Category Archives: Inside India

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

NGOs in India’s Development Process

V. Ranga


In a democratic system, the role of the state is primary and most crucial in formulating and implementing the social and economic development programmes. However, in the contemporary society, the problems that people have been facing especially the poor are much more complex. This is especially true in a country like India where a large number of vulnerable sections are experiencing inequalities at all the levels.

ngo and development industry, ngo development process, ngo india development

Development does not only mean economic development but also includes promoting social equality, gender equality, improving quality of life etc., It is not possible for government alone to effectively undertaking such complex development activities. So, there is essentiality of other groups or organizations to support the government on various fronts. This essentiality paved way for the emergence of civil society.Non-Governmnt organizations (NGOs) being a major arm of civil society thus have a crucial role in the country’s development process.

Non-Government organizations (NGOs) are the groups or institutions or organizations that are not reducible to the administrative grasp and work on ‘non-profit’ basis with the principles like social equality, altruism and human development as their foundations. In India at present there are nearly 25,000 NGOs spread across various parts of the country.


Social service is associated with India since ancient times. It is said that even Mahatma Gandhi after attaining independence wanted Indian National congress to be transformed into a Public service organization. Although such proposal was rejected, later many of staunch Gandhi followers did setup large number of voluntary orgs across various parts of the country to carry of the constructive works on Gandhian principles. However, the real and identified registration and formation of NGOs emerged in India from early 1970s. Immediately after their formal inception, NGOS received grater thrust form the Government in more than one ways.

The GOI during the sixth Five year plan with its famous”GARIBI HATAO” slogan did recognize the importance of NGOs in the development process of India. In the seventh FYP, it gave a task of developing “self-reliance communities” to NGOs for promoting rural development. Later in the eighth FYP, government sought to promote nationwide network of NGOs. In its ninth FYP, it envisaged the primary role of in promoting PPPS in the country. The tenth FYP envisaged the need and importance of NGOS in developing agricultural sector by promoting awareness among the farmers about various modern farm techniques and government initiatives for their benefit. Moreover, government has also been promoting the development of NGOs through financial aid and assistance programmes.

NGOs with the support given by the government has been accelerating its development activities by taking up specific issues like Poverty alleviation, child rights, caste stigma and discriminations, women rights, child labor, rural development, water and sanitation, environmental issues etc., In the last two decades the role of NGOs have become proactive in the social sector development-education, health etc.,NGOs have played a crucial role in sending the school dropouts back to the school especially in rural areas thus upholding the Right to education. And also the heath sector development programmes like Leprosy eradication programme and programs on eliminating TB, malaria and improving water and sanitation facilities by NGOs have met with huge success.

The most highlighted success of NGOs could be seen in their achievement in influencing government to bring out various development-oriented policies and laws. Few of such laws and policies include: Right to Information, Integrated child development scheme(ICDS), Integrated child protection scheme(ICPS), MNREGA, Juvenile justice, Nirmal gram initiative, Rastriya swathya bhima yogna(RSBY), Various policies on women development, forest and environment development, anti-trafficking, people with disability etc.,

NGOs and Controversies

NGOs undoubtedly have been playing proactive role in protecting the interests of the poor and destitute and are also essential for upholding the democratic values of the country. However, many NGOs in India have come under the red scanner and their functioning have to be seen with suspicion. This is majorly because of loss in credibility and lack of accountability with NGOs in India. Although this is not true with all the NGOs but it is certainly true that the red spot is on many NGOs across various regions in the country.

The recent report of Intelligence bureau (IB) stated that-the working of few NGOs in the name of protests against the government activities have become detrimental to the nation development. It also mentioned that the protests of ‘foreign funding NGOs’ led to loss of 2-3% of country’s GDP. The report has brought the discussions and debates about NGOs accountability into fore. It is true that NGOs must raise voice to protect the rights of people and protest but it is also equally important for them to provide the alternatives for the government to ensure development. Mere protests and stalling development activities would not prove effective and hurt the nation building. So, it is essential for NGOs to ensure effective policy research with ‘think-tank’ way of functioning and provide alternative solutions to the government since after all the emergence of NGOs linked to the requirement of best effective alternative approaches.

It is well known fact that several NGOs obtaining funds from the foreign sources for their activities. It is also true that these NGOs played crucial part in protests against setting up coal and thermal project plants and Konndankulam nuclear project which led to power shortages in the respective states. In the wake of IB report, there are few arguments from different quarters to block the option of availing foreign funds. But in a country like India where income source is low and high difficulties associated in raising funds which are primary for NGOs to fulfill their minimum requirements it is definitely not acceptable to stop the foreign funds. Instead of blocking the foreign funds it is necessary for government to ensure further transparency in categorizing the NGOs based on their funds sources. It would also prove effective if government tightens the scrutiny procedures through foreign contribution (regulation) act, 2010. And also it is necessary that NGOs to ensure transparency in their governance frame work and board functioning.

