Deadline over and result has been uploaded in a separate article. Click me

  1. Prologue
  2. Modification in rules:
    1. #1: Regular contributors
    2. #2: [Sharing] category
    3. #3: [Aptitude] entries welcome
  3. Technical Requirements
  4. Where to send the article?
  5. Topic Requirements
  6. Language Requirements:
  7. Good Faith Requirements:
  8. About the Books to Win
    1. #1: TMH GS Manual 2014 in Hindi
    2. #2: Bipin Chandra: India since Independence
    3. #3: Spectrum’s Freedom Fighter
    4. #4: Day to day Economics (IIM Ahmedabad)
    5. #5: Everyman’s war: Raghu Raman
  9. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


Given the tremendous utility of this writing competition in Mains-2013, this time five books to win, instead of three and some modification in rules.

  1. TMH GS Manual 2014 in HINDI
  2. Bipin Chandra: India since independence
  3. Spectrum’s freedom fighter book
  4. Day to day economics (IIM Ahmedabad)
  5. Everyman’s war by Raghu Raman

for additional information on these books, scroll down

Modification in rules:

#1: Regular contributors

In past, some individuals have constantly submitted platinum to gold quality content every month, but didn’t win prize for any single individual article. For such regular contributors, a separate category of book-prizes in upcoming months to reward their collective work. (Yet to work out on exact details and parameters with the team but know that your constant good service for the community will not go unrewarded.)

#2: [Sharing] category

Following new topics are welcome, although as such they will not be considered for prizes, except having rare quality. But all of the good entries will be put in public domain for everyone to read.

2(I): from those appeared in CSE-Mains-2013 OR IFoS Mains 2013

  1. Self-Assessment: All the epiphanies, reflections and revelations, What went right, what went wrong, what do you cherish, what do you regret, what are your future plans and past mistakes. It need *not* be limited to just this mains– but your overall journey so far, in the competitive exams.
  2. Question papers of optional subjects that’re not yet available on internet + your wisdom on their trend, booklist, strategy: Especially Maths, engineering, agriculture etc.
  3. Answers: Especially for Ethics and Essay papers (also welcome for GS and Optionals)- at least the keypoints that you answered and self-assessment: what do you think about your own answer now, that the exam is over and dust has settled and you’ve the time to crosscheck from books and news sites.

2(II): From everyone

  1. Motivational, time management related articles. (Must be from your own mind. Copy paste work/generic advice won’t be included.)
  2. Computer tips/techniques useful in exam-studies (Without involving piracy.)
  3. Sharing Experience/Wisdom about any competitive exam, written, interview that you’ve appeared. Nowadays many exams conducted online, so there are no ‘previous papers’, similarly for some less known specialized exams barely a few people apply hence no information through google. So whatever you want to share from your personal experience. do share.
  4. Job profiles of relatively unknown posts for which exam is recently conducted or soon to be conducted. for e.g. Bihar Military welfare officer. What do you know about that job- from personal experience, through friends, contacts, relatives or parents? Often there are vacancies but no information available on what is the nature of work, what’re promotion chances etc. So future aspirants can make an informed decision on whether to apply or to try for some other job.

#3: [Aptitude] entries welcome

Since the GS papers of Mains-2013 are finished, now there is no restriction that topic must be relevant to Mains syllabus. You are free to write even on maths, reasoning, grammar, comprehension and other topics allied with prelims.

Now to the regular rules (more or less same like earlier.)

Technical Requirements

  1. Article should be Minimum 3 pages long article in Times new roman size12 font.
  2. Must be in MS Word (.doc) format. Please don’t send PDF format. Word format helps the readers to merge, update, and compress information to suit their own revision requirements in future.
  3. At the bottom of your article, you must include following
    1. List of reference webpages URLs, reports and books you used to prepare the article.
    2. Your full name, Postal-address, email id and contact number. (Don’t worry, personal information will be removed before the articles are put on public domain.)
    3. Your “preference” for the Prize, if your article is chosen among top-5 winner. e.g. GSM (Hindi)>Bipin>spectrum>Economics>war. (To decide preference- you may scroll down and see the review.)
  4. Last date to submit: 26th December 2013, midnight.
  5. Result will be announced on 1st January 2014, based on jury votes.

