Category Archives: IAS

[UPSC PRELIMS - 2014] Insights Secure Prelims-2014, 07 July 2014

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2014 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

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UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2013:Marks of All Successful Candidates (Official)

UPSA has announced the Mains written and Interview marks of all the successful candidates of 2013 civil services exam. It has also mentioned in a separate column the category each candidate belongs to.

Download – 1

Download – 2   (Alternative Link)

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Filed under IAS

Beware of Distractions – They Not Only Kill Your Time, They Will Ruin Your Chances

As soon as you come out of the examination hall after giving your Prelims exam, log into internet, you can see people already discussing about expected cut-off and their own expected marks. They will be frantically searching for answer keys to evaluate their marks and to see if they stand any chance to clear Prelims.

This is natural. But, what is the use?

Once you submit your OMR sheet, forget about Prelims and your score -the moment you submit your sheet, your fate is sealed. Howsoever you worry about cut-off, you can not undo the things. You will either pass or fail. Even if you are dead sure that you will fail, you should continue your exam preparation. Because if you stop, you will fail again next year. Be sure about this.

Prelims is still many days away. Why am I talking about this now?

Biggest obstacles in your preparation do not come from within. They come from outside. Especially in the form of rumours. Cut-off rumour is one such thing. It will waste your two months if you are constantly worried about it. Once the result is out and you find that you have cleared prelims, you will start your Mains preparation – well after two and half months you gave prelims. That’s the difference between failure and success. Successful people start early. They start early because they are confident and know that things they do are right.

distractions and success, motivation

But there are other far bigger rumours, that can ruin your chances of getting selected. This year a rumour was floated saying that Optional subjects would be removed from Mains and Prelims pattern would be changed. Thousands of aspirants stopped preparing their Optional subject. When the notification came – nothing happened.  Those who had stopped their preparation  were shocked and again started their preparation.

Worst thing was that many not only stopped preparing their optional subject, they entirely stopped their whole exam preparation.

When a rumour is floated, it creates a sense of uncertainty and until this uncertainty is cleared, your preparation is completely unsettled. You will be made to visit ‘discussions’ that take place on various fora to learn about the latest development/news etc.

You know it’s a waste of time. But why do you do this despite knowing it’s useless?

This happens when you do not have a concrete plan of study. When you do not have goals to accomplish in a given week or month. This happens when you are yourself unsure about your exam preparation.

If you are serious about getting a rank and have well laid plan of action, you will not worry about rumours. No matter what storm is coming in your way, you must be prepared to face the worst. Visiting websites that feed your hunger for latest updates won’t help you in any way. They only make you more nervous. They breed anxiety.

Exam is just 35 days away. Now there are rumours about removing Paper-2 from Prelims. Remember that it is just a rumour as of now. You should not stop your preparation. Nor you should worry more about what happens next.

In case you are really worried – you should either go and fight or prepare well for the exam. But never waste time.

In case Paper-2 is removed, there will still be aptitude questions. UPSC won’t remove them completely. So, please do not stop preparing for Paper-2.

Some are already saying that Paper-1 now has become very important and it will be a deciding factor. It was always important and it will always be important. Importance should be given equally for all the papers. If you are aiming to score 150+ in Paper-2, aim the same for Paper-1 too. Whether you will get there is immaterial. You should try at least. You may end up scoring 120+ in Paper-1.

I won’t argue in favour of or against ongoing struggle for changes in exam pattern. All I want to convey is that no matter what changes UPSC brings, do not worry about it until it’s Official. Do not waste you precious time. Every hour of preparation you spend now helps you later when you go to the real exam.

You should realize that distractions which do not help you should be removed or you should stay away from them. When you clearly know that something is hindering your progress, be ruthless to remove such distractions. You are preparing for this exam at the cost of lots of sacrifices. If all those sacrifices to mean something, you need to get a rank. You know what to do to get a rank.

You read hundred stories of hundred toppers. You read hundred books on success tips. You won’t  succeed until you do what needs to be done.

Your preparation should be such that when you wake up next day you should be proud of what you did previous day. There should be tangible progress in your preparation.

If you waste time on any of these rumours, remember that you are committing a sin. It’s an insult to all the sacrifices you have made.



