How To Prepare UPSC Civil Services Mains Paper-III (GS-2)

Best GS Paper 2 Preparation Strategy For Cracking The UPSC CSE Examination

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has produced huge reforms to the Indian Civil Services (Mains) examination. The changes are introduced in the pattern along with the outline of the final examination paper. 

We already know that there are 4 papers of General Studies. Additionally, there are two examinations of essay type and optional subject.   In this article, we will discuss the GS paper 2 preparation strategy. The examination is also called as General Studies – 2 or IAS examination paper – III.

Designing Suitable GS Paper 2 Preparation Strategy

Before you start reading ahead regarding the GS paper 2 preparation strategy, you need to first look into the examination instructions. The success mantra for the IAS examination arises from the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) instructions – 

The questions must test the candidate and his basic understanding of the issues. Similarly, the examination must test the candidate’s ability to analyze the issue. Moreover, the candidate must be able to answer conflicting viewpoints. For this, topics like – 

  • Socio-economic goals
  • Objectives
  • Demand

The candidate must be able to give relevant and meaningful answers. 

Therefore, the sentence is the guiding light for the IAS aspirants. As a result, one must not be able to master the same. However, the candidate must be able to analyze and possess a basic understanding of the issue.  It is important to note that such understanding comes from repeated reading of the information. This is the result of constant reading and writing practice. To gain a better insight into the process, you need to have good reading and writing practice. 

Two fundamental aspects of GS paper 2 preparation strategy

There are two major aspects of the GS paper 2 preparation strategy –

  • Understanding of the topics and writing them
  •  Keep a copy of the syllabus near you. 

This is important to get a deeper understanding of the problem. Also, keeping the syllabus handy will bring good results for you in the long run. 

Ideal GS Paper 2 Preparation Strategy

If you are already familiar with the syllabus for General Studies examination then you need to focus on the GS paper 2 preparation strategy. For this, you need to focus on the important aspects of the examination – 

Broad syllabus of IAS GS paper 2

The broader syllabus of GS paper 2 is as follows – 

  • Governance
  • Polity
  • Social justice
  • International relations
  • Constitution

Before you start GS paper 2 preparation strategy, you need to firstly focus on following subject books for the best results –

  • NCERT textbook for class – XI – Indian Constitution at Work
  • NCERT textbook for class – X – Democratic Politics
  • NCERT textbook for class -XII – Political Science II

The preparation for these may take around 2-3 days. 

Topic 1 – 

Indian Constitution – Read the following aspects – 

  • Historical evolution
  • Features
  • Underpinnings
  • Latest amendments
  • Basic structure
  • Significant provisions

The topic is highly important for both IAS preliminary and Mains examination. 

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • Introduction to Constitution of India – Book by D. D. Basu (Focus on the first five chapters) 
  • Article – Basic structure of the Constitution revisited – The Hindu
  • Article – Basic structure of the Constitution – PDF file

Topic 2 – 

Functions, responsibilities, and role of the Union of India. Also, the states and their responsibility. 

Further, you need to address the following points –

  • Issues and challenges of Federal structure
  • Devolution of the powers
  • Devolution of finances at local levels
  • Challenges of the above subject

Recommended books and reading material – 

The best source of reading material and to get critical aspects of the topics are the following – 

  • Report of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commissions. Also called as the organizational structure of Government of India (13th report)
  • Indian Polity – Book by Laxmikant (Refer to the updated edition and chapters 12, 13, 14 and even chapter no 30) 

It is important to remember that the Mains Examination demands a basic understanding of the situation. Also, use your critical and analytical skills to answer the questions on the above-mentioned topics. So, to relate the concepts to current events, write small versions of these articles. Likewise, the ARC report will help you greatly in the long run. 

Consider the following Sample question – 

Although the devolution of funds, functionaries and important functions takes place in the local government, development is still a distant dream for many parts of India. Critically analyse the statement. 

Use such questions for practice sessions and adequate GS paper 2 preparation strategy

Topic 3 –

Separation of powers between various social organizations, dispute settlement machinery and institutions

Basics – Public Grievance and redressal systems

One needs to focus on topics like – Judiciary and executive. Also, try to answer the questions like – 

  • Dynamic topics related to the fact
  • Constitutional provisions
  • Redressal mechanism and constitutional rights
  • Checks and balances of the same by the Constitution of India

For this, refer to the ARC report. 7th report of 2nd ARC titled – Capacity Building for Conflict Resolution

Focus on topics like – 

  • Left-Wing Extremist organizations
  • Regional disparities
  • Land and water-related factors
  • Scheduled caste and Tribes and their issues
  • Religious issues and conflicts
  • North-East issues and conflicts
  • Mechanism and machinery of dispute settlement

Furthermore, scan the current events. Also, focus on topics like conflicts between statutory bodies and constitutional rights. 

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • Introduction to the Constitution of India – Book by D. D. Basu
  • Books from Laxmikant

Topic 4 –

Comparison between the Indian Constitution and that of other countries. 

