Monday, 11 August 2014

Strategy For Preparation Of Political Science

                 Political Science And International Relations 

Why I chose it??

The only reason was i loved reading constitution and International Relations while preparing for my GS. And I think it was good enough reason to choose pol sc. as one of the optional. Though I was unaware of the Political thinkers hurdle I had to face once I started with this optional. The other minor reasons which ultimately proved right were-
1. Helped in GS II (scored a decent 70 without much preparation)
2. Helped in my Essay in First attempt (creation of small states)
3. Helped in my Interview (questions on constitution and IR are very commom)
                              Still I got 212 in my optional which despite decent is not a satisfactory score which showed my lack of preparation. so i have tried to include the preparation strategy of two of my friends and fellow rank holders in CSE 2013.. Dr. Aditya Prakash (AIR 79) who secured 208 marks and Nimit Goyal(AIR 164) who secured 225 plus. also i have talked to Shubhra Ranjan mam who has given her valuable tips which i will try to include here.

Time Needed.??

I think a minimum of 3 months are required to finish one reading but that wouldn't be sufficient as you need to revise 2-3 times more to grasp the crux of pol sc specially thinkers part. so it will take time but comparing the magnitude of upsc syllabus it is covering (GS II, ESSAY, INTERVIEW) the time spent is worthy enough.

How To Start

I will suggest one should start from the parts which are interesting. 
Study of Constitution can be your starting point as it also covers your GS. Even if you want to drop this subject at later stage there is no loss if you have started with constitution plus it will make your interest in the subject.
1. Indian Constitution At Work is the NCERT book I started with. Actually this book dragged my interest into Pol. Sc.
2. You may also start with other books like political theory etc.

Books Topicwise??

Paper I

Western Political Thought

1. Subrata Mukherjee or Susheela Ramaswamy or Brian Nelson (as per SHUBHRA mam's advice)
 I read shubhra mam notes for this. My friends too read those notes.
the books which are mentioned can be used for reference if u have time (say you are appearing next year)

Political Theory

OP Gauba And Rajeev Bhargava (SR Advice)
Me and my Friends read Notes And OP Gauba only

Indian Political Thought

VR Mehta (SR= Reference)
We read Notes. This portion is useful for Ethics Paper also.

Indian National Movement

One And Only Bipin Chandra
I also added some material from CHRONICLE issues.

Indian Constitution And Politics

DD Basu by me along with SR notes and also Rao's old notes of my friend.
Nimit and Aditya recommends BL Fadia too.
This is such an Important part as it covers most of GSII.. you can also read and do some value addition from various magazines like ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY.

DD Basu or Laxmikanth??
I found DD basu better. But you can follow any book which keeps you interested.


Comparative Politics

IGNOU notes are sufficient for comprehensive study.

Theory of International Politics and World Politics

Global politics by ANDREW HEYWOOD (as suggested by SR mam)
I mainly relied on internet to cover this part along with the notes.
World Focus was another magazine i used to read in between. is a good site to follow.

IR and Foreign Policy

1.Chronicle Magazine
2. Diplomacy section
3. IDSA and MEA sites (less oftenly)
4. The Hindu
5. World Focus
IR is very dynamic plus it includes a large portion og GSII. you have to keep yourself updated with the sources mentioned above and others which you can find

My preparation was based on SR mam's notes and Rao's notes plus
2. CHRONICLE magazine
4. DD basu
the books which are mentioned otherwise are suggested by my friends and mam. I will request you to please take these boks as reference books to add variety and quality in your answers but try to follow only one  book for each topic.

How to learn Articles, amendments and schedules??

schedules are easy to learn. just revise them a few times.
you don't have to memorise all the articles and amendments which we tend to do in the beginning. Just read them once and on subsequent readings you can judge yourself that some of them are repeating themselves in every other chapter and those are the ones which you need to remember. I made a separate List of Important amendments and articles and pasted them on my wall. which helped me in remembring them for longer periods.

How to attempt question paper??

