Update 1st October: Competition is closed, Deadline is over, and Result has been announced. Click me
- The Competition & Prizes
- Technical Requirements
- Topic Requirements
- Language Requirements
- Good Faith
- Where to send the article?
- About the Books to Win
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Troll Comments and Personal Attacks
The Competition & Prizes
Write an exam-oriented, revision-friendly article for me and get a chance to Win new books from Access Publication viz.
- CSAT Paper II (Aptitude) Manual worth Rs.1150/-
- Majid Hussain’s new Book on Biodiversity and Disaster Management worth Rs.358
- Constitution of India with short notes by AR Khan worth Rs.165
- Article must be Minimum 3 pages long in Times new roman size12 font
- Last date to submit: 25th September 2013, midnight
- Result will be announced on 1st October 2013. (Along with a Zip file that’ll contain all submissions received- including those who don’t win the prizes. That way, all aspirants can use this collection for their own studies= thus you get “guaranteed” free Notes written by your peers.)
- Must be in MS Word (.doc) format. (Don’t send PDF format)
- At the bottom of your article, you must include following
- Your full name, Postal-address, contact number. (don’t worry, personal information will be removed before the articles are put on public domain.)
- List of reference websites-URL and books you used to prepare the article.
- Your “preference” for the Prize if your article is chosen among top-3 winner. e.g. aptitude>disaster>polity. OR disaster>polity>aptitude (Because everyone has different need. Someone appearing in Mains-2013, may not be that interested in CSAT Aptitude Manual as a prize-book. By the way, More details about these books at bottom part of this article. If you don’t mention preference: then default will be assumed (ie. Aptitude>Disaster>Polity.
- You can write on any topic of current affairs / general studies- especially of the new Mains-2013 syllabus. BUT
- Avoid clichéd topics from current affairs e.g. FDI in Multibrand retail, Need for CBI autonomy etc.
- Avoid static topics that are already well-explained in the standard reference books e.g.
- Causes of 1857 mutiny, Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Cabinet Mission plan etc.
- Fundamental rights, various constitutional bodies etc.
- Avoid lifting content from any competitive magazines, coaching-class material, blogs/sites for competitive exams. Avoid Wikipedia.
- You’re free to use content from newspaper websites, government sites, official websites of international bodies. but don’t just copy paste paragraphs from there.. Better summarize and condense the wisdom given in such article/report.
- Any compilations are also welcome, e.g. The Hindu Economy news /C.RajaMohan’s IR columns / Pib.nic.in etc. as long as you’ve stripped out the non-exam oriented details and consolidated the information in a pure-revision friendly format for UPSC Prelims and Mains.
- Must be revision friendly. I’m not looking for scholarly essays or academic research papers. It must be Exam-Oriented+ Revision Friendly article.
- Must be in English, but doesn’t need to be in formal English and chaste grammar. You can put things in any way you want, to keep it revision friendly. Avoid SMS-language bcz its 2tuf 2read.
- Minimum use of passive voice. Minimum use of Sentence connectors (whereas, which,….) Because they slow down the pace of reading and revision.
- Avoid writing in big paragraphs. Try to put things under headings, subheadings, bullets-numbering.
- Whenever possible, try to put information in tables/comparison format, so it becomes easier to revise.
- Avoid filler lines. Avoid writing the obvious- like how Mohan gives speech…Naxalism is the great threat India faces today. India needs to reduce its current account deficit and dependence on crude oil import. Food inflation must be curbed. Sustainable development is essential…and so on) Instead of such filler lines, try to list decent points that can be readily used for a 12-15 marker descriptive question in Mains or hardcore facts/principles/features that can be asked in Prelims MCQs.
- Avoid mentioning exact dates and exact money. “On 12th Sep 2013, Government allotted 12593 crore rupees on xyz thing.” Nobody is going to ask / remember dates. Such details only break the flow of reading a revision friendly article.
- In short avoid mentioning things that are irrelevant from a descriptive paper/ interview/MCQ point of view.
This competition runs on good faith:
- That you’ll not lift content from any competitive magazines, coaching material, similar blogs/sites associated with competitive exams. (Obviously I don’t read each and every coaching class material or competitive magazine, so there is no way for me to manually verify plagiarism.)
- You understand that once your article is released in public domain, there is good chance some xyz spam site will copy paste it or some Xerox-center of Delhi might sell its printouts. I cannot prevent such things or protect your copyright.
- That you’ll not submit multiple articles under different usernames just to raise your winning chances.
