Monday, December 28, 2009

Interview Preparation

Hello All,

Sorry for the delay in the post.
I have been very busy with my training at LBSNAA. Even right now as I write this post I am sitting in the office of a regiment of army at Poonch(the border town on Indian side).

Let's come to interview preparation.
Interview is a test of your personality. The attempt is to test your presence of mind, attitude, emotional stability and in general they would like to see if you are a balanced personality or not.

1. First take a few copies of your mains form. Share it with a couple of people/friends who are close to you. Now start writing questions on every component of your mains form. For eg. if your form contains names of 4 5 places, then write whatever questions come to your mind wrt these places and even related questions. For eg. my form had moradabad in it, so questions would pertain to brass exports, SEZ, child labour in brass industry, moradabad's share in Indian handicraft exports and so on. Open your mind to the range of questions that can be asked. You should take some time to do this job as it is the most crucial part. Make a notebook having different sections, hobbies, places, educ background and write as many questions as possible.

2.. Once you have made this notebook, start researching the answers. Write relevant facts and info in a separate notebook.

3. For general awareness and a balanced opinion, read atleast 2 newspapers. I read ToI and Hindu. Jot down the important aspects and facts in news and major issues, for eg climate change.
4.Also focus heavily on International relations and specially India's equation with other countries and changes in foreign policy. Get a good book on India's foreign policy, preferably a new one.

5.Always remember that more important than the facts it is your opinion that matters. So try to cultivate a balanced thinking if you don't have it. Try to form an opinion on all issues around you.
6. For people with difficulty in public speaking, get involved in group discussions with other people on current issues of importance.

7. Develop a good awareness of yourself and your background. You should be sure of what you have presented before them in your mains form. I hope you haven't lied about your hobbies and extra curricular activities in the form, as they are wise men/women.

Keep posting questions on this post for interview preparation. No other questions would be entertained.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Inactivity on Blog

Dear Blog Visitors,

First of all, apologies for keeping you waiting for many days for replies to your queries.
I am attending the foundation course at LBSNAA at the moment and it is so very hectic here. That's why I can not be very regular and prompt on the blog during the foundation course.

God Bless You!!
All the very Best!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Public Administration Book

Dear All,

It is with immense pleasure that I want to inform you all that a book on Public Administration, written by me, is being released soon. It is basically a comprehensive compilation of the most important topics of Public Administration for Mains.

I hope you find it useful.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thread for my Pub Ad students

Dear students,

As requested by a few of you, I am creating this post so that I can continue helping you in your preparation even if the classes are over now. Plz feel free to post your queries, upload your answers as you did during the classes.

God bless you all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sociology tips

On my request, Ms. Aditi Singh(AIR 12) has provided some pointers on Sociology. I thank her for her contribution to the blog.
Beyond this I won't be able to answer any questions on Sociology

Reading List for Sociology (Main)
Shri. Upendra Gaur’s class notes
Sociology-Tom Bottomore
Sociology-Michael Haralambos
Classical Sociological Theory-George Ritzer
Tribal India-Nadeem Hasnain
Modernization of Indian Tradition-Yogendra Singh
Changing India-Robert Stern

A few tips:
1. Refer to IGNOU notes for the new topics introduced in Paper II
2. Make sure you mention case studies in Paper II answers
3. Make good notes on topics like ethnicity, religion, caste, environment, women’s movement, tribal movement, political parties, pressure groups, judiciary, etc. which are common to Political Science, Sociology, GS or Essay as it’ll help you to optimize your preparation.
5. Read the questions carefully in both optionals before answering. More often than not the second part of the questions would require a bit of original thinking beyond what you may have prepared.

Political Science

On my request, Ms. Aditi Singh(AIR 12) has provided some pointers on Pol Science. I thank her for her contribution to the blog.
Beyond this I won't be able to answer any question on Pol Sc.

Reading List for Political Science (Prelims and Main)
The Constitution of India-D.D. BasuAn Introduction to Political Theory-O.P. GaubaSpectrum's Political Science for PrelimsThe Constitution of India-P.M.Bakshi
Political Theory-Amal Ray, Mohit Bhattacharya
Comparative Politics-Ronald Chilcote
Our Parliament-S.C. Kashyap
History of Political Thought-Subrata Mukherjee, Susheela Ramaswamy
A History of Political Thought-J.P. SudaFoundations of Indian Political Thought-V.R. MehtaModern Political Theory-S.P. Verma
Western Political Thought-R.M. Bhagat
Andrew Heywood-Politics
Andrew Heywood-Political Theory: An IntroductionComparative Politics-J.C. Johari
History of Political Thought- George Sabine
Politics among Nations-Hans Morgenthau

A few tips:
1. Look up Wikipedia for the latest on world constitutions
2. Combine preparation of Section B of Paper 1 with Indian Polity and History in GS
3. Update your Paper II Section B answers with GS Paper II notes on India and the World and International Organizations
4. Take a look at the Delhi University B.A./M.A. Political Science syllabus/reading lists for references on International Relations

Friday, August 7, 2009

Compulsory English and regional language papers

Now this post is very important for the people who are writing this year mains.

