Sunday 31 May 2015

Strategy for Anthropology

Strategy for Anthropology

Why Anthropology

My interest in the subject was the most important reason for selecting Anthropology as an optional.I would request all the aspirants to choose optional based on interest as at the end of the day ,its “YOU” who has to sit with those books for long hours and in course of time have to start “living “ that optional as well.Availability of study materials and a background in biology also helped me in choosing Anthropology as my second optional.

The comprehensive list of Anthropology books that I followed was

Topics                                                      Books

Physical Anthropology                   P.Nath/B.M Das

            Social Anthropology             N.K Vaid
             Social Anthropology            D.N Majumdar & T.N Madan

 Indian Anthropology                 V.S Sahay and Pradeep K SIngh

Extensive use of the internet for keeping myself updated about any new development in the field of anthropology.

I also took study materials from Brilliant Tutorials(in my first attempt) and Vaid IAS academy,Delhi for this attempt.These materials helped me to systematise my study according to the syllabus.

 Answer writing in Anthropology- For paper 1 ,I ensured that my concepts were very clear and i was able to express and substantiate the theories with adequate presentations and eg's ...Use of diagrams wherever feasible also helped me.
For Paper 2-I tried to substantiate many answers of mine with current developments and since i belong to Jharkhand ,i have seen many of the questions asked as "LIVE examples so could add-on there as well..
I tried to re-read the textbooks as i wanted to make my concepts clear and over a period of time i started enjoying the subject very much.There were several questions this year like the one on impact of industrialization on tribals or Impact of Hindu religion on tribals -in such questions i tried to substantiate my answers with some live eg's (like i have always appreciated the fact that tribal population in jharkhand celebrate 'Sarhul" as well as holi/diwali with equal fervor so there has been beautiful enmeshing of customs and traditions )or relate them with some current issues.Over a period of time if you actually start "living " your optional, it no longer remains a mere study or exam's  part. Hope this helps.


NameHarshika Singh
Roll number006368
Rank (CSE 2011)8
Optional Subjects
  • Economics
  • Anthropology
Medium for Mains ExamEnglish
Mains Examination CentreDelhi
Number of Attempts2
Details of Graduation and Post-Grad.
  • B.A Economics(hons)-St.Xavier’s College,Ranchi
  • MSc.Economic History(London School Of Economics and Political Science,London,UK)
Schooling (Medium)English
Extracurricular activities,
hobbies, achievements etc.
  • Classical Dancing(bharatnatyam and Kathak),
  • Debating,
  • Gold medalist in graduation,
  • School head girl,
  • Class representative throughout my college days
Are you a working professional?No
Did you take Coaching?Prelims: No
Mains: No
Interview: No
Did you buy any postal courses?Yes
Did you join any Mock test series?No
Did you appear in any other competitive exams?No
If yes, provide the details:NA

 Your Study plan

CSAT (Paper I) General studies

TopicSource of your preparationremark, if any
Current AffairsThorough and intensive reading of newspapers like TOI,The hindu,IE(only for editorials),ET,magazines like frontline ,CSR,Chronicle,Yojana and the Economist.Always keep yourself updated with issues happening around you.I am a news maniac ..won’t ask you to become one but start loving and following news..i am sure you will start enjoying it as well.
History Ancient/Medieval/ModernSpectrum and Vajiram Yellow book +some NCERTS
Physical GeographyAll the four NCERTS of 11th and 12thBe very thorough with them
Geography of India
Geography of World
Polity and GovernanceDD Basu/Laxmikant/Vajiram yellow book
Public PolicyInternet and self made notes
Rights issueSame as above
Environment and BiodiversityInternet, IGNOU materials
Economic and social DevelopmentEconomic Survey/PD special issue on Economy/Internet
ScienceSriram notes+internet+chronicle special issue
EconomyEconomic survey/India year book

CSAT (Paper II) Aptitude

Syllabus TopicSource of your preparationRemarks, if Any
Quantitative AptitudeR.S agarwal+Manuals like that of Unique,arihant,intenet sources and even some basic practice papers for CAT
Data interpretationSame as above
Logical reasoning
Reading comprehension
Decision Making and Problem solvingI tried to practice some questions which were available on netDuring exams just read these questions very nicely and calmly .

