(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)
General studies Paper-2 is one of the lowest scoring papers amongst the four GS papers. Crossing 90 marks in this paper is very difficult. By reading syllabus one gets the feeling that it is very static in nature, but it isn’t so. In this article we will analyse how the subject is chapter by chapter and which sources/books one should refer to.
• Though this paper appears to be staticin nature, it hasa dynamic face to it. Questions will not be asked in a straight forward manner. Most of the questions revolve around contemporary events and issues associated with the static part.
• Best way to prepare for this paper is one should be thorough with the basic understanding and also should be able to connect the topics with current issues.You should develop the ability to critically analyse the issues.
• Basic understanding needs repeated reading of all the static part. Answer writing practice should become a habit. This will ease the flow of thoughts from the mind to the answer sheet.
• A candidate should also memorize the syllabus, the advantages are many.
Note: we have a separate article on the importance of practising answer writing and memorizing the syllabus. Candidate should remember that UPSC does not expect you to know the subject in depth. But one should have a sound understanding of the topics, this can be seen in UPSC’s notification-
“The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyse, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.”
For example: Let’s look into the 2015 question paper
“The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings.”
If you are aware with the nature of Indian federal system and reading the newspaper regularly one can easily attempt the question.
So the above question has to be answered in two parts, one you have to highlight the current drawbacks of our present federal structure and secondly, how the recent talk of cooperative federalism by PM can overcome those drawbacks.
Before starting your preparation with the actual syllabus please read the following books.
• NCERT Class XI –India Constitution at Work
• NCERT Class X – Democratic Politics
Note: After reading the above mentioned books one can solely rely on Indian Polity by Laxmikanth (5th edition) and Subhash Kashyap for analysis of few topics. There is no need of going through D.D.Basu or P.M.Bakshi!
Topic 1: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Here one has to study about the historical path our constitutionhas taken and how it has taken the present shape. We also look at the major features and provisions in the constitution. As we have already mentioned the questions will not be direct.
Historical Underpinnings and Evolution: One has to study from regulating act to the formation of present of day constitution. Here one should be in a position to analyse the role of previous regulations/acts in the forming our constitution.
Example, Government of India Act, 1935 is said to have evolved into the Indian constitution in 1949. Analyse the statement.Here one has to know the common features between the GoI act 1935 and our constitution.
Salient Features – Provisions of Constitution, forms of government, nature of our federal system, Fundamental rights, DPSP, Integrated Judiciary, Amendments, Basic structure etc.,
Amendments: Focus should be more on the recent amendments.
Along with the above static part, one should be aware of the various issues that come up in newspapers. These two should be combined to answer the questions.
Example, Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizens a uniform civil code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy.(2015)
The above question appeared in 2015 exam. One should be aware of the issues raised by the various religious groups and also the features of uniform civil code. Along with this one should have a clarity on what our DPSP says about UCC (with relevant article no.). All this information will enable a candidate to give a complete answer.
So the key is to follow the newspapers religiously.
• Indian Polity – By Laxmikant 5th edition.
• DRACS material
Topic 2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
This topic consists of legislative, administrative and financial functions of Union and State governments. Due to latest developments such as GST one should be aware of the clear demarcation in functions of state and central governments. One should also be aware of the different commissions which have been formed in relation to state-central governments. Example, Sarkaria Commission, Administrative Reforms Commission, Punchi Commission etc.
• Indian Polity –Laxmikanth 5th edition. (Chapters 12, 13, 14, 30 and 31).
• ARC (administrative reforms commission) II -Organizational Structure of Government of India (summary will suffice)
• For ‘devolution of powers and finances’ refer ‘Administrative Reforms Committee’s (ARC II)’ 6threport on ‘Local Governance’.
Topic 3: Separation of powers between various organs, Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
In this topic, by various organs they mean – Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. We have to learn about each organ’s powers, their jurisdictions and in issues where they clash.
We also have to read about various bodies, their composition and functions:
• Constitutional bodies - UPSC, finance commission
• Statutory bodies – NHRC, NCW, CVC
• Executive bodies –NITI ayog, CBI
Dispute and Public redressal mechanisms like Administrative
tribunals,LokAdalat, RTI, PIL, Citizens Charter etc.
• Indian Polity – Laxmikant 5th edition
• Administrative Reforms Committee’s (ARC II) 7th report on ‘Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution’.
• Newspapers for current happenings.