Every year thousands of candidates are disqualified because they fail to clear either of these 2 exams. The process is that first UPSC evaluates the language papers, and if you qualify them, only then your GS, optional and essay papers are evaluated.

All your hard work would go to waste if you fail to qualify the language papers.

For people who are weak in English, buy a good gramma book, a dictionary and last 10 yrs english papers. Start working on this from now onwards.Even people whose english is fine, plz do not forget to buy the last 10 yr questions and go through them to see what kind of questions are asked just so that you are not surprised in the exam.

Same thing would hold for regional language papers. I had opted for Hindi, as it is my mother tongue. But I hadn't written Hindi since 10th, So it was rusty. I practiced writing Hindi and Hindi grammar before exams. Eg Idioms, synonyms etc.

Please remember, do not be overconfident with regard to these papers.
They are of a qualifying nature, but probbaly the most imp.

All the best!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Congratulations to those who have cleared Prelims. From now on, you can ask questions pertaining to this year mains in this post. I will try my best to write the outstanding post on essay soon.

For people who havrn't made it this year, do not be disheartened. Work harder and smarter this time. All the best!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hello All

Hello Dear Blog visitors,

I will be slightly busy for the next 1 month. So I won't be able to write any new posts for this time. I will keep replying to your queries. But, won't be able to write on the topics mentioned.

Just wanted to inform you.
God bless you all!!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making notes

This is a very important process. You have millions of books and they seem intimidating at times.
It's always a good idea to make notes.

First, do not ever make notes in your first reading. I would go for notes maybe in 2nd or better in 3rd read.

There are many kind of notes that you can make.

1) If you select certain most important topics in your optionals, eg distt administration, RTI in pub ad, then select the best books for that topic and write all of that on A4 sized sheets. select such 50 60 topics from your optionals by looking at the pattern of paper and make the best notes possible. Initially it seems like a lot of hard work. But it really helps. I made such notes for about 80-90 topics in Pub ad. Remember, you can not afford to leave the rest of the syllabus. because even in the best case scenaro you might get questions outside this list.
So finish your syllabus thoroughly and these notes will work as add ons.

2) Chapter-wise notes- I did this in both psychology and Pub ad.
take an A4 sheet and fold it in between so that it has 2 parts. write synoptical notes just the gist that is relevant to you. write it in condensed form so that it doesnt take much space. Also, use highlighters and red/pink/green pens to highlight imp stuff.

You must be wondering why I a stressing on A4 sheets. They are easy to handle and you can classify the notes whenever you want. You don't have to carry a big notebook at the time of exam.

3) Post-it notes-
Suppose you have GS notes from a coaching class. They are good. But they are huge. Also, you have already spent enough time on optionals notes. So there's a short cut for these notes. Buy Post-it notes, the yellow coloured stickies. When you have studied a topic, just write the +ves, -ves, anything on that post it and stick it onto that page. When you are revising the stuff, just look at the post-its. That will save your time and stick better in head.

Just before the exam, you can just glance at these notes for the last time. Remember you should have done this many times before. But the last revision is the most crucial. Psychology students would understand why. When you write your paper this year, you would understand the significance of this last look you gave your notes.

Also understand that the note making exercise is a tedious one and you might think you are wasting a lot of time. rather you could study from books. but for a single topic you will have to open 4 5 books at a time. That's even more tedious. Plus it will be difficult to retrieve the stuff. Get it all in one place and you are all set.

Aspirants Interaction page

as requested by Pramod, I am creating this page for aspirants to interact.
Please do not post questions and requests addressed to me in this post. This is solely for you guys.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Posts to follow shortly

Hi all,

Please give suggestions as to what else you need my help for.
I would be writing about the following topics shortly whenever I get time.

-Starting preparation
-Essay writing
-Making Notes
-sustaining motivation and morale
-newspaper readingips
-interview tips


Monday, July 6, 2009

Pub Ad Mains and Prelims tips

I had written this some time back. Stumbled across this document on my laptop. So, sharing with you.


Given the time constraint, a well-thought out strategy makes the difference between success and failure. Intensive and focused approach built on analysis needs to be scrupulously adhered to. Some ingredients of a 'smart strategy' are:

-Building a general overview
-Conceptual Understanding of the subject matter.
-Perusal of question papers of previous years.
-Identification of 'thrust areas' for concentrated pursuit.
-Adequate writing practice for time management and evolving right content.
-Continuous review of performance and appropriate corrections.

Though the current trend of Public Administration suggests that the preparation for prelims should be grounded in a mains-focused approach, the strategy of preparing for Prelims and Mains is markedly different.

Strategy for Prelims:

1. Conceptual Understanding of the subject is a must. Study from standard textbooks to get a grip on the subject matter. Superficial reading won’t help.