Mains Examination

Compulsory Language papers

Source of your preparation
EnglishWent through the previous years question papers
Indian language paperWent through previous years question papers and practiced writing essay in Hindi almost like a month before the exam

General Studies paper I

Syllabus TopicSource of your preparation
HistorySpectrum/Vajiram yellow book
Geography of IndiaFour NCERTS of 11th and 12th Std.
PolityDD basu/Laxmikant/Vajiram yellow book
Issues of social relevanceInternet +magazines like chronicle
Indian economy and planningEconomic Survey
Public health
Law and order
Good governance

General Studies paper 2

Syllabus TopicSource of your preparation
India and the WorldPrepared self notes while reading newspapers
Indian diasporainternet
India’s Economic interaction with worldExtensive reading of Business newspapers
International affairs and institutionsNewspapers
StatisticsPracticed from Spectrum esp the graphs etc(but since I have economics background,did not need much preparation for this)
Science & Tech.Sriram study materials+internet

Optional Subject #1 and #2

For both my optional I emphasized on making my concepts very clear and re-read the textbooks. I read all of these books, different books cater to different portions of the syllabus so i have just enumerated them


  • The comprehensive list of Anthropology books i followed was
Physical AnthropologyB M das/P Nath
Social Anthropology
Indian Anthropology
Anthropological ThoughtUpadhyay/ Gaya Pandey
Extensive use of internet for keeping myself updated about any new anthropological development.


How did you prepare for the interview? What questions were asked?
For my interview ,I brushed up every small aspect of my background,my home state,my optional etc(all the information furnished by me in DAF).
I was in Vijay Singh Sir’s Board.Interview board was very cordial and cooperative. Questions were mixture of World economics+my hobbies+world affairs+some decision making questions and some questions on my home state ,Jharkhand


ROLL NO:006368
Remarks: Recommended.


Q. What is your message to the aspirants?
Dream a dream and make a determined effort for that….you will surely succeed. Never get disheartened. CSE preparation is a beautiful and life changing experience. Live it and you will enjoy and relish it forever. All the very best for all your endeavors.

Strategy for Anthropology and Book list By Harshika Singh (AIR 8 /CSE 2011)

Strategy for Anthropology Strategy for Anthropology Why Anthropology My interest in the subject was the most important ...

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Economics Optional Books for IAS Mains Exam

Dictionary of Economics - Ghaham Bannock; T.E. Baxter, Ray Rees (Penguin) Economics (Read Relevant Chapters) - Paul A. Samuelson The...

My affair with History started when I was really young. I simply fell in love with history, so you may call it, ‘my first love’. But then, probably due to the hierarchy that we have created in our minds regarding the choice of courses after 12th std., I went for Mechanical Engineering and did not opt for History as a full-time subject for graduation. Still, I continued reading a lot of history. So, for me, History was a natural choice for the UPSC. Actually, studying history was one of the many things that kept me motivated during the examination process.
History is a subject that we have actually lived, through many generations and still continue to live everyday. It is full of plots and counter plots, desires and detachments, wars and peace, giant triumphs and utter failures, like a methodical chaos created by actions of different people, at different locations, at different points in time. Studying history is like ‘moving faster than the speed of light’ (Einstein says that if we move faster than light, then we can actually travel back and forth in time). It’s like being in a time machine. But all this is true only if you have a ‘real’ interest in the subject. Otherwise it can be an extremely dry subject, with enormous amount of facts to mug up and a huge syllabus spanning the entire known history of human existence on earth (although, somewhat limited)

History is such a subject on which umpteen books are available on each topic in the market. As the view of the past constantly changes, even the same facts can be interpreted differently. A candidate is not expected to conduct research on the subject but to master the various viewpoints and substantiate the viewpoint that one believe strongly in. E.H.Carr, while defining ‘what is history’, has noted that history is a ‘continuous dialogue’ between the past and the present. So, it is not just the past events that shape our present and our future, but also the present that changes the way we interpret history. This is especially reflected in the Nationalist school of historians as well as in the leftist or Marxist school of historians. So, according to me, having the ability to forge your opinion and sieve through different layers of history is also a necessary art to master the subject. The study of history reveals that there is no clear cut answer for anything. Since understanding history is based on individual--and therefore subjective--interpretation, you must decide for yourself what kind of meaning you will attach to the topic. Go into history with an open mind. Don't expect the answer to be presented to you as if written in stone. It's not.

It is sensible to start with manual for civil services (preliminary) history optional. Manuals by Krishna Reddy, Agnihotri as well as Pearson Manual are very good. Refer any one of these manuals according to your own choice. Apart from this, the most important books are the 11th and 12th std. NCERT books for Ancient India, Medieval India and Modern India. These books are a treasure-trove of information and insights into the subject and are to be read, not once or twice but as many times as time permits. Believe me, it won’t go waste. IGNOU Booklets are also an extremely good source to study history. The approach that I followed was to read the manual first, then read the books on the subject and finally read the manual again. Also constantly keep on solving multiple choice questions on the subject. They help a lot when you have to finish the syllabus in a short time and effectively.

