Friday, 21 March 2014

Gravitational Waves

What are gravitational waves?

They are ripples that carry energy across the universe (ripples in the curvature of space-time continuum). The existence of the gravitational waves was made by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity. Till now there was no direct evidence as these waves are hard to be detected.
 How proved?
By BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) - a telescope at South Pole

Why important?
In proving big bang theory and cosmic inflation.

What is cosmic inflation?
A theory by Alan Ruth that universe expanded very rapidly during its initial formation time. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013


The upsc has published sample questions for PAPER V - ETHICS, INTEGRITY AND APTITUDE.

What do you understand by ‘ Ethical Human Conduct’? In what way is 
it important to be ethical along with being professionally competent?

What do you understand by the following terms ? Point out their 
specific relevance in public service; 
(i) Intellectual integrity 
(ii) Empathy 
(iii) Perseverance 
(iv) Spirit of service 
(v) Commitment 
Indicate two more attributes which you consider very important for 
public servants. Justify your answer......

Download all(Click here)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Book review: Geography of India by Majid Hussain

There are some prolific writers in geography – majid hussain, d s lal, savindra singh. The learning style of students differs and so do their favourite authors. Of the books written by Majid hussain, i feel this is a great work. The ncert geography along with the “Geography of India by Majid Hussain” can make the learning of “Indian Geography”easier. Before this book was written, it was Khuller’s Indian geography which was popular among students. I felt that book to be bit big and full of stats.

Majid hussain is able to bring clarity on many topics which were not dealt beautifully in other books. He had used the beauty of maps to its maximum. Geography is a subject where diagrams, graphs etc can do wonders; the representations communicate the idea vivaciously. The correlation between the upsc geography syllabus and the book is high. This helps aspirants gain maximum especially when it comes to recent topics. 

Book review:Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth

This is a wonderful book written in a lucid style. The Laxmikanth’s book is easy to understand and is updated regularly. The book starts with history of our constitution. It gives a brief account of the makers of our constitution. In case history makes you sick, leave the beginning part for a while and start with the rest. There is a table which showcases “Schedules of constitution at a glance”, it will be very easy to decode the book if you keep this table in mind. Now and then come back to this table while reading it. This will help in organising the content of book.

 It would be nice if you can read the book keeping in mind the current affairs. The lokpal topic may be relevant in certain years, while the trending topic may be CAG in another year and so on. In GS there is vertical as well as horizontal integration of topics. So you can put the stuff you learn here in topics that may not seem be directly linked to it. Eg: In a question of environmental protection, you can bring in the directive principles (Art 48A). In a question on de-addiction, Art 47 can be remembered.

If the relevance of the topics is understood, the learning process can be simplified. There are certain landmark cases (Kesavananda bharti,Maneka), amendments(42nd) etc which are highly important. Most beginners won’t be aware of these things. As a result the learning process becomes tedious. And by the time they recognise it, the time is up.Understanding the similarities between topics will reduce your workload. If you look the different sections in the polity eg: President’s with Governer’s or that of State legislature with Loksabha you can find that there are many similarities. Recognising these patterns will make the learning easier.

There is a NCERT book on polity, constitution of India, which is also a must read. It clears certain basic doubts and brings clarity of thought on the subject.

Buy Indian Polity 4th Edition from

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Citizen Charter :General Studies IAS Study Matierial : Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Citizen’s charter

A whole lot of measures to improve the governance have taken place in the last decade. The citizen’s charter, right to information, grievance redressal mechanisms etc are some of the prominent ones.

What is aim of the citizen charter?

In earlier times, citizen’s were separated by rigid walls from the government functioning. This leads to alienation of people from the bureaucracy. Many people have commented “bureaucracy exists to serve itself”. The citizen charter is a measure to change this ‘villain role’ of bureaucracy and make it more citizen’s centric. The citizen charter aims to bring transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the system. 

Why we need it?

In earlier times, citizens were in dark about the services or schemes given by government departments.

1991:  Mohammed a 60 year old law abiding citizen goes to village office to get a nativity certificate. He arrives at 10.30 am at the office, to be received by empty chairs.  At around 11.00 an officer walks in. Mohammed runs to him to ask about the certificate. The officer says “Sir’ji is on leave… You can submit application at table 2.” Mohammed stares helplessly at the table 2 and the empty chair which in turn stares at Mohammed. After 3 hrs Mohammed leaves sad at heart and empty at stomach.