Topic 4: Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
No need to study this topic in depth. Keep in mind few basic points about major countries - USA, UK, Japan, Russia and France constitutions.
S Chand – Select Constitutions of world.
Note: Have an awareness about the countries where new Constitutionsare beingframed or major changes are being made. E.g., Nepal, Myanmar, UK, etc
Topic 5: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Our Constitution by Subhas Kashyap. This book gives a detailed idea about functioning of our parliament and also with lot of insights.
Also read monthly policy review from PRS website.
Topic 6: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary; Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Here the static part will be about knowing the structure, organization and functioning of executive and judiciary. Dynamic part will be the changes that these bodies are seeing.
The Executive will comprise of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Governor, Chief Minister, Attorney General, Advocate General of the State, Cabinet Ministers, Council of Ministers both at the Centre and the State. You would have read about the powers, functions and responsibilities of the executive.
Once you are thorough with basic aspects, focus on certain contentious article like art 356 etc.
Pressure Groups like Civil Societies, Trade Unions, Student organisations etc. and their association with polity. This part has to be prepared with current Issues since it is dynamic in nature.
• Indian Polity by Laxmikant 5th edition.
• DRACS material
Topic 7: Salient features of the representation of people’s act
Read important provisions of Representation of people’s act,1950 and 1951
The above two acts will give the basics about this topic. Then read about contentious issues such office of profit, 10th schedule -anti defection bill, cases like Uttarkhand and Assam state assemblies which have been in news lately.
Electoral reforms from ECI website
Topic 8: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
One should first know the difference between Constitutional body, Executive body and Statutory body. Then read about various bodies such as CVC, CBI, CAG, Governors, etc. which have been in news lately. Memorize the appropriate article no. which will help in answer writing.
All the above topics must be studied from analytical perspective and you should be able to link with current developments.
Indian Polity by Laxmikant 5th edition
Topic 9: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Refer Economic Survey and India Year book for government policies and PIB website regularly.
Topic 10: Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholder
One should have an understanding of what is development industry. It involves NGOs, SHGs, etc. and the work they do.
Role played by civil society organisations like NGOs, SHGs and other associations:
• Educative role
• Developmental role
• Supportive role
• Agitative role
Keep track of current affairs on above issues.
Topic 11: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Welfare schemes can be studied from India Yearbook and Economic survey. Respective ministry websites can also be referred.
TOPICS 12: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education and Human Resources.Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Refer India Year book and introductory article on 2nd ARC site and 2nd ARC report on “Promoting e-Governance: The SMART Way Forward”.
Make a note of important data such literacy rate, IMR, MMR, life expectancy, HDI rank, etc. which will prove handy during writing answers.
Topic 13: Role of civil services in a democracy
2nd ARC report (10th report) – Refurbishing of Personnel Administration has whole chapter (ch-4) on this topic.
Topic 14: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India and its neighbours - http://www.mea.gov.in/india-and-neighbours.htm
Book:Rajiv Sikri – Challenge and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy is a must read.
One should be abreast with the latest developments in international relations. Newspaper is the best source for this.
Topic 16: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
For India’s relation with other countries-
Read only important countries like USA, UK, BRICS, neighbours, etc.
For Bilateral and regional groupings -
Apart from these other sources:
• Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri.
• World Focus Magazine
• The Hindu
• IDSA website
Topic 17: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
One should have a rough idea about the policies of major countries.
• what are the effects of UK’s BREXIT policy on India?
• How will the change of power in USA, from democrats to republicans, impact India’s interests?
About Indian diaspora, a candidate should cover the following areas:
• Spread of Indian Diaspora
• How they give a visibility to India?
• How they help India- Economically and politically?
• Problems they are facing – in USA, Europe, West Asia, etc
• Government programs for Indian diaspora.
• People of Indian origin in high political echelons
Newspaper and for Indian diaspora - http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/
Topic 18:Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Here one should read about the important international institutes, about their structure, role, relevance, etc.
One should also be in a position to compare each other’s modus operandi. Example one should be able to analyse how New Development Bank is different from International Monetary Fund.
For static part such as structure, functioning, etc. -
For dynamic part- Following the newspapers and editorials will suffice.
And Finally answer writing…
No matter how much knowledge you have, if you are not able to put that down on paper in a succinct manner it’s of no use. UPSC will allot you a rank only if you are able to write well and score good marks.
For that to happen one should regularly practise answer writing.
We have a separate article for that.