Where to send the article?

  1. On my gmail id
  2. In Email title, write “article submission” (that way my gmail automatically filters and puts them under a separate folder and helps me process it fast.)

Topic Requirements

(Apart from the “new category” topics mentioned in prologue)

  1. Should be relevant to the syllabus of prelims or mains.
  2. Avoid topics that are already covered under (use the searchbox on top left corner) OR submitted in the previous months’ competitions- UNLESS you’ve lot of new information to add. For example: Culture, Food security, comparing India Constitution with other countries, Border management-these topics are done in detail already. You can find all the articles on following link:
  3. Avoid generic essay topics such as Women empowerment, poverty removal, corruption removal, food security etc. UNLESS you’re making a super-duper comprehensive article with 12th FYP, government schemes, policies, current affairs etc.
  4. Avoid clichéd topics from current affairs e.g. FDI in Multibrand retail, Need for CBI autonomy etc.
  5. 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. in Bipin Chandra and Spectrum’s books; similarly Fundamental rights, various constitutional bodies etc. are neatly given in great M.Laxmikanth.
  6. Avoid lifting content from any competitive magazines, coaching-class material, blogs/sites for competitive exams.
  7. Avoid Wikipedia.
  8. You may use the content from newspaper websites, government/international organization sites, committee report etc. But please don’t just copypaste all paragraphs from there, try to summarize and condense the wisdom given in such article/report in your own words- in a layman friendly, revision friendly language.
  9. If you have doubt in topic selection, don’t hesitate from sending me a mail.

Language Requirements:

  1. I’m not looking for scholarly essays or academic research papers. It must be Exam-Oriented+ Revision Friendly+laymen friendly article.
  2. 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.
  3. Minimum use of passive voice. Minimum use of Sentence connectors (whereas, which,….) Because they slow down the pace of reading and revision.
  4. Avoid writing in big paragraphs. Try to put things under headings, subheadings, bullets-numbering.
  5. Avoid filler lines. Avoid stating the obvious. (e.g. 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 or hardcore facts that can be asked in Prelims MCQs.
  6. 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.
  7. In short, avoid mentioning things that are irrelevant from a descriptive paper/ interview/MCQ point of view.

Good Faith Requirements:

This competition runs on good faith that:

  1. You’ll not lift content from any competitive magazines, coaching material, similar blogs/sites associated with competitive exams. (Obviously I and jury members don’t read each and every random coaching class material, magazine or website, so cannot manually verify plagiarism for each and every case.)
  2. You understand that once your article is released in public domain, some xyz spam site/coaching material might lift it, or some Xerox-walla in Delhi might sell its printouts. I cannot prevent such things or protect your copyrights.
  3. You’ll not submit multiple articles under different usernames just to raise your winning chances. You can submit multiple articles under a single username, but only the one best entry will be considered for award.
  4. I cannot manually explain to each and every contender why his/her article did not win prize and what were the specific deficiencies in the article.

About the Books to Win

Here is the additional review / information on the books so you can decide your prize preference.

#1: TMH GS Manual 2014 in Hindi

official title: Samanya Adhyayan 2014 (Tata McGraw-Hill Publication)

TMH GS Manual Hindi 2014
Important: This time I’ve “HINDI” edition in the prize pool. So, if you’re giving exams in English medium, this won’t be of much use to you, given its chaste Hindi. (like audit=lekha parikshan etc.)

General Studies Manuals serve four purpose:

  1. Augment your preparation of static topics after finishing NCERTs. Because NCERTs alone don’t cover all the MCQ worthy information for history, science and geography.
  2. Have 300-400 mock MCQs at the end of each section- to you practice at home.
  3. Even provide some static content for mains. (e.g. in GS1 2013: Sangam age’s socio-economic conditions, temperature inversion, continental drift topics etc. are given)
  4. Also useful in CDS, CAPF, RBI, state PSC officer grade exams- where candidate has to face GS/GK MCQs, but after finishing NCERTs, he doesn’t have the time or money to go through a lot of reference books e.g. Bipin Chandra, Goh Che Leong, Majid Hussain etc.

