Exam Preparation

How to prepare Disaster Management for UPSC Mains Exam

The General Studies III paper in the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is considered to be the most diverse among the 4...

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The General Studies III paper in the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination is considered to be the most diverse among the 4 General Studies papers, as it includes topics as diverse as economics, internal security, disaster management, science and technology, and agriculture. Among these topics, Internal Security and Disaster Management is a newly listed topic that is of high importance as Internal Security and Disaster Management is something that Civil Service officers have to deal with quite frequently in their careers.

The two topics Internal Security and Disaster Management are very important for both the prelims and the mains examinations and are both highly linked with current affairs and as a result, quite dynamic in nature. Thus, apart from the static content in textbooks, you will also need to study heavily from and with the help of newspapers. Both the facts of the events as well as the analyses will be relevant for this topic along with the static portions of the rules and regulations to follow. Questions from this section will test your analytical ability and critical thinking along with your basic knowledge about the topic.

Internal Security and Disaster Management Syllabus as per latest UPSC Mains Pattern

The topics listed by UPSC under Internal Security and Disaster Management are as follows:

Disaster and disaster management:

  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; money-laundering and its prevention.
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Following is a table of marks allotted to each of the topics through the years 2013 to 2016.

Subject Subtopic 2013 2014 2015 2016
Disaster Management Disaster Management 10 12.5 12.5 25
Security Development and Extremism 10 0 12.5 12.5
Security External Actors and Border Management 10 62.5 25 25
Security Cyber Security and Money Laundering 35 0 25 12.5

Disaster Management for UPSC

  • This topic is dynamic and gains prominence with every natural disaster that occurs in the country be it floods, earthquakes or landslides.
  • The cyclone Fani set an example for planned management of natural disasters by which huge human loss was averted. This is an area that you should prepare.
  • Apart from natural disasters, man-made disasters such as fires, chemical spills, groundwater contamination, etc. are also studied.
  • You should stick to one standard textbook for the static part and refer to a good newspaper for the dynamic content.
  • NDMA publications and NCERT Class XI textbook (Natural Hazards & Disaster Management) are major sources for this section.

Questions from the last few years:

  • How important is vulnerability and risk assessment for pre-disaster management? As an administrator, what are key areas that you would focus on disaster management? (2013 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • Drought has been recognized as a disaster in view of its party expense, temporal duration, slow onset and lasting effect on various vulnerable sections. With a focus on the September 2010 guidelines from the National disaster management authority, discuss the mechanism for preparedness to deal with the El Nino and La Nina fallouts in India. (2014 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • The frequency of earthquakes appears to have increased in the Indian subcontinent. However, India’s preparedness for mitigating their impact has significant gaps. Discuss various aspects. (2015 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • With reference to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines, discuss the measures to be adopted to mitigate the impact of the recent incidents of cloudbursts in many places of Uttarakhand.
  • The frequency of urban floods due to high-intensity rainfall is increasing over the years. Discussing the reasons for urban floods. Highlight the mechanisms for preparedness to reduce the risk during such events.

(2016 UPSC Mains Examination)

  • On December 2004, tsumani brought havoc on 14 countries including India. Discuss the factors responsible for the occurrence of Tsunami and its effects on life and the economy. In the light of guidelines of NDMA (2010) describe the mechanisms for preparedness to reduce the risk during such events. (2017 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • Describe various measures taken in India for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) before and after signing ‘Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-2030)’. How is this framework different from ‘Hyogo Framework for Action, 2005? (2018 UPSC Mains Examination)

Internal Security for UPSC

This topic is subdivided and discussed in different subsections briefly below:

Development and spread of extremism

  • This topic has a very narrow scope but is very important as Naxal issues are often seen in the news.
  • Explore the relationship between poverty, lack of development, unemployment and the rise of left-wing terrorism such as Naxalism and Maoism. The issue’s origins, development, the response of the government and current situation should be studied. Since this topic has a narrow scope, you can make good notes for them and refer to them as and when needed.
  • Sources:
    • The Hindu newspaper
    • Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) website
    • Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar

