An IAS Officer is expected to be versatile, well aware, acquainted, informed, learned, compassionate, empathetic, ethical, honest, impartial………… The list can be intermittent. In nutshell, it can be inferred that an IAS officer should be of ideal persona, who can act as role model for his/her subordinates and citizens. He/she should have a work ethos which will take country and societies to the pinnacle of glory and inclusive development.
However, this can be easier said than done. These virtues would be difficult to own in a short span of time and hence can only be inculcated with stringent endeavours. In light of this, Swami Vivekananda’s “Evolution of Morality” should be highlighted: - “….We know that as knowledge comes, person grows, morality is evolved and idea of non-separateness begins. Whether men understand it or not, they are impelled by that power behind to become unselfish. That is the foundation of morality. It is the quintessence of all ethics, preached in any language, or any religion, or by any prophet in the world……”
An IAS aspirant should always mould oneself in such ideals. One should always face mirror in order to give the feedback to self continuously and should streamline one’s life to follow the noble path. Studies and intake of knowledge may not be influential, if its suitable application is not clear. Such belief system gets subtly analysed in a candidate in the form of “decision-making” in CSAT, Essay, GS-IV and interview. One cannot be artificial every time and hence, inculcating those value systems becomes imperative to present oneself as original as possible. Keeping above discussion in background, important issues to be focussed in Civil Services Examination are discussed in following paragraphs, emphasising mainly on general studies.
The newspaper reading forms a very critical part in the IAS Main Examination and Interview. However, it should be very selective. An aspirant should go for any renowned newspaper along with a business newspaper. The issues to be focussed in the newspapers should be anything which has a larger impact on the country as a whole, pertaining to the general masses. Delineating it further, any legislation, public policies, higher judiciaries’ decisions, important decisions of higher statutory institutions, ministries decisions, RBI’s policy, important committee’s recommendations, government reports, International events, India’s bilateral relations, New discoveries and inventions, major weather and environmental issues, internal and external security concerns etc. need to be taken care of. In addition to this, some special issues catering to cultural and other unique aspects can also be gone through in the newspapers.
Discussing specific subjects, let us start with Geography. The most prominent part of Geography is the clarity of concepts (especially, Physical Geography, Climatology, vegetation and agriculture). Understanding maps and spatial clarity form another vital area in Geography’s understanding. Any new locations in the news should be located on the maps (Atlas) and its vicinity, relative position with respect to India should be observed very carefully. Linking physical location, weather and climate patterns with vegetation, agriculture and lifestyles is desirable for an IAS aspirant too.
In History, important events, agreements, movements should be prepared with intricacies. Along with dates, places and concerned people, the impact of an event in broad perspective should also be analysed. Linkages with past events hold prime importance in History. Peasant movements, agrarian crises, mutinies, social movements and progressive commission hold extra vitality for IAS examination. However, too much of factual details can be avoided if linkages and concepts are understood properly.
Polity more or less pertain to Indian Polity. Hence the salient features of Indian constitution, its themes, Fundamental Rights, DPSPs, process of legislation, legislatures, executives, judiciary, statutory and non-statutory institutions need to be prepared succinctly. However, factual details about the articles can be avoided. Mains examination demands deeper and conceptual analysis of these details vis-à-vis contemporary happenings in and around the nation. Mains examination also asks about international affairs and India’s relations, welfare schemes, pressure groups and other burning issues.
Generally Speaking, Economics is again related to Indian Economy only. The evolution of Indian economy (and economics), Fiscal economics, Monetary economics, Micro and Macro Economics, Poverty, Unemployment, Capital and Money Markets, Inflation, Inclusive Development and Socio Economic issues form the significant focus areas in Economics section. This subject should be more inclined to contemporary development, with the help of newspapers, Economic Survey, RBI’s policies, Various Committee’s recommendations and so on.
Environment Sciences have been one of the darling subject matter of UPSC off lately. Preliminary examination has been showing enormous inclination towards this. Hence, it becomes imperative for any serious aspirant to take it up very seriously. Its main focus areas are Climate Change, Environmental Pollution, Biodiversity and its conservation and Ecosystem. Topics like Environmental Impact Assessment, decisions of NGT and other environment legislation forms the important part of the IAS mains examination.
Art and Culture
Art and Culture has also seen gradual inflation in the number of questions. Mains examination’s weightage varies from 20-30 marks, but in preliminary examination approximately 10 questions are asked every year. The prominent portion consists of Music, Dance, Painting, (all from medieval till contemporary times) Architecture, literature (these two should mainly be focussed for ancient) and features of Indus Valley Civilization.
However, all such focus areas are only indicative and definitely not exhaustive. This article consists of very general, traditional and highlighted portions. As an aspirant spends substantial time amidst preparation, he/she will definitely would be in a position to which all topics to espouse and which all to abjure. More of the understanding can also be ameliorated by observing minute details of previous years question papers, emerging trends and theme of their question. It is highly advisable to develop one’s own perception vis-à-vis important areas or focus areas.