How to Prepare for GS Paper 3 for UPSC CSE Mains: Syllabus, Booklist & Strategy

Titled, “Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management”, UPSC General Studies 3 is the Paper-IV in the UPSC CS(Main) scheme of examinations. It is clear from the title of the paper that broadly, General Studies Paper 3 is divided into Science & Technology, Economic Development, Biodiversity & Environment, Security & Challenges, and Disaster Management.

Let us look at the syllabus of General Studies III at length:

GS Paper 3 Syllabus for Civil Services Main Examination

General Studies Paper 3: Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.

  • Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.

  • Government Budgeting.

  • Major Crops - Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, - Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport, and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.

  • Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices; Public Distribution System - Objectives, Functioning, Limitations, Revamping; Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security; Technology Missions; Economics of Animal-Rearing.

  • Food Processing and Related Industries in India- Scope’ and Significance, Location, Upstream, and Downstream Requirements, Supply Chain Management.

  • Land Reforms in India.

  • Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy, and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

  • Investment Models.

  • Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

  • Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.

  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Biotechnology, and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

  • Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

  • Disaster and Disaster Management.

  • Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.

  • Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.

  • Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering, and its prevention.

  • Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas - Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.

  • Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

How to prepare for GS Paper 3: Strategy & Tips

Now, let us briefly cover the preparation strategy for each of the broad topics in this paper:

  • Economic Development: Make small notes for each of the micro topics that are covered in the syllabus. For eg, for the topic of inclusive development, you should know- what is inclusive development, what can be the ways to incorporate it, and the challenges to inclusive development. Prepare hand-made notes for all the topics mentioned in the syllabus. If you’re new to economics, start with reading NCERT books of economics from Class IX to XII. Next, a comprehensive reading of the book Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh will help you have an in-depth understanding of the subject. After this, you just need to keep yourself updated on the recent developments. For that, use newspapers and monthly magazines as well as articles on PIB and PRS website.

  • Agriculture: A similar approach i.e, of note-making, should be incorporated for studying the topics under the agriculture topic. Read about subsidies that are being given to farmers, the debate around the minimum support price, various view-points (editorials in The Hindu are the best source for different viewpoints), etc, and write a brief summary of all that you read on these topics in a systematic manner. It will help you in having a vast pool of information that could supplement your answers when you practice answer-writing. You can use the Lok Sabha questions to find out the recent debate in the parliament around any topic.

  • Science & Technology: Make use of the current affairs compilation to improve the quality of your answers to questions from this topic. You do not need to mug up huge chunks of information for this topic as generally, analytical and open-ended questions are asked from this topic. Hence, use your analytical mind while dealing with this topic. If you could prepare a list of suggestions for the subtopics covered in this subject, it will help you in making your answers more substantive.

  • Disaster Management: Read the theory of disaster management from IGNOU notes and then thoroughly read the relevant chapters from the India Year Book for preparing this topic. Further, read NDMA guidelines and make brief notes on each of the disasters to supplement your answers and make them more substantive.

  • Security & Challenges: Have a sound understanding of Map for dealing with such questions. Draw the map and explain the security threats in great detail to make your answers look distinct and informative. Use India Yearbook and current affairs compilation to supplement your knowledge on the subtopics mentioned under Security Issues.  

Recommended Booklist for UPSC General Studies Paper 3 for IAS Mains Exam

  1. NCERT Class X – Understanding Economic Development 

  2. NCERT Class XI – Indian Economic Development

  3. NCERT Class XII – Macroeconomics (chapters 2,5 and 6 are very important)

  4. Indian Economy for Civil Services Examinations – Ramesh Singh

  5. Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar and Vipul

  6. IGNOU Notes on Disaster Management.

  7. IGNOU Notes on Cyber Security.

  8. India Year Book

  9. NITI Aayog Reports

  10. Lok Sabha Question-Answers 

Previous Year Questions of UPSC GS Paper 3

Enumerate the indirect taxes which have been subsumed in the goods and services tax (GST) in India. Also, comment on the revenue implications of the GST introduced in India since July 2017.

  1. Do you agree with the view that steady GDP growth and low inflation have left the Indian economy in good shape? Give reasons in support of your arguments.

  2. How far is the Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production

  3. Elaborate on the impact of the National Watershed Project in increasing agricultural production from water-stressed areas.

  4. How was India benefitted from the contributions of Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Dr. M. S. Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively?

  5. What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space program?

  6. Coastal sand mining, whether legal or illegal, poses one of the biggest threats to our environment. Analyze the impact of sand mining along the Indians’ coasts, citing specific examples.

  7. Vulnerability is an essential element for defining disaster impacts and its threat to people. How and in what ways can vulnerability to disasters be characterized? Discuss different types of vulnerability with reference to disasters.

  8. The banning of ‘Jammat-e-Islami’ in Jammu and Kashmir brought into focus the role of over-ground workers (OGWs) in assisting terrorist organizations.

  9. Examine the role played by OGWs in assisting terrorist organizations in insurgency affected areas. Discuss measures to neutralize the influence of OGWs.

  10. What is the CyberDome Project? Explain how it can be useful in controlling internet crimes in India.

  11. It is argued that the strategy of inclusive growth is intended to meet the objectives of inclusiveness and sustainability together. Comment on this statement.

  12. Public expenditure management is a challenge to the Government of India in the context of budget-making during the post-liberalization period. Clarify it.

  13. What are the reformative steps taken by the Government to make the food grain distribution system more effective?

  14. Elaborate on the policy taken by the Government of India to meet the challenges of the food processing sector.

  15. How is the Government of India protecting traditional knowledge of medicine from patenting by pharmaceutical companies?

  16. How can biotechnology help to improve the living standards of farmers?

  17. Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for the sustainable development of a region.

  18. Disaster preparedness is the first step in any disaster management process. Explain how hazard zonation mapping will help disaster mitigation in the case of landslides.

  19. Indian Government has recently strengthened the anti-terrorism laws by amending the unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, and the NIA act. Analyze the changes in the context of the prevailing security environment while discussing the scope and reasons for opposing the UAPA by human rights organizations.

  20. Cross-Border movement of insurgents is only one of the several security challenges facing the policing of the border in North-East India. Examine the various challenges currently emanating across the India-Myanmar border. Also, discuss the steps to counter the challenges.

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