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How To Prepare Indian Polity for Prelims Examination – A Beginner’s Guide


Prepare Indian Polity for Prelims Examination

I had started preparation in 2012, where every tom, dick and harry was suggesting me a book for India Polity. Even book-shop owner itself had suggested me several books without checking my requirement, my background, my strengths or weaknesses. And what is resulted into – I had following books for Indian Polity alone:

  1. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  2. Introduction to Constitution of India – D.D. Basu
  3. Our Parliament – Subhash Kashyap
  4. Bare Act – P. M. Bakshi
  5. Indian Polity – Spectrum
  6. Indian Constitution at Work – NCERT

When we start preparation of UPSC, first thing that comes to our mind is which all books required for preparation.   And, then we start creating a library at home by keeping 5-6 books on each subject. But, we never try to analyse the demand of examination and we don’t study based on their expectations. This examination is not about compiling facts; it’s more scientific in nature. Strategic approach is the key to get success.

Therefore, I have tried to develop here an approach on how to prepare for Indian Polity for UPSC Examination. For that purpose, it is essential to know the essence of Indian Polity in examination. Analysis of previous year papers of prelims and mains examination brings down following specific points.

Analysis of Polity Questions in Prelims Examination:

Analysis of  2015 Test Paper:(There were 12 questions from the core sector of Indian Polity in Prelims examination.)

Main Topic Sub Topic
Questions on Parliament ·         Parliamentary form of Government

·         Prime Minister

·         Joint Sitting of Parliament

·         Powers of Rajya Sabha

·         Public Accounts Committee

Question on Fundamental Rights, DPSP and Fundamental Duties ·         Idea of welfare state

·         Fundamental duty of upholding and protecting the sovereignty

·         Principle of Directive Principle of State Policy

Question on Judiciary ·         Custodian of the Constitution of India
Questions on Panchayats ·         Fundamental object of Panchayati Raj
Articles and Schedules of Constitution ·         Schedule 5 and Schedule 6
Question on Legislative Council

Analysis of  2014 Test Paper:

There were 11 questions from the core sector of Indian Polity in Prelims examination.

Main Topic Sub Topic
Questions on Parliament ·         Largest Parliamentary committee

·         Cabinet secretariat

·         No-confidence motion

Question on Fundamental Rights, DPSP and Fundamental Duties ·         Article 51 of Indian Constitution
Question on Judiciary ·         Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

·         Power to increase number of judges in the supreme court

Questions on President/Governor ·         Discretionary Power of Governor

·         Executive actions of Governments by President

Articles and Schedules of Constitution ·         Schedule of Anti-defection law
Question on  Constitutional/Non-Constitutional Bodies ·         Planning Commission
Miscellaneous ·         Constitutional Form of Government

Analysis of  2013 Test Paper:

There were 16 questions from the core sector of Indian Polity in Prelims examination.

Questions on Parliament ·         Parliamentary committee on Public Accounts

·         Parliamentary form of Government

·         Ministers and Council of Ministers

·         Chairman and deputy Chairman of Rajyasabha

·         Money Bill provisions

Question on Fundamental Rights, DPSP and Fundamental Duties ·         Economic Justice

·         Fundamental things for governance

Question on Judiciary ·         One part of question was based on High court judges
Questions on President/Governor ·         One part of question is based on Function of Governor
Questions on Panchayats ·         Constitutional Provision of Panchayats
Question on  Constitutional/Non-Constitutional Bodies ·         National Development Council

·         National Legal Service Authority

·         Attorney General

·         NDC/Planning Commission/Zonal Council

Historical Background of Constitution ·         Formation of constituent assembly
Question on Union Territory ·         One part of question is based on Union Territory
Centre-State Relations ·         Centre’s power to make laws on subjects listed in state list

Analysis of  2012 Test Paper:

There were 15 questions from the core sector of Indian Polity in Prelims examination.

Questions on Parliament ·         Adjournment motion

·         Role of Lok Sabha Speaker

·         Special powers of Rajya Sabha

·         Parliamentary control over Public Finances

·         Joint sitting of Parliament

·         Appointment of Prime Minister

Question on Fundamental Rights, DPSP and Fundamental Duties ·         Which are Gandhian principles of DPSP?

