[SOLVED] 29 September 2017 | UPSC CAPF Asst. Commandent | Quiz #4

Q.1) Which of the following countries was recently struck by a powerful earthquake with epicenter in Atencingo?

a) Chile

b) Guatemala

c) Mexico

d) Nicaragua


Q.2) Agoratoli Range, famous for migratory birds, is located in

a) Bhutan

b) India

c) Nepal

d) Myanmar


Q.3) Eastern Ghats are spread over which of the following states?

  1. Odisha
  2. Andhra Pradesh
  3. Telagana
  4. Tamil Nadu
  5. Karnataka

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 1, 2 and 3

b) 1, 2, 4 and 5

c) 1, 2, 3 and 4

d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


Q.4) ‘Newton’, the official Indian entry to the Oscars 2018 under the Best Foreign Film Category has been directed by

a) Amit Masurkar

b) Anjali Patil

c) Raghubir Yadav

d) Pankaj Tripathi


Q.5) During which of the following movements Tileswari Barua was shot at the age of 12 by the British while trying to unfurl the Tricolour atop a police station?

a) Civil Disobedience Movement

b) Non-Cooperation Movement

c) Swadesi Movement

d) Quit India Movement


Q.6) Which of the following statements about the  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is not correct?

a) CITES is legally binding on states party to the Convention

b) It is administered through UNEP

c) It regulates the worldwide commercial trade in wild animals and plant species

d) Its secretariat is located in Zurich


Q.7) Operation Thunder Bird and Operation Save Kurma, which were recently in news, were related to

a) child trafficking

b) wildlife protection

c) preservation of tribal dialects

d) checking illegal migration


Q.8) Which of the following concepts was expounded in a thesis book by the Club of Rome in 1972?

a) Sustainable Development

b) Carrying Capacity

c) Limits to Growth

d) Biodiversity Hotspots


Q.9) The strength of the High Court of a State is determined by the

a) Parliament

b) President

c) Governor of that State

d) Legislature of that State


Q.10) Which of the following statement is correct about ‘Zealandia’ which is sometimes in news?

a) It is a recently discovered oceanic ridge connection Indian subcontinent with New Zealand

b) It is a recently discovered submerged continent in the Pacific Ocean

c) It is a recently discovered array of canyons along the eastern coast of New Zealand

d) It is a recently discovered submerged peak in the Pacific Ocean


Q.11) Narmada river does not have many tributaries because

a) it flows through a rift valley

b) it flows through dry regions

c) it carries heavy suspended load

d) it flows through rough terrain


Q.12) ‘Saubhagya’ scheme was recently launched to

a) encourage entrepreneurship among the youth

b) connect every village by all weather roads

c) educate every girl child

d) electrify every household


Q.13) Who administers the oath of office and secrecy to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India?

a) Senior most Judge of the Supreme Court

b) Chief Justice of India

c) President of India

d) Union Law Minister


Q.14) Who the following has been recently chosen for awarding the Von Hippel Award?

a) G Madhavan Nair

b) H R Krishnamurthy

c) C N R Rao

d) K S Chandrasekharan


Q.15) Let n be the number of sides in a regular polygon. Consider the following statements:

  1. The measure of every exterior angle is (n-2)×180°
  2. The number of diagonals in the polygon shall be n×(n-3)

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.16) If one travels from Brasilia to Santiago along the shortest route then one shall also pass through

a) Paraguay and Argentina

b) Uruguay and Argentina

c) Bolivia and Paraguay

d) Argentina and Bolivia


Q.17) With reference to the ecological studies, endemicity refers to the

a) phenomenon of adaptation to the local environment by an exotic species

b) phenomenon of being present only in a specific area

c) phenomenon of belonging to an undocumented species

d) phenomenon of being on the verge of extinction in the wild


Q.18) Darfur region which is sometimes in news lies

a) to the south of Equator

b) to the north of Tropic of Cancer

c) to the north of Equator

d) to the south of Tropic of Capricorn


Q.19) Which of the following universities has identified a black dot on a third-century Indian manuscript as the first recorded use of the mathematical symbol for zero, 500 years earlier than previously thought?

a) Stanford University

b) Yale University

c) Oxford University

d) Harvard University


Q.20) The natural habitat of Snow Leopard in India is spread across

  1. Sikkim
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Himachal Pradesh
  4. Uttarakhand

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 1, 2 and 3 only

b) 3 and 4 only

c) 1 and 2 only

d) 1, 2, 3 and 4


Q.21) Which of the following schedules lists the official languages as recognised by the Indian Constitution?

a) Tenth Schedule

b) Sixth Schedule

c) Eighth Schedule

d) Ninth Schedule


Q.22) Which one of the following countries has officially recognized Bitcoin as a legal payment method since 1st April 2017?

a) Japan

b) China

c) USA

d) India


Q.23) Let M be the smallest natural number which can be represented as a perfect square as well as a perfect cube. Which one of the following is the digit at the unit place of the  number (M+11)×(M+13)×(M+17)×(M+19)?

a) 7

b) 3

c) 5

d) 1


Q.24) If p and q are distinct prime number and p > q, then which of the following statements is/are definitely true?

  1. p×q is a prime number
  2. p+q is an odd number
  3. p-q is an even number

Select the correct alternative using the codes given below.

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 only

d) None


Q.25) a, b and c are positive numbers such that:

a + (1/b) = 5; b + (1/c) = 1 and c + (1/a) = 2, then which of the following is not correct?

a) a > 1

b) b < 1/2

c) c > 2

d) a×b×c = 1

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The Model APLM Act, 2017

Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitating) Act (APLM), 2017

The Agriculture Ministry unveiled the draft law in April.

It would be a major agri-reform as it provides wider options for farmers to sell produce and get better prices. At present, farmers can sell their produce at regulated APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandis only. They are subjected to different kinds of fees.

Its implementation will help in doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

The purpose is to create a single agri-market where with single licence one can trade agri-produce as well as livestock. The government’s aim is to set up a wholesale market at every 80 km. The new law will end the monopoly of APMC and allow more players to set up markets and create competition so that farmers can discover prices and sell their produce accordingly. APMC will be one of the markets. It will have no regulatory powers. The law promotes multiple market channels like private market yards, direct marketing and even godowns and silos can be notified as markets.

The law seeks to set a separate authority to regulate all agri-markets including APMC and provide trading licences.

It caps market fee (including developmental and other charges) at not more than 1 per cent for fruit and vegetables, and 2 per cent for foodgrain. It caps commission agents’ fee at not more than 2 per cent for non-perishables and 4 per cent for perishables.

Other proposals in the model APMC Act include promotion of national market for agriculture produce through provisioning of inter-State trading licence, grading and standardisation and quality certification, rationalisation of market fee and commission charges, provision for special commodity market yard and promotion of e-trading to increase transparency.

The model Act also calls for full democratisation of market committee and State/UT Marketing Board.

Question in Previous Year:

Q. There is also a point of view that Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) set up under the State Acts have not only impeded the development of agriculture but also have been the cause of food inflation in India. Critically examine. (GS 3, 2014)

Nagaland Boils over Women Rights


The Incident: The elections for urban local bodies in Nagaland—slated to be held on 1 February—were postponed in the light of violent protests.

The Issue: Tribal traditional bodies, exclusively run by men, are opposed to 33 per cent reservation for women in elections to civic bodies.

The Argument:  Article 234(T) of the Constitution, which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in local body elections, would “infringe upon Naga traditions and customs”.



1992: The Constitution amended to provide 33% reservation for women in municipalities.

1993: Article 243(T) of the Constitution, which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in local bodies, came into force.

2001: Nagaland passed its Municipal and Town Council Act but didn’t include the reservation provision

2004: Nagaland held ULB polls without providing the mandatory right to women.

2005: The Gauhati high court, acting on a petition, directed Nagalandto include women reservation; The state government amended its municipal Act and included the provision.

2009: Even after this, the state government couldn’t conduct fresh elections to ULBs due to opposition from tribal bodies.

2011: Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) received a favourable judgment from a single-judge bench of the Gauhati High Court.

July 2012: A division bench set asides the 2011 single bench judgment.

Sep 2012: Nagaland Assembly Resolution opposed 33 per cent quota.

Nov 2016: Assembly revoked its resolution of September 2012.


What followed: The tribal bodies protested loudly as soon as the elections were announced and threatened candidates who intended to file nominations that they would be ex-communicated from their respective tribes. The Naga Hoho, the body that represents the state’s 16 tribal groups, contends that the reservation violates the safeguards to the tribal customary laws provided by the Constitution’s Article 371A. Coming under pressure, some candidates didn’t file nominations and some others withdrew their papers. Those who refused to withdraw from the fray were ex-communicated, ranging from 10 to 30 years.

When the State government refused to call off the elections, the tribal bodies announced a bandh from January 28 to February 1. They enforced the bandh across Nagaland although elections took place in several places on February 1.

Meanwhile, on January 31, two persons were killed in Dimapur, the commercial capital of the State. Things soon took an ugly turn, and the Nagaland government declared the elections ‘null and void’.

But even before the bandh call, the focus had started shifting from women’s reservation to issues of taxes and land ownership contained in the Nagaland Municipal (Third Amendment) Bill 2016.

The Other Side: The women’s rights groups in the state argue that since municipalities and town councils are not customary institutions, women should be entitled to the reservations in these urban local bodies mandated by the 74th amendment to the Constitution. At 76.69 per cent, women’s literacy in Nagaland is far above the national average. Naga women work in fields, excel in business, and as academics and professionals. But customary laws prevent them from claiming rights to land or inheriting ancestral property. Since Rano Mese Shaiza was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977, no Naga woman has made it to Parliament. The Nagaland state assembly has never had a woman member. It is unfortunate that another chance to resolve these contradictions has been lost.