I won’t spend any time on discussing the syllabus here. Just keep in mind that one must fine the central issue, tendency or idea in each period of history. It helps in analyzing the period and also in establishing the cause-effect relationships between different events. Eg. During the Mauryan Age, the most important tendency was that of centralization of power despite a huge bureaucracy. When we understand this tendency, it suddenly opens new avenues to analyze Ashoka’s policy of consolidation of the empire after the victory at Kalinga, by the use of Dhamma. Immediately, we start viewing the decision of Ashoka to turn towards Buddhism not as an emotional decision but as a political one. This is just one example. And again, my interpretation may be wrong. That’s why the emphasis on understanding the subject and developing your own opinion.

There is no unique strategy to study this subject. Primarily, this depends on your individual style of study. It is advisable to make notes, so that you can refer to them for prelims as well as mains. But I never had the habit of making notes throughout my student life and hence did not do so for UPSC too. I merely underlined important facts and issues in the book and wrote the gist of the entire paragraph in one or two words in the margin. This helps in making sure that you’ve actually understood the point as well as during revision time. Just keep it in mind, solve as many questions as you can. It helps.

In the Mains exam, there is a Map-marking question for 60 marks in Paper-1, which can help you in coming out with flying colours. To solve this question, keep on referring to the Atlas whenever you come across some site while reading the books and note down the importance of the site. Specially for this question I referred “History through Maps” by Ensemble. It’s a fairly good book, but ultimately nothing can beat your own maps (done while studying the subject).

Another important thing to bear in your mind is that History is an inter-connected subject, where the events occurring in one part of the world can have implications on events taking place in another. Don’t form water-tight compartments in your mind regarding the division of history as Indian History and World History, or Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. There is an invisible web of interconnections that runs though all this and we need to identify that web, which will become the USP of your answers. Eg. If you are asked to write about the Reasons behind the Charter Act of 1813, which substantially abolished the monopoly of East India Company over trade with India and China, everybody will know the events that occurred in India that made this move necessary. Also, most candidates will be aware of the happenings in British Parliament that necessitated this move. But only the person who has deciphered the web of interconnections will know that a main reason for the Charter Act of 1813 was the Continental Policy of Napoleon. Now, if you say that this is a part of world history, you’ll lose the USP of your answer to this question. So, use your knowledge to make the answer as unique as possible and find out the connections and causality.

Another thing about studying history for the UPSC is that we have to get rid of the notion that this is a subject about great kings, emperors, their grand empires and even grander victories or failures. It is actually all of this and much more. There is a saying in Sanskrit, “Yuddhasya katha ramya”, which means ‘we like to hear the stories of war’. They give us some kind of pleasure and arouse a lot of interest. But a major part of history is about society, the most downtrodden man and his life during the period, the condition of women, economy, advancements in culture, science, literature, arts etc. So, undoubtedly, there is a need to develop a ‘subaltern view’ of history. So choose the subject only if you feel interested by all of this.

Finally, all this is for those immortal souls who would like to understand the subject and enjoy mastering it. Keep this in your mind, ‘Master the subject, and marks will follow you’. But is there any other way of just clearing the exam without mastering the subject? Can you clear the exam with history as an optional without having the proper attitude or ever loving the subject? Of course you can. But why make life miserable for ourselves? Why not make the effort. Rather than go through the motions, make history a part of your life. After all, that's exactly what history is--it is your life.

Booklist :-

Ancient India NCERT- Ancient India- R.S.Sharma

An Introduction to the study of Indian History - D.D.Kosambi

Early India - Romila Thapar

IGNOU Booklets on Ancient India

The Wonder that was India - A.L.Basham

The National Book Trust book on Ancient India

Medieval India

NCERT - Medieval India- Satish Chandra

Satish Chandra - Volume 1 & 2

J.L.Mehta- Volume 3

The Wonder that was India - Part 2 - S.H.Rizvi

Modern India

 Modern India - Bipin Chandra

India’s Struggle for Independence - Bipin Chandra

India After Independence - Bipin Chandra

A new look at Modern Indian History - Grover

Modern World

L.Mukhejee - Volume 1,2,3 on World history (Basically European history)

World History - Jain and Mathur

For Map question

History through Maps - Ensemble

History Optional Books And Strategy by Aniket (IFS Officer)

My affair with History started when I was really young. I simply fell in love with history, so you may call it, ‘my first love’. But the...

