Mad Times Ahead

Two months left for the UPSC mains examination.

Where do I stand? I am not sure about that.

Only thing I know is that these two months will be filled with madness. An insanity where I will be munching on books,materials,notes,magazines and newspaper. I will have to read & understand mountain load of information about myriad & trivial stuffs. Adding to the misery will be memorizing the facts. And even after doing all this – the surety of figuring out the probable questions reaches barely to 10%. To give you some idea :

Around 12-13 books of 300 page on avg.
15 something – 200 page coaching materials
last 8 months Yojana & Kurukshetra magazines
News paper notes,IYB…
….(cont)

That is not all which will make you helpless.

There are the mood swings, emotional roller-coaster ride, low social interaction, isolationist tendency, relationship issues e.t.c. Even in dreams you will be looking at the information,historical events, economic data flowing around. You totally disconnect with the world.
It is not because you deliberately do so – instead it is because you have so much to cover that you start backing off from other areas.
It is not that the issues which start arising in your life, its that they will compound your difficulty.

You must have heard people, who clear the exam, say, that they used to study for 16hr or 18hr or even 20hr. Well, this is the time when they did so.

This year will be epic. With changed UPSC course & pattern – everyone is on same level. It is battle between equals now.
After this grueling 2 months period – one will have to maneuver through the unexpected questions of the exam. Some will vomit out the recorded information, some will improvise with their creativity and some will just leave them to luck.
With back to back 5 day continuous examination – I wonder how the mental conditions of the aspirants will be like.

I am betting on ‘Insane’ – they will need to lose their steam off. The evening of 5th of December 2013 will be not less than heaven for many. And there will be some who will start craving for there next goal. Some will need medical attention.

So what have I got in my mind?

Well, I loved the last three months of blogging – I wrote so many posts & connected to so many new bloggers. It was really awesome. Plus the last three months helped me peek inside my writing ability. The Dungeon Promptsย is one of the best prompts I found.

But now the time has come to shift the fireplace to other room. I have to go embrace the madness of the coming months.

I will write some posts when I would really need to get something out of my head. It will be rare event in the next month. It will be like diminishing return with each passing week.
And from November I will be on a one month leave. No Blogging. ๐Ÿ˜›

I will be back after the exams. ๐Ÿ˜€ And there will be no stopping after that.(I hope)

Arigato ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for your wishes.
And Best of Luck to all the aspirants. We all need it. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Ethics, Business and Society

I was lazying around with this one. Only took 6hr long stint.

Ethics, Business and Society: Managing Responsibly

Edited By Anana Das Gupta

Rating: 4/5

There are some books which can be read both for pleasure and for knowledge. Well, I get pleasure in reading such stuff. This book is really well presented and easily readable.

The book is a compilation of papers & articles written by prominent contributors like N.Balasubramanian, Parthasarathi Banerjee, Arindam Banik and others. The book is divided into two Sections .

First section presents the broader canvas on Society,Business and Ethics.The basic concepts can be understood very easily from the first paper. The relations & connections are presented in such a manner that anybody can grasp it. Second chapter covers the continuum of changing definition of Governance & Economic Development. The next six chapters give different case studies on topics of Corporate Philanthropy, CSR( Corporate Social Responsibility), Technical Education, Management Education and Civil Society.

Second section is concerned with the future vision and role of Ethics in Business and CSR. ย Stakeholder management promotion of CSR by Usha Jumani is interesting & illuminating. Next two chapters deal with perspectives in Environment and Science & Tech. Prasad Kaipa’s Indian Model of Leadership pointed to many ignored points but there is no clear solutions stated there. Any suggestions would have been appreciable. The chapter on Gandhian Perspective provides a rejuvenated outlook for Gandhi’s viewpoint in the present context of Business & Government ethics. The last chapter makes a point about importance of having independent directors on the company board.

