Adios amigos!


I had started this blog as a hobby of mine to publish my opinions and analyses of various on-going issues. But then soon after the Civil Services Examination, 2014 results were announced on 4th July, 2015, I had transformed this blog into a platform to guide the civil services examination aspirants and answer their queries.

I attribute a majority of my modest success in the Civil Services Examination, 2014 to the previous year rankers, who were kind enough to share their experiences and wisdom about the exam. All I did was emulate them, of course only at appropriate places. A special mention to Gaurav Agarwal who did an unparalleled service to the next gen aspirants with his incredible blog, thesupermanreturns. You, sir, are truly my superman!! After clearing this exam, I felt that it is my responsibility to continue the legacy and usher in the next gen aspirants. I had poured in all my experiences into this blog and tried to respond to each and every query that had been posted.

Today, I have finally decided to officially end this blog. I shall not write any more posts on this blog. However, I will try and continue to respond to your queries, during my leisure time. But given that my training starts in a couple of days, I am not very sure if I’ll have enough time to respond to all queries swiftly.

I thank all my fellow rankers who were kind enough to share their strategies of various optional subjects. Also, please do check out the unravellingcse blog, which has been a joint initiative of the 2015 CSE rankers.

With best wishes,

C M Saikanth Varma IAS

Public Administration Strategy by Tushar Singla (AIR-86)

Unravelling CSE

Hi friends,

I am sharing few thoughts about how to prepare for Public Administration (PA) optional in CSE. But before that, I want to share my marks in CSE-2014:

Total 956 – written 755 + interview 201

Essay 113

Gs 378 (98,95,81,104)

PA – 263 (160+103)

I will dwell upon PA strategy in detail after giving little bit of factual information about my performance in PA. CSE-2014 was my second attempt. In CSE-2013, I got 172 in Pub Ad (94 + 78). And this improvement in PA was not accidental or by luck, but I was confident that I will get around 100 marks more in PA this year. Yes, PA has become quite dicey in recent years due to its unpredictability and rising difficulty levels, but still there is method to madness.

Also, before starting out, I want to dwell upon whether one should take Public Administration as an…

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Electrical Engineering Strategy for CSE Mains

Unravelling CSE

Electrical Engineering Strategy- by Neelabh Saxena, Aman Mittal, Anunaya Jha

For Electrical Engineering, Prakash Rajpurohit Sir’s (AIR-2 in CSE-2009) blog has all the relevant information.

Following is the link.

With additional inputs from my side I am also writing the strategy I followed in my preparation.

  • Theory and numericals both are scoring. Attempt theory as well if you are stuck in numericals i.e. not able to solve them or having paucity of time in completing the question paper. Just give small examples in your theory answers say a small RC circuit or any gate to emphasize your point made in theory.
  • But one needs to understand that Electrical Engineering requires a lot of effort. The syllabus is vast and many books need to be prepared for the completion of the course. However, the needs of UPSC Civil Services Exam are not very stringent and only basic knowledge of…

View original post 1,525 more words

Preparing for GS Paper III – Remaining Topics

Most of this paper deals with current affairs and thus the most important sources are the newspapers and magazines like frontline, downtoearth and selected and relevant issues of Yojana and Kurukshetra. Apart from this, I have also relied on the material of “the-most-famous-test-series-of-Delhi”, which I got from one of my friends for certain specific topics.

Before venturing into the details of various sources for various topics in this paper, here is a special word on “How to prepare for Science and Technology (S&T) part?”.

Science and Technology

I have observed that UPSC is not keen on asking questions which are purely research oriented, instead she is keen on asking questions which are general in nature. Thus, the key to this area would be to keep an eye on the S&T aspects of all the recent developments. To give you an idea, some of the S&T topics that I have prepared on were: The Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral on social media, to promote the awareness and funding for the research of a disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which I have studied from the internet; the e-Cigarettes as there was a debate on its safety on the downtoearth magazine;  3D Holographic Projection as Narendra Modi had used it for the first time for election campaigning and also because of the release of a 3D holographic projection video of Michael Jackson’s “Slave to the Rhythm” song; Ebola which broke out in West Africa last year. And within the S&T part, anything that deals with diseases and drugs are extremely important. Although I may not be able to measure the extent to which this strategy of mine had worked in the exam, as there were hardly any questions from this area last year, I feel this is an important basic strategy that an aspirant must adopt. This was something which Gaurav Agarwal had also proposed in his blog. On top of this, one may adopt a supplementary strategy, like referring to any S&T material of a coaching institute, if she feels the need for it.


Same as what I have mentioned in my interview on Mrunal.

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Indian economy, resource mobilization No special preparation apart from Newspapers
inclusive growth No special preparation apart from Newspapers
budgeting Covered the definitions of various terms in Economic Survey and Budget
major crops, irrigation NCERT and Internet
agro produce – storage, marketing Material of “the-most-famous-test-series-of-Delhi”
e-technology for famers No special preparation apart from Newspapers
farm subsidies, MSP No special preparation apart from Newspapers
PDS, buffer, food security Yojana
technology mission No special preparation apart from Newspapers
animal rearing economics Covered basics from Agriculture Annual Report
food processing Kurukshetra edition on Agri-Industries
land reforms Studied in History part + Newspapers (LARR Act)
liberalization No special preparation apart from Newspapers
infra No special preparation apart from Newspapers
investment models Material of “the-most-famous-test-series-of-Delhi”
science-tech day to day life Newspapers – special focus on diseases, drugs etc.
Indian achievements in sci-tech Newspapers
awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR IPR – Recent developments and contentious provisions of Patents Act
environmental impact assessment Shankar IAS Book
Disaster Management IGNOU Material + World Focus (edition on DM)
non state actors, internal security No special preparation apart from Newspapers
internal security – role of media, social networking site No special preparation apart from Newspapers
cyber security No special preparation apart from Newspapers
money laundering No special preparation apart from Newspapers
border  Management No special preparation apart from Newspapers
organized crime, terrorism No special preparation apart from Newspapers
security agencies- structure mandate Briefly covered from Wikipedia

With this post, I have covered all the topics related to the Civil Services Examination. In case you want me to write a post on any particular topic that I have not covered earlier, please mention it in the comments section.