Limitations of GS Manuals:

(Same for all the publication houses: TMH, Arihant, Spectrum, Unique et al)

  1. Too bulky
  2. Too expensive
  3. Their Polity and Economy section hardly of use, because nowadays most aspirants use Laxmikanth for Polity and Ramesh Singh for Economy, given their better content and proven record for usefulness in MCQs.
  4. For geography, many candidates read NCERT then directly refer GC Leong, Majid Hussain or DR Khullar.
  5. Same way, for Freedom Struggle, many candidates use combo of NCERT then directly to Bipin / Spectrum / Sumit Sarkar.

Thus, ultimately the utility of GS Manuals boil down to these four areas:

  1. Science: Physics, chemistry, biology: theories, facts, principles.
  2. Ancient and medieval history (especially when person doesn’t have the “OLD” NCERTs)
  3. Mock MCQs on all static topics. History, geography, science, polity and economy. (especially when person is not enrolled to some coaching class)
  4. For CDS, CAPF, RBI, state PSC Officer exams: where you’ve don’t have time / money go through a lot of reference books e.g. Bipin Chandra, Goh Che Leong, Majid Hussain etc.

Therefore, I keep saying all the time: you don’t need to buy brand new GS Manuals, second hand used edition also works just fine. Because the static/theory portion remains one and same irrespective of year.

#2: Bipin Chandra: India since Independence

Official title: India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukarjee and Adity Mukharji.from Penguin Publication.

Bipin chandra after independence
For long, doubt prevailed on Bipin Chandra vs Ramchandra Guha: which one to read for GS1’s syllabus topic “Post-Independence era”? The Mains question paper of 2013 finally settles it.

(GS1) Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success.

  • Direct content for both movements in Chapter 31.
  • Even for GS3 question on land reform- Bipin has given sufficient content in three chapters.

(GS1) Write a critical note on the evolution and significance of the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”.

Although slogan not directly given but plenty of fodder available under “Shastri Years” under Chapter 16. The problem of food shortage, how America stopped food aid during Indo Pak war, constant trouble with Pakis etc. how both agriculture and defense were prime issues in the early 60s era and thus Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan

(GS1) Analyze the circumstances that led to Tashkent Agreement in 1966. Discuss the highlights of the agreement.

Given in the same “Shastri Years” under Chapter 16.

(GS1) Critically examine the compulsions which prompted India to play a decisive roles in the emergence of Bangladesh.

Enough content under “The Challenge of Bangladesh” in chapter 17.

Thus, for mains-2014, Bipin Chandra should become the obvious choice because:

  1. Even for other questions/syllabus topics such as regionalism, communalism, women groups etc. to the point content is available.
  2. Guha has long narratives, too scattered information as far as formal UPSC answers are concerned.
  3. Bipin is smaller and cheaper than Guha. (Most important reason!)

And that doesn’t mean Guha is a bogus book- it has its uses in essay and interviews. But given its size and structure, its cost: benefit is not so great for the specific topic “Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country” for general studies Mains Paper 1.

#3: Spectrum’s Freedom Fighter

Official name:Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore and other eminent personalities of Modern India by Spectrum Publication.

From mid 90s till early 2000s, this used to be the HOT Essential book – like M.Laxmikanth’s Polity book in today’s CSAT era. Every Mains aspirant had to religiously mugup all the 150+ freedom fighters given in this book for possible 2 markers. However In the last three years, popularity of this book, had rapidly declined (just like Congress party) because UPSC reduced asking the “freedom fighters” and whatever few names were asked- they were not covered in this Spectrum book. But like the ups and downs in sharemarket- this book again gets in limelight because of four reasons after Mains 2013:

 (GS1) Indian women in freedom struggle defying the barriers of age, gender and religion…

The book has at least 100 words notes on each of:

Aruna Asaf Ali, Begum Safia Abdul Wajid, Durgabai Deshmukh, Kalpana Dutt, Kasturba Gandhi, Jyotirmoyee Ganguli, Madam Bhikaji Cama, Matangini Hajra Nalini Sengupta, Nanibala Devi, Preetilata Waddedar, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Rani Gaidinliu, Rehana Tyabjee, Sarojini Naidu etc.