This is a really good book to gain some insight about topics of ethics,CSR e.t.c. I would surely recommend it to anyone interested in non-fiction books.

From point of UPSC preparation, GS-4 paper – this book may or may not help. There is no clarity about GS4 paper this year. So it doesn’t hurt to have some more knowledge. If you have time, you can go through it. At least you will have better perspective on the same issues, plus there are some suggestions provided in the case studies.

Check it if you are interested.

Arigato ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Periods

Yeah, I mean the ‘Menstruating Periods’ of women by the title of this post.
I have started with my preparations. It is moving like a tortoise, sleeping inside the shell more, than walking forward.

There is a connection between the two. I was again checking the post about Mr. Murugantham. It led me to something I read in the Book of women’ by Osho. About Men also having cycle of emotion like the female natural cycle of menstruation. It was not about physical differences about male & female bodies. It was about the masculine & feminine qualities present, in different proportions, in each human body. I recalled something same from my first blog, when I was in college time.

My friend & I used to observe our study moods & daily activities. It went for a month & two. We found that we had a pattern in our actions/reactions. After some event occurred or any task was finished, we went through almost the same pattern every time. We would celebrate with some outing or would have a feast. After that we would pass our time watching movies, serials, TV shows. Then the boredom phase would start, we would sleep 10-16hr in a day or would not do anything at all. Then the guilt will start building up, feeling of disgust & loathing would follow. We would realize that we were in a rut & would look to others for some help/support/motivation. And then ,suddenly, we would start doing the productive stuff – reading at length for hours, studying course-books, talking about serious stuff.
Soon we forgot about the pattern & went our way without using it to our benefit.

Now, the pattern has changed considerably with many similarities. ๐Ÿ˜›
I have got many more lateral goals, some serious goals & the usual daily chores. I am writing this as I have again started to observe my pattern & note it down this time. I am aware about this pattern & I use it to my profit in case of tight schedules. Like preparing for an exam in a month or few weeks. And I think I am in such condition with stacks of study materials building up.

I thought of sharing the pattern here, but now I have decided against it. Well, you can guess what it will be like from my college pattern. Patterns Repeat.

 

(When you know you are crazy & smart. That’s what you do.)

You should also know about your periodical cycle. It helps a lot in increasing your productivity.

When I have figured out my pattern – you may find me sleeping, wasting time for weeks if the exam is far away. Because I like to rest (or I am lazy).And when the time will come you may catch me on a bad day – eating unhealthy oily food, watching movie/series, in a messy room, depressed & demotivated, wasting my time. But it will be only that single day & for the rest – you will not see me as I will be sitting on my desk, doing my work, alone in my room.
This time I think I will start early with increased productivity as I want to clear UPSC this year itself. I want to make it my final attempt. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can find similar suggestions if you are into something creative. Or when you are an engineering student in India. ๐Ÿ˜€

Arigato ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S – the image is by Jessica Hagy. Check her quirky drawings atย http://thisisindexed.com/

Pre-013

The title is not about any racing car or a bike. It’s about UPSC Prelims – 2013.

Cleared this year Prelims. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€
Next goal is to clear the Mains exam.
Hard-work, Consistent studies and a lot of Patience will be needed.

The result was declared on Friday, 2/13. I wanted to post this that day only.
I am doing it today because I was waiting for this fact to sink in. I am still unable to take it that I have cleared the prelims & now I have to study for the mains. And it’s not in any positive manner that I am happy & not able to study. No, instead I want to distract myself into other things. My fear of failing again in Mains(like last year) is demotivating me & I want to evade the studies. ย I don’t want to pick up the course-books, I even don’t want to read the newspaper. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

It will take time it seems.

I am writing this in hope, that i will start studying after posting it.

Arigato

Social Theory and Development Administration

Bear with me, I am almost done with text-books. Only 4 more are left, of which, reading 2 of them depends on the result.

