Ankit Pannu being a regular follower of all IASbaba’s initiatives (TLP Mains Answer Writing and IASbaba’s Daily News Analysis are his favourite) credits IASbaba’s Super 60 – Online Mentorship Programme for his improvement in his ranking from AIR 444 in 2016 to AIR 31 in 2017
Ankit Pannu Rank 31 UPSC CSE 2017 – My Journey
I started the preparation for UPSC in my 4th year in college. I have done B.Tech in Polymer Science and Chemical Technology from Delhi Technological University (2016 batch) and i gave my first attempt in 2016 and got AIR 444. That year my optional marks (285) helped me get my name in the list, likewise this year also my marks in optional (300) proved clinical for securing an AIR-31.
OPTIONAL STRATEGY: Political Science and International Relations (PSIR)
Importance of an optional subject is beyond doubt the most crucial aspect of UPSC preparation. In these similar terms, My optional, Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) has helped me clear UPSC in both my attempts.
Choosing an optional subject can be difficult and sometimes many of us end up choosing an optional subject which is not right for us. Interest in a particular subject along with some prior proficiency in that must be the prime factors considered while choosing an optional. Other factor of “GS Overlap” can also be considered. I myself decided to choose PSIR after going through previous year papers of UPSC, reading the syllabus and NCERTs related to my optional subject, just to get a glimpse of it and analyse if i have any sort of interest in the subject.
Key Points I followed during my preparation :
- Time Devotion : I devoted 40-50 percent of my daily time (After Prelims) to my PSIR preparation as it helped me in GS papers also. ( GS Overlap : GS paper 1- Social Issues, India’s Freedom Struggle, GS paper 2- complete, GS Paper 3- Internal Security, GS paper 4- Philosopher part)
- Sources : I focused only on Shubhra Mam’s Notes for covering the syllabus of PSIR, and read O.P. Gauba for Political Theory (3-4 times), O.P. Gauba for Indian Thinkers (2 Times), Global Politics by Andrew Heywood (Selective Reading by referring to the syllabus). For international relations i read blogs of various I.R. Experts. (Links Provided below).
- Notes Making : I had prepared lucid notes for PSIR, only for topics and subject part that i had difficulty remembering. Other purpose of making notes was for revision in the last 1-2 days before exams.
- Answer Writing : I practiced answer writing through Shubhra Mam’s Test series and also through previous year papers. The more you practice for PSIR the better answers you will be able to write.
Now i will focus on the syllabus of PSIR and how i covered and prepared each dimension of it :-
Paper 1, Section A
Political Theories, Theories of state, ideologies, Indian Political Thought i covered from O.P. Gauba and from Shubhra mam notes. These are sufficient sources and we don’t have to go beyond these. Practice of Previous years Questions helped me a lot here as it provides a glimpse of how questions have been asked, and sometimes questions get repeated here, in a different way though.
I wrote my answers in paragraph format in almost whole of my optional paper, also I tried to connect the Topics here and mention the name of thinkers and their theories where ever they fit in.
In the introduction part in this section i emphasised on giving a background of the topic,
For example in the question to comment on “Neo-Liberal Perspective of state” i started with what is Neo liberalism and why it came into being. In the body part i had written about the important dimensions of Neo liberalism and the names of their proponents/Thinkers alongwith and also focused on its drawbacks in a brief manner (Always provide examples to support whatever points you make in the Body). In the conclusion i remained positive, a little critical, futuristic and pragmatic ( Very Important in PSIR Conclusions).
Paper 1, Section B
This part is more connected with the GS paper 2. I prepared current affairs part for this paper (For questions like ‘Judiciary has acquired the role of both, a legislature and an executive in recent years. Explain with suitable examples.’ Here one must be aware of the current examples to write a good answer), and read Shubhra Mam’s notes along with Laxmikanth.
Shubhra mam proves names of scholars in her notes which can be used in answers in this part, one thing must be taken care of here, whatever scholar you quote, it should be factually correct and proper explanation must be provided along with otherwise just a quote would solve no purpose.
Paper 2, Section A
In this part of the syllabus i only focused on Shubhra Mam’s Notes and Selective reading of Global Politics by Andrew Heywood. Here, Comparative politics can be done from shubhra mam’s notes, that will do it.
Answers in this part should have a blend of current examples and historical background. (For example, in the question ‘Do you agree with the view that despite the limitations in the functioning of the UN, it has distinguished and unique achievements to its credit’, it becomes important to write about UN’s History and its achievements through current examples.) Also International experts can be quoted where ever it seems logical and appropriate , like in the Question of Brexit, last year, C.Raja Mohan can be quoted in “what india must do” in case of Brexit with proper explanation of whatever he said. These IR experts can be found in the notes on current Issues released by Shubhra mam in last days before mains.
Pragmatic, logical and Futuristic answers are appreciated in this part.
Paper 2, Section B
In this part background knowledge of International relations between India and different countries and also evolution of India’s Foreign Policy is essential. One can do these from Shubhra mam notes. After this, current affairs part can be done from the notes provided by Shubhra mam in last month before mains examination. Apart from this, one can follow online sources like : https://chellaney.net/ , https://www.project-syndicate.org/ , http://indianexpress.com/profile/columnist/c-raja-mohan/ , https://thediplomat.com/tag/indian-foreign-policy/ , https://idsa.in/ , https://bharatkarnad.com/ .
One must prepare and analyse the relations between different countries and india through a Pragmatic, Realist, and Futuristic lens to answer questions in this part in a better way.
One More Thing :
Do not leave anything in syllabus thinking that we will have choice and we will skip this particular topic, but there are always chances that the topic you left out comes in compulsory part of questions, or either clubbed with 2 other question which were on topics you prepared really well. So my advice to you is complete whole syllabus at least 3-4 times with minimum sources and maximum possible practice of answer writing.
All the best to everyone for their UPSC journey
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