2. Public Administration by Laxmikanth is the most important textbook for Prelims. Finish it thoroughly.

3. Read and understand all the concepts thoroughly word by word because, public administration is a game of words. Sometimes questions are asked from the very technicality of the words.

4. Try to go through all the current affairs facts related to Public Administration. For e.g. Pay Commission Reports, Finance Commission Reports, RTI etc.

5. Supplement this knowledge with a few books like Public Administration and Public Affairs by Nicholas Henry; New Horizons of public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya and Indian Administration by Arora/Goel.

6. Practice Mock tests regularly for all units and also at least one Full Length Test.

Strategy for Mains:

Every candidate appearing for the mains examination should be conversant with the fundamentals of the structure, process, behaviour and environment of the administrative system. It's equally important that the student should be conversant with contemporary and the current developments of socio-political and economic nature that have a close bearing on the functioning of the administration. For example, changing governors, direct grants to panchayats, economic reforms with a human face; globalization and administration, second-generation reforms and the social infrastructure, right to information and participative development.

1. First of all you have to thoroughly analyze the syllabus and the previous years question papers. Then, it will be easy to understand what is actually expected from you.

2. Study basic study material like Sharma Sadana, Arora Goel, Avasthi Maheshwari etc. Supplement it with IIPA journals, Internet etc.

3. While studying the subject, understand it well. Don’t just gloss over it. Secondly, try to feel what you are reading inside. This helps reproducing answers from your subconscious mind during the exam.

4. Amassing information is a big ” DON’T ”. You should be able to identify 'core areas' which cannot be avoided in the context of the mains examination and consolidate. Most importantly, study and writing practice should reinforce each other.

5. Read a magazine like Frontline, Yojana, Kurukshetra and keep a tab on what’s happening around you. You have to anyway do it for GS. Just try to note what is happening in Public Administration specially.

6. Make synoptic notes for all the topics. These help in final revision. One can recall points for a certain topic easily when writing the exam.

7. Writing practice holds the key to success. It ensures legibility, time management and adherence to word limit. Effective introduction, logical build up and balanced conclusion send the right signals to the evaluator. Every question needs to be studied carefully to understand the exact requirements.

8. Several times, the questions are general in nature and not direct. For example, criminalization of politics and politicization of crime; public sector enterprises are neither public nor enterprises; recruitment of recruiters needs to be streamlined and planning in India needs to be depoliticized.

9. For short questions, answers should be direct and precise. In a long essay, introduction should be appealing and effective. Elaboration of the theme should be properly prioritized. Sequencing should be done in such a manner that one paragraph logically follows from another.

10. Depending upon the paper I or II, apt illustrations add value. While answering a question on welfare administration, the concept of welfare needs to be supplemented with the initiatives undertaken by the government highlighting the different types of programmes, the coverage and the resource profile. Unlike general studies, public administration requires interpretative skills, ability to correlate theory and practice; and synchronize conventional with the current. For example, presidential activism in India; budget as an instrument of socioeconomic transformation; citizen-administration interface and e-governance; regulation and development; development and delivery models.

11. Concentrate on the newly emerging and sensitive topics like:
Criminalization of politics
Politicization of administration
Coalition govt.
Panchayati Raj Institutions and their empowerment
Urban Local Govt.
Disaster Management

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Interview

Now coming to my interview:

27th March, 2009, 2nd half

I reached UPSC by 12:15 pm. I kept waiting till we were allowed to go in. It was about 1:30 pm when I went in. I reached inside and saw the other candidates who were also there for their interviews. There were 7 tables around which 5 candidates were seated. The table decides which board you are going to be in. At around 2 pm, the candidates started going to their respective interview boards. We still didn't know our board. There were 4 other candidates with me who were going to be interviewed by the same board. There were 2 ladies, one from Maharashtra and one from Rajasthan, and there were 2 guys, one from IIT Chennai and the other I can't recall.

We kept waiting, meanwhile other boards had interviewed around 2 candidates. We were getting impatient and hungry too. The lady from Rajasthan opened her bag and got out a packet of biscuits. I thanked god and started eating them. we were speculating as to which board we would get. Finally someone came and told us that we were going to be interviewed by Mr. P K Mishra.
I was so disheartened. Last year, I had been interviewed by a new board member, Mr Purushottam Aggarwal. I was the 1st one to go in on the 1st day last year. In spite of having a wonderful interview, I got just 180. So, I was a little apprehensive as Mr P K Mishra was also a new member of UPSC.

Now, coming back to the table. Everyone was nervous. We were reading all the newspapers there, in case a question comes from any of the newspapers. Then we started talking and finally we were all relaxed.

I was the 3rd one to go in. So when finally the 1st guy was called to the interview, we heaved a sigh of relief. I was assuming that since the board had started late, they would not give us adequate time. I had been suffering from throat infection just before the interview, so was taking a vicks/strepsil all the time. When the 2nd guy from IIT Chennai went in, I started anticipating the interview.