In fine, the NGOs working with enhanced accountability, by providing alternative solutions to the development, in collaboration with the government and market which is the need of the hour would further strengthen the development process in India.

Source: Development for and ‘the Hindu’ articles.



Shaping India’s future


Vinay Nagaraju

Came across this short essay about shaping India’s future. The essay was featured in an idea to shape the country’s future and the best way to go about it. Here is a perspective in the front of Entrepreneurship and this comes to light in the background of the union budget setting aside a considerable sum for Entrepreneurial ventures and self sustenance.

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt (Roosevelt Quotes)

Coming from a country where population is highlighted as one of the strongest challenges, I realize it is one of the greatest resources that the country has – Human Capital. It is often dubbed that a country with a huge population cannot survive strong since the resource allocation is challenged.

Although it is true on the onset, it does offer a strong perspective to move ahead. One of the strongest challenges the country is facing is to provide sufficient opportunities for the existing Human resources which has resulted in a masked underemployment where limitations exist for the complete development of an individual. If we are able to remove these hindrances, it realizes increased opportunities which in turn realize a stronger resource with greater capacities which in turn results in a huge spike in the developmental front.

The idea is to create a self sustaining system through entrepreneurship, creating more opportunities, widening the scale of education and vocational trainings which help people earn a better livelihood. A great challenge has been resource retention; one way to avoid it can be to keep widening the opportunities and increase the impact of each person on the society. The trickledown effect is bound to work creating a well rounded economy which in turn extends as an enhanced quality of life.


Filed under Inside India

ETHICS and INTEGRITY – Answer Writing Challenge, 09 July 2014

ETHICS and INTEGRITY – Answer Writing Challenge, 09 July 2014

1) What do you understand by political attitudes? Examine the factors that have shaped political attitudes in India. (200 Words)


2) Shraddha  recently landed a well paying software job in a reputed company in Bangalore. She has an ambition to become a civil servant. She is working hard towards it. Recently she wrote the entrance for Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) and got selected as its Fellow.  Though she received better salary in the present job, she wanted to accept the PMRD Fellowship and work for it. She will be posted in a far away state from her present location. The district where she will be posted is a sensitive region severely affected by Naxal problem. Few days ago, few civil servants and policemen were killed by Naxals in an ambush.

Shraddha’s parents do not want her to leave the present job. Her boyfriend with whom her marriage is fixed is also not supporting her. She thinks that this fellowship would equip her with skills needed to work as an IAS officer in case she gets selected in future. 

  1. If you are in Shraddha’s place, what decision will you take? Give reasons. (150 Words)
  2. Do you think it’s right on her boyfriend’s and parents’ part to say no to her decision? Critically comment. (100 Words)


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MOTIVATION : The easy way?


It was quite a thrilling match if you watched yesterday and I really hoped Federer would win, but well, its all in the game. I have always been inspired by Federer and to see him lose wasn’t the easiest thing. I was reading a little more about him and came across this thought.

People have often asked us as to what the easy way is for the exam, the crack codes so that they read just those books, just those classes and just those bits of hard work so that success is ensured. We all naturally think that we are smart (How smart do you have to be to achieve?) and try to find the short cuts to get to what we need the most. Granted that there are a few which you can take which might make your life easier, but something you will have to do no matter what is give that time and energy that the exam demands cos trust me, there is no way around it, no matter how smart you are or how intelligent you are. Like we have always maintained, the exam is not about your intelligence, it is about your EQ – your emotional quotient and in a long stretch like UPSC, it is your character which counts most and not your smarts!

Related :

Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without hard work! 





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MOTIVATION: You just got to use your resources well!


I have often heard people how challenging the exams are and why they are not able to get there right to the neck of the competition. I agree that you might not have the same amount of resources that everyone else has, you may not have the same fall back options, you may not come from the same riches, you may not even have access to the multiple books which others have. But if you are focussed on that, I can assure you that you are looking at the wrong side of the question. The question is not what is missing. The question is

HOW CAN I MAKE THIS HAPPEN? (We can all complain that the rose bushes have thorns or rejoice that the thorn bushes have roses! )

17 MayNo matter what you feel about it, you have something very common to what all the other aspirants have, the same 24Hrs of time and time is a great equalizer indeed, it brings you all to the same scale. If you cant afford the books you have libraries, if you cant afford the time for coaching you have internet, if you can’t afford the peer pressure you have the bliss of solitude. You have the resources right next to you, it is not about what is missing, it is about HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT WORK!

Complaining is not going to get you anywhere close to your goal (DO I COMPLAIN TOO MUCH?). Forget the goal, it is not even going to get you closer to people, stop doing that, find out what you have and you will get there, it is just about using what you have smartly!