What next? The Nagaland government has decided to write to the Centre demanding that Nagaland be exempted from Part IX A of the Constitution.  If  Nagaland is exempted from the purview of Part IX of the Constitution, Naga women will have absolutely no hope of entering into and participating in decision-making bodies.

Reservation for women is necessary in patriarchal societies like Naga society, for instance, where there is a historical culture of inequalities even though Nagas don’t practise sati, female foeticide and infanticide, and do not believe in dowry or the caste system. But Naga customs, culture and traditions preclude women from inheriting land and participating in the decision-making process, which is exactly what Article 371(A) protects.

P.S.: While the all-male tribal bodies have been opposing women’s reservation in civic bodies, Nagaland has had 25 per cent reservation for women in the village development boards (VDB). It was Section 50 of the Nagaland Village and Area Council Act of 1978 that provided for such a reservation.

Leading Nagaland editor and author Monalisa Changkija said, “In the controversy over 33 per cent reservation for women, the most pertinent aspect hasn’t been discussed yet – the economic connotations inherent in politically empowering women through reservations. Naively assuming that such reservations violate Article 371(A) and would affect Naga culture and customs would be to miss the whole point of the argument against the reservations. The core of the issue – like most other issue – is ownership of land and related resources. Naga culture and customs debar women from land ownership hence our Customary Laws preclude women from inheriting land.”

She also says that Naga society has never held men and women to be equals. “This is reinforced by Naga male-dominated tribal bodies’ recent diktat to ex-communicate anyone who contested the civic elections with 33% women’s reservation. Women’s reservation is necessitated in patriarchal societies for reasons of inequalities that are ubiquitous in Naga society – even if we don’t practice dowry, sati, female foeticide, infanticide and the caste-system.”

That women do not find political space in Nagaland is evident from the fact that no woman has ever made it to the State Legislative Assembly since the state was formed in 1963. Barely a dozen women have contested Assembly elections in these five decades. One woman, Rano M Shaiza, however, managed to win from the lone Lok Sabha constituency of the state. That was in 1977 and she remains the first and only woman to achieve that feat.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, the female voter turn-out in the state stood at 91.22 per cent as against 89.82 per cent for men. However, the sex ratio in Nagaland, according to the 2011 Census, stood at 931, below the national average of 940.

Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution (Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland) states, “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, (a) no Act of Parliament in respect of (i) religious or social practices of the Nagas, (ii) Naga customary law and procedure, (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, (iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.”

Previous Year Questions on similar lines:

Q. Recent directives from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas are perceived by the `Nagas’ as a threat to override the exceptional status enjoyed by the State. Discuss in light of Article 371A of the Indian Constitution. (GS 2, 2013)

[Solved] 22 September 2017 | UPSC CAPF Asst. Commandent | Quiz #3

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) is a very recent grouping of Asian Development Bank to promote regional prosperity.
  2. Myanmar has become the latest country to join SASEC.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.2) The government of India recently launched ‘SAMPADA’ as an umbrella scheme for which of the following sectors?

a) Civil Supplies

b) Financial Services

c) Food Processing

d) Information Technology


Q.3) Consider the following statements about ‘Huygens’:

  1. It was a lander released on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
  2. It was a joint project of Italian Space Agency, NASA and European Space Agency.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.4) Cassini spacecraft, which recently made its final plunge into the Saturn, was launched in 1997 from

a) Kennedy Space Centre

b) Vandenberg Air Force Base

c) Patrick Air Force Base

d) Cape Canaveral


Q.5) Which of the following statements about the ‘Brane Craft’ is/are not correct?

  1. It is being developed jointly by NASA and European Space Agency
  2. It is a spacecraft being developed to remove space debris

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.6) The Golden Lion Award winning movie at the recently concluded Venice Film Festival has been directed by

a) Guillermo del Toro

b) Alexander Payne

c) Xavier Legrand

d) Samuel Maoz


Q.7) Which of the following is/are among the features of the recently launched ‘iPhone X’ by Apple Inc.?

  1. Wireless charging
  2. Facial recognition
  3. Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) Screen

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 2 and 3 only

b) 1, 2 and 3

c) 2 only

d) 1 and 3 only


Q.8) Cox’s Bazar, Ukhia and Shah Porir Dwip which have recently been in news are located in

a) Bhutan

b) India

c) Myanmar

d) Bangladesh


Q.9) Foundation stone of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project was recently laid. This bullet train shall not pass through

a) Jamnagar

b) Vadodara

c) Surat

d) Anand


Q.10) Article 371A of the Indian Constitution contains special provision in respect to the state of

a) Tripura

b) Manipur

c) Nagaland

d) Meghalaya


Q.11) Astra, which successfully completed development trials recently, is indigenously developed

a) nuclear powered submarine

b) unmanned air vehicle

c) beyond visual range air-to-air missile

d) nuclear capable surface-to-air missile


Q.12) Which of the following has not been added as a new event in the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee?

a) Water Polo

b) Karate

c) Skateboard

d) Sport Climbing


Q.13) Which of the following statements about Sickle cell anaemia is not correct?

a) It is a genetic blood disorder

b) It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin

c) Malnutrition is a major cause of sickle cell anaemia

d) Tribes of south Indian States are naturally immune to it


Q.14) Which of the following is not an auction house?

a) Sotheby’s

b) Fitch

c) Bonham’s

d) Phillips


Q.15) What is Global Financial Integrity (GFI)?

a) A intergovernmental think-tank that undertakes research to stem the flow of illegal money

b) A for-profit US-based think tank that provides service to the government organizations to study the flow of illegal money

c) An organization working under the aegis of the World Bank that entertains specific requests from the countries to track illegal money

d) A non-profit research and advisory organization that quantifies and studies the flow of illegal money


Q.16) Which of the following was renamed as the Abdul Kalam Island after the former President of India?

a) Sriharikota

b) Wheeler Island

c) Thumba

d) Byalalu


Q.17) Which of the following is/are biofuel crops ?

  1. Corn
  2. Wheat
  3. Soyabean
  4. Jatropha
  5. Sugarcane

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 4 and 5 only

b) 1, 3, 4 and 5 only

c) 1, 2 3 and 4 only

d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


Q.18) CORPAT is a maritime exercise between India and

a) Indonesia

b) Malaysia

c) Japan

d) Singapore


Q.19) Which of the following statements is correct about the new series of WPI index?

a) The base year has been revised to 2014-15

b) The weight of primary items has increased to 64.2 per cent

c) The number of items covered in the new series has decreased to 657

d) The weight of fuel and power has decreased to 13.1 per cent


Q.20) Pneumonia in children may be caused by

  1. Bacteria
  2. Fungi
  3. Virus

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 2 and 3 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c) 1 and 2 only

d) 1, 2 and 3


Q.21) Which of the following Indian Cities have been selected under the global mobility programme, ‘Mobilise Your City’ ?

a) Chandigarh, Jabalpur and Pune

b) Ambala, Hyderabad, and Shillong

c) Ahmedabad, Kochi and Nagpur

d) Gauhati, Jhansi and Nellore


Q.22) Read the following paragraph carefully:

“On December 13, 1931, he set sail on the French ship, Amboise, on a voyage that would take him to the Soviet Union and other countries in Europe. Heralding his Soviet tour, he published a part translation of The Communist Manifesto. Soon after his arrival, he made the mandatory visit to the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square. He visited the Baku oilfields in Azerbaijan, Sukhumi in Abkhazia, and Tbilisi in Georgia.”

Identify the nationalist referred to in the above paragraph.

a) Tiruppur Kumaran

b) Vanchinathan

c) V.O. Chidambaram Pillai

d) Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy


Q.23) Kalamkari painting refers to

a) a hand-painted cotton textile in South India

b) a handmade drawing on bamboo handicrafts in North-East India

c) a block-painted woolen cloth in Western Himalayan region of India

d) a hand-painted decorative silk cloth in North-Western India


Q.24) p and q are natural numbers such that sum of their cubes is 1729. Then which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. p×q is even
  2. p+q odd

Select the correct alternative using the codes given below.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.25) Sum of all three digit natural numbers, which are divisible by 11, is

a) 44550

b) 44450

c) 43550

d) 43450

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[SOLVED] 15 September 2017 | UPSC CAPF Asst. Commandent | Quiz #2

Q.1) In February 2016, Ms. Archana Ramasundaram became the first woman Director-General of

a) Central Reserve Police Force

b) Border Security Force

c) Sashastra Seema Bal

d) Central Industrial Security Force


Q.2) Consider the following statements about the Pangong Tso Lake which was recently in news:

  1. It is a brackish water lake.
  2. Spiti river drains into it.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.3) For environmental release and use in the fields of the genetically modified seeds, the clearance/approval of which of the following bodies is required?