Questions from the last few years:

  • Article 244 of the Indian Constitution relates to the Administration of Scheduled areas and tribal areas. Analyze the impact of non-implementation of the provisions of the fifth schedule on the growth of Left Wing Extremism. (2013 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • The persisting drives of the government for the development of large industries in backward areas have resulted in isolating the tribal population and the farmers who face multiple displacements with Malkangiri and Naxalbari foci, discuss the corrective strategies needed to win the left-wing extremism (LWE) doctrine affected citizens back into the mainstream of social and economic growth. (2015 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • The north-eastern region of India has been infested with insurgency for a very long time. Analyze the major reasons for the survival of armed insurgency in this region. (2017 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) is showing a downward trend, but still affects many parts of the country. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE. (2018 UPSC Mains Examination)

Cybersecurity, social media and internal security challenges, money-laundering

  • This is a very relevant topic for the times. Many terrorists claim to have been influenced by social media sites and social media preachers for their terrorist acts.
  • With easy accessibility and a wide reach, social media is proving to be a challenge in tackling crimes of all nature.
  • Mob violence is also fuelled by social media messages that take no time to go viral.

Questions from the last few years:

  • Money laundering poses a serious threat to the country’s economic sovereignty. What is its significance for India and what steps are required to be taken to control this menace?
  • What is a digital signature? What does its authentication mean? Give various salient built-in features of a digital signature.
  • What are the social networking site and what security implications do these sites present?
  • Cyberwarfare is considered by some defense analysts to be a larger threat than even Al Qaeda or terrorism. What do you understand by Cyberwarfare? Outline the cyber threats which India is vulnerable to and bring out the state of the country’s preparedness to deal with the same.

(2013 UPSC Mains Examination)

  • Religious indoctrination via digital media has resulted in Indian youth joining the ISIS. What are ISIS and its mission? How can ISIS be dangerous for the internal security of our country?
  • Considering the threats cyberspace poses for the country, India needs a “Digital Armed Force” to prevent crimes. Critically evaluate the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 outlining the challenges perceived in its effective implementation.
  • Discuss the advantage and security implications of cloud hosting of server vis-a-vis in-house machine-based hosting for government businesses.

(2015 UPSC Mains Examination)

  • Use of the Internet and social media by non-state actors for subversive activities is a major concern. How have these have misused in the recent past? Suggest effective guidelines to curb the above threat. (2016 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • Discuss the potential threats of Cyber attack and the security framework to prevent it. (2017 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • India’s proximity to two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering, and human trafficking. What countermeasures should be taken to prevent the same?
  • Data security has assumed significant importance in the digitized world due to rising cybercrimes. The Justice B. N. Srikrishna Committee Report addresses issues related to data security. What, in your view, are the strengths and weakness of the Report relating to the protection of personal data in cyberspace?

(2018 UPSC Mains Examination)


  • A very important topic and dynamic too.
  • The newspapers are the most important sources for material. IDSA website is also a good source.
  • Management of border areas, linkages between organized crime such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, human trafficking and their links with terrorism are to be studied.

Questions from the last few years:

  • How far are India’s internal security challenges linked with border management, particularly in view of the long porous borders with most countries of South Asia and Myanmar? (2013 UPSC Mains Examination)
  • China and Pakistan have entered into an agreement for the development of an economic corridor. What thread does it dispose of for India’s security? Critically examine.
  • In 2012, the longitudinal marking of the high-risk areas for piracy was moved from 65° East to 78° east in the Arabian Sea by International Maritime organization. What impact does this have on India’s maritime security concerns?
  • How illegal transborder migration does pose a threat to India’s security? Discuss the strategies to curb this, bring out the factors which give impetus to such migration.
  • The diverse nature of India as a multireligious and multi-ethnic society is not immune to the impact of radicalism which has been in her neighborhood. Discuss along with the strategies to be adopted to counter this environment.
  • International civil aviation laws provide all countries complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above the territory. What do you understand by airspace? What are the implications of these laws on the space above this airspace? Discuss the challenges which this poses and suggests ways to contain the threat.

