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!

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By Amit Bhardwaj

Engineer by training | Educationist at heart | Indulgences? Reading, Quizzing and Teaching.

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