Monday, 22 October 2012

Short Reply

Hi Guys and Gals,

Am sorry, havent been very prompt in replying nor posting. I am traveling at the moment and will be able to properly respond only after the first week of November-so do bear with me till then. Meanwhile a brief preliminary reply to some queries:

Interview prep: please check out the following post on Interview tips .

Material for  PubAd paper1 compulsory questions: well, like most of you, I too was stumped by the questions. I think UPSC is trying to throw coaching centres off their game.  The only theorist I had heard of was Pareto in the 'Pareto optimality' and 'Pareto improvements' question-but unfortuntely didnt know anything about the two concepts. The remaining statements were related to our syllabus and am sure you must have read them too.
For eg in 1(c)"Man's motives in different subparts of the same organization may be different". Discuss.-  I wrote about importance of 'unity of direction', matching individual goal to organizational goal, pitfalls of 'goal displacement' etc. So although I didnt know the theorist Edgar Schien, I am telling myself that i wrote something sensible there.
Similarly for 1(d) "leadership is 'incremental influence' - I wrote about employee-oriented leader, leader as amateur psychologist, etc-basically one could have drawn upon leadership theories.

So what I am trying to say is that if we know our basics correctly then we can surely answer questions in a satisficing manner. Nonetheless value addition is imperative to keep up with UPSC. I dont know definite books to read but can suggest a way forward.
  • Start with your defined syllabus. 
  • Second, when you pick up a theorist, try and research a little about him beyond the coaching notes. Read up the wikipedia entry on his life- that may clarify his theory, put forth other ideas of his. 
  • For eg: Q3(a) asked about features of Simon's bounded rationality- my coaching teacher, Mr. Mohanty, had only told us about satisficing . But when i was randomly reading Simon's nobel prize speech, I came across the concept of search for alternatives. Unfortunately i didnt know about aspiration adaptation. So, what I am saying is that use the internet and read around the theorist and theory as well. 
  • Thirdly, always know about the history of a concept and its current relevance. This means that you will have to refer to recent developments on the issue. 
  • Fourthly, read about the theorists' collaborators or the thinkers who have contributed to a particular line if thought. 
  • Fifthly, a number of foreign universities put up material on theories and theorists-refer to those cause they are authoritative texts.
  • And more specifically, research the thinkers that were asked in the exam-read about them- dont think ki is saal pooch liya to agle saal nahi poochenge. All information and knowledge is valuable. 
  • Next, check out the past year question papers, and see if there are any concepts or thinkers you havent heard about-if so look them up and make notes.
I dont know how much dividend this approach will yield, but am sure whatever knowledge you accumulate will have a positive impact on your answer. If others have suggestions, do write in cause collaboration in this exam is very important for success. :)

How I gathered topics of relevance and what you can also do: will address in detail later, but for starters- I tried to read the newspaper (Hindu and Business Standard) thoroughly everyday and make notes- just this task would take up 4-5 hours daily.So do devote time to reading the paper and understanding the issues and all their linkages. Try and read a business paper as well.
I tried to read some books that we all think of reading but maybe never get around to like: Economic Survey, ARC2 Reports, magazines like The Economist, Foreign Policy, EPW. Try and do this as regularly as you can. The magazines will give you different insights into the issue which may not always be there in the Hindu. 

Lastly enjoy gathering knowledge. You never know what you read will come handy. For eg, last year I generally read up on Louis Baker and his architectural principles-must have spent a good day or two dreaming about the perfect house and what it would be like-and lo and behold- I waxed eloquent about Baker in the GS paper [definitely a little too eloquently :P]. Then again, I generally read about Kullu Dussehra, contemplating a visit there,  and came to know that they dont burn the effigy of Ravan as he was a Shivbhakt, and used this info in an answer on 'Great and Little Traditions' in Sociology.

So, my point is enjoy knowing about stuff and learning about it. Expand your interests. Secondly, do not confine yourselves to books to gain knowledge. Whichever city you are in, pay a visit to the museums around, go watch cultural performances, visit historical monuments, participate in discussions etc.

Analysis of Exam pattern, CSE2013:  will write at leisure about this.