  1. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
  2. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.4) Consider the following pairs:

           <u>Physicist</u>                               <u>Major Contribution / Discovery</u>

  1. Christiaan Huygens             Law of electromagnetic Induction
  2. James Clerk Maxwell          Wave Theory of Light
  3. Victor Francis Hess             Cosmic Radiation
  4. Paul Dirac                           Theory of nuclear forces

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

a) 1, 2 and 4 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 4 only

d) 3 only


Q.5) Which of the following countries severed its relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic ties with China in June?

a) Sao Tome

b) Panama

c) Nicaragua

d) Fiji


Q.6) Which of the following pairs with reference to the member and portfolio held in the interim government (1946) is not correctly matched?

a) Jawahar Lal Nehru : External Affairs

b) Rajendra Prasad : Defence

c) C Rajagopalachari : Education and Arts

d) John Mathai : Industries and Supply


Q.7) Which among the following fundamental forces of nature operates over the shortest range

a) Gravitational force

b) Strong nuclear force

c) Weak nuclear force

d) Electromagnetic force


Q.8) Which of the following was not a feature introduced by the Government of India Act, 1919?

a) Dual scheme of governance

b) Communal representation

c) Bicameralism

d) Separate provincial and central budgets


Q.9) Which of the following is not a part of the procedure to remove a High Court judge from its office?

a) A motion signed by at least 50 Rajya Sabha members or 100 Lok Sabha members is presented to the Presiding officer of the House

b) A three member committee is constituted to investigate the charges

c) The President makes the report of this committee be laid down on the floor of the Houses

d) The motion is passed by a special majority of both the Houses and an address is made to the President for the removal of the judge


Q.10) One unified atomic mass unit is defined as

a) (1/12) of the mass of an atom of Carbon-12 isotope excluding the mass of electrons

b) (1/12) of the mass of an atom of Carbon-14 isotope including the mass of electrons

c) (1/12) of the mass of an atom of Carbon-12 isotope including the mass of electrons

d) (1/12) of the mass of an atom of Carbon-14 isotope excluding the mass of electrons


Q.11) ‘Dfc’ type of climate is found in

a) Tamil Nadu Coast

b) Arunachal Pradesh

c) Kerala and Karnataka coast

d) Uttar Pradesh and Bihar


Q.12) Which of the following states has become the first state in the country to have a cyber-police station in each district simultaneously?

a) Tamil Nadu

b) Gujarat

c) Kerala

d) Maharashtra


Q.13) Strait of Bosporus separates the continents of

a) Asia and Europe

b) Europe and North America

c) Asia and Africa

d) Africa and Europe


Q.14) The ruins of Vijayanagara at Hampi were brought to light in 1800 by

a) Colonel Colin Mackenzie

b) Sir John Shore

c) Andrew Fraser

d) John Marshall


Q.15) At which one of the following places the largest mammal found has adapted to take up its fresh water supply from the morning dew on the leaves?

a) Karang Island in Loktak Lake

b) Pirotan Island in Gulf of Kutch

c) Nalaban Island in Chilka Lake

d) Rutland Island in Andaman & Nicobar


Q.16) Relation between Plants, Mangroves and Halophytes is best represented by

a) two distinct concentric circles and a third non-overlapping circle

b) three distinct concentric circles

c) three distinct circles with some portion of each overlapping with some portion of other two

d) three distinct non-overlapping circles


Q.17) Which of the following paramilitary forces was raised as ‘Cacher Levy’ ?

a) Sashastra Seema Bal

b) Border Security Force

c) Assam Rifles

d) Central Industrial Security Force


Q.18) Let n be a natural number. Consider the following statements about the number (1+ square of n + fourth power of n) :

  1. It is always odd.
  2. It can be represented as product of two odd natural numbers.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.19) Consider the following statements:

  1. Solar storms result from an accumulation of magnetic energy.
  2. They can disrupt high-frequency radio communications on earth.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.20) Which of the following is/are used in making imitation jewellery?

  1. Lead
  2. Chromium
  3. Heptachlor

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 2 and 3 only

b) 1 only

c) 1 and 2 only

d) 1, 2 and 3


Q.21) Examine the Statement I and Statement II given below carefully and select the correct answer using the codes given below.

Statement I : Recent discovery of boron on Mars has bolstered the theory that the Red Planet  may have once been habitable.

Statement II : Boron gives stability to ribose which is a key ingredient of RNA.

a) Both the statements are individually true and Statement II is the correct explanation of Statement I.

b) Both the statements are individually true but Statement II is NOT the correct explanation of Statement I.

c) Statement I is true but Statement II is false

d) Statement I is false but Statement II is true


Q.22) Examine the Statement I and Statement II given below carefully and select the correct answer using the codes given below.

Statement I : The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM, was the most rapid and extreme natural global warming event of last 66 million years.

Statement II : PETM lasted for about 150 thousand years.

a) Both the statements are individually true and Statement II is the correct explanation of Statement I.

b) Both the statements are individually true but Statement II is NOT the correct explanation of Statement I.

c) Statement I is true but Statement II is false

d) Statement I is false but Statement II is true


Q.23) Who are ‘Agariyas’?

a) metal workers of Murshidabad

b) weavers of Pochampalli

c) salt farmers of Rann of Kutch

d) tribal dancers of Niyamgiri hills


Q.24)  Which of the following cities has become the first city in India to be recognized as a ‘World Heritage City’?

a) Mumbai

b) Ahmedabad

c) Gwalior

d) Patan


Q.25) Which of the following is not a member country of the European Free Trade Association?

a) Norway

b) Switzerland

c) Iceland

d) Sweden

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All you need to know about the UPSC CAPF Asst. Commandment Exams

What is the examination conducted for?

For recruitment of Assistant Commandants (Group A) in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) viz. Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force(CISF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

What is the time line of this examination?

Applications are invited in April –May and the examination is conducted in July.

What is the minimum educational qualification required to take the examination?

A Bachelor’s degree of a University incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University under Section-3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 or possess an equivalent qualification.

What is the selection procedure?

(i) Written Examination:

Paper I : General Ability and Intelligence (GAI) – 250 Marks – MCQ type.

Paper II : General Studies, Essay and Comprehension – 200 Marks – Essay, Precis Writing, Comprehension and other communications/ language skills.

There will be minimum qualifying marks separately in each Paper. Paper-I will be evaluated first and evaluation of Paper-II will be done only of those candidates who obtain the minimum qualifying marks in Paper-I.

(ii) Physical Standards/Physical Efficiency Tests and Medical Standards Tests:

If you qualify in the written  examination, you  will  be  summoned  for  Physical Standards/  Physical  Efficiency  Tests  and  Medical  Standards  Tests.

(iii) Interview/Personality Test:

The final merit  list  will  be  drawn  on  the  basis  of  marks  obtained  by  the candidates in the Written Examination and Interview/Personality Test.

Is there negative marking in objective type question paper?

Yes. There will be negative marking for wrong answers marked by a candidate in the Objective Type Question Paper.

Why CAPF when I know I can clear CSE?

With due reverence to your confidence, UPSC remains unpredictable. You shall never know what went wrong and there is absolutely no harm in having a go at another prestigious exam, just in case…

But can I prepare for CAPF along with my CSE preparation?

Absolutely! Both the Examinations are conducted by the same recruitment agency and the syllabus of General Ability and Intelligence (Paper I) of CAPF is similar to the General Studies (Paper I) of the CSE-Prelims.

In fact, the two preparations can and should go hand in hand. The questions in GAI are more factual and it is not surprising to find similar questions in CSP with UPSC bent on throwing a surprise element in every Prelims. What you learn for CSP comes handy for CAPF and vice-versa. General Studies, Essay and Comprehension paper of CAPF can act as official practice test for the compulsory English paper for CSM, if not anything else.

How is CD’s CAPF module going to help me?

CD’s CAPF module has been designed in a way to get you just what you need for clearing CAPF with no extraneous variables thrown in. The module has been designed to ensure that you do not lose focus on CSE but at the same time sew in the CAPF efforts in the same fabric without marshalling any extra efforts. Moreover, the tests for CAPF series are fashioned in a way to fill in any gap that you might have left in your preparation to give you a holistic preparation module.

You will find timely updates on the website forum and the archive blogs can be read here – CAPF

To give you first hand example for how CAPF and CSE preparation can be wedded together, consider the following example:

National Company Law Tribunal has been making headlines for some time now in the context of insolvency proceedings being initiated. Now from the same topic, question can appear in both GAI (CAPF Paper 1) and CSP as under:

CAPF Paper1: (GAI type)

Which of the following statements about NCLT is correct?

a) NCLT is a constitutional body

b) Only banks can approach NCLT against corporate debtors

c) NCLT has been constituted under the Insolvency Code, 2016

d) Employees can approach NCLT against their employers

CSP type:

Consider the following statements:

  1. NCLT is a quasi-judicial body.
  2. It has been created under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

[SOLVED] 9 September 2017 | UPSC CAPF Asst. Commandent | Quiz #1

Dear all,

This is a new initiative for CSE students who are also thinking of appearing for the CAPF exam. I will be carrying out weekly quizzes and some blogs on request (of students) to begin with and then depending upon your enthusiasm, we will take this forward into a full blown – one stop solution for your CAPF preparation needs.

This thread will be made sticky every week and all CAPF related posts will be available for your review here (click).

<p id=”YJPACAYxAtq” class=”line”>UPSC CAPF examination is divided into two papers, consisting of 450 marks in total. Candidates are tested on their general ability and intelligence and general studies, essay and comprehension skills. Selected candidates will be called for interview round conducted by SSB to fill 179 vacancies in BSF (Border Security Force), CRPF (Central Reserve Personnel Force), CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) and SSB(Shashatra Seema Bal).

The solutions will be uploaded here sometime towards the midweek and doubts will be resolved here itself. 