1. I tried to follow the same approach as I used in attempting GS papers that is
a. writing a small intro
b. content in short paras according to word limit assigned. larger the word limit larger the paras
c. balanced conclusion
d. underlining important points even making boxes or encircling few imortant words
2. I always tried to attempt more (max 3) ques from section 2 which was bit dynamic in nature. since section 1 was theoretical, the views of examiner could vary. try to write a balanced answer in section 2.

Final Advice

Choosing political science as an optional or for that matter any subject as an optional is just like learning to swim. you may do a lot of analysis and research on them but you cant learn how to swim unless you enter the water. so take it calmly at the start. give your subject enough time and if u work hard enough the subject will give you enough marks.. 

Friday, 11 July 2014


                                      MY JOURNEY( UPSC AIR 28)

Name- DR. Himanshu Aggarwal

Age- 26 yrs

Place Of Birth- village rania distt Sirsa Haryana.. I was born there at my maternal grandparents home because the conditions in Punjab at that time were not good and also due to some family problems.

Hometown- Ferozepur cantt.. Punjab.. a border town 10 km away from indo-pak border

Education- DC Model SR. SEC. School.. Ferozepur upto 12th
                     Guru Gobind Singh Medical College Faridkot- 30 km from
                     Ferozepur.. graduated in 2010

Job- working as a rural medical officer in a village since my graduation

Previous attempts at upsc- First in 2011.. was called for intrvw.. got 190/300 but less marks in mains. This was my 2nd attempt.
                    Why UPSC..??

My childhood dream. A DC is considered as someone in our area who has the solution for everything. As a child I had a fascination of becoming a DC as I wanted to do a lot for our society (mind it this is not my interview answer).. moreover I wanted to become one since 8th class as u very well know.. J

               First Shot at UPSC??

In my college days I was not so serious to appear in UPSC.. I was mostly active in co curricular activities and never thought about appearing for it.. in 2010 I heard rumours of CSAT being introduced in prelims. I considered myself of possessing a good aptitude and thought that I can take a chance with it. Then I filled the form in 2011 when already I had joined my job. Honestly I dint study for it until june when just 15 days were left for pre. Then I downloaded some ques papers from internet to practice csat paper 1 and 2 jus to have the feel of the prelims. Nobody was there to guide me. Still I went to take pre.

                        PRELIMS 2011

GS was a disaster.. I dint knw anything.. I jus marked all the ques though every mark was an educated guess..
Paper 2 went jus opposite. It seemed that I knew almost all the ques. I was pretty happy
Next 2-3 days I tried to analyse my performance through answer keys that were doin the round on internet.
My projected score
GS- 30
Paper 2- 170 (cut off came out to be 198.. so pretty lucky)
I thought that I wont clear my pre at all.. still I wanted to give a good attempt next year. So I started with GS. I am not giving details cz my study material at that time is not worth mentioning. After 2 mnths pre results were declared n I cleard it to my great surprise.

                              MAINS 2011

I decided to take political science and geology as my optional after my result.. I had jus 2 mnths to prepare for my subjects..  I put in almost 12 hours everyday and gave my mains with almost negligible preparation( according to upsc standards).. paper went jus fyn..

                         INTERVIEW 2012

Again with zero expectations I checked my result and to my pleasant surprise my roll no was there.. I was happy and prepared for my interview.. I also attended 2 mocks with vajiram which gave me the feel of upsc interview.. upsc interview went quite well..

                           I missed final cut off by 16 marks getting 190/300 in my interview.. I thought with this preparation if I can reach the stage of interview what if I put in extra hard work and efforts.. in short 2011 enlightened me about my desire to clear upsc.. the purpose of tellin dis story is to motivate people who fear upsc n dint even dare to give an attempt though they aspire for it..

I missed my prelims and decided to give a serious attempt next year.. I had to work upon my shortcomings and along vid job I needed a fixed schedule for studies.. I made the following time table for me..

