Importance of Current Affairs in UPSC CSE Preparation

Current affairs are one of the vital cogs of the UPSC preparation. Be it the Prelims or Mains, an aspirant can never afford to underplay this aspect of UPSC. With each passing year, UPSC has progressively moved towards putting forth a more dynamic question paper rather than the conventional types of the past years. These questions have more to do with what’s happening in and around the world with respect to our day-to-day life. Even the static questions from history or polity will be having certain link to a recent happening or event in the country. In short, being fully equipped with current affair updates will serve you good.

Here, let’s have a look at the importance of current affairs for UPSC prelims and mains and determine whether it is mandatory or a choice as far as preparation is concerned:

UPSC has taken a significant turn from trends it followed to set questions in the early years of the decade. Earlier there roughly 20-25 questions out of 100 which tested your current affairs knowledge, but since 2015 around the number of such questions have increased dramatically. Take for instance 2016, there were 55-60 questions pertaining to current affairs and even the prelims cutoff marks shoot up to 116. What can be the motive of UPSC behind such a shift…???

There can only be a single plausible explanation to this conundrum. UPSC is looking for dynamic personalities and the finest minds of the country to be instilled as the future bureaucrats, who can take the masses towards a more developed and highly disciplined society. And for that to happen, the aspirants are needed to put through sternest of evaluation process. Having only static knowledge would not suffice. The candidate’s knowledge about the society and know-how affairs needs to be tested. An aspirant who is chosen should possesses effective decision making ability coupled with an ability to observe and devise pin-point solutions to modern-day problems in a constantly changing dynamic society. Such analytical skills are beyond textbook knowledge and this is where current affairs come into the picture.

Current affairs require you to have broad reading skills i.e. having an all-round knowledge both of textbook and beyond. It allows your mind to think, keeping in mind a broader scheme of things. They will also get you know about the condition of the country in various aspects and force you think of different way forwards. Hence, it becomes utmost important in today’s scenario to have sense of the entire national and world affairs.

Based on previous year questions, the current affairs related questions can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  1. Government Welfare Schemes and Policies
  2. Science and Technology (specially health and Biotechnology related)
  3. National and International Institutions of Importance (United Nations and other institutions to which India is a signatory)
  4. Global Environmental Issues and Institutions (Global Warming, Plastic Pollution, forest fires, wildlife protection etc)
  5. National News and Affairs (Committees formed on various Issues, Important SC verdicts, economic Issues etc)
  6. Other Issues of eminence

Now that we have understood the importance of current affairs in the UPSC examination, let’s divulge into the aspect of effective preparation to tackle such questions in the actual exam:

  1. Newspaper Reading:
    This is the one-stop solution to the problem. Instill a daily newspaper reading habit right from the start of the preparation. Papers like The Hindu and The New Indian Express cover in-depth the daily happenings in the country and elsewhere. This will give you a clearer picture of things doing the rounds.
  2. Yojana and Kurukshetra:
    These magazines will give you a glimpse of the rural problems and detailed analysis of the way forward as well. Going through these magazines will help you to tackle the mains questions that are more analytical in nature.
  3. Rajya Sabha TV Debates:
    The Channel takes up burning issues of national and international importance and brings on experts of relevant fields to ponder on the issues and the thing which can be done to mitigate them.
  4. India Yearbook and Economic Survey:
    These documents are released towards the end of each financial year i.e. march. Although aspirants tend to have less time on hand, but it is advisable to go through atleast the gist of these documents. It describes about the government works and spending across the year gone by. Most of times direct questions from them have appeared in the Prelims as well as Mains examination.
  5. Single Source Current Affairs Magazine:
    Most of the coaching institutes come up with their monthly current affairs magazine. Make it a point to stick to only one reference during the entire preparation.
  6. Make Self-Notes all Along:
    All the way you study for the current affairs, keep on making notes for all the relevant topics. This on one hand will serve you to have a better understanding of the topics and on the other help you thing for longer period of time as well as an aid for revisions also.

Again to quote the UPSC Instructions, the questions will be asked to test the candidate’s general awareness on a variety of subjects which bears relevance to a career in the Bureaucratic setup. The candidates are expected to give neutral, meaningful and appropriate answers. And to supplement the answers with credible argument, one needs to be well-versed with global current affairs. 

In a nutshell, you cannot deny the importance of current affairs if you are to become a future civil servant. Static knowledge should and must be well complimented with current affairs supplement to round off the preparation. Remember, you are on your way to be the face of the Government machinery at the lower levels; you are required to have a holistic knowledge about almost everything. Bear this notion in mind and keep nudging forward.



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