A sense of complacency generally sets in among the aspirants preparing for the preliminary exam when they complete studying the book ‘Indian Polity’ by Laxmikanth. Upon revising the book a few more times, many aspirants might feel that they now know everything in Polity and are equipped with enough ammunition for the battle on the D-day.
No doubt that revision from traditional sources like Laxmikanth becomes essential as the book extensively covers articles of the Constitution and simplifies them for aspirants. At least three to four revisions are necessary before the exam. But is that enough? The answer is a definite No. The book doesn’t cover many other topics required for answering questions in the Preliminary exam. You should note that the questions from non-traditional sources are on the upswing with every passing year.
So, apart from Indian Polity by Laxmikanth, what other sources should an aspirant study?
- Study NCERTs, NIOS books on Political Science.
- Study the FAQ sections of websites of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and Election Commission.
- Try to study the ‘Programmes and Schemes’ section on the websites of various ministries (ex: Ministry of Tribal Affairs – https://tribal.nic.in/).
The rights-based legislation that have a profound impact on people and governance at large must also be studied. These are:
- Right To Information Act, 2005,
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005,
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (also known as Forest Rights Act),
- Right To Education Act, 2009, and
- National Food Security Act, 2013.
What is often forgotten is the syllabus for the Polity part in the preliminary exam is not limited to Constitution and Political System, but also Public Policy and Rights Issues.
The syllabus for the part mentions: “Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc”.
Though not many questions were asked in the last few years on ‘Public Policy’, this could change in the upcoming preliminary exam. Hints for the change appeared in Prelims 2020 exam when a question was asked on the relationship between Bureaucracy and Public Policy. Among other current affairs, study judgments of the Supreme Court on rights issues with utmost importance.
Though the questions from the Polity section in 2020 were relatively easier, they need not necessarily be so in the upcoming preliminary exam. It has been observed that whenever the question paper setters test the candidates from non-traditional sources for the first time, easier questions are asked, but follow them up with tougher questions in the subsequent years.
And the trend also points out to questions asked to test the deep understanding of political science concepts in the subsequent years.
In 2017, an easy question was asked from the Preamble on Liberty –
Q.) Which one of the following objectives is not embodied in the Preamble to the Constitution of India? (2017)
(a) Liberty of thought
(b) Economic liberty
(c) Liberty of expression
(d) Liberty of belief
It was followed up with a question on the relationship between law and liberty in 2018 and the options confused many candidates.
Q.) Which one of the following reflects the nicest, appropriate relationship between law and liberty? (2018)
(a) if there are more laws, there is less liberty.
(b) if there are no laws, there is no liberty.
(c) if there is liberty, laws have to be made by the people.
(d) if laws are changed too often, liberty is in danger.
This trend continued in 2019 testing whether the candidates have a deeper understanding of the objective ‘liberty’ and the differences between the negative and positive concepts of liberty.
Q.) In the context of polity, which one of the following would you accept as the most appropriate definition of liberty? (2019)
(a) Protection against the tyranny of political rulers
(b) Absence of restraint
(c) Opportunity to do whatever one likes
(d) Opportunity to develop oneself fully.
In 2020, candidates were tested on whether they know what a Constitutional Government is. Time and again, questions on Preambulatory objectives have been asked. For answering such questions, you can study NCERTs and NIOS books on Political Science.
While it is known that current affairs on Rights issues, Supreme Court judgments, and relevant articles of the Constitution have to be studied, the paper setters also have shown their fondness to ask questions on events or issues likely to happen in near future. For example, questions can be asked on the procedure of election and the composition of the Electoral College for the Presidential and the Vice Presidential elections with these elections scheduled for 2022.
Questions on constitutional provisions or legislations and programmes/schemes for Women and children, SCs and STs, Senior Citizens, Backward classes, Disabled, Transgenders, and Manual Scavengers have been appearing every year. The questions to test a candidate’s understanding of gender equality, women empowerment, and feminism could appear in the upcoming exam. There is also the likelihood that questions to test practical understanding of the political system, political parties, and elections might appear. For information on Model Code of Conduct, EVM, VVPAT, Service Voters and NRI voting, Election Commission of India website (https://eci.gov.in/) and Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation website (https://ecisveep.nic.in/) can be referred.
From the traditional sources, the high probability of asking questions is from the following:
- Philosophy of the Constitution – Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy,
- Basic Structure,
- Center-State Relations,
- Panchayati Raj,
- Elections and Election Commission,
- Anti-Defection Law.
Do not pray for easy questions. This is a competitive examination. Pray for the abilities to study wider and deeper, for the gift of elimination and making calculated guesses, and aim to score high above the cut-off marks.
Polity Faculty, IASBaba.
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