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • Select Constitutions of the World – Book by S. Chand publications. This is a book for law students. 
  • Classic on the Indian Constitution – Book by D. D. Basu
  • Constitution of India – Shorter versions are also effective

Also, focus on the online links – 

  • Constitution around the world
  • Difference between US and EU Constitution
  • Evolution of Indian Constitutions
  • Basics of new Constitution and reforms
  • Focus on the reforms made by Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Pakistan

Special emphasis should be placed on the recent developments of these nations

Topic 5 –

Parliament and state legislature – 

  • Structure
  • Conduct of business
  • Functions of these institutions
  • Issues arising from the above subject
  • Power and privileges

Recommended books and reading material – 

For the best GS paper 2 preparation strategy, focus on the topics like – 

  • Our Parliament. Book by Subhash Kashyap

We recommend you this single book itself. This is because Mr. Subhash Kashyp has been associated with Parliament. His long career growth is reflected in the book. This book presents a clear idea of the Parliament and its functions. 

Further, one needs to have detailed information about the Parliament and its aspects. Moreover, the book is highly affordable. The book is very interesting to read and has interesting insights into the Parliament and its various processes. 

Topic 6 –

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Structure of Indian Parliamentary machine
  • The functioning of the various machinery
  • Organization of executive and Judiciary
  • Functions of Ministries and Government departments
  • Formal and informal associations
  • Role of pressure groups
  • Role of all above in Indian Polity

Basics to be covered – 

  • Union Executive
  • Supreme Court of India
  • Parliament of India
  • State executives and their functions
  • State legislation and their functions
  • Local government – Rural and Urban
  • Pressure Groups
  • High Court
  • Subordinate Courts

Recommended books and reading material – 

  •  The book by Laxmikant is sufficient for the same. 

This book covers topics like – 

  • Functions of Ministries and Government departments
  • Formal and informal associations
  • Role of pressure groups
  • Role of all above in Indian Polity
  • Conflict with the government

Such should be read in-depth by the IAS aspirant.

Topic 7 –

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Salient features of Acts like – Representation of the people’s Act. For this, read the article on the topic by Yogendra Yadav from the internet
  • Office of profit bills
  • Electoral reforms in India
  • Anti-defection Bill
  • Supreme Court rulings
  • Disqualification of MPs and MLAs
  • Disqualification of elected representatives with criminal past
  • Any other information related to the above subject

Topic 8 and 9-

One must focus on topics like – 

  • Constitutional posts
  • Functions
  • Quasi-Judicial bodies
  • Statutory compliance
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Powers and responsibilities of constitutional bodies 

Recommended books and reading material – 

  •  The book by Laxmikant is sufficient for the same. 

For this focus on Part VII to IX for the best results. These chapters optimally cover the topics. 

  • Public Institutions in India -Performance and Design. Book by – Pratap Bhanu Mehta. Publisher – Oxford University Press

However, the syllabus has created rise to issues like – 

  • Political appointments
  • Political interference
  • Appointments to various government and non-government posts
  • Selection of EC, CBI, CAG, SC, and Lokpal

Important note – One needs to focus on the GS paper 2 preparation strategy from an analytical perspective. The above books cover the analytical aspects of the performance and adaptation of the major Indian institutions. These further analyze the governance Institutions and their role in democracy and polity.  

Topic 10-

  • Understanding government policies. 
  • Intervention for development
  • Dependence of various sectors
  • Issues from the design and development of the nation
  • Issues in implementation of the plan

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • Public Institutions in India -Performance and Design. Book by – Pratap Bhanu Mehta. Publisher – Oxford University Press
  • Economic Survey of India. 
  • PIB website for detailed information on government policies

Topic 11 –

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Development processes
  • Development industry
  • Role of NGO
  • Development of SHG
  • Development of donors, charities and other stakeholders
  • UN bodies
  • Charities
  • Role in the development plans
  • Industry development of UN and charitable Institutes

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • Planning commission published articles

The process helps to give insight into the success factors of the SHG in India. It may also cause the failure of the process. 

  •  Growth and development of NGO in India

Topic 12 –

  • Welfare schemes
  • Details of vulnerable sections of society
  • Performance of Central and state 
  • Mechanism of laws and regulations
  • Institutes and bodies designed for protection
  • Betterment of vulnerable sections

Focus on the schemes implemented by ministries for best GS paper 2 preparation strategy – 

  • Ministry of Women and Child welfare
  • Ministry of Rural Development
  • Ministry of Social Justice
  • Ministry of Tribal affairs

Recommended books and reading material – 

  • List of state and central government schemes
  • Refer to the government of India departments
  • Refer to the above Governance websites

Topic 12 and 13 –

Read on the following issues – 

  • Issues of development
  • Problems related to management
  • Social issues
  • Services like health, education and Human resources – associated issues
  • Poverty line controversy
  • Report on malnutrition (HungMa report)
  • Poverty alleviation schemes
  • Food security issues
  • PDS Reforms
  • Problems of poverty and hunger