Finally at 4 o clock, someone came to lead me to the board. Suddenly to my horror I realised that my mouth was so dry due to vicks/ strepsils. I didn't have water with me. I reached there and asked someone for water, but even after drinking water, my throat won't be better. I had about 3 glasses of water, that didn't help. I was cursing vicks/strepsils. I was thinking that a heavy throat was better than a dry one. What if I needed to drink water during the interview if my mouth dried again. Anyway, after 10 mins or so, the gentleman from IIT Chennai came out and told me that they were very cool. But that he had had just 15 mins with them.

Then they called for me. I composed myself, tried to forget my dry mouth and asked for their permission to enter the room. When I entered, I saw two lady members to the left of CM and 2 gentlemen to his right. I wished the ladies first and then the gentlemen. I stood next to the chair and waited for the CM's permission to sit down. He said "please be seated". I thanked him and sat down.

Now the interview starts:

CM: What's your name?
Me: Sir, My name is Shubhra Saxena

CM:Tell us about yourself
Me: I told them about my education, prof background, my family and so on.

CM:Can you tell us the immunisation schedule of children
(Now let me tell you v frankly that I was shocked and thrown off guard. Maybe he wanted to destabilise me to see if I maintained my cool.)
Me:Sir, I am not aware of the immunisation schedule of children. But I do know some vaccines for children.

CM: Fine, go ahead.
Me: There is DPT, that prevents Diptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus. And there is OPV, Oral polio vaccine.

CM: Can't you recall any more?
Me:Sorry Sir, I can't recall any more.

CM:Isn't there a vaccine for Hepatitis B?
Me:Sir there is, But I think it can be taken as an adult because I had this vaccine when I was in college.

CM: (Smiled) Yes but it is now given to children.
Me:I said, Thank you sir.

CM: Your hobbies include teaching. Can you tell us about that?
Me:Sir, I have liked teaching since childhood. I used to teach my younger siblings and the children of my colony. Now I teach some children of my maid servants.
CM:Tell us, who is a good teacher?
(I didn't understand the question but I nevertheless tried to answer.)
Me: A good teacher is the one who can conceptually explain topics to students. Someone who can motivate students to do better. Someone who can be a friend, philosopher and guide to students.
( He was apparently not satisfied with my answer.)

CM: No, tell me if you are teaching students in a class, how would you make sure that they followed what you were teaching?
Me: Sir, I would first try to understand the level of cognitive maturity of students. Then I would try to adjust the speed of teaching to suit most of the students because at any level of teaching not all students would be satisfied. I would include practical examples to make them understand the concepts better. The students who have somehow not grasped the things I taught them, I would give them time other than the class to make sure they understood it.
(he apparently was satisfied. So he let it go. He gestured to the 1st lady member on his left)

M1: Your hobby is teaching. So can you tell me about a few education schemes of GOI
Me: I told her about SSA. She inturrepted me.

M1: Can you tell us about SSA?
Me: I told her about a few provisions under SSA as I did not know all.

M1:Can you tell me if there are any provisions for handicapped children under SSA.
Me:Ma'm I am not sure if there are any. But there mustbe.

M1:(Looks at other members) aren' there? (Others nod)
Tell me about other education schemes?
Me: I told about MSA, MDM, KGBV , scholarship schemes for disadvantaged and backward students.

M1: (Interrupts)..That's fine. Your extra curricular activity said Debating. I will give you a topic. Can you debate on that.
Me: Yes ma'm.

M1: The topic is "Women should empower themselves"
Me: Ma'm should I debate in favour or against the topic?

M1: Whichever way you want
Me: May I speak both in favour and against the topic?

(I was a little apprehensive if this gamble would pay off. But it did. She didn't look offended.)

M1: Yes, go ahead.
Me:Argued first against the topic. Then later in favour of the topic.

M1:(looking very happy) Excellent Shubhra. You have argued well in both directions. But you forgot to mention the role of husbands.
Me:(I smiled) yes Ma'm. Thank you.

She now passed the charge to the next lady member..

M2: So Shubhra, you have stayed in many states. Which state have you stayed maximum in?
Me: Ma'm I have stayed for 16 years in Jharkhand and 12 years in UP and 2 years in AP.

M2: So can you please compare Jharkhand and UP?
Me: Yes Ma'm. Jharkhand and UP are topographically very diffrent states. Whereas JH has a hilly and forested terrain, UP is part of the Gangetic plain and very sparsely forested. UP is densely populated whereas JH has a low population density. JH has a sizeable tribal population mainly consisting of tribes like Santhal and Munda whereas UP has a low tribal population. Both the states primarily speak Hindi. In terms of HDI, both perform poorly.