8 am to 2 pm   JOB(6 hrs)
2 pm to  6 pm  SLEEP(4 hrs)
6 pm to 9 pm- friends family fraternity- 3F’s (3 hrs)
9pm upto 3 am STUDY( 6hrs)
 3 am to 5 am SLEEP(2 hrs) dat is 4+2 =6 hrs
5 am to 8 am Myself- jogging badminton table tennis (3 hrs) dat is 3+3= 6 hrs
I called it 6-6-6-6 schedule for my job, study, sleep and misc respectively
In short I reversed my body clock of sleeping to adjust accordingly.. the reason was 
1.       No one to disturb me while m studyin at nyt
2.     No phone no frnz while I was sleeping in the evening
3.     I had to reach my job so will definitely wake up at around 7 no matter when I sleep.. slowly with time (10 days) I adjusted with this and never felt tired throughout the day..
                                    This schedule worked wonders for me..

                 MY PREPARATION IN 2012
FOR GS both pre and mains
1.       Spectrum book comprehensive
2.     Ncert 9th to 12th
3.     The hindu
4.     Chronicle magazine monthly and special issues (have a exclusive 4 year collection of all chronicle magazines released till now).. reason it’s the only magazine available here..
6.     IYB special portions( sc and tech, ecology, govt schemes, energy)

Political science

1.       DD basu
2.     Shubra ranjan mam notes bought from a book shop
3.     Rau’s old notes given by my friend
4.     Chronicle issues

1.       The hindu.. I have written jus two long essays in my life.. dat is in my upsc mains exams (got 103/200 and 125/250).. so I suggest don’t follow my approach and practice a lot for essay writing.


I used my own approach for newspaper reading.. I made different files of POL SC, ECONOMICS, SCIENCE AND TECH, ECOLOGY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS and MISC
I used to read articles from hindu and cut paste it on different files according to the subject concerned.. then after 1 month I used to review every file and discard the news which was unnecessarily pasted there(mind it there were many)  and revised which were important.. therefore I had good collection of important articles from himdu..


Hindi and English- just read UNIQUE last 10 yrs solved papers
So I prepared from these till april 2013 and in MAY 2013 I geared up for my LAST STAND..

                                   PRE 2013

1.     I analysed last 2 yrs pre papers for gs n found out following conclusions..
a.     Ecology and biodiversity ques  weightage has increased
b.     Ancient and medieval history ques are asked less oftenly.. even if dey are asked it is too difficult to ans dem.. even if u have in depth knowledge
c.      Current affairs weightage reduced
d.     Economics and political science more concept based than factual..
e.     Art and culture ques difficult but scoring ones.. answerin dem will give u an extra advantage over oder candidates..
2.     Keeping dese points in mind I started following books to read
a.     GEOGRAPHY.. NCERT and spectrum for physical n human geography 
CHRONICLE magazine SPECIAL issue on ecology and NCERT for ecology and biodiversity
b.     HISTORY.. CHRONICLE special issue on MODERN history and spectrum for overview of ancient and  medieval history
c.      POLITICAL SC..  it was my subject.. still read it from DD basu and CHRONICLE
d.     ECONOMICS- and chronicle
e.     ECOLOGY- chronicle and IYB
f.       SCIENCE AND TECH- IYB and OFFCOURSE chronicle..
1.     Never had to stay in delhi
2.     Paid 1/10th amount of money for these test series than if I have subscribed them directly from the institutes

I practiced one test paper each for one day for I think 30 days. They helped a lot.


Guys it came naturally to me as I have mentioned in my 2011 attempt.. never read any book.. jus practiced few test papers of VAJIRAM and CL(bought from delhi as mentioned earlier).. though I have seen people doin RS AGGARWAL and WREN MARTIN (English) for paper 2.. plz don’t follow my approach and practice hard for it as u feel lyk..