So, basically I couldn't be concise but this is definitely a preliminary response. Will get back to you all in a fortnight's time. Till then, enjoy the break.


p.s.: @ Ashish and Anonymous who address me as 'Ma'am'- please call me by my name- we are all equal comrades in this exam and in life. :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Blog Success-2012 Mains Optionals

Hello comrades,

I am so happy that the blog has assisted in your preps in some manner. Thank you for your comments and all the wishes. I too wish that all your scores are propelled skywards and you feature prominently in the final list.

Many of you have expressed interest in knowing my views about the papers- am truly flattered and humbled. I too want to analyse the questions papers-and present my view. Its just that when I started that effort, I felt quite blank, as if my mind was resisting attempts to revisit the papers and my performance [maybe i was subconsciously scared that i will discover so much that i could have written and what i shouldn't have] :) So give me a couple of days and in the meantime I am going to analyse the optionals. This effort too is throwing up a lot of info which was on my blog, and which unfortunately didnt strike me in the exam. So here goes...


4(b) Should media exposure be included in rules for administrative accountability in India? [15mks]
Media and Democracy
Factors influencing government responsiveness
-these posts could have helped in saying that media furthers democracy and ensuring administrative accountability to media can strengthen democracy in various ways. The example of Manipur could be effectively used.

4(c) Role of civil society in facilitating administrative accountability wrt 'Janlokpal' issue. [15mks]
Neoliberal reforms and democracy - a point could have been, how the state is moving from provider to facilitator guided by neoliberalism- and in this context maintaining administrative accountability becomes even more relevant, because of the indirect nature of accountability perpetuated by neoliberalism and NPM .

7(b) Does SHG movement adequately address absence of women in the former mainstream development agenda. [20mks]
Self help groups - This answer mainly required a comparison of "women in development" and "gender and development" approach. This post could have helped to show how SHGs are empowering women politically as well, thus making them agenda-setters as well, and not just recipients of  development aid. The other article of the post could have shown the counter-point of how even SHGs are failing their potential.
Kulandei Francis
NRLM - by reorienting focus of poverty alleviation programmes from aid-giving to empowerment, NRLM puts the poor at the centre of programmes aimed at them. Women are perceived as major change-makers in this programme.

8(b) Distinguish between e-Government and e-Governance. [15mks]
E-governance and corruption in states
Collaborative governance in theory and practice
Public participation and organizational performance


Monday, 15 October 2012

Blog Success in 2012 Mains- GS

Heylo All,

As a first step to assess my preparation for the 2012Mains, am taking stock of how well I was able to identify issues of relevance for our GS and optional papers. So am listing out questions and posts that could have been useful in answering it. [The questions are paraphrased]. I would love to hear back from you all as well.


GS Paper I [Questions worth 160 mks had information of varying relevance]

1(a) What do you understand by the term "Innovation"? Discuss the need for launching a national innovation policy in India. (25mks)
Decade of Innovation: 2010-2020
Science research in Indian universities

1(b) Examine inclusive measures initiated by GoI for informal sector, and critically examine their effectiveness. (25mks)
Definitions of Unorganized sector
Financial inclusion
National policy on urban street vendors

1(e) Tourism in tiger reserves (25mks)
Eco-tourism and ban on toursim in tiger reserves

2(a) 12th Plan document on Health (15mks)
12th FYP approach paper (a very brief indication of what the plan says about  Health)

2(c) "Domestic resource mobilization, though central to the process of Indian economic growth, is characterized by several constraints". Explain. (15mks)
Ashok Chawla committee on allocation of natural resources
National exploration licensing policy
External commercial borrowings policy
FII investment in bonds

2(d) 'Flute-playing Krishna' theme in Indian art is very popular. Discuss. (15mks)
Indian painting:other styles- Madhubani and Pattachitra
Indian painting-schools of painting- Pahari and Rajasthani schools of painting
Traditional theatre forms of India- Rasleela
Indian classical dances- Manipuri and Odissi (a main theme of Odissi is Geet Govinda centered around Krishna)
Traditional embroidery forms - Chamba rumal has a krishna figure embroidered on the rumals.

2(f) What do you understand by MDR-TB? (15mks)

2(g) Is renewable energy a viable option for India's future? (15mks)
Integrated energy policy 2008
Akshay urja shops

3(b) List objectives of National Manufacturing Policy. (5mks)
Manufacture sector in india [Albeit this post was written before the NMP was officially declared and there was one change, i.e. achievement of objective of jobs and GDP contribution by 2022].

