Why taming current affairs is still tough despite all the resources and ideas available at fingers?

  • by Manoj K. Jha

Current Affairs for GS is an area which is by far the most important aspect of the GS paper and also perhaps the most difficult area to master. Important, because most of the questions whether they are in the prelims or the mains draw their inspiration from what is happening in the current affairs, and difficult because of its vastness and difficulty in identifying what is important and what is not.

Making Sense of Current Affairs !

Why taming current affairs is still tough despite all the resources and ideas available at fingers?

Current Affairs for GS is an area which is by far the most important aspect of the GS paper and also perhaps the most difficult area to master. Important, because most of the questions whether they are in the prelims or the mains draw their inspiration from what is happening in the current affairs, and difficult because of its vastness and difficulty in identifying what is important and what is not.

Most candidates have been found to be complaining that they have not been able to either recall or reproduce whatever they have studied in the current affairs in the sense that the factual part which is useful in the prelims cannot be recalled sometime and the analytical part which is useful in the mains cannot be related and incorporated in the descriptive answers, especially when demand is of interdisciplinary approach. However, the factual versus conceptual demand for GS is now an outdated story. Key concepts are paramount. Thus, preparing contemporary issues and developing interdisciplinary approach is the last resort to give you best hope to qualify main examination.

For example consider last two years GS mains exam paper, especially GS Paper 2 and 3.

• With a consideration towards the strategy of inclusive growth, the new Company’s Bill, 2013 has indirectly made CSR a mandatory obligation. Discuss the challenges expected in its implementation in right earnest. Also discuss other provisions in the Bill and their implications.

(The question is related to the Companies Act, 2013 promulgated by GOI)

• Discuss the rationale for introducing Good and Services Tax in India. Bring out critically the reasons for delay in roll out for its regime.

    (The question is related to the controversy on GST between Centre and State and recently Standing Committee Report on this issue came up)

• Write a note on India’s green energy corridor to alleviate the problems of conventional energy.

  (This was related to the recent collaboration between India and Germany on energy corridor)

• What are the consequences of illegal mining? Discuss the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ concept of “GO AND NO GO” zones for coal mining sector.

(This was related to recent mining scams and land acquisition issues)

• Electronic cash transfer system for the welfare schemes is an ambitious project to minimize corruption, eliminate wastage and facilitate reforms. Comment.

(This was related to Aadhar and UIDAI implemented by GOI)

• ‘A national Lokpal, however strong it may be cannot resolve the problems of immorality in public affairs’. Discuss.

(This is related to Lokpal Act promulgated by GOI)

• Instances of President’s delay in commuting death sentences have come under public debate as denial of justice. Should there be a time limit specified for the President to accept/reject such petitions? Analyse.

(This is related to recent Supreme Court verdicts on pardoning power of the President)

• Two parallel run schemes of the Government viz. the Adhaar Card and NPR, one as voluntary and the other as compulsory, have led to debates at national levels and also litigations. On merits, discuss whether or not both schemes need run concurrently. Analyse the potential of the schemes to achieve developmental benefits and equitable growth.

(This is related to recent controversy between Adhaar Card and NPR and verdict of Supreme Court on Adhaar Card)

• Starting from inventing the ‘basic structure’ doctrine, the judiciary has played a highly proactive role in ensuring that India develops into a thriving democracy. In light of the statement, evaluate the role played by judicial activism in achieving the ideals of democracy.

(This is related to the recent remarkable rise in judicial activism and its achievements in handling corruption in India)

• Normally countries shift from agriculture to industry and then later to services, but India shifted directly from agriculture to services. What are the reasons for the huge growth of services vis-a-vis industry in the country? Can India become a developed country without a strong industrial base?

(This is related to the recent launch of Make in India initiative with an aim to boost India`s   manufacturing sector).

• Foreign direct investment in the defence sector is now said to be liberalized. What influence this is expected to have on Indian defence and economy in the short and long run?

(This is related to the recent ease in FDI cap in defence manufacturing sector by GOI)

The above questions clearly show that contemporary issues form the pillar of the IAS preparation.

People have been suggesting several strategies to prepare for current affairs but very few have really decoded the challenge. Those who manage to do so, are success stories now. Though every person may have his own way to deal with the challenge, yet by far all the successful candidates concur on certain important aspects.

Firstly, the preparation of the current affairs is not a separate activity carried out in isolation with other topics, rather; the concepts in all other areas together contribute both to the understanding and the relevance of whatever we study in current affairs.

Secondly, the study of current affairs has to be essentially based on those issues which are of contemporary importance nationally as well as internationally. This is by far the most important aspect of studying current affairs. This alone shall ensure that, whatever is studied is not only methodically arranged in the mind but is also logically reproduced in the exam. By adopting this approach, a student can even create his personal notes extensively, replete with references for current happenings on all the major issues of the time. However, this approach is best carried out only when a student is thorough with all the concepts across the various disciplines and is in a position to identify the areas where these concepts overlap and contribute to enrich the overall understanding. Once this happens, the student automatically develops the ability of identifying issues and sub-issues within the issues which on the one hand reduces the vastness of studying current affairs and on the other makes the study more methodical, enriched and easily reproducible, as now he can easily relate facts and events to issues and quote them at appropriate places.

Despite all this, a student will find that there are still some questions both in the prelims as well as in the mains examination which he does not know anything about. First of all, one must never get discouraged by such questions as no matter how well you study there will always be some areas which will remain unchartered. Even the toppers do not write answers to all the questions.

The important point is to minimize rather than eliminate the number of questions you do not know because that is what makes the difference in a competitive examination. Further, whatever you write must write well i.e. to say that whatever answers you write, you must try to make sure that you have given it the widest and most lucid treatment, within the boundaries of what is being asked in the question. Even in the preliminary exam the demand for current affairs and contemporary issues are at the higher end.

Lastly, every serious candidate must try to develop a healthy group among his peers, where he can discuss the various issues he has read and studied about. Such group discussions not only help in fine-tuning the understanding as various ideas come to forth for analysis but also allows for introduction to newer facts and perspectives along with a revision of already developed concepts and knowledge bytes.

Make a deliberate attempt to try these techniques and you will surely find definite improvement.