“Once you decide to do right, life is easy, there are no distractions.” 
― William Edgar Stafford



Filed under IAS, Inside India, INSIGHTS, Motivation, PRELIMS 2014, UPSC

[UPSC PRELIMS-2014] Insights Secure Prelims-2014, 05 July 2014

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2014 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

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[UPSC Prelims 2014] Insights Secure Prelims 2014, 04 July 2014

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2014 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

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Wake Up Before It’s Too Late

You are watching lots of movies; you are reading lots of other stuff – news articles, novels, magazines etc; you are on phone most of the time; you may be quarreling a lot with girlfriend/boyfriend, parents and siblings; you are daydreaming a lot; or you may be just sleeping too much.

But you are not reading the books that matter in clearing the UPSC civil services exam despite dreaming day and night about becoming an IAS officer.

You want to read a lot. You want to make notes. You want to start answer writing practice. Yet, these are not happening. Days are being spent on doing things that do not help you succeed.

The fact is that you are doing these things to escape from your own fears. You are scared about pending works. You are scared about doing something that you haven’t done  before. You are scared about the result because you may be thinking that you would be never able to match the score of toppers. Or you may be just scared about the UPSC and its seemingly ‘uncertain’ behaviour!

You waste time not because you are fond of wasting it, it’s because you want a safe hiding place from so many responsibilities. Last night you decided to make notes from The Hindu, but today you read the same paper for 3 hours yet failed to make notes. Instead, you wasted whole day watching movies because you felt bad about not making notes; or you just told yourself that you would do it tomorrow because there is still plenty of time left.

Funny thing is that you know time once gone is gone forever. You try to console yourself by postponing your tasks. You think you are ‘buying’ time, but you don’t realize that you are ‘burying’ the time. You are burying the future.

lbsnaa, ias, lal bahadur shastri nantional academy administration

LBSNAA – Shaping Your Dream

But why are you wasting time?

Some aspirants assume that they can give the exam next year by preparing very well this year. This feeling gets stronger as the Prelims approach. This is one of the reasons why only less than 50 per cent of applicants write Preliminary exam every year.

You are wasting time because you think that you have plenty of time. Because you think that you have still got many attempts. Because your confidence level is very low. Because you have lots of pending things to complete.

Things go on accumulating because you waste your time doing tasks that in no way help you achieve your goal. The more you procrastinate, the more your confidence levels hit the bottom.

Even if you have got only 30 days for the exam, start preparing today. Don’t worry if you succeed this time or not, things you do seriously today would help you tomorrow.

If you go on postponing your tasks, I can guarantee you that you will do the same in your next attempt too.

Don’t worry how less you have studied till now. Don’t worry how much pending work you have. You must start studying now.

Just take a pen and write an answer. Solve a problem or two. Read a chapter or two from your optional subject.

Do it for 4 hours. Your confidence will be back. Try it if you are serious about getting a rank.

All you need is a genuine START. Then accelerate. Know your speed. Sustain the momentum. Always realize that the hours you waste today would cost you tomorrow.  Once you realize that you are wasting time for no reason, you will start focusing on your goal. Realize it now.

You have sacrificed a lot to prepare for this exam. You have come far away from your home. You have pent 2-3 years for this exam without a job experience. There is no point in wasting time. You have to get a rank. And ranks don’t come if you keep on procrastinating your plans.

One key to sustain your momentum is to love what you do. Once you start well, your confidence soars. When your confidence is good, the mind is relaxed. The more you are relaxed the better will be your performance in your studies and exams.

It’s just a starting problem, or a ‘restarting’ problem. Wake up now and start again. No one can stop you except yourself. A start should be such that you should stop only at the doorstep of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration.

No matter where you stand today irrespective of your levels of preparation, start now.

As Prelims are nearing, it’s better to start with brushing up your basics again. Solve lots of questions. Don’t worry about the past. If you do more now, the past will slowly melt away.  Get busy with exam related stuff. Start enjoying this journey. Remember, once you start, your stop should be at the LBSNAA.

Good Luck.