Social Theory and Development Administration

By Mohit Bhattacharya

Rating: 5/5

After reading this book, I realized why so many engineers(& others) are taking Public Administration as an optional. The whole study matter engulfed me into so many diverse and myriad philosophies & ideologies. So many concepts which I used to take on face value got clarified & many others I learned. The rating shows my bias towards this book – after all it added a bunch of new intellectual pathways into my knowledge circuit. This is the first book I read by ‘Mohit Bhattacharya’, there are his other works on public administration only.

The book is divided into four sections. Each section dealing with particular topic of Development Administration,Governance,Decentralization e.t.c at length. The text flows effortlessly & gives you a smooth reading speed, keeping in mind the complexity of the concepts.

First Section, starts with the introduction to the term ‘development’ & ‘development administration’. The concept of ‘Development’ is dealt with, showing the historical underpinnings of it. The different theories explaining the meaning of ‘development’ & there evolution. Right from colonialist point of view to the post-developmental-ism. Ideologies of Modernists, Sustainable development, environmentalists,feminists,Gandhian,Marxists, Capitalist – each have been explain thoroughly & succinctly.

Second section, explains the concept of the new buzz word – Decentralization. The various participatory development means, voluntarism,empowerment & sustainable development methods are investigated. The difference between all the concepts involved in decentralization discourse has been identified. Third Section, is concerned with the matters of ‘Good Governance’, Rights and Ethics in development. How the concept of development administration has changed to concept of good governance. What is the right-based approach. The Ethical concerns in ‘Development’. These are some of the issues explained in this section. This section has taken heavily from the international conventions & UN surveys. It was like reading the critique & summary of the methods being proposed by the United Nation Organizations & World Bank.

The last section tries to present the ‘New Paradigms’ in the Development discourse. The challenges in the new millennial. Civil Society & Social Capital evolving as the third leg in the whole discourse alongside private & public players.There is a huge section dealing primarily with the Gender issues & Equality. The last part provides a solid discussion on the ‘Capability Approach’ of Amartya Sen.

This book is just amazing for a novice intellectual trying to understand the debates on development. There is no single path which has been effective & is the ultimate solution. When I compared my line of thoughts with all the theories – I found myself nearing the Neo-liberal & anti-development streams. (Yes, this type of combination can exist acc. to me). However, the highlights for me was the Amartya Sen’s Capability approach. I should have studied his works earlier, it is so close to the new understanding I was tinkering with in my head.

About reading it – if you are one of those who criticize government on each & every thing – please read it. At least, you will know more points on which you can criticize the govt. Also even if you are layman & can’t understand much of it – ‘there is always some thing new to look to’. People already dealing in such issues & the scholars, please recommend me further readings like this.

About UPSC candidates, it’s a must book for Public Administration optional(or Mohit Bhattacharya’s other book). For GS, I don’t consider it of much use as you can never get enough space & time to write answers if you go according to it. Howsoever, I will recommend reading it to better understand the general discourse on development. It will help expanding your viewpoint & understandings.

Arigato ๐Ÿ™‚

 

India Since Independence

This book took a long time to finish, totally messed my whole schedule. The only reason I will say is – It got boring.

India Since Independence

By Bipan Chandra

Rating: 3/5

If you have studied in India then you must have read history textbooks in school. Bipan Chandra was one of the main author behind them. Check those books again guys & you will know who to blame for not-so-interesting history textbooks. Actually, I never liked history or social science per se (one of the reason for choosing Science stream).
If by chance you are preparing for UPSC exams – Bipan Chandra’s “India’s Struggle for Independence” & “India Since Independence” are must reads. You can only attempt GS mains questions correctly if you have read them (but NCERT XI & XII books will also do). The first book had much better narrative-type presentation of history than the second part. This one is boring at best, with many parts repeated. Though, I agree they are required in a textbook of history.

