How to read the newspaper for UPSC Civil Services Examination?

The significance of reading newspaper for IAS Exam has increased tremendously in past few years. To read a good newspaper is of vital importance for success in the examination. As we need to read the basic NCERT books and standard reference books for basic conceptual clarity of different subjects, likewise we need to up to date with the happenings around us. The importance of reading the newspaper cannot be overemphasised for success in the examination. The national dailies like, ‘The Hindu’, ‘The Indian Express’ or another else provides vital content for the current affairs, which is a very crucial component of the questions asked in the prelims as well as in the mains examination.

The one who wish to secure a good rank should know that what to read and what not to read in the newspaper. It is not necessary to read the whole newspaper in detail. There are some do’s and don’ts. By following few tips, one can easily optimize maximum benefit.

The first and the foremost requirement is which newspaper we need to refer. So, as we all know that the most endorsed one is, ‘The Hindu’. Along with any good national daily prints, we require to pepper the following for a better understanding of the current affairs. 

  • Parliamentary Research Studies, India
  • Press Information Bureau (PIB)
  • Observer Research Foundation, India
  • Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis
  • Kurukshetra Magazine
  • Yojana Magazine
  • Websites of various central government Ministries/Departments
  • Check out KSG’s Current Affairs page for the gist of PIB, Kurukshetra, Yojana and the day to day happenings.
  • Khan’s monthly current affairs compilation, ‘Current Connect’.
  • There are various special editions of The Hindu newspaper, which are helpful in Indian Economy, Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology and others.

A person, who just started preparation always finds it difficult and complains about spending too much time reading the newspapers. If one spends 4-5 hours per day in newspapers, then the concern is justified. One shouldn’t have to give more than two hours to read the newspaper. One has to be very well versed with the syllabus and the pattern of UPSC before start to prepare current affairs. I would like to suggest you to read the syllabus thoroughly, because –

  • You will be able to pick-up the relevant articles/issues from the print, while leaving out irrelevant ones.
  • It will also reduce your time spent on the current affairs, as you will know which articles to read and which articles to skip.
  • If one has poor understanding of basics of polity, geography, society etc, then how can one understand any ongoing issue, e.g. if the article is about ‘any constitutional amendment and its impact on nation at large’, then the understanding of basic polity is required to get the grasp it in a better way. Also, with conceptual clarity, it will be very easy to go through newspapers in a short span of time. In this time, you can go through the following.

For National News

  • News related to the Defence Manufacturing, ICAR, ISRO, other scientific organisations, any other scientific developments.
  • In the news of national importance. Try to give the attention to the implications of an any event, e.g. if there is a flood or the cyclone, then focus on why it happened and how the country is lacking in a comprehensive disaster management plan. There is not any requirement to memorize the number of casualties. The same goes for other manmade disasters. Here, you can also refer the geographical locations, economic development of the region.

For International Developments

  • Foreign Visits of the Head of the Government and the Head of the State
  • The bilateral or multilateral treaties and agreements signed on such visits.
  • International organisations like the UN, ASEAN, WHO, IMF, etc. and their reports/publications. India’s role in them should be note down.
  • Major political/economic developments in other countries that have possible international ramifications.

For Polity

  • Supreme Court/High Court verdicts are important.
  • Election-related news like reforms by the Election Commission.
  • Parliamentary discussions and debates, News related to the Constitution, Amendment bills, etc. Introduction of the bills and ordinances.
  • News related to the Constitution, Amendment bills, etc.
  • Government press conferences where policies/schemes/reforms are announced.

For Economic Developments

  • RBI, SEBI, NASSCOM, ASSOCHAM – related news that affects business.
  • Indicators like GDP, CPI, IIP, etc. The absolute number not as important as the reason behind it.
  • Government press releases related to SEBI, NITI Aayog, RBI, banking reforms, reforms in the economy, agriculture, industry, etc.

Other Current Affairs

  • Science and tech news like major developments in the science fields.
  • News about any endangered species, species becoming extinct, etc.
  • News related to environment and ecology.
  • Climate change news/global warming.
  • Sports news unless it is your hobby mentioned in the DAF. Also, if the news is related to polity/administration, you should take into cognizance it.
  • States’ news unless it has a larger national implication.
  • Regional news should be avoided unless you are preparing for the UPSC interview.

Few very important guidelines to read the newspaper for UPSC

  • Reading the newspaper will help you in all the stages of the UPSC examination process; prelims, mains and interview. Apart from that, it is also an excellent habit that will go a long way in making you a well-informed, socially aware and sensitive being.
  • Have a clear idea of the UPSC syllabus before starting your preparation so that when you read the newspaper, you know what to read and what not to read.
  • Make notes as and when you read the newspaper. Your notes should be crisp and relevant.
  • When you make notes out of the newspaper articles and editorials, write in your own words. Keep it simple and easy to learn.
  • Read only the exam-relevant articles and editorials.
  • Any good national English daily’s editorial page gives importance to varying opinions and hence provides news in a very holistic manner in relation to all perspectives like national, international, science & technology etc. It will be very fruitful for answer writing and essay writing.
  • Objective is much more important than the interest. It is easy to get tempted to read about a favourite topic or person featured in the newspaper but all this takes away precious time.
  • You don’t have to go in-depth in most cases, e.g. you don’t have to remember every name and number that figures in articles related to a particular scam. The requirement is to understand the issue, the key figures and people involved, the policy/law related to it, and the implications of the same on the nation at large.
  • When you go through the editorials, must note down the positive and the negative sides of the issue. We require to include points from multiple perspectives. Editorials tend to prefer a particular side depending on the newspaper management’s tilt. But when you read and extract material from them, make sure to incorporate both points of view and have a balanced approach.
  • Try to classify what you read into categories like geography, polity, economics, environment, ecology, science and technology, etc. It will be helpful while preparing notes.
  • Be serious about your newspaper reading time. Sit at your study table while reading, so that you don’t miss out on any vital news. Avoid reading the newspaper while travelling. You can definitely read the notes made out of the newspaper while travelling if you have a shortage of time.
  • Check out the daily updated KSG’s comprehensive news analysis.

In a day we all have 24 hours and loads of stuffs to prepare. Newspaper is a very important part of our preparation. Those who have understood the syllabus and pattern of the examination very well, have less worries but a beginner, who is having less understanding of syllabus and pattern takes substantial time to read and prepare from it. So, it would be highly recommended that to go through the syllabus and the previous year question papers very well.

Jai Hind!!

 

Gaurav Chaturvedi

Advocate

Supreme Court of India