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 in 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 


Additionally, a thorough reading of the newspaper along with monthly magazines and articles on PIB and PRS website will allow you to develop an in-depth understanding of the topics mentioned in the syllabus of General Studies Paper III. 


You can effectively cover the entire syllabus of General Studies paper by enrolling in our comprehensive course for General Studies.

Career Launcher also brings to you various comprehensive online courses for UPSC CSE Preparation. You can check out the entire course range including all the subjects of UPSC CSE here. Do get in touch with our course counselors for more details on our course deliverables. 


Current Affairs analysis