Bharat Darshan

 

STUDY CUM CULTURAL TOUR TO BIHAR, JHARKHAND, WESTBENGAL, SIKKIM

TIMELINE

DATE PLACES VISITED
JULY 3 PATNA
JULY 4 RAJGIR, NALANDA
JULY 5 BODHGAYA
JULY 6 RANCHI
JULY 7 JAMSHEDPUR
JULY 8 KOLKATA
JULY 10 GANGTOK
JULY 14 NAMCHI
JULY 15 DARJEELING

Youtube video link:

Day 1:

BIHAR

Interaction with ADGP(Head Quarters)

A brief interaction , wherein he stressed the need of being disciplined , as a part of uniform service.  He also discussed about the policing issues in general and naxalism issues in Bihar. He emphasised upon the need of leadership qualities while maintaining high level of managerial abilities.

Visit to Rajgir

The word Rajgir meaning, “the abode of kings”, is a rich cultural remain. It was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire.  Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city. This area is also notable in Jainism and Buddhism

Rajgir is also famous for its association with Haryanka dynasty Kings Bimbisara and Ajatashatru. Ajatashatru kept his father Bimbsara in captivity here. It is first mentioned in Mahabharatha as a city ruled by the mighty king Jarasandha. This area is also notable in Jainism and Buddhism  as one of the favorite places for Lord Mahavira and Gautama Buddha and the well known “Atanatiya” conference was held at Vulture’s Peak mountain.

Here we visited places like,

  1. Swarnabhandar: This site is considered to be the treasury of Magadh.

                     

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Rajgir

     

  1. Battle ground of Jarasandh: The battle between jarasandh and Bheem took place here.

The epic Mahabharata calls it Girivraja and recount the story of its king, Jarasandha, and his battle with the Pandava brothers and their allies Krishna. Jarasandha who hailed from this place, had been defeated by Krishna 17 times. The 18th time Krishna left the battlefield without fighting. Because of this Krishna is also called ‘ranachorh’

Mahabharata recounts a wrestling match between Bhima (one of the Pandavas) and Jarasandha, the then king of Magadha. Jarasandha was invincible as his body could rejoin any dismembered limbs. According to the legend, Bhim split Jarasandha into two and threw the two halves facing opposite to each other so that they could not join. There is a famous Jarasandha’s Akhara

  1. Bimbisara jail: Bimbisar was imprisoned here by his son Ajatshatru. From his prison cell, Bimbisara could see Buddha meditating on the Gridhakuta

 

  1. Chariot Wheel: The marks of the chariot is believed to have been made by Lord Krishna’s Chariot. There were several shell inscriptions around the chariot mark, which is yet to be deciphered.

 

  1. Brahmakund: Hotspring that is located at the foothill of saptaparani caves.

 

  1. Pandu Pokhar: An amusement park set in natural environment.

 

  1. International Convention Centre: Late evening we visited beautiful Pandu Park and the SP and DM of the district hosted a dinner for us. We were also shown world class International Convention Centre. The visit to park and world class convention centre completely changed our perception of Bihar.

Nalanda

Nalanda, a UNESCO world Heritage site, holds key to the past. It was an ancient centre for higher learning, also known as Nalanda University. The time period is from 425 CE to 1199 CE. It flourished under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries and later under Harsha. The school attracted scholars and students from Tibet, Korea, China and Central Asia.

Visit to The new Nalanda University

Banking upon the historical and spiritual importance of Nalanda the Government with help of many other countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore,China,etc is establishing an International University. Although currently there are only a few students studying but the plan is to make it into a grand international University. The planned campus is energy efficient and will have net zero energy requirement. In case we need to plan any academy infrastructure in future, probably looking into Nalanda University’s planned campus is a good idea.

 

Ruins of ancient University of Nalanda

The remains of Nalanda today extend some 1,600 feet (488 m) north to south and around 800 feet (244 m) east to west. Excavations have revealed eleven monasteries and six major brick temples arranged in an ordered layout. A 100 ft (30 m) wide passage runs from north to south with the temples to its west and the monasteries to its east.  Most structures show evidence of multiple periods of construction with new buildings being raised atop the ruins of old ones. Many of the buildings also display signs of damage by fire on at least one occasion.

All the monasteries at Nalanda are very similar in layout and general appearance. Their plan involves a rectangular form with a central quadrangular court which is surrounded by a verandah which, in turn, is bounded by an outer row of cells for the monks. The central cell facing the entrance leading into the court is a shrine chamber. Its strategic position means that it would have been the first thing that drew the eye when entering the edifice. With the exception of those designated 1A and 1B, the monasteries all face west with drains emptying out in the east and staircases positioned in the south-west corner of the buildings.

