Current Affairs

One topic which is of great concern for civil services aspirant is “how to prepare for current affairs”. In recent years the importance of current affairs has proportionally increased with the analytical trend of questions and with the increased number of questions of environment and science. There is no particular trend in which UPSC has asked questions from current events. Its unpredictable nature can be sensed from last year papers.

It covers a wide range of topics which overlap with the CORE subjects like Geography, Polity, Economics, History and dynamic subjects like environment, science and technology. Current Events-based questions ranges from Government Initiatives/Policies, Policies of India which has international ramifications – Look East Policy, International Institutions – IMF, WB, UNSC etc., International Agreements – Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Wassenaar Arrangement, START treaty etc., Good Governance measures taken by the Government, Rights Issues, Social sector initiatives, Sustainable development etc.

Henceforth, it is hard to classify questions under a specific heading/topic. This is the reason, why many of the aspirants are of the notion that, not many questions have been asked from current events in the recent years (from Prelims perspective). But this is wrong!

Hence your preparation should be in depth and correlated with the core subjects which will help you in all the stages (PRELIMS, MAINS, INTERVIEW) of your preparation.

How to Prepare

Limit your sources

A fundamental problem with Current affairs is the deluge of reading material. Remember, running after too much material is counter-productive. Choose quality over quantity. You don’t have to worry about your current affairs preparation as our Daily Current Updates section will cover all the important sources for your preparation. Aspire IAS is known for its Qualitative Study in
Newspaper Analysis Programme.

“A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention” — Herbert Simon

Your Current Affair sources should include:

  • The Hindu Newspaper
  • Daily Updates by Aspire IAS
  • Daily Newspaper Reading Programme on YouTube
  • Daily MCQs
  • Misc (RSTV’s Big Picture, India’s World, and PRS India)

Limit your time

The problem with most aspirants is not that they neglect newspapers, but they overplay its importance. Some read newspapers for almost 3-4 hours a day, leaving them with no time to read other subjects.

Current affairs are important, newspapers are important, but you should not invest disproportionate amount of time in it. Ideally one should finish reading day’s current affairs under 2 hours. 3-4 hours for everyday current affairs is an overkill.

Your current affairs preparation shall consist of

  • Newspaper reading 30-45 mints everyday
  • Reading of the daily news Updates by Aspire IAS everyday (45 min)
  • A revision of last week’s issues, catching up on All India Radio (selectively)
  • Revision of your newspaper notes after completion of 1 month

Focus on issues, not news

What’s the difference? News talks about an incident. Issues focus on ideas. Let’s see an example:

  1. Prime Minister talking about $5 trillion economy is news. Merely focusing on the speech or what’s reported in the newspapers isn’t enough. You must research and understand the larger issue: Why the number 5 trillion? What sectors to focus on and what steps should the government take? How should we rapidly increase the pace of investment? What are the impediments facing the economy? How can we overcome them to realise the 5 trillion goal by 2024? etc.
  2. The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav is news. But the larger issue is about bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, ICJ— its structure and mandate, who are its subjects, how are cases referred to the court, India’s role in global fora etc.,

So to understand any current issue, you need to follow the following framework:

  • Reason— why is it in the news? (This is usually reported in the newspapers)
  • Background Knowledge— (Data, facts, authentic reports etc.)
  • Current Status— What has the government done or not done so far?
  • Both sides of the issue— Pros and Cons/ Opportunities and challenges
  • Opinion/ Suggestions/ Way forward— What we must do about it?


Make Notes

You should always make notes as they are very important part of your preparation. Don’t try to save your time by not making notes as this time spend on making notes will save your time when prelims are near and these notes will be your key to quick revision.

  • Reading newspaper gives a good summary of what’s happening, and it becomes that much easier to read the daily compilation later. Since you read it twice, you tend to retain it longer.
  • Presumably, examiner will set current affairs questions from the newspapers. So recurring issues in newspapers will tell us how weighty an issue is and what we must focus on.
  • Anecdotes and examples for essay, ethics and interview can be sourced only from reading the newspaper.
  • Consistent reading of an English daily subconsciously improves your vocabulary and writing.

Read, Revise, Execute.

The mentioned methods will ensure that you capture 90-95% of current affairs in a manner relevant to this exam. But current affairs is a continuous topic that keeps piling up by the day. The best way to retain the content is through constant revision and by executing them in the answers you write during daily practice or test series. Click here for Daily MCQ Practice. Besides, it’s best to revise current affairs immediately after you read the concerned static part of a paper.

For example, if you are preparing for a GS-2 mock test, right after you finish the static part, revise the relevant current affairs segment. This will help you subconsciously link the static and the current and helps you write a good answer when you take the test.

Click here to know How to effectively Read “The Hindu”

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