Wednesday, May 23, 2012


1. History of Modern India and Indian
Culture : I had read Bipin Chandra and Spectrum – Repetitive reading of Spectrum’s book is enough for this topic in my opinion. Beyond that, the law of diminishing returns comes into play and reduces your RoI (return on investment)

2. Geography of India : NCERTs
I read TMH manual and NCERTs of standard XI and XII for this portion. I had scanned through Goh cheng leong before prelims for conceptual clarity, but considering the paucity of time after pre, it isn’t prudent to delve into it now

3. Constitution of India and Indian Polity:
DD Basu is a fantastic source for this portion. I made notes of polity from this book before pre and kept updating and revising these notes. This book does require some patience but once you get a hang of what the author is saying, you’ll gain immense conceptual clarity. Other than this, I did a single reading from TMH manual. Also, latest amendments and bills are to be kept in view. Abridged version of IYB and internet catered to this requirement. I always kept a copy of the constitution handy while reading this topic. If done well, this takes care of a major portion of PA-2 as well.

4. Current National Issues and Topics of
Social Relevance : - I’ve mentioned the sources in a previous post. The newspaper is the key. I’ve also stated my strategy for making notes from the newspaper in a previous post.

1. India and the World :
I’ve dealt with this in detail in an earlier post (note making strategy). The sources are – newspapers for the dynamic part, books by reetika Sharma, vn khanna etc. for the static part
2. India’s Economic Interaction with the
World :
Again, newspaper for the dynamic part
Internet for the static part (WTO, WIPO, IMF, etc.)
3. Developments in the Field of Science
& Technology, IT and space :
News papers, chronicle (relevant sections), Internet (search under broad categories – developments in robotics, space tech, biotech, nanotech, etc. – wiki has dedicated pages for them and they are useful)
4. International Affairs and Institutions :
Wikipedia  - first download a list of international orgs of which india is a member – then create a collection of wikipages for orgs you feel are important or are in news….revise this repository before exam
5. Statistical analysis, graphs and diagrams
:The book by spectrum is enough – read the theory part as well

Other than this, I forgot to mention a source that I feel would be useful. Vajiram’s yellow books which are released just before mains are quite useful. There were three booklets and I read them once – cover to cover. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

topic-wise sources for PA-2

Indian Administration
1. Evolution of Indian Administration:----- both arora goyal and fadia
2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework
of government:------------------------------------------------------ DD Basu
Salient features and value premises; Constitutionalism;-------DD Basu
Political culture; -----------------Internet
and democracy; --------------------------Super50
Bureaucracy and
3. Public Sector Undertakings:-----------------------------Fadia
4. Union Government and Administration:--------------------Fadia, few portions from Sadana
5. Plans and Priorities:-----------------------Fadia
6. State Government and Administration:----------------Fadia
7. District Administration since Independence:---------------Fadia, Arora goyal
8. Civil Services:---------------Fadia
9. Financial Management:---------Fadia (can be supplemented with IGNOU BA if you have time - i didn't)
10. Administrative Reforms since Independence:--------Fadia
11. Rural Development:----------------Fadia, I had a scan (pdf) for this portion taken from the Book Governance in India by Laxmikanth (for governance and rights issues)
12. Urban Local Government:---------------Fadia, Super50, pdf mentioned above
13. Law and Order Administration:------------------Fadia
14. Significant issues in Indian Administration:-----Fadia, Super50

ARC reports - I read some reports in full and read extracts from others. I would recommend reading these reports as they provide you with both content and quality, not only for PA-2 but also GS and Essay.

I’ve already described my strategy for making notes in a previous post. I started with previous 10 years’ questions as the nucleus and expanded outwards, creating a thought framework for each question and jotting down pointers for related topics. Value addition is important in PA-2 answers and can be easily done by invoking (1) Thinkers from PA-1; (2) Personalities who have shaped the particular aspect of administration that the question deals with; (3) Examples from current affairs – I extracted these from newspapers and placed in the relevant portion of my notes regularly. I made sure that I had revised my notes many times before the D-day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

GS strategy

Since I ended up getting much less than expected in GS, I would suggest the following link for GS strategy (Mr. Kannan Gopinathan, Rank 59 - He has scored 272 in GS)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

more resources for sociology

I found the following blogs helpful for zeroing in on resources for sociology -

My approach for paper-2 was similar to the one adopted in the second link. For paper-1, I've already described my methods in a previous post. The key is to pick and chose as per one's own convenience, keeping in mind the individual capabilities and constraints. The bottomline is that the syllabus has to be kept in mind and no stone is to be left unturned while covering it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I wrote the following in response to one of the queries I received with respect to Pubad preparations. These are some general guidelines which I think may be useful for other aspirants as well - 