The most iconic of Nalanda’s structures is Temple no. 3 with its multiple flights of stairs that lead all the way to the top. The temple was originally a small structure which was built upon and enlarged by later constructions. Archaeological evidence shows that the final structure was a result of at least seven successive such accumulations of construction. The fifth of these layered temples is the most interesting and the best preserved with four corner towers of which three have been exposed.

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Nalanda Ruins

Day 2 :

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (pali: bodhi) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree.

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Traditionally, Buddha was born in 563 BC in what is now Nepal  on the following auspicious Baisakhi purnima. As Siddhartha, he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC and travelled and meditated in search of truth. After practicing self-mortification for six years at Urubela (Buddhagaya) in Gaya, he gave up that practice because it did not give him Vimukthi. Then he discovered Noble Eight-fold path without help from anyone and practiced it, then he attained Buddhatva or enlightenment. Enlightenment is a state of being completely free from lust (raga), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha). By gaining enlightenment, you enter Nibbana, in which the final stage is Parinibbana.

At this place, the Buddha was abandoned by the five men who had been his companions of earlier austerities. All they saw was an ordinary man; they mocked his well-nourished appearance. “Here comes the mendicant Gautama,” they said, “who has turned away from asceticism.

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Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.

It is believed that about 280 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya. He is considered to be the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple. It consisted of an elongated spire crowned by a miniature stupa and a chhatravali on a platform. A double flight of steps led up to the platform and the upper sanctum. The mouldings on the spire contained Buddha images in niches. Some historians believe that the temple was constructed or renovated in the 1st century during the Kushan period. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and forgotten, buried under layers of soil and sand.

In 2013, multiple explosions had taken place in this sacred site. We offered our prayers at the holy site and during interactions with local Police personnel the following observations were made regarding the blasts:-

  • Before the blast there was a big local market near the site. The huge crowd due to the market made security arrangements difficult. Subsequently the market has been removed from that location.
  • Lack of HHMDs and DFMDs which may have deterred the perpretrators.
  • Police men on duty were not expecting any such incident hence there was a degree of casualness.

 

Subsequently we left for Jharkhand and made a brief visit to Jharkhand Police Academy, where we were told about the evolution of the Academy from British days to its current form. After a brief visit to JPA, Hazaribagh we reached Ranchi.

Day 3:

We visited training centre of Jharkhand Jaguars

Jharkhand Jaguar

2008 sanctioned the creation of 20 Assault Groups of Special Task Force (STF) for eradication of extremist activities in Jharkhand. This force was later given the distinctive name of “Jharkhand Jaguar” (JJ), and also a distinctive uniform.

JAMSHEDPUR

We visited the TATA STEEL PVT LTD in Jamshedpur. We were briefed about Jamshedji Tata’s vision

of indigenisation of technology and making India into a technological power.

About Tata Steel Limited was established by Dorabji Tata on 26 August 1907, as part of his father Jamsetji’s Tata Group. By 1939 it operated the largest steel plant in the British Empire. By 1970, the company employed around 40,000 people at Jamshedpur, with a further 20,000 in the neighbouring coal mines.

Due to lack of time we could not have a complete tour of it. We however managed to see, one blasting furnace and molten steel.

Later, we left for Kolkata.

Day 5:

We visited Kolkata Police Headquaters and met Commissioner of Kolkata Police.

Interaction with Honorable Governor, West Bengal

Interaction with DGP

 

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Howrah bridge

Day 6:

We visited Sunderbans Mangroves . The Sundarbans are the largest littoral mangrove belt in the world. It is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We went in a Police Launchpad and interceptor boat of  Coastal Police.

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 While returning we visited Gosaba Police Station in one of the islands. The following were important learning points:-

  • There are large number of scattered islands and the only mode of transport is boat that makes life a little tougher.
  • Police is the only visible Government institution in the islands and hencepeople approach police people approach police for any requirement.
  • There is not much space for construction of Police Station.
  • The dacoits committing crime in mainland, sometimes gets shelter here.
  • Smuggling is rampant as there is a porous border with Bangladesh
  • The interceptor boats are not so fast.
  • Functions of BSF, Coastal Police and Regular Police.
  • VIP Security management when VIP visits involves boat.
  • Challenges of cattle smuggling.

Day 7:

BELURMATH

It is the headquarters of Ramakrishna math and mission founded by Swami Vivekanandha. It is the heart of the Ramakrishna movement. It hosts a museum wherein the artifacts of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekanandha, Sarada Devi and some disciples are kept.

