IAS Target

Gaurav Agarwal

Year : 2013

Rank : 1st

Topper Story - GAURAV AGARWAL Background
Hey, Myself Gaurav Agarwal and I am 2013 UPSC Topper (AIR - 1st Rank). I did my graduation from IIT Kanpur and post graduation from IIM Lucknow.

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GS Paper 2 Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/paper2
GS Paper 3 Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/paper3
GS Paper 4 Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/paper4
Social Issues Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/newspapersocial
S&T Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/newspaperst
International Affairs Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/international
Internal Affairs Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/internal
India’s Neighbors Affairs Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/neighbours
Environment Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/environment
Culture Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/culture
Polity Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/polity
Geography Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/geography
World History Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/historyworld
Modern India Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/historymodern
Medieval India Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/historymedieval
Ancient India Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/historyancient
History Optional Notes (+ Ancient and Medieval culture part of GS Paper 1 + World History part of GS Paper 1 + Modern India part of GS Paper 1)
Micro Economics Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/economicsmicro
Macro Economics Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/economicsmacro
International Economics Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/inteco
Indian Economy Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/economicsindia
Developmental Economy Notes https://www.evernote.com/pub/crazyphoton/deveco
Economics Optional Notes (+ GS Paper 3 Economy Part)
Interview Preparation Notes – UPSC Interview Gaurav Agarwal Strategy
Prelims (CSAT) General Studies
Topic Strategy/Booklist
Culture society I had history optional last year.
History Ancient I had history optional last year
History Medieval I had history optional last year
History Modern (Freedom Struggle) Shekhar Bandopadhyay and Bipin Chandra books
Polity (theory + current) DD Basu
Economy (theory + current) I had economics optional
Science (theory + current) 9th and 10th class NCERT and Vajiram notes.
Environment (theory + current) Please read my blog post for this.
Click me https://thesupermanreturns.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/culture-snt-envt/
geography physical 11th and 12th class NCERT, Goh Che Leong, Vajiram notes.
geography-India 11th and 12th class NCERT, Goh Che Leong, Vajiram notes.
geography world 11th and 12th class NCERT, Goh Che Leong, Vajiram notes
other national/international current affairs Newspaper and internet.
Schemes, Policy & Filler Stuff Newspaper and internet

Mock Test - absolute necessary

To know about Gaurav Agarwal Essay's preparation
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Essay attempted

Science and technology is the panacea for the growth and security of the nation.

General Studies (Mains) paper 1

General Studies (Mains) paper 1 Please note that while reading the coaching material, we will find that 90% of the topics are repetitive and useless if we have read the books. So skip those 90% and quickly read the remaining useful 10% only.
Culture Multiple sources, mentioned
Click me https://thesupermanreturns.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/culture-snt-envt/
Indian history Shekhar Bandopadhyay – From Plassey to Partition, Bipin Chandra (both freedom struggle and since independence)
World history Baliyan’s history optional classnotes.
Also read Europe Since Napoleon for history optional last year
Post-independence India Mentioned above. Most of the questions asked were common knowledge which we develop from school time via newspapers and stories.
Indian society Everybody knows everything. Skipped.
Role of women, poverty etc. Everybody knows everything. Skipped.
Globalization on Indian society Everybody knows everything. Skipped.
Communalism, Regionalism, Secularism Everybody knows everything. Skipped.
World geo physical Had some basic idea. Got some coaching notes of Baliyan and Vajiram. Read some topics from Savinder Singh’s book. Prepared cyclones from IMD website.
Resource distribution Skipped.
Factors for industrial location Skipped. Most of it is common sense.
Earthquake tsunami etc NCERT, Savinder Singh
Impact on flora-fauna Skipped.

General studies (Mains) paper 2

Indian Constitution, devolution, dispute redressal etc. DD Basu
Comparing Constitution with the world Basic comparison everybody knows. So skipped
Parliament, state Legislatures DD Basu, Puncchi Commission and 2nd ARC reports.
Executive-judiciary DD Basu and also current issues
Ministries departments Skipped
Pressure group, informal asso. 2nd ARC report. But too general a topic, everybody knows everything.
Representation of people’s act Current issues (SC rulings had come on this issue)
Various bodies: Constitutional, statutory, the internet-based study, Wikipedia, expert opinion. Basically, find the composition, etc. of the body. Powers, functions, etc. mostly same. Weaknesses and strengths are also mostly the same. Refer to my notes here
NGO, SHG etc Everybody knows everything. Still studied 2nd ARC report for core issues.
Welfare schemes, bodies Vajiram came out with a public pdf analyzing various schemes.
Social sector, health, edu, HRD Follow current issues
governance, transparency, accountability 2nd ARC report
E-governance 2nd ARC report
Role of civil service 2nd ARC report
India &neighbors Newspapers and internet
Bilateral/global grouping Newspapers and internet
Effect of foreign country policies on Indian interest Newspapers and internet
Diaspora Newspapers and internet
International bodies- structure mandate Newspapers and internet