5. Personalities question (5mks)
Ashoke sen, Mario de Miranda
P.V. Sindhu

GENERAL STUDIES II [Questions worth 170mks had information of varying relevance]

Thursday, 4 October 2012

IMF's 14th General Review of Quotas

On December 15, 2010, the Board of Governors, the IMF's highest decision-making body, approved a package of far-reaching reforms of the Fund’s quotas and governance, completing the 14th General Review of Quotas. This will be implemented once 3/5ths of the IMF members comprising 85% of the quota-share approve it. Once implemented, it will result in a major realignment of quota shares to better reflect the changing relative weights of the IMF’s member countries in the global economy.

The 14th General Review of Quotas will:
  1. unprecedented 100 percent increase in total quotas: double quotas from approximately SDR 238.4 billion to approximately SDR 476.8 billion.
  2. shift more than 6 percent of quota shares from over-represented to under-represented member countries.
  3. shift more than 6 percent of quota shares to dynamic emerging market and developing countries (EMDCs).
  4. significantly realign quota shares. China will become the 3rd largest member country in the IMF, and there will be four EMDCs (Brazil, China, India, and Russia) among the 10 largest shareholders in the Fund, and
  5. preserve the quota and voting share of the poorest member countries. This group of countries is defined as those eligible for the low-income Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and whose per capita income fell below US$1,135 in 2008 (the threshold set by the International Development Association) or twice that amount for small countries.
India's quota share at the IMF will increase from 2.44 per cent to 2.75 per cent, making it the 8th largest quota holding country at the IMF.
Significantly, India's gain in terms of quota share is the 7th largest in 14th round of quota review.
In absolute terms, New Delhi's quota will increase from SDR (special drawing right) 5,821.5 million to SDR 13,114.4 million.
All the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries would now be among the 10 largest quota shareholders at the IMF. 

The reform package builds on the 2008 reforms, which became effective on March 3, 2011. The 2008 reforms:
  • strengthen the representation of dynamic economies, many of which are emerging market countries, through ad hoc quota increases for 54 member countries, and 
  • enhanced the voice and participation of low-income countries through a near tripling of basic votes.

Language Paper Alert!


The language paper is on 6th itself-i.e. on saturday, and that in the first half. So 6th-saturday-has both language papers, and 7th-sunday-has essay paper.

I just realised this, because in keeping with past pattern I was expecting language paper to be on sunday. So anyways...this msg is for other blind people like me :)

And good luck again.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Eco-tourism and Ban on toursim in Tiger core-areas

In the debate on tourism in core-areas of tiger reserves, these are the following stakeholders:
- Protection of tigers
- Protection and conservation of other wildlife in reserves
-  Local communities- rights protected by the Forest Rights Act.
- Local employment generated by tiger tourism
- Tourism industry- both those making a fast buck, and those encouraging sustainable tourism
- General people's right to enjoy wildlife, and their responsibility towards conservation

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines on Ecotourism. (July 2012)
Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people". Ecotourism should include tourism that is community-based and community-driven. Such tourism is low-impact, educational, conserves ecology and environment, while directly benefiting economic development of local communities. 

Following these guidelines the Supreme Court banned Tourism in core areas of Tiger Reserves. This was met with much criticism by the tourism industry. The NCTC has given a revised set of guidelines to the SC on 27 September 2012.

Old v New

  • The old guidelines restricted tourism activity in the areas of tiger reserves from where forest dwellers have been relocated to make space for the big cat. The new guidelines have tweaked it to say that no tourism infrastructure will be allowed in the areas from where relocation has taken place
  • The old guidelines called for allowing only community-based tourism in 10 to 20 per cent of the core zones, depending on the size. The new guidelines say that up to 20 per cent area of the core zones of the tiger reserves can be opened up for tourism
  • The old guidelines called for imposing a 10 per cent cess on the turnover of the hotels and resorts for community development. The new guidelines have sought to leave it to the state governments to decide the rate of cess. The guidelines say a conservation fee could be charged between Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 per month, per room, depending upon the luxury classification of the tourist facility