We left for Bagdogra and subsequently Gangtok. We reached Gangtok in late evening.

Day 8:

 

Sikkim

The challenges faced by the Police in the state includes,

  1. Smuggling is an issue
  2. As Sikkim is a small state and crime rates are low Sikkim is one of the few areas where good quality investigations can be carried out in textbook style.
  3. Although crime rate is low rate is low but there are large number of POCSO

and NDPS cases.

  1. Gambling is allowed and widespread , liquor is easily available yet surprisingly

the crime rate remains low.

  1. Prostitution is also a problem
  2. Disaster like landslides are frequent
  3. Theft

The state police has also the unique concept of Checkposts, that is a separate branch of Police characterized by Police presence in strategic points. We also visited a modernized Police Station in Gangtok.

Interaction with the Honorable Governor, Sikkim

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Day 9:

NATHULA PASS

Located at an altitude of 14,140 feet and 52kms from Gangtok, Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. This used to be a trade route between India and Tibet. Lines of mules used to carry silk, gold and many other items from Tibet to India and take daily essentials back to Tibet. The route in Tibet goes down the Chumbi Valley to Yathung, a place about 30kms away which used to be once a major trading township

Nathu means “listening ears” and La means “pass” in Tibetan. The opening of the pass shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and was expected to bolster the economy of the region by playing a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade. However, trade is limited to specific types of goods and to specific days of the week. It is also one of the four officially agreed BPM (Border Personnel Meeting) points between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies, which helps in defusing stand-offs.

On the way to Nathula, we visited,

  1. Baba Harbhajan Singh temple

He is an Indian Army soldier who died in Nathula. The Indian army personnel rever him as Hero of Nathu la.  Many of the faithful people, chiefly Indian army personnel posted in and around the Nathula Pass and the Sino-Indian border between the state of Sikkim and Chinese occupied Tibet have come to believe his spirit protects every soldier in the inhospitable high altitude terrain of the Eastern Himalayas.

  1. Lake Tsomgo

It is a glacial lake in Eastern Sikkim.

Day 10 :

The day started with visit to Sadar Police Station, Gangtok. The Police Station is

recently built and is having excellent infrastructure. In case we need to plan for building a new Police Station, the Sadar Police Station can serve as a model to follow.

We visited Rumtek Monastery

Rumtek Monastery,  also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a focal point for the sectarian tensions within the Tibetan Buddhism.

Originally built under the direction of 12th Karmapa Lama in the mid-1700s, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. But when Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa, arrived in Sikkim in 1959 after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the local folks of Sikkim, it was built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat

It also has Nalanda Institute affliated to it, which runs courses on Buddhist Philosophy.

Day 11:

We left for Namchi, Headquarters of South Sikkim District and visited Temi Tea Gardens,Buddha Park and Char Dham. We got an idea how infrastructure built like Buddha Park and Char Dham can help in attracting pilgrims and tourists which will help in economic development of the area.

NAMCHI

It is home to the tallest statue of Rinpoche. It also gives a spectacular view of Kanchenjunga. But as the weather was not clear, we were not able to see the range.

On the way to Namchi, we came across Rwangla, which was very scenic with the tea garden. The significance of Sikkim is that the whole state is organic, so are the tea gardens.

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Day 12 :

We left for DARJEELING, While in Darjeeling, we visited Japanese Peace Pakoda, Rock garden.  Interaction with SP, Darjeeling was good. The Hon’ble President had recently visited Darjeeling. We were briefed about the security arrangements made for the visit.

 

Day 13:

Took return flight to Hyderabad from Bagdogra via Delhi.

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Career options in development sector which can help UPSC Preparation

Career options in development sector which can help UPSC Preparation

In case one want to be in development sector and still can serve the society
I suggest the following

1. Join Higher studies
Colleges

I. TISS, Mumbai and other campuses
Courses:
a. Urban Policy and Governance
b. Development Studies
c. Human Resource
others

II. CEPT, Ahmedbad

III. SPA,Delhi

IIII. IRMA, Anand, Gujarat

2. Public Policy courses- short term
The Takshashila Institution

3. Organisation which work on public policy or development sector in Bangalore
There are many others in various cities. Please check them out

– Arghyam
Safe,sustainable water for all

-ATREE ( Program Associate (Human-Wildlife Conflict))

– Indian Institute for Human Settlements

-CDD Society, Decentralised Wastewater Treatment  Systems, CBS, City Sanitation Planning, DESWAM

–  Selco Solar India, a social enterprise, provides sustainable energy  solutions, and services to under-served households and businesses.