M2: No, tell me what diff did you find on a personal level?
Me: Ma'm both states are culturally complex and offer a variety of ways of life. While I was growing up in Jharkhand I used to stay in isolated forested lands where sometimes wild animals like tiger would come into our colony. This is something I have never come across in UP. The food of these 2 states is more or less the same with a few regional variations. The people in both the states are very tolerant and loving and make one feel at home.
(Everyone smiled at the tiger comment)
She nods then asks.

M2: Tell me what is India's equation with Nepal?
Me: Ma'm Nepal has traditionally been a good friend of India's and India has always supported Nepal in many ways. But with the coming of Maoist government in Nepal, the equations are changing as Maoists are more sympathetic towards China. And therefore the hegemony of India in Nepal is weakening.
(She draws her eyebrows together as if frowning at me. I am telling you it was a scary moment)

M2: Do you think we should be using words like hegemony in context of international relations. India is a big country and shouldn't it allow her neighbour countries autonomy rather than dominating them?
Me: Ma'm, (how to redefine the meaning of hegemony???) , I didn't mean hegemony in the sense of controlling a smaller country for one's vested interests. I meant primacy in international relations.
India is a very big country and that is the reason most of her neighbours are insecure about India's intentions. But India is a very peaceful country and instead of dominating its neighbours she extends whatever support it can to her neighbours.

(again frowning....I am so scared now...)

M2: It is you who are saying that India is a peaceful country.But other countries don't think so.
Me: Ma'm, I have had the fortune to work abroad in many countries and everywhere I meet people they always say that India is perhaps the most peace loving country in the world.

(She looks satisfied now...I heave a sigh of relief)

M2: Tell me about India's relations with Myanmar.
Me: Relations between India and Myanmar haven't been very positive ever since the military junta took over control of that country since India had never supported the junta's rule in Myanmar. But lately, the contours of relations are changing for the better because India needs Myanmar for access to ASEAN route, for development of NE and to curb insurgency in NE. But even despite many efforts, Myanmar is more inclined towards China, that is using Myanmar territory for its naval base as a part of its String Of Pearls strategy to encircle india in the Indian Ocean. This is a concern in Indo Myanmar relations.

(She looks much happier now....Passes the charge to 3rd member.

M3: So, you have been a student of IIT Roorkee. Can you tell me the history of IIT Roorkee?
Me:Yes Sir. IIT Roorkee initialy known as Thomason College of civil Engg.It was named after Lt Governor of Agra Province whose name was Thomason. It was created in 1847 after a famine in British times led to large revenue losses. The British decided to construct a canal from Haridwar to western UP to irrigate these lands. Therefore a need was felt for Civil engineers. And therefore under Lord Hardinge, this instn was created. After independence it was renamed University of Roorkee. In 2000, after Uttarakhand was separated from UP, it was named IIT Roorkee.

M3: Can you tell me what is this structure in Roorkee where there is a canal over river?
Me: Sir, it's called aqueduct.

M3: Tell me about Ganga Canal.
Me:I told him about the famine of 1837-38. The canal consists of an upper ganga canal from Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar to Aligarh and Lower Ganga Canal from Aligarh to Kanpur. Told them the distance of Canal and which governor general started its construction(now I can't recall)

M3:What is the river over which the canal is passing?
Me:Sir it's known as Solani. Similar to the aqueduct structure there are structures like superpassage wherein river flows over canal and a structure called siphon.

(He is looking visibly glad all the research paid off)

M3: So you are an engg in Paper technology?
Me:Yes sir.

M3:Can we make paper out of weeds?
Me: Yes sir, if the weeds have vascular structure that will yield fibres.

M3: That would solve the problem of weeding then.(smiles to himself )
Me: I smile back.

M3:So where was paper first made.
Me:Sir, it was first made in Egypt from a plant called Papyrus, that's why the name paper.

M3:But people say it's China.
Me:Yes sir China later followed this practice and made it more sophisticated so that paper came in daily use.

M3: When was this?
Me: Sir it was around 2nd or 3rd century BC.

M3: Tell me something, who invented printing?
Me:(AAAAAAAAARRRGH) Sir I don't know. But I know that the person who invented the prniting press was Gutenberg.

M3:No, you tell me one thing. Why did it take printing to travel from China to Europe 400 years?
Me:(I am thinking...what?.. what is this question. The CM i slooking impatient as well) Sir,I am not aware of the reason.
(Thankfully the CM interrupts and said it's ok.)

M3:Tell me your hobby is teaching. Why does ragging take place ? there was a committee created for tackling ragging.
Me:I told him it was Raghavan committe. I told them the psychological and sociological reasons for ragging.

M3: Since your hobby is teaching,Tell me, what was the committe recently created for higher education reforms? (I am wondering why they are all fixated on my hobby only)
Me: Sir I am not very sure. But I think it was Yashpal committee.
(Everyone murmurs..yes yes)

M3: What were it's rcommendations?
Me: I told him about improving UGC affiliations, Deemed univ and so on.