- I cannot manually explain to each and every contender why his article did not win prize.
Where to send the article?
- On my g-mail id
- In Email subject, just write “article submission” (that way my gmail automatically filters and puts them under a separate folder and helps me process it fast.)
About the Books of Winning
#1: CSAT Paper II (Aptitude) Manual
- has solved papers of CSAT 2011,2012 and 2013 (Aptitude Paper II)
- Contains aptitude questions from official UPSC prelims papers of pre-CSAT era. (i.e. from 1995 to 2010, UPSC prelims had GS + Optional and GS paper contained MCQs on maths and reasoning)
- Contains Maths + reasoning + English comprehension + Data Interpretation + Decision Making.
- Also includes Non-verbal reasoning.
- 50 passages for comprehension
- Elaborate chapter on Decision Making. with 150 practice MCQ, along with answer-explanation.
They should have given more MCQs on Decision Making and more passages for comprehension practice.
Compared to the standards set by Sarvesh Kumar, Arun Sharma etc.
Reasoning portion has nothing new under the Sun that I haven’t seen in RS Aggarwal. Some questions are too cheap for a UPSC aspirant level preparation e.g. find odd man out among knife, blade, sword, hammer.
Doesn’t contain chapter on trigonometry.
- Overall, there is nothing new under the sun that is not already covered in other books from other publications. The CSAT Paper-II manuals from all publications are more or less the same- just like all Sooraj Barjatya movies.
- On an unrelated note, I’ve been asked often what about the booklist for CSAT paper II? My answer is following:
- I’m not a fan of Paper II manuals from any publication because they are quite expensive and yet not much useful “outside” UPSC. Since they don’t cover grammar in detail =>Useless for SSC/CDS/Bank exams. And They don’t cover Maths in detail, either=>useless for CAT/MBA exams. Therefore, your choice of aptitude books should be based on your career backup.
#2: Majid Hussain’s Biodiversity and Disaster Management book
full name: Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management : General Studies for Civil Services (Main) Examination – Paper II and IV 1st Edition
- The current affairs topic Uttarakhand Cloudburst (Himalayan Tsunami) is covered from exam point of view (i.e. how to do disaster management in such case)
- The natural Hazard chapter is elaborate on Earthquakes, Tsunamis, cyclones.
- Biodiversity chapter has some good tables on biodiversity hotspots, parks-sanctuaries etc.
- Topics like Sustainable development, climate change, pollution, soil-erosion etc..thik hai. Nothing new under the Sun.
- First chapter on environment and ecology contain consolidated theory. Although new under the Sun that is not already explained in NIOS biodiversity material.
- His explanation of Disaster Management runs from geography point of view. He didn’t go in the Disaster Management related theory/coverage from Administrative point of view (which is essential for the new GS-mains). It’ll be better to go through selective reading of IGNOU’s Disaster Management module for MA Public Administration.
- In the fifth chapter, biodiversity and legislation, various topics (CBD, Nagoya, Biodiversity Act etc.) are covered in haste and passing reference in just 1-2 paragraphs. Not sufficient coverage from UPSC prelims/mains point of view.
- More than 70 pages of Appendix are wasted citing useless information like population of each city in India, there are big tables on world health that list % of women in Lithuania, Liechtenstein etc. who breastfeed for six month, nurses per 1,00,000 people in Turkmenistan and so on. I don’t know how is this even relevant to the subject of this book, let alone UPSC exam?
- Biodiversity chapter also contains useless information of “Latin-names” of various species.
- Under Natural disasters=>Landslides=>Majid Hussain has poured geography optional subject knowledge about various types of landslide instead of keeping the coverage limited from general studies point of view.
- Under Natural hazards=>Epidemics=> only Malaria, AIDS, Cholera, Dengue-Chikunguyna and smallpox. But no coverage of SARS/Bird Flu/Swine Flu etc.
- Under Disaster Management=>Industrial accident just covered in one paragraph.
Constitution of India with short notes by AR Khan
- Small book with original constitution of India, along with short notes of the author.
- Contains lot of technical-legal details pertaining to cases in SC/HC – that may be helpful for candidates with law optional subject but hardly relevant to UPSC general studies prelims/Mains.
- Doesn’t contain MCQs.
- No allied topics of polity e.g. planning commission, CVC, lokpal, CIC etc.
Besides, we already have a God of Polity, called M.Laxmikanth. This book cannot match him.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why this competition? Why are you giving free books?