-JANAAGRAHA

iN Chennai

– Transparentchennai.com

– Institute for Financial Management and Research

4. Fellowships

– Young India Fellowship
Postgraduate Diploma Programme in Liberal Studies

– Teach For India

teachforindia.org

My Journey towards Indian Police Service (I.P.S)

Atul Profile Pic

My background

I was born in Belgaum and I did my initial schooling from small town, Gokak, Belgaum, Karnataka. Then at age of 8,  we had to move to Bangalore. I joined Sudarshan Vidya Mandir school in Bangalore. Initially I found it difficult to adopt to English medium school, but here is where my teachers and Principal laid the foundation of my school life even though I face several difficulties in my childhood days.

Later, I did my engineering from The National Institute of Engineering,Mysore in Computer Science, 2003-07. I then joined software company, Mindtree Ltd, Bangalore. After one year of my work, I found the corporate world very stupid, boring and mundane.

Inspirations/Trigger events that made me to aspire for civil services

1. My mother, she is a greater fighter and hardworker for all her life. We both mutually inspire each other

2. A great tragedy happened . On 15th August, 2008,I saw my death which shook my sub-consciousness and from then on its my SECOND LIFE. This triggered the thought of being a civil servant to serve the disadvantaged sections of society and nation at large. This of the beginning of great change within me.

THIS SECOND LIFE IS DEDICATED TO NATION. JAI HIND Full story see – https://atulkulkarni123.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/my-life/

3. In Mindtree I got opportunity to mentor of Mr Prashanth Kamath, a differently abled person with cerebral palys . Interaction with him showed me how with such disabilties he could do wonders since several of his software application have got patents and awards.

4. I was also part of Mindtree Green community where I got exposed to several Environment NGOs in Bangalore and I started to volunteer over the weekends in various other NGOs in Bengaluru.

5. I was in the dilemma as to whether to

– take a lucrative job offer in USA- a software company

– do MBA or higher studies in USA

– jump directly into preparation for CSE

– join any professional social sciences college which would give to a proper foundation for civil services

6. I then decided to leave all the other options and joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),Mumbai in 2010 with course on Urban Policy and Governance.

It was a wonderful journey in TISS. One one hand, we had scholors teaching us, on other hand, I was exposed to ground realities as we had field visits to slums, homeless, water issues, sanitation, poverty that opened up my eyes and shook my consciousness.

7. Field visits in TISS,Mumbai

a. Slum dwellers living on pipeline-

As we went around the slum dwelling we could observe the filth, dirt, and stinking smell. They have a low standard of living. They store water in drums which they get from the pipe leak of main pipeline. We could see few women clustered near this pipe leak where they were filling water . As we spoke to a old lady in one of the house she described that their diet is of low nutritional value and children often are mal nutritional. This was an eye opener

Slum 3Slum

b. Visiting Rag pickers- mostly women were involved and rag picking job didn’t need any investment, no special skills and this was the easiest option available to them . They were informed about this rag picking job by others

Slum 2

c. Homeless people – We observed many women having 3-4 kids and we asked them as to why they have 4 kids since they can’t even afford even for single meal. I was shocked at their replies: Homeless women at the age of 17, has no security, she is been teased by men in the street. She is scared to sleep alone in street. So she goes into a relationship with a man to get security. Then again other men molest, rape her and then she decides to have a child. So she carries the child and then for next 1.5 years and she feels somewhat secure. Then she again migrates to different area and then same story repeats and at the end she has 4 kids. This shook my consciousness and I wanted to serve these poors by being a civil servant

8. Field visits in Arghyam, NGO

a. Visit to Baigas, a Primitive Tribal Group in Chattisgarh -depending on forest products, and increasingly on agriculture. Depletion of forests and its natural resources has led to a threat like situation for survival of Baiga and other tribes of this region. Illiteracy, Hunger, malnutrition, illnesses and helplessness make them further vulnerable and weak. They faced acute water shortage problems and water quality which reflect in high mortality rates among children. This showed me a new perspective of looking at tribals in India

Baigas 1
Baiga Tribes in Chattisgarh
Baigas 2
Baiga Tribes in Chattisgarh

b. Villages around Dharward, Karnataka had high levels nitrate, flouride , TDS, bacterial contamination. In many families children we born with deformed body parts due to arsenic pollution and I cried for those families as we had no option to save them as technology to solve arsenic pollution has not yet evolved.

Such events became a routine part of my life and all these incidences shook my sub-consciousness to become a responsible citizen and motivated me to work for larger good of society and to be a good civil servant.