I did my PRE well and analysed my score.. I knew I would clear it quite comfortably.. final PRE score ( GS 120 and CSAT 175)

Immediately after giving my PRE I started preparing for MAINS.. (which is the best approach evn if ur pre has nt been done well )

MAINS 2013

I needed answer writing practice for my mains.. so I joined VISION IAS test series through correspondence.. I could give jus 7 tests out of 18 bt it worked well for me.. I learnt how to write an answer in mains through the feedback I got from the examiners.. result-  in my first test of series I got 90/250 and in my 7th test I got 126/250 one of the highest.. I am explaining my answer writing approach which I followed in mains..
1.       Write a short intro of about 3-4 lines or about 30-40 words.. u can tell about historical background or even start with an example.
2.     Then content of about 120 words.. content can be written either in short paras or in points or bullets according to the ques asked
3.     Do underline cue words or u can make box around headings like ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES, SUGGESTIONS, WAY OUT etc, to make sure that examiner doesn’t miss them.. do not use a highlighter
4.     Write a balanced answer. Tell about the positive and the negative things too.. also mention the way out and future consequences.. the length of each portion should vary according to ques asked
5.     Write an ending of about 30-40 words which should reflect ur balanced approach

           BOOKS n NOTES(along with what I have mentioned and read in 2012)
MODERN HISTORY- chronicle special issue, ncert
World HISTORY- chronicle special issue, ncert
SOCIO- NCERT, Vision ias notes (though notes were not that good)

POL SC.. my subject notes which I have mentioned earlier plus vision ias notes(good)
Sriram notes plus crackias notes (courtesy my friends in delhi- Photostat)
Chronicle monthly issue September onwards plus chronicle lexicon
Security- vajiram notes (highly recommended)
Disaster management- chronicle
Art and culture- ncert and chronicle
Sc. And tech- vision ias notes
Current affairs- hindu, chronicle, current affairs, MRUNAL.ORG(highly recommended)
(plz dnt feel I am brand ambassador of chronicle.. its just that in my town it is readily available)
Guys, I use to visit delhi every 2nd week on a holiday and stayed vid my frnz dere.. they were really helpful.. I spent a lot of time at various book shops in rajendra nagar in search of good material for that one day.. I chose material on the basis of simple language and proper material.. I also took views from my frnz dere.. material from different sources ultimately added variety in my answers
For essay, language and pol sc I have already mentioned above,my study material .. did nothing different
My study schedule of 6-6-6-6 remained the same for two years and on a holiday it was 12-6-6 as my job hours were included in my study hours..
I did my mains well and knew that I will clear my mains bt was not sure whether I will jus clear or clear with ease..


As I was expecting.. I cleared my mains.. I was always comfortable with my interview part as I had got god marks in interview in my first attempt without any special preparation.. however this time I prepared hard and focused on my profile.. I extensively made use of internet and read different online articles from THE HINDU, THE TIMES OF INDIA, YOJANA, FRONTLINE, INDIA TODAY etc to strengthen my opinion formation part.. being a doctor that too in service I was ready for ques on that part.. I went to delhi5 days before my interview and attended one mock each at VAJIRAM (not useful) and CHANAKYA( coz I wanted to have a video interview to analyse myself- worked well) and a personal session with ravindram sir that went pretty well.. for 4-5 days I talked completely in English with people in DELHI (even talked with a foreigner deliberately just to check my flow and confidence).. posting a brief transcript here

Me- may I come in sir
VM- yess please come.. is this your photograph??
Me- (I thought there is some problem in my pic as I was lookin too fair in that-lolz) yess sir.
VM- okay have a seat
Me- thank you sir..
VM- dr. aggarwal.. you are serving in a rural area as a doctor for past 4 yrs.. why do you want to leave such a noble thing you are doing.
Me-(well prepared) a doctor I can only cure the problems.. as an administrator I can prevent the problems of all fields from happenin them to occur altogether and it is well known that prevention is better than cure..
VM- (looking pleased)- okay do u think u can use ur experience as a doc in civil services??
Me- sir we follow an approach in medical services where we listen to patient’s problems , think about various solutions, apply the best solution and then also follow up for his healthy life.. sir I can use the similar approach in civil services to fulfill my goals
VM- (visibly impressed) okay (pass on to next member)
Member1 (lady)- himanshu u r from Haryana (my place of birth as mentioned in form).. have you faced any social pressure from KHAAAAP PANCHAAAYA(with an accent) regarding female foeticide??
Me- mam I was just born in haryana.. I hail from Punjab and working there only.. and sorry mam can u plz repeat the 2nd part of ur ques
Mam- have you faced any social pressure from KHAAAAP PANCHAAAYA(with an accent and feeble voice) regarding female foeticide??
Me(not again)- I am extremely sorry mam I am not able to hear you..(heart pounding)