CM interrupted- Enough. He gestured to the last member to start.
Somewhere I was getting apprehensive why the CM was getting impatient. Did he think I was no good and wanted to end the interview? But I found the answer in the end. You will also see that)

M4: Your extra curricular activities include athletics. What all did you participate in?
Me: I told them the activities I had participated in.

M4: Can you tell me some type of athletic events in which more than 2 types of athletic events are there.
Me: I told them 2.
M4: What are the special features of Indian Democracy?
Me: Parliamentary democracy, quasi federal structure, Independednt judiciary, Written constitution, supremacy of constitution etc etc.( I explained these also)
M4: Can you tell me the independent agencies under Indian Constitution?
Me: Told him SC, HC, EC, CAG, UPSC(along with the articles)
CM interrupted and said " enough". He apparently wanted to ask more questions.
CM: So you are from UP. Tell me the districts in Bundelkhand.
Me: (I remembered only 3) Sir, they are Jhansi, Mahoba and Banda. There are 2 3 more But I can't recall them.
CM: There are 4 more. Can you recall them?
Me: Sorry Sir, I can't.
CM: Do you know Hamirpur?
Me: Yes sir, its in Bundelkhand ( He then told me 3 more distts)
Me:Thank you sir.
CM: So, UP has been bifurcated . Most of the forest cover has gone to Uttarakhand. How would you go about reforestation in UP?
Me: Since the land-man ratio in UP is very low, we will need to find fallow land that can't be used for agricultural purposes. Also, we can promote social forestry.
Agricultural land can be bordered with trees. That would not just reduce soil erosion but also improve the water table. In addition, the local populace can benefit from Minor forest produce and timber.
CM: No Shubhra. These are conventional measures. I am looking for an innovative solution. An out-of -the-box solution. If you give me an innovative solution, you will make my day.
(To be honest, I had not felt this much pressure in the entire interview. My entire performance would be gauged by this last answer. I tried to think of a novel and innovative solution. But nothing worthwhile came to my mind. I took about 2 min to think but they seemd like hours as the board was waiting for my answer)
Me: Sir, i think we can make planting and maintaining trees an incentive scheme from the govt side. For eg, if one planted and maintained a tree, they can get subsidies on land, property, govt. schemes. There could be monetary incentives for people who took ownership for planting and maintaining trees.
(I was nervous if this solution clicked. To me, it was a very mediocre solution. In fact on my way back home, I thought of much more innovative solutions for this problem. But under that pressure, that was the best I could do. )
He smiled and said. "Thank you. Your interview is over."
I thanked them, got up and left.
The interview lasted 35 mins.
I got 210 out of 300.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One video

This is my favourite. So thought of sharing with you.

Writing Skills

Now let's come to writing answers in mains.
IN GS you have a huge range of answers to write, from 20 word to 250 word answers. each type of question demands separate treatment.
20 word/ 2markers
try to write as much information in less space.Write in phrases and not full grammatical sentences, punctuate these phrases with ";" , The idea is to write maxmum possible stuff about the topic under question.

10 marks
These kind of question require writing about 100-120 words. Now you don't have much space to manouver around. Please do not write an introduction in these answers as that takes a lot of words. Start your actual answer with the first word.

20 marks/30 marks
These questions appear in ur optional papers as well.
The word limit is aout 200-275 words. For these questions, write an introduction that is small and sweet. Try to mould the question itself in an answer format giving the examiner an idea that you know what you are talking about.For eg. If there is a question about President being a ceremonial position and noting else, You can start by stating that, Indian constitution has provided for a President as the head of the state, But the real position of importance is that of the PM who is the head of the govt. But while saying this, you should also continue and say that, Calling the institution of President merely a ceremonial one would be wrong because the constitution has provided some discretionary powers to the president. Now your 1st para ends.

Your introduction should be about 25-35 words.
In the next para, start with why president is a nominal head. quote art 74, 42nd amenment act, 44th AA and so on. Then in the next para write why he is not just a ceremonial head.

Do not waste words. every sentence should have relevance to the answer.

Then conclude the answer in about 20-30 words. But do not write a conclusion that is similar to your introduction.

60 Marks
These appear only in optional papers.
For these answers you have no word limit whatsoever. I have written some answers as long as 950 words. But remember you can't do that to every answer. Maybe the 1st and 2nd 60 marker you can write upto this length, but your last 60 marker would somehow suffer. So choose your best 2 60 markers initially and try to wind them in 1:20 to 1:30 hours. Try to treat them the best. After that in something like 1.5 hours you have to finish 6 20 markers and 1 60 marker. That's how I wrote my papers.

In a 60 marker you have a lot of space. Write a good and lengthy introduction, something like 60 to 80 words or so. Then every paragraph should have a theme or idea. Please do not write in points a 60 marker answer. avoid writing in points your optional answer papers, even 20 markers.

