Note: It’s important that you read this article completely!
On 30th of September 2013, we started Secure-2014 initiative keeping in mind the demand of UPSC in Civil Services Mains General Studies question papers. Surprisingly, many questions directly or indirectly got repeated in General Studies Papers of UPSC Mains – 2013 (Here and Here).
This motivated us further to continue this initiative, and for the past nine months, except on Sundays, the initiative has been continued till today. This will continue in the future also.
On the first day itself 87 responses were received. The program has sustained thanks to enthusiastic response of hundreds of serious aspirants. It is not an easy task to motivate yourself to come out of your inhibition and post answers on the website. But for those who did, it paid dividends in the exam. And for those who are still posting answers, I am sure, this year’s Mains would be a cakewalk.
It’s Thousands Now!
Secure-2014 initiative now has more than 2600 questions. It is a huge set of questions – all either directly or indirectly related to the topics given in UPSC Civil Services’ syllabus! It would have been a useless program if there were only questions out there. But we have answers to all these questions. There are many brilliant answers written by many serious aspirants. It would have been good to pick one or two best answers and post them on a weekly or monthly basis. But, it is not an easy job to just pick one or two best answers. So, we thought of asking you to do this job for us. Some did it enthusiastically for few days. And then they stopped it. May be it’s better if on your own, on a daily basis, choose good answer and store it in your computer.
The intention behind this initiative was explained on the first day itself. Now the users have doubled and it’s necessary to explain it once again.
We all read newspapers. Passively, most of the times. Of course, so many thoughts run parallelly while we read an article or an opinion piece. But we seldom put our thoughts into written words. Once we put down newspaper and carry on with other works, all the thoughts that came to our mind when we read the newspaper won’t remain with us anymore. Next day we won’t be able to even recall what articles were there in previous day’s opinion pages!
And there is an eternal question in aspirants’ minds – How to read The Hindu? How to make Notes from Newspapers?
Secure-2014 is the answer. We ask questions taking hint from the important articles that appear every day in The Hindu and Business Standard (any one Business News Daily should be followed, and we prefer Business Standard); to these questions you might find answer within the article or you may have to do little research to frame answers. Links are given to the source article below each question. These links may not contain the answer you are looking for, but it will surely give you an hint.
These questions will help you in your Prelims, Mains and Interview preparation also. Sometimes, question which demand your opinion on burning issues are asked keeping in mind the importance of Interview. It is imperative for you to have balanced opinions on important issues well before you go for the interview. Putting them into words would reinforce these opinions and they will stay there for long time.
Sometimes, questions that demand factual answers are asked keeping in mind Prelims too. Knowing facts right helps in Essay also. Some people have a wrong notion that learning facts is not necessary for this exam. Facts are necessary to add value to your answers. Right facts when used contextually, would impress the examiner.
This year we saw and heard many toppers speaking unanimously that writing practice helped them a lot. Many candidates who could not make it regretted not practising enough. And those who did, faltered in the interview (or the board failed them). Either way, writing helps you a lot.
If you write every day, say 4-5 answers, your writing will improve drastically. Your speed in the exam will improve. This is because of the ability of your mind to synthesise and consolidate necessary points required for the answer because of rigorous practice.
You may be a good writer, or would have been a champion at writing in school or college, but when it comes to this exam preparation, you need to come out of that ego problem and start writing again. Of course you will still get a rank by solely depending on your talent, but to get a top rank it requires lot of polishing. It requires improvement in your speed.
Some believe that one should completely focus on Prelims now and then practice writing after the exam is over. This may be a requirement for freshers, but in my opinion you should practice daily until Mains no matter what exams come and go in between.
You should write at least two answers for each paper including Optional subject. This way you can complete the syllabus too.
If you are serious about getting a top rank, it’s better you start writing earnestly. Don’t wait for an auspicious day, or for a day when you think you can write better. Remember – perfection is actually an illusion.
Even if you have never wrote anything in your life, start writing now. You learn by faltering. You can’t drive in fourth gear straight away. Start with an ugly answer. Let it be ridiculous. But do start.
If you want to post answers on the website, post them with an open mind. People might ridicule you. Take them in your stride. Never assume that you are the best. This feeling will never allow you to improve. If you learn to accept criticisms with a calm mind, I am sure this will help you in interview and beyond also. This exam preparation is not about preparing yourself for getting good marks; it’s about elevating your own personality to a notch higher to serve humanity as an administrator. Every day the things you read sensitize you and make you inclusive if you imbibe the issues in a better way. Writing helps in this regard.
The personality test which you give and which would decide your fate is actually a logical culmination of the whole process of preparation you do all these years. If you have evolved during these years of preparation, you will give a good interview. If you remain hidden in the shell of your ego and just go on improving content and not substance, you might falter in the end.
You know what to do to get a top rank. Do it if you really want it no matter what the odds are. The irony is that everyone will know that they need to swim across a river to reach their destination. But only those who know swimming cross the river. And those who don’t, but have indomitable will, would still try their luck. But in vain. Learning to swim is not difficult when you have a swimming pool and many swimmers around you to guide you.
Better start practising today. Jump into the pool. It’s never late.