·         Fundamental duties

Question on Judiciary ·         Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

·         Provisions to safeguard the autonomy of Supreme Court

Questions on President/Governor ·         Duty of President
Questions on Election ·         Purpose of Delimitation Commission
Question on  Constitutional/Non-Constitutional Bodies ·         Comptroller and Auditor General
Question on Union Territory ·         Union Territory in Rajya Sabha
Centre-State Relations ·         Distribution of Power between centre and state

This analysis of Prelims paper indicates that UPSC has some favourite topics in Indian Polity, which keeps on repeating every time in prelims examination. Therefore, such topics should be prepared with full concentration to get an edge over other candidates. Those topics can be prepared from either books, but Laxmikant has provided it in detail, and it has established itself as authority. So, laxmikant alone would be sufficient to cover these topics.

Crux of Analysis of Previous Year Papers  on Indian Polity

  • Indian Parliament (Most important part of Indian Polity for Prelims) – (Chapter of Laxmikant on Parliament is concise and sufficient)

There are always questions in prelims from Parliament which can revolve around Ministers, Council of Ministers, Prime Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Parliamentary Terms, Parliamentary Committees, Parliamentary Privileges, Bills – like finance bill, money bill. All these sections of Parliament make it the most important part of Indian Polity.

  • Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Body – (ForumIAS article on constitutional and Non-Constitutional body is sufficient)

This is again one of the most favourite topics of UPSC in prelims, where questions are usually from Election Commission, CAG, Attorney General, Finance Commission, NITI Aayog, Human Rights Commission, Central Vigilance commission, Lokpal and Lokayuktas.

  • Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy –(Read Article 13 to Article 51A of Indian Constitution; Chapter 7, 8 and 9 of Laxmikant would be more than sufficient).

These are the most important articles of Indian Constitution where Civil Services prelims examination has always questions related to FR, DPSP and Fundamental Duties. There is mostly one question from fundamental duties in paper.

  • Historical Background and Making of Constitution (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Laxmikant)

Various Charter and Act of British Rule, eg. – Govt of India Act, 1909, 1919 and 1935 are very important from prelims point of view. Apart from it, questions are being asked on Constituent Assembly regulary.

  • President/Governor – (Chapter 17 and Chapter 26 of Laxmikant)

This is again a hot favourite topic of UPSC. Where functions of President or Governor are regularly asked. Therefore, Election of President, Qualification for President, Impeachment of President, Powers and Functions of President, Different types of Veto Power of President, Ordinance Making Power of President, Pardoning Power of President must be carefully read. Similarly, Power of Governor, comparative power of Governor with President must be prepared.

  • Indian Judiciary – (Supreme Court and High Court) (Chapter 25 and Chapter 30 of Laxmikant)

Questions on Indian Judiciary are quite frequent in prelims paper. Therefore, following topics should be prepared in Indian Judiciary Chapter – Appointment of Judges, Jurisdiction of Courts, Judicial Independence and Power of Judicial Review.

  • Centre-State Relations (Federal Structure) – (Chapter 14 of Laxmikant)

This is an important topic of Prelims as well as mains examination. Therefore, Legislative relations (Art. 246 to Art. 254 of Indian Constitution), Financial Relations (Especially Taxes levied by Centre and Taxes levied by state), distribution of revenues between centre and state should be prepared.

  • Union Territory and Special Areas – (Chapter 36 and Chapter 37 of Laxmikant)

Administration of Union Territories, Special Provisions for Delhi, Administration of Tribal Areas, Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 areas as per constitution)

  • Panchayati Raj and Municipalities (Chapter 34 and Chapter 35 of Laxmikant)

Important topics of Panchayati Raj are Evolution of Panchayati Raj, 73rd and 74th amendment of constitution, Salient Features of Panchayati Raj system, Functional items placed in Panchayati Raj system, Types of Urban bodies. These topics should be prepared comprehensively.