When combined with Bipin Chandra’s fodder points. Sufficient to write 200 words.

(GS1) Several foreigners made India their homeland and participated ….Indian struggle for freedom.

Although book doesn’t have ‘several’, but just a few names.

~150-250 words each on Verrier Elwin, Charles Freer Andrews (Dinbandhu), Madeleine Slade (Mira Behn), Margerate Elizabeth Noble (sister Nivedita), Annie Besant etc.  And their contribution in freedom struggle.

When combined with fodder content scattered in Bipin Chandra- sufficient to handle 200 words question.

(GS1) Maulana Azad’s contribution….

Both his pre-independence and post-independence contribution given ~300

Fourth reason: UPSC’s newfound Gandhi prem as far as essay and ethics paper go. First ~125 pages of this book are devoted to him, including variety of quotes.

#4: Day to day Economics (IIM Ahmedabad)

Official title: Day to Day Economics, Prof. Sathish Y.Deodhar (IIM Ahmedabad Business Books Series published by Random House India.

  • It’s not like NCERT/Ramesh Singh that you can directly use to solve “MCQs” in UPSC/IBPS.
  • At the same time, it’s not a boring and bulky academic book like Mishra-Puri, Dutt-Sundaram and Uma Kapila.

This is a Non-academic, non-exam oriented, laymen friendly book. In just 200 pages, he has showed:

  1. How fiscal and monetary policies affect day to day economy, inflation and stock market.
  2. The macroeconomic issues of free trade, WTO, Boom-bust-recession.
  3. And how all these individual jigsaw pieces fit together to make the big picture of “day to day” economy.
Good read for interview, group discussion and essays? Yes
Essential for success in competitive exams? No

#5: Everyman’s war: Raghu Raman

Official title: Everyman’s war: strategy, security and terrorism in India by Raghu Raman (Publisher: Random House India)

Received it few months ago, haven’t read every chapter in detail- but it is a collection of articles on various security related issues for 2-3 pages each- total ~200 pages.

Good as side-reading for the interviews / essays. And the main reason for putting this book in prize pool= is to motivate the Players in vacation mood after mains-2013 to contribute, else GS Manual, Bipin or Spectrum books will hardly tempt them to write! Anyways, here is the small list of good topics/titles from this Raghu Raman book so you can decide your prize preference:

  1. how can defense expenditure help economy, how to stop Kasab factories in Pakistan
  2. citizens as first line of defense; public-private response to fight terror
  3. terrorist and social media, shaping opinion via spam
  4. Intelligence as force multiplier and its limitations; tackling guerrillas with their own tactics
  5. terror against women, indifference to crime against women
  6. AND the solutions to combat all ^this mess.
Good read for interview, group discussion and essays? yes
Essential for success in competitive exams? no

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you give these books?

As a result of this site’s popularity, I get free books as samples, review copies and gifts from various publication houses, friends, well-wishers, senior and retired players. Since September 2013, I’ve holding competitions to give these books to talented writers.

Will you repeat this competition next month?

Why should I participate in this competition, there are only five books and 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!

  1. In the three GS papers of Mains 2013- many topics could be handled through these articles. so, the candidates who drafted those articles and had appeared in the exam- they could recollect the points very quickly compared to others who may have just read them from books. Hence by sharing knowledge with others, the person helped himself.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 five award books listed here!

How can I know there will be no nepotism?

  1. I shortlist the top 10-15 entries. Show them to a few senior players of UPSC, and with their ‘jury’ service, the top-5 Winners are decided.
  2. 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 and third party addresses.)

What will you do with these articles?

  1. 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.
  2. I may edit-tweak a few of them further and publish under various categories of (e.g. /snt, /enb, /diplomacy etc.)
  3. 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 you’re most welcome. they’ll be included in the zip file. But at maximum, 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.

I don’t want to any books, can I still participate?

Ofcourse you can. Your entry will be included in the zip file.
Where can I download the articles from previous competitions? All available on that link.