the battle ground.

Provoked Disciple
Reply to this comment
Two quick Possibilities:
1. You are one pissed off coaching institute GUY (intentionally kept such name to gain some sympathy, But in vain!) who has been rendered
jobless in this BackBreaking Era TM , expressing his frustration in front of master.
2. You just consumed sustainably made Desi liquor and showing off your creativity on the blog.
in any case somehow you have been able to piss off all (29356 -1) readers by your insane act.
PS: This is my first comment (though i have been following the GURU for 7 months!)and YOU instigated it.

Reply to this comment
How is misunderstanding the Topic a matter of luck? Isnt that a technical blunder! Its like Raja can come and plead that 2G was just a matter
of luck for I picked one out of 5 options using coin toss. You just dont say that!

Reply to this comment
no he is quite young. see his trigonometry videos in youtube. just search his name in youtube

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