Me- (with a smile) oh.. mam since I am working in Punjab there is not such issue of KHAP PANCHAYAT(insisting on my altogether different pronounciation) but yess I have been informed about few covert cases of female foeticide
Mam- so how do you deal with them as a doc??
Me- mam I have no authority right now to deal with them.. the only thing I can do is to inform medical and civil authorities about anything suspicious.. and infact this substantiates my point of entering into Civil services where I can PREVENT such things by having some authority( looking at the chairman)
2nd member- okay polio has been eradicated from india.. hw will you ensure it wont reoccur..??
Me- explained in detail(read in THE hindu few days ago)
3rd member- suppose you are workin in Haryana.. then hw would u deal with khap panchayat.. on issues like honour killing??
Me- (nt again) sir for me LAW OF THE LAND is foremost.. I will act according to what is written in law if a heinous crime like honour killing has taken place in an area under my supervision.. bt since my approach will be PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE.. I will regularly hold meetings with such social organizations and make them aware of the changing times through seminars, plays and lectures.. but no half measures with serious crimes
4th member- asked me about essential drug list, compulsory licensing, middle east trouble and reasons and interlinking rivers..
Me(he took 15/40 mins)- answered accordingly- conceptual ques

CM- okay himanshu.. I will ask one ques on pol sc.. do u remember the preamble..??
Me- (surprised)- sir I don’t remember the exact wording bt I can tell about its features..
CM- no just tell me about its starting and ending..
Me-  sir it starts with “we the people of India”
CM- what does that signify
Me- sir it signifies that the constitution was not merely prepared by few educated people but they were the representatives either nominated or elected, of the people of india and represent their wishes and desires in the constituent assembly and hence constitution is prepared by the people of india in which their wishes are inherently expressed..
CM- okay what about endin and its meaning??
Me- sir it ends by “do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves”….
CM- (cutting me in between) its meaning??
Me- sir it means that the features and provisions mentioned in constitution will be applied on all the citizens of the country and further decisions will be guided by this constitution which was being adopted and enacted then.. (was not sure of my answer)
CM- okay himanshu (smilingly) u may go now..
Me- thank you sirs.. thank u mam

                         I was pretty happy with my interview.. I finally got 195/275 which is a decent score..

Managing without coaching and with job??

Remember three words
1.Sincerity- you have to be sincere with yourself.. you have to repeatedly ask ques from ur inner self.. suppose you are goin for a movie.. you have to ask urself.. do I deserve this movie..?? have I worked hard enough in the past few days that I can take  break and watch a movie?? If your answer is YES then go watch it.. if NO then go study and believe me your heart will guide you
2. Regularity- you have to be regular.. you have to put in some minimum hours everyday.. I had fixed a target of 6 hours for me.. I never had a single day when I had studied for less than 6 hours.. yess more hours were always welcomed.. its better to study 6 hours each for 3 days rather than studyin 18 hours a day and taking a 2 day rest..
3. Repetition- you have to revise what you have studied 4 or  5 times or you are going to forget it soon.. I have an example.. I use to read HANUMAN CHALISA as a child when I was 6 yrs old.. when I read it again and again I memorized it then at such a young age that is speaking Awadhi for 2 mins continuously.. many of you might have the same experience.. the point is if a 6 yr old child can learn difficult shaloks of Awadhi by reading again, we 20 plus adults can memorise jus anything by repetition.. so
          SINCERITY, REGULARITY, REPETITION were my mantras of life.. you can make your own.. sometimes i think I WAS DESTINED to be here.. Sometimes i thin it was my sheer hard work.. i think it was combination of both.. guys I had tried to be very specific n cumulative in one blog.. I hope it can help you in some way.. take care J