Finish with a conclusion about 40-50 words long. Also underline the words or phrases that are instrumental to the answer. The underlining should not be overdone. I think one shoud refrain from using red or green clour pens to underline. I used either the same colour or black/blue combination.

Try to make figures if they are relevant to the answer. If you can, create your own figures.
you can make them even in a 20 marker.

Now, most of the students face this problem. When they first strat writing answers, they can't start the introduction. So please practice introduction writing for as many questions as you can. that will make it easier in the exam to start.

Secondly, your handwriting should be legible if not beautiful. Practice on it if you have a bad one. I had a v bad one. I worked on it.

Thirdly, you should practice answer writing regularly, if possible try to get them evaluated by a good teacher or a good student. Now, when you practice answer writing, write them in the time limit that the exam will offer you. A well written 20 marker in 2 hours won't serve any purpose whatsoever.

Last, try to write grammatical and sensible sentences. Do not go for the myth that flowery language or exotic vocabulary helps score better. write simple and meaningful sentences.

one more thing. before starting to answer a question, understand the demand of the question. Do not presuppose the demand of the question. Often we start writing w/o understanding the question correctly.

Then after understanding the question rightly, you should make a framework of your answer somewhere as to what all you want to write. This will help as in the process of writing you tend to forget points easily.

I hope this will help you in your mains.
I will follow this post with essay post.


Friday, June 19, 2009

General queries

Please post queries of general nature here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pub Ad Prelims

Take a basic book for paper 1 and 2 like: mohit bhattachaya/sharma sadana and arora goel and d d basu for polity. Keep syllabus in your right hand.

then start with laxmikanth after finishing studying basic books.

supplement this with nicholas henry, stephen robbins( org behaviour) and arora goel(indian administration)

do current part like recomm of committees and any commissions that have been constituted.

meanwhile, buy a good test series or question paper set and solve unitwise questions and then full syllabus papers later on.

You are all set to get abt 85-90 in pub ad after negative marking.

Some guidelines

Hello Everyone,

I hope this forum is helping you all.
Please try to follow these guidelines while using this forum:
1) Please do not post ads of anything here as this website is not commercial in nature.
2) please search for the answers to your queries in already existing posts and queries. That would save your and my energy and time.
3) I am not in a position to answer questions about any optionals other than pub ad and psychology.
4) please refrain from asking frivolous and meaningless questions. I just delete/ignore these queries.
5) please post queries under the relevant post.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Regarding magazines


My interview has been published in many magazines by now. Even though I have been interviewed by only 2 magazines- Chronicle and Competition Wizard.

I just want to clarify that I read the following magazines only:

Competition Wizard for Current Affairs
Pratiyogita Darpan- economics spl.
Yojana, Kurukshetra and Frontline.

I did not consult any other magazines.
But please make your own decision to choose the magazine you like. Do not go by my statement.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pub Ad strategy

First read basic books for both paper 1 and 2 keeping syllabus next to you. For eg. Arora Goyal and Sharma Sadana.

Paper 1:
Introduction: IGNOU Notes, IIPA
Theories: Adm thinkers-prasad and prasad
adm behaviour: sharma sadana and stephen robbins
comparative adm: adm thinkers and comparative administration(cant recall the author, it was ramesh arora i think, someone plz confirm)
development adm: Mohit Bhattacharya spl on dev adm.
accountability and control- IIPA journals, sharma sadana
rest of the topics can be studied from any basic book like sharma sadana or fadia fadia or mohit bhattacharya

Paper 2:
IIPA journals, Arora Goel, D D basu.

Any topics that you can't find in these sources, refer internet.

Pub Ad classes

Final details:
Course date: 17th aug 09-26th aug 09
Time: 12:00-2:30 pm
Venue: ALS, Mukherjee Nagar

This blog is not an endorsement of my classes in august. I wish to dissociate this blog from the classes that I would be taking in august. I just want the information to go across so that students know about it and if they feel like they can come and attend classes.

Secondly, I again emphasise that attending my classes is not required for anyone. You can do it yourself. So please do not think that my Pub ad classes are indispensable for anyone.


After appreciating the fact that there is no guidance available to students in PA, I have decided to help PA students by taking a short term course for PA students. The course will be of 10 days starting in August at ALS. In the course, I aim to do the following:

Overall orientationfor prelims as well as mains
Framework of the 20-25 most importatnt topics of Pub Ad for mains
Answer writing skill improvement

I would be coming back to India in August when I will take these classes.
Hope this would make it easier for students.
Please don't confuse this course with the actual PA classes that are already happening at ALS.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pub Ad sources

paper 1-

Mohit Bhattacharya- new horizons
Sharma Sadana
Prasad and Prasad- adm thinkers
IGNOU notes

paper 2-

Arora Goyal
S R Maheshwari
IIPA journals
D D basu (Indian Polity)

Supplementary books- Avasthi and Avasthi
Fadia & Fadia

GS Resources

History- NCERTs, Bipin Chandra and Spectrum Modern India

Polity- D D basu- constitution, bare act- p m bakshi, our parliament- subhash kashyap

Geog- Physical and Human geog- NCERTs and Goh Cheng leong- Physical Geography, one Atlas

Economics- Dutt Sundaram, PD-economics, Penguin dictionary, newspaper, NCERT macroeconomics

GMA- last ten years questions
Stats- NCERT
Current affairs- Hindu, TOI, yojana, frontline, kurukshetra, any current affairs magazine.
S&T- Spectrum and M&M

If you have time, you can supplement this with any good notes.