Achivements

I also had several opportunities in TISS and also won many national awards, such as , I represented India in the 1st SAYC, 2011- South Asia Youth Conference(SAARC) held in IIM, Bangalore in 2011. I was Finalist in International Business Summit, IIM Calcutta, Antyodaya for a concept of “Environment Museum” on Sustainable development, selected for Tata Jagriti Yatra, 2010- is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that took 400 of India’s highly motivated youth on an 18 day national odyssey, National winner of Mahindra’s “Spark The Rise” competition for project “Smart Sanitation and Solid Waste Management: A Holistic Approach”, Water Ambassador” by World Bank in Water Hackaton event , winner in Vodafone Mobiles for Good programme 2012, project titled “Locating and Rating of Public Restrooms in Indian Cities” and many more.

I did my thesis on lakes in Bangalore Title: “Land, Water and Local People: A Case Study of Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor” which involved field visits to 10 villages around Bengaluru, mapping of the lakes in BMIC region, study of traditional water management, Water rights of lake users etc which won Best dissertation award in TISS, Mumbai and was published as a book in LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing. This thesis won Best Dissertation award in TISS, 2012.

Atul_Montex Full
Best Dissertation award in TISS, 2012

Job Experience

I, then had opportunity to work in CRISIL Limited, Mumbai as consultant at Nashik Municipal Corporation on JNNURM project. My job was to work with Municipal Administration headed by Commissioner, A senior IAS, to provide support and co-ordination with departments for implementation of reforms such as Administrative, E-Governance, Accounting and other reforms under JNNURM, attend various meetings at State/Central Government level etc. This gave a first hand experience on working on Government.

Later, I joined Arghyam, an NGO based in Bengaluru working on water and sanitation issues across India. I was working on projects such as Management of Water Quality through process re-engineering, diagnostic tool developed by the Water Integrity Network (WIN) to Assess Integrity and Governance of WASH interventions in Schools, Wastewater reuse network etc. I had the opportunity to visit more than 10 states across India. At certain junction, I realised that being outside Government I was not able to give solutions at larger scale. When I met a District Collector and presented our ideas, he willing accept the idea and scale it across the District and state level which could improve water situation for more than million lives. This fired the imagination of I becoming a District Collector and I discussed with my boss and he encouraged me to quit and do part time job along with preparation.

With just 1 month left for prelims 2013, but missed prelims cutoff by 0.66 marks. It was disheartning. With 2014 being my last attempt ( as I would cross age of 30 years by 2014, until recently it was increased by 2 more years) I took a hard decision to give it as 1st and last attempt and invest my time, energy, money, effort in my preparation along with independent consulting job. How many of you would quit a good job at age of 28 and I give first and last best attempt. If your answer is “No”, please move of your comfort zones and be fully motivated for civil services. If I could do it, then everyone else at younger age can definitely do it.

Examination Framework and Study Strategy

It is my pleasure to share whatever little I have and opine that the purpose is served if it helps the aspirants to whatever extent possible. Before starting the preparation, it is very important to have a complete understanding about the exam process, its structure and the various aspects related to the preparation.

Prelims stage:

The following points should be kept in mind while doing preparation:

The focus should be on gaining basic clarity in each topic, which will come only through lot of logical questioning. This is most important for clearing the prelims stage.

For any topic, try to do a horizontal and vertical reading of all the related topics which will definitely help to cover any topic holistically.

A thorough analysis of the previous year’s question papers and the recent trends so that one is in tune with UPSC recent trends.

Discussing elaborately with teachers, successful candidates and seniors so that one is on track during preparations.

General Studies

Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Internet (Most Important), and books of general reading. NCERT school books of history, geography, polity, economics, sociology and all humanities and arts (excluding languages, mathematics and science) from class 7th to 12th. Science NCERT school books of only class 9th and 10th.

History – NCERT textbooks, history of modern India – Bipin Chandra and Spectrum publications and any other books on Indian history of general interest.

Geography – NCERT textbooks of class 11th and 12th, physical geography by Go Cheng Leong and an ATLAS. Referring maps is very important.

Polity – Indian Constitution by Laxmikanth or D.D.Basu, NCERT school texts.

Science and Technology – The Hindu S&T page (weekly), Science Reporter by C.S.I.R., What, How & Why by C.S.I.R., Internet, NCERT 8th to 12th science text books.

Economics – NCERT 10th, 11th & 12th texts, Economic Survey, Indian Budget, Sriram Class notes, Mrunal.org, Pratyogita Darpan special edition on Indian economy and any business daily.