Filed under DECISION MAKING, IAS, INSIGHTS, Motivation

ANTHROPOLOGY and General Studies – Approach and Books, By Apoorva Rao (Rank – 596, Marks – 235)

Apoorva Rao (Rank – 596, CSE-2013)

Importance of Qualifying Papers – Regional Language and English Papers:

I could not clear my first Mains as I din’t quality in Indian language paper. Since it was my first attempt, I wanted to give my best and concentrated only optional and GS; I felt it was waste of time to read and practice for language papers. I got 80 marks in HINDI and so disqualified.

For this attempt I prepared “Telugu” right from alphabet and have cleared it. For those who are not good with languages must start practicing immediately after prelims, do not think it to be a wastage of time, because you lose an attempt just because of qualifying paper and all other papers are not even evaluated if you do not clear the qualifying papers.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO CLEAR LANGUAGE PAPERS for those not confident about the language papers.
  1. Read newspaper every day and develop your vocabulary(basic)
  2. Practice to read fast, as we have précis and comprehension to answer.
  3. Try to frame sentences and paragraphs, this helps in essay writing. There should be no spelling mistakes.
  4. Try to answer previous year question papers with time limit before appearing for the main exam.



  1. P Nath for Physical Anthropology
  2. Nadeem Hasnan Indian Anthropology
  3. Social Anthropology by Majumdar
  4. Nadeem Hasnan Tribal India
  5. Brain tree material/ optional
  6. Prehistory can be read from internet

Syllabus can be classified into two major parts

Paper 1
  1. Physical Anthropology
  2. Social Anthropology
Paper 2
  1. Indian Anthropology
  2. Tribal Issues


Read only one standard book for a topic rather than referring to multiple sources, as clarity of concepts is more important. Amassing material is a strict no.

Read and understand all the topics mentioned in the syllabus, get the basic clarity of concepts and then take notes where ever necessary. Note making must be done only after getting a clear idea of that topic/issue. It should be written in your own words and should not be a gist of what you read from the book.

Case studies, diagrams, definitions are very important in Anthropology; Practice diagrams (skulls, tools etc) for Physical anthropology. Use diagrams and case studies in the answer where ever necessary.

Every answer which you write must have an anthropological thought in it, while answering anthropology questions even for general questions such as for instance 1. Role of Gram Sabha under PESA(UPSC 2013 Paper 2, section B 5Q) while answering these type of questions– concentrating on tribal culture, traditional practices etc along with other general aspects so that the answer brings in anthropological view in it.

It’s better to start preparing for optional immediately after prelims and revise the entire subject before appearing for the final exam.

Try to answers some test papers and get them evaluated by good teacher/senior.

Apoorva’s Marks

Apoorva Marks


General Studies and Essay


Strategy given by insights is the best for essay.

General Studies:

Reading newspaper and making notes is a must. As most of the GS questions are related to current affairs.

I followed introduction-body-conclusion format; I was not able to finish first three papers of GS, I think it’s better to get straight to the point and write in point format so that we can answer as many questions as possible.

Try not to ignore any part of the syllabus.

  1. blog for case studies
  2. Basic definitions(ethics, morals, integrity etc) from internet
  3. Collected basic information of few thinkers


I want to thank INSIGHTS  for all his efforts in guiding civil service aspirants. I really appreciate his effort in framing meaning full questions every day which will definitely have a worth in CS Mains. This blog has been very helpful to me in improving my perspective in writing, especially essay.

From Insights

Thank you Apoorva.



ETHICS and INTEGRITY – Answer Writing Challenge, July 07, 2014


07 July 2014

ETHICS and INTEGRITY – Answer Writing Challenge

1) Suppose you are sitting on the seat of a crowded local train, you saw an old lady standing near you and then you offered her your seat but before she could take the seat a man took the seat and the man was aware that you had offered your seat to that old lady. In such a situation how will you manage the same seat for her? (150 Words)

2) You are a father of 7 year old girl. You are living in a flat with your wife and daughter. You are working in high profile job in an MNC. Your boss is your close friend and because of him you have landed a good job. You also owe him lots of money.  If it was not for him, you would have continued in less paying old job. Your boss frequently visits your flat. He is close to your daughter and wife. One day, your daughter complains that your boss did something unnatural to her in her bedroom. He actually sexually molested your daughter.