After few visits he manages to meet the officer at Table 2 and give him his application. The stone faced officer takes the application and sits on it for a month. Mohammed is clueless about when his application will hatch to give him the certificate…Mohammed is waiting for “Sir’ji to arrive from leave”

2013: Mohammed’s son Beeran walks to the same office. Beeran sees a big board where the list of services and the time in which these services will be granted is shown. He is also informed about the officers present in that office on that particular day. He is greeted by a “May I help you" board. He asks to the smiling officer about his certificate who explains the time,cost, format etc before directing to the correct desk. He is shown the table 2, where an officer enthusiastically receives his application and gives him a receipt. He is told that the application will be promptly processed(within specified time) and given to him…. Beeran leaves the office with a smile…He gets his certificate in the specified time without any hassles….

About the concept of citizen charter

This idea was started by John Mayor in Uk (1991). The Tony Blair government gave it a big push by the initiative “Service First”(1998).

The basic objective of the Citizen's Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery. The six principles of the Citizen's Charter movement(UK) as originally framed were:

1 Quality: Improving the quality of services;
2 Choice: Providing choice wherever possible;
3 Standards: Specify what to expect and how to act if standards are not met;
4 Value: Add value for the taxpayers' money;
5 Accountability: Be accountable to individuals and organisations; and
6 Transparency: Ensure transparency in

The Tony Blair govt (UK) later elaborated this concept to nine principles of service delivery..

• Set standards of service
• Be open and provide full information
• Consult and involve
• Encourage access and the promotion of choice
• Treat all fairly
• Put things right when they go wrong
• Use resources effectively
• Innovate and improve
Work with other providers.

In India, the concept of citizen charter was added to create transparency in the implementation of programmes/schemes and services.
What are the components of the citizen charter..

Look here in this link of India post…(click here)

What are the headings you see there…. Vision… Mission etc…

The vision points to the direction in which India Post will move. Mission shows its aims,objectives etc. Thus seeing this charter both employees and the citizen will get the info about postal department. What you just read in the indiapost website are components of citizen charter.

To list them down..Components of a Citizen’s Charter are (the india post website has all these components..)

i. Vision and Mission Statement;
ii. Details of Business transacted by the Organisation;
iii. Details of clients;
iv. Details of services provided to each client group;
v. Details of grievance redress mechanism and how to access it; and
vi. Expectations from the clients

Look this website by government of kerala (click here). The certificate name,purpose, the time frame, the officers in charge etc are listed in detail. The Kerala government has also posted the certificate format in its websites. All these are directed towards creating “effective efficient and responsive” governance.

The Indian citizen Charters are expected to incorporate the following elements :-
(i) Vision and
Mission Statement
(ii) Details of business transacted by the organisation
(iii)Details of clients
(iv) Details of services provided to each client group
(v) Details of grievance redress mechanism and how to access it
(vi) Expectations from the clients. Here the last one “expectation from clients” is an Indian innovation.

The Indian government has a website fully for the purpose of citizen charter…
Visit it…(click here). The principles of citizen charter are given in the website which are listed below…

• Published Standards 
• Openness and Information
• Choice and Consultation
• Courtesy and Helpfulness
• Redress when things go wrong
Value for money 

As far as India is concerned, the citizen charter is a good move to bring the benefits to the citizens. As more and more citizens become literate, this will bring change to the way business is conducted in our offices. The RTI along with citizen charter can bring much change to India’s offices. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Essay Writing for Civil Service Exams

The essay is an area, which most students forget. It may not be possible to concentrate on essay writing due to lack of time. It’s fine. Even then you can be attentive ‘not’ to lose marks by making simple avoidable mistakes.

To talk about the essay,

First choose a topic you know. There may be proverbs or phrases you aren't clear about. In that case avoid those topics. The examiner may not be amused if you bluff an entire paper (essay paper only one question is to be answered!).

Another thing is to cover all aspects on a subject. The issue should be seen from all angles, before you reach a conclusion. Eg: In an essay on Sustainable development – the social, political, environmental view of the subject can be discussed.

