Mirant Parikh cracked the UPSC civil services exam 2016 with an impressive rank of 67. An engineer by training, this former Ford employee cleared the tough IAS exam in his very first attempt. Political Science and International Relations was Parikh’s optional subject. His marks in the two optional papers were 158 and 149. This article gives you a few valuable tips suggested by Parikh to tackle the political science optional in the UPSC exam.
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How to choose Optional Subject for UPSC
Mirant Parikh gives the following criteria by which he opted for the political science optional.
- His interest in the subject.
- The expanse, dynamism and relevance of the subject.
- The overlap with the general studies papers.
Political Science Optional Strategy
In this section, we give you suggested tips and tricks to be followed while preparing for the polity optional, as given by IAS topper Mirant Parikh.
Political Science Paper I
- Parikh suggests candidates stick to only one reliable material rather than sourcing material from multiple places and getting confused.
- He suggests candidates relate one theory with another. For example, any western thinker’s theory/philosophy should be related to contemporary events in India or elsewhere for brownie points from the examiner.
- He recommends candidates to develop web-based thinking rather than following the ‘chain-of-thought’ model. In the web-based model of thinking, you relate everything to everything else. Here, there are multiple relationships instead of a simple linear series of events.
- This part includes dynamic portions as well. Candidates should include some standard GS paper II material like Indian Nationalism (Spectrum and Bipin Chandra) and Laxmikanth’s book on Indian Polity for the topics related to Constitution.
- He recommends candidates to use relevant quotes from academicians like Yogendra Yadav, Rajni Kothari, Suhas Palashikar, Milan Vaishnav, etc. to augment their answers.
- He also asks candidates to read editorials in The Hindu or The Indian Express on the current political scenario for a fresh perspective on things.
For more on the political science and international relations optional, you can check on the linked article on UPSC Political Science Optional which gives all information on this optional including syllabus, tips, analyses, pros and cons, previous years’ papers, etc.
Political Science Paper-II
- He says it is important to strike a balance between the static and dynamic portions here.
- Candidates can quote contemporary issues in the answers but the issue or problem should be relevant to the question. For example, to answer a question on the security dilemma, candidates can quote the India-China-Pakistan triangle. Similarly, to answer a question on the ‘One Road One Belt’ project, candidates can use the Prime Minister’s statement, “Sovereignty should not be compromised for connectivity”.
- While answering questions, it is important to keep things India-centric.
- For this section newspapers are the ultimate sources since it is the most dynamic of all the sections.
- Read editorials authored by Nirupama Rao, C Raja Mohan, Ashley Tellis, Rakesh Sood, Lisa Curtis, etc.
- Parikh also suggests candidates go through the websites of Project Syndicate, The Economist and The Diplomat.
- He suggests the following books for this section: Rajiv Sikri’s book on India’s foreign policy and ‘Can the Elephant Dance?’ by David Malone.
- He also recommends watching 2-minute news clippings of news channels like BBC World News, DW News, CNN, Al Jazeera, NHK News, etc.
Mirant Parikh’s Quick Golden Tips
- Attempt all possible questions.
- Writing three average answers is better than one extraordinary answer.
- The first 2 – 3 questions matter the most since the examiner judges you and forms an opinion of you from these first answers. Try to impress the examiner here.
- Practice writing answers as much as you can.
- Be creative and try to connect the dots.