What will you do now? In the light of laws of the land, human rights and personal ethics, suggest a course of action that you should take. (250 Words)

3) Critically comment on the ethical issues involved in the climate change negotiations held by developing and developed countries. (200 Words)


Reference – 2



Directives Explained: Examine, Critically Examine, Analyse and Critically Analyse



We see lots of Directive words being given in UPSC Civil Services Mains General Studies and Optional question papers every year. For example, in last year’s (2013) General Studies Paper – 2, out of 25 questions, 23 questions had clear Directives ranging from ‘Discuss’ to ‘Elucidate’ ( Other Directives given - ‘Comment’,  ‘ Examine’, ‘Critically Examine’, ‘Analyse’, ‘Critically Evaluate’, ‘Assess’, ‘Outline’, ‘Justify’ and ‘Discuss Critically’.)

These directives are not randomly given. They serve a purpose. In every question, when they are given, they demand specific response from candidates.  In the above mentioned question paper, every directive would have been just ‘Discuss’. But we see diverse directives including a directive that expects candidate to ‘Discuss Critically’ the given question.

What is a Directive?

It is an instruction that tells you what to do with content words given in the question. Directives are also called as Task Words. They ask you to follow a clear path throughout your answer/essay. You need to follow its instruction to make your answer relevant.

But, What are Content Words?

These words/phrases in the question tell you which ideas and concepts are required to be dealt with in your answer.These words guide you to establish the general focus of your answer. 

But only directives and content words do not sufficiently guide you to write a complete answer. There is something else – called as Limiting Words/phrases.

Limiting Words

These words/phrases limit the scope of your answer. You may be asked to comment on an event that took place only after certain year (For example, Comment on India’s defence policy since Kargil war). Here, the particular ‘year’ is the limiting word i.e. Year 1999. You should never write anything related to defence policy that is before 1999.

Even ‘word limit’ is part of this. Limiting words create a boundary lest you wander away from the demand of the question.

In this article, we will take up  Questions that appeared in 2013 Mains as an example and explain all the three Key words mentioned above. In this article, we will discuss only two key directives - Examine and Analyse – and their variants. 

The Question

The concept of Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme is almost a century old in India with early beginnings in Madras Presidency in pre – Independent India. The scheme as again been given impetus in most states in the last two decades. Critically examine its twin objectives, latest mandates and success. (Question 8, General Studies-2, CSE-2013, 200 words)

(Refer this link to frame your answer)

Key Words in the Question

In this question, the directive used is ‘Critically Examine‘. First we should know the clear meaning of ‘examine‘ and what does it direct us to do in our answer.

When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

If in the above question, the directive was just ‘Examine’ and not ‘Critically Examine’, what difference would have it made?

The word ‘Critically‘ is usually added when the examiner clearly demands a fair judgement from you. You can not take a single stance, or be blind to other facts.

In the above question, the directive ‘Critically Examine’ is given because at the end of the question you are asked to examine its ‘Success‘ too. Someone might think that it is not good to write negative things about the Mid Day Meal scheme because UPSC likes only ‘positive’ answers and the question itself is asking to write about ‘success’ alone. It’s wrong. Here, you should talk about its shortcomings too. You can not just write a glowing tribute to the scheme and try to impress the examiner.

But, if the directive was just ‘Examine’, can we just mention only positive or negative facts?

No. You still have to balance your answer with fair judgement, but emphasis should be more on ‘establishing facts’, not worrying much about good or bad about those facts.

In the same question paper (Q 18, CSE-2013, GS-2), see this question:

“The proposed withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan in 2014 is fraught with major security implications for the countries of the region. Examine in light of the fact that India is faced with a plethora of challenges and needs to safeguard its own strategic interests.”(200 Words)

In the above question you are just asked to establish facts and explain the implications. You don’t have to necessarily take both positions: i.e. the need for India to fill the vacuum once USA evacuates from Afghanistan or for it  to just stay away and focus on tightening its security apparatus at home. As it is clearly given in the question to support the directive that ‘… in light of the fact that India is faced with a plethora of challenges and needs to safeguard its own strategic interests’, you need to objectively establish facts here. If it was ‘Critically examine’, it was imperative for you to talk both about India’s involvement and non-involvement and their implications. But to this question you can safely answer that India’s non-involvement in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, or military adventurism, or getting entangled in regional geopolitics is good for its own security.