 1. Restrict your sources and study them repeatedly 2.Use thinkers and their quotes - especially the shorter and catchy ones (the quotes I mean, not the thinkers :p), but don't overdo it 3. Begin your answers well - attract the examiner's attention 4. stick to what is asked, do not go astray 5. do not shy away from using examples from your study of current affairs 6. I made a diagram only in one question (media is parliament of citizens), I wrote in paragraphs and underlined whatever I wanted the examiner to see 7. Write intelligent and mature answers - let them be lucid and readable   8. Take care of the language you are using in your answers - This comes automatically from the humongous amount of reading you are going to do for this exam 9. Longer answers do not necessarily fetch better marks, smarter ones do

My Marksheet




Monday, May 14, 2012

Topic-wise sources for PA-1

Administrative Theory
1. Introduction:
Meaning, scope and significance of Public
Administration; ------------------------------------------IGNOU-MA Booklet
Wilson’s vision of Public
Administration;------------------------------------------Prasad & Prasad
Evolution of the discipline
and its present status; ----------------------------------IGNOU, Super 50, Fadia
New Public Administration;----------------------------IGNOU Booklet
Public Choice approach; --------------------------------- Fadia, IGNOU Booklet
of liberalization, Privatisation,
Globalisation; ---------------------------------------------IGNOU, Fadia
Good Governance: concept
and application; ------------------------------------------IGNOU, Fadia
New Public Management.--------------------------------IGNOU, Fadia
2. Administrative Thought:-----------------------------------------------------Prasad & Prasad
3. Administrative Behaviour:------------------------------------------------Stephen Robbins, Fadia
4. Organisations:----------------------------------------------------Fadia, , Super50, Sadana
5. Accountability and control:-------------------------------------,Fadia, Super50, Laxmikanth
6. Administrative Law:----------------------------------- Fadia,  Sharma Sadana(for Dicey’s critique),
7. Comparative Public Administration:-----------------------Fadia, Prasad(for Riggs), Laxmikanth
8. Development Dynamics:-----------------------------------------------Fadia, Super50
9. Personnel Administration:---------------------------------------Fadia
10. Public Policy:----------------------------------------------------IGNOU MA (cursory reading), Mohit Bhattacharya & Fadia for models of policy making, Prasad for thoughts of Dror, IGNOU BA notes probably have this in detail but I skipped them
11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement:----------Fadia, Super50
12. Financial Administration:---------------------------------Fadia

I used a combination of direct revision from the book and making notes for some topics in PA-1. I read and re-read Prasad & Prasad for thinkers; I treated Papers 1 and 2 as an integrated whole and supplemented a lot of topics from PA-1 with PA-2 aspects and vice-versa. (e.g. Fadia for Paper-2 has many topics which are indispensable for paper-1 as well). As with other subjects, I kept a copy of the syllabus and previous years' questions handy for focused study. Also, at the fag end of my prep, I read Super-50 by Shubhra Saxena from cover to cover as a revision aid along with my notes and topics marked in books.

My Essay

TOPIC - In the Indian context, both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism

This was my introduction

Men and women often take great pride in having been able to forge the sword of technological evolution in their quest to rule nature. Little did they realise that in the process, they would end up gashing their own hands, and hearts. The wounds run deep and the only cure is the ever so elusive admixture of peace, harmony and cooperation. One such wound is the emergence of the hydra-headed demon called terrorism.

This was my conclusion
Pablo Picasso once remarked - "Unless you destroy, you cannot create." What we need in this ominous hour are not correction slips but transformative changes in our security architecture and social, economic and political outlook. The objective is to enable harmonious interplay of human and technical intelligence to effectively curb this menace. With a youthful population and a demographic dividend in the offing, one can certainly be hopeful that vox populi would rise to the occasion and drive the shining diamond that is India, into a realm where winds of peace and prosperity blow about freely and the dark clouds of terrorism, in absence of any raisons-d'etre, are dissipated forever.