Psychology Tips

For Psychology, Mr. Mukul Pathak is the only one. I believe almost every student of Psychology in CS preparation avails of his guidance in one form or another. I have immensely benefited from being his student and he is more than just a teacher. He has been a mentor and friend too. I am not suggesting that every student should join his classes. But this is one of the ways I can thank him for his invaluable support and guidance.

NCERT 11th & 12th
Mr. Mukul Pathak's class notes.

1.Focus on conceptual understanding.

2.All chapters of paper 1 are extremely important and interlinked. So do not leave any unit.

3.Practice answer writing in the prescribed time limit and try to get them evaluated by someone competent.

4.Make synoptical notes for every topic for easy reference. That helps in the final revision.

5.For paper 2, you need to use some daily life examples and put them in your answer.
Also try to add some theoretical aspects of paper 1.


Some tips for preparation

1) First choose your 1st optional

2) Now buy syllabus of GS and your optional. Go through it comprehensively.

3) Buy previous 10 years question papers of prelims and mains for your optional and GS.
Make sure that these question papers are divided question wise.

4) Now go through the questions to understand the pattern of the paper. After you have seen what the exam expects out of you,  start studying the basic books.

5) When you are studying basic books for GS and optional, do not go about making notes and cramming stuff. This first reading is meant to acquaint you with concepts. So  focus on conceptual understanding no matter  how factual the subject is.

6) Always try to understand the central aspect of any topic and not the peripheral aspects. Peripheral aspects will naturally follow.

7) Do not just start preparing for prelims exclusively. The idea is that you should first prepare holistically for prelims and mains together and towards the last 3 4 months you can focus exclusively on prelims. 

8) Always keep sight of the question paper pattern. Do some problem solving for both prelims and mains.

9)Take regular breaks. Noone can keep working non stop.  :-)

10) Keep a chart to track your progress. I did that and that helps.

hope this helps.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Marksheet

Marks Query:-

Civil Services(Main) Examination 2008
Essay(Paper III)200140
General Studies (Paper-IV)300174
General Studies(Paper-V)300154
Optional I,PsychologyPaper-VI300194
Optional II, Public AdministrationPaper-VIII300154
Penalty Marks0
Written Total20001161
Interview Marks300210
Final Total23001371
Remarks : Recommended.


If you desire an authenticated copy of your Marks Sheet, please write to : 'The Secretary, Union Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi - 110069.' enclosing a self addressed sufficiently stamped envelope at the earliest. 

Query Completed. 
Disclaimer : The contents of this site is informatory in nature.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pub Ad coaching institutes

In Pub Ad coaching institutes, I had a very bad experience. So even though I went to a couple of them, I didn't derive any value from them and eventually left them for self study.

Please do not be misled by the newspaper and magazine advertisements that are publishing my photograph and make and evaluation of the classes yourself before joining them. Personally, I don't think that there is good guidance available for Pub Ad in Delhi.

Choosing coaching institute

Again a very difficult process.
In fact, I have been a victim of this process.

These days, you all must be looking at Hindu page for ads. You must be finding my name and many other selected candidates' names and photographs being published. My sincere advice to you all is: Please do not go by these ads and select a certain coaching institute. I am sure you must be aware that in the course of studies, many students enrol in diff classes but often do not attend any classes there. But when the results come out, these coaching institutes look up their databases to find any selected candidates and try to claim credit for their success.

Now what's the purpose of this? To befool students coming from all over the country. Please don't go by these ads.  In the next post I will talk about how to select a coaching institute and which ones are good and which ones are farce. Just hold on.


Choosing optionals

This is perhaps the most important step in your preparation. How do you go about selecting the right optional? I have heard many aspirants say that they have selected a certain optional because it is scoring. This is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding this exam.

When you think that an optional is scoring you are probably you are looking at the high scores some of the aspirants have got in that optional. You must ask yourself if the optional would be scoring for YOU. 

For this you need to see the syllabus, your interest in the subject, your aptitude, available  guidance, availability of course material and then decide if this optional will work for you. 
Often a wrong choice can waste 4 or 5 years of your life without any outcome.

Rest Later.


Hello Everyone,

My name is Shubhra Saxena ( UPSC AIR-1).
This blog has been created to help my fellow Civil Service aspirants..
I welcome queries and doubts from you. Please feel free to make maximum use of this forum.