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MOTIVATION: Are you scared of your dream?


Well Of course I am! I am sure the last year topper might also have had feelings like that, so did the previous year one and so on… Fear is only natural, you are striving to do something which is not going to be that easy. It is the topmost coveted job in the country and it is reasonable to be afraid.

So the next time someone asks you not to be afraid, including me, give them a smile of contempt and tell yourself you know how tough it is and that is the exact reason why you are going to make it happen!



Your dreams are BIG, they are going to scare you and that is the one reason as to why you are going to make it happen! There is no point in defeating a minion! You have to fight the giant and that is how you create history :)


There is no greater danger than playing it safe!


Filed under Inside India

MOTIVATION: Keep going anyway!

Well the dream is such that it is not going to be a sprint, it is not going to get over in a day. It is a marathon, it keeps testing you all the way, it makes you feel that you are being pushed down over and over again. Keep going anyway.

It is going to make you doubt yourself, it is going to make you doubt others including the process, keep going anyway.



Cos that is the only thing you can do and that is the one thing which is under your complete control. The challenges get tougher and so do you. The exams get closer and so do the fears, but keep going anyway, you never know how close you are to your dream.

related :

Have you seen someone without any fear at all? 




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Understanding EL NINO AND LA NINA Phenomena and Their Implication on India



Monsoon is a familiar though a little known climatic phenomenon. In India, from agriculture to economic policies to disaster management, a lot depends on the Monsoon.

The Monsoon is a recurring event i.e. it repeats after a certain frequency of time – a year in our case. But, it may not be uniform in every period (year). There are a lot of factors which affect its duration and intensity over India.

The Monsoon is basically a result of the flow of moisture laden winds because of the variation of temperature across the Indian Ocean.

There are a number of climatic phenomena which affect it namely the Indian ocean dipole, El nino, La nina, Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO) etc. These phenomena affect the temperature distribution over the oceans and thus affecting the direction and intensity of flow of the moisture laden winds.

There have been recent reports that El Nino may disturb the Indian Monsoon and play badly with Indian agriculture. This brings us to the discussion of the concepts of El Nino and La Nina. In what follows we will look at their origin, mechanism, impact and mitigation strategies. We need not go into trivial details but only understand them from exam point of view.


El Nino and La Nina are opposite phases of what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. The ENSO cycle is a scientific term that describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central
Equatorial Pacific
. (The area between South America and Australia near the equator – look at the diagram)

   West  East



La Nina is sometimes referred to as the cold phase of ENSO and El Nino as the warm phase of ENSO. These deviations from normal surface temperatures can have large-scale impacts not only on ocean processes, but also on global weather and climate, including India.



NOW, it is important to understand how these phenomena affect the Monsoon system? To know this, we must first know the pressure and temperature distribution in the region before their onset. (We are assuming here that you are a little bit familiar with the phenomenon of Monsoon.)

For a normal monsoon season, the pressure distribution is as such:

  1. The Peruvian coast has relatively high pressure than the areas near north Australia and South-East Asia.
  2. The Indian Ocean is slightly warmer than the adjoining oceans (West pacific –see diagram) and thus the pressure is low relatively due to the warm seas. This is why the moisture laden winds move from near the west pacific to the Indian Ocean and from there on to the lands.
  3. The pressure on heated Indian land is much lower than that on the Indian Ocean.


This facilitates the movement of monsoon winds from the sea to the Indian land without any significant diversion.

But if for some reason this normal distribution is affected, then there is a change in the way trade winds (or monsoon winds) would blow.

However, the following is the pressure and temperature distribution in an El-Nino situation.



This is because of the following reasons (and its effects):


Off the coast of Peru (read in Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific), there is normally cool surface water because of the cold Peruvian current. But El Niño makes it go warm.

When the water becomes warm, the tread winds, which otherwise flow from East to west, either reverse their direction or get lost.

Due to this warm water, the air gets up and surface air pressure above Eastern Pacific gets down. On the other hand, the waters cool off in western pacific and off Asia. This leads to rise in surface pressure over the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, and Australia.

Now as the pressure over the Peruvian coast reduces because of the warm sea water, the flow of moisture laden winds is directed to the Peruvian coasts from the western pacific (the areas near North Australia and South-east Asia – refer to the diagrams above).

Hence, the moisture laden winds that should have moved towards the Indian coast now move towards the Peruvian coast.

The warm water causes lots of clouds getting formed in that area, causing heavy rains in Peruvian desert during El Niño years.


This robs the Indian subcontinent of its share in the Monsoon rains. The greater the temperature and pressure difference, the greater would be the shortage in the rainfall in India.



La Niña, “anti-El Niño” or simply “a cold event” is the cooling of water in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The following happens in La-Nina:

The water in Eastern Pacific, which is otherwise cool; gets colder than normal. There is no reversal of the trade winds but it causes strong high pressure over the eastern equatorial Pacific.