General studies (Mains) Paper 3

Indian economy, resource mobilization. Everything under the sun comes under it. What to prepare
Inclusive growth Everybody knows everything.
Budgeting I read 2nd ARC report on Financial Management
Agro produce– storage, marketing, APMC Acts, direct marketing, e-marketing initiatives, FDI in retail, schemes of the ministry, Mega food park scheme, National Food Processing Mission, etc. All this can be found on the internet.
E-technology for famers Internet
Farm subsidies, MSP from economics optional background. Understand what are the issues with farm subsidies and MSPs? See what leading economists are saying about these. Read a few papers from CACP website
PDS, buffer, food security CACP website, FSB, internet based study totally.
Technology mission Internet.
Animal rearing economics Couldn’t prepare except for whatever is given in State of Indian Agriculture Report, 2012.
Food processing Mentioned above in storage, marketing topic
land reforms
Prepared it as a part of economics optional.
You can see my notes. Bhoodan and Gramdan I saw from Mrunal
Liberalization Internet, newspapers
Infra Internet, newspaper
Investment models Internet, newspapers
Science-tech day to day life Coaching material, but all of it was useless.
Indian achievements in sci-tech Skipped
Awareness in IT, space, biotech, nano, IPR Tried to follow current developments. For all effective purposes, skipped
Environmental impact assessment Skipped
Disaster Management 2nd ARC report. CAG report on the topic.
Non state actors, internal security 2nd ARC and Puncchi Commission reports covering tribal councils, 5th and 6th schedule issues, PESA, FRA etc.
Internal security – role of media, social networking site Too general, everybody knows everything. Just keep following current issues.
Cyber security Skipped. Everybody knows everything.
Money laundering Skipped Everybody knows everything.
Border Management Skipped. Everybody knows everything
Organized crime, terrorism Skipped mostly. Read some discussion on anti-terror law in 2nd ARC report. Everybody knows everything
Security agencies- structure mandate Some Wikipedia based study, but mostly skipped. Everybody knows everything.

General Studies 4: Ethics, Integrity, aptitude

Topic How Did You Prepare?
Ethics and interface, family, society and all the hathodaa topics Too general topics. Everybody knows everything about these topics. Most important questions on this topic is what is the role of family / society in framing morality / ethics.
Attitude, moral influence etc. Sriram, Baliyan and Vajiram material available in photocopy shops for basic definitions.
Civil service: integrity, impartiality, tolerance to weak etc Vajiram and Baliyan material available in photocopy shops. Nolan committee report and 2nd ARC report.
Emotional intelligence, its use in governance Sriram material for basic definitions. Too general topic, everybody knows everything about it. One important question is the role of EI in administration.
Moral thinkers of India and world
How many thinkers did you prepare? Mostly skipped it. Tried to remember a few thinkers from Baliyan’s and Sriram’s notes, but found it couldn’t be done.
Ethics in pub.ad, accountability, laws, rules etc. 2nd ARC report. Everybody knows everything.
Corporate governance Important topics I thought here were recent Company law, Sebi recommendations. But they didn’t ask these. Otherwise, this is too general a topic and everybody knows everything.
Probity in governance, work, culture Everybody knows everything.
Citizen charter, ethics code, work culture etc. 2nd ARC reports on ethics and governance.
Challenges of corruption 2nd ARC report on ethics.
Case studies on above topics Bring it on approach.
In case studies, I always tried to analyze each option from a theoretical perspective. I used to take an option and see what the 4-5 School of ethics say about it and then try to come to an acceptable ethical decision.

GS4 Ethics case study answers in Mains 2013

Q. In GS4 ethics papers, please give a sketchy overview of your case study answers:
Sorry, don’t remember. But my vision is mock tests where I attempted such case studies can be seen here…

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Case (your approach/ keypoints)