What if the directive was ‘Analyse’ in the question (on Mid Day meal scheme)?

When asked to analyse, we have to break the question into parts and carefully examine their details and interrelationships.  Analyse is digging deeper than examine but into every aspect of the question.

In the question on MDM, already various parts are given in the question itself. History of MDM, Twin Objective (Education and Health of children), latest mandates and success of the scheme. These are interrelated.  In the answer you should clearly talk about their interrelationship. When analysing twin objectives, you have to examine in detail educational and health aspects of the scheme – provisions, their impact, shortcomings etc.

It appears to be a challenge to think about directives in the exam hall and frame a coherent and relevant answer. But if you go there with sufficient practice, these things will be easy to manage even in the pressure situation of the exam.

Though many toppers suggest that one should just go with the flow or write a simple answer, I don’t think UPSC is stupid to give so many ‘directives’ in all its question papers.  Understanding the demand of the question actually solves the 50 per cent of the problem. Directives help a great deal in this regard (along with content words and limiting words, of which we will talk shortly)

Usually the directive ‘analyse’ is given whenever that question demands  a detailed examination of various parts.

For example,

In the same question paper, UPSC gave the following question with the directive ‘analyse’:

Though Citizen’s charters have been formulated by many public service delivery organizations, there is no corresponding improvement in the level of citizens’ satisfaction and quality of services being provided. Analyse.(200 Words)

In the above question, you need to identify ‘content words’ to properly analyse the question in your answer. Citizen’s charters, public service delivery organizations (this is the most important one here – many organizations from Panchayat to PMO come here), citizen’s satisfaction and quality of services are the content words here. You have to examine these in-depth and establish their interrelationship in the answer.

If the directive was ‘Critically analyse’ in the above question, all you need to do is to be fair in your argument. Some may argue that Citizen’s Charters are just futile exercise and nothing else. Even though the question itself has a negative tone, you have to examine positive aspects and explain them well.

Critically is usually added to the directive when the topic is controversial or issues related to it clearly have both positives and negatives. You can go through previous year papers and check it yourself.

Content Words

In the first question (MDM), content words are: concept of MDM, its history, its twin objectives, its new mandates, its success and effect on states.

Limiting Words

If you observe carefully, the limiting words are ‘Latest mandates’ – you should not talk lengthily about past mandates; in Two decades – you don’t have to write about its effect  from time immemorial’.

Once you identify these key words in a given question, your job becomes easier. You just have to fill the content as demanded by the question. Remember, relevance is most important in your answer. If you maintain relevance till the end while meeting the demand of the question at the same time, examiner will be impressed.

Wait, there is one more key word!

Context Words

In the second question (India’s role in Afghanistan) we saw that the directive word is followed by a specific context. In may questions we see such a context given such as ‘in the light of…..’ type questions.  Here, you don’t have to write anything extra regarding the context. You just have to maintain a boundary in your answer within the context.

Thus, these four key words/phrases actually help you understand the demand of the question better and make your job easy. That’s why you should first try to understand these words and use them when you do writing practice here or at home.


With more practice you will be able to clearly differentiate between different directives. Without going through these words you can still get decent marks. But to be in the top league your answers must be clear, logical, relevant and straight to the point. This is why few people get very good marks in General Studies papers. If you practice with these points in mind, slowly you will learn to see things with different perspective altogether – the perspective which UPSC expects from you.

In the next article, we shall discuss other directive words: Comment, Discuss and Elucidate.

References: (extremely useful for essay writing) (for definitions of Directive words)





[SOCIOLOGY] Pointers For Sociology Preparation – Sahil Garg

Strategy For Sociology – Sahil Garg

PART – 1

Part 1 of Sociology is more theoretical and thus you cannot add much from the current affairs.

1. Sociology – The Discipline:

With regard to European modernity, rule is – intellectual change led to institutional change will led to technological change. This will automatically give answer to any question on European modernity

Secondly, relation with various field is very simple and there is always harmonious relation between sociology and other sciences and consider all other fields as static in your conclusion and how they are taking sociological methods to put dynamism in their field.