Owners of Big sites get free samples from companies. E.g. see this http://www.askvg.com/askvg-giveaway/
The only difference: Mr.Vishal Gupta holds lottery, I’m holding writing-competition.
Will you repeat this competition next month?
Most probably yes. (Assuming that Publishers will keep giving free books despite my harsh-reviews.) Jokes apart, I already have received about a dozen free books, so I can sustain this cycle, atleast upto Dec 2013.
Why should I participate in this competition, there are only three books and probably hundreds of contenders? The probability to win a prize is very low. Why should I share my knowledge with others? I think this is a waste of time!
You haven’t really understood a topic, unless you can fluently explain it to others without boring the hell out them. So if you try to write an exam-oriented revision friendly article, you’re improving your own preparation of that topics. Besides, all good entries will be put in a zip file and shared with everyone=you’ll be getting a big pile of free notes anyways- and it’ll have more important data for exams than the three award books listed here!
How can I know there will be no nepotism?
- I’ve asked my allies and friends not to participate in this competition. (Although that too runs on a good faith that they’ll not submit articles under fake names!)
- I’ll shortlist the top 10-15 entries. Show them to a few senior players of UPSC, and with their ‘jury’ service, the top-3 Winners will be decided.
What will you do with these articles?
- I’ll put all article-submissions (of both winner+non winners) in a zip file. This Zip file will be shared along with the result announcement. That way, all aspirants can download the notes, and use it for their own preparation.
- I may edit-tweak a few of them further and publish under various categories of mrunal.org (e.g. /snt, /enb, /diplomacy etc.)
- If a submission is total bogus quality. It will be trashed, won’t even put it under the Zip file.
Is my personal information safe?
Yes, some people hold stupid competitions to gather your personal info, then sell your email id and phone number to those tele-marketing companies, bogus MBA colleges and insurance sellers. But I assure you that I won’t do it.
Can I submit more than one article?
Yes, they’ll be included in the zip file. But at max, one-person-one-address will be eligible for one book prize only. Meaning if same person submits three exceptional quality articles, doesn’t mean he gets three books.
When will you (Mrunal) write a new article by yourself?
I’m working on The Hindu Sci-Tech compilation for June-July-August 2013. Will be released in a day or two.
Troll Comments and Personal Attacks
Updated 11:42 PM Monday, September 9, 2013
This article was originally published in the noon. But at night (~9PM), someone by the name Sandeep had been trying to post demotivating comments to prevent others from participating. The gist of his ‘trolling’ was that:
- Mains aspirants will waste their time in such writing-activity. They should better just concentrate on their own preparation.
- Personal attack on me that “Mrunal has no right to teach/advice/guide because he never cracked UPSC.”
But no one agreed with his comments, so he started posting comment under a new username “Varsha” only to agree with his original id “Sandeep.” Here is a screenshot of some of his comments before I deleted them:
My reply is following (Not to him, but to those who like Mrunal.org)
#1: Writing articles doesn’t interfere with preparation. Mr.Manikandan Soundararajan had been contributing articles throughout his preparation (https://mrunal.org/manikandan) and he got 759th Rank in CSE-2012. And But then again, negative-minded people might counter that logic, by saying that “if Manikandan had not “wasted” his time in writing those articles, he could have achieved a higher rank.” But first, trolls should get a rank in UPSC by themselves, before passing character certificates on others.
#2: Once in a while, such trolls make personal attack on me that: “Mrunal hasn’t cleared UPSC, so he has no right/advice to guide anyone preparing for UPSC”.
It is true that I haven’t cleared UPSC. Hell, once upon a time, I got just 20 out of 200 marks in Essay Paper. I’m not shy/guilty/Devdas about my failures. But I don’t talk about it all the time in my articles, because that might demotivate some new-players into thinking that UPSC is impossible to crack without coaching.
Truth is, there are numerous inspirational cases where candidates cleared this exam, and that too without coaching. You can read their success stories here: https://mrunal.org/category/motivation
So, just because I didnot crack UPSC doesn’t mean you can’t crack UPSC. This exam works out for some people, doesn’t work out for some people. I belong to the second category. Besides, if it is a “sin” to teach/guide about UPSC without clearing the exam, still I consider myself a lesser evil, after all those Delhi-Coaching “Sirs” who mint lakhs and crores of rupees, they also haven’t cleared UPSC exam either!
Anyways, personal attacks are nothing new, I’ve been on ‘hit-list’ of many Trolls because of following reasons:
- I get money offers from some coaching classes to promote their material and mock-tests on my site. But I refuse them, they get angry. Then their “PR” personnel post comments in Mrunal.org, to promote their class/material/mock-tests without my permission. I delete such spam-comments. So they get even more angry.
