Current events play an important role in all the stages of UPSC preparation. The significance of current affairs has increased predominantly as seen with each passing year. Percentage of questions and the manner in which current affairs is embedded keeps varying. So let’s analyse the trend and work out an approach.
Analysing the importance of Current Affairs Prelims: Current Affairs occupies a pivotal position as far as Paper I of prelims is concerned. For instance 2014 and 2015 preliminary paper had many direct questions compared to 2013 and 2012. Further, 2016 prelims paper saw an unprecedented number of direct as well as indirect current affairs questions, which are both factual and conceptual in nature. As per our analysis, more than 50% of the questions were inspired by current affairs. Find below an analysis which links the question to its relevance vis a vis current affairs of that year.
|YEAR||QUESTION ( series A)||TYPE||REASON|
|2014||Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) (Q.no.5)||Anniversary Question||130 years of BNHS (1883 – 2013)|
|2014||Classical Language Status (Q.no.8)||Factual||Classical language status to Odiya|
|2015||Fortaleza declaration (Q.no.3)||Factual||Announcement of BRICS bank and appointment of K.V. Kamat.|
|2015||FRP of Sugarcane (Q.no.13)||Factual||C.Rangarajan committee on FRP for sugarcane|
|2015||Rowlatt Satyagraha (Q.no.16)||Anniversary question||100 years of Gandhi’s arrival to India|
|2016||Reducing Fiscal Deficit (Q.no.3)||Conceptual||Drafting of the Indian financial code bill|
|2016||Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate(MCLR) (Q.no.43)||Conceptual||MCLR reforms by RBI in 2015|
Mains: From the mains point of view, current affairs is very important in every paper of GS and also in few optionals. Its significance can be gauged from the fact that more than 50% of the questions seen in mains have a direct link to current affairs. Contemporary awareness can be displayed by a candidate by bringing in current affairs in the essay paper. A large part of GS paper 2(Polity, International Relations) and paper 3(Economics, Internal Security, Science & Technology) questions are based on current affairs and in paper 4(ethics and integrity), a person can include examples and make his answers unique by having a thorough knowledge of CA.Since the new format of mains began in 2013, UPSC has a tendency to give a strong current affairs flavour to even subject matter questions. Let’s take a look at a few questions from previous papers.
- “Red-tapism had continued to haunt Indian administration for a long time now. It is time to redress this issue”. Comment. (example in Pub-ad)
- On the conventional front – defining red-tapism, its legacy, issues involved requires to be dealt with.
- But, at the same time, your answer should keep up with the latest developments on this. As such, you may discuss how the government is trying to tackle inter departmental delays and duplication of work by adopting measures like single window clearances, e-governance etc. You may also make a brief observation on ease of doing business’ initiatives taken up by the Government.
- Explain the conditions for development of corals. (geography)
- One of the conditions we know that corals require is clear water free from sediments. Sedimented waters clog the mouth of corals. However, a recent finding has revealed the presence of coral reef below muddy waters, off the mouth of Amazon River. This has bewildered a lot of geographers. (a note on such things can be very attractive for the evaluators)
- You are the Sarpanch of a Panchayat. There is a primary school run by the government in your area. Midday meals are provided to children attending the school. The headmaster has now appointed a new cook in the school to prepare the meals. However, when it is found that cook is from Dalit community, almost half of the children belonging to higher castes are not allowed to take meals by their parents. Consequently the attendance in the schools falls sharply. This could result in the possibility of discontinuation of midday meal scheme, thereafter of teaching staff and subsequent closing down the school. (Ethics)
- This question appeared in 2015 in Ethics paper and was inspired by an unfortunate incident in Kolar, Karnataka which was reported in November 2015 and the seriousness of the issue built a case for the issue to appear in mains which was held less than a month away in December 2015.
- An aspirant who stays up to date with such current issues automatically will be in a better position to relate and answer effectively.
This section lists out the important sources for current affairs and their significance. Below mentioned sources are the most preferred and reliable ones.
Newspapers: Newspapers form a vital part of one’s UPSC preparation and consumes a considerable amount of time especially for a beginner to read and prepare from it. By having a glance at the UPSC syllabus and the questions asked in previous years, one can easily find out the importance of newspapers. Static portions like Geography, History, Economics, Polity, International Relations, Science and Tech and Environment are a part and parcel of daily news. One needs to be aware of the contemporary developmentsand should be able to relate to the core subject. One can rely on “The Hindu”, “The Indian Express” and “Business Line” which have the best and most relevant content. The Hindu happens to be one of the best sources to prepare for socio-economic and political issues. The editorials and opinions found here gives one an elaborate and holistic perspective on most of the burning issues. Articles on International Relations in Indian Express are one of the best in comparison to other newspapers. A candidate is advised to not just read the paper on a daily basis but prepare brief notes as well. These notes come in handy while revising prior to exams. It is better to organise the notes into different categories such as – National, International, Economy, environment, Science and Tech and Social Welfare issues. By organising the newspaper notes in this manner you can easily refer to the required section time and again. Magazines: Selective reading of Frontline, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Yojana and Kurukshetra helps one have an overall understanding of all the issues that find relevance in the syllabus.
Frontline is a bi-monthly magazine known for highlighting several important national, international, economic, social and political issues and provides detailed analysis.
Yojana magazine by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is focused on current issues and it usually corresponds with the present government’s policies and schemes.
Kurukshetra is a monthly journal published by the Ministry of Rural Development and mainly focusses on rural governance and upliftment. Both comprises of articles on various topics from social to economic domain which are useful in both mains exam as well as personal interview. It helps a candidate in forming a well-rounded opinion about the key issues which can be used in answer writing by stating examples, case study, outcomes, etc.
Press Information Bureau: This news portal maintained by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is the best source to get accurate and up to date information with regard to the programmes and policy updates of government.
India Year Book and Economic survey: These being annual government publications, contain information about all relevant government schemes and policies for the bygone year. IYB and economic survey contain sector wise information and in-depth analysis of the country’s financial condition. Although the books are pretty voluminous, selective reading can help one in both prelims and mains.
Ministry Websites: Websites of ministries/departments can be extremely helpful for understanding government schemes and practices. FAQ’s in government websites can be very helpful in understanding technical issues. For example, RBI website, CSO website, ministry of rural development, ministry of external affairs, etc.
Think tanks: PRS Legislative Research provides you an analysis about the bills and policies of the government. Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) gives a brief summary of India’s national security, internal security and relations and it is a good source for paper-3 – Internal and External security. A candidate invariably has tospend hours collecting the right material from diverse sources and we at Byju’sprovide a one stop solution which collects information from all prominent sources and compiles it into simplified content. Comprehensive news analysis (CNA) released on a daily basisbrings together all sources in one place written by the best faculty and our Issues in News (IIN)provides in-depth analysis of all crucial topics for the year. Our upcoming current affairs magazine will give an insight into contemporary issues on a monthly basis.