On the other hand, low pressure is caused over Western Pacific and Off Asia.


This has so far caused the following major effects: Drought in Ecuador and Peru. Low temperature, High Pressure in Eastern Pacific.


Heavy floods in Australia; High Temperature in Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, Off coast Somalia and good rains in India. Drought in East Africa.

For India, an El Niño is often a cause for concern because of its adverse impact on the south-west monsoon; this happened in 2009. A La Niña, on the other hand, is often beneficial for the monsoon, especially in the latter half. The La Niña that appeared in the Pacific in 2010 probably helped 2010′s south-west monsoon end on a favorable note. However, it also contributed to the deluge in Australia, which resulted in one of that country’s worst natural disasters with large parts of Queensland either under water from floods of unusual proportions or being battered by tropical cyclones.


This distortion is pressure and temperature recurs every 4-5 years. But it may not happen exactly after 4-5 years or it may not happen at all. It periodicity is thus quite uncertain.

El Nino and La Nina episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events may last for years. They often begin to form between June and August, reach peak strength between December and April, and then decay between May and July of the following year. While their periodicity can be quite irregular, El Nino and La Nina events occur about every three to five years. Typically, El Nino occurs more frequently than La Nina.


  Correlation of El-Nino, La- Nina and drought in the Indian Landscape

“Looking at the relation between El Nino and Indian droughts since 1950, it is observed that India faced 13 droughts and 10 of these were in El Nino years and one in a La Nina year. This indicates there may not be a one-to-one correspondence between El Nino and Indian droughts,” the paper by Ashok Gulati and Shweta Saini of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) has stated.

“Overall, the analysis proves that since the 1980s, only El Nino years converted into droughts for our country. However, a La Nina year does not guarantee better-than-normal rains and similarly
an El Nino year does not always translate into below-normal rains,” it said.

The paper also stated that as El Nino phenomenon may hit in the second half of the monsoon season in 2014, factors such as favourable water reservoir levels, and high stocks of grains with the government may offer relief to farmers and consumers.

  Impact of El-Nino


  • Normal or High rainfall in Eastern/Central Pacific
  • Drought or scant rainfall in western pacific/Asia

This leads to a lot of undesirable circumstances.


“When the rainfall for the monsoon season of June to September for the country as a whole is within 10% of its long period average, it is categorised as a normal monsoon. When the monsoon rainfall deficiency exceeds 10%, it is categorised as an all-India drought year.” – IMD


  • In India, almost 50% of the area under cultivation is rain-fed. Indian agriculture is thus heavily dependent on the climate of India: a favorable southwest summer monsoon is critical in securing water for irrigating Indian crops. So, a significant reduction in total rain fall results in a drought like situation.

    Drought in India has resulted in tens of millions of deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

    In some parts of India, the failure of the monsoons result in water shortages, resulting in below-average crop yields.

    This is particularly true of major drought-prone regions such as southern and eastern Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.

    A lot of Farmers suicide because they are not be able to repay the loan they had taken for growing the crop.


    Shortages in food supply then result in spike in food prices all across the country pushing inflation up. High food inflation eats into other sectors too such as food processing sector.


    This pushes the RBI and the government to adopt a more cautious approach to monetary and fiscal policy respectively.


A tighter monetary policy to tame food inflation may affect the economic growth rate of the nation. Besides, lower agricultural production already lower the GDP of the nation dealing a double blow.


  • If the drought is severe, it would dry up major sources of fresh water leading to a water crisis like situation. The ground water level will also go down. This would not only affect supply of drinking water, but also supplies of water into canals and hand-pumps for agricultural irrigation.
  • Weak monsoons also result in lesser power generation from hydro power dams thus leading to even lesser electricity for irrigation purposes. This further reduces the crop yield.
  • Another important source of income for the farmers is livestock and the fisheries. Both are affected severely by the drought.

 What is the WAY OUT?

Near-term Solutions

  1. The government must expand the farm insurance cover and advice banks and financial institutions to settle crop insurance claims in the drought-hit areas without delay. Otherwise, we will be seeing a lot of farmer suicides.


  2. High quality seeds of alternative crops must be distributed among farmers in the drought-affected areas.


  3. The government must realistically assess the ground level situation in order to estimate the shortfall of oilseeds and pulses and help traders with market intelligence.


  4. It should also bring down the cereals’ inflation by liquidating the extra stock it was holding, which is way above the buffer requirement.


  5. Scrapping the APMC Act and allowing free flow of agriculture goods among the states. This would help bridge the mismatch of demand and supply of goods, which is the underlying factor contributing inflation.


  6. The distribution of pulses through public channels at subsidised prices as was done in 2008 to all the households is needed.