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Q.1) The book ‘Dereliction of Duty’ accounts the decisions leading up to the USA’s involvement in

a) Vietnam War

b) Second World War

c) Israel-Palestine Conflict

d) Yom Kippur War


Q.2) Which of the following became the first country in the world to appoint a special “digital ambassador” in its administration to work on building ties with the globe’s technology giants?

a) Sweden

b) Denmark

c) Norway

d) Iceland


Q.3) Which of the following statements is correct about ‘Karang’?

a) It is an island in Chilka lake

b) It is the first cashless island in India

c) It is inhabited by Dongria Kondhs

d) It is the first completely solar powered island in India


Q.4) Which of the following states has no designated Tiger Reserve?

a) Karnataka

b) Gujarat

c) Bihar

d) Rajasthan


Q.5) Who of the following have been recently awarded the Japanese Government’s Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his achievements in bolstering India-Japan ties?

a) Ratan N Tata

b) Ashwani Kumar

c) Narendra Modi

d) Mukesh Ambani


Q.6) Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched?

1. HDFC Bank : Launched a ‘humanoid’ in its branch

2. ICICI Bank : Introduced contactless credit cards

3. Citi Bank : Introduced voice biometrics authentication

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

a) 1 and 3 only

b) 1 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3


Q.7) MERCOSUR is a sub-regional political and economic bloc among the countries belonging to

a) Oceania

b) Western Europe

c) Africa

d) South America


Q.8) Scientists from Ireland have claimed discovery of a new human organ named the ‘mesentery’ that exists in the

a) nervous system

b) digestive system

c) cardiovascular system

d) muscular system


Q.9) The United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2017 as the

a) International Year of Sustainable Harvesting of the Oceans

b) International Year of Sustainable Use of Forests for Aborigine Development

c) International Year of Sustainable Agriculture for Food Security

d) International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development


Q.10) As per the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016, individual insolvencies shall be heard before the

a) Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India

b) Insolvency Professional Agencies

c) National Company Law Tribunal

d) Debt Recovery Tribunals


Q.11) The book ‘I do What I Do: On Reform, Rhetoric & Resolve’ has been authored by

a) a former Supreme Court Judge

b) a former RBI Governor

c) a former Finance Minister

d) a former CAG


Q.12) The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation, if any, claimed exceeds

a) Rs. 10 Lakh

b) Rs. 20 Lakhs

c) Rs. 1 Crore

d) Rs. 5 Crore


Q.13) Under II Schedule to the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, which of the following departments have been entrusted the role to promote e-Governance activities in consonance with the overall national objectivities and priorities?

a) Department of Electronics and Information Technology

b) Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances

c) Department of Science and Technology

d) None of the above


Q.14) Consider the following statements:

1. The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) is headquartered in Beijing.

2. The first regional office of NDB has been launched in Johannesburg.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q.15) GeneXpert is a technology tool used to detect the causative organism of

a) Dengue

b) Tuberculosis

c) Chikungunya

d) Kala-azar


Q.16) Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body of


b) IMF

c) WTO

d) World Bank


Q.17) President of which of the following countries was recently impeached by its Parliament?

a) Singapore

b) South Korea

c) Myanmar

d) Sri Lanka


Q.18) A, B, C, D, E and F, each attempted a question set containing 100 questions. A attempted 10 questions more than that attempted by D. E attempted same number of questions as A and F together. B attempted same number of questions as F. C attempted 5 questions more than those attempted by A and B together. Who attempted the highest number of questions?

a) B

b) F

c) E

d) C


Q.19) Which of the following is specifically related to the phasing out of persistent organic pollutants?

a) Stockholm Convention

b) Bonn Convention

c) Kigali Agreement

d) Montreal Protocol


Q.20) Which of the following events was recently commemorated on its bicentenary?

a) Pahariya rebellion

b) Paika rebellion

c) Kol uprising

d) Ho uprising


Q.21) Examine the Statement I and Statement II given below carefully and select the correct answer using the codes given below.

Statement I : There is a growing demand of the leaves of siali, a creeper, in international market.

Statement II : Siali leaves are a rich source of biofuel.

a) Both the statements are individually true and Statement II is the correct explanation of Statement I.

b) Both the statements are individually true but Statement II is NOT the correct explanation of Statement I.

c) Statement I is true but Statement II is false

d) Statement I is false but Statement II is true


Q.22) Examine the Statement I and Statement II given below carefully and select the correct answer using the codes given below.

Statement I : ISRO’s IRNSS-1H satellite launch was unsuccessful.

Statement II : A leakage in the fuel tank led to an explosion in the launch vehicle.

a) Both the statements are individually true and Statement II is the correct explanation of Statement I.

b) Both the statements are individually true but Statement II is NOT the correct explanation of Statement I.

c) Statement I is true but Statement II is false

d) Statement I is false but Statement II is true


Q.23) The States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam and Odisha were recently in news due to

a) an outbreak of bird flu in these states

b) the communal violence that broke out in these states

c) the unprecedented rise in infant mortality in these states

d) the devastating floods that battered these states


Q.24)  The average of 15 consecutive integers is 0. If these integers are arranged in an ascending order, then the average of last eight integers is

a) 1.5

b) 2.5

c) 3.5

d) 4.5


Q.25) p, q and r are positive real numbers such that p + q + r = 6. Then the maximum value of (p+q)(q+r)(r+p) is

a) 256

b) 32

c) 64

d) 16

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Get the solutions here- Click2download

In-depth understanding of the Directive Principles of State Policy

Directive Principles of State Policy:

The Constitution of India aims to establish not only political democracy but also socio-economic justice to the people to establish a welfare state. With this purpose in mind, our Constitution lays down desirable principle and guidelines in Part IV known as the Directive Principle of State Policy.

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are in the form of instructions/guidelines to the governments at the centre as well as states. Though these principles are non-justiciable, they are fundamental in the governance of the country. The idea of Directive Principles of State Policy has been taken from the Irish Republic. They were incorporated in our Constitution in order to provide economic justice and to avoid concentration of wealth in the hands of a few people. Therefore, no government can afford to ignore them. They are in fact, the directives to the future governments to incorporate them in the decisions and policies to be formulated by them.


  1. Resemble the ‘Instrument of Instructions’ enumerated in the Government of India Act,   1935.
  2. Aim at realising the high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as outlined in Preamble to the Constitution.
  3. Embody the concept of a ‘welfare state’.
  4. Seek to establish economic and social democracy.
  5. Are non-justiciable.
  6. Fundamental in the governance of the country.
  7. Help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law.


The Constitution does not contain any classification of the Directive Principles. However, on the basis of their content and direction, they can be classified broadly into socialist, Gandhian and liberal-intellectual.

#Socialistic Principles:

  1. to promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order permeated by social, economic and political justice and to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities. (Art 38)
  2. to secure (a) the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens; (b) the equitable distribution of material resources of the community for common good; (c) prevention of concentration of wealth and means of production; (d) equal pay for equal work for men and women; (e) preservation of the health and strength of workers and children against forcible abuse; and (f) opportunities for healthy development of children. (Art 39)
  3. to promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor. (Art 39A)
  4. to secure the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement. (Art 41)
  5. to make provision for just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief. (Art 42)
  6. to secure a living wage, a decent standard of life and social and cultural opportunities for all workers (Art 43)
  7. to take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries (Art 43A)
  8. to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health. (Art 47)

#The Gandhian Principles:

Based on Gandhian ideology, these include

  1. to organize village Panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them to function as units of self government. (Art 40)
  2. to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operation basis in rural areas. (Art 43)
  3. to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and professional management of co-operative societies. (Art 43B)
  4. to promote the educational and economic interests of SCs, STs and other weaker sections of the society and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation. (Art 46)
  5. to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health. (Art 47)
  1. to prohibit slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and drought cattle and to improve their breeds. (Art 48)

# Liberal-Intellectual Principles:

These principles represent the ideology of liberalism and direct the state to

  1. to secure for all citizens a uniform civil code. (Art 44)
  2. to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years. (Art 45)
  3. to organise agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines. (Art 48)
  4. to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife. (Art 48A)
  5. to protect monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest which are declared to be of national importance. (Art 49)
  6. to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the state. (Art 50)
  7. to promote international peace and security and maintain just and honourable relations between nations; to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration. (Art 51)

# Added by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976:

  1. to secure opportunities for healthy development of children. (Art 39)
  2. to promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor. (Art 39A)
  3. to take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries (Art 43A)
  4. to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife. (Art 48A)

# Added by 44th Amendment Act, 1978:

  1. to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities. (Art 38)

# Added by 97th Amendment Act, 2011:

  1. to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and professional management of co-operative societies. (Art 43B)

86th Amendment Act, 2002 changed the subject matter of Art 45 and made elementary education a fundamental right under Art 21A. The amended directive requires the state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years.


#Previous Year MCQs:

#1. The ideal of ‘Welfare State’ in the Indian Constitution is enshrined in its (2015)

(a) Preamble

(b) Directive Principles of State Policy

(c) Fundamental Rights

(d) Seventh Schedule

#2. Consider the following statements regarding the Directive Principles of State Policy : (2015)

  1. The Principles spell out the socio-economic dmocracy in the country.
  2. The provisions contained in these Principles are not enforceable by any court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

#3. In the Constitution of India, promotion of international peace and security is included in the  (2014)

(a) Preamble to the Constitution

(b) Directive Principles of State Policy

(c) Fundamental Duties

(d) Ninth Schedule


#4. According to the Constitution of India, which of the following are fundamental for the governance of the country? (2013)

(a) Fundamental Rights

(b) Fundamental Duties

(c) Directive Principles of State Policy

(d) Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties

#5. ‘Economic Justice’ as one of the objectives of the Indian Constitution has been provided in (2013)

(a) the Preamble and the Fundamental Rights

(b) the Preamble and the Directive Principles of State Policy

(c) the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy

(d) None of the above

#6. Consider the following provisions under the Directive Principles of State Policy as enshrined in the Constitution of India : (2012)

  1. Securing for citizens of India a uniform civil code
  2. Organizin village Panchayats
  3. Promoting cottage industries in rural areas
  4. Securing for all the workers reasonable leisure and cultural opportunities

#7. Which of the above are Gandhian Principles that are reflected in the Directive Principles of  State Policy ? (2012)

(a) 1, 2 and 4 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Simple acts like brushing your teeth may be polluting the environment

The National Green Tribunal recently issued notices to the Union health, environment and water resources ministries seeking their comments on what has been done to identify and curb the growing threat of ‘microbeads’.