Other issues related to the process – 

  • Aspects of Governance
  • Issues related to transparency and accountability
  • Citizens Charters
  • Accountability of institutions
  • Other issues associated with the above
  • E-Governance
  • Issues, success, limitations and potential 

Recommended books and reading material –

Article on 2nd ARC site and report on the topic – 

  • Promoting E-Governance – The smart way forward
  • E-Governance: Concept and significance. The same is published by IGNOU

Topic 14 –

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Importance of civil services in a democracy
  • International relations

Recommended books and reading material –

Article on 2nd ARC site and report on the topic – 

  • Refurbishing of personnel administration (Read chapters from 10th report)

Topic 15 –

India and neighborhood relationship

Read on the following points – 

  • India and neighboring nations
  • India and Pakistan
  • India and Afghanistan
  • India and Nepal
  • India and Bangladesh
  • India and Bhutan
  • India and Sri-Lanka
  • India and China
  • India and Myanmar
  • India and Maldives

Recommended books and reading material –

  • Refer to the Ministry of External Affairs
  • Challenges and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Book by Rajiv Sikri

Topic 16 –

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Bilateral
  • Regional grouping
  • Global issues
  • Agreement involving India
  • Factors affecting Indian interest

Recommended books and reading material –

Read India’s relationship with countries like – 

  • USA
  • UK
  • Brazil
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • Australia
  • EU
  • SA

Ministry of External Affairs and the brief on bilateral affairs

  • ASEAN regional forum
  • Asia – Europe Meeting May 2013
  • BRICS Summit
  • G- 20 summit
  • India and African Union relation
  • India and European Union relation

Topic 17 and 18-

One needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like – 

  • Effect of policies
  • Politics of development and developing countries
  • Focus on Indian interest
  • Look into Indian diaspora
  • Effect of globalization
  • Domestic policies
  • Policies of developed countries
  • Domestic policies and their effect
  • WTO and its policies
  • Focus on the UK, USA, and similar nations
  • War against terrorism
  • Immigration policies
  • Economic policies and development

Indian diaspora

  • Contribution to India
  • India’s contribution to above-mentioned Topic
  • Problems of residing in foreign countries
  • Rights of international citizens
  • Constitutional rights and remedies
  • Statutory provisions
  • Participation in democracy
  • Role in Indian economy

Recommended books and reading material –

Newspapers like The Hindu

Topic 19 – 

Similarly, an aspirant needs to focus on GS paper 2 preparation strategy for topics like

  • International relations
  • International Institutions
  • Trade agencies
  • Structure and mandate of international bodies
  • UNO and the associated bodies
  • Agencies and their structure
  • Role of UN bodies
  • Reforms and relevance

Other international bodies – 

  • APEC
  • ASEAN
  • ADB
  • OECD
  • NATO

Major league books for GS paper 2 preparation strategy

  • Introduction to the Constitution of India 
  • Select Constitutions – S. Chand publications
  • Challenges and Strategy – Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy. Book by – Rajiv Sikri
  • Indian Polity for Indian Civil Services Examinations – Laxmikanth
  • Public Institutions in India – Performance and Design. Book by Pratap Bhanu Mehta. 

Classics on Indian Polity – Granville Austin

  • Indian Constitution – Cornerstone of a Nation – Review
  • Working a Democratic Constitution – A history of Indian Experience

Raising the best IAS examination strategy

Hence, the best GS paper 2 preparation strategy for above-mentioned topicsor Paper-III key takeaway is – 

  • Read fewer books
  • Revise more
  • Analyze and relate more
  • Take a break from a busy schedule to enjoy more

Moreover, you need to be highly focused on current events. These issues and their revision plays an important role. This further helps in acquiring key learning and analytical skills. Likewise, it is a crucial aspect of the IAS exam preparation. 

Start practicing more

Learning and Writing practice is highly important to the GS paper 2 preparation strategy. 

One must begin with the revision of past years’ examination papers. Similarly, one can easily opt for the mock tests. Also, before attempting the IAS examination you must spend a large time on reading and writing sessions. This is a crucial aspect of your IAS success factors. 

Focus on revision and outcome

A most important aspect of attempting UPSC civil services examinations is the learning outcomes. This is vital to your success in the interview session. Hence, by getting the IAS revision process right, you can easily secure the IAS job profile with flying colours. 

On the other hand, if you will not revise, you can easily miss the above process by a huge margin. Moreover, with a lack of adequate writing strategy, you can miss the personality interview round by a small margin. 

Conclusion – 

 If you wish to get the final selection letter and interview call, you need to read the above-mentioned sources. Similarly, you need to revise important chapters to get optimal results. Hence, one needs to write and revise the subject topics to get the best results. 

Important Links:

UPSC Exam Preparation Strategy for Beginners
IAS Exam Preparation Schedule For Working Professionals
Online IAS Coaching for GS Paper-IV
GS PAPER II ONLINE VIDEO COURSE
Which books for IAS Exam Preparation and How to Study for IAS?
Exam Pattern and the Selection Procedure for UPSC IAS exam
UPSC Exam Pattern
How to Prepare for the Impending 2020 Prelims?