  7. The government should also provide the fuel subsidy that enables farmers to provide supplementary/alternative irrigation through pump sets in the drought and deficient rainfall areas to protect the standing crops.

    Long-term solutions


    1. Developing drought free crop varieties and distributing its subsidized seeds to the farmers. It is a part of National Action plan on climate change in Agriculture.


    2. Strengthening the crop insurance regime in India by making the drought identification, drought and crop loss claim and receipt of relief efficient, quick and transparent.


    3. Achieving financial inclusion so that the farmers are able to take loans from more credible, accommodative and benevolent sources such as regional rural banks (RRBs). This would help them tackle distress like situations.


    4. Using low water use technologies like drip and sprinkler irrigation.


    5. Moving away from water intensive crops to less water consuming crops. The MSP regime in India has to provide more remuneration for other less water consuming crops. As in India, about 80% of the water is used for agricultural purposes, a lot of which is used by crops such as rice.


    6. Strengthening community watershed management and development. This can be done by protecting and conserving local water sources like ponds, lakes etc. Several government schemes like MGNREGA, Integrated watershed Development Programme etc. can be utilized in this.


    7. Developing early warning systems and alerting the farmers much in advance like in the recently launched Kissan SMS scheme.


 Model questions for Prelims and Mains



1. Consider the following statements:

    1. El-nino is caused due to the occurrence of a warm current off the coast of Peru.

    2. La-Nina is caused due to the occurrence of a cold current off the coast of Australia.

Which of these is/are true?

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both

d) None of the above


Solution: a)


2. Which of the following sectors can possibly be affected by the onset of El-nino?

    1. Food processing industries

    2. Irrigation sector

    3. Power sector


Choose the correct answer using the codes below:

a) 1 and 2

b) 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3

d) All of the above


Solution: d)


3. Consider the following statements:

    1. El-nino and La-nina are regular climatic events.

    2. La-Nina generally adversely affects the Indian monsson.

    3. The event El-nino can change the normal direction of the trade winds in Central pacific ocean.

Which of these is/are true?

a) 1 and 2

b) 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3

d) All of the above


Solution: c)



1. Discuss the mechanism of El-nino and establish its effect on the Indian agriculture in general. (200 words)

2. In view of El-Nino, what immediate and long term steps can be taken by government at the state and local levels? (200 words)

3. “Better management of the Public Distribution System (PDS) can mitigate the impact of El-Nino on the Indian economy.” Elucidate. (200 words)





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[UPSC MAINS-2014] Insights Secure-2014: Questions On Current Events, June 26, 2014


26 June 2014

Answer ALL the questions in about 200 words

1.Critically examine deficiencies, if any, in the Food Security Act that was enacted in 2013.

Business Standard

2.From security perspective, critically comment on the Aadhaar initiative.

Business Standard

3. In the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Index”  report, India’s rank is abysmal. Critically comment why India’s position is poor in this Index.

Business Standard

4.Critically analyse the linkages between economic growth and sustainable development.

Business Standard

5.Critically evaluate merit and functioning of the collegium system in India. Do you think this system either needs reform or replacement with a different system? Critically examine.

The Hindu

The Hindu

6.Write a note on the cultural ties between India and China.

The Hindu



Filed under Inside India, SECURE-2014

Kirthi C (CSE-2014 -Rank 440, Interview Marks – 215) Interview Transcript

Below is the Interview Transcript of Kirthi - Rank-440 (CSE 2013, First Attempt). She got 215 - one of the highest scores this year (or May be the Highest Score). She was active at ‘Daily Answer Writing Challenge‘. She also wrote few very good articles on this site (links are provided at the end of this post).

She is very humble, and humility personified. Along with her answers in her interview, academic background, I think her simplicity and humility were major factors in getting her very good marks in the Interview.


Interview: Mrs. P. Kilemsungla board 

Date: 13th May 2014

Entered UPSC, forgot to bring in ID card, and forgot photo copy of documents. Wasn’t a big issue though, managed to enter in. I was the 5th person according to the roll no. Tried reading paper and recollect stuff on profile, but mind was numb.

A sense of relief had set in when the 3rd person who had come back after interview said the board was cordial, however he said the entire interview was on his optional history. I was also a little scared because I would be screwed if the entire interview would be on anthropology (tried recollecting some anthro stuff on races, issues in NE, recent Bodo conflict since the board chairperson from NE) My turn came in, waited outside for 10 minutes, was nervous but somehow I wasn’t really comfortable till the second member of the interview started questioning.

Chairman: You’re from AP. The division is going on, you must be very excited about it.

Me: Yes mam, but I think the manner in which it was done and unnecessary emotional appeals and divide among the people could’ve been avoided.

Mam: you feel Division should be avoided?