Apart from being used in several personal care products, research studies showed presence of plastic microbeads in table salt also, which is one of the most basic ingredients used in cooking. It was also observed that the microbeads found in toothpaste can get stuck in our gums and lead to cancer. So let us have a closer look at ‘microbeads’ which are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

# What are ‘Microbeads’ / ‘ Microplastics’ ?

Microbeads are plastic microspheres that are widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and in personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as in biomedical and health science research.  According to the UNEP, microplastics are the most harmful pollutants currently choking the oceans.

# What is all the fuss about these ‘beads’ ?

These microbeads flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads and that is the main reason why, ultimately, they contribute to the Plastic Soup swirling around the world’s oceans. Sea creatures absorb or eat microbeads. These microbeads are passed along the marine food chain. Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing microbeads from the food we eat. Microbeads are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove.

# What is the environmental fallout?

Microplastics have been found on almost every beach worldwide, on polar icecaps and just about everywhere in the oceans. Apart from creating ‘plastic islands’ in the oceans, when plastics break down, more toxic substances which are harmful to humans and which cause hormonal imbalances or neurological diseases are released.

Substantial quantities of microplastics in the ocean sink to the bottom. The amount of plastic on the ocean floor is 1000 times greater than the amount floating on the surface

(Source: betthemicrobead.org)

#Test Yourself

# There is some concern regarding the use of microplastics in certain personal care products. Why?

  1. They may accumulate in the marine environment and release toxic substances.
  2. They may enter the food chain.
  3. They may cause diseases like cancer.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3


An Advance Letter to the Batch of 2017

Dear Batch of 2017,

Before I begin, let me convey my heartfelt wishes to each one of you.

Heartiest congratulations to you for making it through one of the toughest examination against all odds, against all failures and against all hopes of those who thought you cannot do it!

So, how are you all doing this morning?

I know it is quite chilly these days in Mussoorie but then you have to blame yourself for being the brightest among the bright and deserving a seat here in this auditorium of LBSNAA.

Just the other day when you all turned up for registration at the Academy, I had a chance to interact with few amongst you and the otherwise cursory introduction drifted into the stories of your struggles, your perseverance and your unflinching resolve to be here. And though unprecedented for an induction programme but that is exactly what I am going to talk about here today.

Let me begin with the story of the one amongst you who was conveniently labelled a non-performer, a good-for-nothing fellow who had already flunked at the Mains thrice but still would not stop himself from working even harder. And finally this year he did it. He did it because, he had no other choice but to do it. It did not matter that he was not an IITian. It did not matter that he belonged to a remote village where electricity is a privilege. It did not matter that he had to borrow books. It did not matter that he had to face the scathing comments on every failure. The one thing and the only thing that mattered was his resolve. His resolve to do it. And he did it.

Sitting two rows in front of him is a teary-eyed girl whose story itself is not an iota less remarkable. In fact, for her it was even more arduous. Born into a family where marrying off the girls at the earliest is the norm and where a girl who dares to study beyond high school is thought to have become ‘non-marriageable’, she not only had to fight the world outside but even within. She had to bear the vitriolic “Yeh Collectorni banengi”, “Shaadi karo aur ‘iske’ ghar bhejo”, “Ladko ke liye naukri hai nahi, inhe aur chahiye”. But today she is sitting amongst you. She too did it. She did it because she became deaf to all the voices who said she cannot do it. She did it because she became oblivious to anything that tried to take her eyes off her target. She did it because she believed she can.

Each one of you is an example of indefatigable determination and unquenchable desire to be here. You marshalled all your courage and all your resources to single-mindedly focus on your goal. You did miss those weddings of distant relatives, birthdays, anniversaries, hug day, chocolate day and what-not day but now you know that your absenteeism in any of them did not make any difference to the world. But since you sacrificed it all that, you are today among those lucky ones who will make a world of difference to the world!

Favourable situations did not make you successful. As is the case, they were not conducive for hundreds who still made it to be here. No universe conspired to get you what you wanted. You forced the universe to give you what you wanted.

You could do it because you knew you don’t have to live an ordinary life till it ends and that for an extraordinary life, you have to make an extraordinary effort. And you did make that effort!


IAS Mains Writing Essentials – Reading and answering a question | Part 2

Read the first part, here.

After ‘Critical Evaluation’, let us look at some of the other directives that are used by the UPSC examiners with their most commonly accepted definitions.

#1. Analyse

Break an issue into its constituent parts. Look in depth at each part using supporting arguments and evidence for and against as well as how these interrelate to one another.

“Instances of President’s delay in commuting death sentences has come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit specified for the President to accept/reject such petitions. Analyse.” (2014)

#2. Comment

Pick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.

“Sufis and Medieval mystic saints failed to modify either the religious ideas and practices or the outward structure of Hindu/Muslim societies to any appreciable extent. Comment.” (2014)

#3. Critically Comment

Pick out main points in the statement, present your views on it which rests on sound logic, reasoning and evidence. Do not forget to arrive at your conclusion.

“Scientific research in India universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as are business professions, engineering or administration and the universities are becoming consumer-oriented. Critically comment.” (2014)

#4. Discuss

Seemingly innocuous, frequently used and probably the most tricky/sticky term whose meaning depends upon the question in which it has been used and how it has been used.

“Discuss” basically entails a debate where we use our reasoning backed up with evidence to make a case for and against an argument arriving at a conclusion.

“How difficult would have been the achievement of Indian independence without Mahatma Gandhi? Discuss.”(2015)

When the examiner has chosen the words “How difficult?”, then you are the one who have to arrive at a conclusion of “Very difficult”,

“A little difficult” or “Not at all difficult”, or any other shade you believe in, depending upon the reasoning and evidence you chose.

“The quality of higher education in India requires major improvement to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of technical and higher education in the country? Discuss.”(2015)

In the above question again, you have to arrive at a conclusion.

In the question that follows, they did not just put a full stop after “Discuss” but went on to add what it means i.e. give logical arguments.
“Success of make in India program depends on the success of Skill India programme and radical labour reforms. Discuss with logical arguments.”

However, many a items, examiners ask you to discuss one particular facet of an issue and in such cases they specifically mention what they want you to discuss.

#5. Elucidate

Elucidate means “to make clear”. In several of the questions, where the examiners use this directive, they present us with a cause-effect linkage asking us to “elucidate”. In such cases, we have to basically bring out the linkage more clearly citing evidence and examples.

“The Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Program (SBLP), which is India’s own innovation, has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programme. Elucidate.”

#6. Evaluate

Similar to critical evaluation. Even otherwise when we are asked to evaluate something, we arrive at a decision on how good or bad it is depending upon evidence and logic. That is exactly what you do in the questions where we are directed to evaluate a statement. We give our verdict as to what extent a statement or finding is true, or to what extent we agree with them. We give evidence which both agrees with and contradict it and then we arrive at a final conclusion, basing our decision on what we judge to be the most important factors.

“The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate.” (2014)

#7. Examine

Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding a topic. This should be a critical examination and you should try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues you have identified are the most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

“The penetration of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in rural areas in promoting participation in development programmes is facing socio-cultural hurdles. Examine.” (2014)

#8. Explain

Quite an easy directive per se.

It is basically a clarification. We have to clarify why and how something happens or why is something the way it is.

“Explain the factors responsible for the origin of ocean currents. How do they influence regional climates, fishing and navigation?” (2015)

“Explain the formation of thousands of islands in Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos.” (2014)

Here we not only have to give the factors that cause ocean currents but also clarify how they cause ocean currents.

The Last Lecture / Antim Gyan

This is probably my last blog on the ways to do the things. From now on, more syllabus, rare gyan!

#1. Keep the syllabus of all 3 GS papers side by side and connect the topics.

Once the groups of connected topics are ready, apportion the time available with you according to the number of topics in the group. I have desisted from stating that time should be apportioned as per the importance of the topics because there is no “unimportant” or “less important” topic in syllabus now. The tag has been obliterated with the kind of questions UPSC has been asking.

#2. Give specific dates to the groups by which you intend to finish them off.

It will actually give you an idea of the time you have at hand because if you take too many days you shall reach near November-December and there shall not be days left for revision and polishing. This “10 days for this topic” approach would better be supplanted with “By 10th of this month”.

#3. Prepare time table not just for the months as above but for every day.

Try to stick to it to the maximum extent possible but above 80 strike rate is commendable. Anything below it needs serious introspection.

#4. Make notes on daily basis or by next day at the maximum. If you think you can procrastinate it to the weekend then it shall never happen.

By weekend we will have seven copies of The Hindu and note-making from them shall appear a gigantic task. One month down the line, there shall be thirty copies covered in dust. Break this “I will do this tomorrow” jinx. Tomorrow never comes, more so when you have a formidable opponent like UPSC. And not to mention, a day lost by you is a day gained by your competitors and there are lakhs of them out there!