This is how i approached the topic

1. emergence of terrorism as a hydra headed demon
2. glimpse of forms and bases of terrorism and the role of human and tech intelligence in both controlling or exacerbating it
3. human intelligence and various perspectives on it----international, national, community - civil society and media----with failures and lessons learnt for india
4. technological intelligence perspectives ---lacunaes and suggestions drawn from national and international experience to be applied in india
5. need for harmonious interplay between human and tech intelligence to curb the menace
6. vision for future

wrote about 1200 words

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Here is an example from my notes -

Please bear in mind that these are ultra-shortened versions - notes made from notes! after multiple readings - meant solely for the purpose of glancing through before the exam. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Making notes

Following are the subject-wise strategies I followed for making notes (I didn’t make notes for any subject other than the ones mentioned below) –

1. India and the World – As posted earlier, I had a file of important facts and figures jotted down from the newspapers along with the cuttings that I would industriously collect every Sunday. At the fag end of my preparation (before mains) I prepared an excel sheet. Each worksheet of that excel file was dedicated to a different country (e.g. India – US, India – Myanmar, etc.) I divided each worksheet into two parts – background and foreground. The background listed out the important historical milestones that have shaped the progress of that country and its relations with India. This background was mostly summarized from books on IR that I have listed earlier. The foreground, summarized from the books as well as the newspaper cuttings and aforementioned facts, would concern itself with relatively contemporary events shaping our relations right up to the present day. This way, I had the entire IR matter summarized in a single excel file.  In a nutshell, this is what I did : (1) Read books on IR for background knowledge + Read newspapers and magazines for contemporary events, take cuttings and jot down points (2) Summarize it all in an excel file for revision before exam

2. International Affairs and Institutions, other current affairs, science and tech – I followed a strategy similar to what is given above : Read, take extracts and notes, summarize further for final revision

3. Polity – I had made notes from DD Basu, which I feel is a fantastic source for polity. I kept revising and updating these notes with information gathered from newspapers and internet. I repeatedly revised these notes and always kept a copy of bare act by Bakshi handy for quick reference.

4. Public Administration Paper 2 – I bought a compendium of previous ten years’ papers . I divided the questions topic-wise (as per syllabus). I then began preparing thought framework for each question – and on the next page I went beyond what was asked and jotted down other related points in a similar format. For example, in a question on the tussle between the cabinet secretariat and PMO, I created a TFW after having read the topic from the sources mentioned below. On the next page I made a flowchart of the evolution of PMO  (this was asked in the main exam!). Thus, I started with the previous years’ questions as the nucleus and then expanded outwards to cover the entire syllabus. After having completed the notes, I glanced through the textbooks to make sure I hadn’t left anything uncovered (while keeping in view the syllabus). Other than that, the newspaper articles relevant to the subject were placed in the notes for quick revision.

5. Public Administration Paper 1 – I started making notes for PA-1 quite late, much after prelims, which is why my notes weren’t as elaborate for this subject. I, however, did manage to jot down the core points of each subtopic which enabled a quick revision in the end. Thoughts of leaders, theorists etc. on various topics were especially stressed upon. The sources for this subject have been mentioned in a previous post.

6. Sociology Paper – 2 : The numerous booklets of IGNOU would be too tedious to be revised at the end and therefore, I made synoptic notes for this subject, taking special care that none of the case studies given in IGNOU booklets failed to find space in my notes. These case studies formed the skeletal structure of most of my answers in Socio-2 exam. I placed the relevant newspaper cuttings and 4-5 case studies from internet (couldn’t find time for more) in my notes.

7. Sociology Paper-1 : mentioned in a previous post
8. International organizations – I created a PDF from wikepedia pages that I found relevant for the exam

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sociology Paper - 1

Here is how I approached Sociology paper-1. I began with the old edition of Haralambos. It is a fantastic book for understanding the subject and its scope. I did not read the book from cover to cover and confined myself strictly to the syllabus. This initiated me into the realm of sociology. I then moved on to IGNOU’s BA notes which are an extremely useful compilation of sociological knowledge. I also scanned through a few chapters of Giddens to get a hang of the subject. Before Prelims, I had made some notes for the first 3 chapters of paper 1 and had read some of the thinkers. I had by then acclimatized myself with the subject and also understood that the old edition of Haralambos was necessary but insufficient. After prelims, I started filling the gaps and expanding my notes….I began referring to the new updated version of Haralambos, internet, etc. (The topic-wise sources are given below). Though my notes were pretty extensive, I remained alive to the problems associated with inclusion of every topic in the notes. Therefore, at certain places, I left “flags” -  page nos. or references in my notes so that the topics best read whole from the book could be referred in a logical and sequential manner during revision – (For example, Talcott Parson’s pattern variables – to be read from new Haralambos, The end result was that by the end of my preparation, I had a bunch of notes that could be revised in a single day – It consisted of my notes of around 200 pages, old and new Haralambos (for referred pages), and a couple of booklets of IGNOU BA (out of many). I must have revised this bunch 4-5 times. I must also emphasize the importance of keeping a copy of previous 10 years’ questions handy, along with the syllabus. I made sure that there wasn’t a question asked in previous 10 years that I couldn’t answer.

