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IAS Prelims 2020 Strategy for Indian Polity and Governance

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May 12, 2020

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Sudeshna Bhar

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Among the 7 major topics, Polity is one of the important topics of UPSC Prelims. This section is important for all the stages of UPSC Exam: Prelims, Mains, and Interview. It is one of the sections of UPSC prelims from which many questions are asked every year. In spite of all the changes that have been introduced by the Union Public Service Commission, the Polity section is still central in the overall UPSC Exam Pattern. As per the new syllabus, more questions are application based and require analytical understanding.

UPSC Prelims Highlights

  • Polity on average occupies 15% to 18% of UPSC Prelims Paper - I.
  • UPSC Prelims Polity syllabus is crisp and factual.
  • The questions are quite straight in comparison with other sections of this paper.
  • The number of questions varies every year.
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IAS 2020 Preparation Tips, Important Books and Exam Pattern

How to Study Polity and Governance For UPSC Prelims

Before you start preparing for the Polity and Governance section of UPSC Prelims, you get confused about the vastness of the syllabus. But the proper analogy of the syllabus and proper planning can definitely help you to get through all the topics of these sections. The following part of the article will guide you on how to study this section step by step:

What are Polity and Governance?

The schemes and systems of government are called polity. Polity precisely deals with the functioning of the government in the nation. This section elaborately provides a minute understanding of the executive, legislative, judicial systems, and various constitutional authorities like individual’s rights, duties, and responsibilities to structure, power, functions and responsibilities of various institutions of administration in the country.

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UPSC Prelims Polity and Governance: Syllabus:

Serial No.  Section Topics
1 Preamble Terms in the Preamble; 42nd Amendment; Swaran Singh committee
2 Schedules Basic idea about 12 schedules
3 Constitution of India Basic idea about All articles; Historical Background; Drafting committee and the making of the Constitution; Influence of other constitutions; Its salient features
Union and its Territory: Basic idea about Article 1-4; State reorganization and different Commissions; Federal nature; Recent issues
4 Citizenship Basic idea about Article 5-11; PIO, NRI, OCI and Pravasi Bharathiya Divas; Privileges available for Indian citizens and foreigners;
Citizenship Amendment Act of 2016; New policies, schemes and recent changes in voting.
5 Fundamental Rights (FR) Basic idea about Article 12-35; A thorough understanding of Articles 14- 30 and Art. 32; Rights and privileges available to citizens of India only and both to citizens and foreigners; 44th amendment act; Different types of Writs; Enforcement and Exceptional cases with regard to FR’s; RTE and recent issues related to FR
6 Fundamental Duties(FD) Article 51A; Difference between FR and FD; Significance and Criticism; Enforcement of FD’s; Recent issues about FD
7 Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) Basic idea about Article and Article 36-51 and Article 368; Sources and key features of DPSP; Classification of DPSP; Comparison/ conflicts between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles; Keshavananda Bharathi, Minerva Mills, Golaknath Case, Maneka Gandhi case.; Important Amendments- 42nd Amendment, 44th Amendment, and 97th amendment
8 Union Basic idea about Article 52-73; Qualification and Election; Function and Powers- (Executive, Legislative, Financial, Judicial, Diplomatic, Military and Emergency Powers); Resignation and impeachment; Role and responsibilities and relationship with Prime minister, Council of Minister, Cabinet ministers.; Prime minister and council of the minister- Basic idea about Article 74-75; Powers and Functions; Council of ministers; Resignation and Removal; Attorney general
9 Parliament Basic idea about Article related; Role and functions of the Parliament; Sessions, Motions, Parliamentary procedure – Summoning, Prorogation, Joint sitting; Parliamentary proceedings like Question Hour, Zero Hour, and Adjournment Motion, etc.; Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; Special powers of Rajya Sabha; Anti defection law and 10th schedule; Parliamentary Privileges; Bill and law-making procedure; Budget, funds and their summary; Parliamentary Committees
10 Judiciary Basic idea about Article related to the judiciary; Powers of Supreme court and high court; Qualification and appointment;
Removal procedure; Recent controversy, verdicts, and constitutional provisions.
11 State Government- State Executive State legislature compared to the Parliament with regard to composition, powers, and functions;
Bicameral legislatures; Creation and abolition of the Legislative councils
12 Administration of Union Territories (UT) Special provision for Delhi; Administration and jurisdiction in UT’s
13 Administration of Special Areas Basic idea about 5thSchedule 6th Schedule; Recent issues related to Administration of Special Areas;
Special provision for Jammu and Kashmir-Article 370; Difference between constitutional provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir
14 Emergency Provisions National emergency- Article 352; President’s rule or State emergency- Article 356; Financial emergency- Article 360; Effects and implications of emergency; Role of President in emergency time; The State of FR, Lok sabha, and Rajya Sabha; Revoking emergency
15 Centre-state and interstate relations Basic idea about Articles 262 and 263; Composition and functions of Interstate council and Zonal council; Inter-State trade and Commerce; Recent disputes between states, controversies etc; New policies or schemes which impact interstate relations
16 Panchayati raj and municipalities Elections, auditing, powers and authority of panchayats; 3 tier structure; 73rd Amendment Act and the 74th Amendment Act; Relation with FR and DPSP; Schemes introduced; Metropolitan planning committee and urban development; Reservation
17 Constitution Bodies Election Commission; UPSC; SPSC; JPSC; Finance Commission; National Commission for SCs and ST’s;
Composition, Powers and Functions, Removal of the Constitutional bodies
18 Non-Constitutional Bodies Basic idea about Composition, Functions, Working of the Non-Constitutional bodies such as National Human Rights Commission, Central Information Commission, Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, State Human Rights Commission, State Information Commission etc.
19 Tribunals Basic idea about Article 323A and tribunals under Article 323B; Recent controversial issues related to tribunals; Different tribunals and importance