  • RTI (To hide or not to hide)
  • Engineer (Bogus flyover vs deadline)
  • Child Labourers in Sivakasi
  • Nepotism in Job recruitment
  • Leaking information
  • Narrate one incident in your life when you were faced with such crisis of conscience and how you resolved the same.
Bullet points with proper headings, sub-headings, underlining. And who says we can’t comment/discuss in points or while analyzing can’t present our thoughts in points. In comment / discuss/analyze kind of questions, simply give all positive points, then given all negative points, and then give way forward. Or say take up an issue as a point sub-heading, do its pros and cons analysis and then move on to the next point subheading. The bottom line is, use your brain and communicate in a way you feel to be the best. Don’t rely blindly on coachingwallahs.
I too wrote almost all my answers in points, but still, I gave a proper introduction, proper headings and sub-headings, and then a conclusion. The main bulk of the answer was in the points. I don’t think why the tradeoff mentioned in the second half of your question should arise.
Economics was my optional. Please read my blog post on this where I have covered this in great detail.
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This is a list of reading material arrived after a lot of painstaking trial and errors. Many topics require the study of many research papers and internet articles. So obviously can’t mention a single source for them. But I used to take whatever I found useful from there and make my own notes which can be found here.
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First, would like to clarify the myth that the UPSC interview is only of 275 marks i.e. 10-15%. The real weight of the interview is at least 40%. The reasons are:
  • UPSC has developed a habit of giving very fewer marks in the mains. This is a relative exam and only difference of marks between us and others matters. Naturally, if low marks are given in written, then the difference of marks from others which we can have by performing well in written will be less.
  • Only candidates clearing mains can give an interview. So whatever little difference in marks was there in mains gets reduced even further (as the difference in marks between the mains successful candidates would be less than the difference in the entire set).
On the other hand, interview marks come only after this mains cutoff stage and there is a full range of marks given in interviews. So the difference in marks arising out of the interview can be a great leading to its increased effective weight.
So neglect interviews only at your own peril! And also unlike what many say an interview is not purely ‘luck’ based. Barring a few exceptional cases, most of the interviews contain questions 90% of which can be predicted and prepared well in advance! Wait for my blog post on interviews.
Subject College graduation subject (Computer Sc.) didn’t have much relevance for me as I had done a lot of things after college. So I had done only a very basic preparation for it. Current happenings and some theoretical aspects. My main field was economics, which was running through my entire DAF (in a hobby, job-related to eco, optional eco, MBA did in finance – most people relate finance to economics). And economics is a subject where unless we meet an economist in the panel, the interview would be on current economic issues only.
So decided to skip the theoretical portions and prepare only the current macroeconomic issues. We were facing high inflation and low growth, stalled projects, land acquisition issues, etc. And a new government was there. So it was natural to expect questions on it and so I prepared these issues. Since economics was my main area, so I had to speak like an economist.
Nothing less was expected. So remembered some key data related to IIP, WPI, CPI, GDP numbers, etc. Developed mind maps containing 6-7 points on Why high inflation and Why low growth. The thing is in such issues everybody knows everything, but I had to speak like an economist. So from the first sentence itself, my understanding should be visible. This is possible only when we prepare these questions beforehand and not think about them for the first time in the interview itself. I have these mind maps on paper, so will upload scanned images on my blog post so that readers can get a clearer idea of what I am talking about.
Home state Had prepared it last year as well, so this year, mostly revised it and prepared some current issues (like refinery, jaipur metro, drug trafficking, socio-economic scenario). Mostly internet based study particularly Wikipedia for Rajput and modern history, read a book used in RAS history optional apart from the internet.
Home district I was brought up in Jaipur so prepared a few aspects of Jaipur (tourism places, economic activities, present problems, etc.). But I was born in Bharatpur. In the summary sheet, the only place of birth comes, so preparing the place of birth is more important than preparing the ‘home’ district. I prepared Bharatpur history, economy, tourism places, Keoladeo park, Salim Ali, ornithology, etc. Mostly Wikipedia based study.
Job I was trading financial derivatives at Citi. The most important thing for me was the financial crisis. I know a great deal about financial crisis naturally having seen it from the middle of it all, but when it comes to explaining it in 2-3 sentences, prior preparation is needed. So I prepared it and it was asked in the beginning questions itself last year. Then I also prepared a history of the City and its mergers, Salomon Brothers, John Meriwether, LTCM, etc. Some preparation related to Vikram Pandit and Corbatt.
IPS Had to study a lot about this topic this year as it was completely new. Prepared policy reforms (studied all commission setup since the British era, watched Aamir Khan’s show, read many articles on the internet) then prepared mind maps of 5-6 points to speak on various possible questions on police and bureaucracy reforms. Basically, in such topics, everybody knows everything. What matters is how we speak in the first 2-3 sentences. However, they couldn’t find out I was already into IPS (as it was there in the DAF but not the summary sheet from where they were asking), so no questions asked. Will upload the scanned copies of these mind maps in my blogpost.
Why IAS after IPS, IIM, IIT, Investment Banking Spent a lot of time preparing this. Prepared it from all possible angles I could think. Came up with realistic answers. In both interviews, this was the first question asked.
Other DAF things Prepared everything mentioned in the DAF. Will cover these in the blog post where I will upload my DAF and cover each issue.
Current affairs Current affairs preparation for an interview is different from preparation for mains. Basically, people who are taking our interview are not preparing themselves. So they will only remember ‘masala’ news and not the boring committees and legislations etc. So have to cover masala news for an interview and develop our own opinion on all such news items.
Mock Interviews were very helpful for me as I was cut out for private sector interviews, not UPSC interviews. UPSC interview requires a different kind of mannerisms and body language and this is what I learned from mocks. Then I also got to know my weakness areas on which I worked. However, don’t rely blindly on whatever they say, apply your own mind before changing/preparing something.
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