Me: No mam, not among the states but among the people. The unnecessary fears about the safety of people in Hyderabad and regional appeals etc. could’ve been avoided.

Mam: What are the prospects of development in both states?

Me: Mam in Telangana, the fiscal surplus from Hyderabad should be used for the development of the rest of the regions, which are backward which are more..

Mam: Which institutions should be used?  (I didn’t get the question, still nervous and not really thinking and just wanted to answer something)

Me: Mam, rest of the Telangana is backward in human developmental indicators be it IMR MMR literacy rate etc. The money should be used for development on this front and a more balance regional form of development should be pursued.

Mam: What about Andhra?

Me: Mam, It’s a challenge for Andhra Pradesh to develop the residual state but I think they’ve learnt the lessons of concentration of development (I felt I used the word development too many times, I’m still in auto mode, just blabbering whatever came to my mind) There is a proposal for more de-concentrated form of development and 4-5 regional centres to be developed, there is special development package for north coastal Andhra which is backward so that it could be brought on par with rest of the state and there is also special category status to Andhra (I did not pause but she moved on)

Mam: from IIT, what about counselor, GCU?

Me: told that counselor for first year students

Mam: She asked something on IITs

Me: I said something on suicides (don’t remember)

Mam: She asked me if there is some drug abuse in IIT?

Me: Yes mam, there is drug abuse

Mam: A very long question on these lines – what would you do to address the situation

Me: I blabbered, wasn’t really thinking, merely uttering some words – Mam there are already some rules on no smoking etc. which should be implemented so that people would be afraid to use them and also involve parents at the time of admission… ( didn’t finish the answer when she moved on.. )

Mam: In South India, though educated, women are less emancipated, why? Don’t you think so? (I was thinking about the status of women being better off in southern rather than north India due to cultural reasons like cross cousin marriages, matriarchy in Kerala etc. and still very uncomfortable with the situation)

Me: Mam, I think women in southern India are better off than in Northern India.. (She paused and said yes yes and repeated her question) I said something very unsatisfactorily which I don’t remember at all..

Mam: How would you sensitize society as there are many dowry deaths etc. happening

Me: Mam we can sensitize society by educating them but ultimately we should remove all the blocks to women empowerment so that presence of women increases and blah blah (Still in default mode, not thinking, answered whatever came to mind)

Mam: Dowry is present in patriarchal society, you are student of anthropology, from anthropological point of view, tell me why? (When she used the word anthropology, because of the absence of feel for the subject and varied other reasons, my mind went blank and I was thinking, when she said, doesn’t matter and asked other member to continue)

Till now, the interview was out of my control, I was unable to think and went very very unsatisfactorily and I felt the chair person wasn’t satisfied with me too. Can’t help.

Second Lady Member:  Very long question. Something like Capitalist countries have given rights to women quite late, not so with the socialist country. Tell me there is one socialist country which is first constitution to have equal rights to women etc. etc. and she said I had already given you a hint and what is the status of rights to women in India

Me: Lost track of what she had asked, she spoke for so long.  I said India is one nation where our women did not have to fight for the franchise, we have given UAF right at the time of independence not so with UK, US and Switzerland etc. where women have had to fight for their rights. So situation for women at the time of independence is better, there is declining political participation in women and mam there is a paradoxical situation which on hand women are entering different fields like armed forces blah blah at the same time we see skewed sex ratio honour killings etc. And mam since you said socialist country my guess is that it is Russia ( In my mind, I was thinking of favourable sex ratio of women in Russia, could’ve pointed that out)

Mam: Yes yes, Russia was the one to give in 1920s, Labour force participation rate, any idea?

Me: Mam I’m not sure but I think it is either 10 or 30 percent. She said it was second

Mam: But there is also 33 percent reservation, and many women have entered…

Me: Yes mam, in some states even 50 percent was given (she said yes yes) , though it was alleged that women were made proxies etc. I think the second generation of women in PRIs are really asserting themselves which is a good thing and also 33 percent reservation in parliament should be given so that women presence increases

M3: Throwball, assume we don’t know anything about it, tell me how the game is played?

Me: Told

M3: What happened in 1971? (he said war I guess but I didn’t hear it) (I was thinking of 1969 elections, congress split, kamaraj plan blah blah and confused.)

Me: Sir about elections?

M3: You know a war happened in 1971 right ? he said laughingly

Me: Realized the blunder I’ve made and said sorry sir, and said It was Bangladesh liberation war sir, the Awami league of erstwhile Pakistan had won but the head of the party name I can’t recall now ( Mujibur Rahman )  was confined and not allowed to form govt. and that was the trigger for the war sir. There were calls for help from Bangladesh and refuge problem and India had helped Bangladesh and one of the first countries to recognize the nation of Bangladesh and It also entered into Shimla agreement with Pakistan which made the issue of JK a bilateral one rather than resolving in multilateral forum like UN

M3: That’s okay but what the help by Indian govt. like Mukti bahini etc etc.. Do you know there was an other country that was involved?