General Knowledge – India year book, Manorama year book (Not to concentrate on unnecessary details)

Current Affairs – The Hindu, A business daily, InsightsonIndia, Mrunal.org, Gktoday website, Frontline, Yojana, Any competitive magazine, Websites – India.gov.in, India development gateway, Pib.nic.in, UNO website, Ministry websites, RBI, SEBI, etc websites, Indian Embassy websites and whatever other sites you can source authentic and concise information from.

Make use of Google Documents, Google Reader, News and such other internet tools to prepare notes online and for greater, better and easy accessibility. Making notes online helps in cutting down time and must be done on a regular basis without fail.

Mains Stage:

During preparation, one needs to focus on writing a good answer? So what is a good answer, is a million dollar question? Mains exam questions reveal many things about word limit, key words like analyse, critically comment etc, analytical demand of question etc.

I strongly recommend the future aspirants to take answer writing on daily basis very seriously and practice to improve their writing skills, structure, speed and time management so that one can get maximum marks in GS papers.

Few more points on mains preparation are

More time should be spent on thinking about the topic and making innovations, rather than on reading too many study materials available in market.

The previous papers should be thoroughly analyzed to understand the trends and the expectations of the examiner.

The preparation should be focused and all the hard work should be channelized in the right direction.

Common mistakes to be avoided while writing in GS mains papers

First, try to address the question in the introduction rather than giving irrelevant answers

Second, A balanced approach in answers are usually missing, either it will be very critical or totally out of context.

Third, most of the times, aspirants was unable to fully understand the requirement if the question

Fourth, most of the times,only few of required aspects/dimensions were covered in answers

Fifth, write in points so that you can more marks rather than writing same point in big paragraph.

Few tips for better GS Mains answers

The competition is highly relative, our answers in the mains examination should not only be correct but also different with a touch of creativity and relevant to the question that is asked. Basics with clarity will come when there is lot of questioning while studying. The topic has to be studied in a logical manner.

The creativity and innovation is not something that you will get in the textbooks. They have to be developed on your own. It requires lot of thinking and observation. By innovation in answers what is meant is –

Catchy introduction which addresses the question headon

Diagrams- so that one can break a monotonous answers

Graphs- to better represent data.

Flow charts

Maps- draw India or world maps in geography/history papers

Contemporary touch and applicability -use current affairs to strengthen your argument

Using Facts- it is important to mention the facts, it is equally important to handle various dimensions of your answer and write something different which makes your answer unique.

Catchy conclusion- giving solutions

Completing the GS papers

I too wrote almost all my answers in points but still I gave a proper introduction, proper headings and sub-headings and then a conclusion.

As writing speed in slow initally, one can complete 7-8 questions in 1st hour and compensate that in last hour. Thus one can finish the paper.

Make sentences short , carefully use tenses and appropriate prepositions. Avoid unnecessary elongation of sentences which makes it hazy and equivocal rather use simple and straight forward presentations.

Books to read for mains

Paper I

Art and Culture

  1. NCERT Class VI – History – Our Past

  1. NCERT Class VII – Our Past -I

  2. NCERT  Class VIII – Our Past II and III

  3. NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History I

  4. NCERT Class-XII – Themes in Indian History – II

  5. NCERT Class XII – Themes In Indian History III

  6. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum Publications

Modern History

1. Comprehensive History Of Modern India – Spectrum

2. Bipan Chandra ( if time permits)

Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country

1.India Since Independence – Bipan Chandra

2. India After Gandhi: The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy 

World History

1.  Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe

2. Arjun Dev – History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century

3. Old NCERT World History Class-X

Indian Society

1. NCERT – Indian Society Class 12 (Complete book without watermarks)

2. Indian Society – Ram Ahuja

World’s physical geography

1. Certificate Physical and Human Geography 1st Edition

2. NCERT Class-XI – Fundamentals of Physical

GS Paper II

1. NCERT Class XI – India Constitution At Work

2. NCERT Class XII –  Political Science II

3. NCERT Class X –  Democratic Politics

4. Report of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission,

5. S.  Chand – Select Constitutions of the world

6. Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations 4th Edition – Laxmikanth

International Relations

1. India and its neighboursMEA Website

2. Rajiv Sikri – Challenge and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy

Paper III

Economy

1. NCERT Class X – Understaning Economic Development 

2. NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development

3. NCERT Class XII – Macroeconomics

4. Indian Economy for Civil Services Examinations – Ramesh Singh

Science and Technology

1. Spectrum publications – Developments in Science and Technology

Environment

1. Shankar IAS Academy book

Paper IV

1. IGNOU Ethics material

2. 12th NCERT Psychology

3. 2nd ARC’s

  • Questionnaire on Ethics in governance

  • Questionnaire on Civil Services Reforms

  • Reforms in Governance and Administration

Essay writing

What does UPSC expects in your from the essay? Why are they asking u to write essay, while they already have GS papers and subjects to know how knowledgable you are and how well you know to communicate?