Foundation Books for Political Science & International Relations optional and for General Studies

First, read NCERT books(Civics, World History, National Movement, Indian Economy, Indian Society).

Next, once you complete with NCERT read the below:

1. Idea of India - By Sunil Khillani 

2. Economic Development and Social Opportunity - By Amartya Sen

3. India Today - By Harris & Corbridge 

4. Pax Indica - By Shashi Tharoor

5. Political Theory - By Rajeev Bhargava

Key books for  mains 

Political theory – O P Gauba 

International relations – V K Malhotra

Constitution by D.D. Basu

India’s struggle for independence by Bipan Chandra 

Modern Indian history by Spectrum

Abhiram (AIR 4/CSE 2010)

In response to queries regarding my political science preparation, i’ve decided to put up this post. Please note that I obtained 326 in pol.sci (138+188), which clearly shows my strength (paper 2) & weakness (paper 1). For paper 1, please do not regard my method as final.

The list of books I followed:
  1. Political theory – O P Gauba 
  2. International relations – V K Malhotra 
  3. Constitution by D.D. Basu 
  4. Indian govt & politics by Fadia 
  5. Indian political thought by V.R.Mehta 
  6. India’s struggle for independence by Bipan Chandra  (not a must)
  7. Modern Indian history by Spectrum 
  8. Political thought & theory – Printed notes from several sources provided by my teacher, Balalatha madam
  9. Cosmos book hives vol.1 & vol.3
  10. World focus magazine
  11. Civil service times
  12. Hindu & frontline
  13. International & bilateral issues – Self-made notes from Internet, M.o.External Affairs website & the Hindu.

For paper 1

I could not prepare as well as I wanted to, because of the lack of time (started reading thinkers & thought only after UPSC Preliminary Examination). I read & re-read OP Gauba for the concepts like justice, equality, hegemony, rights, ideology etc. Even though “ideologies” part is good in gauba, I’d suggest you go for Andrew Heywood’s ideologies (take a photocopy if you find the book expensive). I’ve always found Indian political thought confusing for the most part, even in VR Mehta. For thought & thinkers, I mainly depended on Cosmos book-hives publication (vol. 1) and printed notes from various sources provided by my teacher balalatha madam. I also depended on the internet for some thinkers like gramsci & arendt. (Unfortunately, none of the major thinkers I prepared were asked in the mains!)
As far as Indian nationalism is concerned, I stuck to Bipan Chandra & spectrum’s history of modern India. IGNOU material is ok, but I never got time to read the same. Also, I combined the preparation for certain topics like radical humanism w/ MN Roy, dalit perspective with Ambedkar etc. Which I believe helped me save time.You can depend on DD Basu & Fadia for Indian constitution & politics. But fadia is bit outdated with regard to examples, so better find out recent ones for political issues if possible. For the various national commissions (nhrc/sc/st/women etc), I totally depended on their respective websites.
I went through the recent election analyses in The Hindu (by Yogendra Yadav’s team) for understanding election trends.

Paper 2

Comparative politics was & remains a puzzle to me. So I read only Cosmos book-hives (vol. 3) for the topic. But some seniors in the field recommended Ronald chilkote for this topic, whose book I could never lay my hands on. For IR theories (power, natl security, approaches to IR study etc.), Vinay Kumar Malhotra’s International relations is really good. For some topics like globalization, international economic order etc., it’s better to add contemporary issues that you may read in periodicals & newspapers to the answer you write.
Also, try to take stands on issues like ‘do we need NAM?’ (Better to stick to “yes” with reasons), UN/IMF/World bank reforms etc. During the days of preparation itself. Write these down in point form along with substantiating reasons, so that it’s easier to revise before the mains. Tapan biswal’s book is good for the international economy part, but again i’ve not read the book due to time shortage.
Use the internet to the maximum when you’re studying about international & regional organizations like UN, ASEAN, OAS, AU, EU, and SAARC etc. At the same time, understand the pros & cons of such organizations as well as intra-group relations of various countries (India’s big brother attitude to south asia, Thailand-cambodia clashes, eastern vs. Western Europe etc.) & how they affect the cohesion of the groupings. For contemporary world concerns like environment, terrorism, gender issues etc. I depended on Hindu, frontline & Civil Service Times.
For India & the world part, I depend on wikipedia, world focus, Hindu & min. Of external affairs website. I prepared my own notes for these topics. Another thing I did was to note the + & – of our relations with every major country. For this I took a paper, divided it into two columns, one for the +ves & the other for –ves. Jot down points you pick up from the newspaper daily in the columns, & you’ll get a very good idea of our bilateral ties.
Try to read the Nov-Dec annual issue of world focus cover to cover as it covers bilateral ties with almost all important nations. Also understand the background dynamics of issues so that you may be able to voice clear opinions. Eg: india’s role in a post-taliban Afghanistan & its ties with US & Pakistan in this perspective, India vs China in Africa, india’s stand vis-à-vis iran’s nuclear option etc.
PS – I don’t think international relations can be mastered in a short span of time. So better start reading current affairs magazines & the Hindu as early as possible to build up your base. There is no better source for IR than the internet, but only if you have regular access to it.
Regards & all the best,