#5. Don’t try to study every subject together.

History on Mondays, Polity on Tuesday, Economics on Wednesday and so no approach shall not pay rich dividends. At the max pick up two subjects at a time, finish them off and then pick up others.

#6. Maintain safe distance from candidates with negative attitudes…

…or who try to show off the books they have covered. If they do, randomly select a page and throw a question at them. More often than not the reply shall be “bas yahi reh gaya tha baki book to ho gayi.”

#7. Choose one or two standard books you wish to use for covering a topic.

Make notes. And supplement it with related news from the papers. Trying to cover a topic from ten different books shall not add anything to your preparation.

#8. Read-Revise-Write. Enough on it already.

No writing practice, no use of revision. No revision, no use of reading. So either R-R-W or don’t do it.

#9. Don’t even think about being able to write the best answer to every question in the paper.

“Best answer” in UPSC is a myth. We just have to be careful about what the question is asking and use the information we hold in the best manner possible. This “Best manner” is the “Best answer”. At the end of the day, you have to just secure about 50-52 percent marks to be the topper!

#10. Every year the exam shall get tougher. Yes that is the harsh reality!

As the examiners exhaust the questions, they start delving deeper into the topics, current issues keep on getting more complex, new topics keep getting added in the syllabus and then there is this sword of may-be-revised pattern/syllabus hanging over our heads. Bottom-line is finish it off as soon as possible. There should not be any let-up from your side. No excuses, as simple as that. If you have given your best shot, the best shall follow. The cardinal rule of karma – You reap what you sow.

#11. Don’t get burdened with criticism even it is excruciatingly painful and unexpected.

It hurts the most when it comes from close quarters but then that is how it is. Take it in your stride to come back with a vengeance. Success wins uncountable friends and failure leaves you with very few. Stay with these very few.

#12. Exercise, eat well and keep yourself healthy.

Stress during this examination can be unbearable at times. These are the times when your mental strength and your emotional intelligence holds you firm. Don’t lock yourself in a room. Go out, meet friends. Get refreshed. Make this preparation a part of these years of your life. Don’t make it your life.

Iti Samaptam!

IAS Mains Writing Essentials – Reading and answering a question as it should be!

This question appeared in IAS Mains this time and I am just using it as an example to drive home a particular point.

“The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate.

Now just focus on 4 things in this question to help me drive home an important point – 

No. 1: The examiners has chosen to name J&K, HP and UK particularly in this question.

No. 2: Examiners talks about “reaching carrying capacity”

No. 3: The reason has been attributed to “tourism”

No. 4: The examiner asks you to critically evaluate the statement.

To answer this question in a way that gets us marks we must know following 2 terms absolutely clearly –

#1. Carrying Capacity:

Technically, “the carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment”.

For our purpose, “the population size that can be supported with the given resources”.

#2. Critically Evaluate:

The critical evaluation means giving our verdict as to what extent a statement or finding stated is true, or to what extent we agree with it. We also need to provide evidence which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing our decision on what we judge to be the most important factors and justify how we have made our choice.

The mistake most of the candidates might have made:

Critical evaluation requires the candidates to provide evidence both to support and contradict a statement and then reach a conclusion. Unfortunately, most candidates who attempted this question would have given evidence only to support the statement.

So, out of 12.5, basically they would have already lost 4-5 marks for the portion they just did not attempt (this is the reason for the huge difference in the anticipated marks and the actual marks that the candidate gets).

All right? So when you answer a question, don’t just read it in a cursory manner and start writing immediately (something I had stated earlier as well). The questions are frame with a purpose.

Examiner takes time to frame them and probably that’s the reason we don’t find any other exams coming even remotely closer to UPSC.

So, now you know how important it is to just know what the question asks before we answer.

Will soon write about the various terms used in the paper and what they mean to help you write exactly what the examiner wants and get marks!

How to cover a topic holistically for your IAS Preparation?

Overtime I have been asking you to prepare every topic ‘holistically’ considering all its dimensions.

But what exactly is this ‘covering a topic holistically with all its dimensions’?

Leaving literary verbose aside and truth be told, it simply means pondering over a topic for a while to see to which other topics it is related to and coming up with some questions that can be framed from it. And that is all we can do or should do while covering a topic ‘holistically’.

Let me explain it with an example.

Let us pick up the topic “Disaster and Disaster Management.” So, what other topics it can get connected to, keeping our imagination grounded in practicality, otherwise it can be connected to everything and anything.

First of all it gets directly connected to “Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.” from GS1.

Why? Because these events are disastrous. Right? So while you cover this topic, you shall also cover earthquake, cyclones and Tsunami. Or if you have covered that topic before, you will have enough information to use in this topic.

But indirectly it is connected to important social issues. Which may be more important because this dimension, if covered in an answer sets it apart from rest of the answers of other candidates.

How? After Nepal earthquake, there were reports of human trafficking. Now if this dimension is mentioned in your answer while covering the aftershocks of a disaster, shall not it set your answer apart from other run-of-the-mill answers because most of the other answers shall be still hovering around broken bridges, number of casualties and shortage of essentials (not that they are to be missed in the answer)?

After every disaster, we hear reports of anthropogenic philanthropy but at the same time we hear of cases of unethical behaviour of the highest order. Cases of hoarding of essentials, charging high prices, human trafficking, embezzlement of relief funds, et al keep making news. And if you were there as the in-charge of relief operations then what shall be the options available with you to set the things right? Is not it a fit case for a case study in GS4?

So, go ahead, frame a case study, engage in group discussion and come up with a practical answer for dealing with such situations or to deal with any ethical dilemmas that you may face in such situations.

Then while we read newspapers, we get to know so many things which are impossible to get from any other source. I still remember reading an article in The Hindu about the ‘Himalayan Tsunami’ which mentioned that no state had a State Disaster Response Force in place at that time.

Will you get this information from any other source? However disturbing it may be, but what a piece of information while you answer that why our post-disaster response is in shambles?

Now moving on, while we ponder over this topic, what all things come up in your mind? Here is what comes to my:

  1. What is ‘Disaster’ and ‘Disaster Management’?
  2. What is the disaster profile of our country?
  3. Why is there a spike in the frequency and intensity of disasters?
  4. What can be done to mitigate the effects of disasters?
  5. Who are more vulnerable to disasters?
  6. What is pre- and post-disaster management?
  7. What are economic and social impact of a disaster?
  8. Any case study of success in disaster preparedness? I remember reading about Odisha’s response in the face of Phailin and how it became a case study of near perfect management.
  9. National Disaster Management Act (NDMA) and its features.
  10. What is the present state of our preparedness?
  11. How well NDMA has been executed?

And that is all. If you can answer all this, you can tweak the information you shall hold by answering them to write a decent enough answer to every disaster related question in the exam.

And have it from me, the confidence that you shall get by answering these questions will get reflected in your writing, your interview and any discussion you may get engaged in.

That is all for now! Keep Learning!

IAS Mains 2015 GS Paper Analysis: The Ringside View

Ok, so finally the cat is out of the bag and so are the number of analysis!

Some viewing it as a different coloured cat this time, some claiming a particular question was frame taking a cue from a particular news which appeared on a particular date in the newspaper (phew!), some delving deep into the question-wise analysis while others still wondering what exactly happened!

 Even though the real UPSC- bashing will start only after the Optional Papers are over, let us see if we can really make out anything from investing time in analysing the GS papers.

#1. Questions can be divided into the statements picked up from different sources and others which were actually framed with just the topic in mind.

The former one are naturally difficult to deal with while the second category is still manageable.

 The questions from GS 1 as under are more likely statements picked up from the novels/books/reference sources that the examiner might have read out of hobby or may be with an ulterior motive to vent his/her anger at UPSC candidates in the guise of  keeping its standards high.

“The ancient civilization in Indian sub-continent differed from those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece in that its culture and traditions have been preserved without breakdown to the present day. Comment.”

“Mesolithic rock cut architecture of India not only reflects the cultural life of the times but also a fine aesthetic sense comparable to modern painting. Critically evaluate this comment.”

I, for one, refuse to believe that this question was asked because a Mesolithic site was discovered and the news appeared in the Hindu on 09.11.2015. A one-off discovery does not really motivates an examiner to frame a question. And, even if the assertion is assumed to be true, we cannot really do anything about it. Every other day some sites are discovered and until and unless a particular discovery becomes all too important and appears regularly in news, we really need not rack our brains doing a PhD on them.

“It would have been difficult for the Constituent Assembly to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India in just three years, but its experience gained with the Government of India Act, 1935 .Discuss.”

It shall be foolhardy to set ourselves a target of reading all the novels/books available in the remote hope of getting a statement from them in the paper. The cost-benefit ration shall be extremely poor. And have it from me the battle shall not be won by such questions. Even the topper might not have attempted them well. So don’t lose your sleep over them.

#2. Major events of last two-three years assume significance as many a questions are being from them.

This should not come as a surprise as UPSC is known to keep the topics that become too common in cold storage to revive them in coming years. But we must give it to UPSC that while framing questions from such events they pick up only the ones that really got everyone sit and take notice.

“What are the economic significances of discovery of oil in Arctic Sea and its possible environmental consequences?”

“Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest?

#3. Though not a rule but it was generally observed that UPSC shied away from controversial topics (even if moved enough eyeballs) that had political underpinnings.

This time around they picked up such issues and framed questions.

“Khap panchayats have been in the news for functioning as extra – constitutional authorities, often delivering pronouncements amounting to human right violations. Discuss critically the actions taken by the legislative, executive and judiciary to set the things right in this regard.