20 Special Provisions for SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians Privileges and right issued to SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians; Issues related to vulnerable sections like women, child, SC’s, ST’s, Backward Classes, Minorities and Anglo-Indians
21 Current affairs Recent issues related to the above-mentioned categories; Important schemes, programs, missions, laws, and policies launched by the government.;
Recent Government Bills and Governance- actions

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Number of Questions From Polity Section:

Though this section is important and occupies 15-18 % of the questions of UPSC Prelims, the number of questions varies every year. The following table will give you an idea about it:

Name of Year Number of Questions
2019 15
2018 13
2017 22
2016 7
2015 13
2014 11
2013 13

Source of Preparation for Polity of UPSC Prelims:

Recommendations of Books to prepare Polity of UPSC Prelims 2020 depends on the depth of knowledge on Polity.

Book for Essential Concepts:

Name of Books Author / Publisher
Democratic Politics – II NCERT Standard X
Political Theory NCERT Standard XI
Indian Constitution at Work NCERT Standard XI
Contemporary World Politics NCERT Standard XII
Politics in India Since Independence NCERT Standard XII
Democratic Politics-I NCERT Standard IX

Primary Recommended Books:

Name of Books Author/Publisher 
Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Our Parliament Subhash Kashyap
The Constitution of India P. M. Bakshi

Reference Books:

Name of Books Author/Publisher 
Our Judiciary Subhash Kashyap
Introduction to the Constitution D. D. Basu
Governance in India M. Laxmikanth
  • Best Newspapers for UPSC Current Affairs:

    • The Indian Express
    • The Hindu
    • Business Standard
  • Best Magazines for UPSC Prelims:

    • Economic And Political Weekly
    • Down To Earth
    • Yojana
    • Kurukshetra

Check IAS 2020 Syllabus for Prelims and Main, Pattern and Books

Quick Tips for Polity and Governance of UPSC Prelims:

  • If you are a beginner, start your basic preparation and get the basic concepts from the NCERT Books. The language and the mode of writing are a bit easier to understand and very useful for all candidates.
  • In the beginning, read NCERT books like reading a novel. Then while revising, take reference books and try to understand every important topic discussed.
  • You can enhance your depth of knowledge in the polity by following the above-mentioned books of Primary Recommended Books starting with India Polity by M. Laxmikanth.
  • For the Indian Constitution part, start your preparation with Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu. Beginners will find the language of this book quite complex but this book is very helpful for an in-depth analysis of the subject.
  • For any UPSC aspirant, it is a must to follow current affairs.
  • Invest 15 - 30 minutes daily for any current affairs of your preference, and make notes of important sections for revision later.
  • For Current affairs, the most affordable source of information is Newspapers like The Hindu or The Indian Express. Here all the news related to all new bills, acts, policies, Constitution or the national, as well as international political systems, is available.
  • You can also follow apps and television as well as magazines to stay updated about the current affairs and new sections introduced by the Indian government in the constitution.
  • Practice MCQs at home from the Sample question papers and previous year’s question papers.

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FAQs related to Polity of UPSC Prelims

Ques. Are polity and politics the Same?

Ans. Polity is used in the sense of “community.” The term comes from the Greek word “polis” and includes not only the city-state but also schemes and the systems of government including constitutions and judicial system whereas Politics describes the theory and practice of the power struggle between the players inside the polity. It constitutes the core of the political system.

Ques. What is Polity and the Constitution of India?

Ans. The word polity denotes the “form of government” in India including its powers, functions and limitations. Indian Democratic Government is of two types: centralized (a unitary form of government) or decentralized (a federal form of government).
The constitution can be defined as “ body of fundamental principles according to which a State is constituted or governed”.

Ques. What is the difference between polity and political science?

Ans. The difference between Polity and Political science is very minute like the difference between Science and Technology. Political Science represents various theories about the evolution of the state, about the system of governance and how it works, etc. On the contrary, Polity is the model of government representing the whole system in practice including the constitution and Federal departments.

Ques. Is Polity compulsory for UPSC Prelims?

Ans. In the case of UPSC Prelims, this section can be skipped if you feel uncomfortable to answer. But this section is compulsory for UPSC Main. For that reason, start your preparation in depths from the beginning and the questions from this section are also not very tricky which makes them easier to attempt.

Ques. Can I skip newspapers for UPSC?

Ans. No, Newspapers are not a replaceable source of knowledge. You may do that but you should not. Since 2013, UPSC sets 60–70% of the question paper from newspapers.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.

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