It won’t be possible to start writing the essay straight away. You can create a good plan for essay before writing the actual essay. The upsc answer sheet is a big bundle with enough pages. You can do the rough work of the essay on the pages towards back.

Our idea is to create the essay which means we gotta make a Intro, body, and conclusion. That doesn’t mean that we will put “Introduction” or “Body” in writing when we start.  Take some time and make the Intro interesting. The examiner is seeing tonnes of paper, and he has to feel –“this is cool” or “hmm..OK”

There are many ways in which you can begin an essay. The way you can start essay depends on the topics. Eg:Through a small story with two people – one who enjoys its fruits and another who has been hit hard by the same. This works in topics like Eg: Globalization, Public-Private-Partnership etc. Thus the two views would be put in a subtle manner.The beginning must be attractive, well written and mistake free. Else the reader (examiner) will lose interest. 

After the intro comes the body part. The body must go into the subject – analyse the aspect from various angles.
Eg Essay on sustainable development there may be social, political, environmental views.
Social – how the uncontrolled destruction can lead to disaster. Here the touching story of uttarakand  or any flood can be written to highlight the issue
Political – how the international players are discussing the issue,what steps have been taken etc.
Environmental- how destruction of species, or monoculture can affect balance of nature
Each angle of thought can be made into paragraphs, thus the reader can watch how our thought on the subject unfolds.

I have always used  diagrams in essays, but i don't think its a common practice. 

In the conclusion part, you can bring your take on the subject. This conclusion should be in sync with your body. It would be bad if you preached nuclear energy to be an evil in the body of essay in full force and then ends with praise for the same.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration : General studies UPSC IAS

Wikipedia defines civil service as the permanent professional branches of a government's administration, excluding military and judicial branches and elected politicians.
In India, the civil service personnel’s are accountable to ministers/elected representatives, who in turn are accountable to Parliament. The Parliament is elected by the people. Thus the bureaucrats serve the people by executing functions which are directed by Parliament in the best interest of its people. Be it IAS or IPS or any civil service there are a set of core values common to all. These core values determine the standards of behaviour a person in civil service must follow. Each individual service will have its own set of values which are based on these core values.

Values of civil service
A member of the civil service in discharge of his/her functions is to be guided by maintaining absolute integrity, allegiance to the constitution and the law of the nation, patriotism, national pride, devotion to duty, honesty, impartiality and transparency.
  • ·         Integrity – putting the obligations of public service above personal interests
  • ·         Honesty – being truthful and open
  • ·         Objectivity – basing advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence
  • ·         Impartiality – acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving governments of different political parties equally well

In country like India where there are so many diverse cultures, treating all people with respect is of paramount importance. This includes giving respect to diversity of people and also giving respect to fellow workers.
The Government of India promotes values and a certain standard of ethics of requiring and facilitating every civil servant
  • ·         To discharge official duty with responsibility, honesty, accountability and without discrimination.
  • ·         To ensure effective management, leadership development and personal growth.
  • ·         To avoid misuse of official position or information.
  • ·         To serve as instruments of good governance and foster social economic development.

The high level of corruption, favouritism etc has increased the importance of maintaining civil service values. Only when civil service values are maintained, nation building process can go undeterred.

Good civil service values=good governance=better nation

The question that worries governments is, how to inculcate civil service values?
The three approaches are
  • Economical
  • Behavioural
  • Legal

Eg: A government doctor in medical college is given non-practising allowance. There is a vigilance wing to see that the doctors don’t practise privately. Here the idea is that the high salary will satisfy his financial needs (economic), while law will prevent him from doing private practice (legal).

Its seen that the legal and economic methods aren’t able to create civil service values in many cases. Here lies the importance of behavioural change.(The topic behavioural change comes under “Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion”)

Even after spending tonnes of money for legal and economic changes, still civil service values have seen value erosion. Thus these days the thought to inculcate civil service reforms is based mainly on behavioral change.

The behavioral change methods can be –

  • Education- Creating necessary skills to enable effective decision making
  • Training – The civil servants are offered in-service/mid-career training to increase professionalism and values.
  • Mentoring 
  • Periodical review/feed back

Countries like UK, have a civil service competency framework to enable/evaluate civil service values. Promotion and perks would be based on “What the civil servant does to people” rather than “Whom he knows”. 

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