UPSC / IAS Preparation: Culture, S&T, Environment

Some topics in GS syllabus are very tricky… specially culture, science and tech and environment. A lot of people wonder where to study them from and waste a lot of time studying this and that. I too did the same and could never find any single good source for these. However, after lot of this and that, I was definitely able to find some useful bits here and there which I kept on consolidating in my notes. So sharing here the relevant portion of my notes so that others may not waste their time. However, it is my duty to add that even these may not be ‘sufficient’ or ‘good’, these are simply what I studied.



I had history optional last year, so ancient and medieval culture I didn’t prepare specifically for GS. Being an optional student, naturally I had read many books and extracted the culture bits from everywhere into my notes. These notes can be found here..

Naturally the ancient and medieval culture notes are very deep (prepared from optional perspective) but what is relevant for GS part, I have highlighted in red.

Modern was very difficult and I found material by Insight, Nitin Singhania and 2 pdfs titled ‘Compilation of Indian culture’ and’Compendium on Indian Culture’ very useful.

These pdfs are and .

I tried to memorize all folk songs/dances/drama etc. state-wise i.e. state first and then all its dances because remembering and recalling the name of a random dance was too challenging.


Science and Technology

This is one section I could never prepare properly. Each year I prepared something and UPSC asked something else (except for 1-2 questions). What I used to do was I prepared google alerts for various S&T related topics (say satellite, telescope, robot, nano, computers) and 1 month before the mains, I used to read the coaching material of various coaching institutes available on photocopy shops in Old Rajendra Nagar. But no use.

However, seeing this year’s paper, I have an intuition. The questions asked were on Fixed Dose Drug Combinations (FDCs), silicone tape and hotspot, digital signature, 3D printing and FRP composite material. Now all of these had been in news for some reason or the other (though not in news for technology as such). FDCs were related to the Drug Control Pricing Order, 2013, silicone tape was related to Kevin Pieterson controversy, 3D printing related to ISS news, FRP was in Hindu. So I believe the key to preparing S&T is that while reading any news / issue, we should also think about the technology involved in it (if any) and then read on internet about the technology. This should be given preference to reading the coaching material 15 days before the exam which gives us confidence but no questions come from it.



In environment, there is some static portion and then there is some current portion. The static portion is various environment conventions and protocols (Basel, Nagoya, CBD etc.). I have most of these in my notes which can be seen here

(Read the Environment Protection Note only)

The current portions include global climate talks. Every year the COP happens and one should know the diplomacy of various groups before the talk, during the talks and the outcome of talks. And then what did India gain / lose in the talk, whether what has been achieved is good enough or not etc. Then IPCC / UNEP come out with their reports sometimes which are important. The other news like “Green Corridor” question have to be captured from the news itself. I have realized Hindu is very important to capture these news.

This year Ganga is in news, so one should be thoroughly prepared on Ganga – Ganga Action Plans, Ganga Authority, what has been achieved so far, reasons for failure, what do experts say, what do environmentalists say, what should be done in future etc.


  1. Hi sir . is bar jispe bharosa kar k gaya tha wahi paper 2 duba dea. comprehension practise karne ka sahi tarika kya hai ? matlab practise karne k bad agar koi answer galat ata hai to uska sahi logic kayse nikala gaya is explanation nehi diya rahta hai. to kuch tips dejiye sirji .. next bar k lea


    • Only practice practice practice.
      jo hard lag raha hai usse left mat karo wahi aapki weakness hai. Is liye sab kuch prepared karna hai.


  2. Gaurav congrats once again…
    Need ur help regarding essays…
    Hav wrote mains 3 times in 3 attempts(2 Interviews) bcz of essay marks
    Marks are decreasing with each attempt
    Suggest any class/series


    thank you sir for giving us your precious time which is really a kind of motivation… all the time with this hope that we all are in contact for a big reason and could help one another under your valuable guidance.


  4. hey Gaurav, I m working as software developer and Started preparing for UPSC since july this year.. People say 8 t0 10 hours study is the must for UPSC.. I hardly get 3 t0 4 hrs a day which is bothering me because i will be competing with a people who are preparing throughout the day. Its my dream to become a civil servant.
    I am confused whether i should quit my job and study or i can continue with the job.
    Please suggest the methods for preperations


  5. hi gaurav sir..mera naam sakti kumar hai or mai west bengal me rhta hun..sir mujhe reading Comprehension improve krna hai..sir books n kuch tips part bht he tym consuming kaise improve kre???


  6. After selection everybody likes to be special in give advice but it is not relevant so keep in my we should make real comment. what we did not much more…….it is the demand of civil service exam…..


  7. Really appreciative!
    Your efforts and good intentions both are inspiring. Hope you maintain the zeal in the services too :)


  8. Hello friends, please go through the below link. I’ve made Public Administration videos on thinkers and Introduction topics in Paper 1. Hope it helps to few people before mains.

    and much thanks to Gaurav Sir for this wonderful blog.

    P.S. – I’m spamming same comment in all threads so that information could be disseminated to more people. Please don’t mind guys if its not important to you and please share with your friends who have Public Administration as optional. Thanks a lot


  9. respected sir, can you please give a clear picture on how to prepare ancient and medieval history fro prelims.
    can i skip battles ,kingdoms etc from ancient and medieval part of history and only concentrate on philosophy and culture part ?


  10. Thanx sir for ut precious suggestions……i hav given 2014 exam but due to some human erors not succeed… i can solv dis prblm…..plz sir


  11. Sir I am a 2nd year electrical engg. Student from NitRaipur . I need to ask whether it is good to go for IAS after btech or after completing my masters


  12. congrats Gaurav a lot ….. you are very inspirational… hope to see you serve our nation.. congrats once again.


  13. gaurav sir i want to know that if mains 1st paper i.e. essay paper only comes with english language or hindi also b’coz i’m hindi medium student plz reply me :-/


  14. Hiii Gaurav sir
    I am an aspirant of CSE. and I have great ambition regarding CSE n zeal to serve the society. But as most of us who take the exam have confusion over right strategy n about the optional, I face the same dilemma regarding choice of optional paper n strategy for begin preparations. Could you plz clarify me regarding my following doubts.
    I hope you r still active on this link.
    My doubts are…
    1. What study material should one start with? to zeroed on online matters(i have an arts background). Specific sites n blogs worth following for these.
    3. How to prepare online notes.
    4. Did coaching helpful in prep.. of mains.
    5. & most important how to select an optional. Should it be based on criteria of scoring or trending subjects or limited course.

    P.s- I hv studied ECONOMICS in post grad.. n I have an interest in it.but mathmatical equations constrained me as I wasn’t very good in it, is it that much matter. Plz give your valuable advice.

    Sincerely yours
    Ankit Jaiswal


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