- Before the rise of Mrunal.org, many spam bloggers dominated google search engine for the keywords related to UPSC/IAS/free study material etc. But now their visitors have declined because of this site.
- My overall stand that “success is possible without coaching and postal material”=> adversely affects the sustainable livelihood of many people in that business.
- Some people don’t have any financial motives to hate me, but for long they have been seriously reading every column in TheHindu, word by word, hence they turned into communist intellectuals who just want to debate, shout and criticize anything and everything under the Sun.
- Some people hate me for my blatant disrespect towards Congi leaders, including you know who.
- Some people just hate me for no reason (just like I hate many people for no apparent reason.)
Point being, once in a while, these type of elements post nasty comments on the site, to vent out their frustration. So, my request/advice to the loyal readers of Mrunal.org, just Ignore such trolls/abusive comments. Don’t bother replying to them. Trolls cannot be convinced, they only derive pleasure from this time pass activity of picking your brain- be it facebook, twitter, orkut or any other site, forum or blog.
Your job is to prepare for the exam. Online debates are waste of time.
I ONLY WANT TO SAY “THANK YOU VERY MUCH MRUNAL SIR” FOR ALL THE HELP U PROVIDE
MRUNNAL THE BEST:)
mrunal bhai . keep it up . i have faith in ur hard work and gudiance . ur site is important for me in preparation of UPSC exams . when u rise above the level , the discouraging comment will start , we should not answer …..
I wrote an article for your article competition dated 25th Sept. But I couldn’t find your gmail id in the mrunal.help section (feeling slightly stupid). Could you send me a blank mail so that I can mail you my article.
I nvr read all colms of Hindu,
Bt i lve to debate n to critisize..
Bt ur wrtng skills hve lft me speechless..
Keep up the gud wrk
Mrunal you are doing a great job!! It’s a very good initiative. And all your articles are so fun to read. Your writing style makes all the topics interesting. And it also teaches us how to make notes.( Revision friendly in your words)!!
Keep up the good work!!!!
I am still to figure it out how to thank you! Thanks a Ton!
not able to send article,google says not recognised.please help.
Update 1st October: Result has been announced. Click me
I am also a failure in UPSC. This year was my last attempt and I could not clear even the prelims. Since January I was following Mrunal BUT I want to thank Mrunal that his blog made me a runner for this exam. When I wrote my prelims in May I was the best. I did some silly mistakes in Paper-2 but I was very satisfied with Paper-1. Today I have a little sorrow in a corner of my heart that I could not make it but I am very happy that these 9 Months of preparation changed my life. It changed my thought process, the understanding of our society and made me a truly Knowledgeable man. My heartiest regards to Mrunal bhai that he is doing such a fine job of helping the aspirants in such a way. Really Mrunal bhai if u had been an IAS you might have been serving some where in a District but today you are serving the whole country sitting at your home. Salute to you for your Zeal, Courage and Patriotism!!! Accepting the Criticism is a great Humanity!! If some arrogant and foolish man is standing against you then let him be… Time will teach him the lesson!!
go on mrunal.. u r doing a great job>>!!!
hats off!!! :)
Respected sir ,first hatsoff to u .to servicing aspirants to reach their goal. I am kishore from hyd,i am nt gud in english fluency to speak,i am b.com gradute i saw ur site regularly watching papers kept by u,my query is i have no money to pay for coaching centres,my home place is 650km far to hyd ,i took rm in one decent area in hydn studying alone my self ,i purchased some books reading in the room only.pls suggest me how to read n what optional right for me.i am poor in csat how to get good score in that paper , pls guide me mrunal sir.
Respected sir ,first hats off to u .
Dear Mrunal haters,
Every failed experiment paved way for the future invention. Mrunal may not have the success tips to say but he can say what needs to be done to avoid the failure. There is a famous saying “Don’t read the success story, U will get only the message. Read the failure story u will ideas to win”. Keep in mind guys.
your superb sir,i have been following your site ,since the day i read your first article regarding Public administration and without coaching i cleared prelims and mains,though not in the final list…and i attribute 100% of my marks related to Economy to your website.I even appreciate your prompt replies to my queries…
Mrunal help us take shot at our goals;
he prepare us to play life’s roles;
he help us cross the difficult poles;
I shall remain indebted to such noble souls.
hats off sir …