 The only reference to Khaps was in a Psychology Paper – II way back in 2009 or 2010.

#4.  Issues that appear that appeared too simplistic or routine to warrant any serious attention from Mains point of view were converted to questions.


“Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three Mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so?

“Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulation on burning crackers during Diwali? Discus in the light of Article 21 of Indian Constitution and judgements of the apex in this regard.

 It has been observed that so-called simple issues are more complex to answer. 

#5. GS2 and GS3 remain heavily lopsided towards Current Affairs which should be a respite.

 “Too many questions to be quoted here.”

#6. Geography continues its march with not too difficult or unheard of topics.

“India is well endowed with fresh water resources. Critically examine why it still suffers from water scarcity.”

“How far do you agree that the behaviour of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscape? Discuss.”

#7. They stick to the pattern of asking questions from the topics that generally remain in oblivion.

It seems to be their way of ensuring that these topics get the respect they deserve.

“Livestock rearing has a big potential for providing non- farm employment and income in rural areas. Discuss suggesting suitable measures to promote this sector in India.”

#8. World History remains hinges on popular topics. It is expected to remain so for at least few more years till they exhaust the common topics.

“Why did the industrial revolution first occur in England? Discuss the quality of life of the people there during the industrialization. How does it compare with that in India at present times?”

“To what extend can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.”

#9. The number of questions has been maintained at 20 in all three papers which can be taken as a hint that now UPSC is really serious about “content matters more than the size of the answer.”

No 25 questions papers where candidates need to rush even to attempt all questions. They might continue with this pattern in coming years as well.

#10. What does all this entail for a future aspirant?

  • Cover all topics.
  • While reading a topic, think over its different dimensions and answer them all before you label it as “covered”.
  • Newspaper continues to remain the latest textbook to be covered every day.
  • No escape from note-making and keep updating them.
  • While reading issues, try to answer the seemingly innocuous questions in pointed manner. Many might have fumbled for words while answering “What is ISIS and its mission?”
  • Do not read too much into the paper and drive judgements. Every years papers looks the toughest for first few months and then it appears quite easy.
  • Do not think that you can never answer such questions and shall never be able to secure a rank. Many a toppers shall have below 100 marks in multiple papers. So take it easy.
  • Study regularly (14 hour study one fine day and then a 2 day break is not the way to go), Stay focused, Don’t just listen to advice but also follow them, Don’t compare yourself to others but just make yourself better than you were the previous day!

That’s all for now. Stay blessed!

IAS Mains answer writing – Explained via a model answer

Update: Participate in the FREE Target Mains initiative going over at CD – Click Here

Let’s take the case of a question on TAPI to see how one can approach answer writing.

#1. Discuss the strategic significance of the TAPI pipeline and the potential challenges faced by it.

TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline recently made headway and shall bring gas from the Galkynysh gas field at India’s doorsteps in Punjab.

The pipeline is not just a insurance against the energy challenges of the participant countries but reopening a historic route connecting South Asia to Central Asia. India shall find a particularly attractive proposition in the project given the proximity and abundance of Turkmenistan’s reserves.

The pipeline is expected to play a major role in securing India’s interest in Central Asia especially in the backdrop of the energy-guzzling China securing half of its energy needs from the region. TAPI might be a game changer for the geopolitical stability for the region ensuring that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan get more strategically fused.

However, the project might get encumbered with several challenges and needs to be insulated against the terrorism, securing it from Taliban across the Durand Line and from the militant groups in Pakistan.

The project’s success shall also depend upon the TAPI countries disallowing any bilateral disputes from holding the pipeline to ransom and burying the history of doubt and skepticism to enable it to emerge as the pivot of a connected, cooperative, peaceful and prosperous region.


Given above is just an outline for an answer where you know some facts and use some names-dropping to make a decent enough answer.

Facts like Galkynysh field, Durand Line, Chinese interest.

Name calling like geo-political stability, strategically fused, pivot.

Now let’s get some basic things right, now that we are set to write mains. Have it from me that there shall be many questions to which you shall only have a fleeting idea. And even in those questions where you have a fair idea of answers, it all gets messed up given the stress.

So, first thing first, yes you are going to write probably the toughest exam in the country but don’t let it get the better of you as it would get the worse out of you in the paper.

As I said before, before you start writing, pick up the central theme of the question and ensure you conjure up enough theme related words to be put in the answer. For example, a question on strategic importance shall appear empty without words like geo-politics. Little names-dropping you see.

Even though the paper setter might have used an acronym in the question, you must expand it when you use it first time in your answer. Later you can use the acronym. Also, when you use an acronym expand it first time, write the abridged form in bracket and then use it. Expand USA as United States of America when you use it first time.

In the examination hall, don’t look for the ‘best’ answer. There has never been and there shall never be one. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how well you used your information, how connected you remained to the question and, most importantly, how pleased the examiner was after reading your answer (because UPSC claims that they don’t give any model answers to the examiners. Sound a white lie to me).

Ok? So Best of Luck once again and do well.

19 Quick Points on Answer Writing for IAS Mains

You must have had practised writing enough, must be trying to locate your centre and might be a little nervous as well. It is ok! After all you are about to get into the battleground of probably the toughest examination in the country. Do not let the nervousness overwhelm you. 


Thy who lost sweat practicing, shall lose no blood!

You must have read a plethora of tips about how to writing answers, I thought of sharing few from our side. Here are quick 19 on answer writing for IAS Mains:

1. Write in simple, grammatically correct English. No literary prose is needed.

2. Try to give the context of the answer if you can in your opening remarks. End it with a something concrete and do not leave it hanging in air with an abrupt end which mostly happens due to paucity of time.

3. Write in points or paragraphs as you feel comfortable. There is just no restriction or stated rule for or against any of these ways of answering.

4. The thoughts should flow across the answer seamlessly with no hopping from one idea to another but in a systematic manner.

5. Try that you don’t leave any question unattempted as it forecloses any chance of getting any mark even if the examiner was in a jubilant mood. But that does not mean you should write just about anything. Just think of one-two relevant point and write it.

6. Come over this ‘Should ‘black’ or ‘blue’ pen be used?’. Use whichever of them you are carrying.

7. Avoid cuttings and over-writing (that college tactic to write an alphabet such that it can be interpreted as a ‘b’ or ‘d’  shall not work in UPSC). College examiners could be approached to make them interpret the word as we wanted them to interpret. No such liberty is available in UPSC.

8. In case you want to underline certain sentences, do it there and then. If you leave it for the fag end, it shall entail reading the answer all over again and you really might not be able to finish reading them all.

9. Do not write in the margins as is also instructed by the UPSC. And these fellows do take their instructions seriously. In any case if you had something really good to write you would have written it in the main portion. Anything written in margins shall only be superfluous in most cases.

10. Avoid using red ink for writing or underlining.

11.  When you use diagrams/maps, give them a title, give them a number like fig1. or fig2. and give their reference at the relevant point in your answer.

12. Do not actually sit down to count words. Those who have been practicing answer writing shall have a fair idea of how many of their sentences/paragraphs make up 150-200 words. (Another benefit of answer writing). And this is how even the examiners will guess the number of words in your answer if they must. They shall never actually count them. (And of course you must also remember that content matters more than the length)

13. Some of us have this tendency that as we write on un-ruled sheets, our sentences tend to get tilted in a particular direction. It is annoying for the examiner to tilt his/her head at odd angles to read what you might have written. So avoid it.

14. Ensure your hand-writing is legible. If it is illegible, who can stop the examiner from just marking it with a zero or one or two and move on. No one is going to question him/her. So why give him/her this chance?

15. UPSC instructs that unwritten pages should be crossed. Please do it with a small diagonal line across the page. Avoid a big cross cutting across the length and breadth of the page which might also leave a mark on the back page.

16. When you are done with an answer, draw a small horizontal line telling the examiner it is over.

17. Keep the booklet neat. You must have noticed that sometimes, when we write, our palm rests on the sheet. Ensure it is free of any ink marks (or is sweaty) which may leave smudges on the answer sheet.

18. Keep the water bottle that you may carry on the ground near your seat. I have heard cases where the bottle was kept on the table itself loosely capped in a hurry and an inadvertent push by an invigilator or a fellow candidate had the candidate’s hard work floating in water.

19. Carry enough number of pens/pencils and other stationery. And do carry a stencil of the geometrical figures.

And finally, 

Wish you lots of writing and lots of answers that you have already prepared!

Want to read more?

How to Tackle Map Based Questions in IAS Prelims and Mains?


Prelims has a fair number of questions from Geography and fair number of them are actually based upon the map reading by the candidates. Geography Mains Paper II has 10 map based entries carrying a weight of twenty marks (as in the last paper).

So let us see how we can attempt Map Based Questions in IAS Prelims and Mains.

For Geography Optional:

The weightage carried by map based question has been reduced from 60 to 20 as in the last year’s paper. Twenty is good enough score to be ignored and even more for the claim that getting these entries right enthrals the examiner and weighs heavily in getting good score in Paper II and a poor attempt in the map entries has opposite effect on the examiner and consequently your score in the paper (though the claim still remains to be verified by any UPSC examiner or UPSC itself). So let us see what the trend is and how we can make the best out of it.

#1. In the last two years, the entries asked have been the ones that are not unheard of (who can forget the yesteryear’s Akrimota, Pirotan, Meghnagar,Van Tivu which had candidates literally in tears in that year). Luckily now, the entries can be easily located in the Atlas and a geography candidate would have definitely prepared about 8 out of them. So, do prepare all the prominent entries in the Atlas well in advance.