Sociology and common sense is nothing but the debate between positivist and critical or non positivist.

2. Sociology as Science: 

There are mainly three methologies: Positivists, Non- positivist and Critical. The former emphasis on scientific methods : fact, objectivity; later on intellectual method through the application of mind which can never be measured (subjectivity), while non positivist refer to facts collected and applying their mind to come to conclusion (dynamic, values, interpretation).

3. Research Methods and Analysis:
    1. Methods can be read from haralambos
4. Sociological Thinkers:

Give extra time to understand rather than cramming. You will not be required to put same energy next time. Thinkers are most important and understand their theories thoroughly

5. Stratification and Mobility:

Refereed to Mahapatra Sir notes. No need for studying this if one has already done the theories. One can use marx, weber, parson, kate millet, srinivas, louie Dumont, A, beteille.

6. Works and Economic Life:

Did not find any relevant material on that.

7. Politics and Society:

Haralambos chapter on power is best for this.

8. Religion and Society:


Approach on theories:

  1. Evolutionary
  2. Functional form of religion (Parson)
  3. Marxist
  4. Symbolic
  5. Functional and dysfunctional
9. Systems of Kinship:

Notes of Mahapatra Sir. Donot refer much on kinship. Only try to read particular topics.

10. Social Change in Modern Society:

This chapter is mainly about change. There are some theories which can be understood easily.

In paper 1, maintain flow as functional -> Marxist -> interpretative (hermeneutic) -> critical -> structural functionalist -> phenomenology


 PART – 2

Part 2 of sociology comprises of sociology of India. There are various dimensions you can add based on current realities in our society.


  1. Whatever you write, always remembers that there is nothing wrong in that (except theories). Therefore do not worry about the criticality of your answer
  2. Try to put some dynamism in the answer. Never relate to the specific scholars. Add some reports (not necessarily data) or findings.
  3. Write the exact nature of social issues and don’t create a rosy picture. But yes, try to give balanced answer in the end.
  4. Always follow phenomenological approach. (for ex : sociology of flower : it carry economic value, from political perspective, it can be used as election symbol; from religious perspective, it can be used to worship god; it carries aesthetic value as well; or I used to express love.)
  5. Always take the different opinions expressed in the editorials of newspapers or some opinion of our political leaders to show chauvinism with regard to female issues. You can put forward the name of editor, newspaper.

For ex

  1. Always interpret things from multi dimensional perspective.
Note: Sahil got 207 in Sociology in CSE-2013, and Rank – 471


Filed under IAS, SOCIOLOGY

SECURE INITIATIVE – Now Has 2500+ Questions!


Note: It’s important that you read this article completely!


On 30th of September 2013, we started Secure-2014 initiative keeping in mind the demand of UPSC in Civil Services Mains General Studies question papers. Surprisingly, many questions directly or indirectly got repeated in General Studies Papers  of UPSC Mains – 2013 (Here and Here).

This motivated us further to continue this initiative, and for the past nine months, except on Sundays, the initiative has been continued till today. This will continue in the future also.

On the first day itself 87 responses were received. The program has sustained thanks to enthusiastic response of hundreds of serious aspirants. It is not an easy task to motivate yourself to come out of your inhibition and post answers on the website. But for those who did, it paid dividends in the exam. And for those who are still posting answers, I am sure, this year’s Mains would be a cakewalk.

It’s Thousands Now!

Secure-2014 initiative now has more than 2600 questions. It is a huge set of questions – all either directly or indirectly related to the topics given in UPSC Civil Services’ syllabus! It would have been a useless program if there were only questions out there. But we have answers to all these questions. There are many brilliant answers written by many serious aspirants. It would have been good to pick one or two best answers and post them on a weekly or monthly basis. But, it is not an easy job to just pick one or two best answers. So, we thought of asking you to do this job for us. Some did it enthusiastically for few days. And then they stopped it. May be it’s better if on your own, on a daily basis, choose good answer and store it in your computer.


The intention behind this initiative was explained on the first day itself. Now the users have doubled and it’s necessary to explain it once again.