The answer is that, UPSC wants to know your general traits. When you are asked to write 10 sentences about a topic, how u write discloses lots of things about you! So, UPSC want to know who you are, than knowing how much you know! Your traits like, postive attitude, imagination, innovation, etc come out on the essay! The major difference between essay and others papers is: While the other papers are based on knowledge and logic, essay is based on imagination! Thats why essay question never seek factual answers.

Once the question paper is received, choose either 1 or 2 topics which you feel you have more points. On the last page of the answer booklet make note of topics and points under following   headings

1. Intro – try to write a quote, story, poem etc so that it catches the eye of examiner

2. Different issues under this topic such as history, present status and statistics, impact-social, economical, biological, ethnological, political, psychological, cultural, religious,historical, geographical,etc

3. Pros n cons

4. Relate the topic to present day social conditions prevailing.

5. Closing remarks n conclusion

This should take about 30minutes for both topics.

Then,

1. Choose topic where more points n better grip of subject is held.

2. Start the essay  with good beginning-quote/anecdote/song/statistics/some witty phrase made up

3.Anecdotes in as many parts as possible.

4.Sub heads can be given.

5.Language and grammar are important.

6.Points must have a flow. They must not appear disconnected.

7. Underline some key words/stats/quotes/names of ppl,etc and emphasize on neatness of handwriting and no scratching in the main booklet.

Marks

Essay

120

GS Paper 1

90

GS Paper 2

81

GS Paper 3

78

GS Paper 4

110

Sociology paper 1

137

Sociology paper 2

147

Interview

175

Total 938

Sociology optional Papers

Approach to sociology optional papers is quite different. As I had background from social sciences in TISS, I also faced lot of problems from moving from engineering background to social sciences. Try to study the thinkers part in both papers very perfectly and get a clarity on all the sociological concepts.

While writing sociology answers, try to keep in mind 3 things, Thinkers and their ideas, coherent arrangement and expression, and using contemporary topics in answers. Thinkers should be used in all answers . Arrangement of answers means the contents with a definite structure to be framed.

The structure must be exposed indirectly through the flow of writing with interlinking of sub topics and paragraphs explaining the scope meaning, description and discussion.

One needs to give the powerful and logical conclusion which is the consequence of everything discussed earlier. It must be balanced and free from prejudice.

Books for sociology preparation

Paper I

1. NCERT 11th to 12th Std. Sociology Book
2 IGNOU notes (especially for thinkers )

3. Haralombus

4. Giddens, Anthony, Capitalisation and Modern Social Theory,

5. Bottomore. T.B. Sociology: A Guide of problem and Literature

Paper II

1. IGNOU notes (especially for thinkers and topic on Indian system)

2. Caste its 20th Century Avatar – M.N. Srinivas

3. Y. Singh – Modernisation of Indian Tradition

4. Y. Singh – Social tradition in India

5. NCERT texts books on sociology

Mind Maps of Sociology – https://atulkulkarni123.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/sociology-mind-maps/

My Interview Experience

Indian Forest Service Interview, 2014

Board: Alka Sihori madam

Score: 210/300

Chairman

  1. Some question in Hindi on water scheme( which I couldn’t grasp)?

  2. Your hobby is lake cleaning?

  3. How do clean lakes?

  4. What was your role in cleaning lakes?

  5. In Bangalore, there are Ulsoor lake, Yediyur lake, why are they polluted? Can you clean them?

  6. What is Eutrophication, allotrofication?

  7. Can you eutrophic lake is converted to oligotrophic lake?

  8. What is the difference between lake and wetland?

Member 2

  1. What is the chemistry of eutrophication? Can you tell the chemical reactions?

  2. What is water hyacinth? Where did it come from? How can you eliminate it?

  3. How in forest area, a lake can be cleaned?

  4. Tell how many national parks are there in India?

  5. Name any 10 national parks in India?

  6. Name a national park where lake is there?

  7. Name the highest altitude lake in India?

Member 3

  1. Are you a water activist?

  2. Name few water activists in India? Ans: Mr Rajendra Singh

  3. What award did he win?

  4. Where does he work? What are his achievements?

  5. Tell me more about lake eco-system and water hyacinth?

  6. Can it be eliminated

  7. Your other hobby is handmade crafts? Do u still practice it? What u do?

  8. How can you promote handmade crafts in india?

  9. What are old age homes increasing in India?

Member 4

  1. I can understand these technical answers of yours, can you explain lake eco-system in layman terms? ( I explained , but again he asked same question, Chairman intervened as asked Member4 to move to next question)

