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How To Prepare Indian Economy for UPSC

  • Categories
    General Studies
  • Published
    17th Jun, 2021

In Civil Services Exam the one subject that give jitters to most of the aspirants is Economy. The subject is quite important and significant from exam point of view. The confusion always looms pertaining to concepts, theories and questions. The reason for this could be the lack of reliable and good resource and dynamism of the subject. Candidates are doubtful about the approach and study materials for Economics section of IAS Prelims and Mains. Most of the time candidates are in the dilemma regarding the right books and resources that will cover the entire UPSC syllabus of economy from prelims and mains point of view.


As far as the prelims syllabus is concerned the following things are mentioned:

Economic and Social Development: sustainable development, poverty, inclusion, demographics, social sector initiatives, etc.

Here, you must cover topics such as economic growth and development, finance, banking, budget, balance of payments, poverty and related issues, population composition and related characteristics, social sector initiatives related to education, health and sanitation, and international financial institutions.

UPSC Economics syllabus for mains is included in the General Studies Paper III which contains a topic Economic Development. The areas covered here are having wider reach and practical connotations. The entire IAS syllabus should be thoroughly scanned.

Previous Year Papers

One should always attempt previous year questions of Economy. This not only help you to get a glimpse of questions that are usually asked in exam but also assist you to make a self-assessment of your level of preparation. In rarest of the instances these questions do reappear in the exam but they give boost to your preparation and confidence.

Books and Resources

The following books could be referred for the preparation of exam however this is just the suggestion one can add their own books as per their convenience:

  1. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh.
  2. Economic Survey.
  3. India Year Book.
  4. Indian Economy Since Independence – Uma Kapila.
  5. Indian Economy – Datt and Sundaram.

Additional Books to study Indian Economy for IAS Mains

  1. Indian Economy – Sanjeev Varma.
  2. Indian Economy – Mishra and Puri.
  3. Indian Economy – Performance and Policies – Uma Kapila.

Preparation Strategy

Economics preparation for UPSC can be divided into 2 steps.

  • Stage 1: Understanding the concepts – Terms like GDP, REPO, Reverse REPO, CRR, SLR, Inflation Indices, Growth, Inclusion, Development and so on. Text books do exist at this stage!
  • Stage 2: Understanding the application of the concepts – Application of the fundamental concepts in day to day scenarios. You have to apply here what you learned in stage one.

For stage 1 one should emphasize upon building the conceptual knowledge. If you are clear with the conceptual part, learning economics will be always fun. Then there won’t be any further mugging up, but only co-relating what you have already studied in day to day scenarios. Hence it is very crucial not to get confused at the beginning stage.

Focus on building conceptual knowledge from these resources:

  1. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh.
  2. NCERT Texts.

The real battle ground of Economics is at stage 2. Here your knowledge of economics is tested on practical scenarios. While most of the IAS mains exam question will be in these lines, your practical knowledge on economics can also be tested in UPSC Prelims. A sample question for Civil Services Prelims on practical lines:

As it is clear, only a person with a clear understanding of economic concepts would be able to answer these types of questions. Mere mugging up won’t help in this area. But at the same time, it is also important to note that to successfully write Indian economy-related questions for Prelims and Mains (GS), there is no need to prepare as if you need to take Phd. in economics. What you need to understand are the problems and solutions pertaining to Indian Economy. And in that sense, you should be more focused about newspaper economics than text book economics.

More than any books, economy section of standard English newspaper (The Hindu) will be most useful in this stage.

Books and magazines which can complement the economy preparation in Stage 2 is listed below.

  • Economic Survey.
  • India Year Book.
  • Indian Economy – Sanjeev Varma.
  • Economic and Political Weekly (EPW).

Indian Economy – Prelims vs Mains

Indian Economy for Prelims and Mains needs different approaches. UPSC Mains syllabus specifically mentions about some aspects of Indian Economy like issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment, Government Budgeting, cropping patterns, Public Distribution System, Technology missions, Food processing, Land reforms, Liberalization, Infrastructure and Investment models. If we examine the questions related to Indian Economy section for Prelims and Mains, the pattern and nature of questions will become clearer. Conceptual understanding of economics and Indian Economy is a must for answering most of the questions. Ability to apply the economic concept in current economic scenarios is also needed.


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