Strategy For Medical Science as an Optional – by Dr. Khushaal Yadav, AIR 28

Unravelling CSE

At the outset,  let me warn the readers that I am no authority on Medical Sciences or CSE. Blindly aping could be potentially disastrous !

Having said that, I feel that some of my experiences and resources could be helpful to other aspirants. These would be instrumental in reducing the information asymmetry and consequently a great deal of anxiety. Since, this was my first attempt. My preparation was sub optimal. Time was of essence and I had to prioritize. This article is not about ‘taming’ the Med. Sc. but rather dealing with the vast syllabus in a couple of months.

My decision to take up Med. Sc was a tough one.

No readymade material, No coaching, No test series.

It was mostly one of “exclusion“. After having exhausted Pub Ad, Pali, and similar other worthy subjects I thought it was better to deal with the…

View original post 557 more words

Preparing for GS II

Newspapers and various government reports are the most important sources for this paper.

Before I list out the various sources for various topics mentioned in the syllabus, I would like to talk a little bit about how to read the huge bulky reports. Government reports like 2nd ARC, Punchhi and Fourteenth Finance Commission reports are extremely important for the exam. Reading suggestions alone would not suffice because without the context these suggestions will not make any sense. So to appreciate the importance of the suggestions one must understand the context (like the problems in the existing system) and for that the whole report should be studied. But reading each and every line in these reports is not practically possible. So I usually look at the Contents and Headings to identify the topics, which would fit into the exam syllabus and then prepare on these topics.  That way, I was able to finish off these reports rather quickly.

Following is the list of sources that I had studied from.

  • Newspapers – The Hindu and Indian Express
  • Magazines – Frontline (only relevant articles)
  • Indian Polity by Lakshmikanth – to get the basics right
  • Punchhi Commission report – for Centre-State (federalism) issues
  • 2nd ARC Reports:
    • Local Governance – for Local Bodies
    • Social Capital – for NGOs, SHGs, Civil Societies etc.
    • Selected readings from Personnel Administration and E-Governance.
  • Fourteenth Finance Commission – This is extremely important as it came only this year.
  • Representation of People’s Act – relevant provisions that appeared in Newspapers like the Supreme Court judgments.
  • Comparison of Indian Constitution with others – I have prepared this only for few countries from internet like UK, USA and Japan in great depth. I also covered the ‘borrowed’ features of Indian Constitution from Lakshmikanth itself.
  • International Relations:
    • Newspapers, especially C. Raja Mohan’s column in Indian Express
    • Frontline (extremely good for International Relations)
    • website (selected articles)
    • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) website
    • Wikipedia for the mandate and objectives of various bodies and organisations

Preparing for GS Paper III – Economy

Many people have been asking me about how to prepare for Economics. So, here it goes.

For the GS Paper III, you don’t need to be an economist to answer the questions that are being asked. You need to be a generalist.

The ONLY book I’ve read for Economy part in GS Paper III is the Macroeconomics – NCERT. It helped me in getting the basics right. After that I DID NOT refer to any other book at all. I feel that Economy is all about understanding the meanings of various terms correctly. Once you understand what a term really means, the logic that goes around that term isn’t very difficult to understand. So for this purpose I’ve maintained a table of 2 columns, in my notes, consisting of various terms in one column and their definitions + relevant contemporary examples in the other column.

To get the list of different terms I did 2 things, but before I mention that I based my preparation on one basic assumption. That is, UPSC will not ask for an Economics concept which has not been in news/Union Budget/Economic Survey. I believed that it is rational for me to think that there is no reason why UPSC would ask a question on a topic which doesn’t fit into this criteria. Being an ardent follower of newspapers, I believed that I wouldn’t miss any important topic or issue that comes up in the newspapers. So with this as my base, I did the following 2 things:

  1. Whenever I see any new Economics related term in newspapers that I don’t know, I would first go and study the definition and try to understand the concept in the context of the newspaper article. This made it easy for me to remember the concept. For example, I read about “Sovereign Debt Crisis” in the context of Greek crisis. It serves me 2 purposes – understanding the concept well and also remembering that concept well because I have the context of some contemporary issue around that concept.
  2. Went through Economic Survey and Union Budget, not to get a hold of the numbers scattered in there, but to identify different terms (like ‘tax expenditure’) and then know their meanings (by looking it up in the internet). This year’s economic survey is quite good – especially the First Volume. Several concepts were well explained there and I strongly recommend the aspirants to go through it, from the mains point of view.

Apart from this, I’ve also read the Fourteenth Finance Commission Report and I’ve written an analysis on it earlier, which can be found here. In summary, the sources that I had followed:

  • Macroeconomics – NCERT
  • Newspapers
  • Economic Survey and Budget for identification of different terms