We’re overjoyed to announce the launch of Samachar Manthan for IAS 2021 – our flagship program for Current Affairs.
Absolutely no part of the IAS exam syllabus gets the level (even similar) of attention or emphasis as is received by Current Affairs. It is as ubiquitous as Oxygen on Earth, and for the exam, it’s importance is of similar magnitude.
In this informative article, we’ll discuss what makes Current Affairs indispensable for every stage of the IAS exam, and how to cover them and utilise them. (Check out the questions and links provided below)
As a would-be administrator, UPSC expects you to be fully aware of happenings in the local, national and international level. You must be aware of the current and future potential/problem/challenges faced by the society, economy, polity, governance structure, etc.. It’s not just about information and knowledge, you must have a sound understanding of the interconnectedness of various issues and topics.
Let’s start our analysis.
Importance of Current affairs for the exam
Interlinkages of current issues and basics
UPSC questions are interesting and at the same time challenging. Most of the times, UPSC uses current issues and links it with basic fundamental concepts in questions, which becomes tricky to answer. Take this question.
Q) “The Central Administration Tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority.” Explain. (UPSC 2019 Mains, GS Paper 2)
Here you’ll be using static part i.e. CAT and its powers ( most probably from Laxminkant for Polity), but Current Affairs will come in explaining the latter part, i.e. how CAT is using its mandate to act as an independent judicial authority.
Using Current Affairs will also give a context to this question and will bring relevance to your answer. Without interlinking it with Current Affairs your answer will be incomplete.
Current Affairs in Prelims
Pick up the UPSC prelims syllabus and guess what is mentioned in the first sentence. Yes, Current Affairs.
2016 onwards UPSC Prelims exam has been dominated by Current Affairs. Questions are being compiled directly from newspapers. Even the static part asked in Pre is asked because it was related to some current event in one way or the other.
Importance of CA in mains
Have a look at UPSC previous years mains question papers and you’ll be amazed to know the number of questions asked that are directly influenced by Current Affairs.
Even for GS Paper 1 which is considered to be dominated by static part of the syllabus from History, Culture, Geography, etc., this holds true. Look at the questions from GS Paper 1 here and observe the Current Affairs orientation.
Q1.) What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (UPSC 2019)
Q2.) Are we losing our local identity for the global identity? Discuss. (UPSC 2019)
Q3.) Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (UPSC 2018)
Q4.) Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times. (UPSC 2018)
Q5.) Discuss the factors for localization of agro-based food processing industries of North-West India. (UPSC 2019)
Similarly, in GS Paper 2, the questions have to be interlinked with Current Affairs but a majority of them are directly from the CA. These are some of the previous year questions.
Q1.) ‘Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of US’ withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias’.( UPSC 2019)
Q2.) In the light of recent controversy regarding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India? (UPSC 2018)
Q3.) Whether the Supreme Court Judgement (July 2018) can settle the political tussle between the Lt. Governor and elected government of Delhi? Examine. (UPSC 2018)
In GS Paper 3, as you can see from the above table, almost 95% of the questions are from Current Affairs. (Pick up the last year’s paper)
Importance in Essays
Topics curated in the Essay exam may seem random and abstract but all of them are highly relevant in the context of Current Affairs. They are there because the central idea of the topic was in the news.
Decide for yourself, these are the topics from Section B in UPSC 2019 Essay paper:
- South Asian societies are woven not around the state, but around their plural cultures and plural identities
- Neglect of primary health care and education in India are reasons for its backwardness
- Biased media is a real threat to Indian democracy
- Rise of Artificial Intelligence: the threat of jobless future or better job opportunities through reskilling and upskilling
Importance in interview
In Personality Tests often your opinions are asked on various issues and even from information provided in your DAF. Current Affairs make you aware of the surrounding and allow you to give practical answers to the problems faced by the country. Even till the last minute interview candidates can be seen with newspapers in their hands.
Other than all these stages Currents Affairs important for many of the Optional papers also.
