Indian Polity and Governance ‐ A universal topic for the Civil Services Examination

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“Indian Polity and Governance” is a universal topic in the syllabus for Civil Services Examinations. It permeates all through the three levels ‐ Prelims, Mains and Personality Test. Invariably there will be questions from Indian polity, constitution and governance. The subject is quite scoring, provided the candidates prepare it systematically and get the concepts clear in their minds.

The pattern of questions for Civil Service Examination has undergone changes. It has become more complex especially with the emphasis on application of concepts. So the mode of preparation has to be more of “smart work” than “hard work”.

The Preliminary Examination is in the form of  Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) with negative marking for incorrect answers. Each question carries two marks. This portion on polity and governance carries about 25 marks out of a total of 200 marks. In comparison to various other topics in the prelims syllabus, the share of polity and related areas is quite high.

In the Mains examination also there will be substantial number of questions from topics connected with Indian Polity and governance. They comprise of

constitutional and non constitutional topics. One has to understand the concepts behind them and their application, often in the context of current events. This needs an alert mind and analytical capability, which of course can be developed through conscious effort and perseverance.

In the General Studies Paper II “ Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations”, one can expect questions for 80 to 100 marks out of a total of 250 marks. In the Personality Test also, one can reasonably expect to get some questions on polity and governance in the backdrop of current events. Here again clarity of concepts and their logical application are crucial to score above average marks.

Apart from the General Studies papers, the topic appear under Economics, Developmental Issues, Social Justice and International Relations, Security etc. Besides its is useful for optional subjects like Public Administration, Political Science, History, Law etc.

The questions in Civil Services Examination are aimed at assessing the candidate’s ability to understand issues, their analytical skills and views on national and international issues. The questions may not be direct, especially in the Mains paper, where the candidates are asked to discuss critically, give arguments in favor or against, seek what are the implications and impediments etc. It means, preparation for examination demands understanding of concepts and issues as well as guide analytical response to them.

To elucidate the point, consider the following two simple questions.

Q: According to the Constitution of India, which of the following are fundamental for the governance of the country:

A: a) Fundamental Rights

  1. b) Fundamental Duties
  2. c) Directive Principles of state policy
  3. d) Fundamental Rights and Fundamental duties

If the question is not well understood and is attempted purely from a layman’s approach it is very likely that a candidate may give an answer anything other than the correct answer which is (c) from amongst the four alternatives.

Now take the second example in the context of the current events in Arunachal Pradesh.

Q: Which of the following are the discretionary powers given to the Governor of a State:

A: a) Sending a report to the President of India for imposing the President’s     rule

  1. b) Appointing the Ministers
  2. c) Reserving certain bills passed by the State Legislature for consideration of the President of India
  3. d) Making the rules to conduct the business of the State Government Select the correct answer using the code given below.
  1. a) 1 and 2 only b) 1 and 3 only
  2. c) 2,3 and 4 only d) 1,2,3 and 4

> The correct answer is (b)

Unless the candidate knows the specific constitutional provisions, answer given on assumptions will certainly go wrong. The specific knowledge gained will also help in answering possible related questions in the General Studies Papers or in attempting the Essay Paper or answering questions in some of the optional papers. Clarity of concept is the key to identify the correct answer from amongst the given options. Superficial knowledge will not.

Intensive and extensive reading is necessary to handle questions under polity and governance. The basic document for Indian Polity is its Constitution. Even before one starts studying the Constitutional provisions, one has to gain fair knowledge of the historical background and making of the constitution, for a critical appreciation and understanding of the document. Popular text books like NCERT books of 11 and 12 standards, “Constitution of India” by D. D. Basu, “Indian Polity” by M. Laxmikanth, etc are those commonly used by aspirants.

Apart from studying the Articles and Amendments to the Constitution, it is equally important to learn about the landmark judgments of the Supreme Court and their impact on the constitutional provisions.

Mere dependence on standard text books alone is not enough. More extensive reading is required, since there are various other aspects of governance like political system, panchayati raj, public policy, rights issue, etc. which have to be essentially linked with current events of national and international importance. Standard newspapers provide very valuable inputs to address this challenge. But cursory reading of newspaper is of no significant value. The civil service aspirants as a rule should learn the art of “studying” newspapers. They should know how to avoid news and articles that are irrelevant from the examination point of view. Attention should be confined to relevant reports and articles and critically analyse them. Reading between the lines to understand the nuances and developing ones own opinion is a hard task to begin with but will overcome gradually. Aspirants should also assiduously cultivate the practice of making brief notes along with reading. The notes so prepared should be classified and kept ready for frequent reference. This would help them relate different issues to one another as they progress in their studies. It would also help them in recalling easily what they have learned while answering questions.

Thorough preparation is important for identifying the correct choices and to

manage time. Candidate should essentially take pains to improve their reading and writing skills so as to efficiently manage time. It is possible to gain speed by constant exercise in writing, for which there is no alternative. It is an added advantage to learn rapid reading skills.

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