  • Articles and Schedules of Constitution

(Following articles with article number of Indian Constitution must be memorized by aspirants)

Article Number                                                         Deals with
Art. 1 Name and territory of the Union
Art. 3 Formation of new states and alteration of areas of existing state
Art. 13 Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights
Art. 14 Equality before Law
Art. 16 Equality of oppurtunity in matters of public employment
Art. 17 Abolition of Untouchability
Art. 19 Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
Art. 21 Protection of Life and Personal liberty
Art. 21A Right to elementary education
Art. 25 Right to freedom of religion
Art. 30 Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institution
Art. 31C Saving of laws giving effect to certain directive principles
Art. 32 Remedies for enforcement of fundamental rights including writs
Art. 39A Free Legal Aid
Art. 40 Organization of village panchayats
Art. 44 Uniform civil code for the citizens
Art. 45 Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of 6 years
Art. 46 Promotion of educational and economic interests of schedule castes, schedule tribes and other weaker sections
Art. 47 Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living and to improve public health
Art. 48 Organisation of agriculture and animal husbandary
Art. 48A Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life
Art. 50 Separation of Judiciary from Executive
Art. 51 Promotion of International peace and security
Art. 51A Fundamental Duties
Art. 72 Power of president to grant pardons, etc. and to suspend, remit or commute
Art. 74 Council of ministers to aid and advise the president
Art. 78 Duties of prime minister as respects the furnishing of information to the president
Art. 123 Power of president to promulgate ordinances during recess of Parliament
Art. 131 Original Jurisdiction of Supreme Court
Art. 143 Power of president to consult Supreme Court
Art. 161 Power of governor to grant pardons, etc. and to suspend, remit or commute sentence
Art. 169 Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states
Art. 200 Assent to bills by governor (including reservation for President)
Art. 213 Power of governor to promulgate ordinances during recess of the state legislatures
Art. 226 Power of high courts to issue certain writs
Art. 239AA Special provisions with respect to Delhi
Art. 249 Power of Parliament to legislate with respect to a matter in the State List in the national interest
Art. 262 Adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers or river valleys
Art. 263 Provisions with respect to an inter-state council
Art. 275 Grants from the Union to certain states
Art. 280 Finance Commission
Art. 300A Persons not to be deprived of property save by authority of law (Right to Property)
Art. 311 Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities
Art. 312 All India Services
Art. 320 Functions of Public Service Commission
Art. 323A Administrative tribunals
Art. 324 Election Commission
Art. 352 Proclamation of Emergency (National Emergency)
Art. 356 Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in states (President’s Rule)
Art. 360 Financial Emergency
Art. 365 Effect of failure to comply with, or to give effect to, directions given by Union
Art. 368 Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefor
Art. 370 Temporary provisions with respect to the state of Jammu and Kashmir


Schedule                        Deals with
First Schedule Name of the states and Union Territories and their territorial jurisdiction
Second Schedule Provisions related to salary, allowances, privileges and so on.
Third Schedule Forms of Oaths or Affirmation
Fourth Schedule Allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha to the states and Union Territories
Fifth Schedule Administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes
Sixth Schedule Administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram
Seventh Schedule Division of powers between the Union and the States in form of Union List, State List and Concurrent List.
Eight Schedule Languages recognised by Constitution (Originally-14, Presently-22)
Ninth Schedule Acts and Regulations of the state legislature dealing with land reforms
Tenth Schedule Disqualification of MPs or MLAs on ground of Defection. (Anti-Defection)
Eleventh Schedule Powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats
Twelfth Schedule Power, authority and responsibilities of Municipalities.
  • Sources of Indian Constitution (Bag of Borrowings)
S. No. Source Features Borrowed
1. Govt. of India Act, 1935 Federal Structure, Office of governor, Judiciary, Public Service Commission, Emergency Provisions, Administrative details (2/3rd of constitution borrowed from GoI Act, 1935)
2. British Constitution Parliamentary Government, Rule of Law, Legislative procedure, Single Citizenship, Cabinet system, Prerogative writs, Parliamentary Privileges and bicameralism.
3. US Constitution Fundamental Rights, Independence of Judiciary, Judicial review, impeachment of president, removal of supreme court and high court judges, post of vice-president.
4. Irish Constitution Directive Principles of State Policy, nomination of members to Rajya Sabha, Method of election of President.
5. Canadian Constitution Federation with strong centre, Residuary power with centre, Advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
6. Australian Constitution Concurrent List, Freedom of trade, Joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament
7. Weimar Constitution of Germany Emergency Provisions
8. Soviet Constitution Fundamental Duties
9. Japanese Constitution Procedure established by Law.

Hereby, I have tried to compile a list of topics which must be prepared comprehensively in Indian Polity for prelims examination.  There are some other minor segments which should only be prepared after complete command on these topics. But, overall command on above listed items would be sufficient to answer questions on Indian polity in prelims examination.


This article is written by ForumIAS Member currently serving in the Allied Services.

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