#2. Many of the entries are picked from the places that repeatedly appear in current affairs but for some unknown reason are still ignored by the candidates. Make a note of all such recurring places, locate them and prepare the write-up. While locating such entries scanning its neighbourhood shall not be a bad idea either and is recommended.

#3. Do have a outline map of India and practice and make small write-ups behind it itself. Helps in quick revision and breaks the monotony of referring to the Atlas.

#4. If you are not sure of an entry take a calculated risk and at least mark it in the right state if you must. Nellore marked in Tamil Nadu can sometimes infuriate sensitive examiners. That is to say don’t take wild risks.

#5. Don’t ignore the question to be attempted in the last 15 minutes which appears to be the general tendency among the candidates. In the last minutes you shall be too tensed to might just mark them wrong and then waste time in erasing and cutting. Treat the question on par with other question.

#6. If you do not know most of the entries (something I do not foresee going by the latest trend but for an examiner fired with strong wanderlust who decides to ask unheard of entries. In that case God Bless Us!)

For Prelims:

#1. What has been mentioned about the entries in the current affairs remains true here as well, in fact even more so in Prelims. So do locate them in the Atlas.

#2. Whenever you are bored with reading heavy stuff, try map reading. Many claim it is rejuvenating and that is not without truth.

#3. The questions asked in Prelims like arranging cities or rivers or hills or the likes in a particular order are designed in a way that the entries asked are at enough distance physically that the candidates can use elimination method or even their cursory reading of Atlas to zero in on the right answer.

#4.  If you have no idea about an entry, do not attempt it. More often than not it shall be a trap question. In 2009, a deceptively innocuous question on the country of location of Barail Range was asked and I still admire the examiner who had enough candidates waylaid into marking alternatives other than India.

#5. When you are dealing with map based questions and have enough time at disposal (which might be a rarity) and want to take a calculated risk then try to picture each entry separately in the Atlas and use elimination method.

#6. Do cover all the prominent entries from every continent. It is an easy attempt.

#7. When you locate a current entry in the Atlas, also notice the neighbourhood, for the neighbourhood is more enticing for few. For example, the examiner may not ask about the country the Sinai Peninsula is part of but the water bodies between which it is located.

#8. It might sound cliché now but is the most important instruction and that is, ‘Please do what you have just read in the above points!’

Happy Mapping!    

How to Choose Correct Optional for IAS Preparation?

Continuing with our series to guide you from being an aspirant to an officer, here is our take on the selection of the optional for IAS Preparation.

And unless your answer resonates with Alia Bhatt’s, you should stick with us and bear with this long-ish post of ours 😉



CSE syllabus and pattern underwent a sea change in 2013 when UPSC introduced a paper on Ethics, did away with one optional and scattered GS across three papers while still keeping the Essay paper. A candidate is to choose an optional from the list of the available 25 + 1 (Literature) subjects at the time of applying for the examination and the subject so chosen cannot be changed while filling up the DAF (earlier the change was allowed).

The optional subjects were a big deciding factors in a candidate’s success till 2012, when they carried a weight of 1200 out of a total of 2000 in the Mains. From 2013, the optional carries a weight of 500 marks out of 1750. On the face of it, the utility of optional as a deciding factor in the selection appears diminished, however, nothing can be farther from the truth.

Optional subject still play a crucial a crucial role in the final selection of the aspirants. Why? Because the marks obtained by the aspirants in GS and Essay papers have not varied drastically (very few could cross 110-120, in fact few toppers even got marks in 90s especially in Ethics paper) but the double digit rankers scored really well in their optional. And, therefore, choosing an optional is a decision which should be based on sound logic and nothing else. Be Wise, Be Safe should be the guiding principle while selecting the optional.

It can be safely asserted that the number and variety of criterion for preferring one optional over others varies directly with the number of candidates making the selection. However, let us see if we can settle down on some common criterion which can guide an aspirant through the final choice.

#Factors-For, which should guide your selection of the optional:

  1. Your interest in the subject. In fact, it should be the paramount criterion. The reason behind this factor to be paramount is simple enough. If you are interested in a subject, you shall not get bored easily, you shall ponder over it more and in general you would not mind spending more hours to it compared to a subject that you have to study with no inherent interest in it.
  2. Familiarity with the subject. Candidates do look for a subject that they might have studied at graduation level for they are already familiar the syllabus, the books and with what it takes to be at it for a long time.
  3. Overlap with the GS syllabus. If the optional selected by you can also supplement your preparation for certain portions of the GS, nothing like it!
  4. Availability of a reliable coaching institute if you have decided to go for classroom coaching.
  5. Availability of study material (This particular criterion has been rendered redundant  in certain cases with the advent of internet but still for certain other optional, the material available on internet may not suffice from the exam point of view).
  6. The topics in the syllabus to be covered is a natural concern for the aspirants. But generally it helps when you are already familiar with the subject and therefore with the topics.
  7. Few candidates also look for the type of questions that are being asked in the paper but, here, we shall suggest you to be cautious as no-one and nothing prevents UPSC from changing the type of questions. (One year they might ask fact-based questions in a subject making it appear easy but next year might make it entirely opinion/analysis based and difficult to handle)

To be practical, none of the above criterion can be used in isolation while choosing an optional but an approach guided by using above points together can certainly be beneficial in making you pick-up the right optional.

#Factors-Against, which must not guide your selection of the optional:

  1. Do not choose an optional because a friend or a family member suggested it. None of them shall own responsibility in case the choice does not work out well. They shall simply say, they only made a suggestion and you decided.
  2. Because it is the most common optional (Believe it or not many serious candidates fall prey to this and waste attempts before they even realize it and still many realize it after exhausting their attempts). Time and again I hear candidates choosing an optional because it has high ‘success-rate’. I could never comprehend this terminology because I believe, it is the candidates who become successful in this exam and not the subjects.
  3. Because it is more scoring. Candidates have cleared this exam with almost every optional in the list and not just with the so called scoring optional. In UPSC there is no high scoring-low scoring optional but only a paper, an innocent examinee and a ruthless examiner. High scoring-Low scoring optional is a myth.
  4. Don’t let your judgment be guided by the optional chosen by the previous year toppers. Probably they topped the examination because they did not base their choice of options on the subjects chosen by still past toppers. I have not seen any ranker exhorting any candidate to choose an optional selected by them simply because they topped with it.

#So how should we go about this process?

  1. First go through the list of all the optional subjects available before you.
  2. Then take a pen and strike off the optional that you shall certainly not choose. For example a computer engineer shall immediately strike off subjects like Literature or may be subjects like Zoology and Biology. Medical students may strike off subjects like History or Geography or Law. Clear?
  3. Now go back to your school/college days and try to recollect the subject that interested you the most. The subject for which you never bunked the classes. The subject for which you were all ears in the class and that made you learn more and more about it.
  4. Go back to the list of remaining subjects.
  5. Now use the Factors-For and Factors-Against to choose the optional from the remaining list.

In the end, go with the optional take strikes a chord with you and not the one which is most successful or most popular. Happy Selection!


What to do after IAS Prelims 2015 Results?

Ah, so finally the results are out! The UPSC’s Official pdf for “IAS Prelims 2015 results” is hosted at this post – click here

Thought of having a small word with all of you before I come back again in more detail.

What if you cleared it?


First of all congratulations! So UPSC has given you the ticket to enter the ring. Now you to capitalize on it. Abhi bas ticket mili hai dost, picture abhi baki hai. You have a little over 60 days with you. And that’s all you have. No point in lamenting what you could have covered by now. Cover whatever you can now. Remember I stand by my assertion that about 50 percent of those who have cleared the Prelims might actually be the one who have not prepared anything at all waiting for result to be out. So your competition is only with the remaining half. Plan each day ahead, and I really mean each day, meticulously.

If at all, only a small fraction of the syllabus might be left for you to cover at least once. Finish it off as soon as possible and in any case by this month end.  Start revising what you have already covered and practice writing if you have not started already. Focus on the areas where you are most comfortable, revise them and strike it off from the syllabus list. It takes the burden off your head if you see the list of remaining topics go short. Do not leave any topic. If you cannot cover it in detail just have enough points to write at least 50 words on it. It might sound cliché but please start practicing writing.

One more thing, don’t wait for the last day to fill the DAF. Fill it very carefully. Read the instructions given to fill it. Fill the cadre and state preferences as you want them and not because some earlier topper suggested a particular order. You are the one who will get the service and state, not them. Be it your own choice as per your liking and preferences.


What if you did not clear it?


If you gave it for any reason other than for actually making it, then just party!

But if you really prepared for it and still could not make it, then don’t get disheartened (I understand it’s easier said than done). Whatever I might say here, tonight and a day or two ahead are going to be tough especially answering sadists that surround us. Be prepared to hear “Ye banenge IAS?” , “Ban gaye collector?”…It’s ok. It hurts. Really really hurts. But then it is for you to decide whether to want to get overwhelmed with such negative criticism or take it in your stride. You will get a chance to respond, you just need to reinvent your strategy.

Tonight just sleep over it. You might wish to cry. Do it. It unburdens your heart and clears your mind. Especially for guys, it is ok to cry.

Ok. So what next. See if you could not make it through then it means that there must be some inadequacy. And by this time you might already have known where you could have done better. Work over it. We shall come back to Prelims strategy pretty soon. Right now you can even take a break. Then keep preparing for Mains in the same momentum. Yes, I meant Mains only. That’s what we all prepare for. Prelims will be taken care of next time by you and us, together. We shall come with the strategy soon.