What is it?
Geography is one of the major disciplines that help fulfill people’s quest for knowledge about their surroundings.Many a times, it is geographical phenomena, which influences the social, cultural, political, economic and technological landscape.
Whether it is the social practice of migration & transhumance; cultural aspects related to art and crafts or food and clothing; political dimensions like geopolitics and geostrategy; economic dimensions related to the primary, secondary or tertiary sectors or technological aspects related to innovations in the field of mining, climate control, and transportation etc.
Most of the issues are primarily related to Geographical dimensions. We can unarguably say that Geography gives us fundamental knowledge of spatial dimensions related to whatever is happening around us.
Why in Examination?
Thus it is hardly any surprise that UPSC has included Geography in the General Studies section of both Prelims and Mains. A good understanding of Geography not only helps civil servants better understand the underlying reasons of the many happenings in the world, but also evolve better plans and ensure efficient execution geared towards a more inclusive and sustainable development.
The Examination Perspective
Discussing the Geography section from an examination perspective and looking at the syllabus of Prelims and Mains in detail, as well as past few years’ papers (preferably since 2007), one gets a fair bit of idea on what and how to prepare for the exam. The new NCERTs of Class IX to XII along with G.C. Leong and a good school atlas forms the fundamental reference sources.
Given below is the list of books and other reference sources:
Class IX NCERT: Contemporary India Part-I
Class X NCERT: Contemporary India Part-II
Class XI NCERT:Fundamentals of Physical Geography
Class XI NCERT:Indian Physical Environment
Class XII NCERT:Fundamentals of Human Geography
Class XII NCERT:India, People and Economy
Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong, Oxford University Press
School Atlas by any good publisher like Oxford University press, Orient Longman, DK etc.
Keeping track of related articles in The Hindu, Yojana etc.
If one can get hold of the old Land and People series (published in the nineties), class VI, VII,VIII, and IX NCERT books, then these could be referred for the World geography section (anyways we will be taking care of these sections in the classroom and the content provided).
There are some secondary reference sources along with content on some current issues, which could also be covered for a comprehensive preparation. We shall discuss this later.
Keeping the Focus Right
One important thing that needs to be constantly kept in mind is that one must go through the syllabus along with the questions asked in Prelims as well as Mains, before and after completing each section. This will help in ensuring that based on your understanding; you pick up the most relevant aspects from the examination perspective. This will also help in building confidence that you would be able to answer the questions UPSC has asked from those sections.
If you could answer the present set of questions, there is no reason why you will not be able to answer the questions that would be asked in the future. Just one more important thing – you also need to practice answer writing and hone your presentation skills.