Me: Hesitatingly, sir the US naval fleet?

Sir and 2nd lady member both nodded their heads and said yes yes

M4: So there is lot of allegation on brain drain and subsidized education etc. What do you think on this, is it right or wrong blah blah and do we need any policies to attract them back etc.. ?

Me:  Sir the objective of Nehru in setting up IITs is that they can help solve the problems of nation like poverty illiteracy and hunger (The issues of India I really had feel for) and I personally think it is the moral responsibility (stressed moral of every IIT’an to contribute back to the society as it is also hugely subsidized but some also opine that because of this, we have good relations with US today. However sir, after 1990s the brain drain reduced, and hardly 20 percent leave to states now. If they leave, it is because of opportunities but not for the love of other countries sir. And sir there is really a need for using the expertise of them for our country. For eg in electronic sector, if the present trend continues, we would be importing more electronic hardware than we import oil/ gold in future.

M4: Do you think they’ll come

Me: Definitely sir, many are willing to come and we should incentivize them and use their expertise ( Not sure if these are the exact words used and could’ve justified their presence already in scientific and defense establishments and also as professors in IIT)

M4: Tell me recent development in Meta (Meta – negative triggers)

Me: Sir, we’ve had stone bronze and Iron Age, next is carbon age. In 1990s, discovery of CNTs with exceptional properties – high strength, elec  cond, thermal cond. Etc. helps in miniaturization of devices etc. etc. and also materials are limiting factors in making forays in space sector etc. cause fuel consumption would be less if we use lighter materials

M4: In defense?

Me: Yes sir, in defense too, here self-reliance is very important sir, we depend for some critical materials on other countries and I think we should have a strategic plan where we should not export our materials resources to other countries just for the purpose of foreign exchange ( too general answer)

M4: In Nuclear too?

Me: Yes sir, definitely but I am not sure what the exact material used…..

M4: You never thought of entering into private sector?

Me: No sir, not after 3rd year when I decided to appear for civil services.

M4: What motivated you to enter into CS?

Me: Sir, my ambition is to get into IAS. The human element in the sense that working with the people, the diversity of experiences in service and personally for me sir, the tremendous job satisfaction

M4: How is metallurgy knowledge useful in admin?

Me: Sir Exposure to technical background is helpful in administration in inducing tech in admin and being more open to it and also analytical and rational skills could be utilized in admin sir but as far as meta know is involved, it is useful only in sectors like iron steel mining industries

M4: Oh yeah those skills of analytical and blah blah … which could be useful in admin. (Something which I lost of track of and I was not really listening and I said yes sir yes sir)

M4: Federation what are the changes happening in the last 50 years and there is talk of federal front, what do you think?

Me: Sir, India is a union of states not federation of states though there is federal distribution of powers. Sir, in the first twenty years, congress was the party at both centre and states and hence relations with the states are easily managed. But after 1967 elections, in more than half of the state, non Congress govt. formed, because of which the idea of federation strengthened. And also sir, to Lok Sabha, the 5 major states of AP TN UP Bihar WB which contributes to majority of the Lok Sabha doesn’t have large presence of national parties which shows the strengthening of federation. But sir, the importance of Land Boundary agreement with Bangla which is very important to nation cause of the connectivity to NE and also sir recently the terrorist attacks and NCTC need are real issues sir. I think evolution of political culture should happen ultimately sir with electoral reforms etc. where leaders in politics who have national vision should come sir rather than a narrow parochial and regional view.

M5: Divorce rates are increasing, which I don’t think is a good trend, why is it so?

Me: yes sir, it is because of increasing individualism, after this LPG, where the premium is on individual and companies hire individuals rather than in agricultural societies where presence of joint family and collectivistic nature of work is there, apart from that there is greater societal acceptance of marriage sir, in previous days, absence of divorce doesn’t mean everything is alright in marriage but people are afraid cause of society to divorce, but that is not the case now and also more financial independency for the women.

M5: Do you feel it is a good trend?

Me: In cases in some marriages where women are suffering for eg. Marital rape, it is good to come out of such marriages and I don’t think it is wrong but as far as the general incompatibility issues are concerned, it feel it is bad trend (with smile and hesitatingly)

M5: RTI you know? How is it helpful in admin regarding transparency etc. (I did not really get his question, I thought he was more of asking my opinion on RTI)

Me: I said it is a step in right direction, transform culture of govt. from one of secrecy to that of openness. Now if a person cannot get his entitlements like birth certificate etc. in time, he can apply RTI and know the status and that pressurizes administration to perform. But sir there is provision in RTI mandating voluntary disclosure ( I was searching for words here, use some word which isn’t appropriate)  of information in public domain, which should be used and also sir the purpose of RTI is to make it redundant so that all info that people want is in public domain.