Karthik Iyer (AIR 7 / CSE 2010)

Abhiram has already given a good outline of his strategy for Political science and im afraid i have nothing more to add there,but i am still posting on how i went about preparing my optional for mains.
A Backgrounder-i finished my graduation and sat at home,preparing full time.i joined IGNOU (MA pol sci) and University of Pune (MA history) to keep me sane (studying at home drives me insane,used as i am to being a hostelite).so had plenty of time in my hand,and access to a great library,a personal collection of my own relative whos a professor of some renown in the subjects i chose as optionals.
  • I had chosen political science as my prelim option and began preparing with that.I had a friend who did Raus classes in delhi in 2006-7 and cleared ,and i began by buying his stack of notes he had scribbled while attending class.
  • Before i made much headway there my IGNOU MA books came,and took my fancy and so i gave them a detailed reading.(by this time i had finished off that guys notes once,they covered the portion,but left me feeling not satisfied)
  • I found them a little too advanced (despite my BA in Pol sci) and so went to the BA books of IGNOU.
    Both BA and MA books done after a painful ordeal,i really could not make my mind up whether there was enough bang for buck in them.
  • Then (around december) i started borrowing and reading original books like-
    The Prince,Politics among nations,Political theory,Das Kapital explained and a long list of original books.Western Political Thought in particular was something i spent a lot of time understanding.The story of philosophy is a good book for that.
  • Burke,Ebenstein,Rosseau,Bentha m,Mill,Locke,Hobbes,Easton,Alm ond,Coleman,Powell,Deustch,hey wood,rawls,amartya sen are some authors that readily come to mind.Indian Political thought i read in Sanskrit in original then English and made extensive notes (as my other optional was history,this overlaps).I scanned what parts i liked and thought important (and these scanned pages,when collated became my notes).OP Gauba was a book i frequently turned to for flow.
  • I paid special attention to Marxist thought and its development,dependency theorists,and newish developments thanks to Globalization.
  • Writing practice i carried on along with each topics initial study (which i did as they are listed in the syllabus).In writing passages,id consciously try including something from all my sources in each para,so that my answers were more rounded and had multiple points of view.
    I made no distinction in study for prelimns and mains till april 2010,and later only started paying more attention to factual details.
  • Indian Polity i did from Laxmikant and DD Basu,and again noted the dry bones(facts expected from every aspirant like article no for emergency,important court cases in SC) down in my notes.
    Once my notes were done (around 800 pages in all) i kept revising and re-revising it i had some confidence that anything asked from it,id put in a fair answer.
  • I was lucky everything was asked from that only,and so i could answer,though not to my expectations or satisfaction. For remaining topics like Feminism, i used net extensively and kept a view on current trends (like formation of UNW).

Paper 2

As far as paper 2 was concerned, my preparation was current affairs(newspapers and magazines) and internet based.I did not read any special book for it and this might have cost me heavy as my score is not up to scratch in this paper,as is the case in GS2 where a heavy dose of International Relations is seen.But based on the same,i could ace my interview which was based solely on i do not know the efficacy of my preparation,or maybe my writing style or handwriting itself cost me heavy.
EPW is a great magazine,frontline is indispensible,and i used to surf websites of BBC,CNN,Al-Jazeera for important events.
Writing practice was done extensively, and simultaneously with other things.
This is all i have done for Political Science-made notes and read them,and I was lucky to get the marks i did for it.

[Toppers Suggestion ] Political Science Optional Comprehensive study plan and Book List

Foundation Books for Political Science & International Relations optional and for General Studies First, read NCERT books(Civics, ...


Books Recommended By IAS Toppers © 2015 - Designed by, Plugins By