Here is what I could manage for Sociology Paper-1

1. Sociology - The Discipline:-------IGNOU BA, old NCERT, old Haralambos, internet

2. Sociology as Science:------old & new Haralambos

3. Research Methods and Analysis:-----New Haralambos, dictionary of sociology by WP Scott / oxford dictionary of sociology

4. Sociological Thinkers:--------Old & New Haralambos, some comparative analyses and remaining topics from IGNOU BA (only what is not covered by Haralambos)

5. Stratification and Mobility: Old Haralambos, IGNOU BA

6. Works and Economic Life: IGNOU BA, Giddens, internet.

7. Politics and Society: Old Haralambos, Giddens, IGNOU BA

8. Religion and Society: Old Haralambos, IGNOU BA, internet

9. Systems of Kinship: IGNOU BA, dictionaries, (minor portions from Giddens and Haralambos)

10. Social Change in Modern Society: IGNOU BA, previous years’ questions, internet

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reading The Hindu

I followed "The Hindu" only. Some people may like to follow more than one newspaper but for me it would reduce the RoI (return on investment) since I was hard pressed for time. So instead of reading three papers once, I read one paper thrice! This is how I read the newspaper -

1. First Reading - I would mark the articles to be extracted in whole for their value either in terms of knowledge, language or other significant aspects. I would encircle facts important from the point of two markers.
2. Second Reading - Every Sunday, I would take the week's 7 papers, cut the marked articles and scan them quickly before filing them in a box-file. I would jot down the two markers on a sheet and file it.
3. Third Reading - I revised all the cuttings and two pointers just before the exam - both pre and mains

The advantage that this approach has is that 3 readings allow the filtered out info to settle down in memory. Also, the revision just before exam allowed me to use some excellent facts, figures, case studies, examples and cleverly worded sentences in the exam - be it GS, Essay, Socio or PubAd.

This is how I followed the newspaper.

More to follow....

Friday, May 4, 2012

My booklist


Paper 1 - Haralambos - both old and new editions (the new edition has some additional topics and case studies presented in greater detail - referred to the syllabus to chalk out a suitable strategy; I didn't read either book from cover to cover)
Giddens - selected chapters
IGNOU BA notes - selected topics
oxford dictionary of sociology

Paper 2

IGNOU BA notes of Sociology
IGNOU political science notes for social movements in India (I had social movements by G.Shah but didn't find it very readable)
NCERT - old edition
I had other books by Yogendra Singh, Veena Das and MN Srinivas, which I didn't refer to due to paucity of time. I didn't find time for EPW either.
My preparation for Paper 2 was centered on IGNOU notes (BA) and newspapers

Pub Ad

Paper 1 - IGNOU MA notes (only two booklets out of eight- rest of the topics are covered well in Fadia)
Prasad and Prasad
Fadia and Fadia
Few topics from Sharma Sadana, laxmikanth and Stephen Robbins
Super 50 by Shubhra Saxena

Paper 2 - Fadia and Fadia
ARC reports 
Super 50 by Shubhra Saxena
I had a truckload of books like Rumki Basu, Mohit Bhattacharya, Maheshwari, Arora Goyal, Nicolas Henry, IIPA Journals, etc. - which I found were not in sync with the exam's requirements - and hence I wouldn't advise them

History - Spectrum, Bipin Chandra, TMH manual, ncert
Geography - NCERT, TMH Manual
Economics - NCERT, Economic Survey and Newspaper
Polity - DD Basu, TMH Manual, copy of constitution, NCERT
Science and Tech - Newspapers, chronicle magazine, (I had the book by spectrum but it isn't in sync with the exam's requirements)
CA - newspaper (The Hindu), chronicle
India year book
Indian culture - spectrum
stats - spectrum
IR - other than Hindu, i referred to the book by ramvir goria and reetika sharma, and another by VN khanna
Govt websites, reports, PIB releases, etc.

I had subscribed to magazines like yojana and frontline but could read them only selectively due to paucity of time

It seems the three hours have finally paid off. The results have been declared today and I've secured 148th rank in CSE :). I shall update this blog in due course of time for the benefit of future aspirants - for it is blogs such as these that guided me through my preparation for this exam.