M5: But some say there is misuse of it?

Me: Sir I am not aware of it, sir but my opinion is that there are some exceptions to not revealing information on RTI for commercial and economic interests, national security etc. and I think taking out file notings etc. out of purview of RTI isn’t a step in right direction, which anyways is not the case now ( I Don’t know why I said the second line, shouldn’t have pointed out which is not appropriate to the question)

M5: You said in 3rd year you’ve decided to come for civils, why?

Me: Sir 3rd year we had an orientation session, in which people from all professions like Civils, Management etc. had come and talked about their careers and It was then that one IAS officer of TN cadre whose name I do not remember sir, he said that there is human element in civils and there is diversity of experience ( repeated those points I said previously to M4) and sir he also said be it whatever area you’re working in, there is a plenty to contribute back sir and that was the reason I had then decided.

M5: Your role models? (Apart from parents)

Me: Sir I have many role models (actually I’m thinking of all controversial angles to all the role models – like mother Teresa, JP etc. )

M5: Tell me any two

Me: Sir different perspectives in different personalities (Still thinking what to answer)

M5: Yea yeah any two

Me: Sir Jaya Prakash Narayan from Andhra Pradesh, it is because of him I realized that politics is noble, before him I had a very cynical view of politics, now I think politics is very important and essential for social change and people with impeccable credentials should come to politics

And I wanted to say Sumit Sharma IAS in generic medicine but thinking that both would be from the same profession- civils; I said sir Harish Hande, entrepreneur with the help of solar energy he was responsible for electrify un electrified places near Bangalore, I said a single person could bring that change and hence I like him ( rather naively)

M5: One last question from me from mild steels, I smiled and he said you don’t know? I just wanted to avoid any kind of uncomfortable questions from Meta and I said sir I’ve read but I forgot now.. He said oh. Forgot leave then and everyone laughed (didn’t know why)

And some member from them said your interview is over, you can leave.  Said thank you mam and sirs but couldn’t really see Chair Person’s face again after initial debacle, the rest of the members were not intimidating and threatening and that’s probably the reason why the pressure did not build up during the interview even after not doing initial questions with the chair person well. I did not know the pace at which I spoke but I am hoping it isn’t too fast and intelligible, and I did not make it a point to smile deliberately or artificially at any point in interview. So probably my natural self-had come out as far as expressions are considered, and I really felt pathetic while answering the questions with the chair person initially and I felt good while answering the question on federation and on moral responsibility of IIT.

No questions on my hobbies (reading and diary writing), no questions on my district and AP, no questions on current affairs, foreign policy, no questions on project in IIM Bangalore, no threatening and embarrassing basic questions in Metallurgy ( keeping Dhandapani award in mind)


Her Articles on Insights


  1. Elderly in India – Issues
  2. On Disability Bill and the Plight of Disabled in India
  3. On Elections In India

You can search for her Answers at Daily Answer Writing Challenge, Here.























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UPDATE – Insights Secure-2014, June 21


Today’s Questions Will Be Posted at around 7 pm. Thank you.

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Insights Secure-2014: UPSC Questions On Current Events and General Studies, June 16, 2014


16 June 2014

Answer ALL the questions in about 200 words

1.Critically examine the measures taken by the government to ensure safety for workers in industries.

Business Standard

2.Do you agree with the view that centralisation of decision-making powers and concentration of more powers with the Prime Minister would eventually lead to an authoritarian system of governance? In the context of India, critically comment.

Business Standard

3.Do you think India should be worried because of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) recent activities in Iraq? Critically examine why?

Business Standard

4.Recent announcement by the Rajasthan government about its intention to amend its labour laws have generated considerable debate. Examine what changes it intends to bring and discuss why have they generated much interest?

Business Standard

Business Standard

5.Comment on the strategic importance of Bhutan to India.

The Hindu

6.Critically discuss with examples, how, according to reports, terrorist organisations are funded.

The Hindu

7.Explain the growth and spread of Zoroastrianism in India. Write a note on the contribution of this religion to India’s culture.

The Hindu

8.”It is not enough to talk about pursuing excellence; to establish and build world-class universities of excellence, the ecosystem of higher education has to change dramatically. ” In the light of the statement, critically discuss which are all the changes that need to be brought in the higher education sector.

The Hindu

9.Why the Bill on Women’s Reservation in Parliament is not yet passed? What are the issues surrounding it? Examine.

The Hindu


10.Critically examine the evolution of India’s missile program.


Filed under Inside India, SECURE-2014

UPDATE: Insights Secure Prelims

Today’s questions will be posted tomorrow. Regret the postponement. 

Thank You.

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Insights UPSC IAS Secure Prelims: Practice Questions, June 10, 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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