We all read newspapers. Passively, most of the times. Of course, so many thoughts run parallelly while we read an article or an opinion piece. But we seldom put our thoughts into written words. Once we put down newspaper and carry on with other works, all the thoughts that came to our mind when we read the newspaper won’t remain with us anymore.  Next day we won’t be able to even recall what articles were there in previous day’s opinion pages!

Eternal Question

And there is an eternal question in aspirants’ minds – How to read The Hindu? How to make Notes from Newspapers?

Secure-2014 is the answer. We ask questions taking hint from the important articles that appear every day in The Hindu and Business Standard (any one Business News Daily should be followed, and we prefer Business Standard); to these questions you might find answer within the article or you may have to do little research to frame answers. Links are given to the source article below each question. These links may not contain the answer you are looking for, but it will surely give you an hint.

These questions will help you in your Prelims, Mains and Interview preparation also. Sometimes, question which demand your opinion on burning issues are asked keeping in mind the importance of Interview. It is imperative for you to have balanced opinions on important issues well before you go for the interview. Putting them into words would reinforce these opinions and they will stay there for long time.

Sometimes, questions that demand factual answers are asked keeping in mind Prelims too. Knowing facts right helps in Essay also. Some people have a wrong notion that learning facts is not necessary for this exam. Facts are necessary to add value to your answers. Right facts when used contextually, would impress the examiner.

Practice Helps!

This year we saw and heard many toppers speaking unanimously that writing practice helped them a lot. Many candidates who could not make it regretted not practising enough. And those who did, faltered in the interview (or the board failed them). Either way, writing helps you a lot.

If you write every day, say 4-5 answers, your writing will improve drastically. Your speed in the exam will improve. This is because of the ability of your mind to synthesise and consolidate necessary points required for the answer because of rigorous practice.

You may be a good writer, or would have been a champion at writing in school or college, but when it comes to this exam preparation, you need to come out of that ego problem and start writing again. Of course you will still get a rank by solely depending on your talent, but to get a top rank it requires lot of polishing. It requires improvement in your speed.

Some believe that one should completely focus on Prelims now and then practice writing after the exam is over. This may be a requirement for freshers, but in my opinion you should practice daily until Mains no matter what exams come and go in between.

You should write at least two answers for each paper including Optional subject. This way you can complete the syllabus too.

Starting Problem!

If you are serious about getting a top rank, it’s better you start writing earnestly. Don’t wait for an auspicious day, or for a day when you think you can write better. Remember – perfection is actually an illusion.

Even if you have never wrote anything in your life, start writing now. You learn by faltering. You can’t drive in fourth gear straight away. Start with an ugly answer. Let it be ridiculous. But do start.

If you want to post answers on the website, post them with an open mind. People might ridicule you. Take them in your stride. Never assume that you are the best. This feeling will never allow you to improve. If you learn to accept criticisms with a calm mind, I am sure this will help you in interview and beyond also. This exam preparation is not about preparing yourself for getting good marks; it’s about elevating your own personality to a notch higher to serve humanity as an administrator. Every day the things you read sensitize you and make you inclusive if you imbibe the issues in a better way. Writing helps in this regard.

The personality test which you give and which would decide your fate is actually a logical culmination of the whole process of preparation you do all these years. If you have evolved during these years of preparation, you will give  a good interview. If you remain hidden in the shell of your ego and just go on improving content and not substance, you might falter in the end.

Start Swimming

You know what to do to get a top rank. Do it if you really want it no matter what the odds are. The irony is that everyone will know that they need to swim across a river to reach their  destination. But only those who know swimming cross the river. And those who don’t, but have indomitable will, would still try their luck. But in vain. Learning to swim is not difficult when you have a swimming pool and many swimmers around you to guide you.

Better start practising today. Jump into the pool. It’s never late.





Filed under IAS, INSIGHTS, Motivation, SECURE-2014

[UPSC PRELIMS-2014] Insights Secure Prelims 2014 – Questions On Current Events, June 24, 2014

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2014 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

Leaderboard: Insights Secure Prelims - 2014

maximum of 10 points
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[UPSC PRELIMS-2014] Insights Secure Prelims-2014: Questions on Current Events, June 23, 2014

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2014 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers.

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.