(2014 UPSC Mains Examination)

  • Border management is a complex task due to difficult terrain and hostile relations with some countries. Elucidate the challenges and strategies for effective border management.
  • The terms ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘Surgical Strikes’ are often used in connection with armed action against terrorist attacks. Discuss the strategic impact of such actions.
  • “Terrorism is emerging as a competitive industry over the last few decades.” Analyze the above statement.

(2016 UPSC Mains Examination)

  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same.

(2018 UPSC Mains Examination)

Security Forces and their Mandate

  • External and internal security forces such as the military forces (army, navy, air force), CAPF, IPS, intelligence agencies such as IB, RAW, etc.
  • You can refer to the official websites of these agencies for authentic information. Check out this link which gives precise information on them for a quick reference.

Indian Armed Forces

The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of India. The defense services in India consist of three uniformed services:

  • The Indian Army
  • The Indian Navy
  • The Indian Air Force

Paramilitary Forces of India

The term “paramilitary forces” in India has not been defined in any act of parliament or by the authorities. Since 2011, the Government of India uses an unofficial definition that the Paramilitary forces are the ones that assist the military forces and are headed by Military officers, not by IPS officers.

  • Assam Rifles
  • Special Frontier Force
  • Indian Coast Guard

Central Armed Police Forces

Central Armed Police Forces were formerly referred to as Paramilitary Forces. From March 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs adopted a uniform nomenclature of Central Armed Police Forces to avoid confusion. There are seven central armed police forces. Each of these forces performs a separate function. They operate under the Ministry of Home affairs. Each of the forces is led by an IPS officer with the notable exception of the Assam Rifles which has been covered under paramilitary forces.

  • Border Security Force (BSF)
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

Special Forces of India

Apart from the Special Forces operating under various agencies in the country, the special forces of India also have the following units reporting directly to the Home Ministry for counter-terrorism and VIP protection activities:

  • National Security Guards (NSG)
  • Special Protection Group (SPG)

Other Important Security Agencies In India

  • Railway Protection Force (RPF)
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

Internal Security and Disaster Management are one of the most scoring topics in General Studies Paper 3. It is also one of the easiest to prepare for as most of the questions are covered under current affairs. UPSC aspirants should read more on the Armed Forces of India, their mandate and important operations to score well in this topic.

Questions from the last few years:

  • Human rights activists constantly highlight the view that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a draconian act leading to cases of human rights abuses by the security forces. What sections of AFSPA are opposed by the activists? Critically evaluate the requirement with reference to the view held by the Apex Court. (2015 UPSC Mains Examination)

Suggested Strategy for Disaster Management Preparation for UPSC

  1. Identify and study the probable natural disasters in Indian perspective – Eg: Earth Quakes, Tsunamis, Landslides, Flood, Drought, Epidemics, etc.
  2. Don’t forget to include Human induced disasters – Eg: Nuclear Reactor explosion, Dam collapse, Gas Leakage, Oil Spill, War, Terrorism, Extremism, Communal Carnage, Cyber Breakdown, etc.
  3. Understand the national policy on disaster management.
  4. Understand the structure and functions of present disaster management authorities in the country – at national, state and district levels.
  5. Prepare notes on various proactive and reactive steps to be followed to tackle various disaster management situations. 

Online Study Materials for ‘Security and Disaster Management for UPSC Mains Exam: Download as PDF

  1. National policy on disaster management.
  2. Disaster management authorities in the country.
  3. Proactive and reactive steps.
  4. IGNOU Notes on Disaster Management.
  5. IGNOU Notes on Cyber Security.

Written by Payal Ghosh
Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further. Profile

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