  2. Name the wildlife species in south Indian forests?

  3. Have you seen wild dog?

  4. Can you mention few critically endangered species in South India?

  5. Where else have you worked? Can you tell about your previous job?

Chairman intervened and asked about my work in Arghyam,an NGO and about projects in Chhattisgarh tribal areas)

Back to Chairman

  1. You have done Computer Science engineering long time. I shall ask few questions on it

  2. What is TCP/IP?

  3. Difference between TCP and OSI layer?

  4. Name seven layers of OSI model

  5. What is embedded system?

  6. Can u explain me the mechanism of elevator?

My interview lasted for 30 to 35 minutes. The board was chaired by a Alka Shirohi madam. I was asked about my hobby which are lake cleaning, handmade paper crafts and visiting old age homes. Chairman deliberately asked me on lakes and water issues which was my strong area. Certain questions were tricky, however, I managed to keep my cool and not give irrelevant answers. The trick I think is not to get caught and be proven self contradictory, but to maintain the same tenor and vigor throughout, without any diffidence. Overall got a good score.

BUT I DIDNT CLEAR IfoS exam and I missed by 10 marks. I was very disappointed and hope I could clear CSE exam.

CSE Interview, 2014

Board: H C Gupta + four members ( all gents)

Date: 19 May 2015, 4.30 PM

Duration: 30 minutes

Optional: Sociology

Score: 175

Chairman: Read out my educational and employment details from DAF

1. Which NGO did you work?

2. What sectors does it work? ( drinking water and sanitation)

3. Which projects on sanitation did you work. Please explain

4. Who is the founder of Sulabh International?

5. What is Sulabh model of toilets

6. Is there any other alternative sanitation models?

7. Tell me about the recent Karnataka High Court verdict? ( Jayalalitha case) What is her full name?

8. Why did Tamil Nadu HC transfer the case to Karnataka?

M1:

1. Why is Lokpal needed?

2. What is Lokayukta? Who is current Lokayukta in Karnataka?

3. How do you curb corruption in India?

4. Among all the rights based approach which scheme you think is best? (MNREGA)

5. Is MNREGA successful? Tell it loopholes?

6. How do you create better community assets?

M2:

1. What is intellectual property?

2. What is Geographical Indications?

3. Why is Indian GIs less successful than EU GI like wine etc

4. Tell me about USA GI. How are they performing?

5. Why negative balance of trade is bad for India? We can very well import goods?

6. Why our exports not competitive? ( Long question , he gave example of automobile industry being competitive)

7. Case: Your are District Collector, there is a calamity( floods) all crops are destroyed and there are no official records about cropping patter in our office? You have to start from scratch. What are the steps you will take? (long question)

8. How will you finance the crop losses? Tell about National Calamity fund? National contingency fund? Differences? Who gives funds?

M3:

1. Why Urban local bodies not able to self finance urban projects?

2. What are the sources of funds for ULBs?

3. What is percentage of property tax collection in ULBs?

4. How can you overcome the shortfalls in tax collection?

5. What is Solid waste tax and water cess?

M4:

1. Why are old age homes growing in India(My hobby is “visiting old age homes”)

2. What will you do if children abandon their parents and send to old age homes? What is the age of your parents?

3. What are the laws related to it?

4. Which war movies have you seen? Did you watch any 16th- 17th war movies( This is NOT my hobby)

Chairman: Your interview is over.

It was kind of a stress interview. Chairman after asking questions went to toilet and it was a very strange feeling. Some members were sleeping and not looking at me at all. Some members would object to whatever I say and deny it. But I had to substantiate my stance. They would cut me short in between and jump to another question without listening to what I am saying. To my disadvantage not much was asked from my DAF and my work experience.

To go to Delhi or take coaching classes?

I took a hard decision to start preparing for civil services at very late age of 28 years. I had to invest my time, energy, money, effort in my preparation along with independent consulting job as I still face financial difficulties(I am still working even after getting rank 180. I laugh at my fate). Many who are from poor rural background need not venture out to New Delhi or attend any coaching institutions. One can study on their own and If I could do it, then everyone else at younger age and who are better off financially can also definitely do it.

4 C’s for success- Consistency, Clarity, Confidence and Character are the bottom line for cracking the Civil services examination.