This huge book is not divided into any parts instead it has divided the history into different chapters as per the authors perception. Half of the book is in a continuous narrative. Right from the introduction to colonial legacy & nations socio-econo-political conditions since independence. The other half takes the case-studies of particular events & incidents related to regionalism,economic state, communal-ism, women-participation,social-stigmas,land reforms. The three chapters at the end are conclusions or summaries regarding the legacy & future of the Indian State in the 21st century.

First ten chapters takes the reader from the early years of independence to the various consolidation problems faced by the country. Next five chapters are dedicated to Nehru – from his Foreign policy to the political turmoil he faced.After that the remaining five chapters will pace you through the Indira years,JP movement,Janata govt & finally Rajiv Gandhi’s years.There is also short sections dedicated to the consequent NDA & UPA-1 govt. & their respective policies.

After completing the narrative since independence in one segment, the other issues are focused on. There is three chapters presenting case-studies for the regionalism tendency across the nation. Next four chapters focus on the Indian Economy- since Independence to the Millennium. Afterwards there are four chapters dedicated to Land-Reforms , followed by Agrarian movements. Then the rest of the chapters sheds light on the issues of communalism, Caste,Untouchability & Indian Women.

The books ends with overview of post-colonial Indian State & the political economy of development. There is also one chapter on Governance related issues. The final chapters provides the achievements,problems & prospects for India in the new Millennium.

I have already said- it gets boring after you finish the narrative. Because most of the later chapters deal with the already mentioned issues in detail – it gets repeated here again. The major dis-appointment was the writing style – one has to read it with focus or you will miss the points made. It gets too detailed at times. If you ask me a book for Indian history after Independence, I would prefer reading ‘India After Gandhi’ by Ramachandran Guha.

However, if you are preparing for UPSC – skipping this book is not an option. You have to read it, you can skip Guha’s book though.
Pick it up & review your history.

[It’s generally pointed out that Bipan Chandra is biased towards Congress. As per me – he tilts somewhat towards congress & presents the debated issues diplomatically. A person without any keen observation won’t find the tilt, but I am sure most of the right or left mindset people will get it]

Arigato. ๐Ÿ™‚

From Government to Governance

Yeah, its another book review. What can I do – I am on reading frenzy these days. Gotta finish many text-books in this month only. ๐Ÿ˜›

From Government to Governance : A Brief Survey of the Indian Experience

By Kuldeep Mathur

Rating : 4/5

Camera 360

Kuldeep Mathur has written widely on subjects of Public Administration. This one is his not-so popular(important) published work. As per the new course for Mains, the issue of ‘Good Governance’ is becoming a vital part of the exam. As its, tagline says, it’s a brief survey of Indian experience on Good Governance. It provides the over-view of the major transformation in the Governance in India,the change in the role of the bureaucracy,market & social groups.

It is an introduction to the concept of governance and the kind of transformation of the state that is taking place in India. It explores the way cooperative networks of state, market and society are taking over roles that were earlier confined to the state alone. This transformation leads to many challenges. Existing institutions of governance have to be so strengthened that they are able to face new demands. New institutions have to be forged that can fulfill the functions of coordination, control and regulation.

Reading it will provide one the whole perspective over the transformation in the statecraft of country. If you are one of those, critical of government, I plead you to go through it. It’s a short text-book & won’t take much time. One will come to know how the state changed its perception from a centralized development accelerator to control-command centralized system to liberalized-management based public-private cooperative system, and finally to tri-party (state,market & civil society) inter-dependent mechanism.

I understand that the above changes,still, have not changed the societal reality drastically, but it does provides glimpse of what may become of State (& society) in future.

If you are preparing for UPSC, you can surely pick it up & easily go through it. It will help in subjects of Polity, Economy , Social Welfare, Public Admin & Governance. And If you don’t belong to this category but like reading Non-fiction, I will plead(not recommend but plead) you to read it.

Arigato ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S – I am concerned that this blog is becoming a book-review blog. I will surely put something different, next week. Promise. ๐Ÿ™‚