Understanding and realising the importance of current affairs is just one part of the puzzle. You might be struggling with hundreds of other questions like- What all to read? From where to cover CA? What is important for Pre and what’s for Mains? How to make use of CA? (Yup, difficult questions)
How to cover Current Affairs for IAS 2021?
Samachar Manthan’s philosophy (It should be yours too!)
1. Diversified and comprehensive coverage
Your coverage should be extensive if not exhaustive. Various sources must be referred to, which include newspapers (The Hindu, The Indian Express, LiveMint, etc.), magazines (Yojana, Kurukshetra, EPW, Down to Earth), important websites (PIB, PRS, govt ministries, IDSA, etc.).
At Civilsdaily it’s done by a team under Sajal Sir, that goes through six national newspapers and four magazines, daily.
They research them thoroughly, go in and out of every news and find information relevant for UPSC. Carefully selected relevant news is analyzed and delivered in a weekly lecture spanning over 3 hours. Click to know more.
2. Segregating important from unimportant.
It includes two components: News you must cover and the one you can ignore. And from the important news, Prelims and Mains worthy information is extracted.
One should be able to anticipate what news could form a basis for UPSC mains question. Almost all aspirants struggle to segregate important news from the junk.
The following are the previous year questions that are directly based on the news pieces from popular publications like Down to Earth, LivemMint, Scroll, The Wire. The link of the sources has been given with the questions.
Q1.) If an amendment bill to the Whistleblowers Act, 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect.” Critically evaluate. (Source: Scroll.in)
Q2.) What can France learn from the Indian Constitution’s approach to secularism? (Source: The Wire)
Q3.) How can the mountain ecosystem be restored from the negative impact of development initiatives and tourism? (Source: Down To Earth)
Q4.) The public expenditure management is a challenge to the government of India in the context of budget-making during the post-liberalization period. Clarify it. (Source: Livemint)
What to ignore?
While your coverage should be comprehensive, there is news which you should ignore else you’re duplicating your efforts or wasting your time or doing both, and hence, bringing inefficiency to your preparation.
Examples: Op-ed with repeated themes on COVID and Fiscal stimulus.
Then there are news items like these, as given below. Have a look at them. Ignore them.
3. Extracting UPSC relevant information from the news
Now, this is the Holy Grail. If you fail to extract UPSC relevant information from the important current affairs, all your effort will go in vain. It is the most important skill and takes time to perfect it. Even students with multiple UPSC interview experiences struggle at this stage.
On how to do it, take the example of this news regarding Reverse Repo Rate.
News: How the reverse repo rate became the benchmark interest rate in the Indian economy?
The following are the mains and prelims worth topics that can be extracted from this single news item.
Mains relevant: Critically examine the efficacy of reverse repo rate as the benchmark interest rate in the Indian economy. “
Prelims relevant: Reverse repo rate, LTRO, Benchmark interest rate
4. Focus on Conceptual clarity
Rather than just learning and mugging up the information, the focus should be on understanding various dimensions, interlinkages, related issues, and conceptual clarity w.r.t. static parts as well.
5. Utilising information from Current Affairs.
It’s the ultimate purpose of doing Current Affairs. And being able to do this, you must be very regular with CA-based Mains answer writing, solving prelims questions and identifying errors and making required changes.
(Current Affairs based Mains answer writing is an important component of Samachar Manthan 2021)
Answer writing must become second nature of an IAS aspirant. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.“
6. Evaluation and active learning
Getting your views (in the form of answers) evaluated is an important step. You’ll not only know what mistakes you are committing but you’ll also learn important answer writing skills. Answer enhancement must be the focus (it’s in Samachar Manthan 2021).
(Through our platform Habitat and Civilsdaily’s Handholding, we’ll ensure that you are right on track.)
There is no doubt that Current Affairs is an important part of IAS exam preparation. But it should be done in a planned and strategic manner where every action of yours is objectively defined and results, measurable.
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We’ll talk in detail.