Leaderboard: Insights Secure Prelims - 2014

maximum of 10 points
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Filed under IAS, PRELIMS 2014, PRELIMS SECURE-2014

Sakshi Sawhney (Rank 6, CSE-2013) – Preparation Strategy

Sakshi Sawhney, All India Rank 6, UPSC Civil Services Exam 2013


Below is the to the point and straightforward strategy followed by Sakshi in her quest for IAS. 



Click Here



I am actually the wrong person to be giving you advise on this. I got only 23/200 in my first attempt(I had attempted PPP in India) and 80/250 this year (Colonial Mentality).

For Tips On Essay (From Insights), Click Here



The booklist given by Insights is more than sufficient for the various GS papers. Other than that what I did was:


a)I memorized the syllabus by heart.

b)I read the newspapers thoroughly keeping the syllabus in mind and maintained separate notebooks for the notes from the newspapers. I also maintained a glossary page. It is useful if you have this for every subject- it helps to read the newspaper effectively, utilize a good word for concise writing, helps in revision and may also be useful for essay. eg. ‘caged parrot’ (in reference to SC on CBI) or ‘open regionalism’, etc.

c) I would update these notes with relevant online content- eg., relevant IDSA/PRS articles.

d) Reading Yojana is very very useful especially for Paper II

e) Selective reading of EPW and World Focus

f)Lots of revision and re-revision= daily answer writing especially from insightsonindia; weekly revision of notes. Never leave revision for the end because then you may not get down to doing it.



Law is a rather vast syllabus and the current pattern of questions shows that one cannot afford to leave out topics like IPR, etc. while studying. Thus, start early and revise constantly.

I followed basic books:

  • Torts- Bangia
  • International Law= S.k. Kapoor (very repetitive) or Starke ( if there is enough time- especially basics such as Treaty, Custom, etc)
  • Constitutional law MP Jain OR VN Shukla
  • Contract= Avtar Singh (question on Agency or Partnership always comes)
  • IPC= Gaur/Pillai + pay special attention to the Offences Against Property
  • AK Jain Dukkis strictly for revision purpose for all subjects+ small Acts= Sale of Goods, Partnership, Arbitration, IPR.

Most aspirants face issues with respect to how to prepare for Paper II especially with respect to case laws. First of all, use the AK Jain Dukki to figure out which are the important cases for Paper II- since the author has to be brief he has most likely concentrated only on the most important cases. Secondly, don’t be stressed about case laws, if you cannot remember it then use an illustration. Something is better than nothing and it shows the examiner that even if you cannot recall the case law you do understand the concept.



You have been preparing for this test your entire life since it is a personality test. Don’t try to change who you are.

While preparing for the interview- first of all try to frame as many questions as possible from the DAF. (even circulate your DAF to peers and parents for questions from as many perspectives as possible). Answer them before a mirror confidently.

For all current affairs- don’t try to memorise a newspapers’ views. But try to analyse and form your own opinion. Discussing it with others helps to see whether you have thought in a balanced fashion or not.

Finally, someone gave me really good advise before my interview- “if you go in to the interview room as an IAS officer you will come out as one.” Basically have the confidence of the person you are aspiring to become.

All the best!



Click Here


Filed under IAS, TOPPERS, UPSC, UPSC IAS GS strategy, upsc mains 2013, UPSC Mains GS Strategy

Sakshi Sawhney – All India Rank 6 (UPSC CSE-2013) Thanks Insights

Sakshi Sawhney, who got All India 6th Rank in UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2013, has thanked Insights for playing its little role in her success. On behalf of our readers we congratulate her on her success. Below is her mail. She will be sending detailed strategy which she followed to achieve this stupendous success.


Dear Insight

I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me succeed in CSE. I found out about the website only two months before the mains and I tried my best to practice answer writing everyday thereafter. Many times I was able to do a quick revision of concepts from the files you would send as references. I am sure there are many like me who though not active on the website did follow it and owe you their success. Please do continue the great work that is benefiting so many people.

Warm regards,
Sakshi Sawhney
AIR 6, CSE 2013

Her Marks

Sakshi Sawhney's Marks CSE-2013

Sakshi Sawhney’s Marks CSE-2013


Filed under IAS, TOPPERS, UPSC